Thursday, September 29, 2005

Intellectual Musings

Am reading a most-interesting book right now called, The New Single Woman, by E. Kay Trimberger. In it, she does intense interviews with a sample of long-term single women (mostly in their late 30s, 40s, and 50s) about their experiences with being single and their attitudes about their lives. Trimberger makes the claim that a part of the problem is that there is no recognition of the single woman (as opposed to the carefree single girl, looking for love) but she is out there. Society defines coupledom as the ideal (heck, as the only) option, and anyone who doesn't achieve a state of coupledom is somehow a failure. The notion of finding a "Soul Mate" is potentially damaging to a single woman's sense of self. Really, being single is just viewed as a stopover to coupledom and not a valid way of living. But the writer claims that these women have the most fulfilling lives: they create communities of friends and families; they have jobs they enjoy; they own homes and have hobbies and give to their communities; they achieve intimacy -- whether sexual or emotional or intellectual -- in a variety of ways.

It gets me thinking about myself. I've been researching and writing about solitude for several months now (book option, anyone???) and while I've spent some time removing myself from my comfort zone, from my friends and family, in a conscious attempt to confront living and being alone, what I've found seems to really mirror what Trimberger is saying: that you're never really alone unless you choose to be; that being single does not have to destin one to a life of freakdom or miserty or alienation. It sounds so simple when I say it in the abstract, and yet, actually achieving a contented single life? Well, that's another story. I'll let you know when I figure that one out.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

whatever happened to little Lolita?

She's morphed into Britney Spears, apparently. And Lindsey. And Mary Kate and Ashley. And every Hillary, Hailie, and Paris out there. Obsession that does not age. Happy Birthday Lolita. You're turning fifty. Who can forget the first time they read these words?

Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.

She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita.

Sheer poetry and pure beauty, from the mouth of a madman, from the tongue of a pedophile, from the heart of a criminal. What it is about Nabokov's tale that keeps us returning? I would like to think that our culture has gained a new sense of morality, that Lolitaesque fantasies can now be reserved to the dusty shelves of dusty bookshelves, pulled down only as a temporary journey into psychological disturbances. But our Lolita-obsesson seems to have found new energy.

In an article at SFGate this week, Oscar Villalon says:

How else to explain the careers of a Britney Spears or Lindsay Lohan? How else to explain the success of "Girls Gone Wild" or porn boasting of having "barely legal girls?" Humbert could hazard a guess: "What drives me insane is the two-fold nature of this nymphet -- of every nymphet perhaps; the mixture in my Lolita of tender, dreamy childishness and a kind of eerie vulgarity, stemming from the snub-nosed cuteness of ads and magazine pictures ... and from very young harlots disguised as children in provincial brothels ... "

He continues:

Take Spears, for example. Her stock was at its highest when she was the teen girl in the denim skirt singing about "Hit me baby one more time." As she got older, she dressed and behaved more and more provocatively, though we were assured she was still a virgin, further fueling our fantasies. Then she turned 18, and was now, finally, legally obtainable -- but she kept getting older. Now she wasn't so inviting; her wide smile and flashing eyes we read as oh so knowing turned out to be simply vacuous.

Next thing, she's married to a guy who appears to be something of a good-natured slob, becomes screamingly pregnant, and is drifting off the radar of cultural significance, washed up at an early age. Throw in a trailer park, and it's the same fate as Lolita's following her days as a used-up nymph.

Washed up seems to sum up the future -- even the present -- of Britney. (Peak at 18? Washed up at 23? How is that possible?) The Lindseys, Halleys, and Jessica's of the world may very well soon follow her to the trailer park to make room for a whole new crop of virgins ripe and primed for exploitation. (There seems to be a neverending supply, doesn't there? Of course, I have to wonder, is it solely the men who demand and control the sexualization of little girls? Or is it we women who perpetuate the myth of Lolita?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

A Potpourri of Dreams

All in one exhausting night, here's what I dreamt...

Dream One: Apparently, I know American Idol’s Season Two runner-up, Clay Aiken (not know in the Biblical sense, you pervs). I’m coming home from somewhere (probably work, most likely work as I look and feel like crap) and he’s in the back of a limo with this faceless, grotesquely obese man. They’re on their way to an event. I get the feeling that Clay wants to ask me to join them, but he’s hesitant, and of course with me looking like crap (I think I was wearing my holey red sweatpants) I didn’t say anything. (Plus, would I dare presume that one Clay Aiken would want to take little ol’ me to an event?)

Analysis: Clay should have won.

Dream Two: Please don’t stop reading, but in this one, I’m having a fight with talk-show host, Montel Williams. Rather, I’m being verbally attacked by trash-tv host, Montel Williams. He’s essentially telling me what a horrible person I am, and as I’m trying to escape his words, he’s following me, yelling. Then he morphs into Geraldo Rivera. Fortunately, I wake up.

Analysis: Montel and Geraldo need new jobs.

Dream Three Part One: I’m stuck in a bit of a time warp, and know that the next event that’s going to happen is that someone’s going to break into my house and kill me. I’m relatively calm about this, just in the kitchen, cooking and doing dishes. Then it suddenly dawns on me: Wait just a minute. If I already know that someone’s going to break into my house and kill me, why don’t I just leave the house? I should go to the airport and leave the country. I don’t stick around in the dream long enough to see if my new master plan will have positive effects (namely, that I don’t get killed, duh). Luckily, I wake up.

Analysis: It probably really means something about my needing to take control of my own destiny and blah, blah, blah, but let's just say: I’m not too quick on the uptake in my dreams.

Dream Three Part Two: I'm visiting a prison where the prisoners are kept in low, open-topped cages. The cages are very small, and the prisoners are chained in so that they have to lie down in the fetal position and can't even turn over. In the dream, I think, This is wrong. No wonder there's so much violence in the world. I wake up, trembling.

Analysis: Entrapment and torture, but by whom? I need to start teaching less depressing topics.

Dream Four: I’m replaying the plot of a novel I’ve recently read, transforming it into images. The specific moment is a large family is immigrating to North America from Ireland, and the mother dies, leaving the main character in charge. The problem is that I can’t remember which book it is, so I run through a list of recent reads through my head: Girl With a Pearl Earring? (No, that’s where her dad’s blind.) Rebecca? (No, marries the odd rich guy with a haunting dead wife.) Clarissa V. hosts a party? (No, silly, that’s Mrs. Dalloway.) I wake up before I get through my list and it dawns on me, Alias Grace!

Analysis: Margaret Atwood is a damn good writer. I need to add her to my favorites!

Dream Five: Hot sex with a hot man (no idea who, but if you see him, send him my way). All over different houses and neighborhoods, in many different positions. Many times. It’s fun. It’s good though a bit blurry. Blurry can be good. Depressingly, I wake up.

Analysis: Sigh. Don't make me say it.

Monday, September 26, 2005

A Call For Permanent Fridays!

What I want to do today:

  • Curl up on my comfy chair (okay, that's a about: curl up in bed) with my October Vogue, and carefully read every page while drinking Earl Grey (another lie...while drinking champagne and eating chocolate truffles);
  • Spend the afternoon scrolling through my favorite blogs;
  • Go for a walk through Golden Gate Park with the dog;
  • Order in sushi and eat it in the bathtub while finishing (finally, please) Mrs. Dalloway.

What I will do today:

  • Go to a meeting with a colleague to discuss curriculum changes that I didn't research this weekend;
  • Talk about the fundamentals of argument development;
  • Grade those last few essays that I didn't grade this weekend;
  • Annotate Violence: Reflections on a National Epidemic (actually very interesting reading, but not for a Monday);
  • Photocopy.

Why won't someone hire me to eat, drink, read fashion magazines and contemporary fiction, and play dress up? Anyone? I promise, I'm real good at it.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

21 Things I love this very minute...

M and I stopped by my favorite produce store yesterday afternoon, when all of a sudden I had the horrible realization (it happens every year) that all of my favorite produce is now officially out of season. Nine months without the perfect peach, strawberries, heirloom tomatoes. I had to buy an avocado to make me feel better, but as it was from Chile (why does an avocado need to come from Chile when I live in California?) I needed something to cheer me up

And so, what I love this very minute:

(1) Mac Viva Glam 5 lip glass
(2) My new Vogue, still in its wrapper, sitting patiently on my coffee table
(3) The Prada pumps I got at 75% off a couple of months ago
(4) Champagne (duh!)
(5) Baguettes, smoked salmon, creme fraiche (double duh!)
(6) Olives and feta cheese
(7) Scharffen Berger dark chocolate
(8) Kisses from my doggie and nibbles from my parakeet
(9) A soak in a lavender-scented tub
(10) An autumn breeze
(11) Black turtlenecks
(12) Sex and the City, Season particular, the Paris episodes
(13) A message on my answering machine from my best friend, just to tell me that he loves me
(14) Seeing the pile of essays I have to grade get smaller and smaller with each essay graded
(15) Mac Pigments
(16) Knowing there's still almost one more month before I turn 34
(17) Catching HNG checking me out
(18) Feeling free to have a crush and nothing but a crush
(19) S. Pellegrino
(20) Pasta
(21) And finally, I must admit, avocados from Chile

Friday, September 23, 2005

I mean really now

Does it get any better than Julianne Moore? Is there any actress out there as good as her? She's on Oprah right now (I'm almost ashamed to admit that I'm watching Oprah, but c'mon! It's Julianne Moore!!!) and just as stunning and articulate and sublime as always. But we already knew that, didn't we?


Thursday, September 22, 2005

I tried to draw a pig!

Such a sweet little piggie. Even if she does look a bit like a rabbit. I think I'll name her Willamina.

Apparently this is supposed to reveal something about my personality. Hmmmmm....I think the main thing it reveals is that I simply cannot draw. But I love her, just the same. She is my pig, after all!

Your turn to draw your own pig!

Word of the day v. (, out.blogs, out.blogged) 1. to go out of one's way to acquire obscure, quirky, random facts or photos on-line in an attempt to one-up one's fellow bloggers. Petra outblogged Wanda when she posted pictures of Britney Spear's c-section on Friday. 2. to enter the real world and perform otherwise extreme or dangerous activities that one can later blog about. Tragically, Bill failed to outblog the world when he went skydiving without a parachute.

Today is really all about fashion

This is inspired by something my friend, Julia, was blogging about the other day. She and a friend were out the other night and were surrounded by a bunch of IT geeks dressed in blue blazers and black pants (or was it black blazers and blue pants? is there really a difference?) and she was commenting on how these guys need to purchase a nice suit, maybe Armani, and they would look so stylish and so much more attractive.

I agree, of course, but then I got to thinking about the losers in my neighborhood, walking around in shredded denim, hanging down around their ankles, and dirty t-shirts advertising 90's bands. They shuffle around in flip flops (in need of a pedicure) and filthy sneakers. They don't comb their hair.

It makes a gal wish desperately for blue blazers and black pants. I'd even accept brown loafers with blue socks. This is true fashion desperation.

Excuse me, but when did dressing homeless become chic? And why won't homeless chic just go away? Is it really that difficult to take a shower? Put on clean clothes? Put on clothes that fit? It costs just as much -- whether you're thrifting it or newing it -- to buy something that looks good as it does to buy something that makes you look like you sleep in the sewers (some of them do, but that's a different story entirely). Do these guys honestly look in the mirror and say to themselves: I look good. I'm gonna go score me a little hottie today!

News flash: You do NOT look good. And you ain't gonna score no hotties today (or any day)

I blame Hollywood. And the Olsen twins. (Always an easy solution, isn't it?) Though I suppose the Olsen twins should be blamed for female homeless chic, but, again, that's a different story entirely.


Kate Moss, that is. Queen of style herself. First by H & M and Burberry and soon-to-be-dumped by Chanel. Rimmel, apparently, is still up-in-the-air.

Lovely when we live in a world where one country can obliterate third-world countries with no consequences but a fashion model gets canned for obliterating only herself. (Well, we all know her real crime was getting caught, right? Doubtful the fashion industry is taking a zero tolerance to drug use any time soon!)

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Why Fashioning is better than Professing

Please call me shallow. I beg you. I won't even disagree. I may even encourage you. Whoever said that educators are supposed to be selfless, sacrificing beings (dressed in pleated skirts and applique sweatshirts) has never set foot in the classroom.

Maybe it's just been one of those days, but when you stand in front of a room filled with 27 adults who clearly do not give a shit about anything that is coming out of your mouth (I believe the exact phrase for the day was: Gandhi sucks! No, I am not making this up. Let's say it again: Gandhi sucks!) the thought of dog-ear'ing the corners of September's Vogue is the only thing that gets you through the day.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

One of those things

It's kinda funny how things change.

When you're hurt by someone, no, when you're hurt by a man, and in spite of the loss and the anger and the frustration, you cling to the tangible reminders of him, any tangible reminders you can find: ticket stub, dried-out flowers, receipts, that last desperate message on your answering machine. It doesn't matter if you're 16 or 33 or if you know that you're behaving irrationally; you cling to these things because you don't know whether to feel hope or don't know what to feel or how to feel, but at least with the tangible thing in your hands you feel something.

Then, maybe a year or so later, you randomly run across one of these reminders. Maybe a photograph or postcard. Maybe an old e-mail or the crinkled scrap of paper that he first gave you his phone number on. And just like that, without even thinking, you hit "delete."

And the thing is gone. And the man is gone.

And you feel nothing.

And that's okay.

Monday, September 19, 2005

My Life With a Dog

Went to bed at 12:30 and was awoken by the dog who was barking madly, squealing, growling, almost screaming (whatever equivalent of screaming that a dog has -- barkeaming?)...He was so wildly out-of-control that I was instantly terrified that someone was breaking into the building or was being murdered outside or that there was an earthquake or something. If there's one thing I trust, it's my dog's instincts. But I didn't really hear anything unusual. No sirens or gunshots or catfights. I got up and tried to calm the dog, checked the apartment and the front hallway. Nothing. Tried to get back to sleep, but then 20 minutes later he started up again. I peered through the blinds, which really made him crazy, as if there were a dark face floating through the window (stay sane, girl, you don't live in a horror film, and besides, you're on the second floor). Again, nothing. Just darkness. Finally got him calm (and me calm) and back to sleep. Of course, after a restless night, he appears perfectly unaffected and normal (as normal as a dog can get) and I appear a wreck.

I suppose that's just the life of a dog, right?

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Weekend Roundup

Friday. Met up with some friends for dinner: Mexican food and margaritas. As is often the case when tequila is consumed, especially when tequila is consumed in the presence of an 8-month pregnant woman (she drank juice, don't panic) and a Russian and a German, this turned into bar-hopping and live-music until 2 a.m. It wasn't an over-the-top evening, but it felt good to go to bed at almost 3 a.m., knowing that I've still got "it." Whatever "it" is!

Saturday. Was a bit groggy in the morning, but met C down at the ferry building for a wander through the farmer's market (sampled a few oysters and picked up some tasty white balsamic vinegar -- the best thing ever made -- and dark chocolate, heirloom tomatoes, and parmesian cheese) before dim sum for lunch. We then saw Grizzley Man, which was as shocking, complex, and sublime as I thought it would be (though the director spent way too much time analyzing footage that spoke for itself). Came home in the early evening and hung out with T2's cats (they're out of town) while watching cheesy reality TV over a couple of glasses of Spanish red.

Sunday. Much work to do in anticipation of the work week and friends over for dinner in the evening. Went to the gym early (well, early for a Sunday -- 11 a.m.) and then to the market for some lovely produce for dinner. Spent much of the afternoon cleaning and watching Sex and the City, Season Four before M & B came over for dinner -- a bottle of white and a gorgeous pasta with lox, creme fraiche, spinach, and mushrooms and a simple green salad.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Am feeling sad today....

A good friend's mom recently had a tumor removed. She seemed to be on the mend, but today, she just found out that a new tumor has appeared, and it appears that there's nothing they can do. It's just a matter of time. She and her husband are going home to Peru, the land where they met. Why not? What other option is there?

I'm so sad for C, for her whole family. It's been almost a year since my daddy died, and that pain, that loss, that grief...that love, that hope that he will walk through my door, it never really goes away. You move on, you breathe. You live.

You have to, I suppose. What other option is there?

Just last night, I had a dream about him. Right now, the dream feels like chaos, so I don't remember much about what happened. But I know that he was dying, he died in the dream, he died again, and in the dream I knew that he was already dead, but still there was nothing I could do but watch him die again.

And now I miss him. More than ever. I suppose that goes without saying.

What other option is there.

Monday, September 12, 2005

A funny little thing about me....

I must say that the weekend was rather uneventful. Minus one baby shower (quite an event, but not what I'd define as eventful) and a few cocktails at some friends' apartment, the highlight of the weekend was googling how to cook the perfect hardboiled egg.

That's not the funny thing (though you may be laughing, I truly understand). The funny thing is that I came here last night to blog about the most uneventful of eventful events but then was struck by the absurdity of sharing the moment with invisible strangers. So I deleted the post.

For the sake of pure honesty, I'm back to report, Those were some damn good eggs.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Oh. My. Fuck.

Was driving to the train station, on my way home from work, when all of a sudden....WHAM's "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go!" came on the oldies station.


Elvis is oldies. The Beatles are oldies. Sinatra is oldies. George Michael is not oldies.

You know what this means? We're middle aged.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Lightweight Central

Another late night hanging out at T2's apartment, watching Constantine (much to my confusion) and The Beach (much to my delight), eating pizza, and drinking wine. We were all up until after 1 a.m., on a work night, and upon groggily running into a groggy T1 this morning (he was on his way to work, I was still in my sleep clothes, on my way to dogshit park) I said, "We have to switch to herbal tea."

He said, "But I'm socially starved at the moment. We're having so much fun."

I said, "Me too, but I can't drink every night. We have to switch to herbal tea."

Sad thing is that we're only drinking 2-3 drinks over a relatively long period of time. Remember when 2-3 drinks was merely the warm-up for the evening?

Feel. So. Old. Oh. So. Old.

Monday, September 05, 2005

sorting through the box

Am getting set to do a reading of my fiction at my college tomorrow. A colleague approached me last week and asked me to read something as the scheduled reader (a highly-published children's author) had to cancel at the last minute. I can't figure out what to read as so much of it is full of fuck, and in spite of the fact that they're adults, I'm a bit hesitant to say fuckityfuckfuckfuck in front of my students. I'll do it in the end, and like so many moments, it will never be as nerve-wracking as the anticipation of the moment.

But fuckityfuckfuckfuck, the anticipation is a killer.

Funny, though. I was flipping through the decaying pages of my journals a few weeks ago and found the fragmented beginnings of my novella. It amazes even me, perhaps especially me, to see how far I've come and how far the writing has grown in the past few years. Why is it so hard for me to be proud of what I've accomplished?

Gender Bending

Last night, over at T2's apartment (med-rare steaks, salad, my inventive cocktail: The Pussy Pink -- maraschino cherry juice, sweetened-lime juice, splash of cranberry, half a lime, vodka, sugar-rimmed, poured into a chilled martini glass and adorned with one maraschino cherry) the three of us watched The Crying Game.

Hard to believe, but in 1992, none of us initially realized that Jaye Davidson is, in fact, really a "he."

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Some Days I Feel 12

Correction: Most days I feel 12.

I'm not 12.

I'm 33.

Perhaps age really is a mere abstraction.

People say one should leave one's childhood insecurities behind. Get over adolescence! It happened two decades ago!

Intellectually, I know that's true. I know that the girl I was then is not remotely the woman I am now, in spite of the fact that I'm grateful for her help in getting me here. Intellectually, I know how far I've come and don't care what other people think. But blah, blah, blah, it's not always so easy. You know, these same people telling others to "Get over it!" were probably the captains of the school's cheerleading squad.

Sometimes it's too easy to return to being 12. Take HNG, for example. We had yet another encounter on the street Thursday night (one in a series of perhaps 20 similar encounters), a brief, "Hello, how are you?" "I'm fine, how are you?" "Fine, fine...the weekend's here," that resulted in nothing more than my racing up the stairs of my building, flitting and giggling and dancing round my living room, in true 12-year-old form. She's fun, she's energetic, she's wild and giddy, my 12-year-old self. She takes chances because she doesn't always realize the risk involved, and I love her for that.

But when I transform to my 12-year-old self, I must take the bad alongside the good. I must face my reality of crooked teeth and uncombed hair, hair that no amount of Aqua Net will make just right; corduroy culottes and matching vests; AAA training bras to adorn my AAA chest. I must face the reality that beneath her fearless exterior lies nothing but pure terror. Perhaps you've met this girl yourself, the one the boys dedicated the ugly song to, the one the girls mocked for her quirky fashion sense. The one sitting alone at the dance hall, the one no boys would kiss.

Sadly, my 12-year-old shell's a tough overcoat to shake.

So last night, over midnight Cosmopolitans at the Irish pub, I'm talking to T about HNG. "HNG's way out of my league," I say.

"Bullshit," he says. "You're way too self-deprecating, Tessa."

I won't argue that just as I won't argue the complimentary things T says about me. And I'll ignore the blatant contradiction of possessing both self-loathing and self-love. Perhaps self-deprecation is merely a survival tool. And it, like adolescence, sure makes for good short story material.

Hard to say....

The deadliest form of violence is poverty. -- Gandhi

In my country, there are people sleeping in their own urine.

I know, I know, I know that these images have always been there in some form or another, that poverty and violence in this country have always existed, that too many of my fellow citizens live in third-world conditions, that I could do more to change this.

I know. I know.

I know that we privileged many can easily shadow our eyes from such images.

But now that it's here, in our faces, we can't turn away any more. I'm sickened by my government's apathetic response to this tragedy. I'm saddened by the hateful comments I've read from some who fail to realize the extremity of the horror of Katrina. I'm honored that so many have reached out, some from nations far less fortunate than my own, to help or simply to let us know that they care.

I have a friend visiting me from Australia who is stunned to see the reality of this country, both in the images of Katrina and the images of my own city. There is beauty and there is love, but also there is hypocrisy and there is hatred. I hadn't watched the television for several days, and my first glimpses of the aftermath have left me tearstained, shocked: Two parents who have lost their newborn child plea for her recovery; A baby sleeps in a soiled diaper; A man in a wheelchair is rescued; A man who has lost his house hands water to the thirsty; Others, faceless and nameless strangers, lie dead in hallways, buried under blankets. As always, like so many times in my life, I am burdened with the shame of being an "American." And I feel powerless. I can send money, I have sent money; I can sign petitions and send letters, I have signed petitions and sent letters; I can protest, I have protested.

And yet here we are. Where do we go now?