Friday, September 7, 2012

This Is What Budget Cuts Look Like

I listened to a radio interview a while ago about potential cuts to public transportation in Los Angeles. A college student who lived in South Los Angeles and commuted by bus to UCLA for classes was interviewed. Her normal trip of 45 minutes each way would, with the cuts, be expanded to 3 hours each way because of reduced services. She couldn't drive and would seriously have to reconsider her plans because of it.

A couple of years ago, the Los Angeles times did an expose on the county's child welfare services. Halfway through the year, 20 children had died violent deaths because of abuse, and the director tried to hide it and only release a few of the stats to make it appear that everything was under control. The normal death rate was about a dozen per year, and the department looked like it would meet triple that by the end of the year. They had had big budget cuts and were struggling to meet the extreme need around them without enough resources. Children who didn't need to die died because of the budget.

In a psychiatric hospital in Alabama in 1970, the employees kept the violent patients subdued through either inappropriately extreme amounts of medication, or by binding their limbs for long periods of time. While many such hospitals are vilified, I had a wise professor point out that this hospital had had significant staff cuts before that, and medicating and binding the patients was the most humane option, because it kept everyone safe. Before the budget cut, there was enough staff to watch everyone. One patient sued (Wyatt v. Stickney), and this Supreme Court decision assured that hospitals should now have enough resources for no cruel and unusual punishment (i.e.--the government must provide enough funds for staff).

There are so many people who rely on social welfare, and who have no other options--the disabled, the elderly, the sick, the poor. Sometimes healthy, educated people when we are in a rough spot. I hope that everyone will consider what a positive thing taxes and social programs are when they go to the polls. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Great Teachers

Do you remember your favorite teacher? I remember mine. Ms. W was young, energetic, and with it. She taught high schoolers the glory of Beat Poetry and joked throughout her lessons. She made learning fun. But most importantly, she noticed when I was going through a rough patch and reached out to me by giving me a collection of existential writing--perfect for the young artist.

Accounts of favorite teachers are like this--the teacher either makes learning really engaging or does something special for the child. In return, the teacher is bathed in unconditional affection from the child, which is why many of us go into teaching.

But that's not the type of teacher I want to talk about. This is the type:

Mr. S was a funny looking older gentleman who taught my sixth grade class. He wore cardigan sweaters, looked like Mr. Rogers, and in retrospect, I think he was gay. All these characteristics could have combined to create perfect fodder for a bunch of 12 year olds to make fun of him, but somehow we never did. We went on with our day, our academics, and our personal dramas. We did not notice him because he treated everyone exactly the same, was fair, and kept a distance.

Mr. R was in charge of teaching every single ninth grader U.S. government, which would be an insurmountable task for some. None of us cared at all about the subject, none of us found it relevant to our lives, and he knew that. But he never tried to get us passionate about it, nor did he go easy on us or dumb down the curriculum. Nor did he complain to us that we weren't paying attention. What he did do was furiously work through all the content and make sure that all of us knew it, as if our lives depended on it. He had the misfortune of teaching a subject that students just weren't passionate about, and he did it beautifully.

Ms. X was an eleventh grade English teacher who was tight-lipped and boring. Her lectures seemed irrelevant to what I would ever need or use in my life. One day, she made us struggle through a task of digging out roots and prefixes in the dictionary, a challenge I remember well because it was so much harder than the things most teachers ask. My friend and I bitched and moaned through the assignment while we giggled about the new German student four rows over. I didn't realize until years later that this teacher had laid the foundation for morphemic analysis and had empowered me for life in my understanding of the English language. I learned how to use the dictionary right because of this teacher.

What these three great teachers have in common was that they never got to see the powerful effects they had on their students. They were not glamorous, and they didn't get fawned over. In fact, they were sometimes unliked. They had the intense discipline to treat each student exactly the same, and focus on lesson planning instead of being approved of. Students never appreciated them. This must have been a terribly lonely experience for them.

And yet this did not stop them from giving 100%. They had enough love in their hearts to be willing to be not loved back.

So while I will always love Ms. W and teachers like her, it's teachers like these that haunt me. Will they ever know what they have done? I hope they find out.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Reason to Vote Democrat

This is really an attempt to reach any friends and family who normally vote Republican, or who are considering voting Republican in 2012. I know we don't normally discuss the sensitive issue of politics. For all I know, everyone may be voting Democrat in the next election. But I suspect not.

Forgive me if this comes off as a lecture--I am just trying to expose you to some of the things I have seen, read and heard over the past few weeks. I am not an economist or a political commentator, but I will do my best. I feel very strongly about the future of this country, and feel protective of its most vulnerable citizens (most people).

I am an American adult who faithfully went to college and got good grades, and have not been able to find a decent paying job in ten years. I have no savings, and am deeply in debt. I don't take vacations except for Christmas with family and weddings. I can't afford to go snowboarding with friends or go to concerts. I have been living without health insurance for about nine of the past ten years. I know there are a lot of you out there like me, who are in debt and scared shitless about being able to retire, and who never go on vacation. But nobody talks about it because it's considered inappropriate to discuss personal finances.

The fact is, $8, $10, $12 an hour--what so many jobs pay right now, is not enough to survive. Even jobs that pay a little bit more are not enough for people who have children. Many of us would be going hungry right now if it wasn't for credit cards and student loans. I believe that's why there's not a mass uprising right now--because access to credit cards, combined with the myth of being able to achieve the American Dream one day, keeps people comfortable, even if disappointed. It is not our fault that we don't have savings, if what we earn is not even enough to cover basic costs.

The key issue drawing people to the Republican party seems to be the promise of job creation, achieved through keeping tax rates low for the wealthy and corporations, combined with likely deregulation of the business and finance worlds. This may create more wealth for the very richest individuals and corporations, but will likely result in the creation of more jobs that pay $8 or $10 an hour. It may result in a stripping of rights for these workers, making them even more vulnerable than they already are. Look at what is happening in Wisconsin right now with public workers, something that can set a precedent for the rights of workers in both the public and private sectors for years to come.

I have heard that there are entrepreneurs right now who are trying to start businesses, which would definitely create some new jobs, but I have also heard that banks are refusing to grant start-up loans to these potential businesses, squelching growth. It is not a question of banks not having the money, because they are sitting on more money now than they have had in years. It is a question of banks having much more power than American citizens, and being able to control their money to suit their own financial interests. From what I understand, they are waiting until interest rates get higher to start doling out loans.

If you have a moment, please spend some time looking at this graph that shows the history of the gap between the rich and the poor in this country. The top line represents the top .01 percent of people, and the bottom line represents the bottom 90 percent of people, or most of us.

You can see that the gap was wide in the 1920s, before banks were regulated, and that things started to get better for most people in the 1930s and 40s, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt was president. He put in place many regulations for banks and corporations, raised taxes on the rich and corporations, and created a lot of jobs. He was also a Democrat.

A lot of these regulations and tax rates lasted for most of the last century, in combination with unions becoming stronger. Look at how healthy the middle class was in the 1950s, when unions were at their strongest. This supports my argument that it is not tax breaks for the rich, but ultimately giving rights and a voice to the poor, that creates job security for Americans.

You may remember a posting I wrote a couple of years ago, The American Nightmare, in which I compared the life of a bread truck driver in the 1930s (able to buy a home and support a family), to the life of a bread truck driver today (unable to afford his own apartment). If you'd like to read it, you can find it here.

Now look at the graph again, and look at what begins to happen in the 1980s, when Ronald Reagan takes presidency. He begins to cut government spending and cut tax rates for the rich and corporations, all in the interest of economic growth. And the gap begins to widen again. The rich got richer and the middle class got poorer. And it continued. And from what I understand, those tax rates were never raised again to what they once were. Yes, the economy grew in terms of the wealthy in the country prospering, but most people remained secure if lucky, or became worse off.

Obama does not want to raise taxes on the poor and middle class. He wants to raise taxes on the very wealthy and corporations, in order to bring about some sort of security that we had in the last century. And in the Republican debate last week, all candidates vowed to not raise taxes during their presidency. They believe they can fix the deficit by cutting spending in vital programs for poor and vulnerable Americans, and improve the quality of life for most people by simply hoping that businesses will create jobs. But who wants to work at Wal-mart or McDonalds?

If you have another moment, please take a look at this graph that shows taxes paid by the wealthiest Americans. You can see that most of their wealth comes not from job earnings, but from investment income. And the tax rate on these investments was cut during the Bush years. And despite that tax cut years ago, we still have a high unemployment rate. There is much more money in their pockets now, but they are not setting about creating new businesses with decent paying jobs. Another interesting note is that the article says the deficit could be fixed by simply raising this capital gains tax. But Republican lawmakers have refused to do just this.

If you are a low wage-earning American, or if you care about people who earn $8, $10, $12/hour, please consider voting Democrat in 2012. It will create a better quality of life for us in the long run.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

There is a Cure for Cancer

I'm sharing this information because I think a lot of people don't know it. And it's important.

There are cheap and effective methods of curing chronic diseases without surgery or medications with uncomfortable side effects. And it simply has to do with the food you put in your body.

I attended a nutrition talk the other day put on by a raw vegan man who is 60 years old, and looks to be 40. I met him through a friend who has a chronic, debilitating skin condition, and he had much improved her condition by getting her to change her diet. At the talk, he showed us pictures of a man whose severely deteriorating foot was about to be amputated due to his diabetes. Not wanting that, the man had come to Lou because he had heard good things. Lou put him through a rapid detox and a strict healthy diet, and within a week, the man could stand on his foot. Soon later, his diabetes was gone.

There was a young woman my age in the audience who talked about how she had had severely painful kidney stones, and doctors couldn't figure out the diagnosis. She had seen several. When she heard about Lou, she met him, started following his advice, and the stones disappeared. She now is healthy, positive and glowing.

I can attest to this food/illness connection. I used to have chronic neck tension, and when I stopped drinking 1-2 glasses of wine each night, it went away. I also was beginning to get pain in the joints of my hands, and when I stopped drinking soda, it went away. Most importantly, I had eczema on and off from childhood--an irritating, itchy skin condition. I spent many hundreds of dollars on doctors visits and creams over the years trying to control it. I remember going to a health food store in Boulder once when I didn't have insurance, looking for something, and the man said, "try cutting down on dairy. Dairy is a major cause." I didn't pay any attention, because I liked dairy, and that seemed to simple. Surely a doctor would have told me that years ago?

When I began working in the health industry, I learned a little more about the other effects too much dairy has, and I naturally began to cut down. Lo and behold, my eczema disappeared. What was a chronic, annoying mystery turned out to be a simple dairy allergy. Cost of cure? $0.

There is something terribly wrong with the medical industry when doctors can't diagnose kidney stones or a dairy allergy. I know there are good things about the medical industry--powerful antibiotics that work, life-saving surgery--but I'm also upset that it doesn't focus enough on nutrition. From what I understand, medical students are only required to take one class in nutrition. One class. And what we are discovering now, and what natural healers have always known, is that what you put in your body day in and day out is the most important factor in health.

It seems crazy that cures exist for degenerative conditions like cancer and diabetes, but they do. If you have an open mind, you should check out the first few minutes of this documentary on Harry Hoxsey. He was a doctor who cured thousands of cancer patients with herbs and diet, and he was also labeled as a criminal by the medical industry. They had to move his clinic from the U.S. to Mexico because it was outlawed.

And then if you want to be sad, compare that video to the opening paragraph of the Wikipedia article on Hoxsey Therapy. This is why using Wikipedia pains me--it discredits alternative ideas that threaten the economic powers that be as if there was a war on. And there is.

It seems like the world would be a good enough place that if there were cures for degenerative illnesses, we would know about them, right? NO. If a cure cannot be patented and controlled by huge corporations, it will be framed by the mainstream as dangerous and quacky.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Adventures in Health Food

A story from my job at a health food store in a yuppie area of Los Angeles.

I had seen the white paper bag full of goodies tucked away in the corner of the counter in the vitamins department. Clara finally brought it up.

"Do you want these?" she asked.

I looked inside. They looked like cool Bavarian Old World crackers, chock full of whole grains and nutrients. Maybe I did want them.

"Andrew asked me if I wanted them yesterday, but they just look dead to me. I don't even know what they are. I told him I didn't want them, but for some reason, he left them there."

I looked again. Three of the crackers were a sickly gray color, and three were a more normal brown. Different flavors, evidently. On second look, they looked like a cross between an old sheet of dryer lint and cat food. I don't think they were moldy--I think this was just one of those cases where the food was so healthy that it becomes horrifyingly disgusting.

"Oh, wow," I said. "You're right. I don't know if I want that. What is it?"

Clara soon left and I had the rest of the night to contemplate whether or not I wanted these crackers. I looked at them a third time, and touched one of the grey ones--it bent like a fruit leather. So it obviously had some sort of fruit in it, but why was it grey? This time it reminded me more of one of those plastic barf circles you can buy at a gag store.

I have lower standards for health food than Clara does--she is one of these rare people who eats for health and pleasure at the same time, which I think is hard to do. She makes most of her food, and a lunch for her might consist of an avocado sandwich with sprouts, potatoes sauteed with turmeric, and a protein shake loaded with blueberries. Not only does her food have to be healthy--it has to be delicious.

As I was saying--most people lean more towards one of two camps, eating for pleasure or eating for health. I think most people just eat for pleasure or convenience. Now that I've been at this job I eat more for health, strategically building my diet throughout the day. For example, inside my head it looks like this:

"Hmm, I'm low on minerals and I also haven't eaten any greens today. I think I'm going to have a seaweed salad."

The problem with eating this way is that you can forget a lot of the joy of eating. Many people who work in the health industry eat this way. At Whole Foods, I ran into a highly respected nutritionist I used to work with, and he was eating an organic salad topped with raw grass-fed beef. "They know me here, and so they let me just buy a little for my salad," he said. This guy shines like Krishna himself, and he looks a lot younger than he is, but I wonder if he ever lets loose and eats hot dogs when he goes to a barbecue. I don't get the impression he does.

I had another coworker who I was teasing one day. He would just eat straight bee pollen or spirulina from the jar. "When was the last time you had fast food?" I asked him. He really had to think about it. "I think I had Taco Bell about six months ago," he said, with concentration on his face. On the upside, he never got sick.

You will see some of the most beautiful people in this industry, but their diets are very restrictive, and they end up sacrificing flavor and pleasure in food for nutrition.

There was a woman who regularly used to do demos for an organic green powder. She looked like she stepped out of a Boticcelli painting, and the powder she was selling was also lovely--a wide mix of organic greens and herbs. The problem was, she would mix it with only water when she gave samples, and she thought it tasted good, but nobody else did. It didn't have any flavoring. There was another woman who demoed a similar product, but mixed it with apple juice, and she would sell much more, because the apple juice masked the taste.

After the Boticcelli woman was done each day, she would divide up the rest of the mix into cups for the people in our department to have. She didn't want to throw it away, and in a way I don't blame her--it's such a nutritious product. But I would feign enthusiasm, and say, "oh, thanks," and then that green drink would sit there and stare at me all day. We'd have a showdown like in an Old Western. I would try and conquer it--about once an hour I would take a sip, but then I'd just say "ugh." The green drink always won.

About twice a week I go next door to the juice bar and get either a wheatgrass shot or an E3Live shot (a special type of algae that's chock full of nutrients and prevents Alzheimer's). The first tastes like eating a lawn and the second tastes like licking the side of a dirty fishtank. I know that they are so good for me, which is why I get them, but they're torture to drink. I make a face like I've been shot when I drink it, to the entertainment of a couple of the people who work there.

And I guess this is what I'm telling you. That eating this way kind of sucks. A lot of health food proponents will tell you that eating this way is delicious. Some of it is--when you're craving greens, there's nothing better than a salad with extra virgin olive oil, raw apple cider vinegar, and sea salt. But some of it is not, especially when you're doing it day in and day out. This is the big dirty secret.

I know why Andrew didn't throw out those "crackers." He is in the strategic eating camp, and like the green drink lady, he probably thought it was a pity to throw away something so good-for-you.

I really hope the "crackers" are still there when I go to work today. I hope we can leave them there, on the counter, like they do with the McDonald's fries in "Supersize Me." In a week, will they still be bendy? Will they shrink in size? What will happen? Maybe we can put them in a time capsule, so in the future, they will think, "Wow, they must've had it bad."

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Alien v. Ninja

My friends and I met for a film screening of Japanese action flick "Alien v. Ninja" at The Silent Movie Theatre in West Hollywood. The theater is playing all horror movies for the month of October, and this movie was part of a gorey Japanese double feature.

I was catching up with my friend April, whom I hadn't seen in awhile, and the topic came to movies that were currently playing.

"Have you seen the Social Network?" I asked.

"No," she said. "Have you?"

"No," I said.

I hesitated before asking the next question. Then I timidly tried:

"Do you want to?"

"No," she said.

"Thank god," I sighed. "I thought I was the only one."

I don't have TV, and so maybe I would want to see the movie if I did--trailers of a new hunky young actor portraying a college student in psychological pain against the backdrop of one of the country's best and oldest universities. But what I have seen/heard of the movie does not tempt me--NPR critics revering the movie as a tour de force portrait of a genius, Entertainment magazine profiling the "sexy geek" actors who are not really computer programmers, but actors. I even saw a giant billboard with a close-up of star Jesse Eisenberg's face, with the word "PROPHET" typed across the top in giant letters.

Which got me to thinking, since when did founding a billion-dollar company make one a prophet? Prophets are typically people with a direct connection to the divine, who go out and help masses of people during their lifetimes. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, whom "The Social Network" is about, has touched millions of lives, but has it been from a place of divine connection or self-sacrifice? I think not. In fact, the kicker is, he didn't even invent social networking, even though so many people think he did. In the couple of years before the launch of Facebook, MySpace and Friendster, which were simpler versions of Facebook, already existed. Zuckerberg is not a prophet, but a CEO who hired better programmers than the first two.

April and I agreed that there were a plethora of other people we'd rather see profiled in a feature film. How about Liu Xiaobo, the jailed activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner who's been tirelessly fighting for freedom of speech in China for years? Martha Graham, inventor of modern dance? Al Gore, politician-turned-global-warming activist? Cornel West, racial justice advocate? The list goes on and on. But a profile of a person who happened to opportune upon the right trend at the right time? I think not.

You may roll your eyes and say,"'The Social Network' got great reviews. How many great reviews did 'Alien v. Ninja' get?" The answer is, I don't care. It was an elegantly done, low-budget martial arts movie with ninjas in black pleather costumes that would rival those of Batman and Catwoman. It opened me and my friends up to an entire new genre of film, and it made me realize that there is genius and magic happening all over the world, outside of the big studio system.

The Downtown Los Angeles Art Walk almost recently went on hiatus due to a lack of funds. It was saved by area businesses that realized it was a vital part of Los Angeles culture. The Silent Movie Theater was packed when I saw "Alien v. Ninja." But it could have been empty. Independent artistic venues always seem to be struggling in the face of big business.

The audience in that theater bonded in a way that never could have happened at an AMC movie theater--we screamed when the alien stuck tentacles into a ninja's flesh, we howled and clapped together when he was finally killed.

It is easy to forget how much vibrant culture and genius exists outside of the top 10 blockbusters, or the New York Times bestseller list. But it is there, always there. It is up to everyone to take the road less traveled by when it comes to culture. Because it will make us smarter. It will make us more interesting. And above all, it will make us connect in a way that we never can over Facebook.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Two Halloweens

Halloween 2008. Boulder, Colorado. I’ve been thinking of this costume for a couple of years now, it makes me smile during grunt work at my office job. A tap-dancing banana—a body-sized banana costume with fishnets, a leotard, high-heeled tap shoes and a cane. Ludicrous—based vaguely on Fruit of the Loom commercials and that old movie preview cartoon—“Let’s all go to the lobby, and have ourselves a snack!”

This year I decide to do it, I begin collecting the materials. I put on the banana bodysuit and have trouble making my face look like it has a head of hair attached to it—just a big pasty round thing in the middle of a sea of yellow. There is one conundrum…will I be able to be in a costume that is not sexy? I have always admired the women who are unsexy on Halloween on purpose, sort of an “F you” to gender rules. They opt to go the whole night without male validation. A lot of them are gay. But for so many young women, Halloween is the one day of the year when it is okay to be suggestive, to wear something short or skimpy, even to wear something that would other days of the year look like it came from a sex shop. There is almost a franticness to it—“I have to get my fake eyelashes perfect!” “Can I borrow your lipstick?” “I spent $100 on these heels, just to wear to the party.” My costumes have, ever since I began noticing boys, been appropriately flirty. I thought the banana might be the same, but I find that when you take away your hair and your waistline, you become completely asexual.

The night unfolds uneventfully. I wander Pearl Street with my friend and her romantic interest. She is cute—an ice princess with a long white dress with bell sleeves that have fake fur trim. He’s not wearing a costume, opting to remain coolly unnoticed. Typical Halloween costumes float by in the drunken, rowdy crowd—Super Mario Brothers, Kill Bill, Hunter S. Thompson. I even meet one or two bananas, but I am the only dancing banana. And my feet kill—they are real tap shoes. Nobody seems to understand my costume, just like “oh, cool, a banana. I’m a pimp.” No one notices all the details. It can be hard to find people with a black sense of humor in Boulder—it’s not until I move to Los Angeles one year later that people truly appreciate my costume.

My cohorts and I go into Pearl Street Pub—jam-packed with people trying to get wasted, but there are not enough bartenders to meet the demand. We go down to the basement, and I go upstairs to try and get us some drinks. There is a thick wall of people several feet deep around the bar, I know it will be awhile before I’m served. The bartender is dressed like Richie Tenenbaum from The Royal Tenenbaums—that’s Luke Wilson’s character, a depressed tennis star who always wears a headband over his shaggy hair, and a blazer. I consider it a very unoriginal costume—it’s for guys who think they’re hipsters, but really they’re frat boys. Who grow their hair out because it’s cool, but otherwise can’t think for themselves. Who might not even know that Wes Anderson directed The Royal Tenenbaums. I know that’s harsh, but you know exactly who I’m talking about.

Anyway, this bartender is hot, and I notice he’s serving cute girls first. An injustice that exists only at some bars, and men have to put up with it 365 days a year. I wait expectantly for him to ask me what I want, but he does not. Cute girls come and go, and pretty soon he starts serving the guys. Ten minutes go by. Fifteen. I try to flag him down. It’s too loud for him to hear me, but I am pretty obvious—I’m the giant yellow thing at the end of the bar. Twenty minutes go by. I’m starting to understand…this guy is consciously invalidating my femininity by choosing not to serve me. People come and go around me, I’m at the head of the bar, he goes around me, serving the people to my left and right. People who have been waiting only five minutes get served. I wait for a total of a half an hour, I kid you not, before I decide it’s time to find a new bar. Some of my girlfriends with more chutzpah might have said something—“F you, bartender! The Royal Tenenbaums is probably the deepest movie you’ve ever seen!” But I don’t. I’m shattered, I can’t enjoy the rest of the night, I can’t flirt, I can’t smile. I have been made to feel worthless because I’m not dressed like a sexy fairy. And I internalize it. I vow never to dress like a tap-dancing banana again.

Halloween 2009. Los Angeles, California. Okay, I wear the banana costume during the day, at my job at a health food store, because it got such positive feedback from my coworkers. “Oh my god, you have to wear that!” Like I said, people in L.A. have more my sense of humor. I tap dance for customers, I take pictures with my friend who is dressed like Laura Palmer’s dead body from Twin Peaks (much better costume than Richie Tenenbaum). But tonight is different, tonight I’m going to a party, and I don’t know if I have the strength to repeat 2008’s asexual nightmare.

So I pull out 2007’s costume—a sexy cop. Shiny vinyl hat and skintight uniform dress that you must wear with pants because it’s so short. Purchased for way too much money at The Ritz, Boulder’s overpriced Halloween store.

I enter the party when it is fully rolling, there is a good crowd. Ironically, there seems to be a dearth of singles, and a lot of couples, couples wearing matching costumes. My friend who invited me, who is married, did not tell me this would be the case. She is dressed like a respectful butterfly, and her husband as a butterfly catcher. And I am dressed like a stripper. Possibly my favorite couples costume is two friends who dress like John and Kate Plus Eight. She has a studiously blond frosted and layered wig with a tacky soccer mom outfit, and he has an Ed Hardy shirt, and eight Barbie doll “kids” wrapped around his waist that he bought at the 99 cent store. They are funny together, acting as if they are a married couple.

I go to the kitchen to get a drink, and the thing I dread happens, a guy gets turned on and expects me to dominate him. I have found since buying the cop costume that it brings out some primal submissive instinct in men, and they get a little gleam in their eye and say something along the lines of, “arrest me.” It has happened several times. But I am far from a dominatrix, I am more the awkward librarian type, and I can’t act the part. This guy is a stoner hippie—he has a long tangle of dreadlocks. “No, officer, I didn’t do it!” he yells. “Oh, well, if you have to,” he adds, and leans against the wall with his back facing me and spreads his legs—he wants me to “search” him. At the moment I panic, I have no idea what he’s doing, and so I spank him, like “okay, off you go.” He is not impressed—he gives me a strange look and walks off.

I wander out to the front porch where there are a few people talking and smoking cigarettes, including my friend. She introduces me to a cute friend of hers and I am immediately smitten. He is dressed like a rock star of the Guns n’ Roses era—blond shaggy wig, red bandana and a jean jacket. He is far too serious to own the part, he is as out of place as a rock star as I am as a cop. I know that an 80’s rock star is no more of an original costume than Richie Tenenbaum or a sexy cop, but this is one of those cases where the guy’s friends probably forced him to make an emergency stop at the Halloween store the day before the party. So he doesn’t care about his costume.

We are discussing the surface things you discuss during the first few minutes of knowing somebody, and then Kate of John and Kate comes outside. She is talking to someone near us, and she doesn’t even make eye contact with us, but I can feel the energy between her and Axl Rose. I realize that he knows her, and he is very much in love with her. I’m pretty intuitive, and I trust these instincts. I realize that my crush is a no go.

Axl and I end up inside, and we continue our conversation. He is a graduate student in chemistry, and so we talk about graduate school. At least that is what I remember. It wasn’t an incredible conversation, but I remember that it was genuine. It can be a rarity at parties to have a genuine conversation with a guy, especially in meat-market type environments, when men and women are scanning the room for other people to talk to at the same time that they talk to each other. He is good-looking enough to where I expect that he will be eyeballing other women, and yet he’s not. He’s an anomaly of a man.

Through our discussion, I discover that Kate is his wife, and so my intuition that he is in love with her proves right on. I keep a respectful distance, careful not to flirt as I observe him on an energetic level even further. He is 100% in love with her, and has no eyes for anyone else, not even a sexy cop. I begin falling in love with him because he is capable of falling in love with a real woman. A woman who projects to the world not her physical beauty but her personality, who is wearing a tongue-in-cheek costume, who wears dumpy clothes to a Halloween party.

As I observe even further I discover something else which is my saddest moment of the night. We are discussing something along the lines of the scientific merits of various universities, and I feel him feeling sorry for me, thinking, “I can’t believe she thinks she has to dress like a suggestive police officer in order to win male approval. She is far too smart for this, and doesn’t know enough about men.” As soon as I observe this I feel shame. His thought did not come from a place of condescending superiority, of putting me down, but rather a real place of concern for the plight of women. I fall in love even further. I feel like I have some growing up to do, and I send I prayer out to the universe that there is someone like this waiting for me one day.

And I wish tonight that I had dressed like a dancing banana. Because that is who I truly am.