Saturday, April 30, 2005

but margaret, why?

margaret atwood's "life before man" is the literary equivalent of taking a small, sharp rock and bashing it against your head over and over until your skull is an oozing, weeping pulp.

usually, i'm an ardent fan of atwood. i think her last book, 'the blind assassin,' is nimbly written. deft, even. it's smart. i usually dislike the 'book-within-a-book-within-a-book' motif; it's generally clumsy and confusing. but she held such command over her stories and her characters it was breathtaking. i was totally absorbed when i read that book, and i got that high that comes from reading something that really, really cooks. you know that high? i love that feeling. i had it all the time when i was a kid, but as i've read and learned and started pulling books apart, it doesn't happen with every book anymore. and i felt it with 'the blind assassin.'

i disliked 'life before man' not because the characters are unsympathetic. and i didn't mind the meandering plot. i objected to the idea that seemed to wind itself around every facet of the text, every action of the characters, every motive that was placed before the reader: there is no hope, that we survive merely because survival has become routine. i objected to the idea that there is no beauty, there is no joy, there is no real connection possible with another human being. if i were to paint a portrait of humankind based upon this book, i would have have an entirely black canvas. provocative, maybe, but really boring after awhile.

the symbolism was heavy-handed and redundant. two of the main characters work in a science museum. one, lashia, is obsessed with dinosaurs and loves to envision herself in the dinosaur world - but always as a spectator, never a participant. in one scene she imagines herself to be an acorn hanging on a tree. she's also torn between her jewish/ukrainian heritage. blah blah blah, we get it - lashia has no home, no land or even time to call her own, and accordingly, no sense of self. hit me with a brick next time - it'll be faster and i can avoid the library late fines. the other, elizabeth, is a manager at the museum, removed from the science but nevertheless entangled in this "cycle of life" bullshit. there's a cycle of life? really? hakuna mata, everyone! so that's what the lion king and a million other pop culture/religious messages were saying! wowzers! elizabeth was essentially sold to her aunt by her mother, her sister drowned herself in 2" of water, her former lover blew his brains out. elizabeth is a shell of a human being. so what does she do? she makes her ex-husband nate buy his access to their children! she lays on her bed like a corpse! she removes herself from life! my god, WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN??? these people have surrounded themselves with death, or death has surrounded them. they make no movement towards living. seemingly everyone either commits suicide or should or really really wanted to at some point. and nate, of course, is a lawyer-turned-toy maker who neglects his children. blah blah blah. again, color me bored. you know what? life does suck. it's messy and we hurt each other and we hurt ourselves. and yeah, no one will ever know us like we know ourselves. but that doesn't mean that there isn't love. it doesn't negate the good that we do (don't worry, atwood tries with nate's mother... aw, but that's stupid too).

i'm getting myself worked up. i'm reading ivanhoe now. and you know what? i LIKE reading a book where the author is clearly enjoying himself. and you know what's even crazier? i LIKE being alive in this world. argh, that book annoyed me beyond belief. atwood is usually more subtle than that. i found nothing in this book to redeem it.

and the real burn? because i had to drag myself through it, i now owe the library 3 dollars in late fines. fuck!

UPDATE: holy fuck is ivanhoe anti-semitic. jesus, i'm embarrassed to have read this book in public. i'm even more embarrassed to have said i liked it in a public forum. fucking gross. the fight scenes? good. the rest of the book? fucking horrible.

food with zero fights

i just had lunch with my mom & my sister at hell's kitchen, which is interestingly enough a family favorite. my relationship with my sister can only be described as tense. maybe contentious, even. she has an amazing lack of social skills, which translates to "i want you to love me and be my friend even as i'm calling you a fucking asshole bitch." um, psycho? it doesn't work that way. really. it just doesn't.

but, she went to med school and you know what you have to take in med school these days? bedside manner classes. they teach you how to socialize. what seems completely common sense to me was a much-needed learning experience for her. and you know what? it's helped her. she has friends now, which i've never, ever known her to have. never. can you imagine going through life totally friendless? how fucked up is that? she's no longer a total psycho bitch that i want to throw out a window whenever i see her. i mean, there are times where i have a sudden realization that i'm gripping my butter knife with white knuckles while i'm staring her down, but it's better than before where i had to actively, studiously avoid the butter knife.

lunch was better than i had thought it was going to be. having a job she loves and friends has made her less abrasive. she still sucks, but good lord, it's better than before. i could even eat with her! before she just made me want to throw up so badly that i couldn't (i know i tend to exaggerate, but that last bit is wholly serious).

now, the scandal: i was always the pretty, gregarious, skinny sister. well, "skinny" is a relative term. but skinnier than her, anyway. and let's be real - that was an important factor for me. even though i realize it's completely sexist and an asshole thing to think, i was really smug about being smaller.

and then graves' disease hit me blindside. and not just, 'oh miss, you have graves disease, let's take care of that,' oh nooooo, i have the "JESUS CHRIST!" kind of graves' disease. do i ever do anything half-measure? oh noooo, and neither does my thyroid, apparently. two rounds of radiation and one terrifying throat closing episode of radioactive thyroiditis later, i've gained some weight. i'm within the "normal" weight gain of graves' disease/radiation index, but as i've gained my little weight, my sister started working out. what. the. fuck. now she's lost 40 lbs and is almost my size. i'm terrified. i don't want to be the fat sister! aaaahhhhh!

superficial? yes. sexist? yes. stupid? not if i feel this anxious about it. so even though i'm dead tired still from the radiation, i've been hitting the gym again. my lovely, german/norwegian farm-girl muscles have atrophied, which sucks beyond belief, but I MUST WIN.

god, that's psycho.

p.s. graves' info - and can i say that if you see anything about yourself in this description, just get checked. it's so easy. just do it. graves' blows. it fucked up my heart, it fucked up my eyes, it fucked up my entire life for awhile there. what a bitch.

Thursday, April 28, 2005


I am:
"You're a damn Commie! Where's Tailgunner Joe when we need him?"

Are You A Republican?

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

swedish domination

from today's minneapolis star tribune:

"The company, which said Tuesday that it plans to open a 23,000-square-foot store in the Mall of America early this fall, is both affordable and chic -- a place where even young women on student-loan budgets can build designer wardrobes."

"The company" is the mega cheap, mega chic h&m. in a way, i'm a little sad it's coming to minnesota. granted, it's lovely and affordable and i can get my fix of weird jewelry without going destitute, but it's just such an east coast store. minnesotans are practical. minnesotans aren't chic. i mean, socks with sandals is a completely respectable clothing option here!

this is why i'm sad - while minnesotans are not the most fashion forward kind of people, there's a freedom of expression and an healthier body acceptance here than in, say, new york. i'm afraid that the minnesotan style is going to be lost. i don't want to see assimilation forced upon women. i don't want to have the stress of not being cool enough, thin enough, high fashion-y enough like i had in new york. i could feel that anxiety peeling away the longer i was in minnesota.

in my mind, the differences between new york/minnesota clothing culture was clearly found in the YMCA women's locker room. in new york, the girls (smooth brows, toned bodies, even creepily on 45-year-olds) came in with short-shorts, low cut tops, high heels. they'd undress and immediately wrap themselves with their towel. the private shower stalls were always full, and women would quietly mill around waiting for one to open up (rather than shower in the open public showers). they'd dry off quickly, discreetly and whip their clothes on.

in minneapolis, on the other hand, the women would come in with their ankle-length skirts, socks with sandals, turtlenecks, sweaters with seasonal motifs. they'd undress, slip on their flip flops, walk into the sauna bare-assed. they'd chat with their friends naked. the private shower stalls were always unused. in fact, i'd wonder why the ladies had to put on their makeup and dry their hair naked. can't you even put on a pair of underwear?, i'd think. and their bodies were soft, doughy, wrinkled - normal. a lot of them are middle-aged and beyond. there was a complete lack of shame, of excusing the cellulite and lumps. and you know what? i didn't care either. i didn't care about my rolls and cellulite either. how amazing is that?

i'm worried that with h&m coming in, with this idea of chic chic chic entering the marketplace, that particular freedom is going to be lost. i don't want those ladies in the minneapolis locker room to get botox, or to slave away on the elliptical. i don't want them to be ashamed of their bodies like the new yorkers were. i don't want that pressure on them.


Monday, April 25, 2005

still nervous about those canadians


i'm trying to learn the metric system. apparently it's impossible when you have 25 years of training in the wacky american system. and apparently i need online conversion tools for everything to survive. when i order meat at the grocery store in canada, do you think it'd be weird to boot up the laptop and tell the butcher, "yeah, that'll be a minute, buddy. you do use minutes here, right?" ahhh, blind panic. an old and familiar friend.

but i have learned that i am 177 cm tall. and my answer for "how much do you weigh?" is the ever-constant, "none of your goddamn business. why do you have to judge women based on their weight, you sexist fucking asshole?" of course, this could lead to a possibly embarrassing situation when i'm filling out forms in immigration. i'll play it by ear.

also: toque = hat, check
chesterfield = couch, check
zed = zee

got it.

oh, and joe - we minnesotans get the igloo stuff. actually, it's more like "do you have running water in your igloo?" and i'm up on the hockey front as to hate hockey here is to risk expulsion from the state. i feel for you, brother. canadian/minnesotan solidarity - i'm counting on that.

rainy days and mondays, etc.

woke up to gloomy monday drizzle. my options this morning felt like:

1. cyanide, and lots of it
2. finding a sugar momma right quick
3. not showering, going into work so late it might as well be tomorrow
4. slowly draggggging my body out of bed, slowly draggggging it into the shower, etc. etc.

option no. 4 won out, but i felt that 1-3 had real possibility.

Friday, April 22, 2005


...and for another reason why i love my father: he openly cheers on janeane garofalo during her show on air america. as in, "whooo! you tell 'em, janeane! that's right!" and then he chuckles and nods his head vigorously in agreement.

janeane - in the off chance that you ever google yourself and see what the pages in the back are saying about you, know that there's a middle-aged white man in middle america who adores you. as in, he quotes you with a huuuuge smile on his face. incessantly, in fact.

actually, now that i think about it, if he doesn't stop loving you, i'm going to have to update this to read, "...and for another reason why my father is annoying..."

will wonders never cease

it never ceases to amaze me exactly how people live their lives...

i feel the need for speed (actually, not really)

i feel the need to post something non-catholic church related because... well... i just do. there's this - so i'm a nice queer femme. i like me some butches, genderqueers, transguys. everyone clear? okay then.

but but but, there's this guy at the sub shop where i occasionally get a cheap sandwich at lunch (the jimmy john's on 9th street in downtown minneapolis, for those who care) and honestly, i'm interested. and when i say interested, clearly i mean in "that way."

now, i'm a gold-star girl, i've only kissed two (biological)men in my lifetime (i was 16 and trying really hard to be straight), but that's the end of my sexual experience with the straight boys. but there's something about this solid hipster with the dark hair and the glasses and the nicely broad shoulders that gets me going.

maybe i'm just bored? maybe it's been awhile since i've had some good, attentive, back-scratching lovin'? maybe it's the spring?

in any event, he's cute and i've decided to be okay with that. it's not like i'd ever hit on him, and i sincerely doubt that he'll ever hit on me. it's to be a wee little crush then. that's normal, right?

la chiesa

so everyone's bored with the catholic church by now. well, i guess there are some people who aren't (i.e. my crazy conservative catholic older brother, he's still pretty damn interested), but whatever.

the ny times's magazine this weekend included a sweet little article from colm toibin, which managed to be a hug with a too hard slap on the back about La Chiesa. my favorite parts, like the choice morsels of animal flesh at a banquet, are laid out for you...

on the ever-so-common "i'm a catholic but... (insert here: i'm gay, i'm a feminist, i support a woman's right to choose abortion, i think condoms should be handed out en masse in high schools, etc), toibin says,

What has happened among Catholics in developed and overdeveloped societies is that they have chosen the parts of the faith that matter to them and rejected the others. They have followed Jesus and the Catholic hierarchy on the primacy of love: they take care to love their spouses and partners, their children, their families, their neighbors as they love God. They worship with this as their primary motive.

They may also, with no bad conscience, use artificial contraception, vote for abortion rights candidates in elections, fall in love a second time and, should they be gay, refuse to deny their sexuality. They do not see these matters as central to their spirituality. Thus the church remains central to them; it is not just a place for baptisms, weddings and funerals. They will listen to it when it preaches about love, but not when it dictates on matters that they believe to be marginal to the message of Jesus.

the italics are mine, of course.

i love mass. i particularly love midnight mass on christmas morning, when the streets are still except for the lines of cars heading to the church. i love the crowds at that odd hour, i love the strength of the choir. the church feels so warm and intimate and massive, all at the same time. it's a marvel to me that in france, in belize, in uganda, in japan, wherever there are catholics, there is midnight mass on christmas full of bells and songs and hope. that's gorgeous.

i also hate the church's policy that because i'm queer as the day is long, female, feminist, and happy with myself, i'm essentially persona non grata to them. the church, frankly, hates my existence. it's so weird to me that jp2 said that we shouldn't hate gay people, per se, but we should hate the sin. so, the church says, "i don't mind that you're gay... but would you cut out all the "gay stuff" that you do?" um, guys, that's totally psychotic.

and thinking about jesus and whatnot, i'm a biblical scholar. well, i'll officially be a biblical scholar in the fall. so right now i guess one could say the church history is a hobby of mine. and i believe that there was a scrappy little guy from the boondocks of galilee who pissed off the right wing and (heh), rose a little hell in the process. do i believe that his mom just woke up preggers with him one morning? no. that's just silly. do i believe that he turned over the money changers tables at the temple? yeah, that'd piss off those in charge right quick.

i do believe that he was special, that he was charismatic and smart and a grrrreat PR man. i believe that he inspired people to make social and spiritual change. that's no small feat. and i believe that the existence of a person like that in history can give a small little queer lady like me hope. that there's hope for change. that there's hope for us all.

but this is far too heavy. here's a funny picture of our new boy ratzinger.

so funny, i snorted when i saw it.

the manolo, he is indeed the super fabulous.

Thursday, April 14, 2005


between all of my whining and worrying about grad school, i have very vivid fantasies of falling in instant and enduring love with a gorgeous canadian veterinarian.*

stranger things have happened, right?

*my tiny canadian university has a large vet program. the idea of me meeting a gorgeous canadian queer vet isn't so crazy, okay? the instant and enduring love, of course, is the crazy part.

anxiety is rather unsavory

i've started the tussle with the financial aid people at my Tiny Canadian University (TCU). i've admirably pushed aside my severe loathing of all things involving papers, numbers, and signatures. what document has ever been created with those three elements that was filled with light and air? i'm sure some gay divorcees could tell me, but as it stands, i despise paperwork.

also, while the folks at TCU seem nice, my fears of graduate school have whittled down to this single, solitary question:

What if nobody wants to be my friend?

even writing that seems ridiculous. i'm reasonably intelligent, i have hobbies, i floss daily. really, i don't think i'm an embarrassment to humanity. i'm not some giant waste of carbon.

but still, that question dogs me. i think back on that little fat girl with the too-large glasses and too-small American Tail sweatshirt ("somewhere... out there...") whose best friends were madeleine l'engle characters. i really haven't changed wildly since then. i picked up a little (badly needed) fashion sense when i lived in milan and new york and updated my glasses. whoo, i even have contacts now. i've sustained solid adult friendships that i cherish. but i'm still impossibly nerdy, i still love characters from books, and i still love school more than i ought.

and my stomach twists at the thought of lunch on the first day of school. where will i go? should i brown bag it and eat my little sandwich under a tree? i've never gone to a small school before - huge suburban high school to humungo city university to largest private university in all the land. what if their rules are different? will i pick up on the etiquette?

maybe i should just knock back a few before i leave the apartment that day, hm?

actually... that idea has some merit... oh alcohol - the social lubricant of choice since the dawn of time. well, since the dawn of grapes and honey and wheat and hops, at any rate.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

the new!

how could i neglect to mention that the new knitty is up and running? the 'branching out' scarf looks simply fabulous. i'm determined to finish some other projects first (the cathode sweater and a reversible cable scarf for a friend), but i swear, 'branching out' will be mine. oh yes.

talking to myself

so i've decided to formally begin "blogging" and whatnot. i'm at work. it's slow. why not chatter away to myself? it seems sensible to me. i'm always holding conversations in my head anyway - it might be healthy to let some of them out sometimes. also, blogging reeks of pretentious self-absorption, which admittedly always makes me a little weak in the knees.

onward and upward:

sweet idaho. i feel a special kinship towards idaho as i'm a minnesotan in minnesota, and i know how it feels to be a big state that's forgotten by the coasts. it's farm country. i imagine the people to be hearty. minnesotans are hearty farmers. hell, if we were living 100 years ago i'd be a hearty farmer. now, of course, i'm just a hearty financial researcher going to grad school in canada in the fall for medieval history. clearly, times have changed. well, i'm still quite hearty.

idaho's new thing is the bill that's currently in their Ways and Means committee in their house. it seeks to formally commend the guys who made napoleon dynamite. you said you wanted a delicious quote from the bill? oh, it's choice all right:

WHEREAS, any members of the House of Representatives or the Senate of the Legislature of the State of Idaho who choose to vote "Nay" on this concurrent resolution are "FREAKIN' IDIOTS!" and run the risk of having the "Worst Day of Their Lives!"

i couldn't begin to make this up:

it's nice to see the idaho legislators working on something besides white supremacists and potatoes. their sense of relief is so clear in this bill, it's actually rather endearing.