Friday, November 30, 2007
Seven Random Facts About Alimum
1) I trained to be a yoga instructor, but never felt my yoga skills were good enough to actually teach a class. I hate hate hate going to yoga classes where the teacher is less-proficient and knows less about yoga than I, and I didn't want to be one of those teachers myself. When I go to yoga, I want to be inspired and I want to learn something; I do not want to be thinking stuff like, "He really should take us into this asana gradually. Just going into the pose full out might cause an injury" or "No, that is not the way you do utthita trikonasana, you are going to wreck your knees."
2) My left food is slightly larger (about 1/4 inch) than my right foot. My left eye is slightly larger than my right eye (I think it is really noticeable, but no one else seems to notice, even when I point it out to them). My left breast is slightly larger (about 1/2 cup) than my right breast.
3) I skipped fifth grade.
4) I sleep in cashmere sweaters. A few years ago, I started noticing cashmere pajamas. Then I started noticing that there was a lot more cashmere in the thrift stores than there used to be (I have been meaning to write about that topic for awhile, but I digress). So now I have a bunch of cashmere sweaters which are too big, or have moth holes, or are the wrong color, but they are still cashmere and make for very comfy pajama tops.
5) I found my first gray hair when I was seventeen. As a result, I am not sympathetic when women my own age whine about going gray. Hair dye was invented for a reason. Also, since I have been going gray for almost half my life, I am surprised when other people notice my gray hair for the first time. I mean, yeah, I dye, but I don't touch it up regularly, so how could someone be friends with me for years and fail to notice that, if I held off on the dye jobs and invested in a case of Aqua Net, I could be the Bride of Frankenstein?
6) I don't wear much makeup, usually, but somehow I have managed to amass over fifty tubes of lipstick.
7) I had my first, and only, bite of a Twinkie when I was thirty years old. I had gone to a play about the assassination of Harvey Milk and the Twinkie Defense and, at the end, the theatre handed out Twinkies to the audience. Joel, who knew that I had never eaten a Twinkie in my life, offered me a dollar to take a bite of a Twinkie. I took a bite (and took his dollar). It was every bit as disgusting as I always imagined it would be (the Twinkie...I like money, so the dollar was not disgusting at all, though I probably should have held out for a fiver as Joel was that intent on seeing me eat a Twinkie.)
At this point, I think everyone has already done it, so I would just be retagging people. So,
if you haven't yet done this meme, consider yourself tagged.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
This wasn't the first time I had heard about female circumcision. I think I first read about it in a social science textbook when I was in seventh grade, though it may have been earlier. I remember there was a little blurb about a young African girl who couldn't wait to be circumcised, because it was a rite of passage. We discussed rites of passage in class and I asked how, exactly, a girl was circumcised. I mean, I knew about male circumcision, though, to be honest, that was a bit of a mystery to me as well. I knew that it was done in hospitals, assumed anesthesia was used, and, since it was done on babies, assumed it wasn't so bad because the person being circumcised wouldn't remember the procedure. My question was never answered. As I grew older and found out more details about what the procedure entailed, I came to view female circumcision as a barbaric, misogynistic practice. I'll admit, I haven't really thought about the genital mutilation of girls in awhile (the hot topic on parenting discussion boards being whether or not to circumcise our infant sons).
So I was sitting there this morning, talking to Julian about his new CD of songs with his name in them (Thanks, Abigail and Olivia!), drinking my pomegranate green tea and read that one of the reasons that female genital cutting is aesthetic, female genitals being seen as ugly. Which struck me as interesting because this is the same reason given for labiaplasty.
I find it odd and ironic that we are telling African women that genital mutilation is barbaric and backward whilst surgeons in our own country are telling women that their vaginas need modification. Because, if you read the women's magazines, labiaplasty is the hot new trend in cosmetic surgery.
So I did some google searching and read some plastic surgeons websites. One site asserted that "Feeling good about how you look often builds self-confidence and self-esteem."
Oh really? You think having that surgically altered will improve someone's self-esteem? I am not suggesting the results of cosmetic surgery wouldn't improve one's self- esteem, just pointing out that unless one is a contortionist, a mirror and some privacy will be necessary to see the changes this procedure delivers. I mean, ordinarily, I would say that if there is a complex one can have about one's body, I have it. I am like the Energizer Bunny of body dysmorphia. I am too short. My nose is a source of dissatisfaction and the dark circles under my eyes seem impervious to concealer. Don't even ask me about saddlebags and cellulite unless you want a long treatise on how much worse mine is than everyone else's. However, in spite of my ability to analyze and agonize over nearly every square inch of my body, I can honestly say that I have never felt particularly self-conscious about the patch between my legs. Oh, yes, I get bikini waxes and worry that I am hairier than other women, but as far as my actual genitals are concerned, it never occurred to me that I should worry. I mean, yeah, my genitals are ugly, but so are everyone else's, which is why I never understood the success of Hustler. And while I am all for being neurotic about ugly parts of my body, it doesn't seem like one's labial folds would be an area that gets a lot of exposure. I have very little reason to go checking around down there myself and, with the exception of Julian's birth, I have had little reason to suspect it is on display for an audience. While I am sure that my gynecologist and Fred have opinions on the topic, I can't see investing thousands of dollars on surgery which may result in nerve damage if they are the only two people who will see the results. I am sympathetic to someone's desire to improve themselves via cosmetic surgery, but wouldn't it make more sense to invest that money in liposuction or a nose job? Who is so perfect that the only area of their body that "needs work" are their labial folds?
So why are so many women in the developed world choosing this procedure? (By so many, I mean any women outside the porn industry.) Is this the logical result of the increase in pornographic images we see on a regular basis? Isn't communicating the message that a woman's genitals should be modified to conform to a predetermined standard of beauty, even if it results in scar tissue and nerve damage, another way that women's sexuality is suffocated and denied? How can we tell women in developing nations to say no to a misogynistic practice intended to control their sexuality when similar practices are performed here?
The thing that makes me most distressed are the before and after pictures (WARNING! GRAPHIC CONTENT!). I mean, yeah, they do look different and rosier afterwards, but considering the part of the body we are talking about, I can't really say they look better. I may feel differently about this if I were a lesbian, but I doubt it. It isn't an attractive part of the body to begin with, so anyone lucky enough to find one's self down there should shut up and be grateful.
Mind the gaffe: voice of Tube sacked for criticising network
I have often been accused of liking the sound of my own voice, but the truth is, I only like the sound of my own voice as amplified through the bones of my skull. I can't stand hearing tape recordings of myself. As cool as it would be to be the voice of public transportation, I would hope it would be in a city in which I did not live. Apparently, Emma Clarke has similar feelings and, for that, she was fired.
Ms Clarke responded angrily to Tube officials and The Mail on Sunday yesterday, claiming she had been "wildly misquoted" by the newspaper. "What I actually said was that travelling in a Tube train would be dreadful for me, listening to my own voice and seeing the haunted faces of commuters being subjected to me telling them to 'mind the gap'," she said.Her spoof recordings are hilarious, by the way. Go hear the rest here or here.
So, as it turned out, I gave up on the novel fairly early on in the month and have thrown myself into the blog. Which is not a bad thing. And I am being barraged by many ideas for what to post next, ideas which may take a few hours, days, weeks, months to develop into the essays I envision.
So, while you are waiting for me to write something brilliant, or if you have found my blog throuh NaBloPoMo and want more of me, go read the essay I wrote right before November began (yeah, I am proud of it) or maybe something from years ago or something else from years ago or my thoughts on the death of Anna Nicole Smith. Hey, just go to the archives and browse if you miss me. And feel free to leave comments.
Monday, November 26, 2007
It is so easy for those of us in the developed world to say that the big problems are happening elsewhere, to people we don't know in lands where we have never been. Given the statistics, however, we all know women who have been victims of violence. No matter how safe and secure you feel, a woman or girl you love will be the victim of violence in her lifetime. Maybe you will never know. Maybe you will only learn about it after the fact. Maybe you will watch from afar feeling unable to stop it from happening. Maybe you will sympathize with the abuser and condone the violence, or you will blame the victim because you disapprove of her behavior. Maybe you will pretend it doesn't exist because to admit it does means that you, too, are living under the threat of it happening to you.
Facts & Figures on Violence Against Women
Violence against women and girls continues unabated in every continent, country and culture. It takes a devastating toll on women’s lives, on their families, and on society as a whole. Most societies prohibit such violence — yet the reality is that too often, it is covered up or tacitly condoned. — UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, 8 March 2007
Violence against women and girls is a problem of pandemic proportions. At least one out of every three women around the world has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime — with the abuser usually someone known to her. Perhaps the most pervasive human rights violation that we know today, it devastates lives, fractures communities, and stalls development.
Go sign the petition and see what you can do to stop this violation of the human rights of one half of the world's population.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
|You Are Scissors|
Sharp and brilliant, you can solve almost any problem with that big brain of yours.
People fear your cutting comments - and your wit is famous for being both funny and cruel.
Deep down, you tend to be in the middle of an emotional storm. Your own complexity disturbs you.
You are too smart for your own good. Slow down a little - or you're likely to hurt yourself.
You can cut a paper person down to pieces.
The only person who can ruin you is a rock person.
When you fight: You find your enemy's weak point and exploit it.
If someone makes you mad: You'll do everything you can to destroy their life
And I am not feeling well today, so this may be it for the blogposts. Maybe. Because, sick or not, those quizes just suck you in. I mean, how can I resist finding out what crappy christmas gift I am...
|You Are Socks!|
Cozy and warm... but easily lost.
You make a good puppet.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Friday, November 23, 2007
Today is Buy Nothing Day.
Although, at this point, either you weren't planning to buy anything today anyway or you have done all your shopping. What with some stores opening at midnight and me not getting around to posting until the late afternoon.
I realize that just because I didn't go shopping and I haven't whipped out the plastic today, I am still consuming more than my fair share of the earth's resources. Today I am using natural gas to heat my house, electricity to power this computer, and, earlier today, I used gasoline to transport my body from here to my mom's house, not to mention all the potable water I have used to wash away dirt from my body and food scraps from plates.
When you think about it, not shopping today really won't make much of a difference. But it is a start. And even if it is a tiny drop in a very large bucket, it still is something.
P.S. The above ad was rejected by MTV because they deem it inappropriate for their viewers. Um, maybe I am in the minority, but I wouldn't expect the people who are broadcasting A Shot At Love With Tila Tequila to have any standards (either intellectual or social) with regards to what they show their viewers. Please tell MTV that corporate censorship is unacceptable.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
I may have a chance to post again today. However, I wanted to get my NaBloPoMo duties out of the way, just in case. Have a great day, don't eat too much (do you really like feeling overstuffed like a sausage?) and try to get a walk in (at least...me, I have plans to go to the gym, but I am obsessed).
"Thanks for letting us eat you, Marlon Brando."
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
I'll admit, this isn't what I would have thought if someone had said "blue box, bigger on the inside than on the outside," but it makes sense and this blends into the background better than a police box in this day and age.
I wonder if he owns a Van Gogh...
Of course, I think Cookie Monster's definition of porn wouldn't make the rest of us blush. Unless, of course, you find your heart racing by the sight of hot, naked cookies.
Oh, alright, I'll admit that photo looks kinda dirty.
Monday, November 19, 2007
Sunday, November 18, 2007
I think, after the singing and the cake and the presents, he may be starting to understand. I overheard him saying that he "liked this birthday stuff" and then, later, he told my mom that he wants the firehouse which matches the fire truck he got today (the manufacturers kindly put pictures of it all over the box, as a public service, I'm sure) for Thanksgiving and he wants Santa to bring it to him. Um, yeah, that isn't quite how it works, little guy. Of course, given the way this week is shaping up, I'm not sure he will understand this anytime soon. Today was just a party for the family. Tomorrow, all his friends from school will be coming over for pizza and cupcakes. And then there will be Thanksgiving in a few days (where he will see out of town relatives and friends who will, most likely, wish him a belated birthday). He may well think that birthdays are supposed to last a week. I hope we haven't created a monster.
She was nineteen and this was her first video.
As you may imagine, I felt a huge kinship with her when I first saw this video, at sixteen, on 120 Minutes. It faded soon afterwards, as I was confronted with the hype surrounding the release of her first record and then the huge hit that was her second record. And then all the stuff that she has done and that people have said about her over the years.
But watching this video now, I can't understand why people were shocked, years later, to discover she was an angry, damaged person who might lash out in inappropriate ways. I feel like everything we need to know about Sinead O'Connor--beautiful, troubled, insane, brilliant--is encompassed herein. This is not a girl who is happy, stable, willing to play along and do as she's told. As this song and video suggest, this is a girl who is going to do some dangerous things out of anger, pain, and love. She'll likely hurt herself most when all is said and done, but even then, she will have no regrets and she will make no apologies.
There is something very hypnotic about this level of crazy. I'll admit, as a girl who always tried to be understanding and mature in the face of pain, I am envious of someone who can be this unrepentant, I wish I had it in me to let my demons loose.
Not to mention that she was doing the whole vengeful naked female covered in gold thing a good twenty years before Angelina Jolie.
P.S. This wasn't the post I planned to write today, but I haven't gotten around to uploading the pictures from my camera. Sorry.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
But it isn't as if that is the only song out there that, upon consideration, sends chills down your spine. Just off the top of my head, I can name Blondie's One Way Or Another ("I will drive past your house), Sinead O'Connor's Troy ("You should have left the lights on"), Animotion's Obsession ("Who do you want me to be to make you sleep with me"), and Screaming Jay Hawkins' I Put A Spell On You ("Because you're mine!"). However, I am pretty sure that the people who wrote those songs knew they were singing about crazy, obsessive, dangerous, might harm the object of your affection and yourself love. And as we sang, we knew too, deep down. However, there are those love songs which both the singer and listener don't seem aware are stalker-like and it is only upon actually listening to the lyrics that one stops and says "yeah, maybe it is romantic, but if someone actually sang that to me, I might feel like my safety depended upon me getting the hell away from the singer, moving to another town, and wearing a disguise when out in public."
In my alternate life, the one where I am a cabaret singer who sings disturbing and discordant songs in the style of Julee Cruise (a woman who, through her work with David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti, has recorded her fair share of creepy songs) with a touch of Elizabeth Fraser (who may well be singing very scary lyrics in many of her songs, but who can tell?), I am singing cover versions of Rick Astley's Never Gonna Give You Up and The Cars' You Might Think. Don't let the upbeat music or shiny video production fool you, these are scary, scary songs.
Although, I'll admit that no amount of whispered intensity and piercing glances will quite replicate the scariness of finding a guy in your tube of lipstick.
P.S. Just as I was connecting all the links on this blog, the beginning strains of what I consider to be the ultimate stalker song began to play on WXRT. Because, unlike all the of the above songs, I don't have to imagine what it would be like to have people sing this song to me, I have experienced it many times. I don't care how tortured and distraught he is, the last thing a girl wants to hear from a spurned suitor is that his "aim is true."
Friday, November 16, 2007
Which Backyardigan are you?
| You got Uniqua, she is completely unique and outgoing, and she's also a tomboy, she enjoys singing and dancing with her friends |
Take this quiz!
Fred and I are constantly telling people how much better children's television is today than it was when we were kids and we reference The Backyardigans in these conversations. I find myself singing bits of the songs throughout the day, even when Julian isn't around ("Tea, tea, tea, we'll have a perfect cup of tea, so lift your pinky, pip pip cheerio" for instance). I suspect I will be watching this show long after Julian grows out of it.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Me, I do not read ahead in the knitting patterns, period. Which is why I tend to design my own stuff and/or not take on any projects that I cannot intuitively grok--which is why I make ornate cable knit fisherman sweaters and lace, but dislike fair isle and rarely attempt to tackle it. When I knit at all, which hasn't been much lately, but I swear, I'll jump back on that horse eventually.
In life, I would consider myself to be a planner. But in life, as in knitting, I have limited myself so that I don't have to do much planning ahead. I don't plan menus for the week and I often have to force myself to make shopping lists before going to the store. Vacations, when we do them, get planned in short bursts of activity interjecting weeks (or months) of procrastination. We haven't had a party in years and holidays are at other people's houses. So, yeah, I'm not much of a planner, I just have constructed a life where my lack of planning is not a huge problem.
Except that Julian is getting older.
I am trying to plan Julian's birthday party-what sort of games to have, what sort of food to serve, what sort of cake to make-and it all seems pleasant enough because I haven't entirely accepted that it is real. I am blithely assuming that everything will work out without actually doing any of the actual work to insure that everything does work out.
I am in for a rude awakening very soon. Then I will be in freakout mode.
Suffice it to say, I am in awe of Stuntmother's hostessing abilities. Whether or not she reads ahead, she clearly is a lot more brave than I.
|You Are Jan Brady|
Brainy and a little introverted, you tend to think life is a lot worse than it actually is.
And while you may think you're a little goofy looking, most people consider you to be a major babe.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
I found myself thinking the younger writer sounded bratty, her arguments boiling down to "This is how I want to dress. You don't have to look". Any woman who has ever breastfed knows that there are times when the public may see your breasts and you hope no one stares, so I understand the "just look away if it bothers you" argument. However, I also know how hard it is to avoid staring at something on display and when I see the cleavage some women are sporting (and the bras that are sold to get their breasts to look the way they do), it is impossible to deny that breasts are not on display.
The older writer makes the observation "I keep thinking there’s a relationship between the present day, show-it-off aesthetic and the pole dancing being taken up by women of all ages, which I understand is supposed to be fine exercise, limber muscles and so forth, but basically fills me with such feminist despair that I just want to go sit in the dark by myself. Am I overreacting? Or are you all coming of age now convinced that sexuality has to be part of what you present to the world?"
I have asked myself this question as well. What is going on with the young girls today? But the younger writer isn't that much younger than I am. she is closer to me, in age, than the older writer. So what changed in the decade between when I came of age and when she did?
Off the top of my head, I can think of two things that have changed the landscape for girls today. The first is that sexual harassment policies and laws are designed to protect them from unwanted sexual comments and advances. So women and girls feel safer to express themselves in public, believing themselves to be protected. But why has self-expression come to equal self-exposure? Because, and this is the second thing that has changed, pornography won. Instead of becoming a society where people are judged on their merits and not their gender, we live in a society where women are told that being sexy is a requirement for advancement.
Maybe I am so irritated by this because I have always been self-conscious about my breasts and, in most situations, I try not to call attention to them. I can't understand why anyone would want to outside of a social setting--I mean, I understand wanting people to want you (whether you are available or not), but honestly, I don't want to be viewed as a sexual object 24/7. Maybe I am just irritated by this because I see this as further evidence of society's sexualization of the breast which, I feel, is partially responsible for our country's low breastfeeding rates and lack of breastfeeding support. Maybe I am annoyed because this just speaks to how far from equality we women are and how so few women seem to care.
I just can't see how anyone would argue with the following statement:
Maybe I am just getting old.
If you have ambition and intelligence, if you’re intent on being taken seriously in the workplace, what is the deal with the cleavage? It’s not just the well-endowed I’m talking about; it’s as though a frenzy of unbuttoning and unzipping has come over everybody, regardless of breast size and regardless of locale. I thought places like the grocery store and work were ones where we prefer not to have people consider at first glance our possible merits as sex partners.Do you all mean to be wearing neon signs that spell out “please look here”?
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Which isn't to say I am not aware of the passage of time (heck, I have a whole category for blogposts which may fall under the umbrella). However, most of my realizations that things have changed have been in the realms of emotions and culture, as opposed to the physical (although I have noticed that my muscle tone isn't what it once was, but then, neither are my workouts. This may be a sign I am getting older, or it may be a sign that I have a toddler).
There was a time, when I was twelve, when I could watch a Duran Duran video and accept it for what it was: a beautifully filmed narrative designed to appeal to our base desires for fame, wealth, and sex (except for Save A Prayer, below, which was designed to appeal to our base desires for the members of Duran Duran in a tropical paradise, but I digress). Oftentimes, the narrative was not terribly coherent or linear, but I didn't care as the images were so hypnotic and pretty. Also, at twelve, I tended to take things at face value.
Then I grew up. I went to an elite private college where I learned about subtext and allusion. I was trained to see that things have meaning and, oftentimes, it couldn't be grasped at first or second glance. In fact, to truly understand a piece of work, you would need to be intimately familiar with every piece of work the original piece of work referenced, sometimes unintentionally. And you wonder why I didn't go to graduate school?
So here I am, trained to understand that things are not what they seem and I encounter the recent Duran Duran video:
Yes, I know that Duran Duran videos are supposed to be heavily populated with models some of whom do vaguely suggestive things to one another (to appeal to the viewing public's desire to see hot girl-on-girl action) or really cruel things to one another (to appeal to the viewing public's misogyny, or at least, their hatred of skinny models). I imagine the pitch for this video was "What if One Flew Over The Cookie's Nest and America's Next Top Model were to have a baby?" But is that all it is? Watching this video, I couldn't help but wonder if it is meant as some commentary on Britney Spears and what our society does to its girls. Or how female empowerment has been coopted by pornographers, so young women are told that flashing their breasts is a sign of liberation and not exploitation. Or how the people who are supposed to be helping girls grow into young women unscathed seem incompetent and clueless as to how to make this happen. Or maybe that we are all a bunch of voyeurs. Which is a lot to be reading into a Duran Duran video. I mean, back in the day, no one would have accused Duran Duran of making a socio-political statement via there videos.
So either times have changed or I am really good at finding meaning where none exists.
But I'll always have the old videos to go back to and, now that I'm older and wiser, I can see all the references to the Jean Genet and Jean Cocteau which I didn't get back in 1984. And don't even get me started on the metatext.
Monday, November 12, 2007
I am delusional.
When I was growing up, I would often trip and fall or walk into something (like a wall), and my father would often be there to say, "Klutz Attack!" This enraged me because it ignored the huge crack in the sidewalk or the table which happened to be in my way. Clearly, I thought, my pratfall was not my fault. It could happen to anyone, if that person had happened to be inhabiting the same area of space which I had been. Accidents happen to everyone.
But they don't, do they?
I once commented on my clumsiness to another woman in a ballet class and she said, "Most dancers are pretty clumsy in real life. You're so used to moving through empty space, you're not used to navigating around furniture." I am not sure I believe her about the relative offstage/out-of-class gracefulness of dancers, this is does lend some insight into my particular brand of pratfalls. I walk into walls, I tumble down stairs, I tumble up stairs, I catch my hip on the edge of the kitchen counter, once I even fell off a stage once (it was four feet off the ground, I bounced right back up and got onstage and didn't sustain any injuries). For some reason, I cannot navigate my body around objects. Also, if I am honest with myself, I have to admit that many injuries have occurred because I was doing something, like a cartwheel or high kick, without taking into account of the spatial dimensions around me. Inattention and distractedness can probably claim credit for more scar tissue on my body than anything else.
So, why am I telling you all this?
Oh, take a wild guess.
Last night, I was walking upstairs with a full glass of water in my hand and obviously was not thinking about what I was doing. I tripped forward. I smashed my left hand into the stair in front of me and my right hand, the one holding the glass, banged into a stair above my head. The glass shattered in my hand. Luckily, only three fingers were cut and there was only one which looked serious (yay for the butterfly closures). Obviously, I can still type. The fingers on the left hand ache, but what would I expect after they go crashing into a stair? And while I am in pain, I am also feeling inordinately proud of my ability to once again avoid serious injury. Yes, I am embarrassed by all my stumbling and bumbling, but I am enough of a drama queen to try to garner sympathy from all of you, as well as to brag about how much of a bad ass I am (oh, you figured this out about me when you read the bit above about me bouncing back after falling off a stage, you aren't surprised).
I worry, however, that my luck won't hold out forever. I also worry that Julian has inherited my tendency to crash into the ground at the velocity of the acceleration of gravity multiplied by time. One of these days, time is going to catch up with me, one way or another.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
When I first heard this song by Leona Naess, I thought it accurately described almost every boy with whom I had ever been involved before Fred. "And he stamps on every emotion, and he dampens each and every explosion." Yep, that pretty much says it all. Not that I'm special in this regard. Don't we all have the experience of encountering the charming sociopath, the man (or woman) who can make you feel like the center of the universe when he focuses his attention and charm on you, but then can turn on a dime, leaving you out in the cold? And then, you may not have even found him all that attractive before, but once his attention turns elsewhere, he becomes the most appealing man in the world and you will go through all manner of contortions in the hopes you may once again gain his favor.
Of course, when I look back on the people for whom my heart once went pitter pat, I have come to realize that they were just stupid and young. What I once saw as cruelty I now recognize as confusion and fear. Because it sucks to have someone like you if you don't like them back, or even if you do. Sure, we all want to be let down easily and honestly, but oftentimes, when we find ourselves in the position of having to do the rejecting, we are rendered inarticulate and try to ignore the situation, just wishing it would go away on its own. Which it does, eventually, because time passes, and with it, crushes and broken hearts.
The other part I have often wondered about is the relative charms of my suitors past. I remember finding them to be witty, intelligent conversationalists, but really, how accurate are these memories and, for that matter, what did I know about witty, intelligent conversation at twenty? Maybe we all were terribly dull. Or maybe I wasn't, but they were. I remember going to a party with Maria when we were nineteen and meeting this guy there who we both found attractive and amusing. I went back to college and Maria began dating him. The relationship lasted two weeks because, well, it turned out the guy wasn't really worth her time. What had happened was that Maria and I had been so witty and charming at the party, we ended up charming ourselves and confusing our handiwork with his. Which isn't to say that the boys I liked were dumb as a box of rocks, simply that I wonder if what I found so terribly attractive about them was the way I behaved when I was around them, if the person I really loved was the person I became when they deigned to speak with me.
It may be a little of every one of these. And I am talking about more than one person here and, really when I think about it, the only thing any of these boys had in common was my affection. However, it would be nice to have a time machine and go back and tell my tortured twenty year old self that things would improve, that I would eventually break the cycle and find someone who loved me back, that I would come to view those years of unrequited love as a rite of passage, as the fire I had to walk through in order to become the person I am today.
A note about the videos: The first video is incomplete, but it is so much better than the official one, which I included for those of you who want to hear the whole song.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
You have Amyothrophic Lateral Sclerosis
It is better known as Lou Gehrig's disease.
I saw that movie. Gary Cooper died from that.
Alright, so it may not have been an episode of Quincy after all, it may have been something else (Trapper John M.D., The Incredible Hulk) it doesn't really matter, at least, not as far as this story is concerned.
See, I was very young I understood that the people on tv and in films were actors playing roles, but I didn't identify them beyond the roles they played; I understood that Hawkeye Pierce was played by an actor named Alan Alda, but if I saw him being interviewed I would have said, "There's Hawkeye." I didn't understand that most people, especially when discussing very famous actors, don't completely lose sight of the actor within any given role they play. So, I heard this actor on a TV show say that Gary Cooper died from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and I thought he meant that Gary Cooper, the actor, died from the same disease as Lou Gehrig, a character he played in the film The Pride of the Yankees. How weird is that? Being the sort of child who just loved finding patterns in things, I thought this was a very cool coincidence and I told other people about this. Since most of the people I told were six as well, no one corrected me on this. My mom may have tried to correct me, but I was positive I knew what I was talking about. I mean, it was on television, it must be true.
I am not sure when or how I figured out that Gary Cooper did not die of ALS. It was one of those things that I didn't think about for awhile and gradually my perceptions shifted, so when I thought about it again, I didn't make the same assumptions. Then I forgot all about it.
I was reminded of this the other night when Fred mentioned that everything tasted bitter. I did a quick google search and found an article entitled "Persistent bitter taste as an initial symptom of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis". Uh oh. I read the title to Fred and he said, "what's that?" and I said, "Lou Gehrig's disease." We turned off the computer and decided not to think about it. Of course, I did still think about it though, remembering that Fred told me about muscle twitches he had been having a few weeks ago and then wondering if it was too soon to talk to a doctor about all this.
Yesterday morning, Fred calls me from work and mentions that he did his own google search and found out that a bitter taste which lasts 6-10 days is also a side effect of eating raw pine nuts, something he had done on Wednesday night. We joked about what a paranoid hypochondriac I am, always ready to believe the worst, and this triggered my memory about how I thought Gary Cooper had died. We laughed.
Which doesn't mean I have stopped worrying. Just reminding myself how having a brain that seeks to find patterns often can mean finding a pattern where none exists.
Friday, November 09, 2007
There was a time, when we had more time and fewer responsibilities, my friends and I would spend whole afternoons and evenings sitting in coffeehouses drinking warm beverages and talking. This was back before Starbucks had made its aggressive bid for world domination, so these were independent coffeehouses which offered bottomless cups of coffee (or endless refills of hot water) for $1.50 and the people who worked there often chose the music which oftentimes was music we would have chosen ourselves. When I briefly worked at an independent coffee house, I always played The Cocteau Twins. Just as there is music which sounds like summer, music which makes you want to run along a beach naked or drive too fast on an empty road with the convertible top down, wind whipping through your hair (two things I have never actually done, but which certain songs have made me desperately want to do...and the songs weren't even about doing those things), there is music that sounds like late fall and winter. The soundtrack for falling leaves and snow.
So while I should be running errands, taking advantage of this brief toddler free period (Julian is with my mom) to do things away from the house, I am sitting here with a cup of Earl Grey*, listening to songs I have heard a thousand times before.
*Alright, Aushra and Maria will immediately be crying foul when they read this. My dislike for Earl Grey tea (it tastes like perfume) is decades old. It is true, I am not really sitting here sipping Earl Grey tea (though I have softened my stance against it and I will drink it if it is the best option available). I am actually drinking Throat Coat. However, that doesn't sound nearly as good.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
"None of us is truly free while others remain enslaved." -Archbishop Desmond Tutu
We as Americans don't like to use the word slaves and slavery. We reserve that term for the past and, subsequently, we imagine that slavery is a thing of the past. The truth, however, is that we are fast approaching 2008 and, in almost every country, there are humans who are enslaved by others.
Through Free the Slaves’ research, first published in Kevin Bales’ Disposable People, our conservative estimate is that there are 27 million people in slavery today. This means that there are more people in slavery today than at any other time in human history. Slavery has existed for thousands of years, but changes in the world’s economy and societies over the past 50 years have enabled a resurgence of slavery.
Three trends have contributed most to the rise of modern-slavery. The first, a recent population explosion has tripled the number of people in the world, with most growth taking place in the developing world. The second, rapid social and economic change, have displaced many to urban centers and their outskirts, where people have no ‘safety net’ and no job security. The third, government corruption around the world, allows slavery to go unpunished, even though it is illegal everywhere. In this way millions have become vulnerable to slave holders and human traffickers looking to profit through the theft of people’s lives. This new slavery has two prime characteristics: slaves today are cheap and they are disposable.
Is this the type of world in which we want to live? Is this the sort of world in which we want to raise our children?
Go to this website to find out more about slavery today and what you can do to make it history.
My absolute favorite sentence from my absolute favorite article:
Also on the rise is a small grass-roots campaign calling upon party people not to get up or down, but simply to get it on.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Which means even more "reality" television. because, hey, you don't need talent, why pay writers and actors when there are enough people so desperate to be on television, they'll let you do things to them for free that most actors and writers would never allow even with a hefty paycheck? And if some of the stuff that happens "in reality" were to happen on a scripted show, chances are no one would believe people could be such sociopathic nutjobs.
It looks like I'll be watching a lot of DVDs for the next few months because it seems this strike is going to be a long one. If only the following were a real show. Sadly, however, it won't be making it onto any broadcast schedules as it actually seems to be respectful of women. And, as we all know from watching the various dating competition shows, misogyny is a ratings winner.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
I really hope that most people who will have an influence determining the next Democratic nominee for president (all of you in Iowa) will come to your senses and NOT VOTE FOR HILLARY CLINTON. Please, do not make the same mistake that was made in 2004, voting for someone you don't necessarily like because you think that person is the most "electable" (whatever that means, the fact that people are using this word in reference to Hillary Clinton, a person that Republicans have been plotting to defeat for fifteen years and for whom many independent voters and even dyed-in-wool Democrats have sworn they would not vote). PLEASE. I really do not want another four years of a Republican presidency. And neither do you (well, unless you are one of my Republican readers--Hi Bob and Lila--but then, I don't expect you to be voting in the Democratic primaries).
If you won't listen to me, just read this assessment of her post-debate performance in The National Review.
Which isn't to say I am not creeped out by David Copperfield. After all, this is a man who floated over the Grand Canyon on national television while Bonnie Tyler sang "I'm Holding Out for a Hero" ("where have all the good men gone and where are all the gods?"). I mean, not only does that indicate the man has a bit of an ego, it also shows he missed a great opportunity. Obviously, if it is the early eighties and you are being serenaded by a blonde while you levitate, the song she should be singing is "Magic". Duh.
Speaking of Olivia Newton John (oh yes, we were), I recently read that Marie Osmond was originally offered the lead in Grease, but turned it down because she didn't like sending the message that a girl needed to turn bad for a boy.
I know, I know, it is always easy to look back and think "who but X could have possibly played that role?" and to forget that there was a time when that role was not defined by X and I can kindof envision Marie Osmond singing "Hopelessly Devoted to You". I also know that it is easy to say, "WHAT were you thinking turning down this role?" but that no one knows what will hit and what will miss, or even that a hit would have been a hit if any of the variables had been changed (for example, would Silence of the Lambs have won any Academy Awards if Michelle Pfeiffer had accepted the role of Clarice Starling?) So none of that really causes me much consternation. What is making me scratch a hole in my head is the notion that Sandy turns bad for a guy. I mean, that's bad? A girl stops ironing her hair, ditches the pink for black, and lights a cigarette and this signifies she has "turned bad"? Oh, alright, I guess if I watch Grease as an adult (as opposed to through the eyes of the six year old I was when I first saw the film), I'll admit that it is suggested that Sandy, to prove her love for Danny, will put out. But, if I watch the film through my adult eyes, I will also see the film from a post-Madonna, post-Britney perspective and it all seems rather innocent and tame. In order to understand, I have to remind myself how back in 1978, the girl who lived across the alley from me (who was eleven) said that she thought Grease should have had an R rating, but, in retrospect, this may have had as much to do with the whole Rizzo pregnancy thing as with any suggestion that Sandy and Danny may soon engage in acts which could have similar consequences. The truth is that while what was expected of girls, sexually, may have been clearer in 1958 or 1978 than they are in the present day, the truth is that we are constantly at the center of a tug of war between the two equally undesirable roles of prude and slut, constantly juggling being desirable with being respectable, constantly worrying that giving in to physical urges will brand one as low while rejecting the physical brands one as frigid. Which is why, like it or not, the best song in that film really is "There Are Worse Things I Could Do", a song which addresses the mixed signals we girls get about our sexuality and how it is all too easy to step off the path on which society expects us to remain. If Britney Spears is smart, she'll be covering that song on her next album. I think she has enough life experience to do it justice.
Monday, November 05, 2007
A couple of weeks ago, I was reading an article in the newspaper about Irena Sendler and I couldn't even imagine what those parents must have felt, giving over their babies, knowing that their own fates were sealed. Then I imagined being in that position, today. Of course, my first thought was, "that could never happen here," but then I began to think about the series of events which could happen to make it possible for someone like me to be sent to a concentration camp. I found it shockingly easy.
I wrote out pages and pages of notes that day as Julian watched The Backyardigans. I was excited.
- My novel would be set in the near future, maybe around 2010-2011.
- Troops are immediately withdrawn from Iraq. America leaves the country in a state of chaos, but we decide there is nothing we can do, so bringing the troops home ASAP is our only option. South Korea also formally requests the US remove its troops from the DMZ.
- Congress passes a constitutional amendment ending birthright citizenship. From now on, only the children of US citizens are born into US citizenship, regardless of where they are born. Also, the requirements and waiting period for anyone seeking US citizenship is extended. Finally, anyone who became a citizen by birth in the last ten years who would no longer be eligible under the new amendment is stripped of their US citizenship.
- Another terrorist attack (or two) occurs and the nation feels vulnerable. People begin attacking those who they believe "look like terrorists."
- The President declares a State of Emergency and then Martial Law. The President, by the way, would not be one of the current crop of contenders, but a new dynamic person who seemingly came out of nowhere and seemed to be all things to all people, running as a third party candidate, successfully beat Hillary Clinton and Rudolph Giuliani in 2008.
- The Executive Director of the ACLU (and everyone on his email list) is arrested and convicted of Child Pornography charges after sending out naked baby pictures of his new grandchild. The Executive Director of the Anti-Defamation League is arrested and convicted of being part of a terrorist plot. A message is sent to anyone who may speak out openly for civil rights.
- People who speak out against the government are imprisoned for sedition and treason.
- One thing leads to another and interring non-citizens of Middle Eastern descent begins. then it extends to all Muslims, be they citizens. Then, since Pakistan is where Osama Bin Laden is hiding, interring all people of Pakistani descent are called up. Then, because a lot of people can't seem to tell the difference between Pakistanis and Indians, it extends to all people of Indian descent, regardless of religious background. And there I am, getting a letter in the mail with a call up date.
- The International Community is SHOCKED by what happens in America, but, in many cases, this is just lip service. Most European countries have their own conflicts with their Muslim/brown skinned populations. Many other countries do far worse to their political prisoners.
And, because I had so much ground to cover creating the future in which my story takes place, I figured I would write this from my perspective, as if this were actually happening to me, and then clean it up (change the character, make her less me and more some imaginary woman) in later drafts. So I wrote a whole lot of notes about how this future would affect me specifically and imaginary scenes. I was questioned by government employees who suggested that my past experiences were evidence of pro-terrorist leanings (yes, I imagined them telling me that all my pro-Israeli statements were "merely designed to throw people off" and asking if I "studied Japanese history in the hopes of meeting up with members of Aum Shinrikyuo and learning techniques from them"). I had my parents visiting relatives in Toronto and out of harm's way. I had my brother go underground. I couldn't even begin to think of what would happen to members of my extended family. I wondered who of my friends would help protect me and who would be in need of protection. I worried what would happen to Julian and wondered if my Indian heritage would be held against him. I imagined tearful conversations with my in laws and my fear that they would be targeted because of their contact with me. And I believed that all of this imagining was good because once I actually started writing, the story would just unfold. I would get to 50,000 words by the middle of November. Heck, I could already imagine my interview with Terry Gross.
Then I started to do research and found that, at least according to people with websites, a lot of this is already underway. There are some resolutions currently in committee to end birthright citizenship. I received an email from someone detailing why Muslims could not be loyal to the United States (lots of garbage which can be boiled down to the notion that you can't be both loyal to Allah and the flag. Somehow, however, the same people writing this garbage see no potential conflict of interest among those loyal to Jesus). There may or may not be concentration camps already built and maintained in many states. I remembered what happened after the last attacks, how racial profiling oftentimes extends far beyond the race being profiled. I remembered what happened to those who spoke out against the administration. I read NSPD 51.
Suddenly it didn't seem quite so fictional after all. Or at least, it seemed like people have already been imagining this world for me. Maybe our present day world isn't so safe and secure after all (I mean, look at what is happening to the dollar). I started to make bargains, in my head, like, "would we get to keep our house if I did what they told me to do?" and "maybe Julian could go live with Tracy in San Francisco. They wouldn't look for him there, would they?" The idea of losing my entire life, of losing my possessions and friends, simply because of my ethnic background was unacceptable and impossible. Surely someone would stop this from happening. We have elections every four years, surely this wouldn't last forever. And then I would think, "this is what people experienced in Germany in the 1930s, except it was real, not a writing exercise or the result of an overactive imagination" and then I would think, "in 1933, when Hitler first came to power, could anyone have foreseen the Holocaust? Wouldn't those people have been making the same sorts of bargains, thinking that if they just went along with the government, they could maintain enough normalcy and, surely, this unpleasantness would blow over?" Which is not to suggest that I can even imagine what the people who lived through the Holocaust actually experienced, just that I began to wonder if I would be looking back at myself in 2007 and wondering why I did not get out when I still could.
So I am not going to write that novel now. Or maybe ever. I will try to write something fluffy and sellable (because it seems that the chick lit genre will sustain all manner of poorly written work so long as the right shoes are referenced). I clearly do not have the stomach or the strength to write anything more substantial. Ignorance may not be bliss, but avoidance at least makes it possible for me to get through the day. Because the truth is that, if this is my future, there is nothing I can do to stop it.
George Orwell had the good sense to set Nineteen Eighty-Four a quarter century into his future.
Sunday, November 04, 2007
To compound matters, I am beginning to doubt my abilities as a fiction writer. I have ideas, ideas which are very fleshed out and complex in my head, but when it comes time to write them down, they seem shallow and trite. I feel I have no real facility with plot development. And, as far as creating characters goes, I feel the need to create every single detail of each character's life up to that point, suspecting that doing anything less would be false (I blame this on my years of acting training).
The thing is that, for some reason, I want to write novels and I reject all other writing artforms as less than novel writing. I even avoid writing plays, essays, and short stories for which I have ideas because I don't want to "waste" time I should be spending writing a novel by writing other stuff. Which often means I am not writing anything at all and not developing my skills as a fiction writer. Which then compounds my suspicion that I have no skills at fiction writing.
I have no idea why I feel this way and I am perfectly aware that there are many very accomplished and talented writers who are not novelists. I am also aware that writing a novel is really no great feat, it's getting the novel published which really takes talent (and yes, I know there are many really crap writers who manage to write bad novels and get them published as well).
So while I am not giving up on NaNoWriMo just yet, these thoughts I am having are bigger than the month of November. I have already scrapped the idea I had been nurturing (and researching) throughout October in preparation for NaNoWriMo. However, as I was washing herbs from our garden this evening, I had another idea strike me, and luckily, this one won't require lots of research because, well, it's just about people being people, so I have already done all the research necessary. Which isn't to say I'll have time to write because of all the aforementioned holidays this month. Not to mention I am lazy and spent tonight watching Calendar Girls and The Hunt For Red October instead of writing (well, THFRO is on right now, it's at the part where Sam Neill gets shot, he "would have liked to have seen Montana," and now Alec Baldwin and Sean Connery are heading down to stop the cook from blowing up the ship).
Anyway, I already "won" NaNoWriMo last year, so the pressure is off. Sortof.
Saturday, November 03, 2007
How much hair was there?
Yes, I am exaggerating. But only a little.
For more amazing images of The Trouble With Tribbles drawn in the style of Edward Gorey, go here.
Friday, November 02, 2007
Julian spent the night at my mom's house last night and she will be taking him to lunch or the park (or both) today. Which means I am free like a bird.
So what are my big plans?
I am getting a massage this morning. Then, well, the world is my oyster. I know that I have a novel to write and all, but wouldn't it be totally counterproductive to get a massage and then sit at a computer for the rest of the day?
I have some clothes to sell at the resale stores, maybe I'll go shopping.
I don't know.
It has been a long time since I have found myself in this position.