Monday, December 18, 2006
And the biggest surprise, she actually said "I'm going to sexually molest your dog."
Is it possible to be classier and more charming than Britney Spears' faux non-chalant (if it's faux-non, does that mean it's chalant?) beave-sposure? I think so. Natasha just proved it.
Mel Gibson and Mark Foley ought to take a lesson from Ms. Lyonne. This is the kind of thing that you say when you have an alcohol or drug problem. Not something about the jews. Not asking a 16 year old boy about a potential semi, but "I'm going to sexually molest your dog."
In other, more serious news, a Houston-area serial rapist and mugger has been targetting men. Five rapes have been reported; policed are concerned that there be many more men who are too ashamed to come forward.
Years ago, women were often reluctant to come forward after a rape, because rape was a failure of their virtue. Obviously, if they'd been chaste enough, careful enough, modest enough; it wouldn't have happened. Decades of counseling and public relations and feminism have finally allowed many more women to come forward; the culture has changed.
But these men have not benefited. When a man is raped, it is a failure of his manhood. If he had been stronger, more masculine, better at defending himself; it wouldn't have happened. We're in need of a cultural change that allows men who have been sexually victimized to report it.
Part of me wonders if this mugger is just completely taking advantage of the fact that men will not report rape, and is just hoping that his young (most in their late teens) victims will be too ashamed of the rape to report the robbery.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
The New York Times must be owned and directed by some extraordinarily saavy conservative think tank, with the express goal of making coastal progressive types hateable. Because some of their articles serve no purpose but to make wealthy urbanites seem like effete, clueless assholes (shitbird one-upsmanship, etc, tm Paul V.)
This article in the Sunday Times could not possibly have been written as a genuine piece of journalism. It's about wealthy New Yorkers, who feel terribly oppressed by having to make conversation with baristas, doormen, masseuses, and others. Apparently, instead of developing adult strategies to extract themselves from conversation, or just learning to enjoy human interaction, these poor, set-upon people have had to endure banter from service professionals, for years now.
"THERE are days when Shannon Lanier, a producer at CBS Television, is too tired to have conversations with his doormen, all of whom are brimming with stories, none of which are brief. Sometimes, on his way up to his Bronx apartment, he dashes by them, pretending to be in a hurry. Occasionally he acts as if he’s on his cellphone.
“You don’t want to blow them off, because they’re nice and helpful, but the last thing you want to do is stand there and have a conversation when you’re so close to being home,” he said. It’s especially bad during this time of year. “They’re definitely extra chatty because they’re trying to get that holiday tip,” Mr. Lanier said."
"many people find it annoying to be cornered by a loquacious stranger, especially one whom they’re paying.
Lauren Booth, a legal recruiter in Manhattan, said that the barista at her Starbucks loves to yak away while whipping up peppermint mocha lattes and Guatemalan-blend coffees for his customers. He once told Ms. Booth a lengthy tale about his son finding his hidden Christmas presents early; he regularly gives her unsolicited advice about rearing her infant daughter; and he recently brought in pictures from his vacation and made her flip through the stack as he reminisced.
Though she had to get to work, Ms. Booth felt compelled to listen. “You can’t be rude to him,” she said. “I drink only decaf and if I make him mad, he might give me caffeine and I’ll be shaking all day.”
Oh, Ms. Booth. It's tragic. Have you considered, perhaps, not going to Starbucks? Because, I'm sure, as a "legal recruiter" you have enough money to buy an espresso machine and make your own goddamned decaf drinks. In silence.
As a former Barista, this is what I know about Ms. Booth from that paragraph:
- 1. She sucks so bad.
- 2. Since she is "held captive" by that savage barista, I know that she's not getting a plain decaf coffee or tea. She must be getting a drink from the bar. Something that takes a while, and makes her wait anyway. Possibly a decaf latte. Almost definitely nonfat. I bet no foam, too. (No foam people mostly suck, with very few exceptions. They think that the addition of foam just takes up space in the cup, and "that's how they screw ya")
- 3. She feels victimized easily. This is the kind of woman who, if the waitress forgets that she wanted her spinach steamed and no skin on her chicken breast, slumps in her chair and pouts, tips ten percent, and then, three days later, calls the manager.
Ms. Booth, make your own beverage if you don't want the human interaction that comes with it. If you'd feel too put-upon, making your own coffee in the morning, then perhaps order something that gets you back on your way sooner. If neither of these solutions appeal to you, maybe try acting like an adult and say "You know, I appreciate the conversation, but ..."
"Melissa Hobley, a publicist at Coburn Communication in Manhattan, said she has a high tolerance for talkative people, given that she is one herself. But she recently met her match in her new housekeeper, who likes to talk incessantly about everything from her own life to where Ms. Hobley shops. Even her housekeeper’s notes are lengthy.
“She’s sweet, so it wasn’t offensive,” Ms. Hobley said, “but it felt like a tornado had just come in the room.”"Poor Ms. Hobley. She has to make time to talk to a servant. Nothing makes it more clear than Ms. Hobley's tragic situation, that this isn't about being pressed for time. This isn't about being tired on the way into the building. This isn't about being scared to piss off the all-powerful barista who might give you caffeine (watch out, maybe he'll slip some trans-fats in there, too, and you'll die.) this is about not wanting to be bothered to be pleasant or human to people who are below you.
Poor Ms. Hobley. Poor Ms. Booth. Poor Mr. Lanier. They have to interact with people who make less money than they do. They may have to listen to stories that aren't immediately interesting to them. They may have to endure some momentary disruption of their schedule on a regular basis.
If you don't want to interact with human beings, then don't contract for their services. Period. The end. Make your own coffee, open your own door, wax your own vulva, cut your own hair.
Or, if you really, really need that coffee, that spanking-clean mons, that whatever-the-hell doormen do, then campaign for a universal living wage, like poor, crazy Grace Ross. If nobody needs tips to survive, then maybe baristas won't have to guess how to ingratiate themselves, and will focus instead on delivering quality beverages instead of social stroking.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
You couldn't really ever write a movie about being a 1L that accurately conveys the experience. But it would make a bitchin' montage.
Monday, December 11, 2006
Rumors abound that Al Jefferson, Delonte West, Theo Ratliff, and Sebastian Telfair are about to be traded to Philadelphia.
Tonight, I've gone through the five stages of mourning.
- Denial: Won't happen. Danny Ainge isn't going to trade his only big man for rapidly aging (though prolifically scoring) ego.
- Anger: Wait, Danny Ainge would trade his only big man for four girl scouts and a quantity of smoked meat to be named later, if he thought it would also include a draft pick in 2011. Must burn things. Must break things. Must bite things.
- Bargaining: If Al Jefferson stays a Celtic, I'll dedicate my life to the public interest. I'll teach children to read. I'll stop trying to teach my boyfriend's parrot Maoist slogans. I'll go out of my way to wave at the homeless guy; anything, if Al gets to stay.
- Depression: This is it. This is the end. Life is not worth living. These last two wins were just a taste of joy that I will never again experience. This is the end of watching basketball, and thus the end of my relationship. And, without a supportive boyfriend AND without the spiritual guidance of my soul mate, Al Jefferson- what's the point in continuing this law thing.
- Acceptance: Not fucking there yet, buddy.
Al Jefferson doesn't want to leave Boston. He told Mike Gorman that he didn't want to leave; he told him that he thought it was important that the team stay together. Al Jefferson said that the Celtics don't need Allen Iverson, and they don't. Al Jefferson is maturing, and learning to temper his talent with good judgment. He's rebounding, blocking, and scoring like a future all-star. So of course Danny Ainge is going to trade him.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
As I really don't believe in continued trolling of those I don't agree with (ahem, guy.) I'll post my responses to the responses that my letter generated:
"Chas", wrote "Actually, trans-fats are poison, before you take hobolawstudent too seriously, check out the book (written by this shady looking character who, if he's done any research or holds any credentials other than a snazzy website, doesn't see fit to list them, oh, and he was apparently sued for fraud in the mid-90s) Trans fats never existed in nature, for good reason: human metabolism turns them into toxins. "
Chas makes three errors here:
One, he cites a pop-nutrition book by someone who stands to profit greatly (by selling you his special
The second and the third are neatly contained within this sentence: "Trans Fats never existed in nature, for good reason: human metabolism turns them into toxins"
Things that exist in nature that will kill you:
-Rocks (when falling)
-Brightly Colored Frogs
Natural does not equal good. Artificial does not equal bad. I'll admit, trans fats aren't healthy. But neither are water, if it's over your head, or air, if it's in your veins.
Also it displays a shocking ignorance of evolution, biology, botany, and and several other -ologies that "Chas" believes that things that are bad for humans will not be found in nature. I would not like to go hiking with Chas.
"Chas...don't lick that. You don't know where it's been."
"But things that harm me won't be found in nature! A man named Udo said so!"
I don't want to degenerate into a personal attack on Chas.
So here are a sampling of other statements about trans fats that, I think, aren't scientifically backed by any, well, science.
Trans fats, apparently "aren't broken down in the body"; but if they aren't, then how does the "human metabolism turns them into toxins"?
And what are Trans Fats? And how do they hurt you? "Trans fat is dangerous for human beings. It shouldn't be injested, just like tar and bleach and paint shouldn't be injested", (tar and bleach and paint make terrible donuts), and it's "slow-acting poison. (like) cyanide or arsenic in the food supply."
So, apparently, trans fats are poisons, that act slowly in the body, and should never be injested, because they are dangerous, but are never broken down in the body, except when they're turned into toxins. I see.
I don't just want to make fun of these people. (Well, a little.) See, it's not that I love trans fats. It's that I'm deeply disturbed when people don't criticize the information they're given. None of these people listed their sources, or explained a mechanism of action. I bet, if you asked them, they couldn't list (except for our friend chas, who has a problem differentiating between objective and subjective sources) where they got the ideas they have about trans fats, and exactly how trans fats do these things that they think they do.
Just as not to be a hypocrite; I just took a minute and did a search for scholarly articles on trans fats, to see if I could find out what they do, exactly, and what the mechanism of action is.
- Because trans fats become saturated fats, they raise the risk of insulin resistance and type two diabetes in the same way that saturated fats do. (Odegaard, Et al "Trans Fatty Acids, Insulin Resistance, and Type II Diabetes"
- Trans fats raise "bad cholesterol" and lower "good cholesterol", and thus, raise the risk of heart disease. Good review article. Canadian. Citation later.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Please, Boston- you decided to follow New York's lead on banning smoking, getting rid of convenient, reasonably priced tokens in favor of overpriced easily lost plastic cards- we forgive you. Just don't follow New York's lead on this.
Most people who are for banning trans fats don't even know what trans fats are. I'll explain them, so you all (you all being the four people who read this blog) feel cool. "Fats" are long strings of fatty acids, which are connected to each other with two bondy guys, or with one bondy guy. If all the bonds on the long string of fatty acids are made with two bondy guys, it's a saturated fat. If some of the bonds on the long string of fatty acids have only one bondy guy, its a poly-unsaturated fat. If only one of the bonds on the long string of fatty acids have one bondy guy, it's a mono-unsaturated fat. If the first single bondy guy is on the third link in the chain, it's Omega 3. If the first single bondy guy is on the sixth link in the chain, it's Omega 6.
Either kind of unsaturated fat makes health nuts orgasm uncontrollably all over themselves, currently.
A trans fat starts out as an unsaturated fat, but then some sciency guy or process makes one single bondy guy into a double bondy guy. This turns a fat which was "cis", or all straight looking, into one that's "trans", or all bendy looking.
It doesn't take vegetable oil and turn it into pure evil that waits in your cells to kill you later. It takes a cheap, liquid fat and makes it behave like an expensive, solid fat. Also, it may raise your bad cholesterol. But you could always eat less damned fat anyway.
It used to be that New Yorkers had a reputation for being thick skinned, jaded, cynical people who ate pizza and hot dogs and pretzels while chain-smoking and watching people get mugged. And now New Yorkers are worse than Californians. A city that once did nothing while Kitty Genovese was stabbed thirty times is now paralysed with fright over of one single extra hydrogen in the oil that fried their authentic Belgian-Style Frites served with an insoucient roasted red pepper aoli.
All coffee, all peanut butter. And if I didn't drink so much coffee, I might be able to afford something other than peanut butter to eat.
However, I make bad decisions in life.
Here's another one!
I hereby swear that if I do well on my finals, I will eat, in recognition of its sustaining powers over this term, only peanut butter sandwiches, and drink nothing but coffee (and water) for one week (seven days) after evaluations come out in February.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Yeah, it's in the headline.
Anyway. I'm reading this jackass article in the New York Times. "Lure of Great Wealth Affects Career Choices". The jist of it is that people are leaving law and medecine for careers in investiment banking and consulting, and becoming bajillionaires instead of millionaires. That doesn't bother me. Because I, myself, am an aspiring sell-out. What got me thining, though, is this passage:
Three decades ago, compensation among occupations differed far less than it does today. That growing difference is diverting people from some critical fields, experts say. The American Bar Foundation, a research group, has found in its surveys, for instance, that fewer law school graduates are going into public-interest law or government jobs and filling all the openings is becoming harder.
and this one
What Dr. Glassman represents, along with other very rich people interviewed for this article, is the growing number of Americans who acknowledge that they have accumulated, or soon will, more than enough money to live comfortably, even luxuriously, and also enough so that their children, as adults, will then be free to pursue careers “they have a hunger for,” as Dr. Glassman put it, “and not feel a need to do something just to pay the bills.”
So law school graduates are choosing money over public service. Is this at all surprising? I'll graduate with 200,000 dollars in student loans. Unless the Go-Gettum Abortion Rights Legal Brigade pays 100,000 a year in 2009, I bet I won't end up in public service.
Maybe, someday, I'll become a millionaire legal consultant so some chinese baby I buy in my post-menopausal years to amuse me in the face of encroaching boredom and senility will be able to become a public interest lawyer, or film-maker, or ethnic muralist. Because I certainly won't be able to be any of those things.
Because, essentially, I've sold myself into servitude. Like a drunk English bastard on his way to the new world in 1670, I've signed away my occupational freedom for a period of years, in order to get a chance at a better life. Once I signed for that first loan, I made a commitment to the law. Because there's no other way I'll ever pay it back.
Monday, November 20, 2006
- There have been no exams yet.
- My law school does not have grades.
My boyfriend does not own an x-box 360, and the video game Dead Rising, and was not irresponsible enough to give me a key to his apartment, knowing that I have a car, he works nights, and I make bad decisions.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
"I wish that there were some advisory committe notes to the rules in basketball, like there were to the federal rules of civil procedure, so that I could see what the intent of the drafter of that rule was...It couldn't possibly be meant to apply to this situation, surely"
Which is not actually the proper reaction to a bitchy little ticky-tack foul being called on such a soulful, attractive, well-meaning, skillfull player as Kendrick Perkins.
In 1989, in Tienamen Square, a lone protester allowed himself to be mowed down by tanks in protest of the political repression that characterized the regime in the People's Republic of China.
Didn't he know that freedom from totalitarianism is much more easily arrived at by achieving a sassy hairstyle?
This commercial is so fucked up that people didn't believe me when I described it to them. It's people...escaping...communist indoctrination...through....hair gel.
Sure, the young people wear no communist logo as such, but the implication is clear. Asian teenagers wearing tan shirts and red bandannas = red guard as surely as universally blonde blue-eyed children burning books = hitler youth. No one is going to use escaping from Nazi indoctrination as a metaphor for the freedom from unwanted vaginal odor that comes from using new lightdays scented pantiliners.
Monday, November 13, 2006
"Susan Drews, 49, who lives in Yorktown Heights, in Westchester, said that art in the first grade at her son’s public school, for instance, involved “half-baked projects” like gold-sprayed macaroni glued to paper plates. “People went through the motions, they could claim there was an art program, but I didn’t feel it was very rich,” she said."
Macaroni Pictures? In first grade? Criminal! He should be learning to mix his own egg tempera for frescoes, preferably with historically appropriate yet completely secular contextual references to the cloistered Italian monks who developed the technique. He's six years old, after all.
"Diane Morash, 42, said she switched her three teenage daughters to the Pingry School, in northern New Jersey, after the oldest, Katie, a straight-A student who was not into clothes or makeup, became excluded from social cliques at her public school. Mrs. Morash said that complaining to officials there did not help."
So she complained to the administration because her daughter didn't have any friends (or enough friends, or the right friends...) and they didn't do anything about it. Tragic. I wonder what her reaction would be if her daughter were confronted by an authority figure over her choice of friends.
This quote seems to be a more rational complaint:
'“He didn’t learn anything — I was a neurotic mess,” she said. “He was developing all sorts of bad habits. He thought school was playtime. He didn’t want to apply himself.”'
Until you realize that the student in question is a kindergartener. For a five year old, the best possible result is to think that school is playtime. I'd be terrified if he did want to apply himself. I wonder how this mother came to realize that her son was failing to work hard and press his little nose to the grindstone; did she interrogate him when he got home? Parse crayon drawings for meaning and progress?
Parents "complained about what they considered rigid curriculums, excessive standardized testing", which ought to be no surprise when they chose the school systems they did because it was a "relatively well-off district whose students consistently outscore their peers on state tests."
Sunday, November 12, 2006
It may be your only chance to see an Italian/French zombie movie, dubbed into english, with an english actor in the lead role, produced in part by both the BBC and the prime minister of Italy.
Who am I kidding. No, it isn't. But it's a fantastic picture anyway. Rupert Everett. Necrophilia. Terrible special effects. Terrible. Visible wires on flies, and lumps of glue holding on parts of zombies. Bad continuity. Here, the device of putting all exposition into voice-over narration that nearly drove me to violence while watching "New World" (fuck you, Terry Malick. Fuck you with a rotten imperialist cock. With syphilis.) is actually done deftly and appeallingly.
Even though the tone, dialogue, and cinematography mirror the style of late sixties and early seventies italian film, and the film does seem to be set at sometime in the sixties, the extras seem to wear whatever they happened to show up in. There is no real consistency to the time period, or to geography. This film is many things- well thought out, well written, well acted- but not expensive. And that's ok. That's great, actually.
This movie is the Target of zombie movies. Target makes all their money from the realization that compared to all other components of a product, design is cheap. And design can be enough. A cute red plastic breadbox brings them into the stores; a cheap t-shirt with some jackass design on it works as well. Cemetary Man is all thought and no wallet. Because if there's anything cheaper than design, it's good writing.
Watch this movie. Even if you don't like zombie movies. It may be better if you don't. These zombies may be slow, but they sometimes...well, they talk.
Fat guy vomiting.
Nicest tits I've ever seen on a zombie.
Things on strings as special effects.
Sexual use of the word "ossuary".
A zombie on a motorcycle.
Bus accident (with decapitation)
I'll tell you a secret, though...it's not really a zombie movie. See it.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
A man allegedly cut his daughter's clitoris off when she was two years old. His wife, the girl's mother, testified that she didn't notice the injury until a year later. His defense claimed that the circumcision was actually done by the girl's mother's family.
I find it very unlikely that a mother wouldn't notice that her daughter had been (circumcised/mutilated) until a year later. I don't know anything about babies and diapers and all that, but I would assume that if a two year old is toilet trained (are they? I don't know), she still needs help in the toileting process (buttons and zippers and doors and handwashing). I also doubt two year olds bathe alone. Further, if the father is enough of a staunch traditionalist to actually circumcise his daughter, I doubt that he was the primary caregiver during that post-circumcision year. I'm not sure of the laws in Georgia, but that claim of delayed discovery may have been introduced to push back the statute of limitations.
I also don't buy that the mother was completely ignorant of any intent or plans on her husbands (or anyone else's) part to circumcise her daughter. I would buy that the mother, during her marriage (The parents have since divorced) could have been scared or intimidated into allowing a circumcision, and not reporting it. I don't buy; because it's just not likely, and just not the way that it's done- that the father could have circumcised the girl without the mother's knowledge or assistance. And I also think that it's far more likely that a mother would circumcise than a father.
Why do I think that?
Because, actually, female circumcision is by and large a woman-on-woman (practice, crime, operation, abuse). In areas that have been successful at eradicating F.G.M- they've been successful only when education and incentives were offered to women not to cut/ have their daughters cut. It's hard to reconcile the impression of F.G.M. as a mechanism of controlling women, protecting their chastity, enforcing the values of the (oh-so-rhetorically popular) patriarchy, with the well-meaning grandmothers and aunts and midwives who actually perform and arrange these operations.
All that said. I wasn't there. I don't know what this father did, or what that mother knew, or what that mother's family knew; which is a very important thing to keep in mind when reading news stories of this nature.
Monday, October 30, 2006
I'm used to the working full time/ school full time method of time management: Everything had to be done at the exact moment I had the first opportunity to do it- because otherwise, it wouldn't get done. This applied to all activities, from writing papers to bowel movements.
I've been meaning to write a lot of entries lately.
-An open letter to Charles Barkley
-A Review of "The Last King of Scotland"
-Something vaguely coherent.
Remember when I was coherent?
Remember this? and this one ? and how about this?
Scratch that. I was never coherent.
Sunday, October 29, 2006
I love zombies more.
My friend, N, loves vampires more.
N says they're sexy.
Are they? Certainly, the vampire is a metaphor for sex. There is an element of desire, of carnality, to the vampire archetype. The vampire is a penetrator; and with his penetration and consumption of the 'innocent' infects them with the same carnality, and need to consume. The victims of the vampire are preserved in the moment of their victimhood.
Dracula is Prince Charming, with sex and death all mixed up. Instead of living happily ever after, pumping out heirs to the fairy tale kingdom, Cinderella finds herself infected by desire, trapped in some elegant night-time demi-monde. She never really dies; she never really gets old. Thus, there is also an element of escape;. The vampires victim, though she loses her soul (the catholic in me would relate the loss of soul to the mortal sin of premarital sex), is also disconnected from the mundane world of work and family.
Vampires work as a romantic metaphor for the loss of virginity. Except, instead of the dull, dissapointed, sticky feelings that often follow deflowering in real life, things actually change after you've been with the vampire.
So why zombies?
No one says that zombies are sexy. Even though some of the same elements are common to the zombie and the vampire. The vampire bites, the zombie bites, they both transform their victims. The zombie, however, is indiscriminate. They don't choose a single victim, so the element of seduction isn't there. In fact, there are very few zombie movies that feature any zombies identifiable as characters. There is no anticipation. A zombie doesn't care if he bites you or your friend. And you're not you, once you're a zombie. You rot. You're gross. If zombie movies are at all about sex, they're a very clumsy metaphor for promiscuity and fear of venereal disease. But I don't buy that they're about sex.
Zombies are not about sex. And zombie movies are not about zombies, per se. They're about survivors. They're about making do. They're about being prepared, being creative. It's another kind of escapism; suddenly, the world is very small, and traditional social constraints are gone. Nearly all zombie movies contain looting. Dawn of the Dead (original and remake) is about almost nothing but looting.
It's also about unemployment. People, the survivors, have jobs. Then the zombies come, and there are no jobs. There are no careers. Skills matter a lot. Ingenuity matters a lot. People who love zombie movies nearly always think they'd be survivors. And that they'd be valuable. Being a zombie survior is almost like being a pilgrim, or a pioneer. It's a whole new world, full of dangers, but at the same time with more potential than the old world. Sure, you'll probably die. There are no new worlds left. There are no indian lands to steal. But, if everybody becomes a zombie, all their stuff is up for grabs. And, the old social order doesn't matter.
Who is always sure to die in zombie movies? The social climber. The person who wants to rely on their status in the pre-zombie world for power in the post-zombie world. They never survive. Think of the douchebag with the boat keys in Dawn of the Dead. The Colonel in 28 Days Later.
The fundamental escapist fantasy underlying the zombie movie is that the zombies will come, and transform the world into a brutal meritocracy.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
This show could be cringing, embarassing, blushing in the old sitcom "Boy, is she going to look like an ass"...but the actress who plays Betty doesn't cringe. I need to be more Betty in my life.
Friday, October 20, 2006
Recall that I am a resentful, jealous person, and read on.
She makes movies about the problem of being beautiful and static. Movies that are in general assumed to be artful, distorted memoirs of her life as daughter of the glamourous rich and wife of the jet-setting creative. I loved Lost in Translation. The film has the charm of being taken as temporary confidante by the charming high school queen bee, too guileless to be a mean girl.
But I want her to stop making movies. I want to beg her to sit down and resolve her life, with her friends and family, talk endlessly about the terrible burden of never being challenged enough in life and in marriage, being valued shallowly.
I will see Marie Antoinette. I will, likely, enjoy it. And I will leave the theater angry. I loathe that there are some types of work, always the most fulfilling, reserved for the children of the rich and connected. Sofia Coppola, born Sophie Smith, would not be a filmmaker.
It doesn't matter that she is a good filmmaker, and that some would argue they are valid and interesting contributions to the marketplace; it would matter if, say, she were an excellent accountant whose daddy happens to be the inventor accounting. Then, one might say, what does it matter if she does as good a job as the next person who would have been hired?
The difference is that if you are qualified to be an accountant, and you are talented, and hardworking, and skillful- you have a very good chance of becoming an accountant. A talented, hardworking, skillful, qualified filmmaker (or writer, or artist, or actor, or actress, or designer) has almost no ability to compete with Sofia Coppola and her ilk. The nepotism inherent in creative fields, the fields that would benefit most from the elevation of the talented over the connected is vulgar, disgusting, and nauseating to any person who consumes or creates entertainment, art, or media.
Nepotism destroys the impression of meritocracy on which American dreams are built. We should legislate against it, as we do discrimination. Perhaps we should allow some nepotism, in small, private businesses, or home businesses- but in any business over 50 employees, or publicly traded stock, we should recognize that there is a vital public policy interest in forcing qualifications and talent to dictate opportunity.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Monday, October 16, 2006
In the past fifteen years, there has been significant Asian immigration to Quincy. These immigrants have had a fundamental impact on the city; an impact that has in part contributed to a revitalization of the city. Vacant commercial real estate, once a visual and economic blight on the city, becomes filled with new businesses: Bakeries, laundries, bridal shops, hair salons. In the cavernous empty space left by Bradlees came a sparkling new grocery store, department store, bank, and retail space.
But there was significant push-back against the immigrants. The standard complaints were heard: The immigrants 'take up' too much space in the classrooms. They receive too many services. They don't maintain their houses and yards to neighborhood standards. They don't want to integrate. Their cooking smells different. These allegations were no more or less true than they were when made against Irish immigrants, or Italian, or Hispanic.
For a while, the ethnic tensions seemed to quiet down.
Until the flag. The Quincy Chinese Business Association purchased a new sign for their building. And they put up, along with other banners and flags, the flag of the People's republic of China. Letters were written to local Quincy papers about the "commie" flag. The business association did not remove it; it is, after all, the flag of China. The protests started on Saturday. At the main intersection in the Wollaston Section of Quincy, one of the more heavily Asian neighborhoods (and the one I grew up in), a protest sponsored by a Vietnam Veteran's group, clogged traffic and drew a significant police presence. The signs carried were inflammatory: We don't negotiate with terrorists. No Commie Flags in Quincy.
I can't really convey the dangerous feeling in that neighborhood, MY neighborhood. I wish I had photographs of the protest, and the signs. The feeling of anger in those men; the feeling of intimidation experienced walking by them, to get to the bank. I have watched my hometown change. I have watched the people change; I've watched people who were once tolerant, reasonable, begin spewing irrational, paranoid hate when discussing their new neighbors. It's sickening. And it makes me nervous.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
I can't do it.
I expected to feel a slight twinge tonight, at my friend's wedding rehearsal.
Actually, that's not accurate. I expected to be infected, tonight, at my friend's wedding rehearsal. I expected, that somehow, by watching my friend be treated as 'the bride', I would feel jealousy, and be filled with the desire to have "my day", as my friend will have "her day" on Saturday. I am, by nature, a jealous person. If someone is treated specially for any reason, I can be relied upon to feel jealous. I've been jealous of a tonsilectomy.
I wasn't jealous tonight. I wasn't anything. All I knew, being taught how to process, being slapped on the back of the head by an old woman, watching my friend be taught how to light candles and not trip over her husband's feet at the kneeler, was that I didn't want to do this again.
I'm just not interested. I can't imagine dressing my closest friends up in little formal uniforms and marching them down an aisle, to watch me perform religious rituals that approach personal meaninglessness. I can't imagine paying and paying and paying and paying and paying, just to throw one party that makes almost no one happy.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Let me do the second one first and the first one second.
I'm for shocking the mentally handicapped. Let me tell you a story. My mother teaches autistic children, in the public school system of the town I grew up in. She had a student several years ago who was autistic, had downs syndrome, and was born with both fetal alcohol syndrome and a serious, rare neurological defect that vastly diminished the size of the pre-frontal cortex. The pre-frontal cortex is beginning to be thought of as the moral center of the brain. It's involved in weighing rewards and consequences. This student did not have one. She could not 'learn', as we know it. She had preferences. She had behaviors. She could not plan, or delay gratification.
She learned exactly one thing in my mother's classroom: Not to touch the radiator. Because the radiator hurt. Operant conditioning, and classical conditioning don't (as far as we're able to tell right now) use the same pathways as other forms of learning. It's hard to think about hurting children; it's hard to think of a child in pain and not think of abuse; but when a child may not be able to learn to stop harming themselves, or to stay out of danger, or to develop skills that may allow them to walk down the street, or visit their parents, or sit on a bus, without that- I'm not going to deprive them of it. We know how it works. We know that it works.
Ok. Done shocking kids like that.
How about nudity?
This I actually need explained to me. By what mechanism is seeing nudity harmful to children? In what way is Janet Jackson's tit, or marble David's teensy dick, at all dangerous or innappropriate for children? I would understand, perhaps, if we all had a cloaca until age 18, when genitals appear in our pants like fungus after rain...but not when all children have a set of goods of their own.
I understand, completely, the rationale for shielding as much as possible, children from depictions of sexuality and sexual behavior in adults. It's confusing for them, and too much information, and very graphic or lurid depictions may actually be traumatic. But nudity is not sex. (Which is not to say that children don't have any sexual-like behaviors. Fetuses masturbate in the womb. But a fetus doesn't fantasize about putting its penis stub in an unseen unimagined vagina)
How will children be harmed by seeing non-sexual nudity in a completely non-sexual environment? I saw nude statues and nude art often as a child. I'll admit, later (age 12-17) I did spend a good amount of time researching in various books of nordic, south american, greek and roman art for what this thing called an "erection" looked like. I couldn't quite get whether it came up or went out or what, and I certainly didn't know it got any BIGGER. What can I say. I was a late bloomer.
That's off-topic, though. What I really want, and what I'd love someone to tell me, is the PROCESS by which children are harmed by nudity. How was a ten year old boy or girl, verging on puberty themselves, possibly put in danger in any way, by seeing a depiction of some long-dead nipple? I can imagine how their parents were harmed. Perhaps, if you've got a ten year old child who does not yet know that the opposite sex has a different set of equipment, that may be embarassing for you as a parent.
No, not him.
Because not only does it feature my writing,(here and here) it also features my (lack of) improv talent, and some (geniunely) talented individuals, exploring such topical humor as "What if thirty koalas attacked a leprechaun?" (warning, link contains sound)
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Finally, something to explain that when I almost never drank, it was so hard to get drunk; and now, when I drink more often, I get goofy fairly swiftly.
It's because I don't want to get fat(ter). As a woman, I have three constant, insane, shameful, horrid goals, which I was indoctrinated with in childhood, possibly by ghosts or the patriarchy. 1)Make people like me. 2)Don't get too fat. 3) Never be not-so-fresh.
Don't worry, I haven't fallen for these. And I won't. Because they terrify me. I, as an adult, am able to live a life while my vagina smells like vagina, and not fruit or flowers. I am sure that anyone would find it discomfiting to find a box that smells like products from Yankee Candle.
But I have fallen for splenda. I love diet soft drinks. I love them so. I love anything fizzy with no calories, because I hate drinking water. I don't have the attention span. Without diet soft drinks, I would probably dry up and blow away.
When I drank very little, I would drink things like Grape Crushes, Midori Sours (I know, gross-I can't believe it myself), Cosmopolitans, Lemon Drops, etc. I'd drink the kind of sugary-sweet drinks that would be very useful, were one trying to get a middle-schooler absolutely toasted. If it was the color of gatorade, and served chilled or over ice, I'd drink the hell out of it.
But when I began to drink a little more often, I switched to rum and diet coke. And suddenly, I was getting rowdy from amounts of alcohol that would ordinarily leave me dull-faced and inhibited. I didn't know what to blame. I wondered if I'd offended my liver or other organ. I breifly had a theory that related to my shoes. I wondered if I'd ever NOT been such a cheap date.
But now I know. It was my beloved artificial sweetener, my bitch juice. My bitch juice was turning me into a two-beer queer. But knowing is half the battle. And now that I am poor, and plan to never, ever drive again (more on that later- suffice it to say, I hate the motherfucking ghetto) I know how to get drunk more cheaply without resorting to beer. Which is awesome. Diet Coke and me: Drunkening since 2003.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Do you know what CIANA is? It was legislation that republicans and sundry other conservatives wanted to pass, criminalizing the act of bringing a minor across state lines to secure an abortion, by anyone but her parents. It also criminalizes any doctor, even in states without parental consent laws, who does not obtain sufficient proof that a minor obtaining abortion is from the state she is having the abortion in, and that anyone accompanying her has the legal right to.
A lot of people seem to think there's nothing wrong with this act. They think that an abortion is a medical procedure, and as such, it's reasonable to need parental presence or consent. Of course, there are tons of cases where we allow people to act in loco parentis. For example, on a field trip to New York fifteen hundred years ago, when I was young, a girl traveling with our group had abdominal pains in the middle of the night. She was rushed to the hospital, where it was discovered that she had mono and her spleen had burst. She had emergency surgery. The chaperone was not prosecuted for having secured medical care for a minor without parental consent, because that's not a crime.
There's also the impression that the ONLY reason that a person, not a parent, to take a minor across state lines for an abortion is to circumvent parental consent laws. Not true. There are many states with few abortion providers- it's likely someone in that state may be closer to an out-of state abortion provider than an in-state one.
Another joy to this act not passing is that if it did pass, it would set a dangerous precedent for when Roe is overturned (if it ever is, which I do not think is out of the question), allowing states where abortion is illegal to prosecute residents who have had abortions in other states. Imagine, someone living in South Dakota, traveling to Minnesota for an abortion, and being tried for murder upon return home; or, alternately, never being able to return home. Imagine female refugees, millions, unable to ever return to anti-abortion states for fear of prosecution.
I love my torts class. I love my civil procedure class, and I love taking 30% of things.
I don't care what the common perception is of personal injury law. I don't care. People get hurt by other people. Then, they get to have some of the money of the person who hurt them. Also, their lawyer gets some money. I will be a lawyer, and I would like to have some money.
This is simplistic. Far too simplistic. But it's no more simplistic than the argument against tort lawyers. When an injury happens, either the person to whom the injury happens ends up bearing the burden, or someone else does. It would be equally unfair for the injured person to always bear the burden, or for someone else to always bear the burden.
So we have a system that serves to determine who should pay. And it's a good system. And someday, I'm going to have a very large television.
Monday, October 02, 2006
Sunday, October 01, 2006
It's strange to be an adult, storing all your grown-up dishes and furniture and things and stripping back to an old person's semblance of freshman year of college. And it's even stranger to enter a room full of the same furniture that occupied your first dorm room, six years ago: Modular bed, desk, and flimsy bookcase.
Or at least I thought the bed was modular. When I moved in, I forced my poor boyfriend to help me haul the parts of a full-size futon up four floors, on a 90 degree day, because I was under the impression that I would be able to dissassemble the school-provided extra long twin with the four inch thick vinyl mattress (perfect for celibacy). But I couldn't get the bed to come apart. I thought it was the same exact model that they had at Bennington- the kind that becomes a loft or bunk or drops down to the floor.
But I couldn't get it apart. My boyfriend told me that it wasn't the kind that comes apart. My parents told me it wasn't the kind that comes apart. I wiggled it. I hit it with a mallet. I yelled at it. I threatened it. So I put it on its side, shoved the futon up against it, and lost a precious 10 inches of bedroom space. vThat was five weeks ago.
Today, I got the bed apart.
It was awesome. I got home, and I remembered: You have to turn it upside down. That's all. You just have to turn the frame upside down, it comes right apart.
I win. I am awesome. You can't even comprehend my awesomeness.
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Forget 1L. Forget it. Everyone talks about how the first year of law school is a trial by torture. It hasn't started yet. I don't know if it's going to start. Maybe it's that most people who go to most law schools either come straight from undergraduate, or went straight from undergraduate into some fairly predictable office job, or some really 'meaningful' field work...
I spent the past three years working and going to school, both as much as I could. I finished three years of school in three terms. I paid my rent. I didn't have more than four hours a day off. All I have to do now is read and go to class. It's simple. It's almost childish.
Yes, it's a lot of reading. Yes, it's sometimes dull or complicated. But nobody sticks pins in my urethra when I miss an answer.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
And goddamn, do I miss the coffee.
I want to be a barista again.
Sunday, September 24, 2006
I've got people scattered over half the world, who at different times were my everyday folks. And now, not. Adulthood is achieved at the point where those people you'd like to see outnumber those people you do see.
Or else, it seems like it must be. And some of my prototypical grownups would seem to have the same experience.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
The woman sat down, and began to nurse this child, as she ordered, and as she waited for her meal.
I bet you're wondering how the Hobo felt about this. Is she, being in general pro-free, pro-health, anti-prude, going to say that it's perfectly fine to nurse a child in a restaurant? Is she, being generally anti-child, and generally anti-annoying yuppy parent, going to be against this public nursing?
Hobo didn't know herself. Because Hobo has read studies supporting breast-feeding. Hobo does, in general, not at all support the general body form and function phobia that is inherent in American culture. Hobo thought for a minute. Hobo decided that she was perfectly fine with it. Because the kid was eating, and it was a restaurant, and obviously, the restaurant didn't serve breast milk, so restrictions on outside food and drink shouldn't apply to him.
Then the waitress came back. And the waitress dropped off three plates of food. One for the mother, one for the father, and ONE FOR THE CHILD. Which, in my opinion, changed everything.
Because if the kid doesn't need the breastmilk for breakfast, I thought, then there's no reason to nurse him in public. And it's not a good way to encourage him to learn how to be in a restaurant, what they're about, and how to deal with waiting for unfamiliar food. But, parenting judgements aside, as I am not myself a parent, and don't actually know how to teach a kid to do anything- it just changed the tenor of the situation for me.
So, coincidentally, a few days ago on salon.com, there was an article written by a woman who was still nursing her four-year-old son. I didn't think much of it, but I read the letters. All two or three hundred of them.
They seemed pretty evenly decided between two orthodoxies, with a half-dozen or so juvenile trolls thrown in.
Orthodoxy A: Breasts are for babies! Nursing is great! Anyone who thinks that there's something wrong with any nursing of any child of any age is just sexualizing breasts! Which is WRONG! Because BREASTS ARE FOR BABIES! Not men. Not sex.
Orthodoxy B:Nursing is good, and all, but, come on- the kid's going to have memories of his MOTHER'S breasts. Which is gross. Because breasts are sexualized. And if you have any memories of a part of your parents' body that is sexual, you'll become a pervert. The mother must hate her husband, because she's giving her son her breasts instead of to her husband. MAYBE she's FRIGID!
For an accurate picture of the letters, just throw a "for better or worse" between every few clauses of the above.
I think that nursing is such a fractious issue in our society because there are the two orthodoxies, without any recognized (or admitted!) middle ground. Either nursing is seen as something that must be private and brief, but is an important sacrifice of the mother's sexuality and bodily integrity for the child's benefit; or the sexualization of breasts is a mere social construction that masks their true and sole purpose: nursing.
To that, I say, go to the zoo. Look at primates. Try to find me some gorilla titty. Or some chimp titty. You can't. And the reason you can't is because in most other primates, the female breasts remain very small unless actually engorged with milk (or flattened out and droopy after). It's obvious, then, that human breasts are a sexual characteristic under sexual selection- that is, they are a feature so attractive to mates, that natural selection has worked to enlarge them. Some anthropologists say that breasts are the bipedal answer to hidden vaginas- our vaginas are between our legs, whereas a chimp vagina is basically on their butt. Visible from behind. So bipedal primates with upright posture and hidden oestrus needed a characteristic that advertised fertility, and post-pubertal status. Thus, enlarged breasts.
Breasts are for sex.
Even though they're very obviously also for nursing.
So how do we reconcile these two features of America's favorite body part?
To read salon, we don't. We can't handle that a naturally sexual and sensual feature is also an important factor in child-rearing and bonding. Because we can't handle the words Sex and Children in the same sentence without calling Fox News in. We can't handle that a woman's breasts might remain sexual objects to her, even as they are nurturing a child. A woman (and I'll try to find reference for this when I get the time,) once had her child taken away because she told her therapist that she experienced sponteneous sexual arousal while nursing. My initial reaction to that is "ew". Because, really, we don't want to think about stimulating parents. And, as far as I know (remember, no babies here) frequently, nursing is painful, uncomfortable, and intrusive. But a person with an atypical physical reaction to something that involves a sensitive area, and is meant to stimulate oxytocin (a neurotransmitter that facilitates bonding, and is released during NURSING and ORGASM) should surely not be labeled a pervert, right?
So what, then?
Breasts are for babies. But they're also for women. And for men. And for sex. So what do we do? What can we do when this dialogue just dissolves into each side denying the basis of the other side's argument? Do we have to play King Solomon, dividing the booby, and say that nipples are for babies, and mammary glands, but areolae and fatty tissue are for sex? And trix are for kids?
P.S. There was a very interesting study a while ago, that I'll try to find the citation for later, that found that certain of the 'benefits' of breastfeeding, when study groups are adjusted to account for education level and socio-economic status, are not as pronounced as originally thought. Which is interesting, as it seems to reconcile the paradoxical evidence from early last century when formula was seen as better nutrition for babies. Whatever upper-class, educated mothers, with abundant resources tend to do will always seem to give their babies an edge, when in fact, their edge may be an accident of birth.
Friday, September 15, 2006
But it needs editing like crazy. I'm supposed to be reading for property. But instead, I'm working on a submission to (it's hard to say what it is- humor thingie? literary magazine? not entirely ...it's...a new thing) you can visit it hereHotNudeTeens.com.
When it's done, and submitted, if they publish it, I'm going to post a link. But at the moment, I'm using it as an exercise in character and plot without actually having any character, or plot.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
I really do.
I'm not the type of person to hate weddings. I like family events. I like getting dressed up. I like appetizers and wine.
But I loathe weddings. I loathe that we take what most cultures do in one afternoon, or at most, a long weekend, and stretch it out over six to nine months of engagement functions, wedding showers, bridal showers, bachelorette parties, dinners, after-parties and ephemera. I can't stand the fact that we've taken such a respectable and time-honored custom as exchanging goats for women and bastardized it to include up to four separate gift registries, a half-dozen or more uniformed attendants, and a cake that costs more than my student loans budget for a term's living expenses.
I hate the ridiculous, uncomfortable dresses, the rented formalwear, the dyed or leased shoes. There are no other remaining occasions where adults ask their closest friends to dress in matching and possibly used clothes and wait on them, nor many occasions that we mark, in our vastly privatized romantic lives, with catered food and a rented hall.
"Hey, Uncle Ted! Have a bacon-wrapped scallop! Today's the day my little girl gives her first hand-job!"
"Mrs. and Mrs. Rubenstein invite you to celebrate the occasion of their son, David's, first same sex relationship"
Why do we? Why do we do this? I understand that the rituals have meaning to some people, and among the religiously oriented, the ceremony can be incredibly important. Others have always looked forward to having that first dance, or being given away. Some people even like wedding cake.
Personally, I like cake. I like eating meals with people. But I've never been able to maintain lively dinner conversation with 150 people. Ten is probably my limit. Fifteen if there's alcohol. So that's all of the tradition that I find appealing. Unfortunately, wedding cake doesn't taste good. So that's one off.
But I can imagine, extrapolating from my deep personal relationship with cake, that there are people who find parts of weddings touching and meaningful.
But what I do NOT buy is that everyone who has a wedding likes every little bit of the American wedding. Some people like bands. Other people like their family. Are you really going to tell me that you find chicken a la king, dj's, cummerbunds, and pink roses on a field of baby's breath all deeply and personally symbolic of your unique romantic relationship?
I really can't think of anything else about the whole wedding brouhaha that means anything to me. I do really, ideally, celebrate any occasion with between four and fifteen people. Not eighty. So that's out. I don't like uncomfortable clothes, and I look awful in white. I love men in suits, but not tuxedos. I just can't get over that they don't own their pants. I don't like to coerce people to get me gifts, so showers and registries are out. I don't like clubbing or male strippers, so the bachelorette party is out. I don't dance or like music, so any DJ or band would be out. I don't like flowers, so that'd be out. I don't like videos or most photographs of me, so that's out. I'm not religious, so no church wedding for me. Personally, I believe that what the state of Massachusetts has put together, virtually any man may put asunder.
I like the idea of a proposal. Not the one-knee thing, though. It's too submissive. Not very creative. And we don't go down on one knee for much in life these days. Catholics do it at mass. But it's two knees. And there's a padded thing. A kneeler. Football players go down on one knee, I think. And I hate football.
The reason that the whole proposal thing appeals to me is because I like to mark decisions in life, not transitions. I was remarkably unaffected by my own college graduation. Wearing a bizarre costume and waiting in line did not make me feel like any momentous threshhold had been crossed. I'm sure that getting married would be a similar emotional non-event. The moment before a decision is made, however, the moment of formulation of intent, of anticipation, is a heady one. I can't remember much about the first time I actually had sex, but I have many treasured memories of considering the possibility. I like auditions more than rehearsals, Christmas Eve better than Christmas, and I LOVED applying to law schools.
The other aspect of proposal that appeals to me more than wedding is that not only does it require less of me, it also requires, unlike weddings where you try to manufacture a perfect manifestation of the deeper meaning of a relationship out of jordan almonds and satin-dyed shoes, that someone plan something about a relationship, but really FOR the other person. (Gender neutral there- see. It's like feminism, even when I'm talking about how getting presents is better than throwing a party). And planning, and thinking about what a person really wants, and really means to you, is the essence of romance (Men don't get enough credit for the planning that goes into a decent proposal. When, where, what kind of ring, what to say, how not to fart). Whereas thinking about what a person, their parents, all their friends, certain coworkers, and extended family, would like to eat for 45 dollars a plate is dismally prosaic.
But, all in all, like kittens into cats, engagements turn into weddings, and something cute and fuzzy and loveable turns into a resentful box-shitter who may or may not carry hepatitis.
I suppose I'm meant to be an old maid. Which is fine with me. Because I'd make a great crone. I'm very good at cranky.
Because I have an extraordinarily contrary nature. If you put me in a school with four hundred nader supporters, I'll end up pro-war. If you put me in a relationship with a charming republican, I will threaten to leave him in the parking lot of a computer store in Warwick, Rhode Island, over affordable housing. If I'm studying Fellini, I'm going to go home and watch Romero. If I'm reading Petrarca, I'm going to use the word "fuck" in my term paper.
If you put me in a room full of bright-eyed, eager, individuals with passions for social justice and making the world a better place for kittens and puppies and women and transexuals and immigrants and minorities and none of them cares how little they'll make in the public sector, ever...
I'm just going to put on a straight face and tell them that I decided to go to law school because I liked the movie Legally Blonde, and that when I grow up, I want to be an ambulance chaser.
I'm passionate about things. I care deeply about reproductive rights, and affordable housing. I believe in the power of law to shape society-
But I'm about three weeks in and 50,000 in debt, so excuse my inability to talk about how I'm going to save the world until I can find the library and pay for a sandwich in cash. I think that'll happen sometime next fall.
I'm just not good at resume conversations. If I'm interviewing, I'm interviewing. If I'm working for a cause, I'm working for a cause. But I don't want to spend two hours twice a week sitting in a circle talking to people who all want to assure each other that they really went to law school because they wanted to help people.
Social workers help people. Teachers help people. Nurses help people. A really good janitor can do more for human dignity than a bad lawyer.
It seems to me that a career in law is a luxury of a kind that we're not supposed to talk about. We spend three years in school, learning, and accruing debt. But after those three years, we have a chance of entering the covetted knowledge-worker caste. Whether we're fulfilled or not, none of us will work with our hands, or have a sewn-in nametag, again. I don't think a lot of my classmates have really thought about this. I have.
I literally worked my fingers to the bone, at that cafe. The skin on my hands peeled off, from fingertip to the top of my palm. I never worked little enough that it could heel. For a while I was able to get gloves, but when they ran out no one knew where to get more. When they replaced them, they were so baggy that instead of protecting my hands from the bleach, they trapped the solution next to my skin. I woke up, I served, I cleaned, I went to class, and fell asleep to do it again.
I don't want to make it sound torturous. It wasn't, really. Even with my skin peeling off, it was the best job I ever had. I worked with some of the brightest, funniest, most generally worth-while people (seriously, call me. Let's have a drink. I miss you guys!) I've ever met. Brighter than I've met at law school, actually. R, N, T, E, even P- fundamentally intelligent people.
What the FUCK were we all doing working at a coffee house? (Not that there's anything wrong with that. Food service is below NO one.) But seriously, N. I mean it about the smarts. You need to get your butt into a classroom so you can have someone other than your husband tell you. You think T is the only one who can get a 4.0? You guys ought to be classmates. Immediately.
But I've digressed. What working there taught me, and what a lot of my classmates may not be privileged enough to know, is that a lot of very bright people are working in careers that don't recognize their minds as a great asset. And they do it for a lot of reasons. Some don't have a choice, others have made the choice to put most of themselves into another aspect of their life (raising children, for example). But there are some people who just haven't had the opportunity to get the credential that would allow them to enter a field where they'd be appreciated more for thinking than smiling.
For 150,000 dollars, a bachelor's degree, and a 97th percentile LSAT score, I may have bought my way in. Not earned. Bought. And I'll never, I think, believe that I earned it. And if I do begin to believe that I earned it, I won't think that it had anything to do with aptitude or merit. It's luck. It's the benefit of having parents who could afford to help me out while I finished my undergrad. I bought my way in, and now all I have to do is hang on for three years. Drop out rates at law schools are way down. Mine is under 4%, I think. That's less than my high school. Like, 18% less.
I think that's why I feel the need to lean back in my chair and say "Well, you know, I figured, it'd be easier than getting in to grad school...and I'll make tons more money".
People like to pretend that they're going to be selfless, middle class, public-interest lawyers without realizing that the very act of using an education this expensive to trot after pet causes is, in fact, an enormous luxury.
You can be middle class, even poor, without the privilege of being able to help anyone on the scale that we may become able to. It's amazing to be able to go to school, to take on debt, to become something, just so you can further your cause, leading to your own self-fulfillment. And we talk about it, not as if we are phenomenally fortunate- but as if waiting for a pat on the back?
I don't think this is coherent.
I don't think it makes sense.
But people may be able to get at what I'm talking about.
And I do mean it about my co-workers. I've almost never met anyone smarter than you guys.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
I think about my student loan debt in the shower.
I think about my student loan debt in the grocery store.
I think about my student loan debt every time I use my new (entirely necessary) laptop, or touch my expensive textbooks, or watch my free-with-unbelieveably expensive student housing cable.
I'm haunted by it.
I can't believe I actually made the decision to pay for law school when I could have gone for free. It is the stupidest thing I've ever done in my life. Northeastern isn't so great. It's ok. But it's not crushing-debt great. I could be going to any number of law schools that were perfectly eager to throw money at me. But fat girl had to go for the one who played hard to get.
If you see me, slap me. Then feed me. Jesus Christ, I'm an idiot.
Sunday, September 03, 2006
But through all this, we have maintained what I like to think of as a remarkable partnership.
I think, however, I've found the limit of our relationship. You see, I like movies.
I like movies like a high-school nymphomaniac likes sex. Like grimy Sandi, taking all comers regardless of charm or hygeine or whether they'll buy her a Junior Bacon Cheese first, I don't excercise what many would call 'judgment' when it comes to films. Sure, there are some movies I don't like (The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Man Bites Dog, any with helicopters), but the movies I do like, I like regardless of quality or redeeming characteristics.
I'm not like some bad-film purists I know (Hi Rob!) or serious film students, (Hi Paul!) or relentless blockbuster consumers (Hi April!). I span all categories. But I can be counted on to watch any movie that has a decaying skull as a movie poster.
My boyfriend likes "good movies". You know, movies with thoughtful dialogue, sensitive and understated acting, or Eddie Murphy.
This leaves me watching many fine films alone. Such as the first three Jason movies a friend loaned me. Which I loved the hell out of. Alone. Weep. Cry. Tragedy.
Recently, looking for a movie to watch on on-demand, I suggested this or this . He did not agree to either. Although I think the one with the zombies in the forest would have been pretty awesome, and guarantee a scene with a chainsaw in it.
We ended up watching
I'll admit. It wasn't the best movie I've seen in a long time.
This was. I recommend it, without reservation. Unless you happen to be my boyfriend. Then you won't enjoy it. Because it features zombies, aliens, and australia. And it's wonderful. And it's creative. And it's just pretty great as a whole. It's one of those movies that if you had diarrhea, you'd seriously consider adult diapers, in order to maintain continuity.
But can I live in a world, in a relationship, where I can't share my greatest joy (zombies) with the man I care for, somewhat?
I've seen a lot of relationships come and go. And I've seen interracial romances work. Long-distance. I've seen relationships work where one partner actively tried to undermine the other in all things, for twenty-five years (Hi, mom!). But I've never seen a relationship work where one partner was pro-zombie, while one partner didn't even like Dead Alive. Which, if you haven't seen it, is the zombie movie to show to people who don't even like zombie movies.
Disclaimer (To Guy): I don't mean it. You're great. I'm sure we'll overcome our differences. But next time I pick a movie, I'm not going to try to be kind and choose a middle-of-the road thriller. I'm going with something where somebody's guts come out. Because if you're going to hate it anyway, I might as well love the hell out of it.
Friday, September 01, 2006
And at this moment, grey sky behind the Prudential Center.
I'm starting to realize that at this moment, my life is the result of less thought, effort and planning than it has been at any other time, except when I found myself suddenly home from Vermont. Last year, at this time, I couldn't have imagined owning (renting) this view, and this tiny room, and the massive pile of boring/intriguing textbooks.
Exactly one year ago, (one year and two days ago) I wrote ... There's no point in being 23 right now. Motherfuckers used it all up. Alex P Keaton fucking Dot Com fucking Real Estate fucking Social Security fuckers. I'm young, bright, hard working. And I'll be poor forever. Unless I go to law school. Which I probably will. But I'd rather write a shitty novel...
I'd still rather write a shitty novel.
But law school doesn't seem so bad so far. A decent way to spend 150,000 dollars I haven't made yet. My roommates are fine. My room is atrocious. My classes are dull and slow. Hopefull it gets harder. And I mean that, dammit. Because if it stays like this, and the internet persists in being unavailable in the classroom, I don't know how I'm going to get through it.
I like reading the cases. The cases are interesting. They're stories. And it's fairly clear, as yet, what we're supposed to get from them. The only think that seems bad so far is that I may have chosen the touchy-feeliest law school in the country. They've just eliminated what was their legal writing course and replaced it with one that an upper-level student tells me is just an excuse to hug and cry.
I had thought that law school would bring more drinking and reading, not more hugging and crying. If I'd been good at hugging and crying, I'd be back at Bennington. I'd have excelled at Bennington. They'd have have given me the key to the fucking school. The presidency. I'd be the dean if I could just hug and cry.
But I'm not a hugger and cryer. That is why I'm so bad at wakes. I"m a good stander and shuffler. Which is why I'm better at funerals.
I'm also typing this entire blog post while staring at the ceiling, to see how good I am at touch typing. Pretty famned good I'd say. I'm considering taking notes on my laptop. Although two of my professors have told me that they'd prefer we not take notes at all.
Here is my most fervent hope: That this, this hugging and crying and free beer, and kind professors with soothing voices and genial styles, is all a ruse, like a fat girl in a corset.
That in a week, or two, the corset comes off, the rolls are exposed, and the stress and heartache and long hours I'd prepared for finally come to fruition. Because I can take anything. Anything but more hugging and crying. But maybe the fangs will never come out.
I've accepted the relative lack of creativity in my life. I've accepted the relative lack of ME in my life. I haven't accepted spending three more years talking about how a subject is relevent in my life.
Can I please just have my three years of torture and my hundreds of thousands of dollars, please?
Sunday, August 27, 2006
Roast beef, Cheddar, Iceberg Lettuce, Tomato, Boursin, Sprouts, Cucumber- In a whole-wheat wrap.
Aged Cheddar, Sauteed Mushrooms, Sliced Onion, Tomato- Grilled, on Pumpernickel.
Peanut butter (Store brand), Jelly (Name Brand)- On wonder bread.
Sandwiches I would not like to eat:
Shit and Ranch Dressing on a Maxi pad.
Ham and American on White.
Balogna and Swiss on an English Muffin.
Food I currently have in my kitchen:
Cranberry juice (generic)
Saturday, August 26, 2006
I am on the fifth floor of a building with a double-locked foyer and, unfortunately, no elevator. Of course, everyone knows that elevators will mostly be disabled or full of zombies, in the event of a zombie apocolypse.
But check this out, my friends.
My room, and no other room in my suite, has a private, dead-bolted entry onto an exit stairway from which one can only exit, never enter. Very convenient when trapped on the fifth floor, waiting for help that never comes. When we finally despair of ever seeing another helicopter or aeroplane again, and zombies let in by some errant child attempting to locate a lost pet flood the lobby and hallways, I do have an escape. Which is very very nice.
I care about this a lot.
In addition, all the hallways in this building are very short. Which means that all zombies in hallways are plainly visible from any doorway. Good for fighting your way out. And, in the case of 28-days-later style commando rationing missions, I am close to both a little bodega and a large supermarket.
Yes, the zombie defense potential of my new apartment is well worth the room so small I can sit on my bed and touch every piece of furniture in it. When the zombie apocolypse comes, I'll forget that the smoke detector appears to be disabled, and the kitchen floor seems to be constructed entirely out of scuff marks, and that the fridge seems to have two tempretures- luke warm and luke cold.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
If I have one piece of advice for the world, for people as individuals...if it is at all possible to take a neuroscience class, take one. Because there is nothing like learning how much and how little is known about what thinking and feeling are actually 'made of'.
I was looking back at my notes from some classes over the past year. And I sat there for about twenty five minutes, just looking. The amazing thing about the microanatomy about the nervous system is that the function and anatomy of individual cells are known in great detail, but the interactions between those cells and how consciousness arises from that is knowledge that is still emerging.
We know exactly how an impulse is conducted down the axon, jumping and skipping like a stone on water, releasing neurotransmitters into the synaptic cleft, which bind to receptor sites on the dendritic spines of another neuron, which then sends an electrical signal bouncing down its' axon...
But how the thousands of impulses, transmitted by thousands of neurons, create consciousness- create silent, abstract verbal cognitions such as "Should I write about nudity on my blog that people I know read?" or "I like peanut butter sandwiches" is still completely unknown. A scientist can open your skull and directly stimulate your brain, making you see red, twitch your thumb, feel pressure on your toe- but we've got no idea where to tickle to make you think "My mom's name is Katherine"
Can you imagine the injustice?
I've got to walk around, at work, at social events, at formal occasions...looking less than my best. Because it just happens that the way I look best is approved only for the smallest and most select audience. I have to frump around, slumped and slouched and pinched into clothes that never seem to really look right, knowing that I've got something better underneath.
And you know what? I bet there are a lot of people in the same situation. By no means all, but many people do look better naked than clothed. Further confusing the naked/clothed situation is that you can't tell, from looking, who is walking around with their best outfit buried three layers deep.
I've taken life drawing classes, spent time backstage assisting the chronicly braless with quick changes, taped and reinforced and glued people into clothing made of paper and bubble wrap, and gone to a college where clothing was an option not always taken. I've seen more impersonal naked than most people of my experience.
And I've come to the conclusion that you can't always tell. The beautiful girl with the elfin face might have breasts so small and wide-set that her entire torso seems chronically surprised. The broad-shouldered guy with the slim hips and long legs may have his grandad's scrotum between his knees. The girl with the flat wide ass that makes her look squat in skirts may have yards of glowing skin, ankle to eyebrow. You can guess, but there are no guarantees.
Looking better naked or in clothes isn't just about the revelation of flaws, though. It's about coordination, and scale, and vulnerability. There are some people who need something, a bit of cover or color or fabric, a sock or scarf or underpants...not to cover, but to anchor, to contrast, to guard or dignify. Very beautiful looking men are very likely to look better when given something to wear. The frequent soft-core gay porn theme of jeans pulled half down is popular for a reason. Cuts the sweetness a bit. A squeeze of lemon in your diet coke.
I look better naked, I think, because there's something futile in dressing for me. I look out of scale. I can't do sweet and soft because I'm not insubstantial. I'm tall and broad and floaty blouses and soft sweaters make me look less dreamy and more like when Christo wrapped central park. I can't do tailored-sharp because my face is pudding-soft and, despite my occasional tantrums and bizarre sense of humor, I'm about as tough, as down to business, as fresh whipped cream. But naked, there's no way for me to try to be anything I'm not.
Monday, August 14, 2006
I can't do it well at all. I wander around my apartment, which is not large enough for a good wander unless I go into my roommate's room, and I touch things. As I pack, there are fewer things to touch. So now it's like I'm just doing very tiny laps. Living room, mattress, television, side door, futon, loveseat, front door.
I still wake up early. Even though there is nothing to wake up for. And I go for a walk, and have a cup of coffee, as if there's something specific that should come afterward. Got to get an early start. On nothing. So I'm stretching the final packing of my apartment into a month of work. After a couple hours sorting and packing and visiting my storage space, I start making elaborate plans for lunch. Which are then scrapped in favor of a peanut butter sandwich.
And always, there's this profound unease. And I figured out what it is. After being so overscheduled, doing the working my way through college thing, and the going to work thing, and the long distance boyfriend thing, and the prairie dog thing, andthe benzodiazepine thing...I'm not used to doing nothing unless I'm supposed to be doing something else, or if I'm waiting to do something else.
So I'm at ends. I can't do nothing; but there isn't anything to do. I clean. I vaccuum. I walk. I bike. I wait for people to call. I think about dying my hair. I consider several shades. I consider baking brownies and cakes. I consider more obscene ice cream cakes. I consider cupcakes. I watch movies that are good-bad (Friday the 13th Part 2) and bad-bad (The New World. Stay away.) I fold. I list. I hang out at my parents house, with my parents. A lot. I hang out at my apartment, alone. I drive to Providence and play the boything's computer games. I've watched five seasons of the Sopranos, two of Dead Like Me, and two of House.
I wrote a thingie for a thingie. I helped record something for the same thingie, which entailed a visit to NY, to a friend, and was thus awesome. I wrote a sestina. And you can't read it.
And still, I've failed at unemployment.
I know that I've failed, because successful unemployment should lead to relaxation, rejuvenation, reconnection to old hobbies. Thus, I should be relaxed, with fewer grey hairs, and perhaps having painted, sewed, or knit something hideous and entirely useless. And maybe baked a carrot cake. Because carrot cakes are fucking sweet. Instead, what have I done?
I've had many, many "I'm a genius!" moments. For those unfamiliar, an "I'm a genius" moment is the moment of self-congratulation you experience immediately before doing something incredibly stupid. The best thing that the "I'm a genius!" moment can lead to is wasted time. Most often, it leads to bodily injury and humiliation. Often it ends in a hospital room, explaining exactly how you managed to injure yourself in that precise way.
Like the time I decided to make roasted potatoes, and didn't want to mess up my cookie sheets, so I took several sheets of aluminum foil and fashioned an oval of tin foil with high sides, and filled that with potatoes and bacon bits and butter-
Grabbed it from the oven.
The tin foil collapsed.
And the butter (450 degrees, or something) ran all down my arms. And it hurt like a bitch.
My current "I'm a genius!" moment is that, maybe, if I spend time standing on my head with no bra on, the force of gravity, upside down, will counteract the effects of age and gravity, and perhaps encourage my breasts to be higher up all day long. There are several obvious problems with this program.
Such as that the stretching of the ligaments will be the same, as long as the forces of gravity and the weight of the breasts are the same, regardless of the direction of the forces. A program of spinning around and around and around and around with no bra would be more effective, if engaged in long enough, as the combination of centrifical and cetrifugal forces would combat the forces of gravity as long as I was spinning. But that wouldn't be more effective than wearing a bra all the time. I can't turn back the clock. My nipples are not superman.
So that, I think, accurately demonstrates that I have too much time on my hands.
Friday, August 04, 2006
Sorry, it's the view
Two issues here. The final one is how Elizabeth Hasselback can eat my dick. But first, there's how Joy Behar and Barbara Walters don't understand how emergency contraception works.
Barbara Walters isn't quite clear on how EC works. It prevents the fertilization of an ovum by sperm, primarily. It does that by preventing ovulation. It may also, in some cases prevent implantation of a fertilized egg. (Not, technically known as an embryo at that stage).
Joy Behar reveals, in a very stilted attempt at a light-hearted monologue, that she doesn't really have a very good idea of how human reproduction works. She starts to say that she can have sex on a monday, and prevent conception on thursday...the implication is that conception must occur during or immediately after the sex act, and thus, even on thursday, EC must interrupt a life already in progress. And that is why people believe that Plan B is an abortifacient.
Everybody who saw "Look Who's Talking", raise your hand. Now, I want you to put your hand back down, and take a deep breath. What you saw over those opening credits, narrated by the very soothing voice of Bruce Willis, was not a scientifically accurate portrait of how conception occurs. Let the betrayal recede for a moment. I'm sure thatAmy Heckerling didn't mean to mislead you. It's just more cinematic that way.
Conception can occur days after coitus. And, mostly, it does. Because that's the way we're designed. I'll tell you why:
Chimps have enormous balls. Gorillas have little balls. They indicate that chimps are polygynandrous, and gorillas are polygamous. Humans have medium balls. And, importantly, human females show no physical indication that ovulation is occuring. That allows both men and women to be sluts. So women can have sex all the time, with multiple partners, while no partner knows for sure that she was ovulating during their time together. Which is why human men don't eat babies. (infanticide is a really bad idea if you don't know which offspring are yours) But Elizabeth Hasselbeck does.
Anyway, if Amy Heckerling had wanted to accurately show conception, she'd have had Kirstie Alley go home from having sex with her boss, make dinner, take a shower, go to sleep, wake up, drink some coffee, go shopping- two or three days worth of activity intercut with sperm bushwacking through her cerivical mucus. Finally, perhaps when she's sitting at her desk the next day, a big round egg busts through, rolls down the fallopian tube, and collides with some bored sperm who've been there a while. Maybe they could be cartoon sperm, with little watches. Sitting on a bench or something. Eating gyros.
But how does that work? Weren't we told at rhythm method school that the fertile period is very short, and that the egg doesn't last for very long, and that the vagina, cervix, and uterus are hostile to sperm?
Sure, buddy. And if you buy that, I've got some transubstantiation to sell you.
That's what was assumed for a long time. Because sperm are fairly delicate. By the time the porn star wipes her face, those little guys are more than on their way to certain death. And, the vagina can be a turbulent, hostile hell-hole for sperm. Most of the time.
The vaginal and cervical environment changes. Because it's wily. Because it can't fucking be trusted. Most of the time the cervix is all clotted up with gross ucky mucus, and the vagina has a PH that kills sperm. But, for a period preceding ovulation that can be as long as 10 days in some women, the cervical mucus changes. The vagina becomes welcoming. Instead of killing sperm, the whole system becomes very nurturing.
For the hostile vagina, cervix, and uterus, I want you to picture the Vietnam War of tons of movies I havent' seen. It's mucky. People are angry. Death is all around. You need a machete to get through the swamp. Your best friend, Tex, dies right beside you. You're bleeding and starving, waiting for an airlift that will never come.
For the nurturing vagina, cervix, and uterus, I want you to picture the yellow brick road. Everyone is pleasent. The sun is shining. You've got a path right to where you're going. It doesn't matter if you take your time at the Emerald City. Everything is going to be fine.
That's how it is.
But people still think that conception is a car accident. Shit! Sperm ran a red light! Hit the egg! That's LIFE! Can't undo that! When, really, emergency contraception could step in, slow motion, and put jersey barriers in so that the egg doesn't even make it to the intersection.
The second issue is: Elizabeth Hasselbeck has no idea what she's talking about.
"That's like having a baby and leaving it on the street."
Elizabeth, you're full of shit. You're less than a talking head. Furthermore, you're really shitty at being pro-life. It's better to have a baby and leave it on the street, because someone else can pick it up and take care of it. If you believe that fertilized egg=baby, because that's what Jesus said, then it's much WORSE to eject six or eight or thirty cells, because they die somewhere in your grody vagina without even a funeral.
Furthermore, if you believe fertilized egg=baby, absolutely, completely, morally, every time, then you should actually be encouraging more women to use hormonal contraceptives perfectly, and only refrain from hormonal contraception when they are trying to concieve, and then for the shortest time possible, and only after serious, in-depth medical and genetic screening.
Because about half of all 'pregnancies' as measured by fertilized ova, end either before, or very soon after they are detectable. It's natural. Not all fertilized eggs become babies, even when no action is taken to prevent them from becoming babies. And, if you're a religious person, that's got to make you wonder whether god would shoot souls from his holy-ghost powered soul cannon just to have half of them die unnamed, without a gender, without nerves or memories or childhood pets, ending up smeared on sweaty, store-brand kotex, and tossed into bathroom trash with Q-tips and empty tubes of depilatory .
I don't know if I'm religious or not. But if I were, I certainly wouldn't believe that. It's just a bad system. If I were religious, I think I'd trust that god shoots the soul in right before the brain becomes capable of consciousness. It's just thrifty that way. Shows that he's thinking ahead.
Anyway, Elizabeth Hasselbeck isn't required to believe what I think it's sensible for her to believe. But she is kindly invited to eat my dick.