Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Perfect Fit

I’ll invariably tell my friends a somewhat unflattering story about myself, a story that will end with a witty comment my mother makes, eviscerating my unseemly behavior, and the guffaws end, my friends say, “Wow, you have a great relationship with your mother. I could never do that with my mom.”
And I always want to ask if they can’t talk about farting passing gas bodily functions, because that’s the one thing I’ve always desired in my relationship with Winifred. I’ve also desired her leniency when it came to letting me get a puppy, but she made up for her harsh, Ms. Trunchbull-like ways last year when she lovingly promised one day the Right Dog for Me would come at the Right Time. Which is better than the feeling Carrie Bradshaws of the world get when they watch a Lifetime movie and the erstwhile heroine realizes when she’s ready to quit her career The Man will Come. That was harsh, wasn’t it? That happens when I digress.
Or hang out with Winifred!
And that’s my point.
Winifred came to Collegetown this afternoon to linger the campus while I presented a four part large-scale photographically based series examining the process and psychological relationship with mortality, decay, and interpersonal relationships. When I finished my requisite hour of question answering and explaining (by the way: it was fun, exhilarating, and satisfying!) we disappeared into the city. First we went to the BMA to see its new photography exhibit. And then we slipped through rush hour traffic to Sofi’s, a crepery that has stolen my heart.

I’ve been looking forward today for months. First, because it marks the end of this seemingly infinite project. It signals the end of the class that I’ve been working in, and is the gallery opening for a piece from the series. But when I said hey, let’s hang out in those hours between my demo and the gallery opening, and Winifred said, sure thing! I knew I’d have the fun I’d been yearning for since October. Wednesday night I walked around my apartment, wondering if I ordered one sweet crepe, and Winifred ordered one savory crepe, if we could enjoy both sides of the menu and still satisfy our needs. I’m a fly by her pants kind of girl when it comes to Sofi’s, picking which side I’ll order from when I belly up to their tiny counter, impulsively picking a menu half that will satisfy my needs. Inevitably I choose the sweet side.

As we parked Winifred asked if I’d acquiesce her brilliant idea: would I mind if we ordered one of each and split both, thus getting one crepe each and the kinds we wanted?
Heck yes, I’d do that!
It was another moment in which the heavens opened and reminded me that in spite of often feeling like I spend the majority of my days explaining again what my thought process was and why it makes sense to me that no, there is someone on the same plane as I am! And better to have that person thinking about maximum crepe exposure than giant squids, right?

It gets better, of course. Charlotte met us in Collegetown too, and we all went to my gallery opening together, and as if I hadn't already been so ribald in the company of Winifred--which I do in public, I talk about all of my weird dreams, how people have annoyed me lately--I became down right scurrilous in the company of Charlotte.
It's a natural change, from polite and quietly seething to the open giggling and theoretical discussions we hold. Or, even better, stories of life in North Dakota or Charlotte's college years. And when we were all done we got out of the car to say our goodbyes in front of my apartment and accidentally talked about politics for an extended period of time.
It makes sense of me to do that. To talk about politics, birth control advertisements, and why it is that McCain shouldn't be president. I think, without a family that was okay with that--an open discussion of anything, without any "reason" why--I'd be fairly miserable.

Oh! We split one chicken curry crepe (picture) and one apple crisp crepe. Real apples, people! Not canned.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


I like to think that I am, occasionally, a practical person. Or at least operating with some minor level of common sense when I'm not a raving lunatic, and I think the best way to prove this is that I've managed to get by financially in part to a long, seemingly neverending string of on-campus jobs while I've been a college student. Generally these positions pay more than minimum wage (except for that stint working in the dormitories, where I was paid $1 less than minimum wage because former Governor jerkface Ehrlich said it was okay*), are easy ("Babysit these PCs for a few hours and do your homework!"), and enhance my qualifications (I know so much about the network!)

*When I find the news article backing this up I will post it, because I know no one but Winifred will believe me. If I hadn't been so militantly drug free I'd never have been able to purchase my theoretical and hypothetical underage booze! Never mind that what I did need was impossible to obtain. I AM CLEARLY STILL VERY UPSET.

The unfortunate side effect is dealing with mundane student-based conversations, which brought this delicious nugget from a female student in here early twenties, to her mass communications professor:
"The good thing about Family Studies--and the only thing goin' on--is why it's beneficial for the man to work and the woman to stay home. But I mean, it's all common sense."
Did I say delicious? I think I actually gagged out every internal organ. Oops. The professor, which until now, was my least favorite person in the entire world (after Bush, Cheney, Joe Simpson, Joe Francis, and the New York Yankees), rose through the ranks to People I Can At Least Pretend to Tolerate when he said, "Really that's what they teach you at Towson?" Prof. I Can Now Pretend to Tolerate teaches at another state university, where he presumable strikes fear into those students in addition to providing nightmarish scenarios where I am this close to graduating.
She confirmed, yeah, and duh, "It's all common sense! Of course the mother has babies and stays home! And the husband, he works. Because it makes sense."
At this point I was gasping for air, trying to pick up my now completely unhinged jaw from the floor, and struggling to find the words that would swiftly eviscerate the student without causing myself more mental strife.
Prof. I Can Now Pretend to Tolerate looked at me, looked at her, looked at me, and then looked at her and said, "Really. They tell you that? Huh. Well." Then he rolled his eyes, held his breath, got up, and walked away while the student's friend--a male, also enrolled in this backwards gen ed.--argued, "No, no, it's theory. I mean, they don't say we should..."
Then I sputtered all over Facebook, wherein I repeated this to Biscuit, who suffered through a class (which, for the record, did not share these nuggets of "truth" and "common sense" but was regrettably filled with 18-year-olds who swore, "I want to be a Moooooomy!") I voted that the school give me the power to revoke her previously earned credits until she reconsiders the entire reason she's here (to get an education, like, oh my gawd, that wasn't common sense?) Biscuit suggested, "I petition to revoke her LIFE."
Harsh, but I feel a little better.
This is, of course not the objective of women's studies, or my university. This downside would heavily outweigh the ability to continue on with my day, were it not for my access to the internet, and this, this video from The Daily Show. This clip now has powers that are two-fold. Before it just made me feel better that anyone would show cognizance to China's past. Because my peers? They only know that China has some good food and some factories. Right on! It's hard being the only one you know In the Know. Now I have this image of a nine-year-old hiyaaah!-ing into the classroom in the middle of this girl's speech about "common sense" and family rearing.

Do you think reading any number of SAHD blogs would totally blow her mind?

Friday, April 4, 2008

Usually these kind of speeches are made by Winifred and I nod, to say, Yes, but it isn't like that, can't I enjoy it anyway? I foolishly did that with The Dangerous Book for Boys thinking foolishly that The Daring Book for Girls would actually be The Dangerouns Book for Boys II, you know, a "We made an error! Here's more exciting stuff! And fun things are for both genders!" I was wrong. So when Feministing linked to Gender Inequity in 'Whoville' I thought of Winifred, who would have been irate about the film's newly added plot.

It makes me wonder how she fared through Disney princess movies until Beauty and the Beast was released when I was seven. Until then Winifred had little to say, probably because I was interested in dog movies (Lassie, 101 Dalmatians, Benji), but when Belle arrived, with her nose in a book, Winifred spent years expounding on how wonderful it was that Belle Saved the Day, the Belle Read, that Belle Was Independent! It was true. Belle didn't need no man. Buzz off Gaston, I'm Reading!

Except this is very much a rant from The King. I told myself I'd leave The King out of the blog, because The King sees Blogs as A Means For Your Own Doom, and didn't sign up for this, but I think it's worth saying today that The King is like Peter Sagal. The King has standards and it would be better to meet them. I could hear the king say this:

Have the clowns who made this movie ever met a daughter? Have they dated one? If they did, did they meet the daughter's father? Did they then ask that daughter's father if there was anything more dramatic, interesting, arresting, and moving to him than his relationship with his daughter? Did they ask him if he might find that a close relationship with said daughter might be something he would care about? What do they imagine that we do — sit around, and watch our daughters grow and change and suffer and fail and triumph — and idly wish for something more INTERESTING?
Segal then goes on to list popular media--Harry Potter, The Matrix, Peter Pan, ET, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings--as having boys saving the world. Of all of those features, on Harry Potter has a female character worth emulating. The other females (if they're there at all--LOOKING AT YOU, TOLKEIN) are all pretty dopey. I always wanted Princess Leia to step up! Darth Vader is her father too! But instead her few moments of badassery are restrained to a bikini. And Han, the rogue with a heart of gold (le sigh) has to bumble his way into saving her. I love Han, but really? Leia, you couldn't have done that on your own?

I had a friend in town a few weeks ago and he asked if I was going to see Whoville. I snorted and said I couldn't see a movie that would butcher the classic. Now I'm glad I was too snobby to see it, because I'd probably go out of my way to ruin it for everyone else.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

It's On the Box. We Verify and Ship!

A bunch of good things happened today, and I am convinced that the heavens smiled on me because it is Emily’s birthday, and because they know how lonely I am Without Her, they said, What the heck, while make some good things happen. Because last week? Bad things Happened.
First, the sky opened on my walk from my bus stop from my apartment, showing a big blue sky. I would have accepted this and called it a good day without anything further. (See? BAD THINGS, people BAD THINGS.)
Then, after a quick shower, FedEx arrived with a package. Last week FedEx would have arrived during the shower and the box would have been in the front office for two weeks. I was glad that FedEx arrived when I could sign. I thought it was some art supplies I ordered last week, but I was wrong. (I would like to know where those supplies are though, Montana.) It was my graduation dress!
I’m not a Dress Person. In fact, when I had a swanky work party and, with money in hand, could not find anything satisfactory. Part of the problem was me, and we’ll get to that, but part of the problem is that I’m not very good at finding dress clothes. I’m very good at finding clothes for other people though.
The other, slightly aforementioned problem is me. I’m vaguely unsatisfied with my appearance. To be honest, and this is “hard” (the brain says: DO NOT SHARE, DO NOT SHARE), I was sort of hoping I’d lose some weight and order a size down. Well, shit, I ordered my usual size, but unlike Target, it’s really cute. Appearance is something I struggle with it. A big part of it is just me, bowing to a harsh, shallow, and vapid patriarchal society that asks that my waist be the same size as Ma Ingalls and sees myself as much larger than I am. And a big part of it is that I really like cookies. It doesn’t help that I am surrounded by skinny friends, many of whom have worse images of themselves than I do, and judge “larger” people as a means to cope, so then, in this nasty little circle, I feel like the…nevermind. The end. SO THIS DRESS, IT CAME IN THE MAIL. It came and I ordered a few days ago! And, the best part? It fits. Part of that joy is because it was made by a woman, a woman who knows how to make You Look Good, and she did it using red and black and some nautical stars and an anchor, so now I look Really Good, plus a little bad ass, but mostly just cheeky.
But wait! There’s more! Winifred was in Baltimore today, so I showed it to her, and she loves it. We agreed that because it is strappy, I will wear a cardigan to appease the old people in our family. Also, because according to Delia’s, cardigans dress up a casual dress. She asked if I had a “shrug” from when I was in Laura’s wedding, and lo, I reached into my closet, pulled it out, and put it on.
I win! Well, I win above the ankle. I want to wear my old crappy red Chucks with the dress. If I have to sit for six hours and listen to the President of my University blab about social responsibility and environmental awareness (I agree! But not for so long.) and our success as people, I should get to wear footwear I personally enjoy. Also, I think I’ll bring a Bic and write every band I’ve ever heard, just to make a juvenile point. You’re boring me dude, hand the diploma, like a fourteen year old asks for the bell to ring in math class. Don’t look at me like that, I know you wrote 80085 on your calculator. Winifred asked if I wanted a new pair of Chucks, but I don’t want real Chucks, remember?
And with that conversation done, we decided where to eat dinner.
But wait! There’s still more! Before we ate dinner, I checked my e-mail. Before Winifred arrived a woman from school e-mailed me to let me know that I was eligible for a scholarship renewal. The school still e-mails me about registering classes by default, so I said thanks but I’m out of this place in May lady. She said no, we want to give you the money anyway. I called her right there, and she asked if I intend to pursue the career I did last year, and I said, heck yes I do, and she said cool, that’s what I thought, the money’s all yours. We’ll “cut you a check” when you graduate and you can pay the money to those nasty loan people. Hip hip hooray! It’s like money fell out of the sky!
Winifred was so excited she almost fainted, so I left the room to give her some air. When she regained consciousness we went to Bel Loc diner, where we dined, ate cake in honor of Emily (it was good, with orange essence!) and dragged Biscuit to a lecture by Marjane Satrapi. Marjane was everything I thought she would be, and I desperately want to meet her one day, be witty and smart, and have her realize we should be friends. Over cocktails we will discuss the evil patriarchy and then drunk dial my ex-boyfriends.

Now that I’m done wallowing in my own glory, I’ll make up for it with a story about Emily.

When I was little I would whine until she agreed to walk me to the playground near my house, where I would force her to push me on the tire swings, stand at the bottom of the slide to catch me if I went to fast, and cajole me into hanging from the monkey bars without hands. It didn’t take too much whining to do anything, because I am spoiled. (Except the monkey bars. I still can’t do it without burping out my heart, and then I don’t hang for long before I wuss out.) On a warm night we walked to the park after dinner, before it was too dark, and on the way out, Emily announced that tomorrow, she would be thirteen.
And I panicked, begging her to stay twelve until I could catch up and do big things too. She refused, on the grounds that physics won’t allow for it, and that duh, she wants to be thirteen. Really, who doesn’t want to turn thirteen? My angst amused her, and she asked why it was a big deal, and I told her I was afraid that if she turned thirteen, she would get snobby and mean—because that’s what kids on Nickelodeon did, never mind that Charlotte was already past thirteen by two years—and then we couldn’t go to the park anymore, or the pool, or any of the fun things that she let me do by agreeing to hold my hand and supervise.
I was wrong. The next day, she waited long enough for me to wake up to open presents, and then I think she may have even taken me to the park again after dinner, and wouldn’t you know, she held my hand and supervised all kinds of things.

In fact, she taught me math, how to drive, how to make my essays appear longer by using teacher-sanctioned typefaces instead of fudging the margins, and in high school, took me to movies at the cheap theater and the regular theater. Because every post-undergrad twentysomething wants to hang out with her little sister, a sophomore in high school! (And she did!)
And when Annie got married, we had to do some sticky family things, and in nudging her with my elbow, briefly grabbed her hand to say Holy cow, these people are all crazy. You're my witness.
Happy Birthday, Emily! Thanks for not getting snotty like those jerks on Fifteen.