Shithouse rat

I'm a bipolar writer in the Naked City. I'm not playing with a full deck. I don't have all my dots on the dice. My cheese is sliding off my cracker. I don't have both oars in the water. I'm a bubble off plum. In other words, I'm crazier than a shithouse rat. These are my stories. Comments--short or long, nasty or nice--always welcome!

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Rules of engagement

The fabulous Mr. Snitch! has posted some rules for internet trolls to live by. My fave is this one (just substitute comment for e-mail):

"If the writer responds to your e-mail with evidence that you're wrong (for example, by citing a paragraph that you overlooked), disappear without responding. The 'net is built for anonymity - don't fight it. Choose to battle another day. Bide your time."

This one seems particularly apt to me, for that is what generally happens when the occasional honest to goodness troll has a go at me on this site or at BC. Whether it takes four hundred comments or one, sooner or later the troll will be worn down and vanish into thin air.

Just to clarify--I may not always be this bold and ballsy in real life (though sometimes I am), but put me behind a keyboard and I am no shrinking violet. I will batter my opponent relentlessly with logic (or at least that's the way I see it) until they simply give up and move on.

Thing is, it's not that I want to convert the world to my way of looking at things. As the always wise and worldly Walker pointed out in his comment to my previous post, sometimes a free exchange of dialogue and ideas can actually make you see the other person's point of view and maybe even rethink the veracity of your own conclusions--or at least modify them. I try to look at issues from all sides, but I still have my biases, and it can be very enlightening to see an argument from a multifaceted perspective. I am also careful to use qualifiers such as "some," "most," "perhaps," and so on, and try not to cram my way of thinking down everyone's throat. However, as a comment whore, I've found if you please everyone your comment box may remain so empty that you can hear an echo.

So these kinds of back and forths honestly don't get to me, for I relish the challenge even if they do get a bit on the heated side. It's the one or two genuine trolls-- the ones whose only interest is in full frontal attack or sneaky personal character assasinations--that can lead me to label them for what they are and refuse to engage (feed) them any more. If they continue to comment, I may refer to them indirectly using the third person or just respond with a general statement. Trolls hate impersonal exchanges because they crave the attention and frisson of hand to hand combat.

And so it seems that the two red hot BC posts I mentioned seem to be winding down, and that I and my "allies" have managed to get the last word in--at least for now. But who knows what the day may bring....

Friday, January 27, 2006

March of the wooden trolls

Command Group - Spearmen Close
Originally uploaded by Gobbo1000.
In my prior blog gossip post, I descirbed a certain individual, X, who seemed to be going out of his way to antagonize me on my BlogCritics post Those Army Ads are BROILING my BUTT!.

Well, he's since added a few more comments, but I finally noted that I would no longer be answering them, but that my silence should not be taken for acquiencence.

Thing is, on another post where he agrees with me, "Pro-Life or Anti-Sex?" we "get along" just fine. Bizarre, isn't it?

And as I said, I don't "resent" him for having a differing opinion than I--just the cheap snide little personal digs and unfounded "fault finding"--(i.e., claiming I was "rude" to a rude person.)

I still have three posts on the "hot topics" board: the two I mentioned above, and AA: Threat or Menace? This was my very first post on Shithouse rat, and I thought I'd dig it out, dust it off, and see how it fared at BlogCritics.

But wouldn't you know it, as soon as I posted it a troll came out of the woodwork and pounced on me. Here's what "Roller" had to say:

'Time for some new material.

Your posts here are almost all reprints from your personal blog.

Are you going to write anything original here?'

I hastened (boy did I ever) to point out that out of the fifteen pieces I'd posted to BC so far, seven of them were new to BC. (I counted six at first, but later corrected myself. Even I'm having trouble keeping track). Then I added:

'PS: where's your URL? Where's your blog? Where's your posts? Where's your comments to my posts here or on my blog, on old posts or new?

Everyone's a critic (sigh)...or is it troll?'

Then the other comments came in--all positive. Not one rabid AA'er attacking me--even those who had found AA to be effective for them. Perhaps this is because in my piece I had admitted as much--that AA does work beautifully for some people if they work hard at it.

Several commenters also came to my defense by pointing out that at BC, writers are allowed, even encouraged, to cross post. Some simply double post their pieces to their personal blog and BC, from what the commenters said.

So after that show of support, Roller came back with his tail between his rollers and said:

'My comment came out wrong.

I only meant that I have read all the stuff here, and I have read all the stuff on your personal blog.

I'm just eager for something new.'

If you wish to see my "snappy retort," you'll have to visit the blogpost at BC (heh heh--the old blogslut/comment whore coming out again).

It's been another good week for me at BC. The Pro Life or Anti Sex? post has amassed over 400 comments, and the Army Ads post is likewise still going strong.

Not only that, but another blogger wrote a post about how he has finally decided to "out" himself and use his real name instead of his blog name Alpha at BC. In his piece, he linked to another post of mine, My Blogging Doppelganger, which also dealt with using pseudonyms online.

And I noted before, the Pro-Life post got selected as a BC editor's pick last week. Since I was chosen, I had the opportunity to pick a fave piece from the past week as well. I cited this post, and it is a must-read if there ever was one (not that anyone "must" read it, of course--I'm not a fascist like some of the commenters on BC, after all)....

But it occurred to me as I was struggling yesterday to compose a short description of the post and why I loved it so I could submit it to the editor (the new Editor's picks comes out today), that I should try to find some way to thank the two people who had picked me last time around.

I went back to the Editor's picks post and realized that, as with all things BC, there were comments left there. In perusing the post, I realized that it was none other than Alpha (nee Howard)--the blogger who outed himself--who had recommended (along with the Politics editor) my Pro-life/Anti sex piece to begin with.

In another comment, I saw that another blogger had recommended my "AA: Threat or Menace?" as a pick for this week. This BC writer had had been picked twice last week as well, and thus had the opportunity to pick his faves this week.

As I noted in the comments, where I finally thanked those who had been so nice to me, "I love this place!"

Now, a word about the commenters to my two most controversial and comment-laden posts:

In a word, there are some seriously misguided and disturbed people out there, IMHO--people who would like nothing better than to figuratively--and perhaps even literally--come into your bedroom and have a say in how, when, and with whom you choose to sleep with, and whether or not you use birth control (some are ardently against it).

In the Army ads post, one sometimes belligerent commenter was a 17 year old whose parents have permitted him to sign up so he can officially be enlisted in the army after he graduates from high school. This selfsame kid (an untutored child, really) also had plenty to say about pro-choicers, calling them "pro-death athiests," among other things.

I have tried again and again to point out that using a condom can solve several issues: the prevention of HIV and other STDs; the prevention of unwanted pregnancies; and the prevention of abortions stemming from these selfsame unwanted pregnancies.

But many of the pro-lifers who commented either ignore my point, or will have none of it.

I try to see both sides of every argument, but when it comes, for example, to someone actually implying that they would control my sex life like some sort of fascist sex police unit, it kinda gives me the creeps.

In any case, I've found it very rewarding to receive and respond to this plethora of comments, and I feel very welcomed by my fellow BCers already. To me, having two forums to spout my Shitrat rants and opinions seems like a win-win situation all around.

Thing is, that since BC has a larger pool of readers, and thus commenters, I've had cause to come out of my little liberalish (I like to call it more like libertarian) New York Jewgirl bubble and be faced with the fact that the country does, indeed, have a large contingent of folks who support Bush and the war all the way, and who have ultra conservative views about sex and how it should be practiced by themselves and all others.

And the trolls are always looking for a little snackie, no matter how much I try not to feed them. But I'd say I've only dealt with three so far.

Truly a wild and wacky blogging adventure....

Monday, January 23, 2006

Let's talk about drugs--again

Me and my drugs
Originally uploaded by knautia.
Back in August, I wrote a post called Let's Talk about Drugs. Some of you may not have seen it here, but (get ready) I've shortened it a bit and re-posted it over at BlogCritics. As I did there, I'll just tease you here with the tagline:

"I'm sure I would be a "Ritalin kid" if I were a first-grader today. I'm grateful I wasn't."

PS--Paula, thanks for the cool comment to this BC post!

I'll be back to answer comments to the last Shithouse post later. You guys rule!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Well alrighty then--time for some blog gossip!

Jen Finally Talks..
Originally uploaded by karroozi.
Well, I finally crossed the line two nights ago, and wound up actually sleeping with Herman, my trusty Mac.

Addicted to the blogosphere to an unhealthy degree? Arguably. Having the time of my life? Absolutely. Having blog dreams? All the time.

But this latest development does seem really sick, doesn't it? Though I'll admit to enjoying a deep, consuming, and meaningful relationship with Herman, I just didn't think it was going to get quite this hot and heavy. Last night, the cat joined us, which was even kinkier.

What happened is this: I have been keeping weird hours. I may nap in the evening and then wake up at 2 or 3 am, turn on Herman, and do some blogging or commenting til I get tired again. So I"m on and off the computer at various times all day and night.

Thing is, that when I'm at BG's I blog on the far end of his small futon/couch in the living room. When I'm done for awhile or want to nap on the couch or watch TV, I typically turn Herman off and move him down to the floor to the left of the couch so he's out of the way. But this repeated moving of Herman has resulted in my computer wires fraying, and it's a pain in the butt to have to reboot every time I have an urge to get back on.

So two nights ago, I just kept Herman on at the foot of the couch, laid down for a nap, woke up, and started playing again. Then when I tired, I repeated the above. I'll leave it to anyone who cares to comment to decide just how far gone I really have become.

Anyway, blogging here was addictive enough, but as I've repeated ad nauseum, I've recently also joined BlogCritics, and love it as well. The site gets a huge amount of traffic, and is designed to be both writer and commenter friendly. When a member posts a story, there is a large space at the end of the piece and before the comments which links the interested reader to the writer's other BlogCritics posts, as well as a providing a link to their personal website. Comments are considered an essential part of the "conversation," and there are plenty of them. Personal attacks are not allowed, and a comment moderator is on the lookout for epithet hurling, which is later edited or removed if necessary. But this is done judiciously if at all, and always taking into account the context of the conversational flow and overalll intent.

Now the next bit may seem like I'm bragging, and I cringe at the thought that I might appear to be doing so. But I present the following simply as a lead up to a kvetch I have about the BlogCritics site--or rather, regarding one long-standing member who I think may actually be a bit jealous of my "overnight success." That's probably too extreme, as I think this fellow specializes in being contenious and cantankerous, which I can deal with and have already done with aplomb. But I think with this particular fellow BlogCritic, there may at the very least be some sort of initiation ceremony going on as far as trying to burst the upstart newbie's little pink bubble of bliss.

OK, deep breath--
I've published 14 posts to BlogCritics since I began on January 3rd--some of them new; some adapted from old Shithouse tales. Right now, I have three posts on the BlogCritics Hot Topics board. Hot Topics are posts which have had the most comments in the past 72 hours, and they stay there as long as applicable. A fourth post was up there also til a day or two ago. Being on the Hot Topics board is also beneficial because your story remains on the front page longer. A story routinely only stays on the main page for four days before it's archived, and with each passing day it goes lower down the front page line, thus making it less visible to the average reader.

My piece Pro-Life or Anti-Sex, posted on January 14, has garnered 378 comments thus far and was cited twice under this weeks Editor's picks page. My old Shithouse post Those Army Ads are BROILING my BUTT!, which I posted to BC on January 17, has amassed 128 comments. I'm also enjoying and commenting to other posts, since the variety and quality of articles at what is essentially more an online magazine than a blog is mostly top notch.

For the Editor's picks of the week, the Politics editor chose the "Anti-sex" post, as did a fellow blogger who'd had a piece picked out last week. (Writers who've been picked have the option of doing a pick of their own the following week). Here's an excerpt of what Writer alpha said:

"Pro-Life or Anti-Sex? by Elvira Black:....I really chose this post as a performance: both the writing and the moderation of comments. She answered critics, thanked commenters, found good things to say whenever possible and attempted to keep the thread on a fair and thoughtful rather than personal track. A Blogcritics strength is the comments make each article interactive. Elvira used and guided that firestorm to make her article, the Bambanek post and the comments one long conversation. Kudos."

OK, so here's my point. This post brought up a lot of emotions in many people, and represents a subtopic of a very controversial pro-life/pro-choice debate. Although I do my best to respond to every comment on Shitrat if at all possible, on a piece with so many comments over at BC I simply let people "talk amongst themselves" where appropriate, and chiimed in from time to time after commenting more frequently when the first comments came trickling in. As I said there, I love a post that makes its own gravy even when you're not attending to it!

I was having a similarly positive experience on the comments to "Those Army Ads are Broiling my Butt!" Though the comment count is not as impressive as the even more "sexy" topic mentioned above, the discussions remained well-tempered yet lively for the most part. The first hint of real trouble came when "ArmyGirl" logged on, demanding that I click on a link she provided to a partisan Conservative think tank on army recruitment stats, and called me an Idiotarian to boot.

This was all well and good, as I am quite capable of fighting my own comment battles. But at some point a BC regular writer and commenter, who had written very supportive comments to the "Anti-Sex" post, suddenly came on board and without making clear his political stance on the issue (pro-war all the way) began to pick at me for supposedly being mean to ArmyGirl.

With every response I made to him, his retorts became more and more absurd and off the main topic, finally devolving to a dismissal of the quality of my post (this despite the number of comments from him and many others). So I finally dismissed him as a troll and stated that I was posting a "please don't feed the trolls" sign in my comment. His last statement was:

"You don't know trolls until you've met X and Y. And they can't read signs.

And blowing off legitimate critics as trolls is going to leave you all alone with your fan club of one."

Let me hasten to add that though I don't know X, Y was an early and "loyal" ally of mine in my comments sections----though I take it he's not a fan of this guy--who by the way, doesn't agree with the "no personal attacks/moderated comment" policy. Gee, wonder why?

All this after adroitly handling 300 plus comments on one post and 100 plus on another. As I say, the blogger in question had a problem with my point of view, even though I tempered my anti-army commercial stance with the fact that I do support our brave troops--just not necessarily what they are being asked to fight for, and how they have arguably been deceived in the process.

So although I literally laughed this off, it did indeed take the bloom off my BC euphoria. Here was a fellow BC writer who had decided to lay into me by claiming I hurt a critical commenter's feelings, while not revealing his political affilation which was the real reason for the off-point commentary that followed. Then he siimply started attacking my post and my commenting savvy and skills in the face of all evidence to the contrary.

Finally, I felt so low that earlier this evening I actually turned Herman off and stashed him on the floor by the side of the couch, just like the "old days" and fell into a troubled sleep.

Boo hoo!

But here I am again, this time venting on my own personal space. What a relief to always have my little Shithouse "home" to run to when the big bad bloggie world gets to be too much...

Don't mean to be a blogger deadbeat...

I know I've been remiss in visiting and commenting to my blogger-pals' sites lately, but it's not because I don't care. I care, dammit! I care a LOT! I've just been caught up in the whole BlogCritics thing these past 10-ish days or so.

I'll most likely be swinging by soon though.

Is that, like, a threat or a promise?

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Another mental health related blunder--and boy is it ever a doozy

My bipolar blogpals in particular--and anyone who relies on prescription drugs in general--might find this article in today's New York Times as scary as I did:

"Medicare Woes Take High Toll on Mentally Ill
Some patients have relapsed after mix-ups in the first weeks of the new drug benefit kept them from getting their medications."

From the article:
"Residents of Dayspring Village see worms in their food. Some neglect personal hygiene because they hear voices in the shower. When nurses draw blood, some patients want the laboratory to return it so the blood can be put back in their veins."

Although to be "fair," the author doesn't directly connect this para to patients whose meds have been stopped, the rest of the article more than makes up for this alleged gaffe.

Read it and weep...

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Go ahead--call me a slut!

Originally uploaded by redking.
A blog slut, that is.

Hey, I can take it. I've been called worse before--by myself. Or maybe that was comment whore or blog pimp. I guess blog slut is even worse.

You guys are probably sick to death of seeing me pimp my Blogcritics posts. Well, sorry to say I've got another one to advertise, and it's a doozy!

It's a little thing I like to call:
Those army ads are BROILING my BUTT!.

I posted it here last July, before some of you and I had met.

So do stop by if you can and join the fray.

This has been an unpaid message from Elvira the Blogslut.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Come to my party, my Tupperware party...

Yes, I do believe there was an actual advertising jingle associated with Tupperware parties that aired long ago, and it still haunts me today. I've never had the pleasure of attending one, although I did attend a naughty lingerie party once.

Well, there is a "party" of sorts going on all right, but it has naught to do with Tupperware.

Just "had" to mention that my Blogcritics post Pro-Life or Anti-Sex? has garnered 182 comments so far.

And the vast majority of them aren't even from me (lol)!!!

It's enough to warm the cockles of any comment whore's heart.

But as I said in a recent comment to Ice, simply mention "pro-life," "pro-choice" or "sex" in a post, and you've got yourself a feeding frenzy like you wouldn't believe.

However, there are some rather peculiar life forms surfacing over there. I hereby invite my Shithouse blog buddies to swing on by and leave a comment of your own if you'd like and inject some reason into the proceedings.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Uh oh...brain itch!

Not to be confused with a brain fart...

Anyway, this has been on my mind for since...well...forever!

Why is it that the vast majority of pop music comes only from the U.S. and the U.K.?

Think about it. True, Spain and Latin America have their own brand of salsa, etc. but that's not mainstream pop. Of course Latin American performers cross over quite often too.

Japan, the Netherlands, Germany--a few. Feh.

France? Yeah, right.

But after all these decades, it still seems that the US and the UK produce the vast majority of the world's pop. Yes, they borrow from international sources, but you know what I'm sayin', right?

So why is that, anyway?

There's got to be a morning after...

Originally uploaded by NYC Guy.
Well, after all that hubbub and all your kindness and concern, I'm embarassed to say that, yes, I did return to BG's abode after spending one night downtown with L at my place.

Yeah, typical "battered wife syndrome," right? (Not that I was physically battered--hard to break bones with cheese doodles and cold soup). However, BG's brother BLLB was so alarmed after reading my post that he urged me in no uncertain terms not to go back to BG, and not to pick up the rest of my things without a police escort. (He commented as much here). He kindly and generously offered me a place to stay while I sorted out my life and my next step.

Well, BG called the day after I left, apologized, and cajoled me into coming back to his place.

I must admit, though, that my time downtown was as relaxing as it was gross-out inducing. Because L is such a slob, I didn't find myself subjected to harassment and nagging if I didn't immediately empty my ashtray or sweep stray crumbs from the floor. It was rather fun to sit around a bit and talk to L, listen to a little of the new satellite Stern show he'd subscribed to, order up real Chinatown Chinese, have a joint and a beer whenever I pleased, and generally just chill.

But the place is so filthy and vile--and so overheated--not to mention smelly--that it's just suffocating to stay there after awhile. But I sure do love that neighborhood and coop. So sad that I can't keep it (sniffle). Poor me, huh?

For those who don't know, BTW, L (my ex boyfriend) and I are in the process of getting our downtown coop ready to sell so that we can each get separate places and I can escape from BG and vice versa when it all gets to be "too much." Meanwhile, after losing his job and getting into horrible debt from his spending addictions, L was also recently diagnosed with myotonic? dystrophy, which is similar to muscuular dystrophy. He is on disability now for depression, but doubtless could get it just for the dystrophy alone, which is already affecting his manual dexterity, muscle strength, etc.

Anyway, I feel like now I have a better bargaining chip for being treated with a little more respect from BG, if I stick to my guns and don't let myself get bullied around. Yes, from the outside it sounds like your typical rationalization. But like most couples who've been together for a number of years, we do bicker. Most of the time it's half tongue in cheek. BG pretends he wants me out, then complains if I do take a break from him. He wants it, in other words, both ways. Typical borderline personality disorder behavior.

More dirt? Well, in the spirit of in for a penny, in for a pound, here's excerpts from my two e-mails to BLLB about the situation.



Many thanks for your kind and generous offer!

Well, the fact of the matter is that I'm back with BG. He called me the day after and I came back. It's pretty nasty downtown anyway (lol). But I think from now on I have a better bargaining chip for being treated with a bit more respect. I have to stand up for myself too. And if he can't handle it, I will just have to leave. I've had time to get used to the idea.

But I can't see it coming to that at this point, though it's now in the back of my mind as a "backup plan." BG has been under strain and he seems better now. Being together in this tiny apartment is nerve wracking for both of us...(snip snip).

Nevertheless, BG is probably going to come help me clean and pack the rest [Note: I'm not as sure about this now], and he finally seems to understand that L [my ex-boyfriend] does not hate him, wish him harm, or have romantic designs on me.

L is emotionally and physically disabled from his dystrophy condition, which will probably shorten his life and quite possibly cripple him at some point, leaving him confined to a wheelchair. I think BG finally sees the gravity of this, and why I feel concern for L's welfare even as I try to move things along.

L genuinely needs my help for anything requiring manual dexterity. His upper body strength is also weak, so he can't lift much. Thus one of the reasons this has dragged out for so long--he can't or won't do much on his own.

This illness also has an effect on the personality. Victims typically become flattened and apathetic in their emotional range, and start to neglect self-care and housekeeping more and more. There's even a facial characteristic that develops, which he's had the beginnings of for some time.

BG's current symptoms and behavior would take a separate, longer e-mail to describe.

So anyway, BLLB, I do so appreciate your offer. It's great to know that you guys are there if I need it. I will keep you posted, and always love to hear from you. Please let me know how you and the clan are doing.

Sistah E

OK, so I lied. I think I'll save the info in the second e-mail for a subsequent post. It occurs to me also that I have not explained for awhile what L's condition is, so I may do this later. The second e-mail deals more with BG's behavior and "symptoms." I'll post again soon.

Thanks again, my friends, for your kind comments and support.

More Blogcritics pimp outs

For anyone who might be interested, here's my latest three posts over at

(40 comments and pings so far)
Pro-lifers have a "final solution" for anyone having extramarital sex--just say no!
(Yes, this is a SIZZLING HOT TOPIC, so anyone who'd like to join the fray is, of course, more than welcome.)

I adore comments, but respond lackadaisically. I post comments to blogpals' sites, then forget whether I did. I've got issues.
(Most regular Shithouse readers have seen this post here. Though many of you commented then, over at BC there's only two responses so far. This comment whore sure could use a few more comments (lol!)

Incorporating George Harrison's "What is Life" and other seventies classics into Goodfellas, Martin Scorsese takes a good song and makes it better.
(Anyone interested in Scorsese, Goodfellas, George Harrison, movie "soundtracks" taken from existing songs, and how the significance of these songs is forever changed by being merged with a given film might enjoy checking this one out.)

Aside from this, there are many many terrific and thought provoking posts on a daily basis over at Blogcritics.

End of pimp-out.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Thanks are in order all around

Originally uploaded by scherre.
Thank you all for your kind comments and words of support regarding my dilemma. Whilst I gather my thoughts, I just wanted to give a little shoutout to three other guys--besides you guys--that I love. Yes, love.

Little did I know that my silly little post about cheese doodle attacks with a cold 12-bean soup chaser would also get attention from the fantabulous Mr. Snitch! and the stupendous Guy in New York--the latter via this week's Big Apple Blog Festival. (Do check out the BABF for the latest from my fellow New York bloggers.) Very kind of them, indeed!

There's another man I'm giving thanks to as well--and I'm singing his praises over at

Thank you, Mr. Skin!

Mr. Skin has himself a little website where he gathers together film cliips featuring celeb's naughty bits and offers them up to his fans. A great public service, if I do say so.

And switching from heartfelt gratitude to simmering annoyance, I offer up a sobering national development. Nothing too important, really. Just a little matter of a new U.S. law that just went into effect making it, like, a federal crime to "annoy" anyone online under an assumed name:

Annoyed? Don't EVEN get me started!!!

I'll be back with more on my so-called life soon. Thanks again, everyone!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

The one where Elvira lets it alllll hang out

Early this morning, BG, my boyfriend of seven years, threw me out of his Bronx apartment. Luckily for me, I have my own place in downtown Manhattan--well, half my place, since I share it with my ex-boyfriend--so I had somewhere to go.

But it's not a permanent solution, since L (my ex) and I are in the process of getting the coop ready to sell so we can each buy a place of our own. And thanks to L, my beloved apartment is now a shithole fit only for an animal to live in--and that's actually an insult to animals everywhere.

In any case, you may wonder how it came to pass that at 3 am this morning, BG awoke from his troubled, drunken sleep, stumbled into the living room, and began roaring at me to get out. Never one for subtleties, BG underscored his message by attacking me with a bag of cheese puffs (don't laugh--you had to be there). It quickly escalated to him throwing a (cold) cup of 12-bean soup all over me and spitting on me a couple dozen times. If there's one thing BG is, over and above all else, it's dramatic.

What would drive him to such extremes? Well, I guess it's a combo of his mental and emotional illnesses, and the fact that he drank to excess last evening. As so often happens when he indulges, he's not happy until he gets so crocked that he can't stand up straight. Last night's antics ended in a crescendo of broken glass, when he fell backward into a full length mirror in the bedroom and shattered it to pieces. Nice, eh? At least this time he didn't fall onto his weights and break his coccyx bone, as he did a few years back.

Though I assure you that I did not do anything to deserve quite such shabby treatment, I can't say that I'm perfect by any means. Probably one of the most immediate problems BG and I have had over the past year is the fact that he quit AA and I have became an internet addict. We used to do a lot of things together--now we only party together. Other than that, our relationship seems to have devolved to the point of living separate lives in separate rooms.

In any case, as BG wandered in and out, raging and even sobbing, cajoling me to get out NOW, I quickly showered and tried to collect my thoughts as well as the bare-bones belongings I would need. But it was a hazardous endeavor. I'd just gone through heaven and hell two days before to procure some very nice weed that BG now had stored in his little cubby closet, and while he was in the other room I quickly grabbed it and packed it. I had every right to, since I'd bought it with my own money. My quick thinking paid off when shortly afterward, BG went looking for it--apparently intending to flush it down the toilet. (Can you say "boundary issues?") So he had to be content with trashing his inferior stuff instead.

Next, I tried to put together a little "desert-island" mini collection of CD's (mine, not his) to take with me. When he wandered in again, he threw them down and started to stomp on them. I managed to save them, but most of the covers are now smashed.

As the piece de resistance, he demanded his keys back. I had no intention of giving them up at this point, since I have some important papers stored at this place, and a few other odds and ends I might like to hang onto. So I gathered my two giant shopping bags, went downstairs, and grabbed a cab to Manhattan. It was then about 5:30 am, and when I arrived at my coop dawn was just beginning to break.

I endured a kind of dress rehearsal for this day last week, when BG pulled a similar stunt and I stayed downtown overnight. We called a truce, I guess, but whatever demons haunt him are still doing a sorry jig inside his head. But today, I'm more mentally and emotionally prepared for the very real possibility that this, my second long-term relationship, is finally over.

So the question is, what do I do now? Well, I have a few options--and options are always a nice luxury to have. I can continue to get the coop prepped for sale, and then maybe try to get myself a little place in Queens while I still have a snowball's chance in hell of grabbing something I can afford. It's a buyer's market right now--though of course that means we'll have a tougher time unloading the Manhattan place too.

Or I could take a break and go travelling. Thing is, though, I really shouldn't let the coop sale get put on the back burner, unless I think I might actually want to live somewhere else altogether.

The third option would be to just get this place cleaned up and take up residence with L again on a "roomates only" basis. I love this coop with all my heart, and I'm heartbroken at the thought of selling it. But as I mentioned before, L has turned it into a putrid hellhole. And since I broke up with him seven years ago, wouldn't it be going backward to live with L again? As it is, I lived with the man for twenty years--isn't two decades of angst long enough?

For the time being, the first option--hanging here and preparing to sell--seems like the logical thing to do.

That's it for now--I'll probably post more at some point. Any suggestions, my friends?

Saturday, January 07, 2006

My blogging doppelganger

Originally uploaded by Redskynight.
For me, blogging under a "pen-name" means that I now have a separate blog-self that's better-looking, more fun-loving, and more popular than "I" am.

Posted on Blogcritics.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Apocalypse now?

The sinking country
Originally uploaded by * Ivan *.
Another blogcritics post from Elvira:

Yeats' "The Second Coming"--a chilling vision of the End of Days--has somehow never seemed more prophetic.

Apocalypse now?

Blogging from both sides of my brain

My Brain on MRI
Originally uploaded by CaptPiper.
Thanks to all my blog pals who congratulated me on joining Blogcritics. As I've mentioned in the comments, it's not like they recruited me or anything--I just asked to join based on their criteria. In other words, if anyone here is interested, you could join up too.

The thing about the site that really excited me was that it deals with another side of writing that I've come to love and practice over the years--cultural criticism, review, and analysis. (Not to mention that being a blog whore, I just couldn't resist the fact that Blogcritics is one of the most well-visited sites on the internet, with millions of hits under its awe-inspiring belt.) The site is basically set up as an on-line general interest magazine, covering music, books, film, television, culture in general, politics, sports, gaming, science and tech, current events and breaking news, opinion, and satire. Quite a tempting menu for me, to say the least.

Anyway, my point, if there is one, is that my personal blog is great for, well, personal, first person rants. Blogcritics makes me use the other side of my writing brain as well.

However, some of my posts here cross over and can be adapted to Blogcritics. So yesterday, I cut down and edited another Shithouse oldie and posted "Pomo for Dummies." This was resurrected from deep in the Shithouse archives, so most people who read me here now would never have seen it anyway. It's gratifying to go back to some of these posts, dust them off, clean them up, and bring them back into the "spotlight," such as it is.

But of course, as with everything else, I've got some Jewish blog-guilt going on over the fact that I've fallen behind on commenting and visiting my Shithouse pals. Even before this, I found keeping up with the posting/visiting/ commenting/responding to comments merry go round to be a very challenging endeavor. But I am definitely not giving that up!

Anyway, if anyone is interested in pomo (aka postmodernism), swing on by Blogcritics and take a peek at Pomo for Dummies and check out the site itself if you've a mind to. And again, if you're interested in joining Blogcritics yourself, you can find more info here.


The incompably sweet and deliciousAriadnek of Weird Cake hath tagged me verily, and sorely vexed me. Just kidding, but I had to wrack my scrambled brains a bit to come up with the three requred items for the meme below. Well, anywho, here goes:

"The rules are simple: now that you have been busted, you must confess to 3 things that you do that others don't know about."

1. I LOVE gossip. Not the malicious kind, usually--however, since I was a psych/soc major back in the day, I still like to analyze people almost as if they were "case studies." Sort of taking, as a good friend once suggested, the point of view of an alien coming down to earth and observing human behavior from a neutral, bemused perspective. Rather than getting emotionally overwrought at mankind's foibles, it can sometimes be fruitful to say to oneself: "My, these humans are peculiar. Whyever do they do these strange things? Fascinating!" I figure if it's good enough for Spock and Data, it's good enough for me. And this method, of course, can also be used on myself, though that can be a lot harder to do.

2. I'm sometimes too much of a know it all. I try--not always successfully--to resist the temptation to give unsolicited advice to people who confide their problems or struggles or dreams to me. As a result, I sometimes make a horse's ass out of myself--but I'm trying to improve.

3. I'm terrible with numbers and stats. If you asked me to tell you how much was in my bank account right now (not that it's any kind of big fortune by any means) or how much I paid for something at the grocery store (which is why I love 99 cent stores--easy to remember that way) or even today's date, I'm often hopelessly stuck.

Which reminds me: one of the things they sometimes ask you before they admit you to the loony bin is what day it is. I can usually master the day of the week, but if this were the sole criteria for sanity, I'd be in the rubber room on a permanent basis. At least I can name the current president--though what I actually call him will have to wait for another meme.

OK, lesse now (rubbing hands together in glee):

By the powers vested in me, I hereby tag Mr. 12 Step, Paula, and artdetective.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

"I'm so excited!!!..."

Originally uploaded by progoddess.
"...And I just can't hide it!
I'm about to lose control
And I think I like it!"

Thanks, Pointer Sisters, for representin' and helping me express my utter JOY, AMAZEMENT, AND EUPHORIA over becoming a brand-new member of onsite as "A sinister cabal of superior bloggers on music, books, film, popular culture, technology, and politics."

It's been quite awhile since I've donned my cultural critic/reviewer hat, and will give me a forum to do just that, while I continue my more personal rants here.

Since sometimes these categories cross over--and since the Blogcritics editor asked me to submit my first post posthaste--I've included an oldie there from the Shithouse archives. It's a little thing I like to call "Here's Looking at Jew, Kid."

In future, I'll either double-post my entries on the Shithouse too, or provide a link to its location on the Blogcritics site.

Hope you'll check out my very first Blogcritics entry and leave some comments there (and/or here) as well!

Monday, January 02, 2006

New York Story #4

southside commercial space
Originally uploaded by jUSTINYC.

For New Yorkers, real estate is a consuming obsession. Whether they rent or own, virtually everyone has a tale of triumph and/or horror to tell, and tell they do. The three--or rather five--only factors that really count in this equation are size; price; and location, location, location. But what consitutes the quality of a "location" in New York, especially in the past 15-20 odd years and counting, is subject to change. And that is a vast understatement.

Twenty years ago, you didn't have to be rich to find an apartment in Manhattan. But even back then, "old timers" who'd lived for years in rent-controlled or stabilized buildings had deals so sweet that newcomers would be green with envy. But still, in those days, if you swung into town, you could find a cheap hotel--not the Ritz, but a place to stay. Even bums could always find a Bowery flophouse for a pittance.

Today, on the other hand, in order to move to Manhattan you have to be wealthy or reside in one of the residential dorms owned by NYU (downtown) or Columbia (uptown). The cheap hotels have either undergone luxe renovations or been demolished altogether, and the typical stay in a Manhattan hotel will set you back about $300 a night. The Bowery, which for more than a century was synonymous with the last stop for alcoholic bums on the skids, is now developing into a new art gallery district, with pricey restaurants and bars to match. Virtually all the flops are on the way out or long gone.

In roughly the past three decades, especially during the boom, New York City began to experience an amazing renaissance. As the city emerged from a horrible financial hole; the subways and streets became more user friendly, and crime went down dramatically. Manhattan's major parks, which had devolved into hellish havens for drug dealers and even squatters, were renovated and are now safe, clean, and hospitable for residents and tourists alike.

In due time, Manhattan became the place where everyone wanted to be. Hotels and high rises continued to spring up, and old buildings underwent luxury renovation. Commercial rents were unregulated, so an old mom and pop store or downscale bodega could be driven out of business overnight when their lease expired and their rent doubled. In their place came more upscale offerings suitable to artists, hipsters, and yuppies.

As more and more people clamored to live here, neighborhoods that had once been unfashionable and/or sketchy became gradually gentrified. For those who knew how to read the signs, it was no surprise when even the sketchiest Manhattan neighborhoods--as well as those in the once unfashionable outer boroughs--began to transform into the new places to see and be seen.

It was back in the eighties, I'd guess, that the horror stories began. More and more friends and coworkers told of landlords trying to force them out so they could empty the building, renovate, and either charge the higher rents that renovation allowed or turn the building into a luxury rental or coop. Some stubborn folk got large payoffs to move. Now that New York was starting to boom, things were starting to get ugly, and long time tenants could not longer take for granted that they wold be able to endure the rising rents and cost of living in their newly revamped 'hoods.

Having lived here so long, and having seen these changes take place in area after area, nothing surprises me anymore. From Harlem to Chelsea, from the Lower East Side to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, from SoHo to DUMBO, neighborhoods that most thought were impervious to gentrification have become playgrounds for the hip and prosperous. The beginning of the cycle may be hard to discern, especially for the newcomer, and it may take years to come to fruition, but once the course is set, gentrification is well-nigh inevitable.

In the interests of brevity, I'll leave the analysis of how these areas change for another post. For now, I just wanted to address the subtle but definite changes that are happening in BG's northwest Bronx neighborhood--an area that is currently occupied chiefly by Latino immigrants and working poor. In some ways, this is terrific progress. But what happens to those long time residents when the newcomers with more money and privilege move in?

Shortly after the Great Crackhead Incident of 2005, BG's Bronx building changed landlords. Things seemed to be looking up soon after. First, video cameras were installed in the mail alcove. Then, floodlights were set up outside the building leading up to the entrance. An announcement was posted that pets would not be allowed for new residents, and current residents could only keep their animals if they did not let them damage the apartments, as some apparently did. Two new sets of entry doors were put in--each with their own intercom buzzer. In short, the landlord seemed to be concerned with making the building safer and nicer. Generous of him, don't you think?

Over the seven odd years that BG has lived in his building, the 'hood has taken a decided turn for the better. When his brother came up to visit the first year BG moved in, he wryly remarked, especially on weekend evenings, that it was "getting very Bronx" on the streets in the evening. Lots of loud music, partying, and boom box music emenating from SUV's. The whole works.

But as the years went by, things started to get cleaner and quieter. The park closest to BG's building got renovated. A new state of the art library is scheduled to go up in about a month's time. And the weekends are often so quiet that you could easily forget you were in New York City.

When I visit BG, I always pick up the local biweekly free Bronx paper called the Norwood News. It is here that one can read about the signs of change, progress, and economic growth that the Bronx is beginning to enjoy. Most of the news is heartening--an arts scene is burgeoning in the once horrific South Bronx; neighborhood businesses have banded together to keep the shopping areas cleaner and safer. A landmark movie theatre not far from BG's place has been restored to its former glory after languishing abandoned and forgotten for decades, and is being used for concerts and other cultural events.

But a series of recent articles made me feel uneasy about BG's new landlord and his attempts to improve the state of BG's building.

This area of the Bronx was considered very tony from the 20s through the fifies or sixties. Subway lines were constructed to allow easier access to those who worked in Manhattan and moved to the Bronx, as those who could afford it fled from the stultifying confines of cramped Manhattan tenements to the grander abodes now being built. BG's building, which was built in 1920, is one of a plethora of buildings on the Grand Concourse which sport grand architecural features, particularly in their lobbies and outer facades.

Though BG's building is now a bit worse for wear, and it is still a constant battle to remove the graffiti that keeps springing up on the outside of the building and, less commonly, in the hallways, the potential is there for an impressive restoration. And apparently, some landlords and realty companies have spotted a trend and are running with it.

Recently, a group of developers bought up a number of buildings in the northern Bronx and upper Manhattan. Their modus operandi seems to consist of trying to push long-time tenants out by intimidation. Their first step is to make improvements to the building, as BG's new landlord is doing. Then they often tack on part of the expense of this improvement onto tenant's rents. A large number of tenants have had their leases revoked for real and not-so-real "violations."

The goal seems to be to fix up the buildings, increasing their value, and then probably "flip" them over, selling them at a profit or turning the buildings into coops after the old, mostly poor tenants have been ousted.

So although I am happy, in one sense, that BG's building is being improved, I don't dare let on my anxiety about where this seemingly positive trend may one day lead. As I said to BG, rather cryptically, I doubt the landlord is doing this simply out of the kindness of his heart.

I suppose time will tell. Although it would be nice in a sense to see the neighborhood become more upscale, I can't help but wonder how many residents may be displaced by the change.

And as the artists, "urban pioneers," and hipsters jump on the bandwagon, initially drawn by the relatively cheap rents and more generous space, where will the current residents go?

Ah, there's the rub.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy blogyear!

New Year's Eve - Times Square 2005
Originally uploaded by UB1.
"For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning."
~T.S. Eliot

This past year, I did the following:

Starting blogging.

Became addicted to blogging.

Missed a season or two completely due to being indoors blogging.

Stopped eating right.

Eschewed exercise.

Smoked more cigs than ever before.

Started partying again after BG quit AA.

Started the process of preparing to sell the coop I co-own with my ex boyfriend so I can get a new one of my own.

And, um, that's about it.

But although I plan to undertake some additional activities in the coming year, I have no plans to give up blogging, because it is truly one of the best things that has ever happened to me. After writing for a living for many years, I finally have a forum where I can write what I damn well please, for the fun of it. As a bonus, I've met a lot of really cool blog pals.

Ever have one of those periods in your life where you wake up each morning totally glad to be alive? When those feel good endorphins in your brain give you that ineffible natural high? I've felt that way after realizing I'm in love; during periods of hypomania; after getting published, especially for the first time; after purchasing my Manhattan coop and celebrating my first Christmas there. Stuff like that.

Well, that's how I feel every morning (sometimes in the wee hours) when I start up Herman the Mac. In many ways, I feel like I was born at just the right time. Being a baby boomer, I grew up with TV, but also loved books and music with a passion. Similarly, I went through college and grad school without benefit of the internet. When computers started to be used at my job, they were very crude tools, which grew more sophisticated year after year. The fact that I witnessed the exponential progression of the personal computer first hand makes me appreciate it all the more.

Anyway, like many of you, I've made some New Year's resolutions. I want to try to live a more normal life again--getting out, spending more quality time with BG, maybe even meeting some local bloggers in the flesh. Exercising, eating right, cutting down on the cigs. Getting a brand new place. All that happy horseshit.

But one thing I will continue to do is blog, even as I try to control my addiction a bit. No matter how much BG rails and rants about my "stupid toy," writing is as important to me as painting is to him. To paraphrase Charlton Heston, they'll have to pry my cold, dead fingers off this keyboard before I give it up. Conversely, I hope for his sake that BG will set aside more time to paint, even at the expense of his obsessive cleaning and working out and fretting (and on again, off again partying).

So to all my blog pals, I hope you had a great year. I hope your resolutions bear fruit. And I hope we'll still all be visiting and commenting to each other's sites, same time next year.

Have a happy and healthy New Year, my new friends!