Total Perspective Vortex
What really happened to Trillian? Theories abound, but you can see what she's really been up to on this blog. If you're looking for white mice, depressed robots, or the occasional Pan Galactic Gargleblaster you might be better served here:

Otherwise, hello, and welcome.
Mail Trillian here<

Trillian McMillian
Trillian McMillian
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Women, The Internet and You: Tips for Men Who Use Online Dating Sites
Part I, Your Profile and Email

Part II, Selecting a Potential Date

Part III, Your First Date!

Part IV, After the First Date. Now What?

"50 First Dates"

Don't just sit there angry and ranting, do something constructive.
In the words of Patti Smith (all hail Sister Patti): People have the power.
Contact your elected officials.

Don't be passive = get involved = make a difference.
Find Federal Officials
Enter ZIP Code:

or Search by State

Find State Officials
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or Search by State

Contact The Media
Enter ZIP Code:

or Search by State

Words are cool.
The English language is complex, stupid, illogical, confounding, brilliant, beautiful, and fascinating.
Every now and then a word presents itself that typifies all the maddeningly gorgeousness of language. They're the words that give you pause for thought. "Who came up with that word? That's an interesting string of letters." Their beauty doesn't lie in their definition (although that can play a role). It's also not in their onomatopoeia, though that, too, can play a role. Their beauty is in the way their letters combine - the visual poetry of words - and/or the way they sound when spoken. We talk a lot about music we like to hear and art we like to see, so let's all hail the unsung heroes of communication, poetry and life: Words.
Here are some I like. (Not because of their definition.)



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11/17/13 12/1/13 - 12/8/13 12/15/13 - 12/22/13 12/29/13 - 1/5/14 6/29/14 - 7/6/14 9/14/14 - 9/21/14 9/21/14 - 9/28/14 10/12/14 - 10/19/14 11/23/14 - 11/30/14 12/7/14 - 12/14/14 12/28/14 - 1/4/15 1/25/15 - 2/1/15 2/8/15 - 2/15/15 2/22/15 - 3/1/15 3/8/15 - 3/15/15 3/15/15 - 3/22/15 3/22/15 - 3/29/15 4/12/15 - 4/19/15 4/19/15 - 4/26/15 5/3/15 - 5/10/15 5/17/15 - 5/24/15 5/24/15 - 5/31/15 6/14/15 - 6/21/15 6/28/15 - 7/5/15 7/5/15 - 7/12/15 7/19/15 - 7/26/15 8/16/15 - 8/23/15 11/6/16 - 11/13/16 6/24/18 - 7/1/18

Highlights from the Archives. Some favorite Trillian moments.

Void, Of Course: Eliminating Expectations and Emotions for a Better Way of Life

200i: iPodyssey

Macs Are from Venus, Windows is from Mars Can a relationship survive across platform barriers?
Jerking Off

Get A Job

Office Church Ladies: A Fieldguide

'Cause I'm a Blonde

True? Honestly? I think not.

A Good Day AND Funyuns?

The Easter Boy

Relationship in the Dumpster

Wedding Dress 4 Sale, Never Worn

Got Friends? Are You Sure? Take This Test

What About Class? Take This Test

A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far Far Away, There Was a Really Bad Movie

May Your Alchemical Process be Complete. Rob Roy Recipe

Good Thing She's Not in a Good Mood Very Often (We Knew it Wouldn't Last)

What Do I Have to Do to Put You in this Car Today?

Of Mice and Me (Killer Cat Strikes in Local Woman's Apartment)

Trillian: The Musical (The Holiday Special)

LA Woman (I Love (Hate) LA)

It is my Cultureth
...and it would suit-eth me kindly to speak-eth in such mannered tongue


It's a Little Bit Me, It's a Little Bit You
Blogging a Legacy for Future Generations

Parents Visiting? Use Trillian's Mantra!

Ghosts of Christmas Past: Mod Hair Ken

Caught Blogging by Mom, Boss or Other

2003 Holiday Sho-Lo/Mullet Awards

Crullers, The Beer Store and Other Saintly Places

Come on Out of that Doghouse! It's a Sunshine Day!

"...I had no idea our CEO is actually Paula Abdul in disguise."

Lap Dance of the Cripple

Of Muppets and American Idols
"I said happier place, not crappier place!"

Finally Off Crutches, Trillian is Emancipated

Payless? Trillian? Shoe Confessions

Reality Wednesday: Extremely Local Pub

Reality Wednesday: Backstage Staging Zone (The Sweater Blog)

The Night Secret Agent Man Shot My Dad

To Dream the Impossible Dream: The Office Karaoke Party

Trillian Flies Economy Class (Prisoner, Cell Block H)

Trillian Visits the Village of the Damned, Takes Drugs, Becomes Delusional and Blogs Her Brains Out

Trillian's Parents are Powerless

Striptease for Spiders: A PETA Charity Event (People for the Ethical Treatment of Arachnids)

What's Up with Trillian and the Richard Branson Worship?

"Screw the French and their politics, give me their cheese!"

Mail Trillian here

Trillian's Guide to the Galaxy gives 5 stars to these places in the Universe:
So much more than fun with fonts, this is a daily dose of visual poetry set against a backdrop of historical trivia. (C'mon, how can you not love a site that notes Wolfman Jack's birthday?!)


Alliance for the Great Lakes

Hot, so cool, so cool we're hot.

Ig Nobel Awards

And you think YOU have the worst bridesmaid dress?

Coolest Jewelry in the Universe here (trust Trillian, she knows)

Red Tango

If your boss is an idiot, click here.

Evil Cat Full of Loathing.

Wildlife Works

Detroit Cobras

The Beachwood Reporter is better than not all, but most sex.

Hey! Why not check out some great art and illustration while you're here? Please? It won't hurt and it's free.


Kii Arens

Tim Biskup

Jeff Soto


Get Fuzzy Now!
If you're not getting fuzzy, you should be. All hail Darby Conley. Yes, he's part of the Syndicate. But he's cool.

Who or what is HWNMNBS: (He Whose Name Must Not Be Spoken) Trillian's ex-fiancé. "Issues? What issues?"

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

< chicago blogs >

Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Smart Girls
(A Trillian de-composition, to the tune of Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys)

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

Smart girls ain’t easy to love and they’re above playing games
And they’d rather read a book than subvert themselves
Kafka, Beethoven and foreign movies
And each night alone with her cat
And they won’t understand her and she won’t die young
She’ll probably just wither away

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

A smart girl loves creaky old libraries and lively debates
Exploring the world and art and witty reparteé
Men who don’t know her won’t like her and those who do
Sometimes won’t know how to take her
She’s rarely wrong but in desperation will play dumb
Because men hate that she’s always right

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

Life(?) of Trillian

Friday, January 22, 2010  
And, here we have it: The year's (and decade's!) first great headline.

Russian ice dance tribute to Aborigines offensive to Aborigines

Awesome. Truth is so much funnier than fiction. Anyone remember the Ice Follies? I think we've got the opening act for the comeback tour.

Oh how the mighty have fallen. It's moments like these that make the Russian people regret the whole Glasnost thing. Remember when the whole world used to be afraid of Russia? You know, pre-Glasnost? I can't remember why we were all so scared. Especially when you consider that they're capable of this:

Read the whole story here.

Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that Kookaburra.

Labels: , , , , ,

1:53 PM

I saw a news snippet about a missing woman. Authorities searched her apartment for clues. They found prescription pain meds, past-due bill notices, stacks of “illicit photos,” a scanner, a pile of jewelry, a suitcase in the hall and blood in the bathroom.

That was a slap in the face with a disturbing realization.

If I died or went missing and the cops or my friends or family came into my condo looking for me or clues to my death or whereabouts they’d be confronted with some scandalous evidence.

Let's play CSI: Chicago. Enter. There’s a small rug at the entry door. What’s that, a blood stain? Why yes, it appears there’s a spot of blood on the rug.

Proceed to the living room. In one corner there are four desktop computers and one laptop. Two monitors, a printer and a high res scanner. All around the living and dining area are drawings and sketches of nudes. Men and women, loads of drawings. It appears a few of them were being scanned. In another corner there’s a box of photography equipment – a darkroom enlarger, light meters, and cameras, including two Polaroids and several film packs.

In the kitchen there’s a pile of bills, one of them a terms of mortgage modification form.

In the bedroom there’s some gold jewelry gathered on the dresser in a ziplock bag – brooches, earrings, a couple necklaces. The closet is nearly empty with clothesless hangers jumbled on the rod. A couple garbage bags of clothes sit in a corner and a suitcase rests open in another corner.

The bathroom is where the most disturbing and damning evidence is found. A medicine cabinet full of prescription pain meds - including vicodin and percocet – and sleeping pills. Under the sink there is a box of surgical gloves, bags of gauze and enough cleaning supplies to maintain a house five times this size for a year. And two huge plastic drop cloths. And a rusty knife. And the bathroom rug also has a small bloodstain on it.

Which is why it’s good I’m not a celebrity or famous. Because if something happens to me and the cops bust into my condo looking for me or for clues to my whereabouts, it will be scandalous.

My family and friends could provide reasons, valid reasons for all the damning evidence, but even my family and friends would probably have some concerns when the full body of evidence is taken together.

Even though singularly it’s all very innocent, together it combines to paint a sinister and disturbing picture.

The rug in the hallway is stained, but not with blood. I dropped a bottle of red nail polish and it broke and splattered on the rug. I haven’t been able to entirely remove the stain, and since that rug is the entry rug and gets a lot of abuse and filth I don’t really care.

I have three old desktop Macs, my dad’s PC and my laptop. I’ve been cleaning off the hard drives in preparation to finally get rid of and recycle the old Macs. I set up a little network to move files from one to another. Hence the two monitors. A few years ago we got rid of some equipment at work. We could buy the stuff cheap. I snagged the high res scanner and printers thinking they’d come in handy for old photographs and art. Which leads me to the nudes. Thinking of Mel and the good old art school days I was waxing nostalgic and decided this would be a good time to finally, finally go through those reams of drawings from four years of life drawing classes. I winnowed down 30 pads of classwork to five stacks of pages of drawings. I’m scanning the drawings. As for the photography equipment, same situation. I have to get rid of stuff and that box of photography equipment is what I’m allowing myself to keep. There were four boxes, but I sold or donated most of the stuff. One of the Polaroids was my parents’. It’s a vintage beaut. Someone offered me a heck of a lot of money for it and the film for it, which made me suspect it’s worth more than I realized so I’m hanging onto it. Plus, you know…sentimentality issues. A lot of family moments were captured by that Polaroid. And yes, when I was a kid I used to dance around waiting for the images to emerge, shaking the photographs like, well, Polaroid pictures. (Shake it, shake shake shake it like a Polaroid picture, hey ya.)

The bills in the kitchen? Well, you know, unemployed…say no more, right?

The gold jewelry in the bedroom are the pieces I’ve ascertained might be of enough value to take to one of those sleazy “we pay cash for gold!” places. Unemployed. Say no more, right? The closet is almost barren because I’ve been steadily working at my foreclosure evacuation preparation plan. Everything must go. I’ve kept the essentials, enough clothes appropriate for interviews and, har har, on the off chance I get a job, enough outfits to carry me through 10 days or so of workdays. There’s also some casual stuff, jeans, t-shirts, a couple bar outfits, but the rest has already been donated to charity or packed off in my storage locker. The garbage bags are the last of the stuff for the charity shop and the suitcase is at the ready for either a spur of the moment out-of-town job interview (fat chance but a girl can dream) or, more likely, to beat a hasty retreat when it’s time to evacuate for foreclosure. Unemployed…say no more, right?


The bathroom.


Don’t be so quick to judge.

I can explain. Really. I can explain.

The drugs. I had serious surgery on my foot and ankle. It was horrendous. The aftermath was horrible. So. My doctors took pity on me and gave me a host of pain meds. I took them sparingly because I didn’t like taking them. But, if the pain is crescendoing as it sometimes does, yes, I will take one, or more usually, half of one, to numb the pain enough to allow me to walk. I take them so infrequently that those prescriptions are still almost full, nearly two years later, and yes, I know, you’re not supposed to keep, much less take, old medications. But what am I supposed to do with them? Flush them? I think not. Throw them away? Uh, there are loads of dumpster scavengers in my alley. I was carrying a totebag one day, and taking out the garbage. I set down my totebag to toss the garbage into the dumpster. A guy materialized out of nowhere and attempted to take my totebag. He thought I was throwing it away and he wanted it, and whatever was in it. When I said, “Hey, that’s mine! I’m not throwing it away!” He immediately apologized and set it down. And then went over to the dumpster to scavenge the trash I has just tossed. So. Throwing out serious pain meds doesn’t seem like a very good idea. As for the sleeping pills, my doctor was very concerned about me when I was laid off. Before my health insurance expired she gave me prescriptions for everything I might possibly need in the coming months. Antibiotics, asthma inhalers, allergy pills, benedryl, epi pens, topical pain cream and…sleeping pills. “A lot of my unemployed patients have serious sleep problems. Since you already have sleeping issues we can anticipate that you’ve got some sleepless nights and stress ahead of you.” I hate them, they make me feel super dopey and stupid, hence the almost full bottle of sleeping pills.

Okay, the surgical gloves. Back when I had my surgery I had to “dress the incision wound.” Keep in mind I was cut from above my ankle to my base of my toe. That’s a lot of incision. My doctor warned me about how easy it is to get infected so he told me to wear surgical gloves when changing the gauze. Surgical gloves come in huge boxes. So. I have a box of surgical gloves and a lot of gauze left from the surgery recovery days. I kept the gloves because I was anticipating doing some painting and refinishing. Which is why I have two huge drop cloths. I have now painted my bathroom four times. I still hate the color of the walls. And I also thought the gloves would be handy to protect my hands from cleaning products. Cleaning products procured at Costco, shared with my friend and even so left us each with jumbo sizes of huge multi-pack cleaning products. The rusty knife and blood stained rug? I used the old knife to pry up peel-and-stick tile in my bathroom. And one morning I cut myself shaving, so badly that when I got out of the shower I was still bleeding and some of it got on the rug. I can’t get the stain out but since I may be losing my home I’m not spending money on a new rug. Unemployment…say no more, right?

I’m stating all this publicly, for the record, in case something does happen and a routine investigation turns into titillating public scandal. It’s a good lesson in not being too hasty to judge on circumstantial evidence. Sometimes the stuff of life is really just stuff of life, not CSI-esque clues to sinister or illicit behavior.

11:48 AM

Wednesday, January 20, 2010  
Falling dreams.

There’s a loaded metaphor for you.

I don’t often have the falling dream. Maybe once every couple of years. After HWNMNBS I had a little spate of them, two or three over the course of a few months.

When my dad died I had a humdinger of a falling dream. Every now and then I have a dream about him with other things falling around us. Blog for another day. Issues to resolve in therapy.

But, never in my life have I been plagued by the falling dream like I am now.

It’s torture.

First off, to have the falling dream you have to sleep. I don’t sleep much. Especially these days. So the few hours of shut-eye I get are precious. The last thing I need is to have those couple of hours disrupted by the very real sensation that I’m physically hurtling down an abyss at a high rate of speed with increasing velocity.

So real and so bad are these dreams that even after I wake up the falling sensation continues. It’s not unusual for me to find myself on my back with arms and legs in the air, arms flailing and grasping for something, anything, something that isn’t there. It takes several minutes for my heart rate to slow from “Holy crap, we’re all gonna die, PANIC!!!!” rate to something calm enough to not put me in the red zone on the heart rate chart. I’m sweating and gasping for air, trying to catch my breath – a couple times I’ve gone into a mild asthma attack. Even the mild, short falling dreams take a while to shake off enough that I can attempt to sleep again.

They’re that real, that severe. And unfortunately, very frequent.

The cause is obvious. I am falling, literally. My life is falling apart in a downward spiral at an ever increasing rate, picking up velocity every day. The falling dream is a natural manifestation of what’s going on in my life. It’s freshman psych 101.

They don’t talk about this in the unemployment articles and news snippets. HR doesn’t mention this when they lay you off and go over your exit process. The boss who made the decision to lay you off doesn’t think about you suffering with these night terrors. And no one offers ideas or tips to avoid the falling dream, or what to do when they plague the precious and vital few hours of sleep you can manage.

No one ever mentions this. And no one, especially, ever mentions how, when you’re single, waking up from the falling dream is when you feel the weight and full burden of loneliness and isolation. It’s 2 AM, you’ve just had the crap scared out of you, you woke up flailing and screaming and sweating and gasping for air…and you’re alone. In the dark. And you can’t call your friends or family to hear a reassuring friendly voice. You are utterly alone.

And that bitter sting sets off another sort of panic, the “I’m so utterly alone and falling with no one to catch me” panic.

Yeah. It sucks.

All the articles and news reports I read and see about unemployed people mention how the unemployed person has found an upside to their unemployment: Reconnecting with a spouse or partner on deeper levels, spending more time with their children, and, resoundingly, everyone says, “I could never manage, emotionally or financially, without the support of my spouse/partner.” Or, “It’s scary and we’re struggling, but we have each other and that’s all that really matters.” How nice for them. I don’t mean that sarcastically. I mean really, how nice for them. They rarely talk about single people in those unemployment articles.

Why? Because there’s no positive, warm fuzzy spin on the dismal, disturbing story.

We hear about the people who lose their jobs, lose their homes and, in a horrible moment of despair kill themselves and their children. Those stories are horrible. Just awful. And they get national attention.

But we don’t hear about are the suicides of single unemployed people. If you don’t take anyone out with you you’re just another poor slob who couldn’t hack it in the real world. Nothing newsworthy or tragic there.

They don’t tell you about this, either, when they lay you off. HR doesn’t mention that you’ll be feeling suicidal, they don't say, "and oh, by the way, since you’re single, you can expect deeper feelings of fear and isolation and despair because you don’t have anyone there for you, no immediate and constant support from someone who took a vow to love, honor and cherish you in good times and bad." And they don’t tell you that you’ll feel like even more of an unworthy loser when you’re unemployed so good luck trying to meet someone “special” when you’re unemployed. Your self esteem will be at an all time low, you’ll be tired from the sleepless nights, and you’ll have no money and no idea what to expect in the immediate future much less a year or five years from now. Not exactly a good time to try to meet that special someone. Because there are so many people unemployed the social stigma isn't as sharp as it used to be, people are more forgiving, more tolerant of the unemployed. Almost everyone knows someone, at least one person, who's lost their job in the past year or two. So the stigma isn't the real hurdle to dating when you're unemployed. The bigger issue is that your life is in flux. You're not stable. Who would want to risk getting involved with someone who may soon homeless or heading off to a new job somewhere else? They don't talk about dating in unemployment articles. Presumably because no one's foolish enough to attempt it.

And no one mentions the falling dream, or how being single has its own set of issues when you’re unemployed. So I’m mentioning it. It sucks. It really, really sucks to not have someone there to catch you, or at least a hand to hold in the night when you’re falling.

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12:20 PM

Monday, January 18, 2010  
Okay then.

We've established that life is weird. The Universe has proved and reiterated that point over and over and over again. Do we really need another embarrassing situation to further prove the point that life, is, in fact: Weird.

Life is so weird that by now we should all understand that weird isn't actually weird at all. Weird is normal. Normal is weird.

I know, it takes a little stepping back and letting go to accept that. But I'm living proof that once you understand and accept that weird is normal, everything is a lot easier to accept and manage.

That's how I'm able to (usually) find a place of compassion for complete strangers and dole out those warm, glowy metaphoric Snuggies®.

There is such a thing as conventional wisdom, and it's generally a good rule of thumb, but, conventional wisdom is best used with the understanding that convention doesn't mean normal. Which means sometimes, most of the time, when you find yourself in a situation, a weird is the new normal situation, where you try to apply conventional wisdom you end up really confused.

For instance. Let's say you went to art school. Art school attracts a lot of different types of people. You are, and were then, an open-minded, tolerant, accepting person. So you got along with most of the other students and had a Jackson Pollock-esque canvas of friends and acquaintances. At first glance the associative array mapping the friends is a haphazard, random, uncontrolled, unfocused, drunken mess of people thrown together. But when you stand back a bit, take in the whole array, as a whole rather than its sum parts, voila! what a mind-blowing moment of awareness of rhythm and harmony.


Okay. So, there you were at art school with a lot of friends and acquaintances from all walks of life and lifestyles brought together by one common trait: The desire to create.

Woweee. It's like the '60s or something! Awesome!

The thing about art, creativity, is that it's wholly subjective. Which is what I love about it. The real beauty is in the process. Not that I don't admire and respect the end result Degas achieved. But, for me, the process is where I find the real beauty and genius.

Given that mindset, then, I was never "good" at class critique sessions where the end result was put on display and we were supposed to offer constructive criticism to our classmates. It pains me to admit this, but, I was the Paula Abdul of my art school. When it was my turn to offer an opinion or idea about my classmates' work even some of the worst looking pieces got positive feedback. I'd go on about the creative process being of true value, and then I'd turn it back to the classmate up for review and ask them what they discovered or learned in the process of creating this piece.

I know, I know. It was all that time spent on the Junior UN that made me so diplomatic. Art school is no place for diplomacy. Or so I was often told. But I dunno, it wasn't a matter of trying not to offend anyone, it was a matter of enjoying the process, learning, growing, discovering.

I know, I know, tell that to every dirt poor artistic genius who has Thomas Kinkade mocking them at every turn. I know. But. I'm just sayin'...the process is as important and holds the real, intrinsic value.

Okay. So. Every year most art schools have one or two students who are Thomas Kinkades (or Bob Rosses). Amidst the self-important angst and anger fueled classmates hungry to upset, jar, rebel and rally against society and conventional art, they are masters of the bucolic. They get dismissed and criticized by their more, um, "visionary" classmates.

And yet they happily go along in their world of kittens and landscapes, creating what they feel in their heart. And you know, I always thought, "Hey, if creating kittens and landscapes is in their heart, rock on to that. Will it hang at the MoMA or an au currant gallery? Probably not, but so what? They've got cute kittens and glorious landscapes in their hearts and that's not a bad thing."

The kittens and landscapes students are, unfortunately for their art school cred, usually a "type." Nice girls. (Girls who have hometown honeys they're going to marry and with whom they'll produce several adorable children before the age of 30 and do a lot of craft projects.) And Bob Ross kind of guys. (Super mellow stoners who live in the country.) Again, let me state for the record, I'm not judging now, nor did I then.

The truth that no one in art school wants to admit is that many times these people are truly talented. More talented, skilled, than their brash contemporaries with their lofty ambitions and abstract art. You paint a litter of kittens and tell me how easy it is to capture their innocence and playfulness without lapsing into a Disney-fied cliché. Go on, go ahead, try it. It's not as easy as presumed.

A subset of the kittens and landscapes art student group is: The Horsey Girls. You probably knew one of these girls in school. And they are almost always girls. Girls who are obsessed with horses. There are a lot of these girls, hence the undying popularity of My Little Pony. The Horsey Girls who have artistic talent become single-minded in their vision. They draw horses. And nothing else. They are singularly focused and compelled to draw horses. Horses grazing in the corral. Colts gingerly testing out their legs. Stallions charging with fury. A herd of wild white horses on a beach. These girls cannot get enough horse.

There was a Horsey Girl in my class in art school. We'll call her Melinda. I wasn't overly friendly with Melinda. Not because I didn't like her, or found her work cliché and pedestrian. Horsey Girls have always scared me. I mean, I like horses, I even took riding lessons, but I was never a Horsey Girl. Horsey Girls...they're intense.

Week after week, semester after semester, Melinda churned out horse sketches, horse drawings, horse paintings, horse sculptures, in lettering class she created a font comprised of horses. Every now and then a prof would insist that she break out of the corral and do something other than horses. She'd come back with a unicorn or pegasus. Some of my less mature, meaner classmates called her Mrs. Ed. At critiques I was often the lone voice of support. "What did you learn in the process of creating that mustang rearing up on hind legs?" "What is the color mix ratio for the water droplets on your dewy morning mother with colt piece?" (Junior UN, man, Junior UN.)

I guess she perceived my diplomacy as friendship because Melinda often sought me out at parties. Lemme tell you something about Melinda. The girl could drink. I mean to tell you what, that girl could throw back the Jack better than any of the angry anarchy screaming, abstract painting hardcore punk classmates. For some reason that fact alluded most of our classmates. They were under the assumption she was sipping a single Bartles and James all night. Meanwhile Melinda was downing fifths of Jack and telling me about horse husbandry and how her boyfriend was hung like a horse and she rode him like a wild stallion. And that she found it so freeing, so liberating, so natural. Scary but thrilling at the same time. The more Jack she drank, the more graphic the details about her wild, freeing, scary encounters with her painfully huge boyfriend. She told me he took her to the places where her horses run free. Way more information that I cared to know about Melinda. Or anyone, really.

The boyfriend went to another school four hours away. He visited every other weekend or so. One night some friends and I went to see a ska punk band at a pretty rough club in a not-so-great part of town. There was Melinda with her boyfriend, apparently this was a conjugal weekend. While my friends were shocked to see Melinda at that club, in that part of town, with that band, I was in the throes of a seriously awkward situation. All I could think about was Melinda's boyfriend being hung like a horse and all the things he did with it - in graphic detail. I didn't want to think about, you know, "it." But the harder I tried not to think about "it" the more I thought about "it" and Melinda riding on "it" and the choppy, aggressive ska punk beat that caused Melinda to gyrate and grind on her boyfriend only made it more impossible to not think about "it." She did, indeed, look very free.

That's pretty much the sum total of my experience and recollection of Melinda. We graduated, went separate ways and that was that. At some point I heard from a friend of a friend that she married the hung-like-a-horse boyfriend.

So. That was a long time ago. Last Summer, when I was laid off, word spread from friend to friend and consequently I've been in touch with some far-flung friends. Yadda yadda yadda I got an email from Melinda.

Turns out she and hung-like-a-horse got a divorce. There was a long custody battle over their two children. She had a friend in Chicago so she moved here a few years ago in an effort to move on from her marriage. She told me she's been going through a rebirth, digging deeper into her creativity. She sent me a scan of an illustration of her children. She was putting together a show for a small gallery.

Naturally I assumed the show would contain portrayals of children...and horses.

She invited me to the show opening. Cool. I haven't seen her, or even spoken to her since college. We've been completely out of touch until the past few months and that was only a few polite email exchanges.

So, I went to the show opening, stag. The gallery is a very small space. A converted half of a storefront. There's a gyro shop in the other half of the conversion. So the smell of gyro permeates the gallery. That was my first impression. Feeling ill from the smell of gyros. Gag.

Then I got a look at the art.




Melinda has certainly experienced a rebirth. She wasn't kidding about that. Not a horse to be found.

Nope, no horses. No unicorns or pegasuses, either.

Melinda's still singularly focused, though. I'll give her that. She really explores her subject matter with zeal and devoted passion.

Now her passion is vaginas. Well, okay, the vulva region. Nothing but vaginas and clitorises.

Okay, I'm no prude. I appreciate the human body and it's wonders, beauties and imperfections. I'm not ashamed or embarrassed about sexual areas of the body, male and female. But. A little advance notice of the subject of the show would have been...appreciated. Though I guess I can understand how that might be difficult to say. "I'd love it if you'd stop by my gallery show opening Saturday night. I've been working really hard on my vagina series and I'd love your feedback on my clitoris studies."

The thing is, the drawings and paintings were all, well, harsh. Gritty. Not that women need to be handled with sensitivity, soft focus lenses and trite "beauty of womanhood" overtones. But. The garish, thrashed strokes of paint and chalk that formed the artworks were a kind of, well, violent. My feedback? The art looks as if it was created by a man who hates women and has violent, controlling urges to lash out at women; or by a woman who is angry at her womanhood and is raging against her sexuality.

There were a few portrayals of her children, though. And they were, to my eye, the most disturbing.

I didn't recognize her children at first. The illustration she sent me showed two cute little boys looking all cherubic and full of life. The drawings in the gallery showed hyper-close-ups of penises coming out of vaginas - thrashing and beating their way out, (penis)head first, of vaginas. That's why it wasn't immediately obvious (to me, anyway) that these were portrayals of her children. It wasn't until I looked at the titles of the paintings that I realized they were her sons. The paintings were titled simply, "Jack" and "Tyler."

It seems that Melinda's friend in Chicago is more than a friend. Melinda's more than a friend in Chicago is her partner. Melinda prefers to be called by her less gender identifying nickname, Mel. Mel, who used to find riding her hung-like-a-horse boyfriend like a wild stallion so freeing is now a lesbian. Apparently once she tamed the stallion the rides became boring. And then she met her new partner who opened Mel up to a new liberation she finds freeing on new levels.

I resisted the urge to ask if her ex-husband is still single. It didn't seem like Mel or her partner, a raging feminazi, would appreciate the humor.

Mel's partner is her new muse. Mel told me Liz reached into her soul and pulled out feelings and ideas she didn't know were there. Awesome. Ain't love grand? Mel used terms like "journey of enlightenment" and "transcendent awareness" and "the oneness of sharing fulfillment" and "speaking the art of identity."

I mused how hung-like-a-horse ex-husband feels about Mel's journey of enlightenment. And how they speak the art of her new identity to their young sons.

I'm not knocking Mel for being a lesbian. I hate oppression and repression on any level and if Mel was feeling controlled by sexual convention and she's happier in the oneness with women, if Liz sets Mel's horses free, rock on.

But this was a woman who seemed to really, really, really like having sex with her hung-like-a-horse boyfriend. So much so that she married him and had two children with him. And those paintings and drawings aren't exactly joyous. So pardon my confusion at the conflict of art school Melinda and the now Mel. And my sympathy for her ex-husband and children.

I found the "Jack" and "Tyler" paintings particularly troubling. Mel told me she knew "something wasn't right" when she had her sons. After both their births she felt angry and sickened when she thought about the fact that she'd been harboring a penis inside her womb for nine months. "Men control everything, Trill, everything. Right down to the gender of children. They put their chromosomes in our wombs and we have to host whatever gender the male chromosomes dictate. It's oppression, Trillian. Women will never be free from men, never. It's their game, their world. And I helped create two more of them. I let my husband take over my womb and put two more penises into the world. I can't undo that, Trillian, and it makes me feel sick and ashamed."





It was like in college when she was throwing back the Jack and divulging very intimate and graphic details about her boyfriend. Except back then she liked penises. Big penises. My reaction now was the same as back then, "Why is she telling me all of this? We're not really friends. I'm just nice to her in class because I'm nice to everyone in class." The feeling was the same: Waaaaaay too much information.

All I could think about were those two little boys in the illustration she emailed me a few weeks prior. They didn't look like domineering oppressors out to control and dictate women. They looked like cute little kids. Maybe that's part of the sinister plan. Look all cute and innocent, lull the woman into a loving reverie which numbs the woman's pride and intelligence. Yeah, yeah, that's it, men are inherently evil. I knew it!!!

I mean, geeze, point taken Mel, but c'mon. This is just biology. Yes, men "dictate" the gender of the offspring, but sheesh, we get the power to host, nourish and bring that offspring into the world. In evolutionary terms men are screwed without us. And as for having a penis inside her for nine months, what the...???

I was standing there talking to Mel, trying to understand, trying to be diplomatic (nothing like this ever came up at Junior UN debates), trying to get brought up to speed and sort out the meaning and take-away from her art, trying to find the beauty in the creative process rather than the end result ("The chalk technique on the pubic hair is effective, is that conté?"), when Liz (the new partner) came over and gripped Mel's elbow so tightly I could see the veins popping in her hand.

"I hope you're not trying to move in on my girl!" Liz said, trying to be jocular and friendly, but trying so hard the jealousy and insecurity were obvious.

"Har har, well, no, she's all yours," I said.

"Trillian is still slaving to the penis," Mel said, apologetically, to Liz.

Wait a minute. I need an instant replay on that. What just happened? How did this go from me trying to understand Mel's angry vagina art to me being made to feel wrong for being heterosexual?

I didn't want to come across as defensive or holier than thou, but, I am not a slave to the penis. And, honestly? If there's a man out there who wants me to be a slave to his penis, you know what? From where I'm sitting that doesn't sound all bad. I will not apologize or feel ashamed for being heterosexual. I don't care what anyone else does or who they do it with. I really do not care. I respect their desires and choices and hope they're happy, fulfilled and content. I wish that for everyone. And, in return, I do deserve and expect the same respect for my desires and choices. And I'm not the one painting and drawing angry vaginas and being repulsed by my children because they have penises. Who's really the slave here, Mel? The single hetero woman or the divorced woman who resents her husband's ability to dictate the gender their children so much that she left them to be with a hostile, domineering faminazi? Sounds like you're still a slave to the penis, Mel. Still being held hostage by hate and resentment.

That's what I wanted to say.

Instead I just smiled and said, "Yeah, you know, men, har har, what are you gonna do?" exaggerated shrug.

"You've been waiting a long time for Mr. Right, Trillian. Maybe it's time to consider other possibilities. My life has changed in every way since I opened my mind and heart to Liz," Mel said, way too condescendingly for someone who spent four years of art school drawing horses, unicorns and pegasuses and now had her arm locked in the vise-grip of her girlfriend.

What if I said that to her, now "Gee, Mel, your art is very angry and disturbed. Your feelings of oppression and hostility about your sons is troubling. And clearly it's not about gender - you just like being controlled and dominated because Liz here is obviously controlling and dominating you. Maybe it's time to consider other possibilities, like psychotherapy."

All Hell would break loose, that's what would happen. It's perfectly okay for a lesbian to suggest someone change their sexual orientation simply because they're still single. But it's tabboo, wrong, ignorant, judgmental for a heterosexual to suggest a lesbian has some obvious issues that need addressing, if not for her own good, for the sake of her children. Weird is normal, normal is weird. Conventional wisdom dictates decorum and tact, and so, that's what I used. Even in this very weird situation.

I just smiled. "That's great, Mel, I'm so glad you're so happy. I hope your show is a huge success."

I took one more pass around the room and left. The smell of the gyros meat was making me ill. The irony of that pervading stench of meat wafting around the angry vaginas sent me into poignant sensory overload.

Before the opening I was kind of excited to reconnect with Mel(inda). She lives in the city and I thought, you know, hey, someone to hang out with, a friend! So I'm equally kind of disappointed that it doesn't look like we reconnected.

Then again, we were never really connected in the first place. I was nice to her in classes when no one else was because I was nice to everyone and I felt sorry for her. She drank, heavily, and told me about sex with her boyfriend. That's not really a connection. That's a drunk girl at a party where she has no friends except for the one classmate who doesn't call her Mrs. Ed.

I haven't written her off entirely, but I have difficulty getting past her issues with her children. Not in the "what kind of mother leaves her children to be a lesbian?" disgusted kind of way. In the, "These are your children, you're supposed to love them unconditionally, even if they have penises" kind of way. I feel horrible for her sons. They're way too young to understand any of what their mother is feeling. Heck, I can't understand what their mother is feeling. The two little boys in the illustration she sent me keep nagging at me. The same woman who painted them as sweet, cherubic little boys also painted them as giant, jabbing, marauding penises stabbing their way out of their mother's vagina. Weird is normal, but there's only so much conventional wisdom I can apply to a weird situation.

11:11 AM

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