Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Jessica Valenti is my feminist icon (but I still like Carrie Bradshaw)

I've been singing Jessica Valenti's praises since I first picked up her book Full Frontal Feminism in 2007. I bought it, went home, read it cover-to-cover, and thought, "At last! I've found her! My feminist self!"

She was funny. She was realistic. She said 'fuck' (a lot). But mainly, she was dead fucking on. As I blogged for The Bloomington Alternative after first discovering Valenti:
"The writing is accessible, funny, full of the actual f-word and other profanities, but most importantly, right to the point. She’s not talking strictly to heterosexual, white females; she recognizes that men also face sexist standards; and she addresses issues that young women deal with on a daily basis, whether we’re conscious of it or not."
Finally, I had found my brand of feminism. I was already a dedicated Bitch magazine reader; I'd taken a gender studies course or two; I had read plenty of feminist lit. Yet still not one feminist voice had completely struck a chord with me since my mother, the ultimate and initial feminist force in my life, had passed away in 2002. Valenti was speaking my language. I was in love.

Soon, I was jumping full-force into feminism in a way I never quite had before. I bookmarked Feministing, the blog Valenti founded, on both my home and work computers, and began telling anyone and everyone who would listen about it. I began paying attention to the news, advertisements, and pop culture in a way I never quite had before—and began blogging about it more and more. When I was interning for In These Times last fall, I suggested interviewing Valenti for a Web feature, "20 Questions," and actually squealed when I saw a reply email from her in my inbox. (I didn't actually interview her ultimately, but ITT did run the piece.)

In the last year, I really feel like I've grown into my feminist identity, and I have Valenti to thank for a lot of that. But my feminist identity started at a young age, with my mother constantly expounding feminist rhetoric my way (even if I didn't recognize it as such). I'd be remiss if I also didn't mention my father's role in shaping me as a feminist. He might not use the F-word directly, but damn if he isn't more of a feminist than some of the women I know. Not only did I get a first-hand glimpse of male-female relationships with an equal power balance from witnessing his relationship with my mom, he was always (if not so loudly as my mother) vocal that I could do anything a boy could do. I didn't realize until I was an adult how big of an influence that had, and continues to have, on the way I view relationships and my world in general.

And this is another reason why I so quickly fell in love with Valenti's brand of feminism: She got it! Men are feminists too! As she wrote in Full Frontal Feminism, "The same social mores that tell young women that they should be good little girls are telling guys to be tough, to quash their feelings, and even to be violent. Their problems are our problems, ladies. Men aren't born to rape and commit violence. Men aren't naturally 'tougher' emotionally. These gendered expectations hurt men like they hurt us."

Pot Kettle Pot Kettle Black!


Taking a break from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack to stomp all over my apartment. My bright red toenails really add to the effect.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Poetry Slam Tuesdays (and the true meaning of Xmas)

I know I've already featured Bukowski in the short-lived poetry slam Tuesday feature, but I just can't help it. One of my presents from Santa and Mrs. Claus (AKA Jay and Jasmine) was my favorite Bukowski collection, You Get So Alone at Times That it Just Makes Sense.

I love this collection so much that, as a gift, it made it into my Top 5 of the year. And believe me, competition was ROUGH this year. It started off with a bang on the 23rd when Jay handed me my early present, Mickey's Christmas Carol on DVD! (And some say I'm not getting paid for all this blogging!)

Yes, I realize I'm getting away from the thesis of this post, which was to delight you with the words of Bukowski, but all in time. For now I need to delight you with my Top 5 of Xmas '09. Cause that's the meaning of Christmas, right? Presents?

Top 5 of Xmas '09

5. Loafer Slippers (Not only are they super comfortable, they are also bright purple AND sparkly. Yes, sparkly. And the sparkles are a brilliant fuchsia tone.)
4. You Get So Alone... by Charles Bukowski
3. Dirty Dancing 20th Anniversary Edition Soundtrack! (YES!)
2. Sly Stone vintage tee

You might be reading this list and thinking, "There is absolutely no way one person got this many fantastic presents in one Christmas. It's just not fair." Especially not the same person who sunk lower in her chair when her nephews squealed as they opened their MarioKart Wii game and remote controlled spider, "Who are these from? This is awesome!" and the rest of her generous family said, "From all of us!"

Yeah, it's just not fair. That's what I'll be thinking as I dance around my living room to the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, wearing my new slippers, Sly tee, and my new sweats. (The sweats didn't make my top 5 but probably should have, as I can't stop wearing them. I'm sick right now. Cut me some slack.) When I get worn out from doing the merengue and Johnny's Mambo, I'll be reading Bukowski aloud to the cats.

Right, Bukowski. The man. He didn't start writing poetry until he was 35-years-old. 35! That means I have just under a decade to get my act together! Hoorah!

A Friendly Pre-NYE Reminder...from your Grandma

Please, don't drunk text your grandma this NYE. Also, use a condom.

Via Bitch.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Take a seat, George C. Scott!

Because I'll always say Ebenezer Scrooge was best played by one Scrooge McDuck.

And Nephew Fred played by Daffy Duck?! Holy crap. It's genius. I hope I can find the old VHS tape at my dad's house this week so I can watch this in full. Then of course I'll be watching:

All Herbie wants is to be a dentist! A dentist, that's all.

I think it's officially Christmas now.

Poetry Slam Tuesdays: The Dreamiest of the Dream Songs

Dream Song 171
Go, ill-sped book, and whisper to her or 
storm out the message for her only ear 
that she is beautiful. 
Mention sunsets, be not silent of her eyes 
and mouth and other prospects, praise her size, 
say her figure is full. 

Say her small figure is heavenly & full, 
so as stunned Henry yatters like a fool 
& maketh little sense. 
Say she is soft in speech, stately in walking, 
modest at gatherings, and in every thing 
declare her excellence. 

And forget not, when the rest is wholly done 
and all of her splendors opened, one by one, 
to add that she likes Henry, 
for reasons unknown, and fate has bound them fast 
one to another in linkages that last 
and that are fair to see.
 -John Berryman

Thanks, C, for bringing this into my life. I started rereading it this morning after Mufasa spilled water all over my night stand in a cruel attempt to destroy the dream songs (and the other six books stacked there)! She's conniving, that cat.

Saturday, December 19, 2009, my dear, so give a kid a beer

This is the first song I'm requesting at Beth and Stephanie's Christmas party tonight.

I'm throwing a temper tantrum if I don't hear this tonight.

It's about a little shameless self-promotion?

If you feel so inclined, check out all the blogging I've been doing the last couple weeks about the U.N. Climate Change Conference (Cop15) in Copenhagen.

It's been featured on The Media Consortium's environmental blog, The Mulch, throughout the conference, and cross-posted on a lot of kickass progressive sites, including In These Times (where I interned last fall).

Today I wrote a post for Gender Across Borders about how climate change affects women. Check it out.

I don't think Cousin Eddie is quite as concerned with the environment:

And now I'm off to some holiday parties to drink eggnog! Merry Christmas! Shitter was full!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Poetry Slam Tuesdays: "Cocaine"

For this week's poetry slam, your featured poet is ... me. Eek!

I wrote this poem several years ago, and man, was I infatuated with this stupid guy who didn't give a crap about me (Abbs, you know who!).

I blame the jukebox at Crazy Horse (and being 22). He just had to play Van Morrison and wink at me. God dammit. Gets me every time. Men playing my favorite tunes on the jukebox. Needless to say, infatuation ended shortly after I wrote this poem.

I mostly just like the last stanza, but reading this poem, I remember this evening perfectly.

And I wouldn't go back to it for anything.

I watched you,
in my haze of infatuation and booze,
as you snorted your precious powder.

I watched you,
and convinced myself
that you’d need me more
I declined—
meanwhile, you alternated
bending over that table
pushing filth up your nose
and leaning into me
with your misleading embraces.

I didn’t need it
I clutched my goblet
of cheap white wine
and smiled,
content with your proximity.

You were my cocaine
but to you,
I was only the table.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Monday Mix Tapes: Monsters of Folk

Dear Santa Claus,

Please put Monsters of Folk in my stocking this year.

If not, I'll be forced to just listen to this track on repeat.

And that's fine, but...I'd like the whole album.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Have you met Crumpet the Elf? Recommended Holiday Reading

Yesterday I broke out one of my relatively new holiday traditions: Reading David Sedaris' collection Holidays on Ice. If you're going to read any of the stories from this one, read "SantaLand Diaries."

When I first picked up this book at the Borders in Bloomington three years ago, I stood in the store giggling to myself and ended up reading the entire piece before I remembered I was in public. Obviously I bought the book after that.

Every year as I read this and giggle to myself, I tell myself, if David Sedaris dressed as an elf at Macy's before he made it big, I think I can handle paying my dues as a waitress.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

"Buzz, your girlfriend, WOOF!"

Yep, my Friday night was spent trimming the tree and watching Home Alone. It was terrific. It's Day 2 of the Christmas tree, and so far the cats haven't eaten any ornaments.

But really, nothing quite gets you into the holiday spirit like some good ol' Home Alone action!

And I heard a little rumor that the Festival of Lights started yesterday!

Have a happy, happy, happy Hanukkah!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Poetry Slam Tuesdays: 'His Selection, Part Time'

For the second week of the rainbow poetry slams, I'm not really feeling up to scaring you with my own thoughts, so I'm giving you the genius of Anne Sexton instead.


It's a little Walden.
She is private in her breathbed
as his body takes off and flies,
flies straight as an arrow.

But it's a bad translation.
Daylight is nobody's friend.

God comes in like a landlord
and flashes on his brassy lamp.
Now she is just so-so.
He puts his bones back on,
turning the clock back an hour.

She knows flesh, that skin balloon,
the unbound limbs, the boards,
the roof, the removable roof.
She is his selection, part time.
You know the story too! Look,
when it is over he places her,
like a phone, back on the hook.

Anne Sexton, from Love Poems, 1969.

That ending kills me. Absolutely kills me.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Monday Mix Tapes: TNC put Ms. Lauryn on my mind.

Inspired by TNC depressing the hell out of everyone today.

Dear Lauryn, I still love you. Love the Score, love the Miseducation, love the Unplugged album, love Back in the Habit (don't deny it!).

Love it all. Especially this:

Then there's the song that's gotten me through all five million of my terrible decisions regarding, umm, men:

And you know you love Lauryn, teenage angst and all:

I still remember walking out of Best Buy with my mom and my brother after buying The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Probably one of my smartest decisions at Best Buy, ever. When my Fugees cd broke in half at college, I almost cried.

But this is still my favorite. I can't help myself:

You're welcome.

And all I could say was, 'hello'

Finally, I get it.

I've seen "Sleepless in Seattle" an embarrassing amount of times, yet until recently never thought to watch "An Affair to Remember". Thank you, Netflix, you've yet again changed my life for the better.

Last night, I finally watched it, and have no qualms admitting that I was yelling at my TV, tears streaming down my face, "Tell him! Tell Nikki why you weren't there!"

Christ. I thought everyone was exaggerating. This all makes so much more sense now:

(In other news, I think I should probably be concerned that I relate so much to Jonah in this movie. Umm, he's what, 10?)

Back to "An Affair to Remember": It was like reading a freaking Jane Austen novel. All talk, no action, so much sexual tension! Come on, no real kiss, after all this? Do it, already!

*Spoiler alert, for any of you who are under the rock I just abandoned last night.*

Good God, I just teared up watching the clip. He almost walks out the door! But then: Epiphany! The painting!

"She didn't have any money, and not only that, she was... she was..."

Just look at Cary Grant's face when he sees that painting, and try not to weep. I dare you.

"If it had to happen to one of us, why did it have to be you?"

"Oh, darling! If you can paint, I can walk! Anything can happen, don't you think?"

Holy crap.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

I wasn't kidding. It's a Christmas Explosion.

Aside from the fact that something about this video makes me vaguely uncomfortable—maybe it's her bouncing around in the snow with Santa?—this is the Mariah I grew up on and love.

What happened, Mariah? All I want for Christmas is for you to be Mariah Carey, circa 1994.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Or something.

It’s December, which means the Christmas decorations, commercials, and everything else bright and shiny that I think has something to do with baby Jesus, are finally technically appropriate. It’s Christmastime! Wheee!

I guess.

The last couple years, I’ve been a bit of a Grinch. I’ve been pretty broke—okay, completely broke—which makes it difficult to do all the things I want to do for my family and friends (and fuck it, for me) at Christmas.

I had started a little tradition for myself back in Bloomington: After I do my Christmas shopping, I go home, put on Christmas Vacation and then Mariah Carey’s Christmas album, and start getting everything ready. Gift bags for my friends. Christmas cards (and Chrismakkuh cards, because not everyone celebrates Jesus and Santa and the Tooth Fairy!). Wrapping Dad and Jay’s presents.

It puts me in a great mood, even though Layla and Mufasa are trying to eat the wrapping paper, and even though I’m usually alone. And no, it’s not just because I brought home a fifth of Captain for my egg nog! It’s because I love Christmas! The season of giving! Hoorah!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

New Rainbow Feature: Poetry Slam Tuesdays

After careful consideration and due to popular demand*, I've decided to add a new rainbow feature to the mix: Poetry Slam Tuesdays. I'll tell you now, it's no Sunday Swayze Fest (which I promise, will make an appearance again one day when it's not quite so painful), but I think it will add a nice element to the rainbow chronicles.
 *By popular demand, of course I mean one person, my brother, commented about it.

Don't worry, my plan is not to scare you all every week with my own poetry attempts, but I will brave that occasionally. (Most likely, those will be 2 a.m. poetry slams, as I get a little braver at that time of day. Brave, drunk, tired, whatever, all the same.)

I think the most appropriate way to begin Poetry Slam Tuesdays is with a little Bukowski. It's only fitting.

Don Draper is my Wallpaper

In case you’re wondering why I’m not blogging (or returning phone calls, sorry)—it’s because I am busy.

Busy watching Mad Men. Obsessed. I was sucked in after the first ten minutes of the pilot. By the end of this week, I will have finished the first two seasons. In less than a month.

Joan is my favorite character, in case you’re wondering. “She is so much woman.” Of course, I actually started clapping when Peggy got promoted to copywriter. Although I kind of love/hate Peggy, as I do Don Draper. I mean, look at him. But what a pig.

Are you a Marilyn or a Jackie? Don’t know what I’m talking about? Shame on you. Go watch Mad Men. Check out my favorite Betty Draper moment first, though. (Sorry, couldn't embed videos.)