succumbing to peer pressure

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The book fairy (also known as April) deposited This is My Best on my doorstep this evening. After pulling the box open I stood in my kitchen hungrily flipping to my favorites. Of course Kingsolver chose something from Poisonwood Bible, but is it one of my favorite passages? (no) Which story did David Sedaris submit? And of course, April's favorite, Tom Robbins. Oh, and books signed by your friends are even better than ones signed by the authors. And unexpected gifts of books are the perfect uplift needed 2/3 of the way through a so-so day.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


So my brother is visiting this weekend. Still hasn't bought plane tickets. He just called (at quarter-to-midnight) to ask if coming in around noon on Friday would be ok. Then he asked what my schedule was like on Monday. Since we started discussing his visit, months ago, I've been telling him that Mondays are the only day of the week that I have class, that Mondays are 12 hours days for me, and that if he's going to take a long weekend he needs to take Thursday or Friday and leave on Sunday because I have shit to do. Of course, he's planning to leave 'sometime Monday.' The question is, why do I find it so impossible to just say to him, No, Brad, we've had this conversation, book your flight for Sunday evening, or, though I dislike this option, early Monday morning and I'll drop you off on my way to class? [edited to make sense]

Fan Girl

Once upon a time, I was obsessed with Kevin Smith. I even shelled out extra bucks to get a signed copy of the Mallrats dvd, with every intention (at the time) to collect the whole set. An entire day spent watching a marathon of his movies ...or at least indulging in the Mallrats drinking game...still sounds pretty appealing. So in full procrastination mode this evening I happened to wander over to the Askewniverse where I discovered that Smith has been blogging, and rather poignantly, about his history with Jason Mewes, and Mewes's history with drugs (the story starts here). It's long, and probably only interesting to hardcore fans (or grad students desperately avoiding work) but it's sweet, and I've always been a sucker for close male friendships...and I plan to steal this rule of thumb: "Don’t fuck the vapid, dammit!”

In other news, I rock! Or, more accurately, the training effect rocks. I made it up the slight but excruciatingly steady incline that is the last leg of my bike home in a higher gear than ever before. Perhaps this will be a nice start to counteracting the steady diet of pizza and chocolate I've been indulging for the past several days.

After all the news about Iran and nukes I keep feeling like I should post something but instead feel much more like just hiding under the covers.

Monday, April 10, 2006

-Isms and subtlety

Last week I told my own story of reacting in a terribly insulting manner to a truly polite young black man. This happened just one day after my brother shared his own epiphany about sexism with me. A female colleague of his, an important political leader, called him up in search of a good steak house. Brad rapidly rattled off a dozen or so, then reiterated his top three choices. The woman was sort of shocked. She'd always assumed DC had plenty of places to get a high quality slab of meat, but she'd only been to a few. After hanging up the phone Brad started to wonder how she could be in the dark about so many restaurants. Then he got to thinking about the reasons why he had been to so many - unofficial, after-hours meetings, during which many important things were discussed and decided. Then he tried to remember the last time he had seen a woman at any of them. Then he tried to remember if he had ever invited a woman to any of them. Then he had his own sort of Friedan click moment.

"Megan!" he's saying to me, while we wait for the metro, "it's so...insidious! I mean, I swear to you, I'm not doing it on purpose! But it never even occurred to me to invite female colleagues to these gatherings! I never noticed that they weren't there! But they're missing out! Important shit happens and they're not there!"

And I'm smiling, because it's cool that he gets it (albeit pretty damn late in the game for someone raised in a house full of feminists) and it's like all of a sudden he gets why I get bent out of shape over seemingly minor infractions. Why I'm so vigilant. Because it's not like we have the flashing neon signs anymore. Very few places officially don't allow women. And yet many doors remain closed.

Dan Savage tells the same story from the gay perspective - "Since hatred styles itself as tolerance these days, how are we supposed to tell the difference? What do you do when disapproval, indifference, tolerance, and acceptance all look exactly the same? Social tolerance has become the norm for most straight people, which is nice, but at the same time appearing tolerant has become the norm for everyone else. How are we supposed to tell the nice straight people and the bigoted straight people apart if everyone has the same look on their face?"

So, it's progress, and I suppose this is sort of a transitional period on the way to real, actual, acceptance of all kinds of diversity and equality. But I was thinking of all the countless, tiny ways each of us inevitably fulfills one -ism or another everyday, when I went to see Crash. And I'm still waffling back and forth about whether it was intentionally heavy-handed for shock value and to encourage discussion, or whether it was clumsily heavy-handed because the writers/directors/actors weren't clever enough to do it subtly. One of the first scenes in the movie is a white woman linking arms and snuggling up with her white husband as they approach two black men. I wondered how many audience members would have noticed that, if the next moment in the movie didn't include a dialogue between the two black men complaining about her behavior. That dialogue caught me off guard, felt totally unnatural and set the tone for the harsh, cliche racist comments and actions throughout the rest of the movie. Numerous times the voice in my head said, but people never actually say that, people never do that. Is it really that much better if they're merely thinking it?

And, has this appearance of tolerance made it easier for -isms to stay deep-rooted and hidden in our everyday actions? If no one ever says it out loud, is it easier to pretend not to notice the all white neighborhoods, the job interviews at Hooters, the institutionalized and legally endorsed homophobia?

Amen, brother.

As a passionate member of the Democratic base, I’m begging you guys to stop kissing my ass. I’ve got a finely-tuned bullshit detector and I can smell you coming from a mile away. If you want to earn my respect, try taking a principled stand on something. The American people are begging for a politician with the guts to say “I don’t care if it’s popular, this is the right thing to do and I’d rather go down in flames on principle than sell my soul for job security”, but you guys are too busy listening to consultants and looking at poll numbers to see the forest for the trees.

Meanwhile, I skipped my evening class to work on my dissertation, but instead am reading blogs and being distracted by the Bunny of Doom! Gah! The cuteness! Look Away!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Right, so yesterday Corrine and I spent all afternoon baking and decorating, and last night we surprised her husband with friends, margaritas, and a keg of 420. Fortunately, a nalgene full of water left by my bed last night meant when I wandered downstairs this morning coffee, cookies, and pizza for breakfast sounded wonderful. Now, thanks to TBS, I plan to peruse the morning paper and watch terrible action movies instead of working on either of the papers on my to do list for today. In a few hours most of the usual suspects will be here again for potluck dinner, Sopranos, and Big Love, so why not give up the entire day to worthlessness? Hopefully tomorrow will bring a return to usefulnes and more interesting blogging.

In reply to AWB's comment:

Ah yes, bourbon it was!

As for the baking, I was making chocolate pies (literally butter, sugar, and melted chocolate, with just a bit of flour and vanilla, poured into a pie shell) while Corrine made chocolate cupcakes (from a mix) and yummy pinwheels (cream cheese, pepper jack cheese, guacamole, salsa, and a dusting of chili powder rolled up in tortillas), mostly all in preparation for Mike's surprise 30th birthday party last night, which was a smashing success...more later