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A Moment of Silence to Commemorate What’s Not Happening Right Now: As you may know, at the end of last semester Sofia and I found out that the campus theater group in charge of orientation programming was planning to put on the nightmare-come-to-life Great American Trailer Park Musical. Yes, it’s as bad as it sounds. Yes, every single punchline (we highlighted them) relies on poverty being funny. And yes, the two of us and the LGBT center director had to go up a group of people who had no idea why it wouldn’t be a good idea to have all the rich first years bond over crooked teeth and alcoholism. Sofia was far more patient and able to argue productively while I felt differently implicated and tried to beg while also brainstorming radical steps beyond the administrative channels.
“We won’t be making fun of poor people,” the director told us, “we’ll be making fun of the stereotypes people have about poor people. In the end they will be like– wow, that’s so ridiculous it can’t be true.” His argument actually made a graceful finish to my year since the year before I made the complete opposite in a presentation about the movie Mean Girls and the notion that something is “funny because it’s true.” (I’m using the quotes now as a shout-out to my overuse of quotes in that presentation. I think the major drawback of the internet is that it relies too heavily on text. I don’t want the quotes I all the charming connotations of airquotes without the finger wiggling.)
Anyway, Sofia and I didn’t have to call in all our combined progressive muscle. The director decided it would be better to not cause a fight and— maybe, also, decided it would be better not to contribute to a hostile and humiliating culture of wealthy elitism and poverty stigmatization and alienation already prevalent on campus.
Meanwhile, orientation is raging and I’ve been in training all day to lead mandatory programming on sexual assault, stalking, and relationship abuse. It’s hard to believe that five years ago I was doing a crossword while diligently ignoring the matriculation speech in my New Yorker jean jacket when I met my bestfriend-to-be. And look at us now. It is possible that my time at The University has quashed me into an even jaded-er person. (The jaded type who still cries about mothers and daughters together, certainly, but nonetheless…) I was surprised to be partnered with an awesome person. When did I abandon all hope of meeting good people at school? (Answer in the form of a workshop activity question: agree or disagree: October of my freshman year.) Maybe the person who paired me up, the same LGBT director, was feeling affectionate. Whatever it was, don’t think I’m not grateful. I’m making a new term up for her instead of Queer Ally–since ally, these days, seems to mean someone doesn’t actively hate homos. Instead she is a Queer Awesome. I am confident our workshops will be really productive even if I do have to survive two days of being read to from a redundant instruction manual that I could probably be trusted to study myself.
*Insult overheard on the subway by A. “Healthy Shine” Weissman my departing ladywife.
In what has so far panned out to be a perfect day, I went to the library to retrieve a lot of sexy new texts: a whole stack of memoirs (mostly written by autistic people), some short stories by Charles Baxter, Greta Garbo films, and poetry. For more information you should get addicted to goodreads like I have. I learned to precariously sit on my fire-escape and read a book, ate a mango and discovered that some creative writing programs have fellowships to support you while you’re there. Imagine that. Defer loans, work on writing, be moderately unburdened by coursework and teaching— it’s sounding better and better. Now all I need is a glowing recommendation from someone who doesn’t know me yet.
I was reading a book outside of the bookstore earlier and I overheard a mother catch her toddler tearing the petals off a handful of pansies. She leaned over and gave her daughter her complete attention to have a very gentle talk with her in an adult voice, inaudible to me. Presumably she was explaining why the pansies where there and how ripping them up sort of ruined the point. Then she swept her daughter up and kissed her face, “You’ll get it,” she reassured her, “We’ll work on it together.” They were both glowing and I almost teared up but then realized I had used up my senseless crying jags on Joaquin’s death in Ladder 49.
Meanwhile, at the table behind me, two men and woman in their late thirties/early forties were engaged in a very deliberately-worded and elaborately-annunciated awkward conversation. Two of them were techies but apparently one of the men was in theater and just finished directing Cabaret, which, In his opinion was the best directed play they’ve had in ten years. I’m sorry to have missed it. Especially because he kept starting stories “And then I was wearing my costume in public, which of course was a nice gray suit with swastika arm-band and I mean, don’t people know what the play is about? It was a hit movie 30 years ago…” They segued to issues of cohabitation and how hard it is to have a bridal shower because you get so much new stuff. Finally they inventoried their remaining fried chicken when a fourth person showed up and announced that he was, “ready to go to game” and it was revealed that they had been waiting to meet their carpool group for their regular Dungeons and Dragons date.
Bonus Question: Why in the world does a director need a costume?
Last night, in an attempt to outweird our last RI weird date (return of the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies in a smoky, white-stout-breeder packed, electronic slots casino ten minutes northwest of Providence) J and I ate at Texas Roadhouse.
J managed to find the only way to be déclassé in national chain steakhouse with peanut shells on the floor: she ate her ribs with a knife and fork.
We followed it up with a MacBook screening of a film her father billed as a documentary about firefighters– which turned out to be the boxoffice flop Ladder 49 featuring Joaquin Phoenix and John Scientology-Pie Travolta. Halfway through J realized that her father describes most movies as if they were documentaries. I thought about the magical way my mother transforms every plot into something between historical fiction and tragic melo-crime-drama. Snow Falling On Cedars, as you can imagine, is her favorite book/movie.
And just to top it off, I learned who River Phoenix was. Information J was shocked to discover I did not already know. Wikipedia has always been my best source of cult-related information on the web. Just to top it off, it turned out that yesterday was River’s birthday. I’d go as far as to say I’m a little blue about his death, too. Who can resist such a girlish cult-raised boy? It’s so American!
Speaking of which, word of warning to those of you traveling to the Bay Area. J and I drove over to San Quentin and I know that I should have been filled with some sadness and some rage about wrongful imprisonment and then some confusion about capital punishment. But all of those feelings were overcome by sheer terror at my proximity to Charles Manson. You would have been frightened too if you had no aversion to seeing really, really bad movies and consequently believed Manson looks like he did in Thir13en Ghosts.
Weight, in ounces, of all the information that passed through the Internet last year: 0.00004
NC Does Debutante
Man-Eating Jackrabbits and Killer Cacti
And this, at last, posted to a site that requires you to register before you read the user comments. Have we learned nothing from reading the youtube bickering? I know that in the last five years I’ve become shockingly quick at typing my name, address, birthday, phone number, billing information, and 18 “Very Difficult” character password but maybe I should be a little more conscientious with how I use it.
Estimated amount of oil, in barrels, used to make the bottled-water containers sold in the U.S. last year: 16,000,000
Ratio of the amount of water used to make the containers to the amount of bottled water consumed: 2:1
(“Harper’s Index,” Harper’s Magazine. August 2007)
It’s not like I’ve been hanging out in public. In fact, yesterday morning I went out for a few groceries and realized I hadn’t left my apartment since I went to the cemetery with MBCarryadyne on Saturday morning. That’s why it’s weird that independent of the encroaching anniversary of her death, I was already planning to write about Princess Diana today. First business was to wiki her for a couple of dates and then to do some ebay fact-checking and her face started popping up all over the internet. Am I subconsciously obsessed with her to the point that I remember her deathdate?
When Princess Di died, I got pretttty infatuated with her. “After she died?” J asked, “not before?” I assured her it was only after, “I hadn’t even heard of her before.” But I shared the immediate fallout of her death with an ominous shroud of depression and an urgent longing feeling. (Similar to the feelings that caused me to write very ardent letters to Lisa Lefteye Lopez and Andrew Keegan in the sixth grade.) Even then I had the same compulsion to organize a stranger’s life after news of their death. I did a whole series of subtractions to figure out how old she was when she died, divorced, got married, met HRH Ole Big Ears etc etc.
The three products of her death:
1. I read all my mother’s collected articles including one that gimmickly wrote the ABC’s of Princess Di and exposed me to some new and titillating vocabulary. I learned bulimia, post-partum depression, and philanthropy all in one sitting. The dictionary according to my mother– bulimia is when you are famous or a gymnast and you are really worried about your weight because of external pressures so you binge and purge. That definition fell flat since I had No Idea what binge and/or purge meant but was subsequently unable to watch the women’s Olympic gymnasts without asking my mother to gauge who was comparatively most bulimic. And post partum depression— when a mother has a baby and then she feels like her whole role on the earth is over and sometimes she kills herself. Now I’m wary of this and wonder if it doesn’t have more to do with the realization that her earth role will now never be over. Philanthropy is when a rich person gives a whole lot of money at once to something and usually abroad; sometimes they do it because they are touched my something like orphans in Africa or sometimes it’s because their manager is.
2. I took three or four blue plastic binders with my father’s company logo on them (a gift from the generous man himself) and printed out every single page of history section from the national British website and three-hole punched them and planned to study them later. This seemed like the very least I could do if I expected to understand England once I moved there. Read the rest of this entry »
(more facts brought to you by quantitative thinking)
Misc unnamed British researchers have finally disproved second-wave feminism in a SHOCKING new study. These intrepid brainiacs endeavored to get to the bottom of whether girls really prefer pink using the scientific method, a dark room, and a computer. I’m so glad they’re finally working on this pressing issue with godknowswhos funds. The experiment had 1000 British adults look at colorful rectangles on a computer screen and then pick out which they liked best. Then they graphed the results and make conclusions like:
“Boys like blue, girls like pink..” (adult men and women in London are apparently representative of universal girls and boys.)
Somehow they also deduced that the reason that boys like blue and girls like pink is evolutionary.
“…females developed a preference for reddish colors associated with riper fruit and healthier faces.” Meanwhile men don’t need to pick ripe fruit: “For men, thinking about colors was less important because as hunters they just needed to spot something dark and shoot it…”
This reader enjoyed MSNBC’s sparkling coverage of the story— especially the resigned attitude the journalist took to the newly reveal facts. “Boys like blue, girls like pink and there isn’t much anybody can do about it…” Sigh. How true… how will I ever make peace with my inability to overcome inherent desire for pink, Pink, PINK?
Fortunately, the scientist interviewed does bring it back to a universal point I think we can all agree on, giving me a newfound sense of trust in his dedication to scientific inquiry and the pursuit of Truth:
“As for Eve, Hurlbert added, maybe there was a different reason she picked that apple.”