"Any woman who chooses to behave like a full human being should be warned that the armies of the status quo will treat her as something of a dirty joke. That's their natural and first weapon." ~ Gloria Steinem

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Clarification On "This Is Me Judging You", or, In Which I Abuse My Extensive Vocabulary

You may recall a post I made a while back regarding infertility treatments. Of recent years, I have fallen into the habit of being quite a bit more explicit than I feel I need to be; see, once you become an activist, you realize that those who oppose you or think you're unreasonable/hypersensitive or feel threatened by your position tend to assume you mean things, whether you meant them or not. By this, I mean that, on occasion, it is necessary to think out all possible ramifications of your statements and preemptively deal with any "misunderstandings."

Hence, upon further reflection (this is sort of thing my brain wanders into while I'm surveying.), I feel compelled to clarify my position.

I stand by what I said; infertility treatments are indeed a shocking waste of money, time, and effort. However, this does not mean I would support any sort of attempt to limit the ability of adults to do it. This is an important distinction. Although I disagree--vehemently--with your choices, and feel they ride the edge of societal ethics, I will fight to the death for your freedom to make them.

I would also like to clarify my exact position, and why this bothers me so much. (yes, it does bother me, a lot, in case you hadn't noticed.)

Infertility treatments illuminate contradictions now present in our culture in two ways.
  • Firstly, when juxtaposed with society's pernicious belief that humans are not subject to evolutionary forces in the manner that other species are, as illustrated by those who feel that the solution to food shortages as a result of population growth is to produce more food*, the widespread yet unacknowledged acceptance of an unconscious, evolutionary-based drive to perpetuate one's genetic material reveals a dearth of logic, to say the least. 
  • Secondly, it strikes me as odd that some proponents of infertility treatments blather on about how children are a blessing, children are wonderful, children are Jesus reincarnate and will make all of your problems go away, and yet, because they are also the same people who refuse to raise someone else's children ("We thought about adoption, but we just really wanted our own kids"), they do not give a hoot for the children who already exist in the world--the children who need to be adopted. 
So there you have it. A lot of big fancy academic words in the first one, but all I'm trying to say is that nobody stops to think for even a second these days. And if they did, they'd see the same glaring inconsistencies I do.

* Populations will always, always, always increase in numbers to match available food resources; the opposite is also true. This has been demonstrated many times with many species, and yet no one seems to believe it. Populations began exploding once we obtained a food surplus--i.e., formed civilizations.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Writing, but not NaNoWriMo-ing

The thing about NaNoWriMo is that it's a good idea, but completely not feasible for me this year.

I know, I know; claiming impossibility is a good way to get yourself a kick in the pants around there. "Just make time!" "I'm busy too!" "You can doooo it!" Actually, I can't.

My sister got married a week into November, and I'm not sure if anyone who hasn't ever been part of wedding planning knows how stressful and time-consuming it really is. There were days in that first week of the month when I literally did not have time to eat, much less write.

Furthermore, I'm not sure anyone who isn't an archaeologist knows how exhausting and time-consuming it is. When I'm in the field, I work 10 hours straight; 10 hours of hiking and filling out forms and digging and screening and well, it's exhausting.

But. I am writing anyway. I'm doing my own little version of NaNoWriMo--mostly in that I'm going for word count. Every time I sit down to write, I write as much as I can; when I hit 50,000 words, I'll consider that the end. Last night I churned out just over 2,000, which is a personal record and something I'm feeling really proud of. I might end up writing in the field; I might not. It might all be contained to 11p-1a time blocks (I've always written easily and well when everyone else is asleep.). It might not.

Monday, November 1, 2010

On "Progress" And "Progressives" And, Apparently, Evolution

Here's the thing: I do not like the "progressive" label. I disagree with the use of the term "progress" in any generalized fashion; by that, I mean that it's perfectly acceptable to say that you're making progress toward a substantiated goal, but ridiculous when you speak of a general political ideology as progress, or of technological changes as progress, etc.

I will now digress in order to illustrate my point.

I disagree with the term because it carries an inherent value judgment; it's like when people who don't understand evolution treat it like more = better--that a higher quantity of evolutionary steps is, by definition, synonymous with a higher quality of resultant organism.

Except, cockroaches have remained essentially the same for millions of years; so have sharks. It's not because these organisms have stalled in the evolutionary world, like they're stuck in some sort of useless limbo. To the contrary, it's because further evolution is unnecessary. In their current context (which has either not changed in millions of years, or has changed in such a way that their arrangement of traits didn't require alteration), they survive. It's pretty damn simple, so I don't understand why it's so difficult for some people to comprehend. They're already as fit as they need to be; there's nothing "good" or "bad" about it.

Survival, and evolution, and fitness; all of these are, as always, deeply contextual. ("context" is a very broad term; it encompasses everything from physical environment to societal structure to who you're competing with for resources.) Humans have gone through quite a few more evolutionary steps than either cockroaches or sharks, but rather than endowing on us some sort of Evolution Trophy or something, this actually means that our context has changed more times throughout our history. See? Simple. We evolved because we needed to; cockroaches and sharks didn't evolve because they didn't need to. When you look at it that way, you could make the argument that humans have never hit on an arrangement of traits that allowed them to survive as well as either cockroaches or sharks. Who's inferior now?

Back to "progress."

As explained by Liss at Shakesville, I very much agree with the progressive viewpoint. Do I think these substantiated goals would be an improvement over the current situation? Absolutely. But changing things, and calling it progress, just because the change is for the better--contextually--implies that any past situations of your society, or any situations of other societies, are, by definition, lesser. But, of course, this ignores context. In 1776, did we need laws governing fossil fuel emissions, corporations, interstate highways, reproductive rights, blah blah blah etc.? Of course not.

Now, we do need laws regarding those things. But how, exactly, does acknowledging reality and attempting to deal with it automatically confer superiority, high-ness, right-ness, "more than"?

Seriously. I'm asking you.

As Liss is fond of saying, words mean things. You call yourself progressive, you mean that your ideals are superior and if you meet your goals, society will be better, higher, righter, "more than". All I'm saying is that if the "progressive" goals are met, society will be equipped for its current context.

That's it.

I Just Can't Vote For Ken Buck

There are these tv ads regarding Ken Buck, Republican Senate candidate for the state of Colorado. It's basically all these different people saying "I just can't do it--I just can't vote for Ken Buck." Well, I can't vote for Ken Buck, either--and here's why.
  •  Obviously, he is "pro-life".
     Duh. Moving on.
    • Ken Buck thinks ordinary people make extravagant decisions about their healthcare unless they have to pay for their wretched decisions out of their own pocket.
      Seriously. Don't believe me? Check out Ken Buck's website (emphasis mine):
      Federal policy should also encourage individuals to buy high-deductible policies and to establish health savings accounts. HSAs serve two purposes: They help people build up a cushion to help with medical expenses; and they introduce a greater level of price awareness among healthcare consumers. People can't make smart decisions about healthcare when the price is camouflaged by employer-paid premiums and low-deductible insurance policies.
      Did you get that?

      I will not tolerate a senator who
      • Treats healthcare like the business it has clearly become, to the detriment of the people, and
      • Thinks I'm likely to beg my doctor for ridiculous, expensive procedures because I just don't know any better.
      Who do you think you are, Mr. Buck?

      I mean, is there something I'm missing here? Some logical step I, not being burdened with the wisdom of politicians, have failed to make? Because, how could anyone in their right mind be ok with this line of thinking?

      Does he mean that I will quit smoking if I know I'd have to pay for a lung transplant if I needed one? I guess that's reasonable, but let's keep going with that. Does he mean that I will avoid falling prey to a genetically inherited predisposition to diabetes if I know I'd have to pay for insulin if I get diabetes? Does he mean that I won't drive a car anymore, because I might get in an accident and I'd have to pay for the emergency room visit? Does he mean that I will make sure I'm not born male, because then I'd have a 1 in 6 chance of getting prostate cancer? Does he mean that I will make sure I'm not born female, because then I'd have a 1 in 8 chance of getting breast cancer?

      Do you see where I'm going with this?

      Jesus Christ, I should never have been born! I have a 100% chance of death! If only I'd had an insurance plan with a high deductible; then I could have made the smart decision to abort myself before I even started growing arms.

      Saturday, October 30, 2010


      I found a few unfinished posts in my queue, posts that were left unfinished not because they suck (quite a lot of my posts end up that way, actually.), but because they were too complex to perfect in a single sitting, and so I saved them, with the intention of returning to them at a later date.

      As these posts were saved in April, and it is now nearly November, this is, indeed, a quite later date. However, I will be polishing them up and posting them. Soon.

      Like you care.

      Wednesday, September 15, 2010

      On Running

      I went for a run today.

      Now, you need to know that the last time I recall "going for a run"--as in, intentionally running not toward or from anything in particular, certainly not an ice cream truck or a burning building--was freshman year of college. As in, 2002-3. I do not recall when, exactly, this Run took place; I just know it was freshman year. It was probably the spring--I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have been running during marching band season.

       So; now you know that I do not Run. However, today, I did.

      Here's the thing: I used to run when I was a kid. Not with an iPod and running shoes and schedules, but in the cow pasture across the road from my house. I ran around and around and my dog dissolved into joy and chased me around and around, and it was wonderful, and I was running just because it was wonderful.

      Later, I thought about joining track in high school, but spring was when we put on the musical, and I was all into theatre and stuff.

      So; today I Ran. I'm doing this Couch to 5K thing I found on the internets, which is designed for people who don't run to start running without killing themselves or hating it. The first week involves alternating walking and running in short increments.

      The first 60-second jogging interval was cake. I'm like, hell yeah. I can do this. I rule.

      The second 60-second jogging interval was hell. I'm like, fuck. This fucking sucks. I can't believing I'm fucking running. Jesus.

      The third 60-second jogging interval was (second interval) - 2suck.

      The fourth 60-second jogging interval was awesome. I'm like, shit, this sucks, but it's kind of fun. I will pwn you, legs.

      At the end of the 20-minute session, my legs were sore, but I wasn't too terribly winded, and the walk back cooled me down pretty well. Let's see how this goes.

      Wednesday, September 1, 2010

      Telling Me To Go On A Shopping Diet Is Like Telling A Starving Person To Go On An Actual Diet

      I am a little behind the times [only a little, really], but check this out: Shopping "Diets".

      Now, I am all for people doing batshit things that end up as feature stories in the New York Times, but this is a little ridiculous [only a little? more than a little? i guess we'll find out once i get through this, as i haven't actually thought much of this out yet.].

      So, here's the thing: I stop buying clothes, along with other things, when I stop having money. It's as simple as that. Christ knows, I'd absolutely love to voluntarily decide I'm buying into this rampant "consumerism" thing, but seriously, I've never had the kind of money that would allow me to both pay rent and obtain more than 74 pairs of shoes--that I wear regularly. [actually, let's say more like 25 pairs.] When I look at my closet and find nothing to wear, it's usually because everything I own is worn out [because i got it when i was 10 years younger], too big [because i got it when i was 20 pounds heavier], or dirty [because i never have quarters for them there laundry machine thingies].

      So there's that.

      There's also my careful selection of the word "got" [see above], chosen specifically to illustrate that there's really only about a 40% chance that any given article of clothing I own was obtained following an exchange of money. I'm talking hand-me-downs/ups/overs, not theft. Get serious.

      [i'm talking about classism, in case you didn't get that.]

      Hence, I fail to see how my wardrobe in any way qualifies me for a rampant "consumerism" award. So I guess I just need to take this article with the caveat that this is really only something rich people have to worry about, which is just what we need, another pressing problem of the wealthy, amirite? I'm pretty sure I'll never have the chance to wash my face in Evian water--le sigh.

      Anyway, here's my main point: fashion is not something you need money to enjoy. If you're one of those brand-conscious assholes, sure, but shockingly, it's possible to knock 'em dead without dropping wads of cash on designer handbags, designer shoes, designer dresses, designer sunglasses, designer watches, designer perfume, or designer fucking foundation [srsly, YSL? it's spelled with an "e", actually.]. You don't even have to wear clothing that is "in" to enjoy fashion--you just have to take pleasure in your attire. And what's so wrong with that?

      And no, my clothes do not define me; I define my clothes. My personality affects what I wear, and, occasionally, vice versa [it's always on purpose, though.]. I could, if I chose, stop caring about what I put on my body, and supposedly that would make me love it more, because I would accept it as it is, without all these furbelows and definitions imposed on it by Fashion. Oh, wait...

      ...while we're at it, let's knock out an enormous chunk of "consumerism", and really love our bodies as they are, and stop wearing makeup. OH NOES WHAT DID I JUST SUGGEST I AM THE ANTICHRIST!!!

      I love my body. My body likes to dress up, and she likes to dress down, and she likes sexy jeans, and ankle boots, and men's cargo shorts, and scarves, and dropped waists, and wifebeaters, and yoga pants, and boatnecks, and short skirts with pockets, and strapless dresses with ruching at the natural waist. Who am I to deny her those pleasures?


      Q: If the rich people aren't buying clothes anymore, and the broke fuckers like me are still dressing in hand-me-downs/ups/overs and stuff snagged at thrift stores and Wal-Mart, who's supporting the economy with *gasp* consumerism?!?

      Thursday, July 1, 2010

      This Is Me Judging You

      Infertility treatments are shameful.

      Infertility treatments are a shocking waste of money, time, and effort--valuable resources which would be better spent on the adoption of countless children who already exist and need families.

      Yes, I'm judging you. I cannot think of one compelling argument for the presumed self-evident value of so much exertion and expenditure simply to obtain offspring with one's own DNA and/or who have issued forth from one's womb.

      And no, "We thought about adoption, but we just really wanted our own kids," is not a compelling argument. It is a selfish, thoughtless, vapid, and ultimately meaningless argument, based solely on the idea that one very specific genetic arrangement is preferable to any other. I thought we were past all of that eugenics bullshit. And yet, you would be hard-pressed to find any couple utilizing infertility treatments with any rational reason for valuing biological children over any other kind.

      Still, we continue to accept this argument. Nobody is required to explain why DNA is so goddamn important; you can't, really--not without falling into a philosophical mire that always leads to eugenics. Women are required to explain why they don't want children, why they want children but don't want to be pregnant, why they want children but don't want to be pregnant but don't want to take the surrogate route--but nobody is ever required to explain why a child's DNA is more important than the child itself.

      Because that's really what it comes down to: you are having a child for the sake of her or his genes, not for her or his own sake. Do you really want a child? or do you just want to continue your presence in the gene pool?

      The drive to produce offspring is an evolutionary strategy, actually, one which we developed as a means to perpetuate our species--it's precisely about continuing our presence in the gene pool. I understand this drive; I feel it myself. But I acknowledge that this difficult-to-rationalize urge is an evolutionary strategy, and should I find myself unable to procreate, I will cheerfully consider my genes unfit to remain in the gene pool, and go from there.

      Of course, if everyone began acknowledging this evolutionary strategy, we'd have to recognize that we're still animals, despite all our protestations to the contrary. Funny, isn't it?

      Sunday, June 13, 2010

      Why I Don't Read Film Reviews, or You Are Useless To Me, Critics/Fans/Netflix Users

      Well, the title pretty much sums it up, yeah? However, I guess I could explain why every film review I've ever read was completely useless--as I said in the title, whether it was written by a fan, a Netflix user, or a bona fide film critic.

      Here's the thing about film: for some reason, everyone seems to think a major defining characteristic of a "good" movie is, or should be, mass appeal. And I'm not talking about demonstrable financial success; I'm talking about the assumption--the insidious assumption--that there is such a thing as a categorically "good" film, and everyone should like said "good" films.

      Let me explain. In every review, a value judgment is assigned to the reviewed film; the review is written as though this value judgment should be agreed upon by everyone--it is assumed that the film will be universally received by any and all viewers, and the reaction has been predicted by Sir Film Critic, God of the Cinema. Fuck only knows who decided Sir Film Critic has the magic secret to finding the universal value judgment.

      But here is my opinion: no value judgment exists. Shocking, I know; the idea that people might not agree on something is truly revolutionary.

      Enough of that. My main point: film reviews are useless, and should be more like album reviews.

      I do not, personally, read album reviews, but my boyfriend tells me they are exceedingly useful; different albums of the same artist are compared, critical reception is discussed, the artist is compared to other artists in order to better describe what you're getting when you buy the album. In short, useful information. Information that helps you decide whether it's music you might like, based on what you already know you like. Information that helps you decide which album to start with if you're interested in getting into the band. Information that is fucking relevant, and doesn't presuppose that you're going to like or dislike the band based on someone else's entirely subjective opinion.

      So why don't film reviews follow the same tack? Why don't they talk about the actors--compare this movie to previous work? Why don't they talk about the director, the costume designer, and the cinematography in the same vein? Why don't they compare the style of the cinematography, the type of humor, writing, plot, pace, and so on and on and on and on and on, to other films, films by the same people or different people? Why don't they give you something useful?

      That's why I don't read film reviews. I love movies; I fucking love movies. I can get a pretty good idea of what I'm going to think of a film just from the trailer, but review give me nothing useful at all.

      Perhaps it comes from the strange notion that has built up around films--the idea that art can be categorized and numbered and judged. Film is more accessible than music, perhaps; more mainstream. It's all about the money, so in order for filmmakers to get studio funding for their projects, the public must be convinced that film is objective...?


      Regardless, I'm still not planning on taking up reading film reviews any time soon. I think I could write a pretty useful review myself, though. For example, when reviewing Down With Love, I'd describe the  visual feel and style of the entire film as an homage to the bit in Breakfast at Tiffany's where they spend an entire day doing things they've never done before. I'd call Mona Lisa Smile a less depressing, more historically contextual Dead Poet's Society for women. I'd point out that Amelie is so engrossing that you might forget you're reading subtitles, that Kinsey is a rather slow-paced, detail-oriented biopic that might be boring for a lot of people, and that you might need to watch Pride and Prejudice a few times to get used to how fast the actors speak, but once you understand what they're saying, you'll find all kinds of delightfully funny gems buried in the British.

      Maybe I'll give that a shot; I'll start with the genres I've recently created for my movie library: "Movies That Make You Glad To Be Alive", "Movies That Make You Want To Die (But You Love Them Anyway)", "Desert Island Movies", "Feel-Good Classics", "Formulaic Romantic Comedies Of The 1990s", "Bette Davis"...the list goes on and on.

      Thursday, June 10, 2010

      A Treatise On Snack Order

      Yes, I hear you. Snack order? What does that mean?

      Well, see, at zoo camp, full day classes get morning snack and afternoon snack. Each week we have the same five morning snacks and the same five afternoon snacks; the precise order in which these snacks are provided varies. Thus, a treatise on snack order.

      Seriously? Why does any reasonable adult give a shit about snack order?

      Why? I'll tell you why.

      It is my opinion that the quality and quantity of Monday morning snack is of utmost importance. Preferably, one should assign bananas, graham crackers, and water to Monday morning; this snack is most certainly the least desirable of all available options, as most kids do not love bananas and graham crackers. They like them, and they will eat them, but they do not love them. When the b/g.c./w combo is served on Monday morning, a Wednesday snack of goldfish crackers, string cheese, and individual cans of grape juice is bliss. It's the best snack ever, period. Juice? We've been having water all week; score!!!

      But just for the sake of argument, let's say you give them the g.c./s.c./g.j. combo on Monday. And then you give them b/g.c./w on Tuesday. That's when you get whining, and "I don't want water, because I think you're hiding juice in that snack backpack, and if I get water, I probably won't get juice" and then Miss Angie has to be all "Water or nothing, folks; we don't have juice today" and you get "I don't like water" and "I'm sick of water" and "I'm allergic to water" and then Miss Angie has to be all "SHUT UP."

      No, seriously, it's more like "Ok, then don't drink anything."

      But my point stands. It is vital to begin the week on the proper note--a shitty one. Graham crackers are shitty. So are bananas. It's a shitty snack all around; but you need to set the expectations as low as possible straight out of the gate. If you give them juice the first day, they're going to expect juice every goddamn day; if you give them water the first day, every single instance of juice which follows will be completely and utterly awesome, because they will always have the memory of that first shitty day when they had to drink water.

      Sunday, April 18, 2010

      Finally, IT got one right.

      Upon receiving an email from Denver Area Free-Thinkers (DAFT) regarding counter-protests to the upcoming Westboro Baptist Church presence in Denver and Boulder, I clicked on a link to the WBC's website, to check out their scheduled profanity.

      Lo and behold, the site is blocked, due to its inclusion in the "Hate/Discrimination" category.

      Damn straight, Intrawest.

      It is time.

      I'm going back to brunette soon.

      Why? Well, because yesterday I went to new employee training at the zoo, and of the 8 or so Summer Safari Instructors/Captains present, fully 8 or so of us were some shade of blond.

      Ha. I typed "bland" first, then corrected it immediately, as I am wont to do, before realizing the hilarity.

      Because that's what I mean, I guess. Nothing against blonds; I just don't think I want to be one anymore (right now). I change my hair a lot, and I'd never intended to remain blond forever, but sitting in that conference room amongst piles of tow-headed (I'm certain some were natural blondes; I'm equally certain some were not) ladies, I found that I don't want to be like them anymore. I went blond for fun, not in search of the elusive ideal of blond and blue-eyed, but that doesn't mean the elusive ideal doesn't still exist -- culturally -- and of all my hair experiments, I've most enjoyed, for the longest periods of time, having lustrous, rich brown hair.

      Besides, if you think a blue-eyed blond is pretty, you ought to see my blue eyes against a backdrop of the aforementioned lustrous, rich brown hair. BAM.

      Thursday, April 15, 2010

      I'm not fat, Part II

      [This is a follow-up to this post.]

      Remember when I said I was a "wise 17-year-old" and thus able to push out negative thoughts about being *gasp* FAT when I had 1% above average body fat?

      Upon further reflection, I wasn't just naturally wise in this instance. I was strong, and moderately capable of fending off negative thoughts about my body, but see, I had help.

      I've never suffered an eating disorder or had extremely damaging body issues; I've had my short forays into self-hatred and moderate food deprivation, but they always began as accidental and I was able to pull myself out before things got too intense. And I credit this, partially, with the beginning -- how I began my life -- the person who responded to me the first time I uttered the words "I'm fat." -- my mom.

      I can't quite remember how it started, but I was crying in the bathroom of my parents' master bedroom; my mom sat on the floor and quietly waited for me to spit it out [My mother long ago realized that I would only share information after sometimes hours of failed attempts, tears, and patient waiting on her part.]. When I finally said it, her immediate reaction was, I imagine, the kind of reaction that every little or not-so-little girl [I may have been 7 or 8?] needs when she starts understanding the cultural pressure she's under to fit into a very narrow box of ideal beauty.

      She told me I was beautiful. God had given me a beautiful body, and he'd made it especially for me, and he admired and loved both it and me -- as did she.

      Later on, when I was around 15, perhaps, I ended up in the doctor's office with her, trying to figure out what the half-sentence he'd just spit out meant, but she hadn't let him finish, so I was at a loss. I asked her later and she told me that he was going to tell me I needed to lose weight, but I didn't, and no doctor was going to tell her kids to go on a diet when they didn't even need one.

      My mom never seemed to care what the world told her about her kids; indeed, we all spent the better part of our childhood on the small end of the size charts, a fact that prompted many doctors to instruct my mother to switch from breastfeeding to formula, an instruction she happily ignored. [isn't that silly? birth = your kid is too small. puberty = your kid is too big.] She was simply unconcerned with size charts, BMIs, and, essentially, doctors.

      To this day, she will not allow me to say I was fat in high school. Before I stopped saying it, I'd meant it as a joke, mostly, but I was still using it in a self-disparaging manner, and she wouldn't allow it. I wasn't fat, I'd never been fat, I've always been beautiful in her eyes. And I really wasn't fat; I was 5'3", 145, 38D. I certainly don't look fat in photos -- my face is just a little rounder, mostly. You can argue over whether or not she should have just said "Who cares if you're fat? You're delightful at any weight" but the fact that I was not, in any way, fat, made her choose her particular approach, and it did well.

      These days, when it comes up, I say I was a little chubby in high school, or simply that I'm about 20 pounds lighter than I was at 18 [I'm also an inch taller, so it often appears to be more than 20lbs.]. I didn't do it on purpose, nor am I maintaining it on purpose; who the hell knows why I was a well below-average infant, then a slightly below-average child, then a slightly above-average teenager, and now have become pretty much average? Since I've never dieted in my life or had any chronic illness that might alter my height and weight, I can only assume that this is the path my body wanted to take. She's pretty damn happy where she is right now, and she only changes if and when she wants to. And we're ok with that. We're happy together.

      And I'm pretty much blaming my mom for all of this. She did her goddamned best to inspire a healthy self-image, and there is no question in my mind that her behavior early in my life is primarily how I was able to counteract the negative effects of living in this ridiculous world. I'm not perfect; nobody is. But I'm a lot closer to 100% loving my body, with very little effort on my part, than I would be had my mom not been the awesome mother she was.

      Go go gadget Privilege!

      Here's my latest nervous work habit:

      Yep, Smarties. We have this candy pumpkin by Cat's office, and it's often full of Tootsie Rolls, Airheads, or Laffy Taffy, but when it is full of Smarties, that is when the real work begins -- for me, and for my supervisor Taylor, who happens to sit next to me.

      We gobble these things like there's no tomorrow; I have rolls of Smarties lined up on my desk all day, and by about 4 or 5, I'm systematically devouring them. I have Smarties-eating games I play with myself; sometimes I hoard a certain color, so that after a few rolls [and by a few, I mean several thousand] I get the perverse pleasure of stuffing my mouth full of purple Smarties. Sometimes I let them dissolve in my mouth and break off the edges with my teeth; sometimes I just chomp them.

      But here's where my privilege comes in: This is just a funny post about eating candy at work, right? Except that it's funny, for me to write it, only because I'm a thin person. If I were a fat person, it would just be one more excuse to shame a fat person for daring to consume sugar. Thin people are allowed to consume mass quantities of, let's face it, pure, colored, delicious sugar, mostly without comment. Taylor joins me in this quest for Smarties consumption with delight, but if I were a fat person, he would at least have a few "Do you really need all that sugar?" thoughts running through his head.

      It doesn't matter whether or not I've been eating leafy greens all day [I haven't] or if I'm planning on going to the gym after work [I'm not] or if this is the first day I've ever spent engaged in this activity [It's not]. None of those things matter, because I'm thin; a fat person would possibly be expected to fit all of those categories in order to make this activity even remotely acceptable.

      But me, a thin person, gets away with it, because thin is assumed to be healthy, while fat is assumed to be unhealthy. Never mind that I, the thin person, am visibly scarfing down pure sugar, just because I'm bored and it tastes good, while my fat coworker actually eats delicious and healthy actual meals for lunch.

      Also, I get to say things like "scarfing", "stuffing my mouth", and "devouring" and it's just, well--funny. I get to be ironic, because clearly I'm not fat, so using shameful fat person action verbs is just witty. Look how funny that thin girl is, pretending she action-verbs like a fat girl!

      Friday, April 9, 2010

      Sometimes, the job is just good.

      I am currently heavily involved in constructing a navigable, multi-passenger snow craft.

      Out of cardboard, duct tape, and the occasional bit of string.

      Also, getting paid to do it.

      Thursday, April 8, 2010

      More brilliance from Shakesville

      Apparently, Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) and Sarah Palin, got together with the Republicans and spent some time bashing President Obama, Democrats (commies...?), and healthcare reform.

      Melissa McEwan said:
      That sounds like a real fun event. It's too bad I couldn't be there, but I was busy advocating for the equality of all women, from which Palin and Bachmann benefit even as they trade on being rightwing tokens who demean the very activism that has afforded them the public platform on which they bask in the luxury of their disdain.
      Spot on and beautifully worded -- as usual.

      Sisters and brothers, Part II

      Something else I don't think people quite get is the level of secrecy, trust, and all-around reliance I have with my siblings. See, if you leave out the two youngest kids, nobody's ratted anyone out to my parents in at least 5 years. You have to leave out the two youngest because they're 11 and 14 and still into tattling on each other, but for the purposes of this discussion, they're not important.

      So, 5 years (at least). We do not tell our parents each other's secrets. Period.

      From my dealings with those who have fewer than 4 siblings, I've noticed that, occasionally, you might tell your sister something in confidence and she ends up telling your mom -- to get back at you for something, I guess.

      We do not do that. The 5 oldest children in my family make up a tight circle of undying trust and secrets and dark shadowy pasts -- and none of these ever leave the circle. We do not tell our parents, we do not tell our two youngest siblings (because we don't trust them to enter the circle yet), we do not tell our friends, we do not tell our significant others [I think; this has yet to be tested in my case.].

      This circle is so tight that, recently, I was told something by One, sworn to secrecy, and did not even bring it up with Three through Five* until checking with One to see who she'd told. S-One** does not believe in this circle of trust, and thinks that if One tells somebody something, soon everyone in the entire family, parents included, will know about it, but the previous example should demonstrate the folly of this viewpoint. If I'm not talking about One's secret with Four until I'm damn sure she's already heard about it from One, there's no way our parents are getting involved, even accidentally.

      *We have an odd way of looking at ourselves in that we sometimes refer to each other as our sibling order in numerical form. Ex: I am the second child, hence I am Two. Sex has no bearing on this order, so Jim, the fifth child but first son, is still Five. This system is related to the Baby System (more on that later) and also spawned Odds and Evens [if you can't figure it out, I'm not bothering to explain it to you]. This was also very handy for clandestinely referring to Six and Seven in their hearing -- until they were old enough to figure it out, unfortunately.

      **S-One is, not in any way intuitively [which is why I'm explaining it], the spouse of One. He is older than One, and so could bump One out of the one spot, but it was decided by a 5-1-1 vote that this method of adjustment would get inanely complicated with the addition of each new spouse; additionally, it is silly to refer to people as one thing for their entire lives up to the point of marriage then abruptly change that label [this portion of the resolution was approved unanimously]. We went with spouse instead of husband/wife for simplicity; we wanted S1 to be obviously One's husband as S5 is obviously Five's wife and not muddle things up with H1/W5 -- also the original system ignored sex, so, parity. We also had to deal with the arrival of One's children, which resulted in 1.1, 1.2, and 1.3 [my children will be 2.1, 2.2 etc.]. Depending on how ridiculous our kids turn out to be, this could get really complicated, really fast [i.e. my great-grandkid could end up being].***

      ***When I refer to votes, agreements, and decisions, I am not speaking metaphorically or of tacit general agreement. We actually sat down and worked this shit out.

      On sisters and brothers and ... brothers and sisters

      I've talked about siblings before on Ye Olde El-Jay (if you are unfamiliar with Ye Olde El-Jay, don't even bother asking, because I don't give that shit out anymore. trust me, everyone's better off this way.), but I'm feeling the urge to bring it up again. Y'know, because I'm lame about my siblings.

      See, here's the thing: I'm not entirely sure anyone, anywhere, period, has a similar sibling relationship. Most people have one or two siblings, three max, and as a result can afford the luxury of saying "my sister" and assuming everyone knows who they're talking about, because they only have one sister. Me? I gotta use names, straight up, as soon as I meet you, or pretty soon you're going to be royally confused -- and by "pretty soon" I mean as soon as I use all of the following sentences in the span of about 5 minutes:
      1. I was talking to my sister the other day, and she told me the Navy won't authorize new glasses because there's no date on the prescription she got in boot camp.

      2. My sister was dating this South African guy for a while but now I guess they're just friends with benefits?

      3. I can't believe the goddamn Air Force is making me fucking register before they'll let me on base to see my sister graduate boot camp.

      4. My sister called me a slutbag when I told her I'd made out with over 30 individuals, and told me kissing was gross, so I had to point out that she'd never actually done it and therefore didn't know what she was talking about.

      Yes, those are four separate individuals. These examples aren't nearly as indicative of the mass confusion I've occasionally wrought on friends and neighbors through omitting names, but they'll do.

      So there's that. I have a lot of siblings (4 sisters and 2 brothers, if you cared.), so I deal with certain logistical considerations that are absent from most sibling relationships. (In case you were making the reasonable assumption that it's difficult to keep track of who said what to whom in my family, it's actually not -- not remotely. more on that later.)

      Next: I've noticed that people with few siblings tend to have more concentrated relationships with them. By that, I mean that if you have just one sister, you're more likely to either be

      1. Best friends, or

      2. Mortal enemies who still probably love each other.

      Either she's your rock, your fortress, the one person you can't live without, or she's the bane of your existence and you've been competing for the affection of your parents your entire lives. Either way, you're more likely to have extremely focused sets of ongoing fights, private jokes, or continuous annoyances.

      Whereas I have four sisters, so everything gets spread out. If I fight with one sister, that leaves three I'm not fighting with; I will fight with the others at some point in the future, but the odds of fighting with all of them at the same time are extremely low. Hence, fewer fights per head at any given moment. Additionally, if I'm just cruisin' for a bruisin' and take it out on whoever I happen to run into first (let's face it, this happens a lot in sibling fights), the odds of that person being the same person every single time I'm cruisin' for a bruisin' are also quite low. It's impossible to be mad at everyone at the same time; it just takes a lot of energy and effort and nobody wants to do that. It's a lot easier to be generically angry at one sibling.

      And we don't hold on to grudges. Sure, we've got private jokes that literally span decades, but fights? We don't have time for that shit. You fuck up, you apologize, you move on. There are too many of us to hold on to that sort of thing if we still want to all hang out, and there are few things more enjoyable and fulfilling than hanging out with all of my siblings at the same time.

      Additionally, starting out with so many siblings allows for a "the more, the merrier!" kind of attitude. There are already so many of us that we have no problem "adopting" new sisters and brothers. As of this writing, I can think of at least 8 unrelated girls/women and 3 unrelated boys/men that my mom is willing to introduce as "one of my other daughters/sons", either because of her direct relationship with them or their friendship with -- and subsequent frequent geographical association with -- one of her biological children. (note: none of these adopted siblings got that way by being solely my friend, as i was a rather unsociable child and upon reaching adulthood have continued to refrain from including my friends in my parents' lives.)

      Maybe you'll never truly understand, but I suppose that's ok. I'll just keep blathering on about it, and perhaps someday you'll get an inkling.

      Sunday, April 4, 2010

      Joke Of The Day

      Angie: When I was with my ex-boyfriend, we were 2 years apart for 2 months, except then it was exciting.
      Mandy: Cradle robber.
      Angie: Yeah, but I gave it back.

      Saturday, April 3, 2010

      Why can't we get paid for doing what we're good at?

      For example, I want to get paid to drink coffee, listen to Lady Gaga, read about weird shit on the internet, and argue with my superiors.

      I know what you're thinking: Doesn't that sound kind of like a lawyer? Research + arguments = legal cases, right? Maybe a lobbyist, or a congressional aide, or the high school debate team?

      You would be wrong, though. I don't want to be a lawyer, because that would mean I'd have to be successful in my arguing.

      I never said I was good at winning arguments.

      Friday, April 2, 2010

      I'm angry.

      Because shit happens.

      Shit happens to me, and to you, and to your little sister, and my friends, and everybody, and sometimes it seems like there's not a whole lot I can do about it. It doesn't seem to matter how much I fight against it -- somehow I always end up feeling like if I just could have thought it out for a few more seconds, or been a little clearer, a little more concise, hit on just the right example, maybe I could have made a difference.

      Except what really happens is I end up in the parking lot of a Denny's at 11pm screaming BULLSHIT in my sister's ex-boyfriend's face when he tells me that rape would end if women would stop falsely reporting it and smearing the good names of innocent men.

      Thursday, April 1, 2010

      Male bonding[?]

      I think my dad likes my boyfriend.

      This conclusion began, naturally, with a snowbank, and ended, naturally, with bass amps.

      Shall I explain? (yes, absolutely, we'd love to hear your fascinating yet pointless story!!!1!one!)

      Oh, all right.


      My boyfriend first encountered my dad at my niece's birthday party. They shook hands, exchanged pleasantries; Dad regaled Boyfriend with an explanation of the YouTube video he'd seen recently about punching people in the face when threatened. We then left the party, wisely allowing ourselves extra time to meet back at my sister's house for cake, because we wanted to fuck in the car go to a record store. My sister asked us to stop for ice cream; we agreed.

      Fast forward to the road leading from the log cabin I'd grown up in. We were fucking stuck in a snow bank.

      Let me explain (again); this was the first time Boyfriend had visited my homeland, so I'd been keenly pointing out landmarks both in (this is where my mom washed my mouth out with soap the one and only time i said something horrible enough to warrant it) and out (when i was about 10 we stood right here and threw pinecones in front of passing cars -- pinecones, not rocks, and in front of, not at, despite what the irate motorist told my mom after barrelling up the driveway) of my parents' house. My older sister happens to currently reside in the same neighborhood as the cabin we left when I was 7, so I wanted to show Boyfriend the only other house I'd been a child in.

      Bad idea, as apparently Boyfriend's low-riding car does not do well on snow-covered mountain roads -- especially not ones that rarely see the sun in the winter.

      Also a bad idea was heeding my dad's voice in my head, which proclaimed you can totally make it. just barrel through that shit. it can't handle you, Mountain Girl.

      Apparently, it could indeed handle me.

      While I was kind of just laughing and having a casual cigarette and calling my sister to let her know that yes, we were on our way with the ice cream, but unfortunately were also stuck in a snowbank, and would she please send someone with a crane to pull us out, or at least just a little brother with a snow shovel, Boyfriend was in kind of a panic. See, he's more observant than I am, and a little more normal, and immediately noticed that as yet, his only interactions with my father were 1) 2 minutes of meaningless social pleasantries, and 2) I have marooned your daughter in the forest due to my wilfully ignoring my car's capabilities and am now forced to inconvenience you and your entire family. You're going to kill me, aren't you?

      His anxiety was multiplied by a factor of four by his own personal Girlfriend's Dad Theory, which is that while your girlfriend's dad shakes your hand and claims it's nice to meet you and asks you things about yourself and is generally pleasant, inside he's just thinking you do naked things to my daughter you son of a bitch i will fucking kill you and bury your dismembered body in my backyard you fucking bastard you'd better run for your life

      This is not, really, an odd thing for a boyfriend to think; I've just never heard it before.

      Anyway, my dad and little brother showed up with a truck and a snow shovel and succeeded in pulling us out, but not before my dad got to tramp around the car, assess the situation, talk it over with Boyfriend and Little Brother, try to push it out while I fruitlessly revved the engine, back the truck up the road to position it for towing, and pull out his multitool, take off his glasses, and fiddle with the hook in the chain in order to properly attach it to the underside of Boyfriend's car.

      I say "got to" because my dad, oddly enough (to you, anyway), thoroughly enjoys pulling vehicles out of snowbanks. I was not remotely worried over getting stuck, because I knew my dad would get us out; he can get anything out of a snowbank. Furthermore, I was not remotely worried about inconveniencing my dad, because few things make him happier than being inconvenienced in order to perform anything remotely resembling pulling a vehicle out of a snowbank. I tried to convey this to Boyfriend, but, understandably, he was in the throes of BoyfriendAnxiety and didn't believe me.

      Dad was markedly happier upon our triumphant arrival at my sister's house -- and my mom actually thanked me for cheering him up.

      I'm still not sure Boyfriend believes all the stories we told him -- including one from my dad about how he purchased that tow cable specifically for that particular road, upon getting the Scout stuck circa 1985.


      There is an end to this story, which, naturally, involves bass amps, but it's pretty much just "Dad and Boyfriend talked about bass amps and enjoyed said bass amp conversation."

      So, yeah.

      Friday, March 26, 2010

      Dear Internets,

      Today, I assembled 9 office chairs. The only male assistance I received was 100% solicited (I asked his opinion on a minor detail, because the directions were just poorly-drawn visual aids).

      Oh, he did pick up a piece while I was examining another one and attempt to fit it on the base, but then handed it to me and apologized for encroaching on my workspace.

      Said male co-worker is pretty cool.

      You should probably read this. But only if you want to.

      My new favorite blog is Culture Cube, which is hilarious and riveting and touching (I'm not sure this last actually applies; I just needed another adjective to round out my list) all at once.

      I think I may be watching too much 30 Rock, because I feel compelled to crack some sort of Sere-ish "God, I hope I'm as funny and classy as she is when I'M old (30)!!!" joke, except mine would be funnier, because Sere is, like, 20, and Liz Lemon is 37, whereas I am nearly 26 and hence will hit "old" in 4 years, so, yeah, funnier.

      Shut up, it IS.

      Thursday, March 25, 2010

      Mansplaining: A Few Thoughts

      Mansplaining is a very specific symptom of a very general problem: our society produces men who are accustomed to being taken seriously -- simply because they are men. They are not required to back things up; their opinion automatically matters.

      Now, as a man, your opinion on, say, anything to do with testicles (this is just an example; there are plenty of things men know firsthand that have little to do with testicles) is inherently valid, because you have them, so I'm not suggesting for a second that nothing men say is inherently valid.

      So take the average straight, white, middle-class, able cisman. Going through one's life without ever having one's opinion questioned on the basis of one's sexual orientation, race, class, physical ability, or gender translates to behaving as though one's opinion will never be questioned -- for any reason at all. I don't know why, but somehow it seems it does. So it doesn't really matter whether or not you meant to mansplain, or whether you're deliberately being sexist, or if that's just how men are, because you don't need to have intention to mansplain.

      A lot of mansplainers have intention; a lot don't. The fact remains that men exist who, whether they acknowledge it or not, have underlying hostilities toward the idea that a woman might know more than they do, or be able to do something better than they can.

      Case in point: Ex-boyfriend.
      1. It drove him nuts that I was more academic than he was. There's no clear reason for this, as he'd never considered himself an intellectual before I showed up, so I can only assume he just didn't want his girlfriend to be smarter than he was.
      2. It drove me nuts that he constantly beat me at Scrabble. This was because I was clearly more word-minded than he was, and I played Word Scrabble, whereas he played Points Scrabble, and kept kicking my ass.
      See the difference?

      Incidentally, "men are just dicks" is the most mansplaining mansplanation for mansplaining one could possible think of. It's circular, and if you don't see that, I really don't know how to explain it to you.

      In this particular thread, the guys who showed up to complain about "reverse sexism" and "I'm not a mansplainer, it's just the way I am" displayed absolutely classic mansplaining behavior -- most strikingly, after their initial complaint, when the women in the thread refused to engage, merely laughing at them. This, of course, just made them mad, because how dare these shrieking harpies not take them seriously?!?

      And that, in a nutshell, is mansplaining. "I assume you will listen to me and take me seriously, no matter what I'm talking about, because I'm used to that, because I am a man."

      I remembered all the cool things I did when I was single.

      1. Eating ice cream
      2. Watching Turner Classic Movies
      3. Cutting my bangs
      4. Organizing my library
      5. Cooking/baking strange yet delicious concoctions
      6. Solving crossword puzzles

      Um...that's pretty much it.

      Wednesday, March 24, 2010

      Let's add another -ism to the MNCAA

      In a tournament rife with broken brackets and macho men crying in their cubicles, the only known perfect bracket thus far belongs to an autistic 17-year-old. But is that cool? Are we impressed? Are we applauding Alex Hermann for this unheard-of feat?

      No, we are not.

      Because obviously, there's no way that a disabled young person could POSSIBLY accomplish something beyond the grasp of millions of big-muscled, sports-betting, gym-frequenting, fantasy-[insert sport here]-playing, REAL men; it must be a fake.

      Disablism? Check. Ageism? Check. The only thing that would make this a fake with 100% certainty is if it had been a 17-year-old autistic female.


      Note: This kid has Purdue winning the national championship -- primarily because his brother went to Purdue. Whatevs; I'm all for it, Alex.

      No, I did not change my blog template.

      Clearly, you are on meth.

      Tuesday, March 23, 2010

      Apparently I felt my glasses were post-worthy

      My new glasses are delightful. Seriously, I may be in love with them. I'm so in love with them that I have cleaned them several times today -- and not with my shirt or a Kleenex or the stuffed chimpanzee on my desk, but with an actual "high quality micro0fiber lens cleaning cloth". That has been sitting on my desk all day -- just waiting to fulfill its lens cleaning destiny.

      Also, it was brought to my attention while picking out said new glasses that I tend to wear my specs somewhat low on the bridge of my nose, which apparently causes the top of the frames to cut across my eyelids and therefore across my field of vision -- which, upon reflection, is completely true. Hence, I am attempting to wear them higher up, but mostly this just means I'm resituating them every four seconds, as though I have glasses-resituating OCD like my life depends on it.

      I feel like I got less interesting when I got into a relationship.

      Don't get me wrong; I love being with and With TheManFriend. And it's not that he makes me boring -- it's that we are both people who don't particularly enjoy traditional social activities such as drinking in bars, going to parties, or ... what else do normal people do at night?

      So, because we are, I suppose, boring people separately, of course we will be boring together. boring + boring = 2(boring). Basic math.

      I mean, I wasn't particularly interesting when I was single, but I feel like when I was single I got myself into weird, idiotic frames of mind more often, especially when I lived alone, and I'd end up spending my Friday nights doing crazy shit involving ... shit, I don't know. Something. Something worth telling stories about.

      These days, I find few things more enjoyable than eating Chinese takeout and instant-streaming 30 Rock on Netflix. That we happen to be naked some of the time does not in any way make us more interesting.

      And let me emphasize that I would not, for any reason, wish myself out of my relationship, because it's fantastic and awesome and I don't really have words for it -- said speechlessness probably being the root cause of this post.

      I was never speechless over all the random crap that rattled around my head when I was single, but then again, maybe the random crap wasn't all that great to begin with. Who knows? I was single then, and happy, and I am notsingle now, and also happy. LIFE. Whoo.

      Also, I has job at zoo.

      Melodrama, here I come

      I have something brewing in my head, but I'm afraid to post it until it's properly fleshed out.

      See, this is the kind of thing that could potentially piss EVERYONE off. Yeah, I know, nobody actually reads this blog; what kind of impact could I possibly have? Trust me -- you never know what's going to happen on the internets.

      Anyway, it's the kind of thing that could make almost everyone, literally, angry with me. I could offend not only the people who are used to being offended by progressives, but also the progressives themselves. It could be seen as a mockery of everything the people on both sides of every issue have been working towards for years upon years.


      This thing I want to post challenges our very identity as a species, that's why. It challenges core assumptions about life, assumptions that everyone on both sides of every issue has in common -- despite all evidence of a complete lack of agreement.

      I suppose, however, that if you have read Ishmael, you may not be as averse to the coming suggestions as I assume most people would be.

      Saturday, March 20, 2010

      ESPN.com's Jemele Hill on UConn's winning streak

      If you think watching the UConn women pound their competitors is boring, you must have been comatose when the New York Islanders won four straight championships or when Michael Jordan's Bulls rattled off two three-peats.

      When men dominate, it's not always considered bad for the sport. If the UConn women were a men's program, I doubt someone would write a column wondering whether they should be disbanded. But someone wrote that about the Connecticut women.

      Why is it that when women dominate their sport, it's considered unfair to everyone else?

      Read the whole thing here.

      One of these things is not like the other

      The men's tournament is The NCAA Tournament, naturally.

      March MADNESS is right

      Ah, March Madness. This is always an interesting time of year for a basketball fanatic such as myself.

      Note that I used the phrase "basketball fanatic" -- a phrase sans the [usually elided] modifier of "men's". Most guys who describe themselves as basketball fanatics leave out the very important fact that they are not, as they say, fans of basketball in general, but fans of male-played basketball -- which is very, very specific.

      Men's basketball fanatics are in heaven right now; you can't turn on the tv or glance at a paper without getting basketball -- men's basketball. Don't get me wrong; I freaking love basketball -- men's and women's. I love March Madness because there's always a basketball game on, and I love watching basketball. But it's different for me, and in a variety of ways.

      1) One of the reasons I love March Madness is because it's the one time of year when it's relatively easy to find a women's game on ESPN[2/U].

      What men's fans don't realize is that as far as television coverage is concerned, every single day of the regular season is the equivalent of women's March Madness -- it's not too difficult to see the games you want to see. I haven't seen my [women] Boilers at all this year, and since they're not in the NCAAt, March Madness won't change that a bit. I have seen my [men] Boilers several times, despite not getting the Big Ten Network (there are times when I think I'd punch myself in the face repeatedly over a period of 72 hours for the Big Ten Network).

      2) One of the reasons I hate March Madness is because the statistical probability of my getting into an argument over the inherent value of women's sports increases exponentially.

      Inevitably, when discussing MM, the women's tournament comes up, because it is, shockingly enough, also on my mind in March. This invariably leads to at least one male voicing disbelief that anyone in this country actually watches women's sports, or bursting into hysterical laughter at the suggestion that a game was enjoyable to watch.

      About that last; the conversation usually goes something like this:

      Me: Why don't you like women's sports?
      Him: Women's sports are fucking boring.
      Me: Have you ever watched a women's game, in any sport?
      Him: ...

      Alternatively, it might go something like this:

      Me: Why don't you like women's sports?
      Him: Women's sports are fucking boring.
      Me: Have you ever watched a women's game, in any sport?
      Him: Yeah, I saw like 4 minutes of one once; it was really boring.

      I actually get this quite a lot. Like, a lot. And I've just thought of a killer retort, that I, unfortunately, have never thought to use before.

      What if I told you I'd watched Super Bowl XLI and that was enough to conclude that all men's sports are boring?

      This would test

      1. his knowledge of football (what happened in Super Bowl XLI?), and
      2. his logic.
      I'm not really holding my breath over #2, considering that the guys who give me this sort of bullshit are all pretty much the same.

      Anyway, it's stressful. It's stressful to be faced with the choice of either

      1. getting into a heated debate and winding up with the ANGRY FEMINIST label (I thought you were one of the guys because we were just hanging out and talking basketball but now you're all up in my grill why can't you just be the laidback cool chick I thought you were before you got all crazy on me), or
      2. stop talking about women's sports, which includes both not bringing up conversation topics I want to talk about and pretending it doesn't bother me when people slam the women's tournament (so I wanted to watch the Butler game and CBS was stuck on St. Mary's-Villanova so I tried ESPN but they had some goddamn women's game on. it was bullshit.).

      I love March Madness. But for me, it's inherently stressful.

      Don't even get me started on the bullshit I get when I try to explain why I don't fill out a bracket. I can't even figure out if that crap is sexist or just dumb.

      Friday, March 19, 2010

      NCAA Men's Tournament kicks off with Boilermaker griping from yours truly

      ESPN.com just described Siena as a "trendy pick", but one ultimately overtaken by Purdue's strong second half (Purdue beat Siena 72-64).

      This is a common phenomenon lately, I've noticed: it's trendy to pick anyone over Purdue, even this year, when Purdue was playing with a[nother] [currently-running] record first-round win streak on the line (going into this game, they were at 11, the longest current streak, and now they're at 12, the new longest current streak). It doesn't seem to matter that we've played better in the first round than anyone else in the nation; Purdue never, ever gets the benefit of the doubt that's so easy to come by when we're talking about high-seeded teams before they get knocked out in the first round -- and I'm referring to #3 Georgetown, #4 Vanderbilt, #5 Temple, even fucking #6 Notre Dame, for crying out loud.

      Those upsets were surprising -- and yet, somehow, Purdue's lack of an upset was a surprise.

      Why is it so difficult to believe that a 4-seed can hold off a 13-seed -- especially when you consider that Georgetown couldn't hold off a 14-seed, and Purdue would have been seeded higher had we not blown the Big Ten Tourney?

      Sure, Siena's at the top of the MAAC, but who's even heard of them (MAAC stands for Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, in case you, like me, didn't intuit that)? Were they ever in the top 25 this season? At our best, we hit #3 -- in the fucking nation.

      Call me crazy, but upsets are supposed to be surprising, kind of by definition. The fact that upsets have become par for the course in the men's tournament is a mark of how much basketball talent there is in this country*, but that doesn't for a second mean that it's logical to suppose they're going to happen all the time.

      And, of course, no one expects them all the time.

      They just expect them when Purdue is the top dog.

      *The reasons behind the relative lack of upsets in the women's tournament should probably be obvious, if you have any sense of logic, but I'll spell it out for you: Tons and tons and tons of young men want to play NCAA basketball; the gross number of good players rises with sample size, and they all have to go somewhere, hence, lots of good players at lots of schools. Talent is spread out, and gaps between seeds are closer. There are not as many young women who play basketball; hence, a lower gross number of good players, which means fewer strong teams, and larger talent gaps between seeds. It's basic math, really.

      Thursday, March 18, 2010

      I'm not fat.

      I'm also not disabled, or a person of color, or trans/queer/other, but the point of this particular post is that I'm not a fat person. (And yes, I'm using the word "fat" -- not as a derogation, but as an adjective.) I've been thinking about discrimination a lot lately, probably because I've been reading the shit out of Shakesville lately, but the point is that I have some things to say.

      I'm not fat, but I've been made to feel "less than" (as they say over at Shakesville) because of my relative level of fatness, in a very specific area: breast size.

      I'm 5'4" and 125-130 lbs and I wear a 32-34D bra. This does not make me, in any way, extraordinary. I know plenty of women with various combinations of the numbers I just threw out; most of my sisters come to mind immediately. And yet, it's so goddamn hard for me to find a bra, because apparently I AM extraordinary with my D-cup breasts.

      My best friend, who I love dearly, wears an A cup. She, like many of the women I know, shop at Walmart/Target for bras, because they consider 3 things when buying a bra:
      1. It must fit me.
      2. It must be cute and/or sexy.
      3. It must be affordable.
      She, like myself and many of the women I know, considers those three characteristics to be essential when purchasing a bra. You might say she considers it her right to obtain a cute, well-fitting bra without shelling out a lot of money for it. I also consider it my right, but here's the thing: she can accomplish this -- easily. Swimmingly, you might say. She wears A cups. She can breeze in and out of Walmart/Target in 10 minutes and come away with several bras that she likes and didn't really pay that much for.

      I, as you may have already guessed, can't do that. I can't shop at Walmart/Target for bras unless I want to sacrifice characteristics #1 and #2 (anything that fits me properly at Walmart/Target is, frankly, the ugliest thing ever, and also, "properly" is a relative word). I can't shop at Victoria's Secret unless I want to sacrifice #3, and potentially #1 (they say they can measure you so that FINALLY you will wear your correct bra size, but I've found that their measurements surprisingly coincide with whichever size they currently have the most of). For that matter, I can't shop at Victoria's Secret, or Nordstrom, or any of those fancy bra places, because I live in a fucking ski town and we just don't have them here.

      And so, my "bra rights" are severely limited because I have big boobies. My big boobies are not my fault; I have not had breast implants; I just have big-breasted genes. Does my best friend deserve more bra rights because she has smaller-breasted genes? Looks like it from the outside.

      These days, I don't feel "less than" because of my breasts; it's just an annoyance that I do my best to get around. But in high school, when I was the dorky, shy girl with D cups, surrounded by my friends, who were beautiful girls with B cups, max, all incredibly popular, I did feel "less than". I felt that the reason I never dated was because I was Fat (by Fat, I mean the derogation and shame that generally seems to come with the adjective in our culture).

      In gym class, we had this scale one day that told you your body fat percentage. Our teacher told us healthy women had around 25% body fat. Mine was 26.something%, and this made me feel Fat.

      Seriously. I was like 1% above average, and it made me feel Fat. Luckily, I was a rather wise 17-year-old, which allowed me to quickly quash that omg i'm such a Faaaaatty impulse and remind myself that my teacher had said "around" 25%, and 1% was not that much higher than average, and I was pretty healthy and active and beautiful and fuck their stupid body fat percentage.

      But really, those wise thoughts are beside the point. I should not have had to think ANY of those thoughts, and the society that put them there is to blame.

      And the final annoyance: I'm told a lot, implicitly and overtly, that I should be delighted at my large breasts, because some people would do anything to have them. This is bad, in my mind, for several reasons:
      1. It's my body, and how I choose to feel about it is none of your goddamn business.
      2. You don't know what you're fucking talking about, because you've never had a hard time finding a bra that just goddamn fit you.
      3. Society tells me I'm supposed to have big breasts, in order to be a Sexually Desirable Woman, then turns around and makes it difficult to have big breasts on a daily basis, not just for 90 minutes of a feature film. Your succulent breasts exist only to feed my fantasies; dealing with them in the real world is entirely your problem.
      I guess this last is more sexism and less focused on the topic of this post, but there it is.

      *** *** ***

      I went back and forth for a while over whether I actually had a right to discuss this. Like I said, I'm not fat, and I keep saying that I'm not fat not because I'm trying to establish right off that I'm not fat, lest anyone thinks falsely that I am, because I am not fat goddammit no fucking way -- but because I'm just not. Nobody who saw me on the street would give me the fat adjective, and neither would my BMI, if you believe that crock of shit. And yet, I have been discriminated against on the basis of my relative size.

      Which is exactly what made me realize that I do have a right to discuss this, and not only do I have a right, I have a responsibility. I was feeling that perhaps complaining on t3h internets about my experiences would be something along the lines of bragging (oh hey I'm not fat, check me out everyone), or rubbing my neatly average body in your [fat] face (woe is me, I'm a size 4 but look at how hard my life is), but the truth is, if I allowed those thoughts to prevent me from sharing my experiences, I am no better than the fat-shamers, because why the shit should I feel like I'm bragging by talking about my average body unless that average body is inherently preferable to a fat one? Which would mean that fat people deserve shame -- which I do not believe.

      If we want acceptance at every size, we need to talk about every size; I can't hide in my hole feeling guilty because I'm not *shudder* fat -- thank god i'm not fat! because it does nobody any good.

      If I felt Fat (read: undesirable, unloveable, "less than") because of 1 goddamn percentage point, how much worse is it for the fat 17-year-olds?

      Sunday, February 28, 2010

      A long-overdue response to the Washington Post's "Pearls Before Breakfast"

      So I stumbled across this the other day. Yes, I know, I am behind the times. I could have just read the thing, allotted a few moments of head-shaking over the plight of humanity today, and moved on.

      But, of course, I did NOT.

      This is because the article annoyed me. Not in terms of subject matter; neither am I saying that it was badly written (let's face it, I often hate things solely because they are badly written). The tone and subtext of the article annoyed me. I read the damn thing two weeks ago and it's still preying on my mind, so that tells you how annoyed I am.

      The basic premise: a professional, highly and critically-acclaimed violinist plays in the subway with his case out for tips. They expect a mob to gather, because he's this famous violinist, and even though there's no indication of this in the subway, people will recognize greatness when the see it. The idea is, let's take this great violinist out of context to demonstrate that true greatness needs no context.

      Needless to say, the whole thing goes completely not as planned. Only one person recognizes him, only one person who doesn't recognize him stays to listen for longer than a few minutes, he ends up making like $30-$40.

      Whoever wrote the article decides this is a commentary on the plight of humanity:
      • We're too caught up in our own lives to stop and look around once in a while.
      • Kids recognize greatness better than adults because they're still pure of heart.
      • iPods are bad.

      I say, greatness DOES exist in context. There is no such thing as greatness without context.

      If you disagree with me, try taking any piece of modern art and telling someone an elephant drew it. Or for that matter, that my 5-year-old nephew painted this Picasso. You will see right then how much context matters.

      Because we're human. For us, context is everything. Great music is not universal. Music, by itself, is universal, but great music? If everyone has the same opinion on what is great, why are there so many goddamn bands, labels, and genres today? Maybe I don't enjoy violin music; of course I'm not going to stop and subject myself to what amounts to nails on a chalkboard -- for me.

      The organizers of this event -- and indeed, the violinist himself -- fell prey to the logical fallacy of assuming that since they are violin people, the things that violin people know and understand and do are universal to all people, everywhere. The fact that someone is famous among violin people does not mean that all people, everywhere, will recognize the things that made him famous.

      Let's say I'm in a zoo, and Frans de Waal is undercover as an ordinary zookeeper giving a talk about chimpanzees. You can bet your ass that I'm going to stop and listen, because I love chimpanzees. Since he's Frans de Waal, the talk will be awesome, and I will recognize that awesomeness because I'm into that sort of thing. I don't actually know what Frans de Waal looks like, so I wouldn't know that I was listening to him in particular, but because I am a person who knows things about chimpanzees and would like to know more, I will recognize the greatness--because I have the proper context already in place in my brain.

      Let's say you're in that zoo with me. You, most likely, do not enjoy hearing about chimpanzees as much as I do (few people do), and will, most likely, get bored in short order. This is not because you are a Bad Person or because you are too busy thinking about French fries to care about chimpanzees -- rather, this is because you don't care about chimpanzees. You don't have the proper context. You probably don't even know who Frans de Waal is. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

      Let's take that one guy who didn't recognize the violinist but still stopped to listen for around 20-25 minutes. Is he more aware of his environment than the other people? Does he recognize greatness better? Is he a Better Person? No; he used to be a violinist.

      Yes, that's correct: he was once a violinist, and cherished hopes of being so professionally. He did not end up doing that, but he still remembers it, obviously. Hence, he has the proper context in place to care about a violinist playing in the subway.

      Frans de Waal is highly respected in the primatology world; he's conducted a lot of studies, written a lot of books, knows a lot of and about bonobos, and is pretty much my hero. If I suggested that his esteem in primatological circles is triggered by characteristics that would be immediately apparent to anyone who saw him just talking in a zoo, you would not believe me -- and you would be right. The thing is, it's easy for people to assume that a characteristic that brings you millions of dollars is more obvious to the common person than one that does not bring you millions of dollars.

      And so, my point is this: the judgement the author of that article held on the plight of humanity is not only false, but something said author is easily guilty of -- in the right context.

      I bet he doesn't know who Frans de Waal is, either.

      Tuesday, February 16, 2010

      Do the words "I'm in the desert" mean nothing to you?

      So, I don't sleep well. After 25 years of this shit, I went to my doctor and said, "I haven't been able to sleep for 25 years. In college, they told me I was depressed. I was depressed, but now I'm not, and I still can't fucking sleep. Fix me."

      Well, that was the gist of it.

      The delightful doctor he is, he gave me two different kinds of pharmaceutical sleep aids (to try out each one and keep track of how they worked and/or made me feel), prescribed me a phototherapy lamp (for SAD, so my insurance would pay for it), scheduled me for a sleep apnea test (that would require little to no effort on my part), and told me to come back in two weeks.

      [side note: my roommate and two of his friends just walked out the door, and they may or may not have said "see ya", which was probably directed at me rather than Rylee (a labrador retriever), but since i am out of it, i did not respond. they probably think i'm an ass. which is ok. i am an ass.]

      That was, like, January 7th, I think. I surprised myself by going to Yuma, AZ, for fieldwork, which meant I had to reschedule my two-weeks-out appointment, but it also resulted in the totally assery that is the sleep apnea test.

      They told me all I had to do was tell them my address and they'd deliver a machine to my house, then I'd take the test, then they'd pick it up the next day, then it would be done, BAM. They said it would be at my home on a specific Thursday. It was not, but I didn't give a shit because I was going to fucking Yuma and pretty much everything else kind of fell by the wayside.

      The next Thursday, I got a call while I was in the fucking desert asking me to let them know when they could pick up the machine because they needed it.

      I called them back to explain that I'd never gotten the fucking machine, so I hoped they weren't expecting me to return it any time soon, because, obviously, I didn't fucking have it. She explained that they'd sent it by UPS on Monday, so I should have gotten it on Tuesday. I explained that I'd left for the desert on Sunday, so I didn't get it at all, but I would check with my roommate to see if it had been delivered. She explained that they really did need it, so I should take the test sometime this weekend and have them pick it back up. I explained that, in case she'd missed it when I'd mentioned it 30 seconds prior, I was in the MOTHERFUCKING DESERT and unfortunately couldn't take the test this motherfucking weekend, so they should just come get it and I'd let them know when I got back.

      The next day, I got two voicemails from some dumbass delivery guy asking how to get to my house. I later explained to my mom that I'd assumed they already knew how to get to my house since they'd dropped it off previously, and since it was a motherfucking weekday they'd perhaps assume I HAVE A JOB and unfortunately cannot just answer the phone when I'm walking miles and miles in the motherfucking desert.

      I mean, I know the economy is bad, but when I said "I'm in Arizona for work" I assumed they'd know I meant actual work, and it wasn't just a euphemism for "I'm whoring myself out in Mexican border towns because I can't find anything better to do with my time".

      As it stands now, they got their stupid unit back, but now I'm waiting for it to come around to me again, because apparently sleep apnea tests are in such high demand that you better fucking snap it up when you get the chance; it might not come around again.

      My self-love is entirely my doing--which makes it all the more precious.

      I'm thinking about self-love lately.

      No, not that kind. Get your mind out of the gutter.

      I used to be really into Gala Darling; I spent a LOT of time reading random stuff on her site, just clicking around, perusing. I liked it, but what's more, it was oddly compelling--I couldn't look away. I don't mean that in a "train wreck" kind of way; I just mean that it was fascinating, I guess.

      I'm kind of over it. Again, I want to stress that there's nothing inherently bad about the site. Gala does indeed inspire a lot of girls/women, and if you can help even one person realize a bit of happiness increase, more power to you. I'm not sure I've ever inspired anyone I know--much less anyone I don't know.

      I'm just not sure what qualifies her to offer so much advice, especially in the form of $12 podcasts.

      Sounds like I'm jealous, right? Maybe I am. I am indeed a bit jealous that she's somehow managed to make a living out of telling other people how to be happy, out of offering self-love advice in the form of "take a bubble bath while wearing a tiara!" No, really, I'm envious that she's making a living out of a blog and various freelance writing gigs. Seriously. I'd love to get paid to write.

      I guess I'm just already full to the brim of self-love, and none of it involves pink, sequins, or bunnies. I don't need anyone to tell me how to get over my insecurities; I've been working on it for literally decades, and doing a fine job of it, thank you very much.

      Is that a character flaw--truly believing that I have everything I need inside of me? That I can make it on my own without outside help? Or is it just that I bristle at the suggestion that a girl who claims wearing sequined underwear improves your outlook on life could possibly have anything to offer me?

      It's a damn good thing I've never become part of the Galaverse, or I'd have a swarm of Gala fans calling me out for "hating on" their idol. I don't think I'm a hater; sure, I'm mocking Gala a little, but how is that hating? Mocking is what I do, people. The Galaverse takes her so goddamn seriously--and she takes herself seriously, too. Call me crazy, but I think there's something missing from a life that only considers itself as a serious, important entity.

      I just can't accept the image of ANYONE as a serious, important entity. Nobody is so important that they can't possibly find anything to make fun of--and occasional whimsy is not a break from taking yourself seriously. Self-deprecating humor does not always signal a drop in self-esteem; I love myself just as much when I'm mocking her as I do when I'm praising her.

      I make fun of myself, I make fun of you, I make fun of everyone--so fuck off if you don't like it.

      Which is exactly what I'm doing with Gala Darling. I don't like it, so I'm fucking off. I'm not going to go run around her site pointing out what I consider to be her flaws; I'm just going to fuck off. After I vent about it--in MY blog.

      So if you don't like it...you know the rest.

      P.S. I kind of want to talk about my version of self-love (which does NOT involve tiaras, sequined skulls, or Mickey Mouse ears), but I'm really enjoying actually loving myself today, and would rather not continue to explain it right now. Perhaps later.