Friday, January 29, 2010

I don't normally write poetry within confining forms; I often think of it as, as one of my favorite poets said, "Dancing in chains." On the other hand, one of my creative writing instructors once wrote on one of my poems, "You dance beautifully in chains. Now, the question: do you want to?" An existential question if ever there was one. All that aside, a sonnet. If you think it's for you...you're right.

Memorare

Remember, please, that all pain someday fades
And what is given you to understand
Is a small thing, much as the shifting shades
Which help define the greater and more grand
Entirety; Now see we through a glass
Darkly, but the time will come (and soon)
When pain and shades and even you will pass,
And earth, and sky; the sun, the quiet moon--
And finally the truth will be revealed
Which has so long desired to be known
And in that knowing, aching will be stilled
As truth is balm for brain and soul and bone.

I say this to assist you to recall:
Love and time, between them, conquer all.
-A Giedinghagen, Jan 2010

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Are you an "East Coast elitist" or "just folks?"

I was raised by 'just folks' and have since, apparently become (in the lexicon of Fox news media) a "latte-sipping, theory reading, liberal elitist." I even made a T-shirt to express this sentiment. But now I am bringing the quiz to you, to help you decide which camp you fall into. All assertions and results are strictly tongue-in-cheek. So have fun and, as my father would say, "don't get pissy."

1. Take the number of current Supreme Court justices you can name offhand. Subtract the number of Big Ten schools you can name.

2. Add one point for each of the following magazines/newspapers you subscribe to (add another point if you caught the grammatical error in the previous sentence): The New Yorker, The New York Times, Salon.com, Utne Reader, The Atlantic, Metropolis, Harper's (NOT, repeat NOT, Harper's Bazaar). Add 1/2 pt. for each you read on a regular (ie, more than six times a year) basis.

3. Subtract one point for each of the following magazines/newspapers to which you subscribe, and 1/2 pt. for each you read on a regular basis: Ladies Home Journal, Sports Illustrated, Cosmopolitan, Field and Stream, Good Housekeeping, Quilting, People.

4. Add one point for each item you own: an automatic wine bottle opener, a pepper mill, a piece of original art, a crystal bud vase, a coffee table book featuring nude photography (two points for either Susan Sontag or Mapplethorpe--take five if you have both).

5. Subtract one point for each item you own: a shotgun, a crocheted doily and/or antimacassar (add one point if you recognize that word), a singing artificial bass, a bowling ball, any item featuring a Confederate flag that's less than twenty years old.

6. Add one point for any of the following cuisines you have PREPARED yourself: Indian, Thai, Provencal, Japanese/Asian fusion, tapas.

7. Subtract one point for each of the following you have eaten in the last month: chicken fried steak, green bean casserole, salted peanuts in a can of Coke, anything containing lard and/or fried in SAVED bacon grease (subtract two if you saved said grease in a coffee can like my grandma used to), anything from Waffle House (the Mason-Dixon line has become the defacto IHOP/Waffle House line, but in Missouri they are still mingled--that was one of the riders to the Missouri Compromise).

Take one point for each A, zero for each B, and subtract one for each C.

8. Your last credit card statement included purchases at
a. The MoMA store.
b. Starbucks.
c. Larry's Liquor, Bait and Ammo.

9. During your teenage rebellious phase, you
a. Began reading Ram Dass and refused to attend your parents' Episcopal church for six months.
b. Started skipping gym class to smoke cigarettes and drink behind the gym.
c. dropped out and opened a meth lab.

10. If you were forced at gunpoint to get a tattoo, it would be
a. A short Nietzsche quote.
b. A Celtic knot.
c. The name of your live-in boyfriend, but never mind the gun...you have it already. Along with the names of your last three boyfriends. If only laser removal weren't so expensive...

11. Veganism is...
a. Oh, yeah. I went vegan for a few weeks, but the brie at my parents' latest fundraiser was my downfall.
b. Avoiding all animal products, including dairy, eggs...even honey, I think.
c. Isn't that, like, some heathen religion?

As for the scoring...I don't care anymore. You know what you are. And I'm going to bed.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

After I first heard about the tragedy in Haiti (and donated a bit to Medicins sans Frontieres--seriously, donate) I began to wonder...how long before Pat Robertson opens his evangelical blowhole and lets fly with something simultaneously poisonous and awe-inspiring? And by awe-inspiring, I mean something that will make me think, "How could a man of eighty possibly have balls of that magnitude? Does he have to carry them in a wheelbarrow? Does he just sit on them, like a beanbag chair?" And oh, I hoped I would be wrong, but the answer was: less than 24 hours. I quote:

"Something happened a long time ago in Haiti and people might not want to talk about. They were under the heel of the French, you know Napoleon the Third and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the Devil. They said 'We will serve you if you will get us free from the Prince.' True story. And so the Devil said, 'OK it's a deal.' And they kicked the French out. The Haitians revolted and got something themselves free. But ever since they have been cursed by one thing after another."

"Napoleon the Third and whatever?" And people LISTEN to this man? The man who made similar, though slightly less schizophrenic-sounding, "WTF?" staements after 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina?

People, if you are living under the spell of Pat Robertson and James Dobson and their Religious-Right cronies, please know there is a way out. There is life on the other side. I grew up (true story) watching the 700 Club (Robertson's crazy televangelist extravaganza). When I was eight, my dad decreed that we would have no more Halloween, because it was a Satanic holiday. I did not own a 'secular' CD until I received 'Jagged Little Pill' as a birthday gift (from a friend) when I was 13...and oh, what an introduction to the big, bad, secular world Alanis was! We went to church twice a week. My parents did not spare the rod (they kept a spare rod in case the first one broke, but that's another story). Guilt, shame, and another healthy helping of guilt and condemnation, that was the menu.

There are spiritual ways of relating to the world--to other people, to God, to yourself--that do not involve being a judgemental, self-righteous douchebag or a self-hating flagellant. "The greatest of these is love." Remember? The Bible? "Let he (sic) who is without sin cast the first stone?" "What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God?" Micah? Any of this ringing a bell?

And please, think of Haiti. Please, send money, good thoughts, prayers to whatever deity or Higher Order of Consciousness you believe in. Prove that not all Americans are as hard-hearted as the Unreverend Robertson.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Just...bitching.

Over the weekend I was in a position to have to purchase feminine hygiene products. Drove to the store (with cramps so bad I almost threw up in the Walgreen's parking lot), went in and was confronted by a WALL of pads and tampons. WHY are there 50 different kinds? I understand, I guess, the super plus, super and regular demarcations; but why are there scented tampons (which make even less sense than scented pads, which already make very little sense?), and how do they differ from 'stayfresh' products (which makes me imagine putting a tiny box of baking soda up there, like you keep in the fridge?), and why do we need pads not only in the aforementioned super, regular, etc. strengths, but also in overnight, long, slender, ultrathin, and something new from Always called 'infinity?' WTF? And why is it that the grocery store has the organic, chlorine-free products I normally use, but Walgreens doesn't, forcing me to purchase ones with dioxins and probably pesticides? As I was looking, I said to myself (probably a bit too loudly, considering the response of the stockboy standing near me), "I just need something to BLEED ON, for God's sake!" Said stockboy scurried away immediately.

This probably explains some of the bad mood that's been trailing me the past few days, why Ive been so easily annoyed. Several pet peeves emerging in the past few days--

The word 'Anyways,' which--in fact--is NOT a word.
As usual, people forming plurals with apostrophes ("Nacho's 2.50").
Insomnia. Again, not unusual, but particularly needling.
The influx of people at the gym, attempting to keep their new year's resolutions which in 90% of cases will be gone by February, and which means I have to wait 30 minutes for someone walking 3 miles an hour to finish in order to put in my time at 7 mph...I know it's crappy of me to be upset by this, but I can't help it.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Decriminalizing prostitution?

Apparently Dallas (Texas--one of the last places I would've expected this story to turn up) has started a program aimed at helping, rather than villifying, prostitutes. Right on!, I thought, reading the tagline on msn--"Dallas prostitutes offered help, not jail--prostitutes are treated as sex crimes victims, not criminals." Then I read the whole article. Then I slammed my head on the desk and tried to decide where I fell on this particular issue. You can read the article yourself here.

The women, once arrested (yes, they still get arrested--hmm, already it doesn't sound like they're being treated as victims, and yes, I realize that some (on both the left and the right) don't think prostitutes are victims)...well, maybe I should let you read it and insert my commentary as needed:

Police confiscate the prostitutes' property (so they ARE still criminals?) and interview them for information about criminal activity, such as whether pimps are running underage prostitutes out of area motels. Then social service workers assess the women's drug, alcohol and mental health counseling needs. The women get STD tests and other medical care at a mobile health clinic. (What happens if a woman doesn't want this assistance? I'm sure many could benefit from it, but why do I feel like a woman who asserts her agency over her body--ie, hey, dude, you're not getting a vaginal swab from me--which she is completely within her rights to do, is unlikely to get the gentle treatment any longer?)

The last stop of the night is the mobile courtroom. If the women have no felony warrants and seem sincere, (I'm sorry, but could this be a little more paternalistic, please? 'I'm really sorry, Daddy.' 'Do you really mean it?') the judge gives them the opportunity to avoid jail and enter rehab. After 45 days of inpatient counseling, they receive help with education, child care and housing. (Gee, 45 days involuntary committment to rehab or a night in jail, when I have kids to take care of. Wonder what I'll choose.)

I guess part of what irks me about this is the idea that these judges are being so magnanimous, taking care of these 'wayward women.' The article goes on and on about drugs, too. Yes, for a lot of women drugs are part of the sex-worker bag, but this focus on it seems calculated to widen the gap between Them (there are few female insults that rank above 'crack whore') and Us. It lets 'us'--the ordinary, law abiding citizens who have never sucked dick for crack--to feel better about ourselves. It also allows us to pin the blame firmly on these sex workers if they refuse 'help,' regardless of their circumstances--hey, lady, don't say we didn't give you a chance to redeem yourself. Then we don't have to deal with the social issues like pay inequity and lack of affordable childcare that foster disproportionate female poverty. We don't have to really digest the fact that (in some studies I've read...I'll link to them later) more than 50% of sex workers were sexually abused as children, or that johns are treated to a nudge and a wink while women are carted off to jail.

But Anne! you say (yes, I heard you). What kind of third-wave feminist are you? It's a choice! These women aren't victims, they're sex-positive goddess-women reasserting their agency over their bodies! Um. I hate to break it to you, but many--in fact, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say most--sex workers are not Annie Sprinkle. Nor are they Carol Queen, or Kate Bornstein (all of whom, don't get me wrong, are totally, rockingly awesome--google 'em if you don't know them). I will venture here that providing help rather than prison is the way I would go, were I in the cops' shoes--but without arrests or hearings. Community mental health, sexual health and substance abuse referrals, access to safe housing and childcare and jobs...these are the things I would aim to provide to those women who wanted them. Without intimidation or coercion.

Final note--the photo at the top of the MSN page shows a "17 year old arrested for prostitution" being comforted by social welfare workers. Hey, kids, guess what? Y'know what it's called when an adult has sex with a minor, even if he pays her? Statutory rape. And y'know what you should be arrested for if you're the minor that happens to? Not a goddamn thing.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Eating disorders kill.

So I was at the grocery store today and I actually bought (shh!) an In-Touch magazine, something I have never previously done and which I will probably never do again. Brittany Murphy was on the cover: she died, apparently, and inside there were a number of pictures where she looked skinny as hell.
The 'doctor' cited in the article said a number of prescriptions were found at her home, including Topamax (used for mood stabilization and sedation in addition to its primary use as an anticonvulsant), Ativan and Klonipin (with which I am intimately familiar, having some anxiety issues myself--they're benzodiazepines), and some sedatives and hydrocodone. The doctor stated that Ativan and Klonopin, in high enough doses, can cause cardiac arrest. BZZZZZ. Incorrect. You have to take an assload of benzos to kill yourself, and you have to take them with alcohol. We're talking LOTS. Maybe it was the sedatives, or the opioids--but my money's on an eating disorder. Alarmingly, one of the commonest ways for anorexics (and bulimics) to die is just that way--cardiac arrest. Boom. Even if she were dabbling in pharmaceuticals, having a system weakened by severe eating disorder puts you at greater risk for "adverse events."

I've been having a flare-up of the old issues, myself. I know that article should serve as a wake-up call, but there's still the part of me that's looking at her pictures and thinking, "Damn, I wish my arms looked like that. I bet if I ran X miles a day and kept below X calories, I could be there in a few months...well, I've been on this new diet for a week now, and I've already lost X pounds..." It's sick and it's twisted, but it is also the way of the American woman--and a damn shame.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2010/01/american-christianism-in-africa.html

http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2010/01/american-christianism-in-africa.html

So some U.S. fundamentalists are finally helping Africa do what they've been trying to carry off in America for decades--kill all the gays.
I guess that gives a new meaning to 'mission trip,' not to mention 'intentionally lethal, holier-than-thou, bloodthirsty assholery.'

Words literally fail me. That someone would knowingly help make homosexuality not just a crime, but a hanging offense? You know that means people in Uganda are going to die, right? 'Mr.' Lively is threatened by people who lead lifestyles that are not his own--people do not share his worldview. And for this, he wants them to die and stop threatening the American Nuclear Family (which has pretty much blown itself up without any help from queermos like myself). Were this not so serious an issue, I might even ponder...could Lively possibly be trying to 'kill' some nascent homoerotic tendencies in himself? ("I will not think about dick. I won't, I won't, I won't! Hey--maybe if we rounded up some of those awful homosexuals and started killing them...yeah, that just the defense mechanism I need!") Could Uganda possibly be looking for a scapegoat for the sorry-ass shape their country is in? I smell a fourth reich--but this time they're coming for gays.

Monday, January 04, 2010

One of my New Year's *intentions* (I decided that setting good intentions was a better paradigm than the more paternalistic 'there's something wrong with you' approach of resolutions) was to find a significant other.

However, since that has not yet occurred...The seeds of an 'anti-Valentine's Day Party' have been planted in my head. I'm thinking, unromantic foods--black stuff, sour stuff, salty stuff. Bitter(sweet) chocolate, even though chocolate should be off limits...I guess as long as no one at the party is passing chocolates tongue-to-tongue, it should be fine. Hmmm...