Archive for March, 2006

baroque in grief

My response to crisis at this point is to become grim and practical. Go and scrub something, or Organize. Kick into analytical mode. Fix stuff. Figure stuff out.  I need to be that way, at this point.

I’m thinking of how my dad, when faced with sobbing grief, pain, and near-madness, will quietly natter on about the tiny particulars of some Civil War battlefield, with digression upon digression. It may seem on some level like a disconnect of empathy, but it isn’t. It offers a practical strategy: to become interested in something outside your own emotions.  The baroque is a strategy to deal with difficulty.

So, if I seem callous for not responding to my friend Jo’s situation, just keep in mind I need my own protective armor.   It is too hard to talk about other than privately. Plus, I don’t want anything I say to hurt her; though I realize the absence of saying anything is painful as well. It’s like when people get mad; you can’t get  madder or sadder in response and then expect them to take care of you. Same with Jo, it’s not the time for her to worry about  my feelings or take care of me. It’s enough that she go have some contact with her mom who may or may not be dying and her dad who is also not doing so well.  I think of my own times when I was sick and utterly desperate and also a bit unhinged mentally/emotionally. It’s not like my own family, other than Minnie who was awesome, flew out to help me or make some kind of contact. I gave up on expecting anything from them; which is more painful than death, because when people die you think Oh if only we had had that conversation and they understood; or there might have been a chance; or you can blame Death’s cruelty in various bizarrely comforting ways.  When people are still alive and fail to come through, or cut you off from family completely… I wished they were dead sometimes, thinking it would be easier than the on-purpose rejection. Then I grew up and realized I was not forever a child in relation to them that they had a duty to take care of, no matter how they might have fallen down on the job in the past.I’ll feel sad when they die, but I think I’ll think more of the living and if I really feel sad for them it will be for what they missed out on, in life, by being assholes, and for whatever ways life fucked them over and it wasn’t their fault and they were trapped; and for whatever other loss it is to them not to live anymore. In short… sad in the ways I feel said for the infinite dead piled up all around us at every moment in the past and future. They are way more than my experience of them and more than my memory.

But even aside from that:

If I were Inanna descending into the underworld (and I certainly have been, often enough) at this point in my life… perhaps a function of age as I rush forward longing for cronemudgeonitude… Well, if I were Inanna descending into the underworld right now I would not be at Erishkegal’s side saying "Oh your insides! Oh your insides!" I’d be all like, "Damn, girl, let’s vacuum this place, and open the blinds… you should drink some hot soup… let’s go to the beach. By the way let me tell you about this fascinating book I just read… and don’t you love my new armwarmers?"   

Instead I’m more like… Hmmm, underworld. Been there, done that, no time. Think I’ll head on up to steal the laws from the Patriarch and build my city. 


Anyway, tonight we hung out, looked at blogs while eating pizza, folded laundry, and then Jo went to pack for the trip. Manny and I compared cell phones – and made our phones laugh at each other – I coveted Eliz’s tshirt, hot pink with racing stripes – tried it on – she said that Ms. Jane could counter-bid for a lease on the shirt. Ms. Jane finally got there – and where was the shirt?  We searched all the drawers.  Manny suggested I  might be trying to steal it. And then I realized I was still wearing it, I swear by accident!  Under my two other shirts and over my tank-top bra.  Ms. Jane won the auction by promising to take Eliz. to the movies, but mostly by looking cuter than me in the shirt.  While she does (as she claimed) have a better rack than me, it’s also that I’m wearing that super-t sport bra tank top which mashes my boobs completely flat against my chest.  Jo had some really good things to say about positivity, and practical stuff she learned from group therapy at the Psych Ward Day Camp, like that will can’t control feelings but will can control thoughts and patterns of thoughts can then influence feelings and one’s basic brain chemistry which in a synergistic way becomes control of feelings eventually.  I can get behind that and agree wholeheartedly.  Many, many practical techniques, mostly powerful metaphors like this, were helpful to me when I was in tons of incest-survivor therapy, years ago. And they will help Jo too, of all people, especially her, because she has an immensely powerful mind very useful for making reality happen.

Even though I don’t have the hot pink shirt with the racing stripes, there is hope, people.

Rook can tell I’m upset, and I wish he couldn’t, because he’s being all nice to me and it makes me nearly crack, which… I don’t want to.

The first person to drippily say "Oh, dear Badger, take care of yourSELF" gets a slap in the face with a wet codfish.

I will now go have a bath and read a book. I’d like some port… Hmmm.. I could go buy some fancy port at the Hole right now if I hurry.

splendid response to annoying poly thing

KK, on that same email list, gave me permission to quote her email in full, and I’m glad because I thought it was splendid!  Compared to my one bitchy wisecrack… Obviously KK is the master of the extended bitchy analysis-wisecrack.

Continuing the plural marriage question…

So, if polygamy were to become legal, and a glut of single
men (or even single women?) would be unhealthy to society,
does that mean that some
database will have to be kept somewhere to keep the
ratios properly even so that roving groups
of single men don’t take to raping women and cattle?

Last I heard, there aren’t enough single men who wish to
marry compared to single women who wish to marry. Shouldn’t
some men therefore be allowed to take extra wives, to cover
the glut of unhappily single American women?

And why aren’t those unhappily single women wreaking havoc
in society?

And if I were to say, apply to have an extra husband, but currently
there’s a glut of men who are married compared to women, will
I have to sign up on a waiting list and wait until some man
somewhere takes an extra wife, thereby allowing me to take
an extra husband?

And what about the supposed, what, is it 4% of men who are gay?
Shouldn’t that therefore allow an extra 4% of straight women to
enter into a polygamist union? Since those gay men certainly don’t
want those women anyhow?

I kid. Then again, maybe I don’t.

On a more serious note, as I posted early, where polygamy
is allowed, most couples still choose to remain monogamist.
Interesting, no? Does that indicate the same would happen

And such countries have laws where the man has to prove he can
support the new woman before he can marry her. Would bigamist
men have to prove the same here? What about bigamist women?
Would they have to prove they can support the husbands?

What about poly MFF triads where one woman is infertile
and can easily support hersefl? Can a waiver be signed where the
man does not have to prove he can support her?

annoying poly thing

I’m so annoyed!  Nothing like hearing some utterly clueless polyamory guys talking about how if "plural marriage" were legal then the main problem would be that all the women would marry rich, powerful, older alpha males, leaving a dangerous population of unfucked younger, less powerful males to "wreak havoc" on society.

What the fuck ever, dudes.  There are so many things wrong with this assumption.

– assuming that would happen in the first place

–  but if it did the results are not so much the problem as the messed up patriarchy that caused it

– anyway it assumes that men are savage animals that destroy and wreak havoc if they don’t have guaranteed access to pussy

– even if we assume (which i don’t )  that men, more than women, need sexual release in order to be… not destroying society in some way… Can’t the hypothetical herd-animal zeta males learn to masturbate?  What’s with that? Is there some kind of pussy magic that tames men?  Apparently – at least in the minds of the dorkwads on this particular email list…

– not to mention the problems the herds of hypothetical multiple disempowered trophy wives would have, personally…

– why wouldn’t group marriages form in all sorts of combinations… etc…

Oh, beautiful, it degenerates further into some dude claiming that engineering schools where the gender ratio is skewed the men can’t get laid but are consciously trading their getting-laid for later better chances at "better odds" on the "marriage market".  Excuse me while I go vomit ….

Sexist sexist sexist… and it’s always especially ugly when the men have such a low opinion of themselves and other men.  And back it up with murky underpinnings of bad evolutionary psychology.

Since I love to put my foot in my mouth in public I wrote back and offered the solution that all of us ladies should be having sex with lots and lots of men – it’s our civic duty to keep those animals sane and civil. Maybe we could stop the war that way!  Crowds of rowdy, frustrated young men need YOU to control their excess energy with your magic sexual powers…

Whiskey… Tango… FOXTROT….!!!

I’ve always wanted to get messages from alien beings from another universe!  And it happens every day thanks to the power of the internets.

spicy, stunned, replete

I’m stunned by a long long day of work.  Zian’s mom picked up Moomin, and I worked till 3, drove to the city, worked in the Mission library some more, went to Ritual Coffee, worked till 8.  Dinner with Chulita at Spices… a fabulous chinese restaurant right around the corner from Green  Apple bookstore. We had the Exploding Numbing Chili Pepper Fish, ma-po tofu, and salt and pepper squid.  I highly recommend this restaurant, full of amazing fried things… their deep-fried tofu is great.   I’m so full of food… and it was great spicy food…. Maybe my stomach is not 100% better but, better enough that I don’t care!

Got some large comic-book compilations… I’m thinking to save Hulk Vol. 2 for Moomin for xmas, and I’ll give him the Fantastic 4 book now.

Chula told me about the next batch of Grimjack comic books while trying not to give the plot away. All I know is… around issue 50 or something, something huge happened, and it cannot be named, and people write letters about how outrageous it is for many issues afterwards and they yell at J. Ostrander for being a wuss. Or maybe the letter exchanges happened after the OTHER big unnameable thing that I already read about in issue 30-something. We speculated on whether the sex-positive community in SF is really different than it used to be, or what? And then gossiped. And then gossiped some more. Then I talked about  my thesis for the 8 millionth time. Then we speculated about sex some more, crassly, wondering who was going to put out and who wasn’t, and when, and why, and where, and especially how.

At Green Apple I got "Dr. Who and the Carnival of Monsters" for Moomin, and for myself, 2 Vonda McIntyre books I haven’t read, plus "The Wind Whales of Ishmael" which looks cheesy as hell but there’s no resisting anything to do with Melville. Will it have real insight? Or just be a cheap trick?  I’ll let y’all know.

I’ve been forgetting to write down the books I’ve been reading, but when I work really hard and get wound up like this, I tend to read more to escape The Project.  So it’s been roughly a book a  night for a while now.

I got to the end of this 2nd draft of the whole thesis. I’m feeling very driven, which is good – and also super enjoyable. It’s all double-spaced including the poems, and lots of them are short poems but they’re on their own pages, and half of the body of the thesis is the originals of the poems… but still, I am aware that 215 pages is too long.  And because the bios and intros to each poet, because they’re not really done, there will certainly be another 10 pages, I’m guessing.   If I can single-space the poems… that will help.

I’m happy with it in many ways but the scholarship is not first class. I know very well that it woudl be better if I went back to the actual magazines and wasn’t working mostly from secondary sources. For the poets whose original books I’ve found and read, I feel more secure… Anyway, I have another few weeks to fix this up, and make the translations better, and cut things… but I can see that it isn’t going to be as good as I know it could be.   Everyone told me this was too ambitious of a project, and they were right, but I’m still not sorry, really, that I’m doing it this way. 

curiously medieval

Has anyone else noticed the odd naming patterns emerging from blogs?  We say "Liz of Badgerbag" or "Amanda of Pandagon" or "Joshua of Strip Mining".

That’s really cool. It’s different from the way we describe people’s association with a job or company. You wouldn’t say "Steve of Apple", you’d say "Steve, the CEO of Apple".  I noticed at SXSWi that people would mention their several blogs; and this was not for self-promotion but because who they are is crucially bound up in their multiple web identities, the different contexts where they’re known.  Liz of Blogher is definitely different from Liz of Badgerbag; and Liz of both together is a whole new animal.

To Progress!

Wow, Salome Ureña’s paean to Progress and Society is fucking rad.  It’s from 1878 and really blows me away…   it’s an exhortation to intellectuals who think they’re above the world and full of Virtue, but who need to roll up their sleeves and get dirty.  That contact with the World does not contaminate them but is noble and good and the world teems with life and fertility.  It’s a call to action!  It’s so cool! Be like the miners who dig precious metal from the earth and the laborers who make fields fertile! it is your sublime religious duty to apply Reason to advance science, conquer all that’s unknown, dig the panama canal, tame that bitch Nature, and so on.  All in rather grand flowing lines like Whitman but with a lot less "I" in them, humbly.  Raise the banners! To arms!

I don’t understand how this woman’s poetry is left out of every anthology and when it DOES appear it’s some prissy little couplets on contemplating some flowers and a sad bird in a nest.  Well, I like the bird poem too, but this one on Society is so much better. Oh wait, I forgot that women’s poetry is trivial, confessional, limited to the sphere of home and hearth, uninformed by world events, and  at best, neurotic and self-obsessed… what was I thinking?

leaving a bit wild on purpose

At our party the other day I came across Clyde, Merlin’s dad, while on idle and keeping an eye on the kids in the "secret clubhouse", crouched on the sidewalk helpfully pulling henbit out of the front yard exactly in a spot I had just weeded of noxious thistles.

I had left the henbit and some other flowering weeds on purpose. Awkwardly I explained to Clyde about how they have <a href=>nice purple flowers</a>. Bees and hummingbirds like them too. After the flowers die and the birds eat the seeds, I weed out the straggly leftovers.   In general I leave weedy messy patches… on purpose… for biodiversity and because I think it’s prettier. It adds a note of pleasing randomness, and I’m too lazy to plant regulation wildflowers in such a way to make them look pleasingly random. I like the weeds and volunteers amidst the plants I’ve chosen. While I can appreciate the beauty of a completely cultivated garden, it’s not what I like to make or to live in.

This is good to keep in mind, and generally applicable to many other situations where we are helpful and apply our own useful and intelligent standards of value.  It is crucial to know the thought and conscious development someone else has put *into* their messy randomness.

enemies and friends

Moomin’s friend is the sweetest kid.  I’m in awe of his mom, because clearly she is Always Available… Thom kept coming into my room and saying “I need help, I don’t understand these instructions…”  “Sorry, I’m too busy to help right now, you and Moomin will have to figure it out or play something else.”  “Oh. But what I need is for you to explain…”  “Nope, run along and go play, not right now.”  (repeat infinitely)    I could see that it just didn’t compute that Mom might sometimes be busy, especially if information was requested.  While… as I said… this makes Thom’s mom look like a stud… there is something to be said for kids learning at some point that parents (both) work sometimes.

I love their games… they made a zoo, and signs, and had plans for a show. (Which didn’t happen this time.)  I overheard Thom have an epiphany which he tried to share. “If your ENEMY is the bad guys, to them, to the bad guys, they’re the good guys and you’re the
bad guys, what I mean is, Moomin do you get it, if you’re the good guys then the bad guys are bad, but if you’re the bad guys, I mean, then you’re actually the good guys, because…”  It was charming… Moomin’s mind was blown, and yet he still disagreed.  “No, but, bad guys can just be bad. They do bad things. They’re bad.”   Thom the moral relativist argued for a while, until they suddenly decided they’d pretend to be dolphins.

I want to work on my thesis till I drop, tonight.  Bedtime for Moomin soon… very soon…

hoot if you like poetry

That was a hoot. I just helped judge a kids’ poetry contest for Deadwood City. Cheerful and fun! What a great bunch of writing. As good or better than most of the open mic stuff I’ve heard.

I had several favorites but … a serious weak spot for the one called “If I Was Jesus” which was a rap masterpiece about being Moses, Jesus, Zeus, Hercules… “If I was Hades… something something, I’d get all the ladies… rollin’ down El Camino in my black Mercedes…”   Damn but it’s great.  I’ll link to it in full next week when it goes up on the library site.

When tiny kids write good haiku, it rocks my world.

Instead of working hard on my thesis I went out to lunch with the librarians and then fucked off messing around with Facebook for half an hour.   Moomin has a playdate this afternoon so I’m hoping I can work while he’s playing with his friend!  All I should have to do is serve them juice, find the scissors or specific legos or whatever is required.  He and Thom tend to end their playdates with a Show about animals or a ballet where they are dolphin superheroes, so I’m  guaranteed some quality entertainment late in the afternoon.

playing… or is that “playing”

When I’m working so well and so smoothly it pains me to stop for anything. I eat while working, and … I confess with the whole laptop wireless thing… I have been known to pee with laptop perched… I can hear you laughing but also bet that some of you have done it.

So I helped Moomin with his homework a bit, and called around to see if I could find him a playdate, and couldn’t, and worked some more while he played with his new toys, and then… had to stop working around 4:30 or 5 to play with him and pay real attention.

“These four dragons are super dragons, and this is their cave, and they used to be the pets of the Fantastic Four, but now have their own superdragon city that they protect… You be this one, his name is Captain Freeze, and he’s an Antarctic dragon who has powers over ice. He rides in this flying ship made of ice.” 

As the flying ship made of ice was actually a silver-glitter covered bowler hat from the costume shop…  you can imagine how funny…

“This bird is the supervillain. And his name is Flying Pecker.”

*muffled choking noises from me*   “Um. Flying Pecker. Um, okay. Heh. *snort*. Um. How about if we call him, ‘Rocket Beak’ or something.”

“What? No. His name is FLYING PECKER, Mom. Why can’t I call him Flying Pecker?”

“Oh… um… okay… his name is Flying Pecker…”

“And this beaver is called Super Evil Beaver.”

*in which I have an asthma attack from the suppression of laughter*

“So, Super Evil Beaver and Flying Pecker are attacking the city…”

I played for a while and then stopped paying total attention. He built a lego star wars thing from a kit, with occasional help, while I tried to clean and organize all his toys on the shelves and in the little plastic bins.  For months all the tiny bits of Stuff have been thrown into bins to be sorted later.  A painful job… I got halfway done…  The lego thing was abandoned.. it was back to the dragon cave.

“Here Mom. You play this one. His name is Super Snake Dragon.”

“Oh. Okay. He has power over all kinds of snakes. And he likes to romp and frisk around, but in a crowd he’s kind of shy even though he’s a super dragon.”

“No!  No, actually.  No, Mom.  He’s not shy. He’s a super dragon. He’s MIGHTY. He can’t ever be shy, and he doesn’t frisk. He stands there and looks proud, and he’s very strong. He goes like this *stands with chest thrust out, dragonishly* …. and he calls the snakes to him.”

Damn.  I remember the pain of having one’s stuffed animals given the wrong personality by clueless, foolish grownups or other kids.   It was just as bad as when some asshole would punch one’s animal, or threaten it with the washing machine.  Outrage would make me nearly want to vomit as some well-meaning teasy Giant would hold my sad, fragile hermit princess whale just out of my reach and make her clown around and fly through the air and talk all wrong…  Oh, it was terrible!   So I respect Moomin’s bossiness with his toys though I know Rook thinks he should be trained to be mentally flexible and not get upset about such things.

So after I forced him to help me put away toys for about 3 minutes… to the tune of some whining and my snapping that he is big enough to take care of his things…

I read him the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle story about Hubert who never cleaned up his toys.  Let’s see if that has any effect!

P.S. I never want to see another lego as long as I live.  My god, all the tiny little bits!