In Defense of Rory Gilmore

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Alexis Bledel as ‘Rory Gilmore’ in “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life”; photo taken from Hypable 

I wrote the following after seeing multiple posts on blogs, Tumblr, and legitimate news sites basically slut shaming Rory Gilmore in “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life” for decisions she makes regarding men.  Some of it isn’t actually slut shaming, some of it is simply die-hard fans who, like me, have probably watched the original series many times and have a romanticized idea of what Rory is like and how she should behave; they are disappointed, these fans, that thirty year old Rory isn’t making the same decisions as twenty year old Rory.

I think there are many factors to consider before judging Rory too harshly.

First of all: it’s been ten years.  No one dates exactly the same way they did ten years ago.  She’s in her thirties now, she’s less inhibited, less shy, more open to experiences.  As humans grow, we change, see things differently.  Rory is going to have a different mindset at 32 than she did when she was nineteen.

Secondly: We don’t know what her dating experience has been since leaving college.  Previous relationships have a great affect on how a person treats future romantic partners.  It’s possible she’s had one too many terrible boyfriends since Logan.  Also: Rory’s a bit of a nomad, it’s difficult to maintain exclusive relationships when you’re constantly moving.  Believe me, I know.

Thirdly: As a person ages, she becomes less idealistic.  Young people often have a rigid sense of morality, Rory certainly did.  This is why kids will often (foolishly) write off friends for not meeting a certain moral standard (see Veronica Mars).  But as we age and mature, we realize there’s a lot of gray in the world, and we are not the ultimate voice of right and wrong in the universe.  So we sleep with that guy we met at that party, and we drink the tequila, and drive to NYC to watch an SNL rehearsal and get a hot dog just to turn around and drive home again the same day.

Fourth: People also become less optimistic.  Which seems strange considering people become less cynical (unless you’re Louis C.K., or a dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker) as they get older, but when it comes to relationships and dating, single, straight, American women seem to become more pessimistic about relationships.  Consider this Garfunkel and Oates song.

Fifth: We don’t know what sort of relationship Logan has with this French woman.  Maybe it’s an open relationship?  Maybe he has the same deal with her as he has with Rory?  The French are way less puritanical about sex than Americans.

We, especially those of us who grew up alongside Rory, want her to be a sort of moral beacon since she’s just like us only better, but really she’s not.  Rory is just as flaky as we are, she’s just as confused, just as meandering, just as flawed.  She is searching for her place in the world the same way we are.

And, as with all things, the viewer brings his or her own experience to the story.  All my girlfriends who are married, engaged, or in long term relationships had the same reaction: “Rory has had ample time to find someone new, loving, and stable, why is she back with old boyfriends and making these decisions?”  While all my fellow single girlfriends in their early thirties looked at Rory and said: “Yeah, nope, that’s exactly right!”

This post is edited slightly from the original post on Tumblr.

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Toilet Talk

This might sound strange, but I would love to have a clear tank on my toilet.  Simple devices they may be, toilets have been one of the biggest annoyances in my life.  We’ve all been there, am I right?  You’ve just dropped a deuce and the toilet isn’t flushing properly, and it isn’t even your house.  Panic sets in, you close the lid, remove all the knickknacks from the back of the toilet, take off the cover and start poking around like you’re Bob frickin Vila.  If you’re lucky it’s just that the chain came unattached from the handle and you’re up to your elbow in tank water, manually lifting the plug and hooking the chain back on.  Worst case scenario it’s the other end and you need a plunger.  More often than not, in houses it’s the former.  Your panic whooshes down with your piss and feces and you vacate the toilet feeling light and breezy.

I’ve lived in a lot of pretty rundown places where maintenance is either difficult or not a priority.  Because of that I’ve encountered a number of toilet problems and therefore have become proficient at plunging a toilet, jerry-rigging a flush handle, and holding down the handle until the tank empties completely.  I can’t help thinking there’d be fewer plumbing issues if toilet tanks were see through.  Not the bowl, the tank full of clean water with the spout and that balloon thingy that senses when the tank is full.  If it were see through we’d know the tank had emptied and that we can release the handle.  We’ve all been there, right?  Standing, awkwardly bent over, holding the handle like a boob because we’re not sure if it’s done flushing or not (this is assuming you close the lid when you flush like you should).  A clear tank would eliminate this anxiety.

So I looked it up: “toilet with a clear tank”.  And this is what I found:

Not what I was expecting.

In 2006 AquaOne presented the Fish ‘n Flush aquarium toilet tank.  No worries, the fish aren’t in the tank, there is a separate compartment that houses the fish.  The aquarium merely gives the illusion there are goldfish in your toilet.  The tank holds about 2.2 gallons while the aquarium holds 2.5 and can house pretty much anything except coral.  (Don’t you dare put any fucking coral in there.)  As long as it fits, it flies… er, swims.  And the kit came with everything one might need except water and fish.  Oh, and it glows in the nighttime due to strategically placed LED lights.

Unfortunately (fortunately?) this product is no longer available.  Although these people might still have some.  It’s hard to tell.  But don’t go looking at fishnflush.com, that domain is now owned by a guy who writes software code.

After perusing the aquarium option, I found this promotional video for a related product:

Closer to what I meant.  Although, I have zero interest in decorating my toilet tank.  That’s just weird.

Neither do I want a tank that is also an aquarium.  But I still believe a nice, clear, plexiglass toilet tank would make life easier and remind users to hold down the handle until the tank empties.  One day.  A girl can dream.

Hate, Racism, Using Me to Kill Black People: Things I Won’t Accept

It has come to my attention that Dylann Roof, that little prick who shot up a church in Charleston, is using me as his justification for his crimes.  He’s using me, my sisters, and our maidenheads like some antebellum, Jim Crow era rationalization to burn Rosewood to the ground.  This is some Emperor Palpatine-level bullshit.  I do not need some hyped up jerkface to protect me from squat.

I did not grow up with many black kids.  There were a few handfulls of black families in my town, but for the most part our diversity was comprised of Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Brazilians, Haitians, and Dominicans.  Lots of Caribbean influence, lots of Central American.  Some Black.  Since leaving high school, I’ve met a wider field of people: I’ve met British, I’ve met Greeks, I’ve met Swedes, I’ve met Chinese.  I’ve met Muslims, I’ve met Jews, I’ve met Rastas.  I’ve met criminals, and I’ve met upstanding citizens.  I’ve met farm-boys, and inner-city ballers.  I’ve met friendly New Zealanders, and douchey Australians.  I’ve met black girls who can’t stop touching my hair, and Ghanaian pastors who invite me to visit their churches.  I’ve met vegan lesbians, and queer Persians, and trans men.  I’m only thirty and I’ve had thousands of students and dozens of roommates from a great many walks of life.  I have had many friends, people who will be my friends for life, and those who were well-needed friends for the time being.  No friendship is superior or inferior to any other.  I love all of my friends.  My friends get to know me and understand who I am.  They have my back if I ever need them to, and I theirs.

Recently, I went on a pseudo-blind date with a man I met on the Internet.  My friend D—- encouraged me to go out with him and not to worry because he’d be there watching if I needed him.  I laughed and told him I wouldn’t need him (and I didn’t) but his offering to be there just in case was appreciated.  I can hold my own with a man.  I know how to handle myself.  There was a time when I didn’t.  There was a time, when I was younger, when I didn’t know how to advocate for myself with men.  I was inexperienced and unused to people trying to take advantage of me, and I found myself in an uncomfortable situation.  He didn’t ask me if he could touch me.  He didn’t ask me if he could do things to me.  I was wise enough to push him away, and he was kind enough to stop, but the damage was done.  I felt dirty and violated.  By a white, mid-western boy.

In my experience, which isn’t singular or unique, I’ve been fucked over by white men.  Almost exclusively.  Black men, in my experience, have always had my back.  I don’t feel as though I need any protection from Black Men.  I don’t feel that I need any protection from White Men, for that matter.  Same goes for Asian Men and American Indians and Caribbean Men.  My vagina isn’t a thing I need a man to worry about.  Women (all women) do not need a man to stand up and, on behalf of us all, make any decisions about our well-being.  We most especially don’t need a man to murder anyone on our behalf.  I will not take on that responsibility.

Far too often Women have been the justification for horrible acts.  Not any specific woman, but Women, in general.  As if we’re all in constant danger and we need the Menfolk to eliminate that danger so we can feel safe.  Quite frankly, I feel less safe with a man who thinks that is a reasonable argument.  It is as twisted as the man who shot women on his college campus because other women wouldn’t have sex with him.  Women are not some abstract concept that can be invoked as a rallying cry.  We’re not “Democracy”, or “Freedom”, or “God”, or other terrible reasons to justify killing other people: we are people.  We are individuals.  We each have a unique point of view and our own opinions.  If Dylann Roof had asked a woman if she felt unsafe from the “threat of Black Men” he would have known better than to use Women as one of his reasons for shooting innocent people.  Rather than invoking the concept of Women (alongside the notion that Black People have “taken over” the country), he should have just stood behind his unreasonable hatred.  It’s no better a reason, but it’s honest.

I refuse to be someone’s rallying cry.  I refuse to be someone’s concept.  I am a white woman, I am not a White Woman.  You may not capitalize those words and do horrendous things because of me.  I love all of my friends.  I love all people.  I do not accept the burden of Dylann Roof’s crimes.  His unchecked hate led him to shoot people, not my sisters, my mother, my nieces, or my friends, and certainly not me.  Do not use me as your excuse to kill black people.

My prayers are with the Charleston community today.  My love for them abounds.  I pray to God to give them strength and compassion.  I also pray that people everywhere stop seeing women as a concept, stop using us for their own purposes, and start seeing women as people.  So many times I’ve read the questions: why do we focus on race?  And, Why do we need feminism?  Because, my dear, there are those out there who still don’t see us.

A Story of Natural Consequences

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A little ways to the left of the dock above is a deep channel dug years ago for irrigation purposes.  Whoever was digging it gave up and now it’s just a deep, muddy ditch.  This wouldn’t be a big deal if it weren’t for the fact that the program I work for regularly brings students into that marsh.  Which isn’t actually a big deal: typically, our students listen to us when we tell them not to go into the mud because they’ll sink in up to their waists.  Typically they hear these instructions and heed our advice.  Typically.

Last week, the final week of our program for the school year, we had a school from the Boston inner city area.  With urban schools, my main objective is to get the kids out into nature, to try to get them to connect with something, anything, in the outdoors.  Now Boston isn’t New York in terms of nature, but my goal remains the same.  This is mud, those are trees, bug spray goes on you not the insects.

Regardless of where a school is from my rules are simple: we stay together, we have fun and learn something, don’t get hurt.  This last school had a little trouble with the rules.  None of the students got hurt, but half were having trouble with the “have fun and learn something” rule (“it’s so cold!”, “there are so many bugs!”, “I’m gonna get wet!”), while the other half was disregarding the “stay together” rule.

Tuesday, we’re in the marsh, about four girls have informed me they have to pee (these muffins are not prepared to go in the trees), I am attempting to get us as close to an actual bathroom as possible.  This is proving difficult as the kids not into the exploration are dragging their feet, and the kids who are into finding animals in the marsh keep finding really cool crabs and asking questions about the various species, and I’m really pumped to stop and examine and answer their questions.  However, slowly, but surely, we are getting closer and closer to the dock above (which is a short walk to the dining hall and, therefore, toilets) but we are still on the far side of the channel.

And I don’t realize that I’m not going to be able to get up ahead of them to warn them about the mud.

There I am, standing in the marsh, looking around to make sure all students are moving with the group, while staying away from the osprey nest on the point, when I turn back around to see, up ahead, K—-, a small, fifth grade boy in a clear plastic poncho, jump off the marsh, into the channel, and run/crawl up the far bank back onto the marsh.  I yell to them to stay where they are as the rest of the students and I make our way to the channel.  Miraculously all the students come gather around.  Mostly due to other kids yelling “K—- LOST HIS SHOE!  K—- LOST HIS SHOE!  MISS BECKA, K—- LOST HIS SHOE!”

K—- had, indeed, lost one of his shoes.

Very calmly, to the gathered students, I tell them that I am now going to tell them the story of the girl who jumped in the channel.  She didn’t listen to me, got ahead of me, much like K—- did, jumped in the channel and sank up to her waist in the mud.  She was lucky, however, I told my students.  Unlike another student who lost his boot in the mud.  When his teacher reached in to get it out, she pulled out a boot, sure; but not that kid’s boot.  A different boot.  K—-‘s shoe is gone.  K—-‘s shoe is no more.  There is no shoe.  It’s gone, baby; gone.

And I couldn’t be mad at him.  Couldn’t yell at him.  I couldn’t give him a warning or a strike for running ahead.  The boy lost his shoe in the mud.  Forever.  I wasn’t about to jump in there and try to retrieve it, especially after the kid told me he had another pair in the cabin.  I did tell his teacher when we got back, however.  He agreed with me: Natural Consequences.  Now the kid knows if he jumps in the mud again: he might lose his shoes.

This child is destined to lose shoes, though; I’m convinced.  The next day, that same student almost lost his sandal to the ocean.  Another kid fished it out with a crabbing net.

Some 30 years later, I built a #Lego #SpaceCruiser!

Weeks ago I wrote a rant about Lego inwhich I questioned why the Lego Friends line is so drastically different from the standard Lego toys.  I also shared how I didn’t know Lego came in kits until I was in middle school.  The reason for my ignorance being the Legos in my household were almost entirely hand-me-downs from my brother who had long since mislaid the instructions for the the 1980s era Space Cruiser Warner Bros. recently reminded us of in The Lego Movie.

My brother, clever young man that he is, found the instructions on the Internet and shared them with me challenging me to build the Space Cruiser.

My first challenge was finding our old Lego collection.  As stated in my earlier post, a time came when my mother took the remaining Lego bricks and tossed them all into a plastic bin that previously had been used for transporting cupcakes, mixing and commingling what was left from all the kits that had ever entered her children’s lives.

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Finding it turned out to be easier than I thought it would be.  Since all the grandbaby moved out of their house, my parents have relegated all the toys to one corner of the family room.  The bin was under a table chest in the corner along with the puzzles, blocks, and Lincoln Logs.

Challenge Two: Uncover what’s left of the figures.

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The Spacemen have long since lost their faces.  One of them used to have a mark where a face once was, but now they are entirely missing.  (The Policeman was from a kit I got as a child, therefore has been handled the least and still has his face.)  The Spaceman logos on their chests are all but entirely gone.  Out of five figures there are four hands between them; one head and helmet are long gone; and the figure not pictured, in my memory, has always had only one leg.

Once I determined I had most of the pieces I’d need to build the Space Cruiser,

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it was time to get down to business.

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The Instructions were really sort of difficult to follow some of the time.  It certainly didn’t help they were smallish images on the computer rather than a paper I could handle and get close to without feeling like I’d done something terrible to my eyes.

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Slowly it started to come together.

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Despite the pieces being a minimum thirty years old a surprising number of them in very good condition.  The thrusters, for example, still look great!

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(I used these pieces as lampshades.)

The pieces in poor condition are primarily the pieces you’d expect to be in shambles after cycling through five children and a couple of grandbabies.  The pieces that attach the thrusters to the back of the ship, for example, look like this:

wpid-20150318_215252.jpgHinged pieces, they were meant to attach to the top of the back with these bits hanging down, onto which the thrusters would attach.  Alas, they’ve been broken most of my life.  Therefore, the Space Cruiser must go without it’s thrusters.

Quite frankly, I had to get real creative with multiple parts of the ship.  I borrowed from other parts and substituted many pieces where I could get away with it.  I had to rebuild various parts more than once, and get creative with broken parts.

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In the end, it didn’t turn out so badly.

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Still had plenty of missing pieces; I couldn’t get around not having one entire section of that windscreen.  I’m afraid it wouldn’t be a very effective Space Cruiser, but as it doesn’t have any thrusters, it’s not like it’s going anywhere anyway!

Why I’m still rooting for Becca Tilley.

Photo credit: Steve Cachero

Ew, not for her relationship with Chris; in life.

Becca Tilley is the final lady rejected by Chris Soules on the most recent season of ABC’s “The Bachelor”.  She is a 26 year old chiropractic assistant in California, raised in Louisiana.  She is smart, gorgeous, and nice.  Unlike so many of the other girls who wind up on ABC’s reality-drama “looking for love”, she’s “unemotional”.  Which is to say she doesn’t break down crying or laugh really loudly or talk a lot.  Despite her reserve and her sweet appearance, Becca is tough and I want to see her succeed.

The Internet has been pretty harsh about Becca since the finale aired last week calling her “unemotional” and “unfeeling”.  Even the Bachelor himself, Mr. Sensitivity, wrote a misunderstood account of the scene in the barn when he broke up with Becca.  He dis-compassionately cited “the lack of emotion she showed in that moment” as being what hurt the most for him.  In a “moment” like that, being dumped, some girls might cry, some might throw a tantrum, some girls might get combative, but other girls immediately click into “self-preservation mode”.  Whether or not this was the case with Becca Tilley, I certainly don’t know (perhaps she was just in “shock” as she later says in the limo).  I can, however, think of several reasons why Becca’s outward expressions are entirely reasonable.

1. Self-preservation.  Getting dumped is the worst.  Break-ups are hard and emotionally taxing.  Some of us, when we’re told by someone we care about that they “don’t want us” have a knee-jerk reaction to “save face”.  After Chris tells Becca she’s not the one he’s choosing, she stiffens up, her smile goes away, she keeps nodding as he’s talking, all of which could indicate some major self-preservation kicking in.  She doesn’t want to look weak, or foolish, or vulnerable in front of this man whom she has come to trust as he is, essentially, betraying that trust.

2. She saw it coming?  The program was down to Becca and Whitney.  Becca is no fool, she knew that Chris has strong feelings for Whitney, and more importantly, Whitney’s life-goals line up with Chris’; Whitney also wants to settle down, get married, and start a family right now.  Whitney over Becca is the logical choice, assuming all parties are being 100% honest about what they want.  It’s entirely possible Becca knew she was saying goodbye to Chris that day because she was aware of her limitations in regards to Chris’s desires.  She entered the barn full of smiles, which could mean she was still hopeful, but it’s possible she’d already resigned herself to the fact that she and Chris were saying goodbye.

3. Becca doesn’t wear her heart on her sleeve.  Anyone watching the program at all knows that Becca is a bit of a dark horse, which isn’t a bad thing!  She doesn’t openly share her emotions, she isn’t loud and mouthy like Ashley I., and she isn’t dramatic like Kelsey, and she isn’t effervescent like Whitney.  Becca doesn’t try to be the loudest person in the room, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t feel anything, or notice what’s going on, or have opinions.  One out of three people, studies, and common sense, tell us, are Introverts: people who aren’t going to be the loudest person in the room, people who are probably going to keep their opinions to themselves, unless specifically asked.  But, since people don’t usually ask, Introverts can be overwhelmed when put on the spot.  They can become flustered and say “I don’t know” a lot.  Because they probably don’t know.  Becca has struck me throughout this cycle as a young woman who thinks before she speaks and if she is unsure about something she isn’t going to say that she is.  If she is an Introvert, Becca’s lack of outward emotion in the barn is entirely natural.  It’s entirely acceptable even if she isn’t.  She was receiving tough news and she probably needed time to process it.  Maybe she had an epic break down later off-camera?

4. SHE WAS BEING DUMPED ON NATIONAL TELEVISION.  Lest we forget “The Bachelor” is a fucking television show, Becca and the other contestants, I’m sure, never did.  They have cameras and microphones, a host, and a director, for fucks sake, hovering around them as they are attempting, presumably, to find their soulmate from a pool of pretty people carefully selected by a team of producers.  The stigma surrounding being vulnerable is pretty much bullshit, but something I can understand.  I can understand Becca not wanting all of America to see her vulnerability as the man she’s come to care for breaks up with her.  Were I in her shoes, I would probably want to keep some of my feelings private too.

To call this young woman “cold” and “unemotional” is downright rude, and only works to promote the incorrect notion that there is one “normal” mode of behavior.  The people who want Becca to have a breakdown, or cry, when Chris breaks up with her are naive.  It may have been sometimes subtle, but Becca struggled throughout the season.  She wants to fall in love, she doesn’t want to hurt Chris, and she doesn’t want to get hurt herself.  Part of her really wants to be with Chris, but ABC’s imposed timeline is not Becca’s timeline.  The network wants the Reality Couple to make certain declarations after only knowing each other for approximately two months and Becca’s hesitation is entirely rational.  As Queen Elsa says, “You can’t marry a man you just met!”.

Were Becca and Chris able to date exclusively for a while without the cameras, giving Becca time to figure out what her life in Iowa would be (kudos to her for not being willing to assimilate to his life foregoing one of her own!) perhaps they could make a go of it.  They seemed to genuinely care for one another and, given time, it could blossom into something strong and wonderful.  As it is, ABC puts the pressure on the couple to make a decision and make it now.  Whitney was ready to make a decision now.  Chris was ready to make a decision now.  Becca, like any reasonable twenty six year old, was not.

As a spectator of their lives, I like Becca.  I like Whitney, too.  I like a lot of the girls.  I even like Chris.  But, in life, I’m rooting for Becca.  Chris and Whitney can get married, break up, get back together, never see each other again.  But I want to see Becca Tilley achieve great things in this life on her own terms.  She isn’t unemotional at all, America (Chris), she just doesn’t share her emotions as readily as most people.  Something I view as a strength rather than a weakness.  Becca will use whatever she is feeling after this experience and funnel it into whatever she does next.  And whatever she does next is going to be brilliant.

A Question About How Women Interact With One Another (or don’t) at Portland’s Japanese Gardens

This week I visited Portland’s Japanese Gardens.  The day was cloudy, and the Gardens were damp and calm and peaceful and lovely.  I was excited to be there, I’d brought my new art supplies anticipating I would do some sketching.  Early in my visit I got turned around and almost didn’t go to the Natural Garden.  The Garden map made it seem as though it would be quite the hike to get there.  I mulled it over and decided the $9.50 admission wasn’t something I was going to pay a second time during this trip, I’d backtrack.  Happy I did, I sat down to sketch.

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The Natural Garden is a small, seemingly wild space with a zig-zag stone path that takes visitors across the water and around to the side of the pool.  Plants appear to grow at their leisure, with little maintenance.  The water bubbles lazily from one side of the pool to the other.  Along the edge are benches where one can sit, empty one’s mind and appreciate the moment.

That is where I did my sketching.

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Muscle memory is amazing.

Just as I was thinking this a noisy group of tourists came through (not that I’m not a tourist, but I’m a quiet, introspective tourist).  Loud Man Tourist comes immediately over to me asking loudly: “Have you captured it?” and leans over to see what I’m working on.  I answer politely; the man didn’t seem like he meant any harm, but his actions did feel intrusive.  Then, believing I am ten years younger than I am, I’m sure, he asked if I am in art school.  I’m not.  I told him so and even offered that I used to take art classes (meaning: as a child).  He told me to “keep it up” before going off with his (silent) wife to the Zen Garden.

Another couple had come along during this (either with the Loud Man couple, or simply behind them), the man from that couple murmured that my drawing is “very nice”.  Him I thanked sincerely as he and his also silent woman passed by.

After they were gone, I had this thought: What did those women think?  Neither of them had said a word.  I’m not sure either really even looked at me.  I was only peripherally aware of any of them, myself, wanting to focus on my sketching.  But the women were conspicuously  silent while their men talked to me.  Why?  Did these women sense that the men speaking to me was intrusive and not want to add to my interruption?  Were they embarrassed the Loud Man checked out my drawing without asking me for permission?  Did they think their men were paying too much attention to the pretty, solitary woman in the Garden?  Did they like my sketch?

I became so engrossed by this topic I no longer cared about that man’s presumption.  I wanted to know what those women were thinking.  What they thought of their men during that interaction.  If they thought anything of it at all!  Maybe it didn’t seem weird to them that their men spoke to me and I to them, but between us women no acknowledgement was made?  But maybe it did.  It certainly is interesting.

Fifty Shades of What the Fracking Bull?

What with the upcoming release, I’ve been seeing a lot of commercials lately for  Fifty Shades of Grey.  My question is simple: What the fracking bull?

I have not read Fifty Shades of Grey, or Fifty Shades Darker, or Fifty Shades of Pissed Off Writers Everywhere, or whatever the sequels are called.  “Mommy Porn” that originated as fan fiction of an already terrible series does not interest me.  Learning the notoriously naughty BDSM the story boasts is vanilla at best, and, at worst, secondhand, drove my interest even lower.  I have no issue with YA fiction, romance novels, or erotica, but something about E.L. James’s skyrocket into the “literary world” bothers the shit out of me.  How these books were published is beyond my understanding.

Even worse: they’ve made a movie out of it…

What the fish….

And here’s where American Capitalistic Opportunism wins out over Moral and Creative Integrity.  Not only has a publishing house republished a terrible story with a slight twist, now Hollywood has produced a movie they’ve already made.  Because we should, none of us, forget the fact that Fifty Shades of Grey is Twilight fan fiction.

When Hollywood made the Twilight movies they cast actors who actually, sort of, mostly resembled the images of the characters I had in my head while reading the insipid novels.  Cedric Diggory made a great Sparkly Vampire, and Never-Learned-to-Smile made for an exquisitely boring heroine.  A pretty English boy and a symmetrical American girl made us believe in vampires, if only for the one hundred twenty minutes each movie runs.

Now with Fifty Shades, a story that appears to be primarily porn about kinky sex, the casting director, who had her fucking job cut out for her, failed to deliver.  Or, if it wasn’t that person who dropped the ball, it was the makeup/costuming department that failed.

They took a pretty girl:

Dakota Johnson

and made her incredibly homely:

Anastasia Steele

Which, perhaps, is more true to the character (again: I have not read the books).  But if you’re going to put a book reported to be one big sexy, handcuffed romp on the big screen why not make her attractive?  (Especially when you’ve cast an already attractive woman?)

And the dude (because straight men are not this movie’s target audience):

Jamie Dornan

They cast one of Calvin Klein’s interchangeable parts (who looks way sexy with facial hair), shaved him down to his baby-face and made him look like he’s trying on daddy’s suit for the first time:

Christian Grey

Not attractive.  Not alluring.  Mostly creepy.  If a real, live dude looked and dressed and behaved how they portray Christian Grey in the clips and trailers any curious, sane, crazy, intelligent, or insecure woman would, hopefully, have a voice in her head telling her to run… run fast.  Dude is creepily aggressive half the time, and eerily emotionless the rest.  If he were a vampire his behavior might be acceptable.  As it stands, he’s got “sociopath” written all over him.  No one is going to let their friend date a person like this without either saying something, or at least watching them very, very carefully.

But, as far as I know, no one stops Anastasia from letting this jackwad bind her and assume control over her person in the name of Love.  And the audience is supposed to believe he cares for her more than he wants to control her.  We are supposed to buy into this illusion of romance so much that the fact it’s being released on Valentine’s Day (not February 14th, Valentine’s Day) shouldn’t creep out the American public.

It’s fucking twisted.  The trailer features an amazingly creepy clip of him feeling her up under the table at a dinner party with his voice over telling us that he “doesn’t do romance” leading this American, heterosexual woman to believe the Fifty Shades of Grey movie is not intended to be Romantic in any regard despite the movie’s release date.

I believe there are romantic, loving couples who enjoy a healthy, consensual bondage-based sex life.  And that they should celebrate!  To each, his own, I say!  I’m not about to get in your way or pass judgement.  None of my qualms about this work come from my puritanical beliefs about sex and love, but from my standpoint as a woman and a writer.  The story is about an insecure young woman being entirely enveloped by an aggressive alpha male.  She subsequently disappears entirely into his way of life, rather than growing and developing as her own person.  As a woman that makes me sad.  So many real life women are lost to other, stronger willed people as it is; sometimes it’s a partner, sometimes it’s family or friends.  No matter the situation, it’s unfortunate that women so easily disappear into someone else’s idea of who they should be.

As a writer, I’m pissed Twilight fan fiction is being hailed as anything other than what it is: poorly written porn.  These books, and subsequent movie, are a travesty of American literature.

It has, however, inspired some great sarcastic Internet memes*:

This query from Claire Standish:

As well as this brilliant advice from Ellen:

Ellen Ellen1 Ellen2

And a comic of what the actual story should have been:

*I got most of these from typing “Fifty Shades of Bullshit” into a Google Image search.  Which, it turns out, is a pretty funny anti-Fifty Shades Tumblr: FiftyShadesofBullshit.

Universal Health Care for all American Citizens? Maybe? Guys?

Petition to Lower the Screening Age for Colorectal Cancer

I sympathize with this woman: thirty six years old she’s told she’s got a form of cancer typically associated with older people; and she learns that not only it is prevalent in younger adults, it’s completely treatable if caught early.  But Insurance companies won’t cover testing for patients under fifty.

Insurance companies are assholes.

Cancer is so often thought of as being “caused by” something or other: genetics, smoking cigarettes, someone else smoking cigarettes, occupational or regional causes, toxins in the drinking water, something gives you cancer.  And since we’ve polluted our planet fairly well it’s more and more likely that more people in the developed world will have cancer at some point.

Predicting at what age we will develop cancer is bullocks.  As highlighted in John Green’s novel The Fault in our Stars, children, pretty young children, can have cancer.  [Here be Spoilers]  In the novel, Hazel Grace is expected to kick it soon and she’s angrily preparing for it.  It is her boyfriend, who appears to be in a healthy remissions, it turns out, is the terminal one.  Because Cancer is a fickle bitch.

Insurance companies won’t screen for certain cancers until clients have reached forty of fifty.  Others they’re happy to screen for, but only every few years.  No one expects a healthy 29 year old to have breast cancer, so we don’t check for it.  It’s a little like saying, well, the Aztecs didn’t expect the Spanish so they weren’t prepared for them.

Cancer, an aberration in our bodies, doesn’t really care how old we are.

As someone who doesn’t have health insurance, I sometimes worry I’ve got something brewing, like Dawn Eicher in the colon cancer story, that hasn’t affected me, therefore I have not noticed.  I work in the outdoors.  I don’t always wear a hat or sunscreen; I have moles that like to act up.  I’ve probably got skin cancer and I don’t know it.  If I had Health Insurance (and went to my doctor regularly) we might know one way or the other, we’d be looking for it.  We might know which moles are cancerous and which are fucking with me.

Eicher has a valid point: if her insurance would have paid for a colon cancer test for people under fifty then maybe they would have tested her and caught it sooner and she, and people like her, could take preventative measures thus ensuring they wouldn’t have to go through the processes unnecessarily.  If Health Insurance was guaranteed for all American citizens the same would be true.

The poor, unemployed, underemployed, and homeless need Health Insurance just as much as relatively healthy, white, blonde, middle class soccer moms.  So sign her petition, but know that’s not the end of the problem.  If more people had better access to doctors, hospitals, and medicine many conditions could be prevented.

I know Universal Health Care has it’s drawbacks, but those are drawbacks I can live with.

(Before you cry “Obamacare!” it’s not good enough, not yet.)

And the winner is…

Image

And the winner is...

The Lenovo S405 IdeaPad ultrabook whatever thingy…

This took a lot of deliberation and research and a lot of talking to various people both helpful and thought they were being helpful. (Most people were actually very helpful in vastly different ways). I read a lot about computers, learned a thing or two, read user reviews that ranged from awful to baffling and back again. And I am ever so grateful that I did.

I consulted with my techy brother a whole lot and made sure to get his final approval before I made any rash decisions and, hopefully, I will be very happy with my decision. It’s a 14 inch screen, still not very large but with a more comfortable keyboard, there’s no optical drive — I’ll probably end up purchasing one down the line (the last external optical drive I had lasted about three impressive years) — and it will be here as early as tomorrow. Now, I just need to get my old files off my Beastie and I’ll be ready to go.

Also: if someone could give me a logical explanation to why someone would purchase an Ultrabook for gaming my research will be complete. (I’m not a gamer and that doesn’t make any sense to me.)