Butterfly Cauldron

Saturday, October 28, 2006

On my last day at work and packing up a house

Today was officially my last day at my old (former!) job. No longer will I work Saturdays. No longer will I be subjected to a micromanaging boss. I feel...free.

Yesterday, however, was the last day I worked when the rest of the people where there. Now, usually, when people leave they have cake and ice cream. Throw a little party, you know. Even if they've only been there a year or whatever. I was at this job for six and a half years. Did I get a cake? Did I get ice cream? Did I get so much as a sad little cupcake? No. I did not. All the managers are walking around, saying they'll miss me and how great it was working with me, but not so much as a fricking cookie! It did not go unnoticed, either. The opinions editor, who works on Saturdays, said something to me today. So....it's just symbolic of how fucked up that place was. Put in years and can't even get a fucking cake on your way out the door. Whoohoo.

Also, amusingly enough, none of the equpiment worked today. None of it. So, I couldn't do any work at all, even if I had wanted to. So, I blogged all day ;)

Packing is taking forever, but tis coming along. I've got to finish up my bedroom closet, my bathroom and the kitchen. My father and brother are bringing the UHaul over Wednesday, so I've got to get it all finished by then. I'm feeling pretty happy with the progress I'm making. I should be able to get it all done on schedule. Not at all like one of the times I moved. I was in the middle of a horrible depression and couldn't get anyone to help me pack or move, It was aweful. This time promises to be much, much better.

I'm finding things I had forgotten I had as I pack. Lots of lost jewelry, which is fun. I found a pair of shoes under my bed I'd forgotten I had. I also found so much dust under my bed that it gave me a migraine. *sigh* I'm going to be making my second trip to Goodwill tomorrow. I've got four boxes of books and two more bags of clothing to give them. I also have assorted other things, which will be my third load. This is good. It feels right to prune things away.

The timing of this move is interesting. We're right on the edge of the pagan New Year. That's loaded with symbolism for me, lots of meaning. It feels right to be starting over at this time of the year. It feels like it was all part of the plan all along. This has always been my favorite time of year, the time I feel most alive and most myself. So, this is a good time to be putting away the no-longer-necessary and clinging to what is good and useful. I feel like I've been in the dark for a long, long time and I'm starting to wake up again.

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posted by Zan at 4:55 PM 1 comments

Blogger loves me!

Well, okay. It doesn't really, but I figured out how to change my template. Whoohoo! Apparently, when you're using Blogger Beta, you have to switch back to your classic template which is all in HTML. Once you do that, it's just slapping in the code and you're off to the races. Good to know.

Unfortunately, that means that I lost all of my updated links. So, if I had you linked and you don't see yourself now -- it's not on purpose! You just got lost in the shuffle. So, drop me a note and I'll put you back on. I tried to get everyone I could, but you know, my brain is all swiss cheesy. Also, if you weren't ever linked but ya wanna be, let me know ;) I likes links. Yes.
posted by Zan at 4:47 PM 3 comments

Friday, October 27, 2006

If my lover ever did this to me. . .

s/he would have to die. Slowly and painfully.

This is a site put up by a guy about his wife -- who has gained a good bit of weight since they met. Why? Oh, because he wanted the opinions of other people as to whether she was too fat or not. No, seriously. Is my girlfriend too fat? She was a size four when we meet but now she's in the double digits! *whine*.

No word on if she even knows he's doing this, but I can't imagine someone...hell, actually. I can imagine someone (a man, of course) doing this and not thinking about how it would make her feel if she found out. (Insert standard disclaimer about not all men being this shitty here.)

And the comments! Gah. As a big girl (actually one not so far from Angela's size, it seems. Though quite a bit taller, I'm guessing), I'm almost as skivved by the Feeders comments as I am the Ew! Fat! people. It kinda freaks me out to think that my body is someone's kink. Because as comfortable as I am being a big girl, I do NOT want the attention of someone who only wants to be with me so they can feed me and get me fatter. If my weight naturally goes up over time, fine, but to intentionally alter your partner's body? Uh. No. That would be like me insisting my partner's got their nipples pierced or body covered in tattoes because I happen to think that's hot. Or insisting my man wear eyeliner out in public because it turns me on. If that's not his thing, well you know, you just deal.

I can understand being...unsettled...by drastic changes in your partner's body. I imagine, if I was with someone who lost a lot of weight or who lost and arm or eye or something, I'd feel a bit strange about it at first too. That's pretty normal. However, I don't understand putting up a fucking website for other people to throw daggers at them! Come on, did he expect people to not make the sort of comments they're making? (And frankly, what sort of person not only makes such a site, but leaves it up after seeing the hatred spewed at someone they claim to love?)

Doesn't marriage mean more than that, though? Isn't the point that you love and want to make a life with that person, regardless of their body/health/finances/whatever? Sure, there are some things that are non-negotiable, but something like weight? I don't get it. So long as there are not health problems, what's a bit more padding?

I mean, if I were in love with someone and committed my life to them, having them gain 50+ pounds wouldn't really change anything. Hell, I've easily gained that much during a bout of steroids, so I know how easy it is to put on pounds and how hard it can be to take them back off. And in the end, you don't marry a person for their body, for Gods sake. And if you do, it would be a favor to your spouse for you to leave them, so they can find someone who geniunely values them.

(And, I must be honest, I think that final picture of Angela in the black undies is incredibly beautiful.)

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posted by Zan at 6:15 PM 10 comments

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Blogger hates me

Or maybe I'm a code idiot. Probably that.

I keep trying to change my template. I load down the code, put it in place and get told that the XML code (or something like that) is broke and I need to close it...but the thing is, I can't see where it's not closed...so i have all these awesome templates to use and no ability to put them up. Grr..

Still packing. Gotta friend here to help me. So maybe we'll get something done. Eventually. Maybe.
posted by Zan at 12:39 PM 0 comments

Sunday, October 22, 2006

I have an apartment!

So, the apartment hunt was a success and I worried about the neighborhood for nothing. It's a very nice neighborhood, older and so the rents are a bit less expensive than on new construction. I am the happy lease holder on a new apartment.

I have a two bedroom one and a half bath, two story for $500 a month. I cannot believe I got that deal. It's insane to find a place as big as this one, in a good neighborhood, for that price. That's what most one bedrooms go for, if not more. It's about ten minutes from my office, depending on traffic and it's located right next to plenty of restaurants and shopping. Seriously, I lucked out with this place. There were two other people willing to put a deposit down on it today, but the landlord (who is from India) told them they had to wait to see if I wanted it first, because he knew I was driving in from out of town.

It's not perfect, of course. The carpet is a hideous shade of yellow-green that hasn't been seen since the 1860s and a screen on the backdoor needs to be replaced. But hey, I can put down a rug and I doubt I'll be going out back too much. Oh, did I mention I have a tiny fenced in back yard?

Central air and heat (which the place I'm in now doesn't have) a DISHWASHER!! (which I don't have and haven't for the last few apartments) Oh, praise the gods, a dishwasher. You have no idea how much I HATE doing dishes. It also has a washer and dryer! I'm just...cannot believe how lucky I am to get this place. It's also on the corner, so I only have a neighbor to one side so I shouldn't have too much problem with the noise. (It's part of a four-plex.) I can take over Nov. 1, so I just have to see when my family can help me move in. My grandmother is going to loan me some money for the utilities and stuff, so I should be able to swing this. I got my car payments put off for the next two months, so that'll help me breath a bit. It's gonna be tight. I won't be able to have cable for awhile, but there's a Blockbuster a couple blocks from my place, so I won't go insane. Plus, so long as I got my DSL, I can watch whatever I want via other channels :)

Oh, he only wanted a $200 pet deposit and isn't gonna charge me extra each month for the cat. So this is a very sweet deal. I'm lucky and happy and....I have an apartment!! Now, I just need to finish packing.

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posted by Zan at 2:51 PM 8 comments

Saturday, October 21, 2006

I hate moving

So, I'm busy packing (or, well, I should be....) and getting ready for my big move and looking for apartments is making me a little....crazy.

First, I called dozens of complexes in Baton Rouge and I can't find a single one with a vacancy I could afford. So, I started calling ads from the paper. That's usually how I get my apartments anyway. So I have an appointment to go down there to look at one tomorrow. A two bedroom for $500 a month. Which is pretty damned cheap in that market and well...the thing is, I know nothing about Baton Rouge neighborhoods. So I'm a little worried about just where it's located. I mean, cheap rent on a two bedroom? Must be something wrong, right? I don't know.

I'm getting nervous about this move and I don't know why. Not about the job. No, I just feel....I don't know. Going into a place I know no one, really. Trying to find an apartment when I don't know a damned thing about the neighborhoods. Worried about being able to make it through the first six months before my raises kick in. I feel....a bit scared, which is dumb.

I need to find a neighborhood that's safe, of course. Hopefully, this place tomorrow will be nice and safe and decent. Housing is sooooo scarce in Baton Rouge. There are 40,000 new residents that moved in after Katrina and just stayed. So, it's really difficult to find places to live that are affordable. And safe. Must be safe. I don't think the people from Katrina are necessarily any more dangerous than any other, just that when you put more people in one place it gets all tight and packed and people get antsy and things happen.

Still, I am a woman out in the world. I have to think about these things. *sigh*
posted by Zan at 4:22 PM 6 comments

Friday, October 20, 2006

This is how you respond to rumors about your sexuality

Clay Aiken? I'm looking at you. The next time someone asks you about being gay or not, follow this example:

NEW YORK (AP) — “Grey’s Anatomy” star T.R. Knight says he’s gay, but hopes people don’t consider that “the most interesting part of me.”
The 33-year-old actor addressed rumors of his sexuality in a statement to People magazine Thursday.
“I guess there have been a few questions about my sexuality, and I’d like to quiet any unnecessary rumors that may be out there,” Knight’s statement read. “While I prefer to keep my personal life private, I hope the fact that I’m gay isn’t the most interesting part of me.”
Knight plays Dr. George O’Malley on the popular ABC drama. A former stage actor, his television credits also include “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” and “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.”
Knight’s “Grey’s Anatomy” character, a bumbling, puppy-eyed surgeon, has long been in love with Dr. Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo).

See? Simple, direct, answers the question and puts the issue to rest. If you're gay, say so. If you're not, say so. Done. Over with. And frankly, classy.
posted by Zan at 12:27 PM 5 comments

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Corporate ownership is killing the free press

At last, I am free to talk about the job I've had for the last six years. Since I'm not giving away corporate secrets, and I now have a new job, fear of firing isn't a factor anymore. (Thank you gods!)

So, I've been working for a newspaper owned by Gannett. Yes, Gannett. The largest media company in the country. Gannett bought our local paper about five years ago. And since then? Oy.

I started out as a general assignment reporter. Basically, that means I wrote a little bit of everything. Which was very cool, since I like a little bit of everything. From that, I moved to writing about courts and crime, then on to the online division where I've been for the last three years.

When I started in 2000, we had a full newroom -- 10 full-time reporters and three full-time photographers, plus a photo editor who took pix part-time. Everyone was busy, but not too stressed because we had enough people to carry the load. Since our paper covers 13 parishes (aka - counties), we had two reporters assigned to do nothing by parish reporting. We had a separate reporter for police and courts. We had fulltime business reporters, fulltime government reporters, someone to handle military news specifically. It was a nice spread, so no one was overwhelmed.

Then, Gannett bought us. I'd never worked for them before and, being new to the business, had no real idea what they were like. But...three reporters who had been in the business much longer and had worked for Gannett before left within six months of us being sold. They left specifically because we'd been bought. This should have been a clue.

At first, things were fine. Not a lot of change. Then we got a new person here, a new on there. We were slowly being brought inline with corporate standards. Okay. Fine. Then, one of our city reporters left. No one was hired to fill her spot, her workload was simply shifted to the other city reporter. Then another reporter left. They too were not replaced, their work simply passed on to someone else. This kept happening, until now we're down to four reporters. From 10 to 4 in six years. With the same workload. People are completely overworked, stressed and ready to scream. No one has time to do their own projects, plus they're always being pulled away to do special projects -- which they also have time for. What happens in a situation like this? People start to make mistakes, issues get just surface coverage, things get missed. The reporters want to do their job, they want to be able to give things the coverage and depth they deserve, but they just don't have time.

The other thing they did when they took over is give everyone a pay raise. Yay! Except -- after that there were no pay raises for three years. For three years, no pay raises and increasing insurance prices. You do the math. So, even when they were looking for new reporters, they couldn't get anyone to take the jobs because the pay is too awful.

Then there are the constant changes to the paper itself. We're a smalltown paper, focused on community news. Except there's a corporate way to do those stories. They want them all to look the same, follow the same format, be streamlined. There's a one-size fits all approach, regardless of where the paper is in the country, what the community is like, whatever. It must follow the Gannett format or it won't be done. Which means, often, that what the reporters actually write is changed by the editors before it goes into the paper. I lost count of the number of times I would write a story, go home and the next morning when I read the paper the story didn't look a damned thing like what I had written. Quotes would be changed, or the writing around it would be changed to suggest a different meaning, there would be things added that I hadn't reported -- but my name was on the thing, so I was the one who got bitched at when people started calling to complain.

I've seen two reporters (people of color too, so when they left our newsroom was lily white again) driven out of their jobs, when it was unwarranted. These were people who were good at their job but were overworked to the point where they couldn't keep up. They'd asked for more time, they'd asked to have their concerns addressed but were dismissed instead. I've seen a paper that was once about twice its current size shrunk slowly, with the type shrinking and the number of ad pages going up while the space devoted to news is whittled away. I've seen freaking advertising on the front page. I've seen the focus go from doing good news reporting to watching the bottom line. News has become a commodity to be bought and sold.

Everytime someone says the media is liberal I just want to laugh. No, no it's not. It's decidedly conservative. Now, most reporters are liberals. They're also mostly professional enough not to let that totally color a story. Editors and publishers, however, tend to be conservative and they're the ones who decide what actually makes it into the paper and what gets covered in the first place. Here's a good rule of thumb: the more money they make, the more conservative they are.

There is a pretense at balance, but the fact is, it's not in the corporate interests to really rock the boat too much. Sure, there are certain flagship publications that have the OK to be a bit risk-taking, but for most of us? No way. Follow the formula or find another job.

Which pisses me off, because the reporters I know are vastly talented and driven. They want to dig deep, they want to expose lies, they want to serve the public trust but they are blocked at almost every turn by corporate policy that cowtows to the money makers.

So, please. Give reporters a break? Throw stones at the editors and publishers, but reporters are honestly doing their best to do their job.

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posted by Zan at 5:54 PM 6 comments

Take this job and. . .

I quit my job this morning. Officially turned in my notice and let 'em all know I'm leaving.

I'm free!! Free!!!! See the little birdie spread her wings and fly......

My boss just looked at me when I told him. "Oh, really?" he said, looking perplexed.

Mwhahahaha. Yes, really. Really, really, really.

I'm almost giddy. It's such a relief! I came in this morning to a buncha emails from the Boss, asking all kindsa questions and I was like...no. No, i'm not going to answer that. Nope.

So, now that I'm free and can talk about my job, prepare yourself for a nice rant about corporate media ownership and the crap reporters go through. I'm done with news, people. DONE. I'm off to my nice state job where I don't have to be on call 24/7, where I don't have a micromanaging boss looking over my shoulder all the time, where I don't have to deal with unspoken political agendas....ah, the joy!!
posted by Zan at 12:57 PM 4 comments

Sunday, October 15, 2006

If I had $40. . .

So. Reading Belle and Bitch | Lab and I started thinking about class and notions of poverty. About how what constitutes 'poor' is different for people depending on where they live, how they were raised and exactly how many 'poor' people they know. This whole thing started as a spin-off of a post on Feministe that mentioned spending $40 a month on leg waxing while in law school -- and I should note I personally don't see anything wrong with that, if you can afford to do it. Hell, when I was in grad school I had a budget set aside for trashy romance novels and B-grade horror movies. Grad school sucks your brain dry, so if you have the extra cash to do something that makes it less brain-sucking, go for it. But not everyone has that luxury.

And that's really what this is about, I think. For me, anyway. The idea that, for some people, the idea that you simply do not have $40 extra a month is inconceivable. Everyone has $40 extra a month, don't they? Well, no. We don't. In fact, some of us don't have $5 extra a month and if we did we'd be spending it on things like gas or food and not buying a new paperback or renting the latest zombie movie. (Oh, gods. I so miss those days! Ahem.)

Growing up, I didn't realize I was poor. Strange, but true. I grew up on a farm, in very rural Louisiana. My nearest neighbors were my grandparents and two sets of aunts and uncles. We grew our own vegetables and raised cows and pigs, so we weren't ever hungry. I didn't realize it wasn't normal to wear hand-me-downs, things your own Mother had worn in high school, until I was in junior high and a girl, one who I sorta thought was a friend, asked me all disgusted like why I never wore blue jeans. Which made me start crying when I told her I just didn't have any, because we didn't have the money. I had never really thought about not having the money until then. I never really cared what I was wearing until them, either. But suddenly, it all crystalized for me. I was poor. I wasn't starving, being kicked out of my house poor, but I was poor. We had a house because my parents had been given one as a wedding present by an uncle that just really liked them. Of course, when he gave it to them, it didn't have an indoor bathroom and was very, very tiny. But at least it was a roof over their head. They went into debt adding a bathroom before I was born and then, when I was probably about 8 or so, remodeling the house so my brother and I could have our own bedrooms. (We were getting to the age where we were starting to notice we were made kinda differently, so it was time for us to get our own beds, ya know?)

I never had luxuries like cable television when I was growing up. All my friends did, but I didn't. This only bugged me because it kept me from being able to talk about the things they were talking about. I had never seen MTV until I visited my Aunt Vickie in Lafayette. And I'd stay up until 3 or 4 in the morning, watching, just glued to the television because it was something I didn't have. I couldn't make long distance calls on our telephone either, because it was too expensive. But, because we lived so far out of town, calling any of my friends (who all lived in town) was long distance. So, when I went home from school, that was all the contact I had with my friends. Summer breaks, where you're supposed to be hanging out with your friends, I was stuck in the country on a farm, helping my dad bale hay so we could have the money for school cloths the next semester. And all our clothes came from the Dollar General or Family Dollar. My mother, when I came home that time in tears because I was wearing clothes from the fricking 60s instead of blue jeans, took me into town to the Dollar General and bought me a cheap pair of jeans. She probably didn't really have the money to do that, but she did it because I was so very upset about it.

The paint in my bedroom when I was a child wasn't very good. In that, we didn't have the money to buy enough paint to do the whole room, so most of the walls had only a light coating of yellow on them. You could see the nails and the lines of the board through it. Which never really bothered me, until I had a friend over for the night. I thought everything was going well, we had fun. Until the next day at school, I heard her telling my other 'friends' that my room was awful. That you could see through the paint and that the walls weren't finished and there was no molding around the edges and I had only like five posters on the wall. Which was all true, but had never bothered me before. I had never really cared, because frankly I'm not the sort to put much stock in appearances. (Which all those 'friends' came to appreciate much later, but at this age they were all about judging and fitting in and ostracizing the weird girl.) So, I got really, really upset about that too and, since I knew we didn't have the money to repaint my room, started cutting pictures out of old magazines and making pictures and posters and things to put all over my walls, to cover up the horrible paint and the nails. The next time I had someone over, they thought it was the coolest room they'd ever seen. Because they didn't know how much pain had gone into it, I suspect.

The thing is, I knew there were people who were poorer than I was. I knew there were people who didn't have food to eat or a place to sleep -- because my family made it a point to share what little we had with people who had even less. My family was forever bringing people over for dinner or giving them blankets or pillows or cans of fruit my mother had canned or whatever we had that they didn't. We were poor, but there were people much poorer than we were. We had a house, we never had the utilities cut off, we never went hungry. We were lucky.

It's only been recently that my mother has started to spend money on herself. To my mother, $40 is way too much to spend on a new pair of pants. Or a new pair of shoes. She'll do it, if I'm there to talk her into it, but otherwise...she just can't bring herself to spend money on herself. It's a habit she picked up raising her family on next to no money. You don't have money for things you don't need. You just don't. And when you realize you do, instead of spending it, you put it aways for later because something is always going to come up and you'll be glad you've got th at $40 for a tank of gas or a new car battery instead of those boots you really wanted.

To a lot of people in Louisiana, I have a good job. I have a really good job, actually. And I don't make $27k a year. Imagine, for a moment, making $27k a year and raising a family. In this state, that's a reality. In fact, in this state people making that much money are considered too wealthy to qualify for any family aid programs. (Well, unless you've got like four kids or more.) And you can't get my job without a college education, so in addition to raising a family and paying the rent and car note and insurance you've got to pay back college loans. It's nearly impossible, yet it's considered a good income.

The job I'm moving to next month pays me a little bit less. I'm willing to take a pay cut, because it's a state job which means I've got job security, good insurance and absolutely incredible retirement. I also have a clear path for promotion. So I can take a pay cut now, knowing I'll be making probably a good $5-6K more a year within two years. I'll also be able to get myself promoted to a manager's position in about three years, which means I'll be making close to $40K a year in the foreseeable future. So, by the time I'm 35 I'll actually have made my way out of lower-middle class. I'll be able to consider buying a house or having a child. I'll be able to relax and actually enjoy my life. For a lot of people, that's not something they can see. That's not something they can even imagine.

When people talk about spending $40 a month on leg waxing, the reaction they get is not because people necessarily begrudge them that luxury. It's because for a lot of people, that's just not a possibility. And we want people to understand that all these damned Feminist Wars are clouding the issues. It's not about what you spend your money on, it's that a great many of us simply don't have the money to spend, period. Is it really important if an individual woman spends $40 on leg waxing or on new shoes or on the latest, greatest please-your-man sexbot trinket when we have a huge class of women who don't even have the money to pay the rent? Who don't have the $40 to buy food for their children? Who don't have the money to put gas in the car to get to that college class? When we still have women working as many hours as a man but making less than he does, does it really matter what one person spends their extra cash on? Aren't we losing sight of the issue here?

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posted by Zan at 10:15 AM 5 comments

Friday, October 13, 2006

Does this razor make my feminism look bad?

Ok, so there's yet another flare up of the 'I'm a better feminist than you because I shave/don't shave' argument in GirlBlogVille. I'm pretty sure I've made my views on this clear before, so I won't rehash it, but I think I want to talk about what shaving meant to me when I was a girl. (I don't shave now, because I tend to cut myself and my immune system is not so good thanks to the Lupus. So, why chance an infection when having hairy legs doesn't mean that much to me?)

When I was a girl, I saw being able to shave as a marker of becoming a woman. It seems silly to me now, but when I was a girl, I thought the day I was able to shave would be a day I was a step closer to being a grown woman. Being a woman meant that I was able to make my own decisions. I would be able to decide how to dress, where to go, who to go there with, how to spend my day, where to work, if I was going to do the damned dishes before going to bed -- it meant that I was going to be independent, a full-formed person. And, in my young mind, being able to shave was connected to that. So was getting my period, but that's a very different story.

My mother never taught me how to shave. She never told me when I could start. She never told me not to do it. She let me make my own decision about when to start, how often to shave or not to shave. I knew she shaved, I knew her razor was sitting on the rim of the bathtub and so, one day when I was probably about 12, I decided I should start shaving. And I did. I did a horrible job of it too, but hey, that wasn't what was important to me. What was important was that I was making a decision, for myself, to do this. I shaved weekly (I'm one of those women who has very thin hair and it comes in blonde, so you really can't see it for a long time) until I was in college. Why? Because I wanted to. Because I thought I looked better that way. Because it was my decision.

And when I decided I didn't want to shave anymore? I stopped. It wasn't a huge, dramatic decision for me. I just realized it was taking too much time, I was cutting myself too often (unfortunately, the Lupus can make my hands shake badly. Ugh.), it was too much trouble and well, I didn't really mind having hairy legs. And my boyfriend didn't care one way or the other, so why should I do something I didn't want to do anymore? So. I just stopped. That's all. Over and done with. And that decision felt just as right to me as the decision to start shaving when I was a girl -- because it was mine.

I have never felt pressured to shave my legs and I sure as hell have never felt pressured to get a bikini wax. Makeup? Eh, sometimes I feel I need to. Like on job interviews or to weddings. So, I do. I don't feel any real resentment about that, because it's more like I'm observing a social nicety than giving in to the patriarchy. I mean, men put on dress clothes and clean up a bit more for those occassions too, so it's not like it's completely unequal. I wouldn't take a job that required me to wear makeup every day, though. Or stocking or heels or skirts or dresses. My new job requires me to dress up a bit more, but in no way do I have to wear dresses and skirts and makeup every day, so that's okay with me. (Considering that right now I can wear jeans and tees to work, switching to more structured shirts and pants isn't that big a deal. Makes me feel a bit more adult too.)

So, I don't really get a lot of the angst about shaving/makeup/heels/whatever. Maybe that has to do with the way I was raised. My mother rarely tried to get me to conform to 'feminine' ideals -- once she realized how much that made me rebel, anyway. Sure, she always complimented me when I wore dresses, but she never really tried to force me into them. (Hell, they didn't bitch when I started wearing jeans and tees to church and I know that drove them crazy.) Maybe it has to do with the fact that, for me, making the choice to begin shaving AND making the choice to stop shaving were BOTH empowering. The same with wearing makeup. I made the choice to being when I was a girl and made the choice to stop when I was an adult. Both felt right for me at the time, neither felt like I was giving into any sort of patriarchy. (I always thought makeup was like painting when I was a girl anyway. And gods, did my poor parents hate some of my paintings ;)

I think I'm trying to say that making a decision for yourself is empowering, period. Owning what you're doing and the reasons that you're doing them is empowering. Some of those decisions are easier to make as you get older, because you're more comfortable with yourself and your body and who you are in the world. That's understandable. I couldn't have made the same decisions at 12 as I did at 25. But having the freedom to make those decisions is what matters, it's what allows you to grow and develop and make mistakes and learn and realize who you really are.

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posted by Zan at 8:03 AM 5 comments

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Happy again

There's so much crap going on in the world right now and I just...I can't think about it. I'm happy, dammit. I want to stay happy, so I will.

You know what makes me happy? Tomorrow, I'm driving to Baton Rouge and signing the contract for my new job! Yes. That makes me crazy happy. Oooo, yes.

Know what makes me even happier? Next week, I get to resign! Oh, holy gods in heaven, thank you! My current job has been sapping my soul for years and finally, finally I'm free. My first day in my new job is Nov. 6. In the first three weeks I'm there, I'll get THREE holidays. Why? Because I'll be working for the state and they get beaucoup holidays. Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. No nights, no weekends, no required overtime. Bitching retirement. If I work a full 30 years, I draw 90 percent of my salary. I could retire by 62 and get plenty to live on. Plus, medical insurance. Good insurance too.

Plus, Baton Rouge. Lots of stuff to do there. Whee. And New Orleans only an hour away. *happy sigh*

You know what else makes me happy? I have discovered two pair of pants in my closet that I could not wear anymore that I now fit into. Better yet? I managed to lose the weight to get back into them without trying, intending to. I was just trying to eat things that made me feel better and look at that -- I get to reclaim some clothing. I think my body is trying to refind it's set point. I gained a bit of weight a year or so ago, thanks to my stupid Lupus and a couple courses of steroids and now I think my body is trying to get back to what it feels best at. Which means I'll probably drop another 30 lbs over the next year or so. Which is fine with me, since that won't make me a small girl, just a touch smaller. I look forward to getting back into my 22's again :) I got some wicked nice clothing that I wanna wear again.

Anyway, I'm happy again. Just thought I would share the joy!

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posted by Zan at 11:51 AM 8 comments

Monday, October 09, 2006

When does EC go over-the-counter again?

In January, I know. But it seems to me it can't come soon enough. In my endless ramblings around FemiBlogVille, I've been reading over at Biting Beaver. She's got a whole saga up about trying to get EC and, unfortunately, having it fail. She's now in the process of setting up an abortion, because she and her husband already have three children and cannot afford to have any more. A perfectly well-reasoned decision, one that she and her husband made together, and yet she's getting shit for it. Hell, she got shit for just taking the fucking EC and that's just birth control!

What gets to me is that her situation is not all that unique. Sure, there's the stereotype of slutty, single, teenagers having all the wild one-night-what's-your-name-again sex, but that's not the people who need EC the most. (Although, gods bless 'em, those people need it too.) Married women need it. Women who are already mothers need it. Women who have serious illnessess that could kill us if we got pregant need it. Your mother needs it. Your sister needs it. Your girlfriend needs it. Your best friend needs it. You need it. It's not an Us vs. Them situation, really.

And no one is saying that EC works everytime. It doesn't, unfortunately, but it's better than just rolling the dice and not trying anything after a condom break. It's a decent shot at avoiding an abortion. Everyone wants to lower the abortion rate, right? Even those of us who are radically pro-choice want to lower the abortion rate, if for no reason than why should a woman have to go through that when she doesn't have to? Why should a woman have to take time off work, spend several hundred dollars, wade through protestors who call her a whore and murder, when she could spend 40 bucks on a pill she takes in the privacy of her own home?

And still, there's going to be the problem of finding a drug store what will fill your script when it goes OTC. Gods know, some people are just gonna wanna be kings of their little pharmacy and deny women their pills anyway. So how do you get around that? Well, I know how I plan on doing it. Drugstore.com. That's where I will be ordering my pack, soon as it's legal to do so OTC. They've already announced they plan on selling EC online (they already do, actually. Script only, of course.) I don't know how they'll get around the age limits, but they'll probably require you to use a credit card since you can't have those until you're 18. File that address away -- Drugstore.com. Fuck the bastards. Go around them and get your pills.

Birth control is your friend. Don't let anyone tell you different. The ability to plan your family, to determine with who and how many children you're going to have is vital to being a free human being.

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posted by Zan at 2:51 PM 4 comments

Sunday, October 08, 2006

I Heart Battlestar Galactica

I'm about to reveal my sci-fi nerd fangirl self. You've been warned.

The new season of Battlestar started Friday and I am a very happy girl. Hell, I'm all tingly down to my toenails. If you haven't watched this show, you should. Now. Today. Get the discs from NetFlix, download it on iTunes, something. This show is awesome. Watch it even if you don't like Sci-Fi. You don't have to, it's that good.

Judging from Friday night, this season is going to be the most unabashedly political so far. In the season opener they tackled living in an occupied land, suicide bombings, terrorism -- from both sides, "detention" chambers, forced motherhood, insurgency -- hell, they even had the fracking president yelling "No one was tortured!"

I love this show. Seriously.

First, women are equal in this universe. I've never once heard anyone on the show utter "Well, she can't do that. She's a woman." The former president is female, women occupy positions of power in both the Human and Cylon forces, the humans worship the Greek pantheon, complete with all the goddesses. Women are free agents, in charge of their own destinies for good or bad.

Second, it's complex. You're never really sure just who the good guys are or who the bad guys are. Sure, some people seem good -- but would a truely good person try to rig an election and subvert the will of the people? People are flawed, they can be manipulated by their desires. Is Baltar good or evil? Is he a human or a fracking Cylon? Who knows? (I'm hoping the writers do!)

They're not afraid to tackles hard issues. This ain't Star Trek, people. They did an episode last season on abortion that was just....well. When you've only got 50,000 humans left in the entire universe, is increasing the population more important than personal freedom? Is it for the greater good to coerce women into motherhood?

That theme got revisited this season when it was revealed that one of our main characters has a child she didn't know about. A not entirely human child, at that. On a lesser show, I'd be afraid that meant this character (who totally, completely kicks ass) was about to be rewritten as a simpering "oh my baby!' waste of airspace. But I don't worry so much on BG, because that's the last likely place they'll be going.

The show also isn't afraid to tackle themes of redemption -- and have the characters actually have to work for it. Someone who was your enemy, can they ever really become your friend? Can a mother ever really get over the loss of a child? When she finds out the child was stolen from her by the people who now want her help, what's she going to do? (Hell, I know what I'd do, and it wouldn't be pretty.) Actions have consequences here -- even if it takes a few years for them to show up.

So, watch this show. SciFi channel, Friday nights. You'll be glad you did.

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posted by Zan at 8:14 AM 8 comments

Saturday, October 07, 2006

A meme for which I blame Lacy

Lacy tagged me with this meme on Myspace and so, I pass it on to you. Because the autumn weather has finally returned (after a week of the fucking 90s!!) and so has my optimism and silliness. Fill out as you wish. The will be a quiz later.

So, here's how it works:
1. Open your music library
2. Put it on shuffle
3. Press play
4. For every question, type the song that's playing
5. When you go to a new question, press the next button

Opening Credits:
"King for a Day" -- Green Day (Oh hell, THAT sets a mood...)

Waking Up:
"Wicked Ways" -- Garbage

First Day At School:
"Spiral" -- Pansy Division

Falling In Love:
"Hold On" -- Sarah McLachlan (Oh sure. Hold on to yourself 'cause this is gonna hurt like hell. Greeeeeaaat.)

Fight Song:
"To Another Abyss" -- Bad Religion

Breaking Up:
"That I Would Be Good" -- Alanis (Hell, this actually makes sense.)

"Vampire Girl" -- Deaf Pedestrians (Oh, that's funny....)

Life's OK:
"S&M Airlines" -- NoFX (Oh hell. Just...appropriate.)

Mental Breakdown:
"Creosote" -- Son Volt (Apparently, my breakdowns are very mellow and subtle. Huh.)

"Twenty Two" -- Millencolin (Nice! I speed!!)

"Me Myself and I" -- Joan Armatrading

Getting Back Together:
"I Don't Like You" -- The Muffs (Hysterical. Fits with my 'never go back' theory)

Birth of Child:
"Bunnies" -- Pansy Division (*snicker* Well....it definately describes how said child can to be born anyway...)

"Dance Inside" -- All-American Rejects

Final Battle:
"Simca" -- Samain

Death Scene:
"You Look So Fine" -- Garbage. (Oh, nice. 'You look so fine I want to break your heart and give you mine.')

Funeral Song:
"Joking" -- Indigo Girls (Ha! In which I pop up in the casket and freak out my family and friends!)

End Credits:
"Bohemian Like You" -- The Dandy Warhols
posted by Zan at 7:51 AM 1 comments

Friday, October 06, 2006

Five things I got from feminism

Danke Belledame, for tagging me. I love memes. Shhh. Don't tell, it'll ruin my rep :)

1. I can own property. In fact, I do own some, as part of a sorta family-trust, on the many, many acres of farmland I grew up on. I doubt I'll ever do anything with it, but I can and do own it free and clear, all in my own name.

2. I have an education. Not only was I allowed to learn to read and write, but no one blinked when I applied to college, nor again when I went on for my Masters.

3. I (for the moment) control my own fertility. I have no children because I haven't ever wanted children. I have multiple birth control options, all of which I can obtain legally and (reasonally) affordably from a doctor who won't question my right to have and use them.

4. I have a job. No one looks at me and says "Why don't you just let your husband pay the bills?" No one accuses me of taking a job from a man with a family to support.

5. I can pick my own spouse. Should I choose to marry, no one but me gets to decide who I marry. I cannot be compelled to marry someone of my father's choosing, nor to marry to bring property into the family. Any husband of mine will be a man I want, not someone I have to take. (Although, should I decide I want a wife, I'm gonna have to move to Mass. or Canada. Which may not be such a bad option for me....)

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posted by Zan at 6:04 PM 3 comments

Happiness is. . .

. . .having the new Indigo Girls cd in my happy, happy little hands.

For all my adoration of punk, I love alt country/folk just as much. And I love, love, love, love, love Emily and Amy more than any other duo.

So far, this cd is awesome. It sounds more like their earlier stuff than the last few cds. Which is a compliment, even though the last few cds are among my favorites. More bass and rhythm guitar, more focused lyrics, more happiness to go around!

If I could figure out a way to put songs on this page, I'd do it, because I desire to share the Indigo Love with others. Alas, I am code inept and cannot.

And so, I tease you with lyrical snippets:

I see love and I like to make it happen
What we get from your war walk
The ticker of the nation breaking down like a bad clock
I want the pendulum to swing again
So that all your mighty mandate was just spitting in the wind.

Or this. . .

But they left out the sisters
Praying to a father god so long I really missed her
The goddess of benevolence
And you should listen to your mama if you have a lick of sense left


posted by Zan at 5:46 PM 1 comments

We don't want those people in our neighborhood -- again

Ah, the aftermath of Katrina in Mississippi. The state is recovering faster than New Orleans is (and good for them, there's no resentment about that on this end) and people are rebuilding. This is a Very Good Thing. Habitat for Humanity is building lots of houses for lower-income people. (And I adore that organization. I keep trying to get hired by them, but no luck so far.) Things are going well, until local residents find out what's planned.

WAVELAND, Miss. (AP) — Toni Thomas, a 24-year-old single mom of two, pulled her nose out of a science book Wednesday and smiled.
For a few minutes she wasn’t thinking about her night-class homework or her rigorous routine that begins each morning at sunrise. She wasn’t thinking about her job or her finances. Instead, she dreamed of returning to her Middle Town neighborhood to be near her mother, aunts and cousins.
Thomas’ grin grew when she thought about watching Larry, her 2-year-old with dimples, and her daughter, Shadara, play in a new house she owns.
But the chance of that dream becoming reality in Waveland seems to be getting slimmer by the minute.
Thomas qualified for an interest-free home loan through Habitat for Humanity, the Christian-based nonprofit group made popular by former President Carter, which is building “thousands and thousands” of homes along the storm-pummeled Gulf Coast, from Texas to Alabama.
Nearly 200 Waveland families applied for a home through the Hancock County chapter of Habitat. So far, 70 are planned.
Those plans hit a brick wall when some residents and city leaders said Habitat should not be given special permits to build homes on lots smaller than city code allows.
Wendy McDonald, who leads the Hancock chapter of Habitat, told a disgruntled crowd at a Board of Aldermen meeting Tuesday that larger lots are more expensive and drive mortgage payments out of reach for most Habitat homeowners. Many who qualify are senior citizens and single moms who would find it hard to care for a large lot.
Some of the most vocal critics of Habitat’s plan to build on smaller lots in the predominantly black neighborhood of Middle Town were residents from far different areas of the city.
After McDonald said hundreds of pre-storm Waveland families are unable to return home because of the soaring cost of real estate, Judy Roth, who lives near the beachfront, said it’s not a problem current residents should have to deal with.
But Habitat will build homes only for families who were living in Hancock County before Katrina, meaning the 200-plus families wanting a Habitat house consider themselves Waveland residents.
Russell Voorhies, who lives on Beach Boulevard, said he fears allowing smaller lots could start a trend that may spread in the city.
But since March, aldermen have approved several recommendations from city planners allowing special permits similar to the requests they denied from Habitat.
One property owner was allowed to divide his property into eight lots, each 7 feet smaller than the city’s code requires.
In April the city approved a request to allow a homeowner to divide one lot into two, one of which did not meet the city’s square-footage requirement.
A month later the city approved a permit to allow a property owner to build a new home 14 feet closer to the front property line and 17 feet closer to the backyard boundary than code permitted.
Planning Commissioner Kathy Pinn said the community hardly opposed those changes.
The most debated project from Habitat is a plan to build six houses near Herlihy Street on lots that do not meet the city’s 75-foot-wide requirement. Four of the lots are 70 feet wide and two are 62 feet wide.
Pinn said the commission, which sends recommendations to aldermen, supports Habitat and most of the resistance is coming from the community.
One of the Middle Town residents who opposes Habitat’s plan is Mary Leigh Hall, 62, who told the commission the Habitat homes would attract drugs and traffic to the neighborhood and the city should focus on other things, “instead of housing.”
Hall is one of the aunts Thomas wants to be closer to. Thomas grew up in Middle Town and she said drugs and traffic would be nothing new.
“There’s always been drugs in that neighborhood,” she said. “That’s not Habitat’s fault.”
Habitat has threatened to leave Waveland if the climate doesn’t change. Thomas said she already has been asked if she would consider living in a Habitat home in Bay St. Louis.
“The city of Waveland should step up and do something, because there’s a bunch of people who just want to come home,” she said.
Instead of deciding on Habitat proposals this week, aldermen scheduled a meeting for Oct. 14 at 10 a.m. between Habitat and Middle Town residents to discuss the plans.

So. The cost of property is rising, lots of families who lived in Waveland cannot afford to buy said property, so Habitat steps in to help them out. And then their fricking neighbors protest? "It's not my problem"? What? These aren't strangers. These are people who lived in Waveland and were displaced by Katrina. They want to come home, dammit, and they have ever right to. They're also willing to work, hard, for their own home. I don't know if you've ever been involved with a Habitat Build but those people WORK. If this isn't a huge helping of classism, I don't know what is. Those people aren't good enough to live here anymore. Now that we can get rid of them.

But, you know, people who can afford their land on their own? Well, we'll give them permits with little acceptions. Because they're not poor, see? No poor, not old, not single parents. No, they're our kind of people, see?

Gah. Isn't it bad enough that Katrina destroyed lives left and right? Now those victims have to hurt each other? What the fuck is wrong with the world?

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posted by Zan at 12:25 PM 0 comments

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Fat among the feminists

So, I've seen this photo a few times this week around the blogosphere. I thought the model was pretty, looked good and was glad she was included in a major runway show. I don't follow fashion, so I don't know a damn thing about the designer, etc. Mostly, it was just something that caught my eye, I appreciated it and moved on.

Well. Over at Feministing it got posted with some questions about what the designer intended by putting her in his otherwise thin-model show. No big deal there, for me, at least. Seems something worth discussing, even if I don't follow fashion.

And then I got to comments. And started to get pissed off.

It devoled quickly from addressing the topic at hand to remarks like "this model does not look good in those clothes" to "no one wants to see this" to "this woman is morbidly obese". She was called not normal, extremely large, couldn't be healthy and fit. There's one poster there who is convinced, completely, that obesity is a horrible, horrible disease and will kill all us fat girls one day.

A few people came in and spoke, for which I'm grateful, but -- again with women bashing women! What the hell? It's not bad enough we all have to live in this society where we're generally undervalued, we have to put up with comments like this from other women?

No one wants to see women like this? Then tell me how this woman is a professional model. (Living in Paris, not America, of course.) If no one wanted to see her, how would she be making a living? No one wants to see a size 20? Have you ever taken a quick skim of all the Plus-Size Porn sites? Not only to people want to see women who look like her, in sexy clothing, they're willing to pay to see them in a great deal less. (Not that I suggest basing your worth or body image on porn, but the fact remains that there is a market for fat porn and there wouldn't be if it were true no one found fat bodies sexually attractive.)

Again with this stupidity! How does my (or any other) fat body affect you? Seriously? I mean, you can't catch it. If you don't want to look, don't look. I don't expect everyone to find me attractive or want to have sex with me or whatever. But I do expect to be able to enter a discussion with people who are supposed to be my fucking allies and not be so offended I leave. I do expect a little respect. I do expect to be able to have a discussion that doesn't devolve into "yes, but fat is unhealthy. My fill-in-family-member has X disease because s/he is fat." No. You relative has X disease for whatever actually causes that disease. Their extra weight may not be helping their health, but it did not, on it's own with no other factors, cause that disease. There is not a single illness that has been proven to be caused by fat. Ever. Why? Because being fat doesn't make you sick! If it did, with our 'obesity crisis' in this country, we should all be dropping dead at alarming rates. And we're not. We're living longer. Because being fat, by itself, isn't going to kill you. Or make you sick.

I'm just really fed up with the fat bashing I've seen lately. There's this post, then there was fucking Dennis Miller on The Daily Show a few nights ago who spent the whole segment making cracks about fat people. I mean, it's the fucking Daily Show! You'd think Miller of all people would have something better to talk about than how fat people are worth mocking. You know, like all that political and religious shit he didn't got to talk about on Katie Couric's show? But noo...let's talk about the fatties!

So you know what? Leave us the fuck alone, really. Especially you people who are supposed to be our feminist/progressive allies. If you don't understand how sizeism is just another form of social repression and control, you haven't been paying attention and I'm just too fucking tired of this shit to explain it to you. Again.

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posted by Zan at 6:18 PM 6 comments

Monday, October 02, 2006

100 Insights into my Psyche

Because I'm waiting to hear back about the job I interviewed for last week and because I'm sick to death of all the shitty shitty badness in the world, I'm finally going to fill out that silly 100 Things meme that's been around since dirt was a baby. Why? Because I can and because it's fun and because I can, that's why. So, 100 Things about Me You Probably Didn't Want To Know:

1. I'm the firstborn in my family
2. I have one brother, no sisters
3. My middle name is Elizabeth
4. I'm 5'10'"
5. I have never wanted to be anything but a writer, ever since I was a little girl
6. I've survived more suicide attempts than I can count
7. I have dreams about dancing turtles
8. When I was a little girl, I won a goldfish at the fair. His name was Abraham and he lived years longer than any fair goldfish
should have.
9. The first girl I had a crush on was my best friend. I was 16 at the time and it completely freaked me out.
10. Cats find me. I can move into a neighborhood completely free of them and within two week there will be half a dozen waiting outside for me.
11. I make my own candles
12. I also cross-stitch. I am obssessed with cross-stitching. My entire family has gotten presents of stitching from me. My walls are decorated with my pictures. I'm really good at it, even though the first time I tried to learn when I was a little girl I fucked it up entirely.
13. If I had a daughter, I'd name her Samara Jayne.
14. I have no idea what I would name a son. Which means I'll probably have one some day.
15. I hate pickles.
16. I hate cucumbers, too.
17. My favorite number is 15. I don't know why, it just is.
18. I did not name any of my current cats. My two best friends named them for me and the names just stuck.
19. I miss being out in the sunlight.
20. I dream about moving to the desert, but I know I can't because the sunlight would kill me.
21. I haven't had a real vacation in probably 10 years.
22. I'm sick of being poor.
23. I've lost 28 pounds in the last year, by cutting down on sugared soft drinks and fast food. I didn't mean to lose weight, I did it because I was having problems with my gall bladder and changing my diet made me feel better.
24. I make incredible meat loaf. My friends routinely request it.
25. I live in Louisiana, come from good Cajun stock and I cannot stand Cajun food.
26. I don't eat rice.
27. I used to be a Republican. I got better.
28. My hair naturally changes colors. This has nothing to do with the sun, since I avoid the sun at all costs.
29. I have my father's eyes.
30. I believe I will actually get married one day, probably in my 50s.
31. I talk to animals. And I think they understand me.
32. I have an atomic black thumb. When I walk through gardening sections, I can hear the plants screaming in horror.
33. I love golden apples, bananas and pears. They're the only fruits I eat.
34. I wear a size 11W shoe.
35. Most of my friends live at least an hour away from me.
36. I've become addicted to Grey's Anatomy because this woman is beautiful and should be my girlfriend.
37. I cannot stand most mainstream pop music.
38. I am addicted to punk rock and alt country. Because the lyrics generally mean something, dammit.
39. I swear so fucking bad in real life that I should come with a warning label.
40. I'm not nearly as rebellous as most people think I am. I just refuse to put up with unnessecary drama and shit.
41. I've been accused of being a drama queen.
42. My last vacation was in New Orleans, five months before Katrina hit.
43. My grandfather died when I was 13. It was horribly painful for me. I have never gone back to visit his grave, even though it is less than a quarter of a mile from my parents house and I visit them regularly.
44. My neice is obssessed with pink. I'm praying this is a phase.
45. I adore Spanish architecture.
46. I have a weakness for bed linens. I love good sheets and pretty comforters.
47. I've finally down to one medication per day. I was taking 14 per day, at one point.
48. I have migraines so bad that the doctors initially thought I was having seizures.
49. I have managed to 'cure' my migraines by taking 500 mgs of magnesium a day. It's cheap, it works and I can get it anywhere.
50. I spent a year in therapy talking about my parents and religion. It changed my life and I haven't been suicidially depressed since them.
51. My parents are unaware I was every actively suicidal.
52. I haven't gone on a date in several years. It's starting to bug me.
53. Only select friends know I'm bisexual.
54. I don't think I'll ever be able to tell my parents I'm bisexual.
55. I want to live near a beach at some point in my life.
56. I like to paint, although I have no formal training.
57. My hair is currently longer than it's been since I was in high school.
58. It is also as close to my natural color as it's been in a while.
59. I have strange reactions to drugs.
60. I have never been drunk.
61. I cannot say the same thing about being high.
62. I hate the color blue. It makes me want to stab people.
63. I don't like being called domestic.
64. I like to cook, but I have no one to cook for, so I don't.
65. My favorite colors are brown, dark orange and green.
66. I wish I'd gone to college on the coast.
67. I took piano lessons when I was young, but I don't play.
68. I played bass clarinet in school. I absolutely loved it.
69. I love the sound of a bass guitar.
70. I almost drowned in Italy.
71. While I was drowning, I had a vision of the Goddess standing on the beach. It felt like I was being claimed.
72. Most people think you're crazy when you say you had a vision while you were drowning, but I don't care.
73. While flying home from Italy, our plane dropped several thousand feet as we were flying over Louisiana. I was too surprised to scream, but everyone else did. My seatbelt caught me and left a bruise across my belly.
74. I broke international laws in Italy. We were tresspassing on archeological sites, but we never got caught.
75. In college, I toyed with the idea of being an anthropologist. I wanted to do physical archeology, so I could play with bones and artifacts.
76. I love really ancient history.
78. I did my Master's thesis on women writers in Ancient Greece. There were several, well-known at the time, but completely ignored today.
79. My professors knew about my interests (women writers/rhetors) so when they saw I was enrolled in their class, they would change the syllabus to include women they would otherwise have left out. Because if they didn't, I always called them out on it.
80. I was told my thesis defense was the most professional the department had ever seen.
81. I don't think I have any secrets anymore, although no one knows everything about me.
82. At one point, I thought about joining the Unitarian Church and trying to become a minister. I got over that idea.
83. I am fascinated by religion, even though the one I was raised with damaged me badly.
84. I actually had a visit home this weekend that did not include a single conversation about religion.
85. I like hardwood floors instead of carpet.
86. My favorite ice cream is Tin Roof.
87. I love hazelnut coffee.
88. I love just about any flavor tea you can find. Except raspberry or blueberry. Yech.
89. I have no clocks in my house except for my bedside alarm.
90. I don't wear a watch.
91. I don't have a cell phone.
92. I have never text messaged anyone.
93. I cannot stand 'net speak.' Type out the words, dammit.
94. I love downloading music.
95. In a past life, I think I was a cat.
96. I look forward to being an old woman.
97. I believe I'm going to live to be an old woman. This is a new development. I used to believe I'd never see 40.
98. I think youth is overrated.
99. I own more books than pairs of shoes.
100. I'm finally finished with this list!


posted by Zan at 4:56 PM 15 comments

Sunday, October 01, 2006

'Don't tell him it's mine'

A friend of mine got a big, unexpected, revelation from her mother a few days ago. Her mother, who is now in her early 60s, told her that, when she was a young woman, she had an abortion.

That, in itself, was shocking enough. This woman is very religious (fundy variety) and married to a man who is, shall we say, an abusive asshole. But the abortion was not the entirity of the secret. It turns out that her mother, before she married my friend's father, was involved with the asshole she is currently married to. (Her first husband died several years ago, and then she married the Asshole.) She was very young, hadn't been in any relationship before. One night, she got very drunk and the asshole raped her. She doesn't remember much of it, only that she woke up with a hangover and bleeding. She didn't leave him, although my friend and I don't really understand why. She stayed with him for several months, during which time she got pregnant twice. First, she had a miscarriage. The second time, she had an abortion. Which was illegal at the time.

So, the Asshole gives her money for the abortion (which she did not want, btw, but felt she had no choice. Since, did I forget to mention? He was married with a family.) and told her to tell the doctor who performed it that she had had sex with some guy in the military who was just passing through. Don't tell him it's mine, he said. And she didn't. So, this Asshole who raped her, got her pregnant, was cheating on his wife, coerced her into an abortion she didn't want in a time when it was illegal. And what happened? Well, she ended up with an infection, had to go into the hospital. She ended up with so much internal damage that, after she got married (not to the Asshole) she had repeated miscarriages and had to have a hysterectomy immediately after giving birth to my friend.

So, when her husband dies, she ends up going back to the Asshole. Neither of us could ever figure out why she put up with the shit he put her through. He is verbally abusive, emotionally abusive, every kind of abuse but physical. (Well, aside from that whole rape thing. Grr.) Also, now, he's got Alzheimers and is getting even MORE abusive. And she stays with him, taking care of him, almost like she's doing some sort of penance.

I was telling my friend that maybe, given her generation and how she didn't want to have the abortion to begin with, she went back to him and has stayed with him because she feels she deserves the way he treats her. To me, 60 isn't even close to old, but it is a huge generational difference. I cannot imagine staying with a man who did these things to me, but she's from the same generation as my Grandmother, who stayed with my grandfather for years while he was abusive and bastardy. (Fortunately, she kicked his ass out eventually.)

Knowing this about her, a lot of the things she does makes sense. She's always been clingy with my friend. Always, always very involved in her life, way more than any other mother I've known. She puts up with abuse that no one should...and it occurs to me that she's probably feeling guilty, probably punished, for the things that happened to her early in her life. That she was able to carry my friend to term is a miracle, given the sheer number of miscarriages she had before.

And the thing is, I know her story is not unique. I know that there are tens of thousands of women in this country with the same story. Forced or coerced into abortions they did not want, because of their partners or circumstance, in a time when it was illegal, so they fell prey to doctors who either didn't know what they were doing or just didn't care. They ended up dying or losing their fertility and for what? For some man who didn't even acknowledge any responsiblity?

How many women were raped like she was? And didn't even label it rape? How many women now, have a little too much to drink and end up raped and blame it on themselves? How many of them think they should have known better? Should haven't had that last glass of wine? Shouldn't have let him drive her home?

It just makes me so angry. I want to stand up and scream. And all those people who judge women who have abortions? This woman is a grandmother, an upstanding citizen, very religious, the last woman you'd ever expect to have had an abortion. This is the sort of woman you want to punish, who you want to criminalize and victimize. Look at her story. Tell me how evil she is, how bad she is, how much of a whore she is. And then come say it where I can reach you, I need to slap some sense into you.

So long as we have a society that devalues women, that works in such a way that a man can say to a women in desperate circumstances 'don't tell them it's mine' and she's the one who bears the emotional consequences for the rest of her life -- I swear, I'm about ready to boycott men all together.

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posted by Zan at 8:05 PM 2 comments