December 31, 2012

2012: What have I learned?

Recently I went back to my 2012 horoscope and found it funny how things turned out quite close to the “predictions.” Now, my ego will always prefer rummaging through my natal chart to generic yearly BS, but I had to laugh out loud when I saw the Aquarian horoscope for 2013.


Apparently, the romance I have started at the end of 2012 will only keep on giving; “Putting up with a partner who does not honor and cherish my essence is a thing of the past;” and I might be “changing my residence.” Hm.


Career-wise, I seem to have spent the past few years “collecting the necessary research and finding a slew of inspiring mentors,” and it is now time to “get my genius concepts on the map where they belong.” Also, “Chances are that I am only living up to a fraction of my potential and yet doing incredibly well.”


Touché, Touché. We’ll talk in a years’ time and see who’s done what, mmmkay?


When the laughter subsided, what I saw were my plans as I had already formulated them in my head, written out by a stranger’s hand for the entertainment of the general public. Funny.


The hourglass of 2012 is just about down to its last grains of sand. There are recaps and stock-taking in the media, the blogosphere, and the private lives of friends and family. I really do not want to do mine, but perhaps I should. Perhaps I will be glad of it some decades down the line?


It is too early to gauge the magnitude of this year. Usually, my brain is about ten steps ahead of the rest of me, figuring things out and getting upset that cannot catch up with myself. It amazes me to see it take a back seat to emotions and intuition. This year I have felt on my twitching skin, behind my eyeballs, in the core of my stomach and my bitten, mangled cuticles. Compliments of bravery and expressions of admiration for whatever it is that makes the choices I made admirable, are appreciated and politely accepted, but have yet to be internalized. For now, they feel as if they should be meant for someone else.


I do not want to use big words for this. And I don’t mean long, I mean big.


I have learned that we are teachers to our parents. We may kick and scream about it or insist that it should be the other way round [OK, I kick and scream about it], but we force them to rise and grow from the moment we are born. And it is our most controversial choices that allow them to grow the most. I have learned that my parents know, understand, and support me better than I ever might have hoped for. I also hope that someday soon I can not only understand, but accept this role in their lives.


I have learned that what I used to call intensity, abrasiveness, emotional amplitudes or being high maintenance deflates so beautifully when one calls it a quest for transparency. Thank you, therapy.


This has been a year of many lasts and firsts. Last weekends, last conversations, last embraces. And first nights spent in one’s old bedroom, first vacations and celebrations as a single person, first job and conference applications as a changed woman, and first kisses. It’s funny how being part of a couple drapes you in some cloak of diminished accessibility, and how people seem to come out of the woodwork when they hear you are no longer attached.


I have learned that, though the universe might have rattled me like a snow globe, it never lost sight of my happiness. The people that I trusted before justified that trust by sticking by me. Family came through in ways that I will be grateful for until the end of my days. My body got rid of some ballast, and perhaps I ought to change my profile to “106 pounds of… something.” My life was purged of pressures and clutter, leaving space and permission for grief, healing, and rebirth.


I was blessed with a love of cosmic proportions, and the beautiful, generous heart of a man who is a magician with words and deeds, a templar and a gentleman, an artist and an angel. He writes me songs and sends love notes in my language. He dreams of me and tells stories of who I am and what I do to friends and family with endless pride and joy. Kissing that stranger is the most natural thing I have ever done.


Tell me about your year, friends. And the year to come, as you see it now, even if you don’t see it yet. Then meet me here in a year’s time to sit and laugh about it all. Be happy, healthy, and blessed. Be in love with life, with yourself, and one another. Thank you for being here.

December 12, 2012

The big reveal


I would like to share something with you.


Some of you may have figured it out already, not that it was a secret. I just feel that it’s time to add a new detail to the love story that I have been living and writing about. Let you in on the joke, as my soul mate would say.


I loved him before I met him.


Then I met him, and I really loved him.


He was a reader before he was my friend.


I was a confidante before I was his lover.


There will be time, there will be time, to prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet.


A year too early, I would have been a puppy, all too easily sucked in by his gravitational pull and never registered on his radar screen. A year too late, I might have been tied down by ropes that life sometimes throws at us; ropes that make you forget that you once had different dreams for yourself. Looking back, someone or something was definitely in a hurry to rearrange some tracks and construct an intersection that would not fail. He got thrown off the path he had chosen, and I had a brick slammed on my gas pedal to speed me up.


In the summer of 2010, I arrived in the States, and he went into exile from his former life. He moved down to the water, I started writing about water. I got a crash course in self-knowledge and intercontinental male-female pathology; he taught himself to live all over again. I started writing about the heartache and chaos in my soul; he wrote out his loss and way back.


I shall skip over the details of our beautiful dance between then and now, and leave them for future posts. Instead, I give you him.





It’s funny, really. I have been fiddling with this blog post for some time now. While I was editing and tweaking and gargling words, my gorgeous man got to typing and beat me to the punch. We have now outed each other, and it makes me totally wet in the pants to think about what we might create together between our two blogs. Sometimes you don’t even have to leave the room for love to find you, and sometimes you have to cross an ocean. Sometimes, it’s both.


Do me a favor.


This man is the best writer I have met since I started blogging. When you go over there, and I know you will, please start at the beginning, and read everything. Take your time, because it won’t be easy. It will be painful. It will make you cry. It will feel like your insides are being torn out. It will make you rethink everything you ever thought you knew about love. But it will be worth it, because that’s how fucking good he is. You will come out redeemed. You will learn to live, and love, with him – and me – all over again. And you will be just as proud to know him as I am to be his girl.


Murdoc baby, you’re up.


December 5, 2012

Even overachievers get the blues

Thank you Jesus, it’s all my parents fault.

No, seriously.

My therapist actually said those words.

Yes I’m seeing a new therapist but that’s beside the point.

Apparently, psychologists had no trouble detecting that those who rebel against authority do so because they were raised in either oppressive or very lenient circumstances. It took them a little longer to explain why those that attach the same importance to authority, but with a plus instead of a minus in front of it, exhibit an extreme sense of duty, responsibility, and guilt to and for everyone and everything, even if they were raised very laissez-faire.

You see where I am going with this.

Minimal boundaries, and minimal guidance. When you give a child free reign over its life, you also give them a terrible burden of responsibility that exceeds their knowledge of the world. If the child does not know that the fence is there to separate the front yard from the motorway, the safe zone from potential harm, then this responsibility also comes with a terrible sense of guilt: you chose to leave the safe zone, and if you got hit by a car, it is your own fault. We gave you freedom, you should have known how to handle it.

First I sat in my therapist’s office in amazement and catatonia, tears rolling down my face as only evidence of the effect this had on me. Why isn't this printed out in pamphlets and distributed in schools across the globe? Am I the only person in the world not to know about this? 
Then I walked for about two hours before getting on a train that would take me home, watching pieces of my psyche drop down like Tetris blocks, fitting into perfect shapes and clearing the screen for the next level.
I hugged and kissed my parents when I got home. They were happy that I had a breakthrough, even though I did not tell them what it was. I love those people more than anything in this world. I know it was no picnic getting me for a child. A child like me required, demanded free reign, even if she could have used a little more guidance. I am a glorious conglomerate of both their characters and temperaments. I accepted the dispositions they gave me and took them to a whole new level. And not only that, I have a baby sister who did the same. We're a cool bunch. I hope never to lose the pride, gratitude and humility that their love has given me.

I just needed an explanation.

This is why I have no measure. Because every step could be a splash in a puddle or a dive from a cliff.

This is why I take risks, but not responsibility. Because they could be the same thing for all I know.

This is why everything I touch does indeed turn to gold. Because I have had to develop an acute sense of choosing my battles. Which I lose at the drop of a hat the very next second.

This is why I can make people feel adored and despised in the same sentence.

And this is why, on a bad day, a raised eyebrow feels like a slap across the face. Because a misunderstanding might as well be the Trojan War.

This is why, on a bad day, I will ask for reassurance as annoyingly  and persistently as a three-year-old. But why? Tell me. Tell me again. Why? Tell me again. Please make sure that what you're telling me is the truth because I will take you for your word, very literally. It's all I know.

This is why I want to save the world but can’t get a blood test. Because I forget my age and place in this universe.

This is why, on a bad day, I will beat myself up for not being able to grant, give and secure everyone what they want, even if they never asked it of me. Because I apparently need to feel holier than Christ and be responsible for everyone’s happiness.
This is why, on a bad day, I feel like I am not allowed to express insecurity. Because the confidence that friends and family apparently have in me makes me feel guilty for admitting that there is a shit-ton of questioning, backpedaling and uncertainty behind every "achievement." Because, who am I to claim weakness in the face of all elsewhere-existing adversity in this world?

This is why, on a bad day, I will feel like the Chieko girl from Babel. Remember her? The one who spreads her legs from underneath her schoolgirl uniform and throws herself at police officers her father’s age, desperate and exasperated from lack of connection, getting empty stares, rejection and contempt no matter how hard she tries. I raise my emotional skirt and flash intimacy at those I feel connected with, and yet, on a bad day, I feel like I still come across as deaf and dumb. What language do I speak, that it is so difficult to convey? How can all this excess that I pour out be understood as a lack? And what fiction am I after, that I should feel so threatened to fall off the mark?

November 28, 2012

In the room the women come and go

I wash my hands. Look at my face in the mirror. Voices from the kitchen make their way to my ears through the walls.


A friend has pulled me into another one of my utopia moments. Six smart, loudmouthed women got drunk around a table. There is baking and vodka, talk of Rammstein concerts on the river Volga and the perils of liberal upbringing, negotiating a job at the IRS with trying to make it big with your punk rock band, rescuing stray cats and dogs and the monogamy of long-distance relationships. This is where I smile and shut up and drink, because the relationship in question is new and steamy, and stretches a mere three hundred miles. I wonder how our hostess would handle an ocean.


I look for a hand towel and spot the one white ceramic tile that stands out from the others. In bright red lipstick, it says


Do I dare to eat a peach?


And my mind responds by rote,


I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.

I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each


I do not think that they will sing to me.



I come back to the kitchen just in time to hear our hostess, a powerful intoxicating creature, if still a little young, wrap up her recent love story in all the sarcasm and brutal honesty of a female identity duking it out with itself:


“I am such a romantic whore. I love it when he puts me in my place, but I refuse to shave my pussy!”


I interrupt.


“You have Prufrock on your wall.”


Everybody shuts up as they make the mental leap from boyfriends to poetry.




“You have Prufrock on your wall. In the bathroom.”


The rest still have no idea what I am on about, but her face lights up. Three hours and a bottle of pear schnapps later, she shows me the full printed text proudly displayed on her bedroom wardrobe door.


In the room the women come and go

Talking of Michelangelo.


Isn’t that the best? Isn’t that just the… pinnacle? What’s your favorite line?”


She honestly loves the poem. Without thinking, I say


“’That is not what I meant at all;

That is not it, at all.’”


Because, in my private universe, the one I dare disturb and in which TSE is my shameless, jealously kept property, being misunderstood sometimes feels like my natural state of being so much that it hurts.

November 23, 2012

The artist is present. In love and forgiveness.

This is going to be a long one, folks. Hey, I was absent for awhile and need to make up for it, okay? You ready?


A few weeks back I saw The Artist Is Present, the documentary about the life and work of the self-proclaimed “grandmother of performance art,” the Belgrade-born and internationally [in]famous, now 65 years old Marina Abramović. The central feature of the film was Abramović’s 2010 MoMA retrospective and new piece called ”The Artist Is Present,” during which she sat at a table throughout MoMA’s opening hours, and any audience member that wished to do so could sit across from her for as long as they wanted. Needless to say, she drew quite the crowd. For over three months, she gazed into the eyes of some 700.000 strange and familiar faces without a single word and as little movement as possible. The multitude of human expressions recorded on camera during that time is an encyclopedia of Alexandrian caliber, too vast for words. If you are interested, you can watch the trailer here.


It is difficult for me to write about her, or explain why I appreciate her work. If you have heard of her, chances are you either love her or hate her. If you do not yet have a formed opinion, chances are you will either consider her incredibly bad taste, or be completely mesmerized. It is difficult to imagine a bland, meh, middle road with someone who has exposed and subjected her mind and body to shameless gaze, strain, exhaustion, immobility or just plain violence, and called it art. Personally, I have great reservations when it comes to performance art and this kind of extreme exhibitionism, because they seem to beg the question what are you trying to prove and to whom? Did Rhythm 0 really have to happen in order to prove that, deep down and dirty, humans are in fact despicable violators? Probably not, but that’s all academic because she did it and now we no longer have to wonder. I find her authenticity impossible to deny, because the pills, razor blades, fumes, unconsciousness, the hits, the falls, the blood, the plastic surgery, the marathon walks, the immovable stillness… they were, they are, all real. This woman doesn’t mess around.

Taken from

What she did for me personally was reminded me that the female body is so much more exciting when it incites discomfort and unease than the horizontal, prettified, complacent, eye-batting adornment it is so often made to be. And if, after thirty years of trying to chart a new direction in your career of choice, you are still misunderstood by the mainstream and only marginally accepted, that is no reason to stop doing what you are doing.


But tonight I want to talk about her and Ulay, her German-born former partner of twelve years, in life as well as in art. They met their match when they met each other, creating a flurry that dissolved the concepts of public and private. It is one of those love stories that leaves you gasping for air and makes you sick at the same time. It makes you want to be so lucky and scares the shit out of you. They took the stigma of voyeurism from their spectators by letting it all hang out. They roamed the world in a van and performed together. They hit and yelled at each other, sucked the air out of each other until they fainted, pointed arrows at each other’s hearts, drove around galleries in circles, and sat across a table from one another for hours and days on end without moving a muscle. When he had had enough and got up from the table, she remained seated and continued the performance by herself. They walked the Great Wall of China, starting at opposite ends and meeting in the middle. It was their last piece together, because towards the end of the eight-year-long process of obtaining a permit for the walk from the Chinese authorities, Mr. Man managed to get their translator pregnant. When he asked her what he should do, she responded with What do you mean, what should you do? You go your way and I go mine. They walked the walk knowing that their meeting would be their goodbye.

Taken from

This is where The Artist Is Present picks up. Some twenty years after the break-up, they meet in her New York apartment with the exhibition preparations in full swing. He has come to see her triumph. After decades of radio silence, their first encounter is utterly trivial, a peck on the cheek and making zucchini in the kitchen. Is spicy OK? Then the camera has them commenting separately, Abramović saying that their relationship was never the perfect union everyone thought it was [nor did they pretend it to be, from what I gather], and Ulay claiming that she had had affairs of her own. She wonders whether forgiveness might be possible, and he says with a wistful smile that, since he does not hate her, he must love her. Pieces of their former life together are set up as integral parts of the exhibition, and both of them are overwhelmed with emotion as they roam the gallery on their own, he a visitor, she the artist. I watch with tears in my eyes and a giggly lump in my throat. I am an osmotically-minded partner myself, but mine is a different kind of osmosis.


Cut to the day of the performance. She alternates red, white, and blue dresses, and today she is wearing red. Between sitters, she closes her eyes and processes the energy as she prepares for the next participant. When she opens her eyes again, it is him that she sees sitting across from her as the audience looks on with baited breath.


It is unclear if she knew that he was next in line to take part in the performance, but she smiles a deep, knowing smile of recognition. She is warm. Childlike. Flirtatious. Dangerous. So much bigger than him and than their once-love. They reach across the table, hold hands and smile.


There is forgiveness.

Taken from

When he got up from the table and quit the performance years ago, she remained. She continued the performance in 2010, only this time with the audience as her lover and partner, and Ulay as merely one of many. She makes it no secret that one part of her persona is a once oppressed child with insatiable emotional needs. I wonder if 700.000 exchanges of energy can fill a void left by bad parenting. What twenty years of silence can do in terms of understanding one’s former self and one’s love[s?]. And if we really need to be so cruel with those that we once loved, as if unloving required nothing short of complete and utter annihilation in order to move on.


I wrote this once before: there is nothing pretty about “I would die for you.” Deep love is darkness. Perhaps the unease that Abramović and Ulay’s work causes is the fact that they are telling us something we already know but would rather not admit. That, in spite of ourselves, we can relate and know damn well what they are talking about. We all walk that Wall of China every day. And it is not uncommon that, just as we have reached that precious meeting-point of understanding in the middle, we realize it is time to part ways. Sometimes that mutual understanding is just the closure we need to call it off. We suck the air, and life, out of our partners, and inhale their toxicity back just to make up for it. We willingly place our hearts in front of their arrows and give up our worldly belongings just for a chance to tie our destinies with theirs. We get up from the table claiming fatigue, only to come back and hold hands, look into their eyes, forgive and be forgiven. If we could wear our emotional health on our bodies, we would all be walking around in casts and bandages, limping around with crutches, our noses broken and our limbs bruised; all that, and most probably a big happy smile on our face.
We were, we are, loved.

November 9, 2012

Anatomy of longing

Most days it is endless conversations in front of the flickering computer screen, covering everything from the translation and voice-over policies of news stations to the nature of love and human connection. Meals, coffee, desserts shared, naps taken, laughs and whispers soaked up greedily. Even when we merely make do, it is more than many people have in a lifetime. We are blessed and grateful.


Sometimes it is being jealous of his mirror, because it gets to see his face in the morning. Or his work clothes, because they get to wrap around him for an entire day. I wonder if the bank clerks and post masters know what greatness they are dealing with when he comes in and says “Hi.”


Sometimes it is a day spent without, reading and re-reading letters, turning over photographs, and rubbing your face in his T-shirt like a dog. And counting the speech mannerisms that we have exchanged like fluids, such as “a day spent without.” I have started to say things like “close proximity,” “since the beginning of time,” and “nation of two.” He has started blowing raspberries at the world when it pisses him off and saying “I love you” in my language.


Sometimes it is waking up at a strange hour for a strange reason, only to find out he was struggling with something at the very same time across the ocean. Other times, more difficult times, he materializes next to me as my soporific body desperately roams night corridors, and gently touches my shoulder. His chronotope is six hours and a hundred degrees of longitude behind mine. Standing guard. Won’t let me fall.


Not a day goes by that I do not see his name on my screen or a piece of paper, and I am reminded of what Russian Formalists meant by остранение. If I did not have the photographs and the letters, I swear that there are moments when I would wonder if I might not be the object of some hilarious cosmic dissimulation. This other, this foreigner is now my soul mate. He says that he always was. I will not change my name because I am who I am, but I already know that in my heart of hearts I will be “Mrs. G.” This love is something else, I tell you.


I have written about heartache and emotional fumbling. I have written about parts of me that I could not be less proud of. I have exchanged private notes with many of you who knew exactly what I was talking about, and on top of it were so beautifully generous in sharing your own insights with me. Thank you. I wrote about a new love overtaking everything I knew, and I will continue to write about the missing that fills the spaces between, that makes up this anatomy of longing. Life is such a gorgeously messy little spectacle.

October 29, 2012

Dieser Weg

Aquarius, 2012 is your year to shine!


That is what my yearly horoscope said this January.


It’s funny, really. It also said that Jupiter would place importance on long-buried family issues in the first half of the year. It also said that the stalemate us Aquarians must have felt during 2011 in terms of work was just a time of collecting ideas and experiences that would be put to good creative use this year under the auspices of Saturn. It also said that Venus would make herself cozy in my chart between April and August, and predicted travel in September.


I got divorced in May.


I am mentally refinancing my dissertation.


And on August 12, I was never so happy to cross a border in my life.


Back in 2010, during my year in the States, I was a hyperinflated version of myself, and I was high on it. Self-knowledge came in books, time zones, happy hours and strange beds. It came in everything that was not my home, my marriage, and my comfort zones. I was needy and loud, actively unwilling, hungry for myself and reckless as only a God’s child can be.


It was not the devil that made me do it. It was loneliness.


I was lonely beyond words. I had been lonely for years.


Some six months ago, between moving out of my old home and the divorce hearing, I imagined the next phase of my life. After a year of extroversion, exposing myself to more emotional vulnerability than I knew what to do with and getting intoxicated with each new experience, I saw months of introspection, circling the wagons, and very probably more solitude than I could bear. Being one half of a team would be replaced by the hollow bang of nothing but my own thoughts. The new freedom of time and space would feel denser than a black hole, and I felt weaker than when I had to slip on an invisible protective armor around my person when I was thirteen. I had not known human connection then, not the kind I was looking for anyway, not my kind of connection, and it was easier to just zip up and shut myself off.


I know what the next phase brings. It will be a test of patience and big picture thinking. I am an impatient little devil. I do not ask for much, and God knows I am willing to do the work myself. But I usually know what I want, and I want it NOW. I am looking at a marathon effort of toiling away without the promise of immediate gratification. A mental hill that at times feels too steep for my drained faculties. An emotional deferment that leaves me raw, sensitive and vulnerable.


It is like swimming across an ocean. You keep your head above water and your eyes on the horizon. The Sun, the Moon and the stars are all there, venerable guides and companions. You know you are worthy, you know you have it in you, and it is not difficult to spot the level geometry of that beautiful line that splits - or connects - sky and water. It is distant but clear. But the journey is still made up of individual strokes against a medium that provides buoyancy as much as it does resistance, each of which takes its toll on the muscles and bones, the head and the heart. And when someone says they will be here, for you, with you, whether to throw you a pair of flippers to make you go faster or get in the water with you to swim alongside, and then they don’t, they might as well have pulled you back a hundred miles by the feet. Then, next to living, breathing, loving creatures one can still feel terribly alone.
Manche treten dich, manche lieben dich
Manche geben sich für dich auf
Manche segnen dich, setz dein Segel nicht
Wenn der Wind das Meer aufbraust

October 26, 2012

I would prefer not to

Tell me about your coping mechanisms, friends. Because mine are driving me up the wall lately.


When you have a moment of success, what do you do? Call up someone you love [mom, dad, partner, goldfish?] and share, or have a quiet celebration with yourself and light up the world from the inside of your soul? When somebody does you wrong, do you confront them or cry about it in the corner of your bedroom? Do you call your best friend at three in the morning because you are having an anxiety attack about the general direction your life is taking, or go run for about ten miles and meet them the next day? Do you swallow bile or get a punching bag? All of the above? None of the above?


For someone who has a short fuse regarding so many things, I internalize. I take it all in. I process on the inside, and only share when I am good and ready, or when I find myself so mentally contorted that I cannot separate my head from my ass.


And like with many other things, I take it too far. I have no measure. I turn hibernation into agoraphobia, independence into isolation. I have kept some sad things from my parents because I did not want them to hurt because of me. I will make myself physically sick before I allow myself to admit that I am up against the wall and could use a little help, goddamnit. There is no pressure from the outside, it was not the way I was raised. It is just who I am.


I am fascinated by people who resolve their issues externally. I wish I could do that.


I had a coworker who sat across the room from me. She had no filter. Every task she had to tackle, her first instinct was to ask me what or where something was, and what to do. Pretty soon she was calling me “Ms. Google It,” because after having to explain the simplest things to her [sometimes right in front of her], I had to tell her to actually look things up before tugging on other people’s sleeves. I, on the other hand, almost brought a conference to a halt because I was running in circles trying to figure out a conceptual issue. By the time I knocked on my other coworker’s door and asked for advice, it was almost too late.


I get that. That was foolish, and I learned my lesson.


But I don’t get the bank clerk yelling at you because they are having a bad day and you just asked them a question they don’t know the answer to. I don’t get people who take a mile when you give them an inch. I don’t get acquaintances that don’t respect personal boundaries, or your time and space. I don’t get displaced aggression, or that childlike attitude of bringing you their broken toy and telling you to fix it. I don’t get people who do things just to get a reaction from others, or just to see where their limits are. Testing, manipulating, venting, dumping responsibility into other people’s laps. Expecting them to carry your burden, be your whipping post, fix your life for you. I do not get that to such a degree that I feel like I might be from another planet sometimes.


The very thought of someone doing something because I made them, of having an effect on someone’s behavior, no matter how well-meaning, goodhearted or justified, scares me. Don’t get me wrong. I am a functional human being. I say Hello to neighbors and earn money, I love and play as much as the next person. But the principle behind that thought of being the agent of something freaks me out. You know fight or flight? It does not exist with me. I freeze. I endure. I do not run away, but I refuse to fight either. Because I have found that the rules of direct engagement usually disagree with my sensibilities. More often than not, the other party will try and get you to communicate with them in their code. Yellers need to be yelled back at; bullies need to be bullied to actually understand what they are doing to people; control freaks need to be subdued; drowning people will take you down with them. Me? Like that poor bastard Bartleby, I would prefer not to. All of it taints me, compromises me, contaminates me.


I understand that we are all blood and goo underneath the skin, and that the ‘externals’ are doing pretty much the same thing that I am, which is trying to make it through the day and not feel as shitty about yourself as when you woke up. They are two sides of the same coin. And the right way to go about things is probably somewhere down the middle, helping as many as possible and victimizing none. I understand that getting your hands dirty is necessary sometimes, and that lofty mastheads make for long falls. I just have a hard time not preferring not to.