California time Table

Hello California friends. I am in your state. This is my schedule for the next few days:
Tonight, 28 May, I am going to the SF Sound show. Maggi Payne is playing, so it will be awesome. It’s at 55 taylor :: san francisco :: $10/7 :: 7:49p.
29 May, I will be going to see ReCardiacs Fly at the Hemlock Tavern. This is Polly Moller (and friends) new project, so it will be awesome. It’s at 1131 Polk St :: san francisco :: $7 :: 8:30p.
30 May, I will be playing as half of the duo No More Twist at the Berkeley Arts Festival Space. Jörg Hiller is also playing, so it will be awesome. It’s at 2133 University :: berkeley :: $10-20 (sliding scale) :: 7:30p.
I have a minor injury which makes it slightly painful for me to bicycle, so I’m being intentionally vague about my schedule. I hope to head down to the South Bay for a short while and available for socialising.
On June 3rd, my girlfriend flies in to San Francisco, so I’ll be back in the SF/Oakland part of the bay and doing tourist stuff and available for socialising.
On June 6th, I will be playing the piece Cloud Drawings at the Luggage Store Gallery. It’s at 1007 Market Street (by 6th) :: san francisco :: $6-$10 :: 8p.
On 7 June, I will be playing the piece Cloud Drawings at the SubZero festival in San Jose and will be around the South Bay and available for socialising. I also want to do some touristy stuff down there, so if anyone has any suggestions or wants to go to something, please let me know. I think we should probably see the Winchester Mystery House. We’ll also head for scruz at some point.
More details as they arise. contact me if you want to hang out.

Air Travel Letter

Dear Sir or Madam,
I am writing to inquire as to the rules for your airport and the TSA in general in regards to what constitutes inappropriate touching. Yesterday afternoon, 7 April, I passed through security at JFK in Terminal 7 and opted out of the scanning machine. The office who patted me down touched my genitals twice through my clothes, once per leg pat. This experience left me feeling humiliated and angry. I want to determine if I what I experienced conforms to the law or if I should file a complaint of assault.
Thank you for your time.
Dr. Charles Hutchins

So that happened.
I don’t want to go through the naked scanning machines partly due to concerns about radiation. The machines are not regularly calibrated or inspected and are not held to any kind of standard even approaching how medical devices are regulated. Even if they’re safe when they’re first installed the lack of maintenance is a major cause for concern.
And part of my concern with the devices is that they’re invasive without actually increasing security. That the newer machines, such as the ones installed at JFK, do not actually allow somebody to look at naked images does not allay these concerns. Operators pick a pink or a blue button depending on their guess as to the passenger’s primary and secondary sex characteristics. The machine then takes a scan and compares the passenger’s naked body with an idealised form of naked bodies. Areas of difference are then highlighted for additional scrutiny. Therefore, anyone who has a hidden disability that impacts their physical form or otherwise has an atypical body configuration must disclose this to the TSA workers.
My choices would therefore seem to be discussing my genitals with a TSA worker or having them felt by a TSA worker. Because this discussion would likely be extremely triggering, embarrassing and exposes me to the possibility of harassment, I’ve always chosen to opt out of the scanning machines, as is my right under US law. However, while the screener hopefully was not entirely aware as to the shape of my genitals, having them touched by a stranger under these circumstances also turns out to be more disturbing than I would have expected.
While I understand that not all genital touching is necessarily sexual in nature, this is a fundamentally different experience than one in a medical context. When examined by doctors, they explain what is going to happen immediately before it happens. While the TSA agent did mumble through a list of his prescribed actions, I was not warned of what was about to happen as it arose. Also, medical examinations always at least offer a chaperone or else provide one automatically. Finally, medical examinations are concerned primarily with my health and well-being, which is exactly the opposite power dynamic. Because consent is somewhat unclearly explained and is effectively coerced, this kind of invasive touching invites comparisons to sexual assault. And honestly, I don’t know if I was assaulted, as this has never happened to me before.
One of the oldest rights in the US, even before the Bill of Rights applied to individuals, is the right to travel unmolested. The TSA agent clearly violated that right and my person, so my only question is whether this is condemned or compelled by the law, as it certainly does not fall in between.
In frustration and unhappiness, I asked the agent if it would be easier if I removed my trousers. I then immediately apologised for this comment, saying he was just doing his job, which I assumed to be true at the time. He replied threatening me with arrest if I did so. Even after explaining several times that I was not intending to remove any clothes and regretted my choice of words, he kept repeating threats to escalate, advising me not to make things more difficult for myself.
I deeply regret that I’ve planned two separate trips to the US instead of combining everything into one trip. There is no question this experience will effect how often I visit home. I am a stage where I am not easily triggered by things related to being transgender, but for a lot of people, this situation, if the screener’s action was legal, would be so triggering that it would effectively ban then from air travel. Other travellers are also likely to avoid visiting the us, including tourists, which obviously has economic impact, and academics attending conferences as well as those travelling for business. This thus then increases an intellectual and economic isolation of the US.
For all the people I missed in New York who are wondering when I’ll next pass through, I’m afraid it’s not going to be for a very long while.


Apparently, people disappointed by the recent election results in the USA are so upset they are thinking of leaving the country. I know just how they feel. I was greatly dismayed when Bush won re-election and and also decided migration was a good course of action.
If you want to move, I strongly encourage you to go for it. Not because it effects me, I’m already abroad and you’ll vote from wherever you are, but because immigration is an excellent opportunity for personal growth. It’s also a logistical challenge but manageable. Don’t let property concerns stop you! I own a house full of furniture, but found very reliable tennants.
Where to move? I wanted someplace adequately foreign and distant but that wasn’t bewlidering. I was fairly monolingual. My first choices were EU countries where English is not the dominant first language. I won’t lie: the language gap of living in France was extremely challenging. I’ve ended up living in England and, although this is not because of language, it is really a luxury and a relief to be able to communicate in my native language.
Those of you who have political issues now will have additional concerns, of course. Basically, every developed and many developing coluntries have socialist prgrammes in place, such as healthcare. Still, one of the privileges of being an immigrant is that bizarre or poor chloices of your host country are not your problem. You’re just a guest. Don’t let naysayers stop you when they point out your choice country is lead by an atheist or has social programmes you disapprove of. There is no stable country that has a libertarian government which means that there is no utopia to go to. So what? We live in an imperfect world and you can at least get away from the meltdown of your own homeland.
My advice is to start thinking about how you might immigrate and where you might go. Do you have skills that are in demand? Does your employer have overseas operations? Is there an educational program you can enroll in? (Some countries do not charge fees for students and may even cover your living expenses, although this is pretty socialist and there are usually age restrictions.) Look out for fellowships for career development as many of these are industry funded. Some countries will allow Americans to set up businesses, so if you own a bakery here, you could instead have one there. Many countries have shortages of people in skilled trades, like plumbers and nurses. Some just have demographic worries and will take anybody willing to work. If you’re American, there is definitely a country that will take you!
Once you arrive, don’t ghetto-ize! It’s a good idea to make some American friends where you go, as they’ll celebrate Thanksgiving with you and can help show you the ropes, but make sure to have non-American friends as well. Expats who live entirely in American bubbles seem to get kind of bitter. And no wonder as they are perpetually in between places, niether in America or fully in their new country. Remember, whether your migration is temporary or permanent, you will live where you live. Try to have at least half your friends be non-American and at least a few native friends. There will be people around who want to practice their English or who have experience of living abroad and will have empathy for your moments of confusion. Join a local church. Meetups are also a good way to meet people.
It took me a couple of years to organise my move, so don’t worry if you can’t rush. Moving abroad isn’t easy, but it can be very rewarding. Your ancesgtors thought so! Give it a go.

BiLE in Venice

Juju and I flew in a day before the Laptops Meet Musicians Festival, because we wanted to go to the Biennale. Our flight was at 6 am, so we slept about 2 hours before having to leave my flat at an ungodly hour. Once arrived in Venice, the first thing I noticed that it was about 15 degrees warmer than London. And I wondered why I thought it would be a good idea to wear steel capped boots!

We found our hotel, which said it could get us a 35% price reduction on tickets for the Biennale, starting the next day, so we spent the first day wandering the narrow streets and looking into churches. It was my 3rd time in the city, but I have always gone during the art show, so had barely been in any of the churches before. They are astounding.

Covered in marble and monuments many metres tall. The Basilicas have no shortage of relics. I saw St Theresa’s foot! (Random aside: My mum had a piece of St Theresa in a tiny envelope, which I accidentally dropped into the carpet. Some bit of her was hoovered up and is now sanctifying a California landfill)

We walked down to San Marco square. It used to be described by The Rough Guide as “pigeon infested,” but this has improved vastly since I was last there. Street vendors no longer sell pigeon food, thank gods.

At about 10, the lack of sleep and the heat were too much for me, so I went to go lie down in the hotel. I had booked a hostel bed, but they had reassigned us to a tiny hotel room with a double bed. It was theoretically a step up. I thought about asking for twin beds, but then didn’t want to bother, as it was only for one night. I lay down on the bed and turned on the fan and lay awake sweating, wearing nothing but my shorts. For hours.
Juju came home at 2 and we both lay on top of the bed in nothing but shorts. It was not the best night of holiday ever.
Shelly and Antonio arrived the next morning, so we checked out and went to meet them at the bus station. We went then to the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore, where we were going to be lodged by the Foundazione Giorgio Cini.
Even though it was early in the day, they gave us our room keys and let us check in. during the long process of photocopying passports and signing documents written in Italian, the festival organisers happened by and told us where to meet them for dinner and gave us a sneak peak of the concert hall.
We took a vaporetto boat back to the rest of the islands and went into some of the national pavilions for the Biennale. This year, they’re scattered around the city and largely free. The one that I liked best was Taiwan. Theirs was focused on sound. They had a large listening room and then a smaller room showing two movies side by side that were different perspectives on the same scene. Two sound artists were recording the harvest and processing of some grain or rice. They started in the fields and then tracked it’s harvest, it’s transport by train, the processing in a factory, the distribution, the processing of the chaff. They worked directly with the workers and got recordings form insides the cabs of vehicles and very very close to things. It was amazing, especially the sound, but also augmented by the video. I think it was my favourite thing at the Biennale this year.
The Festival took us out to dinner that night and the two subsequent nights, always to the same nice restaurant. The food was fantastic.
Antonio was talking about how he always buys travel insurance because he always accidentally eats something that he’s allergic to. Then, moments later, he confused a fish for a chicken. Fortunately, medical intervention was not required, although he is allergic to fish. People teased him for this, but I totally understand not recognising something that you never eat. I don’t really know many French food words for meat items because I never ate them, so I never made a strong association with the word.
The next day, we had the early sound check slot, so we did our technical stuff and then had some rehearsal time. We switched to using a BT home hub, in the hopes that supercollider would beachball less often. This was semi-successful. Supercollider just has a major issue with wifi, as far as I can tell. Also, when there were two iPhones running touchOSC on the network, data transmition got really blocky and jerky for SC users. I don’t remember if the Juju was effected on Max or not, but we had to have one of them switch to using an adhoc network to talk to their phone. That fixed that. So after endless faffing, we had a not overly inspiring rehearsal. Then they took us out for lunch at the one café on the island. It ended with coffee and ice cream, as all good summer lunches should.
We spent the entire afternoon writing our 10 minute presentation on the ensemble.
The evening started with a presentation from David Ogborn about the Cybernetic Orchestra, the LOrk he runs. He spoke about how he uses a code-based interface for some pieces. He described this as Live Coding, but I think that term is much more specific and refers to a particular type of on the fly code generation, whereas, the players in his group start with a programme already written and make changes to it.
Code-based interfaces are, of course, entirely legitimate ways to write and control pieces. They also do have some pedagogical value, however, I think it’s easy to overstate that case. For example, I can open a CSS file and make a bunch of changes to it in order to get roughly the look I want out of my website, but I cannot say that I know CSS and would not know CSS unless I actually studied it by reading a book or several help files and coding something from scratch. However, by being able to modify code, it does make the user into a kind of a power user and does demystify code, so it’s a good thing to do, but one needs to keep it in perspective.
After the longish presentation, BiLE then played for about 20 minutes. We played XYZ first and Partially Percussive second. I think that musically, they work best in the opposite order, but Antonio decided he thought it would be best to do my piece without graphics and as the projection screen was on the other side of the room than where we were playing, we had to do that order or nobody would look back to see the video for XYZ.
Shelly’s piece is normally for 4 audio players, so it scaled down very well for 3. I accidentally hit the mute button instead of fading out, so the end was a bit abrupt, but it was ok. It came out well enough that another band wants to cover it!
My piece is normally for 6 audio players and probably should have been practiced more for the smaller group, as it came out a bit more roughly. One thing that came out very nicely is that the piece ends with a bell sound and as that rung out, the church bells all over the city were ringing, so the bells sounded like a part of the piece. That was really nice.
Then we gave out presentation which probably went on for a bit longer than the allocated 10 minutes. I’m not sure if I said anything useful, especially after Ogborn spoke for so long. Normally, I want to differentiate between LOrks and BiLE, which is a laptop ensemble, but every band at LMMF was a LE, so I think this distinction was just confusing.
After the concert, they took us all for dinner again and then a bar. We all slept in a it later than intended the next morning, except for Juju, who flew to France. Shelly and I poked around the Foundation’s buildings and then went up the church’s clock tower in time for the noon bells ringing. I set up my zoom recorder, put in ear plugs and waited for the bells to ring. I could feel the vibrations of the big bells on my body and there were amazing partials after the ring. I haven’t listened to the recording yet, but I’m hoping it’s good.
After lunch we went to the Biennale at Giardini. We didn’t see much of it, actually. There was an unfortunate tendency for the national pavilions to have art pieces that were self-referential and about themselves. Or worse, about the Biennale. I get that it’s a lot of pressure and whatnot to do something for such a prestigious show, but maybe that pressure could be let out via long, rambling blog posts rather than via the art.
One high point was the USA’s pavilion, which had what seemed like some very smart critiques of consumer capitalism, all with a million corporate sponsorships. They had the symbol of liberty in a tanning bed, for example. Given the number of sponsors and the apparent popularity, I am slightly afraid I’m attributing irony and critique where none exists, but for the mean time, I’m impressed by an upside-down army tank with a treadmill on it.
The big pavilion there had a bunch of stuffed pigeons on it. There were some cool things inside, but I was not blown away by anything. We didn’t get very far in before we needed to go back for a concert.
The second night of LMMF was all music and no talking, which is good. All the bands were very good.
After dinner and the bar, we went to the old greek-style amphitheatre on the foundation grounds and opened a couple of bottles of wine. I crashed out around 4 am, but most everybody else stayed up until 5. Or at least, most everybody younger than me.
We were hanging out a lot with Benoit and the Mandelbrots, a live coding quartet from Karlsruhe, Germany. They were signing songs from youtube videos. At one point, we were walking along and everybody was singing the theme song from Super Mario Brothers. They have their finger on the pulse of pop culture, or at least internet memes.
The final day, we checked out and then went to Arsenal to see a last bit of the Biennale. Like in the last 2 times I’ve gone, I’ve like Arsenal more than some other parts of the show. (Although, this year, the stuff in the city centre was really the best.) There were a lot of pieces made out of trash, and dealing with waste and refuse and the disposability in general of pop culture seemed to be a major theme this year. There was a large hanging dragon made of discarded truck innertubes and fine embroidery, it was cool.
One very impressive piece was a giant statue, in the style of ancient Greece or Rome. It was as tall as a double decker bus. But instead of being made of marble, which it resembled, it was made of candle wax, was full of wicks and was actually burning. Already the heads of the figures had come off from the burning. The whole thing was gradually being consumed during the course of the exhibit.
Another piece that caught my attention beastiaity video from Germany called Tierfick. The animals involved were taxidermied. The video was disturbing but also silly. I actually do like stuff that tries to be shocking.
So, I heard a bunch of good music, ate a bunch of good food, stayed in rooms that were a reasonable temperature, talked to a lot of good people and saw a lot of art. I hope gigs like this become a trend for BiLE!

I wasn’t dreaming of a white Christmas

Yesterday, I sat on an airplane for five hours and when I got off the plane, my ears were uneffected, I had no jetlag and my carbon footprint was minimal! Unfortunately, this is because my flight was cancelled.
I was worried that forecast snow might stall all trains to the airport, so I’d arrived hours early. I knew they had de-icing equipment at the airport, so I wasn’t too worried about the planes. But as I was eating lunch, I glanced out the window and saw whiteout snow. I could barely see the airplanes at all and couldn’t see across to the adjacent terminal. It was beautiful, but also alarming. Then, after abuot 20 minutes, the skies turned blue and the sun started shining again. Amazingly, there were a few minutes where the sun was shining and it was snowing at the same time. Does this cause rainbows ( or snowbows)? I wondered.
It was all over very quickly. I wasn’t surprised when my plane boarded a bit late and also not surprised when they said we had to wait for a de-icer. I was, however, surprised by how long we sat at the gate. I read in news reports later that they couldn’t deploy all their de-icers because they had no place to park planes while they were being de-iced. So planes were ordered to stay at the gates. However, this caused a problem for landing planes, since the gates were all full. Thus planes full of arriving passengers sometimes waited for 4 or 5 hours to get to a gate. In the mean time, they parked them near the de-icers.
It might be because I have an undergraduate degree in Computer Science and thus have studied logistics a wee bit, but I could think of a solution to this problem . . ..
After five hours, our plane was delayed so long, I was started to get worried about arriving after BART shut down and this may have been why, with only 4 planes ahead of us in the queue, our flight was cancelled.
It wasn’t all bad spending so many hours on the plane. The cabin crew was helpful and polite and people chatted amicably with each other. The in-flight entertainment system was working. It was exactly like being in the air, except that we weren’t. I think that it would a perfect thing for somebody who was afraid of flying. They could have the whole experience as a kind of a dry run.
Once I got off the plane, however, things were a bit more chaotic. I had to clear immigration, which was a long queue and then the baggage reclaim area was chaotic. It was mobbed with hundreds of people from cancelled flights plus all the people who were finally getting released form their planes that had been waiting. The computer screen which said what carousel to go to was not giving any meaningful information, so I asked an employee and he seemed on the brink of hysterics, from not knowing anything (while at the same time being as friendly and polite as possible). After maybe an hour, there started being announcements, “If you are from a cancelled long haul flight, you baggage will be on carousel 3, 4, 5, or 6 . . ..” Some enterprising traveler and his friends split up, each monitoring one carousel, so when bags marked SFO started appearing on number 4, he got a call and then walked around the reclaim area loudly announcing “San Francisco bags are on number 4!” This is what I love about Bay Area culture, actually. Friendly, helpful and loud!
I went through customs and then got to the arrivals lounge which was heaving with people, who had been waiting for hours for passengers who had landed but not alighted. Frequent announcements indicated that the airline was very sorry that nobody had been given any information whatsoever. Other announcements encouraged those on canceled flights to sort out rescheduling on the BA website instead of queuing at the airport. I decided to follow that advice and got on a tube.
I texted Paula and she told me to come around fora cuppa, so I did, despite it being quite late. I brought my laptop and searched in vain for the rebooking link that British Airways kept claiming existed. I couldn’t find it anywhere, so I handed my laptop to Paula and started trying to call the airline. Paula couldn’t find the link either and a recording at the airline’s phone number told me they were very busy, so I should try calling again later.
Finally, after 2AM, I got hold music! Yay, I was on hold and they hadn’t hung up on me! I stayed on hold for an hour, while trying to find out any information at all about what was going on. I discovered that the best and most reliable way to get information from the airline was via twitter, but their tweeters had all gone home an hour or two earlier.
I use twitter. I think microblogging is fabulous and I’m glad to see somebody making good use of it, but in this case, I have to say that they really needed to also update their actual website and/or their phone message. It took quite some time before it occurred to me to even check twitter. And, indeed, if they’re going to make that the only reliable way to get any information, then they need to announce that someplace else, like on their website or their phone message. It was at this moment that I began to get a bit annoyed. I was even more annoyed when I realised, after 3 am and more than an hour on hold, that their call center was closed and nobody was going to take me off hold until it reopened at 6 am.
I went home and set my alarm clock for 5:59, but when I called, the phones were already overwhelmed and hung up on me. I kept retrying until 7 am, when I finally got through to being on hold. This time, the hold music was accompanied by spoken messages actually telling me that I was on hold. I put it on speaker phone and tried to stay awake until somebody finally picked up at 9:30.
I will be on the same flight on Tuesday, 21 December. This should land before 18:00 and give me enough time to get to Emeryville to catch me 22:00 train to Oregon, which arrives in Portland in the middle of the afternoon on 22 December. I am going to have an alarming odor by the time I arrive. Fortunately, I should be able to sleep on the train and I will still get to see my family, which is what motivated me to wake up after so little sleep.
And now I’m typing this out, in a haze of exhaustion. But hey, no jetlag, at least.

Body Scanners

Passengers who wish to fly from the UK have no choice as to whether to allow the government to peek at their genitals. However, in the US, you can opt to allow an agent to feel them (through clothes) instead. Speaking as somebody with an unusual genital configuration, I would rather allow myself to be groped than photographed, for a few reasons. One is that nobody can keep a copy of a grope to look at later. Another is that it’s highly possible I would be groped anyway and I don’t want to be singled out for special attention based on an unusual scan. Finally, I don’t wish to increase my risk factors for skin cancer by stepping into a beam of ionising radiation, if I can at all avoid it. For those who are fertile, there are also issues with exposing germ cells to radiation, especially those with testicles, as these would normally be shielded during an X-Ray.
There is a movement afoot to try to get people to ask for a grope instead of a scan, especially on the Wednesday before thanksgiving, when many people in the US will be flying. The TSA is making ridiculous statements about this helping terrorists, however, I’d like to posit that when getting on an airplane necessitates security agents looking at or feeling my genitals, the terrorists have already won. It is your right to ask for a “pat down” instead of a scan. This may be inconvenient for TSA agents, but this is a normal tactic of protesting. It would hardly do any good to launch a protest that nobody noticed.
Today, I read an article in the New York Times, which stated, “Do the imagers, for example, detect sanitary napkins? Yes. Does that then necessitate a pat-down? The T.S.A. couldn’t say.” So some security worker at the airport knows whether or not you’re menstruating. Charming. And they may or may not decide to grope you as a result of that. “Screeners, the T.S.A. has said, are expected to exercise some discretion.” They have little training, no union, low pay and no job protections, but a lot of discretion, I’m sure.
This is just too much. I wrote a letter to my senators:

Dear Senator –,

I am wiring to oppose the new body scanning devices that have been installed at airports. Today, I read in the New York Times that the devices are able to detect menstrual pads and the TSA “couldn’t say” whether this detection would necessitate a pat down. ( This level of grossly indecent privacy invasion is unAmerican. It is an outrage.

As I’m sure you’re aware, the pat down one receives if they opt out (or potentially, if they’re menstruating) involves a TSA agent feeling the passenger’s genitals. All aspects of this policy are horrifying and I hope you take action to change it.

Thank you for your time.

Charles Hutchins

Ok, yes, I did actually call something unAmerican. I know this is problematic. But Americans are, by and large, a prudish people and this is really not prudish at all and hence violates the national character. Also, I am exceedingly annoyed.
I wrote a different letter to my Representative, Barbara Lee, who is a proper leftist and involved with the Progressive Caucus in the House:

Dear Representative Lee,

I am wiring to oppose the new body scanning devices that have been installed at airports. As a transgender person, I am concerned about how these machines peer unnecessarily and invasively at my genitals. I am also highly concerned that once a security screener becomes aware that I’m transgender, I may be subject to discrimination or be publicly humiliated.

I intend to opt to be patted down instead, but as this involves an agent feeling my genitals, it’s hardly better. There is little evidence that any of this makes us safer while flying but it certainly causes me and many others quite a lot of distress. I’m faced with a terrible choice between not seeing my family over the holidays or having my genitals looked at and/or touched by a TSA agent.

I hope you can do something to improve this situation.

Charles Hutchins

Will be in California . . . for a funeral

Timanna Bennett died. I don’t really know what happened. T was a good friend for a long time. I’m flying out tomorrow. T’s memorial service is at the Mills chapel on Saturday, 14 February, at 11am. There will be a potluck reception afterwards. As far as I know, T was the first of my Mills friends to die. A lot of people who knew her then seem to be planning on coming. I think some of them fell out of contact since, but T was just such a remarkable person.
I will post more about her later, but right now I just can’t. I should be packing to travel anyway or washing some of the many dishes that I shouldn’t leave in my sink for two weeks. I’ll be in the Bay Area until the 23rd. I hope to be able to see as many friends as possible while I’m back, especially if I haven’t seen them for a while. I didn’t see too many people when I was home for Christmas, but I did see T, thank gods.
My cell phone number is 917 355 5064. That’s a New York number, but it rings in my pocket.
This is all very distressing.

On the road to Oregon

I’m on my way to Portland via car and there’s a wee bit of ice on the ground. Which is to say an epic amount. Brother Bob and I have stopped at a motel in Salem.
On my first two days back in the states, I started my day by biking on the wrong side of the street. The first day, for a few blocks until I was confused by oncoming traffic. But returning to the customs of one’s birth are never confusing for long (except when they are (i love tautologies)) and I look forward to many days of biking to wrong way in England.

Today was my first time driving a car since last July and only the second time in the last year. But I’ve got several hours under my belt from today. Brother Bob is from Los Angeles and has no experience on ice. It’s truly an alarming situation when I am considered the more winterized driver.

This area hasn’t had a significant snow storm for the last 50 years and therefore: no plows. No salt. No sand. Just bare packed ice. The blizzard was days ago and as far as I can tell, there has been no effort to clear the roads. Oregon is some sort of asinine libertarian paradise, which means the state has no resources to deal with anything. And to enhance our freedom, it’s our own personal liberty whether to use snow chains or not. For x’s sake, I want a nanny state to tell me about how to most safely use the roads. If chains are required, a bloody sign of some sort would be nice. And I swear, nobody can drive here even under the best of circumstances, so a layer of bare, packed (un salted, un-sanded, un-gritted) ice on the freeway is not helping matters.
So despite being less than 50 miles from my destination, I am spending the night in a naff hotel in the naff town of Salem. Because it’s the capital of this low-tax utopia, it is probably worse off than any other town in the state, but it’s also the southern end of the ice. So hopefully, in the morning, I’ll be able to slowly roll to a place that has heard of the idea of snow plows.
The airport here has been closed. The Amtrak stopped. Greyhound, put to sleep. This actually the only way I could have come to see my family. And despite all the many wrong pronouns, I’m sure it will all be worth it.

I am in Califronia

I am here until the 23rd, when I’m off to Oregon, and then back again for a few days after xmas and then back to London.
If you want to hang out, call my cell phone: 917 355 5064. That’s the same number I’ve had for the last year or so. Heh, but I’m using the physical phone that I bought in 2003. It doesn’t take pictures, but it does calls and SMS which is all I really ever want to do. People look at me funny when I pull it out though. I feel dinosaur like. That and the only sweater I have here is one owned by my dad in the mid 80’s. I’m very retro with the prehistoric phone and the Cosby sweater.
My plans for this evening have fallen through. Everybody is busy for the holidays, which is reasonable and to be expected. It’s really weird being here for some reason. When I left last February, I wondered if maybe I was making a huge mistake leaving someplace where I so thoroughly belonged for someplace that I so totally didn’t. Now I don’t feel it here either, but maybe that’s jetlag.
I wish other people still blogged. It was easier to keep up with people when we were all reading each other’s blogs. Twitter is just not the same.

Long time no blog

I haven’t been posting much lately. Things are not going all that great and I don’t really want to talk about it. I blogged a bunch when I got divorced about love and relationships and blah blah blah. It was a big learning experience of navel gazing wisdom. What I’ve learned lately is that I suck at relationships. And that testosterone seems to cause belly button lint.
I’m trying to pull myself together, so I’m going to a shrink next week. And I’m going to Rome next weekend, on a whim and an invitation from a stranger. Yeah, so I’m nuts and also somewhat extravagant.
When I was getting divorced, I discovered that was poorly individuated. I’m still really fuzzy around the edges. I need to be ok with being alone. I feel a little Peter Pan-ish. I appear to be about 19. I’ve never really been by myself. I’m perpetually a student . . .. I don’t know what it means to be an adult, but it’s time I got on with it.
At the same time as I’m having angst, I’m settling into London’s queer scene which is large and friendly. I am not settling into the music scene as quickly, nor am I writing much. I understand it can be problematic to block out one’s woes in bars, especially if one isn’t getting much work done. But it’s better than sitting home by myself having angst, right? If I’m not going to write anything, I might as well not write anything in Rome for a few days. It’s all good until the money runs out.