"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

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.