For the record: only one cat fits in the laundry basket if the cat in question happens to be Sophie.
Because if anyone else tries to get in, she’ll fucking kill them.
For the record: only one cat fits in the laundry basket if the cat in question happens to be Sophie.
Because if anyone else tries to get in, she’ll fucking kill them.
Check out the news story here.
To Whom It May Concern:
This may come as a shock to you, but I–a woman!–am an actual, reasonable human being. I think, I laugh, I talk, and I have been known to read about politics in my spare time. I am a PERSON, and as one person to another: please, stop treating me as though my needs are less important than the political or religious ideals of everyone else on earth. Please, stop saying that you’re trying to protect the rights of everyone, when the truth is that you are protecting the rights of everyone but me.
Now, I know that this new rule of yours is supposedly about the “free speech” and “protected conscience” of medical workers, but let’s be honest, here: we would not be having this argument about any medical procedure other than abortion. If I needed an appendectomy and my doctor refused to perform the operation on “religious grounds,” very, very few people would support his “right” to endanger my life. You didn’t write up this rule because you honestly care how the doctor performing an abortion feels about it, or how the nurse assisting him feels–you wrote up this rule because YOU don’t like abortions, and you don’t think you’ll be able to criminalize the procedure outright.
Instead, you’ll just make safe, legal abortions virtually impossible to get. Problem solved.
I’m trying to give you the benefit of the doubt, here, but it’s kind of hard. I look at this rule, and all I can think is, “Wow. My government REALLY does not think of me as an actual human being with actual rights.” That angers me. A lot. It also makes me sad, disgusted, and completely erodes my trust in my elected officials.
Please, do the right thing. Don’t let this rule go into effect.
Make you objections known here.
Lately my friends and I have been having a lot of discussions about ADD (or ADHD, or whatever the crap they’re calling it these days). Our fascination isn’t really all that weird, when you think about it; after all, two of my best friends and my boyfriend are ADD as shit, so the topic was bound to come up sometime. It’s funny, though, because I’m profoundly not ADD: I am a creature of myopic, monomaniacal vision, a person who dearly loves to do One Thing and Only One Thing at a Time, Thank You Very Much. I can’t even listen to music and read at the same time. I can’t even listen to classical music and read at the same time. Unlike other children, I never got in trouble because I was up and running around and generally behaving like a Ritalin-addicted squirrel. Oh, no. I got in trouble because I clapped my hands over my ears so that I could focus better on my math assignment.
In other news, I was a total brown-noser. But you probably knew that.
Now, I’m not going to lie and say that I had it harder than the ADD kids: the American public school system happens to reward freakish intensity, and my monomania was definitely an academic asset. Since no one wants you to multi-task before the age of fourteen, children with ADD definitely got the short end of the stick–someone was always yelling at them for not being able to sit still, pay attention, or stop making that fucking noise, already. But monomania is not without its pitfalls, which include: perfectionism, self-hatred, a deep sense of meaninglessness, and a propensity for crazes. Yes, I do mean crazes. Someone as monomaniacal as I am doesn’t really have “phases” so much as “periods of intense, almost insane passion for random shit.” These crazes made my childhood pretty…unique, I can assure you. To whit:
The Colonial Period
When I was in the third grade, I found a book about Colonial America in my school library and was immediately completely enthralled. I had enough sense to be repelled by things like hard wooden benches, “trenchers,” and spoons made out of a substance so repulsive it had to be called “pewter,” but still. I was enamored. I was particularly fascinated with the chapter on lye-soap making, but I never harbored any serious notion of trying it out for myself. After all, I reasoned, even if I could collect enough urine for it, my family didn’t have a fireplace, so ashes were going to be a problem.
…but if I had thought I could get away with it, I totally would have peed in a bucket and then followed the author’s handy instructions.
The Victorian Era
Much of classic American and British children’s literature was written or set in the Victorian/Edwardian period. That’s probably why I now associate tea and crumpets with comfort and joy, even though I don’t particularly like tea and I don’t actually know what a crumpet is. Anyway. I spent a lot of my childhood reading things like A Little Princess and The Little House Books; my reading habits left me with a rather dichotomous desire to be both a very rich, pampered little girl who carried a parasol, and a very poor little girl who lived in a log cabin and made her own butter.
I’m sure Teddy Roosevelt could’ve related.
This particular craze was pretty darn sedentary. While I was under Victorian thrall, I (very appropriately) never felt any real desire to make substances out of my own bodily fluids or the bodily fluids of another animal; I just wanted to read as much literature written about the period as I could. And then I wanted to spend a good hour or so pining and sighing that I had been born during the wrong era. Apparently, I hadn’t quite made the connection yet that as a female child of Italian descent, I wouldn’t have had the starring role in any of those books: I would have been serving the crumpets, not eating them. Oh, well. Issues of class, gender, and ethnicity hadn’t yet penetrated my pretty little head, and all I cared about was the fact that if I’d lived in the 1870s, my thirst for ruffles would have been perfectly socially acceptable.
My generation–the children of the early ’90s–had glitter, and glitter is a shoddy substitute for things like really frilly underpants.
I tried to overcome this deficiency, however, by not actually dressing like it was the end of the twentieth century. My mother made most of my clothes because at that point, it was cheaper. She was very easily persuaded to make me totally insane things like a Victorian boating outfit. I am not even kidding. I ACTUALLY WORE THAT TO CLASS.
And was not, shockingly, teased about it. At all.
As if the reading and the outfits weren’t bad enough, there was one more unintended side effect of my passion for all things Victorian. As a direct result of all the centuries out-of-date fashion advice I was absorbing from my books, I was the only preadolescent white girl in North Carolina who would have given ANYTHING to be paler.
I make no apologies for this one: dead bodies are totally awesome. My mother had one of those huge art books about ancient Egypt, and I spent a remarkable amount of time as a seven-year-old painting very accurate portraits of King Tut. I yearned to build a pyramid, but I realized that this was well beyond my very meager architectural skills; so when I read about the Valley of the Kings, I was thrilled. The Valley of the Kings is simply a series of underground tombs, and as my seven-year-old self understood it, tombs are just a series of really big holes. So, I dug a lot of holes and buried a lot garishly painted crap in them. I remember making a sarcophagus out a Colgate toothpaste box; my “mummy” was a Popsicle stick well-swaddled in toilet paper. I had read about simple mummification techniques and fully intended to inter a dead worm inside my minty fresh coffin, but my mother put a stop to those plans. She caught on to my scheme one morning when I oh-so-innocently asked for some salt.
“What do you need it for?” she asked suspiciously.
“To mummify this dead worm I found outside,” I said.
Dude, it’s not like I planned to kill the worm or anything. It was dead anyway! Moms…
I love cats. I have always loved cats. This cannot be blamed on me having had one as a childhood pet: when I was a very little girl, my dad claimed he was allergic and so I got stuck with a lameass guinea pig and some extremely expendable fish. But despite the total lack of cats in my life (dude, I don’t think my NEIGHBORS even had one), I longed for one. I pined for one. And once I realized that I was probably not going to get one until I was a self-supporting adult, I started collecting stuffed ones.
Other children have wide and varied stuffed animal collections; not me. I had exactly two stuffed dogs, one stuffed bear, a homemade stuffed alligator, and a stuffed pig with a music box in its butt. Oh, and I had exactly one flibbertyjillion stuffed cats. Exactly and precisely one flibbertyjillion.
I had black cats, white cats, gray cats, tortoiseshells, tabbies–you name it, I had it. Every time someone offered to buy me a stuffed animal, I made it a cat. One time I bought a dolphin at an aquarium, and I’m pretty sure I only did it because you couldn’t buy a stuffed cat at an aquarium in the mid-1990s. They just didn’t sell them. Like a childless woman who fills that hole in her life where a baby should be with her tacky tea cup collection, I filled my cat-shaped hole with stuffed cats upon stuffed cats. It only stopped when a profoundly mean-spirited black kitten showed up on our back porch fourteen years ago and wormed her way into my father’s heart (and convinced him that his “allergies” were all in his head). Once I had the real thing, I no longer felt obliged to collect replicas of it.
Of course, somehow I wound up with four cats. Can’t imagine how that happened…
Looking back on all my crazes, my attraction to the ADD-afflicted suddenly makes more sense. I need them like they need Ritalin: when left to myself, I do things that are completely and utterly insane. They need me to keep them on task, on target, and to prevent them from singing show tunes in the middle of the street in Washington, D.C.–but I need them to continually break my focus so that I don’t destroy the world through the sheer force of my will. It’s a delicate balance, a delicate series of relationships, but it’s so worth it. Even when their randomosity makes me want to kill myself and my monomania makes them want to throw me out a window.
Last night, I finally caught up with one of my oldest friends–and by “caught up with,” I actually mean, “deigned to speak with another human being instead of just wibbling and watching old Brotherhood 2.0 videos.”
Look, man, I’m a fucking hermit. I make no apologies.
Anyway, Brandy and I were talking about this and that and why sometimes we hate our boyfriends, and the subject of blogging came up. I don’t really remember why, but it probably had something to do with my ever-fluctuating template (by the way, sorry about the design schizophrenia, guys). So we chatted, and eventually the truth came out: Brandy does not read this blog. Like, ever. FOR SHAME.
Watch her try to defend herself:
Brandy: I’m convinced people look at my blog and go Why do I keep looking? My brain melts!!
Brandy: because everyone that ever says anything directly to me about it says it’s “oddly engaging.”
Me: Yeah, thanks for the faint praise, guys.
Me: *I* like it.
Me: I read it obsessively. But that’s only because stalking you is difficult at this distance.
Brandy: because you love me.
Brandy: Mmmmm I wish to read yours obsessively but you keep Brandy proofing it. with books and witchery..
“Books and witchery”? Brandy, I will have you know that I occasionally talk about movies and TV shows, too! There are all KINDS of media being reviewed on this bitch! I call shenanigans!
But you know, I have to admit that I’ve been feeling a little hemmed in by the “all review, all the time” state of affairs around here. And if even Brandy–who is the fastest reader on the face of this planet–is getting bored by the endless round of book reviews…maybe it’s time for something a little bit different. So, I’ve promised Brandy that I will add more personal content at least once a week; I’ve also promised that I will vary the days I add it, so she can’t get away with just checking in on Tuesdays or whatever.
See? I’m smart! Also: game on, Brandy. GAME. ON.
Check out the sidebar under “Pages.” Now y’all have a big-ass treatise on what I hate about romance novels: “I Love My Dead Gay Husband.”
Juliet Marillier, Wildwood Dancing
A re-telling of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” set in some sort of Eastern European never-never land. I liked it, but I had two complaints:
1.) She totes tossed some vampires in there just for shits and giggles. But you know, I can’t really blame her–for they did, in fact, make me giggle. And now I kind of want to write a Dracula/Red Riding Hood crossover, because surely every fairytale would benefit from a cameo by the Dark Prince!
2.) Is a spoiler, so away we go! (more…)
Neil Gaiman, American Gods
Gods are real and are living in America. There. Got that out there. In all honesty…Gaiman’s not a careful enough thinker to handle material like this in a new or interesting fashion. There are all kinds of icky gender politics in old mythology; I think it would take a very smart woman or a very smart, very special man to figure out how to reinterpret those issues, and Gaiman (although very intelligent) is just neither of those things. He takes the story in all the expected directions: frankly, all you really need to know about where this is going is to realize that Shadow, the main character, is let out of prison because his wife Laura and his best friend have just died in a car accident. At the funeral, his best friend’s wife spits in Laura’s coffin; it turns out that Laura and the best friend had been having an affair the entire time. They died because Laura was giving the best friend a very drunken, very enthusiastic blow job and knocked the gearshift out of place. And so they hit the back of a semi.
Oh, and to hit every “slutty woman done him wrong” cliché, Shadow went to prison because of Laura.
Okay, Gaiman-I’m very fond of you, since Anansi Boys was a hell of a lot of fun, but you just definitively proved that you are not the guy I want handling the creepier, sexier parts of mythology. Because you’re just going to talk about the part where the vagina eats people and leave it at that.
Recommended for: People who have a terminal attachment to Norse mythology.
One of the most basic skills one must acquire in order to be a literary critic is the ability to dissect a passage line-by-line. To that purpose, let us consider the following paragraph from Julia Quinn’s The Viscount Who Loved Me:
“What I need to do,” Mr. Berbrooke said jovially, clearly unaware that Lord Bridgerton was likely to murder the first person who opened his mouth, “is finish repairing this curricle. Then I can take Miss Sheffield home.” He pointed at Edwina, just in case anyone didn’t understand to which Miss Sheffield he referred. (Quinn 72)
Now, let us break our findings down into easily digested numbered points:
1.) OH HELL NO SHE DID NOT.
2.) Sigh. Okay, I’ll try to tell you why this is WRONG BAD WRONG SO WRONG.
3.) Pointing’s rude, kids. It’s the sort of thing little girls in pinafores used to get their knuckles rapped for. I don’t know for certain that it was rude in 1814–which is when The Viscount Who Loved Me supposedly takes place–but I’d bet big money that it was. In any case, no one in a Georgette Heyer novel ever did it. At least, not in public.
4.) FOR THE LAST TIME, JULIA, IT WOULD BE MISS SHEFFIELD AND MISS EDWINA. Jesus God, how can you churn out eight thousand Regencies a year and still not know that?
5.) Why do I keep reading these when they make me SO DAMN ANGRY?
6.) Fuck it, I’m eating some chocolate and then BLOWING MY BRAINS OUT BECAUSE THIS HURTS THEM SO MUCH.
This concludes our lesson. I hope it was informative! And remember, kids: if you can’t stick to the most basic rules of a genre, maybe you should consider writing something else. Like, ANYTHING ELSE.
If there’s one failing my entire immediate family shares, it’s that we all tend to assume that whatever we know, everyone else knows. Sometimes this can be a useful trait: despite the fact that the North Carolina school system treats “academically gifted” children like the Second Coming of Jesus Christ Our Lord, I never got a particularly swelled head. Because if I could do something, then everyone could do it–and that’s the opposite of special, right? But oftentimes, this kind of absent-minded self-centeredness causes more problems than it solves. At the very least, my family and I are forever making plans that involve other people…without ever bothering to inform them of said plans. I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve found out at the very last minute that I’m utterly crucial to some scheme of my mother’s, and I’m sure she can say the same about me.
My favorite example of this “I know it, so you must, too” attitude happened when I was eighteen and one of my maternal aunts was compiling a family tree. I wasn’t initially all that interested in the project, because from what I understood, my mother’s side of the family consisted of Danes, Swedes, and a rogue Englishman or two who all began farming the Midwest sometime in the middle of the nineteenth century. I love my momma, but Denmark and Sweden haven’t been fascinating since the Vikings quit raiding Northern Europe. So yeah, I wasn’t interested in the family tree; I figured it would just yield dairy farmers on two separate continents. But then one Sunday during my freshman year of college, mom shattered all of my comforting illusions about my maternal relatives with this casual sentence: “So, your aunt’s gotten pretty far back, and it turns out that we’re actually descended from the second of four wives.”
“One of our great-great-great–I don’t remember how many greats, actually–grandfathers was a polygamous Mormon, and we’re descended from his second wife. You know, from one of the marriages that wasn’t actually legal.”
“What?” I asked again, because I am intelligent that way. “Since when are we Mormons?”
“Deborah,” my mother said severely, “You know that my father’s family were Mormons.”
“WHAT? No, I didn’t know that! Since when am I supposed to know that?!”
But my mother was pretty insistent that I had, in fact, known my entire life that my maternal great-grandparents were practicing Mormons–and looking back on it, it certainly explains some things. I mean, how else would a man born in the 1920s have ended up with a middle name like “Lavelle”? But my hand to heaven, I honestly had no idea. I thought that my family’s religious background consisted of Catholics on one side and Baptists on the other, and Jesus–that was enough crazy already. But no. Turns out that my maternal ancestors never met a form of religious extremism that they didn’t like: before they were FLDS, they were Puritans.
Yes, it’s true–my Guido ass has Mayflower relatives. Hahahaha! Suck on that, haters!
I have to admit, though, that finding out about my fundie ancestors has given me a rather unhealthy fascination with Mormons in general. Now that I know that I might well have been part of their church if not for my grandfather’s conversion (re-conversion?) eighty-some years ago, it’s all Mormonism, all the time. I’ve felt a little weird about exploring the religion, though, because it’s not like my interest is strictly anthropological–in part, at least, I want to explore a force that shaped the course of my family for several generations, and that desire can only be described as personal.
That, and I’ve also felt a little awkward because people motherfucking hate Mormons.
Well, let me explain this a little better: Mormonism is a lot like the communist regime in Cuba, in that there seem to be no rational opinions about it. Either you love it and you think it’s the best thing ever (and anyone who doesn’t is a capitalist pig), or you despise it and wish it didn’t exist (and anyone who doesn’t is a freedom-hating communist pinko). Getting a relatively unbiased, somewhat objective view is completely impossible, because the subject inspires such strong feelings that logic flies out the window. (Don’t believe me? Check out this thread.) And I mean, I value the opinions of the faithful, but I know from my own experiences with Christianity that asking a true believer about the history of a religion is a mistake–at least, it is if you want your facts straight. If I want to know what Mormons believe now, then certainly the first people I will ask are actual Mormons; but if I want to know how the religion itself came into being, or what its attitudes towards women and minorities have been/continue to be, I will ask a historian.
But even that can be probematic, because even when you manage to avoid the starry-eyed adherents, you still have to contend with the die-hard haters. The first book I ever read dealing with Mormonism was so virulently anti-Mormon–so openly and blatantly hateful–that I felt physically dirty just reading it. I don’t care to repeat that experience, but in my extremely casual quest to find out more about the Mormons, it seemed like I was stuck with proselytizing in either direction. Thank you, but no.
And then I found out about Jon Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven: a Story of Violent Faith. Krakauer centers his book on the murders of Brenda and Erica Lafferty, a mother and her toddler; they were killed by Erica’s paternal uncles, two polygamous, fundamentalist Mormons who claimed to believe that Brenda was evil and Erica was hellspawn. As the story unfolds, however, it becomes more and more apparent that the motivations of at least one brother, Ron, were not so pure: Brenda had helped his wife leave him, and he blamed Brenda for the disintegration of his marriage.
Because, you know, the fact that he beat his wife, took other wives, and refused to hold a job probably had nothing to do with her decision to file for divorce.
Anyway, Krakauer’s point is that the murders seem completely insane and illogical only if you don’t consider them in context. This became clear when Krakauer discussed the issue of Ron Lafferty’s competence to stand trial; Lafferty’s lawyers argued that he was insane, but the state countered that actually, he was just ultra-religious. He might have phrased things oddly, but most of his ideas were culled from his Mormon upbringing and from the fundamentalist circles he insinuated himself into later. For example, he claimed that he had his brother kill Brenda and Erica because God asked him to; his lawyers pounced on this as a clear sign of madness. But as one of the prosecution’s expert witnesses pointed out, Ron Lafferty received that “revelation” while he was involved with a fundamentalist group whose members were routinely reporting new communications with God. In addition, Krakauer reveals that many mainstream Mormons also believe that one can have a two-way conversation with God.
Which I can’t really say I find all that weird, since I used to live in a place where people spoke in tongues. ANYWAY.
What I liked about this book is that Krakauer made it so clear that while the Laffertys certainly don’t represent Mormonism as a whole, their actions and behaviors make sense only within the context of this particular religion. What they did was awful and horrible, but it is not incomprehensible. The more Krakauer reveals about the history of Mormonism, the more obvious it becomes that misogyny, entitlement, and violence are deeply embedded within that history; and that the Laffertys, far from being some strange and unheard of aberration, are actually heirs to this past. Krakauer discusses some of the fundamentalist sects, the people who live closest to the more controversial rules that the early church fathers set down (polygamy, hatred of blacks), and their lives are such a mess of abuse, incest, and unreasoning power plays…the more I read, the more I realized that there’s a reason no one stopped the Lafferty boys until it was too late: in that environment, their behavior didn’t really stick out all that much.
This was a very interesting read, and I highly recommend it–but it certainly wasn’t perfect. At some points, Krakauer wrote things that I thought were a little unkind to the religion as a whole; he also never directly quotes Allen Lafferty, Brenda’s husband, and fails to explain why his point of view is so conspicuously lacking. Still. This was the first even vaguely balanced view I’ve seen on the subject, and for that Krakauer is to be commended.