Sunday, October 28, 2012

Exotic is as Exotic Does

It's birthday season again, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my MOTHER and my LITTLE, both of whom are incredible ladies, although in very different ways, and many thanks to both of them for being born on the same date, to make it easier for me to remember both birthdays, as one reminds me of the other, and vice versa.

This has got me started thinking about birthdays, and what they are, and things like that.

In my office at the B, last year, the ladies took me out to lunch for my birthday, as is somewhat of a custom in our group at the B--there's four of us and we each take turns planning for the next lady's birthday after ours--and they asked me what I did to celebrate my birthday that year, although technically it had been the previous year as, being that my birthday is always in December, we hadn't gotten a chance to celebrate it in the same month or even in the same year, holiday schedules being what they are, plus the added complication of moving offices. (And we're moving AGAIN! Joy.)

Anyway, they asked me what I had done, and I said, "Oh, a bunch of my girlfriends threw a Trader Joe's themed party, in which everything came from Trader Joe's, because that's how *I* entertain, and we all congregated at someone's apartment and drank too much wine for a weeknight and just chatted."

There was a moment of silence, and then all the ladies sighed.

"Wow, that sounds...WONDERFUL," my cube mate said, and the other two made emphatic agreeing noises.

I was surprised--not because that celebration wasn't fun, because it was! But because it was pretty low-key to be considered, in my mind, as something "wonderful", at least with that kind of emphasis. After all, the year before, for my 30th birthday, I had thrown a fancy cocktail party in the middle of the week. Roommate made two kinds of punch cocktails from a signed punch recipe book that the head bartender at one of our favorite local cocktail havens had loaned her; we bought out the local Trader Joe's and offered foods galore; we insisted that everyone appear in fancy dress. It was a Happening. Sitting around and drinking wine seemed a little more low key in comparison.

But the ladies around me at the B are wives and mothers, in addition to being careerists, and they have a lot of demands on their time, especially now, as their kids are starting high school and such, and to them, a crew of ladies sitting around on a weeknight drinking too much wine for a school night and just chatting was the epitome of Wonderful.

Good to remember.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Monstrous Regiment of Women

I didn't know, until right now, that Terry Pratchett's "Monstrous Regiment" title actually had a source!

And a very old one, at that.

1558: John Knox publishes a pamphlet anonymously entitled: The first blast of the trumpet against the monstruous regiment of women.

The key blurb, with some of the original spelling:

"For who can denie but it repugneth to nature, that the blind shall be appointed to leade and conduct such as do see?

That the weake, the sicke, and impotent persones shall norishe and keepe the hole and strong, and finallie, that the foolishe, madde and phrenetike shal governe the discrete, and give counsel to such as be sober of mind?

And such be al women, compared unto man in bearing of authoritie. For their sight in ciuile regiment, is but blindnes: their strength, weaknes: their counsel, foolishenes: and judgement, phrenesie, if it be rightlie considered.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Daily Routines

Inspired by this post over at Gretchen Rubin's blog, of course, like half my musings are.

Because then, you see, the wonderful Maggie Mason wrote this post about Winston Churchill's Daily Routine, and then I dove deep into the rabbit hole, which is always a delightful thing to do, especially for such a good cause.

Which just brought me back around to this, Joan Didion's Favorite Packing List.

In conclusion, there is so much good stuff in this world! Thanks, Internet. You make it possible. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

More Normal Conversation

Entrepreneur and I are in the kitchen cleaning up after dinner—or rather, I’m cleaning and he’s keeping me company, as he cooked the entire meal for me earlier while I lay in bed, as my back was acting up again, and I lay there and healed and drank ginger beer and and read Alison Bechdel, which is a really wonderful way to spend one’s time while your lover is slaving away over a George Forman for you, and I highly recommend it.

ANYWAY, AS I WAS SAYING. It’s rather late and we have just watched Real Time with Bill Maher, as we are wont to do, and therefore we have just learned that Ann Coulter will be a guest on the show next week, along with Ben Affleck, which is pretty much must-see-TV.

“She’s gotten crazier,” E said, around a spoonful of ice cream.

“Yeah, I agree,” I said. “I remember when she first came on the scene, and she was mainly famous because she was a conservative Republican and wore leopard-print miniskirts, and had long blond hair. Ashley’s character from the West Wing was based partly on her, remember? Because at first they thought she was just trying to get into show business, and then she turned out to know something. Ainsley, that is. NOT Ann Coulter.”

“We used to call her Brown-shirt Barbie,” E said, chuckling.

I grinned slightly. “I can understand the Barbie reference, although I have some issues with that term, but I don’t understand the brownshirt reference! Can you help?”

“They’re the original paramilitary arm of the Nazi party who  helped bring Adolf Hitler to power,” he informed me.

“Ah. That makes sense. I don’t like ‘Barbie’ as a term in general, though. It over simplifies and over generalizes the issues surrounding women in politics and how their looks affect their reputation, while at the same time dismissing the entire woman and the entire discussion of why looks are or aren’t important! Now, THAT’S an impressive sellout word.”

He is quiet, eating his ice cream, allowing me space to talk. We talk about gender a lot less than you might think, given our particular relationship, or put another way, the particulars of our relationship. He was raised by two mothers; his cousin just married her girlfriend of many years; he majored in Psychology. He does the cooking and stays home with the dog, and so far he has brushed my dog, too, more often than I have in the last two years, and often does the laundry. I go to work at a high-powered job all day and am spending my weekends helping run his business on the side. We break traditional gender roles like we breathe—which is maybe why we don’t talk about them much. We just are. And there are pitfalls, too—he has horror stories about his experiences in the psych department of his college, and his mother and I have precious little patience to hear about how difficult HIS life has been, gender-wise.

So we don’t talk about it much, not because it’s taboo but because it doesn’t seem to get us anywhere and I love our relationship, however it runs.

But I’m serious about this Barbie word and so, uncharacteristically, I’m off and running. “It’s like when they called Palin, ‘Caribou Barbie’, just because she was pretty. I mean, to give credit where credit is due, I don’t think she attempted to use her looks once in the whole campaign—it’s just about the only dirty trick she DIDN’T try to use. And even so, the media went crazy about the cost of her suits and her makeover, getting her out of those mom sweaters, and such. Like John McCain wore Mens Warehouse! But no one fussed over how much HIS image consultant spent on clothes.”

“Yes, that’s true,” E said, gently. “But I think they called her that because she had so little SUBSTANCE. I mean, ‘Barbie’ is a completely accurate assessment, there.”

I thought about it. “Yeah, I can see that.”

And I did, but I was still bothered. And I came to a conclusion of why it bothered me later, but most unusually for me I saved it until the blog, because it wasn’t worth re-hashing all that again.

And here it is: If you’re going to use the word “Barbie” about Sarah Palin, you can’t accurately use it about Ann Coulter, and vice versa. “Barbie” means too many things, and that derogative smears both ladies in a particularly obfuscating way. Calling Palin a “Barbie” apparently means, “She has little to no substance”. Whereas calling Coulter a “Barbie” apparently means, “She is overly reliant on her looks as a tool”.

And THAT’S dangerous. Really dangerous. Because if you describe Ann Coulter as a Barbie too many times, you might convince yourself—or the liberals you’re talking to—that she ALSO has “little to no substance”.

And now, suddenly, you’re no longer treating her like a theat.

I mean, this is ANN EFFING COULTER! She’s a threat!! She’s Defcon 4! Don’t forget it, ever. I don’t care what you call her, but don’t forget who she is and what she represents. I WISH she had “little to no substance”. What a wonderful world that would be.

Monday, October 08, 2012

What Passes For Normal Conversation In Our House

Entrepreneur and I are in line at Whole Foods, and he is unhappy. We have gone to Whole Foods, at his request, when I was tired. And I protested, but eventually acquiesced, because he wanted two things: lactose-free milk, and ginger beer. And I understood these needs, and agreed, finally, that it was the best place to go for these items.

As it ended up, they had neither.

Whereas, I cleaned out the aisles! For someone who hadn't wanted to go to WF in the first place, I was happy as a clam. The cart, that he had so patiently pushed around the aisles, was full of my stuff.

So there we were in line at Whole Foods, as I was saying, and the poor cashier asked us if we had "found everything okay." We looked at each other.

"Well, you don't have the right kind of ginger beer," I started, knowing that Entrepreneur wouldn't if I didn't.

"Yeah," he said. "You only have Reed's, and that's...not my favorite. And you actually don't carry full-fat lactose-free milk."

Another cashier wandered up, and dutifully took down our suggestions. And then we both realized, in the moment: here we were, two people that had eaten today, and had jobs (well, me, anyway) and driving cars and everything, and we had supportive families that were talking to each other and we lived in America, and we were in line at Whole Foods complaining that they didn't have full-fat lactose free milk or our favorite kind of ginger beer.

We finished our conversation with both of the cashiers that had now been forced into helping us, due to corporate policy, and extricated ourselves with as much dignity as we could muster, which wasn't very much.

Thirty minutes later we were unloading our hard-won privileged grocery items and we noticed a huge amount of, shall we say, hippie-types hanging around Century Link Field. Entrepreneur did a little research on his phone and found the cause. "Ah. There's a show with members of both Phish AND The Grateful Dead tonight."

"Ah," I said.

Him: "So, if you want to score some acid, you know, tonight's the night."

Me: "Thank God, I've been meaning to get some! I looked for it at Whole Foods but they only had that one kind, which I hate."

Him: "Yeah. And when you complain to the cashier, they just look at you weird."

Saturday, October 06, 2012

I'm Doing Laundry... a place in which I need pliers to work the washer and dryer.