Monday, December 06, 2004

More on the Fighting Life

Had a good MA class tonight. 2 min kicking techniques, 1 minute jump roping, repeat for 45 minutes. Great fun, actually. I had a good partner.

Also, always inspiring, Ray is now 6 months pregnant, and still jumping, kicking, punching and just basically kicking ass.

It's totally cool.

I've been hard on myself, as I didn't go to class Thanksgiving week due to a little holiday hysteria and traveling to visit my folks, and last week, I suffered from insomnia on Monday and zonked into bed Wednesday instead of going to class, meaning I only got in the Monday and Saturday and not the Wednesday.

For some reason, I always expect that if I miss a week of class, I'm going to revert to incompetent weakness.

In fact, I end up coming to class and surprising myself.

My arms continue to get buffer-looking. I think I'm starting to condense again. I cut my calorie count during the week again because, I mean really, I have a frickin' desk job.

Weekends, however, are another matter. I'm not a frickin' prude, afterall.

Some Gleeful War Nostalgia

More proof that war-obsessed children will become war-obsessed adults. If not, perhaps, in the way that you'd think.

I stumbled across the site Yo Joe, which is an awesome database of GI Joe figures from 1982-2004, complete with pics and accessories.

I was a gleeful 80s child, who combined My Little Pony play with GI Joes. Because, c'mon, GI is the perfect action figure to pair with My Little Pony. And they even had female GI Joes.

Turns out, there were a few more female GI Joes than I knew about. Which pisses me off, cause I only knew about 3, and could only ever find two of them:

Scarlett came out with the original `82 batch, which I think is cool - I mean, c'mon, a decent female fighter with an OK name in the first batch! My cousin had a Scarlett, so I usually got to play her (in addition to the plethora of male characters). `83 gave us Cover Girl (never heard of her), which I actually find to be one of the funnier female code names. She was packaged with a tank. Gotta love that. She was followed by Baroness (Cobra intelligence) in `84, who I'd totally fogotten. She was followed by the kick-ass Lady Jaye . I was crazy about getting a Lady Jaye, but every Christmas I searched through the stacks at the toy stores, I never found her. Zarana - who I'd never even heard of until I trolled through the site - came out in `86. And finally, my favorite female GI Joe of all time, Jinx, came out in `87. I think I liked her the most because she was the most easily available at the toy stores. If you were willing to spend twenty minutes going through the huge stacks of GI Joes at Toys R Us, you could usually find her. I know, because I was really depressed when I lost her the first time, and elated when I managed to - miraculously, it seemed - find another one to replace her.

I think these female figures also pleased me because, well... they actually wore sensible clothes.

It makes me wonder: did they not stock the female characters because they really weren't popular, or did they not stock them because of the women-and-war-are-evil crap and they got some upset parent letters about it?

I'd be curious to know...

Your Axis of Evil (TM) Roundup

Your Axis of Evil (TM) Roundup.

If you care.

Via The Talking Dog.

Why I Keep Rewriting

via Moorish Girl:

Apparently, there were some significant edits to the screenplay of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

And, oh, thank goodness for those revisions:

It starts with an "OLD WOMAN" visiting a publishing house with a manuscript in hand. It's fifty years from now, so who knows? Maybe people won't need to write agents or editors queries by then. I still found the scene supremely silly. Her book is called "ETERNAL SUNSHINE...". The old woman is Mary, who continues working for Lacuna, even though in the movie version it appears she's done with them for good.

Also in the original script, Clementine is "zaftig," obsessed with Stephen Dixon, and goes into Lacuna to get her memories of Joel barrish erased 15 times over 50 years, because they keep re-meeting over and over.

I will make a note, however: why is it that when screenwriters think "zaftig" they hire Kate Winslet?

I guess because the alternative is "thin" which means "starving." And, let's be honest: Kate's been rapidly shrinking the last couple years, trying to get back into acting after the birth of her children.

Please, please: I'm so tired of looking at hungry women in movies. Don't force Kate to be hungry, too. I adore her just the way she is.

Call for Subs

There's a call for subs for anyone interested in writing pieces about experience, acceptence, and all things in-between from fat women for a new book called Phat Girls in Search of a Pretty World. So far as I know, there's no cut-off BMI for what exactly constitutes a "fat" girl. If you're a woman who identifies as a fat girl (I realize that I will, no matter my weight. I think it's become ingrained in me) and have some good stories about acceptance/experience, give it a shot. I'm sure I'll be sending something Jill's way.

On Romance

I don't know when I first saw the movie Romancing the Stone, but as it came out in `84 and I was born in `80, I was probably pretty young, as it ended up in our VHS collection at some point, after being rented at least a couple of times.

To sum up, Kathleen Turner plays frumpy-but-successful romance author Joan Wilder. Her sister is kidnapped in Columbia, and frumpy-writer goes off to deliver a treasure map to her sister's captors, and gets caught up in a proper romance adventure in Columbia, complete with smugglers, buried treasure, guerilla fighters, and shotgun-wielding male love interest.

It's the sort of movie that makes you want to be a writer.

I've seen it a bazillion times. I got it on DVD when I first went off to college and had a computer with DVD player. I wanted to be that kind of writer. I wanted to have those kinds of adventures.

When I tried to explain to everyone how I got out to Ft. Hare in Alice, South Africa for one of my research trips out of Durban, I said, "I flew into East London, which has, like, an airport with one gate. Then I took a taxi to the informal taxi ranks, and I got into this bus like... Well, you know that scene in Romancing the Stone when Kathleen Turner gets into the wrong bus to Cartagena? It was sort of like that. Only they're jerry-rigged, dilapidated vans that seat about 16 people all squashed together with their luggage and children, and all the drivers are really crazy. Then I switched at the ranks in King William's Town, which is like a dusty hole in the ground, and then I went out to Alice in another packed mini-bus. But it was more arid than Columbia. And there were more cows."

Last night, I printed out the 795 manuscript pages of book one (AGAIN). This morning, I boxed them up to tote in to work to do more line edits. I was running late.

I pulled on my black pea coat and scarf, turned off the lights around by desk with its sticky-notes and quotes and pictures and piles of manuscripts and pages scattered all over, pulled on my backpack, frowned at my hair in the mirror, and tucked my boxed manuscipt under my arm. I trudged out into a drizzly Chicago day, and as I locked the outside door, I got this huge grin on my face.

Because I remembered that opening in Romancing the Stone, when the frantic author is running late, and she pulls on her coat, tucks her huge boxed manuscript under her arm, frowns at her frumpiness in the mirror, and heads out into New York to meet her editor.

Now, if only I was going to meet an editor...

And I realized how far I'd come from that backwater, dead-end life I was fixing for myself just after highschool.

I've been doing a lot of thinking recently about fantasy fiction, and the benefits of movies and stories that inspire us to be better people. I was watching The Princess Bride for the thousandth time last night, and realized that though fantasy certainly can be escapist (which is generally considered "bad," and the female heroines still need work) what it really does is give us hope.

It tells us that the good guys can win, that being honorable is always the right thing, that true lover conquers all, and people are basically good.

I love classic fantasy stories, though I've gotten tired of all of the gender assumptions, which is why I write what I write - I'm writing high fantasy with more fluid gender dynamics - because fantasy fiction does give me hope. I want to believe that people can be better, that I can be better, that there are people who will take a bullet for each other, who'll fight for something they believe in, who will take their lives and make something of it.

In the end, Joan Wilder's adventures in Columbia give her greater confidence in herself and her sexuality (she goes from frumpy to sexy merely by letting down her hair and putting on make-up, which always makes me laugh, but I'll let it go - this is fantasy, after all). We get this in the last scene she's got, walking down the street shrugging off the harrassment of street vendors, smiling and looking fabulous after just having sold yet another book.

I think fantasy can certainly be a bad thing: Vandermeer addresses this when discussing America's increasing fantastic delusions (or, warped imagination) - but stories and fantasy give us something else, too, which is why books and media are so heavily censored:

Stories can show us other ways to live. It won't be just like the movies: you'll be scared, and hysterical, weak or strong, and you'll still be in the same skin no matter where you are. I want to write those kinds of stories. I want to tell everybody, especially women: there's another way to live, if you wish it.

Are there limits? Sure.

But not as many as you'd think.

Somedays, it all seems impossible.

And then there's days like today, when I wake up and go: "Holy shit, look what I did."

Those are the best days.

More Thoughts on Dating

Ah. The "He's Just Not Into You" craze.

Once again, Amanda's already been on this, and here's the Salon article that takes the "He's just not that into you" book to task, but I wanted to throw in my 2 cents about the dating bullshit.

Now, I've already discussed why I haven't dated since Alaska - and continue to choose not to - but I want to explore this one again, because, really, here this book goes again arguing against female agency, like every time we go out with a guy, we *really* want him to call back.

Not so. Not so at all.

But then, when asked, one of the co-authors of HJNTIY did say that if they'd written a book geared toward convincing pouty-mouthed men "She's just not that into you," they would have sold about 8 copies.

Why are women buying this book? Why did people know women would buy this book?

I've been the one to finally answer the third frantic e-mail from a guy I'd been on two dates with, and felt obligated to tell him, gently, that I just really wasn't all that into him, and could you just stop e-mailing me? I managed another two dates with a guy who was horribly, horribly boring, and at the end of the second date, we both said, "Yea, I'll call/e-mail you," and neither of us did (and oh, let me tell you, the relief when he didn't call/e-mail was truly great). Then I survived another 3 or 4 dates (one of which was a 3-day, chaste roadtrip in which when didn't touch each other like, once - needless to say, this was the last date) with yet another boring, sexually uninteresting guy (though, as said, I got a cool roadtrip to Skagway out of it). At the end of the third "date" we both said, "See you around," and offered only polite "hellos" when we ran into each other in the dorm hall. And finally, I had a brief affair with a guy I was very obviously pursuing as a college boyfriend, who turned me down because... well, he had a girlfriend, and she was the marrying sort. And I'm not. I didn't really angst about it too much. I sure as hell wasn't going to marry him.

See. I have this belief that women aren't stupid. Ha ha.

Cause you know, I've also been on "friendly" "dates" (or pseudo-talk lunch/dinner "dates" that I really, really, wanted to be "dates") with guys who were obviously not sexually interested in me in any way and just wanted me around as the token "smart girl friend" (read: token fat girl, token brunette, etc. Basically, not socially fem enough to show off to your friends, but great to talk to about smart person things) I know exactly who these guys are. Jockish, too-pretty, vain, usually major sports fans. I'm not the sort of woman they can introduce to their friends. I won't wear makeup or dress fem, and I'll talk about foreign policy and women's rights instead of smiling, faking interest in baseball, and looking for other SOs to talk to about dieting.

It just wouldn't go over well.

I remember going out with an old friend from gradeschool who I'd run into at the local movie theatre. I'd been hot on this guy since I was 10 years old. He was even more attractive now that we were college-age: 6'1, blond, blue-eyed, played sports, the whole jock-ish shebang, only now with more brains (yay!), as he switched majors from computer engineering to English, and when I met him, I found that he was now wearing glasses, too (oohhhh so sexy).

And you know, I'm not a stupid woman.

It was blaringly obvious that he was just catching up with an old "friend." I knew this. This didn't stop lots of daydreaming, but I curbed my urge to call him after the second lunch "date" because I knew that if he wanted to spend more time with me, he would. And I knew he didn't. I'm not delusional.

There's another guy I'm twitter-pated about who would, yes, probably date me if I was about 50lbs thinner and didn't have a graduate degree. Am I lustful? Of course. Do I really expect to ever date this guy? No. And if he really wanted to date me, would I really want to date him? No. Cause why the fuck would I want to date somebody who was nice to me for a month and then started telling me what to eat and how to dress?

I don't think women are stupid. I think you can tell if you're in a mutually-crazy relationship. I think it's usually pretty obvious; and I think it's even more obvious if you're *not* crazy-wild about somebody, or they're *not* crazy-wild about you.

So, that's one guy I wasn't really into, two mutual "gosh, we're really not into each other"s, two "I'm nuts about this guy and it's obvious he could give a crap about me"s and one "you're not the marrying type" polite turn-down. And this doesn't count all the guys I've turned down for first dates outright because I found them boring or passionless.

Hardly does this a hysterical-woman-standing-by-the-phone make.

I was in the locker room at my MA school and overheard a couple of the Amazons engaging in this conversation:

Boxing Woman: Yea, I think I'm going to be taking that job in South Carolina. It's a great opportunity, and they're paying me a shitload of money.

Jujitsu Woman: What about that guy you're dating, what's his name?

Boxing Woman: Oh, I broke up with him.

Jujitsu Woman: What? But I thought things were going OK.

Boxing Woman: He just said something really stupid, and I thought, if he's going to say something that stupid at this point in the relationship, it's just not worth it.

Jujitsu Woman: It must have been really stupid.

Boxing Woman (sounding bored): Yea. It was really stupid. And he kept calling me all weekend and leaving messages. Called at 7, called at 10, called at 2, called me again Sunday...

Jujitsu Woman: (laughter)

Have I mentioned how much I love my MA school?

Please don't feed on this bullshit. There are lots of women who don't hang around by the phone. Women get job promotions, take boxing classes, and move to South Carolina and etc. None of which involve an SO. I promise. And if you find an SO who's compatible with these things, you'll probably know it. Have some faith in yourself.

Please stop buying these books. It makes us all look frickin' hysterical.