so say

1 May, 2008

So, last night I got to hang out with Justin, the friend who’s been saving Battlestar Galactica episodes for me on his DVR, and watch the first four, though he fast forwarded through kissing/sex scenes like my 16-year-old brother would. So now I get to throw out some thoughts in no particular order and with no assumption that anything I say is true or will be accurate. I haven’t seen Razor yet or any of last season, though I read the recaps and know what happened.

First of all, it was amazing how many people I didn’t recognize. I didn’t catch Cally among the crew members until I realized when I saw her with Tyrol and their baby that I’d been seeing her all along. Starbuck has a type; I can’t always tell Lee and Sam apart, though I’m getting better. Oh, and space battles still make no sense to me at all.

So who’s the last cylon? My viewing partner thinks it’s Zach Adama, and I’m fairly well convinced. Justin remembers someone in the first season saying that Adama’s a cylon without specifying which one, and I think with all the wacky name symbolism going on it’s plenty likely that the Z. and A. initials are some sort of alpha and omega thing. So yeah, maybe he’s gone into occlusion and is going to ride out of the clouds on earth and lead everyone home. Something’s got to happen, because there seems to be a whole lot of “Paging Mr. Chekhov; there’s a gun over the fireplace” going on every time he’s mentioned this season and he’s mentioned a lot. Plus it lets me stick to my theory that something really weird happens to humans who have sex with cylons. I mean, we all know there’s some kind of plan for a generation of cybrid children, but it seems like non-reproductive sex is where the magic happens. Or else it’s just that wild people are cylon attractors. Kara, Cally, Baltar a million times over, Helo…. I don’t know yet. I still suspect Gaeta of something, though. And he’s just about the only major cast member who’s never had sex with anyone. That’s got to mean something, besides just that I like him.

Oh, and clearly women are evil. The end. Seriously, it doesn’t bother me for some reason, maybe because all the women get to be awesomely crazy and evil. I’ve always had a soft spot for Tory and her hot ruthlessness. Maybe it’s also that I have a lot of sympathy for their crazy self-assurance. I wish I could be evil like they are, unswaying and serious and driven, but I’m not a believer. I’ve had times where I was like Kara in chains, sure that I alone knew the truth ad that the world was falling apart without me, but I also knew I was sick-crazy then and didn’t bother to raise my voice. On another show it might leave me bitter, but here I cut slack because I overidentify. These are all women who’ve been hurt terribly, learned to love in their horribly broken ways, and are now setting out to independently destroy/save the world. Or maybe I should say they’re noble and sick, deluded, so that we can account for Cally’s lovesick devotion and postpartum misery. They’re all beautiful and horrible and awesome and that works for me.

Hey, and while I’m talking demographics, is Baltar’s whole cult white? I saw one woman in one of the last scenes who might have been Asian or Latina maybe, but it seems totally homogeneous otherwise. While race doesn’t seem to have any implications among these humans, it does for viewers and I wonder if we’re headed for something there. I did like his excessive Christ turn, right down to his love-yourself-as-your-neighbor speech at the end. I’m not sure about all the perfection talk either, but it’s great to see him taking his delusions of grandeur in a new direction.

Oh, and the names. I mentioned it a bit already, but I snorted when I found out poor old Cally was Calandra, beautiful man. I had to look up Tory’s name (Tory Foster) and I like it, too, since it’s maybe an overdetermined English name rather than a pseudo-Greeky-Latinish one.

I got plenty of chills and I know we’re headed for the promised land and for doom, but I don’t care. It’s wonderful television. It’s hard to have to just talk into the ether about it instead of talking the way I used to, but things change and some friends become absent friends. And if I’ve become bitter and evil, I’ll just fit right in.


my peers

16 April, 2008

This morning was my first stint on jury duty and it was not at all what I expected. For one thing, knitting needles are prohibited as weapons in the district court! So after scurrying back to my car to drop off my sweater-in-progress, I slipped through the metal detector and got to sit and wait for a long, long while until about half of my fellow jurors showed up. Six of us were chosen randomly (me first!) to serve on two guardianship cases. In the first case, it was easy for us to decide unanimously that a girl a few weeks from her 18th birthday who had only one hemisphere of her brain and a seriously debilitating physical syndrome should have her medical, personal, and financial decision-making powers legally given to the parents who have raised her and will continue to care for her. Her parents had filed the petition and they, the Commonwealth attorney, and her guardian ad litem were all in agreement about the best resolution of the case for her, so they were happy with our decision.

Harder, though, was the second case, a paranoid schizophrenic who chose not to attend her competency hearing. She’s apparently very intelligent, but obviously also unwell. And like many people with mental illnesses (and, going by what my antibiotics bottles always say, physical ones) she has a tendency to stop taking her medicine once she’s semi-stabilized. Recently I’ve been reading a lot of adoption blogs dealing with how parents can be trapped by the system when they’re unable to parent unsafe children they love, so I was sympathetic to the way this guardianship/curatorship setup was being portrayed. On the other hand, I have a history of mental illness and while I’ve never wrangled with the law, there are times I’ve thought I’d be fine without pills when that turned out very much not to be the case. Oh, and there were times when I was on pills that made me significantly less fine than I’d be otherwise, and I was terrified by the number of heavy-duty antipsychotics this woman is supposed to be taking. So because of that or maybe just independently, it was hard to have to sit there and sign off on taking away her rights. I had to think a lot about it and really consider the doctor’s commentary (though what makes me think I can trust what HE wrote?) and wonder what kind of life I would want for this woman, whether I can believe she really wants help when it’s clear from her file she resists it mightily. But I thought and thought and still agreed that she was probably better off, in practical terms, unable to manage her money and make major independent decisions about her life and behavior. And that makes me feel a little queasy even as I know it was what the people she’s menaced would want, what she doesn’t want but what might get her to a place where she is able to change her mind about that. I’m not asking her to be reconditioned, not doing anything terrible, and yet I think about all the people wrongly committed against their will and I wonder how easy it would be to read their doctors’ reports and assume the worst of them.

I’ve always said I think we all have a right to suicide, but I’ve also (barely) never exercised it myself because I’m too worried about the damage I would do to others. I don’t know how to feel about the damage or benefits of what I did today in legally marking both of these women as permanently disabled. In the first case, with a nonverbal woman who clearly can’t feed herself and is only marginally ambulatory, I didn’t have any guilt, but my heart hurts for the second regardless of outcome. I was relieved when the judge told us that this was an intelligent woman and that if treatment in a residential facility (more of an assisted living than a mental hospital setting) was successful, she would eventually be able to petition the court to return her rights to her. I’d rather sit on that jury than the one I was on today, but I did what I could of my duty and then was free to go to work.


12 March, 2008

I have a computer now and a proper desk for it, which looks lovely coming out from the built-in bookshelves, still leaving the doors beneath accessible. I don’t have a chair yet, but that’s really no excuse for why I haven’t been writing. It’s the same old story everyone has, that I don’t know what to say. There are people no longer really in my life whom I can’t fairly analyze, and in current life A. would prefer I not say too much openly about her. I have unuttered worries curled in my heart that should probably stay there. And yet I’m committed to becoming a smart, literate, interesting person again, the kind the people whose blogs I read will want to read themselves. I’m just not there yet.

And I guess that’s the question, how I can present myself fairly and fully when to do so isn’t really possible. Through absolutely coincidence, I learned the identity of a pseudonymous bloggger I very much respect. I’ve let her know this, of course, and I’m willing to stop reading her blog rather than cause any discomfort, though the context in which I know her has nothing to do with the content of her blog. What I’ll say openly because it feels bad to try to keep it secret is that while I deeply respected and enjoyed this blogger, I found her offline persona (inasmuch as I knew it) frustrating at best. So not once but twice have I misjudged the same person, and it makes me feel pretty lousy. I’m just not good at giving people the benefit of the doubt when I don’t want to believe that maybe they’re as uncomfortable as I am in reality. Even knowing I’ll probably get caught in saying this (particularly knowing that?) I want to note that I’m aware I’m a jerk and I was wrong to find someone else jerky. This happens more often than I would like, presumably because I’m very much a jerk.

I’m interested in jerkiness and identity, though, right now. I had some things I wanted to say about reality television now that I live in a normal American household where the tv is on through much of the evening (though my eyes are often far from it) but I’m not sure how far I’ll go now. I’ll just note that we watched the episode of The Moment of Truth in which a woman confessed that she’d cheated on her husband and that she’d loved someone else when she’d gotten married. (That second part particularly doesn’t sound necessarily horrible to me, but there was all the resultant horror and disapproval in the voiceover that you might imagine.) I was just interested in how it was going to be spun, not only the implication that lie detector tests are flawless, but that, well, the love of money is the root of all evil. It’s so creepy and exploitative, but so (to my mind, at least) are most strip clubs and they’re both legal and popular. And hey, if you’re going to be ogled or be open about cheating on your husband or whatever, why not make a few bucks in the process? Although this woman didn’t make any money because she turned out not to believe that she was a good person, despite her protestations to the contrary. This was the only shocking and most interesting part in the whole show.

But I’ve also enjoyed watching The Salt-N-Pepa Show, which is exploitative in the way any celebreality show is. A. at one point was shocked that Salt and Pepa were arguing loudly in the lobby of a recording studio, not caring who heard them, but why should they when the whole world can tune in to their argument anyway? I like it, though, because both of them seem very genuine about their own hangups but also about how much they care for each other. And yet the show pushes them to bite at each other, putting a woman disclosing her history as an abused child in a situation where she’s being criticized by her friend and her life coach for playing out the roles she was raised in. The more scripted or micromanaged parts, trips to ropes courses and healing techniques, seem cruel to me because they’re false. What matters is the connection these two have. But now I’m degenerating into blah blah blah. This time change has left me wanting rest. More later, though, I promise.


14 December, 2007

I know I keep promising to come back and my head is full of posts (though this has always been true much more than it’s been true that I’ve had a blog full of posts) but I have to be realistic. I got an ear tube inserted, had a CT scan of my sinuses earlier this week, still can’t hear completely or consistently. My bad ear is popping incessantly. There’s a new kitten in the household. My computer hasn’t been fixed yet, though I’ve got new plans in that regard. I’m going to go away through the end of the year and come back shiny and new, or at least patched-together and functioning. Then I’ll restart with a mission and make this place what I want it to be. Thanks for sticking it out.


14 November, 2007

It’s another content-light post, but the big news is that my computer works! I published pictures of, among other things, A.’s yarn twists, which lasted well for weeks. Her hair has grown well and I put her hair into two-strand twists Monday, probably my best effort yet.

Okay, the actual big news is that I’ll get a tube in my ear Tuesday. This will let me hear again, which will make everything else easier. I’m very happy about this.

I’m reading a lot, doing a lot of knitting, thinking about many things. I promise to be back with updates soon. Now, though, sleep.

one of these things

19 October, 2007

I’m still sick and dopey on antibiotics, so this isn’t going to be a sophisticated post. Actually, maybe that’s appropriate because I think sometimes I try too hard to be sophisticated because I can, get some wordplay in, make my words slick. There’s fun in that, but I’m semi-intentionally limiting myself to people who get my jokes (and want to).

There have been times I’ve wanted to avoid that, though. When I was a tiny, shy nerd finishing high school, I made a vow to myself that by graduation I’d have had a substantive conversation with each of my classmates, knowing that otherwise I’d be cooped up with the same girls in all the advanced classes and I’d never have to push myself beyond it. Within four years I learned that I could find at least 145 different ways to connect with people, which is still really one of my biggest accomplishments. Then in college I had all the professors and visiting speakers to talk to, got to have the privilege of being out of my league, which excused any ignorance, while still well-read and excited enough to stand out as an undergrad. This complemented the time I spent as a student activist working with minority identity/affinity groups and sexual assault survivor support and education, and I found them rewarding in vastly different ways.

I’ve cut myself off a lot since then, and the internet has helped. I don’t have a lot in common socially or culturally with a lot of my coworkers, especially the ones closest to me in age. Living online lets me find people who are like me, connect with people only on the levels at which they’re like me and then get excited about other resonances. There are times I’ve fallen into entertainment masochism, following lifestyle threads on a roleplaying board full of idealistic geeks, reading comics blogs merely to mock them. Recently I’ve gotten the new experience of joining a messageboard for issues around natural African-American hair to get advice and support on styling A.’s hair. Here I’m not only racially a minority and someone whose personal hair, while natural in its way, doesn’t have any of the baggage or characteristics of the topic at hand and also in some ways someone stepping into a safe space as an outsider. Yet I’ve been totally welcomed and this weekend I think we’ll try yarn twists, something I’d never have imagined trying without seeing what fun other people have had with it and how long their styles have lasted.

What I’m saying is that I’m in a process of learning to connect with people, lots of people, and I’m trying to do it empathetically and in a way that’s still true to me and the awkward, hypersensitive nerd I am. This means that when people (well, men) at the football party A. and I attended Sunday complain that the Bengals are playing like women I still feel compelled to say teasingly, “Oh, they’re not THAT good” even though these are people who don’t worry the way I do about the implications of gender-expectation metaphors, people I don’t even really know well. So I’m still conflicted, even though I’m doing what I should and want to be doing.

I have a great inspiration for this in A., who can talk to and charm anyone anywhere, as far as I can tell. I know after we first met she’d convinced me I ought to let her coax me into having a social life and trust people enough to get to know them, which is just how things played out. But she can be in a bar and chat up some people who happen to be actors and thus score us deep-discount tickets to possibly the best play I’ve ever seen. But she’s just as comfortable talking to kids (to a point) and waiters and pilots and African sex workers. Everywhere we go, people recognize her (whether she remembers them or not) and it’s because she’s so amazingly personable and willing to meet them at their level, whatever that may be.

The reason this is on my mind is that I’m still obsessed with Samuel Delany’s Times Square Red, Times Square Blue about what’s lost in the gentrification of Times Square. The first part (blue, though it took me far too long to pick up on the color implications) is his memoir of his experiences and friendships and public (and non-public) sex in moviehouses over the course of something like 20 years. This was interesting just from the perspective of getting into the mindset of someone who’d do things so far out of my own range of interests, but I also liked the way it showed such a huge cross-section of society, maybe specifically a society that excludes people like me since basically the only women involved appeared onscreen (or at home while their menfolk strayed). But in the second, red, essay, Delany talks about how much is actually lost in terms of connectedness when sites of cross-class communication are closed.

Everyone talks about networking these days, but networking is just a way of talking to other people who are like you so they can eventually push you on to other people like you to your advantage, a basically closed system. More important in terms of true community is connection, the kind of conversation or interaction you can have at a bar or a downtown market (or a sex theater, if that’s your thing and they haven’t already been closed down) because people who are different are interacting on planes where they happen to intersect.

I’m not sure how I can use the internet like that, if I can use the internet like that, but I’ve been weaning myself off my internet dependence, following fewer blogs, trying to read more books on paper, even watching tv. I’m using my outside life to do a range of things, make connections with people unlike me but also meet people who share my values and vision (and, often, class and politics) to be friends in a sea of acquaintances. I feel so lucky to have so many opportunities, all the more because A. is helping me along and letting me hook myself into her existing nodes. I think I can get to know myself better by getting to know other people. I hope being on a path that could take me anywhere will eventually get me where I want to go.

not a fan

12 October, 2007

Almost a month ago I mentioned that A. and I had been approached by some people filming some sort of pilot to appear as extras. we signed on, assuming nothing would come of it, and then got a call this week and did our first filming last night. All we really had to do was sit at the bar and periodically look in a certain direction while the cameras were going while still drinking and conversing. Everything about the project (temporary title, director’s name, even the film company) stays off the google radar, so I won’t be naming any names since they’re probably not real ones anyway. It was fun and they’ll want us back, apparently. I wore my own sweater since if I’m going to be on tv it had better be in something no one else has. I also ordered the mussels in red curry sauce from The Pub’s fall menu, and those were superb, so a good enough night made even better because I’d had a 4-hour nap that seems to be helping me get over my ear infection and antibiotics-induced ennui.

What I really wanted to talk about (and have been too tired and offline to actually discuss) is how much I’m realizing I don’t fit in with certain parts of the dominant culture. In the past and in my past blogging life I’d have considered this a geek thing, that I’m not a fanboy and thus I can’t remember all the characters in some X-Men story let alone what issue number that story might have held. Last Monday, though, A. and I watched the Bills vs. Cowboys football game, certainly the most exciting and engaging one I’ve seen in my life. And while I vaguely care about the stories and can retain little facts like that the kicker has only ever made a 47-yard field goal in an actual game before, I just don’t get into it in terms of fan ownership. I can’t think of much of anything that makes me so excited I can’t resist, though I can spout off facts about all sorts of things. I keep trying to prove myself wrong, but it doesn’t seem like the same thing that I got so excited to see there was a new Emma Donoghue novel that I snatched it right off the library shelf and smiled to myself. I mean, everyone knows I adore Bill Nighy, but I had no trouble waiting for Notes on a Scandal to show up in my Netflix queue and I don’t have any plans to see Underworld 2. It’s not that I lack passion, just direction or intensity or something. I’m thinking about this still, but I’m not sure how I’m alien as much as that I am.

I’m also thinking about blaming the antibiotics and exhaustion for this being an intensely boring post, but all blame probably lies with the author here.