Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Symbolic

Is it significant that ALL of the pictures I've posted over the last 6 weeks are about food?

Oh yes


Not at all a representation of my incredible Sunday night, in case you were wondering. (via)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Speaking of scarce resources...

The gay marriage campaign cost at least $9.6 million.
Those who supported the repeal of the state's gay-marriage law spent $3.8 million, while those who fought to keep gay marriage on the books spent $5.8 million. Voters repealed the law by a 53-47 percent vote. (via)
In case you were wondering, $9.6 million would buy 3,764,706 gallons of heating oil, pay for food stamps for 18,251 three-person families, or pay 1/40 of the state deficit.

I don't mean to imply that I don't value the work of all of the folks who worked so hard on the campaign. But I am and always have been ambivalent on the issue of marriage itself. And this new information just underscores it all.

My million dollar idea

I think I'd like to start a new online business: comfort food porn.

THE AUDIENCE: Young adults who miss being home--homesick college students, young adults who moved across the country to be away from their families, traveling professionals.

THE SEASON: November-March
THE CONCEPT: Ultra-close photos of regular people interacting with their favorite starchy goodness.
  • people in baggy sweatshirts holding bowls of tuna casserole
  • slovenly parents in pajamas leaning over steamy crockpots
  • women with greasy hair in ponytails eating mashed potatoes
  • a closeup shot of a glistening peanut butter and margarine sandwich
  • men leaned back in barcaloungers with the jar of salsa propped directly below their chins


Would you watch?

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Going Cheap! eBay Auction For One (1) Right To Marry

Can I sell mine too? Oh, wait..

Going Cheap! eBay Auction For One (1) Right To Marry: "

eBay, always so handy: “I’m an unmarried heterosexual woman, and since I probably won’t be using my right to get married, I would like to give it away.”

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Hair

I don't identify as femme (why not? it doesn't fit how I feel. my gender can't be defined that easily. that is all) but I relate to a lot of what's being said here.

Ever since I've been growing my hair out (yes, that's all) I've noticed a distinct shift in who notices me and what kind of attention I get. It's all about the hair, folks. True story. Ask any middle schooler.

A couple of Sinclair's points that I enjoy**:
Not being seen as queer and recognized as radical by straight folks is a common complaint I hear from femmes. There is an added burden of constantly having to come out verbally, constantly having to remind the folks around you that you are queer, constantly having to deflect and defend yourselves against unwanted straight male attractions, since in this culture the display of femininity is presumed to be for the attraction of men, men’s gaze, men’s sexual advancement. It is seen as an invitation to being hit on, in fact. A girl out on the town and all dressed up in heels, dresses, lipstick, must be trying to “catch a man.” Of course, this isn’t true. Whoever this girl is, she could be wearing those things for all kinds of reasons, for her boyfriend, for her friends, for herself, for her wife. And this is constant. Walking down the street, catching a cab, on the subway, at work, at a party, at a play, at a concert, in a bar – everywhere a femme goes, her femininity is assumed to be for men and to attract a man.

(This is also, in fact, one of the reasons femme-ness is subversive, and feminist: it re-creates femininity not as a tool to catch men, but as an authentic mode of expression for onesself and for queerness, disrupting this idea that femininity is “natural” for women.)

...You can’t choose who sees you when you walk down the street – you put yourself out there in a semi-public domain and you can’t pick who you interact with on a daily basis. But you can choose what those interactions mean. And here, you just have a more advanced sense of this sex-gender assumption than they do. You are right. They are not.
and also
What a complicated, heartbreaking, turning-ourselves-inside-out that coming to a new identity process is. And when it is not marked by physical proof, when someone looks the same, there is no particular indication that Something Big Has Changed, so how do we know? By speaking of it, by talking about it, by documenting it in some form. Still, so much of the data we take in is visual, so even when our minds take in that something is different, if we don’t see the physical proof, it might not register the same way. I think this is also partly why the process of coming out as a dyke often involves things like cutting one’s hair off – which is the rejection of femininity and the association that femininity is performed for the attraction of men, yes, but also a physical marker that something has changed.

These are just things that are “true,” according to our culture: femininity is a tool for the attraction of men; dykes reject this and therefore don’t have to perform femininity; if you are a dyke, you also come to a more androgynous gender identity as part of your dykeness. Sexual orientation and gender presentation are so tied together – that is the sex-gender assumption in a nutshell.

At a conference not too long ago (just before the vote, actually) I was talking to a small workgroup of LGBT folks. We were asked to describe what we imagined or wanted to focus on as a community after the election was over. I suggested that, as a community, we do some work around sexism, because most homophobia comes down to gender-based discrimination.

For example, how can you tell someone's queer? Unless they're making out with someone, you kind of have to go by gender markers. It's the gender transgression that is the problem, not the sexual orientation.

Why do some straight guys feel incredibly threatened by gay men and fixate on gay sex? Because gay sex is believed to be "feminizing" in a world where feminine=less power.

Why are transwomen subjected to violence more frequently than transmen? See the "feminizing" situation above.

Why, even, is marriage an issue? Because it's seen as making a mockery of the man-woman dichotomy.

Every single one of those folks around the table looked at me like I had two heads. There was a brief silence and then the conversation moved on, closing over my comment without any indication that it had ever existed.

Yes, okay. And there's a big part of the problem, in a nutshell, and why I have a hard time getting behind a lot of the queer activism that's going on right now. More on this later, I think.

**hee hee

Monday, November 23, 2009

Gravy

My family doles out responsibility for Thanksgiving Dinner. One aunt is cooking the turkey; another is mashing potatoes. My dad brings yeast rolls. I had really been hoping to try to introduce non-starch vegetables again this year. I need them to soak up the massive amounts of sugar I'll be eating. I feel guilty eating so many carbs without even the tiniest hint of green (no, frozen peas don't count).

My "weird" food habits are more of an issue than my sexual orientation. Shave my head and bring a "friend" home from college? Totally fine. Bring roughage to dinner? Create a scandal that echoes for years. The fact that I don't eat dairy is a constant source of amusement and mystery, and I gracefully bear a lot of jokes about the beans I love to eat.

Last year, in my eagerness to share the joys of brassica, I brought sauteed kale with garlic and soy sauce for Thanksgiving. Everybody politely took a tablespoon of it and drowned it in gravy or vinegar. There was a lot of it left at the end of the meal.

And then I was late calling them back this year to choose a dinner assignment.

"I'll bring a salad," I said.

"Umm..." my aunt said. "That would be good, except I don't really know where I'd put a salad on my Thanksgiving dinner plate. "

I know what she means. In our tradition, Thanksgiving dinner is strictly meat, fat, starch, and sugar. Vitamins need not apply. And salad wouldn't really blend in, would it? Plus, the combination of salad and gravy is horrifying.

"How about an appetizer?" she said.

Appetizer. A snack. Harumpf. I wonder if I've been assigned the powerless task of appetizer on purpose so that I don't mess up anyone's carbtastic meal. Ok, but I could do a raw veggie platter, sneak in some broccoli and kohlrabi--

"But your other aunt is bringing cut up vegetables and dip, and celery with cream cheese and olives, so..."

Damn, now my crudite plan was foiled! I agreed to bring some kind of appetizer, and hung up in a panic. What was once a simple food assignment is now a mission--a challenge from the foodie gods to find some possible compromise that will be not only vegetable, but acceptable to my family's specific palate.

After a week of frantic internet-recipe surfing (interrupted only by critical Gaga infusions) I think I've come up with the perfect compromise: Bacon-Wrapped Brussels Sprouts.
They probably won't look like this, but they'll be SO DELICIOUS. And they will be EATEN. Now you're jealous.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tag, I'm It!

Because I like to play nice....

Rules:

1. Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 random and or weird things about yourself.
3. Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
4. Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Ok, the 7 things:

1. I like to eat sardines. Usually on crackers.
2. I'm a member of a dream group. We meet every week and talk about our dreams.
3. I failed NaNoWriMo. I blame the Yes on One folks, because... why not?
4. My only significant encounter with the law is one speeding ticket.
5. I've been so tense this week that, while I'm sleeping, I clench my hands until they are numb and bloodless. There is no one reason for this stress; I think it's a month-long accumulation. I need to get to the gym more.
6. In high school I used to play clarinet, bass clarinet, french horn, hand drums, and electric guitar.
7. I like to make my own beer and wine.

I'm going to break the rules because I dislike tagging people. However, I would LOVE to know seven random things about you, so if you posted them I would clap my hands with excitement. Really. Consider yourself tagged.

Tradeoffs

It turns out that being less anxious has made me into a little bit of a flake. I run late to things. I stay home and chill instead of doing things I said I'd do. I'm a tad forgetful.

I feel bad for everyone who is collateral damage to this, but I'll take flakiness over an anxiety-exploded brain any day of the week.

Friday, November 13, 2009

...

Because that's how it is for me these days. Just. ...

I didn't expect to feel so strongly about the election. I don't support marriage as The Cause for the queers; I don't think it's a very functional institution and I'm not interested in assimilating. I do support my friends who want to get married, though, and I understand that the conversation is already, happening. Can't stay neutral... moving train. Etcetera.

On Wednesday morning it sure didn't feel like a vote about marriage, though. It felt like 53% of the state voted against ME. And my chosen family.

Also, it's November, my least favorite month of the year. I would make links to previous posts that acknowledge my November-hatred, but I just don't have the energy today.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sick Day Assignment

The Tween was sick this morning, so I gave her some tylenol, my Netflix password, and the phone, and went off to work. She was coming-down-with-something-sick, so I knew she'd be bored before long, and I didn't want her tubing out in front of Kim Possible all day. So my conditions were this: She had to watch a documentary--any one she chose--and write me a essay on it before she could go on to the fluffier stuff.

She chose Monster Camp, and I present to you her [spelling corrected] essay and review:

The movie I watched was called Monster Camp. It was about L.A.R.P.-ing (live action role playing). It was really good. My favorite person was the girl playing the Sea Elf. It was a lot like what [best friend] and I do. Everyone had a character. They were their characters.

The people LARP fights, mostly. It is not from a particular book; the people are medieval fantasy creatures. The people that go there say they LARP becuse it is a good escape from reality. The people in this movie are from ages 14 to 60. The movie takes place in (or around) Seattle. You don't choose your charater if you're a Monster, MAR (Movable Action Roleplayer), or newbie. COCs (Chooser of Characters) get to decide if you come regularly enough to stay a permanent character in the Plot.

The movie's 'message' is that it's OK to pretend, even if you are not a kid. My favorite part was seeing the costumes and makeup. My least favorite part was seeing a 30 year old man talking about how this was his 5th year of being a high school senior.

I would give this movie 4 stars for kids my age to watch. This movie made me want to LARP sometime.
As it turns out, she didn't end up watching any of the cable-tv crap I thought she'd like, because she ended up working on the movie and essay most of the day--and she seemed to like it. Which is just fine by me. Now it looks like I might get to teach my kid to play D&D.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Hey Portlanders

A work-related question for you.... Do you ever avoid the Old Port because you feel unsafe there?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Middle Schoolers Coming Out

The NY Times has a pretty long article about coming out in middle school, including some interviews with kids in Maine.

I was guilty of my share of [disbelief], too, the first time I met Kera — then a 12-year-old seventh grader — and her 13-year-old best friend, Justin, last spring in a city in New England. Kera had small, delicate features. Justin had freckles and braces. They seemed like kids. Yet there they were at a bookstore coffee shop after school, talking nonchalantly — when they weren’t giggling uncontrollably about one of their many inside jokes, that is — about their sexual identities. Kera said she was bisexual. Justin said he was gay. The effect was initially surreal to me, and before long I heard myself blurt out, “But you’re so young!”

It's a thoughtful article, and the author acknowledges his own prejudices; the basic message is that the world isn't quite ready for these kids, but it can't stop them. I like that.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Baby pears

No, really. Baby pears.

I don't usually link to kottke articles but I couldn't resist.

Baby pears! Baby pears!

Milestones

I need to mention that at some point this month, this blog passed the 10,000 views level. I don't know what I think about that, but there it is.

Also, I think I've passed my four-year blog anniversary, even though the site only seems to be archived to early 2006. I distinctly remember blogging about Meg Perry's death, which happened in December 2005... so there's that.

It's an exciting time here in jennyjeezland. Keep on keeping on.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Med management

So a friend asked me recently about my experience with medication, based on what I have written, and I thought it might be helpful to share my response to them here. There may be other folks wondering the same thing and not wanting to ask outright... and also I want to talk about this stuff, publicly.

Because of what I wrote before, I've actually had several people share their own experience with depression and medication, and that's been great. I think that talking is a big part of eliminating the shame around depression and anxiety... and for me, talking has helped ease some of my own disappointment that this is not something that I can treat without medication. There is such a thing as a chemical imbalance. I don't like taking a pill every day, but I can't deny that doing so makes me feel like I can exist--unlike my own untreated feelings, which sometimes make me feel like I can't exist.

I don't think that medication is a permanent solution for me, but it's a tool that I'm using (along with really active therapy, exercise, and better communications in my personal relationships) to reroute the old thought patterns that got me into trouble.

So anyway, here's what I wrote to someone asking more specifically about my experience with meds. I edited the name of the medication out because I am uncomfortable sharing my current prescriptions publicly, but if you want to know leave I'll leave my email in the comments so you can contact me and I'll tell you:
The medication I take (an SSRI) was prescribed primarily for anxiety, with the added benefit of treating my depression. I'm not sure I made that clear in the blog post... But I think that my out of control anxiety made me depressed, so treating one actually was treating the other. And for some reason it's harder to talk about anxiety than depression.

What the medication did was kind of narrow the range of my mood, but not in a bad way. So I still get anxious or depressed sometimes, as people do, but it's like the volume got turned down and the feelings/moods are manageable. The other thing that I think the medication did is to make therapy more helpful, because once the volume was down on the feelings--once I wasn't in crisis all the time any more--I was able to talk about some of the things which *cause* the feelings, and that reduced the anxiety & depression even more.

I started with ****, which is almost exactly the same thing as the thing I'm currently taking (and a lot cheaper), but the pills have lactose in them, and apparently I am extremely sensitive to it.

I have taken other medications in the past (Paxil, Wellbutrin, and imipramine), but those were only for depression, and they didn't work well enough to endure the side effects--things like difficulty being creative, sexual dysfunction, weird body sensations, and increased anxiety. I also wasn't in good therapy while I was taking them, so that makes a big difference. I don't personally believe in medication without therapy.

But while there I have had some side effects (a bit of weight gain, some forgetfulness, a change in the way my body reacts to alcohol, and some stomach sensitivity to coffee), the benefits FAR FAR outweigh them.

So, basically, it's unfortunately a bit of trial and error with medications to see what you'll tolerate best. But I would recommend talking to the doc or psychiatrist who you want to go to about what side effects you're worried about and choosing one that doesn't have many of those. I like the site at drugs.com, where you can look up medications and basically get the same info they give you in those printout things you get in the prescription bag at the drug store.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Obama to Letterman: I Was Black Before the Election

I sometimes don't think it's possible for me to love the president more than I do, and then something like this happens:



Dan Savage (whose voice is the voice of my conscience, btw) says this about the above video

... just because Obama was black before the election and still managed to get elected doesn't mean that racism isn't a problem and that racists don't exist. Remember Obama Waffles? But politically Obama has to avoid the angry-black-man label—which is why he's being baited with racist images and slurs and will go on being baited until sometime after 2012—because it would hurt him with middle-of-the-road white independents who don't want to believe that America has a race problem still.

So our first black president can't call clearly racist insults or acts or motives racist. He needs a crazy ol' cracker like Jimmy Carter to do that for him—and then he needs to go on TV and dismiss and downplay Carter's comments. And Americans are simultaneously upset with Carter because he's right and grateful to the president for letting them—and the country—off the hook.

Savage is exactly right. I've been reading Obama's writing, and it's given me a little understanding of where he's going. He's opposed to the radicalization and separation that is happening with our political parties; he's a community organizer through and through. And I have a great appreciation for his understanding of race politics, and his bravery and willingness to be the trailbreaker.

Also, he's hot. And I don't even swing that way.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Become pencils after you pass away...

Become pencils after you pass away...: "

Carbon-Copies-Box

Nadine Jarvis's 'Carbon copies'... A little morbid, but a clever idea

Pencils made from the carbon of human cremains. 240 pencils can be made from an average body of ash - a lifetime supply of pencils for those left behind. Each pencil is foil stamped with the name of the person. Only one pencil can be removed at a time, it is then sharpened back into the box causing the sharpenings to occupy the space of the used pencils. Over time the pencil box fills with sharpenings - a new ash, transforming it into an urn. The window acts as a timeline, showing you the amount of pencils left as time goes by.

I don't think it's morbid. I think it's lovely. Write about me with me after I'm dead. via

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Happiness Survey

A little while ago I agreed to participate in a study that uses my iphone (have I mentioned I got an iphone? iphone iphone iphone) to track my happiness. I responded to short surveys about 80 times over a period of several weeks about what I was doing and how happy I was.

I just got my first report back, and the results are interesting. And, they come in the form of charts, which you know I love.

Though I often feel lonely, I am apparently only slightly happier with others than I am alone:

Alone?
% Happy


It's no surprise to me that I like small groups bigger than large groups:


# of people interacting with?
% Happy


What is surprising is that the amount of sleep I get has almost nothing to do with my happiness:

%Happy
Hours of sleep

Have an iphone? Sign up for the survey here. Don't yet have an iphone? Writhe in jealousy, my friend.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

I am now an adult... but it still strikes me at odd times. Like last night, when I realized that what I was most looking forward to was finishing the dishes and having a cup of tea in the backyard. Not that household cleanliness and hot drinks are bad, necessarily. But having that be the great joy of my evening--instead of, say, staying up till 1 around a campfire, or being kept awake by the torments of loooooove, or writing bad poetry about either of these two other things--felt suddenly very Grown Up. I immediately felt the need to go get a tattoo AND shave my head.

Except, you know, my job. And stuff.

A few weeks ago I had a long discussion with a friend about the difference between being a grownup and being an adult. Grownups have dead souls, was the implication. Grownups are done growing, and done changing. Grownups in the Little Prince grande personne sense. Which doesn't feel like what I am, but maybe I'm deluding myself? I do feel more stable, less volatile, more certain of myself and of the world. I am calmer and more likely to take pleasures from the contrast between hot tea and cool evening air than from uprooting my life on a whim. Maybe that looks like soul-death from the outside.

And then Jenny Holzer, as part of her work Truisms posted this message on Twitter the other day:



While I've accepted most of her other truisms as, well, true, this one stuck in my gullet. Which I says more about me remaining partially adolescent than it does about the truthfulness of the statement.

I want to end with a conclusion that starts, "But then I..." Unfortunately, there is no conclusion. My self is in tension with myself. Is becoming an adult like selling out? Did all of the adults I knew as a young person--people who seemed so together and responsible and boring--all feel like this? Yes, and yes. Looking forward to more of this.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Smoke and ashes

I love watching Mad Men, but it makes me want to smoke and drink like crazy. Everyone smokes. Everyone drinks. All the time. I remember ashtrays in movie theaters and hospital waiting rooms, but it seems like a dream of the Dark Ages. Was life really like this? It doesn't seem possible.

My grandmother used to tell the story of how her doctor thought she was gaining too much weight during her pregnancy, and encouraged her to start smoking to help her not eat so much.

I think that was an entirely different world, an alternate history. How could we have been there and ended up here?




via

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Daily Death: When A Celebrity Dies Every 15 Minutes

The Daily Death: When A Celebrity Dies Every 15 Minutes: "

In the future, a famous person will die every fifteen minutes. Already it’s happening. The ascent of the microcelebrities, the 24 hour news cycle, citizen journalism, and our darkest fantasies all collide on Twitter now. The website’s rhetorical question “What are you doing?” sometimes feels more like “Who died today?”

Every day on Twitter, news of another death. Les Paul, John Hughes, Farrah Fawcett, those big names, but also the editor at this publication, the founder of this startup, the people who we might not all know, but someone you know knew them and they are using the space to remember them.

Sure, Maria Shriver’s euology made me sit up straighter and think I want to be like that. But, I mean, was I supposed to be shocked that Eunice Kennedy passed on? I guess it’s small talk of a darker sort. You could talk about the weather or whose heart stopped.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bwahahaha!

Michael Heath can always be counted on for some rainy summer entertainment. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do. And keep on keeping on, my queer friends: I'm not such a fan of the hot weather anyway.

A ‘cloud of error’ hides the ‘light of reason’:
"Our crops are faring like our moods. The potato crop is blighted, and corn and fruit fields wither. In one historic building in Augusta, rain flooded the basement, as water from another source poured down through the ceiling and extinguished a century-old chandelier.

Few people would be bold enough to suggest the cause of the endless rain and gloom, that the moral climate in Maine has caused the sun to hide its face in shame.

Worse than the rain is the fact that Maine voted in homosexual “marriage.”

In May, our elected officials overturned a law of nature, and in its place paid honor to evil and unnatural practices. Our leaders allowed a cloud of error to hide the light of reason, and then the rain began. How fitting that this eclipse of human reason is mirrored by the disappearance of the sun!
"

Agri-Intellectuals

It's nice to see a logical, well-written reply to the locavore/small farm/slow food movement. But I still think this writer is wrong

The Omnivore’s Delusion: Against the Agri-intellectuals — The American, A Magazine of Ideas:

"On the desk in front of me are a dozen books, all hugely critical of present-day farming. Farmers are often given a pass in these books, painted as either na├»ve tools of corporate greed, or economic nullities forced into their present circumstances by the unrelenting forces of the twin grindstones of corporate greed and unfeeling markets. To the farmer on the ground, though, a farmer blessed with free choice and hard won experience, the moral choices aren’t quite so easy. Biotech crops actually cut the use of chemicals, and increase food safety. Are people who refuse to use them my moral superiors? Herbicides cut the need for tillage, which decreases soil erosion by millions of tons. The biggest environmental harm I have done as a farmer is the topsoil (and nutrients) I used to send down the Missouri River to the Gulf of Mexico before we began to practice no-till farming, made possible only by the use of herbicides. The combination of herbicides and genetically modified seed has made my farm more sustainable, not less, and actually reduces the pollution I send down the river. "

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

OK, Go

Summer has now, finally, officially, begun in the jennyjeez household. Last night I went swimming at the Kiwanis Pool, ate a soggy italian sandwich, got an ice cream cone (well, a sorbet cone), and played my guitar.

Too bad it's already August. I'm going to have to work hard to fit a whole summer into this month.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Public Privacy

I really like social media. Given the limitations on my social life that are inherent in single mom-hood (i.e. most evening-type hanging out has to be done at my house), sometimes online is the best way to get any friend-time in.

Is it sometimes shallow? Sure. But so are the non-online conversations I have with friends, too. I mean, IRL I like talking philosophy and literary theory and queer politics and everything, but I also like talking about how much I don't get the show Wipeout or what color socks I wear.

The bad thing about social media, as far as I can tell, is that everything is documented, and things that would be past and gone in a conversation are visible for potentially ever. And, unfortunately, people act as if their online interactions are private conversations--responding without thinking--when it's actually more like shouting in a really big room full of people.

Case in point: Alice Hoffman, a well-known writer, went kind of nuts on Twitter when she got a bad review. All of the things she's saying are perfectly reasonable things to think and feel and talk about with friends, but it's like she's forgotten that she's saying them in public. Or, if she hasn't, this way of addressing of the issues strikes me as kind of passive aggressive. Why not write an op ed? Or issue a statement through her publicist? Or write an open letter to the reviewer?

As it is, she comes off as petty and nasty and unprofessional, because what she's having trouble with is a *professional* relationship: she writes books and people read and review them. She might as well be angry with the mail carrier for bringing the mail.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Uncool

Proving that I am once again the least cool person ever (just ask my tween, she'll confirm for you), I am now going to complain about the weather.

Gripe, gripe, whine, moan (pause to scrape off mildew, repeat)...










Did I mention that this is my vacation week? It is. The good news is that I've finished a lot of house projects, but I was hoping to get at least a LITTLE Vitamin D on this vacation. Not a lot, just SOME. Instead I'm growing vestigial gills.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Haunted

I like to listen to podcasts when I'm doing unpleasant things, like the dishes, or working out. Some people like music for this purpose. I generally don't; music doesn't have enough words to distract my busy busy mind.

So this weekend I was catching up on some old This American Life episodes while cleaning up, and heard this story of haunting, explained here:
Some nights after I have been in bed for a while, I have felt as if the bed clothes were jerked off me, and I have also felt as if I had been struck on the shoulder. One night I woke up and saw sitting on the foot of my bed a man and a woman. The woman was young, dark and slight, and wore a large picture hat. The man was older, smooth shaven and a little bald. I was paralyzed and could not move, when suddenly I felt a tap on my shoulder and I was able to sit up, and the man and the woman faded away. Sometimes, after I have gone to bed, the noises from the storeroom are tremendous. It does not happen every night; perhaps a week or ten days will pass, and then again it may be several nights in succession. Sometimes it sounds as if furniture was being piled against the door, as if china was being moved about, and occasionally a long and fearful sigh or wail.
It turns out that they were being poisoned. They called a doctor:
He examined the house thoroughly from top to bottom and interviewed the servants. He found the furnace in a very bad condition, the combustion being imperfect, the fumes, instead of going up the chimney, were pouring gases of carbon monoxide into our rooms. He advised us not to let the children sleep in the house another night. If they did, he said we might find in the morning that some one of them would never wake again.
It makes me wonder about "ghostly" experiences of my own. Were they just bad air? Will anyone ever explain alien sightings this way, or just ghosts? How about unicorns? Are all the ramblings of the mind preventable?







images from http://www.ghoststoriesandpictures.com/

Monday, June 08, 2009

Can't resist

In light of my previous love for Brett Michaels, it would seem amiss for me not to share this brilliantness:



And to think I flashed that guy once. Sigh.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Phone envy

My new economic situation has led to more than weight gain; it has also opened the door to some serious technology envy. I think I might get an iphone.

Further weighing my decision is the fact that my current cell phone screen is cracked (apparently a high-speed collision with the post office floor can cause destruction--who knew?).

The point here is not my disgusting consumeristic drives, but the fact that I will then have two old cell phones bumping around in the back of the Everything Drawer in the kitchen. And today I visited a handy website that lists many many places where I can recycle them. You just put in your zip code and, voila... instant guilt removal.

Now about that iphone...

Friday, May 22, 2009

I could look at this all day


I'm totally fascinated by the unplanned pieces of people's lives--the parts that weren't structured for public viewing. When I walk past lighted windows at night I HAVE to look in. When I look at old pictures, it's what's in the background--what was on the kitchen counter that day, where the clock was hung on the wall, what books lie open on the table--that interests me.

As a result, I am enthralled with this photo project by Mark Menjivar documenting the insides of people's refrigerators.

And no, you can't see mine. It does kind of remind me of the fridge of the former WWI POW, though.

via

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Upcoming Events


I'm going to be participating in a panel discussion on June 18 about Intergenerational Queer/Trans Activism and how we'll continue to document and tell our stories. The lineup for the panel is like a short list of everyone I'd want to be trapped on a desert island with.

You should come check it out...

Audio Entertainment

A couple of cool radio things:

A presentation at the Winter 2008 Stonecoast Residency that I facilitated is online, thanks to Brita at the Maine Humanities Council. You can listen to it here.

The radio show that I mix sound for, Safe Space, is archived online. You can listen here.

I also guested on Money Talks last week (5/13), talking about "How to be Poor," and that will be archived here at some point.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Reason #987 why I am single

An actual conversation I had yesterday...

CO-WORKER: Oh, look! There's a speed-dating event tonight. Want to go?

ME: Oh, no thanks. Tonight I have to finish up a disk of Battlestar Galactica.

Monday, April 20, 2009

On Hipsters

What was the hipster?: "Inside the US, pretending to be white trash only works in a city where white trash doesn’t exist. Otherwise you’re bearing the stigma of America’s deep-seated classism. "

Friday, April 10, 2009

Women's Work

I'm going through my own internal recession, I think; I've recognized that my personal resources (time, energy, happiness) are limited and am cutting back, reviewing what's necessary, laying off what's not.

I have finally accepted that I can't do everything. My limit seems to be two jobs, although I actually hold 4 permanent ones: housekeeper, mom, project assistant (this is the one that pays), cook.

This means that I constantly have to choose which two are going to get the focus. This week cook and housekeeper stepped back so that I could motor though my lengthy to-do list at work and navigate Daughter's schedule. But that means I only made dinner once, and it was from the freezer, and the dishes are taking over the counter.

I'm ok with that.

I could also probably also add to the "unpaid" or category:
  • chauffeur
  • laundress
  • nutritionist
  • child psychologist
  • nursing assistant
  • researcher
  • freelance writer
  • publicist
  • gardener
  • pet care specialist
(Hmm... is there a job for people who update their facebook statuses a lot? I'd have that one too.)

But my mental health seriously depends on being able to have reasonable expectations of what I can do. Jobs I have recently discarded:
  • extreme environmentalist
  • gourmet chef
  • best.mom.ever
  • literary genius

It's a relief to trim down my internal resume. I have always tended to be an overachiever (thanks, alcoholic parent!), and put pressure on myself to be the best at everything... which led to me not enjoying anything.

Being healthier has led to changes in my life that are far more radical than any of the politics in the days when I was marching in demonstrations every week. Liking myself, for example. Having a strong relationship with my kid. Enjoying being alive.

It's totally worth it, even with an internal pay cut.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Dear Portland Press Herald

What's the difference is between "a transient" and a person with "no fixed address?" Is it just reporter preference? Because one sounds a little more pejorative to me.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Happy Spring!

The city of Portland is offering discounted compost bins for residents. They're the nice ones too...
The home compost bins and how-to guide are available at a reduced cost of $40. The bin has a 10-year warranty and is made of 100 percent recycled plastic. Kitchen waste pails for kitchen food scraps cost $8, and the wingdigger compost turner costs $17. For the first time, people can also purchase a 55-gallon rain barrel for $55.
But you gotta call public works to get 'em: 874-8801 or
http://publicworks.portlandmaine.gov

UPDATE: You only have until May 1 to get in your order forms for these sweet, sweet items. The order form is here.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Me, Nonplussed

Daughter was anxious for me to see this video. I saw it. I can't say that watching it helped.

Monday, March 30, 2009

More to hold on to

I wrote before about how I am recovering from a depression that was so long-lasting that I didn't even know I was depressed... And while I am feeling better, there have been some unintended consequences of recovery.

Food tastes really damn good, for example. And my appetite has returned. This, as you might be guessing, has led to some weight gain.

So I'm trying to be make friends with my new love handles. The last time I can remember feeling this good emotionally was in high school, and my weight then was about fifteen to twenty pounds more than my norm over the past few years (pregnancy year excluded). So maybe this is my "happy weight?" That's the current theory, anyway.

And I am less horrified than the woman-sculpture there would suggest. Less horrified than she is, anyway.

My biggest problem is another unintended consequence: I need a new wardrobe, since I am down to just a few pairs of pants. And shopping is a whole other kind of trauma...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Babies! Animals!

For your Thursday afternoon enjoyment, a photo that is so cute that when I saw it I was forced to make incomprehensible cutsie noises until I ran out of breath and COUGHED.Well, cute and a little disturbing and wierdly dirty. But CUTE!

Monday, March 23, 2009

OMFG... I'm in <3

Just wanted to prove that I'm hip with the know and the txt talk and all that...*

And also, to share this with you.

Do you know what it is?

DEEP FRIED CHICKEN SKIN!!!

As happens so often, I am simultaneously horrified and fascinated (and a little hungry).

(Thx, Paul Constant. I want to be you when I grow up.)

*Obviously a lie, since, as a mom, I am no longer allowed to be hip. In fact, the fact that I know anything automatically determines that it is not cool. This is a law of nature.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Poor & female & queer

Last week (one week ago tomorrow, actually, when I was just starting to have a sense that I might be sick) I participated in a local history project of Sisters, the dyke bar (RIP). The project is being conducted through a series of interviews by Clare Forstie, a graduate student at USM. I was thrilled to help--and, to be honest, a little jealous that I hadn't thought of the idea first.

During the interview I talked a bit about why Sisters closed. I have always thought that a lesbian-oriented venture will have a harder road because women are, in general, poorer than men, and lesbians are poorer than women in general. This is something I've observed, and something I know to be true, but now there's proof.
About 24 percent of lesbians and bisexual women are poor, compared to 19 percent of straight women, the study says. About 15 percent of gay and bisexual men are living in poverty, a rate that’s akin to the 13 percent of straight men who are poor, the report says.
(Washington Blade, via)
I can't wait to go read the whole thing, and you can too, here.

(h/t to Sarah)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Unrelatedly

Dan Savage for mayor of Seattle!

Cough, cough

This has been the weeks of the sickness(es). Somehow I ended up missing seven days of work out of the past ten, for a series of completely unrelated events. I keep telling myself that I must be making a huge karmic down payment on something really excellent...

You can see some of the evidence on my flickr, but the most intense part has been the flu that I caught (probably at the doctor's office while having my toes x-rayed, and despite the flu shot I got in the fall). I can't remember the last time I was this sick, and I've never had the flu before. I can understand why meaner strains of it killed people.

In fact, most of the week is lost in a hot blur. Since I couldn't sustain concentration to read, I watched a lot of TV (including an obscene amount of Roseanne and many births on Discovery) and slept and drank tea and ate soy yogurt. I had a breakdown of sorts on Tuesday afternoon when I realized how sick I actually was, and had to call in the reinforcements so that I could get away to go to the urgent care clinic, but my friends came to the rescue.

This weekend my folks are taking Daughter so that I can sleep and sleep and sleep. And probably watch more Roseanne.

I will not be at all sorry to see this week go.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Triumphant Return

A friend commented to me the other day that I didn't really write much here any more, and I realized that she's right. Partly it's easier to facebook, and twitter, but there's a bigger reason.

The problem is that the things going on in my personal life are just not the kind of thing you blog about. Or, rather, not the kind of thing I blog about. Because I've been uncomfortable with, you know, feelings and stuff, and I also reject the idea of blog as journal. AND I needed a little time to put this whole thing into perspective. Nonetheless, I will try to describe without being cheesy. You may want to skip the rest of this if you're not into feelings and processing and personal self-development.

OK. So, you know that I got laid off last June and spent the summer unemployed. You may also know that a couple of important relationships ended rather abruptly during that period of unemployment.

As far as I can tell, these events, in combination with a probable genetic inheritance and a rather heavy load of personal baggage from traumatic life experiences, blah blah blah, left me what you might call despondent.

Wearing-elastic-waist-pants, not-getting-haircuts, eating-junk-food-and-watching-WE blue, if you know what I mean.

I was (barely, luckily) able to get my shit together and get an excellent job, and this development made me realize how weird and out of balance the rest of my life was. I was a stranger in my own life, disconnected from my feelings and my body, anxious beyond all reasoning. I'd been in therapy for a year, and was making progress but still feeling generally bad. And with winter coming on, I was a little scared.

So I started taking medication.

Friends, if I had known how much better medication would make me feel, I would have started it a decade ago. I have been morally opposed to medication in the past, arguing that the same effect could be had by a combination of exercise, good nutrition, plenty of sunshine, and solid emotional support.

My problem was that I couldn't get to any of those things because I was too damn depressed. I couldn't drag myself off the couch, couldn't afford the healthiest food (or summon the energy to cook it), the days were closing in, and I was such a mess that I couldn't really sustain a friendship.

When the meds started to kick in it was like waking up in the night and seeing the grey windows that announce that dawn is imminent. And then I started exercising, and seeing a holistic doctor, and taking my vitamins, and suddenly it was full mid-morning summer sunlight.

If this is how people usually feel, I think I've been depressed for over a decade.

NEXT POST: More processing and feelings.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

OK, now I'm excited

Got this email today.....

EDIT 3/6: (Removed the picture, which wasn't really working out. Sorry)

Red's Dairy Freeze (since 1952) is opening in just a few days for its 57th season. You too can receive these fantastic updates by emailing redsclub@gmail.com.

Red's Dairy Freeze | 167 Cottage Road | South Portland | ME | 04106

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Tweets for Today

  • 08:21 High radio drama last night: the host's guest didn't call in, and was unreachable. It was the best 30 mins of complete improv I've seen. #
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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tweets for Today

  • 09:02 My V-Day plans are kidtastic: hangin with my sis & niece & nephew, and babysitting my friend's infant. I can't wait for all that baby time! #
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Tech Envy

I'm having some tech envy. This could tip the scale towards an iPhone on my next cell phone upgrade: they've added Oregon Trail as an app. Some of my happiest elementary school time was spent figuring out--on the school's single Commodore 64--how many sacks of flour my hardy band of pioneers would need.

Now if they'd just add Lemonade Stand, I might have to go out and get one tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Travelin

Yesterday I took a one-day trip to Washington DC to attend a conference for work. It was held at a crazy giant hotel that had an outdoor shopping plaza--with trees and flowers and picnic tables and the works--inside the hotel! I felt kind of like ma kettle, standing there gaping with my cell phone camera held high. Unfortunately the pictures didn't come out, but you can see other people's pictures of the hotel here.

This trip was a landmark for a couple of reasons. First, it was the farthest I've traveled by myself, and only the second time I've been to DC. Second, it's only the second time I've flown. I was pretty proud of myself that I managed it all, and also acted like an adult the entire time (ie no screaming, crying, or urinating in my pants).

The best part was the flight, though. I was completely enchanted by the view, and I hope that I always am. On the way, I saw the sun rise from 32,000 feet, and on the way home I saw all of the East Coast cities lit up like jewelry. There was a guy sitting next to me on the flight home, and I kept wanting to nudge him and point out the window, but he was too busy working on a powerpoint about fatty bone marrow. Fatty bone marrow may be important, but it's not pretty.

Tweets for Today

  • 11:43 I will hate myself if I ever am not enchanted by the view from the airplane window. #
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Saturday, February 07, 2009

Tweets for Today

  • 18:29 @wi1dflower I'm already taking enough vitamins to choke a goat. Hmm... maybe *that's* the reason. #
  • 19:21 @racris All the cool kids *I* know do that. #
  • 19:22 @cheesenorris how's the free cheese tonight? #
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Friday, February 06, 2009

Tweets for Today

  • 14:44 All morning I listened to my daughter processing mortality (mine, hers) via Kimya Dawson songs. #
  • 09:43 I would almost prefer having the flu, so that I could blame this feeling on something. Instead it's just non-specific nausea & lethargy. #
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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Tweets for Today

  • 19:47 I'm getting ready to cook a steak. And getting ready for my vegetarian daughter to be very upset about it. #
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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Tweets for Today

  • 10:01 Every time I go to the gym I forget something crucial: a belt, underwear, a hairbrush. It's a good lesson in letting go. #
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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tweets for Today

  • 11:12 Thursdays are the longest days. Even though today kind of feels like a Monday (tx, snow day!) there is so much still to do... #
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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tweets for Today

  • 08:55 @racris Mwah hah hah... Yet another way to internet stalk you! Thanks! #
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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Tweets for Today

  • 17:47 I'm having some post Butch Project Bowling let-down. Where can the day possibly go now? #
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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Tweets for Today

  • 20:22 I'm trying to decide whether to be pleased about Daughter's interest in the show Teen Titans. Comix, action heroes=good. Corporate tv=bad. #
  • 08:43 Dear Mercury Retrograde: Why do you hate me? I've never done anything to you. Let's be friends. Love, Jen. #
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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Tweets for Today

  • 20:48 @claymonkey because the work is for you... the documentation is for the bosses. #
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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Monday, January 19, 2009

I'll be streaming it from work




(photo from The Big Picture)

My co-workers and I totally have a plan to stream the entire inauguration ceremony while we're working. Ahem.

I'm so excited, and oddly nervous. I think there is a part of me that worries that it's not actually going to happen.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Happy Snow Day

I woke up this morning to the particular grey light of a snow day, and I knew my company wouldn't be coming from Central Maine for brunch. No matter, I cooked the cinnamon rolls anyway, and the baked beans will hold until lunch. (Although I fear that now I won't see these friends until spring, and I have some urgent chicken matters to discuss with them. I mean, and they're wicked fun to talk to, also. Clearly.)

But all the urgency is removed from the day, and there is suddenly a blank swath of time that stretches until bedtime tomorrow. That's my favorite thing about snow days: the unexpected gift of nothingness.

I might watch a movie or three. I might not. I might do some yoga or take a walk. I might just lay on the couch in front of the TV. At any rate, the day is completely up to mine and Daughter's whims and wants--a rarity in our overscheduled lives.

Here are a few things I've enjoyed recently, in case you're lazing around the internet as well:

Letters to Barack Obama from the kids at 826 Valencia

Paul Constant on Smobriety

The intro from 3-2-1 Contact on youtube

What sustainability can mean on feministe

Stunning pictures of the Earth from The Big Picture

Thursday, January 15, 2009

There's a word for it

For some time I have been perplexed at my tendency to cry at parades. I could understand the need to well up at demonstrations, in the visual representation of solidarity that I believed in, but I also cry (or rather, well up and get choked up--very rarely do the tears roll down these cheeks) at demonstrations that I don't believe in (although the parade at Disney World that I was unfortunate enough to view seems excluded). I choke up at military parades, when I am disturbed by the military. I weep over marching Lions Club members.

Today in Roger Ebert's blog, he perfectly describes that feeling. It happens to him in movies where someone does something right (as in Clint Eastwood's character's actions at the end of Million Dollar Baby.) These kinds of movies also make me cry, more consistently than "sad" movies do.


This feeling is called Elevation:
Elevation has always existed but has just moved out of the realm of philosophy and religion and been recognized as a distinct emotional state and a subject for psychological study. Psychology has long focused on what goes wrong, but in the past decade there has been an explosion of interest in "positive psychology"--what makes us feel good and why. University of Virginia moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt, who coined the term elevation, writes, "Powerful moments of elevation sometimes seem to push a mental 'reset button,' wiping out feelings of cynicism and replacing them with feelings of hope, love, and optimism, and a sense of moral inspiration."

Studies have indicated that Elevation is triggered by the stimulus of our vagus nerve, described by Wikipedia as the only nerve that starts in the brainstem and extends down below the head, to the neck, chest and abdomen, where it contributes to the innervation of the viscera. It must be involved in what we call "visceral feelings," defined as "relating to deep inward feelings rather than to the intellect."
Now, I am not necessarily morally inspired by marching veterans, but I am inspired by the fact that they show up and let their physical bodies publicly stand for something they believe in. To me, that is a right thing.

I recommend reading the whole Ebert post, btw. He is my new favorite internet philosopher.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Citizen's Briefing Book

In case you haven't seen it yet... the Obama administration (I do love to see those words together) is soliciting public comment on national priorities through a Citizen's Briefing Book. It uses a Digg-style voting system for ideas, and anyone can submit one.

The words and ideas submitted therein will be delivered to President Obama after he takes office.

I don't know how well I think this will work (look at what bubbles to the top on Digg) but I think it's worth a shot.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

For Anna

And everyone else, too, on second thought:



Happy not snow day. Safe travels.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

For a slow news day...


The top 10 evil clown stories of 2008.


Clowns don't scare me, but I know lots of people feel otherwise. I'm also not scared of dolls, aliens, snakes, needles, or knives.

I am, however, all-out-of-proportion scared of ugly bugs (spiders, house centipedes, hornworms), the dark, dogs, handguns, and germs.

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