Wednesday, November 30, 2005

why nick and jessica matter.

i read an interesting article over at salon the other day. rebecca traister takes a look at our collective fascination with jennifer aniston in 2005, and touches on, among other things: what we as a society value and why, projection, the nature of celebrity, and the manipulative power of marketing.

i thought it was an enjoyable article, but then again, i've always been a fan of the intersection of critical theory and popular culture. while traister was certainly not using venturing into judith butler territory with any of this (in terms of content or style - i've always like how accessible and intelligent traister's stuff can be), it was a few notchs about your average "what is up with this jennifer aniston fixation?"

many loyal readers of salon, however, took umbrage at the fact that their beloved website was reducing itself to pondering something that, you know, People magazine covers. the horror. really, some of the letters in response to the article were so soaked in pretension i almost couldn't believe people signed their names to them*. a snippet:

One can only assume that this Aniston article is Salon's version of putting all the latest gimmicky, crappy "got-to-have" stuff on sale, in order to drag in the hoi polloi by the boatloads?...

What's next?

Jessica and Nick: A Deconstructionist View[?]

the hoi polloi? seriously?

i really can't stand people like this - you know, people who think that they somehow stand outside of culture because they look down their noses at certain aspects of it. guess what? no one stands outside of culture. and while it is undeniable that certain aspects of culture are more frivolous than others, that doesn't mean that it all isn't ripe for critique, discussion, and debate. tell me, what is so awful about rebecca traister taking a cultural phenomenon like the divorce of brad and jennifer (and of course the subsequent brangelina circus) and examining it, trying to tease out its psychological and social relevance? are we so elitist that we are afraid of staining our delicate fingertips with the sordid stories of Us Weekly? don't get me wrong, i'm nauseated by Us Weekly just like the next east coast liberal academic. however, i recognize that it represents a big part of the american culture in which i live. i'm not just going to bury my head in the sand and pretend that these things a) don't exist and b) don't matter.

it's folly to act like critical analysis and popular culture can't co-exist. hell, i'd write that deconstructionist view of nick and jessica any day. that relationship was a fascinating display of money, power, gender, and control. if you think that these four issues don't affect you, well then honey, you've got bigger problems than whether or not salon's coverage has gotten more frivolous.

*funnily enough, the person that wrote the letter i excerpted didn't sign his or her name. hmmm.

wednesday one-liner.

courtesy of Overheard in New York:

Old Lady: Oh lord. Oh lord. Can you help me? I stuck my bus pass in the ATM, and it won't seem to give it back to me. Oh lord.

--Chase Manhattan Bank, 15th & 1st

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

two questions.

1) why does that song "crimson and clover" sound like it's about something obscene? the lyrics are incredibly vague and/or nonsensical, and yet i can't shake the sense that it's about The Sex. but damned if i can unlock the mystery of that golden oldie.

2) why do women wear trenchcoats? ever?

it's official.

i am obsessed with going to las vegas.

i don't know what has gotten into me. four years ago, i didn't have the slightest inclination to visit vegas. it seemed like one of those american vacations in which i had no real interest in partaking - like the grand canyon or niagara falls*. nothing against 'em, i'm sure they're nice, but no thanks.

then i went to a casino.

not even a super great casino, but a regular old connecticut indian reservation casino - mohegan sun, to be exact. and i was totally hooked. what a great way to spend a night! gamble a little, drink a little, eat dinner, drink a little more, gamble away the end of your allotted funds, and go back to your room, take a bath and go to bed. now, having experienced a pretty nice hotel-casino combination, i feel drawn to the mecca. i must go to vegas! i must drink a margarita at 10:00 am! i must double down on aces and eights! i must stay in a room with a marble tiled bathroom and high threadcount sheets!

so i'm spending entirely too much time on lately, plotting out my hypothetical vacation at some hypothetical time next year. i've got to pull out my garage sale copy of "beat the dealer" and start brushing up now....

*come to think of it, when i did end up at niagara falls almost by accident (we were on the way to canada and had some time to kill - what the hell, i'll check out some falling water), i was actually really impressed. but i still maintain that i'd be bored to death by the grand canyon.

Monday, November 28, 2005

the fear of exhaustion.

i am 25 years old, and i am afraid of exhaustion. that may sound crazy, but it's true. i am dogged by the fear that in a few years, i will be too exhausted to do anything of note, or anything that truly brings me satisfaction.

i don't really mean exhaustion in the physical sense. i think i'm doing well enough on that front - i go to the gym, i don't smoke, i live in a third floor walk-up, etcetera. it's mental exhaustion i'm talking about. there's a creeping sensation that i am being worn down by life, that the treads on my tires are too thin to last the entire way to wherever it is i'm going. i shouldn't feel that way at the quarter century mark, but there it is. i do.

when i think about what i want to do next with my career, i feel exhausted. when i think about whether i acutally have a career at all, i feel exhausted. when i think about trying to fight the good fight for the rest of my working days, i feel exhausted.

i had this great plan when i got out of grad school. armed with two degrees and a fair amount of marketable skills, i was going to work in non-profits, eventually finagle my way into the communications department of a women's rights organization, and spend the rest of my days happily crafting and honing messages for an agency in which i believed, and that was working on an issue about which i was passionate.

passionate? really? i was once passionate, about something - about anything?

it seems incredibly blithe and immature to claim that i was passionate about something two years ago, and now no longer am. like most generalizations, it's not exactly true. but something has been lost in these two years - there's a leak somewhere. and i fear that if i don't find it, i will only deflate further until every bit of energy and commitment i had to social justice is gone. there has to be a way to restore my sense, regardless of how tenuous it was in the first place, that i can make a difference (however small) and that the work that i do can be important (however tangentially). because right now, it feels like all the work i do is being thrown into a societal black hole of greed, hatred, fear, and dishonesty that will eventually suck everything that is good and earnest into itself.

wow, these are some bleak metaphors i'm dishing out right now. i apologize for the melodrama, but sometimes, when you're grasping at what seem like straws and wondering how you're going to justify the rest of your existence, melodrama is pretty much all that will suffice.

in the end, i need to figure out how to not allow all the negative news to dilute my commitment to helping people. i need to learn a trick that lets me read about how 25% of people in an Amnesty International poll believe a woman is at least partly to blame for being raped if she has worn revealing clothing or been drunk, and not throw up my hands in defeat. i need a mute button, an off switch.

i need a way to cope with the fact that, at the moment, the universe is out of stock on mute buttons and off switches. maybe a store credit would help.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

paging mike, paging mike.

The Harry Potter Legal Age Countdown Clock.

hat tip to salon's Broadsheet. how do they find this stuff?

two things.

1. god bless my stat counter. i catch more spelling mistakes with that thing, i swear. today i saw that someone had found my blog by googling something about hollaback and street harassment. so, just for kicks, i went to google and tried it, just to see how high up i actually was (for the record, i already found it strange that i would have been up there in the rankings on any google search). turns out i was the second listing. the problem? it was because i had misspelled "harassment" twice in my post, and the google searcher apparently had the same problem spelling that particular noun, so he or she was directed to my blog so we could share in our inability to spell things correctly.

so if you're reading this, hollaback searcher, hi! i can't spell sometimes either.

2. i see more closeted and/or in denial homosexuals on "House Hunters," i almost can't believe it. tonight's episode featured a newlywed couple (i think they had just recently celebrated their first anniversary), and the wife was pretty clearly a lesbian. maybe not clearly to middle america, but clearly to someone with such a finely-tuned gaydar as myself*. i'd guess she was more on the "in denial" end of ths spectrum, and that in five or ten years she'll be divorced and living with a femme and starting her own home remodeling business. but that's just a guess.

oh, and another thing. let's call it...

2a. i think that it's only driving through central indiana that one could see:
- a billboard advertising "vasectomy reversal."
- a billboard for a gun store, featuring a giant handgun and the contact info 284-GUNS, perched high above a ramshackle building called "Stumpey's Diner."

*i exaggerate. my gaydar is only fairly-tuned, at best.

one more thing to cross off of the list.

drink a mint julep at churchill downs.

yes, i do have a glove on my hand - even in kentucky, the day after thanksgiving can be pretty cold. luckily, this drink had plenty of bourbon in it, which helped keep me warm for a little while. i also picked two winners on the day, so that helped too. i walked out of churchill downs carrying just about as much money as i came in with (minus my trip to the churchill downs store), which is pretty good for a day at the track! hell, even if i lost every penny, it would have been worth it to be able to spend an afternoon at the horseracing mecca.

now that we're back from the thanksgiving holiday, it's time to put the christmas decorations up. we didn't have CatCat in the apartment last year, and we're not sure how she'll take to our little christmas tree. so, if you see a picture posted here of the tree knocked over/broken in half/chewed up/on fire, you'll know who's responsible.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

happy thanksgiving.

i just noticed that i have the tiniest bruise i have ever seen on the back of my hand. it is so tiny that i thought it was a pen smudge, and i just tried to rub it off with my thumb but that hurt, and i realized i's a miniature bruise. no more than 2 centimeters in diameter. how does one acquire a bruise that small?

so tonight, after BoyCat gets home from work (those bastards at Big Nonprofitland are making him stay all day!), we are hitting the road, braving the rain and snow that will allegedly be falling, and hopefully getting to the pseudo-cats-in-laws' house before 11:30 pm. it's normally only about a half hour drive without traffic, inclement weather, or highly-traveled holidays. and we're talking about the dan ryan expressway here.

tomorrow morning, we leave bright and early for the great state of kentucky. ah yes, i said kentucky. we'll be spending thanksgiving at BoyCat's aunt's house in louisville, and i will be certain to soak up all the kentuckian culture (and kentuckian bourbon and whiskey) and report back. on friday we're actually going to churchill downs, about which i am ridiculously excited. who knew you could still play the ponies the day after thanksgiving (well, play them in person, that is)? i'll try to take some pictures (who am i kidding, i'm going to take 7,000 pictures) and post some shots of good old-fashioned gambling when we return.

until then, happy thanksgiving! don't eat too much turkey, it will put you to sleep. and don't eat too much starch, it will make you obese. oh, and don't drink too much, it will make you pass out in a ditch somewhere and freeze to death.

or so i've heard.

wednesday one-liner.

courtesy of Overheard In New York:

Receptionist woman: I swear, if Freud was still alive, he'd write one more book...about me.

--Office, 28th & 5th

reason #4,239 that i no longer watch morning tv.

the fact that the Today show seemed to find no irony in using Hole's "Celebrity Skin" as background music during their feature of a woman who wants plastic surgery to get rid of her "flabby arms."

every time i get tempted to turn on NBC in the morning as i'm getting ready, you know, just to have something on, they serve up some cringe-worthy moment such as this. and i turn off the tv immediately, remembering that i'd rather stick lit matched between my toes than be subjected to such inanity.

curse my lack of long-term memory!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

the highlight of my day.

found on craigslist, of all places*:

i had to post this, as 1) i am a sucker for kittens, 2) i am a sucker for kung-fu fighting, and 3) it is the best picture ever created.

*if you "took" this picture and are mad about my lack of copyright symbol, sorry. like i said, craigslist.

as if i am not confused enough already.

i was sitting at home this morning, delaying the six block trek to work (life is tough, i know), and i came across this quiz via Shakespeare's Sister. I've seen a bazillion of these little time-wasting quizzes on a bunch of blogs, but had never taken the five minutes to do one - until this morning. seriously, i did not want to go to work.

so here are the results of my foray into computerized philosophy quizzes:

You scored as Utilitarianism.

Your life is guided by the principles of Utilitarianism: You seek the greatest good for the greatest number.

"The said truth is that it is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong."
--Jeremy Bentham

"Whenever the general disposition of the people is such, that each individual regards those only of his interests which are selfish, and does not dwell on, or concern himself for, his share of the general interest, in such a state of things, good government is impossible."
--John Stuart Mill

Utilitarianism 75%
Existentialism 70%
Justice (Fairness) 65%
Hedonism 50%
Nihilism 45%
Kantianism 35%
Apathy 20%
Strong Egoism 5%
Divine Command 0%

and the first thing that i thought was: what the fuck is utilitarianism?

i know that right now, somewhere, jared is cringing, but damned if i had any idea what utiliarianism was. i like to consider myself a fairly well informed person, but hell, i only took philosophy 101. it was 8:30 in the morning, i already had no life direction or sense of purpose anyway, and then this stupid piece of shit computer quiz tells me i'm guided by a principle of which i've never even heard??

so i did what any right-thinking person would do - i looked it up on wikipedia. utilitarianism sounds all right and all (i like helping people - hell, i work in nonprofitland, don't i?), but i'm not sure i'd finger it as the defining ideal of my life.

that means it's back to the drawing board on the whole guiding principle issue. thanks for nothing, internet.

Monday, November 21, 2005

you want talking points? i'll give you talking points.

check out this great piece from peter daou at The Daou Report with rebuttals for ten pro-war fallacies, many of which i've heard flying around a lot these days. i find republican sound bites so exhausting, in that they wear you down with their sheer ubiquity in the mainstream media - you hear them so often, you're sick of thinking about them before you can even begin a nuanced refuting of them.

peter daou, luckily, is not as prone to intellectual laziness as i, and cuts through the crap of so many of these arguments for why we went to war, and why continuing said war is actually a dandy idea. to sum it up, he says:

Washington is suddenly convulsed by a debate that should have taken place three years ago, and the sleeping giant known as the American public is finally awakening to the deceptions that led to war. Emotion, instinct, and other proclivities may be the driving force behind support or opposition for war, but reason and logic are the means by which we try to prove the correctness of our views. No matter how heartfelt, the arguments in favor of the Iraq war are almost always specious and riddled with fallacious reasoning. On a matter so grave, that should be unacceptable to the American people. Judging from the polls, it is.

go arm yourself with some real talking points, and keep fighting the noise machine.

i'm sorry.

i have to apologize for the distinct lack of well thought out posts recently. i sat down last night and tried to work out a post about life direction, and my career path, and all of the anxiety and confusion with which those two topics infuse me. i got about two paragraphs of pure drivel out before i realized that i shouldn't subject you to such nonsense. i am so confused about it all that even my prose becomes confused. sentence structure decomposes, word choice becomes laughable - really, you wouldn't have wanted to read it.

this lack of clarity about a major issue in my life convinces me that i need to work harder to bring about clarity. i'm going to try to put together some cogent thoughts for you in the near future, but i have a feeling a few more false starts might lie ahead first. so please bear with me.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

friday cat blogging, wrath of CatCat edition.

sorry, sorry. late again.

doesn't she look sweet and cuddly and cute? she is a master of deception. just ask this poor fellow:

she has literally ripped the innards out of this little catnip mouse.

it's funny, when we got her last january she was really mellow for about a month (adjusting, i think), and then she went bananas for about 4 months until the really warm weather hit. over the summer, she was so mellow that at points we wondered if she was sick or something. now, the temperature drops below 50 degrees and she's careening around the house again.

apparently, CatCat loves chicago winters. which is good for her, but very bad for mice made of cloth.

Friday, November 18, 2005

pssst. you. yeah, you.

both jill at Feministe and amanda at Pandagon have posts up about a new NYC based blog, "Holla Back," that deals with street harassment. the posts are pretty basic, but it's the comment threads where the discussion gets really interesting. i highly recommend checking them both out, as i think this is a conversation we need to have, and keep having, and keep having, because i am sickened by the thought that we'll all just give up and decide to let street harassment slide.

for those of you who don't think street harassment could possibly be as big of a deal as it's made out to be, take a minute and talk to your female friends. especially the ones who live in a city, but really, female friends who live in a college town, upper middle-class suburbia, or ruralville USA will be fine as well. women deal with this, period. it's a pervasive problem, and while it's not the end of the world, it does change our world, so it deserves to be talked about.

more on this later, when i have time to reflect on it all. for now, though, it's time for a stiff drink and a netflix movie.

thoughts from a junior league breakfast.

- i didn't even know what the junior league was until last week, when my boss came in with the invitation to their "breakfast networking forum and panel discussion" and told me to go. and he laughed, because it was the junior league. so i looked into it.

- the junior league's tagline is "women building better communities." okay, that sounds all right. the junior league of chicago's website boasts that "over half of JLC members are employed and work outside the home." over half? oh, okay, i'm beginning to understand.

- the event started at 8:00 a.m. why? why??

- i realized on my way out the door of the apartment this morning that i only had two dollars in my wallet, which is not enough for a roundtrip on the El. i run back upstairs and ask BoyCat if he has any money - he says no. so between the two of us, we have a grand total of two dollars in cash. i realize that i am really not the type of person that should be attending this event.

- to be fair, i was actually surprised at the racial diversity in the room, given my narrow (and probably largely unfair) idea of the junior league. there were at least a dozen black women there, and at least one indian woman and one latina woman. i probably didn't pass that many non-white people on the street during one day in my old boston neighborhood.

- to be unfair, i spotted no less than three sets of pearls from my seat at the back of the room, in a crowd of about 50. i am positive there were more, but i didn't want to be caught staring.

- it's interesting how feminism works over the long term. on one hand, over 90% of all married women still adopt their husband's last name. on the other hand, it seems like many women are ambivalent enough about that tradition to try to find a middle ground, hence all of the dual-last-name women you see today (but to hyphenate or not to hypenate, that is the question). this morning, the two presenters who were from the junior league were both late-20s-to-early-30s, white, attractive women with three names - a first name and two last names. they were obviously well off (the diamonds on their fingers nearly blinded me on several occasions as they gesticulated), and possibly coming from a slice of society that looks down upon anything deemed "non-traditional." and yet, with the three names. interesting.

ok, that last thought was pretty long. so long that my lunch hour is now over.

for my next trick, i will now attempt to survive the next three hours of the workday without falling asleep at my desk, kicking a file cabinet, firebombing a copy machine, or stabbing anyone with a Bic pen. wish me luck.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

wherefore art thou only thursday?

this is the longest week in the history of the universe. i thought last week was long - i had no idea.

i will write more this weekend, certainly. i have thoughts i want to work out (in other words, ramble on about) about why exactly it is i'm not working in academia right now. in some ways, i know exactly why that is. in other way, i doubt the first "in some ways."

what's new, right.

the o.c. was moderately better than usual tonight. i must say, i kind of like taylor townsend. she's saving the show from continuing to play the same handful of one-note tunes for the entire hour. is she pitiable and possibly likeable? or is she bat-shit crazy and hellbent on destruction? i dunno! and i like it!

ok. i have had 2 1/2 glasses of wine and watched 2 straight hours of bad t.v....i might just go to bed and give up on the day completely.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

kinda late wednesday one-liner.

courtesy of Overheard in New York:

Little girl: I'm tired of thinking about ponies! Now it's time to kill!

--Park Slope

carnival of feminists, issue #3.

hey, guess what? the carnival of feminists, issue #3 is up! and what's more, i'm actually in it*!

along with yours truly, there's lots of other great feminist fare. so go check it out! go, go now!

exclamation point overload!!!

*SisterCat, no cracks about me being the bearded lady. it's your birthday, so be nice.

happy birthday, SisterCat!

just in case you weren't aware, today marks the 24th anniversary of the glorious day my sister graced us with her presence in the world. this is a day of reverence and genuflection in the Cat household(s), so from Chicago i must sing SisterCat's birthday praises.

- she is funny - cramp-inducing, soda-spitting, giving-you-the-hiccups funny.
- she is the kind of pretty that has given her plenty of practice cutting men down with a look.
- because of said prettiness, she taught me much about carrying myself on the street to convey "don't fuck with me" via body language.
- she let me wear her clothes in college.
- she comes up with tasty drinks like sparkling water and cranberry juice for when she doesn't have wine in the house.
- she gives her opinion to you straight, with no bullshit and no filler.
- she did my makeup for the prom.
- she makes up songs about me.
- she is going to be my meal ticket someday - i'm going to devote 6 months of my life to following her around and documenting everything that she says and does, and then i'm going to write a best-selling novel with the results.

oh, and she's kinda like my best friend too.

so happy birthday, you ugly wench. i love you and miss you.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

i know you are, but what am i?

poor babies. seems like the FDA doesn't like being told by the Government Accountability Office to, you know, act like an impartial government body instead of a pandering partisan lapdog:

In a statement, the FDA stood by its rejection [of over-the-counter sale of EC] and said the audit "mischaracterizes facts."

"We question the integrity of the investigative process that results in such partial conclusions," the agency said.

hold on.

the FDA is accusing someone of being unfairly partial? and that someone is...the GAO?

my brain is leaking out my ears a little.

Monday, November 14, 2005

mindless monday games.

so carrying on with today's theme of random postings, here is a little game. i'm again late to the blogging party on this one, but let's play anyway - google your first name and the word "needs" and see what you get.

a sampling*:

-Kate needs to be exposed for everything evil she has done.

-Kate needs to know where I am in my struggle and in my relationship with God.

-Kate needs to find him in order to do the deal.

-Kate Needs Your Help.

-Kate needs to go back to living in her car and working at the diner.

-Kate needs a kidney.

-Kate needs to be involved from the Sustainability side.

-Kate needs to smarten up a bit.

-Kate needs to open up to him more as a first step.

-Kate needs to continue to develop her skills in drawing valid interpretations from experimental data.

-Kate needs to do something — something meaningful.

-Kate needs to temper her aggression with some of her sister's placidity. (ha!)

-Kate needs to land in my backyard.

-Kate needs a break.

and finally...

- the last thing Kate needs is the stress of landing in the middle of an Unsolved Mysteries episode!

*the reason i know i'm late to the party on this one is that i get a ton of results that are other kates' blogs, also giving this google meme a try.

a little gem.

from amanda at pandagon:

Feminism is declared dead at least 3 or 4 times a year, making it the Freddy Krueger of social justice movements, absolutlely unkillable no matter what crap gets piled on it.

blog against racism day.

Chris Clarke has declared December 1st "Blog Against Racism" day. hop over there and check out the impetus for such a declaration, as well as some interesting points as to the nature of racism and the way we talk about it.

and if you have a blog, mark december 1st on your calendar...

you can't make this stuff up.

standing in line at walgreen's, i notice the following three items lined up next to each other on a shelf at the front of the store:

1. small boxes of condoms

2. small bottles of lube

3. pregnancy tests

i wish i had my camera with me.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

if the next harry potter is this disturbing, i'm going to need some kind of medication.

so on friday night BoyCat and i watched Crash, and last night we went out with friends to see Capote. a real feel-good, happy fun time movie weekend. i would highly recommend both movies, but not together in a 24 hour time span. you might be driven to drink copious amounts of vodka and ramble about the state of humanity.

and seriously, harry potter better be a game of candyland next weekend, or i might not know what to do with myself.

oh, i know, it's not that bad (harry potter, that is). i don't read the books, so i am not nearly as invested in these characters as you book-readers (you know who you are). that bodes well for me, as i should be able to watch the next harry potter movie with interest, but without the peculiar sensation that i kinda can't breath.

on the way out of the theater last night, our friend remarked how during a culminating scene (i won't say anything particular here, as the movie really was great and you should go), she felt like she needed to remind herself to breath. i think it's rare when a movie can actually achieve that emotional state in a viewer, but this one did. Capote felt longer than its alleged hour and forty minutes running time, but the pacing fit with the narrative, which was (fittingly) about a book that took over six years to write. while i didn't necessarily sympathize with anyone in the movie (except maybe Catherine Keener as Harper Lee, who was great and understated and crucial), but by the time the movie began to move towards a close, i was seriously invested. it wasn't until the credits started rolling that i realized my body had been in some state of tension or another for the last half hour or so.

so between last night and Crash, i am drained. they sucked me dry. my threshold for emotional involvement today will be the Bears game and the travel section of the Sunday Tribune.

oh, and an update: i'm going to win $310 million on tuesday night. the ticket last week didn't work out, but this time i've got the right one. so seriously, get back to me about the presents. if i don't hear from you, then you're getting a Jaguar, as they never go out of style.

Friday, November 11, 2005

friday cat blogging, sentinel edition.

friday's not quite over yet, i got this one in under the wire!

this is CatCat's watchdog (watchcat?) position. she monitors the courtyard for any deviant bird life and/or squirrel activity. she takes this job very seriously, so don't make fun of her or you'll hurt her feelings.

kind of like the claw game, but the prize is destruction.

so i was just walking down Broadway to pick up some dry cleaning, and a giant bulldozer crane was demolishing an empty bank building (the bank had formerly been connected to a Dominick's grocery store, which mysteriously caught on a fire about 6 months ago and was subsequently demolished. apparently they're just now getting around to taking out said bank).

i guess i've never actually seen anything in the process of being demolished. i mean, i've seen footage of wrecking balls and bulldozers and explosion demolitions. but i've never seen a building being torn down in person. apparently many other people out and about on Broadway were in the same position, as i'd say at least a dozen people had just stopped in their tracks to watch. granted, it was sort of tough to miss, what with the mind-blowing noise and giant machinery swinging around, but i've never seen that many people on a city block just stop and watch something happen.

while i didn't actually stop to watch (on the company dime here, people, what kind of slacker do you think i am??), i have to admit it was pretty arresting. this bulldozer crane was just pulling up its giant claw, slamming it down into the building, and tugging out heaps of concrete and steel like it was nothing. it was just creating wreckage, with no hesitation or second thought.

in a way, it was great. in another way, it was disturbing. terrible beauty, you know?

i would think more about it, but there are spreadsheets to generate. nonprofitland waits for no (wo)man, especially when they're wasting time pondering the metaphor of bulldozed buildings.

your disturbing news of the day.

hello, your favorite ray of sunshine here, providing you with yet another reason that the world is going to hell in a handbasket:

"Army secret surfaces: Deadly chemicals at sea"

i know what you're thinking: the army? doing something clandestine and harmful to society? never! but it's true. i would recommend that you read at least the first page of this thing - it's seriously shocking - but since i know many of you won't (you lazy bitches), here's the nut of it:

The Army now admits in reports never before released that it secretly dumped 64 million pounds of nerve and mustard gas agent into the sea, along with 400,000 chemical-filled bombs, land mines and rockets and more than 500 tons of radioactive waste either tossed overboard or packed into the holds of scuttled vessels.

These weapons of mass destruction virtually ring the country, concealed off the coasts of at least 11 states: six on the East Coast, including New Jersey and Maryland, two on the Gulf Coast, and in California, Hawaii and Alaska. Few, if any, state officials have been informed of their existence.

yes, you read that right.

i just recently finished reading bill bryson's awesome book, A Short History of Nearly Everything. the book gave me a sense of a lot of things, if not a full understanding of much (no matter how hard i try, the most basic explanations of space-time still elude my comprehension). one of the senses that i now have is how ridiculously slim the odds are that we are even here as a human race. sometimes you tend to think of evolution as a straight line, that there was some sort of inevitability of all of us ending up here, walking around, drinking our starbucks and listening to our iPods. but that certainly wasn't inevitable - in fact, the dumb luck involved in our existence and survival is staggering.

another thing i learned from the book was how humans, in our rise to ascendancy as the dominant species around here, have done amazing amounts of damage to the planet in a relatively short amount of time. i don't want to get all tree-hugger on you, because you know that's not my style (and it would get sap all over my nice new cowlneck sweater). BUT - not being a staunch environmentalist myself, i had no idea the wanton havoc we've been wreaking upon pretty much every inhabitable surface of the planet (and then some, apparently, judging by the article above). of course, it remains to be seen whether this complete disregard for ecological balance will result in us snuffing ourselves out, or whether we'll do it via nuclear war, or whether a big giant asteroid will slam into the pacific one day and take care of it. or something else. who knows? all i hope is that i'm not around to see it...and that is one thing, at least, on which the odds are good.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

women and children. and board members.

first of all, go read this article: "Right to Wife: Why does Judge Alito treat women like girls?"

the first paragraph kicks in the door:

Judge Alito, it's a pleasure to have you before our committee this morning. You're obviously an accomplished jurist, and my colleagues on the other side of the aisle speak very highly of you. I really have only one question for you, and it's my hope that you'll be able to put my mind, and the public's mind, at ease about it. What I'd like to know is, why do you think it's constitutional to treat a pregnant woman like a child?

yes! thank you. moving on.

i am all kinds of george costanza's father this morning. "serenity now!!" is it working? not really. nonprofitland always gets itself in a tizzy for the holiday season, and 2005 is proving to be no exception. there are appeal letters to send, proposals to write, media inquiries to field (funny, the media only tends to remember that there are homeless people when christmas is less than 60 days away), reports to file, board members to placate, and so on. there is so much more that i could bitch about in terms of nonprofitland, but i realize i have not exactly taken pains to hide my identity on this blog, so it would probably be wise to refrain. i don't think you could find this blog by googling my first and last name, but i don't want to find out the hard way by having my boss do it.

oh-kay. on that note, back to the appeal letters.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

annoying things abound.

so. i have a friend who very generously put a bunch of his mp3s on a CD for me. a number of good albums, some stuff i had wanted, etc. it arrived today in the mail, and i excitedly sat down to load some new songs onto my iPod. 45 minutes later, i have completely given up, as iTunes has frozen twice and and refused my every attempt to transfer anything from the CD to either iTunes or the iPod.


and. and. today i am walking into the grocery store, and there is a woman in front of me that is wearing a brown leather jacket, brown tights (not like stockings, like dark chocolate brown tights), brown shoes and...a black skirt.

gah. ack. ohmygod.

this was an almost unbelievable instance of the black/brown faux pas. i mean, sometimes people just get sloppy, carry a black bag while wearing brown shoes (i am an offender here, since i only have one bag!), or throw on brown shoes with black windpants to run to the corner store. but this - this was obviously a premeditated outfit situation. this woman got out of bed and consciously decided to wear three brown items of clothing and one black one.

after about 10 seconds, i realized my mouth was literally hanging open. i had to reach up and close it with my hand.

is this week over yet???

your wednesday one-liner.

as always, courtesty of Overheard in New York:

Chick: I make it a point never to run to public transportation. It's a rule that I live by.

--1 train

and to this i have to say, right on. i sprinted half a block for the fucking B line too many times in Boston, with a work bag and a gym bag and a coffee mug and lord knows what else flailing around. it should never be that important to get somewhere, even to work. and if it is - well then, they should be paying you more, so you can afford to drive every day.

ugh. the B line.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

in dreams begin responsibilities.

i am tired. wicked tired. so tired that i forgot to put a period on the end of my last post's subject line.

but before i go to bed at this ridiculously early hour, i wanted to mention dreams and the subconscious. these topics have come up, in some form or another, in a number of conversations that i've had this week. i've been talking with MomCat about the idea of a collective unconscious, and whether there might be anything to that. i've been talking with friends about the dreams they've recently had that have been affecting them in some way or another.

i'm certain that i'm not the first person to have the revelation that "wow, dreams are interesting." what i like about considering dreams, though, is that it's never stagnant - you always have some new dreams to think about, some you forget, some that other people tell you about that remind you of ones you once had, etc. there are always weird connections to make, connotations to consider. i make no claims about understanding the true nature of dreams (was freud right? jung? what about miss cleo?), and that makes it hard to make any claims about what a certain dream might mean. but damn if it isn't interesting to try to figure out, right?

for instance, i dream a fair amount about my grandparents' old house. we spent a fair amount of time there as kids, so it's a locale and a landscape with which i'm viscerally familiar. my grandparents both died about ten years ago, and i've only driven by the house a few times since them, but it keeps popping up in my dreams. recently i dreamt (dreamed? dreamt? who cares, see "wicked tired" notation above), all in the same dream, that there was a business meeting and a college party at the house, and then an inspection of the trees on the property, and then at the end of the dream i realized the house was ringed with a garden of rotting vegetables.

strange? yes. hard to deconstruct? perhaps not. but it's fascinating to me that this one location keeps factoring into my dreams, especially since i tend to dream in unspecific locales, bizarro dream spaces where places and people are constantly shifting. but these particular dreams are very rooted there.

anyway. maybe some more on this later. this stuff also got me thinking tonight about what the scariest dream that i ever had was. i think there's actually two - i'll tell you about them later, when i'm not so tired and rambling.

but first, tell me about your scariest dream....

pharmacy follow-up

if you're curious about which pharmacies to support and which ones to avoid in light of the birth control brouhaha, check out this handy scorecard. they've gotten policy clarifications straight from the horses' mouths, and these are the results.

for your reading pleasure.

click over and see The Chemist for a fun fisking of dennis prager’s most recent offering to the wingnut gods. he doesn’t tear up the whole article, but that’s understandable, as i’m not sure how one does finish reading a prager article and keep his or her lunch down at the same time.

now i know that prager could easily be elected mayor of loonytown, and his archive of journalistic work is not the best place to go for a sense of what the average american thinks and feels (yeah, yeah, there is no “average american,” i know that too). but i am a masochist, and apparently many of other liberal bloggers are as well, because we seek this shit out. it’s like if you knew that down the street there was a dog with two heads. you’d go check it out once, just to verify its existence, and you’d say “holy fuck that’s really a dog with two heads.” then you’d go home and forget about it…for a day or two. and from there on out, you’d find excuses to walk by the house where to dog with two heads was chained in the yard every so often, because you need to re-affirm its existence. you just can’t wrap your brain around the fact that it actually exists, so you need to keep checking and re-checking, OCD style.

there is really no other excuse for why i consistently click on links to outrageous articles at and the like.

on a saner note, i’d also recommend rebecca traister’s new article, “Yes, Maureen Dowd is Necessary” at i’ve been slightly uncomfortable with the gleeful pile-on of vitriol and holier-than-thou sarcasm that has been heaped upon Dowd (i refuse to call her MoDo, that’s just ridiculous) since the excerpt of her book came out last week. traister kinda puts her finger on why – whenever someone evokes such an instant and intense reaction by so many people, they’ve touched a nerve somehow. the more strident we are in our denouncements, the more it seems we might be protesting too much.

and just so you all know, i plan on winning $225 million tonight in the illinois lottery. got the winning ticket right here. so, start deciding what kind of flamboyant and utterly superfluous gift you want from me once i’m filthy rich…

Sunday, November 06, 2005

a drop in the bucket.

it might not be much, but it's a drop nonetheless. i'm sure you've heard this ridiculous noise about Target refusing to discipline its pharmacists who won't dispense Emergency Contraception because of "religious beliefs." well, fuck that Target. i am very sad that i won't be able to purchase your cheap and chic wares until you come to your senses, but sometimes these sacrifices must be made.

while you all might not be willing to take the drastic step of boycotting (or girlcotting, or personcotting, or what have you) the beloved low-price mecca that is Target, at the very least you can send them a nasty email. who doesn't like writing nasty emails, right? go to, click on "contact us" at the bottom of the homepage, and then click on "target corporation information" to get to their comment form. you don't even need to give them anything other than an e-mail address.

so please, go forth and bitch Target out.

i don't even know what to title this.

did you know that ozzie guillen practices santeria?

holy shit.

chicago tribune sunday edition, you're rocking my world. it was way too early in the morning for the revelation that the manager of the (world champion) white sox periodically involves himself in animal sacrifice.

then again, it's the first world series victory for chicago in 88 years, so maybe he's onto something.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

friday cat blogging, blurry hangover edition.

in my haste to drink vodka tonics and forget about the week, i forgot friday cat blogging! shameful. though i am not actually hungover, the picture is a little blurry, so i'll go with that theme. this is an old CatCat picture - taken a day or two after we got her, when she still slept under the table for protection.

newer CatCat pictures to come, some point i'll try to catch her doing her spiderman act on the couch while chasing her tail. it's an elusive moment to document, but i will do my best.

Friday, November 04, 2005

appropriating blame.

what do we gain from our opinions? i mean, we all have opinions. but rarely do we think about them in terms of what they do for us. we tend to consider them as somewhat removed from our actual selves – something we have, not something we are. that makes sense in a way, as opinions often change, and we’d rather think of that as a remodel of something we possess, not a fundamental change of our person. if it were the latter, who could keep up, right? we have so many opinions, large and small, and they shift so often that we’d hardly know who we were on any given day.

but i also think it’s faulty to think of opinions as something we merely have, like a cat or a kumquat scented candle (yes, i actually have both those things. don’t ask why). because doesn’t the sum of all our opinions at any given moment largely dictate how we see ourselves? who we think we are, and who we would like to be? they’re very formative things, opinions. the big gun opinions especially – god, religion, politics, culture, etc – form our so-called “perspectives.” “your perspective on life,” you know, that sense of why you’re doing what you’re doing. and that’s no small thing.

i talk in these annoying generalities only because i’ve been thinking specifically lately about how my opinions serve me. i’ve been considering the issues of victim positionality in feminism (i just made that word “postionality” up right now – sounds good, don’t it? just grad school-y enough to make you wonder if you’re just not smart enough to know what it means, when in fact it’s just gibberish. ah, higher education). and in thinking about the way in which that subject position can serve someone, i got to thinking about how all of our opinions must serve us in some way or another, or i imagine we wouldn’t hold them.

for instance, in my case, i think on a certain level i resist people trashing the victim language of feminism because feeling like a victim of patriarchal structures gives me something concrete to blame*. the older i get, the greater the sense i have that something is tragically amiss – something is off. i feel wronged in a big, metaphysical sense, but i’m not sure why or by whom. i think i literalize in a thousand different ways, and one of them is to look at the insults and abuses that the patriarchal system has foist upon my gender and say, there, that’s it! i have been wronged! life is unfair!

so, on a certain level, naming and appropriating blame for misogyny gives me a sense of actualizing a broader sense of being wronged, even if the two aren’t the same thing. one is a smaller stand-in for the other, for the biggest insult of them all, the affront to which i can never sufficiently respond: i don’t know why i’m here, and no one can provide me with an adequate answer.

so, a moment of brutal honesty from me: on a certain level, being a feminist allows me to channel a bigger, unaddress-able anger into an arena in which i feel there can be right and wrong answers, and right and wrong actions. this gives me a feeling of control, however specious it may be, that i utterly lack in other ways.

it lets me feel like i’m winning the battle, even though i have no idea whether or not i’ll win the war.

*mind you, i’m not going back on any of the other reasons i think the victim position could be valid – and i’m certainly not saying it’s invalid – just ruminating on some other implications.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

vindication via the internet.

oh, how i laughed when i saw this headline on yahoo this morning:

Short Term Anger Can Be Beneficial

then i realized i had long term anger, so i'm screwed.

and then i also realized that i don't trust the "studies" that yahoo and it's ilk publicize farther than i could throw them, so it's a moot point anyway.

but still, i'm posting it for your viewing pleasure.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

the things you notice.

so there's a guy who lives in my neighborhood. well, i assume he lives in my neighborhood, because i repeatedly see him walking past the gym when i'm there. he's a pretty average guy - probably early 30s, asian, shy of 6' with a pretty stocky build - just painting you a basic picture here. this guy would not be remarkable at all amidst the flotsam and jetsam of the city, except that he is always wearing a hawaiian shirt. and i mean always. i've probably seen the guy 35 or 40 times, and every time he is wearing a hawaiian shirt.

so tonight i spun circles on the elliptical machine and i wondered, what sort of pathology leads one to only wear hawaiian shirts? something more basic, like a black t-shirt or a white button-down, would be a bit more understandable. still strange, but not beyond the realm of normalcy. but hawaiian shirts? every day? in chicago??

i apologize for the over abundance of italics in this post, but i am truly at a loss here.

i wonder what his apartment looks like.

signs of life.

it's almost too much to hope for. Shakespeare's Sister has a picture from page A1 of the Washington Post today, and it is something else. the second coming of...democratic leadership?

i was beginning to think that term was an oxymoron.

check out the creative captions for the pic in Shakes Sis's comment thread too...

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

oh dear lord.

can i just note that, in my sick day stupor, i almost found myself watching Goldie and Kate: The True Hollywood Story.

now i likes myself some E! just as much as the next gal, but that is unconscionable.

blaming the victim.

i am home from work today. the combination of the four hour board meeting and a low-level sore throat i've had for the last week has rendered me useless to nonprofitland. so here, finally, is the overdue musing on feminism and victimhood promised last weekend. rudimentary and rambling, but here nonetheless.

why is it so bad to be a victim? feminists often complain about the “blaming the victim” phenomenon, which is an abhorrent practice (you’d think by now the phrase “she was asking for it” would have been thoroughly eradicated from our collective lexicon. you’d be wrong). but on the other hand, third wave feminism is very, very reluctant to take on the subject position of victim. hugo notes:

i don't know many authentic feminist scholars and instructors who are intent on convincing young women that they are being victimized by the big bad patriarchy.

he’s correct – feminist activism has consciously moved away from pointing out victimization to preaching empowerment. i think that this is, in many ways, an understandable development. on a practical level, there is less technical, legal discrimination and victimization of women (though we still weren’t able to pass the ERA, so this doesn’t exactly give me the warm fuzzies). on a theoretical level, i can see that it makes more sense to take the active position of empowering oneself than the passive position of being victimized by external forces. no one wants to feel powerless - it’s much more enjoyable to feel empowered.

but in all of this clamoring for empowerment, have we lost the ability to make people see why women deserve to be empowered in the first place? are we unable to convince people that the reason we need empowerment is that we still lack societal and cultural power? women are still victimized, all the time, all over the world. we are victims of sexual harassment. we are victims of rape. we are victims of pay inequity. we are victims of impossible beauty standards. we are victims of double standards. we are victims, every day.

why are we so ashamed to admit that? why are feminists less inclined to stand up and point out these injustices, the victimizations big and small, as they continue to happen? are we “blaming the victim” ourselves?

i’m trying to think about how narratives about women’s strength, courage, and conviction could possibly work together with the continuing, eye-opening disclosure of women’s victimization to further the cause of women’s equality. are these two phenomenons somehow mutually exclusive?

i don’t think they should be.