February 2006 Archives

Personal Ads Worth Reading, If Not Worth Answering


I'm able to share this thanks to Juti, who gave me this link to the London Review of Books personal ads. A sample:

Last Valentine’s Day I sponsored a truck load of mitten crabs on behalf on my girlfriend. She left me not long afterwards, but the mitten crabs are thriving. I learned an important lesson as a result of all this, but I’m really not sure what it was. That’s where you come in, F to 35 with profound love of mitten crabs for evenings spent drinking home-made iron brew and plotting the migratory pattern of mitten crabs with amateur mitten crab enthusiast (M, 35, mercifully low sperm count). Box no. 04/05

I don't know about you, but if I knew or cared what mitten crabs are, was under 35, lived in England and felt like dating, I'd be really tempted to respond.

Good Grief, You Call That NEWS?


Here's what I found in the British press today: articles on the fact that water is our most precious commodity, and there are likely to be wars over it, especially as the world starts dealing with climate change.

What, have these dudes never read Mark Twain, who pointed out that in the American west, "Whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting over"?


When I was in the Missionary Training Center, that bastion of moral and intellectual vapidness forsaken by god but not his minions, someone said to me, one night as all the sister missionaries prepared for bed, "I can tell you're from Arizona, because you turn the water off while you brush your teeth."

As the daughter of a Mormon Arizona lawyer who made his living representing clients like irrigation districts against legal opponents like any and all environmental groups, I've always known that A) water was incredible precious and scarce and B) people would fight over it like nobody's business--or rather, like big business. Because water isn't really nobody's business: it's something that can be commidified by those in power and sold, even down the who owns the right to take water out of a particular river on a particular day.

I guess I'm just glad that the rest of the world is waking up to something I've known my whole life. If there is ANYTHING in the world that causes me despair, it's the way the average person wastes water. I think everyone in the world should be required to read Cadillac Desert by Marc Reisner, about the utter unsustainability of both agriculture and population in the entire Western half of the US.

And, for good measure, while you're surveying the news, check out this brief piece about rape victims in Lybia who are detained in protective homes for women and girls "vulnerable to engaging in moral misconduct," because God knows being raped is more of a crime than committing one.

The Source of Each Day

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Reader, I'm Not Sure What Happened


Reese, Frankengirl, Mystic Gypsy, and all types like me, check out this plea from the BBC:

Are you an avid reader of romantic fiction? Has Mr Darcy made you leave your fiancé? Has Mr Rochester, Heathcliff or any other fictional hero changed your love life in a significant way? Does your partner want you to be more like these fictional male heroes?

Silverriver Productions are producing a series of three 60' programmes for the BBC about the history of the romantic novel. Presented by Daisy Goodwin, Reader, I Married Him! will examine the work of Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, Margaret Mitchell, Helen Fielding and Catherine Cookson amongst others, looking at how romantic novels have changed the female perception of the ideal man.

In the programmes we want to talk to real men and women whose love lives have been transformed by romantic fiction for better or for worse. We want to speak to the women who have never found their Mr Darcy, as well as the men who feel that they fall short of romantic literary ideals.

If you have an interesting story, please get in touch with Louisa MacInnes on 020 7580 2746 or louisa.macinnes@silverriver.tv with details of your experience and and some method of contacting you.

Books, Notebooks and the Latest Carnival Fun


Today I'm offering you a trio of links.

First, a link to a really cool story sent to me by my friend Spike about a program in Argetina designed to promote literacy among young children AND provide a meaningful activity for "educated women over 50,who are excluded from the labour market by fierce competition." Called "Storytelling Grandmothers," the program has been very effective and claims its "secret formula" of "affection, plus high-quality literature, equals children who read."

Second, an entry I came across at woman in comfy shoes about a notebook kept by her grandmother, and filled with old clippings of "quaint" shoes and hats. T. Comfyshoes explains that

Living where she did in the 1930s, Grandma and her friends and sisters didn't have a lot of access to shopping, so if they wanted anything nice they had to order it from a catalogue. To make sure they got everything they ordered, and nothing that they didn't, Grandma would cut out the pictures from the catalogue and glue them into a notebook. She kept notes of what they paid and what they bought them for.

As T. Comfyshoes examines the notebook, she finds stories emerging. It's a really charming, interesting entry, and it supports my argument that journals should be kept, not burned.

Finally, a link to the Ninth Carnival of Feminists, which is up at Mind the Gap! I always enjoy seeing what is included in the feminist Carnival, and this one is really good. It's particularly easy to follow. As I'm scheduled to host the 15th Carnival in May, I will be remembering how well the feminists at Mind the Gap! presented the posts they chose to highlight.


Self-Portrait in Brief


As promised yesterday, here are some of the things I have said about myself in my Friendster profile.

I actually have several affiliations, but at this moment I feel pretty damn unaffiliated. If I lived in a different time and place, I'd grab my begging bowl and hit the road.

As an insomniac, I find sleep pretty interesting, and many of my hobbies involve efforts to help me fall and stay asleep: yoga, acupuncture, lying prone in a dark room and thinking about my toes.

When I'm awake and want to stay that way, my hobbies and interests include dancing, paisley, calligraphy, learning to knit sweaters that fit me after they've been washed, radical Mormon feminism (yes, there is such a thing), men in mascara (saves me the trouble of wearing it), proper dental hygiene, good beer, writing, and those spaces on maps where cartographers used to write "here be dragons."

My Pre-Blogging Addiction


About two years ago, my buddy John at Mind on Fire sent me an invitation to join Friendster. It seemed kind of silly, and I was suspicious of anything that required me to upload a photo (especially since I didn't know how to do it) but I figured what the hell, and I joined.

And that was that, for a good long while. But seven or eight months later I met someone who was all about Friendster--oh, he'd met so many cool people through it! It made it so easy to keep track of people! I should definitely make more use of it. And it wasn't all that hard to scan and upload a photo; he'd show me how.

So I posted a few photos. And I set about crafting a profile I thought people might find interesting. And then I set about refining it--I only had 2000 characters, so I had to stay focused, had to keep things concise! And then I realized that I LOVED writing sharp, incisive portraits of myself in two or three quick sentences. As far as I was concerned, it was the perfect literary form.

Baby, It's Cold Outside


It's been cold lately where I live. Saturday afternoon I had to run some errands and it was 15 degrees F (-9 C) when I left my house. As I flexed my chilly fingers inside my gloves so they'd retain the ability to move and checked the temperature gauge of my car every few seconds to see if the engine was warm enough that I could turn the heat on, I thought to myself, "OK, I remember now: this is what it feels like when it's butt-bustingly cold!"

I've learned this about cold climes: if it's near freezing, you can still have an OK time if you must go outside: you can bundle up for a long walk, or shovel your driveway sans hat, or amble across the street without gloves to ask your neighbor if he'll babysit your cat, and it can actually be pleasant in a bracing, wouldn't-want-to-do-it-everyday-but-this-once-was-fine sort of way. But once it drops to about 25 degrees (-3 C), going outside for anything but a nano-second will suck. And when it gets below zero (-18 C), well, then it REALLY sucks. No matter how many clothes you wear, you're still going to be cold. You might not freeze to death, but you won't feel like stopping to chat with a neighbor. You also won't want to take off your gloves to root around in your pocket for your keys, so make sure you know where they are before you walk out the door. Try to pee before you go out as well, because it's disconcerting to drop your pants and discover that even though it's been covered by underwear, thermal underwear, jeans and a long coat, your ass has become downright icy.

I lived through a few spectacularly dreadful winters in Iowa. In January 1994, it was so cold that all the universities in the state--with the exception of the one I studied at--canceled class: the actual high temperature was near -20 F (-29 C); the wind chill factor made it feel like it -55 F (-48 C). To paraphrase a report I heard on the radio, when it's that cold, "You shouldn't go outside if you can possibly help it, and if you must go outside, be sure to cover every inch of you, because at these temperatures, exposed skin can freeze within 30 seconds."

Sunday 24 Feb 02 8:30 p.m.


Having posted something about why I keep a journal, I thought I'd post an entry from my journal. This one seemed like a good choice because it was written during the previous Winter Olympic Games. I've fixed a bit of idiocyncratic punctuation and clarified a few obscure references, but this is pretty much a typical journal entry. A bit of context: I was living in Arizona near my parents, marginally employed, trying to finish my book, and hunting for a job. I was downright miserable.

I am watching the closing ceremonies of the Salt Lake Winter Olympics. I have found them really interesting and moving--there are all these great human dramas, like when Venetta Flowers, one of the bobsledders, became the first African American ever to win a gold medal at the winter games. And all kinds of drama and intrigue with figure skating.... It's been fun but after 17 days I am kind of Olympicked out. There was a pretty funny Saturday Night Live skit about the SLC games: this skier is racing down a hill, and two missionaries come up on either side of her and say, "Would you like a Book of Mormon?" But apparently the Mormons managed not to be complete jerks during the Olympics.

Friday I cried most of the day, discouraged by my prospects, upset about the way Mom is responding to my attempts to find a job, hurt by an insensitive email from a friend. And then there was Friday night--OK, this is a very old house, and I have gotten used to the idea that I will have to deal with mice, which are bad enough, but while I was watching the Olympics on Friday, I heard a trap snap but after that, a struggle ensued. Normally, mice are pretty thoroughly dead once a trap shuts on them. But here came this big rodent trailing blood across my carpet. I thought, "What is that? Is that a hamster? Because it's not a rat," and then I realized it was a gopher, a pissed-off, bleeding gopher. It ran behind this wicker trunk where I store fabric scraps, and my cat just sat there watching. I had to move all this stuff to get it out in the open, and I found so many droppings back behind the trunk that clearly the gopher had been in my house for a while. I had to sweep it out of the house--and it did not want to go--and I was just going to leave it alone to die in peace, and then I thought about all the damage gophers have done to my mulberry tree, and I fetched a shovel and beat it to death and buried it.

And that was just about the last straw as far as Friday was concerned.

My Dream Date with God


As I posted something a few days ago about having dinner with God, I thought I'd share this strange little thing I wrote a few years ago about a date with God.

Last night as I lay in my bed tossing about in that semi-lucid semi-dreaming state induced by illness, medication and not enough sound sleep, a question and an answer occurred to me. Here they are:

Question: Describe your dream date with God.

Answer: OK.

My dream date with God would begin with a phone call--none of this voice speaking from the whirlwind business; I want an actual phone call made from a real phone number that appears on my caller ID box. I figure it will consist entirely of of 8's (infinity symbol turned side-ways) and 0's (the nothingness God created everything out of) and 1's (after all, God is the big One). God will say, "Hey, would you like to spend the weekend at the Grand Canyon?"

"Sure," I'll say, and write it down in my planner.

So that's what I'd do on my dream date with God: go to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. It has to be the North Rim; I haven't been there since 1976, the summer between seventh and eighth grade. We won't camp; we'll rent a cabin--separate rooms, of course. This isn't Leda and the Swan or Mary and the Holy Spirit or anything like that.

We'll look at the world in its magnificence and he'll try to explain the forces that molded it. He'll conjure a thunderstorm or two. He'll take apart a pine cone and tell me why it's constructed as it is.

God has nothing to do with ethics for me. Ethics exist outside of God. God is about power. I don't always understand power. This doesn't mean that I don't understand creation. I am perfectly willing to believe in a big bang that got everything going somehow. What I don't understand is how some things change and some things don't. What I don't understand is heresy today, gone tomorrow.


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