Not the One You're Thinking Of

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Feb 2

Goodbye to Philip Seymour Hoffman, My Totally Explicable Crush

 “Actors are responsible to the people we play. I don’t label or judge. I just play them as honestly and expressively and creatively as I can, in the hope that people who ordinarily turn their heads in disgust instead think,  ‘What I thought I’d feel about that guy, I don’t totally feel right now.’”

~Philip Seymour Hoffman, in an interview with Michael Krantz, TIME, Nov. 20, 2000

I am devastated by the death by apparent heroin overdose of Philip Seymour Hoffman this morning.

For over a decade now, I’ve been talking about my inexplicable crush on Philip Seymour Hoffman. Since 1999, in fact, when he made his entrance as Freddie Miles in The Talented Mr. Ripley and managed to be both wholly repellent and utterly, devastatingly charming at the same time, a feat that few men can really ever pull off with anything like aplomb.

While my attraction to the loathsome Freddie Miles probably says more about my twisted psyche and early exposure to private-school boys in their blue blazers than anything else, the truth is that my crush wasn’t inexplicable at all.

Philip Seymour Hoffman was amazing.

He was, by all accounts, one of the most talented actors of his generation. I may have fallen in love with Freddie Miles, but I was asking “Who was that guy?” as early as roles in Next Stop Wonderland and Boogie Nights. He had a way of moving into his characters, however small the role, and making them fit him like a comfortable old shoe. He managed to imbue the men he played with a certain world-weariness, even in roles where he played a variation on the manic pixie dream boy. He brought a sense of compassion to even the most amoral or outright evil characters, and he managed to play an astonishing range of humanity in his career, now cut so terribly, tragically short.

He wasn’t movie-idol handsome, but he was an attractive man, and dead sexy. He had that deep, rumbly voice that made you want to dive into it, lovely blue eyes that always seemed to have a hint of mischief, big hands that still managed to seem delicate. He laughed from his core and smiled until his eyes disappeared.

More than that, he seemed like he had qualities that, as I get older, seem sexier and sexier to me. He was a private guy, but whenever I’d see him in interviews he seemed like someone you might want to get a drink with. He was smart, and not afraid to take his work seriously, but he also seemed to be pretty down to earth. He seemed content to be a working actor with a life that he led largely out of the spotlight. He had a family he seemed to delight in. He carried himself with authority and seemed to be at home in his own skin.

Maybe, in the end, that was just another role he played.

No one just wakes up one morning and decides to start doing heroin. Maybe he spent decades feeling insecure and unloved because of his looks, because of his childhood, because acting is a game of rejection. Maybe he was facing middle age with a sense of panic and foreboding. Maybe he felt the best years of his life were behind him. Maybe he felt unworthy of adulation. 

Or maybe it was all true. Maybe he loved his family with his whole heart and soul. Maybe he woke up every day grateful for a chance to do work he loved with people he admired. Maybe he stumbled deeper and deeper into addiction, fighting tooth and nail every step of the way.

That’s the thing about addiction. That’s the thing about addicts. There’s no one path into it and there’s no one path out of it. Sometimes people find their way. Sometimes they are lost to us forever. Some people are “functioning” addicts for their whole lives, the devastation they wreak on themselves and their loved ones only seen behind closed doors. Sometimes, they’re clean for month, years, decades, only to be pulled under again by a moment of weakness or vulnerability.

We all have gaping holes somewhere inside us that are never filled, no matter how much we love and are loved, no matter how rich and full we strive to make our lives, no matter if we live lives of creation and productivity or quiet desperation. We try to fill those holes in all sorts of ways, each of us, and some of us choose those paths that are the most destructive.

You can’t love someone out of addiction – that’s one of the tenets of Al-Anon and pretty much a universal truth. But you can keep loving them. You can recognize the hard battle they’re fighting, every day. You can offer them your support and your compassion, and you can reach for them when they fall. And most of all you can recognize that addiction is a disease, not a character weakness.

There are no easy answers, and no one solution. But I know that I saddened by the passing of a man I loved and admired, and am thinking of his family, who truly knew and loved him, and of their pain and sorrow.

I’m sorry for all those years that I didn’t call it my “totally explicable crush on Philip Seymour Hoffman,” and I’m selfishly sad that I won’t get to enjoy his work for decades to come. I’m going to try to reach out more often and remind the people I love why I love them, too, even when it’s hard.

And to everyone fighting that hard, good fight, you have my support and admiration. 

Jan 1

This Is What Surviving Looks Like

"And it has been

one hell

of a year.

I have worn

the seasons

under my sleeves,

on my thighs,

running down my cheeks.

This is what

surviving

looks like, my dear.” 

~ Michelle K.

I will not be sorry to see the back of 2013.

In fact, at midnight it’s likely that I will be standing in the doorway with a broom, hoping to sweep its memory out of the door. I have had hard years before (Hello 2001, happy I never have to see you again. See also: 2009-2012), but never before have I had a year that seemed so dedicated to a long, slow, tedious, terrible grinding down of me and of seemingly everyone I know.

This year was a weird year, and a traumatic one. This was the year, I think, that came closest to breaking me. I have always been the best at large, traumatic moments. In a crisis, I can thrive. But this year wasn’t about a moment of crisis — the rise of terror and adrenaline, and the fall of having survived it all.

Instead, it was neverending waves of old problems with no solutions and new problems with no solutions, with cresting moments of fear and pain and despair, with no end in sight.

I’m a George Foreman kind of fighter: I will just keep slugging out of sheer stubbornness until a problem yields. But this year was all about the rope-a-dope, and my ears are still ringing.

For the third year in a row, I was laid off. My mother slipped further and further away, and jumpstarted the holiday season with a half-hearted attempt to kill herself. Cancer stalked family and friends, as did illness of other kinds. I watched as parts of my life I’d fought long and hard to build seemed to crumple like so much dust, and for the first time it seemed like too much energy to even begin to build it back up again.

I was raised a Catholic. I have two responses to this kind of relentless grind.

The first is to assume that I am being punished for misdeeds, past and present. It’s easy to believe that sin – or fate or karma – has somehow brought the wrath of the whatever from high above the thing down on my head.

The second is to look for signs and wonders, to search for the meaning in the suffering and assume that I am supposed to learn a lesson and somehow emerge from the rubble a better person, with new insight and more compassion.

This year, that was bullshit.

No loving God would punish anyone – let alone the people that surround them, innocent and unblemished – so long and so hard. And this year, I felt diminished, lesser – a person with less generosity and more animosity towards the world around me.

It’s hard to let those ideas go, to stop assigning blame or meaning to the vagaries of fate. But if this year taught me any lesson, it was that one.

This year, I learned that when I couldn’t depend on myself any more, I could reach out and depend on the people around me. This year, I learned I needed to ask for help. This year, small acts of kindness left indelible impressions on me, and saved my life in more ways than I can count.

This year, I let relationships drift away, in a fog of obligation and crisis and anger and fear. This year, I discovered that I had people in my life who wouldn’t let that happen, and that I will be forever grateful for them.

This year, I discovered that sometimes getting out of bed is a tremendous act of courage. That making that bed is can be a triumph. That, at some point, endless to-do lists are just – endless. Also pointless. And sometimes, doing just enough is enough.

I learned a lot of things about myself this year, not all of them flattering, but I also learned that I have the capacity to get up and go on, day after day, blow after blow. And that’s not nothing.

This year, I learned that change is hard, but necessary. That some battles can’t be won, but are still worth fighting. That no one can be everything to everyone. That no one can fix everything. That sometimes, there is only the better of two bad choices.

This year is now last year.

I started this last night, then set it aside to bake cookies with science, to watch fireworks explode overhead all over our neighborhood and, indeed, to sweep the bitter old year out the door.

Today, I made every good-luck food I could remember: bacon, Hoppin’ John, beef, greens. I got out of bed right foot first and exchanged silver and paper at midnight. I indulged every superstition. I watched the Mummers strut down Broad Street, surrounded by strangers. I made plans to get together with long-neglected friends and family.

It wasn’t, perhaps, the most exciting beginning, but it was a beginning.  And after a year like 2013, a beginning might be enough.

Be well, my friends. Be happy, and may all the good luck my superstitious rituals are sure to shower upon me touch you, too.

This is what surviving looks like, my dear. 

On Why I Decided to Become a Therapist for Victims of Sexual Violence

thestrangestofplaces:

image

Spoiler: It’s not because I’m a masochist.

Read More

Sonia’s doing the second year of her MSW placement, and she’s talking about what motivated her and why it’s so important. 

randycwhite:

addictinginfo:

GOP Billionaire Charles Koch Wants To Help The Poor… By Eliminating The Minimum Wage (VIDEO)

Mr. Koch, how about a $200,000 campaign to end greed? That would go a long way toward economic…

View Post

Congratulations. The Koch brothers and people like them want your standard of living to be the same as in Haiti.

The jist of this nonsense is “if only poor Americans weren’t held back by making $7.25 an hour! If it weren’t for that pesky minimum wage, they would be MORE MOTIVATED to pull themselves out of poverty by being entrepreneurial.” 
People making minimum wage are renting tires because they can’t afford to finance new ones. How are they supposed to finance whole new businesses again? 

randycwhite:

addictinginfo:

GOP Billionaire Charles Koch Wants To Help The Poor… By Eliminating The Minimum Wage (VIDEO)

Mr. Koch, how about a $200,000 campaign to end greed? That would go a long way toward economic…

View Post

Congratulations. The Koch brothers and people like them want your standard of living to be the same as in Haiti.

The jist of this nonsense is “if only poor Americans weren’t held back by making $7.25 an hour! If it weren’t for that pesky minimum wage, they would be MORE MOTIVATED to pull themselves out of poverty by being entrepreneurial.” 

People making minimum wage are renting tires because they can’t afford to finance new ones. How are they supposed to finance whole new businesses again? 

I can’t help wondering why is it that Republicans who do want our governing institutions and processes to remain strong don’t stand up to the fanatics? What happened to Hatch and McCain, or to Lamar Alexander, Susan Collins, and Lindsay Graham? Are they so frightened of losing to a fanatic in the next primary that they’ve been silenced into submission? Why don’t former Republican senators who lost to the fanatics, such as Indiana’s Richard Lugar, speak up? As has been noted many times in history, it is not so much the viciousness or carelessness of the bad people but the silence of the good people that brings societies to the brink, or beyond.

- Robert B. Reich, at Guernica (via thesmithian)

nprfreshair:

Bipartisan senate negotiators have reached a tentative agreement about federal student loans. The agreement is that “interest rates would be tied to the variable rates of the 10-year treasury bond.” This means undergrads currently taking out federal loans will have a 3.61% interest and 5.21% for graduate students, with rates fixed for the duration of the loan but variable with market rates.
via the New York Times
In an interview with Kevin Carey, the director of the Education Policy Program at the New America Foundation, he spoke about how loan debt has gotten out of control:

The average college senior in the U.S. now carries $25,000 in student loan debt at graduation. Those figures rise when graduate degrees are figured into the equation. No one planned for that to happen, no one thought that was a good idea because in fact, it’s a very bad idea. The reality is that as college tuition has consistently outpaced the ability of people to pay out of pocket, debt has been the safety valve of our higher education system. It is what has allowed everything to keep running because people know they have to go to college — they don’t feel they have any choice — so they just continue to borrow and borrow and borrow.

image via Fox Business

nprfreshair:

Bipartisan senate negotiators have reached a tentative agreement about federal student loans. The agreement is that “interest rates would be tied to the variable rates of the 10-year treasury bond.” This means undergrads currently taking out federal loans will have a 3.61% interest and 5.21% for graduate students, with rates fixed for the duration of the loan but variable with market rates.

via the New York Times

In an interview with Kevin Carey, the director of the Education Policy Program at the New America Foundation, he spoke about how loan debt has gotten out of control:

The average college senior in the U.S. now carries $25,000 in student loan debt at graduation. Those figures rise when graduate degrees are figured into the equation. No one planned for that to happen, no one thought that was a good idea because in fact, it’s a very bad idea. The reality is that as college tuition has consistently outpaced the ability of people to pay out of pocket, debt has been the safety valve of our higher education system. It is what has allowed everything to keep running because people know they have to go to college — they don’t feel they have any choice — so they just continue to borrow and borrow and borrow.

image via Fox Business

theatlantic:

How Sharknado Explains the Federal Reserve

There is a movie called Sharknado. It is a real movie. It is about sharks in a tornado. The killer sharks in the tornado fly around snatching up people who say things like “we just can’t wait here for sharks to rain down on us.” 
And it explains everything you need to know about the Federal Reserve nowadays.
Sharknado, the movie, might just be a dumb story about sharks. But Sharknado, the business, is a story about a cable channel’s need to keep upping the ante to persuade viewers that it can always come up with a crazier idea than the last. After all, this isn’t the SyFy Channel’s first foray into absurdist animal action. Before tornadoes started catapulting great white sharks at unsuspecting victims, there was Sharktopus and Dinoshark and Piranhaconda. But with each stoner nightmare of science-or-nature-gone-wrong, SyFy has had to turn the ridiculousness to 11 to keep anybody’s attention: Alright, you’ve seen a genetically-engineered shark-human hybrid go on a rampage, but what about a genetically-engineered supergator … versus, um, a a dinocroc!?! (Those are real movies by the way).
Read more. [Image: The Asylum, Yuri Gripas/Reuters, Gary Cameron/Reuters]


This is both brilliant and scary. 

theatlantic:

How Sharknado Explains the Federal Reserve

There is a movie called Sharknado. It is a real movie. It is about sharks in a tornado. The killer sharks in the tornado fly around snatching up people who say things like “we just can’t wait here for sharks to rain down on us.” 

And it explains everything you need to know about the Federal Reserve nowadays.

Sharknado, the movie, might just be a dumb story about sharks. But Sharknado, the business, is a story about a cable channel’s need to keep upping the ante to persuade viewers that it can always come up with a crazier idea than the last. After all, this isn’t the SyFy Channel’s first foray into absurdist animal action. Before tornadoes started catapulting great white sharks at unsuspecting victims, there was Sharktopus and Dinoshark and Piranhaconda. But with each stoner nightmare of science-or-nature-gone-wrong, SyFy has had to turn the ridiculousness to 11 to keep anybody’s attention: Alright, you’ve seen a genetically-engineered shark-human hybrid go on a rampage, but what about a genetically-engineered supergator … versus, um, a a dinocroc!?! (Those are real movies by the way).

Read more. [Image: The Asylum, Yuri Gripas/Reuters, Gary Cameron/Reuters]

This is both brilliant and scary. 

Because, really, what’s the point of being a modern Republican if you can’t cut back on food aid for the poor during a period of extended high unemployment?

- Kevin Drum (via motherjones)

motherjones:

inothernews:

MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD   Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old Pakistani advocate for girls education who was shot in the head by the Taliban, speaks to youth leaders at the United Nations Youth Assembly on July 12, 2013 in New York City. “Let us pick up our books and our pens,” she said. “They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution.” (Photo: Andrew Burton / Getty Images via USA Today)

Boss.

motherjones:

inothernews:

MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD   Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old Pakistani advocate for girls education who was shot in the head by the Taliban, speaks to youth leaders at the United Nations Youth Assembly on July 12, 2013 in New York City. “Let us pick up our books and our pens,” she said. “They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution.” (Photo: Andrew Burton / Getty Images via USA Today)

Boss.

Republicans muscled a pared-back agriculture bill through the House on Thursday, stripping out the food stamp program to satisfy recalcitrant conservatives but losing what little Democratic support the bill had when it failed last month. It was the first time food stamps had not been a part of the farm bill since 1973.

-

House Approves Farm Bill, Without Food Stamp Program

Corporate welfare for Big Ag, nothing to actually help real people who are suffering. As Dan Gillmor says, it’s a perfect description of GOP priorities.

(via wilwheaton)

here in NC, they just the other day slashed unemployment benefits from $535.00 to $350.00 a week. People with kids have to make rent and feed families on that money. I get how people can differ about all kinds of political issues, but when I was a kid we got a box of food from the government every week and we ate the hell out of that food while living in rental units and trading in old clothes to the Goodwill and cutting every corner we could find. We weren’t desperately poor but we needed help and the help we got was enough to see us through until both my mom and my stepdad had good-enough paying jobs. I get, as I say, that we can differ on taxes, or on foreign policy, or on social issues, even, however passionate I may be about these matters. But how these people can actually, actively, on-purpose, take money away from poor families who need it is incomprehensible to me. The obvious answer is “these dudes have never been poor a day in their lives,” but…they go to church every week. They’ve read Matthew 25:40. Many of them even profess to hold that biblical principles are the best principles, the ones they try to live their lives by. How they can look at themselves in the mirror after making it harder for poor parents to feed their children is the ugliest mystery I know. 

(via johndarnielle)

Everything he said and more. How does cutting food stamps help anything? Food stamps help people who, for the most part, ALREADY HAVE JOBS and still aren’t making enough to live on. And regardless of whether you are working or not, no one should go hungry in this country. 

I sincerely wish that someone who identifies as a conservative could explain the logic of this and other poverty-based decisions to me. Because from where I stand, it seems like kicking people when they are down, laced with a healthy dose of good, old-fashioned racism and misogyny. 

I mean it. Someone who espouses these positions explain to me the logic behind them, please. 

(via overnighter)