Tuesday, July 31, 2007

the thing about tornadoes.

last week, i read a post over at This Fish where she took a male commenter to task for implying that a woman checking her closets and under her bed before she goes to sleep at night must mean that she's seen too many "Lifetime Movies of the Week." Fish schools him with both a real life anecdote and some stats, mainly that:

Over her lifetime, one in four women will be the victim of sexual assault. One in four of those will be assaulted by a total stranger. Often in her own home. The problem is, you don't get to choose not to be the one in four. Or the one in sixteen. And that's enough to convince me that checking under my bed and in my closets is not, in the least bit, irrational.

this post generated 101 comments. i would wager that close to 50% of them were women with stories: stories of being one in four, or one in sixteen, or having come perilously close to being put in one of those categories. a small sampling:

I actually had something similar happen to me. I was visiting a friend who had a creepy neighbor living on the floor above him. In the middle of the night, I woke up to find the guy standing in my friend's living room, touching me on the leg.

When I lived alone, in a great neighborhood in NC, I had a HUGE lab...I woke up in the middle of the night to him barking ferociously at the window. I screamed at him, told him to shut up and finally he did. The next morning I went to walk him (in fresh snow from the night before) and there were footprints by my window and my screens were slashed.

Quite a few years ago now, I was happily living alone in a sweet Victorian apartment when a pervert broke in one night and strangled me while I slept. Long story short, he did not accomplish his supposed goal of raping me because I fought him off...

I lived in an apartment with my lab, Willa. One night I woke to her barking wildly at the back door. She's usually a mild-tempered dog, but something had her completely protective. From my bed I could hear someone yanking on my back door - luckily I had the deadbolt locked! I called the police, and when they showed up they found that the back door knob had been completely ripped out.

I'm also a 1 in 4 and a 1 in 16. I was 8 the 1st time. I fought off the stranger when I was 15. He took fright for no obvious reason and fled.

I am a 1 in 4 x2. The first time was in daylight at a mall parking lot when I was 17 and I scared the guy away by screaming and swinging a large flashlight frantically. The 2nd time was 14 yrs later in my own home...

I am one of 4 and one of 16. Keep checking under the bed and in the closets. And if anyone feels the need to make fun of you for it, have them talk to someone like me who didn't check closely enough.

there are more.

my only contribution to the discussion was to point out that as horrifying as the prevalence of sexual assault by strangers may be, the even greater prevalence of sexual assault is the kind perpetrated by someone the victim knows (and very possibly trusts). if one out of four women who are sexually assaulted don't know their attacker, that means three out of four do.

upon reflection, i realized that what really amazed me about Fish's post and subsequent comment thread was how women, if they are in a space where they feel generally safe and supported, will tell you about their lives. they'll tell you what has happened to them. Fish's site is not feminism or politics oriented (it's hosted by iVillage's Love and Sex page, for chrissakes!), and she doesn't use it for a soapbox or a debating arena. and yet here were scores of women, unprodded for disclosure about their experiences, that all stood up and said "me. that was me, too."

the problem is, the revelations of these spaces don't often translate into the media cacophony at large. they are most often generally ignored, if not outright shamed, discredited, or dismissed. and society proceeds merrily on its way, convinced that because charges were dropped against those four "nice boys" from Duke, all must generally be right with the world.

it's not, though. it's far from right. on the train to NY last weekend i was reading a book of Katha Pollitt's articles. in one of them, "Violence in a Man's World," she says:

We live, I am trying to say, in an epidemic of male violence against women.

that struck me: an epidemic. something so big that it should be causing alarm bells, and breathless news reports, and Twelve Point Plans of redress. i'd wager it's even bigger than an epidemic, because an epidemic has a beginning and an end. i'm not sure there's a word for the scale upon which male violence against women exists. what was it that shulamith firestone wrote about radical feminism in the 60s? "If there were a word more all-embracing that revolution, we would use it."

if there were a word possibly all-embracing enough to encompass the nature of violence against women, i would certainly use it here. but i'd take "epidemic" as a mainstream media start. instead we get the sensational, salacious, fear-mongering news coverage of CNN and "entertainment" of Law & Order: SVU. you'd think the mere existence of a spin-off crime drama, which has been running episodes about sexualized violence for eight solid years, might have tipped society off to the fact that there's something big going on here. but somehow, it doesn't translate. as Pollitt points out, men who perpetrate these crimes are most often pigeon-holed into one of two categories - "guy who made a mistake" or "monster" - and that this is misleading and outright harmful in so many ways (this is a long-ish excerpt, but it's spot-on):

A good guy who makes a mistake may seem poles apart from a monster, but at bottom both categories have the same effect - they distance violence against women from the fabric of daily experience by making it seem unfathomable, bizarre and rare when really it is none of those things. Detach the act from the man by labeling it an anomaly (or a "tragedy")...when that's impossible, because the act is too gory, or has been repeated too often, detach the man from the male half of humanity by labeling him inhuman...This kind of thinking gets us worse than nowhere. What we should be asking is not how the most sensational crimes against women are different from run-of-the-mill threats, rapes, bashings and murders but how they are the same. We need to stop thinking of male violence as some kind of freak of nature, like a tornado. Because the thing about tornadoes is, you can't do anything about them. The onus is all on potential victims to accommodate themselves or stay out of the way (what was she wearing? why was she out so late? why didn't she flee/scream/fight back/stay calm?)...Could it be, for example, that defining [someone] as a monster is mostly a way of not having to think about how he resembles the millions of men who hit but don't kill? That those good guys who astonish everyone when they make a "mistake" only passed for good because we don't take seriously the casual hostility to women such men usually display long before they rape or kill?

one in four. and the threat of it, always, hanging over our heads, intoned over ominous music on cable news or dramatized on TNT to give us something to watch while we're eating dinner. unless, of course, you prefer the Lifetime Movie of the Week.


why why why.

why do i have the theme song from Perfect Strangers stuck in my head?

between this, and the interminable sore throat thing, i am beginning to wonder if there is some cosmic conspiracy to drive me mad. if so, congratulations, time-space continuum - it's working.

Monday, July 30, 2007

thing #2.

so, i've added a little section to my sidebar. under Elsewhere, you'll find other places where i be. that are not here. hence the "elsewhere." get it?

i knew you would.

the first is babes and books, of which you are all aware. i'm halfway to our goal, and given that we all wised up and realized that the end of summer isn't technically until september 22nd, i think i just might make it. and we've already got our next little challenge planned for the fall, so it looks like this will be an ongoing thing. so if you ever feel like hearing about babes who read things, well, you know where to go.

the second is feminist review, which is a site dedicated to reviewing a variety of products - music, movies, books, home goods, beauty products, art shows, concerts, you name it - from a feminist perspective. every month or so i do a little review over there (and i get to keep whatever i review! i am definitely not old or well off enough to be able to stifle my excitement about free stuff!), so feel free to check it out from time to time.

thing #1.

ok, so when you have a wicked sore throat for two and a half days, but you're not running a fever and you don't have those telltale white spots in the back of your mouth...

...what the hell is wrong with you?

i am cranky. i don't do well with pain in general, nevermind pain that won't go away and has no clear explanation. my throat refuses to adequately address my philosophical confusion on this matter - why, throat, why do you hurt me so?

i do not know.*

*SisterCat and MomCat, a nursing scholar and walking encyclopedia of medicinal knowledge respectively, both posited that in fact, i had..."a sore throat." sigh. not that i don't trust their diagnostic ability, but still, you know. waaaah.

Sunday, July 29, 2007


waging a living. rent it. marvel at the cesspool of hypocrisy, malfeasance, and backward priorities that is american society.

yesterday, i got up at 12:30 in the afternoon. today, i dragged myself out of bed at 11:20 am. this seems to indicate that i am, in fact, very tired. so tired that, regardless of the copious amounts of sleep i had amassed in two nights, i still persisted in lolling about pathetically ("my sore throat, it is hurting me!") until about 3:00 pm this afternoon, when i miraculously managed to take a shower.

my throat still hurts. but at least i am clean.

Friday, July 27, 2007

friday cat blogging, say what? edition.

CatCat has just read this article from thursday's LA Times, in which we are informed that the Democrats' inclusion of an initiative called "Reducing the Need for Abortions" in the Labor-HHS appropriations bill indicates that they "have begun to adopt some of the language and policy goals of the antiabortion movement" in order to "appeal to religious voters."

"say what?"

i know, CatCat, i know. it doesn't make any sense. except that it does.

hold on.

the thing is, by name alone, the "Reducing the Need for Abortion" initiative is actually a minor coup for pro-choice advocates, because it used to be the "Reducing the Number of Abortions" initiative. and we're not really down with reducing the number of abortions as an end goal, because well hey, if you outlaw 'em you can reduce that number right down to zero! helping women avoid ever having to get an abortion in the first place - now we're talking. this is progress.

except that the bulk of the language and policy that's actually in this initiative harks back to its "number" days - i.e., it's pretty much all about figuring how to support and encourage women to carry to term once they're pregnant. not that there's anything wrong with that! but if you do that at the expense of also supporting and encouraging the choice of abortion, then there's a problem. and if Dems continue to fall all over themselves to try to find "alternatives" to abortion rather than re-frame the debate into a (ahem, real-life) scenario where abortion is merely one of a variety of viable choices, well, then that's a BIG problem.

so are Dems trying to get into bed with religion and the right to life? i don't think so. but are they dangerously close to completely scuttling their chance to actually change the parameters of the discussion, to start realigning the whole reproductive rights paradigm after 30+ years of conservative framing? absolutely.

CatCat says, it's positively Pavlovian.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

this is a first.

now, i never do these quiz things. ever. just because...you know. i don't.

but i saw this one over at k8's place and laughed out loud. because that's what lolcats do - they make you laugh, and not in a silent way.*

so, given that my entire week has consisted solely of a) going to my day job and editing shit, and the b) coming home to my nights and weekends gig and editing shit, i thought it would be the perfect time to share some insight with you all about my lolcat self. the results of my lolcat inventory should surprise, oh, exactly no one.

Your Score: Serious Cat

34% Affectionate, 34% Excitable, 57% Hungry

Hungry for knowledge in any internet forum, you demand decorum. Any off-topic remarks, absurd statements, or tomfoolery on the interweb is deeply frowned upon by you. Truth has no room for drollery.

To see all possible results, checka dis.

Link: The Which Lolcat Are You? Test written by GumOtaku on OkCupid, home of the The Dating Persona Test
my favorite part of the whole process? the invitation on the front page:

My nine questions.
Let me show you them."

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

your wednesday one-liner.

courtesy of......me.*

Girl 1: Come ON!!
Girl 2: Shut up! I just peed my pants!

-a crosswalk in Times Square, 7th Ave. and 46th St.

*BoyCat claims that she said "i think i just peed my pants," but i recall no such qualifiers on the situation.

Monday, July 23, 2007

when allergies attack.

it's worse than animals. seriously. can you die from sneezing? i'm starting to think so.

while i wait for the actifed to kick in and for sweet, sweet sleep to overtake me, i'll tell you about my little new york city trip this weekend.

we took the train up to manhattan, just for the night, to meet up with the Cat family and traipse about town. MomCat grew up in midtown manhattan and hadn't been back in about 20 years, so it was high time for a group outing in the bestest borough (sorry, all you BK-o-philes).

i was really looking forward to this trip, because it enabled me to cross off not one, but two things from my Life's To-Do List. they are both encapsulated in this picture:

(yes that is BoyCat with the big black circle for a head. funny how he shows up like that in all my blog-posted pictures! and yes, he is a longterm item on my Life's To-Do list. ha.)

but i digress - to the crossing off!

1) lunch at The Algonquin Hotel

really, what english major wouldn't jump at the chance to emulate one of the most famous literary phenomenons of the 20th century? being generally enamored with the 1920s in general, and with the literary work and personalities of the decade in particular, "the gonk" always seemed like a great destination. i just never got around to actually going there. until they posted an amazing room rate, and bam - we were on our way to eat and sleep there!

lunching, however, was the critical piece of my agenda. lunching, as a verb. and lunch we did. we even had a round table - shocking, that they would have so many in there now, right? and while we all certainly didn't attempt to over-exert ourselves in the wittiness department for the occasion (i should say it's because it would've seemed tacky and overwrought, but in reality i suspect it's just because SisterCat and i didn't have enough liquor in us yet), we still had a great time. for the record, i had french onion soup, and it was delicious.

2) hail a yellow cab in manhattan

any new yorkers that read this will think, seriously? a life goal? i've hailed 26,489 yellow cabs in my life! i know. but i hadn't hailed any. ever. and for some reason, i felt a burning desire to accomplish this relatively menial feat. and so i did.

not well, mind you, but i did. (those five-person cabs are hard to come by! and it's hard to see whether their lights are on during the day! but i make excuses. truthfully, i am a bad cab hailer.)

here are some other pics from the trip:

central park carousel

strawberry fields, central park

strawberry fields, close up

the new york public library. is this patience, or fortitude? you be the judge.

this, most definitely, is matilda, the gonk's resident cat. she just chills in the lobby all day. that is her chaise. yup.

this is a somewhat blurry and illicitly taken picture of the chapel at the back of st. patrick's on fifth ave. this is where my grandparents got married. well, married for the second time. it's a long story.

ok, it's time for medicinally-induced slumber. my favorite kind...

Sunday, July 22, 2007


alive. two days of stuffity-stuff (mainly vodka drinking, sushi eating, and harry potter watching), followed by two days of manhattan. the borough, not the drink.

very tired. pictures and more forthcoming.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

stuff you should see.

two linkeys i think you should clicky:

1) go take a look at Nothing But Red, an initiative started in response to joss whedon's call to action after dua khalil's murder (which, as you probably remember, moved me to put my thoughts together on the matter as well). they're accepting submissions for all kinds of art for the project.

2) check out planned parenthood action fund's videos of the Big 3 dem candidates as they preach to the alleged* choir on reproductive rights yesterday. (unfortunately, i've just discovered these are only minute long clips from the speeches - which is a woefully inadequate amount of information, but probably worth clicking on anyway. if just to give PP the traffic.) i didn't get a chance to go to any of them - no free time during the workday and no discretionary income will do that to you - but my bosses did, and you know i'll be picking their brains about ALL the details soon. i'll report back.

*i say alleged because i'm not aware of any feminist choir that likes to say things like "abortion should be safe, legal, and rare - and i mean rare!" in political speeches. i'm just sayin'.

your wednesday one-liner.

overheard in new york observes an interaction that could be a metaphor for my life:

Concerned suit to large, inflatable chicken: Hello? Hello? Is there someone in there? Can you hear me? Hello?

--45th & 3rd

the thing is, i'm not sure if i'm the suit or the chicken.

Monday, July 16, 2007

this just in.

camden yards is beautiful.

RFK stadium is not.

i've checked two new (at least, new to me) major league ballparks of the "to visit" list in the last three days! what fun! this brings my grand total to a whopping....um, five. ahem.


business ensues later this week...i know i said i wouldn't toss up this stupid filler posts anymore, but what can i say - i should be writing more (not necessarily for my few readers - you dirty ingrates - but because more writing means more better writing skillz), and the fact that i'm not makes me feel guilty. hence, the half-assed posting about baseball stadiums that pleases no one.

also, i don't not have the time or energy to really post something with, like, thesis statements in it because i'm getting up early to run tomorrow. i've been pretty good, running 2-3 miles about 3 times a week. i can almost do it without dying, and i'm trying to get up to more like 4 times a week. hence, the 6:30 am alarm in the morning.

that is also really of no interest to you.

so, i will commence with the shutting of the up.

(oh, wait - this just in as well - if you hate humidity, stay away from DC tomorrow. and the next day. and the day after that. don't say i didn't warn you.)

Friday, July 13, 2007

friday cat blogging, shop til you drop edition.

every time we move, CatCat likes to find a new little spot in while to nestle. in the chicago apartment, it was the back of the closet. in alexandria, it was underneath small shelving. and here in the district, it's...an ikea bag.

apparently, something about this pile of blue plastic shoved between the couch and the window called out to her, "sit on me! sit on me all the time! we will be best friends forever!"

CatCat and synthetic material: they speak-a the same language. the language of looooooove.

(i should leave out the post script where we finally clean up the apartment and put the bag away, leaving CatCat bereft and adrift in a sea of bag-less-ness. oops. i just told you anyway.)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

the thing.

"Well I was there when they
dropped the bomb
You know I
remember the bomb
And I
still hear the bomb
And I
still fight the bomb

You know I still fear the bomb
You know I still hate the bomb

Sometimes I
still get the call."

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


so i've been reading a lot. which, combined with the working and the eating and the sleeping and whatnot, means that i don't have a lot of ammunition for posting. except about books.

and wouldn't you know it, there's this other place where i'm doing that!

so check it out, if you miss the sound of my voice or something.

(by the way - do any of you still have that childish predisposition to pick at bug bites? because apparently, i do. i have five bites on my left arm leftover from vacation that are, at this rate, going end up as hideously garish scars, given the intensity and regularity with which i pick at them. and yet i can't stop! it's embarrassing, actually.)

(oh, and one other thing. the hotness? not nearly as bad today as it was yesterday. yesterday was pretty swampy, but today - at least the 8:00 am hour and the 6:00 pm hour, when i was actually outside - just felt like regular old summer. hot town, sure, but not wheezing like a bus stop, you know?)

Sunday, July 08, 2007


it is hot here. so hot that it's likely all that you'll hear from me over the next three days is:

it's hot.


waaaaah. *whimper*


well, i guess since i just covered the extent of my thought processes for the near future, i can refrain from posting for half a week! but hopefully i'll come up with something considerably more interesting to say in that time. i was so busy being all kinds of productive this weekend - running! petsmart! target! costco! - that i didn't even come close to formulating a worthwhile original thought.

(well, other than when, upon waking on saturday morning, i very perceptively pyschoanalyzed my previous night's dream about pulling a big splinter out of a gaping wound in my foot as being about childbirth anxiety. that was a good one.)

i'm doing pretty well on my little 20 book challenge, too - just finished up book #7. of course there's still no way in hell i'll get through another 13 by the end of august, but i'm going to try! valiance in the face of certain failure, that's what i say!

except when it comes to the heat. then i say screw valiance, just whine as much as possible.

Friday, July 06, 2007

friday cat blogging, guest kitty edition.

CatCat is currently busy gorging herself, and she cannot find the energy or inclination to amuse you with her likeness right now. she had her lovely little steroid shot while she was at the vet last week, which means that she'll spend about half a month completely obsessed with food before reverting back to her standard, kitty-gingivitis state of not really giving a rat's ass about food.

but for now, it's the gorging.

so, for your weekend entertainment, please consult the below picture, courtesy of i can has cheezburger?, which seriously cracked my shit up at work today.

"thank you, thank you. i'm here every night, twice on sundays. please, try the veal."

Thursday, July 05, 2007

simile time.

do you remember that video game pitfall? the one where you had to navigate your way through the jungle, swinging on vines and avoiding quicksand and such?

sometimes, i feel like getting through a day in this city is like a game of pitfall.

today's adventure included:

- uncomfortable shoes

- oppressive humidity

- lugging five books to work in my bag

- lugging five books from work to the library, and coming out an hour later with seven

- not having a bag that fits seven books and all my other crap, which results in beng weighed down with a huge bag on one arm and three books in the other

- running the gauntlet (twice! once coming, and once going) of homeless or otherwise indigent men*, who gather in groups and staaaaaaaaare at you for the length of the block

- running for a blue line train carrying what begins to feel like a few slabs of concrete

- sitting down next to a middle-aged white guy on the train who shows you his copy of the onion and says, in all seriousness, "did you know that this is a fake newspaper??"

- walking up the hill to your apartment, sweaty, blistered, weighed down like a pack mule, exasperated with humanity and exhausted with yourself, and having to pass all the happy people drinking margaritas at the mexican place on the corner.

why i am not drinking a margarita right now is beyond me, actually. (oh right - we don't have an ice maker, or any disposable income this week!) the funny thing is, none of this is out of the ordinary. there are just some days where it all conspires to make you feel like a guy in a safari hat, sweeping precariously through the urban jungle.

*in general, i appreciate the unfortunate situation most of these men are in. i don't begrudge them a place to go and not get harassed by business owners and/or cops. but regardless, a dozen or more pairs of eyes on you - especially when they belong to scruffy, potentially mentally ill people, is not an enjoyable experience.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

your wednesday one-liner.

courtesy of overheard in new york, we learn that "plastics!" are no longer the materially-minded's lecture subject of choice (and that the lectures start earlier and earlier these days):

Dad to baby in stroller: Did you know that the price of copper is becoming irrelevant?!

--31st & Ditmars, Astoria

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


it was half-dark when i woke, and as i swam up out of sleep, i couldn't quite tell from where, exactly, the light was coming. i had been there less than 24 hours - the house was still largely a stranger to me.

i lay still, and through one slightly open eye i took stock. the bathroom? no. the hallway around the corner? no. i swiveled my heavy head, hair twisted in the remnant's of the previous day's ponytail, to my right, towards the windows. there. that was it.

it was the sun.

the clock on the nightstand read 5:14 am. i swung my feet out from under the blanket, slid off the edge of the mattress as quietly as i could. i watched the gauzy green curtains billow lightly towards me, propelled by a breeze through the screen. how long had it been since i'd slept in a room with open windows? i did not know. the city, though melodious in its own way, is usually not conducive to such things.

here, now, there was quiet. a bird somewhere chirped rhythmically, but other than that, nothing moved, nothing sounded out. i spread the curtains with my hands.

over the bay's inlet, behind a grove of trees, the sun was rising. itself a dark, burnt orange, its light was red, diffuse and spreading, over the water and across the lawn. though it had not graduated to brightness, i still squinted in the face of it - i saw the latent heat in its density, in its reach. but still, nothing moved.

i crawled back into bed, trying not to disturb him. the back of his legs, the small tower of his shoulders were warm, and i moved towards them to counter the cool remnants of night air. then i slept - soundly, effortlessly.

Monday, July 02, 2007

because if i really think about the scooter libby thing, my head might explode.

instead of banging on this keyboard until my fingernails bleed about the sickening corruption and audacious abuse of power that is the libby commutation, i will post about fashion. trends, in particular. you fellow children of the 80s, you know the ones:

the leggings

the big belts over the shirts

the off the shoulder shirts

and, god help us all, the jelly shoes

now, i can honestly say i've never been tempted to cycle back around to any of these blasts from the past. none. zero. and frankly, i'm kinda horrified by those who do. i'm horrified by the kids who do it, because holy crap, they didn't live through this! and i'm horrified by the young women who do it, because holy crap, they did live through this!!

this is all to say that i found some succinct and sage advice on the matter over at lemon gloria's that bears reiteration. please, if you ever find yourself thinking, "well, maybe i do need some more neon in my life," repeat this mantra to yourself until the feeling subsides:

I learned a long time ago that if you were there for the trend the first time, you should never, ever repeat it. No matter how cute you think it is.
in five years, you'll thank me.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

in my mind, i'm gone.

ok, it wasn't technically carolina, but it was certainly the stuff of which escapist song lyrics are made.

our house

our pool

our dock

the view from our dock

the town marina

the perfect way to end a day

this place was incredible. truly. as the end of the week approached, we all considered buying some shotguns and telling the next week's vacationers, when they pulled up the driveway, that there'd been a change of plans. unfortunately, we are all pacifists. damn.

more from me later, after i've done a better job readjusting to a life not filled with poolside drinks and waterfront sunsets.