Monday, July 10, 2006

About C.I.

Sunny here posting late. Ramon and I went to see Johnny Depp's new film tonight. (I liked it, he didn't.) Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.

So tonight I'm writing about C.I. and noting that these are my opinions. (The only thing C.I. requested.) When I wrote about Rebecca, I mentioned that C.I. calls and always tries to keep it very brief.

So let me talk about the first meeting.

C.I. was speaking in the area and Elaine had told me to expect a drop by. I did and was still surprised because C.I. really grabs a room. Even when it's empty, it comes to life. I explained Elaine was finishing up her last session and it would be about a half-hour more after we exchanged greetings.

C.I. went over to the couch in the waiting room and I pulled out my compact and acted like I had was checking my eye make up because I didn't want to stare obviously. The second C.I. sat on the couch, it was like all the exhaustion just poured out. I couldn't believe that the person who had been so alive in front of me was the same person sitting on the couch. Elaine says C.I. can swith it "on" and "off" like that in a split second. There were about two minutes of quiet and then the cell phone starts ringing and it's one call after another and the minute C.I. answered the first call it was "on." I listened on one and it was someone asking about speaking because C.I. said sure provided it was early tomorrow or later in the day.

Do I need to back up? C.I. speaks to college and high school groups (and who knows who else) against the war and has been doing that repeatedly each month for three years now.

So I listened in to the one side of the first call and then felt bad because I had seen the "off" moment and knew how tired C.I. was. I put up my compact and started surfing around on the net. Then C.I. approached and asked if it was okay to use the fax to send something out?

I said of course and something like "It's Elaine fax." People, friends of her's who drop by tend to use it all the time (except Rebecca who's more likely to talk on the phone than fax something). C.I. said something to the effect of the fax was my in area. The point C.I. was making was that this was my turf and, to be real honest, no one does that. They usually say "I'm faxing" as they walk over to the machine. I already liked C.I. but I really appreciated that.

There wasn't any need for it and I'm not trying to insult anyone who never asked (but no one ever did before or since other than this one person). So that's one of the things that stands out most to me.

So when Elaine finished her session, they were getting ready to grab some dinner and catch up. (They're old friends from college in case anyone's never visited this site or Rebecca's or C.I.'s before. All three went to college together.) (And Rebecca had tickets to a play that evening in case anyone's wondering where she pops in.) So Elaine invites me along because Elaine's very polite and I beg off but C.I. invites me as well and says it will either be fun or boring as they trip down memory lane.

It was a lot of fun but there's a third setting to C.I. I told that to Elaine after and she laughed. This setting is "Don't bother me." And C.I. sent out that vibe several times. Not to Elaine or me but to people who would look over at our table. It's really weird to see because C.I. had the sunglasses on and I know people who can shoot a look like that. Before Joyce was married, we'd go to the clubs together and if some jerk was coming up to the table, she'd shoot him a look to shoo him away. But C.I. can do that "look" without the eyes. And can turn it off and on in a split-second.

They went back to Elaine's after and I was going to head on my way but they both insisted I come up for a little while. I ended up staying three hours. This was much more fun. For one thing, C.I. ate (not big on eating in public) and laughed freely. It was obvious that C.I. was on edge earlier. This was much more relaxed and it was a lot of fun.

That may seem weird because the topic was Iraq for about half the three hours. I haven't heard it when C.I. speaks to a group (I want to) but I can see that's effective if it's anything like when we were all talking because it was never "Well here's how it is and I'm going to speak to you for the next" whatever. It was a conversation (and Elaine says that's how the talks are, that it's not C.I. standing up and delivering a lecture).

So that was the meeting and there would be many calls to the office after that with C.I. leaving a message for Elaine several times a week (always ending with, "Tell her this can wait. It's nothing urgent.") and not a lot of chit-chat. I knew, from the time in the waiting room, that it's pretty much one call after another. So I was surprised when C.I. called one day and asked me when I didn't mention I was going out to California the following week on a vacation?

C.I. hadn't been the only one being 'business like,' I realized. I had too.

So I talked about my schedule and how I was coming out with my cousin. C.I. asked where I was staying and I mentioned the hotel. That's when C.I. says, "If you want, you can stay here. I'm gone that whole week."

I immediately said no, thank you but C.I. said, "I called you. I wouldn't offer if I didn't mean it."

And it was such a big help because this was our vacation and it would mean no hotel expense. So I said sure. C.I. said Elaine had a set of keys and knew the security code so to get that from her and the only thing was, if anything got broken, just leave a note. "Do not worry about it. The only thing that ever makes me mad is if I find something broken. Just leave a note and it's not a big deal. Help yourself to whatever you need."

I asked Elaine about that because I thought, "Does C.I. think I'm an elephant in china shop, knocking everything over?" But Elaine explained that a mutal friend (not Rebecca) had broken a few dishes and that wasn't a big deal except that there was no note. Elaine said, "C.I. has too much and doesn't care if something's broken" but doesn't like finding out about it via "hunt and seek." She warned me also to stack any CDs I listened to or books I read instead of reshelving them.

So my cousin and I get the rent a car at the airport and we're using Elaine's directions and find it.
The outside was intimidating and I also screwed up the security code on the first try. But after we were inside and I got the code right, we were looking around and it was so much more warm on the inside. (When I told Elaine two weeks ago that I'd probably write about this, she said to note that because she thinks that's "key" to C.I. She also said to add that C.I. would laugh and call that "psycho-babble.")

We didn't break anything. So we didn't have to leave a note about that but we did say thank you. It was so nice. I'm not going to talk about what's in someone's house because even with the "This is my opinion" qualifier, I think that would be a little rude. But I will note, outside of a library, I've never seen so many bookcases. I asked Elaine after how anyone reads all those books and Elaine said C.I.'s an insomniac. Even so. There was a little place where some 'honors' were but I didn't see any degrees anywhere and Elaine told me to put this in. Over the years, C.I. has moved a great deal and one time Elaine was there in the midst of a move, years and years ago, and she found C.I.'s masters, unframed, under a desk with drawers. I'm not going to word this delicately: it has a piece of turtle crap on it. (C.I. had a pet turtle at the time.) Elaine said, "What is your masters degree doing under the desk?" and was trying to scrape off the turtle crap with a pencil. C.I. took it from her and just tossed it in the trash. So Elaine's stunned and asking where the bachelors is and C.I. says that thing probably got lost X number of moves ago. "I'm not a doctor or a lawyer, there's no need for me to frame my degrees and display them."

Elaine says she still can't believe that but it reminded her of when C.I. was invited to join an honor's society and only ended up in it because someone else paid the fee behind C.I.'s back because they thought, "Nobody turns down this." C.I. had no interest. I like that story because my brother, who is ten years older, has an associates and he can never stop mentioning that. If you disagree with him, he tosses it out. If he's making a point, he says, "Well, when I was in college, we learned . . ." I don't think C.I.'s ever brought up college around me except to tell a funny story about something the three of them did or someone they knew.

What was around the house were all these notes. "Sunny, I'm not kidding, eat anything you want, the food will go bad." "Sunny, seriously, drink anything you want." There were notes about how we could sleep in any of the rooms.

Elaine explained that the notes can be done at anytime and that C.I.'s like that in "calmer times" (non-war) verbally but with all that's going on these days, there's just not time.

So it was just really wonderful staying there. My cousin was impressed but I won't pretend I wasn't. It was also very nice.

And there have been many nice things since. I avoided mentioning things to C.I. thinking that would help but it would only result in a call to Elaine along the lines of, "Is Sunny's birthday coming up? It seems like it is?"

I was convinced from that and other things that C.I. had to be psychic. Elaine explained that no, it was just that C.I. listens and hears what gets said and what doesn't. Which is how I ended up with money to fix my car but I only accepted after we both agreed I would pay it back.

But whatever the topic is, that's not discussed, C.I. just seems to pick up on it. Elaine called me in one evening and said, "You're in love with Ramon?" We'd just been dating for two weekends and still getting to know each other. I hadn't told Elaine, Joyce or my mother that I was thinking Ramon was someone I really thought I had fallen for. They knew I thought he was hot but he is hot and what's the point in hiding that?

I asked her, "How did you know?" She said she just returned C.I.'s phone call. I don't even remember mentioning Ramon and I know I didn't say anything along the lines of how I felt about him.

Joyce said if I was going to write about that part I had to share her story. The last time C.I. came through (back in April), Joyce and I both hung out with Elaine and C.I. We were having a deep conversation and also be silly. And at one point, C.I. sighed and said, out of the blue to Joyce, "Do you want to talk about that?" I'm thinking, "Talk about what?"

Joyce said just looking at C.I., "I knew exactly." She said she really did want to talk about it but it was hard and C.I. said it happens to a lot of people and I'm thinking, "What?" I look over at Elaine and she's got a look like where's the conversation going but not looking really surprised.

Joyce ended up opening up about being sexually abused when she was ten. We hadn't even discussed sexual abuse. The most that had been said by Joyce was three sentences about her childhood. But somehow C.I. got enough from what wasn't said to ask, "Was it by a family member?" and Joyce just opened up.

She never told me about it or anyone. We met in first grade but when she was nine, her family moved off for two years. I couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe that my best friend had something like that happen to her and she'd never talked about it in her whole life.

She's glad she talked about and she went to a friend of Elaine's after to talk about it some more. She says it's like such a weight lifted off her shoulders. I can't imagine how awful that was for her, both what happened and not talking about it for years and years. She says she had tried to talk about it several times but never could until that night.

Elaine told me after that sometimes that moment (she called it a 'click') will hit C.I. after and when I read Rebecca talking about how she'd tried to keep her miscarriage a secret because she didn't want everyone focused on that, I knew where the story was going. (Which was the topic changed, they were all working on an edition of The Third Estate Sunday Review, which I've got some news on in a bit, and she'd just said, like she'd written that Saturday, that she'd had cramps and left it to people to assume she was just getting her period.) I knew C.I. was going to pop in there and wasn't surprised when I read the part about C.I. saying out of the blue, "You didn't get your period, you had a miscarriage." Elaine told me, after Rebecca wrote about it, that C.I. said it slowly and didn't realize what had just been said until after it was said.

It can be spooky. I tried doing that, listening to what people were saying and trying to figure out what wasn't being said but I didn't have much luck with it. Elaine said C.I. scored in the top ten percent of the country on the GRE in the analytical section. (The GRE's like the SAT's but for graduate school.)

She was asked to consult on a case (and I can write about this with her permission) and she couldn't figure out what happened. There were two teenage boys who were in a setting where they, and other boys, lived together. Something happened. One boy accused the other of rape and the other boy said he was gay and they had sex together. Parents got involved, there was talk of a law suit.

Elaine was brought in as a consultant. The victim wouldn't speak about it. After he accused the other boy of rape, he told his parents about it and then wouldn't talk about it at all. For weeks. He did draw a few pictures in sessions. He would ignore Elaine or the other doctor and just draw. The other guy kept insisting that it wasn't rape.

Elaine faxed the drawings to C.I. one day and didn't explain anything about them.

C.I. calls back and says who ever drew them is talented. Elaine asks if C.I. sees anything in the drawings. So C.I.'s on the phone just talking about the ink strokes and the pencil strokes, the boy would just grab paper and whatever was on the desk during a session and start drawing while ignoring the doctor.

C.I. looks at one of a boy sitting on the roof and I thought that was just a kid enjoying the sun.
C.I. said something. Elaine calls me into the office and asks C.I. to say that again on speaker phone and that I'm going to take notes.

C.I. says the kid in the drawing is upset. Then a few seconds later, that the kid has to make a decision but he's afraid. Then that the kid's thinking of killing himself. Elaine says to go to the next drawing and C.I. starts talking about the drawing and after a bit says, "This is . . . this kid . . . Was this drawn by a boy?" Elaine says yes and C.I. says he's slept with another boy and he can't deal with it. Then on the third drawing that the kid's feels trapped and starts pointing to something in the drawing and saying that represents the lies.

So the short version is that Elaine talks to the boy and gets him to open up. He wasn't raped. Charges are dropped against the other boy. The other doctor and the boy and his family dealt with the rest of it. But that's what I mean by spooky.

Things that I would never notice get picked up on. Elaine says that's why C.I. doesn't read much fiction -- it's always obvious who the writer is. She said C.I. can usually tell you about an author's life if you read three pages, without identifying the book or the author, over the phone.

It's a great gift. I don't mean "gift" like ESP or supernatural. It's just from being observant but who pays that kind of attention? I don't.

Elaine says she's never tried to keep a secret because C.I. can always tell by what she doesn't say when something's wrong. And Rebecca's told me about this (and written about so I'm sure she won't care if I mention it here) when her first marriage broke up, she was upset but just said she didn't want to talk about it and twenty minutes later, out of the blue, C.I. says, "He was gay and he came out to you." After Rebecca mentioned that at her site, I asked her if he seemed gay and she said, "Would I have married him if he seemed gay?" I love Rebecca because she's funny but you really have to hear her say something like that to get how funny she is.

Rebecca also added that if C.I.'s tired, do not try to keep a secret. And if you're not a friend and you invent a story, half-way in C.I. will call you on it. (There's a mutual friend the three of them have who lives in the land of delusion, according to Rebecca, and C.I. never calls her on that even though all three know every friend she mentions and every event is made up.) She said what happened with Joyce used to happen all the time in college and that once there was a woman who for three hours talked around something and kept them all up past midnight hemming and hawwing until finally C.I. said, "Do you want to talk about the rape or not?" She said when C.I.'s tired and you're not a friend, get to the point in a reasonable amount of time or C.I. will get you there.

So that's the C.I. story. Now let me talk quickly about The Third Estate Sunday Review because I always hear about it from Elaine or at the sites and was always curious. Saturday I got to listen to some of it. I had mentioned it to Wally, about being interested, and they were all cool with it. There is a lot of talking about what will be written. Once it's written, there's a lot of discussion about whether or not a point can be supported. Not in terms of facts, they know what they're writing about. But in terms of can they personally agree with the way something's worded. C.I. will say flat out, "I cannot have my name on a statement like that because" and will list off members of the community. Ava and C.I. will both say that about statements that they think could be misread. Jim enjoys the whole thing. I think he enjoys the back and forth more than the writing. Or like, there was talk of writing a story about fasting because all of them fasted on the Fourth but then it was brought up that Elaine and Rebecca did as well and they might want to add input on that. It's interesting to see what gets passed their vetting stage and what doesn't for a lot of different reasons. When I got off the phone they told me to expect only half the things discussed to show up online and that about a fourth of what didn't would get put into the print edition. And that's pretty much how it turned out.

I'll put in C.I.'s "Iraq snaphot" now because I'm not sure I was serious enough tonight. Elaine's always more prepared and I'm afraid I may be driving away her readers with each passing day. She comes back Wednesday.

Violence and chaos continue.
Bombings, shootings, corpses, kidnappings -- characteristics of daily life in Iraq -- continue while the miliary releases the name of the five US troops charged this weekend in the Mahmoudiya incident and Iraq attempts to overturn the immunity law that exempts suspects from being charged in and by Iraq (foreign troops and contractors).
The AFP notes that a car bomb in Baghdad killed at least ten and left at least fifty-one wounded. The Associated Press notes that this car bomb happened "near a repair shop on the edge of . . . Sadr City". Al Jazeera notes the second bombing which occurred "outside a restaurant near the central bank in central Baghdad" resulting in at least six dead and at least 28 wounded. A third bomb, roadside, resulted in the wounding of five police officers according to Reuters.
Also in Baghdad, CBS and AP note that a bus was "ambushed" with the seven people on it killed (six passengers and the driver) and the bus set on fire.
As Brian Edwards-Tiekert noted today on KPFA's The Morning Show, "violence came despite a security crackdown in the capital raising new questions about the effectiveness of the police and Iraqi army."
Outside of Baghdad, Al Jazeera notes a roadside bomb in Hillah killed one police officer and wounded four while, in Kirkuk, "a sucide truck bomb struck an office of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan" leaving five dead and twelve wounded. Reuters reports a roadside bomb in Yusifya that took the life of one person and left two more wounded; and a car bomb in Baquba that left eleven wounded. CBS and the AP note a bomb in Mahmoudiya that left ten wounded and a car bomb in Ramadi that wounded four US troops.
The BBC notes that Adnan Iskandar al-Mahdawi ("member of the provincial council in Diyala province") is dead as a result of a drive-by. CBS and AP report that, in Baghdad, a doctor was "forced . . . out of his car . . . and killed in front of his family."Reuters notes two attacks in Baghdad -- one which left three police officers dead and wounded another and a second where two "bodyguards of a judge" were killed and three were wounded.
Reuters reports five corpses were found in Suwayra, one in Kut ("shotgun wounds") and one near Dugail ("gunshot wounds . . . signs of torture") while CBS and AP note the discovery of "two bullet-riddled" corpses in Baghdad and notes five corpses, not one, discovered in Kut.
Reuters notes that "an agriculture official" was kidnapped in Dujail.
The Associated Press reports that the latest five charged in the incident involving the alleged rape of 14-year-old Abeer Qassim Hamza as well as her murder, and that of three members of her family, are Paul E. Cortez, Anthony W. Yribe, James P. Barker, Jesse V. Spielman, and Bryan L. Howard. Yribe is identified as the one who, as Amy Goodman noted on Democracy Now!, is "charged with dereliction of duty for failing to report the crime." The AP notes that "[t]he others face more serious charges as participants" as well as the fact that two of the five charged are sergeants (Cortez and Yribe). The five join Steven D. Green who was charged on June 30th.
The names of the five are released as Mariam Karouny (Reuters) reports that the US crafted laws for Iraq are facing a challenge according to Wigdan Michael (human rights minister in Iraq) who states "We're very serious about" requesting the "United Nations . . . end immunity from local law for U.S. troops". Michael tells Karouny: "One of the reasons for this is the U.N. resolution, which gives the multinational force soldiers immunity. Without punishment, you get violations. This happens when there is no punishment."
In peace news, Amy Goodman and Medea Benjamin discussed the Troops Home Fast today. Benjamin stated: ". . . we think this fast is one way that they can do it. We've had people who have read about the fast in the paper, and they're in West Palm Beach, for example, and just jumped on a plane and came and joined us. We have a woman from Vancouver, in Washington state, who heard about the fast and decided that she had to do something more, came and joined us for this week. People who thought they were going to fast for one day have ended up fasting for the entire week and are going into their second week. This can really be a catalyst if people join. Every day we have hundreds more signing up on the website and saying they want to participate."
In other peace news, Ehren Watada's mother Carolyn Ho has stated, of her son's refusal to deploy to Iraq for the illegal war, "He is sending that message to all the armed forces, the message that they need to examine carefully the war they are choosing to fight." Ehren's father, Bob Watada, is comparing the fight against the charges the military has brought against his son to a competition and tells Alyssa S. Navares (Honolulu Star Bulletin), "I have always been one of those dads at every game and practice . . . Although I whip him in a singles match, together we pravail on the court. And trust me, we're going to do it again when we fight these charges."
Finally, Reuters is reporting that 200 ex-police officers ("fired . . . for forgery and bribery") stormed the Muthanna governor's office "demanding they be reinstated in their jobs in the southern city of Samawa, the capital of Muthanna province."