Bread and Roses

Name:
Location: Southeastern, United States

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

What does a girl have to do to get a response around here, post nekkid pictures? Good lord, internet. Well, you're not gonna get that, you're gonna get some Thursday Fives: What I am:

reading: 3 books today: Letters to Ms., which is like reading the backlog of a particularly vivid Livejournal community, Joust by Mercedes Lackey, which is entertaining but displays typical Fluff Fantasy continuity issues, and "Newton's Sleep" from U.K. Le Guinn's A Fisherman of the Inland Sea.

watching: Two squirrels mating outside the window. The male keeps trying to assume the squirrel position and falling off; the female keeps batting at him, not in distress but in a "can I please finish my lunch first?" sort of irritation. There was particularly sad squirrel roadkill on the walk to work today; I suppose it's heartening that the circle of life continues.

working on: picking out patterns for a secret blogger present. Also Work Related Spreadsheet because of employer dynamics I will not discuss on the internet.

listening to: Air conditioning, fan.
and last: where are the children I am supposed to be tending to? (under the haystack fast asleep.) Actually, upstairs pretending I don't exist, for reasons associated with Work Related Spreadsheet.

love,
alex

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

To hell with you, internet, how bout some honesty:

1) Dictators who torture people are bad. Soldiers who torture people are bad. "Bring the troops home now" is childish and totally ignores the complications of the situation. "Support the troops" is starting to wear on me; I support their rights to some damn raises and salary benefits, but I sure as hell don't support Lyndie English, or her commanding officer, or any of the people who use their little bit of power to abuse someone helpless. In fact, I don't support our troops if they kill children or civilians _by accident_. I support our child-saving troops and our food-aid distributing troops. Nothing is black and white, Internet!

2)A prominent lefty blogger drew fire recently when one of his hosted guests, I believe, said 'abortion is horrible'. Well, you know what, my fellow feminists? I don't believe that all forms of abortion are painless for the fetus. I don't believe that the fetus's pain is irrelevant. I don't believe that the fetus is essentially the same person as the mother. And despite that I still believe that if abortions are necessary, then they should be legal. If we live in a world where women can't control their fertility absolutely, then we better be prepared to do some fetus-killing. At the same time, I find the attitude that everyone but the Minivan-driving, married, affluent, (white?) mid-thirties Kindermusik mommy is automatically unfit to have a baby - and should automatically have an abortion, because of age and economic status - to be absolutely morally despicable.

3) It occurred to me today that if I just went ahead and did myself in, I could spare myself the next two years of the Bush presidency, the potential eight years of a Bush successor, the construction of a new Wal-Mart half a mile from my house (and the subsequent dancing in the streets by local suburbanites), and the chance that some infinite energy source will be developed and our society will just keep going like this forever, covering over the surface of the earth until the poor die in our filth and the rich hop a spaceship to go infest the next planet. It is really, really sick of me to be praying for an oil crash.

But I promise I'm joking about the doing myself in. It's a BAD PLAN, dear readers. Don't do it.


love,
alex

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Travels with Brooke

(pseudononymous, four years old.)

1) We found the skin of a snake by the side of the road, and a redbird feather, and while she was very sad for the snake (an unfortunate confusion of the words 'shed' and 'shred') she likes the long dried seeds of trees that fal onto the road. The snake skin is hidden in a draw now to keep it from the cat; each individual scale is visible, and the domes of its eyes, and the opening for its mouth.

2) We watched fireflies rising under the bushes, and she wouldn't eat her dinner because she was watching a rabbit out the window, yelling instructions at it the whole time: 'Run, Rabbit! Eat some leaves! Leaves are good! Oh, run away! Go to your rabbit home!' et cetera.

3) She told me a long story about the three little pigs in which the wolves and the pigs were kind of rival families in a Godfather way, and first the wolves were holding the pigs hostage in the basement! But then the police came in and shot all the wolves! Every last one! Even the wolf's baby sister! They were all ::tongue out, flattened pose:: All of them! And then the pigs became police too, and they had guns!

It's so hard not to draw foriegn policy metaphors of some kind from this.

4) She still loves tofu. When she was six months old, we would sit down (her tied to a chair with a kitchen towel, since we didn't own a high chair) and she would go through an entire box of tofu, eating it faster than I could cut it into cubes.

love,
alex

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Everything for everyone.

Zapatistas.

The actual text of the alert is hella strong, but then, I imagine most military pronouncements are. I remember that first spark of hell-yeah, before age and an understanding of history set in, that military excitement, that sense of finally the right people have the guns. That's partially me being first world; revolution is a videogame to me, it will not kill anyone I know. That's partially that insane idealism that clings to the least little chance. I'm not giving that part up.

love,
alex

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Self-righteousness has killed more people than smoking.

Another set of wierd dreams, brought on by my dad hammering in the attic from 5 a.m. onward. Leaving secret messages on the bulletin board at Burger King. Universities as islands of wealth (less like my hometown and more like Winchester, Mass) in this strange dusty back-country post-industrial sea of absolute poverty. The twisted love lives of friends. (And one dream of being compelled to attack each other, Matrix-style, except luckily it's hard to get a kick to connect in dreams.) It's mostly that feeling of driving through the rusted gas stations and oil-slick fields to my safe-harbor little college suburb that stayed with me as I woke up. And behold, first thing, my brother wants a gaming computer and my father wants an LCD projector and my mother wants a luxury refrigerator and everyone agrees we need a new DVD player (the old one needs cleaning, but is perfectly functional). I am preaching to my blog because preaching to my family is pretty arrogant of me. After all, I have stuff too.

love,
alex

Saturday, June 18, 2005

But the dreamers of the day are dangerous people

(if only I was one of those)

Dreams last night: At mass, urged to take communion/blessing. But I'm not Catholic! Frantic dream of wanting to impress someone. Truthout-ad style, they offer me a cigarette. But I don't smoke! I used to have the dream of the passed sacrament, the bonding ritual I refused, the that one thing that made them a plural and me a singular. The blessing passed by. (The feeling, infatuation-like, of the desperate pull to the group, to the center, and the strange not-feeling of turning away.)

Dale's right. We could all use more blessings.

love,
alex

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

More on the same topic.

Thoughts out of nowhere today:

How wierd is it that we don't have the wherewithal to adapt to seasonal fluctuations in temperature (with screening, fans, mid-day inactivity, hammocks, big trees) and have to rely on air conditioning, when somewhere in the world there is someone who can't afford to buy a mosquito net to put their kids under in a malaria zone? Not, we should feel guilty, not we must fix this now, just, isn't that strange? The world is so huge beyond our doorstep.

I had a similar thought about food sometime today, though it's escaped. I know that hunger is an issue twenty miles from my house, but to my well-fed brain, the idea that someone somewhere just doesn't eat is boggling. It's not even a feeling of guilt or do-something; it's just this incredibly vertigenous moment of No, really?.

I'm not trying to be uncompassionate. It's just that I feel like learning to hold both ideas in my head at once without responding immediately with guilt is important. I don't know why, but I prefer to have the general concept down instead of proceeding from an ideological response, especially when a conceptual grasp of the reality comes far later than all the ideological responses have.

love,
alex

ETA: Lonely Planet says that, when visiting Honduras, one should not walk through a certain section of Comyagua in Tegucigalpa in the dark by oneself. The US embassey says that one should never be in Comyagua at any time of day with any group of people and in fact one should probably look into bodyguards when in Tegus. Obviously, one approach makes life easier, but is harder to wrap a paranoid suburban brain around.

Yo ya no soy yo. Por su menos no soy el mismo yo anterior.

Bad transcription aside, I have officially ended things with Elijah Wood. Gael Garcia Bernal is my new googly-eyed, semi-philisophical, suspiciously-young-looking celebrity boyfriend. I hope SeƱor Bernal understands the honor that has been conferred upon him.

I realized today that my goals have changed. My life is no longer dreamed from the safe if boring harbor of home and suburb. My life is happening right now. It is coming at me. It is scary. For one thing, I need to figure out how exactly a gringo lives in Honduras.

but it is something, at least.

love
alex

Monday, June 13, 2005

In which I try to explain blogger politics to my mother.

Charlie's star is rising after the furor over on Daily Kos.

Summary:

Ad on Kos' sidebar: "Women throwing pies at each other is funny. Ha ha! They're wearing bikinis! And groping!"
Several people who emailed Kos: "Actually, that's kind of offensive."
Kos: "Blow me, hairy-legged women's studies majors!"
The feminist blogosphere: "Well, I guess we know where we stand now. Thanks for your support, you bastard."

This would be so great done with Bendos.

Obviously, both Kos' supporters and Kos' detractors (where the heck does the apostrophe go? Ko!s!!!) are mistaking something a blogger said for the position of the entire democratic party. I'm not going to boost his hits by wandering over there to investigate, to be honest, but apparently it did bring the sexist-bastard wing of the Party crawling out of the woodwork. It is hard when the frat-boy democrats show up. Whatever wave of feminism we're on now, it contains a lot of women ('feminist' or not) who really don't expect sexist behavior, and it's always a shock to see it from people who you always assumed gave a shit about your gender.

Simultaneously:

The Daily Kos is not my blog-god. If I need lefty blogging from a big name, I hit Atrios, but I do that about twice a year. For things that matter to me, I go to Bitch Ph. D or something on her blogroll. When the question arises "where are all the women bloggers?" the answer is usually, we're all here, standing around, talking to each other. Just like all the men bloggers are standing on the other side of the room, talking to each other. The blogosphere has the intergender dynamics of a middle school dance.

Now, this is a tempest in a teapot, and I mean that in the nicest possible way. Blogs are built for little teapot-sized tempests, and in a year or two I will find this one adorable. Democratic men have acted far more appallingly in the senate, in the mainstream press, and to our faces during everyday life. But the re-alignment of loyalties that resulted from it made me wonder about blog popularity. We all want readers, commentators, attention, otherwise we wouldn't be online. Maybe the people that read me are more forgiving, but all it would really take to make blogrolls is a solid stream of analysis and opinion, combined with a love for making news stories into a coherant ideological narrative. I can do that. I can even be funny. (Yes I can. No, watch me. I'll crack a joke... any second now.) But once that happens, what happens to my dear, incoherant little journal here? (With its coffee-stained wallpaper and long history of Over!Dramatic!Angst!) The inconsistancies of the heart (or maybe just mood) of one no-longer-teenager do not make for a huge readership. But that's really more what I want to write about than the kind of hard-nosed ready-to-brawl commentary Bitch Ph.D is so good at.

I could be famous! Really! I choose not to be!

That's all. I'm going away now. Really.

love,
alex

Friday, June 10, 2005

Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe.

Note: Any title that looks like a quote or reference is. They are all Google-able so I feel no compulsion to footnote.

1) Friend One did something unfortunate but not strictly stupid. The interesting part is the communication afterwards.

2) Friend Two did something pretty stupid but her life sure isn't mine.

3) I did something incredibly and unconcionably stupid, with the main result of increasing my own misery factor while giving someone else a great deal of emotional satisfaction. It would have been good strategy if I had been prepared to act on my own idiocy, but I wasn't.

It's not like I wasn't unhappy before. I just found a way to hyper-concentrate it and go from lonely and sad to massively unhappy.

once more, fuck this shit.

alex.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

*!#

Fuck this shit.

No, seriously.

Gardening is all very nice, but I am bored and I am lonely, and I hate being bored and I hate being lonely. It is 92 degrees outside and 90% humid. I want to be back in Boone. Maybe I was bored and lonely there too, but at least I could _get_ places and _do_ things if I wanted to. Cowardice is one thing. Being stuck a sidewalkless ten miles from town is quite another.

The thing is, there's nothing to do here. If you're an awesome downtown person then you go to shows and you hula hoop on the co-op lawn and you go to movies and you have friends but if you're out in the suburbs with no car it seems like you only go downtown to snort coke with other people from your high school's graduating class.

I didn't realize how much having a boyfriend - not only that, a boyfriend in another state who I could visit and get the hell out of here - kept me afloat last year. I don't want a new one - especially in this college town meat market - even though a bf with an apartment downtown would be just the ticket.

Maybe I should learn to drive. You think?

love,
alex

Thursday garden blogging!

I just got the camera to work again. It has been on the fritz since it (and I) took a 16-foot, bumpy slide down a hill in Honduras. Apparently, what it needed was some rubber bands wrapped tightly around the battery hatch. If only I'd known sooner.

Expect the excess prolificism to wind down as I figure out how to use this photo server thing, by the way. Thanks and have a nice evening.

love,
alex


Birds! Posted by Hello


 Posted by Hello


 Posted by Hello


These extraordinarily photogenic flowers, by the way, smell like Lemon Pledge. Posted by Hello


In case there was any doubt I lived in the South. Posted by Hello


A certain relative would let the house burn down to rescue the iris plants. Posted by Hello


Monster Squash. I did not plant this. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

A Long List of Random Things

1) Cold, cold, go away, come again another day, little sally wants to LEAVE THIS FRIGGIN CUL DE SAC one day.

2) Today is the first day that I have genuinely not wanted to do my job. Still, I played basketball and ping pong and small-talked with the other nannies and did not plop the kid in front of his new Winnie the Pooh video. Go me.

3) Am I the only one who catches a really wierd vibe from Disney Princesses? (I tried bringing this up with my siblings, and apparently there's hentai devoted to the topic (DO NOT GOOGLE OH GOD). Also apparently, discussing either feminism or pron with the 16-year-old brother is a bad plan. In my case, because I come from a family of people who can not shut up.)

4) Tipped Bitch PhD a news story today and feel all famous and participatory. I don't strictly agree with her analysis, but she does a better job than I could have. If nothing else, I'm not willing to brawl with commentators on that level. I got one troll once and it still bothers me.


Subtopics:

Amaranth: Amaranth is a grain native to the Americas. Pros: It is rich in protein, mild in flavor, and is frankly fun to chew. In a nut-butter thickened porridge (try almond butter, vanilla and maple extracts, maple syrup, cardamom and raisin broth) it is glistening, firm, and easy to cook. Cons: it is impossible to find in bulk, and (for a grain) can get expensive. It is also lighter than water when raw; therefore, one little spill and you're picking amaranth out of the corners of your counters for days.

Malaria Therapy: According to Mental Floss Magazine, they used to infect syphilis patients with malaria on purpose. The malaria fever killed the syphilis, and quinine controlled or cured the malaria. Viennese neurologist Wagner von Jauregg got a Nobel Prize for this; I think it's quite clever.

Children: I have recently realized that I am charmed by small, dark-haired, gregarious children, where I am doomed to have a tall, pale, painfully shy child. I have also been reading scary news articles and considering that when I make my no doubt inevitable foray into single motherhood, I might need to flee the country or else be Margaret-Atwood-ed. Scary times.

In connection with the above, I am developing a child-raising and educational philosophy. It is, as usual (I like to develop philosophies) marred by a total lack of actual experience with child-raising. Nannying doesn't count. Still, I am proceeding from my optimistic postulates: 1) People like to work 2) People (especially children) like to learn. However, 1a) Most work we do right now is soulless 1b) Children are isolated from the world of 'fun' work - cooking, crafting, singing, writing, gardening - by schooling and the 60-hour-work-week lifestyle. In theory, all you'd have to do is 1) become wealthy enough to quit your job 2) live like a proper smelly hippie and 3) you'd have educated children.

Actual parents, feel free to laugh at me now. It's okay. I figure I'll laugh at me too in about eight years.

That ends this particular ramble.

I had a meeting with one of my professors Saturday morning which I'm not even prepared to begin to deal with here.

love,
alex

Sunday, June 05, 2005

and peace like an ever-flowing stream?

I've been struggling with some stuff lately. Mainly, I've been struggling with the fact that there are other people out there and that those people seem to persist in having opinions that do not match mine. I put my fingers over my ears and yell LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU, but then I sign onto the internet anyway.
Latest: the philisophical wankery here. (Can he tell I gave into his demands? Hopefully not.)

Now, I am an atheist in about the way that my dad is a Christian; we both believe in the basic tenants of our given philosophies more or less (we're both wishy-washy on the existance of the divine; we're also both leery about empiricism as the be-all and end-all of understanding). But we both refuse to label ourselves as such because all the atheists/Christians we seem to run into are primarily 1) bigoted 2) intolerant of others 3) fanatical.

I realize I'm tarring with a very wide brush here. I will admit I know a lot more decent Christians than I know decent atheists; that's probably because most of the decent Christians I know are devoutly religious and most of the decent atheists I know are so secular it never comes up. For me, right now, the existance or non-existance of God, and the formulation of beliefs, is not the important bits. I have religious rituals that bring me comfort; perhaps they exist only to give me comfort. I might concede that they have a wider purpose, without empirical proof, because I don't worship the scientific process either. I believe in humans, in the middle of their world, making sense of their world their own way. I believe in the multitude of patterns of sense and thought and practice that people live, in the middle of, as cultures and religions. I believe that the ultimate test of a system of thought is not how well another system of thought can make sense of it (if chemistry can make sense of Songhay sorcery, or Christianity make sense of paleontology) but how well it leads people to live. The standards of subjective; I am subjective, you are subjective. Long live the relative.

All this, of course, will be invalid in a week when I become an Epsicopalian or something equally strange. A foolish consistancy is the hobgoblin of little minds, after all, said the Unitarian sage.

love,
alex

I realize the lip-smacking moral smugness of this essay, btw. Letting it go, letting it go.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

victory is writing a blog entry with no keyboard just because you can

defeat is being unable to stick to one side of the parent/child divide for an entire evening.

1) family is better because bigger fights than mine have taken precedence for the evening. Though it really is hard not to restart.

2) If I were to say the following sentance: "It will never stop raining again" without the Magical Quotation Marks of Jinx Immunity, the drought this summer would totally be my fault.

I am tired of hunting out letters on the screen keyboard now so goodnight.

love
alex

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Unworthy, adolescent kvetching.

1) My little sister wanted to let me know that feminists, and I quote "should stop whining and throwing fits" because "things aren't perfect."

2) My parents and I got into a real shit-flinging match over the subject of parental/grand-parental response to (hypothetical) teenage pregnancy. My father is of the opinion that he wouldn't kick a pregnant daughter and (later) her baby out of the house on the condition that she drop out of high school and get a job. Because the path to independence and mother-child health is paved with minimum wage jobs with no health care. Because single mothers with GEDs are apparently less of a drain on him and society than paying a sitter for two to three years until college/ married student housing/ campus daycare. (brief tangent about how minimum wage jobs in our area = you and your baby sleep in a car, or you live with your family until you die.) (I realize that this is not the situation of the teenage mother your aunt's friend's sister knew, but the single mothers we know are still middle-class literati like us. Once priviledge really gets going it has some momentum.) This shouldn't have devolved into the dramatic fits that it did; I called him a heartless, soulless bastard and he threw something in my face that I never, ever expected him to use against me, especially in something as basic as a political argument that got out of control.

IT IS FUCKING IMPOSSIBLE TO LET THINGS GO. This is helping, unworthy though it is to me to pour out my family's internal troubles to the internet, but in general, every nerve in my body wants to go track them down (both of them) and yell at them and grind their souls down into a little pulp that is incapable of disagreement. I want to make them suffer, oh god do I want to make them suffer. I hate it when people are wrong. There is nothing I hate more than a high-handed opinion based on bad analysis, unless it's mine.

CALMING THE FUCK DOWN AND GOING AWAY.
REALLY THE INTERNET CAN DO WITHOUT ME FOR A BIT.
THANKS FOR LISTENING, INTERNET.

alex.

Freddie Fish and the Case of the Missing Kelp Seeds.

No, really.

All morning, the kid begged and pleaded to go out (in the rain) to play ping pong at the community center. We tried once, to find the gate locked. "So," the kid said, eyeing the padlock on the gate, his four-year-old face gone sly. "what do we do about this?" He advocated going over or under the fence, or possibly getting his dad's wire-clippers. When I suggested that subversion was not actually part of my job, he decided to stage a sit in instead, planting his little nylon-shorted butt on the edge of the wet muddy boardwalk and refusing to move. Luckily this is one of the distractible ones (the tenacious, capital-letter Kid is still in school) and throwing him over my shoulder and yelling still works.

Next up (still raining) I started teaching him to play hacky sack, partially to keep myself moving in my post-doritos stupor. Something about being in a house with a kid makes me crave junk food, in a serious he's-out-of-the-room-quick-stuff-face sort of way. I'm starting to realize why none of my pants fit last summer. Still, I'm not sure how the parents will feel about the hacky-sack. Next I'll teach him about renaissance faires and scary hemp pants.

The kid is telling me about when he went to see Jeff Gordon at the Coca-Cola 600. I wonder if he'll remember that when he's my age. Kids do remind you that people change, and that's always a useful thing to know.

love,
alex