Thursday, June 26, 2008

Wednesday Links

Hey, I may not have anything interesting to say, but the internet probably does.

Some really good things from Slate today:

A Slate author lives for a day on a gas rig.

Can breast motion be harnessed to run, say, an iPod? This would be awesome!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Things To Read If Bored

This lady made a New Year's Resolution to use her crock pot every single day in 2008, and the resulting blog is funny, useful, and delightful. Meet The Crockpot Lady.

And if you grew up by an ocean, were fed raw seafood from an early age, and are slightly obsessed by all things briny, then you'll love this blog as much as I do: The Hama Hama Oyster Blog. Seriously awesome.

Note: do not apply these two blogs at the same time. Oysters are best enjoyed raw, seared, or broiled, or possibly grilled. I'm not sure they would be very good cooked on low for 6-8 hours.

Salsa Lessons Have Started!

The LT and I have started our Salsa Lessons; one down, four to go. We are still speaking to each other! Hooray!

And we learned things about each other--and ourselves--right away. I am apparently a very stiff follow compared to all the other girls, which I knew, but is still embarrassing--and necessary--to hear. And I introduced the LT to a Salsa Friend, who I then asked to dance, who joked that he was worried that the LT was going to beat him up. The LT was surprised, but I wasn't--I don't think he realizes how intimidating he can be, and how much he subconsciously calls out physical insecurities in others, although it's not his fault at all, poor guy. (Really, he's a sweetheart. Most of the time.) Dancing is so physical; it's hard to lie about yourself or others. I realized after a few rotations that I must be intimidating the hell out of my leads, because they kept backing away from me until they were stepping off the edge of the dance floor, and even then none of them tried to push me forward or even suggested that I might want to take a few steps backward. Next time, I'll write it on the insides of my eyelids: SOFTEN UP, you tense disaster. The world will not end if you don't get this move perfectly, but what WILL happen is that leads will start to avoid you, so soften up, already!

Either that or I hadn't worn enough deodorant. Hey, I report, you decide!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Poor Man's Twitter

Sunday Night

Titan is throwing up and I'm annoyed about everything.

No, Titan throwing up isn't anything serious. He drank a lot of lake water today and then got into chocolate, which is MY fault, sadly. I managed to get him outside for some of the ill effects (the ickier ones) but NOT in time to prevent him from throwing up half the pond in my living room. He's asleep in his bed now, a good sign.

Reflection on Monday Morning

LT and I did a smorgasboard for dinner--I just pulled out all the leftovers from all the fancy meals out I've been eating lately, and there have been a lot, between the anniversary dinner and sandwiches on the road--and it would have been yummy, had I had my salad ready and Titan hadn't decided to be sick. It amazed me, since I was already annoyed, how much the LT sitting at my computer while I got dinner ready bothered me. This is a long issue: I like to be entertained while I'm doing things, and the LT likes to leave me alone, hoping whatever task I'm performing will be done quicker with fewer distractions. I yearn to be watched while I put make up on, and chatted to while cooking. I actually don't multitask well, but light background conversation with just the LT isn't much of a drain on the mental resources, although of course I hang on every word of the LT's. (Hi, baby!)

Therefore, one of the reasons I was happy, on Sunday afternoon, to happen upon the smorgasboard method of dinner was that I thought my prep time would be nil, so the LT and I could hang out in the kitchen for at least a few minutes, but then I wanted to make salad and the LT immediately escaped to my computer to read about a plane we had seen that day, because he was curious, and then he tried to show me, and I've never cared much about classic planes and I've never cared less about them than I did tonight, with a sick dog and a strong case of annoyance going on already. SIGH.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Rise of the Geeky Girl and Reactionary Men Who Should Be Sterilized

Or, Gender, Gender Issues, Power, and Powerlessness.

Welcome to Thursday. Let's get right down to it, shall we?

I'm not sure who has seen this article already--I know that my own mother had to bring it to my attention: Geek Girls: Revenge of the Nerdettes. Go ahead and read it, I'll wait.

Done? Good. This article is characteristic of the worst parts of Newsweek's "fluff" reporting, which is too bad because it allows really stupid people to take shots at the badly written article and then use those shots to try to smear the Nerd Girls. Although I should have expected that kind of slant from a site named Men's Reaction to Newsweek Article.

I especially like how the post and subsequent comments react to statements not even in the actual article or video, such as claims that the women in question are blaming popular culture or complaining that 'guys' can't tolerate a strong woman. Huge projection issues, anyone?

I shouldn't get so upset--I have no idea how many readers has per week, and three comments to a post doesn't signify widespread beliefs, thank BLOG. It just burns me. It burns me like anonymous commenters saying Jennifer Love Hewitt is fat, it burns me like gross, paunchy men twice my age leering at me, it burns me like a recent comment from a homeless man about the supposed "girliness" of the LT's bike. (The LT's sport motorcycle is yellow. Not as manly as, say, a black Harley, perhaps, but no one sane, under any circumstances, would consider his monster of a bike not manly.)

I'm trying to find a common theme here. What, specifically, burns me about these encounters? Is it simply a question of reality? For example, Jennifer Love Hewitt is not fat. Under any circumstances. She may not be perfectly toned--therefore exposing a few lumps and bulges in a swimsuit--but I'd bet she still fits a size 4. So first, these people are factually wrong. Second, it also burns me that people--even a very few selected persons--feel qualified to judge, since according to statistics, it's very likely that the people marking Jennifer Love Hewitt as fat are size 16s themselves. For example, it burns me that the homeless man felt qualified to judge the LT's bike for being girly. I mean, seriously? You think you have room in your life to judge other people's possessions? And the few commenters who bitched about the claims they thought they saw in the Nerd Girl piece--how can you bitch about hypocrisy and dumbing down of standards when you've just proven you can't read what's actually on the page?

Perhaps it's reality. I know that my version of reality is right--especially in the areas of "people who wear a size 4 are not fat" and "homeless people have no room to decry the quality of motorcycles"--and it bothers me that a few don't agree. Or maybe it angers me more that the few who don't agree don't realize how wrong they are, don't realize how dumb they are, don't realize how far they've fallen to the bottom of the social ladder or how out-of-step they are with the rest of society. But what would I be able to achieve by somehow holding up a magic mirror to those I deem unworthy? Is my desire to hurt people that strong? And what if I discovered I was wrong and it was really me who was too far around the bend? My need to punish people who burn me in this way--especially, for example, old men who leer at me--scares me. And yet so far I've managed to stay on the right side of my anger.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tuesday Morning

Talking with a Friend

Is more valuable than ten cups of coffee. I’m tired and sleep deprived, no one’s fault but my own, and I rolled into work this morning completely incapacitated. My friend L and I got some coffee, and my life was 50% better after coffee and 100% better after chatting with her.

(The Lazy B has three on-site Tully’s stands. Also dry-cleaning services and DVD rental services. There is some value in working at a site as large as most cities in America.)

On Being Tired

Before I left for Japan, when I started going to a hip-hop class about two months ago, I knew I was out of real dancing shape, but I had been running a few times a week and doing a little yoga. I was surprised at how difficult the class was, but also surprised that I could almost keep up. And I was pretty bendy.

Fast forward one month: in Japan, I walked what felt like miles and miles of stairs, but after retuning from Japan, I didn’t feel like running and I barely walked. And I haven’t done any yoga, or really stretched at all, period. Hip hop class last night was NOT my friend. I was creaky, non-bendy, and my muscle memory was shot. (Climbing the 99 stairs at the water tower and riding behind the LT on the motorcycle this morning didn’t help either.) My quads are definitely yelling at me today. Phooey.

On Finding Things That Work

My hip hop class works for me. I’ve been to good classes and I’ve been to bad classes, and the first time I attended this class I knew it was the right one. It’s difficult, it uses real music—hard, fast, slightly dirty—and we do a little toning before we start dancing. It doesn’t involve dated moves, 90’s music—or, god forbid, 80s music—and they really work us hard. I’ve run into enough bad classes to make me very thankful for the good ones I find. I still miss my kickboxing instructor—Tiffany—from Tacoma, and I was the thinnest I’d ever been in my junior year of college because I took a fantastic class at college from an instructor named David.

Complete Lack of Conclusion

Because I am very tired. Thank you.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

On Vegetables

I STILL can't make myself buy the right amounts of vegetables and then use them correctly--or in a timely fashion--when I get them home. It's so frustrating. I can't figure out a limit of vegetables I can actually cook or eat in a week, or I tell myself that I'll overcome that limit when I'm actually buying the vegetables so I should get more. When the truth is I've NEVER looked in the fridge, hoping for vegetables, realized that I was out, and sighed and eaten macaroni and cheese instead. I have often put aside fresh vegetables in order to eat mac and cheese, however, and then been surprised when my vegetables turn to sludge in my crisper.

A whole pound of fresh asparagus sat for two weeks, until I roasted it. And it’s now roasted, covered with olive oil and sea salt and smoked salt, and still going bad in a plastic bag in my refrigerator. Maybe I should just admit to myself that I don’t much like asparagus—or maybe that I just don’t like the idea of it. I eat it if served to me, and I enjoy it thoroughly. But in my own refrigerator it loses its appeal. Why? Who knows?

I do like spinach, though, and have I bought that? No. And potatoes, and onions and garlic, and sunchokes, and all manner of dark leafy greens, or lighter salad ones, and peppers of all kinds (especially roasted, yum) and tomatoes—even bad ones—and all sorts of other veggies, yet I’m stopping myself from buying more until I eat the damn roasted asparagus. Phooey.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

...For a White Girl

Last night at salsa I was dancing with a guy from Kenya who told me that I had a nice strut...for a white girl. I smiled at him, startled, and he could tell.

"No one's ever told you that before, huh?" he asked me, grinning.

"Actually, you're the second person tonight who's told me that," I was able to say to him, wiping the smile off his face.

That was true--a guy from the Dominican Republic had insisted not half an hour before that I must have some latino blood in me--and the Kenyan guy would have been wrong anyway. I HAVE been told that before--both explicitly, although that's much more rare, and implicitly. Usually it comes from men of color, although there's a few white guys that have braved such a remark. It's an old joke: white people got no rhythm.

Like most stereotypes, this is mostly true, but not always. I've seen plenty of white people with rhythm, and I've met a Mexican girl who just could not dance. And I've met a few black guys who couldn't dance, and the Dominican guy who insisted I had some latino blood in my couldn't dance, either, although he tried damn hard. But in general, taking all things into consideration, yes. This is mostly true.

Dancing is so interesting. It's both a liar and truth-teller. A good dancer can be a bad person, and a good person can be a bad dancer. (Good people can also be bad cooks, and good cooks can be bad people. This especially annoys me.) Dancing (and cooking, but I'll leave off the cooking discussion until another post) is an artifice, after all; it's a set of pre-programmed moves, thought up before you existed, invented by someone else, and you are just following along in their footprints. Dancing, also, is NOT an artifice; dancing is just body language written larger and more expressively, and it takes a really damn good liar to lie with their bodies. Maybe it's more accurate to say that dancing can't tell an onlooker who you are as a person--all it can say is that you have a reasonable sense of rhythm, can follow directions, and might understand social cues. But it CAN tell an onlooker whether you're tired, or nervous, or clumsy, or self-conscious, or drunk. Or happy or excited. Sports aren't as good for this. You'd think they would be--sports and dancing are just ways of moving your body at specified times, and there's even some crossover--but they differ in an important way. Sports is about goals. You throw a ball because you want the ball to move from your hand to somewhere else; you shoot a basket because you want the ball to go in the hoop. In dancing, there is no goal in mind; there will always be another song, there is always another move. The moves themselves are the goals. It would be like if baseball became about the throws, moving your arm in the most aesthetically pleasing way every time, not caring where the ball went. Sports can tell you if a person is good at achieving his or her goals, whether that means getting the basketball in the hoop or practicing enough to get better. Dancing communicates mood.

Over time, though, both dancing and sports will eventually communicate character. Overcoming challenges is an important part of character, after all. I don't know much about sports, but dancing with someone, repeatedly over time, will tell you if your partner likes to dance with a few known partners or likes to get to know new partners, if the challenge of dancing with someone new is more or less attractive than getting better at dancing with a few people, if she's a snob because she turns down ugly partners for cute ones. It will tell you if the person has an overly large amount of confidence in their own rhythm or skills (and therefore a big ego that might not take kindly to being deflated) or if they like being the center of attention or would prefer you to do the twirling.

For myself, I know that my mental state plays a large part in how I dance; if I'm sad or unsure, I'm a bad dancer. Happiness won't necessarily make me a good dancer, though. Serenity, or maybe it's more akin to treating dancing as a form of active meditation, is the best possible state for dancing; to be of the music, not just in the music. Watching my partner helps me catch leads. And I dance terribly with lovers, which I'm sure the LT is excited to hear because I just convinced him to sign up for salsa lessons with me. (Hi, sweetie!) With a partner that I have a relationship with--and not just a friendship, because I dance fine with friends--I want to communicate more, I want to have a say in where the dancing is going. I don't know why only romantic relationships bring this out and me, and not just friendships. I've had only one boyfriend that I danced well with, and it's because he was an unbelievably strong lead, a swing-dancer of the "wrench the follow's elbows" type. Odd, especially since I don't have trouble (or very little) relinquishing dance control to leads who are complete strangers.

And yes, dancing is all about control, which is why it's so often linked to sex, only it's a lot more caveman than sex is in this enlightened day and age. In dancing, there can only be one lead and one follow, and unless you are very, very progressive, the lead is the man and follow is the woman. Which means, as the LT and I take our upcoming lessons, that even though I've been dancing a lot more, I have to follow his lead (not so hard) and his rhythm (HARD). I have to completely relinquish control of the dancing. Which can be hard, for a white girl.

Randomness By the Numbers

1. I saw the Sex and the City move and it was worth the 10.25 I paid for it. I had forgotten how funny the dialog is. Best lines as of right now:

Miranda: "WHY did you DO that?"
Carrie: "I'm an emotional cutter."

2. I'm dehydrated. I never drink enough water at salsa, and I went last night. And then I drank a glass of wine afterwards. With no water. Horrible idea.

3. I have a new acquaintance--a friend of a friend--that I don't really like and it's hard to stop myself from being mean to her. This disappoints me. I hoped I was a better person than this. She's probably a very nice person with excellent qualities. She just rubs me the wrong way and I snipe at her. So far, if she's noticed, she's kept to herself, probably another sign of what a nice person she is and what a horrible person I am.

4. Titan is out of dog food as of this morning and I have to go buy more.

5. I'm breaking out everywhere and I'm annoyed.

6. In a fit of jet lag, I recently saw Immortal Beloved, thanks to On Demand. It was about 3 in the morning and it was an imperfect but beautiful movie. Sadder and more passionate than I expected. If you like classical music, or slow-moving love stories, definitely rent it. Isabella Rosellini is especially enjoyable.

7. I decluttered and rid myself of a medium-sized garbage bag of stuff, plus a stack of magazines almost as tall as Titan.

8. I am very sleepy.

9. YAWN.