In a birthday email from my grandmother

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Some people try to turn back their odometers. Not me, I want people to know "why" I look this way. I've traveled a long way and some of the roads weren't paved.

A good thought as one embarks on one's 26th year, I think. And probably every year after that. :)

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A meme by any other name

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From The Princess:

Here's how it works. You select ten CDs you'd take with you to a desert island. You can take them and no others. The only stipulation is that they must come from your current CD library. Modest anthologies (two, maybe three discs) are permitted, but, say, the dozen plus discs in the complete series of the late Isaac Stern, A Life in Music, would not be.

Further rules state that self-made mixes are not allowed, but tribute albums, soundtracks, etc. are OK.

My picks:

1. Ani DiFranco - Living in Clip
2. Dar Williams - Out There Live
3. The Essential Willie Nelson
4. The Hedwig and the Angry Inch Motion Picture Soundtrack
5. The Counting Crows - August and Everything After
6. A3 - Exhile on Coldharbour Lane
7. Hole - Live Through This
8. Nirvana - Nevermind
9. Johnny Cash - American IV: The Man Comes Around
10. Portishead - Dummy

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Fan mail

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The fans make it all worthwhile...

And you may not want personality tips from me but you need them from someone; you are tiresome and humorless. You give feminists a badname. I realize you're stuck in a college-town mentality but fucking grow up! One day hopefully, you'll look back and giggle and say "God,I was such a self-righteous boring prig."

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One true thing

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I was just taking a shower, thinking about those things that people say that everybody knows aren't true. The best example I can come up with is people who insist that high school is "the best time of your life."

I went to high school. Not that long ago. I am just beginning post-high school year #8. And high school was, by far, the worst time of my life. Well, middle school ages may have been worse, actually. Not sure. But everything post-high school has been significantly better than high school--that much I am absolutely positive about.

What in the world makes people tell high school kids that they are in the best time of their lives? And how does that not lead to major suicide outbreaks? I don't think I ever believed high school was the best time of my life. If I had, I don't think I would have made it out alive. Talk about nothing to live for.

It makes me wonder where it comes from. Are there are truly people for whom high school is the best time of their life? Does that mean they had a significantly better time than I did in high school, or does it just mean the rest of their lives sucked so badly that high school was bright spot in comparison?

Just for the record, in case anyone I went to high school with and don't like is reading this, high school was not the best time of my life. It sucked. I hated it. Chances are very good that I hated you. It is NOT something I want to re-live. Ever. I don't want to go to a fucking reunion, I don't want to reminisce about old sports events or dances or minor acts of illegality or that time that one person got SOOOO drunk. We may have gone to school together for twelve consecutive years, and I still don't have an emotional attachment to you. If I dated you in high school, I am not still in love with you. I don't remember what it was like to sleep with you, besides vaguely embarrassing and painful. I don't have a box of love notes from you stashed somewhere. If I had an unrequited crush on you in high school, I don't still think you are cute, or funny, or sexy. In fact, I don't think about you at all, except perhaps to idly wonder if you are in jail.

I got a lot of "you're a snob...you think you're better than us..." in high school. At the time, I denied that was the case. Well, I'll cop to it now. I AM better than you. To everyone who called me names or talked about me behind my back (or to my face) or piled me with emotional angsty bullshit that I had to work through later; to everyone who made me embarrassed to be smart, to have ideas and opinions, embarrassed to have passion for the few things in high school that kept me sane: I am better than you. I was then, I am now. And as I get older, my life just keeps getting better--I just keep getting better. And you are still re-living high school.

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I am in love

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I have never been a particularly athletic person. Actually, strike that--I am a fucking klutz, and I'm lazy. I played a little volleyball and swam a few laps so I could get lifeguard certification, but that's the extent of my athletic prowess.

However, nothing in the entire world makes me happy in quite the way female athletes do. I have a long list of role models that come from the wide world of sports, starting with Babe Didrikson and, as of tonight, going through the amazing Amanda Beard.

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Another call for help

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Dear Fabulous Feminist Family and Friends,

As some of you know, In Other Words, Women's Books and Resources is Portland's nonprofit, feminist bookstore. IOW always has books that change women's lives and the world. We always strive to inspire new, diverse, and cutting edge writers and guarantee the availability of books by feminists, lesbians, and women of color. IOW values books as cultural and intellectual expressions, not merely commodities. Our core values are building, strengthening, and supporting women's community, diversity of feminist perspective, education for empowerment, and social change through grass roots activism. If you are not familiar with our organization, please visit us at 3734 SE Hawthorne or on the web at www.inotherwords.org

Summertime is always difficult for In Other Words since sales are generally low from July through September and income from textbook sales doesn't come through until
October. We are working on new ways to generate income on a more consistent basis throughout the year and have put some new marketing strategies into place. Heard us on KBOO? Seen our new ad free RISE UP listserv? However, right now we need your help and this is why I'm contacting you. This is a call to action. There are many ways to do your part to keep In Other Words alive.

Support your local, feminist bookstore; she supports you. In Other Words is a 501(c 3, non-profit, which makes all donations tax-deductible. Many of you have contributed in the past and have expressed great satisfaction of helping to keep a community resource alive. We are grateful and better off for it. Since we are in a summer sales slump and we all know the work of feminism is not over, please consider donating right away even if you usually give around the end of the year. Just mail your tax deductible check to the address below and we'll mail you a receipt. But wait there's more. If you are unable to make a tax-deductible donation right now, there are many other ways of supporting this community resources. We would be so grateful and our community will be better for it.

Come on down and visit! In Other Words, located in historic SE Hawthorne is open seven days a week. We offer a comprehensive, diverse collection of women's writing, women-positive gifts and videos for rent, non-sexist children's books, cards, stickers, posters, buttons, and space for community meetings and education, readings and workshops.

Shop! Fill out that summer reading list. Gift certificates are available in any denomination. If just 100 of you made a $25 purchase we could easily pay our rent.

Browse or contribute to our music and art sections. We have an art gallery, supporting local women artists, and our local music section is the best of its kind. Every purchase made helps keep us (and a feminist artist) alive.

Consider doing all your gift shopping now. Through the month of August we are having a 50% off sale. Don't miss this opportunity to save big on selected titles. While you are in the store, pick up our calendar of events and see what we are offering the community this month. Stay tuned for upcoming benefits.

Go to www.inotherwords.org. For those of you that live outside of Portland or can't make it over to Hawthorne--I know you read, and you probably order books on line. By using our web site to buy your books, you can really help us out. Just go to our website and take a look, check out our store history and calendar of events. You can buy any book off of our web site, have it shipped directly to your home. It doesn't cost you any more -- it is just like buying a book from amazon.com only feminist and contributing to the sustainability of independent media. And it does not have to be a women's book. You can order ANY book off of our web site. In Other Words has been around for ten years, and buying your books from us is a really easy way to support one of the only non-profit feminist bookstores in the country. Thanks very much for
considering these options. Your purchases, donations, and support contribute to
keeping our community space devoted to women's writing, performance, and art
sustainable. Feel free to forward this to anyone you think may be interested.

Thanks in advance!!

The staff, volunteers, and board of In Other Words.

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Wow

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We just went to a really great lunch for my last day. This artist had a show up at the cafe where we ate.

I want one. These pieces are AMAZING in person--the website, well put-together as it is, doesn't do them justice.

So I emailed him. They are going to be way out of my price range, though.

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Jim White

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I heard Jim White on the radio this morning on the way to work. The name of the song I heard was "Today is a Perfect Day to Chase Tornadoes." I am intrigued. Anyone familiar with him?

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Puppy love

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Once upon a time, not long ago, there was a dog named Chance. Chance lived with a very loving couple. He had some behavioral problems early on, but he was a very good boy. Chancey was also a very big boy, weighing 113 lbs.

One day on his walk, Chance met Dottie in a yard just a few blocks away. Dottie was a Carin Terrier puppy some nice folks had rescued from the pound. Unlike big Chance, Baby Dottie was very small. She weighed about 8 lbs. She was roughly the size of Chance's snout, definitely smaller than his head.

Because of the big size difference between Chancey and Baby Dottie, Chancey's people were worried that Chancey would not like Baby Dottie. Boy were they ever wrong! Every day when Chancey went by Dottie's yard, he looked for her. On good days, he heard her little bell collar jingling in the bushes. Then out she would pop! She would jump up and down and wiggle with excitement, and Chancey would hop off his front paws and wag his big tail. Then Baby Dottie would run up and down the fenceline, and Chancey would chase her, playing hide and seek with her in the bushes, much to the chagrin of the person on the other end of his leash.

One night, Baby Dottie stuck her tiny head out through a hole in the fence. Chancey put his face down close to her's. Chancey's person began to worry, thinking that maybe this time he would get upset and bite Baby Dottie, or snarl and scare her away.

Gently, Chancey took out his big, pink tongue and gave huge slobbery kisses to Baby Dottie, all over her tiny head.

Then Chancey and his person went home, and Chancey curled up on the big bed and dreamed about the next time he would get to see his sweet Baby Dottie.

The End.

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Ask a Working Woman Report

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Monumental stupidity--mine, of course

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I just wrote a long email to a whole list of people that I have made little to no effort to communicate with in the past few months. Or, in some cases, the past few years.

I am sucky friend. I don't know why, exactly, but I have completely lost contact with so many people that I care so much about. How does that happen? How do we allow it to happen? And most importantly, is it rebuildable? Once a relationship has atrophied, can you bring it back?

Given the amount of time and effort I spend in correspondance with people who I've never met, many of whom don't care one single whit (wit?) for me, you'd think I could dedicate equal time to keeping in touch with people I know and love.

I'll be better about it now, I promise.

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With a heavy heart (Odd Girl Out)

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Odd Girl Out book coverAs anyone who has been anywhere near me recently is undoubtably sick of hearing, I just read this really great book. It's called Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls. Basically, a writer took the time to talk to a bunch of groups of elementary-to-high school aged girls about how and why they are mean to each other. Teaching girls not to be aggressive, the author postulates (and I think she's right), backfires into girls putting their aggressions into all of this underhanded, backbiting meanness. Rather than just getting in an argument or a even a fight and getting it over with, girls spread rumors, exclude, keep secrets, use particular kinds of body language, "kill with kindness," etc. And it causes psychological damage that haunts us for the rest of our lives, sometimes sutble ways, sometimes in clear-cut ones, like abusive romantic relationships, self injury, and eating disorders.

Every single fucking thing in the book rang true to me, both from the perspective of the aggressor and from the perspective of the victim. The thing is, it didn't just ring true to my childhood memories, but to my interactions with women now. The fear of exclusion and of being talked trash about, the cliquishness, the jealousy, and the searing, barely hidden anger that underlies it all--it's all still here, and I am not at all sure that I am reacting to it any differently at 25 than I did at 15, or even at 5.

If it's here for me, is it here for other women? Is it poisoning our relationships with each other? Most importantly, how can we get past it? Can we talk about it without falling too deep down a well of recrimination? Can we lay our feelings at each other's feet, bare ourselves, and still live to tell about it? Can we learn to trust each other?

I'm caught up in trying to figure out what the first step could possibly be. The truth is that I am terrified of women. The truth is that I want more than anything else in the world to be able to love and cherish and trust other women, to be a part of a sisterhood, but I don't. And every time I think I am getting close, I get burned worse than the time before. And I don't know how to stop it, I don't know how to fight my way through the layers of bullshit that lie between me and my sisters. I keep trying, because really, what else can I do, but frankly I'm losing hope. We were taught from birth to fear each other, to hate each other, and to keep all of our rage to ourselves until we could find a suitably "feminine" outlet for it. We were doing it in kindergarten, and in middle school, and we're doing it now. How do we unlearn that? Individually and collectively, how do we get past what we've become?

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