Thursday, March 31, 2005

Useless Things to Do in the Dallas Airport

Check out the human clock. via whatisthisnonesense?

Read something random of Simon's. And snicker over the latest issue of Asimov's in order to soothe my own mashed ego.

Prepare to mash in the head of this pigfucker, whose violent assault of his girlfriend because of her political beliefs is "OK" because: "Many relatives of Steven's have served in the armed forces ... and he had every intention of going to other parts of the world to defend the United States," Salnick said.

He's a patriot? Oh, well, that's OK then!

And oh, shit, I missed the big decision. What the fuck?

Now, for something completely different: Some thoughts on sex and the L word; who gets to have it on screen, and who gets a pan to the lamp... -

Now I'm not one to look for the sex scenes, and, in fact, the soft core porn atmosphere of the show is often very upsetting to my feminist politics, but damn, if I'm going to see a bunch of people having sex, if I'm going to be subjected to tons of explicit heterosexual screwing, and if I'm going to hear women talking about fucking one another every week, completely internalizing patriarchal ideas about sex, then damn it, I want to see some fat! I want to see Kit's big body with its soft rolls of fat and big thighs just like we see Katherine Moennig's spine and boney sternum on every single episode.

Annnnddddd.... ooops. We've got the boarding call for Chicago goin' on here.

I'm off!

Well, It Finally Happened

The client finally figured out that the same 12 people are running all of our projects for North America, just as Blaine predicted.

What does this mean?

Ha. Ha. Ha.

Let's just say any sane businessperson will tell you that 12 people can't physically turn out 5000 sites worth or work, no matter how many combinations of places we get flown out to over six weeks or six months.

Ce la vie.


Good article focusing on TS's bulima... (thanks, B).

Bits N Pieces

I love living in conservative America... land of free women; free to live, free to choose, free to live with whom they please... oh, wait. Nevermind.

NYU's Great Empowered Solution to preventing student suicides, now in the NY Times. How enlightened.

And, Japan is the best. Before putting stuff in a diff't language onto your body, even if it's just magic marker, double check it, OK?

It's just good business.

More later. I'm drowning in deadlines here at the Workplace of Doom, Dallas style.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Oh, the Irony! Me, My Uterus, and I

You know, Dallas ain’t bad. It’s not butt-fuck-nowhere Denver. The air is good, there’s leaves on the trees, everybody’s real nice, and – best of all – it’s a perfect 70 degrees.

Once you get over the whole “President George Bush Turnpike” thing, and if you find the freeway signs advertising “Men’s Only Clubs” funny because there aren’t any advertising “Women’s Only Clubs,” you’ll do fine.

I’m stuck, actually, about two-thirds of the way between Dallas and the airport, at one of those huge corporate complexes that are little cities unto themselves, complete with hotels and restaurants and 10-12 storey buildings built like palaces.

Our Dallas office is damn nice, with mirrored elevators, a faux-marble entryway with fountain, and we’re on the highest floor, so there are good views. In fact, we take up the entire floor of this building. The bathroom is huge, and has one of those really nice lighted vanities, and the whole place smells like potpourri. The receptionist is a sweetheart of an older woman, who clucked her tongue at me and asked where I was staying. When I told her, she nodded curtly, said, “Good, but next time, stay at XXX hotel, they’re even better than YYY with their comfortable beds, and XXX is just across the street.”

Duly noted.

There’s not much to do here today until the people who are supposed to be training me show up – I’m only here for a day, but overall, Dallas isn’t bad. And there’s a pharmacy across the street, where I was seriously starting to think about going to get a pregnancy test.

Oh, yes, it’s that time of the month – the time when you figure out whether or not your birth control pills are working.

Oh, pooh-pooh, people say of “us feminists” and how we perpetually talk about our uteruses and our rights over what’s done with them. People who pooh-pooh are the fuckers who’ve never had to be concerned about their “pesky” uteruses.

Let me reiterate just how fucking important this whole “uterus” issue is to the rest of my life, and the functioning of my day-to-day life, and why shit like “emergency contraception” and “great women’s health care” are so vitally fucking important. Here's my take on the "Pharmacists' Have the Right to Deny You Legal Healthcare in Order to Save Their Own Souls” bullshit. Here’s my take on what “Right to Life” really means: the right to my own life. Control over my own body. And my own power. These are real women’s lives, and these are the battles we fight every day. They’re battles of life and death, and by virtue of our biology, we’re the ones who get to make them.

Here’s how we live, what we do, and why that goddamn uterus and what these fuckers what to do with it is so goddamn important: cause they're putting their hands on us. On real women. Real people. Us.

A couple of weeks ago, I came down with symptoms indicating that my yearly sinus infection was on the make, and I went to my usual walk-in medical center in order to get some antibiotics. I told the doctor’s assistant and the doctor – three times – that I was on birth control pills, and would the antibiotics they prescribed affect the pills in any way?

I was assured – three times – that it would be no problem, that I shouldn’t be concerned about it, and I was given a prescription for a 10-day regimen of antibiotics, which I picked up… (::drumroll::) across the street from the very same Chicago OSCO pharmacy in the Loop that protestors were pissed off at for not issuing birth control pills.

Well, you can guess where this is going.

I spent four days taking antibiotics before I got smart and thought, “Hey, what’s this paper on the other side of the prescription receipt?”

Why, it was the list of medications that that the antibiotics may interact with.

Last on the list?

“May decrease efficiency of birth control pills.”

I love that phrasing “Decrease efficiency.”

What the fuck is that supposed to mean? Why not fucking spell it out, “You’ve got an increased chance of getting pregnant against your will if you take these with your birth control pills and engage in hetero sex.”

Add this to the fact that this is the first time I’ve used a low-dose pill instead of the higher-dose one I had when I was 16 that worked without a hitch (well, except for the weight gain and weird mood swings that often ended with me in hysterical tears), and you may as well have stuck an icy knife in my gut. I immediately stopped taking the antibiotics.


That would mean a $300-$400 abortion (after pushing through a line of protestors; that is, if I can get an appointment), and at least a half-day of missed work time (at $18.86 an hour – there aren’t a lot of clinics that do Saturday abortions, and if they do, they’re likely booked up). If I was one of those women who was really conflicted about whether or not a handful of cells dividing in my uterus and sucking on my body and breath for survival was an actual “life-complete-with-soul,” I’d have to deal with the moral freak-outs associated with that, too (luckily, I have no moral qualms whatsoever about having an abortion. I don’t believe it’s a living thing until it can live without… well, without ME. Part of ME is my uterus, and the part that people keep trying to put their hands on IS my UTERUS as well, which is part of ME, which is why I get so fucking pissed off when people tell me the personal isn’t political. It’s really fucking political when the laws people are passing have to do with ME and MY BODY and WHAT I DO WITH MY BODY).

Or, if for some fucked-up reason I didn’t want to or couldn’t have an abortion (because, say, my abortion doctor didn’t believe in giving abortions… the fuck s/he become an abortion doctor for then, anyhow? Yea. That’s how fucking ridiculous these pharmacist “protection” laws are), then I’d get to spend nine months nurturing a fertilized egg into a living person (using, of course, MY breath, MY blood, MY uterus, and MY money to buy all the food, all of which requires MY labor, and which, therefore, should be a CHOICE that I make, but I’m digressing… or am I?), then a day or three of blood and pain while delivering that person into the world, then a year of recovery while your body bends back into some semblance of shape (though never the same shape it was before of course), and either you give the kid away to somebody who can care for it better than you can, or you spend the rest of your life caring for that person…
All because your idiot doctor handed you some shitty antibiotics without mentioning that maybe you should use a back-up method of birth control during the four days your boyfriend was in town… Or, in my case, being an idiot and not checking the goddamn pharmacy receipt and double-checking what medications interfered with the pill.

What a great reason to have a kid. I bet the kid would be real appreciative, too.

I have spent the last four days anxiously awaiting the arrival of my period, jumping to the bathroom at every stomach twinge, hoping against hope that I had menstrual cramps.

And after looking out at the CVS pharmacy across the road this morning and resolving to get a pregnancy test when I hit the last of my green pills, I went to the bathroom here in the office, and viola! Behold! Wonder of fucking wonders!


Good blood.

Oh, thank God.

It appears that my body and the pill are still very, very compatible. It’s always worked for me.

But, shit… Wow. Blood. How great. What a wonderful thing. And oh yes, these are definitely menstrual cramps. I don't even mind that I forgot to bring in some aspirin. I really don't care about that.

Because all of the sudden, I don’t have to worry about coming up with $400, missing work time, pushing through protestors, dealing with the cramping and blood after the abortion, deciding about whether or not to blog about an abortion, deciding how to break said news to said boyfriend or even if I should say anything to anybody at all and therefore continue the circle of silence about abortions (probably one of the few legal medical procedures many women feel ashamed to talk about). With another period, another month, I don’t have to worry about giving up nine months of my life for the creation of another person, and another year… or, actually, the rest of my life in a body altered by a pregnancy I didn’t want. I don’t have to worry about pushing somebody out into the world, through my own pesky uterus, who I really don’t want in my uterus.

It’s my choice, what I do with this body, who I choose to bring into the world, when and if I choose to do it.

The thing about pregnancy, about women’s fertility, is it’s something that every woman’s concerned about. Even if you’re not hetero or currently engaging in penetrative hetero sex, there’s the threat that a guy could come along one day and coerce or overpower you into having sex you don’t want, getting you pregnant and trying to get you to carry to term a pregnancy you don’t want.

Back in the old days, when 20% of women died in childbirth, having sex with a guy could kill you. And even now, more women die in childbirth than die having legal abortions.

And we’re living in a country that’s moving toward a stance that would rather see women dead than allow them control over their own bodies.

This is the message I get when I see protestors outside of women’s health clinics, when I see pharmacists refusing to give out legal medical prescriptions, when I see state governments pushing through parental consent laws, when I see women’s health clinics shut down because they’ve been bombed or threatened.

That’s homegrown terrorism. That’s terrorism against women and power.

A man can have sex with a woman and walk away… and retain the ultimate life-or-death power over her. Because unless we have access to these legal procedures, to safe abortions, to emergency contraception, to Planned Parenthood where we can pick up our pills, then we’re left with what the men have left us, and for many women, what was ultimately left to us was death.

If I choose to risk death in childbirth – however slight my chances are in a first-world hospital – that’s my choice. There’s not a women’s birthing draft. This is an all-volunteer army of women bearing children.

As it should be.

Don’t take away my body. Don’t fuck around with my uterus. Don’t put your guilty hands on my body.

You’re right, I talk about my uterus a lot, and what people want me to do with it, the restrictions they want to put on it…

And I do that because having a womb can be damn fucking cool and damn fucking scary. It's the only way – as yet – to create human life from a couple strands of DNA and some protein.

Me. My body. My body does that. It’s amazing.

This the power of life and death, and women deal with it every day. We decide how we want to use our bodies, and the methods we’ll use to control our bodies, because those are our rights.

My right.

Not a pharmacist’s. Not a doctor’s.

My womb, this one, is mine.

That pharmacist had no trouble handing over those antibiotics, though by taking them with the pill and engaging in hetero sex, I’d increased my risk of pregnancy. And pregnancy is a risky behavior, don’t forget that. However small the possibility, women still die bringing pregnancies to term.

Women still die, every day, birthing babies.

If I’m going to risk death, that’s my choice. Not a pharmacist’s. Not a doctor’s. Mine.

Next time, I get pushy with my health care professional - and I recommend you all get pushy with yours; whether it’s about insistence on proper medication or the doling out of proper medication. It’s our bodies being fucked with. Not theirs.

I’m not going to die for my pharmacist’s soul.

I'm not birthing a baby with this body, of this body, for anybody but me.

My body, my life, my choice.

Every damn day.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The Good News

Oh, thank goodness... my bank posted my current balance with the eye appt. and contact lenses and Costco run *already taken out.* So my rent check not only won't bounce, but I'll actually have over $70 in my account to last me until payday on Friday.

I am the scary liberal elite. Hear me roar.

All $70 worth.

Flea's Advice to Young Ladies...

Stolen, shamelessly:

Having reached the advanced age of 35, I feel this entitles me to dole out advice concerning certain patterns of behavior I have noticed over the past three years among the whippersnapper set. I know that a lot of you do not like to listen to your elders on the grounds that we spoil all your fun, and that may be true, but I think these points are extremely important ones, and maybe some of the other geezers will back me up.

1.) Thing One:

If your boyfriend insists on anal sex even when he knows it's hurting you, he does not love you.

In fact, he doesn't even like you that much, and all the Anal-Eze in the world isn't going to change that. Any man who tells you he will cheat on you unless you allow him to hurt you is an unqualified prick, and I promise you, you are worth more than this. I see this phenomenon way more among the African-American young ladies than any other race, and since the AIDS virus is spreading the most rapidly in young, straight, African-American women, I want you to know that my heart is in the right place when I beg you to PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, STOP ENGAGING IN SEX WITH A MAN WHO IS MAKING YOU BLEED.

2.) Thing Two:

If you are 19, you do not want to date a 40 year old man.

I know you describe him as "really together," and will think I'm crazy or jealous or having an outbreak of fat suburban housewife anxiety for saying this, but I, his peer, describe him as "manipulative loser." He comes across to you as being really together because he has more life experience than you do, and more money, and sure, he's better in bed than the kid who took you to the prom,'re not listening anymore, are you? Forget it, then. You'll see. But just like a 19-year-old who hangs out exclusively with 11-year-olds, 40-year-olds who party with people more than half their age are wincingly pathetic and are just using you to disguise the fact that it hurts him *really* *bad* that those Silver Fox life insurance plans advertised on tv are starting to include him now.

Read the rest

Bits (Stolen)

One in five teenage girls are hit by their boyfriends. More here. And 31% believed it was acceptable for a boy to act in an "aggressive" way if his girlfriend had cheated on him. My question is, did they ask men if they thought it was acceptable for their girlfiends to act "aggressive" if their boyfriends cheated on them? via Bird

And Jenn and I were just recently talking about the Pagan roots of Modern US holidays. via Feministe

Here's some kids' (well, eighth graders) takes on gender equality. What's interesting is how many times the issue of women's rights to equal participation in sports comes up as a major issue in developing gender equality.

First woman to row solo across the Pacific. Yea. That's right. Rowing. Across an ocean. For 72 days. Remember that there are still people out there who think that women have "biological problems staying in a ditch for 30 days..." but they can row across the Pacific Ocean. Biology didn't seem to get in the way of that, now, did it?

Monday, March 28, 2005

Your Daily Dose of Food Porn



God Bless Texas

Well, I was hoping I'd get out of a trip to Dallas, but it looks like I'm off for some sort of training or other... Leaving tomorrow night, spending all day Weds, coming back in on Thursday...

Dallas. ::sigh::

I've never been to Texas. There's a first time for everything.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Thoughts on Society and Depression


Undoubtedly being a somewhat sensitive and emotional person to begin with makes me more susceptible to depression than the run of common people, but I still resist labelling this as a "biochemical imbalance." It's not. It's normal human variation. My circumstances fully warranted depression. It was a normal, healthy response to my situation, and only by paying attention to that situation and changing it, by validating that emotional response, did I manage to make a long-term escape from depression. Now when I get depressed, my response is not to say, "What's wrong with me? Can I fix myself?" My response is: "What's wrong with my life? Why am I having trouble? Can I change it, and if not, how can I cope?"...

I don't like that our society has such a narrow definition of what constitutes an "ok" emotion that when someone feels something outside this narrow bound it gets labelled pathological. I don't like that we are all expected to be the same people, feeling the same things in the same way at the same time. I don't like that we are expected to be happy all the freaking time, even when life is hard and we are struggling. And then if we're not happy, we can't just be sad--we're sick.

via Bitch

And SF For All






Friday, March 25, 2005

Martyr Yourself For Christian America!

Become a martyr for America, chiklits!

Paul Campos connects the dots. Cause none of these dumb media fuckers is willing to do it:

As I write these words, Terri Schiavo is being starved to death because she was once a chubby little girl.

Almost everyone has heard about how, 15 years ago, Schiavo's heart stopped for several minutes, causing massive brain damage that left her severely disabled.

What very few people are aware of, because it has gone largely unreported, is that Terri's heart stopped as a consequence of an eating disorder.

Terri was a chubby child, in a culture that tells children, and especially girls, that not being thin is both a disease and moral failing. And our children get the message: fully half of all 9- to 11-year-old girls either are or have been on a diet.

Terri was one of these children. She spent much of her childhood and adolescence dieting, in a desperate effort to deal with having the "wrong" kind of body. Like most dieters, her weight fluctuated a great deal, but she was unable to remain thin.

Eventually, according to evidence introduced at the trial following her collapse, she started forcing herself to vomit after meals. This, combined with a regimen of 15 glasses of iced tea per day, made her thin and "beautiful." (More than 200 articles have commented on Terri's beauty. Almost none of these mention her eating disorder).

On the night she collapsed, Terri had just eaten dinner. She went into the bathroom and forced herself to vomit. Apparently, the chemical imbalance brought on by her bulimia stopped her heart.

I find the irony of this situation deeply, deeply sickening.

I went out to lunch today, this being a Friday, and sat at a table across from two men and two women. They appeared to be work colleagues. The men were average-looking, 30ish, on the overweight side, looked like they could pass for, say, computer programmers, so I thought they were quite good-boy nice looking, but MTV would call them boring couch potatoes and Queer Eye would have a field day. They ate cups of soup and cheeseburgers and fries and talked in loud voices about work.

The women, at first glance, looked and acted much younger. Their hair was straightened, bleached. The one closest to me had that perfect bronze tan. They were both about a size four, though the tan one looked like she was aiming for a 2. They ordered salads, and spent their time waiting for those salads... talking about food.

The tan one salivated over the dessert menu, said something like, "I haven't had chocolate sauce in two years."

The other one, not so classically MTV-girlish, with more of a midwest softness to her face and complexion, said, "Don't you ever treat yourself?"

"No," Barbie said.

"Not even once?"


Barbie was little and very slender, wearing a short-sleeved dress shirt I wouldn't dare wear in public, and had just enough defined arm muscle to be considered hot.

And, the thing was, looking at Barbie, that's what I was thinking: she's the way I'm supposed to look, the way women are supposed to look. Thin, tan, straightened, dyed-blond hair, those pert features, the flawless-appearing complexion. It wasn't that she was beautiful: there was nothing behind her look to make her beautiful, no amazing wit or cute laugh or witty turn of phrase or particularly striking feature. The thing with encouraging all women to look like a certain "type" is that eventually they'll look that way, and it'll take so much time and energy to cultivate that "type" that they're not exactly going to have a lot of time for an internal spiritual journey that makes them really interesting people. Mostly, they're just going to talk a lot about diet and excercise and what they can't eat this week.

When the food came, Barbie scarfed down her salad like she was starving: and, likely, she was. Most women don't look like Barbie into their thirties without being very hungry as a result.

I had ordered a burger, no fries, coleslaw on the side, and an iced tea. I've learned to balance out my hunger: if I really want a burger, I'll eat a burger, I just won't have the crap I don't want, which is usually the fries, and that cuts the calorie count pretty neatly.

And eating that way will keep me at what I consider a reasonable size, in reasonable health, but I will never, ever, look like Barbie.


Not even if I ate salmon ceasers and started getting that dull-eyed hungry look that supermodels carry around.

But oh, God, sitting there next to Barbie, I felt so guilty for eating my cheeseburger. What must everyone think of me, scarfing down my burger for lunch? Had I no shame? I could see everyone turning to look at me, thinking, "Look at that fat girl scarfing down that cheeseburger! Grotesque! Look at that fat woman, eating! A woman, eating, in a restaurant! How revolting! Has she no respect for herself?!"

I wanted to curl up and die.

And that's what a lot of women feel like: we'd rather die than be fat. We'd die to be thin for a decade, just give me a decade of hotness! Please! Please! I'll starve! I don't care!

Careful what you wish for.

Yea. I've had nights like that.

I used to think it must be a pretty neat thing, to be thin and beautiful. And, in fact, it has its perks. You get better jobs, people treat you more respectfully, treat you like you're important.

But you know, if you're doing it the way most women are doing it, you're also going to be weaker, and stupider (try doing complex math equations while suffering from extreme hunger and fatigue caused by overexercise), and ultimately, you're risking your life for a pound of flesh, for a beauty ideal.

And today's a good day to decide if you're interested in martyring yourself for Christan America and the MTV beauty machine.

We've got a great example of the end result.

The Strange Case...

The strange case of the homosexual necrophiliac duck...

Do you really need my commentary?

I learn something new every day.

Old-School Ancestor Worship


via boots

What the Hell *is* This?

I suppose I would take stuff posted at Tangent more seriously if they actually proofread their work. As it is, I merely choke on my coffee, as good old Dave clambers up on his pulpit yet again. If you're going to post this blather from the most inane of the back-to-old-school-SF blatherers ("When men were men and women were green!), at least edit him into some semblance of coherence:

Politcal [sic] Correctness (and in the case of the instance written about in Silverberg's column, the fallout from Political Correctness, but that's another essay), has run amuck. Now, it seems, an active imagination and artistic freedom are under siege by those on the Left who have the power to punish us for what we think, and it ain't those mean old, uneducated, bible-thumping, red-state bubbas who are to blame. It is those on the Left, often-called the Elite Left—those who believe, in their heart-of-hearts, that they know what is best for us, that we are incapable of making our own decisions..

Much as he will berate short SF writers in this column about being unable to think for themselves, which is why he - an illustrious, well-read, uber-published writer - will tell SF short story writers what to think and what to write about:


The best part about this bit is that it comes right after his introduction, in which the author insists that he's not "left" or "right" but shares a mixture of political views.. you know, like every other person in America. He then goes on to remind us that there is, however, a Liberal Elite working at Keeping Him Down.

I want a T-shirt:


All of which led me to wonder if SF is going soft these days.

The same way his erection's going, apparently, which is why he's so pissed off.

One doesn't often see hard-edged political stories in short SF anymore—at least not many of them in the past twenty, twenty-five years or so.

Umm... is he part of the same genreverse I am? Wasn't there just a big story that came out extrapolating what a neo-conservative America of the future would be like? I guess that one doesn't count... being about a conservative America and all.

We'll see the occasional story dealing with gender (a very tired theme these days, as more often than not a predictable Left/liberal agenda is espoused, but not really, dispassionately explored; the agenda is so predictable as to make for comfortable reading for those in the choir, but also terribly boring as SF—or as Judy Merril had it in the '50's—Speculative Fiction. Occasionally, we'll see something by way of satire (humorous, as in Esther Friesner's "Johnny Beansprout" from the July, 2004 F&SF; or darker, as in some of Terry Bisson's or James Morrow's short work), but they are too far and few between, when taken as a percentage of the tonnage of short sf/f foisted on readers today. Most of which deals with character interaction, or the feelings of characters, or how they feel about whatever milquetoast situation lazy authors choose to put them in (yet another essay).

SF is talking too much about women and their feelings. Men, as we all know, don't have feelings. So only women write about feelings. And only women are interested in gender roles. Men are just naturally manly - unless they're James Morrow, who's an amazing writer and so is allowed to admit that men might have feelings. Though that still makes Dave uncomfortable.

Everyone knows women aren't real people anyway. They should stop writing about themselves. And stop writing about men. And men need to stop writing about gender-conflicted men, too.

Men should only write about fishing.

In space.

I'm sorry, where is that happening? Must be in the work of all those pesky non-humor-writing Women Writers. Like, who, Leguin? Show me all the softy gender-speaking young women preaching touchy-feely writing as SF. Shit knows that if we're talking about gender - you know, conceptions of being, say, human (that's female and male, you fucktard) - that we must not be writing real SF anymore, huh?

It's as if much of today's short sf has become metrosexualized, a term I'll co-opt from one coined to label the metro-sexual male.

At this point, I go into cardiac arrest and must stop reading this column. Who's in charge of Tangent?

Oh, this one's good, too:

Sometimes I have this unnerving and spine-chilling thought that too much short SF today is naught but metrosexualized SF.

Truly, spine-chilling. I get goosebumps just thinking about it.

There's a dearth of imagination on any real, cutting-edge level today.

I don't think Dave reads books.

No, really, I don't. I don't think he's ever gotten past a couple of shelves at the local Borders.

Do I even need to mention that he uses "he" as the default pronoun throughout? I wonder what women readers think? Is he speaking for *all* male readers when he asks if they're scratching their male heads trying to figure out what to think about a story? I certainly get the feeling that he's only actually talking to male writers. And funny women, of course, who write funny stories about gender. That's pretty cutting edge, right?

Ballard had it 99% right. Switch his "ultra-conservative" government for "ultra-liberal" and we pretty much are living what many on the Left are preaching today. Individual rights trump everything, all the time, regardless of the effect on society as a whole. And how timely is the line about the mentally ill being left to their own devices, in light of the Terry Schiavvo case in the news. Ballard puts Nostradamus to shame.

Wow. Did you know you were living in a country run by an "ultra-liberal" government? Fooled me!

What a mess!


The overall point of bringing up Silverberg's column, Ballard's forgotten story, and my own comments, is perhaps to strike a spark in today's short sf/f writers. Not just in a political sense of awareness, and what isn't being written about very much anymore, but more importantly not to forget the story. If you're not writing about much of anything, it doesn't matter how well "nothing" is written.

Though, in the case of this column, being well-written might have helped.

What a fucktard.


As there's no real actual good shows on "real" television - and I hate commercials, the messiness of taping stuff, and etc - and since I do so adore HBO's Carnivale, I went ahead and rented the first couple of episodes of HBO's Deadwood.

Watched the first episode last night, and thus far, I'm not terribly impressed.

We're in South Dakota in 1876 with a cast of characters trying to make their fortune in the mining "town" of Deadwood, where there's no law but who's a better draw. There's lots of literal backstabbing, lots of liquor, lots of whoring, as yet very little of the actual prospecting, but lots of dirty people trying to make a living, which I always appreciate in a show.

As yet, nobody's too classically pretty, and they're mostly dirty and occasionally threadbare, which is cool. Episode one also wins for the most times I've heard the word "cocksucker" used in an hour - I think, 26 times. I don't know how historically accurate the frequency of that particular word use is, but hey, I'll go with that one. These are gritty Western boys, they better be talking pretty dirty.

This being a Western set in a mining town, I was also cool with the fact that there wouldn't be many female characters, and those there would be wives or whores, and maybe you'd have the occasional really kick-ass prospector woman who walked into camp with 120lbs on her back and a couple Indian scalps.

That's pretty much what they did: they've got an actress named Robin Weigert playing Calamity Jane, who's our butch heroine... well, er, that is, she's played by a fresh-faced slip of a thing who'll clean up really well when they decide to fem her out and do the "look, she's really pretty!" thing instead of a character actress who has got a little spit and wisdom in her face and some bulk in her body, but she's got a good swagger and her blustering almost convinced me that some of the guys might respect her... that is, when she's not making eyes at Wild Bill Hickok or getting passed off some kid that the guys rescued... (Why the hell would you pass the kid off to Calamity Jane? Cause she's a woman? Looked like they were doing just fine carrying the kid on their own, and town wasn't very far off, but this possee of guys rescued this kid, ran into Jane, and then had her *carry the kid the rest of the way into town with them.* Weird. I think it was one of those instances where the writers reverted to stereotype. Who's to say that Jane had any more idea what to do with a kid than the guys did? )

And so, yea, there's The Gem tavern where more of the liquor and prostitutes are (in that order), and we've got an immediate subplot going on with a gun-toting woman named Tricksy who has a habit of killing her clients. Sounds promising, interesting power dynamics; might go somewhere, might just go cliche (as the episode ended, she was apparently reconciling with her master, but we'll see).

There's also a promising wife to a rich-boy wanna-be prospector guy who's getting himself swindled by all of the locals: right now, she's mostly living on sleep and laudenum, but I can already see how they could play it so her strutting dandy gets axed, and she has to step up and become her own sort of prospector: fragile flower turns to tough heroine in the face of adversity.

Hey, it could happen.

So, there's hope, but I'm not in love with the series, thus far. I'll watch another episode tonight, and see what I think.

Women, Writing.

Oh, here we go again. It's like the "Where are all the women bloggers?" debate... It. Just. Won't. Go. Away.

There is no such thing as Women's Writing. Just as there is no such thing as Left-Handed Writing, Red-Headed Writing, European Writing, Northern Hemisphere Writing, or Writing from the Planet Earth. All of these categories are so large as to be meaningless. Sadly, Women's Writing is the only one of the above repeatedly used as a stick to beat women who write. Either Women's Writing is fluffy and inconsequential, full of romps and buttocks - or Women's Writing is coarse and aggressive and the kind of muck you'd expect from an off-duty stripper in a strop - or Women's Writing is obsessed with plumbing and bleeding and bonding to whale music. Effectively, Women's Writing is whatever has most annoyed any given journalist, commentator, academic, or author in the past few books by women they've read. Sweeping generalisations must be made, insults must be slung, personal abuse is welcome and two or three days of columns and op-eds can be sustained with the merry to-and-fro.

There a couple of problems with all this bullshit "women aren't edgy writers" bullshit.

First: men, for some reason, just get to be men, but women, as individuals, are always a stand-in for Every Woman. So if you get 800 subs from men and 100 from women, and those women's stories are:

40 about women fleeing bad marriages/having midlife crises and bicycling around the world
20 about women and their families/finding marriages/having children/relationships with other people
20 about women overcoming vast personal hardship (including family trouble)
10 about women who take heroin or become prostitutes, and how neat or tragic that is
10 are about women who kick everybody's ass and rage against society like superheroes

Mostly, you'll hear people bitch: "Look at how domestic those women are! Always talking about all those domestic issues like marriage and family!"

But of those 800 subs from the guys:

300 are about men going through midlife crises and bicycling around the world (and/or dumping their wife/job/car and getting an upgrade)
200 are about men and their comraderie in war or with gangs or on sports teams (you know: "real, meaty fiction" like Hemingway would write. Stuff women aren't supposed to be writing about anyway, and if they write about it, there's something definately suspect about them and not worth listening to.
150 are about men who take drugs and how neat or tragic that is
150 are about men overcoming personal hardship (including family trouble)

Only, those final hundred are, of course, "better" than women's literary attempts at talking about personal hardship and life struggle because they're about men overcoming personal hardship, and how hard that is, and there's no pregnancy involved, unless he gets a minor character pregnant and ditches her.

And these stories, because they're written by men, aren't called "domestic" --

They're called "examinations of the human condition."

Men being stand-ins for All of Humanity.

Whereas a woman, of course, is speaking for ALL WOMEN EVERYWHERE ON EARTH SINCE TIME BEGAN!!

But not, of course, for humanity. Women aren't real people. A woman doesn't know how to tell a story about the human condition, even if her main character(s) are men.

How ridiculous would it be, for me to group every male writer into a box and say, "These male writers? It's all about boys with penis envy trading in their wives for cars! How safe! How dull! How domestic! Where are all the edgy male writers? Where are the men writers who really take risks!"


Maybe it means I'm trying to find a "real" reason that I just don't like the book - but am too lazy to find it, so I blame it on the author's gender. Maybe it means I need to be a better reader.

"Women's Writing"... bah.

Some Thoughts on the Day of the Dead

Most religions have a day of the dead, and today is that day for Christians. In this most secular nation, polls show few now know what Good Friday is for, this day for sorrow, for contemplating death, loss and endings.

But here the usefulness of faith ends, for it is mainly the power of the religious lobby that forces people to die in pain and indignity due to beliefs on the nature of life and death shared by very few. For 20 years now, every poll on the subject shows that 80% of people want the right to be helped to die at a time and in a way of their own choosing. But that kind of "choice" is not on the agenda. Or not yet.

Charlotte Bronte, Sex Kitten

Read the rest at the Guardian:

Let me introduce you to the real Charlotte Brontë. She was not a wallflower in mourning. She always wanted to be famous; she pined to be "forever known". Aged 20, she wrote boldly to the Poet Laureate Robert Southey, asking for his opinion of her talents. He replied: "You evidently possess and in no inconsiderable degree what Wordsworth calls 'the faculty of verse'." Then he chides her: "There is a danger of which I would ... warn you. The daydreams in which you habitually indulge are likely to induce a distempered state of mind. Literature cannot be the business of a woman's life and it ought not to be." Charlotte ignored Southey but Gaskell couldn't believe it. She concluded the correspondence "made her put aside, for a time, all idea of literary enterprise".

Charlotte continued in her position as a schoolteacher, which she had already held for a year. But she hated her profession and heartily despised the aggravating brats she was forced to teach. As the children at Roe Head School did their lessons, she wrote in her journal: "I had been toiling for nearly an hour. I sat sinking from irritation and weariness into a kind of lethargy. The thought came over me: am I to spend all the best part of my life in this wretched bondage, forcibly suppressing my rage at the idleness, the apathy and the hyperbolic and most asinine stupidity of these fat headed oafs and on compulsion assuming an air of kindness, patience and assiduity? Must I from day to day sit chained to this chair prisoned within these four bare walls, while the glorious summer suns are burning in heaven and the year is revolving in its richest glow and declaring at the close of every summer day the time I am losing will never come again? Just then a dolt came up with a lesson. I thought I should have vomited." Note to Mrs Gaskell: Charlotte didn't want to kiss those children; she wanted to vomit on them.

Charlotte did not only feel passionate hatred for small children; she felt passionate love for men. Unlike the female eunuch created by Gaskell, she was obsessed with her sensuality. She wrote to a friend: "If you knew my thoughts; the dreams that absorb me; and the fiery imagination that at times eats me up ... you would pity and I daresay despise me." The thwarted lust of a parson's daughter? Gaskell dismisses it as "traces of despondency". In Brussels, studying to become a governess at Heger's school, the virgin became ever more lustful. She wrote obsessive letters to him, begging for his attention. "I would write a book and dedicate it to my literature master - to the only master I have ever had - to you Monsieur." Later she writes: "Day or night I find neither rest nor peace. If I sleep I have tortured dreams in which I see you always severe, always gloomy and annoyed with me. I do not seek to justify myself, I submit to every kind of reproach - all that I know - is that I cannot - that I will not resign myself to losing the friendship of my master completely - I would rather undergo the greatest physical sufferings. If my master withdraws his friendship entirely from me I will be completely without hope ... I cling on to preserving that little interest - I cling on to it as I cling on to life."

It's Snowing



When. Will. It. End???

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Snapshots From My Worklife

Me and Cyllia just spent eight hours formatting files that are now useless because corp. takes two days to give me permissions for the electronic folder I was supposed to already have access to but apparently don't for some strange, cryptic, technical reason, and all of these files are due by COB tomorrow.

These new "permissions" guidelines were part of the firm-wide security upgrade that was supposed to make our business more streamlined and secure.

Excuse me while I snicker, and my company pays out a total of 16 hours of masturbatory time.

Ah, corporate America.

I need a new job.


I have a sudden, irresistable urge to go out and buy books.

Not a terrible desire.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Tattoos & the Ideal Female Body


Battlestar Galactica and Its Troublesome Human Women, Redux

Ide Cyan sent me an interesting note about recent events on Battlestar Galactica, which, unfortunatley, I haven't been able to keep up on, as Jenn's the one who tapes things and we've both been out of town a lot (I plan to catch up when it's out on DVD).

Ide noted that the two main female characters in the series who are actually women (as opposed to robots) are both currently suffering from debilitating illness or injury. Adama, the President, has been dying of cancer since episode one, and now, hot fighter-pilot extraordinaire Starbuck has a knee injury that apparently has taken her out of fighting commission.

What the hell is up with these SF shows and their fear of women who actually kick ass? Andromeda wasn't bad: it had a woman captain, though she ultimately got booted to second by the new captain, who's a guy, and... well, I have some other problems with her now too: as the series has progressed she's gotten increasingly thinner and less butch. Firefly probably wins as far as diverse portrayals of women as actual strong, smart, people, but Firefly was cancelled.

What's so scary about putting a woman on screen who's not a stereotype? Who can take care of herself? Who's actually saving her husband and not necc. being saved by him (As Zoe saves Wash in Firefly)? Relationships between and among people are complicated, complicated things, and we don't all revert to gender stereotype. Think outside the box, people.

I think what continues to irritate me about BG is that they toted the gender-swapping of some of the main characters as being a huge deal, like giving 1/4 of your screen time to female characters was a big deal (well, 1/4 time of women characters not engaged in sex, 1/3 of the time if you include the sex). Yea. Real revolutionary.

What gives?

Turnabout's Fair Play

The Wheel of Time turns, and....

Ha. Sorry. Couldn't help it. You know, after decades and decades of listening to people harping on about women and their biological clocks and "all women want to get married as soon as possible" crap, it's sorta funny to see the tables turned:

"Dr. Harry Fisch, a urologist at Columbia University, asserts that men over 35 are twice as likely to be infertile as those under 25, and that a drop in testosterone after 30 can contribute to a psychological need to drop domestic anchor. And as the increase in fertility technologies and professional commitments for women pushes the average age of marriage back, some men are assuming a take-no-prisoners approach to shopping for a life mate.

For ages, men who have reached a certain age -- 35, perhaps, or 40 -- and found themselves single have freaked out. These days, their quests to settle down seem not to be the exception, but the rule."

::snicker:: You know, there's a social pressure aspect to it that comes into play for men about 30-35; the same pressure women often feel at 20-25 if they're not at least in a "serious relationship." I work with a couple of guys in that crucial "over thirty but not yet forty" range, and I can tell you that they're wife shopping with as much or more zeal than their late-twenties, early-thirties female counterparts.

35 is the magic number for the guys I work with. They're getting itchy. How much of that is nature, and how much is society saying, "Uh, dude, if you have kids now, they'll be 20 when you're 55. Better get going! Start up the interviews!" is anybody's guess.

But it's damn funny. Twenty years ago, nobody would have even mentioned guys who were eager to get married. We'd keep pretending that the only people interested were women.

Well, you know what? When women are able to financially support themselves, have kids with the help of friends or donors, and create their own lives independently, there's also not so much of a push for them to hook up with some random guy, either.

This is the scary female autonomy everybody's freaked out about.

Women who are free to live the lives they choose.


Amanda, Echidne, Trish, all with some views.

Scientific American's April Fool's Joke

What scares me so much about living here in the US right now, and dealing with all of the pseudo-religious hysteria is that when somebody tries to make a joke, it takes me way too long to get it.

Here's the brillant editors of Scientific American, from the latest issue's editorial:

"For years, helpful letter writers told us to stick to science. They pointed out that science and politics don't mix. They said we should be more balanced in our presentation of such issues as creationism, missile defense and global warming. We resisted their advice and pretended not to be stung by accusations that the magazine should be rennamed Unscientific America, or Scientific Unmamerican, or even Unscientific Unamerican. But... you were right, and we were wrong.

In retrospect, this magazine's coverage of so-called evolution has been hideously one-sided. For decades, we published articles in every issue that endorsed the ideas of Charles Darwin and his cronies.. Where were the answering articles presnting the powerful case for scientific creationsism? Why were we so unwilling to suggest that dinosaurs lived 6,000 years ago or that a cataclysmic flood carved the Grand Canyon?... As editors, we had no business being persuaded by mountains of evidence.

Moreover, we shamefully mistreated the Intelligent Design (ID) theorists by lumping them in with creationists... ID theorists think that at unspecified times some unnamed superpowerful entity designed life, or maybe just some species, or maybe just some stuff in the cells. That's what makes ID a superior scientific theory: it doesn't get bogged down in the details.

Good journalism values balance above all else. We owe it to our readers to present everybody's ideas equally and not to ignore or discredit theories simply because they lack scientifically credible arguments or facts. Nor should we succumb to the easy mistake of thinking that scientists understand their fields better than, say, U.S. senators or best-selling novelists do. Indeed, if politicians or special-interest groups say things that seem untrue or misleading, our duty as journalists is to quote them without comment or contradiction. To do otherwise would be elitist and therefore wrong. In that spirit, we will end the practice of expressing our own views in this space: an editorial page is no place for opinions.

Get ready for a new Scientific American. No more discussions of how sicence should inform policy. If the government commits blindly to building an anti-ICMB defense system that can't work as promised, that will waste tens of billions of taxpayer's dollars and imperil national security, you won't hear about it from us. If studies suggest that the administration's antipollution measures would actually increase the dangerous particulates that people breathe during the next two decades, that's not our concern. No more discussions of how policies affect science either - so what if the budget for the National Science Foundation is slashed? This magazine will be dedicated purely to science, fair and balanced science, and not just the science that scientists say is science. And it will start on April Fool's Day."

Cheeky scientists.

What I appreciate about this piece is that it reminds us of what the media was actually supposed to be for in the first place: to question all the bullshit coming out of the government's mouth, to dig past the sound bites that politicians give us and tell the entire story. I want the context. I want to understand how things work, and why we're at this point. I don't want my media parroting back at me press releases straight from the Pentagon.

The media's supposed to keep government honest. Now, increasingly, because of worries about ratings, about how to keep news "entertaining" we're getting media as entertainment and sound bites. I was listening to Fox news last night, and heard one of the "news" anchors refer to Terry Schiavo's husband as her "estranged husband," an interesting word choice considering the guy still hasn't divorced her after 15 years (I suppose the fact that he's in another relationship - after 15 years! - is enough to call him "estranged," cause he's not living the life of a monk), and seems really frickin' invested in this thing. There's a big family dynamic going on in that case that *nobody* is talking about, and I'd bet you a zillion dollars that he and the parents have a fascinating relationship in which they've never gotten along. Fox news also neatly edited out the fact that Shiavo's brain damaged was likely caused by bulima; watching them erase that and try to paint her life like a storybook instead of a real life was fascinating. We should be having some serious discussions about eating disorders and protecting men and women from getting brain damage and getting hospitalized in the first place. Prevention, people.

There was also very little in-depth analysis of what, exactly, it meant that the government was getting involved in what is, in fact, a private family affair. What does this mean for other Americans? What does it mean for Americans who want to be unplugged? Instead, Anderson Cooper ran a story about a woman who sort of came out of a coma she'd been in for 18 years and can now speak a few words - she doesn't ask questions, doesn't speak in full sentences, is still pretty totally paralyzed, and doesn't appear to have much in the way of true cognition, but she can say, "Hi Mom," and "Hi Dad," and so the argument was, I guess, that even if she'd wanted to die in such a state when she was cognizant enough to make such a decision, she shouldn't have been at any point during those 18 years because now her parents feel a lot better that she's around.

Um. How, exactly, would she have felt about that?

Guess it doesn't matter.

For the record, and I'll put it here: if I'm fucking brain dead, if my entire brain is full of spinal fluid and I'm reduced to an organic shell - fucking turn me off. I don't care if coming over to my hospital room and snapping your fingers in front of my face gives you a goodie-rush and makes you happy to have "me" around because I respond to external stimuli. If I'm a fruitloop, turn me off. If I'm in a coma, that's different, and give me and my brain some time to recover, but if my cranium is full of spinal fluid, shit, fuckers, let me fucking die with some fucking dignity. Don't drag me and my family business into the homes of 200 million Americans.

That said, the media's really starting to freak me out, and it's why I don't watch a lot of television. They just keep blaring these seemingly-random events around like they happened in a vaccuum, and there's no precedent. Nobody does their homework.

Journalists need to go back to school, and Americans need to work on regaining some interest in prolonging their attention spans. We wouldn't be so surprised when the shit went down, if we actually took the time to be informed, and to understand how everything's connected.

Bah, television.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

What I'm Up To

Have finally started studying for the LSATs in earnest, meaning I've been equally appalled at how incredibly poor my diagnostic score was, and interested in figuring out how to figure it out. It's learning how to think another way, and it's challenging, in its way. This is what I've been doing at work instead of blogging, that and wishing I had an extra pair of contact lenses... can't get around to my eye appointment until this weekend, and my eyes are pissed at me.

I've got a lot of stuff to get together over the next 6 or 8 months, and it's just hitting me that I'm at the ass-end of March, moving full-on into Spring, and I don't know where I'll be headed next Spring (as I recall, my lease for 2006 will end May 30th). So I've got a lot of thinking to do, and a lot of planning. Have started looking at law schools in Chicago, expecially those that offer part-time night schedules that'll let me have an actual income while I'm going to school. Not sure if that's the best way to go: in a perfect world, the school would be free and the state would support me while I bettered myself. In return, I could be drafted as a state attorney for two years.

But, ah, what kind of a country would that be? Doctors and lawyers getting "free" education in return for a couple of years public service. Might lower health care costs...

Have also gotten stuck in a nervous-eating mode, as I'm stressed on a couple of other levels right now, the sort that just take time to hit a resolution on their own, at which point the stress will be either over or just beginning. Can't wait until that's done, cause I ate way too many bagels today. That's the problem with letting up my eating habits for the weekend - it tends to take me a lot longer to get back on track.

Sad, sad. Easing back into MA classes. Hoping to have a full work-out schedule again by next week.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Loooong Weekend

Enjoyed a very relaxing weekend, and am having trouble coming back to just about everything. Got some writing to work on...

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Snow in December is Sexy

Snow in March is not.

Yellow came into the office at 10am yesterday and left at 3:30pm.

I have no guilt about my workday habits.

In other news, I'm subsisting mainly on weak echinacea tea and contemplating skipping out of work at noon today, because I'd rather be in bed.

It's been one of those... months.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Just a Note on Downtime

When I started blogging, I discovered a compulsive need to open the tattered edges of my emotional raincoat and expose the nasty parts beneath.

That's Ayelet Waldman at Salon, touching on the first of several reasons she stopped blogging.

I wanted to throw this up here real quick this week because it says so much about why I decided to take another breather and stay away from hacking through a bunch of emotional turmoil here moment-by-moment. Some of that has abated, which is why I wanted to post the link above. The other part is that she's very right about the other big problem with blogging: the blogging is fucking with my real writing. When your goal is to write books, and someday make a living doing it, well... this moment-by-moment knee-jerk gut-reaction real-time stuff is a very different type of writing from the mull-over-your-experiences-distill-reimagine-setup-imaginary-template-plot-out-cut-distill-squeeze type that I do in my book and story writing, and switching gears is a bitch.

And that's a problem. And I don't have a solution to it, except to close up shop a few weeks a month, or stem the tide of posts, limit myself to once a day.

I'm going to need to find a way to balance a lot of things in the coming weeks and months, and blogging's going to be one of them...


via Tild

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Blog Down

Well, it's another crazy week. I've got lots of backlogged writing to do, and a whole house to clean, and etc. etc.

So I'll see you all on Monday. Have a great week!

Monday, March 14, 2005

Well, at Least They're Being Obvious About a Woman's Worth

Paying a woman to have a kid?

You know, considering that the cost of that kid over it's lifetime is way, way more than 10K, I think it's a pretty bum deal.

A Couple of Good Finds

Today was goodie-finding day. After becoming incredibly irate again at the "But if there are so many women bloggers, why doesn't anybody know about them" thing, I decide to... add more women bloggers to my own woman-blogger site.

Why the fuck not.

I was cleaning up the blogroll (if I don't check a site regularly, I tend to cut it out, and this inspires me to go looking for new people). You must check out:

Sisters Talk: a fantastic blog by Genia Stevens.

Pseudo-Adrienne's Liberal-Feminist Bias: I'd known she was out there via comments on another's blog, but have just now (finally) got around to blogrolling her...

Cool Beans: Beans of Alas has her own shop, of course...

A Bird's Eye View

One Good Thing: Yea. I've really been needing to update my blogroll for awhile...

XX Blog: a group blog

Those Pesky Fat Women: Remember When the Curve of a Hip was Sexy and Not a Sign of Moral Disease?

What the hell is this?

Not only is it pure junk to keep using that stupid BMI formula to calculate a person's "healthy" weight (it doesn't take muscle mass into account, bone structure, body struction, etc., so Brad Pitt and George Clooney get classified as "obese" and if you're applying that shitty formula to this broad a template, what you're gonna get back as "results" is nothing but sheer junk), but why the fuck did they do this study only on women? Do men not get fat in a way that should be "worrying" since women are the ones we're all supposed to be looking at? Or do men just get a "get out of jail free" card? They don't spend enough on dieting products, I guess. Better work on changing that.

The leading causes of death in the world are still from infectious diseases and malnutrition: that means most people in this world are dying because they have shitty healthcare and poor nutrition. In fact, I'd bet that a lot of those "fat" people in developed countries who're below the poverty line are suffering from malnutrition, too: living on macoroni and McDonald's isn't exactly a great step in healthy living.

Shit, you fuckers: women are supposed to be carrying around an extra 35,000 calories for babies and nursing. That's what estrogen does. That's why I've got an increased appetite now that I'm back on female hormones. Did they take pregnant women out of this study? Nursing women? Women who were within two years of having a kid?

No, probably not.

Let's just continue telling people how fat and stupid they are, so they get so frustrated about it that they binge eat and stop exercising all together because it won't make them "thin enough."


You can take your concentration-camp chic elsewhere.

Utopian Hell on Gender Equity

"My mother is 5′3″ and worked as a police officer for ten years. She passed the very same physical fitness tests that the men did, and with little complaint. Every day, for ten years she faced angry truck drivers that were three times her size, and gave them tickets. She did more physically demanding work than your average police officer, including lugging around portable truck weights that weighed a couple hundred pounds a piece. The requirements aren’t that hard to get by, and I haven’t heard anyone, since I was a teenager, discuss lowering them. That’s not what gender equity is about.

Gender equity is about other things. Gender equity is about the fact that my mother, while working in this capacity, was given second-hand men’s bullet proof vests that afforded no room for her breasts, and never fit right. Gender equity is about getting paid the same as the male who’s doing the same job as you. Gender equity is what feminism is about. It isn’t about who has more muscles, or whether or not muscles matter.

What you’re really saying is ‘Go ahead and discriminate against me and the rest of the women in the world based solely on what you think our bodies can and can not do.’"

Read the rest

Fuck-ups and Mental Blowouts `05

I honestly can’t convey just how great it is to be back in the Chicago office. It’s great to be back in Chicago in general. I missed Cyllia and the lead architect (let’s call him Mr. T.), and getting calls from Sarah, and waiting until 10am for Yellow to show up, getting back to creating materials for projects I actually understand and have a handle on… yea, it’s nice. It’s nice to be sitting at my own fucking desk with my music at hand and coffee in my own coffee mug.

It’s the little things.

Not that things are terribly easy right now… Life is incredibly busy, full, stressful, both physically and emotionally.

I didn’t realize just how ragged I was running until last night, when Jenn and I went out for our usual Sunday Borders & Starbucks run. I sat down at Borders and relaxed, found a beginning runner’s guidebook (shin splints. Ah. That’s what I’ve got after Friday’s run. Ah. Yes.), then moved to the back, picked up a book of Alaska photographs… and was confronted by a rather irritated-looking Jenn, who snapped at me for not being more visible, as she’d apparently been looking for me for some time.

We exited the building, Jenn still pissed off, and she bit off at me for my ability to blend into my surroundings and make if very difficult to be found, and why was she the one who always had to come looking for me? Why couldn’t I go looking for her? Borders, the grocery store, it was all the same! I’d lose myself forever, and she’d have to track me down! How could I be so annoying!


Jenn and I are a little stressed right now. Can you tell?

I took a deep breath and halted our course at the corner of Broadway & Lawrence and felt myself doing the little mental checklist backpeddle: if I start screaming at her for being silly and being upset at a silly thing, and effectively blaming me because she’s unable to find me in a room full of people, what’s going to come out is us just screaming at each other for a silly reason because we’re both tired, hungry, and incredibly, incredibly stressed out. So, effectively, we’ll be having a snippy verbal fight at the corner of Broadway & Lawrence for no fucking good reason except that we’re really tired, and then we’ll be pissed at each other for the rest of the night, which will be fucking stupid, as we hardly see each other anymore anyway, and during the time we’re together, it would be nice if we weren’t pissed off at each other.

So I said, “OK, how can we fix this?”

And just her talking about how pissed off she was seemed to make her feel better. We discussed why she was pissed off, which I really tried to sympathize with, but which I couldn’t understand because I wasn’t in any sort of hurry while browsing the bookstore. I didn’t think our Borders run was on a time schedule. I was just there to relax and read books, and when I got bored, I’m sure I’d have gone to find her. But she’d gotten bored before I had.

I couldn’t think up any good solution for this, except that whenever we went out, we should have a time schedule and a meeting place. But that seemed really counterproductive to me, as I reserve weekends for relaxing time, and having a time schedule on everything seemed incredibly stressful.

“Let’s just go home and skip Starbucks,” I said, putting my arm around her. “I’ll order the Thai food and go and pick it up. I know you’re totally stressed out. We’re stressed. Let’s just go relax, OK?”

After talking, she seemed to feel better, and suggested we go to Starbucks anyway, and my whole body relaxed, and I was like, “Oh, thank God, calamity averted,” and my mind and body sort of crashed, so that by the time we sat down at Starbucks, I was on the downside that comes after an adrenaline rush. I felt drained and tired; totally emotionally tapped out. Backpeddling, trying to avert a snippy argument in Uptown with, basically, the only friend I have in Chicago, trying to keep this relationship together and stable when we only see each other once a week or so, had blasted out the last of my emotional resources.

It’s an accumulation of little things, and the last little thing broke me.

I’ve spent the last week living out of a hotel room and trying to negotiate a relationship with an actual guy that includes not only the friendly part (which is difficult enough), but the sex part (and everything that comes with it), and both of us bring our own emotional baggage into the mix, and that’s gotta be dealt with up front, and that’s what I’ve been dealing with all week, on top of the fucking hotel living, the mostly non-existent workouts, and the incredibly, incredibly, stressed out and fucked up work environment at our office out there. It’s a fuckfest.

But what really did it was the emotional stuff, because I’m so bloody fucking sick of emotion. Because I was pulling out of myself as much care and nurturing and understanding as I had left in order to not get into a pissing match on a Chicago street, and it blasted me out.

So we sat in Starbucks, and I started to bleed out this stream-of-consciousness thought on what I’d felt in the street, and how that fed back into everything else that’s gone on this week, and this year, just to sort of bleed it out so Jenn would know where I was at. What it comes down to is that I’ve got one friend in Chicago, and she’s tapped out: she’s got an SO, too, and her SO and her Ph.D. responsibilities take up a lot of emotional energy, which means she’s just as tapped out as I am… and honestly, I’ve reached the point where I realize I’m so broken down that I’m willing to ask for help – and the only person I’ve got around to ask for help is tapped out (Jenn insisted this wasn’t the case, that if I ever needed anything – but she’s tapped out. Trust me. She can’t take any of my bullshit onto her already full plate. It just ain’t gonna happen, unless she’s willing to have a mental blowout, too, and I’m not gonna incite that. There’s a point at which being a good friend means not asking things of your good friends, because they don’t know how to say “no” to people they care about any more than you do).

So I was forced to realize just how much trying to start up a relationship after six years of being on my own has taken out of me. It’s been about a month now, which is about the point you both realize the other isn’t a psycho, and you start trying to build stuff up and work things out, and there are a lot of ghosts and demons I’ve got tagging along behind me, stuff I didn’t even realize I had.

The problem with having been in a really unhealthy/abusive relationship and not having any real “relationship” since then is that you’ve got a really fucked up template about how things are supposed to go; and yea, I mean, sure, any time you’re with somebody new, you learn a new set of rules and preferences, but for me, there are weird ones like when I said something that really cut him (not realizing what I did), and he went a little quiet and stoic before responding, but during that long silence, that little light went off in my head, “I’m going to get hit. He’s going to start screaming at me. He’ll throw something at me. I need to practice some defense moves in case he freaks out on me.”

There was no violence or screaming, of course (I’d really like to think I’ve made a better, more adult choice this time around, and instead, we spent several hours talking this over), but the fact that I had that reaction when I realized I’d irritated/hurt the guy in bed with me was really telling about how fucked up my expectations are of what a relationship entails. Says a lot about why I’ve avoided them for so long.

If I wasn’t so crazy about this guy, of course, I wouldn’t be doing this. It’s too much for me to do right now, and I wasn’t ready for it… but shit, let’s face it: it’s time for me to get over my bullshit. I can’t go on avoiding intimacy forever because I’m afraid that every guy around the corner is going to turn out to be just like my ex (charming and passive for a year and then screaming, demanding, controlling, blah blah, insert your domestic abuse cliché story here). I’ve reached the point in my life where I have enough confidence in myself to walk away if somebody ever tries to pull that bullshit again, and I’ve read enough stories just like my own to (I hope) recognize the danger signs and pull away before I get too entrenched, but of course, there aren’t any guarantees. People change. Shit could happen. I just need to know that I’m strong enough now to walk away from a relationship with somebody who seeks to take away my agency and confidence. It’s not my job to mother people, or fix people, and the last thing I need is a guy around who’s condescending and who holds me back from doing what I want in order to make himself feel better about his own choices.

It’s funny; I’ve read lots of stories about women who’ve been in abusive relationships, but I haven’t read many accounts of women trying to get back into relationships after having been through a shitty one where your template has become “relationship=me not being a real person/putting up with someone else’s draining bullshit/losing myself to someone else’s desires.”

For me, it’s not easy in the least. In fact, it’s one of the most emotionally draining things I’ve ever done, because every time I turn around, I’m finding something else that I’m weird about. I had a very, very, fucked-up relationship template.

And, of course, relationship issues are never one-sided, and we both bring stuff to the table, and negotiating all of that while trying to have a life… yea. It’s not easy. I didn’t think it was going to be. And it’s taking a lot out of me right now.

I don’t know yet if it’s going to be too much. I’m hoping that now that I’m back in Chicago, things will ease off. I’ve got my martial arts class tonight (FINALLY, after four or five weeks of NOTHING), jogging tomorrow, some cleaning to do. I’m back inside my life, and it’s a life I’ve built up that I really, really like.

Today was the first time I actually considered staying in Chicago after next year. I love this place, this life. I might not be able to afford to stay in the place I have now, but I could just get a studio or one-bedroom, or, if I can get a better-paying job, I might be able to figure something out. There are law schools in Chicago, if that pans out. If not, there’s plenty of writing to do here, and a community college down the street where I can pile on some extra classes to keep my atrophying brain in gear.

There’s a lot up in the air right now. I don’t know how it’s going to pan out. Usually, I take great comfort in not knowing what’s going to happen. It’s how I know I’m doing the right thing. But here, now, there are so many variables that they’re weighing deeply on me, and I need some time that I don’t have to really figure out what I want over the next couple of years. More and more, I want to throw off the law school idea and run away overseas for another stressful blowout year where I sleep on a mattress on the floor and work a crappy job or live as a poor student… When you realize that the next big birthday is 30, you tend to want to go out and live that crappy poor student life as much as possible with the last decade you’ve got to do it with any respectability.

I don’t know. I don’t know. I suppose that’s what it comes down to: there are a great deal of things I don’t know, and I’ve hit the tipping point where that’s actually starting to matter to me.

Quote of the Day

"Man [sic] cannot live on beer and the Polish smoked sausage in the fridge alone. Sometimes, he must send out for curry." - Empire of Dirt

"Stitching Time" By Stephanie Burgis

Check it out at Fortean Bureau:

"Imagine a farmhouse surrounded by snow. Not a thin layer of soft, flaky whiteness, the kind you might see in more civilized climates--this is Northern Michigan, where the snow falls and falls until it buries the roads, covers the windows, and mounts up before the door. The nearest neighbors are a mile away, impossibly far. Every morning, the men in this scattered community dig their way through to the barn where the livestock are sheltered from the cold. Every winter, some of the wives go mad.

There is a special asylum for these women, and in the spring you can watch the line of farm horses pulling them away in carts, plodding down the familiar road once the snow has finally melted. Women who were mail-order brides from the East Coast, seduced by the idea of family and land. Women who carried on correspondences with lonely Western farmers for years before they took the plunge. Dr. Horace Q. Grace will care for all of them, for a very moderate price. Some of them will return to their husbands, almost cured, by the fall. Others will be less lucky, and then their husbands will start all over again, biting on the tips of their pencils as they try to recollect spelling lessons from long ago. A lonely farmer hopes for a woman’s touch....

Thank God for the invention of cross-stitch. As the snow mounts up over the window, we count the months of snow: October, November, December, January, February, March, April, May.... Our husbands tunnel out to the barn, and our needles move, silver flashing through endless reams of fabric. Up and down, count over twice.... Samplers that will hang on our walls, covering the inches, more and more of them as the eight months pass. As the clock in the corner (brought from Boston at great expense) ticks away, ticking away the seconds of our lives. As the bright colors spread across the fabric, mimicking our wildness and our despair."

Read the rest

Friday, March 11, 2005

When the Lights Went Out In Parsippany

The power throughout most of Parsippany, NJ went out this morning around 6am, and by 10am, all of us in the office were figuring out ways to get the hell out of town for the weekend.

I hopped a train(s) into Brooklyn, and am currently spending my time hanging out at Brendan's until Saturday's touchdown back in Chicago...

Ah. To be home again. Jiggety-jig.

Looking forward to getting back into my old routine. Attempted a co-run with B, and found myself in staggeringly bad shape. I've seriously got to get my eating and exercise schedule back into shape.... very, very sad.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

We're Watching You!

Right-wing Eye for the Left-leaning Guy.

I snickered.

via feministing

Homegrown Terrorism

I've been holding off talking about the killing of federal judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow's family in Chicago because, literally, it happened about 8 blocks from my house. A little fucking close to home.

I was coming home from O'Hare the night of the day the story broke, and found a host of television vans with their huge telescoping satellite dishes lining both sides of the road. It wasn't until the next day when I saw a couple of crosses up in the alley and a couple journalist newsvultures vying for space that I realized this was her house.

This one creeps me out, and it hit me deeply because of the sheer guerilla terrorism of the act. If you have some kind of problem with me, come and fuck with me. You don't go after the people in somebody's life who they care about. You just don't. Random violence is reprehensible in itself, but there's something deeply jarring, deeply offensive, about going after somebody's family. It's not cool. You just don't fuck with that shit.

It now appears that they've found the guy who did it; a pissed-off guy who's life sucked cause she dismissed his case. Instead of sucking it up and getting his shit together and finding another route, he went into a spiral of depression and despair and lashed out. He took somebody out, or had them taken out; or maybe he's just been framed, who knows?

For now, what I do know is that murdering somebody's family, trying to stir up fear in others, is homegrown terrorism. In fact, until 9/11 the biggest threats to our security - and, as a woman who makes use of reproductive health services, I'd say it's *still* my own personal biggest threat - are pissed off white guys with US citizenship who feel it's their God-given right to deal out death and judgement whenever they're pissed off.

You've got a social system that isn't set up to provide help to people, a bullshit masculinity culture that says violence (especially against uppity women) is - if not totally OK - usually justifiable, and a government that turns a blind eye to the fact that women live in fear of getting LEGAL health procedures in the US because of wacko guys who feel that God gave them a dick to point around like the finger of His will, to smite whom He pleases whenever He feels like it.

Wake up, dickwads.

You want to fight terrorism? You want to live in a country where nobody lives in fear?

Get the troops back from Iraq, work on your fucking social institutions, provide some goddamn assistance to people who's lives are falling apart and who feel they have no way out. Nurture a culture that *REALLY* preaches how valuable each actual LIFE is - you want to save life, protect quality of life, maybe you should start with actual children, go volunteer to teach actual people how to read, spend a couple days a month sorting files for Planned Parenthood. Become a counselor. Help people.

Violently lashing out cause you're pissed off violates the human rights of an actual person. People who've got families. Lives.

Real fucking people.

*That's* terrorism, and if we'd spend even a quarter of the money dealing with that bullshit as we are bombing foreign countries, we'd be living in a lot less fear of ourselves.

Cause make no mistake: the biggest threat to your security (especially if you're a woman) is other Americans. The ones who make the laws. Who fund the wackjobs. Who believe it's their God-given right to control you and your body and everything you give a shit about.

And they're a fuck of a lot closer than a couple of kids in Baghdad.

Ah, Women's Boxing Fuck-Ups

Why the fuck her trainer put her in a "pro" fight after less than two months of training... shit. This is why women's boxing gets a bad rap. There's nothing inherently wrong with ritualized violence (sports), so long as everybody knows what they're getting into and everybody plays by the ritual's rules.

When you don't, shit happens.

I couldn't imagine getting into a ring after less than two months of training. After six months, a year, sure. Less than two months? Who's running this bullshit gig?

But you know, if this was a man, this would be a different story. People'd be like, "What the fuck was he thinking? Gosh, that was stupid," in addition, of course, to saying, "Why the fuck didn't anybody stop this fight?" Somebody should have thrown in the towel. They didn't. And that's their fuckup, too.

Sports are brutal. That's what they are. They're physical tests of skill and endurance. Sending somebody in there who doesn't know what the fuck they're doing is like sending some 19-year-old kid who signed up straight out of high school, putting a gun in his hand, and telling him to run flat-footed into enemy fire.

After all, he signed up for it, right?

Sure he did. But just as much as it's his responsibility to take care of himself, it's a lot of other people's job to help him get to that point.

And a lot of people fucked up.

Nuts & Bolts

So, Ikea's getting tapped for its sexist male-only assembly brochures. Living in a place where Jenn and I (yes, that's two women, no men) put together every stick of the copious Ikea furniture in the place, I find the idea of hiding the sexism in furniture manuals by pleading it's about "not offending" people (like Muslims, apparently) to be really stupid.

To be fair to Ikea, the manual I just had for the bed I put together showed a man and a woman assembling it; but yes, there's a default to "man" for the smaller pieces, and you'll never, ever, see two women putting a bed together, no matter how often this actually happens in real life.

And that, perhaps, is my biggest problem with sexism trying to co-opt the language of the "politically correct" for its own purposes: you're trying so hard (in their own words) to not offend somebody's belief that you stop telling the truth. You stop protraying the world as it really is. You start preaching abstinence-only education and filling up textbooks with lies that parade around as politically correct lingo when it fact, it has nothing to do with not offending Christians or Muslims or Athiests (nobody ever seems to care about offending athiests). It has to do with using "liberal, PC" language to reinforce stereotypes and tell lies.

There are a lot of women who spend time putting together Ikea furniture. The fact that Muslims (or whoever) don't believe women should doesn't mean that they don't. And deleting women from history, from life, makes your portrayal of life a lie, a disservice. You start trying to tell people how to live and what to do, so that each new generation of women has to start all over again from scratch, and thinks they're crazy because they're putting together their own furniture, aren't married at 25, and never have children. They think they're nuts until they get older, start digging up feminists texts, start running through blogs, and suddenly find this huge group of people just like them.

The problem, as I see it, is placing somebody else's belief before the way the world actually works; imposing somebody else's worldview on everyone else.

In the real world, both men and women put together furniture. Pretending they don't won't make it any different: it'll only make one subset of people feel better about their place in the world, while oppressing somebody else.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Unkempt Wenches of the Wilderness

From a speculative essay on the origin of human history, by our dear friend and philosophy canon member Immanuel Kant:

"In the course of time, however, the growing luxury of the town-dwellers, and in particular the seductive arts in which the women of the towns surpassed the unkempt wenches of the wilderness, must have been a powerful temptation to the herdsmen to enter into relations with them and to let themselves be drawn into the glittering misery of the towns."

I want a T-shirt.

Can it be any more obvious that men who write books with stuff like this in them aren't actually talking to real women at all?

Frickin' hilarious.

via kelby

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Work Again, Work Again, Jiggedy-Jig

Another day, another dollar. Back in New Jersey. Last fucking week in NJ, dammit. Only mildly sleep deprived, because I was smart enough to take a Tylenol PM last night.

Stuck in the Tuesday conference calls of doom: eight to nine hours of `um. Yum. Here's a great idea for running your project - Fly people into New Jersey for conference calls that everyone else is calling into. What a grand idea. I suppose the fact that I'm here to make copies, too, justifies the $2200 in expenses I'm racking up. Ha.

Work out tonight, dinner, catch up on some story reviews. Maybe. Entertain a guest. The usual.

Can't wait for this week to end.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Thoughts on Polygamy/Polyamory

Jason's got some thoughts up on polyamory (I'm going to say polyamory as opposed to polygamy, because I feel that polyamory implies that everyone involved is marrying *each other* as opposed to polyandry or polygmany, in which it's more along the lines of one person of one sex marrying a bunch of people of the other sex, and if we're gunning for equality, you've gotta get all the polys into one word).

I went through a couple years of serious thought about my sexuality, and about the time I came up with the realization that yea, boringly, I was mostly straight, I also realized I was boringly hardwired for monogamy, no matter how alluring the idea of polyamory was (I have a lot of fun playing with polyamory in my fiction). So I've done the research, looked around at places like alt.polyamory and had discussions with a woman who had an open marriage, read about other people's open marriages, and am always fascinated with finding out how other people negotiate their sexual pairings.

As somebody who's liberal-minded, I realize that what works for *me* obviously *doesn't* work for everyone (which, I think, is the typical conservative mindset - "If *I'm* a man who thinks that kissing a man is gross, *all* men must feel that way!"), so I'm really interested in what'll happen if people do start pushing multiple marriages in this country again (the polys not being anything new under the sun). So far, I don't have too much of an opinion on the matter, though I tend to think consenting adults should be allowed to enter into whatever pairing they wish.

However, my mind immediately turns to Heinlein and his massive political/financial marriages in Moon is a Harsh Mistress and Friday, just to name two. What you can do with marriages like these is wed not for emotional/sexual feeling but for consolidation of money and power, so all the heavy hitters keep the goods within one family.

If you think there's a huge rich/poor divide now, think of the day when multiple billionaires consolidate their funds into one huge family-corporation.

Heinlein saw it.

Others Weigh in on PP

Amanda and Bitch Ph.D. and Media Girl, on PP as well.

Glad I decided to write about this one; sometimes going real personal can bring it home.

More on Being Beautiful... Only, Less

Well, Kirstie Alley's Fat Actress is gonna be out soon; not that I'm going to see it, cause I don't watch tv, but I've been interested in the tabloid interest in her and the show.. mainly because she's 5'8 and considered an obese balloon at her highest weight of.... drumroll.... 203 lbs.


203 lbs does not a freakshow make. If she was a guy who was 5'8, 203 no doubt people would be like, "Damn, that's a husky guy! He's kinda chubby!" They would not tell him to cover himself up and hide in his bedroom in shame.

Well, not quite yet anyway. Not in... some circles.

What gets me about Kirstie Alley's look is that she's not ugly. She's not unnattractive just the way she is. Like the women in Carnivale and Kate Winslet in Engima, a size 12 does not a sailboat make.. particularly when you see these women in real life and realize that the reason they look so huge on screen is because their co-stars are all 112 lbs.

I've been thinking a lot recently about my old pet interest: desire. What draws people together, why we obsess so much about our looks and how we look with the sorts of people we're attracted to.

I remember watching Carnivale and being a little weirded out that nearly half of the female main characters weighed more than 120 lbs. As I discussed before, it was a great choice for the show, and the time period, and the more I watched the show, the more I wondered why we don't have that sort of diversity on regular television and movies. Because you know what? Cynthia Ettinger is really beautiful, and has an amazingly powerful sexual prescence on screen... it just took me forever to realize it, because I'd gotten so fooled (me!) into reading "fat" (which, again, in Hollywood means anything above 120 lbs) as "no sex drive/no sex appeal." Seriously.

In fact, the only people allowed to be truly attractive appear to be the beautiful Hollywood types. Funny, how they're the only ones who're having sex, and yet... all these babies in the world. Imagine that!

It's funny, but until I read this article about the Camilla/Charles affair, it didn't really hit me that perhaps one of the reasons why nobody wants the grand wedding and the media isn't terribly interested is because they're not beautiful pepole. Diana was beautiful. Yes, she lived in her own private hell and dealt with bulima and probably had a lot of psychological freak-out image stuff, but she looked really pretty on screen, so during the wedding, when nobody wanted to look at Charles at all, they could just pan to princess-fairytale-pretty Diana.

Now, instead of a pretty farce, they've got a real love story about two not-perfect people who've been madly in love against all odds and despite all the media grotesquerie for thirty-five years... and people just laugh at them. It's like this incredibly fucking big joke that two not-perfect people could actually... love each other.

We'd rather have virginal Diana marrying her prince and pretend that somehow, by sheer virtue of her prettiness, it would make her attractive to Charles, and he to her. For some reason. Because, obviously, everyone should be immediately soul-struck by appropriately beautiful people - that is, people who look the way "beautiful" people are understood to look; thin, blond, women and tall, built men; and that's supposed to be all there is to it. Just look like a walking Abercrombie & Fitch ad, and you'll be the happiest, most loving couple(s) in the whole world.


Just buy enough plastic surgery, starve yourself, laugh a lot at some loser guy's jokes, and you'll be happy. Happy, happy. I mean, you're pretty, he's pretty. That's all there is to it, right?

Jenn mentioned an article she'd read about the rush of plastic surgeries that porn star women have been undergoing... oh, no, not just for the breasts and the tummy tucks - for the genitals. For the clit and the labia. To form a more "perfect" uniform version of female genitalia, so that they, too, all look the same.

Porn full of the same faces, the same pair of breasts, the same hips and thighs, the same clits and lips. Forming a more perfect female form. A uniform one.

Does that make us less scary? Easier to please? After all, if all women are the same, it certainly makes going to bed with them easier. And getting to know them easier. In fact, if all women were robots, life would be a lot easier for men, in general. At least for the straight ones.

Funny. Science fiction not so far off.

And watch out, boys: the consumer media culture's coming for you, too. And the day when you're expected to conform to body type ain't that far off. In some circles, it's already here.