Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Fat Tuesday

It's Mardi Gras, and I'm not there, and I'm homesick. My ex called last night to tell me about his new,improved giant squid costume. I almost hopped in my car at about 4 this morning and drove home.

I know some people think New Orleans should focus on recovery instead of a party, but continuing the Mardi Gras tradition IS recovery, in a big way. It's like homecoming.

Monday, February 27, 2006

dissertation defense!!

Holy Moly. I'm defending my dissertation on April 13, a mere six weeks from now. I hardly know what to expect, how to prepare for it, and I can't even really believe I'm so close to done. Soon everyone will have to call me Dr. Jezebella. First I think I need to call everyone I know who has defended recently and get the full scoop, assuming they haven't blocked it out.

I've pretty much blocked out my comprehensive orals, most of them. I remember looking down the table at 5 white guys in ties, and wondering how I'd ended up with such a white male committee. I remember realizing after the fact that one professor said I had "obviously" done previous research on the topic I chose for my pre-columbian written portion, but I *hadn't* and I didn't have the nerve to say so. It took a while for it to register, I guess, and the topic had moved on by the time it did.

My only advice coming from the whole orals experience was 1. wear glasses (they make you look & therefore feel smarter) and 2. bring a bottle of water to swig from. this gives you something to do if you need to stall while thinking of an answer.

Figure skating...

I'm not sure there's anything to say about figure skating that hasn't been said before, but I got sucked right into the women's competition last week and it's got me thinking.

Those girls - young women - are tough little athletes, all muscle and nerve, but they go out there and wear ridiculous foo-foo dresses and the more they are like princesses, the more they are loved. Now, granted, the gold medal winner managed to make unbelievably athleticism look easy-peasy, and that's certainly nothing to scoff at... but it's all too clear that women athletes are supposed to be pretty, graceful, and feminine. Which is really even harder than just being an olympic-level athlete. The boys don't have to wear fake nails and glittery eyeshadow and ludicrous dresses. At least they let the women wear pants now, but I don't think any did for the free-skate. That little firecracker, Irina Slutskaya, who wore pants for the short program, knows that you have to look girly to get the high artistic scores.

Manolo the Shoe Blogger has already lamented the terrible fashion of the ice skating world... and he is SO right. I saw only two really nice dresses this year - a yellow one on the Swiss skater, and an all-blue one on Emily Hughes. Sasha Cohen's velvety thing was acceptable since she was skating as Juliet. Most everything else was just awful. Why must there be so many trashy cutouts and fleshy panels? So many sequins? Why not pretty dresses with nice lines and tasteful embellishments?

Saturday, February 25, 2006

The Ninth Carnival of Feminists

Mind the Gap!: The Ninth Carnival of Feminists

Got some time to kill? Missing your sense of righteous indignation? Want to hear from smart, righteous feminists? I know I do. I heart the Carnival of the Feminists.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Andrea Dworkin Lie Detector

The Andrea Dworkin Lie Detector

Nice summary of truth & lies about Andrea Dworkin at nostatusquo.com I've heard for years that Andrea Dworkin said that all hetero sex = rape, and could never quite get my mind around it. turns out she NEVER said it, nevah, nevah, nevah. Well, praise Andrea. I couldn't finish her book Pornography, it was too depressing, but she's always fought the good fight.

Emergency Contraception

Emergency Contraception

Important and useful information at this link, particularly if you happen to live in South Dakota, where they have banned ALL ABORTIONS, even in the case of medical necessity, even if the woman was raped, even if the woman will die if she stays pregnant.


If a doctor performs an abortion in South Dakota, it is now a felony.

And, so it begins.

Emegency contraception is fine but if you need an abortion, surgical or chemical, you need an actual doctor to prescribe, perform, and follow up. Women will now be dying because they have no access to abortion and are trying to do it themselves or are getting them illegally from bog-knows-who.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

can a bad man make good art?

Never mention Bukowski when commenting on a feminist blog. you can feel the chill descending, I swear. I can't blame them, the poetry is misogynist, as, most likely, was the man, but damn: a bad man can make good art, right? And how much of it was Truth and how much was stories told in first person? It's sold as poetry, not memoir. He sure doesn't make any of it sound sexy or glamorous. I don't know how to reconcile feminism with an appreciation for Bukowski, or Eminem, or most of material, visual, pop culture, for that matter. There is no escape from the patriarchy, is there?

Monday, February 20, 2006

sports car entitlement policy

Any woman without children is allowed 1 (one) sports car of no practical value whatsoever upon turning 40 (forty).

If people who work at walmart can afford children, those of us without children can certainly afford an overpriced and very foxy sports car.

Personally, I'm in line for a powder-blue BMW Z3. (and, yes, I know they now have a Z4. I don't care. I like the Z3 better)

The Crass Picture Show

The Crass Picture Show

In addition to Ms. Mentor, I also love Miss Manners. And I am sick and bloody tired of spending many dollars on a movie experience, only to have morons piss me off. If they're not text-messaging, they're actually talking on the phone. If they're not talking out loud, they're whispering. I particularly hate it when a couple is nearby and the man takes it upon himself to Explain the Movie to his date, who no doubt would be capable of understanding what was happening if he WOULD ONLY JUST SHUT UP for a minute. This happens a lot at sci/fi and fantasy movies, because, you know, science fiction is so Manly and Complicated, no mere girl could possibly understand what is happening.

example: I went to see Pride & Prejudice recently in Pensacola. It is a quiet, subtle movie, and definitely for grownups. A man down the row from me talked in his wife's ear throughout the movie. I mean, a running commentary. In a speaking voice, not a whisper, and he had a deep voice, so the rumble carried over to me. I shushed several times but to no avail. After the movie I stood up, looked at him and said "was that you talking through the whole movie? Maybe you should not talk during movies any more." And his WIFE apologized. Not him, his wife. I'm sure she has learned to tune him out, but for the love of bog, shut up in the movie theater, and talk about it later!! Why bother to pay the prices to see a movie in the theater if you're not going to pay attention to it?

My other recent movie irritation was the woman who said, when I asked her child (very politely) to please not talk during the movie, the mother said "He's talking to me!". Well, so? You should both shut up! Jeebus. He was old enough to understand it, and if he can't sit still and be quiet for 2 hours, she should wait for the movie to be out on video.

Well, and then there are the people who bring very small children to adult movies with scary stuff in them. No two-year-old needs to be in a movie theater watching a PG movie, ever. I expect childish noise at a G-rated kid movie, but not at anything more mature. Do these people not have babysitters? Can they not trade babysitting with friends & family if they can't afford to pay a babysitter?

Sigh. If I'm going to spend twenty bucks, I just want a nice peaceful movie experience, so I can lose myself in the action and not be constantly pulled out of it by rudeness around me. I have a friend who always has to sit in the back row, far away from everybody, so she doesn't end up in a fist fight with some rude bastard.

Miss Manners is right: they need to hire ushers who can boot people out when they're being rude.


I had a run-in with an old man with a condescending attitude a few weeks back, who calls grown women "girls" in the most annoying manner possible. I had the temerity to disagree, out loud, with his arrogant & asinine pronouncements and he pulled out the "you come back in ten years' time" business, which is a rhetorical dodge designed to avoid answering my criticism. I have really had fucking well ENOUGH with old men being condescending and sexist, and letting it slide, so I called him on it. After he said, "Oh, obviously I'll never win with you," I said, "well, maybe I'd listen to you with an open mind if you hadn't called me a "girl" at the beginning of the conversation". So he tried the "well, you seem young to me, since I'm older than you." Pah. We were at a reception at a professional conference, and he knows good and damned well what my title is, and that I'm not twelve years old.

So I just called a spade a spade, told him that calling me a girl was condescending, sexist, and downright offensive, and he didn't quite back down, but he changed tactics to this: "You know what your problem is? You're too shy." Har dee har har. Hilarious. I agreed, "yes, that's it, I'm too shy," and walked away, only to hear the 50ish woman who had been standing there say, get this: "I don't mind being called a girl, it makes me feel young." HOLY CRAP. Brainwashed by the patriarchy, AND she totally undermined me. Sometimes women are our own worst enemies, but when it comes down to it, I blame the patriarchy. The patriarchy brainwashed her into thinking that she'd rather people think she is young and cute (even though she's 50) than be treated like the professional ADULT that she is.

On the whole, however, it was totally satisfying to just say it to the guy and not get steamed up because I let it slide. The guy probably doesn't like me now and frankly I can't bring myself to give a shit, even if he is a bigwig in the profession. The dude is a blowhard and the whole thing that got me into it was him saying a bunch of provocative, pointless bullshit just to sound shocking.

So: I am pretty much done with letting sexist BS slide. I learned a long time ago how to get people to shut up when they started saying racist things, just objecting matter-of-factly and without emotion, and it usually works. It doesn't make them Not Racist, but it does let them know that I am not down with racist jokes, commentary, language, and I am spared having to listen to it (and thereby be complicit with it). So now (and why does it take women so long to decide to defend ourselves?!) I'm just going to say it out loud when people say sexist things around me. If I can say "No racist jokes, please," how come I can't say, "No sexist jokes, please"? I can, why yes, I can. What do you know?

SHANGRI LAW: Brownie the Bastard

SHANGRI LAW: Brownie the Bastard

Okay, so maybe it's old news, but it's still NEWS: I just ran across a post on the great job Brownie was doing at FEMA while people in NOLA were drowning in their attics. He was popping off emails about his fashion sense and asking whether anything needed "tweaking." TWEAKING? How about send in the cavalry? This is one of those moments where I go all Scarface in my vocabulary, because nothing else will do and I am sputtering with outrage: what the fucking fuck?

Friday, February 17, 2006

Ms. Mentor knows all

Chronicle Careers: 2/6/2006: Isn't It Romantic?

I heart Ms. Mentor, the Miss Manners for the academic set. She is particularly pertinent for women academics, but men should read her as well. Unfortunately, even though I'm not currently ensconced in academe, some of the same problems apply to living in a small town. A university, after all, is nothing so much as a very well-educated small town. Everybody knows everybody else's business, and romance (the topic of this month's column) is rife with difficulty, starting with the limited pool of the eligible and ending with knowing you will have to see your exes at the grocery store until you die, or move away.

Crouching Ferris, Hidden Bennet

Two psycho kitties, the big Siamese raised from feral after Crow dropped him into my backyard. The second, Bennet, a timid black porch kitty raised by Ferris to be sketchy as hell. Most of the people that come to my house will see Ferris peering around the door frame from the hallway; half will see his entire body; two have been allowed to pet him. Most of the people who come to my house do not see Bennet, though some see him peering, a very few have seen his whole body, and he allows no one but me to pet him. Weird little kitties, they are. Basically this blog consists of all the stuff I ordinarily I come home and say to the cats.

Don't Date Him Girl Homepage

Don't Date Him Girl Homepage

Oh yeah, baby. The very notion of this website rocks. I need to find a picture of the pathological liar, Brian Wayson, and add him to the list. He may be married now, but I can guarantee that's not going to stop him from fucking around, as he has always done, and will always do. I bet every woman can instantly come up with a name to add to this website, there's always one motherfucker who needs to be branded on his forehead: STAY AWAY.

My girls and I have proposed a branding system for men: "G" for gay, "H" for HIV, herpes, or HPV-positive; "C" for cheater. Just brand 'em on the ass, or forehead, or maybe inside the wrist, somewhere you can check easily. It's just best to be forewarned, you know?

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

is new orleans back to normal? oh HELL no...

NOLA post-K pics

My friend Jenifer has set up a livejournal site for people to post NOLA pics - and recent ones, too, so you can see how the city still looks. Half of Orleans Parish still looks like the end of the world.

beautiful shoes

Manolo's Shoe Blog: Shoes, Fashion, Celebrity, and Manolo!

I am, by no means, a member of the pointy-toed-stiletto cult. In fact, I kind of hate cruel shoes. Until now, Manolos and Choos and the like seemed to me overpriced and unreasonably impractical. But these shoes, my god: they are beautiful. They aren't even dangerously high (3.5") for a formal shoe and properly fitted, a pointy toe isn't too cruel. I see now how it might, just *might* be possible to spend $800 on one pair of shoes, if one had that kind of spending power.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Human Rights Smackdown: Kidney vs Uterus at I Blame The Patriarchy

Human Rights Smackdown: Kidney vs Uterus at I Blame The Patriarchy

How I love Twisty. I'm always agreeing with her, and she takes the time to say it so much better than I can. What, however, does it say about me that my two favorite blogs, that I obsessively check, are "I Blame the Patriarchy" and "Cute Overload"??

Monday, February 13, 2006

confession re: internet radio

I can't help it, I adore the flashback alternatives 80s internet radio station. It's all the 80s with none of the hair bands or bubblegum pop. Except sometimes, they play Nina Hagen, who irritates the fuck out of me. So then I switch to the exceptionally smooth flamenco station - all flamenco, classical, and baroque guitar, all the time.

The poet keeps telling me to just download music from one of those p2p sites but I'm scared of the music downloading police.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Katrina: the casualties in my world

Fortunately, no one I know personally actually died in the storm, though I know people who know people.... but, just to give you a sense of how many people were affected, a brief summing up:

1. Parents in Metairie: one floor slightly wet, wind damage to the house, 12" of water in their business, which had to be gutted, rebuilt, and machinery repaired. Imagine the smell of a walk-in freezer full of melted, moldy frozen yogurt... so glad I didn't have to be there to clean it up.

2. Best friend since 7th grade: six feet of water in rental house, no flood insurance (just finished grad school), lost everything that wasn't on a top shelf. Metairie, near Airline and Causeway. She was at Touro Infirmary and had to evacuate on Wednesday in an over-stuffed car full of humans, dogs, and cats. Her brother, a cardiologist at Touro, stayed til Saturday, when FEMA evacuated patients but left staff to fend for themselves.

3. Ex-boyfriend in New Orleans East: six feet + in one story house, everything ruined. No flood insurance. Evacuated with two days' worth of clothing and his truck, which was all he owned when he returned six weeks later. Every photo of his dead parents is lost. I'm still having bad dreams about this one, since I painted every wall in that house. Flood waters, get this, shove window-unit air conditioners into the house. Who knew? When I went to look, there was a dead rat in the bathroom. What in the hell kills a rat??

4. Aunt and uncle in Lakeview (near I-10/610 split): 8 feet of water in two-story house, but it was there for weeks, so upstairs is moldy and corroded. Insurance has given them money, but not enough to rebuild. Is it even safe to? No one knows. They're probably going to pay off their mortgage and wait-and-see if they can/should rebuild, then take out a new one if they decide to. While evacuated, his mother died. When they came back, their oldest dog died. 2005: annus horibilus.

5. Cousin in Mandeville, whose husband is from Chalmette: her parents-in-law, and sister-in-law's family of four lost everything to the flood & oil spill in St. Bernard Parish. All six stayed with the cousin (and her husband and two children) for over a month. The parents are still there, and building in Abita. Again, who knows if it's safe to return to Chalmette?

6. Friend from high school in Mid-City: no flooding, hole in her roof caused both kitchen ceilings to cave in (she's got a shotgun double). Couldn't return home for almost two months. Didn't have gas to heat her water or her house until December. Still no phone service. I think they finally have cable.

7. Grad school friend, around the corner from #6: her house flooded and is still gutted. Just try and find a contractor in NOLA right now. She's in Boston on a research fellowship while her house sits and waits for attention.

8. Painter friend in Gentilly: first floor flooded and then gutted. She evacuated, her husband holed up, was out of touch for nearly a week, and spent the week after the storm in a flatboat rescuing the living, and tying dead bodies to light poles so they wouldn't be washed away. They couldn't go back for months but are rebuilding.

9. Photographer friend in same Gentilly neighborhood: house flooded and now gutted. Daughter went to 5 schools in three months, and finished the semester in Alexandria. They are rebuilding, but he lost all his negatives and a lot of his photography equipment. His specialty photography business has become an "i'll shoot anything" photo business.

10. Everyone at the New Orleans Museum of Art: 80 people were laid off by October. Some are being rehired, slowly.

11. Artist friends in Gulfport: house ruined (had to be bulldozed), studio standing but all artwork and supplies ruined. They both lost their jobs and are now on fellowship in the midwest. I don't think they'll be back.

12. Friend's parents in Ocean Springs: storm surge swept through their house, ruining everything (photos, home movies, musical instruments), and leaving fish, oil, and muck. They are retired teachers and had no flood insurance.

13. Intern's parents in Moss Point: storm surge swept through their house, ruining everything. Last I heard they were in a FEMA trailer.

14. Former co-worker's inlaws in Montague: made it through Katrina, lost everything to Rita flooding. Now in a FEMA trailer.

This is just off the top of my head. There are thousands of stories in the storm zone like these. I get survivor's guilt when I talk to my friends in the new New Orleans, or people from the Coast. Would you rather come home to an empty slab, or a house molding and rotting from the inside out? It's hard to say, isn't it?

Saturday, February 11, 2006

the upside of plus size

Ogling. Look you up and down, outright, lascivious, ogling. I hate it. It gives me the heebie jeebies, it's intrusive, invasive, and just yuck.

Extra pounds = a whole lot less of it. On the rare occasions it happens, I'm reminded of how often it used to happen, when I was younger and thinner. And when it happens I'm reminded that it's kind of nice to be invisible to the male gaze, most of the time. I know extra weight is unhealthy, but I think I'll wait until I'm old enough to be invisible, thin or not, to work at losing weight. Because the only "reward" to being thin again will be having more people leering at me. Some reward.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Katrina: to blog or not to blog?

I've been thinking a lot about what to say about Hurricane Katrina here. My day-by-day account of the storm wouldn't be all that enlightening, but there are some points I do want to make.

1. Katrina was a Category THREE storm when it went over my head here in Jones County. Ninety miles inland, thousands of trees down, thousands of houses damaged or destroyed. I was without running water for two days, without power for 11 days, and without phone or cable or internet for weeks. But I have a job and a roof over my head, so it's all good for me. But the storm hit Mississippi and stayed hurricane strength at least to Meridian, maybe all the way up to Oxford.

2. It's not back to normal in most places. Half of Orleans Parish still looks like the end of the world. You can stand on a corner in Gentilly and looking in all directions, see wreck and ruin. Every house either has its guts on the lawn, rotting, or is rotting from the inside out. You can smell the mold and mildew from inside of a moving car, windows up. I haven't been to the Gulf Coast, but it's not normal there, either.

3. Everybody I know in New Orleans has post-traumatic stress. The city itself has PTSD. Maybe someone from New York can help us figure out how to deal with it.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

exciting, oh so exciting

on Tuesday, I dyed my hair red and bought a label maker. Could my life possibly be any more exciting?

At least my storage closet is tidy and labeled, and I have a car full of stuff to take to the Goodwill.

I really need to move to a real city.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

hard to read but worth it

Joy Castro's memoir, The Truth Book, is a difficult story, beautifully told. The complicated intersection between the patriarchal Jehovah's Witness religion and child abuse is at the center of her story. I've known her for years and always knew the bones, but not the flesh, of the story of her stepfather. Now strangers know more than her friends ever did, and all I can think is: brave, brave, brave. Buy it, read it: www.joycastro.com

Monday, February 06, 2006

observations on arrival in Jackson

1. If Jackson, Mississippi, were a real town, things would be OPEN on SUNDAY. The bookstore, the mediterranean cafe, and most restaurants, really, were closed yesterday. All of Banner Hall, closed. Target doesn't open until noon. Jackson, I repeat, is NOT a real city. It is a cowtown masquerading as a city.

2. The Georgia O'Keeffe show at the Miss. Museum of Art is worth a visit. Intimate (yes, that means small) but containing some beautiful paintings, and with a weird curatorial point of view. It's all about the treatment & conservation of the paintings, which is just not all that exciting to me when you're talking about ordinary oil-on-canvas pictures of the 20th century. Excellent educational activities, nice photos of Georgia, and a few pictures I'd be happy to have living in my house. The tiny watercolors by Dean Mitchell in his show across the lobby are nice, too.

3. Keifer's: yum. Veggie gyro, cottage fries, and a cute, attentive waiter. What more could you want?

Saturday, February 04, 2006

In advance of a good night's sleep...

I bring to you the collected wit and wisdom of a woman who has never once fallen asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow. But I'm working on it.

1. Take your TV out of the bedroom (this will improve your sleep AND your sex life)

2. Get rid of the bright eye of time, the glowing digital clock. You don't need to know what time it is every time you open your eyes. I use the cell phone as my alarm clock, and if I really, really, need to know, I can push a button.

3. Room-darkening shades. Less than $30/window at lowe's, custom cut to size. These ROCK.

4. Memory foam pillow. Whatever brand... memory foam = memory foam = memory foam. No more waking up to adjust a scrunchy or flattened pillow.

5. Memory foam mattress. Switching to it means every time a cat jumps on or off the bed, there's no bounce to wake me up. Plus it's really cool to buy the one in the box from sam's that is vacuum-packed and watch it unroll and reinflate after you cut the seal, like an enormous bag of freeze-dried, vacuum-packed coffee. Also the mattress in the box can fit in your car trunk, unlike a flat mattress.

6. For winter, two things: a down comforter, and one of those oil-filled radiators. I got a deLonghi from Lowe's for about $35. It doesn't blow a bunch of dry air up your nose and doesn't turn on and off, making noises. I can turn my central down to 60 and the radiator keeps my whole room toasty warm. The down comforter helps maintain a constant temperature.

7. A small fan for white noise purposes. This can also blow the radiated-warm air around the room in winter.

8. Sleep mask. I have a big head (big brain needs lots of room!) so all the elastic ones suck. Whole foods sells one with a satiny one with an adjustable strap (velcro is your friend).

9. Nice scenty lotion that I put on my hands right before bed every night, in an attempt to pavlov myself to sleep. The sleep mask/eucalyptus lotion is my current pavlov's bell for sleep.

10. No caffeine after 5 pm. Invest in decaf coffee, tea, diet coke, whatever.

11. A wee bit of alcohol - not a lot - really does help shut down those stressful days. A glass of wine or a bourbon and coke (caffeine free) or a beer.

Friday, February 03, 2006

In case you were wondering:

St. Lawrence is the patron saint of libraries and comedians.

One has to wonder if librarians have a separate patron saint from their libraries? What if they're funny librarians?

Immediate Moratoria

1. Do not take your children to work, every single day, or even just every day after school, and tune them out while they make large noises in the office. In fact, NEVER tune your children out when there are other humans present. Thank you.

2. Cell phone bloopy-beepy noises in pop music. What is that? Do you really want me to turn the music down to see if my phone is ringing? Cut it out!

3. Pajamas in public if you are old enough to walk. Why? WHY? I go to wallyworld as rarely as possible - quarterly at most - and last night, lo! unto my unbelieving eyes, what did I see? Women in pajamas, in public. One was just wearing the pants: shiny blue satiny pants with colorful blobs. (she was also wearing a graying oversized t-shirt with an insufficiently engineered bra). The other was wearing a pastel stripey set, both top and bottom, in jersey. Dear goddess: make it stop. It's not like they had stopped over at the corner-quicky-mart for some orange juice or smokes or something. Wallyworld, full carts, full-on shopping trip. Un-freakin-believable.

That is all.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

I blame Ben Franklin

Why must the Morning People be so smug? They say, "Why, *I* just can't sleep past six am!!" as though it is a sign of their discipline and their virtue as a human being. Implying, of course, that the late-to-bed, late-to-rise are lazy and less virtuous. Yet the Morning People, they are wired that way. The Night People, we are wired that way. I'd rather sleep from 2 am to 10 am, and what is wrong with that? I can be productive well past 9:30 pm when the Morning People are fast asleep. Yet the smug bastards act as though it is LAZY to be asleep at 9:30 am, and VIRTUOUS to be asleep at 9:30 pm.

I blame Ben Franklin.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

observations on the way to Starkville

1. I propose an instant moratorium on all siren-like sounds in any music that could, conceivably, emerge from my car stereo.

2. The best frickin biscuit on earth can be purchased at the Parade gas station on Highway 45 just north of Macon, Mississippi. Crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside, not even remotely greasy, and it doesn't even need butter. Perfection.