Sunday, April 30, 2006

holy crap

I just saw a busker playing fiddle tunes while standing on a tight rope.

I had half a mind to go buy a hat just so I could take it off to him. Instead I took a picture and gave some change.

Bath is lovely (though sadly lacking in dyke bars). It somehow manages to be highly touristy without being completely annoying. Yesterday was Jane's Day, I took the walking tour, did the JA Centre, even had tea in the Regency Rooms (totally winced as I ordered "Tea with Mr. Darcy"--god Janeites are so fucking corny--but I hadn't had lunch and sandwiches, scones, and two kinds of cake sounded great). It occured to me during all this that I would probably totally horrify Jane Austen, if I ever meet up with her in the afterlife. But she'd win in the end by making me a ridiculous secondary character in a new novel, and I'd love her for it.

Tomorrow I'm on to Glastonbury, for May Day (with any luck). Should be interesting. Then on to Cardiff, meet up with the folks of Mind the Gap!

Friday, April 28, 2006

you gotta fight for your right

to paaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrtaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyy!

So after I pitched my little hissy fit here (it's finally all sorted out, but I still gotta wait a week before I get my cash) I went out and I got that drink at The Candy Bar in SoHo.

god I love lesbian bars. Best invention ever.

It was surprisingly easy to find, luckily. I probably could have walked there from my hostel. It's teeny, which I like. Very similar in feel to my favorite Parisian bars, 3W and Bliss Kfe. Very pink. I am so becoming a dyke bartender when I go home, smoke allergy bedamned. So cute. I had enough cash for exactly one beer plus change just in case, so the plan was to have a quiet night, nurse my beer and enjoy the dykespace. Unless I could get someone to buy me a drink. Which I did, but I'm getting ahead of myself.
Really busy for a Thursday night, which I thought was odd, until two latex clad girls came strolling in, and I realized I had managed, on my only night out in London, to come to the only lesbian bar in town that has pole-dancing on Thursdays.
You know I had to see it; how can I pick a side in the Feminist Sex Wars without first hand research? That's just bad scholarship. I forked over the three pounds (oh, so painful, ouch) to get into the even tinier basement for the show.
Pole-dancing is...interesting. Just as silly as stripping, but it earns more of my esteem because it requires actual talent and athleticism. I mean, I sure as hell couldn't do all that. Wow. It is impressive, but whether it's exploitive or not is debatable (duh). Is it artistic expression? I'm not so sure; it's basically acrobatic stripping. It's the same kind of moves, just varied in order. Oh, this time she's going to hang upside down topless before taking off her knickers, oh that's neat.
The audience was enthusiastic, more or less; I ended up talking to this older couple, 50ish at least, first-timers as well. Very nice English ladies, we swapped coming out stories (mine was a lot easier than theirs, obviously. Thanks, Second Wave!) and opinions on the show.
"Well, it's very atheletic, " said Jo "but I don't find it very erotic, do you?"
Her partner Paula concurred. Paula was more than a little tipsy and kind of spent most of the time inconspicuously grabbing my ass. Which I found hilarious (she was so, I don't know, sweet about it, if that makes any sense) and I guess Jo didn't mind. She bought me a drink too.
" But you know those girls aren't gay," Jo continued. " Gay women wouldn't do that kind of thing."
Well, I don't know, I thought. These days, it's very liberating, apparently, to mimic straight sex culture. I'd actually read about the first dancer in Diva (the British lesbian magazine); apparently she was voted "Best Breasts". Which is totally true, speaking on strictly aestetic level, you understand.
(Jeez, no wonder my blog was blocked by the computers at the London hostel)
So is it totally hypocritical of me that I put a fake bill in the girl's garter during her routine? You buy them for a pound, and Jo had three (I got her and Paula to put one in her garter too). It was fun, I won't deny that, I enjoyed myself. But not without reservations. Do the dynamics of pole-dancing change because the context changes--a lesbian dancer performing for other lesbians, instead of a straight woman performing for straight men? Part of me says yes, but how much? And, on the other hand...I don't know. I don't have the time to think it all through right now.
DJ was great, and I ended up talking to a cute black girl from Paris (figures). So it was a fantastic night, on the whole, for cheap, and no hangover either.
And now I'm in Bath. Geeking out on Jane Austen again!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Dear France


All that good will you earned during my stay? You've just blown it completely. Fuck you you lazy ass chain smoking dumbfuck winos. You so don't deserve to have Paris in your country. Fuck your ridiculously elaborate conversation fillers: je vous en prie! C'est moi qui vous remercie! Just shove it. Thank you sooo much for taking time out of your oh so important nail-filing time to transfer my funds you silly bitch. So you didn't get all five of my phone messages or my emails? What the fuck's the point of business card if you can't contact anybody with the info on it? Oh wait! I forgot! This is France, it's just there to LOOK PRETTY.

god I need a drink.

I'm going to Bath tomorrow, to starve while I wait for the transfer to go through.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

A Tour through Hampshire--In a Letter from a young Lady--

WHEN Cassandra had attained her 16th year, she was lovely & amiable, & chancing to fall in love with an elegant Bonnet her Mother had just compleated, bespoke by the Countess of ----, she placed it on her gentle Head & walked from her Mother's shop to make her Fortune.--"The Beautifull Cassandra"

Getting to Jane Austen's house in Chawton is not what you'd call straightforward. Take the tube to Waterloo station, take the train to Alton, then a bus from Alton to the Chawton roundabout, then walk 15 minutes through disgustingly charming country lanes. If it's out of the way in this day and age it must have been positively cloistered in its remoteness back in 18whatever.

Today everything went well. The sun came out, for one thing. The birds were singing like it was going out of style. I had a smooth journey all the way, and even missing the first bus out gave me a chance to grab some lunch. The area is quiet and unassuming, grazing sheep in the fields and rabbits scampering around. Even the cars rushing by on the highway sound kind of laidback. And the house just appears, very anticlimatically, around the bend, a little white sign announcing Jane Austen's House. Aside from that, it doesn't look all that different from the neighboring homes (there are thatched roofs here, for christ's sake). Without a sign you might even walk right past it without realizing that some of the greatest novels in the English language were written inside. I pay my four pounds admission fee and pick up a guide, which I don't really need since I already know all the information inside. The little old ladies who run the place are gossiping about neighbors and family members and respective illnesses, which is so hilariously appropriate that I have to bite my tongue to keep from laughing. I wonder if they realize they've just turned into some of Austen's minor characters.
Here's her father's bookshelf with some early editions of her work; a period pianoforte; original letters on display under glass, her topaz cross in a drawer, next the dining parlor, and there it is, The Table, where she wrote and revised her work. I knew it was tiny but I'm still surprised by the size. No wonder pages of Persuasion in the British Library are so small. Squeezed into a corner of the room on a miniscule table.
The house is everything I hoped it would be. Peaceful and lived in, if a bit hallowed as well (This handkerchief was once sneezed upon by Jane's great-great-great nephew!!). You can see her here, gazing out the window into the street, sitting in the garden, walking down the lane while puzzling over how to get Emma and Mr. Knightley together.
I excercized appalling restraint in the bookshop, but I wanted to get things that I couldn't find at home or on the net. I would definitely have bought The Confession of Fitzwilliam Darcy if it hadn't been in hardback (I can't justify hauling it around the UK). As it is I walked away with bookplates, and music, and Emma Thompson's set diaries from Sense and Sensibility. And lots of disappointing pictures of myself posing in front of various things.
Then the kindly little old man (who makes me think of Mr. Woodhouse; resemblance to Austen characters must be one of the requirements for the job) gives me confusing directions on how to catch the bus back and I ramble around Hampshire for a bit, getting only a little bit lost.
And now I'm back in London, and I think I'll have another quiet evening (I didn't hit the Candy Bar after all), planning out my next move. Thursday will be my night on the town. Despite the fact that Blogger's being a total ASS, and I still have no word from my French bank, I am thoroughly, utterly content.
Cassandra smiled & whispered to herself "This is a day well spent."

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

fate is playing silly buggers with me

as Douglas Adams once said. This is the fourth time I've tried to post, let's see if Blogger will stop being a dick for once (it must be hanging out with Ricardo and Trevor or something).

The last five days have been surreal. I'm in London, surviving on what money my parents' have lent me, I haven't heard back from my French bank counselor person (though I've called her twice and emailed her), I've been existing in alternating states of panic and bliss, which will wear you out quicker than sore feet will.
Obviously my number one problem is money. I don't know what I'm gonna do. Being flat broke in London is not quite as fun as being flat broke in Paris, mainly because I don't know the city as well as I do Paris. In Paris I feel comfortable enough to go out on my own at night carrying only metro tickets and some cash. However, all the museums in London are free, thanks to the Queen's Golden Jubilee thingy. As a result I've dropped my flirtation with radical anarcha-feminism in favor of monarchy and divine right. God save the Queen!
I'm in a hostel right across the street from the British museum, where I stumbled on a life sized statue of Anne Damer (the heroine of Emma Donoghue's Life Mask). I'm in freakin' Bloomsbury, which is enough to make me faint from sheer delight. Sitting in Russel Square trying to picture Virginia Woolf there. Also did the British Library, where I promptly passed out from It's All Too Muchness: Persuasion!! Middlemarch! BEOWULF! The last entry in Scott's journal before he freezes to death in Antartica, "For God's sake look after our people." Beatles lyrics!!
Today was book browsing (but not buying, I'm being very good. A heavy suitcase will keep a girl in line more than a bank balance will). The Occult Bookshop, Quintos, Oxfam Books, and Waterstones, the largest bookstore in Europe. This afternoon I did the National Portrait Gallery, where I said hello to Mary Wollstonecraft, Jane Austen, etc, and rounded out my Life Mask tour by viewing the busts of Fox and Eliza Farren that Anne Damer sculpted.
I'm pretty exhausted. Trying to work up the energy to check out the girls in The Candy Bar tonight (I can afford a drink). Part of my exhaustion is due to my inexplicably snagging myself a French girlfriend for a 24 hour period my last night in Paris. Friend of a friend of a friend, literally, and my first butch too. Suffice to say I had a little too much fun Saturday night, and we spent most of Sunday inventing new makeout spots and seeing how many old ladies we could shock on the metro. So after 8 months of trying I can finally scratch "French girls" off my To Do list.
In short, when I'm not feeling a constant low-level anxiety or sheer happiness, I'm feeling frazzled. Maybe I should just cool it and come back to London at the end of May.
I better get off the damn internet now; I'm going to attempt to go to Chawton tomorrow to make my Jane Austen pilgrimage.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Paris in the springtime

If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young woman, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a movable feast.

Paris in the springtime. Hands down. Fall is nice, and winter is good too; and of course in the summer it's a complete headache. But Paris in the spring is so freaking lovely that it's got me quoting Hemingway, fer gawd's sake, even though my bank hasn't transfered my earnings to my American account which means I'm running out of cash right quick (I'm going to have to call them up and yell at them. There's a reason why when people say "France" the words that jump to mind are "romance", "wine", "art", etc, and not "organization", "pragmatism", or "work ethic".)

But even being strapped for cash in Paris has an air of bohemian adventure to it (until you get hungry, that is). How very...Henry Miller of me. I sat in the Jardin du Luxembourg yesterday, exhausted from a nightmarish train ride (see the complaints above), but the sun was shining and the lilacs blooming and children were playing Red Light Green Light, which in French seems to be "Un, deux, trois, soleil!" I sat under a tree and finished Mes mauvaises pensées.

...I'm alone in the city and I'm alive, you see, at the Place de la Concorde, I'm alive, the Tuileries arcades, I'm alive, Place de Vendôme, I'm alive, Place des Victoires, I'm alive, I have a bond of love with Paris; I'm dazzled: the chestnut trees, the Louvre, the Seine, the towers; I'm dazzled by the words "I've found the heart of Paris."

I'm not too sure about the sense of s'etourdir, but you get the idea. It's more beautiful in French.

I spent too much money on books, as usual. Bought magazines at Violette and Co, which has replaced Les mots à la bouche as my favorite queer bookstore, because Violette is lesbian-run, for women. Said hello to the cats in Shakespeare and Co, and stumbled across a new favorite, The Abbey Bookstore, hidden away in the Latin Quarter; it's run by a friendly Canadian man who offers everybody coffee. It's organized according to the French system, that is, books are shelved where ever there's space, it's like a cramped maze of genres and authors all mixed up, and you literally step over books to peer at others that are piled into precarious towers. I made an amazing discovery there; a pristine 1890 edition of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's poetry, in red tooled leather, with the pages still uncut. Which means in the last 100 years, no one's ever read it. It's the most depressing thing I've ever seen.

And now I'm off to buy up the rest of Nina Bouraoui's work. God, where am I going to put them all? And where am I going to get the money???

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

gone away to be happy at Bath

and London, Dublin, Edinburgh, Berlin...

[/obscure Jane Austen reference]

Thanks for all your comments on the previous post, folks. It helps to be listened to.

I'm leaving on Friday morning for what is essentially a month-long supersized literary geek-out in Britain (three words, my friends: "Jane Austen pilgrimage".) I've been waiting my whole life to do something like this. Let's hope I don't run out of money. Posting will be erratic at best, I imagine (mostly along the lines of "yes I'm still alive" and "OMG Chawton is awesome I luuuuuuuurve Jane Austen!!")

And now I have to pack.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

a little patriarchy-blaming, before I go

so, in my last post, Winter commented: Well, in a lot of other respects, it sounds like it's time for this era to end.

To which I reply, you can say that again, sister.

Don't get me wrong, Saturday night was fun. There are few things more entertaining than speculating how Yul Brynner manages to walk around 19th century Mexico dressed entirely in black without dying of heat exhaustion (Adios, Sabata! was playing. An American western, directed by an Italian, starring a Russian of Mongolian descent, dubbed into French. Who says globalization is a bad thing?). Except perhaps watching Back to the Future dubbed into French, which is what I did last night.

But. I got home that night kind of annoyed. And the more I think about it, the more pissed off I get. Because Ricardo and Trevor were just assholes, in that inebriated, frat-boy kind of way. It was just me and the guys, hanging out, as usual, but this was different. They kept hitting on me and making sexual comments all night. It was really uncomfortable. It started when I got there, and Ricardo accidentally spilled a beer all over my jeans (they had already been drinking three hours by the time I arrived). He apologetic, etc, but he said "I'm just trying to get you naked, Anne!" Haha, fine, whatever. "If you want to take your pants off it's okay with me!" Um, no, I'm cool with sitting in wet jeans all night, which is what I did.
And it just continued the rest of the evening. "Trying to get Anne naked" became a running joke. I found myself wishing I had worn a bra, or a baggier shirt, because I caught them both checking me out. I was describing the creepy French couple who tried to pick me up in the dyke bar in Paris, "unfortunately I didn't realiwe she was married until after we made out!" And Trevor starts teasing me for a demonstration, "I need a visual", although I could see he was already picturing it in his head.
Just little things, like that, needling me all night, and I didn't put up much resistance. Ricardo grabbed my ass when we went to the bar. I punched him in the shoulder, which made him laugh. Trevor propositioned me as he walked me home.
"So, are you sure you're a lesbian?"
"Ten years and running, Trevor."
He didn't shut up until I snapped "I've never kissed a guy but you ain't gonna be the first, okay?"
Ricardo did that thing he always does when a half naked woman bounces across the tv screen in her underwear, which, this being France, is often. Stops mid-sentence to stare at the screen and grunt in appreciation. Which makes my skin crawl. "Oh for god's sake, Ricardo!" I groaned.
"What! You like women!"
"Yeah, but I treat them like human beings."
"I do to!"
No, you don't, I thought to myself. But I didn't say anything more, because I knew he wouldn't understand.

I've been stewing about this all weekend. Partly because my friends were sexually harrassing me. I may be "one of the guys", but at the end of the day they are People and I am a fuckhole on legs ( like the joke says, "Q. What's that useless piece of flesh above a vagina? A. A woman.") We've had plenty of fun before, just hanging out, without them making me feel exposed and humiliated. I've realized that some part of my brain believed that dressing more boyishly would make me exempt from this crap, that by being androgynous I could escape some of the objectification that conventionally feminine women endure. Guess not. It was almost like they were trying to prove that I can't escape, that no matter what I look like I'll always be Female first, a member of the Sex Class, and don't you forget it. Even if you don't fuck guys, we'll make sure you still function within heteronormativity, a thing to look at and fantasize about. Your sexuality is our entertainment, something to laugh about and jerk off to. It doesn't belong to you, sweetheart. Hey, let's flirt with the lesbian and watch her squirm, that'll be funny.
I'm mad at myself because most of the time it didn't even occur to me to get upset. This kind of thing is a matter of course; I'm used to it. I'm used to people cramming me into a heteronormative dynamic. I'm mad at myself because this always happens to me, when I most need my voice I lose it. I can write on my blog all I want, but when push comes to shove I can't get past the patriarchal conditioning that teaches me to placate and smile and change the subject. Distraction is the only defense I can muster. Play nice and maybe they'll stop. I'm furious that even if I call them up tonight and let loose a righteous lashing, they won't get it. They won't hear my anger. They won't understand my fear.
I'm mad at the fucking Patriarchy for turning my friends into assholes. I'm pissed that I can't have a fucking drink with friends without it turning into a power struggle. I'm mad that my friends are so steeped in their male privilege that not only can they not see how offensive their behavior is, they wouldn't see how threatening a woman would find it. I was reading about the Duke rape case earlier that day; and the only difference between me and those women is that I got lucky. I wasn't actually frightened of Ricardo and Trevor, but what was to prevent them from attacking me? Not a godamn thing except their own goodwill. I went drinking, alone, with two intoxicated men, both of whom are bigger than me, in a place where I couldn't escape; Ricardo has to let us in and out through the gate. Not to mention I'm in a foreign country where I wouldn't know where to get help if they did hurt me. What if I had gotten drunk and passed out? What jokes would they have tried then? I'm incensed that if I had been a man, or if my friends had been women, this context wouldn't have been anything to worry about.
I don't believe Ricardo and Trevor are potential rapists. I believe they're just stupid dumbfucks.


Winter's got a goodpost on this subject.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

the end of an era

tonight is the last night I get to drink screwdrivers with Ricardo and watch dubbed spaghetti westerns.


But, then I get to go to Paris, so I guess I'll recover.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Frankly, Mr. Shankly, since you ask...

Things at Problem School have reached the point that as soon as I think of it, this song by the Smiths pops into my head.
You are a flatulent pain in the arse
I do not mean to be so rude
Still, I must speak frankly, Mr. Shankly

Though saying that it "corrodes my soul" is perhaps a bit much. Still, best "Take this job and shove it" song ever. Guess who found out a few weeks ago that she's been spending her Thursdays at a ZEP school? ZEP stands for zone educatif prioritaire, and means that it really is a Problem School, for Problem Kids. So basically I've spent the last 6 months or so teaching unmedicated ADD kids with troubled families, and didn't know it. Nor did anyone bother to adequately explain to me how the disciplinary system works.
The thing is, the teachers and staff are all nice people. They just see me as a substitute teacher, WHICH I'M NOT. I don't think they realize I don't have any experience. And the two "training" sessions in Metz were an absolute joke. I've been making it up as I go along. My French breaks down utterly when I go there; I have some sort of mental block, I can't adequately communicate with my professors. Misunderstandings happen nearly every week, it feels like I haven't had a single day there where I didn't fuck something up.
The kids are a mixed bag. Many of them, including Baby Dyke, are nice, ordinary kids, not overly studious. Quite a few of them are assholes. Most of them don't care about English, and I can't say I blame them; this is the Poor School, these are lower-income students who are going to go straight to the technical lycee and learn a trade, what do they need English for? The younger kids are a handful, but they're at least nicer to me (generally) than the older teens, who pretty much regard me with thinly veiled contempt. If I was their classmate they'd be picking on me.
I'm just really, really tired of feeling stupid and laughed at (only two more days left there, I keep telling myself).
Today was one of the better days. I switch teachers every week, and today was my last day with Christelle's students. And she cancelled three of my classes, so I didn't have any asshat 3emes to deal with. I had a nice class with Bene's 4emes, who, while noisy, are nicer and more enthusiastic than the others. I've always like them. I taught them how to write text messages in English (I figure if they're going to text each other behind my back, they might as well do it in the right language). It went well, and then at the end of the class, they had a little goodbye ceremony. I got a handmade card with the Union Jack on it:
Dear Anne
Thank you Very much.
It was nice to have you with us in class you are cool and nice. We liked studying with you about Irish dance, American schools (we liked the photos!) We wish you good luck in your life and a good trip return.
And then they gave me presents! A stuffed animal, a homemade cake (!), and...a...well, thing. I guess it's supposed to be a decoration or something. One of my students took a roof tile, one of those big, heavy, curved ones that usually go with stucco Southwestern style houses, painted it lavender, glued pictures of Christmas trees and teddy bears on it, then covered it in glitter.
It's so bizarrely funny that I love it. Not looking forward to the shipping costs for it though.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

busy late night nothings, now with extra random poetry

Ah, Love, you smell of petroleum
and overwork
with grease on your fingernails,
paint in your hair
there is a pained look in your eye
from no appreciation
you speak to me of the lilacs
and appleblossoms we ought to have
the banquets we should be serving
afterwards rubbing each other for hours
with tenderness and genuine
olive oil
someday. Meanwhile here is your cracked plate
with spaghetti. Wash your hands &
touch me, praise
my cooking. I shall praise your calluses,
we shall dance in the kitchen of our imagination.

Right, i should totally be in bed instead of up posting Judy Grahn poems on Val's laptop. After months of paying through the nose for the rationed privilege of checking my email while surrounded by 50 14 year old boys playing some sort of computer version of Operation Iraqi Freedom ("Merde! Ah, putain!!'), a renegade cloud of illegal but free wifi has drifted into our flat. So I'm taking advantage of it. I should be in bed, I gotta get up early tomorrow because I agreed to go to some random villiage nearby at 7 in the morning.
Yeah, anyway, I'm almost done here in Verdun. On April 22 I plan to be on a train to Paris. So things are in that totally wierd state when you're about to make a major change but it hasn't happened yet and everything's continuing as per usual, like just before you graduate. Limbo. Tension. Liminal space. I hate periods like this. Everything becomes heightened, given extra significance it wouldn't have otherwise. The last movie I see at the cinema. Actually paying attention to my surroundings on my morning jogs by the river, trying to fix them in my memory. Saying hello to an acquainence, Tony the barman/local pot dealer, the boulanger who sells me my bread, someone who's always been in the background of your day. There's like a wierd poignancy to it that annoys me to no end. Because, yes, there are things I will miss about Verdun, like how the bus drivers always nod hello to the garbage collectors as they drive by, or the ever-changing sky that makes me think of Vermeer's View of Delft. But let's not make it worse or more melodramatic than it has to be, okay? Let's just get it over with. I'm ready to go. I've got some teacher version of Senioritis, I just can't be bothered; I'm not a teacher, I realized that my first week on the job, but it's been a good experience, and now it's time to move on. How can I do lesson planning when I've got my Grand Tour in front of me? Paris, then London, England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, Berlin. And my last night in Europe will of course be in Paris. I'm not sure I'm gonna make it, my brain can't handle that much, you know, happiness and shit. 'Bizarre Death of American Backpacker! Coroner Reports Abnormally High Levels of Endorphins in the Bloodstream! Too Much of a Good Thing? See page A3' I mean, the last time I was in London I was 17 and "straight", on a whirlwind 9 day trip with nuns. Not that it wasn't fun (notable especially for my first sight of drag queens, walking past the Tower of London in the middle of the day). But. Just you wait this time, London. You won't know what hit you. I'm going to be so broke when I get home.
Home. That's the thing. I want to go home and I don't want to go home. I miss family, friends, electrical sockets that aren't round, pick up trucks, my own car, my books, milk that comes in gallons, barbeques and corny classic rock, cutoff jeans and farmer's tans, Mexican beer. I can't wait to get my life started back home, make dyke friends, date, learn Aikido, get a pet iguana, join Code Pink and cause some trouble, get my hands dirty again. But I'm afraid, too, of getting stuck in Missouri, getting stuck in some shitty job in some shitty town wishing I'd gotten that PhD in Lit like everyone told me to, realizing that this time here was the best time of my life and it's all downhill from now on. Because it has been the best time of my life, and I'm a different person than when I left, more confident, more assertive, more secure. More adventurous. I'm more like the person I always wanted to be. And what if it doesn't last? What if I come home with all 7 of Nina Bouraoui's novels and lose my ability to read French? What if I regress? I'm afraid, too, of sticking out even more than I did when I left. Cause here I often feel like an ignorant hick (middle-class midwest and middle-class East coast and middle-class Western Europe can be very, very different things), but back home I'm going to be Too Intellectual, Too Educated, Too, believe it or not, Sophisticated.
What if, part of me wonders, finding a place to be, of my own, means having to sacrifice some part of myself? Because back home I'm too bookish and too gay, and here I'm too provincial.
Life would be alot simpler if I liked boys and makeup; but I seem to insist on being someone who goes fishing (mm, deep fried catfish) and reads Colette in the original.
Okay, I really need to get some sleep. God I'm going to hate myself in the morning.

Monday, April 10, 2006

all of the moral superiority, none of the soy!

yeah, I'm a theoretical vegetarian.

File this under "Bad Feminist!"

*file also under "Linguistic Fuckwittage". Stupid French. I used to be in spelling bees, back in the day. Look at me now. Oh how the mighty have fallen.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Que sont mes amis devenus/Qua j'avais de si près tenus/Et tant aimés

Talk about flashbacks. I have just found my first love via Facebook.

To sum up: Facebook is like Friendster for American universities. You have a profile, photo, can join groups, send messages, testimonials (called The Wall), the whole shebang. And you can search for people based on their previous education, finding old friends you went to high school with, etc.

So I got a message in my inbox today, "B has requested you as a friend on Facebook!" I was reading B.'s profile, and there she was, Annie, the first message on B.'s wall.

I kind of fell for Annie before I ever saw her. When I was 12 the big news in the sixth grade was that we'd be getting a new student next year, a girl from England. I was already a raging Anglophile, and I used to daydream about her, trying to imagine her accent, wondering what she looked like. Maybe we'd even be friends; probably not, I was bookish and unpopular, but wouldn't it be cool if she was? I had had small childhood crushes on girls before, though I didn't recognize them for what they were at the time; they consisted of me quietly adoring a girl from afar and hoping she would let me sit with her and her friends at lunch.
But, wonder of wonders, when Annie arrived the next fall, not only was she well-liked and beautiful, she became a part of my little circle of friends. Annie was my friend!! She liked me! I couldn't believe my luck. She was sweet and funny, with long curly black hair, and I adored her. She didn't have an accent, actually; her father was in the Army and they moved around a lot. We became a tight-knit bunch, Annie, B, S, me, C and K. Always ate lunch together, had slumber parties, went to the movies. I agonized over her birthday present; what could I get her that would communicate how I felt? It was more like an offering of my affections. I remember sitting across from her during lunch one day, and I cracked some joke, and her wonderful laughter spilled out and she said I was so funny. I swear, I walked on air for weeks, because Annie thought I was funny. It's all still so vivid.
I actually grew a bit jealous of B, who was a sweetheart, because she was Annie's Best Friend and got to spend a lot more time with her than I did. And I remember lining up for class in the hallway one ordinary day, thinking about Annie, and feeling that sickening drop in the pit of my stomach, as I realized that I didn't just like Annie, I like-liked her. You that. The way all my friends felt about popular boys like Josh or Mark or Adam. And I can't adequately describe the experience of knowing something that you can't even name, because I didn't know the word lesbian then, I had only the vaguest understanding of what homosexuality was, I didn't know girls could be gay. Girls got married and had babies, or became nuns. The end. And how can you understand something that you have no words for? You can't, and I didn't, I was confused and terrified. I had this wierd sense of being physically broken inside, and I didn't know how to fix it. But I did know that it was Wrong, and that I should never tell anyone about it. I would just ignore it, and it would stop. I continued to adore Annie, but from a little further away. And then the next year, she moved again.

I requested her as friend, just to see what would happen, what she's like now. I doubt she even remembers me, at least not as clearly as I remember her.

ETA: She friended me, so she does technically remember me. Still gorgeous. Good lord is she lovely. And she's in the Feminists Unite! group. I was so worried that she might have turned into a Republican voting Stepford Wife like another old friend....I guess I could send her a message, but what would I say? 'Hi, I almost died when I found you on Facebook, you turned me into a dyke. Hope things are going well!'
Also, post title is from Pauvre Ruteboef, a medieval French courtly love poem. I thought it was fitting.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

in case you were wondering

and I know you were all dying with curiosity, this is exactly how I achieve my Eurofabulous punk tomboi faux hawk. (fuck no I'm not going to no French salon. Have you seen French women lately? With the amount of money they spend maintaining their coifs you could pay off the debt of a small African nation.)

(Though I wonder what would happen if I walked in and said "Make me look like a boy." Or even how I would conjugate that verb...)

Monday, April 03, 2006

The Beautiful

a coke and a smoke as we roam the grey prarie.
what sentiment do I want to express at the end of our world,
a terriffic excitement as we prepare to exit america.
its many eyes america the hydra the milky stuffed beast the roast
beef sandwich of america.
i have no doubt we created it.
the absent truckers stitching the states together,
the moving monuments of this country. we destroy a little bit of
everything we pass.
the bomb tucked dearly into farm land.
rest stops, missing but a simple bolt of certain rage.
the wake of america at our tail oh we could kill it, couldn't we.
america what shitty parents you were.
we have to run away again and again we keep coming back to see if you missed us
but you didn't even know we were gone.
we write tell all books about our rotten childhoods
the bad food you fed us the coat hanger beatings
can i process my bad relationship with america,
can we go to couple's counseling
can we sit down and talk about all this bad energy.
oh america i love you i just want to go on a date with you
and you won't even give me the time of day
stuck up bitch-- think you're too good for me
america i could have anyone
canada london amsterdam is in love with me
but it's you i want america. what could i do to impress you
i could write you an anthem but you have so many
fuck you america you're just so emotionally unavailable
you act like it's everyone else's fault you're just a really bad
communicator and you have serious boundary issues.
i think you're really fucked up america
i think you've got a lot of problems.
i keep getting all these hang-up calls i know it's you america you better cut the shit
i'm getting a restraining order. if america comes within 25 feet of me
i'm throwing her ass in jail how do you like that america?
you can dish it out but you really can't take it america
you're such a baby we've been together all these years and you still
won't let me call you girlfriend
you act like it doesn't mean anything.
i'm over it america i think you're really self-loathing
you know i made you what you are today i think you forget about
that well you can just forget about everything america
you can just forget the whole thing
i'm going home

Michelle Tea

Happy National Poetry Month, all youall in the States. I thought this would be an appropriate poem to start with. It's the only thing of Michelle Tea's I've read, found it after endless google searching, someday, someday when I'm independantly wealthy and have access to radical dyke indie media I'll buy up all her stuff. I love how it describes the idea of patriotism and national identity as a fucked up lesbian affair. I love her description of the desolate midwest, lonely highways and truck stops--sounds about right to me. Somehow Tea takes all that media jargon and relationship psychobabble and turns it around, makes it actually express something true, instead of obfuscating. I like how petulant and bitchy it is. Growing up with the American Dream and The Constitution's Preamble, "We the people", and the Declaration and My Country 'Tis of Thee, and then you grow up and realize you've been had; it's just like after you break up, you look at this person you used to be crazy about and you think, "Who the hell are you? Where did you come from?? What did you do with the person I loved?" I love the queer lineage behind this poem, Allen Ginsburg's "America", and of course, our unofficial anthem, "America the Beautiful", actually a kind of nice poem that everybody doesn't know was written by a dyke. Michelle Tea rocks. Plus, she's really cute.

Saturday, April 01, 2006


In lieu of writing anything myself, here's some literary fangirlishness.
I was in the last spasms of an affair with a Dutch girl called Inge. She was a committed romantic and an anarcha-feminist. This was hard for her because it meant she couldn't blow up beautiful buildings. She knew the Eiffel Tower was a hideous symbol of phallic oppression but when ordered by her commander to detonate the lift so that no-one should unthinkingly scale an erection, her mind filled with young romantics gazing over Paris and opening aerograms that said Je t'aime. Written on the Body
Jeannette Winterson is so my Literary Girlfriend. (Although it occurs to me that an anarcha-feminist wouldn't really have a "commander", would she? Being an anarchist and all...)
In the difficult years of an evangelical childhood, which is and is not Orangers are not the only fruit, I used save my soul. Save my soul from what? From ordinariness, from habit, from prejudice, from fear, from the constraints of a life not chosen by me but strapped onto my back. How to make the burden fall? Through Books. Language caught and made to serve a master. Ariel across tme and space. "The Psychometry of Books"
I should have known my Great European Romance would be with an author.
Never lie. Never say that something has moved you if you are still in the same place. You can pick up a book but a book can throw yuo across the room. A book can move you from a comfortable armchair to a rocky place where the sea is. A book can separate you from your husband, your wife, your children, all that you are. It can heal you out of a lifetime of pain. Books are kinetic, and like all huge forces, need to be handled with care. "The Psychometry of Books"

In February I was in Paris, sitting in the window of a café near St. Germain-des-Prés, eating a croque madame, reading Winterson, a night of whirlwind drinking and dancing and selfish hedonism with almost-strangers ahead of me. I never imagined even a year ago such an experience would be mine. Who knew? Who knew I would manage to read myself out of the rural midwest?
When I was growing up, the noisiest noise I ever heard was a tambourine and a male voice choir. This may explain why I love women and dislike Verdi operas. "Art and Life "

Like I said, I've got nothing important to say here. I'm just sharing the love. But does anybody else think it's wierd that Jeanette Winterson has a website? When she goes on and on in "Art and Life" about her simple, "anachronistic" lifestyle, woodstoves, vegetable gardens, a rural cottage far from schizophrenic London. And here she has this swank site with Flash graphics, so she must have a computer or laptop. Huh. But, she's an Artist. They're allowed to be contradictory and inconsistent.
More, not less, is the capacity of the heart. More not less is the capacity of art. "The Semiotics of Sex"