Tuesday, July 31, 2018

So Close So Near

In the summer of my sabbatical where I am doing everything I can to find personal growth, some type of happiness and in turn a sense of health and well being I realized everyone should find said time in which to do the same.  Irony that of course it is only something one of privilege can accomplish and The New York Times had an article about what they called a Creative Hiatus about those who were doing such from their busy well established lives.  But there are many ways those without said resources can find ways to take a break from what is the routine of a daily orchestrated life.

One of the many things I do is find a place that interest me, has a special and sign up for emails.  And viola that led to infrared saunas, reflexology, salt caves and other healthy optional choices that I have been doing.  From massage to walking in a park away from others is another.   That fancy 3x5 card you carry you can leave it at home.   Try reading a book or a newspaper cover to cover while listening to some classical music for one hour.   As I have been doing this all summer with the conclusion being my trip to Iceland in two weeks, I am fortunate I have the resources and time to do as such.  I get that I am of privilege in that sense but it in the pie of life is not the biggest slice.  But part of this was to finally get ahead of what had been putting in my holding pattern for years.  I had to finally put that behind me in some way that was firmly in the past.  But the past is often in the present and for some setting the record straight is just that way to move forward.

And that is where this story brings me to yesterday.  I stopped a week ago at the Omni to pick up a coffee for the walk home and on the counter was a card with a invite to the Dan Call Farm in Lynchburg Tennessee to learn about Uncle Nearest and the history behind this new brand of  Tennessee Whiskey.  Okay I love a field trip so I emailed them and walked up the street to the Corsair Distillery and jumped a bus to learn about what I thought was a day drinking adventure.  It was that and a lot "moore". This is a pun as Lynchburg is in Moore County which is a dry county in Tennessee meaning that you cannot buy liquor nor consume it in public as in restaurants or bars.  In reality it is damp county but again in that true Southern Conundrum contradictory way it is the home of Jack Daniels and where that became legacy and history that is all about liquor.

When I first moved here in 2016 the New York Times had just printed an article about the slave who was the original master and distiller of what became Jack Daniels No 17.  And I was not the only one who read the article and in that time since the legacy and story behind this has dramatically changed and I met one woman who was clearly determined to ensure that it stayed that way.

A slave taught Jack Daniel how to make whiskey. She's made telling his story her life's work.      Jessica Bliss, USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee Published  Feb. 23, 2018 |

All Fawn Weaver could imagine was the sound of a gun being cocked over and over again.

On their second night in Tennessee's whiskey capital, Weaver and her husband, Keith, stood at the edge of a 10-foot hole that looked petrifyingly like a freshly dug grave.

It was after sunset. The field around them was tree lined and dark.

The man who led them there was a self-declared redneck.

"We were sure we were going to be shot or buried alive," Weaver recalls.

A profile of author Fawn Weaver, the history-changing woman behind Uncle Nearest Whiskey whose diligence and research almost single-handedly altered Jack Daniel's story of its beginnings. Shelley Mays/The Tennessean

But as Weaver soon discovered, nothing in this small Southern town was exactly as it seemed.

More: How Jack Daniel's Whiskey fits into Black History Month

More: Distillery, music venue slated for Tennessee walking horse farm

She had come to Lynchburg to research the roots of a former slave named Nathan "Nearest" Green, the man who some believed had taught the famous Jack Daniel to make whiskey more than 150 years ago.

Weaver's husband never wanted to set foot in the place, objecting as a black man to visiting any town with the word "lynch" in its name. He preferred Paris for his wife's 40th birthday.

But Weaver, an intrepid entrepreneur, investor and New York Times best-selling author from Los Angeles, had a mission — and a research trip to Lynchburg, the home of world-renowned Jack Daniel Distillery, was her celebratory request.

More: Ex-slave who trained Jack Daniel gets new recognition

So the couple flew across the country, ready to explore the back roads and back issues in a potentially backward town.

What they uncovered was an unexpected friendship between a black slave on loan to a wealthy preacher and a white teenager who worked at that preacher's grocery store — a relationship that launched a multibillion-dollar whiskey company and contradicted what many assume about race relations in the South.

It was only by chance that they were there at all.
Jack Daniel's 'hidden ingredient'

It began with a trip to Singapore and an article in the International New York Times.

Overseas on a business trip in June two years ago, Weaver unfolded the Times and was met with a surprising headline.

Jack Daniel’s Embraces a Hidden Ingredient: Help From a Slave

The story revealed a complicated and long-concealed tale.

For more than a century, Daniel's distilling prowess had been credited to a man named Dan Call, the local preacher and grocer understood to have employed a young Daniel on his farm and taught the boy everything he knew about whiskey.

But last year, the company came forward with a possible new twist — Daniel didn’t learn to distill from Call, it said, but from a man named Nathan "Nearest" Green, one of Call’s slaves.

A man who would become Daniel's teacher and mentor and friend.

Weaver read the details and gasped. The slaves of the segregated South were generally treated as property, not people — objects transferred like deeds upon a white owner’s death.

Green's unlikely story, built on oral history and a tenuous trail of archives, disputed that.

"This story will never be accepted unless it is indisputable," Weaver thought, wanting to know more.

She Googled Green's name. Her search returned nothing but a newly created Wikipedia page referencing the book "Jack Daniel's Legacy." She ordered it.

The next day, while traveling to Malaysia, Weaver received tragic news. Her 26-year-old niece had been killed by a distracted driver while she rode her motorcycle.

As quickly as it arrived, Green's story became an afterthought.

She rushed home.
Top secret whiskey tasting

"I'm not a griever; it's not how I am wired," Weaver admits. "If I have to grieve, I will be a mess. So I replace it with work."

For two weeks, she focused on celebrating her niece’s life. In the aftermath, Jack Daniel's biography became her coping distraction.

And she read it voraciously, tagging every page where Green and his sons were mentioned. There was more than 50.

For a book published in 1967, that was significant.

The '60s marked the contentious apex of the civil rights era. Sits-ins. Selma. Assassinations.

Lynchburg, Daniel's home, was just 50 miles to the east of Pulaski, where six Tennessee veterans of the Confederate Army established the Ku Klux Klan.

And yet, here was a biography that candidly detailed a relationship between “Little Jack” and “Uncle Nearest” — at a most unlikely time.

"To have another family, a black family, mentioned that many times is insane," Weaver says now. "That's how I knew the story was a little more special."

And so the journey began. The Weavers booked a cross-country flight to Tennessee and rented a place to stay near the Lynchburg town square.

They kept the reason for their trip a secret, telling their family only that they were going on a "whiskey tasting" in the South.
'He didn’t have to tell us we were equal; we just were'

When Weaver first entered the unfamiliar community to research Green and forever alter the story of Jack Daniel Distillery, she did it with no fear. No worries about racism, no feeling of danger.

A vibrant and relentless businesswoman with bright hazel eyes and a loud, joyful laugh, Weaver has always focused on finding the positive.

"I’m not a fearful person like that," she says, navigating her sporty white BMW down the tree-lined two-lane roads of Lynchburg. "The way I look at it is if someone is racist it's their issue, not mine."

She came to that from her father, a man who had been kicked out of Southern University for participating in a sit-in decades ago. Frank Wilson took a one-way ticket from Baton Rouge to Los Angeles and went on to become a legendary Motown Records producer and a minister.

He didn't preach segregation to his children.

"We all grew up never seeing black and white differently," Weaver says. "He didn’t have to tell us we were equal; we just were."

That attitude guided Weaver the day she set foot in the Moore County Public Library, searching for traces of Green and his family. As she scanned the rows of books, her first thought was the town had been "whitewashed."

"The only place you saw black people in that entire library was in the deed books —because they were property," Weaver says.

At the nearby Moore County archives, she found what she was looking for.

The small space just off the town square held documents dated back to December 1871. Loose records filled archival folders, and boxes of tax and court records lined the shelves. Weaver scoured it all searching for birth certificates, genealogies, anything with a paper trail.

"It was a fascinating story to be able to find little tidbits," says Christine Pyrdom, the county archivist. "People can walk through the door and have only a name — and that name forms into a complete person, eventually. It's very fulfilling to see somebody be so excited."
What Weaver began to discover was that Lynchburg, at the time of Jack Daniel and Nearest Green, was perhaps a more progressive place than most — surrounded by the South’s racial tension, but in some ways, less susceptible to it.
'We were like family'

Without question, there were troubled stories in its past. In 1903, one newspaper reported a story about "a mob that wanted to lynch a negro" and assailed the Lynchburg jail. The sheriff fired on the mob, killed one man and captured three others.

The mob, however, reached its victim and shot him to death in jail.

But that type of event did not define the town. In the decades before desegregation, whites and blacks worked, lived and played together, according to Green's descendants and Weaver's research.

"Lynchburg is a unique town, no doubt," says Debbie Staples, Green’s great-great-granddaughter. "Were there things that happened? We’re talking about the South. Did I face racial discrimination or racial tension? No."

And, Staples adds, "I don't think my grandmother did either."

Staples grew up in Lynchburg in the '60s, raised by her grandmother, her Mammie. She would often sit on the front porch at Mammie's modest white home on the corner of Elm Street. From there, one could see out to the hollers and up to where the Jack Daniel’s warehouses stood. It was a place where the town gathered to gossip.

Mammie would recline in her rocking chair, looking out at the small valleys between the hills, and tell stories.

"My granddaddy made the whiskey for Jack Daniel," Mammie would say.

"Oh, yeah?" her grandchildren would respond skeptically. "OK."

But maybe this place, this town, did have something different about it.

There were only two businesses in town — the pharmacy and a place called the Coffee Cup — that followed Jim Crow laws, forcing black patrons to enter through the back. The Green descendants would often go downtown to get a snack at the cafe or an ice cream without any trouble, Staples’ brother Jeff Vance recalls.

They didn't go into some restaurants or the swimming pool. "It wasn't like they said we couldn't come," Staples says. "We just knew."

But down the road from Mammie's house, at the home of a white family where Staples' Auntie worked, all the grandchildren — white and black — sat and ate dinner at the same table together.

"We were like family," Staples says.

And that, it seemed, was like what Nearest Green was to Jack Daniel, too.
Bigger than Lynchburg, bigger than Jack Daniel's

Nearly two years after her first research trip to Lynchburg, Weaver stands in a room at Dan Call's farm — the place where Daniel and Green first began making whiskey together — and marvels at its contents.

Photographs of Green’s descendants, well-dressed men with bow ties and ladies in brimmed hats and lace, cover the walls.

Dozens of handwritten letters between Daniel's descendants lay on the tables, their contents detailing the comings and goings of "Uncle Jack."

In one corner of the wood-paneled room hangs the complete family tree of Nathan "Nearest" Green.

And on the mantel above the fireplace stand bottles of Tennessee's newest brand of whiskey, Uncle Nearest — a company created by the Weavers to honor the original master distiller.

The story wasn’t new to Green's descendants. It wasn’t new to Jack Daniel’s either.

In the 1990s, the company uncovered a photo of its own — one taken in the late 19th century, where a black man, Green’s son George, sits next to Daniel.

"Historians will tell you that is unusual for a photograph not just in the American South but for the United States at that time period at the turn of the century," says Nelson Eddy, who works as in-house historian for Jack Daniel's.

"You looked at it and said, 'Wow, I wonder what the story is there.' "

Through its own research, the company began to embrace Green’s role as a master distiller. It planned to unveil the discovery in 2016 as part of its 150th anniversary celebration, but the racial strain before the presidential election changed that.

"I thought we would be accused of making a big deal about it for commercial gain," Mark I. McCallum, president of Jack Daniel’s Brands at Brown-Forman, said in an interview with the New York Times.

And so the story remained bottled up. And it might have stayed that way had Weaver not arrived on her 40th birthday.

Since then, Weaver has interviewed more than 100 people and collected more than 10,000 original documents from across six states — all to support the Lynchburg lore that Green was the one who first manned the whiskey still. A legend somehow forgotten over time.

Perhaps surprisingly, the community and Jack Daniel's have embraced it. The distillery has recognized Green as its first master distiller and incorporated mentions of Green in all its tours, consulting Weaver's research.

And though there is no known photo of Green, one of his son now hangs on the master distiller wall of fame.

Weaver never expected it to be this way. When she first came to Lynchburg, she fully believed that she would tell one version of Jack Daniel's history and the company would tell another. Instead, they have worked hand in hand.

"I think it's really important," Eddy says of Jack Daniel's inclusion of Green. "And I think it’s a wonderful story.

"It's bigger than Jack Daniel's and it's bigger than Lynchburg, Tennessee. At a time when there might be divides, it’s a story in a very difficult time of two people coming together and color not being as much a part of that relationship as we might have expected it."

Two legacies — not just one — now emerge.
Inspiring humanity

Weaver's love for Daniel, for Green and for the town where they made history has kept her in Tennessee much longer than she planned.

Lynchburg is now home.

She and her husband live in the tiny carriage home next to the historic Tolley House, where several generations of Jack Daniel's distillers once resided and which they now own.

Keith, who is an executive vice president at Sony Pictures Entertainment, travels back to L.A. for work. Fawn, who loves horses almost as much as history, throws on her jeans and farm boots and revels in country life.

They own, too, the 313-acre Dan Call Farm, with the trickling spring that once fed a grist mill and a pair of sweet herding dogs. And plank by plank, they are carefully restoring the old wooden farmhouse, where the old walls are marked with brand burns for D.H. Call whiskey and flaking wallpaper reveals newspaper from 1898 underneath.

Neighbors know them by name. They check in when strangers visit. They repair a fence post when it's broken.

"I am embarrassed, in a way, to share I had a bias against some towns in the South," Keith Weaver says. "What you may perceive in terms of a person or a place may not be true.

"The humanity that has been uncovered through this story and the relationship ultimately between Nearest and Jack can be inspiring."

Fawn Weaver feels that, too. As she drives through town, she points out the home of Green's descendants. She slows to look at the land purchased to create the Nearest Green Memorial Park, which will be nestled right next to Mammie Green's house.

And then she stops at the cemetery where Green is buried.

It's less than a football field away from Daniel's final resting place, a massive headstone where tourists from all around the world leave flowers and shot glasses. But, until recently, Green's gravesite was obscured, secluded in the segregated part of the cemetery.
In December, as part of the rededication of HighviewBuy Photo

In December, as part of the rededication of Highview Cemetery in Lynchburg, Tennessee, a new cemetery entrance was built and a towering stone memorial was erected for former slave Nathan "Nearest" Green. (Photo: Shelley Mays / The Tennessean)

In December, as part of the rededication of Highview Cemetery orchestrated by Weaver and the Nearest Green Foundation, a new cemetery entrance was built and a towering stone memorial was erected for Green.

"Now you can see Nearest from Jack," Weaver says with a smile.

Weaver isn’t finished spreading Green's story just yet. There is the whiskey, a pending book, maybe a movie, and next up, a soon-to-be-built distillery in Shelbyville.

The Nearest Green Distillery will stand on the 270-acre Sand Creek Farms, a historic Tennessee walking horse farm and event center. In time, they plan a 3,500-barrel rickhouse, a gift shop and a tasting room.

The 600-seat show arena on the site will be reimagined and double as a private concert venue.

When Weaver talks about the next stage, making her way through the barns and petting the elegant walking horses that will remain on the property, she glows.

Then, standing in the performance ring of the show barn, Weaver reflects on all that has happened in the last two years.

She recalls that fearful experience when she and her husband first arrived — the panic that she might be buried alive — and she laughs.

It was the middle of their second long day of research. The Weavers were getting dinner at a local barbecue restaurant and making conversation with the owner, Chuck Baker.

Muscular and bald, Baker had an intimidating build but a friendly presence. Knowing they were new to town, he invited the couple for drinks after he finished work.

Keith Weaver was cautious, but Fawn saw it as a research opportunity.

Being from L.A., they expected to meet Baker at a bar or another spot in town. Instead, they found themselves following Baker's truck down unfamiliar Tennessee back roads behind the distillery as the sun set.

Twenty minutes later they were pulling down a long dirt road driveway to Baker's house. After hanging out on his front porch with some beers, Baker said, "Hey, I want to show you something."

He went out back, to a place beyond the house lights, and stopped in front of a freshly dug pit. That's when terror truly set in.

"For the first time in my life, I was certain I was going to die," Weaver says. "This was my final resting place."

But, as Weaver would uncover many more times in the next two years, the situation was not as it seemed.

Baker had dug the pit for a photo shoot of his pigs, which were featured in the Jack Daniel's Tennessee Squire calendar.

"A photographer had climbed into the pit and taken pictures of the pigs looking down over the side," Weaver says with a boisterous laugh.

Baker is now one of the couple's closest friends in Lynchburg.

As Weaver has learned, people can often surprise — in positive ways.

Jack Daniel's certainly has.

"We have the enormous responsibility of raising up one legend without harming the legacy of another," Weaver says. "Because I have no doubt if Nearest was here he would be raising a glass to Jack and Jack would be raising a glass to Nearest."

Yesterday I toured all of that and tried the whiskey.  Lunch was not a the BBQ joint but at another legacy place called Mary Bobo's.  The food was very Southern, very average but all of the stories that I heard that day were well above. 

The purpose of the trip was to encourage all food and beverage servers to push the Uncle Nearest Whiskey that again is limited in release but steeped well into history and tradition in a place that values both as they do Church.  And there was a great deal of preaching yesterday and given Ms. Wilson's own family tradition this was not surprising. Her husband is an amazingly gracious patient man who clearly embraces what has become not just a vision but a calling for these two.  I see that their own legacy is tied to Nearest in ways that in the South is usually confined to the genetic markers that Ms. Wilson spent endless hours unraveling to find the history behind Nearest.

What was left out of the story was the finances and money tied to buying all of this.  To see the farm and the acreage was amazing and could have been the entire lineup on HGTV rehab shows.  The money and time vested for what will ostensibly be the historical counterpoint to the Daniels home and business just up the road.  The distillery will be up in what was once clearly a magnificent horse walking farm and training center back in the day.  The best part of yesterday was not only were two of Nearest descendents there, a local couple joined us as well, lending their perspective and history to each revelation and tale.   Hell there was even a Pony!  Yes we saw the few remaining horses that are still being trained in this unique walking style known for this breed in the area. 

The largely young and service industry personnel that were on the trip were duly impressed. The were all like me newcomers to the area, all of them living here two years or so (irony on irony that we all arrived at peak climax for Nashville, including Fawn, 2016) and all working in hospitality.  I had a conversation with a man who was from Seattle visiting and said that all the young people moving here had to be changing the conversation about politics and the culture that dominates the region. I laughed and said, "That has to be educated and well compensated people in which to do that. When you are making minimum wage (which in Seattle is 11 dollars here  its the federal min of $7) and working your ass off to make it work no, no you are not.   Most are under educated themselves and have come from shitholes themselves so this is an improvement. Some will stay and absorb the culture to fit in and belong but most will go as that is what that industry does. Highly transient and very tribal in their own way, this is just another road stop on the highway of life."  He was surprised as I pointed to the kids in the shop and said all these kids are deeply engaged in religion and the one or two that are not are few and far in between.  He was amazed and not surprised as there is no industry or employer here that offers opportunity and growth.  No, this is the home of Dollar General and it is here that every dollar matters.

The two "older" men on the tour were from L.A. and they were in shock about the money, the grand plans and the area where all of this is transpiring.  They had no idea we were close to Nashville but here it was worlds away as many folks rarely if ever drive two hours or one to do anything other than work and that the largest employer is Nashville.  Yes the city is the driver of that train.   And I too wondered how these two were funding all of this.   And true that is not my business but as I watched all of this, from budding distillers, to land owners, to entertainment facilitators I could not believe how this was funded and who was actually funding it.   I suspect their legacy and story is now intertwined with Nearest and in turn their success is his and his recognition is theirs.  These two are now very Southern.  I have not seen that before and that is what defines the real Carpetbagger.  They are very much reminiscent of another Southern legacy.  I wish them the best and I may come back to visit when it finishes.  Or not. But I loved seeing the beginning of this story and the end is not near but it may be close but what is the ending?  I am not sure they even know.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Happy Medium

I am once again exhausted reading another story of men gone wrong.  The week before The New York Times had a comprehensive story about Cardinal McCarrick which was so disturbing it finally led to his resignation a few decades late but still free without bail.

Followed up by the nauseating tale of another Team Doctor (what is it with wrestling? Hastert anyone?) who serially molested young men at Ohio State University who were inspired to come forward as they watched the hundreds (yes over a hundred) women take the stage at the ESPY's to remind all that they are done with their story about Nassar and now is the time to make amends and change the culture and environment that enables serial predators to go unchecked for years despite knowledge otherwise. Et tu Jim Jordan?

But let's add another log to the fire shall we?  Les Moonves or as I call him, Mr. Julie Chen, apparently needed to keep the law firm hired to investigate Charlie Rose on the payroll.  This again goes back decades and not so long ago as once again Ronan Farrow found as he turned a few rocks and dug deep into this state of affairs.   But this is beyond even the Captain of that ship as his Lieutenants were apparently as oblivious or as complicit in the culture of what appears to be a boys club for grown up men.  The clock is ticking.. TIMES UP!

As I am in Cleveland next month I was hoping the renown Orchestra was playing but then again maybe not. 

This list by Glamour magazine is already outdated as it includes some but not all of the more "high profile"  men who have been accused at some point of sexual misconduct.

When I shared my story of my bizarre/tragic/grim/sad/pathetic encounter with the Doctor last week to a young woman she seemed confused as to what the problem was.  Was it because he was married? That I met his wife or that I was not attracted to him?  I am not sure what rock you are living under but in Tennessee ignorance runs hand in hand here with oblivion, my new word for STUPID.

I like this young lady and she is minding my house when I am away and while I have done this before and regretted it, I don't have a dog this time so the most she can do is forget to water the plants.  But this young woman was also molested by her Stepfather and if anyone should be engaged and informed she should be.  But I get it, I really do when you have had enough pain you want to escape but you can only hide for so long.  It is why I left Seattle and why I am moving on once my dental work is done.  Nothing to see here folks I accomplished a few things here that I needed and I am going to eventually settle and find a life that matters.  All of us want to matter but in what way is the question.

As I watched this Doctor careen around my apartment I am sure people would say why would you let him in? To show him that I am capable and have a home that is well looked after and comes from having a life well lived.  I did not think for one minute he would lay a hand on me I felt that he kept waiting for me to do it.  No, not going there,  I am a bitch folks and I got good stuff and he needed to see it to know that I was not a fuck.  True my materialism is OTT but it is what is left after what I sold before I moved and that was even after a pop up sale where I rented a warehouse to sell even more.  I lived large and well for a long time and I am sort of over that but I like my home.  Watch the Gospel According to Leon and you will understand why some make a home a sanctuary and a place of zen.  Luxury zen.

And that odd behavior of assessing, inventorying and commenting on my belongings was one thing that was annoying if not weird but then it kept going.  The endless story about his "father's wife" taking his things, his quasi trash talking his wife and repeating more than once about how she was fine that if had a girlfriend were all reasons to not.  Regardless of his marital status I would not fuck him with a ten foot pole or a shorter more anally appropriate one.  I think somewhere along the line he figured that out or not. But I suspect that permission was not granted for him to come aboard when he reported home.  Something about that whole experience made me think it had been done before and perhaps with one less sophisticated and as worldly.   But that said I have wondered what about a person, myself included, that enables one to be a mark;  a mark being a victim or potential one?

I am not sure it is more than simply being available and being the right gender.  I am not sure there is any mark or manner of expression that enables this person to know or to determine you are the one they will harm.  I used to think there was a "type" and that somehow subtle and subliminal that enabled them to find a way in.  No, no there is not.  Just being there and somehow that is enough.

I want to not hate men, to find a happy medium and to try to get along.  But that seems impossible it just does.  I decided to confront one of my Lawyers on Facebook about my case and he was so enraged and utterly unapologetic  that I had the audacity to question him and show him all the rapes during my time  so  he called it harassment and in turn threatened to turn me into law enforcement.  What the flying fuck?   This is a man who supposedly worked as an advocate for women who have been raped or abused while in his Alaska time. Time that included being a crab fisherman and photographer. And I am nuts?  I know at least how to speak to people in pain.  I loved the rant as it made no sense to someone rational and he clearly is not rational. (Since that rant he claimed he was hacked okay then)   This guy doesn't know where I live, my current name and he is going to call law enforcement.  I am sure they will get right on that, all I did was ask why given all the rapes and his supposed advocacy about women who were victims of such crimes did he fail? But nope somehow he made it about himself and lashes out with the most bogus pathetic bullshit I ever heard.   I see why he has no friends, moved to Alaska and has Crohn's Disease and other mental health issues. True I have been watching his meltdown on Facebook  and it only encouraged me to do what had been pending for over six years.  Yes it was six years ago since I last laid eyes on the man and have never spoken to him since.  But sure my few links to rapes and a question about that with a nasty comment about how I hope his PTSD treatments work for him as clearly he needs it, set him off. And if you wonder why and how people do find you and abuse you, putting your dirty laundry on Social Media is good a way to accomplish that goal.   As the French say "Fait Accompli!"  That told me all I needed to know he is a sad loser and not even able to apologize like a descent human being.   Wonder if that will come up in therapy? No, men don't need therapy they need a lobotomy. 

Funny we all think bestowing forgiveness and accepting apologies is enough. No it is and isn't. Would I have appreciated him and understood had he? No that opportunity is long gone and I knew when I reached out via Facebook (via a fake account no less hey it works for Russia) that I would get either blocked or ignored but no I got threatened.  Sounds rational and sane doesn't it?  Harvard you do good with your grads clearly.

But that closes that chapter and while I can't confront the boy now man who did this to me I needed to do it the closest possible male figure who proved once again men are always boys when women hurt their feelings.  So they rape, take guns and shoot people or doxx them over the internet.  I am not much better as I waited for quite some time and literally waited until I felt that it was time and then I too did the same.  I knew I would not get the answer I needed but I got one that made me laugh and I needed that as it is better than all the tears I have shed. But what about all these other women and men? There stories are out there and do they feel better? I am not sure but they at least for one minute were believed but again for what purpose?

So what is the happy medium? What is the resolution we seek?  I just want to have a life that is mine and tell the story when the time comes if I choose to and under my terms.  I would rather write funny essays, stories and observations and move into a life worth living instead of just being.  I will not even get satisfaction of hearing from the Doctor again as I doubt he will show up for Yoga in the weeks ahead (irony I won't be there anyway) and then what?  Just exchange fake pleasantries that mean nothing and resolve nothing.  Was there anything to resolve except a ham fisted pass and a decline to accept the ball? But for many men it doesn't end there.  It seems to end on floors, on beds, on sofas, in cars where they push women into a place that is dark, disturbing and permanently damaging.  My predator I think fits the description of a current serial rapist in Seattle, he is in his early 30's and Middle Eastern and it was that article I sent to Ted Vosk to ask him if this seemed relevant as he cared so much about women was this something he cared about? No I was harassing him.   This is how men deal with anything they don't like - finger point, blame lay, accuse and then finally threaten when all else fails.  Okay then, close and home just met.  Men you are the ones afraid clearly.  There is no happy medium apparently and may never be. 

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Everything I learned...

I learned in Kindergarten.  I am too old to remember much of Kindergarten and for that I am grateful but how did I learn to be empathetic, considerate, generous and a bitch?  My parents.  Good bad or indifferent they had the house open to a variety of people and in turn from them I saw people in all variations and lifestyles.  Open the door and see all the people and that is the congregation of the church of life.

Now I am an only child and in turn I also absorbed a lot.  I am not good a making friends and maintaining friendships but I am social and live in the moment.  I have always tried to leave on a good note and then I realized most people don't care and when they are done with you they are done.  It took me 58 years but I get it, I really do. That said I still go high and send thank you's and try to end things with a positive tone.  An example: When my marriage ended my ex and I had tickets to the Rolling Stones and we agreed to go together as a final farewell tour.  We ended the evening with him admonishing me to not tell his girlfriend and me going you need not worry about that.  He was always awkward and in turn I had no idea who this woman was nor cared.  For someone who thought he knew me he clearly did not recognize a person who is one step removed from Narcissist. I am no full on Trump but I am somewhere between Egoist and Narcissist.   I used to say:  An Egoist will say, I want to make love, please watch; A Narcissist will say, I want to make love, please leave.

It took a near death experience for me to finally be done with it all.  I had a tough few years as I tried to recover from TBI, the varying court cases and the rage and anger that dominated my life during that time while simultaneously finding myself struggling with retaining teeth that were literally falling out of my head.   Some people get all kinds of diseases and mine is all tied to my teeth.  So that is when I decided to find a place I good go to get them properly fixed and in turn remake what was left of my life.  I picked Nashville as five years ago it was declared the "it" city and I thought when I looked at how Vanderbilt (no, not Country Music) had remade the city thanks to the ACA.  Funny how that worked out that in a place that has so few citizens enrolled in health care insurance I would come to this place where health care is the major industry. Shocking, I know. It is also cheaper as a result as you can negotiate prices when you can pay cash upfront.

There were other factors that contributed to this decision and those I will never share publicly but they in turn worked out in my favor and I was relieved that worked out as planned.  The rest, no so much.  The tests and thoughts I would return to the classroom full time was immediately squelched early on once I set foot in the classrooms, from the children I saw the adults and that was not a good reflection so I had to suddenly find myself going into self reflection and examination in ways that I thought I had left when I crossed state lines.  But as the summer ends I realize that I came here for a reason and that is not quite done yet but once done I am out.  I can finally free myself of some of the things I still hold onto and unpack those bags a little more to be lighter when I leave.  That is a good thing.

But during this time I watch and read and yes listen. One of my great traits is this odd ability to listen and retain what people have said. I used that tool as a way of ensuring that my memory was still good and solid after injury. PTSD has way more affects on the mind than any external injury could ever do.  And as I watch my former nutfuck attorney Ted Vosk publicly share his long ignored emotional trauma and believe it was TBI but now find out it wasn't has been highly entertaining. That is the one joy of Facebook that no book, movie or TV show could ever provide.    But it is like watching the Real Housewives as they seem to think that airing their dirty laundry is a source of information and in turn entertainment.  Uh no it is just sad.grim.pathetic.

Watching the varying county, city or state wives act out, drink excessively, fuck indiscreetly, fight,  have several careers or jobs, marry, divorce, remarry and have lawsuits, arrests, and basically implode and start all over again every season perhaps hits a little to close to home.  Been there done that and done with it.  But  I think most people don't live much and they spend most of their waking lives living up to the expectations one learns in Kindergarten and then wants to somehow make up or compensate for the years lost in between Kindergarten and middle age.

And here in Nashville that might be the only time they learn anything as many times I feel trapped on some type of reality show where the fake smiles, the grinning and nodding followed by the ubiquitous "bless your heart" is exhausting. For the record "Bless your heart" is the Aloha  of Tennessee as it means - bless you you poor soul, fuck you or you are batshit crazy.  It has a universal use and appeal.  I for the record feel safe in saying I hate these people in the same way I hate most of the housewives as it is all surface no depth. And defines swimming in the deep red seas if by deep you mean a pool that stays 3ft and you never can dive deep but the waters churn endlessly as if it were an ocean.  That is the fake superficiality of the people here and what defines Southern Hospitality.

As I watched the Real Housewives of New York and the ones of Orange County this week I see women that are in my peer group, suffering from depression, weight gain, drinking problems, emotional health issues and mental health along with contrived persona's that they have created in which to generate clicks, views or at least maintain a contract as despite all the jobs and professions they have had or have, this is their primary occupation.   How sad.grim.pathetic.

I finished UnREAL after my evening of bizarre world on Saturday night and thought this is Frankenstein and be careful what you create and when you create something in what you think is the perfect image of you you get what you deserve.   How many of us look back on the books, music and other aspects of our life to take an inventory of influence on who we are?  And irony that came after watching Won't You Be My Neighbor with the Doctor and his Wife.   I was optimistic going in as I needed some adult peers my age to socialize with and I am not looking for BFF's just those whom I could go to a Movie with and go home.  I am not lonely, bored yes, lonely no.  And just once it would be nice to be in company with someone where I am not writing a check or fucking them in order to go out and about.  Well I would be wrong and that they did not teach you in Kindergarten.

I went yesterday to see "Sorry to Bother You" and it was in line of Get Out and a statement of race relations, horror and the way white and black people and poor are viewed and manipulated by well one rich white man.  Aren't we all?  It was filmed in Oakland where I used to live and it was funny to see the streets and how they have changed and yet not.  Oakland is and what always will be the funny uncle to the city across the bay or so I hope.  But I laughed during much of it as I had never thought about black voices and white voices and here in the South I just here stupid or not.  Funny how we choose to hear one thing but are we really listening?  Again that was the point as whatever he was selling it was all bullshit regardless of the voice.  Funny how that works out when we want to believe and we want we do whatever we need to. Ever see a Housewife in full tilt game? It is has the same fright factor as Get Out has.

One thing I don't have is game.  I am pretty direct and sometimes I just work around it with snark as frankly I realized on Saturday that the Doctor was not listening regardless.  He liked it when I was funny and doing stand up but when I elected to not seduce or suggest that there was the possibility of fucking me I knew that we would never speak again but again I was hoping that maybe he might be a normal sane individual and simply overlook it. But once again I proved it with my follow up email thanking him and giving him book titles that I was reading to share as promised and in turn wished he and his wife a good week.  I will never hear from him again and I doubt he will ever set foot in yoga class again or at least for awhile.  Funny I doubt he heard anything I said as he was alternating between playing Doctor and offering me endless advice on my dental work (which for the record he had never heard of prior to my explaining but when on and on about how I may of contracted periodontis at 16 some 40 years ago.  And that matters?)  to offering me new drugs made of Mushrooms and Foxglove.  Really I do pot and I never told him that sitting in my butter tray was all I needed to solve my issues in a positive way.  In between was endless stories about his wife giving him permission to find someone, stories of his father's wife who stole all his money, doing inventory and appraising my belongings then offering to buy them,   then back to his wife, their problems finding commonality, then some bizarre comment about wanting his wife in cuffs and gags a la 50 Shades and then the ubiquitous "just kidding" when I just stared at him after this remark.  I felt like I was watching a Housewife meltdown in real time.  Or a horny teenager when he was running about my home saying "teach me"  about a city he has lived in for over 20 years (me only two) I did not know what the fuck to say. I wanted to say: Try doing that yourself fuck, get in your car, throw your daughter and wife and go outside your comfort zone.  And yes he has a daughter in high school and when I said these schools suck he continued the discussion, advice giving and finally I said read what one of your daughter's former teachers, Scott Bennett has to say on his blog about the district. He goes; "I need to speak to him about this"  I said he has since quit, BACK in February, relocated to South Africa so good luck with that.  If he was  so in touch with the school he would have known that he left mid year came back for Commencement and spoke at it but hey you are busy traveling or thinking about fucking around on your wife.   Have a problem in your marriage? Seek counseling not a woman in a yoga class to fuck or do whatever with.    He made Sonja Morgan seen sane!   And then I thought this is a David Sedaris moment and will make great copy!  So hey my book gets better every day.

When we finally parted company he was so excited about this area of town he had never been to (5 mins from the theater) and thought he might open an office for his practice here.  I just could not believe what the fuck that all was as I stood there and watched this strange man (in every way as we only just met that a.m.) ramble on and be both judgmental and desperate simultaneously.  All l I though during most of it was: Please leave.  It was was  later after he left (I invite people into my home as I knew he would not hurt me btw and to shut him up as I thought he needed to see I was a fine independent woman who did not need all this bullshit advice.  Wrong on that one) was what he wanted to do was have his wife to meet me to get her tacit permission or approval and then wanted me to seduce him relieving him of the responsibility of such.  It made me physically sick and did he have a drug for that?  This is where we are with #MeToo, nowhere.  Join Occupy, Black Lives Matter and the Fight for 15 as just another soundbite in the culture.

I shared a synopsis of this story with a woman who runs a great shop in Hillsboro and she agreed with my assessment about what transpired and she in turn told me of the elderly black man at the Y (the same one) who was chatty and friendly to the point he would come to the store and buy goods then give them to her. And it went downhill from there to the point she  became concerned and has since relocated her shop has not gone back to the Y.   This is where we are.   When grown independent women cannot have conversations with men and they believe it is invitation to your pants I might have better respect and understanding regarding the Housewives.  Oh fuck that I just know that what we learned in Kindergarten stays there and men never outgrow it.  

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

All About Timing

Nashville Schools open August 7th, I can see the halls will be abuzz with the latest scandal to hit the district.  From leaded drinking water that led to an admonishment on CBS This Morning news regarding the district's response, the cover up and the denials to the Director's inappropriate song choice during a Principal Meeting leading to race cards tossed, teams picked and in turn a highly public drama over his annual performance evaluation all over the issue of a budget shortfall for both the cities and schools here in the "It" city.   We now are facing thousands, yes thousands, allegations of sexual impropriety with a Judge ruling to stop the district from asking past sexual history and health issues of students who have filed Title IX suits to resolve what the City Police and Courts refused to do.  And now this story:

Principal Accused Of Conduct That 'Would Make Stormy Daniels Blush'
Phil Williams News Channel 5
Jul 23, 2018

A Nashville principal has faced allegations of creating a culture that "would make Stormy Daniels blush."

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A Nashville principal has faced allegations that he created a culture inside his school that "would make Stormy Daniels blush," a NewsChannel 5 investigation has discovered.

Among the allegations against John F. Kennedy Middle School principal Dr. Sam Braden: unwanted sexual advances, sexually suggestive comments, and efforts to intimidate those who speak out. He's even accused of hiring one school worker from a local adult bookstore that he frequented.

The allegations are detailed inside two Metro Schools internal investigations obtained by NewsChannel 5 Investigates. (Read the full reports here.)

Braden has insisted that he did nothing wrong. He declined to comment for this report.

Do you have information for our investigation?

"This is happening, and people know about it," said a man who made one of the first complaints against Braden.

The man didn't want to show his face or reveal his identity because, he said, what happened to him was so embarrassing.

He said he met Braden while working for a furniture company. He delivered a TV to the principal's house, and Braden suggested he come to work at JFK Middle as a clerk and as a football coach.

"I really thought it was a good foot in the door for Metro because it is a good company to work for," the man told NewsChannel 5 Investigates.

But right after the start of last year's fall semester, the man told investigators, Braden had a strange question.

It was the same story he shared with NewsChannel 5.

"First week of school, he asked me 'you didn't thank me yet, have you?' Yes, I have thanked you, I thanked you a couple of times. 'No, you haven't thanked me.' That's when he went from my eyes to my crotch," the man said.

We asked, "He was obviously looking at your crotch?"

"Yes, obviously," the man said. "He kind of rared back in his seat, bit his lip and went from eyes to crotch."

The man said he tried to ignore Braden's suggestions, but his boss wouldn't take the hint.

"That's when they started getting more aggressive, his advances started getting more aggressive."

Then, one day last December, the man told investigators, Braden asked him to step behind his desk.

"Come around the desk and let me taste it," the man remembered Braden saying.

"Referring to oral sex?" we asked.

"Yes, sir. I looked at him and I said, 'Excuse me.' And he's like, 'yeah, you know.' That's when I let him know, like, I'm a married man. And he lets me know he's a married man as well. I'm like, yeah, my marriage probably means a little bit more."

But before the man left, he told investigators, Braden had a warning.

"He says to me, you know, I can make it really difficult for you to get a job with Metro or I could make it really easy," the man recalled.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked, "He's telling you that he has power over you?"


"You thought that was a threat?"


Among the first people he went to was assistant principal Howard Jones.

Jones reported it to Central Office, and Braden was called to Human Resources.

But instead of being placed on administrative leave pending an investigation, as usually happens, the principal was sent back to his school.

Jones later emailed HR officials, saying: "I was directed by Dr. Braden to escort the victim out of the building with a police escort."

He added, "This was awful."

"You have a hallway full of kids and now you have coach being escorted out," the man recalled.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked, "So what was going through your mind when this police officer was escorting you out of the school building?"

"That he really kept his end of what he said, that he would make it really, really difficult."

Braden later denied the allegations to investigators, claiming it was either "a form of retaliation" for a reprimand he'd given the man... or because he was "a little jealous."

But Metro's own investigative files are filled with other allegations against the JFK principal.

A teacher told investigators about a custodian who suddenly left, supposedly because "Braden was coming on to him."

There is no evidence in the file that HR investigators followed up on that lead.

A bookkeeper said Braden had inquired about whether the coach "might be bi-sexual."

She also claimed that another recent hire revealed he had previously worked at Miranda's adult bookstore, that he "has been knowing Braden for four years from being a frequent customer."

In fact, that employee's job application does show that he worked at Miranda's for three years prior to going to work at JFK Middle.

The alleged victim said the recent hire was very open about his past.

"He was actually an attendant there, said Dr. Braden used to come by often, he said that was their relationship," he recalled.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked, "So what did people think the fact that the principal had hired someone from an adult bookstore?"

He answered, "You know what, I think that's one of those that he thought that with him being who he is, that it wouldn't matter, I can hire who I want to hire."

Those investigative files also reveal another assistant principal kept a journal about Braden's conduct.

One entry reads, "Interviewed woman. When she left, he stated that one of her boobs was bigger than the other one, so he couldn't hire her."

Another staff member noted that Braden claimed he saw another teacher "scratching her p....y."

Two male teachers also reported the principal liked to boast about his penis size.

The alleged victim said he saw it when attractive moms would come to school to check on their children.

"He'd say, for instance, 'yeah she couldn't handle big daddy,' then do a little tug at the pants."

NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked, "He would say that about a parent?"

The man exclaimed, "A parent! You know, it's like we're all in the front office. You're the principal, man. You can't say these things, but there was never anything above him saying it."

Ultimately, HR personnel concluded there was "not sufficient evidence to support a finding of sexual harassment," although they concluded his behavior might have been "intimidating and inappropriate."

They recommended Braden be given "management training."

His alleged victim wasn't so lucky.

"I knew that if I did say something, that it would ruffle some feathers and I may walk away from this job," he recalled.

The man was told he could come back to work, but says he didn't want to be anywhere near Braden.

So, he quit.

He's tried to get jobs with other Nashville schools, but says those fell through when the principals checked with JFK Middle.

Assistant principal Howard Jones later filed a complaint, alleging that Braden retaliated against him for reporting the man's allegations. Braden eliminated Jones' position at JFK Middle.

"I have witnessed verbal atrocities in this school under the guise of education that would make Stormy Daniels blush and now I'm displaced by that same element," Jones wrote to HR officials.

"This type of bullying and retaliation is not fair or professional to the employees, students, parents or this city that we are to serve."

As for Schools Director Dr. Shawn Joseph, he recently warned school board members that there might be some upcoming stories about the district's HR investigations. He promised to push lawmakers to make such files confidential in the future.

That made no sense to the man who says he was the one violated.

"You're not trying to adjust this situation, you're not even trying to attack it. You just want to sweep this under the rug, this never happened."

The files contain lots of other allegations, including school employees being asked to lie about the alleged victim being habitually late -- something that Dr. Braden also denied.

Metro Schools spokesperson Dawn Rutledge said, in a statement to NewsChannel 5 Investigates, that Braden should have been placed on administrative leave while the investigation was conducted.

But Rutledge said the initial leave letter was improperly drafted.

"There was some confusion regarding reissuing a corrected leave letter to reflect our current practice," she said. "Unfortunately, the re-issuance of the correct version of the administrative leave letter did not take place and Dr. Braden returned to work."

The spokesperson also claimed that Braden had the accuser escorted from campus because there were "allegations" that he "was being disruptive."

However, no such allegation is ever mentioned in the HR files.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates reached out to Dr. Braden last week, asking him to sit down with us to give us his side of the story.

His response: "I have no comment."

The follow up the next night found the Board meeting behind closed doors and the pharase "Lawyering up" would not be inappropriate, shame Michael Cohen is a busy as this seems right up his alley.

Now to throw the race card into the mix all the players in this sordid story are Black.  They are probably Church goers and in turn considered pillars of the community, the students they serve are largely Black and in turn are to be the role models as well as Educators.  I have long said I was never anyone's role model and in turn I have always had clear lines and boundaries.  I don't like the "love" word used with the Children and in turn I call Students just that or "young people" as they are just than young people.   Funny how kids object to that as they think they are adults and in Nashville the confused concept of age and sexuality here is something I finally understand given the systemic poverty and family dynamics that comprise the culture here.  This and that I have said that Children and Education fall to the last on the hierarchy of import here - Money, Church, Gender, Race, Family history and lastly Children and Education.    They be stupid here and I am done saying it any other way.  And yes this affects very much how I perceive race as the expression goes "He who accuses, excuses"  At some point you have to own your evil and this is some pretty evil shit.

The level of hypocrisy here gives new meaning to the contradictory antithetical behavior that I witness here explains the hypersexual behavior of children, their constant mixed messaging and overall perception of themselves as adults.  The lack of education, the lack of community, the poverty, the social isolation and marginalization means their development and cognitive processing is truly damaged possibly beyond repair and no one is accountable.  Again how can you fix what is centuries old?

So when I do talk about the schools here, my second least favorite topic of conversation, the constant refrain is "Why don't you teach in Williamson County?" Sure I will move, buy a car and go to a district to make the same shitty money just to avoid the poverty and dysfunction of Nashville Public Schools?  Sure no other district in the state has the level of these problems but they are hardly exempt from the crazy, recall this story about the kidnapping? Not the first nor the last as this crosses county lines when it comes to Teacher/Student rapes and assaults.   But this is not new as almost all the counties have similar scandals  nor are the private schools.   

There is a toxicity when it comes to sex in ways I have never seen in my life and it crosses races in ways that do nothing to enable me to point fingers and lay blame as these are all "educated" professionals acting on clearly sexual urges that they are unable to contain or manage in healthy ways.  And I wonder why the married Doctor was like a 16 year old let out of house restriction when he dropped me off in my neighborhood that night after bringing his wife to meet me at the Mr. Rogers movie.  I was optimistic that he truly would rise above the absurdity that I ended up witnessing in these METOO times but alas no.  I am not sure that would be different anywhere else but it confirmed once again my worst beliefs and fears about the people here.  I don't like them and they me but I get why they don't like me - my directness, my independence and my intelligence.  Those are three cards they cannot play so they demean me personally and bless their hearts I don't actually give a fuck 

All of life is about timing and luck.  I am taking time right now to just enjoy my time here however I can manage to do so and so far from Infrared Saunas, Salt Caves, Acupuncture, Yoga, Meditation and traveling enables me to find some piece of mind.  Well school starts in a week or so and I am off to Iceland to just keep my cool.  16 Months and Counting. Times up! 

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Live Well

 I heard that in San Francisco those who make 100K or under are struggling and considered low income.  Can I say so fucking what?  Seriously this is your bed and you can make it with Frette sheets or not.  Where this income discrepancy matters is to the working class professionals and working poor that do the heavy lifting in the region.  These are the Teachers, the Bus Drivers, the Maintenance workers and all the service staff that drive the trains to keep their latte's hot and their craft cocktails cold.  I can see why they are keen in the Valley to get those robots up and running soon, cheap, obedient and always available. Yes that is why they love AI as slave labor takes on new meaning.  And yes slave labor still exists it is just rebranded and called forced labor and that is the real problem with regards to human trafficking not just the sex industry.

And labor issues define the American economy and in turn the issue surrounding Immigration.  To be frank a reduction in immigration contributes to this from the low paying sector with regards to  staffing restaurants but it includes finding school bus workers, support aids in schools and hospitals; And that too expands into  Nurses, Teachers to Bus Drivers  and other professions that require education, licensing, training and certification that costs money and  places them into the idea that these are middle class jobs and elevate them to supposedly a better quality of life on the rung of life's ladder.  No they are now the working poor and the poor are just poor and they are those cab drivers, bussers, cooks, cleaners and others relegated to the invisible sides of service providers.

Nashville is having massive problems with the latter as that is the biggest driver of the community when it comes to generating money, the largest employer however is Vanderbilt in the private sector and the largest in the public sector is the Municipal Government of Nashville which includes Teachers, Police Officers, Parks etc.  In other words all those jobs that enable a city to run efficiently and that may be why Nashville was listed as 111th worst run city by WalletHub.

This was in the Tennessean and the only thing that shocked me was that the median wage has risen and that has to be incorrect as wages are utterly stagnant here and no one in the city has gotten any rises due to the 35K deficit and there is no imperative to raise service gig ones past the minimum as that is a major issue here and across the country regarding costs and profit in a low margin industry as hospitality, and lastly the lack of education and credentials across the  city enable wages to remain low.  So I am simply guessing that this increase is due to an uptick in private sector jobs that are related to the medical and entertainment executive gigs that are the white collar jobs here. What about your city? Where do you stand or fall in line with the reality of being working poor?

What does it cost to live comfortably in Nashville?
Sandy Mazza, Nashville Tennessean Published  July 24, 2018

With 50 percent of Millennials living from paycheck to paycheck, owning a home is a daunting financial commitment. Your new property comes complete with a load of maintenance costs, taxes and bills. So how do you know you if you're financially ready

Nashville's tourism and development explosion hasn't been easy on wallets.

The annual price of living comfortably in Music City soared to $80,548 this year, according to a new analysis by personal finance management website GoBankingRates.com.

Nashville, the priciest city in the state, is home to Tennessee's most expensive real estate values. It costs an average of $745,800 for a home in the city's most expensive 37215 ZIP code, including Green Hills and Forest Hills addresses.

For average residents, the cost of living has skyrocketed since last year by nearly 15 percent. In 2017, GoBankingRates.com estimated that residents should earn at least $70,150 annually.

Actual median household income lags far behind, at $49,891.

In contrast, the national median income is $55,300, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

GoBankingRates.com surveyed residents in the 50 largest U.S. cities to estimate monthly living costs for mortgages and rents, car payments, groceries, clothing and household expenses.

The price of living in Nashville was found to be higher than in New Orleans. There, residents earn a median income of just $37,488 but need $70,413 to be comfortable.

Here are how other cities compared:

Minneapolis median income: $52,611. Cost of living: $77,512.

Portland, Oregon, median income: $58,423. Cost of living: $79,397.

Raleigh, North Carolina, median income: $58,641. Cost of living: $69,656.

Philadelphia median income: $39,770. Cost of living: $73,005.

San Francisco median income: $87,101. Cost of living: $123,268.

Washington, D.C., median income $72,935. Cost of living: $90,811.

The only city where residents earned more than the estimated cost of living was in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Average annual income there was $67,719, while residents needed $67,568 to live comfortably.

But costs are rising quickly in Virginia Beach, too. The city was identified as one of the top 20 cities with the fastest-rising costs of living in June. Topping that list are Colorado Springs, Colorado; Austin, Texas; and Columbus, Ohio.

Real jobs need real wages and the reality this is larger scale problem than those in the "it" cities.  It is everywhere and why the concentration of population may end up confined to eight states.  There is some density for you.

Why Real Wages Still Aren’t Rising

By Jared Bernstein
Mr. Bernstein is an economist and a former adviser to Vice President Joe Biden.
New York Times Opinion
July 18, 2018

The United States labor market is closing in on full employment in an economic expansion that just began its 10th year, and yet the real hourly wage for the working class has been essentially flat for two years running. Why is that?

Economists ask this question every month when the government reports labor statistics. We repeatedly get solid job growth and lower unemployment, but not much to show for wages. Part of that has to do with inflation, productivity and remaining slack in the labor market.

But stagnant wages for factory workers and non-managers in the service sector — together they represent 82 percent of the labor force — is mainly the outcome of a long power struggle that workers are losing. Even at a time of low unemployment, their bargaining power is feeble, the weakest I’ve seen in decades. Hostile institutions — the Trump administration, the courts, the corporate sector — are limiting their avenues for demanding higher pay.

Looking at the historical relationship between working-class wages and unemployment, wage growth should be rising about a percentage point faster than it is right now. In June, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, wages were growing at a yearly rate of 2.7 percent before inflation.

While wages have failed to accelerate, consumer prices have climbed. In 2015, inflation was close to zero. When price growth is zero, a dollar extra in your paycheck means a dollar more real purchasing power. Real hourly pay grew at a healthy pace of about 2 percent that year.

But price growth is back to more normal levels now. Over the past year, for example, consumer price inflation was 2.9 percent, just about the same rate as hourly pay. Data released on Tuesday show that real weekly earnings for full-time, middle-wage workers hasn’t grown at all since early 2017.

Barring an unforeseen shock to the system, I expect the jobless rate to continue to fall, probably to rates we haven’t seen since the 1960s. The Federal Reserve forecasts unemployment of 3.5 percent by the end of this year.

Unemployment at such a low level should force up wages, but it may not be enough to generate consistent, real gains.

That’s because the trade war may push inflation higher, so it will take faster nominal wage growth to keep pace with prices. Thus far, the impact of the tariffs has been minimal, because of the small share of imports affected, and because “final products”— things that consumers buy versus intermediate materials used for production — have thus far been spared. But if President Trump follows through on his threat to place 10 percent tariffs on $200 billion of imports from China, including many consumer goods, prices could get a nudge.

Even before the trade war, the Federal Reserve was well into its campaign to raise the benchmark interest rate it controls, and it has suggested it may raise rates a bit more quickly than previously planned. Higher rates are intended to cool down the hot labor market, and this too could dampen the pace of wage growth.

G.D.P. has sped up and may clock in at around 4 percent in the second quarter of this year, but not enough of that growth is reaching workers. This is, of course, the defining characteristic of high inequality. Since the early 1980s, G.D.P. growth has failed to consistently increase working-class incomes.

Still, in earlier periods, tight labor markets were able to deal a blow to inequality. The last time unemployment was at 4 percent, in the latter 1990s, the share of national income going to paychecks was 3 percentage points higher than it is today. In other words, even with the economy now near full employment, profits are squeezing paychecks.

Slow productivity growth is another constraint on wages. When companies are able to produce more efficiently, they can absorb higher labor costs without sacrificing profit margins. But such gains have been elusive in this recovery, so businesses are increasing profits at labor’s expense.

More than ever, the dynamics of this old-fashioned power struggle between labor and capital strongly favor corporations, employers and those whose income derives from stock portfolios rather than paychecks.

This is evident in the large, permanent corporate tax cuts versus the small, temporary middle-class cuts that were passed at the end of last year. It’s evident in the recent Supreme Court case that threatens the survival of the one unionized segment of labor — public workers — that still has some real clout.

It’s evident in the increased concentration of companies and their unchecked ability to collude against workers, through anti-poaching and mandatory arbitration agreements that preclude worker-based class actions. And it’s evident in a federal government that refuses to consider improved labor standards like higher minimum wages and updated overtime rules.

Even if workers’ real wages do pick up, their gains may be too short-lived to make a lasting difference. The next recession is lurking out there, and when it hits, whatever gains American workers were able to wring out of the economic expansion will be lost to the long-term weakness of their bargaining clout. Workers’ paychecks reflect workers’ power, and they are both much too weak.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Grab the Train

The hysteria over public transit, particularly in the South hearkens back clearly to Rosa Parks and regardless of the time that has passed, this issue of integrated schools, buses and buildings will never die, unlike Rosa who is.

One of the reasons that transit is so hotly debated as it is here in Nashville is the cost. The insane reality is that we are taxed to the core here to the point of absurdity. Well other than income generating funds or investments, they have in fact dropped here, but newspapers, magazines, food are all taxed regardless and those are constant paper cuts to the poor and working class.

Public transit is just that - public.  It means you are encountering the public from a cross section of life unless of course you live in the South and then no.   The car culture is big here and from across the City both black and white residents are amazed that I rely upon the buses to get me from point A to Z.  Well I walk a lot and in turn rent cars when the weather gets to a point I need a break and it enables me to go outside my limited range that is not adequately served by buses.

And while money was the issue and in turn the problem for why the transit bill failed here it was also because people outside the service areas were largely paying for something that did not serve them and I understood that.  Here in Tennessee the rivalry and idiocy about counties and cities and being served is a major issue of debate and discussion when it comes to funding and appropriation of resources.  Hence that is why the flooding issue has never been resolved as it supposedly "favors" Nashville.  I see as that was the city that sustained the largest damage, is the largest generator of funding dollars in the State so sure let's not ensure that it doesn't happen again and divert precious flood dollars to the City again to build an Amphitheater, which is what they did and the houses outside the city failed to get the money they needed.  So here is the deal, protect the city core and then if and when this happens the money will help those most in need not those most connected.  Oh who are we fucking kidding, this is the South bitches!

Atlanta is often cited here as the most problematic when it comes to traffic and in turn transit. Part of it is due to the bizarre configuration of highways and the way they intersect and connect to each other, even Los Angeles has a better design of interstate highways than what I have seen and experienced here.  I go out of my way and do so when in LA as well to avoid the major roads but here it is a must in order to avoid accidents from the sheer level of bad driving that makes the situation worse.   But it all falls into the idea that cars and driving are essential in Nashville and like the concept of public transit almost everyone agrees that transit sucks so why use it.  I have heard both white and black individuals complain and be incredulous as to my advocacy and use of transit, much of it differs in why.  One is the fear factor the other convenience and that splits across the lines as well. Again my experience here in Nashville always has race as an issue beneath the surface but it is not the primary issue it is about money and class and bus riders are poor and poor is bad.  I can assure you that if home debt is not the number one in people's credit reports, car debt is as well.  All the Black faces here in my apartment own the most expensive cars - we have Jags, BMW's, Mercedes and high end vehicles while almost all the white people drive Nissan's with the exceptions are the two blonde young girls who drive SUV's and both are ironically white in color and likely paid for by parents.  The old white lady however.... and when I rent its economy.   Because in America cars are status and that is important here especially in the South as Status matters the most.  Money and class then God are the priority, know your place and thank God for it.

On the Red Line: A daily racial transformation on MARTA
April 26, 2017
ByMelton Bennett, For The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

This article is part of the AJC's new RE: Race reporting project, which is dedicated to covering both the tensions and the opportunities created by racial and ethnic change in Atlanta and Georgia. Author Melton Bennett responded to a request to readers from the AJC to talk about a time when they felt like an outsider. His is one of four such articles we’re featuring this week.

Taking the MARTA train from the mostly white northern suburbs down to the airport captures a cross section of the racial makeup, and divide, that exists in Atlanta.

As my fellow white passengers and I pull out of North Springs station, we add more white passengers at the next few stations as we pull toward Buckhead. As we enter the heart of the city, African-Americans begin entering the train, and at Five Points, the racial makeup of the train has flipped to predominantly African-American.

I watch as the African-American passengers entering the train look for seats next to other African-Americans, and I watch white passengers seek out other white seat mates. I see the uncomfortable looks of white people who think the black kid dressed like a gang member is going to sit next them, and then the sigh of relief as he passes by.

Mostly, it is then that I notice differences between the people who joined me at my embarkation and the people who have joined in the city. It’s not uncommon for me to watch an impromptu hip hop performance as the train treks south, a performance replete with phrases about violence, sex and race.

The language changes, with poor grammar and offensive profanity being expelled by these groups of passengers, speaking loudly to be heard by everyone, almost as if they must exhibit some cultural difference to a captive audience to make sure they are seen and heard.

The behavior can seem aggressive, with the occasional comment from one of the African-Americans, “Man, we gotta chill. These crackers don’t like that [expletive].” I absolutely feel like an outsider. There is nothing I can say. There is nothing I can do.

Inside, I want to tell them that we are all alike, that sharing constructive conversations and experiences is what builds a bridge to understanding. The hard-core profanity, the unsavory references to females and the derogatory names for white people just force the bridge to be longer.

Of course, this does not represent all African-Americans, in the city or even on the train, but this is not an uncommon experience on my MARTA journey. As I trek down the city, I see the racial differences, see the divides, hear the pain in the rap songs and conversations.

As the train crosses Auburn Avenue, I often wonder what MLK Jr would like to have experienced on the MARTA train in 2017.

Now The Root responded to this and I found it equally incendiary and written to fuel fires not put them out.  One comment did resonate:
Okay, this guy is a tool AND he’s full of shit.

I lived in Alpharetta for five years, and took the MARTA out of North Springs to the airport all the damn time. Yes, black people get on the train more during the downtown bits, along with plenty of white people, Hispanic people, and Asian people. Congratulations on recognizing the obvious, I suppose.

The part that gets me though is how he characterizes that portion of the trip as though he’s entering some sort of exotic foreign land.

My own experiences? People got on and off the train, and it was a boring 45 minute ride to the airport where nothing of note ever happened... aside from that time I dropped my camera and lost it. I’m still sore about that... there were a lot of cool DragonCon photos on it!

Here’s the deal though: by reading this, any white people who decide to use the MARTA in the near future will now be looking for this shit. Even people who don’t actually care about race will suddenly have it on their mind. That’s the most insidious thing about articles like these: they plant seeds in people’s head, and they suddenly become filters for their experiences that bias their outlooks even more than they already might have been.

What we have here is a failure to communicate.  This essay by the author did not clarify how frequently if ever he took the train and during this observational period did he note ages, genders and other significant data that might offer a broader perspective about the passengers? No.  What it did provide was stereotypes and in turn realities of what it is like to ride public transport.  Depending on the time of day and the route taken buses are a reflection of those commuting to work or school versus those during the midday where the passengers are often older, very young and often unemployed.  Again this is one example of why white people here are labeled with the privilege banner and in turn dismissed when they offer their observations about issues largely reflecting their experiences and encounters with those of another race.   I truly never thought about it and became hyper vigilant about this issue until I moved South and then I began to note and categorize those whom I rode the bus with, the students I am in charge of and the times I go to the Dentist office and other service places, such as my coffee shop that has nary a black face as a server and rarely as a customer.   That bothers me on so many levels as again it makes me question the woman I am becoming living here.   The days I choose not seems to enable me to simply live and go about my day benignly content.   But I know the minute school starts all that will fall away.

And I read this comment on a local blogger and prospective school board candidate's blog in response to his missives about the state of the schools.  And for now it is a line clearly divided by race and the card are tossed with little to say in response.  But running for public office changes that dynamic and as he wades into these stormy waters I wish him the best.  But read the comment and note that this woman is an Educator and responsible for teaching what I believe may be Students whose native language is not English.  She is angry, resentful and well barely literate either.

Nope.. ELL scores are attributed to the students and their teachers… nothing to with Kevin and Molly sitting in central office! Neither one of them can answer a question unless it’s on a PowerPoint! Are you really for the teachers or just trying to make a name for yourself?!! I am sick and tired of you singing their praises.

TC have formed my own opinions about you a long time ago. In regards to Kevin, goodbye to his silly story about how was climbing a mountain and how he feels like he needs an IEP to do so. It’s always bad taste and the whole room erupts in laughter. Or how him and Molly had district level required trainings where the trainer referred to students to as “fresh off the boat!” I guess neither one of them- when they were informed- used their white privileged to kick that trainer out. Nope we had days of her loud obnoxious, better than anyone voice. Or the insane about of personal time- they demand out of EL teachers.

Just because your kids go to school with so EL kids and you sat in some board a few years ago doesn’t make you an expert. Do you even know about the WIDA test. How kids take the test in grade bands- and literally it’s the same test in the band. There are so many “practice” test out there. Also, it’s not hard for one student to take a particular test in all three levels within a band and the teacher knows what’s going on. If you get my drift.

Oh one more item… children, especially child of color don’t have to read the damn “the classics!” You are not a teacher and you are not trained to be one.

All you do is stir the pot, I love how when you post something new… all of my “white colleagues” are jumping up and down! Taking about the “truths” you speak! For the love of all things holy, use your damn white privilege to lift someone up because 1/2 of the time you sound a bit racist!

Again this is a blog and I write basically stream of consciousness and rarely edit or revise let alone draft my thoughts which means upon occasion going back later an tweaking and revising my thoughts in which to clarify and tighten the logic and points.  But when I read this rant by the woman  I thought she must be a hell of a Teacher and by that I don't mean one in a good way.  I want nothing to do with the schools and the bullshit that goes on here.  I am exhausted trying to explain this and have someone say:  "Go to Williamson County"  Why don't you?  Fuck you I am not moving I need to be close to Vanderbilt and don't have a car so how is all this going to work for a shitty job that pays garbage?  Is there a point?  I really think people think I am missing being a Teacher and am like a Nun or a Priest where it is a calling to serve.  Bad news no. I have been a Sub longer than I ever was  a Teacher for many of the reasons I have mentioned here - the politics, the bullshit games, the lack of support and the money but never the kids those I had few issues with until I moved here.  Sorry but the systemic poverty, racism, violence  and lack of support for education has finally enabled me to walk away from bothering to even care.  This is what poverty is like and The Bitter Southerner had a great piece on how poverty is a dividing rod between races and it is by intent.  Read it and realize it speaks truths.  Truths here are not welcome in the land of denial.

Grab a bus and train and try meeting or at least seeing your community and in turn learn about yourself.  I laugh all the time about the incredulous response I get when people find out I don't own a car and ride public transport it as if they discovered a new species.    No its called being financially responsible and living within ones means.  My apartment costs enough and to have car payments and maintenance, licensing, gas and other costs associated with something that sits largely unused for most of the day is a waste.  I do rent and I miss car share services like Car2Go but it is what it is and for now I make due.  

Sunday, July 22, 2018

No Sex No City

 I recalled this essay for many reasons: One: the current MeToo climate; Two: The issue of Sex and the City being re-examined largely due to Cynthia Nixon's campaign for Governor of New York; Three: My evening last night with a married man and his wife.  No this was not a threesome thing so just wait.

I have long complained that I am unable to meet peers here due to my horrible but convenient job and that I have no other social outlets common to Nashville to meet said cohort and by that I mean Church.  There is little opportunity unless I join a Meetup Group which I did and that was utterly a crapshoot and failure.  In an attempt to meet people  the other choice was volunteering and it too had equally bad results.  Normally I met people doing shared activities - such as the Gym, the Coffee Shop or some other activity that puts one in contact with others.  In Nashville that is the Church or the Church so no.   I have actually gone to a few of them and that was that as it was a compromise and more of curiosity.  So to actually join would true enable me I suspect to meet people but  I was unwilling to do in which to have someone to go to the coffee or the yoga class with, you know those shared activities that usually work in normal situations.  At that point it made me question if I was normal and having done that inventory I decided to simply be satisfied with who I am and accept that my life here is normal and move forward with why I came here and work around the isolation.  I am not here long enough to vest that hard and it seems pointless when surgery and dental shit starts again next year.  So off to Iceland in two weeks and well just be me and see what that brings in the land of the white walkers.

But as life offers challenges one takes them and tries to rise above or at least come out of it unscathed and yesterday a man whom I have shared yoga space with the last year or longer.  We have had small exchanges as I am known for my snark and while we are in the back in the corner it makes it easier to do so even, especially during downward dog.  So yesterday a building across the street was imploded and class was late as we were busy watching it and in turn he was later so I told him that he missed all the good stuff and by that I meant the building going BOOM as he was not actually late for Yoga.  He laughed and later during one pose as the instructor demonstrated it I said, "I do it exactly like that during my home practice but I don't here so to not make people feel inferior."  He laughed.  He is my age,  a Doctor (I knew this as once he said will it bother you if I have my phone out I am on call and my response was "Oh you are a man prostitute and do you go by the man pro name of Doctor?" He laughed and that was that)  But today we talked after class and he said he was married but he would love to have coffee after class as he enjoyed the conversation.  I informed him that I was closed for business anyway below the waist and unless this coffee was in a hotel room I had no problem as long as his wife did not mind or worry about that as she has no reason to.  Again this is the time when we need to actually practice and preach that men and women can be friends and not worry about the pussy grabbing so I am open to at least making that effort.  Well I would be wrong but it takes little time, no alcohol and a heart wrentching movie about a message about being kind, being loving and having respect for yourself and others.  And yes his wife went with us to Won't You Be Our Neighbor and they came in separate cars which right there was a flag, then she told him to drive me home and he said to her you drive her... I said there is thing called Uber and I am good its 5 minutes away.  So he drove me home and he asked if I wanted to stop for a drink. Funny I live behind (or in front depending on where you are)  two restaurants and some new bars so sure he could drop me there, have a drink and I could walk home all 50 feet.  We had a drink, just one and shared a plate.  I was already bored and tired and the movie had me in deep decisive thinking mode and I needed to just do that.   But the convo dragged on and the bar closed and he did not want me to walk at that hour the 50 feet around the tracks.  So he walked me there and I said you are welcome to come in and use the restroom, call your wife let her know I am home safe and you are on your way.  He came in looked at my home and did an inventory of my art and possessions, commenting on the value and the style.  I thanked him and thought you really need to go.  But on and on more stories,more discussion on my teeth and my job (I had informed him why I was here, what I do and when and why I am leaving but that was done and these are subjects that bore me when I am on my own so is there a point?)  and more excuses and odd remarks about his wife who I had just met and finally I said it was clear he was either lacking sex, intimacy or both and either get a hooker or figure out how to get them with your wife. 

I left it at that and he left.  We hugged and I said I was open for friendship but closed for business for anything else given my upcoming dental work and all but anytime he and his wife or either want to have a coffee/movie/etc I would be open to that.   And with that he left.   What I found was a man bored, still vital and they had raised their daughter and she was in her groove and he his and they were not grooving to the same tune.  Been there read the book, saw the movie and have the t-shirt.

So when I read this essay it recalled my own divorce sans Tinder more Craigslist and Match and I have nothing more to say about that at this time as I did that inventory and I have packed that bag, reduced its size and threw the rest in the trash.  But this is where we are and we are not changing anytime soon.   I am going to be happy to be just me here in this vile.

What Sleeping With Married Men Taught Me About Infidelity

By Karin Jones
Modern Love
The New York Times
April 6, 2018

I’m not sure it’s possible to justify my liaisons with married men, but what I learned from having them warrants discussion. Not between the wives and me, though I would be interested to hear their side. No, this discussion should happen between wives and husbands, annually, the way we inspect the tire tread on the family car to avoid accidents.

A few years ago, while living in London, I dated married men for companionship while I processed the grief of being newly divorced. I hadn’t sought out married men specifically. When I created a profile on Tinder and OkCupid, saying I was looking for no-strings-attached encounters, plenty of single men messaged me and I got together with several of them. But many married men messaged me too.

After being married for 23 years, I wanted sex but not a relationship. This is dicey because you can’t always control emotional attachments when body chemicals mix, but with the married men I guessed that the fact that they had wives, children and mortgages would keep them from going overboard with their affections. And I was right. They didn’t get overly attached, and neither did I. We were safe bets for each other.

I was careful about the men I met. I wanted to make sure they had no interest in leaving their wives or otherwise threatening all they had built together. In a couple of cases, the men I met were married to women who had become disabled and could no longer be sexual, but the husbands remained devoted to them.

All told I communicated with maybe a dozen men during that time in my life, and had sex with fewer than half. Others I texted or talked with, which sometimes felt nearly as intimate.

Before I met each man I would ask: “Why are you doing this?” I wanted assurance that all he desired was sex.

What surprised me was that these husbands weren’t looking to have more sex. They were looking to have any sex.

I met one man whose wife had implicitly consented to her husband having a lover because she was no longer interested in sex, at all. They both, to some degree, got what they needed without having to give up what they wanted. But the other husbands I met would have preferred to be having sex with their wives. For whatever reason, that wasn’t happening.

I know what it feels like to go off sex, and I know what it’s like to want more than my partner. It’s also a tall order to have sex with the same person for more years than our ancestors ever hoped to live. Then, at menopause, a woman’s hormones suddenly drop and her desire can wane.

At 49, I was just about there myself, and terrified of losing my desire for sex. Men don’t have this drastic change. So we have an imbalance, an elephant-size problem, so burdensome and shameful we can scarcely muster the strength to talk about it.

Maybe the reason some wives aren’t having sex with their husbands is because, as women age, we long for a different kind of sex. I know I did, which is what led me down this path of illicit encounters. After all, nearly as many women are initiating affairs as men.

If you read the work of Esther Perel, the author of the recently published book “State of Affairs,” you’ll learn that, for many wives, sex outside of marriage is their way of breaking free from being the responsible spouses and mothers they have to be at home. Married sex, for them, often feels obligatory. An affair is adventure.

Meanwhile, the husbands I spent time with would have been fine with obligatory sex. For them, adventure wasn’t the main reason for their adultery.

The first time I saw my favorite married man pick up his pint of beer, the sleeve of his well-tailored suit pulled back from his wrist to reveal a geometric kaleidoscope of tattoos. He was cleanshaven and well mannered with a little rebel yell underneath. The night I saw the full canvas of his tattoo masterpiece, we drank prosecco, listened to ’80s music and, yes, had sex. We also talked.

I asked him: “What if you said to your wife, ‘Look, I love you and the kids but I need sex in my life. Can I just have the occasional fling or a casual affair?’”

He sighed. “I don’t want to hurt her,” he said. “She’s been out of the work force for 10 years, raising our kids and trying to figure out what she wants to do with her life. If I asked her that kind of question, it would kill her.”

“So you don’t want to hurt her, but you lie to her instead. Personally, I’d rather know.”

Well, maybe I would rather know. My own marriage had not broken up over an affair so I couldn’t easily put myself in her position.

“It’s not necessarily a lie if you don’t confess the truth,” he said. “It’s kinder to stay silent.”

“I’m just saying I couldn’t do that. I don’t want to be afraid of talking honestly about my sex life with the man I’m married to, and that includes being able to at least raise the subject of sex outside of marriage.”

“Good luck with that!” he said.

“We go into marriage assuming we’ll be monogamous,” I said, “but then we get restless. We don’t want to split up, but we need to feel more sexually alive. Why break up the family if we could just accept the occasional affair?”

He laughed. “How about we stop talking about it before this affair stops being fun?”

I never convinced any husband that he could be honest about what he was doing. But they were mostly good-natured about it, like a patient father responding to a child who keeps asking, “Why, why, why?”

Maybe I was being too pragmatic about issues that are loaded with guilt, resentment and fear. After all, it’s far easier to talk theoretically about marriage than to navigate it. But my attitude is that if my spouse were to need something I couldn’t give him, I wouldn’t keep him from getting it elsewhere, as long as he did so in a way that didn’t endanger our family.

I suppose I would hope his needs would involve fishing trips or beers with friends. But sex is basic. Physical intimacy with other human beings is essential to our health and well-being. So how do we deny such a need to the one we care about most? If our primary relationship nourishes and stabilizes us but lacks intimacy, we shouldn’t have to destroy our marriage to get that intimacy somewhere else. Should we?

I didn’t have a full-on affair with the tattooed husband. We slept together maybe four times over a few years. More often we talked on the phone. I never felt possessive, just curious and happy to be in his company.

After our second night together, though, I could tell this was about more than sex for him; he was desperate for affection. He said he wanted to be close to his wife but couldn’t because they were unable to get past their fundamental disconnect: lack of sex, which led to a lack of closeness, which made sex even less likely and then turned into resentment and blame.

We all go through phases of wanting it and not wanting it. I doubt most women avoid having sex with their husbands because they lack physical desire in general; we are simply more complex sexual animals. Which is why men can get an erection from a pill but there’s no way to medically induce arousal and desire in women.

I am not saying the answer is non-monogamy, which can be rife with risks and unintended entanglements. I believe the answer is honesty and dialogue, no matter how frightening. Lack of sex in marriage is common, and it shouldn’t lead to shame and silence. By the same token, an affair doesn’t have to lead to the end of a marriage. What if an affair — or, ideally, simply the urge to have one — can be the beginning of a necessary conversation about sex and intimacy?