Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Here Be Hamsters!

Whee! I just bought a hamstercage from eBay. god bless eBay. It will be the perfect home for my future hamster, who will be an adorable little dwarf fuzzy thing that will come to live with me once the cage arrives. It has tubes and colors and platforms and all sorts of neato stuff. I have the perfect place for it: on top of my dresser. that i bought from eBay.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Are we noticing a trend here?

i am a conscientious individual. i am a conscientious cyclist. i am a safety nut. i am, therfore, the last person you would expect to be pulled over by a copper when riding a bicycle.

and yet, that's just what happend this morning.

now, when i cycle, i always wear a helmet, use lights, tuck my trousers in my socks, use hand signals, reflectors, lights, and i even have one of those reflective strappy thingys that go around your waist and over one shoulder that make you look like an S.S. Crossing Guard. I am the MODEL of bike safety. They could photograph me for one of those pamphlets they give out to kids in schools on how to bicycle safely. You know the ones; they have a pictures of road signs and their meanings and a drawing of someone excercising stupendous bike saftey, and all the kids look at it and declare "what a dork! no way am i doing that!" and throw the pamphlet in the trash. Yeah, that's me.

Which is why I was REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY dismayed, pissed-off, hurt, and offended when I of all people got stopped by a cop this morning on my way back from grocery shopping. Me, the model of good citizenship, with my bicycle laden with potatoes, skimmed milk, and washing up liquid.

Yes, I was cycling on the sidewalk, but only for a very brief distance so as to get round a bus. In the centre of Bristol there is a horrendous one-way traffic system. It's a big loopy thing with 4 lanes moving in each direction, and it's loaded with busses and impatient people who are late for work. I hate it.

So I ride in the street like a good girl all the way back from the grocery store, and i'm attempting to navigate my way through this automotive hellhole, when the bus in front of me stops. Traffic in the lane to the right of me is moving at about 40 miles an hour, and is very unyielding. I noticed a gap in the curb of the sidewalk. So i veered left and hopped up onto the sidewalk ('pavement' for all you brits who don't know what a sidewalk is) just long enough to get around this bus. Just as i'm passing the bus and getting ready to drop back into the street, a beat cop puts up his hand and orders me off my bike.

I truly did not know before this morning that it is actually illegal to ride on the sidewalk in this country. I've never heard of such a thing. Where i'm from, you're not supposed to ride in the street - it's considred too dangerous. I only ride in the street here because there are too many pedestrians and the sidewalks are crowded, so it's much faster in the street. Apparently it's also mandatory. I explained that I was only going around the bus because the traffic was moving too fast to safely get into the right lane, and he said that it was dangerous to the predestrians if i'm on the sidewalk. But I always yeild to pedestrains when i'm on the sidewalk! and besides, a pedestrian/bicycle collision is a fuck lot less lethal than a bicycle/angry motorist collision. So i think it's a stupid law. But i played all dumb and sweet and what a wonderful country blah blah blah and the fuckwad let me off with a written warning. i would have much rather told him what i think, but i didn't want to risk a fine - i just don't have any money to waste. So i swallowed my pride, kept my head down and my mouth shut, and thanked the nice constable for correcting me becase i didn't know i was breaking the law.

I'm going to explode soon.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

There are 2 kinds of people in this world:

Those who put people into categories, and those who don't.

Pull more than your weight

I thought I knew what exhaustion was. That was before yesterday. That was before I spent 11 hours waiting around outside in 2-degree weather, punctated by 2, yes 2 4-kilometer head races, each raced at 32 spm the whole course. Came home, took a 20 min scalding shower to bring my core back up to temp, downed 2 cups of tea, got into bed at 10 minutes to 7, and slept for 11 hours. How the rest of my crew managed to go out drinking after that i'll never know. For the sake of my ego, i'm telling myself that it has nothing to do with the fact that i'm 6 to 8 years older than they, but rather, that they're not working a hard.

Sometimes that is the case. Like today. My four did 3 x 2K at 24, 26, and 28 spm. We put the pressre down, we powered it out, we moved the boat. On the last piece I gave everything I had left. I save nothing. I wrecked myslef. I totally fucked myself over. I did it as though I were alreading in Bejing. Hence the reason I was so pissed off when after that my coach said, "right. that was good. good attack, that's what we're looking for. On the way back to the boathouse, we're going to do (that's the royal "we," by the way, meaning "you") 2 x 2 min at 32, full-out. I want to see some real pressure here." I hate it when they do that.

'Right', I thought to myself. 'If he want's to see pressure, I'll show him pressure. I want to be in the top 4. I'm going to show him I'm made of tougher shit than anyone else on this crew.' So I powered it down for all I was worth. I had nothing left, but I found more somehwere, and I honked on it. At the end of the second piece I was wheeing, panting, and moaning. I could barely hold my head up. I was done. And then I heard my bow woman start talking, perfectly calmly. We hadn't taken 4 strokes on the wind-down when she starts chit-chatting away with 2 seat. She wasn't even out of breath!

Maybe she thinks that's some sort of a demonstration of fitness, as in 'look at me - you lot are all falling over and i'm not even breathting hard; i'm so much fitter than you,' but as far as i'm concerned, if you aren't even out of breath, you're not pulling; you're dead weight in the boat.

I don't do this sport to haul whiney, whingey little short-asses around and show them the scenery. I do it for the drive, the glory, and the love of the thing. I'm sick of being in a club that rewards my bow-woman's sort of behavior, and holds me back when I train twice as often and 3 times as hard. Don't know how much longer i can put up with this sort of shit.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Why you want to be my friend:

You get to eat food like this. Maximum yum.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thanksgiving musings

it's thanksgiving again, that most pure of all holidays. it's not a holiday to celebrate some long dead person or commemorate an event (well, theoretically it is to commemorate an event, but since that event was the First Thanksgiving, it's actually commemorating itself, and that event was mostly fictional anyway, so there it is). Its a holiday whose principle purpose is to foist upon us an occasion to take a deep breath, eat some good food, spend some time in the company of those we love, and think about how good we've got it. Cause really, no matter what your problems are, if you got food, a table, and people who love you, then you've got all your basics covered. anything beyond that is just icing on the cake. or whipped cream on the pie, as it were.

so in that spirit of "wow, my life is really pretty good," here are some of the things for which i'm thankful, in no particular order...

flat water on cold mornings
hot showers
my friends, for keeping me sane (you know who you are)
my enemies, for keeping me on my toes (you know who you are. fuckers.)
the means and opportunities that brought me to this place in my life, which is good
strawberry milkshakes, the food of the gods
my parents' uncontrollable horniness, without which i wouldn't be here
anti-inflammatory medication
all things counter, original, spare, strange
furry quadrupeds
soaring, vaulted, exulted music; the kind that makes your heart explode with painful jubilation
crunchy leaves
Old English poetry

what are you lot thankful for? add your thoughts to the comments.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

first action hero

took Sal's action hero quiz. came out a 100% perfect match for Captain Jack Sparrow. That's ok i guess. But truth be told, i'd much rather do him than be him.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

I really hate money

Seriously, i do. Can't stand the stuff. just a necessary evil. I really wish i could live in a society that didn't use it. I would love to go through the rest of my life without ever having to think about it. In the unlikely event that i get married (or better yet, find a mate who shares my views on the non-necessity of marraige and is content to live, love, and share our lives together without the archaic legal binds), i should hope that i end up with someone who is very good at and happy to deal with all the househole finances. i can manage money quite well, i am capable of it, i just really hate doing it. i resent it. i resent the time it takes out of my otherwise superb life and the stress it puts in its place. as a result, i really hate money.

of course, that's because i don't have any.

i'm fairly certain that if i had loads of the stuff that i would quite like it.

Joke du Jour

cheers, TB. i'm glad someone is enjoying the totally unoriginal humor of my blog, which consists entirely of crap that's been circulating on the net for years already. i'm doing this because i'm just too busy and too tired to write anything interesting/thought-provoking/new.

So here's another:

What did the zen budhist say to the hotdog vendor?

"Make me one with everything."

That one slays me where i sit.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Joke du Jour

A group of chess enthusiasts checked into a hotel and were standing in the lobby discussing their recent tournament victories. After about an hour, the manager came out of the office and asked them to disperse. "But why," they asked, as they moved off. "Because", he said, "I can't stand chess nuts boasting in an open foyer."

hee hee.

by the way, didn't any of you like the mussel joke? i thought that was about as hilarous as clean, non-offensive joke can get. but maybe that's just me...

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Life imitates art (if you can call it that)

I find it hilarious that only moments after returning from the nude photo shoot for the boat club fund-raising calendar that i should read my regular slew of online comics and see this, today's Dilbert:

How funny is that.

Friday, November 18, 2005


Every now and then I go through this phase, usually when I move to a new place. I'm in now. I hope I'm at the bottom. I don't want to think that it might get worse before it gets better. Like breaking any other addiction, I go though a withdrawl period. The symptoms are horrendous. And then slowly, eventually, after much suffering, the cravings subside. But right now, god the pain. It's actually a physical pain. I can feel the pressure in my chest, and my skin tingles and itches. I'm in hug withdrawl.

Quit laughing, you fuckers.

Any relationship counselor will tell you of the value and necessity of human physical contact, sexual or othewise. The National Arthritis Foundation even has a webpage and contact numbers to assist people with being able to touch and be touch by their partners with the minimum of pain. Contact is necessary for emotional wellbeing. Hugging is necessary.

Add to that the fact that I come from a region of the world where hugging is much more commonplace. It is not unusual to greet a friend in the morning at school with a hug. I was raised catholic, and at the kiss of peace during the mass, we exchange hugs. People in the midwest hug a lot, especially girls.

Add to that the fact that I come from a family which is uncommonly big on the whole hugging thing. We congregate in the kitchen in the evening, and it's perfectly normal to get hugged at random intervals while cooking. Or to hug the cook. Or to hug anyone else who happens to be geographically convenient. Snuggling, too, is paramount. So much so that anyone holding a furry quadruped in their lap while watching TV is automatically excused from jumping up to answer the phone, which would disturb aforementioned furry quadruped.

So this whole cold turkey no hugs for you thing SUCKS. Especially after a day like today. horrible day. emotionally drained. i'm too tired to tell you why; maybe I will later. suffice it to say that my entire future as a rower may be in jeopardy. i need a friend. i need a hug. i need a hug so bad it hurts. it actually hurts. i sit and remember the feel of dad's big bear arms around me, the tickle of hair in my nose when bridget hugs me and her leonine curls accost my nostrils, the terrifyingly passionate ferocity with which someone held me, once or twice, in rare moments of lager-induced abandon. i miss the weight of the geriatric beagle's head on the crook of my arm, the lazy, anemone-esqe flick of the cat's tail in my face, mom humming when she hugs me in the kitchen and rocks back and forth. i need someone to tell me that my life isn't over, that i havn't lost it all again, that it wasn't all for nothing; but i need them to tell me in a hug, not an email or a phone call or blip on MSN messenger. i need to feel the reassuring presence of another living, breathing being, who has a smell and skin and weight and warmth and hair that gets in my nose. My heart is torn and my skin is in agony for want of comfort. Goddamn i need a hug.

Joke du Jour

your groaner for the day is:

"Did I tell you I went to a seafood disco last week?"

"A seafood disco? Really? How was it?"

"I pulled a mussel!"

Ba-doom ching!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Case in point

Remember back when I said that it had become unmanly for men to be intelligent, that the ideal manifestation of masculinity was a big, cute, dumb, muscle-bound sports freak? The following comic illustrates my point beautifully (it's today's edition of The Humble Stumble by Roy Schnieider). This strip only works because we assume and accept unconditionally that it is impossible to be a MAN by doing anything other than lifting heavy objects and watching sports. If we consider that one can be masculine and still be in posession of a variety of skills, especially "woman's skills" like applying nail polish, than there's no punch line; our reaction would be totally different. We would think "what's he so freaked out about?" It's only funny because the image of the big, dumb lug ideal man has become so universal. I rest my case.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Joke du Jour

It's not original, i didn't think it up, but it made me laugh.

"Doc, I can't stop singing 'The Green, Green Grass of Home.'"

"That sounds like Tom Jones Syndrome."

"Is it common?"

"Well, It's Not Unusual."

Alright, that's enough of that for one day. I've got a few more, so i'll put them up one each day for a while in a pathetic attempt to siphon off some of Herebe's readership and validate my existance.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

take it down 2 pips

Argh! My coach cut off his hair and shaved! he used to be a dead ringer for vigo mortenson in TLotR. Now he's just another fleece-clad tosser with a megaphone. so much for all my aragorn-in-a-boat-sweaty-man fantasies. *sigh*

Cheerfully impoverished

I gots me a job today. Money. Yay, money! In addition to collecting essays from frantic undergraduates for the English department and free-lance copy editing (which are lucrative but sporadic), I'm now working as a professional note-taker for disabled students. And i'm making 11.45 an hour! It slays me; that's more than I made when i worked full time as a manger for a multi-state landscaping company where i supervised a team of 4 men. Go figure. At the moment it's only 2 hours a week, but it's steady, and they said i would get more work after christmas. Bear in mind that's almost 24 pounds, or $41.22 a week, for 2 hours' work! HA! And it doesn't involve a shovel! My life is charmed. (Now if only i could get laid...)

Monday, November 14, 2005

Rare good day

Ever have one of those days where you walk around all day feeling like an absolute fucking GENIUS? I'm having one of those days. Please don't post your desparaging remarks until tommow - I want to enjoy the sensation while it lasts. Oh, fleeting, fleeting academic ecstasy.

(Now if only I could get laid...)

Sunday, November 13, 2005


I don't believe in god. i don't believe in angels, guardians, demons, ghosts, spirits, devils, saviors, or anything supernatual. (The closest i come to accepting the possiblity of anything paranormal is avague inkling that there might be something in telepathy, but i don't believe that's supernatural. i think it's natural, we just havn't figured out how it works yet.) So no god et al.

Every now and again, though, i do wonder. I wonder because of the uncanny timing of things, messages. It's probably just coicidence, or me infusing things with a meaning or significance that isn't there, but i do wonder. Like today.

Today is Rememberance Sunday. I only know this because my flatmate mentioned it last night. I'm glad she did, or i would have been extremely perplexed by the legion of bagpipers and rows and rows of troops marching under my window this morning.

I was sitting at the ol' puter, blogging about undersized furniture, when I heard bagpipes. I love bagpipes. i don't know why. Most people think i'm nuts. I love sirens too. Sirens don't mean "somthing's wrong." There's always somthing wrong. Sirens mean "somethings wrong, but help is on the way." Maybe I love bagpipes purely because of the way they sound, wailing and haunting, but maybe it's because of their associations. Bagpipes don't mean "somewhere, there's a war on." There's always a war on, somewhere. Bagpipes mean "somewhere there's a war on, but someone with really big guns has my back."

I went downstairs and followed the sound of the pipes across the street to the cathedral green, where there were ranks and ranks of military personell standing at attention. Most of the ceremony was over; i only got to see them file out and march past, behind the score of kilt-clad pipers. I didn't recognize many of the uniforms I saw, this not being my native country. Some were obvious; navy, army, raf. Other's had me totally baffled, like the blokes in the black uniforms with the red pinstripe and the giant, white pith helmets. And there were ranks of children in uniforms too, the same army and raf uniforms the soldiers were wearing. That was a tad disturbing.

But even though i didn't know the particular associations of all the uniforms, it didn't matter; their significance was unmistakable. I looked at the faces of the men and women walking past me, and i knew that these were the men and women who would go to bat for me. If someone dropped a bomb on bristol tomorrow, these were the men and women who would put themselves in harm's way for me, who would run into the flames to save me, who would risk death to save me, some foreigner they'd never met. I looked at a young soldier and thought, "you would die to save my life. You've never even met me. You don't know my name. I don't know yours. But thank you." If you saw a mugger with a gun robbing a woman on the street, would you throw yourself in front of the bullet? To save a complete stranger? These people would, and that stranger is me, and you, and all of us.

(I just heard a howitzer fired somewhere in the town center. Even from up here, it was almost deafening. What must it have been like for people living in london, manchester, liverpool, during world war II? To sit in their homes at night with the lights off, heavy curtains drawn, maybe one candle lit, and listen to the bombs going off all around, not knowing if the next one would land on them. There goes another one. It's 2 blocks away, i am on the 7th floor, and i can feel the reverberations in my stomach. Like the reassuring clap of thunder that signifies the lightening didn't kill you, i know i am alive because i heard canon. If it had got me, i would have been dead before the sound.)

After the ranks of military personell came the veterans, blocks of men and women in an array of uniforms, silver hair slipping out from under hat and berets, heads held high. They know what they lived through, what they did, and who they are. I lost it and began crying when I saw and old woman marching with a cane. She could barely walk, but she managed to keep in step, her cane tapping the pavement in rhythm with the snare. I thought about how few of them there were, wondered if they remembered the first time they marched in rank, way back when, in their training days. How many friends marched with them then, who aren't here now? I think they should have left holes in the formation, empty places to remind us of the ones who weren't there, empty spaces for the ghosts to march in step.

I don't believe in god, but on days like today i'm forced to wonder. Here I was, sitting in the warmth, comfort, and safety of my room, whinging away about my warm, soft, safe bed being too small for ludicrously long legs and arms. And then I heard the bagpipes. Just at the moment I needed a reminder of how good I've got it, I was shown the men and women who make my safe, cushy life possible. They do what they do so that I can lead the priveledged, sheltered life that I do. It really throws insignificant discomforts like a small bed into a shameful and glaring perspective. Was someone watching? Was there some divine net-potato reading my blog and thinking, "this spoiled little twit needs some fucking perspective. This outghta do it"... and bagpipes! Honestly, I doubt it. (I freely acknowledge the remote possiblity that when I die I'll eat those words.) But if there was, thanks for the lesson. Well played and well timed. I needed it.

Nocturnal positions

My bed is too small. It's too short, and when the top of my head is against the wall, my feet are flat agains the opposite wall. The room gets hot at night, and when i'm stuffy and sweating, my feet are cold becuse the cold plaster wall pulls all the warmth from them. So I can't lie with my legs straight out. I lie with them curled up, and they cramp. And the bed is too narrow. I lie on my side, and there's no where to put my bottom arm. My top arm i drape over my big teddy bear, but the arm on the bottom has no where to go. Normally I let it lie flat out, perpendicular to the line of my body, but here the bed is too narrow. So I lie on my right side with my right arm all bent and bunched up until it gets sore and cramped, then I roll over on to my left side and do the same to my left arm while my right arm recovers. Then i roll back again and start over.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

You might be a rower if...

more than half the items in your wardrobe are some varity of spandex/lycra.

you've ever dreamt of rowing and awakend to find yourself sitting in bed at the catch.

you've ever coxed yourself through an essay or other piece of academic work by saying things to yourself like "halfway down, keep it long and strong," "coming up on the last 500, take it up 2 pips," or "i can see the finish! this is it! full out, bring it home!"

the most expensive/valued item in your wardrobe is your sunglasses.

you've ever picked up a damp garment from your bedroom floor, sniffed it, declared "i've only worn this four times," and put it in your kit bag.

you've ever not bothered replacing your trainers because they're only going to get wet and decompose in a month anyway.

you've ever worn your lycra to a pub.

you consider a 500g. package of hobnobs a single serving.

you think Soreen is one of the 4 basic food groups.

you think Lucozade, bananas, and beer are the other three.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Dining with the Admiralty

most nerve-racking night of my life. When my tutor asked me to come to dinner after the lecture on thursday, i thought it would be a whole crowd of pgrads and profs out for a curry. i did not think it would be me, my tutor, another prof of english, a visiting prof from spain, and an Oxford Don around a table in a very posh resturaunt. I was the only student there! I was, by several orders of magnitude, the most junior member of the party. i wanted to paticipate in the polite converstion, but i just kept thinking about how there was not a single thing i could say about anything medieval that every one of these people doesn't already know. talk about intimidating. But they were all very friendly. The department paid for my dinner (thank god - mains started at 15 quid, never mind starters, pud, and wine that flowed like niagara fucking falls) as well as the cab ride from the lecture to the resturaunt. I had an absolutely lovely evening, aside from being scared out of my pants the whole time. I only spoke when spoken to (better to remain silent and have people think me a fool than to open my yap and remove all doubt), and managed to contribute a couple personal anecdotes to the conversation. But here's what baffles: I have NO IDEA why I was invited.
The four most horrible, diasappointing, heart-splintering, red hot serrated knife to gullet kick me in the teeth when i'm already down words in the English language are:

"I love you, but..."

if you've ever heard them, you know. if not, pray you never do.

what's my tally so far?

"I love you": 0 "I love you, but...": 6

In the game of love, the I-love-you-buts are wiping the floor with the I-love-yous. The most recent I-love-you-but attack pushed the front lines back yet again. The I-love-yous are outnumbered and outgunned. They're losing the war. Total defeat is inevitable.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

In Latin you decline your nouns. (Noun with with your tea, gov? No thank you, I don't fancy a noun at the moment.)

What's "garden"?


Good. What's "in the garden"?



double take

last night in the pub i saw a tall, slender bloke wearing blue trousers and polished leather shoes. He had sandy blonde hair and had on a bulky blue jumper, the sleeves of which he'd pushed up his arms over his elbows, revealing long long long slender arms covered in smooth white skin. arms that have cleary never done a days work in their life.

my heart skipped about 6 beats and when rhythm finally resumed, my pulse went through the roof. surely it can't be him? i know those arms. but he can't be here? look again.

no, not him. there was no way it could have been. this fellow has straigh hair, so not him. but my god for a moment there...

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The horse's mouth

This is the source of the sage advice, my beloved pater. (That's a sliver of my mom on the right, and the shoulder of the very hot son of my parents' best friends on the left.) Dad is being dad: wise, easy-going, and cuter than a bunny in footie pyjamas.

the rhythm of the might

every monday and wednesday from 7 to 8 am i spend an hour boxing. not competitively, and not hitting people's faces. it's just strenght training for the upper body. the whole boat club does it. (well, most of them. half the women can't be bothered to show up half the time.) we don't hit each other in the head and chest; we hold big pads on the end of our hands and hit the pads. it's almost as much of a workout holding the pads for someone as it is hitting them yourself.

so here's the scene: you've got a gymnasium with 25 pairs of rowers in it, half of them wearing hand-pads, and the other half wearing boxing gloves and hitting the pads. I'm am hitting. I am punching in a steady rhythm, as I have been instructed by Ian, our coach. Like footsoldiers on the march whose steps come slowly into alignment, i hear the random pandemonium of 50 boxing gloves slowly coalesce into a single "thump, thump, thump, thump, thump" that echoes through the gym. We've all begun punching to the same rhythm. Thump, thump, thump, thump, thump. About 2 beats a second.

I glance over at Ian, who is smiling and shaking his head. "Bloody rowers," he mumbles. "Even fight in sync. Christ almighty."

if only our catches were so well timed...

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Male perspective

Most of my friends and family do not have the url to this site. They know i write a blog, and i'm sure they suspect they appear in it periodically, but they don't read it. I don't let them because i don't want to have to censor myself. So few readers of this site who actually know me personally are both a) a small minority of my friends, and b) have never met my family. This keeps my fam and my blog-reading friends in different spheres of my life, which is good.

Occasionally it happens, however, that I write something which I find to be especially entertaining or poignant. When that happens, I sometimes c&p the post into an email and send it to my dear old dad.

Why dad? Well, over the years he's become my intellectual companion. Mom's more emotional. When I was a kid and fell out of a tree and skinned my knee, mom would comfort me and pet and wipe my tears. Dad would say, "that was unpleasant, so we obvioulsy want to avoid this sort of thing in the future. How can we do that? We have 2 options: one is to cease tree-climing. The other is to wear knee pads."

When you're seven years old that's not the sort of cerebral response you tend to value. You want someone to tell you it's all right and give you ice cream. When you're twenty-seven that changes. As I've grown, I've found myself becoming less and less dependent on mom's tea and sympathy and relying more on dad's calm and rational perspective. Mom is very comforting, but dad is more helpful.

I have of course discusses ("whined") about the single aspect of my life to my mother at times appropriate. She is very sympathetic and gets angry at men on my behalf and declares them all stupid and she can't understand why a catch like me has gone so long without being caught. Sweet, but not helpful. Which is why I emailed the post "Where Have all the Male Feminists Gone" to dad. He mulled it over for a couple days and then emailed me a lengthy response of very practical suggestions, in typical dad fasion. Some of his suggestions equate to climing trees with knee pads, but on the whole his letter is so damn adorable I just had to print it here and share it with all of you, my lovely annonymous friends. Your responses and feedback are, as always, welcome and valued.

Good afternoon darling Daughter,

Your note was well written and entertaining as an English major's should be - you have learned well. However, you did not apply that wonderful mind to address and (hopefully) solve the problem. As you noted, the issue is with society and male behavior in general rather than anything specific to you. As a male I have some insight into the issue.

Some thoughts:
Based on my experince and observations over the years, females to better when they seach out potential mates and agressively go after them. Not all males will respond to this technique, you need to find the ones who are relatively smart but socially inept to some degree. You will train them in the social graces over time. I was not the wonderful sophisticate you see now.......... Males worthy of dating or marriage are most likely not the athletes because of their own narcissistic problems - it's all about them. Marriage material will likely not be the Adonis type. You want steady, smart and dedicated (to you). The guy in the library that takes surreptitious glances at you but would never have the courage to approach you (or any attractive female - he may be seen hanging around fat/fawning females who make him feel safe in their company). He may not seem the smartest guy around but that may be a circumstantial thing rather than innate ability. I was a C student all through school and early college, wasn't until much later that I realized I was quite capable of 'A' work. The result of thyroid problems as a child and poor teachers/encouragement in many root classes. It may serve you well to gather up writings (scientific, not pop culture) on male female relationships and especially male behaviors/socializing problems in our society. With knowledge is power and confidence, you must always be a step ahead and thinking deeper than your chosen male, your mother is very good at keeping me content but clueless. She sometimes rails against my seeming cluelessness but interestingly, makes no real effort to address the issue, she's running the show and would be very uncomfortable if roles were switched, so she occasionally complains but in reality would not change anything.

I know you do not 'do' makeup but, from a scientific perspective, what you are really doing is mimicking sexual arousal in the female that goes strait to a male's libido (and other parts) when viewed. If you take a dispassionate look at our culture it is VERY sexually oriented, our incredible intellectual abilities as a species is overlaid on an equally powerful sex drive. You've been trying to appeal to the intellectual nature of males you encounter -- you may find hunting much better skipping their minds and going where they spend most of their waking time - sexual fantasies of all kinds, all the time, is much closer to reality then deep thoughts on quantum mechanics or good literature (Lady Godiva maybe).

Subtle makeup can be very attractive, a little lipstick and hint of eyeshadow. Try out some various shades/colors on any gay males you know, they should be very good at recognizing your best colors. You don't want to appear androgynous when hunting males. Also, they ALL have fragile egos most of the time. You can use that to your advantage as a technique for getting their attention, they WANT to believe they are attractive and smart, so a little pampering will go a long way at little real cost (occasional gag reflexes may need to be controlled).

Beware of becoming "one of the boys/guys", you will have company and camaraderie but probably no mate/dating potential. For what it's worth.

Love ya!

That's why I love my dad.

sound quality

MY SPEAKERS ARE HERE!!!!! Oh, my GOD the sound quality. For 2 years i've been listening to music from the built-in speakers on my laptop, which granted are not bad for laptop speakers, but that's not saying a whole heap of much. I should tear myself away from my desk and go to the gym (4x 8 min on the ergo at 28 spm is today's prescribed workout plus 4K warmup and 2K cool down), but Art Garfunkel's voice is carrying me off to an ethereal other world. God that man's voice. It's softer than warm snowflakes and lighter than a feather in orbit; it slides in my ears and out every folicle in my scalp, blowing though my hair like a moist march breeze and caressing my eyelashes. God that man's voice. For the first time I can hear not just the consonants as he sings, but I can actually hear the movements of his mouth; the slightly aspirated ts, the click of his tongue at the back of his throat when he forms a k, my god i can hear his moist lips part after an m. Sweet, sweet, Art: sing to me, baby. Make love to my ears, my heart, my soul.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Where have all the male feminists gone?

As you can see, I've been ranting a lot lately about my singlehood. An old friend who recently re-opened communication (i do love email) read my bit on not getting lucky, and sent me this article:

What's A Modern Girl To Do?

I suppose there's some comfort in knowing that I'm not alone. (I know it's a rather long article, but if you have 15 minutes and require a bit of procrastination, I do recommend you read it.) Small comfort, though. It gets at the heart of what I've been complaining about, and it offers some explanations. It even attempts to answer the question I've been asking: What am I doing wrong? Apparently, doing is what I'm doing wrong.

I am one of the thousands of black turtleneck-wearing, birkenstocking, make-upless feminists who are discovering, rather painfully, that while career successes are a huge advantage to men in the dating world, they are of equally huge disadvantage to women. Shit.

It would seem that my mom was wrong when she assured me that when I grew up the boys would stop being afraid of me. It pisses me off that so many men are so intimidated by intelligent, assertive women. One woman in the article mentioned that her mother told her that she had to choose between being a great mom or having a great career. How come we never tell men that? Boys grow up fully believing that they can and will have careers and families. But men are intollerant of women attempting both because years ago they heard their sisters being offered an either/or choice. My mom was bang on about one thing: she said it doesn't matter how many feminist daughters we raise if we don't also raise feminist sons. (Mom raised one. He got dumped by a girl "for being too nice.")

There are feminist men out there. Men who don't demand that their women make a choice; men who are as supportive of their wive's careers as they expect their wives to be of their own, men who are not only not intimidated by intelligent women, but who are bored by simpering bimbos and who prefer the company of equals. (How novel!) I've known four such men in my life. Two are my father and brother, one was a teacher in high school (first crush on older man!), and the other is married to my best friend, so he's off-limits. Are the any more? Where have all the male feminists gone?

Male feminists are dead, and we have killed them. As a culture, we no longer value men who value women. We glorify clicker-hogging, (cheap) beer-swilling, grunting sports freaks; loveable cavemen who bumble through relationships and are not to be blamed for their stupidity ("He's just a man - he can't help it!"). We nurture and coddle these post-modern gorillas who have become the 21st century icon of masculinity. These men use power tools (ineptly), eat Frito Lays, wear flannel, and refuse to be held responsible for their social faux pas. They get away with it because we let and encourage them. We have become a society that worships men who speak in monosyllabic grunts (see Homer Simpson and Tim Allen). In just 50 years we've come full circle. We abandoned "One of these days, Alice, one of these days... pow! Right in the kisser!" in exchange for "You see this [ring]? That means I own her!" (Homer Simpson). These attitudes are once again being portrayed as cute and loveable, and we eat it up in spades.

Sensitive men, on the other hand, are nancy-men, wussies. To be intellectual is to be gay, the antithesis of masculinity. (See Will of 'Will & Grace'). To be called "sensitive" is to be insulted. How many intelligent, career, male characters can you think of from prime-time TV comedies? Friends is a good example. The show has been running for over 10 years. My generation went all through high school and college watcing it religiously. It has both reflected and helped define acceptable social behavior for offspring of the baby-boomers. There are three male characters, with varying degrees of intelligence. At the bottom of the IQ chart is Joey. Joey is adorable. Everyone loves him because he is so clueless, and cluelessness is the hot thing in men. He fucks up, but he means well and he's always sorry and he tries realy hard and he just can't help it (he's a man!), and so we love him. Next up is Chandler. Slightly smarter than Joey, slightly less incompetant. Chandler is smart enough to attempt to be manipulative and play mind games, but not smart enough to do so successfully. (If her were, he'd be Monica.) So he bumbles along and fucks things up and we forgive him because he tries real hard and he can't help it (he's a man). Last and least is Ross. Ross is the only one of the three with an advanced degree. He's the only male we ever see at his job. (The others are employed, but the camera does not follow them to work. The conclusion is that their careers aren't as central to their lives.) Ross is an anthropological scientist and university lecturer. (That's nerd-speak for "nerd.") He's also a whiney, wussie, neurotic, hypochondriac momma's boy. He winges when he gets a paper cut, pouts and throws temper-tantrums as well as his toddler son, and is everything but manly. Manliness and intelligence have become mutually exclusive concepts.

So what is a modern girl to do? Maureen Dowd never answers the question, but I'll take a stab at a possible solution. Apparenlty there are a whole lot of us women out there who are undateable, undesisreable, and unmarraigeable. If no one wants us, lets want each other. I value intelligent company, assertive friends, thoughtful conversation. There's nothing our anatomy lacks that a credit card and a trip to Toys in Babeland can't rectify, and unlike Joey Tribiani or Homer Simpson, I know where a clitoris is.

Personal ad

Single ambitious talented female seeks self-assured modern man. Must be willing to hear and express feelings and opinions, and engage in open and rational discussions. Must also be willing to let woman pick up half of bill, and give and receive regular massages. Interested parties contact (deleted). (Note: Insecure, macho pricks in search of demure, pink-clad domestic to coddle them through middle age need not apply.)
I am SO HORNY!!!! Aarhg!!!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

sweet dough and pudding

Think way back. Do you remember my second post ever? Go read it.

Read it? Good. Ah, the purple bikini. It's still in active service. I just received this photo from my friend on a disk of photos from the camping trip to Fundy this summer. For some reason, I felt compelled to share it. My favorite bit is the glaring contrast between my lovely brown limbs and the doughy whitness of my belly and butt. There's just no cure for lycra lines.

The other entertaining tidbit I would like to share with you is a quote from Wit & Mirth by T. Duffy dated 1719. One of my flatmates made a pudding tonight, a Durham fluffen, and someone asked about the history of the word "pudding." That sounds like a job for Etymology Girl!, quoth I. Off to the OED I flew, and shortly uncovered this delightfully phalic euphamism:

"I made a request to prepare again, that I might continue in love with the strain of his Pudding."


getting lucky

i found a 4-leaf clover yesterday, but i'm not the one who got lucky. my flatmate has a new boyfriend. lovely chap, quite the biscuit. (that's biscuit in the american sense of "something yummy.") talks just like hugh grant. she fixed him dinner last night, and judging by his departure at 10 am this morning, i'd surmise that he stayed for dessert as well. pleased as i am for my flatmate, i must confess to being slightly bitter and more than a little perplexed as well. How does she do it? She hasn't been in Bristol any longer than I have? How do you move to a new town, meet a fabulous guy who actually likes you in return, and get together and live happily ever in one freakin month? I repeat, How DOES she do it?

I marvel at this process because it seems so common, but is totally alien to me. I sometimes ask people, how do you meet a boyfriend? Where do you find them? Is there a secret plantation where they are cultivated that I don't know about? I almost always get the same answer, and it goes something like this: You don't find one, they find you. Stop looking - it will just happen. It's that passive "it will happen" that I really can't cope with. When does it happen? How? And why does it seem to happen to everyone but me? When I was a kid it was drilled into me by my feminist mother that the whole "someday my prince will come" business is bullshit. She told me to never wait for life to happen to me, that i should make life happen. I believed her. In every other respect, I've made my life happen. I've lived on 3 continents, I have physically stuck my hands in the soil and replanted huge tracts of rainforest, I've participated in groundbreaking environmental research programs, I've completed my MA and am working on my PhD, I've gone from being last picked on every sports team to a top athlete in 4 rowing clubs, I taught myself how to scull and won a silver medal in just 3 weeks. I play 3 musical instruments, vote in every election, crochet, write better than many published authors and have a green thumb. Where did I go wrong?

If it's true that love finds you, why does it find everyone else? I must be the most statistically improbable individual alive. Either that, or this theory of sitting back and waiting for "it to happen" is flawed. In which case, WHAT THE FUCK AM I DOING WRONG?!?!?!?

I found a 4-leaf clover yesterday, but I don't feel very lucky.