In honor of the holiday

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"Jesus Was a Capricorn"
by Kris Kristofferson

Jesus was a Capricorn, he ate organic foods.
He believed in love and peace and never wore no shoes.
Long hair, beard and sandals and a funky bunch of friends.
Reckon they'd just nail him up if He come down again.

'Cos everybody's got to have somebody to look down on.
Who they can feel better than at anytime they please.
Someone doin' somethin' dirty, decent folks can frown on.
If you can't find nobody else, then help yourself to me.

Get back, John!

Egg Head's cousin Red Neck's cussin' hippies for their hair.
Others laugh at straights who laugh at freaks who laugh at squares.
Some folks hate the whites who hate the blacks who hate the clan.
Most of us hate anything that we don't understand.

'Cos everybody's got to have somebody to look down on.
Who they can feel better than at anytime they please.
Someone doin' somethin' dirty, decent folks can frown on.
If you can't find nobody else, then help yourself to me.

Help yourself, brother.
Help yourself, Gentlemen.
Help yourself Reverend.

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Another brick in the wall

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Feminists have a lot to fight against. I mean, obviously there is the Patriarchy (TM) in general, but there are also a million small, insidious things that make feminist progress so hard.

One of them, as I am rediscovering over the past few days, is that women give up on each other far too easily.

I could give you a dime for every woman I know who hasn't stayed with a loser guy for too long at some point in her life (and this doesn't just mean boyfriends and husbands--fathers, brothers, and friends all fit into this category as well) and still have plenty of change in the emergency jar. Women are socially programmed to never give up on men, no matter what they do. Even when they are non-responsive, even when they are mean spirited, even when they are abusive. Women find the ability within themselves to keep giving, keep trying, just keep on, often for far longer than is healthy or good. Giving up on other women, however, is a whole other thing.

This goes beyond just judging each other harshly, which we also do. This is about writing each other off, thinking that other women are just not worth the trouble, not worth arguing with, not worth teaching and learning from, just plain not worth it. Rather than the innumerable chances we give men to learn, to change, to apologize, to explain, we give each other so very few. How many women have you known with whom you lost touch for reasons you can no longer even recall, mostly because they were so minor and could have so easily been mended if one or both of you had just been willing to keep on keeping on?

Why do we do it? I think partially it's about our self-worth, and how we are taught to view the worth of other women. You have only to look at the myriad of women throwing their best girlfriends over for the guy of the week to see where our priorities are supposed to lie. Sometimes, not giving up takes a sacrifice, it takes other things having to be shelved for a bit, and we're just not as willing to do that for women as we are for men.

Just as we are taught that the value of women is lower than that of men, we are simultaneously taught to expect more from women than from men. We are harder on each other when we screw up because it's less expected, and I can even remember saying to other women, in anger, "I'd expect that shit from a man, but not from you!" This double standard puts us in the position of thinking that women's small transgressions are bigger than they really are, and of not being able to accurately gauge how angry we should be.

Another part of it, I think, is that it is easier and safer for us to get angry and stay angry with each other than it is to get or stay angry with men. This is something that can be seen, for example, when a man leaves his girlfriend or cheats on her with another woman. Who is the bad guy in this scenario? In my experience, the bulk of the hate is generally directed towards the "other woman." Why is that? Why would a woman have higher expectations of another women, who she may not even know, than of a man who she presumably has a relationship with? Could it be, in part, because we can feel fairly secure that if we get into a disagreement with another woman, we won't come back from it with a black eye or a broken arm?

The bottom line is that, no matter how many reasons there are for women to give up on each other so easily, it's hurting us. If we could give each other the benefit of the doubt in even half as many cases as we give it to men, we'd be so much stronger.

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Blog worth reading

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I have to recommend Shannon's Palm Sunday entry over at The-Blog-Formerly-Known-As-Waiting-For-Nat (Peter's Cross Station now, I think). It is brilliant, much better than I could have written about being in church this past Sunday, but very close to how I felt.

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Book meme

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I've stolen this from an entry a few days back on Bitch, Ph.D..

You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be?

We actually had a long midnight discussion about this once when I was in college. I can't remember what I said then, but now I think I'd go with People's History of the United States. Not fiction, I know, and quite a lot to memorize, but it's the first thing that came to mind. The Beauty Myth would be another contender.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?
Hasn't everyone? The first one I remember having was on Sodapop Curtis from The Outsiders. Honestly, though, even before that, it was probably Harriet the Spy. Most recently I crushed on both of the main characters from The Time Traveller's Wife.

The last book you bought is:
Hrm...I'm not sure. The last book I remember buying was Temptress: From Original Bad Girls to Women on Top.


The last book you read:
Consumed: Why Americans Love, Hate, and Fear Food

What are you currently reading?
When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies: Freeing Yourself from Food and Weight Obsession. Sensing a pattern?

Five books you would take to a deserted island:

The Clown of God
Hayden Herrera's biography of Frida Kahlo (this is obviously the only way I would ever get through it)
Anything by Andrea Dworkin (see above)
Some complete works of the Bronte sisters collection
A really great art book


Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons)? And Why?
Honestly, I probably won't pass it on, but I'd like it if Frog, Melinda, and Emilin to do it. I'd also be curious to see what G. has to say.

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Make a joyful noise

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I have two friends, both of whom very much enjoy singing and who sing well. One of them is a very old friend, one is a fairly new friend. Both are far too many miles away. Both have voices I wish I could hear more often.

Until just the past few days, both also had something I envied very, very much. I have always wanted to be able to sing. My mother loves to sing, but can't hold a tune; I inherited both attributes and started belting things out at an early age. I have been told to shut up, that I "can't sing" my whole life. After years of that, I still sing, but never when other people can hear me.

Well I've decided I am going to sing. It came to me that it wasn't the actual voices of my two friends that I was envying as much as it was their ability to let loose, to fill the air around them with the joy or the pain in their songs. Though she was not addressing me when she said it, one of my friends was recently talking about singing in church, and she pointed out that what the Book says is to "make a joyful noise." Well, my noise may well not be on tune, or even anywhere approximating it, but it will be joyful.

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The beat goes on

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We all owe a great debt of gratitude, I think, to those people with whom we can spend time and leave feeling better than we did when we came, people who can remind us without even trying (and probably without even knowing what they are doing) who we used to be, who we want to be, who we meant to be all along.

Thank you so much.

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Friend I haven't met yet

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There are a group of people in my life who mean a whole lot to me, and I have never met many of them. I've never seen their faces, I've never heard their voices, I don't know how they smell. I know them only by the words they choose to use and way they choose to use them. I know them only on some subjects, and only in strange, punctuated time frames. In the shorthand we use, we don't know each other "IRL". In real life.

It seems to me that our shorthand is misleading. The parts of my life I share with them are real. They support they have shown me during some of my worst times over the past few years is certainly real. The camaraderie I feel with them is real, and the disappointment I feel when they let me down is real.

Why do we require physical proximity to believe things? These people of whom I speak are scattered all over the globe, and yet I am closer to many of them than I am to people I see every day. I speak to them from my heart more, I show more of myself to them. At first, this may have been because I felt safe in my anonymity, safe because they were so far away. Now it is because I know them, I trust them, I consider them my friends. And just like my other friends, the way I feel about them goes beyond political allegiances and common interests. Somewhere along the line screen names and avatars turned into people. If I lost some political efficacy when that happened, so be it. I am not sorry.

*Title from Ani

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Never grow up (Finding Neverland)

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Finding Neverland posterI am a bit of a Peter Pan afictionado. I have spent my whole life listening to stories about how, at age 2, I could recite the entire Disney Peter Pan 45 (yes, I had 45's, and a little blue and white striped record player on which to play them). When I was 4 and my dad and stepmom took me to Disneyland, my dad spent a very warm afternoon trying to chase down the little boy in tights they had playing Peter so I could get my picture taken with him.

As I've gotten older, I've kept my love of Peter Pan. In fact, the older I get, the more I understand the pull of Neverland and the magic inherent in the notion of never growing up. The sad truth is that I don't believe in fairies, and I could clap my hands to keep Tink alive, but it would be hollow. I miss the me that could clap in earnest.

Anyway, being a Peter Pan lover, I've seen most of the versions that have come up--the old Disney version, a couple of different versions on TV...I've even seen it on stage once. And, of course, Hook, which I've seen four or five times. I have not horribly disliked any of these versions, but I've not felt they really captured the essence of what I felt listening to that 45 as a kid, either.

Well I felt it tonight. We went to see Finding Neverland, and for a few minutes, in a dark theater full of people who were probably not nearly as moved as I was, I was a kid again, reciting that record. It was a wonderful, wonderful feeling.

Given my emotional attachment to the story, I probably can't review the film or any of its stars with anything approaching objectivity or accuracy. However, given the Oscar nominations, at least a few people seem to have agreed with me that Johnny Depp was magical in the film. I've been a Johnny Depp fan for years, and have never doubted his capacity for magic, even in roles that wouldn't have at all special otherwise. He was a fairy tale prince in Chocolat, and even his silly Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean had a bit of magic. The Johnny Depp I saw tonight, though, is pure old school. I haven't seen him this good since Edward Scissorhands (and that's been...gulp...15 years), and the little bit of his Benny & Joon role that was reprised here would have made the film well-worth seeing even if everything else about it had sucked.

Besides Depp's wonderful performance, Finding Neverland also benefits from Kate Winslet, who is fast becoming my favorite actress. She's not as remarkable here as she was in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (and honestly I'll be floored if she can ever pull off anything that good again), but she's damn good. It reminds me a little bit of some of her other performances as well, actually (no, NOT Titanic!). More than any of her other roles, I think it hearkened back to Iris, which was a great movie, and you should see it if you haven't.

The supporting case is top-notch as well. Dustin Hoffman is tolerable and doesn't get much screen time, and Julie Christie is awesome. I also really enjoyed Radha Mitchell as Barrie's wife, who I've only seen before in Pitch Black. She is also in Woody Allen's upcoming film, called Melinda and Melinda, if you are interested in checking her out (it would honestly take more than one good performance from an actress to get me to sit through a Woody Allen movie, especially one that also has Will Ferrell in it, but to each her own). The most impressive part of the supporting cast, though, is the kids. I like all of four of the actors who play the boys, but my personal favorite was Nick Roud, who plays George, the eldest.

Aside from great acting and a top-notch (though I suspect historically embellished--I am going to have to find something to read about Barrie's life to find out) story, the movie also benefits from great visuals. The semi-animated sequences are among the best parts, I think, and the fluid movement between "reality" (Barrie dancing with his dog in the park) and "fantasy" (Barrie dressed as a ringmaster, dancing with a bear in a circus ring surrounded by clowns) is really beautiful and gives a great visual for how Barrie's mind must have worked. Another thing I loved was the way the showed the stage Barrie's play was performed on, complete with low-tech special effects, but you were still able to see why the play would be convincing. I've seen other movies try to do this less successfully (Shakespeare in Love comes to mind), and it can be disastrous, but it seems to work here.

All in all, I'd highly recommend the movie. It's one of the best I've seen in quite some time. It begins to make up for director Marc Forster's previous work (Monster's Ball...), and I'm almost ready to forgive Johnny Depp for Secret Window. But not quite. We'll see how I feel after Charlie and the Chocolate Factory...

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What I think is cool today

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Handmade custom purses, especially those made out of vintage fabrics and/or old clothes.

The best site I found for them is SaraAnn Designs.--I love that she tells you what clothes she used to make her bags. I also like Sylvia Designs and think there are some really cute things at Baby Peach.

I'm also a super big fan of the sites that let you custom design your own bag. 1154 LILL Studio is probably the best of these, and I love how interactively their site works, but I am also impressed with the wide vintage fabric selection at mandy b. bags.

Anyway, just wanted to give a shout-out to these women, because I think they are doing a great thing on several leves. First, female self-employment is good, good, good. Secondly, original couture is most excellent, and what could be better than a one-of-a-kind bag? Finally, to the women using old clothes and vintage fabrics, extra props for making something old new again.

Now the question is how to limit myself to only ordering from ONE of you...

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Anorectic 2, in pictures

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So I wanted to illustrate what I was saying in that post about anorexia.

Here are some pictures of people the media has called anorexic/done "anorexic how-to" stories about:

Mary-Kate Olsen

Tracey Gold

Whitney Houston

Now, here are some women the media thinks look great:

Sarah Jessica Parker

Various soap opera stars (Carly from General Hospital and Bianca from All My Children. Please don't ask why I know that.)

Tell me, how big a difference do YOU see?

What's worse? Renee Zellwegger (whom, as I have said before, I really like).

She sometimes looks like this:

And sometimes looks like this:

Now, which one of those is supposed to be the healthy weight?

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Anorectic (Confessions of a Reformed Dieter)

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confessions of a reformed dieterSo last night I'm on the Stair Stepper, listening to an audiobook I just downloaded. It's Confessions Of A Reformed Dieter: How I Dropped Eight Dress Sizes and Took My Life Back (perfect for the Stair Stepper, don't you think?). So I am listening and huffing and puffing along, and then she says it. Something that has been in the back of my mind since Tracey Gold was on the cover of People in 1992. Something that other people have thought and said as well, but never so clearly, at least not within my hearing.

Sad story articles about anorexic celebrities are not meant to be warnings, or just tear-jerkers. They are instruction manuals. The pictures they print of the "deathly skinny" celebrity aren't for shock value, they are something to aspire to.

Whether magazines do this on purpose or not is really neither here nor there, as far as I'm concerned. The fact of the matter is that I remember the Tracey Gold story in People really well. When it came out, I was 13 years old, skinny as a rail, and already worried about being fat. I read with fascination about how she guzzled liters of Diet Coke and only ate one meal a day (pasta with chicken, reheated over and over). I looked at the pictures of her frail arms and collarbones and did not think she looked sick, but thought she looked fabulous. Most of all, I read about her behavior not with sympathy, or with disgust, or even with morbid fascination, but with a sense of awe at her determination and will-power. I didn't pity her, or fear for her--I admired her.

In the first 30 minutes of her book, A.J. Rochester details many of the different diets she has tried, including the "All Egg Diet," the "All Apple Diet," Jenny Craig, South Beach, you name it. Telling the story of her initial attempts to diet, as an aspiring dancer and actress in mid-1980s Syndey, Australia, however, she talks about going on "the diet that was working so well for all of the models:" anorexia. She speaks clearly about seeing anorexia not as a disease, but as a diet plan, something to consciously aspire to. And that is exactly how I saw it reading about Tracey Gold in 1992, and how I am ashamed and horrified to admit I still see it today.

I intellectually know that you can't just be anorexic for long enough to drop your extra 20 lbs and then go back to normal. I know that the physical and emotional side effects of anorexia can be horrific at best, and can even be fatal. I know that the human body cannot survive without food, I know that laxatives give you diarrhea, I know that speed can bring on a heart attack. I know that the right way to lose the weight that is bothering me is to eat healthier and exercise. Still, though, my first thought, the one I don't admit even to myself, when reading about Mary-Kate Olsen or Laura Flynn Boyle or whomever, is still one of awe at the accomplishment of being a successful anorexic.

I've attempted anorexia a few times, and been a raging failure. Maybe my self-protection mechanisms are strong enough to keep it from happening. More likely, I'm just not disciplined enough to do it intentionally and it's never become an obsession for me, so I always fall of it as soon as I get hungry enough. Either way, I'm enormously lucky. If I were able to see these stories for the warnings that they should be, I would be thanking God for whatever has protected me from success in this endeavor. But I don't. Instead, in the back of my mind, in that place I don't like to admit to, I just feel another level of regret, of disgust in my lack of willpower. And there are no words for how fucked up that feeling is.

I'm not saying that the media should stop reporting on anorexia, or even necessarily that the way it's been done has been wrong. I'm just wondering how we got to the point where a description of the symptoms of a disease started to be a manual for how to get it. How did our feelings about our bodies get so fucked up that we intentionally work on wasting away? And Jesus, how can we fix it?

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The Big News

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Blogging has kind of fallen off the "To Do" list this week. Actually, I have part of several entries written and saved as drafts, but finishing them has fallen off the list.

But there is a reason.

The reason is that WE BOUGHT A HOUSE!!

Well, let's back up. We're buying a house. We have an offer on a house that should be accepted in writing by the seller today. We have an inspection on a house on Tuesday. We have financing offers for a house from several reputable companies. But we have to wait until April 25, then we will actually HAVE the house. Which, given everything we're going to have to do between now and then, is just fine.

And what a house it is. To say it is everything I dreamed of and more sounds really trite, but it honestly it. I could not be happier with it. I can't figure out a way to link to the pictures without linking to the address, which doesn't seem smart, so that will have to wait. Instead, I will bore you with the list of things it has that I wanted but didn't think we could get:

  • French doors. There are actually FOUR sets of French doors in the house--a triple set in the living room and a set in the master bedroom, all of which open into the most amazing yard (garden is really a better word for it).
  • Doors outside from the bedroom (see above) for easy letting the dog out when we're sleeping in. :)
  • An actual "master suite," with master bath and walk-in closet.
  • A good-sized indoor laundry room/mudroom/pantry with lots of storage.
  • An attached garage (two-car even!).
  • A beautiful, residential neighborhood that is also just a few blocks from major city thoroughfares.
  • Location a few blocks from a public park.
  • 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms.
  • A beautiful, amazing, magical, storybook yard, complete with pond/waterfall, arbor, flagstone paths, amazing plants...
  • A huge built-in bookcase taking up one whole living room wall.
  • Poured concrete and butcher block kitchen counters.
  • Open kitchen shelving rather than upper cabinets (but there are hand-carved lower cabinets).
  • Wood privacy fence.
  • Corner lot (neighbor on only one side!).
  • Open kitchen/living room/dining room.
  • Uniqueness (the listing calls it an "artist or landscaper's dream house," and it really is). This includes multicolored tile in the entry, seagrass carpeting, and a million other unique and lovely features.
So I'm pretty much on Cloud 9. Pictures to come...

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