Monday, December 31, 2007


eat more locally. listen to my body. stop renting movies to impress the hip clerks at videoport. be open. subscribe to more magazines. send thank you cards. visit my family. believe myself. do work that i love. hang out with people i like. make the backyard garden. stop hanging out with people who make me feel bad. do nice things for myself. watch less tv. talk to that nice librarian. write ten new stories. keep a book log. visit out of portland friends. return library books on time. do nice things for my daughter. get out of the house. go to the movies. cook dinner.


Thursday, December 27, 2007

Hasty Pronouncements

I may be cursing myself by calling it too early, but I think that my eye twitch might be completely gone.

Which is good, because it's hard to convince people (least of all myself) that I am a competent and sane human being when the giant bag under my eye is disco-dancing all around.

In case you didn't get to see it, I assure you that this twitch was no ordinary "hey everyone I can feel my eye twitch but you can't see it" situation. This was a full-blown "ohmygod is she going to pull out a gun" kind of twitch. People--people who claimed to love me--would get distracted in the middle of our conversations to stare at the thing. Which was helpful in relaxation, I assure you.

Causes for the demise of The Twitch
Christmas Over
Presents Finished and Distributed
Sleep Averaging Seven Hours
Normal Food
Thesis Done
Deadlines Met
Family Met and Made Merry
Birthday Survived
Solstice Party Success

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Thesis Head

Thesis due Thursday... can't two words string sentences to together make...

Book List of Graduate School Reading Experience, for aforementioned thesis:

Agard, Nadema. “Art as a Vehicle for Empowerment” in Voices of Color: Art and Society in the Americas. Phoebe Farris-Dufrene, ed. New Jersey: Humanities Press, 1997.

Alexie, Sherman. The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven. New York: HarperPerennial, 1994.

Allison, Dorothy. Bastard Out of Carolina. New York: Dutton, 1992.

Allison, Dorothy. Trash: Stories. New York: Plume. 2002.

Allison, Dorothy. Skin: Talking About Sex, Class, and Literature. Ithaca, NY: Firebrand Books, 1994.

Anderson, Sherwood. Winesburg, Ohio. New York: Viking Press. 1960.

Arizona Department of Education. “Causes of Homelessness: Substance Abuse.” Educating Homeless Children. March 31, 2007. <>

Auster, Paul. The Brooklyn Follies. New York: Henry Holt. 2006.

Baldwin, James. Giovanni’s Room. New York: Dell, 1956.

Baldwin, James. Going to Meet the Man. New York: Dial Press, 1965.

Balfour, Michael, ed. Theatre in Prison: Theory and Practice. Portland OR: Intellect Books, 2004.

Baum, L. Frank. The Wizard of Oz. New York: Macmillan, 1962.

Brockmeier, Kevin. The Truth About Celia. New York : Vintage Books, 2004.

Brown, Rosellen. Before and After. Boston: G.K. Hall, 1993.

Butler, Octavia. Kindred. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1979.

Butler, Octavia. Parable of the Sower. New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 1993.

Butler, Octavia. Parable of the Talents: A Novel. New York: Seven Stories Press, 1998.

Butler, Robert Olen. A Good Scent From a Strange Mountain: Stories. New York : Penguin Books, 1993.

Carson, Anne. Autobiography of Red: A Novel in Verse. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1998.

Casares, Oscar. Brownsville: Stories. Boston: Back Bay Books, 2003.

Chabon, Michael. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay: A Novel. New York: Picador. 2000.

Chabon, Michael. The Best American Short Stories, 2005. Boston : Houghton Mifflin. 2005.

Chabon, Michael. Chen, M. Keith & Jesse M. Shapiro. "Does Prison Harden Inmates? A Discontinuity-based Approach," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1450, Cowles Foundation, Yale University. 2003.

Chevigny, Bell Gale. “Introduction: Doing Time at Century’s End.” in Doing Time: 25 years of Prison Writing. Bell Gale Chevigny, ed. NY: Arcade Publishing, 1999.

Chute, Carolyn. The Beans of Egypt, Maine. New York: Ticknor & Fields, 1985.

Chute, Carolyn. Letourneau’s Used Auto Parts. New York: Ticknor & Fields, 1988.

Chute, Carolyn. Merry Men. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1994.

Cisneros, Sandra. Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories. New York: Random House, 1991.

Coetzee, J.M. Disgrace. New York: Viking, 1999.

Crais, Robert. Demolition Angel. New York: Doubleday, 2000.

Crane, Elizabeth. All This Heavenly Glory. New York: Little, Brown, 2005.

Crane, Elizabeth. When the Messenger is Hot. Boston: Little, Brown, 2003.

Day, Cathy. The Circus in Winter. Orlando: Harcourt, 2004.

Erdrich, Louise. Love Medicine: A Novel. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1984.

“The Facts Behind the Faces.” A Fact Sheet from the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. Winter 2004-05. Chicago Coalition for the Homeless <>

Faulkner, William. Go Down, Moses. New York: Vintage Books, 1990.

Feinberg, Leslie. Stone Butch Blues: A Novel. Ithaca, NY: Firebrand Books, 1993.

Flynn, Nick. Another Bullshit Night in Suck City: A Memoir. New York: W. W. Norton & Co, 2004.

Foer, Jonathan Safran. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. 2005.

Gaiman, Neil. Coraline. New York: Harper Collins, 2002.

Gaiman, Neil. Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions. New York, NY: Perennial, 2001.

Gibbons, Kaye. Ellen Foster. New York: Vintage Books, 1990.

Golden, Arthur. Memoirs of a Geisha: A Novel. New York: Knopf, 1997.

Goodman, Allegra. The Family Markowitz. New York: Washington Square Press, 1997.

Haddon, Mark. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. New York: Vintage Contemporaries. 2004.

Harris, Thomas. Silence of the Lambs. New York: St. Martin’s, 1989.

How Many People Experience Homelessness: NCH Fact Sheet #2. June 2006. National Coalition for the Homeless. April 2, 2007. publications/facts/How_Many.pdf

Johnson, Denis. Jesus’ Son: Stories. New York: HarperPerrennial, 1993.

Johnson, James Weldon. Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man. New York: Dover Publications, Inc, 1995.

Joseph, Cliff. “Reflections on the Inescapable Political Dimensions of Art and Life” in Voices of Color: Art and Society in the Americas. Phoebe Farris-Dufrene, ed. New Jersey: Humanities Press, 1997.

Kelly, James Patrick. Burn. San Francisco, CA: Tachyon. 2005.

Kelly, James Patrick and John Kessel, eds. Feeling Very Strange: The Slipstream Anthology. San Francisco: Tachyon Pub, 2006.

Key Data Concerning Homeless Persons in America. June 2006. National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty. March 30, 2007. / HomelessPersonsinAmerica.pdf

King, Stephen. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. New York: Scribner, 2000.

Kornfeld, Phyllis. Cellblock Visions: Prison Art in America. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1997.

Lahiri, Jhumpa. Interpreter of Maladies. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1999.

Lahiri, Jhumpa. The Namesake. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2003.

LeGuin, Ursula. The Wave in the Mind: Talks and Essays on the Writer, the Reader, and the Imagination. Boston: Shambhala, 2004.

Lemos, Gerard. “More Than a Place to Stay.” Community Care 6/29/2006 Issue 1629. p 34-35.

Lethem, Jonathan. The Fortress of Solitude. New York: Doubleday. 2003.

Lewisjohn, James, ed. At the Ninth Hour: A Book of Prison Poems. Thomaston, ME: Maine State Prison, 1977.

Lewisjohn, James, ed. Out of the Depths… A Book of Prison Poems. Thomaston, ME: Maine State Prison, 1977.

Lewisjohn, James and William Hollifield, eds. On the Seventh Day: A Book of Prison Poems and Graphics. Ellsworth, ME: Downeast Graphics, 1978.

Link, Kelly. Magic For Beginners. Northampton, MA: Small Beer Press, 2005.

Lodge, David. The Art of Fiction. New York: Viking/Penguin Books, 1993.

Matalene, Carolyn. “Experience as Evidence: Teaching Students to Write Honestly and Knowledgeably about Public Issues” in The Writing Teacher’s Sourcebook. (Fourth Edition). Corbett, Edward P. J. et al, eds. NY: Oxford University Press, 2000. p.180-190.

McCarthy, Cormac. The Road. New York : Alfred A. Knopf. 2006.

McCloud, Scott. Understanding Comics. Northampton, MA : Tundra Pub. 1993.

Miéville, China. Looking for Jake: Stories. New York: Del Ray, 2005.

Miéville, China. Perdido Street Station. New York: Del Ray, 2001.

Miéville, China. The Scar. New York: Ballantine Books, 2002.

Miller, D. Quentin, ed. Prose and Cons: Essays on Prison Literature in the United States. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co. Inc., 2005.

Minot, Susan. Monkeys. New York: Dutton, 1986.

Moore, Lorrie. Birds of America. New York: Random House. 1998.

Moore, Lorrie. Self-Help: Stories. New York : Random House, 1985.

Mosher, Howard Frank. A Stranger in the Kingdom. New York: Doubleday, 1989.

Mulvey-Roberts, Marie. Writing for Their Lives: Death Row USA. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2007.

Munro, Alice. Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2001.

Munro, Alice. The Love of a Good Woman. New York: Knopf. 1998.

Munro, Alice. Runaway: Stories. New York: Knopf, 2004.

Munro, Alice. Selected Stories. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1996.

Murakami, Haruki. Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman: Twenty-four Stories. New York: Knopf, 2006.

Naylor, Gloria. The Women of Brewster Place. New York: Penguin Books, 1982.

Neal, Brandi. “The Long Road Home: Billy Woolverton Finds His Way Back—to a Long Lost Family.” in The Blue Room v2 i8 Feb/Mar 2007. p. 10-15.

O’Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried. New York: Broadway Books, 1998.

O’Connor, Flannery. Everything That Rises Must Converge. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1965.

Olsen, Tillie. Tell Me a Riddle. New York: Dell, 1989.

Ozeki, Ruth. My Year of Meats. New York: Viking. 1998.

Ozick, Cynthia. The Shawl. New York: Knopf, 1989.

Pelletier, Cathie. The Funeral Makers. New York: Collier Books. 1986.

Pelletier, Cathie. Once Upon a Time on the Banks. New York: Pocket Books, 1991.

Pelletier, Cathie. The Weight of Winter. New York: Viking, 1991.

Pettit, Becky and Bruce Western. “Mass Imprisonment and the Life Course: Race and Class Inequality in US Incarceration.” American Sociological Review, 2004. accessed at on March 8, 2007.

Proulx, Annie. Close Range: Wyoming Stories. New York: Scribner, 1999.

Reagan, Michael and Donald M. Stoughton. School Behind Bars: A Descriptive Overview of Correctional Education in the American Prison System. Metuchen, NJ: The Scarecrow Press, Inc, 1976

Robson, Ruthann. Cecile: Stories. Ithaca, NY: Firebrand Books, 1991.

Roskelly, Hephzibah. “The Risky Business of Group Work.” in The Writing Teacher’s Sourcebook. (Fourth Edition). Corbett, Edward P. J. et al, eds. NY: Oxford University Press, 2000. p.123-128.

Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. New York: Arthur A. Levine Books, 2007.

Russo, Richard. Empire Falls. New York: Vintage Books. 2002.

Russo, Richard. Nobody’s Fool. New York: Random House. 1993.

Russo, Richard. The Whore’s Child and Other Stories. New York: Knopf. 2002.

Salzman, Mark. True Notebooks. New York: Knopf, 2003.

Silko, Leslie Marmon. Ceremony. New York: Penguin Books, 1986.

Solzhenitsyn, Alexander. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. New York : New American Library. 1963.

Steinbeck, John. Of Mice and Men. New York: Penguin Books, 1993.

Tartt, Donna. The Secret History. New York: Knopf, 1992.

Wagner, David. Checkerboard Square: Culture and Resistance in a Homeless Community. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1993.

Wallace, David Foster. A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments. Boston: Little, Brown and Co, 1998.

Welty, Eudora. The Golden Apples. New York: Harcourt, Brace. 1949.

Welty, Eudora. Stories, essays & memoir. New York: Library of America, 1998.

White, Michael C. The Blind Side of the Heart. New York: HarperCollins, 2001.

Words from the Curbs: Writing from Preble Street Resource Center. v3 i1. Portland, ME. Fall 2005.

Words from the Curbs: Writing from Preble Street Resource Center. v3 i2. Portland, ME. Spring 2006.

Monday, December 10, 2007

All Joking Aside

You'd never guess it from reading this blog, but it's been a pretty serious Fall over at the Jen household. The implosion of my live-in relationship, health issues and surgery, some challenges at work and financial squeezing, and then the fucking darkness and ugliness of this time of year have all conspired to make me feel, well, more than a little blue.

I don't talk about it too much, because it's not often appropriate to work "so, hey, I'm experiencing depression" into a casual conversation. I'm trying to lean into the feeling, as a friend recently suggested, acknowledge the reality of what's happening and honor it. But it's a scary thing to lean into, friends, and I'm resisting that advice. Almost as scary as writing about it here and knowing that you will be reading it.

It also has to do with my connotations of this time of year. It's just death. Everyone I know who has died has done it in the late fall/early winter season, and with the dying garden, the browning world, the coldness--it all speaks to me of the temporary nature of our time here, of the sadness of things passing on. Today, for example, is the second anniversary of my friend Meg's death. S and I marked the day appropriately, I think: I lit some candles and then we danced and made brownies, because Meg loved fun intensely.

There are some good things happening this winter (my birthday, holiday gatherings, graduation) and I'm looking forward to welcoming back the sun on the solstice, but for now I'm just feeling... mortal.

And leaning... leaning...

Sunday, December 09, 2007

If the Last Two Weeks of My Life Were Written as Headlines from the National Enquirer

Dramatic Neck Cramp Traced to Season 5 Sopranos Marathon

Sleepless Scandal! Long Dark Days Having Reverse Effect, Writer Claims

Not Taking This Squash-For-Dinner Abuse Any Longer, Daughter Declares

Denial December: Thesis Deadline "Not Really Happening"

Gay-for-Pay Expose: More Work Than Wages in Nonprofit World

Jen's Medical Nightmare, Not-Quite-Flu-Feeling Lingers

Ice Lady Change of Heart, Kitten Planned for Daughter's Christmas Miracle

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

But Of Course

At the Symposium a couple of weekends ago, the big idea that came out of all of that whole day's discussion was that the queers in this state need a website. And maybe a community center.

Back to the website: as I heard people talking about it, I kept thinking about all of the problems with that idea. Internet-based organizing and communication can be class-based (because who has access to the internet? And good access is another issue out of the cities, since a lot of people I know have dial-up, which leaves most of the internet inaccessible. Flash? Yeah, right.) I also thought, if there's a website, there's going to have to be someone to take care of it, make decisions, post things, and it will necessarily produce some variation of that person (or committee)'s tastes and opinions.

But--I realized today--not if it's a wiki. What we need here is a big queer wiki. Check out this one in Washington (sadly, not queer, but community-based and really used, apparently). Ours could be like that! But with rainbows! (Or not with rainbows if you don't like them--that's the beauty of a wiki.)

Doesn't take care of the class issues, but it would take away the power of the publisher and let the participants decide what it'll be. Yay for no hierarchy!

Monday, November 26, 2007

If You Have to Shop

I'm all for handmade presents... but in case you're, like, wicked busy, or un-crafty, or (like me) have family members who look at handmade objects like you stabbed them in the heart with it, check out these shopping guidelines so that your dollars go responsibly.

There is a website that does research for you, listing the best and worst retailers based on their responsiveness to 5 issues: Human Rights (sweatshops, 3rd world community exploitation, international health issues, divestment, child labor, code of conduct; the Environment (global warming, rainforest destruction, pollution, recycling, renewable energy, greenwashing, toxic waste, eco-innovations, illegal dumping, sustainable farming); Animal Protection (factory farming, animal testing, humane treatment, wild animal habitat;Community Involvement (family farms, local business support, volunteer efforts, sustainable growth, philanthropic donations, nonprofit alliances, establishing foundations) and Social Justice (fair wages, fatalities, union busting efforts, health & safety records, discrimination based on: race, gender, age, ability, religion, sexuality, ethnicity).

And the top ten winners are (drumroll, preferably on a recycled cooking pot, please)...

Shocking. OK, and the 10 worst companies are...Again, shocking.

OK, go forth and consume. (But I'd take a hat you made for me. Or some dilly beans. Or a gift certificate for some free babysitting.)

Thanks to Maine Gaynet for the info. :)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Only the Lucky Ones Get a Mug, William

William Gibson in Rolling Stone, on his career as a sf writer (via kottke):

If one had gone to talk to a publisher in 1977 with a scenario for a science-fiction novel that was in effect the scenario for the year 2007, nobody would buy anything like it. It's too complex, with too many huge sci-fi tropes: global warming; the lethal, sexually transmitted immune-system disease; the United States, attacked by crazy terrorists, invading the wrong country. Any one of these would have been more than adequate for a science-fiction novel. But if you suggested doing them all and presenting that as an imaginary future, they'd not only show you the door, they'd probably call security.
It could all go to gray goo. But it just isn't in my nature to buy a lot of canned food and move to Alaska and try to escape the gray goo.
on a good day, my career seems so utterly unlikely that I wonder if I'm not about to snap out of a DMT blackout and discover that I'm not actually a famous writer of William Gibson novels but that I'm working at a used-book shop that smells of cat pee and drinking beer out of a cracked coffee mug.

Going Back & Forth

So I was reading this article (via personism) in the NYTimes about a woman who is hired (by men, mostly) to organize their personal lives, make social connections, rent apartments, be "the decider" about their wardrobes and their furniture and friends. Despite the ugly connotations of this paragraph:
He calls her an outsourced wife. “The nice thing is that when I ask her to do something, she gets it done and there’s no negative feelings.”
it seems like a kind of feminist thing to do--take traditionally feminine work (I understand that wives are sometimes expected to help advance their husbands' careers by hosting parties and cultivating social relationships, not to mention home and self decorating), separate it from wifely duties, and charge for what it's actually worth. Kind of cool.

And also, super-distasteful that someone should be able to "buy a life" for themselves. It's the dream of consumerism that we should be able to purchase the kind of life we want to have--with the right car and the right clothes and careful selection of mass-market music choices and I don't know what all. What happens when a person can't make the decision about this stuff for themselves (which seems to me only natural, since it's a false choice)? They can hire someone who can.

Is it significant that she has nearly all male clients and she's female? Is this horrifying or does she get a high-five?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


I stayed up real late last night reading Elizabeth Hand's Generation Loss. She's a Mainuh, and I could. not. put. it. down. Didn't care so much for the

[IMPORTANT INTERRUPTION: IT IS SNOWING. Now back to your regularly scheduled snarkiness]

over-the-top conclusion to the mystery but I did fall hard for the main character, since I have a particular weakness for artistic junkies with good intentions and scary dark sides (see most of my romantic relationships). And really, anyone who writes with genuine affection for both trailers and rural Maine wins as far as I'm concerned.

Day of Remembrance

Today is the 9th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance. It's a day to remember the trans people who have been killed due to anti-transgender hatred and violence this year, and sadly, there are too many of them.

So much of what I do these days is related to gender and its many forms. I think about it all the time. I forget what it's like to not think about it, or to be confused or upset by people whose gender is not immediately clear, or to be buried in that mental binary, although I talk to people every day (even people within our own queer community) who are.

I think it's an expression of insecurity to be threatened by the fact that other people's experience is different. And that's part of the root of oppression, isn't it? That insecurity--that if someone's else's perception is right that yours must be wrong? Oh sad, binary, insecure world.

But just because I'm not threatened by it, and just because I try hard to be an ally, doesn't mean I'm not transphobic in my own ways. I still asked my pregnant friends if they were having a boy or a girl. My brain still tries to pick out the "clues" about someone's birth sex--almost as if it's separate from my own wishes. It's a clever brain, it can recognize cues that are very subtle. I keep trying to tell it that those cues are irrelevant, but it looks for them anyway. I still sometimes stay silent when there are transphobic conversations happening around me, because I am afraid to speak up and then lose a debate. It's a process, and an ongoing one, to unlearn all of this stuff that I have absorbed from the culture around me. I don't think I'll ever be done.

Anyway, there's a great article on feministing today about the Day of Remembrance.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Twinkle Fingers*

I've been so busy being queer that I've been in a media blackout, so I did a little catching up this morning, and was heartened to read about the anti-war protests going on in Olympia.

More, please, just like that.

*Hand gesture used in radical meetings to indicate agreement. Not related to jazz hands.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I Thought I Was Done, But I Cannot Pass This By

A blog devoted to men who look like old lesbians (via kottke). My favorite?

"Robert Redford. Actor. Director. Head of Women's Studies at Community College of Denver."

Updates &tc.

New column up shortly at The Bollard. You can also hear it in my own dulcet voice on Lesbian Radio Thursday (tomorrow!) sometime between 1:30 and 3:00 pm EST. Stream it here.

Reporter query: looking for polyamorous heterosexuals. No, really.

Western Mass was great, although it turns out that I don't like Tibetan food and that my menstrual cycle hates me. Interesting circle, that.

Does anyone but me find the Landmark Forum thing creepy? I keep getting invitations from people and I kind of want to run away from anything that promises all of the answers to my problems.

Speaking of answers, it's time for the question of the day: how does one rebuild patience after it's all used up? Suggestions welcome. But be careful how you answer because, well, I don't have any and tact seems to be in low supply as well.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


In just a few hours I am off for a very exciting road trip to Northampton, dyke mecca of the east coast. Or so I understand. Having never been there myself I am curious to find out if, in fact, the rumors are all true. I am bringing along a friend for cuddling and a Holyoke graduate, plus some emergency beef jerky in case I should go into red meat withdrawal, so we should be prepared for all eventualities.

The purpose of the trip is to meet with my mentor, who will be giving me feedback on my novel/thesis. But I think there will also be brunchiness and sleeping late and a rainbow bumpers sticker and perhaps a seedy bar. We'll see.

Friday, November 09, 2007

The Problem With

The problem with having process via email is the waiting. And the ridiculous amount of time you spend checking your email instead of working.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


I failed to notice that my last post was my 200th. I feel like I should get a cake or something. In fact, there is some cake in the kitchen at work, but the frosting is turning everyone's teeth blue. And it's not in honor of my 200th post at all.

I voted this afternoon and was extremely disappointed not to get an I VOTED! sticker. That sticker is what allows me to feel smug for the whole rest of the day, and I resent the fact that they ran out sometime this morning (as a poll worker/informant told me). Perhaps I should write a letter.

Dear City of Portland:

Please make arrangements to order more I VOTED! stickers before the next election. You ran out before I voted in all three of the last elections, and I think that some better planning needs to happen. Perhaps you could form a task force? Or an investigative committee? I am also available as a consultant for a small fee. After all, smug voting voters are more of what we need. Yours sincerely, Me.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Hotel Virgin

It's been a week of momentous events:

1. Saw Kate Bornstein at USM
2. In seeing Kate Bornstein at USM, was able to be out of the house, alone, after dark,
just for the enjoyment of it, for the first time in a season (o joy!)
3. Started a batch of apple wine
4. Bottled a batch of beer
5. Taught a workshop on beer-making (see #4)
6. Spoke to a large group of strangers and friends about Winter Cache (see #4, #5)
7. Wore a tuxedo-printed t-shirt in public
8. Tried Northern Spy, Empire, Snow, and Gala apples for the first time
9. Rented a hotel room for the first time

Regarding #9: I find it hard to believe that I have reached my third decade and not ever reserved a hotel room for myself, but it's true. Or rather, it was true. I'm just not really a traveler, and I'm also really poor, so my occasional overnight accomodations have tended to be of the couch or tent variety.

But I'm planning a weekend visit to Northampton to visit my school mentor to talk about my novel, and I'm taking the opportunity to make it a road trip with a friend and explore that city a little. I've never been there either, but people keep saying that I'll like it, so I probably will.

Friday, October 19, 2007


We've gotten some attention here in Portland because of the national flap about offering birth control pills to middle schoolers.

I have some opinions about that. See if you can spot me talking about them.

Superstar. That's right.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Right Brain, Apparently

The way you see this optical illusion is supposed to tell you whether you are "right-brained" or "left-brained" (via kottke). I, apparently, and to my surprise, am right-brained, i.e.
uses feeling
"big picture" oriented
imagination rules
symbols and images
present and future
philosophy & religion
can "get it" (i.e. meaning)
spatial perception
knows object function
fantasy based
presents possibilities
risk taking
This goes against everything I have ever believed about myself. Shit, now I need to reprioritize my life and start all over. And I better learn to talk about those feelings. And become impetuous. Suggestions?

EDIT 10/25: Apparently, I am so opposed to this idea that I insisted in incorrectly typing "left" when I meant "right." Right. Right. Right. I will remember someday. It's corrected for now.

Friday, October 05, 2007

League Musings

Although I'm generally unimpressed** by The League, I am really glad that they put out this voting guide. There is a lot of information out there, and I get overwhelmed by it all. The voting guide lays it all out, and even if I don't agree with all of their endorsements they've summed up the major issues and made it easier to make a decision.

**Things I don't like about The League:
  • Name change removing the words Pissed Off
  • Weird corporate feel (there is a national office that designs all of the various states' League websites and material)
  • Too-cool-for-school events
  • Since when are 30-year-olds young voters?
  • Cutesy use of slang in materials
  • Soft-mouthed Green/Democratic political style that is not hard-line enough
I do like some things about them, like the voting guide, and the fact that they're at least liberal and are getting "young" people interested in politics. When the League first appeared I was kind of excited that there were some pissed-off people looking to create change in the fucked up system. But I fear that as the organization ages it's becoming more conservative in order to broaden its appeal (and its financial support).

I've decided that the only kind of pure activism is volunteer work. Once your rent and supper (and maybe the rent and supper of other people, if there's a staff) depend on your activism, it's easier to compromise the work for the sake of, you know, eating and being warm and stuff.

And, um, OK, if I should be entirely truthful here and confess that I really did want to be one of Portland's coolest kids (although it's a stretch to call me a kid at this point), and there are a lot of other people who could have been too. And I'm not cool enough for The League. I guess that's important to mention. Sigh. Junior high never really does go away, does it? It just lives inside like a festering wound...

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Old Home Week

This is a penny postcard from the turn of the century from the town next to my hometown. My sister's house is now on the street to the left, I think. Lots more postcards here. See, the internet is good for something.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Good for Girls

I hate the term pre-teen. I think that it encourages girls to grow up too fast, looking forward to those "magical" teen years and the joys of makeup and boys and eating disorders and binge drinking. Oh, wait, maybe those were just my teen years.

And more even than pre-teen, I hate tween. Seriously. Tween what? Reminds me somehow uncomfortably of twink. And also the Olsen Twins.

But there is no denying that I am the mom of a person going through some serious changing and growing. The most recently contentious piece of which has been the ridiculous and beloved Bop magazine. I read Bop (and its evil stepsister Teen Beat) as a young teenager; I cut out posters of Corey Haim and Corey Feldman and Kirk Cameron and plastered them on my walls. But I hate when my daughter reads it (drools over it, more like) because it just seems so... vapid. My mom should have stopped me. Although I would have hated her if she did. Plus S just seems so young for all of that.

In a fit of insanity I purchased for her a copy of some teen magazine that featured her favorite movie, High School Musical. And when I found her comparing her very healthy body to the oversexualized, made-up, airbrushed, professionally good-looking young actresses in the magazine, I freaked out and banned teen magazines completely from our house. I have not yet been forgiven for this act.

It was, perhaps, an overzealous response to a bad situation I created myself. I should have forbidden them from the beginning. In my own defense, I have always tried to let her make decisions for herself and then engage in dialogue about them (this has worked well with Barbie dolls and swearing)--but my own history with body issues made this magazine issue very real and concrete for me, and I could not let it go.

I've been looking for an alternative magazine to offer her that is geared towards her age group but with positive and thoughtful material, and finally found a couple that I think I can live with:

New Moon Magazine has no advertising and tackles such pressing issues as "Barbie: Friend or Foe" and represents a wide range of real girls and diversity of lifestyles. There is a free sample issue available onine (pdf). Best of all, it doesn't look lame.

Muse Magazine
also looks good, if a little more academically oriented.

I might just get her both. I feel like I should offer an alternative instead of just saying no. I wish parenting came with a cheat sheet.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Startlingly Effusive

Since I disconnected from the old Boob Tube back in April I've been a little out of touch with, you know, popular culture. I've never even heard of this movie, but the beauty is that I didn't have to because it turns out that I've already seen fifteen variations on it.

Seriously, folks. Funniest movie review I've ever read. And that's saying something, since I must have read about fifty movie reviews in my whole life.

No, really. Funny.


My buddy K just sent me this fucking clever video which actually made me LOL, which I have only actually done three times before on the internet (OK, maybe four if you count My Hands Are Bananas which also came via K).

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Pool Boy Speaks, But Not Truth to Power

The man who cleans George H.W. Bush's pool speaks out to the press, but not to the former president:

"I look at the biggest middle finger in the world all day,"

(via eyeteeth)

In other news, I'm still not back at work. Maybe tomorrow.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Triumphant Return II: Daughter of the Triumphant Return

I return, minus an ovary, having taken a week off to be lulled in the gentle and forgiving arms of oxycodone (and my friends).

It was surprisingly a pretty productive week: I watched the entire third season of The L-Word and a huge selection of John Hughes movies; read six novels; finished crocheting a scarf; canned, dried, and froze my allotment of Winter Cache tomatoes; visited with many friends; and yes, did allow myself to be taken care of just a little bit. That piece is hard for me; I tend to be private with things that I find embarrassing--you know, needing help, having feelings, stuff like that.

I am slowly returning to the real world after my week lived within a two-block radius of my house. Yesterday was a big deal as I drove my car (!). All by myself! Down to the video store! I forgot how big the world is and how many people are in it. I think that under the right circumstances I could really become one of those people who never leaves one room, since I was for the most part perfectly content to stay here in my bed and loll around and nap and only answer the phone sometimes. Honestly, I think it was partly the unaccustomed joy of feeling justified in being completely selfish that I liked so much.

I'm going to try to do some writing today (I don't know how all of those famous opiate-addicted writers got any work done; narcotics make me far more interested in gazing at my arm hair than doing anything truly creative) and maybe take a walk with S and her friend. Sadly, we're not going to the Common Ground Fair, but my bestest friend Bec went and is doing some shopping for me: a Common Ground poster, maple sugar candy, some non-alcoholic echinacea tincture. She should be back with my wish list, and for a long visit, this evening. And I think it's back to work tomorrow.

Friday, September 14, 2007

That's What I Was Saying

The New Yorker has a good, if somewhat flip, article about localism/local eating. This paragraph pretty much sums up what I was so awkwardly trying to say the other day:
There are powerful arguments against localism: apart from the inevitable statistical tussles about exactly how much fuel is used for how much food, the one word that never occurs in the evocation of the lost world of small cities and nearby farms is “famine.” Our peasant ancestors, who lived locally and ate seasonally from the fruit of their own vines and the meat of their own lambs, were hungry all the time. The localist vision of the tiny polis and its surrounding gardens has historically led to bitter conflict, not Arcadian harmony.
(via megnut)

Thursday, September 13, 2007


I haven't been entirely honest with you.

Those medical problems that I mentioned a while back? They're kind of a bigger deal than I let on, and soon I will probably have to take another--shorter--blog break while convalescing from a surgery that will hopefully correct them.

I have a favor to ask of you, though (and you should know that I'm rolling my eyes as I do this because if someone had told me five years ago that I'd be asking [mostly] strangers on the internet, for chrissakes, to do something for me I'd have poked their eyes out). As part of the treatment for this thing I've been seeing an energy worker. It's kind of like Reiki. Actually, I don't really understand exactly what she does, but whatever it is, it helps, and I feel about ten million times better after a visit and for a week or two afterwards.

This energy worker suggested that I ask folks who know about this surgery to send me positive thoughts instead of anxiety about my health or about the procedure; so what I'd ask you to do is on Monday (9/17), just send me some happy thoughts. If you wanted you could imagine me "wrapped in a tan-colored blanket of love" (that's the energy worker's suggestion, and the blanket is tan because that's the color of my favorite blanket). If that's too fucking hokey for you, just, you know, give me a mental hug, or even one of those raise-the-jaw acknowledgments that the wicked cool people do when you pass them on the street. Anyway, it can't hurt. And I'll try anything (except watching/reading/listening to The Secret).


This is the kind of thing that could just push me over the edge. Here I am, thinking I'm doing a good thing by buying local goods, and it turns out that it maybe doesn't even make a difference:

Even when considering transport-related emissions alone, simply measuring the distance food has covered does not accurately reflect the energy consumption of its journey...

And it turns out our own part in the chain is often the most damaging, since when we drive to the supermarket, we might come back with only a few of bags of food in the car boot. Such a trip is far less fuel efficient than the one taken by that same food on its way to the supermarket in a truck packed with the assistance of load-optimisation software, which determines how to stack cargo so that barely an inch of empty space is left in the back of the vehicle.

A more realistic assessment would be how many pounds of carbon dioxide are generated by transport for each pound of food carried. (via kottke)
It's a good article that weighs out the benefits and costs of food, which is something that I'm pretty interested in. I participate in a gardening project, for example, and drive out to Cumberland every Sunday to work for several hours in the garden that will provide some of our winter food. And just about everyone else drives there, too, although we do really well at carpooling. Besides the fact that I love gardening and learning about how things grow, does it equal out? Would it have been less damaging to the environment to just buy those 50 lbs of potatoes, etc. rather than having everyone drive out to the farm all the time?

I've been thinking, lately, after hanging out with some radical anti-capitalist friends (whom I love intensely) that food politics--and other kinds of anti-capitalist politics--are kind of about control issues: striving for the zero-carbon, zero-waste lifestyle feels similar to eating disorders in that there is an unattainable goal that one is always trying for but can never achieve.

There is no "outside" of capitalism, there's no way to make zero impact on the environment, unless you go feral and live in the woods. I guess that the traditional Native American lifestyle is held up as an example of how that can work, but the logical part of my brain protests that that way of living is just not possible right now, with the population as large as it is. And as nice as it would be to live that way (ha ha ha), that kind of existence is probably short and hard. There is an idealization of that kind of life that I think neglects a lot of the problems that are inherent, like the possibility of mass starvation.

I enjoy a lot of the luxuries of 21st century living, like running water and the internet, but most of all I like having free time to write.

And the idealism of the zero-impact goal makes me feel guilty all the time. Every second I could be doing more, wasting less, and I start to feel frozen, like I can't do anything. I think it would be more helpful to talk to a lot of people about how to reduce their waste and their carbon footprint rather than to individually chase that ever-retreating zero.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Triumphant Return

I feel somehow that I should return with something really clever and summarizing of the time I have spent on my blog break. But really, I don't have anything like that, because not only am I not that cool, but I've been doing other things (moving... um, moving... talking about my feelings).

Instead of something clever, I have for you a photo of The Ponies of Death (thanx to Jacob). Enjoy.

Welcome, welcome. Good to see you again.

Monday, August 20, 2007

It's Called a Blog Break (That's the Technical Term)

I've decided that I'm giving myself a blog vacation. S and I are in the middle of packing, soon to be moving, and I have some health stuff going on (nothing too serious, but just enough to distract me), so I'm going to just take a couple of weeks off.

I'll be back on September 1, promise. Check back then.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Yeah, THAT Guy

You know those unbelievable work situations that turn into funny/creepy stories that you shock your friends with but still can't believe they happened? Those ones?

Crazy the things we'll do for minimum wage, huh? Specially when we're hungry or need places to live.

There's a contest that collects them and gives the winner a free vacation--and a friend of mine is a semifinalist. Check out her story and vote for her if you think she deserves it (she does, I promise). You can vote for her every day between now and Tuesday. Then check out the other stories too. Interesting how many of them involve discrimination against women for taking care of their families, or themselves, or wanting to be safe. Damn women, always wanting something.

You got a bad boss story? Too late for the contest, but I'd love to hear it.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Fresh from a radical gathering, I found this essay about autonomy and solidarity in the "Movement of Movements" really interesting (via brownfemipower).

This was my fourth Burdock. It's always a really special time, and one I look forward to all year as an opportunity to retreat, reflect, and reconnect with friends. Well, mostly I look foward to it.

This year, I was thinking about canceling even the day before we were supposed to go. There was packing to do, and looking at how busy the next three weeks will be was making me anxious, and I sort of wanted to just stay home and lay around and take a break, for crying out loud. But I had made a commitment to bring along a friend who needed a ride, and thank goddess I did, because it kept my ass motivated to go.

We arrived on Friday night, at suppertime. The gathering is held on the banks of the Sandy River in Starks, at the edge of property owned by a local farmer. The festival itself is contained within a geographically small area: a grassy road winds next to the river, and people camped between the flattened hay and the water, the location chosen by individual preference. Colorful tents crouched in the tall grass and just under the dense tree canopy. We set up close to the giant, blue-tarped hoophouse that serves as the dining area because I wanted S to feel comfortable going to the tent alone and able to hear us if she went to bed early.

The hoophouse was connected to a smaller tarped area that was designated for the younger children, and a short rocky path towards the river led to the firepit. The firepit area was wide mown, and the river chattered just on the other side of a thicket of tall grass. A narrow trail through the grass led to a shallow section of the river where the older children could safely wade without adult supervision. Another, deeper swimming area was just around a bend in the river, and was accessed by a trail through the woods. The whole setup, from the first tent on the makeshift road, past the group spaces and through the woods to the farthest campsite is maybe 1/4 mile. Maybe less.

The weekend is always the busiest time, and when our little carload had set up and joined the evening's entertainment--an Open Mic(less) Night--there were about 70 people present. S had found some friends and spent the evening running with them and wading in the river, and I saw dozens of people from whom I have been estranged since my breakup with the radical community. It was really good to be there. I had anticipated feeling some awkwardness because of some of the compromises I have made in my life in the past year that are far from radical, but I didn't feel any. (Well, there was one conversation about eating meat that made me feel guilty, but that's minor.)

Mostly I felt good because there was--for the first time--a queer caucus on Saturday. About ten of us gathered to talk about being radical and also being queer, and it felt like the safest, best space ever. I want to move into it and live there forever and ever. So much of my life and activism has led me to separate the many facets of my identity: I can connect with other parents if I play down the queerness; I can connect with other queers if I don't notice rampant consumerism; I can connect with other radicals if I leave out the job; I can connect with my family if I downplay the urbanness & education. This group felt like the most integration of those pieces I've ever experienced--although I acknowledge that part of that is because S was big enough this year to be mostly independent and didn't need my constant attention.

But despite my enthusiasm for the queer caucus and the work we're going to take on, I think that the big shift has been internal for me. I have begun to feel comfortable in my skin recently in a way that is completely new. I know that my choices aren't the same ones that everyone would make, but I'm confident (!) that they are the right ones for me. I have even talked openly about my feelings (!!) and stood up for myself (!!!) a lot in the past few months. And it's not even that scary.

Part of it is confidence in my writing, belief in myself, and making some hard choices that have really turned out pretty well, if difficult. Part of it is intense therapy. Part of it is just being older and more familiar with myself.

I think that every year Burdock has brought me a revelation of some kind (and that may be a recommendation for it or not, depending on your stand). This year's is about confidence and self-comfort, and loving my life. Sweet.

Friday, August 10, 2007

My Summer Vacation, Part 2

This evening S and I are headed off to the Burdock festival in Starks. The picture above is one of the kitchen that was taken two years ago, but it pretty much still looks like that. I will try to report when I return, but I think that I still haven't told the milkweed story that I promised last year, so I'm not going to promise anything. But I do believe that my (ahem) column may be about Burdock this month, so there's an exclusive for you. There's supposed to be a queer caucus on Saturday.

I think this weekend will be our last little bit of summer vacation, since when we get back we're going to need to start seriously packing for the move on the 28th. (Hey! What are you doing on the 28th! Want to carry heavy shit down some stairs?)

Monday, August 06, 2007

Bragging Rights

So, a year or so ago, at my Stonecoast residency, we all went out to eat lobstah on a real Maine wharf complete with cranky tourists and overpriced shellfish. Though a long-time vegetarian, my friend Ann got a lobster, intending to eat it--as part of the experience. She's from a non-oceanic state, and how can you visit Maine and not eat the cursed red crustacean, etc. etc.

Anyway, she didn't end up eating the lobster (I think she gave it to S), but told me that the experience of watching me deftly dismember the critter for her prompted a piece of writing. I mean, I don't want to take all the credit or anything. There were a dozen people sucking on lobster legs and cracking claws. But, you know... I'll take some. If I can get it.

I think this is the piece: Cock Lobster. You can listen to it or read it. But, um, allow yourself a moment of private time, after.

Public Service Announcement #476

If you should wake up early in the morning and decide that it is time to make salsa, remember to put in your contacts before you chop up the jalapenos. Before.

Monday, July 30, 2007

My Summer Vacation, Part I

I'm on vacation this week. I may have mentioned that already. We're hanging close to home, but that doesn't mean we're not having one heck of a good time! It's only day 2 (day 1 if you don't count Sunday which I don't usually work on anyway, but I like to think of the weekends as part of the vacation so it seems longer--although I did work this past Saturday so I'm not counting it).

Right, so it's only day 2 and already we've:

Bought Local

Visited Historic Spots

Crispified Our Skin

Enjoyed some Wholesome &
Heart-Healthy Foods

Oh, vacation... what wond'rous places will you lead us next?

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Pop Culture Wins Again

Not only is it my vacation week... not only does the heat wave appear to be breaking... and not only did I find kale, kohlrabi, squash, parsley, new potatoes and local honey (from Capisic Street, just around the corner) at the farmer's market today...

All that would be plenty, but then I was pointed to Harptallica. (via eyeteeth)

My world is complete.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


So you may know that I'm getting ready to move. My ex-partner and current friend/roommate is leaving August 1, and S & I will be moving out September 1 (destination still uncertain; I might know Monday).

I decided after the last move (to the third floor, thank you) that if/when I move again I have to get rid of some of my crap. And now the time is upon me.

I'm starting with my queer books, which I will be donating to the Charlie Howard Memorial Library. I figure I can visit them any time I miss them. But I sat down to pull them off the shelves today, and then got very sad putting them in a box. Goodbye Leslie Feinberg, Mattilda, and Ann Bannon. Goodbye Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz and Julia Kristeva. Au revoir Jennifer Finney Boylan and Virginia Woolf and Dorothy Allison and Radclyffe Hall. It's difficult to see you go, even though you're going to a good home.

Next is going to be the old school books (a little easier--and they're headed for Goodwill). I'm going to keep one bookcase full of the rest of my favorites, mostly signed copies of books and a few others that are too dear. Just one bookcase. Honest.

Clothes, furniture, the hand drum, extra blankets, duplicate kitchen equipment and that which I've never used. All going. Need something? Give me a call. I probably have one that I'm trying to get rid of. Videos, DVDs, maybe the TV altogether.

I need to pare down, lighten up. I have placed too much importance on the external comforts of my life, and they are irrelevant, and cluttering up my place to boot. My goal: just the basics, ma'am.

Plus, my friends start to get scared when I mention moving. They make other plans. And who can blame them, when I've been guilty of owning fifteen boxes of books. I mean, really.


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