trying times

Chelsea Manning is apparently running for the United States Senate to represent the State of Maryland. I say ‘apparently’ because although she’s filed her intent with the Federal Elections Commission (which will allow her to raise campaign funds), she hasn’t yet filed with the Maryland State Board of Elections — which is necessary if she wants to actually appear on the primary ballot.

She’s running to replace Senator Ben Cardin. Cardin is usually rated as one of the most liberal Democrats in Congress. He’s a consistent F with the National Rifle Association, he’s been a proponent of the Affordable Care Act, he supports Net Neutrality, he’s been consistently in favor of raising taxes on higher income earners, he voted against the war in Iraq, he’s been active in expanding protections for foster children, and he’s fought for stricter ethical standards in government. Cardin also recently released a report on Russian efforts to undermine democracy and the rule of law in Europe and the United States.

Senator Ben Cardin (D – Maryland)

I like and, for the most part, respect Ben Cardin. I’m not a fan of his open Zionism and I question his occasional willingness to consider environmental compromises, but overall I think he’s been a good legislator. I don’t know enough about Chelsea Manning to like her, but I respect the way she accepted responsibility for leaking classified military and diplomatic information.

I completely understand why the military and the diplomatic corps needs to keep secrets. I also completely understand why there are times those secrets need to be revealed. Most leakers and whistleblowers try to avoid responsibility for their leaks. They want the information out there in the public, but they don’t want to suffer the consequences of leaking the information. Chelsea Manning, to her credit, leaked the information, got caught, pleaded guilty to some of the charges, went to trial on some others, and got sentenced to 35 years in prison.

There are folks who consider her a hero, and there are folks who see her as a traitor. Both arguments have merit, in my opinion. I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive. Sometimes betraying your country is heroic; sometimes standing up for your country is cowardice. I’m not terribly interested in whether Chelsea Manning is a hero or a traitor or both; I just want to know what her ideas are.

Chelsea Manning

So here’s me — I like and respect Cardin, I respect Manning. Some people have said she shouldn’t run a primary campaign against a solid, reliable, mostly liberal Democrat. To which I replied, “Piss off…let her run. Let her engage in the marketplace of ideas, and let the good people of Maryland decide which candidate’s ideas they like the best.”

I still feel that way. But I have to say, Manning’s campaign announcement video makes me wonder what the hell her ideas are. Here, watch:

It’s not just that the video is awkward (though it is), or that her voice-over is wooden (and lawdy, it is). The thing about the video is that with a different candidate and a different voice-over, this could easily be a right-wing nutcase propaganda piece. This is what she actually says:

We live in trying times. Time of fear, of suppression, hate. We don’t need more…or better…leaders; we need someone willing to fight. We need to stop asking them to give us our rights. They won’t support, they won’t compromise. We need to stop expecting that our systems will somehow fix themselves. We need to actually take the reins of power from them. We need to challenge them at every level. We need to fix this. We don’t need them anymore. We can do better. You’re damned right we got this.

Substitute a short-haired Aryan face for the image of a trans woman, exchange the footage of the Nazi rally with a BLM rally, and replace the voice-over with a deeper, more menacing voice and that video would be appropriate a pro-Trump candidate.

I really like the idea of more trans folk running for office. I also like the idea of old privileged white guys — even those who are solid Democrats — being challenged by younger and more diverse candidates. And I really like the idea of shaking up the Democratic Party, which has been a moral and political Tower of Jello these last few years.

But that video? It’s grounded in fear, not in change. It’s not about politics, even; it’s about Chelsea Manning. It suggests that the world is in turmoil and in order to fix it we need a trans woman. And hey, that may be true. But being a trans woman isn’t, in itself, enough. Be a trans woman with ideas and tell us what those ideas are.

If you want to take the reins of power, first tell me what you want to do with them.

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time insists on change

“Because things are the way they are, things will not stay the way they are.” Brecht was right about that. Time insists on change. That’s not a bad thing — but it’s not always welcome.

Corning’s Cash Store

In 1893, the International Order of Odd Fellows established Lodge 576, apparently named for General William Tecumseh Sherman — the Union general who famously (or infamously) inflicted total war on the Confederate states during the U.S. Civil War thirty years earlier. The Odd Fellows held their meetings upstairs and leased the ground floor to Corning’s Cash Store.

At some point in the 1940s, the grocery store was sold and Fairground Hardware opened. Mike (I don’t know his last name) bought the place about twenty years ago. In a couple of days, everything in the store will be auctioned off, and Fairground Hardware will become…something else. Possibly a bistro.

Fairground Hardware

The fact that Fairground Hardware lasted as long as it did is something of a miracle. Small, local hardware stores have been failing for more than a decade, driven out of business by big box ‘home improvement’ enterprises and giant retail chains. Online shopping drove the last nail in the hardware coffin.

Fairground Hardware’s survival was due in part to its location; as the name suggests, it’s located directly across from the Iowa State Fairgrounds. During the ten days of the state fair, the hardware store saw a lot of customers — drawn in more by the store’s appearance and its peculiar inventory. A lot of people enter the store just to look around.

That was certainly what first attracted me to the store. I occasionally eat at a working class diner on the corner opposite Fairground Hardware, and I always found myself intrigued by the store. Not so much the structure itself, but by the fact that it was called a hardware store, and yet the shop windows contained an assortment of cowboy hats, old radios, oddly shaped tin canisters, and ancient advertisements for products I’d never heard of before.

The interior of the shop makes the shop windows seem almost normal. Yes, there are some of the things you’d expect to find in a hardware store — wood screws, paint brushes, wrench sets, replacement parts for water heaters and toilets, mallets, cold chisels, shovels, crank-neck gouges, screwdrivers. But scattered throughout the store are things you do not expect to find in a hardware store — things that have nothing to do with hardware at all. Things that have nothing to do with normal reality.

Stepping into Fairground Hardware is like stepping into a set for a David Lynch film. The mix of normal and not-normal is wonderfully disorienting. Above a display of sockets for wrenches, you’ll find brightly colored fishing lures hung on a line like holiday ornaments. A plastic lobster is affixed to a ceiling water pipe, under which is a selection of coils of industrial wire. An old leather horse collar hangs from a peg-board along with some gardening tools.

Everywhere you turn you find yourself saying, “Wait…what? Why are there taxidermied Canada Geese next to the Allen wrenches, which are beside the cans of spray paint? Who puts PVC pipe and vintage Melmac dishes together, along with toy trains and light bulbs? Putty knives and puppets and metal screws? What? Halloween decorations? And…wait, canned goods? Those can’t be actual canned goods. Can they? Can they?

Maybe the shelving made sense at one point in time. But it seems clear that in recent years none of this stuff was placed where it is as part of a merchandising strategy. It’s equally clear it hasn’t been placed simply to astonish the customers. I can’t say how Mike decided to put anything where he did, but walking through the store it feels more like he simply had a thing in his hand and saw a place without a thing, and so put the thing in his hand right there. And that’s where it stayed.

Mike himself, the owner, you couldn’t call him a ‘character’. Not really. I’ve probably gone into Fairground Hardware once or twice a year for the past few years. He can probably tell I’m just there to look, not to shop — and for the most part, he’s remained quiet and reserved. But when he decides to talk, he talks. You can’t get him to stop. And he’ll talk about almost any subject. The Old West, his childhood traumas, Donald Trump (he’s a fan), clowns, the inevitability of change. You can try to ease your way out of the conversation, you can say, “Well, I should probably be goin…”, and he’ll start on another tangent — his issues with his foot, why he prefers baseball caps to other hats, the history of camouflage.

You get the sense that he spends a lot of time alone in that shop — and that he’s been okay with that. He’s not reconciled to the fact that Fairground Hardware is going to close. He’s obviously a tad skeptical of the plan to turn the building into a bistro — you can tell simply by the way he says bistro, as though the term itself smells like bad cheese.

Time insists on change. Because things are the way they are, things will not stay the way they are. Because things are the way they are, the authentic weirdness of Fairground Hardware will likely give way to a trendy bistro. In a working class neighborhood. That’s not a bad thing — but it’s not always welcome. And it’ll be a sad day when Mike has to turn off the ‘Open’ sign for the last time.

what i know now

Yesterday I read the transcript of Glenn Simpson’s congressional testimony. Simpson is basically the bull goose of Fusion GPS, the strategic research firm that hired former MI6 intelligence officer Christopher Steele to look into candidate Donald Trump’s dealings in Russia. The testimony is fascinating in several ways, and it’s difficult to determine which aspects of it are most important. So instead of trying to impose some sort of order of importance, I’m just going to talk about what I learned.

First, and most important, is this fact: the folks at Fusion GPS are professionals. I need to go off on a short tangent here. I spent seven years as private investigator specializing in criminal defense. From the title, people reasonably assume my job was to help accused criminals who are being prosecuted. In fact, my job was to gather facts and information and report my findings to the defense attorney. If that information supported the defendant, the attorney needed to know that; if it didn’t, the attorney needed to know that as well. I didn’t go out looking for information that would benefit the defendant or that would hurt the prosecution; I just looked for information that was accurate and credible. It didn’t matter to me if it helped or hurt the lawyer’s case.

Glenn Simpson, Fusion GPS

That’s basically what Fusion GPS does on a global basis. They learn stuff for other people. Here’s how Simpson described their work:

“You tell us what your problem is and we customize a research solution. In general when people come to us and they tell us what their challenge is, we stipulate that they retain us for 30 days, they agree to pay our fee, they don’t tell us what to do, they don’t tell us, you know, what result to get.”

Fusion gets hired (and re-hired) because they provide accurate and reliably credible information, regardless of whether it’s the information that benefits their client. Their entire business model rests on their reputation. The thing about professional investigators (as opposed to politicians) is that they don’t mold their findings to fit the needs of the person signing the check. These guys are pros; they do NOT fuck around.

Second, the congressional aides for Sen. Charles Grassley DO fuck around. They spent a LOT of the nine-hour interview aggressively asking questions about Fusion’s investigation of the Prevezon case (a massive, complex, international tax fraud case involving Russia). It seemed obvious the purpose of those questions was to discredit Fusion by suggesting that in the Prevezon case they’d had been paid in some obscure way by Russians, and therefore…something. They weren’t trying to elicit information about the investigation of Russian interference, they were trying to disparage Fusion and Steele.

Third, what Fusion discovered was a nexus of interactions and dealings between Trump and people associated with Russian organized crime and Russian security services (which sometimes overlap). They found nothing overtly criminal — just a long history of business transactions that were suspicious, shady, and well-hidden.

Fourth, Fusion hired Steele to do the sort of work Fusion doesn’t do. Most of what Fusion does is document-based. Following paper trails. Discovering relationships by delving into deep, obscure bureaucratic files and public records. That gives them solid, objective, unbiased information — a document says what it says. But the public record only takes you so far. It was also necessary to actually talk to people who dealt with Trump’s business dealings in Russia.

This is an entirely different sort of investigation. It’s less about accuracy of information than it is about the credibility of the informant. A document says what it says; people say all sorts of ridiculous shit for all sorts of ridiculous reasons. Documents can give you accurate information; people are capable of giving you very accurate misinformation, maybe by accident, maybe on purpose. This gets even more complicated when dealing with Russia and Russian agents, who are trained in actively providing disinformation.

Christopher Steele, former MI6 officer

This was Christopher Steele’s area of expertise — human intelligence. Determining who is credible and who isn’t, the degree to which the information is reliable, how much it can be trusted, what motives do people have to provide misleading information. Steele began talking to people, and what he learned alarmed him. The fact that Steele was alarmed was, in itself, alarming to Simpson.

Fifth, this is what Christopher Steele discovered:

“[Steele’s] concern, which is something that  counterintelligence people deal with a lot, is whether or not there was blackmail going on, whether a political candidate was being blackmailed or had been compromised.”

Sixth, contrary to what Republicans have been claiming, Simpson and Fusion weren’t sure what to do with that information. Republicans have been claiming the entire Fusion investigation was intended to harm Trump. In fact, the information uncovered by Steele left Simpson unsure how to respond. Steele wanted to report the information to the FBI; Simpson wasn’t sure if that was appropriate.

“[T]his was not considered by me to be part of the work that we were doing. This was — to me this was like, you know, you’re driving to work and you see something happen and you call 911, right. It wasn’t part of the — it wasn’t like we were trying to figure out who should [contact the FBI]. He said he was professionally obligated to do it.”

Seventh, although Steele did report his findings to the FBI, he discovered that the FBI was already aware of some of the problem. It had been reported by somebody in either the Trump business world or the Trump campaign.

“Essentially what [Steele] told me was they had other intelligence about this matter from an internal Trump campaign source and that — that they — my understanding was that they believed Chris at this point — that they believed Chris’s information might be credible because they had other intelligence that indicated the same thing and one of those pieces of intelligence was a human 10 source from inside the Trump organization.”

Eighth – and this is a big deal which seems to be getting overlooked – Simpson was reluctant to provide too much information to the congressional aides for fear the information could get somebody hurt.

“There are some things I know that I just don’t feel comfortable sharing because obviously it’s been in the news a lot lately that people who get in the way of the Russians tend to get hurt.”

Jason Foster, Chief Investigative Counsel for Sen. Grassley

Later in the interview, the extent of this becomes more clear during this testy exchange between Simpson, Simpson’s lawyer (Mr. Levey) and Jason Foster, Senator Grassley’s Chief Investigative Counsel:

FOSTER: So without getting into naming the sources or anything like that, what steps did you take to try to verify their credibility?

MR. SIMPSON: I’m going to decline to answer that.

MR. FOSTER: Why?

MR. LEVY: It’s a voluntary interview, and in addition to that he wants to be very careful to protect his sources. Somebody’s already been killed as a result of the publication of this dossier and no harm should come to anybody related to this honest work.

MR. FOSTER: I’m not asking him to identify the sources. I’m just asking what steps he took to try to verify or validate the information.

MR. LEVY: He’s given you —

MR. FOSTER: If he can answer generally without identifying the sources, I’d ask him to answer.

MR. LEVY: He’s given you over nine hours of information and he’s going to decline to answer this one question.

So here’s what I know as a result of the release of this transcript. Fusion GPS was NOT hired to find dirt on Trump. Trump is/was at least vulnerable to blackmail by Russian security services. The FBI was already aware of that before Fusion and Steele provided them with the Steele dossier. The FBI has/had a source either in the Trump business world or in the Trump campaign. Somebody has been killed as a result of leaks involving the dossier.

I also know that Republicans – and specifically Sen. Grassley – opposed the release of this transcript. I suspect his opposition was grounded in partisanship. I know Grassley’s aides were more concerned with discrediting Fusion than with learning about possible interference with the election process and collusion within the Trump campaign. I know Grassley submitted a ‘referral’ to the FBI to have Christopher Steele investigated for possibly lying to the FBI (despite the fact that FBI had already met with Steele and had decided his information was credible) in what was obviously another attempt to discredit the dossier.

Senator Charles Grassley

And I know this: Republican members of Congress are more concerned with protecting President Trump than with the integrity of the US election system, the rule of law, and democracy in general. I know the entire Republican Congress is essentially complicit in what is perhaps the biggest crime ever perpetrated against the United States.

That’s what I know. And it makes me sick to my stomach.

the things i do for you guys, i declare

If you’re like me (and really, there’s absolutely no reason to suppose you’d be like me, but let’s just agree that it’s theoretically possible), you probably read Comrade Trump’s tweets this morning and thought to yourself, “Oy gevalt, what will they say about this mishigas on FreeRepublic?”.

You can relax now. Because I checked. See what I’m willing to do for you, even though you didn’t ask? You can thank me later. Anyway, here’s some of what they had to say:

— Twitter heads explode again. “Wile E. Coyote” was trending. — SMGFan

— This is an example of why Trump is glorious! The lefties will be drooling and tripping all over their tongues. — dforest (Never let a Muslim cut your hair.)

— I know l am In the minority here but I think it Trump sounds a little on the defensive with this. I think he needs to watch less CNN and MSNBC. — gibsonguy

— Those who criticize his tweeting are “made to look like fools”. President Trump fights back. He is winning. MAGA. President Trump is very different than most repubs who sit back and whimper when attacked by LIB lunatics. — hal ogen (First Amendment or Reeducation Camp?)

— Trump is a genius for sure – he works at a level not many even know exist. IQ off charts. Humble he is not. Trump can challenge any member of congress to an intellectual battle of wits. He would win against almost all and blow most out of the water so badly it would be an embarrassment. — rdcbn

— A MAN who is our PRESIDENT and who is also VERY GOOD at “pressing the other guy’s buttons.” Trump keeps those DIM-BULBS dancing to HIS MUSIC. — VideoDoctor

— He will be making the mainstream media chase the red dot for days after this including getting Mensa experts on TV meanwhile he will make them look like fools chasing the red dot While he gets Tons and tons of stuff done on our behalf. You should be grateful. He posts these tweets knowing they will say he is a fool he is taking all of the arrows for us while getting tons of stuff done for us. — CincyRichieRich  (Hurtling deplorable!)

— Fun to watch. 5.56mm — M Kehoe

— I will never understand the people that wince at the tweets. They are delightfully subcutaneous — mylife ( The roar of the masses could be farts)

— please brag more Mr. President. it offends the retards… they NEED to be offended, it helps feed the dark side of their “VICTIM” complex. just… you know… like a knife… stick it to them… and twist it… — MIAcc11212 (10 metres, 10 rounds, 10 seconds, grouped within 10 cm…)

And there you have it. These are verbatim, by the way, in case you were wondering. Heads are exploding, Trump is glorious, MAGA, and don’t let a Muslim cut your hair.

biggest exploding heads

I haven’t read Michael Wolff’s new book Fire and Fury; Inside the Trump White House of Fuckwitted Fuckwits OMG You Guys!!! I probably won’t read it. I’ve read the same excerpts most of you have read, and that’s probably enough.

I mean, all the horrible things Wolff says about Comrade Trump? It’s basically stuff many of us already believed. Hell, most of it is stuff we’ve already witnessed. Trump being crude and rude? Every day. Trump being mean and spiteful? Every day. Trump displaying massive ignorance of the world around him? Every damned day. Trump demonstrating a complete lack of interest in…well, just about anything but himself (and, to a lesser extent, Ivanka)? Yes, of course, every day.

Seriously, everybody who’s read the following excerpt has said, “Yep, that’s Trump.”

Here was a man singularly focused on his own needs for instant gratification, be that a hamburger, a segment on Fox & Friends or an Oval Office photo opp. “I want a win. I want a win. Where’s my win?” he would regularly declaim. He was, in words used by almost every member of the senior staff on repeated occasions, “like a child.”

Like a child. A spoiled, pampered, spiteful child. Here’s a true thing: Donald Trump is basically Dudley Dursley in a bloated adult body. You know…Dudley Dursley? Harry Potter’s cousin? The fat, cruel, selfish, violent bully with no feelings whatsoever for others? This guy:

Comrade Trump wants more. More than anybody else. Doesn’t even matter what it is, he wants more. Always more. More and bigger. The biggest. He wants the biggest inauguration crowds, the biggest tax cut, the biggest missiles, the biggest wall, the biggest brain, the biggest generals, the biggest ratings.

Trump, of course, says the book is all lies. He’s threatened to sue Steve Bannon, who apparently is quoted frequently in the book, for violating a non-disclosure agreement AND defamation. Trump has the biggest legal team, but they don’t seem to understand that in order for a statement to be defamatory, it has to be untrue, And if a statement is untrue, then it can’t be a violation of a non-disclosure agreement. This is just another example of how Comrade Trump has put together a team of fuckwits.

What’s most entertaining about this (a year ago, I’d have felt bad for finding any of this entertaining — but significant Trump exposure has made me a tad more cruel) is the fact that so many conservatives are complaining that the book might possibly have a few minor factual details somewhat wrong. They feel the book doesn’t depict Comrade Trump in a very favorable light. They feel the book is perhaps a wee bit biased.

I find that entertaining because those same conservative asshats twenty years writing and promoting similar books about Hillary Clinton. They spent eight years writing and promoting similar books about Barack Obama. Wildly outrageous books full of blatant lies, delusional thinking, and insane conspiracy theories. Now I’m finding it wildly entertaining to read FreeRepublic and see them attempt to reconcile what Bannon says with what Comrade Trump says. A lot of them have decided that Trump and Bannon are in cahoots. Seriously. They’re positing that these two guys are acting, that they’re only appearing to abuse and insult each other. They’re doing this in order to lull snowflake liberals into…something, so that something something, after which there’ll be something and liberal heads will explode. Not too sure what that something is, but the turf will be littered with exploded liberal heads.

Liberal heads exploding — that’s how conservatives measure the value of just about anything. The more liberal head that explode, the better a thing is.

I don’t expect to see conservative heads explode over this. The material is too dense.

julius caesar, the foreskin of jesus, time to dance

Time is weird. No, wait…that’s not right. Time isn’t weird; the way people mark time, that’s what’s weird. For a big chunk of Western history, the new year began on March 1. Which makes actual sense, if you think about it. I mean, that’s pretty much the season in which life begins to re-assert itself after winter has stopped tossing its weight around.

The reason — one of the reasons — we celebrate January 1 as the first day of the new year is because Julius Caesar (yes, that Julius Caesar) decided people had fucked up the calendar, and he was just the boy to fix it. The problem was the early Roman calendar was a lunar calendar and only had ten months, ending in December (from the Latin word decem, meaning ten). Six of the months had thirty days, the other four had thirty-one. Why did some months have an extra day? Nobody really seems to know. There had to be a reason, but it was a long time ago — people forget. And really, who cares? It was fucked up, right? That’s why our boy Julius had to fix it.

Anyway, you can see the problem. The Roman year only had 304 official days. So they periodically added in a few extra days here and there (usually for political purposes), and they included a sort of block of unorganized winter days (and we all know what that’s like — it’s cold, it’s dark, one day is pretty much as miserable as another, and they all sort of blend together), and now and then they’d toss in an intercalary month of twenty-seven days. Sometimes twenty-eight days.

On with the dance! let joy be unconfined; No sleep till morn, when Youth and Pleasure meet to chase the glowing hours with flying feet.

Really, considering how organized the Roman empire was, it was a terribly sloppy way to deal with time. Seasons got weird, holidays would begin too early or too late, harvest festivals would be scheduled before the harvest was ready. Nothing made any sense. Folks complained. So one day Julius said, “Okay, this shit really has to stop.” He hired a guy from Alexandria, Sosigenes, who told him, “Dude, let’s just do what the Egyptians do. Chuck that whole lunar thing and base the calendar on the sun.”

So that’s what they did. They had to create a few new months, and add in a few extra days, but they banged together a new calendar and in the year 45 BC they said, “This is the first day of January, named for Janus the god of beginnings and endings, the god of gates and passages and doorways, the god of duality and transitions. And from now on, this is going to be the first day of the new year. Party on, people.”

The people partied on, but they still pretty much celebrated March 1 as beginning the new year. I mean, c’mon…tradition. And common sense. Who feels like celebrating in the middle of fucking winter? Even after the Roman Empire (and most of the Western world) went all over Christian, January 1 wasn’t treated as the beginning of the new year. Basically, it was celebrated as the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ. Which was a pretty big deal back then. You see, eight days after Jesus was born, his folks held a bris, a mohel nipped off his holy foreskin, they gave him his name, then everybody had a nice meal. Christians didn’t go in for all that; they skipped everything but the meal, but they still thought it was a fine thing to honor the day Jesus was separated from his foreskin. (Religion is also weird.)

Eventually the Julian calendar was supplanted (if ‘supplanted’ means what I think it means — I can’t be bothered to look it up) by the Gregorian calendar, and the Gregorian calendar got refined, and science weighed in, and time was more tightly ordered, and the world became more secular, and relatively few people wanted to celebrate the circumcision of Jesus, and now when you buy a calendar at the book store it begins in January. It’s not entirely universal, but January 1 has generally become accepted as the first day of the year.

When buds are breaking and birds singing merrily, dance with me.

But it’s basically all bullshit. Thomas Mann had it right when he wrote:

Time has no divisions to mark its passing. There is never a thunderstorm to announce the beginning of a new month or year.

Really, this is just another day. A lot of folks still have to go to work, the cat’s litter box still needs to be cleaned and the dog needs to be walked, food has to be prepared and dishes have to be cleared away and washed, the snow will still fall and have to be cleared off the sidewalk, people will still be people, and you’re still the same person you were yesterday.

It’s just another day. Nothing has really changed. But so what? Sometimes what we need is a symbolic transition. A point at which we can tell ourselves this is where things begin to change. This point, right here, this is the line. From this point forward, things will be different.

Doesn’t have to be the beginning of the year. Could be a birthday. Or an anniversary. It doesn’t even have to be a temporal point. It could be any symbolic point. Once I get my own apartment, once I get my first real job, once I can run a 5K, once I graduate, once I get married, once I can afford a ticket to Spain, once I get my driver’s license, once I get divorced, once the kids have grown up and left home, from that point on things will be different. That decisive point, whatever it is, it’s worth celebrating.

Now I think of it, I’m beginning to believe there’s actually something admirable about reaching that point on the first day of January. There’s something defiant choosing a day in the middle of the least hospitable, most bitter, darkest fucking season of the year. There’s something cheeky about shouting out, “It’s January First, bitches…and it’s time to dance.”