Sunday, December 31, 2006

popping the cork

happy new year, people!

i'm back, relaxed, i even have a slight tan from LA and so frakking relieved that 2007 is here. (wasn't 2006 a little boring yet also stressful?)

i have to get ready for the sharon jones show at the park west tonight; after my freak out with B- last week, G- wanted to come out to chicago and help me ring in the new year but his father burned down his kitchen this morning so now i'm going with E-, an old nerve pal from milwaukee.

(i'm a firm believer in recycling. there's no need for past internet dates to die on the vine, you know?)

be safe, be happy and have a great new year! -ding

Sunday, December 24, 2006

merry merry

i'm off to visit the family on the west coast so i'll be posting sporadically, desperately behind my writing schedule.

have a wonderful holiday to all five of my readers!
love the ones you're with and be thankful you're with the ones you love.

see you soon, dad!


caving to the princess

What’s Wrong With Cinderella? - New York Times

when i was a kid, i owned the disney cinderella storybook, the record, the cassette tape and desperately wanted a glass slipper. my favorite parts of the story were the makeover, the hot carriage and her ballgown - loved the ballgown! the prince? feh. what's a prince compared to glass slippers and a hot dress? (and i didn't like his hair. he looked like a JCPenney dummy.)

of course, nancy drew soon replaced cinderella and then i even discovered the french version of cinderella that was totally crazy and bloody and that one became my favorite. by this time, i was sneaking my mom's books into the bathroom and who cares about cinderella when you're reading the pubis shaving scene from ken follet's Key to Rebecca?

thanks to my mother's trashy books (oh, kathleen woodiwiss! the rose in winter!) i was saved from the Princess and went straight to the Feisty Yet Passionate Virgin-Heroine. until college, my feminine tropes were set.

but now here i am, a public and loud feminist in her mid 30's, confronted with caving to the Princess crap when buying gifts for her niece. last weekend, i was in target and saw this huge, gorgeous book that was basically a guide to princess behavior. it had great illustrations, secret pockets, a princess code, some pop up action. it was pink. it was pretty. it looked like a princess bible. so i called my brother in law.

'is alex still into princess stuff?'
'is she! she loves it,' he said.
'so you guys are ok with it?'
'sure! it's ok.'

it's ok to them, but i have seriously fundamental issues with it. why can't she be into pirates? the Pirateology book looks so much cooler. or even the ones about sharks. anything but princesses. (princesses lead to beauty pageants and look at the hypocritial bullshit with donald trump and Miss USA - acting like a sorority girl is only good if you do it for the male-owned franchise, not for your own gratification.)

but did i get the pretty princess book? you bet i did. i even wrapped it in pink butcher paper. but then i took a trip to the chicago cultural center and bought her this lunch box and a mint case with a sultry mexican film star on it (i was going to get the frida kahlo pill box, but i thought the film star one was funnier), along with tough chicago tatoos that can wash off.

so here's my advice to all you feminist aunts and stuff: get the princess stuff but flatten the power of the iconography by hiding it among all your favorite feminist stuff. they may not get it now, but at some point they're going to have to pay attention.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

for the teen in your life: Cycle Savvy

over here at This Woman's Work, she talks about a new book for teen girls teaching them how to read their own body's fertility signals. the full title is Cycle Savvy: The Smart Teen’s Guide to the Mysteries of Her Body and if my niece was 12 instead of 7, i'd give her this for christmas and watch my sister totally freak out.

but for now, my niece will have to be happy with Manners are Good.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

my lacanian lack: ambition

my writing deadlines are totally piling up. there's the thing due at the end of the month for the anthology project and now i've agreed to read at a local venue in january - which i have to frakking write. (uh, the theme is The Erotic. if you know me and are interested, email me and i'll let you know where to catch me.) between writing projects, work, end of year deacon duties, the last of the holiday shopping and B- (the boy), i'm feeling a little bit thin on the ground.

but i really wanted to write about ambition.

tonight, before roomie and i went to our separate bedrooms, we had a quick chat in the hallway about my very west coast way of relating to my family (which is rather laissez faire):

roomie: you're so mean. your poor family is so far down your list.
me: not true! they know i love them. i'm just not good at the details. they're at least #2 or #3.
roomie: what's #1?
me: work. then friends. and family. friends and family usually jockey for the same position.
roomie: where's B-? poor B- is probably #5.
me: no, he's uh, maybe #3. shit. maybe he should be #2, with family and friends.
roomie: so there are sub-folders?
me: no, things just shift.
roomie: but work stays the same. that's sad. no one will care about your work or what you do. when you die, no one will say a word about your profession. you make crap money and it's not personally fulfilling.
me: it is crap money but i am personally fulfilled by it. it's very important to me.
roomie: but no one will care.
me: shut up. i can't help it that i'm a product of my childhood. it was pretty clear that work came before family. i got trained.
roomie: sad.
me: shut up.
(and so on.)

but it made me think. (not so much about my family's position on my priority list. they know i love them but we're just not one of those families that are always checking in with one another. we've never been like that.) it made me realize that work IS very important to me; i mean, i do have ambitions, here. most of my friends have jobs that they don't really care about. they work because they need to pay rent and that's it. as soon as the day ends, it's out of mind. but not me.

(i am firmly ensconced in the bourgeoisie, dude. middle class striving is important.)

the way i feel about my job is the way i feel about my writing. it is necessary to me and part of my identity. i am fed by it. most of the time, i love the feeling i have knowing that i'm contributing, that i'm an important part of something. is this wrong to feel?

work excites me. it challenges me. i'm stimulated by it. when i'm in the zone, i'm focused, i'm productive, i feel like the prickly point of a pencil slashing across a page.

but work feeds a particular need in me - something that can't be fed by friends, family or lovers. or it seems to.

i feel pleasure when i'm with my friends (who are sharp cookies and also challenge me). i am happy with my family and when i'm with them; what i feel is a happiness that makes me feel expansive and good again. it is a sweet amnesia of my world here when i'm there, in the sunlight, with them.

and when i'm with B-, as on/off as we've been over the past 5 years, there's really no sense trying to compare being with him with working. B- will never be satisfying. i mean that being with him will always feel like drinking from the sea - it's a frustrating, unslaked thirst.

and isn't that what ambition is - an unsatisfied appetite for something just beyond your grasp? it's desire. in an oversimplification of something from my undergrad theory courses, i remember jacques lacan defining desire as lack - its nature is defined by what is absent. i guess for me, ambition is desire and work feeds that ambition; it enables the desire, the absence. all the rest - family, friends - these are fulfillment, satisfaction. they are presence, not absence.

so what does it mean that i put desire/absence before fulfillment/presence?

hm. i don't know.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


1. boy is back. it's interesting.
2. am dealing with some faint work envy. i'm sure i'll get over it. but for now, i'd like to just acknowledge that i'm feeling some work envy. i must be the Golden Girl! i must! not you-me! (ok, that should do it.)
3. am thinking about putting my name forward to be co-moderator of the deacon board next year. i honestly think i'd be great at it - like, totally great. is it bad to be that ambitious - at church??
4. have i said already that the boy is back? it's sort of nice. if only i can get over my total relationship phobia...but it's still nice. even though i'm totally waiting for me to screw it up. but, really! it's nice.
5. bob marley's 'buffalo soldier' is the perfect way to get ready for bed.


what's going on with y'all?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

a common thread: being gay in a moslem country

Prisoners of Sex - New York Times

it's a long magazine article but it's a rather good one, outlining what it's like to be gay in egypt. (and michel foucault makes a brief appearance!)
and what it's like is bad: entrapment, torture, beatings, jail, public humiliation, death.

several things ocurred to me as i was reading it:
how is our treatment of homosexuality in this country different?
what common threads are there between our Family Values activism against gay marriage, gay adoption, domestic partnership (which also benefits straight people), gay participation in military life, civic life and egypt's anti-gay activities?
is thinking about gay rights a 'luxury' of western civilization?
does reading about how bad it is 'over there' make us feel better about how 'good' it is over here?

and what about the women?