Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I leave in a week

Losing mind. Need to meme.

Go to the Random Quotations Page and look through the random quotations until you find five that you think reflect who you are or what you believe. Repost them in your journal (with this information) and, if you so wish, tag five friends to complete this meme. (Screw tagging. If you want to do it, feel free. If not, don't.)

I needed more than five, so I picked ten.

Realism...has no more to do with reality than anything else. Hob Broun

Ours is the age that is proud of machines that think and suspicious of men who try to. H. Mumford Jones (1892 - 1980) US critic & educator

There's a dark side to each and every human soul. We wish we were Obi-Wan Kenobi, and for the most part we are, but there's a little Darth Vadar in all of us. Thing is, this ain't no either or proposition. We're talking about dialectics, the good and the bad merging into us. You can run but you can't hide. My experience? Face the darkness, stare it down. Own it. As brother Nietzsche said, being human is a complicated gig. Give that old dark night of the soul a hug! Howl the eternal yes! Stuart Stevens, Northern Exposure, Jules et Joel, 1991

There are two kinds of people in the world, those who believe there are two kinds of people in the world and those who don't. Robert Benchley (1889 - 1945), Benchley's Law of Distinction

I have learned not to worry about love; but to honor its coming with all my heart. Alice Walker

The faith that stand on authority is not faith. Ralph Waldo Emerson

Do not wrong or hate your neighbor, for it is not he that you wrong: You wrong yourself. Shawnee Indian Chant

I never vote for anyone; I always vote against. W.C. Fields

"Only a novel"... in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour are conveyed to the world in the best chosen language. Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary. Steve Jobs US computer engineer & industrialist

Sunday, August 27, 2006

j'ai lu

So I've figured out how to read Superstars: in snatches, at work (uh, no pun intended there). Not too many people shop for groceries at 10:30 on a Thursday night, so I'm just standing there, bored witless, I might as well keep my French in practice. And it's working; I'm about a quarter of the way through now. If I sit down for an hour, dictionary in hand, I'm constantly fixated on the words and structures I'm not completely comprehending, looking up every other word, it goes so slowly and I wimp out after 15 minutes. Turns out that when I can only read it in four or five minute increments, I don't obsess so much over every word but get the meaning from context, and it's surprising how much I understand. Of course there's always the recurring verb that I can't make heads or tails of. I don't know what the heck se faufiler means, but apparently all the Parisian girls are doing it.

Also, the French tell the exact same dumb blond jokes as Americans. Who knew?

I'm not actually supposed to read on the job, heh, even though everybody does, and I got chewed out by my boss for paging through the magazines on the rack (well I do put them back for heaven's sake!) God forbid Oprah* not recieve her pound of flesh. But she didn't say anything about books. But I keep Superstars tucked away under the register, because, well, it is a French lesbian novel, and has a very naked woman on the cover (it's a shame All Consuming doesn't have a picture). They wouldn't blink twice in Verdun, but I don't think "Oh it's not pornographic! It's a French lesbian novel!" would really fly here...

*yes, I know, but my alternatives are tabloids with JonBenet or Nicole Richie on the cover.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

go. read.

Listen to carrion -- put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap for power,
please women more than men.

Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

...As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn't go.

Hecate's blog is one I read often, and her poetry blogging is not to be missed. She always chooses something beautiful, that hits you right in the gut, the way good poetry should.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Dear Rat-Bastard Corporate Pig Loan Company


I can't BELIEVE I have to reapply to you because you turned down my loan for SUCH.A.STUPID.REASON. You IDIOTS. I have perfect credit!! OF COURSE I have a patchy work history, I WAS IN COLLEGE!!! It's generally considered a good thing if you don't have to work your way through college. I did a work study program, nobody else considers that a real job, I don't know why it makes such a big difference to you. I was in Europe for 9 months, teaching, everybody's terrrrrribly impressed by that but I am sorry if it doesn't fit neatly into your little application boxes, I didn't get paid an hourly wage, I didn't have a supervisor, ohmygod, some of us do something a little more interesting with our lives than work at the Gap every summer through high school and college and then move on to a nice normal admin temping position (some of us can't get a nice normal admin temping positition for blood or money). I leave in two weeks, I DON'T HAVE TIME FOR THIS SHIT. Jesus MotherFucking Christ, even with the loan I'm barely going to be able to feed myself in Arizona. YOU SHITHEADS.

i have no money, there's no way I can do this without this stupid loan, and my parents don't have any money because the fire department is forcing my dad to retire early so they can slash his pension to almost half of what he's entitled to, and they both need major surgery. I am doing odd jobs for my fucking grandmother in a desperate attempt to get some cash.

I'm going to have a good cry, then go to this stupid fucking cashier job that I'm not sure I should quit because maybe I won't be going to Arizona, this stupid job where they all mistake me for a boy because they're ignorant bourgeois wankers.

Update: I reapplied, and hopefully it should go through this time. I called the college and they're being incredibly cool and laid back about it all, but then they are Southwestern hippies (I'm going to be renting from one of my professors, as it turns out; so I'll get to see what it's like to live in a feng shui-ed home). Hurrah for alternative education!

Monday, August 21, 2006

late night porn blogging

well, when else should you blog about porn? long rambling unorganized post ahead.

So, Winter's got a good post up, inspired by a conversation we had about the dynamics of lesbian porn in lesbian relationships. I agreed with her opinion; and personally, I think lesbian porn could facilitate as an avenue of communication or even bonding between a couple. A lesbian couple could use porn to discuss their needs and desires, explore their sexual dynamic. And it could be a way to establish shared values: talking about why one partner likes a certain genre and the other doesn't, etc. Having said that, bear in mind I've never been in a relationship that's been long enough or serious enough for the question of pornography to even arise. So, grain o' salt.

But I'd like to explore two of the points that Winter suggested:

What I am asking is whether lesbian pornography has different meanings for lesbians because:
B. lesbian pornography is produced in very different circumstances to heterosexual pornography
C. as a genre, lesbian pornography has different meanings attached to it than the meanings heterosexuals generally attach to hetero porn because the context is different and it comes from a different culture.

I like On Our Backs, but my first copy of Slit blew my mind. Here was a magazine that was deeply political, that backed up its radical aims with more than mere sound and fury. It states its mission right upfront: "sex::culture::politics::porn". Dyke sexuality as the nexus of these issues: what we like to do and why, how politics informs our sex lives and vice versa, how to create a culture that validates dyke sexuality, what role porn plays in that culture. Sure, it's centered around photos and stories of naked women in flagrante delicto, and in my not so humble opinion, it's pretty hot stuff. But that's only the beginning: next to the dirty photos are interviews with Jack Halberstam and Joan Nestle, Buck Angel (FTM transexual porn), articles about the lives of sex workers, transgender history, aboriginal queers and black Parisian lesbians, features on artists of every possible kind, activists working on all fronts. You're damn right I read porn for the articles! Slit stages events centered around each issue's theme. And they're non-profit, completely indie. From their first issue:
we are interested in considering the possibilities of creating a dialogue of sex and sexuality which is non-commodified and which takes back control over our bodies and desires rather than proscribing them. 'cause we are trying to figure out how to find an axis of liberation, cracks in the structure of capital, autonomous enclaves where we practice an economy of desire rather than capital. and cause one way to do this may be through getting sex crazy! this is a dyke sex mag. but what is dyke sex?
I eschew the labels "sex-positive" (an unhelpful term at best) and "anti-porn" and refuse to ally myself definitively with either camp. I find both "sides" (for lack of a better term) have valid arguments--why do you think I have Twisty Faster and Susie Bright next to each other on my blogroll?--but I don't think it can be boiled down to "yes porn is revolutionary!" or "no porn is evil!" I was taught to distrust any argument that uses the words "always" and "never." Slit doesn't always get it right, to my mind; there's sometimes stuff that I find uncomfortable, problematic, or downright offensive. But I don't think that invalidates their efforts. I want an avenue of dyke culture that pushes me and provokes me, makes me think, while it gets me off. I believe lesbian porn is produced in vastly different circumstances to het porn; the lesbian porn I've encountered in addition to Slit is coming from a place that's trying to challenge the status quo in the process of depicting dyke sex. Non-feminist het porn seems to be all about reiterating the values of dominance, abuse, exploitation, objectification. Of course it does, any media produced by the mainstream, the powers that be, whether it's a blockbuster Hollywood movie or a hit TV show or Girls Gone Wild is going to maintain the status quo. I would argue that even the most simplistic dyke porn is a challenge to the dominant discourses of sex, if only because it promotes visibility. Criticism of the porn industry is a worthy goal, but I think we need to do more than that. Porn is a hugely influential part of our sexual culture, and I think we all agree there are some pretty fucked up sexual mores in this day and age. What we need is people to create alternative sexual cultures, ones that challenge and deconstruct and rebuild and celebrate fucking and healthy sexual expression. That's what Slit tries to do, and while it's not always successful, its efforts have been invaluable to me. Porn like Slit magazine helped demystify lesbian sexuality and erase the shame branded into my consciousness all my life.

the problem with late night blogging is that you get too tired before you get all your thoughts out. so, that's it for now.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The best things in life are free

but I need money.

I was at the bank this morning, counting out my nickels to the teller so that I would have enough in my checking account to cover the 100 dollar check I need to write to secure the room I'm renting in Arizona. It was embarrassing. I don't know what happened to my last paycheck; it probably got sucked into my gas tank. I'm too afraid to figure out how much of my wages goes toward getting me to and from work.

I got a call from my uncle last week; he's been pushing my resume at his company and they might be calling me up for a phone interview. My parents are positively giddy at the prospect of me working for a major consulting firm, writing proposals. As far as corporate jobs go, it's not completely soulless. The pay is real money, and I'd get benefits, which as one of the unwashed uninsured masses, is a sexy prospect. There are five million other reasons why I should take this job, assuming I can even get it, and my only counter-argument is I'd hate it. I'm qualified, but I'd be miserable, sitting in a cubicle, bullshitting Corporate-Speak day in and day out.

I've been thinking about why my parents are pushing so hard for this, and it mostly comes down to money. Class, more accurately. This is a nice, secure job, a career-track position, I could rent a nice little apartment in a nice little suburban neighborhood.
And the people in the houses
All go to the university,
And they all get put in boxes,
Little boxes, all the same.
And there's doctors and there's lawyers
And business executives,
And they're all made out of ticky-tacky
And they all look just the same.
"Little Boxes", Malvina Reynolds

And I don't want that, even for a year. "You could save up some money. You can study massage therapy anywhere, and do that on the side," my parents suggest. Which is true, and probably the most practical thing to do. But I don't want to waste my time. The program I want to study is in Arizona. That's where I want to be. Life is short. It's a cliche, but a very true one.

It's not that I don't understand my parents' worries. I know I'm taking a big risk. And I know I'm probably being a bit naive about it. I can't really help that. I'm a nice middle-class girl, I've never been financially independant, and I probably won't be for another year. I've got a loan to cover tuition, a rented room for 400 a month, and with any luck I can find a job or two to feed myself. Even so, I'll still be dependant on my parents. And my parents know what it is to rob Peter to pay Paul, they've been doing it all their lives. They started their marriage living in a trailer, mom using the money from collecting bottles and cans to buy milk and diapers. By the time I was born they were better off; but the only reason I've grown up surrounded by McMansions and private schools is because my dad has worked two or three jobs most of my life. But I don't know what it is to be really poor; a life of genteel poverty, like a Victorian heroine, is what I'm anticipating. Even in Europe, I had some tight times, mostly due to my own money mismanagement, I was still rolling around in my middle-class priviledge. Most people don't get the chance to bum around Europe for a year, and afford to come home broke.

Working as a checker at the local grocery store has been more educational than I ever imagined. There's a lot more economic diversity than appearances would suggest. There are some stinking rich folks, generally my more unpleasant customers (their time is sooo much more valuable than mine, you know). Lots of families and elderly people, with fistfuls of coupons. White and blue-collar workers who stop and get their lunch. And more folks on welfare than I expected for an area with homes going for 300 grand at least. Mostly a lot of young single moms buying baby formula with WIC checks and foodstamps. Feministe had a great post about living off WIC checks recently. The folks using foodstamps try their best to look invisible. I once had a girl who was probably younger than me, baby in tow, red-eyed from crying. The stigma of being on foodstamps is something I'm terrified of. But if it wasn't for my parents, I'd probably be using them too.

So class is huge part of the pressure I'm recieving; but normativity comes into it too. A more unconcious motivation, but it's there. Okay, so their daughter's a dyke, and she looks dykey too, but at least she can get a normal, "real job" (their term). Massage therapy is not a real job. Holistic medicine is certainly not a real career, according my mother the registered nurse. It's okay for the meantime, to get you on your feet, make some extra cash on the side. I'm sure my parents (well, my mother especially) would be more comfortable with my sexuality if I looked more conventionally feminine; but at the very least I could get a conventional job!

It sucks, but I cut my parents some slack, because they'll still help me out when I go to Arizona. Their actions speak louder than their words, and that counts for a lot with me. I want to do something meaningful with my life, serve a useful purpose, and this is how I want to do it. I know I can't do it on my own, and I know it's going to be plenty hard even with priviledge and parental support, but I don't want to take the "safe" option. Every "safe" choice I've made turned out to be a trap. I won't trade dreams for security.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

late night poetry blogging

Now with a pagan twist!

So I've been trying to answer this archived Witches Weekly for a while now:

Do you consider yourself a political pagan? If so, what topics are most important to you and why? If you are not a political pagan, why?

and I'm just finding it really difficult to articulate my thoughts. So, in lieu of my own ramblings, a poem.

Everywoman Her Own Theology

I am nailing them up to the cathedral door
Like Martin Luther. Actually, no,
I don't want to resemble that Schmutzkopf
(See Erik Erikson and N.O. Brown
On the Reformer's anal aberrations,
Not to mention his hatred of Jews and peasants),
So I am thumbtacking these ninety-five
Theses to the bulletin board in my kitchen.

My proposals, or should I say requirements,
Include at least one image of a god,
Virile, beard optional, one of a goddess,
Nubile, breast size approximating mine,
One divine baby, one lion, one lamb,
All nude as figs, all dancing wildly,
All shining. Reproducible
In marble, metal, in fact any material.

Ethically, I am looking for
An absolute endorsement of loving-kindness.
No loopholes except maybe mosquitoes.
Virtue and sin will henceforth be discouraged,
Along with suffering and martyrdom.
There will be no concept of infidels,
Consequently the faithful must entertain
Themselves some other way than killing infidels.

And so forth and so on. I understand
This piece of paper is going to be
Spattered with wine one night at a party
And covered over with newer pieces of paper.
That is how it goes with bulletin boards.
Nevertheless it will be there.
Like an invitation, a chalk pentangle,
It will emanate certain occult vibrations.

If something sacred wants to swoop from the universe
Through a ceiling, and materialize,
Folding its silver wings,
In a kitchen, and bump its chest against mine,
My paper will tell this being where to find me.
Alicia Ostriker

In a world where religion, for the last several thousand years, has been a means of social control by men, a woman seeking spiritual wisdom on her own, without intermediaries or hierarchy or written dogma--I believe that's a radical act. A woman seeking the divine just in her kitchen, telling the Real Religions, "No. Not good enough. I'll find my own way" is a powerful thing. I've been hugely influenced by Starhawk, who teaches that activism is a spiritual act, is magic, that you can't follow a nature religion and not fight for the earth, you can't believe that everything is connected and interdependent and not work for the benefit of all, you can't believe the divine is immanent in everything and not give everything you've got for justice and human rights and liberty. It was politics that lead me to pagan spirituality; this spiritual path influences my politics, in turn. So I consider my spirituality a political act; and I consider my political activism a spiritual practice. It's not about having it all dovetail neatly together, or toeing an ideological or thealogical line. It's about trying to "walk in beauty", as the Navajo say, in an ugly world.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

kind of blue

So, there's a state primary today, and I didn't vote in it.

I kinda feel guilty, and I kinda don't give a shit.

The main reason I didn't vote is because I'm not registered; been out of the country too long, I guess.

I was raised with a wierd political conciousness: politics is something that happens in D.C., and important men talk about it on the news, but it's really just a mysterious process that has no effect on us, so there's no point in paying much attention. All politicians are lying scum and you can't trust the government. So distrust Washington, but always rally around the military (Hoo-rah! Semper fi!) And always, always vote, in every election, not just The Big One in November. It's your Civic Duty, and a very serious one.

This is mostly due to my parents being old-school Democrat Catholics; both of them are in unions, so often the local politics of commissioners and board members and referendums and taxes really does affect them. I'm descended from a very long line of war veterans, including my dad, hence the pro-military stance (and the suspicion of the government; Vietnam has cast a very dark shadow in our family). Voting is just something you do; whether or not it influences anything is beside the point. Voting is part of being a good person, like going to mass every Sunday and not getting speeding tickets.

And as a feminist and a progressive, I know all the arguments for voting and getting people involved in the electoral process. As a woman and queer, I know exactly how vital it is to get your voice heard, to stand up and be counted, and what happens when you aren't. My state has some of the strictest anti-choice laws around; I can be arrested for driving a minor across the river to get an abortion. The several Catholic hospitals in town don't have to give me EC if I'm raped, and neither does the local drugstores. Got the constitutional amendment against gay marriage, and laws against gay adoption and fostering.

But as a feminist and progressive activist, I am so thoroughly disillusioned about voting. There are two Greens up for small positions in this primary; I wonder if they even warrant a ballot of their own? Are they just stuck on the end of the Dem's ticket? If I were eligible to vote today, I'd have to hold my nose and vote in the Democratic primary, for candidates that are pro-life and pro-Iraq. Been getting recorded messages from the Republican candidates (it's not enough that they're fascist theocrats, they gotta bug you during dinner too) , so my little blue vote would probably get buried in my Red district. They've introduced the new voting machines this time, so I imagine it might not even get recorded and counted at all.

But I might still vote anyway, despite all this. Just to maintain some hope and optimism. The problem is, I don't have any. What is the point of voting when I have no one worth voting for? Why should I waste my time, when I know They, my local and state reps, don't give a good godamn about me? They don't give a shit about my vote; I'm in the wrong tax bracket. I've walked for hours around my small college town, trying to get people to sign a petition against the gay marriage amendment, and I knew we didn't have a snowball's chance in hell of preventing it from passing. You try spending all day politely asking people to preserve your civil rights and having them all say no to your face. I've been to pro-choice rallies at the state capitol building, carrying piles and piles of signatures and petitions, asking for our bodily integrity and autonomy back, I've knocked on all the doors of all my reps' offices, sat in their waiting rooms endlessly while the secretary ignored us. Not a single one of my legislators would speak to us. What good is a vulnerable vote when they literally shut the door in your face? I've shouted in front of the White House with one million other angry women, and they just pull down the blinds so they don't have to acknowledge us. The FBI came to our measly little podunk town and harrassed the local anarchists for planning on protesting the Democratic Convention!

It's a no win situation. If I vote, I'm simply encouraging the Democrats in their cowardly, Republican-lite tactics and perpetuating a corrupt system that I believe is fundamentally flawed. If I don't vote, I weaken what little defense there is against vicious ideology. Either way, they don't listen to me. What's that quote by Churchill, that democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.

I can't wait till I'm settled in Arizona and can get back involved in the local activist scene. Maybe I'll even join Code Pink. I'd much rather work with others and get something done ourselves, and have the luxury of telling the next politician who comes calling for my vote to fuck off.

Monday, August 07, 2006

in which the protagonist hits bottom

So I was sitting in the break room today at work, engrossed in my yummy new copy of Bust, and found myself becoming very enthusiastic about an article explaining how to make your own yogurt from raw milk.

And then I thought: Oh god. I've become so crunchy I annoy myself.

I think it's time to get some sleeve tattoos and really uncomfortable, ugly facial piercings (spacers! ew!). I'm going to return the Joan Baez CDs to the library and only listen to music that employs less than four chords. Who wants to buy me a Tribe 8 album?

and I will actually talk about something important tomorrow!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

quote of the day

Every conversation was a vehicle for Geroge to demonstrate his stellar political consciousness, which was fine because everyone's political consciousness was very fresh and important and we loved to dress them up and trot them around the ring. Michelle Tea, Valencia

Yeah, that sounds familiar...sounds a bit like blogging too.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

bewitched, bothered and bewildered

Did I say blindsided? I think I meant "railroaded." What do you do when you don't know what to do with yourself?

A book meme, of course.

1. One book that changed your life:
That's a tough one...I'll go with the most recent life-changing read, Nina Bouraoui's Mes mauvaises pensees, which cracked open French literature for me. Stendhal, here I come!
2. One book that you’ve read more than once:
A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L'Engle. Read it so many times I've lost count.
3. One book you’d want on a desert island:
Sailing for Dummies. Also Critical Theory Since Plato, a monster hardback of several thousands of pages, all about the history of literary criticism. I can't get rid of the damn thing, I bought it for 80 bucks and nobody will take it for more than 5, so I might as well read it to keep me occupied.
4. One book that made you laugh:
It's thoughts like this that start people on the road to Finding Themselves. And one of the earliest things Magrat had learned was that anyone Finding Themselves would be unwise to tell Granny Weatherwax, who thought female emancipation was a woman's complaint that shouldn't be discussed in front of men. Terry Pratchett, Witches Abroad.
5. One book that made you cry:
Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence. Assigned reading for class isn't supposed to make you cry (well, tears of frustration maybe), but this did. Adrienne Rich kicked me out of the closet before I even finished the essay.
6. One book that you wish had been written:
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I could have used something like that in Spain...
7. One book that you wish had never been written:
I really wish I'd never heard that excerpt from American Psycho; I was shaken the rest of the day. And I will always loathe Bret Easton Ellis because of it. You sick fuck. It's the one place where I toss my principles about context and art and meaning and expression out the window.
8. One book you’re currently reading:
I'm slowly working my way through Ann Scott's Superstars, which, despite appearances, is a French lesbian novel. Sex, drugs, and techno music. There's a lot of slang and colloquialisms, which makes it tough going.
9. One book you’ve been meaning to read:
I really will get around to War and Peace one of these days, I bought it 5 years ago.
10. Now tag five people:
I tag everyone.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

story of my life

Jennifer: So you've only met this Fiona once and you've never done anything with her?
Mo: Just email.
Jennifer: Is that a lesbian thing?
Mo: Very.

--"Replicants," Dykes and Sundry Other Carbon-Based Life-Forms to Watch Out For, Alison Bechdel.

This would be funny if it weren't so tragically appropriate.