Friday, July 26, 2002

Random evening rambling (in which a one-line note grows into a fifty line chronicle of emotional instability):

Catherine couldn't get away from work (because a bunch of people came in today to Adopt A Work of Art), so we missed the game. Instead, we had a quick dinner at Casa Brava and went to a movie. We saw Stuart Little, because Catherine likes mice, and I'm pretty much a 'G' movie kind of gal.

Stuart Little was cute (Geena Davis was cuter), and while I was sitting there watching the Central Park scenery rush by, I realized I was really, really envious that Catherine gets to go back to New York in September and I have to stay here and teach. It's really odd how much I like Manhattan (to visit, not to live there, no way). It's even odder than I only have a post-9/11 Manhattan in my mind. Before last fall, I never even had a desire to visit New York. The WTC collapse was rather abstract for me at time, as I couldn't even envision the skyline as it had been before the attack. I just was not drawn to the city before my first visit, and suddenly, I'm going back every chance I get.

When we visited in November, we had such a good time, and I was really bowled over by all the architecture, buildings I'd studied throughout my architectural history courses but never experienced. The fun we had was, of course, tempered by our visit to Ground Zero, but mostly when I think about New York, I remember how cool it was to be standing at the base of the (former) GE building and just being transported to the early 1990s, when I still loved art/architectural history, before graduate school wore me out. I don't know, it's difficult to put into words, but it was the same feeling I got when I visited LACMA for the first time for the Degenerate Art show (1991?). I was just enraptured by the Modern art collection there, and remember standing in front of one of Morris Louis' "Unfurleds" and thinking "No way!!" Kind of this recognition that here is an icon, I've been studying it for years, and now I can actually see the fibers in the canvas, I can see the way Louis let the paint draw down the surface... There's kind of a spontaneous eruption of...I don't (me? joyous?) and you can't keep from smiling, and it's all because you recognize this one thing in the midst of all the rest, and know something about it, and it *means* something. This same explosion of emotion happens with (canonical) buildings, the same way it happens with (canonical) paintings.

I only felt vague echoes of this when I was in Chicago, despite the fact that I was surrounded by buildings that were just as significant to the development of the skyscraper as those in New York. Chicago just didn't grab me the way New York did, and it disappoints me to write that, because I really didn't want to like New York (because, honestly, most of the New Yorkers I met in Washington and Oregon were a bit on the boorish side). We also had a fantastic time in Chicago, but I didn't run right back up there like I did with New York. Chicago felt heavy and leaden, and I admit some of that was probably the weather, but a lot of it was the architecture. It didn't speak to me, really.

So, during the movie tonight, I started wondering if there is some weird post-9/11 grip going on inside me somewhere that draws me to Manhattan. Certainly our second visit to New York (in April) was completely entangled with terrorism, but it was also pretty intellectual, and not so emotional. Ground Zero actually felt rather antiseptic during our second visit. My heart wasn't engaged at all, quite different from the first time down there. Maybe there's something about combining the two--get my emotions the first time around, swing back a second time to get my brain. What is there left to give on a third visit, my body? I'm not becoming a hooker, that's for sure.

It makes me wonder how long this thing is going to take to play out in my psyche/private life. On one hand, I am *so* tired of 9/11. 9/11 this, 9/11 that. Shut the fuck up already, okay? No, Mr. President, you cannot become a dictator and use terrorism as a justification. Take the stupid faded flags off your cars already, they're boring. It's just all worn thin, the controversy, the politics, the obligatory patriotism, the obligatory complaining about patriotism, all of it. I am so tired of being an American, that's just it. I am so over this whole country and its problems.

But. On the other hand. When I was out running today, a fighter jet ripped across the sky. We do not get air traffic in Bloomington, ever. Occasionally a small plane will go by, and there are hot air balloons during football season, but we don't have an airport, so thus we have no air traffic. I was running through the trees when I heard the jet, and my adrenalin spiked. The last fighter jets I saw in Bloomington came through on September...uh...14th? escorting a plane that was violating the "no fly" command. I was absolutely surprised by my body's involuntary reaction today, and I was surprised by my desire to go home and turn on the TV and see what was up (nothing, apparently). What's up with that? That is the stupidest thing I've ever heard. It's these little events that make me stop and think and wonder when it is all going to end.

9:22 PM

Things I did today (in order of appearance):

  1. Took Lucy to the vet
  2. Went to the bank to have the notary public verify our signatures on the Domestic Partnership Affadavit for the university
  3. Drove to Indianapolis* to visit Tim & Avi's Architectural Salvage, a very cool place. A lot like a used auto parts store, only with architectural detritus instead of automobile bits and pieces. The chalkboard street sign said, "Today is the day you visit this crazy store," and that about sums up the place.
  4. Had an exceptionally unhealthy lunch**
  5. Made copies of the appropriate supporting documents to attach to the Domestic Partnership Affadavit
  6. Dropped off said Affadavit at the IU Benefits office***
  7. Went to the public library
  8. Went for a run (like exercising in a terrarium)
  9. Picked up Lucy (minus a tooth, biopsy results not in yet)

Things still to do today:

  1. Pick up Catherine from work
  2. Drive to Indianapolis for a Fever game

* There are a few parts of Indianapolis in which it is not a good idea to get lost, even in daylight. I'm afraid I visited a few today.

**What is it about privileged, rich, white men that they feel the need to harass fast-food employees? She should have spit in his food, and I should have stepped to the front of the line and smacked him in the side of the head.

***This is the first time I've filed domestic partnership papers, and I did not realize until today how much the entire process *sucks*. Why is it I could put down my husband's name on my insurance forms, and no one asks to see a marriage certificate or anything like that? But to be declared as domestic parters, we had to provide: proof that we owned a home together (I copied a bunch of mortgage papers, it wasn't clear which ones would do the job), a copy of our car registration (which luckily we own jointly, if we had two separate cars, we'd be screwed), and evidence of a joint bank account (will a deposit slip work, or do we need a letter from the bank, or what? Again, not clear). A lot of hassle, a lot of photocopying and running around.

I know at least one lesbian couple at IU who can't file an affidavit, because even though they've been together, oh, nineteen years or something like that, they keep their finances absolutely separate. The house is in M.'s name, the truck is in M.'s name, the car is in B.'s name, and they split the utilities exactly 50/50. That system wouldn't work for me, but hey, obviously the relationship is working if they're still together, so shouldn't they be able to handle their money any way they want to?

The real problem I see with this process is that it forces people to come out of the closet. For me, no problem, who doesn't know I'm queer? But for other people at the university, it may not be such an easy thing. It's pretty easy to defend staying in the closet as a matter of safety, because frankly, people suck. So, this benefit is only provided to people who want to take the risk of coming out, who feel comfortable walking into the benefits office and announcing to the front desk receptionist, "Yeah, I need to file this Domestic Partnership Affadavit" so the whole room knows your business. You know how the university gossip chain works--if you say you're gay in one building, it will be news four buildings over by lunchtime. I think I've compiled enough evidence in my own office to suggest that the university isn't always a welcome place for GLBT people, yet they have to stand up and say, "Hey, look at me, I'm GLBT" before they get the same benefits their straight co-workers are getting.

It sucks, that's all I have to say.

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