You know what makes me happy?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

You know what makes me happy?

Feminist dads.

At the beginning of the school year, my head teachers and I let the parents know that they are more than welcome in the classroom, should they want to come in and do art, make music, read a story or cook something with us.

On Friday, one of the dads came in to do a small art project with the kids. He arrived early to set up, and was playing with his daughter and chatting with the English teacher and with me. For whatever reason, all the kids were late that morning (okay, maybe not all of them.....just most), which gave us a lot of time to fill him in on class goings-on and whatever. I mentioned that I found a nifty t-shirt that I want to start wearing to school, to counteract some of the "I like princesses and only want to draw with the pink marker"* bullshit that's going on in the class.
The shirt has a crown on it, and says "Self-rescuing Princess." (available here)

This dad, whose daughter Maggie is a super kid and well on her way to being a kick-ass empowered girl, loved the idea of the shirt. He told us that he was so frustrated at Halloween, because even for little girls, the ready-made costume choices were frilly princess, frillier princess and slutty pirate girl.....oy vey....**

Then he said that last week, when the grandparents were all in town for Thanksgiving, his dad was reading "The Paperbag Princess" to Maggie. Grandpa was a little uncomfortable with the message, apparently, because he finished the book and gave an addendum: "Then the prince went on to Stanford and got an MBA and became a CEO."

To which Dad responded with an addendum to the addendum: "And the princess grew up to get the world to achieve WORLD PEACE!"

I love that this dad is just quietly and calmly going about being a fantastic feminist ally and active partner in raising an empowered feminist kid. He's not reciting empty tropes about "girl power" while encouraging Disneymania. He doesn't work till 8pm all week, then take the kids to the park once on the weekend and expect a cookie for it. He just chooses the books and movies and costumes carefully, buys the striped leggings instead of the frilly shit, and comes into the class to do art with us.

Okay, so when it's his turn to do Maggie's hair it turns out a little wonky, but no one's perfect, right?

I'm so glad that I've got this family in my class, and I wish all our parents were this cool!

UPDATE: Feminist Dad is also insanely good at holiday gift (a box of See's chocolates! Woot!) had a lovely, lovely hand-lettered note.

*Maggie ended up deciding that she wanted to be Pocahontas for Halloween, so dad made the costume himself.

**There's only one pink marker, for whatever reason, and I'm sick to death of seeing all-pink drawings. So I hid the marker in the closet. I know, I'm evil.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

If you haven't already, please make a donation to my friend Maggie.

Donate here.

Life, the Universe and Everything

Saturday, October 24, 2009

I knew that I hadn't written anything in some time, but it wasn't until a second ago that I realized I had gone a full month without posting.....

I've been overworked and preoccupied lately, by a number of things:
1) Spending 90% of my work day tending to 1 child, to the detriment of the other 15.
2) Spending my weekends grouching about having to go teach music lessons to belligerent students whose parents can't be bothered to schedule a regular time for lessons because of soccer, softball, swimming, and, last week, going to adopt a dog.
3) Getting horribly sick with the worst cold known to humanity, and wishing that it were the flu because then the symptoms and the name would be on the same level of misery
4) The universe crashing down horribly on those I know and love.

1) Yes, there's a child in my class who is so out of control, so toddler (developmentally, not age wise), and so disruptive and violent that if I don't tend to him ALL THE TIME it will mean physical and emotional harm to the other students. Thanks, admissions director. Fuck you too.

2) I'm sick of it and am trying to find a way to fire my students, despite the precipitous drop in income that that will mean for me.

3) It was only a cold. No fever, at any point. And yet, I felt miserable for a good 2 weeks....blech.

4) a. A family friend and well-known Bay Area conductor went in for a scheduled heart surgery. She suffered clotting problems and a stroke on the table, and never regained consciousness. A week later, her partner chose to take her off life support and take her home to die in peace and dignity. Imagine having to make that decision?? Her death was misreported, and I inadvertently passed on news of her demise before it had actually happened. I feel like the biggest shithead on earth for that one. She died the next day.

b. The same day that I misreported K's death, I found out that my dear blog-friend Maggie had been rushed to the hospital after 48 hours of the most intense pain that a human can imagine. She waited that long to call 911 because, of course, she has no health insurance.
Luckily, the public hospital in Austin was on ER diversion, and she was instead rushed to the best hospital around. She was treated by an ace surgical team, and is being given the best care possible.
It's damn lucky that the other ER was on diversion or Maggie would likely be dead right now.
The bad news is that because she's uninsured and poor, there's no way that she can pay for this care. She might get chucked out of the hospital before she has recovered if we dont' come up with funds FAST.
Go to her personal blog, Meta Watershed, or the news blog where she writes, Group News Blog, to read all of the harrowing details and to DONATE. Give till it hurts. Please. This woman has done more for the world so far than I can imagine squeezing into one life and she's not done yet. But she desperately needs everyone's help.

You can do donations through Paypal or by sending a check to Group News Blog with "Maggie Jochild" in the memo. Maggie has such limited mobility that getting the mail and getting to a bank and that sort of thing is nearly impossible.

c. The next day, my mom's ex's mother died. She was elderly, and had been declining fast, and it was "time." Still very sad, though. The ex and mom were together for about 12 years, and in that time, we got to know his family quite well. His parents were such dear people, always welcoming and kind. She'll be truly missed.

d. At some point in all of this, another friend was also rushed to the ER. I don't have permission to write about her situation, but suffice it to say that she's living in a new town, at a new school, without family or close friends yet, and my heart just aches for what she's going through....

e. My mom is having to go in for a surgical procedure this coming week. Besides having to deal with a boyfriend who recently had a stroke, and a mother who is completely dependent on us for transport and such.

f. Boyfriend's father just had a pacemaker installed. At least once the leads have disconnected. He's in Canada, though, and Boyfriend is pretty bummed about living so far away.

So, yeah, life has been really intense lately.

There have been plenty of things that I've read or heard that warrant essays in response. I just haven't been able to deal.


That's Genius

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The list of this year's MacArthur fellowship (aka the "Genius Grant") winners is out, and exactly half of the recipients are women. Woot!

Several are older women, several are women of color. Science, the arts and the humanities are represented all represented.

Glad to know that it's not always bad news for women!

(one of Boyfriend's co-advisers is a former MacArthur winner.....yay for women in science and engineering!)

That's Not My Name

Monday, September 21, 2009

Safeway, the grocery store chain, apparently has a policy that states that guests should be thanked by name at the end of each transaction.

After scanning and bagging one's groceries and taking one's money, employees will print out the receipt, look at it, and say something along the lines of "Thank you, Mr. Aggleflaggle, have a nice day!"

They will get the name from either the credit/debit card or "Club Card" info, at the bottom of the receipt. I suppose that if you pay in cash, and don't use a club card, you'll just get a "thank you, have a nice day."

So here's where it gets interesting.

I almost always buy groceries with my debit card, because the cash in my wallet usually only suffices for a coffee or a burrito. This means that my name appears on the receipt along with my card information. I don't have a "Club Card" of my own, so I always plug in either my grandmother's or Boyfriend's phone number, to get the discounts that way.

This means that the checker has a choice of names. And, interestingly enough, the checker seems to always choose to read the "club card" name, not the debit card name.

Which means that on a fairly regular basis, I get addressed as "Ms. Boyfriend'slastname."

Which weirds me out completely.

I usually don't correct them, since that would require me to spend more time in Safeway. I hate supermarkets, you see, and usually try to dash in and out as quickly as possible.

But yeah, their assumption really bugs me. If you see my name (on the credit/debit line) and some dude's name, why would you assume that that's the right last name?????


Semi-, but not completely related:

Why are so many women my age changing their names when they get married? Women who seem otherwise feminist and progressive? Just among friends and coworkers, I can think of at least 6 or 8 people who have gotten married in the last few years and have changed their names. I can only think of 3 who have gotten married and kept their names.

I mean, not even getting into the "why get married?" discussion, why is this trend still so prevalent?

I know I sound horribly judgmental, but I really don't understand.

Especially when the women in question are performers, who rely on publicity and "getting their names out there".....


Challenging Art and our Eucations

Saturday, September 12, 2009

This post is kind of an extended commentary on another blog post. Sorry if that's too self-referential!

My friend -m- writes the blog Modest and Witty. It's a pretty phenomenal account of her life and adventures. Like me, -m- tends to rant, but in a far more cohesive and intelligent manner than I usually accomplish.

-m- just moved to New York, to go to an impressive music school. Obviously, it being New York and all, there are so many things to see and do that -m- is having quite an interesting time.

A recent trip, to the Brooklyn Art Museum, sparked a mammoth post, the entirety of which can be read here. -m- and a friend saw Judy Chicago's 1974-79 installation piece The Dinner Party.

The Dinner Party is huge. It's an equilateral triangle measuring 48 feet per side (that's a perimeter of 144 feet or 43.89 metres for all you nerds). The triangle is set up like a table, with places for 39 "Guests of Honor." Each place setting highlights the contributions of a woman, whose name is shown on the place mat/table runner. The space inside the lines of the triangle features the names of 999 other women who have contributed to predated the 39 featured women.

Instead of plates, there are intricate porcelain sculpture inspired by butterflies/vaginal imagery.

I have not seen this instillation in person, so the descriptions are based on -m-'s writing as well as the site

-m- reacts this way:

I was utterly unprepared for this installation. How could I have expected it? The catalog itself reports it as consisting of:
39 dinner place settings of porcelain flatware (fork, knife and spoon), porcelain chalice, and decorated porcelain plate. Each setting is laid out on a separate embroidered textile runner. Thirteen place settings are on each side (48 feet long) of a triangular table draped with a white felt cloth, with a triangular millennium runner at each of three corners. Each of the settings represents one of thirty-nine historically significant women. The table sits on a floor of 2304 porcelain triangular tiles (in 129 units) inscribed with the names of 999 significant women.
Ok, so it's a big table set for dinner and there are lots of women's names. Cool. This will be interesting. Right. How can I tell you what it was like walking into that room? Rather, walking into the room was just what I expected. Each setting is quite particular, and placed in a mostly chronological order. First? 'Primordial Goddess'

Ok. That makes sense.

Next? 'Fertile Goddess'


Of note, the plates at each setting are decorated in personalized floral/butterfly/vulva patterns. I add floral and butterfly to the description mostly because the plaque at the exhibit did so. My impression of the plates was overwhelmingly linked to feminine power, to clitoral and sexual potency, power, depth, mystery, and strength. There were cunts all over this table, each beautiful and different. Each cunt-plate brought its own sacred history to the table.

Next? 'Ishtar', 'Kali', 'Snake Goddess', 'Sophia', 'Amazon', 'Hatshepsut', 'Judith', 'Sappho', 'Boadaceia', 'Hypatia', 'Marcella', 'Saint Bridget'. . .

By this point, I had finished one third of the table, and I was starting to get worried. The women who earned a place at the table were assumedly at the top of the list, a list that involves more than a thousand names. Only 39 received special settings, and I guess I assumed that of those 39 I would know a vast majority. I was discovering how naïve that assumption had been.

'Theodora', 'Hrosvitha', 'Trotula', 'Eleanor of Aquitaine', 'Hildegarde of Bingen', 'Petronilla de Meath', 'Christine de Pisan', 'Isabella d'Este', 'Elizabeth R.', 'Artemisia Gentileschi'. . .

I recognized two of these names, and I could tell you about one of them. The names continued almost in defiance of my ignorance. A grief I had never experienced began to overwhelm me, and I felt tears begin to well up. I have never before cried because of a piece of art. Art has moved me toward thought, toward debate, toward laughter, toward anger, toward many things- but never tears. Of the more than thousand names celebrated in 'The Dinner Party", I would recognize a perhaps generous figure of 100.

Less than 10%.

'Anna van Schurman', 'Anne Hutchinson', 'Sacajawea', 'Caroline Herschel', 'Mary Wollstonecraft', 'Sojourner Truth', 'Susan B. Anthony', 'Elizabeth Blackwell', 'Emily Dickinson', 'Ethel Smyth'. . .

I realized even more so, that at least 50% of the names I recognized belonged to women about which I knew nothing. For example, I could not have told you yesterday (I am very sorry to admit) who Mary Wollstonecraft was or what contributions she had made. A horrifying thought occurred to me: should a similar celebration of man's historical contributions be constructed in such a manner, I would easily recognize at least 50% of the names. I would probably also be able to explain in depth the contributions of at least 15% of them. Of course, that's just a guess.

I don't remember at what point I began to cry, but I know it was after I had left the table settings and had moved to the Herstory Board section- a chronology/brief description of the contributions of every name on exhibit. I felt as though I'd been punched in the gut. Somewhere, deep within, something had been stolen from me. My education had failed me. My culture had failed me. I had failed myself. How could I know so little about the power of the feminine? How had I missed my own history so succinctly? Who was Margaret Sanger? Natalie Barney? Virginia Woolf and Georgia O'Keefe were names familiar to me, but they provided little comfort after the onslaught of the unfamiliar.

I cried. I cried for myself. For my culture. For the education that I and my sisters and brothers were missing. It was a quiet cry, privately witnessed by an almost unending row of names.
I sat down on a bench and tried to center myself, attempting to pull myself back from the brink of destructive self-pity, searching for the redemptive righteous anger that I knew must be on the other side of such a deep wound. While I waited a man came over to the lady sitting next to me on the bench and commented on the 'fascinating' board of names.
. . .


Even now I am filled with an anger and a hurt that is beyond my ability to capture.


I understand how a board filled with the history of influential women one has never heard of could be a fascinating concept. I understand and respect this man's ability to recognize a resource he had not previously encountered. I understand to a certain extent.

But it goes so much deeper than the cognitive whimsy of a 'fascinating' history display. This is personal. It is my mother, my great-grandmother, my as-yet-undreamt-of-daughter. It is me. It is the mantle I inherited by being born into this body, or rather more so by living in it. It is the lie that has been perpetuated by silence. It is the gaping holes in my history. In me. It is the lack of acknowledgment of those holes- my previous inability to even conceptualize how many holes there might be.

I knew, of course, that there was much of the history and contributions of women that I didn't know, but I had never before been confronted so tangibly by the vastness of the unknown of feminine beauty, strength, thought, and power.

I am enraged.

I am crying.

I am crying, and I am enraged by the bleeding hole where my knowledge of my grandmothers should be. I have been robbed. So have you.

We, all of us, have been robbed by patriarchal thieves bent on silencing the brilliance of half our forebears. This cannot stand, but who will stand with me?

Why do we allow such silence? What do we do about it? How can I turn this wounded-ness, this anger, into a vehicle for change?

How can we?

In order to get a sense of where -m-'s anger comes from, try this experiment. Look at the list of women whose names appear in The Dinner Party (Wikipedia lists them, showing how they are organized in the work) and start counting. I made 3 categories: Know About, Recognize Name, and Huh??

Go through the list and classify the names. Then tally them up. I'm not interested in a competition of who can tell me about the largest number of these women, but rather the internal reflection. Count them up for yourself, then see what it means to you that this list of women who have contributed tons to western society will no doubt feature people you've never heard of.

Now, I realize that unless one was a history major, womens' studies minor, and possesses the memorisational powers of a super computer, its unlikely that anyone would know all of these women. But if a similar list were compiled of men who have contributed to western society, the number of well-known names would undoubtedly be far larger.


Since I haven't seen this work in person, and since it's not like a painting that can be fully captured in a photograph or print, it's a little weird for me to start analysing the visual impact or aesthetics.

That said, I think that the significance of The Dinner Party for me lies not in what it is, physically, but what it represents. I think that all of the vaginal imagery would likely strike me as very heavy handed and overly literal. In general, though, I HATE when people trot out the idea that women's power comes from their fertility, and when people are reduced to their biology. They are ideas that simply do not interest me.

The picky/judgemental part of me needs to chime in:

Also, I'm not sure how I feel about the inclusion of saints/mythological characters/non-people. I can see how, given that most societies have had strong ties to religion, the people or gods that they venerate become important, but it's still a little weird to me. I don't really know why.

Sophia, though? Uh-uh. We're supposed to be talking about WOMEN here, and just because the word "Σoφíα" is feminine doesn't mean that it refers to a woman. Even in ancient Greece, to my knowledge there was not a female character or representation attached to the concept of wisdom. In Orthodox mystical theology, wisdom is associated with the Virgin Mary (Theotokos), but that's not the same. She's being used as an allegory for wisdom.
Shall we start calling all feminine words (words that are feminine in other languages) women? Table? Window? Library?

Sorry, that's really not the point of the post, and is possibly harmful to the point at hand......I just get picky like that. My incredible obsession with accuracy can get in the way of a lot of things. Apologies!

I think my overall point is The Dinner Party would be even more powerful to me if all of the names were people, and people who actually existed, rather than goddesses and mythological figures. It's easy to discount those non-real people if you don't subscribe to that philosophy or religion, and the goal of the work is exactly the opposite of that. It seems to be about NOT discounting and NOT overlooking.

Small bone to pick.

I realize that I haven't really responded to -m-'s anger and call to arms. I think they stand alone, and don't need reinforcement from me. Think about what you can do, though.

Gearing Up

Monday, August 31, 2009

The first day of school is tomorrow.....think happy thoughts for me! I'm a little scared!

We met our students today....they seem soooooooo young it's unbelievable!

Back Home

Sunday, August 23, 2009

I got back this morning from my second workshop of the summer. I was in Seattle for 2 weeks, attending a baroque opera workshop. We learned and performed a program of scenes from various 17th C operas.

This particular workshop was started by a totally famous and important lutenist, and besides the impeccable musical coaching and teaching, the strengths lie in the areas of drama and movement. The 3 stage directors are all remarkably good at dissecting archaic texts, guiding the students as they discover the nuances of the language, the best ways to express that language verbally and physically, and the movement and gestures that will best accomplish that.

2 of the 3 directors also run a movement class every morning, focusing on de-stressing and ways to kindly use one's body.

I haven't written anything about this yet, mostly because I was processing so much information that it was hard to stop and dissect. Also, the internet filter on the campus blocked anything with the word "bitch".....oops!

One thing I've noticed at past workshops is that some participants manage to get to know the faculty far better than others. I've always been in the "wanting to get to know, and therefore get everything possible out of faculty, but too introverted and shy to actually do it" group. I vowed to change that this year, so I made a point of just hanging around outside the theater after the last rehearsal of the day, and asking to have dinner with the out-of-town directors. The locals seemed to go home to their families in the evenings, but the non-locals were staying on campus, just like the students.

So, it turns out that one can learn loads from just sitting around the dinner table or the bar.

I made a point of asking "what next?" or "who should I sing for" or "do you have ideas about how to carve out a career that synthesizes text, rhetoric, history, drama, movement, dance and singing??" (you know, just the little, inconsequential questions.....not!) It really isn't quite as scary as I thought, this whole being outgoing thing, and I'm soooo glad that I put in that effort.

I've come home with loads of ideas and inspiration. That's the good part. The terrifying part is going to be implementing them. Because it turns out that, according to G, the guy who directed my scene, and who has a fascinating and multi-faceted career in early music, the best way to go about all of that synthesis stuff is to found my own company.

Most "early operas" that get performed are actually 18th C, almost a full century later than the repertoire that most interests me. These earliest operas get performed at the Boston Early Music Festival, and occasionally in student productions, but not usually other places. G suggested that I start with memorized concerts with a continuo team, then move up to memorized concerts with some movement, then work up from there.

yeah, yikes. Not intimidating AT ALL!!!

I think that a certain amount of my terror stems from the little gremlins, which have been awfully active this summer. They've been nagging at me, telling me that I'm not living up to some ill-defined ideal, or something. The feedback that I've gotten from faculty members at all these workshops, however, has been very, very positive. I'm trying to listen to the objective feedback, and trust that these are the foremost experts in early music.

Now, just to torment everyone with knowledge of awful teen gross-out movies from about 10 years ago:

"This one time, at baroque camp..."

Wrap-up of Amherst stuff

Saturday, August 1, 2009

I advertised my show, but didn't get into much detail about the Amherst workshop. It's taken some time to digest the experience, and figure out how to apply all of the information to normal life.

It was a one week workshop, where participants could choose up to 4 classes. In addition, there was some free-form music making (although one of my classes, the theater project, basically nixed any free time for those opportunities), and things like English country dancing (for the geriatric hippies) and concerts in the evenings. I, like many of the other younger people, paid my way by doing work-study jobs.

I took 3 classes: Vocal Masterclass, Baroque Gesture and the Theater Project (the Lute Song Extravaganza)

Masterclasses and gesture were both taught by a wonderful Early Music soprano. I worked with her before, 3 years ago, and I was very nervous about seeing her again. She had wonderful things to say at the time, and I got all scared that she would think that I hadn't progressed, or something.

(I was dealing with a lot of self-loathing the week before I left)

It turns out that the opposite was the case. She was very, very complimentary. She said that she was extremely impressed with the work I have done, and loved the way that my singing has developed.

That was great to hear, as I'm sure you can imagine.

My work study job was "bartending" (really just pouring wine and sodas at post concert receptions) and was actually pretty fun. I do have to say, though, that if I've got one criticism of the program it's that they expect work study students to make the work their first priority. That seems a little backward to me, but whatever.....

I got lots of good feedback from the faculty, and have a good sense of what needs working on and how to go about doing it. I'm also a bit more focused on productive work, instead of stressing about work without really doing it.

As you can imagine, there's also the let-down after these kinds of things. One has to go back to normal life, where it's not all theater and singing all the time. One has to figure out how to stay this focused while working a day job and getting sucked into job drama and frustrations, and that's never easy. Especially since for the first time ever, I'll have a full time job this year. Well, full-time in the school realm, which means 8am-3:30 (but really more like 3:45), every day. I do get more vacations than most schools (we get a week of in October and February--European style, as well as Winter and Spring breaks).

Truthfully, I'm very ambivalent about that. I signed the contract because I wanted the guaranteed income and the benefits, and because day-to-day subbing has gotten very frustrating. I was sick of never knowing where or with whom I'd be working. This way, I know that I'm working with a fantastic head teacher, and the new English teacher in our class is a friend of mine. I know that I'll have money, even if the musical scene is very sparse this season (which it looks like will be the case....damned economy). I also will be able to, you know, get an updated prescription, so that wearing my glasses actually accomplishes something.

The good things are all very good, but the thought of working all day every day is rather daunting. I always end up feeling like this after a summer of workshops and festivals, though. Even if I didn't have a day job, life wouldn't be like the programs, so I should probably just get over it!!

So there it is. I'm here for another week, then it's off to my next workshop. This one will be 2 weeks long, so the recovery will likely be even harder (which should be interesting considering that I go back to work the day after I fly home!!).....

I'll leave you with a photo from the dress rehearsal of our show. It was taken during my song "If Thou Longst So Much to Learn, Sweet Boy, What 'Tis to Love"


Friday, July 31, 2009

I went to a new exercise class I hurt so much, and in places I never knew could hurt!!!

Here's my observation, though:
Let's demolish, once and for all, the idea that thin=healthy/strong and bigger=unhealthy/not strong.

I was one of the thinner people in this class, and got my ass handed to me, in a big way, by people heavier and older than I. Seriously.

Also, if you tend to think that thin people are healthier, think about a friend of mine from high school. She looked "good" and did sports, so there you go, right? Oops. Not. She was diagnosed with malnutrition because she only ate Diet Coke and cheese pizza.

So there.

In other news, I'm working really hard on not hating my physical self. I like me just fine, but I'm not so good at applying that to how I's frustrating.

Desperate Housewives of Shakespeare's London

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Okay, if you're anywhere in the vicinity of New London, Connecticut on Friday night, you should TOTALLY come to my show.

It is, as you can tell from this title, called "Desperate Housewives of Shakespeare's London, a Lute Song Cabaret" and is a mash-up of English lute-songs and scenes/dialogues/monologues from Shakespeare and other 16th Century playwrights.

The goal, I think, is to convince people once and for all that Renaissance and Baroque music are not, in fact, boring. It can be pensive, rhetorical, flowery, suggestive and downright filthy.

There are lots and lots of downright filthy songs in this show. Lots.

There's also a couch on stage, so you can fill in the blanks.

Here, for example, is the text to a lovely little gem called "It fell on a sommer's day:"

It fell on sommers day,
While sweete Bessie sleeping laie
In her bower, on her bed,
Light with curtains shadowed;

Jamy came,
Shee him spies,
Op'ning halfe her sleeping eyes.

Jamy stole in through the dore,
She lay slumbring as before;
Softly to her he drewe neare,
She heard him, yet would not heare;
Bessie vowed not to speak;

(insert some innuendo, then follow:)

Jamy then began to play,
Bessie as one buried lay,
Gladly through this sleight
Deceiv'd in her own deceit;
And since this trounce begoon (began)
She sleeps ev'rie afternoone.
And, since this trance begoon,
She sleeps ev'rie afternoone.

(In this version, a woman is singing the lines about Bessie, and a man sings those about Jamy. I think that originally it was written for one voice)


So yeah, Friday night at 8pm at Connecticut College. It's part of the Amherst Early Music Festival, so if you look up their website, there will be info.


Henry Louis (Skip) Gates Jr. was arrested on his own front porch a couple of days ago. Apparently someone saw him (and a cab driver?) fiddling with his front door, which was jammed, and called the police reporting "2 black men on a porch with backpacks."
Because, you know, no black people live in Cambridge, MA, or something......

Gates was arrested for "disorderly conduct" when he got angry that, oh, HE WAS BEING ARRESTED IN HIS OWN HOUSE!!!!!

If you don't know who Gates is, go find out, because you should. He's very well known as a scholar, professor, literary critic and documentary film producer and host.
If you haven't watched "African American Lives" and African American Lives 2 (that aired on PBS a few years ago), go do that too. They're fascinating.

My favorite Gates moment (which will have to be from PBS because I'll never take any of his classes at Harvard) was when he said, upon learning that approximately 50% of his ancestors were European, "What?? ME? Captain Black Man???"

Moment of levity aside, this situation is all too common, and completely despicable!


Thursday, July 16, 2009

I have a problem.

I'm leaving for a workshop on Sunday, and am expected to have my music (2 solos, 2 ensemble pieces and some dialogue) memorized by then. Not only that, but even though the texts are in English, they're all Elizabethan and use some very arcane words and strange syntax. AND I need to be able to recite all the texts and tell what every word means alone and in context.

Sounds normal right? Sounds like someone with inordinate amounts of free time could have it all completely under control and feel great, right???


I cannot find motivation for the life of me.

Don't know why.

I'm so frustrated with myself. I've been beating myself up (mentally) every day, all summer, but I haven't managed to get off my ass and do my work.

Today, for example, I rolled out of bed around 9:45. It's now 2pm and what have I done? Lolled about on the couch watching TV and browsing through Harry Potter to check on what they changed for the most recent movie.


I haven't learned my dialogue at all.
Neither have I spent any time on the ensembles.


I really hate myself right now.

Role of Women in the Court

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Has everyone been listening to the Sotomayor hearing? It's really interesting, but it seems like every time a conservative senator gets the chance to question her, he comes off like a dolt.....Graham, I think, used the word "in" about 38 times in one sentence this afternoon (and no, it wasn't a stutter).

The other day, I read an interview with the Supreme Court's only (at the moment) female justice, Ruth Bader Ginsberg. I think this interview has made its way to the cable news chumps, who have undoubtedly butchered the interpretation.

I wanted to pass it on, and strongly urge you all to read the whole thing, though, because wow. It's fascinating.

On the topic of whether one's life experiences affect how they view the world and decide cases ("well, duh!" is my response, but that's just me), and the whole to-do over Sonia Sotomayor's now infamous quote:

I thought it was ridiculous for them to make a big deal out of that. Think of how many times you’ve said something that you didn’t get out quite right, and you would edit your statement if you could. I’m sure she meant no more than what I mean when I say: Yes, women bring a different life experience to the table. All of our differences make the conference better. That I’m a woman, that’s part of it, that I’m Jewish, that’s part of it, that I grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., and I went to summer camp in the Adirondacks, all these things are part of me.

On feminism and advancing its ideals:

I always thought that there was nothing an antifeminist would want more than to have women only in women’s organizations, in their own little corner empathizing with each other and not touching a man’s world. If you’re going to change things, you have to be with the people who hold the levers.

On the recently decided case of the middle-schooler who was strip-searched:

Q: What about the case this term involving the strip search, in school, of 13-year-old Savana Redding? Justice Souter’s majority opinion, finding that the strip search was unconstitutional, is very different from what I expected after oral argument, when some of the men on the court didn’t seem to see the seriousness here. Is that an example of a case when having a woman as part of the conversation was important?

JUSTICE GINSBURG: I think it makes people stop and think, Maybe a 13-year-old girl is different from a 13-year-old boy in terms of how humiliating it is to be seen undressed. I think many of [the male justices] first thought of their own reaction. It came out in various questions. You change your clothes in the gym, what’s the big deal?

Again, "well duh!" Why is it hard for people to grasp that privileged white guys will not be the best at fairly evaluating the experiences of those not like themselves??

And on the biggie: Choice. Ginsberg does seem very firmly optimistic about reproductive rights remaining in place, which is a refreshing voice to hear.

The morning-after pill will become more accessible and easier to take. So I think the side that wants to take the choice away from women and give it to the state, they’re fighting a losing battle. Time is on the side of change.

And on the problems with anti-choice thinking:

The poor little woman, to regret the choice that she made. Unfortunately there is something of that in Roe. It’s not about the women alone. It’s the women in consultation with her doctor. So the view you get is the tall doctor and the little woman who needs him.

Go read the whole thing!

Bwah hah hah ha (the I'm evil edition)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Maybe Michael Jackson's children shouldn't be looked after by the same people who looked after Michael Jackson


Friday, July 3, 2009

So, um, it turns out that Sandra Tsing Loh had an affair, which helped contribute to the end of her marriage.......somehow I missed that when I read the article.


My reaction and Bitch, Phd's analysis still stand, though.

Cue the William Tell Overture*

Thursday, July 2, 2009

It's Boyfriend's and my fourth anniversary today. Yay!

We count the day we met as our anniversary, because we started dating pretty much immediately. Maybe sometime I'll tell the crazy story of how we met, but not right now....

Anyway, I suppose that it could be much more intense, but at 4 years, and our ages (30 and 27), the questions have started.

You know the questions I mean:
"Well, is your relationship going well? It is? Well, have you two thought about...."
"Do you ever think about....."
"If you decide you want children, will you, ya know...."

Yes, kids, the topic of the day is, once again, marriage. That honorary four-letter word.

It would likely be far worse if I lived somewhere more "traditional" where everyone gets married a couple years out of college and has 9-5 jobs, or something. Being in the Bay Area liberal/progressive haven, and being a performer, certainly help. No one can "settle down" because that requires money. Which no one has.....

But yes. Certain family members or friends have definitely started pestering us. My aunt even asked if we were getting married "within the next year." She's most perturbed by the pre-marital sex you see. I'm not sure what the "within the next year" thing is all about, though. Is there some little known passage of scripture that says that sex is less bad if it occurs within the same fiscal year as marriage??

And don't even get me started on having children.....

I love the perplexed looks, though, when I say that, no, marriage is SO not a priority. "Why not?"

Why not? Um, well.....

Sandra Tsing Loh's article in the Atlantic is a good reason. Because everything can be perfectly fine, and still perfectly wrong.

Because the patriarchal bullshit still abounds, no matter how much couples try to ignore or supress it.

Because of what Bitch, PhD said about Tsing Loh's article:

The Good Marriage is Supposed to be:

sexually monogamous
between one man and one woman (even though, or rather because, men and women Are Different)
for their entire lives
begun early enough that they can have children, plural, (if they want to), without having to go through infertility treatment
passionate, again, for their entire lives
respectful at all times
mutually supportive, at all times
economically successful
able to accommodate two careers, if so desired
a friendship
something you "work" at, but it's not supposed to feel like work
flirty--but only with each other
not jealous
a Pillar of Society

Marriage should be like the early days of dating + the settled feeling of being "a couple" + a true partnership + a friendship + exciting + comfortable + productive (of kids, of material goods). People shouldn't get married "too young," but they certainly shouldn't wait "too long." They should both want to have passionate sex with each other whenever the other person wants to, but not when the other person doesn't, and god knows we don't want to see married people acting like teenagers in public places: holding hands is cute, and so are sweet chaste kisses, but come on! Especially if you already have children!

You mustn't fight--not in public, not in front of the children, and not so the neighbors can hear you. Certainly not in front of guests or friends. In fact, not only mustn't you fight, but you mustn't even act tense lest it make others uncomfortable. If one of you is abusive, then why does the other one put up with it???--but divorce, of course, is a Terrible Thing. Unless we've known all along that that person was bad for you, or that you were a terrible couple, or that the relationship was doomed, in which case for god's sake why didn't you divorce years ago? In fact, why did you get married in the first place?? We tried to tell you.

We also tried to tell you that that two careers thing wasn't going to work--you hardly spent any time together. It also doesn't work when one of you subsumes your life in the other person's career, though--I mean, don't you feel your masculinity is threatened? Isn't it your own fault that you don't have any savings or retirement or interests of your own now that he's left you/died/the children have moved out? Anyway, marriage is a total tool of patriarchy. And while we're at it, are you going to change your name or not?

If you're gay and you (want to) get married, you're just being assimilationist. And if your marriage ends, then not only are you a personal failure, but you've Undermined the Cause. Anyway, given how fucked up marriage is, why do you want to have anything to do with it? Except that oh right, we want you to save it for us, because god knows we've fucked it up. Unless of course your getting married is going to fuck it up even worse, in which case, forget it.

Marriage is a sacrament. It was ordained by god. It's a secular institution, which should include tax benefits and health insurance because it promotes stability and because financial benefits not only incentivize marriage but make it easier for spouses to support each other in hard times. But that's not fair to single people! So really, marriage shouldn't convey any benefits whatsoever--but you don't get to complain about the emotional or financial burdens of marriage, because after all, you chose to do it.

NOT that that means you can choose *how* you do it. Because your weird, unconventional marriage makes other people uncomfortable, and plus it sets a bad example for the children, who might think that it's okay to live that way. Which it isn't.

Why does any of that sound like fun?
Where in all of that is there time for tickle wars or laughing your ass off over horribly snarky jokes?

Why should I skip perkily into a life of frustration and trying to live up to expectations?

Everything is fine, and I like it just the way it is. Right now, on our fourth anniversary, I want nothing to do with marriage.

Even if all couples in the country could suddenly have all the rights of straight couples, even if there were children involved, even if someone could guarantee that the patriarchy would get the fuck out of the way.

Now I'm going to go make dinner reservations. And maybe get out of my pyjamas (yes, I'm still in pj's at almost-2-o'clock in the afternoon. Suck it.)

*Who can guess the reference?? Also, if the overture is all you know of Rossini's Guillaume Tell, you should seek it out. It's lovely.

Good things

Friday, June 26, 2009

Greetings from Santa Barbara!
I'm spending the weekend with my best friend "Molly." There will be much giggling, silliness, and hilarity.
I drove down yesterday, and it was an easy, non-stressful drive. Which is good. Usually I get to about Santa Maria and realize that both my foot and butt are asleep....not good.

I was really worried that the Supreme Court would rule that strip-searching a 13 year old girl is just fine. Remember? Well, happily, I was wrong. In an 8-1 decision, the court ruled it unconstitutional. I'm not surprised that Thomas was the only dissenter....

So yes. It is decreed that making a child strip for the sake of finding some non-existent ibuprofen is WRONG!

Off to walk around the salt marshes and seal rookery.

Clumsiest-er Girl

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I mentioned, didn't I, that Boyfriend is away?

Well, the other evening I went out to get some food for dinner. I gathered up my stuff, pulled the (always latched) door shut, and sure enough: No keys.

Usually when I do this, I trudge over to campus and take Boyfriend's......not possible. I sat on the doorstep for a while.

It occurred to me that our kitchen has a door to a central stairway that connects all of the apartments. That door has a lock, but we have no specific key for it. I knocked on the neighbors' door to ask if, by chance, the key that opens our front gate and our door (but only the front, not the backdoor) would also open the inside door.

Sure enough, their key opened our kitchen door. Thanks inept landlord, I appreciate the TOTAL LACK OF SECURITY!

Crisis averted, and we promised not to break into each others' apartments.

Still, I feel pretty dumb.

I need to stop locking myself out of the house.


Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Yahoo front page has an article about the shithead who shot (oh, 'scuse me, "allegedly shot") Dr. Tiller.

"The man charged in the George Tiller murder warns of more "events" and complains about jail."

Complains about jail???

Well, ass-hat, maybe you should have though of that before you fucking MURDERED someone!!!!!

Celluloid Closet

Saturday, June 6, 2009

I've spent the majority of the day sitting (okay, lounging and lying) on the couch watching TV. It feels terribly luxurious. I did get up for a while to go hunt for a new perfect tea-mug for work (which I didn't find, but I did indulge in some new Luminarc mixing bowls), and a non-carcinogenic foundation (turns out the brand I've been using for performances has totally dangerous! I didn't find that either....indulged in 2 t-shirts from Old Navy instead).

My unnecessary shopping, however, is not the point.*

The point is that I did watch some non-trashy TV. For Pride Month, PBS showed "The Celluloid Closet," which is a documentary about LGBT characters in film, and the way that Hollywood has shown (and not shown) them. The history was interesting, though I suspect that I would have gotten more out of it if I were a film buff.

One point, about the difference in the way that homosexuality was depicted in early cinema for men and women, was exactly the same as a point that Julia Serano made in her book Whipping Girl.

I read Whipping Girl a few months ago, and at the time, I wanted to write a review/dissection of it. I didn't, though, because it was around the same time as the pro-trans/anti-trans blog kerfuffle, in which feminist blogs on both sides of the "issue" spat venom at each other. I really didn't want to get into it, especially since prior to reading the book, I really didn't know much about trans theory.

Serano's main hypothesis is that femininity has been demonized and scapegoated, and a feature of that is the way that gay and/or gender variant people are looked at: a woman wanting to be a man (or acting like one) is far more accepted than a man who wants to be (or "acts like") a woman, because men are considered superior to women.

This same point was made in "Celluloid Closet" in regards to gay characters. In the early days of Hollywood, up to about the 30's, male homosexuality was only referenced in terms of the "sissy" character who was ridiculed and derided. Lesbianism or masculinity in women was less stereotyped and more acceptable to audiences. The example was Marlene Dietrich dressed in a totally snazzy, perfectly tailored tuxedo, swaggering into a nightclub, tipping her top hat and knocking all the women AND all the men off their feet.

Interestingly, it was the 2nd time this weekend that I've thought about film in reference to Serrano's work.

Boyfriend is away again, which means that I've filled our Netflix** queue with all sorts of things that he won't like. Namely, costume dramas. This time, I'm on a steady diet of the showtime series "The Tudors."

The entire thing seems to be devised for the sole purpose of showing Jonathan Rhys Myers with his clothes off, which is something of a shame because the costumes are gorgeous. They are not always historically accurate (um, no, bare shoulders were not acceptable in the Tudor era), but beautiful nonetheless.

Anyhow, I kept thinking back to Serano's idea that femininity (or masculinity, for that matter) is to a certain extent ingrained, since some people develop affinities for its trappings at a very young age.

I know that I didn't quite agree at the time, but my counter-argument became much clearer as I watched "The Tudors." It just doesn't seem to fit in my head that the way one expresses gender is biological since the tools of expression have changed so drastically from one era to the next.

Whipping Girl is very interesting and thought provoking, even if I don't think that I quite agree with all of the theories in it. It taught me a lot about the history of the Trans movement, and the ways in which current trans issues are deeply tied to traditional sexism.

Incidentally, I think that I propose a change in vocabulary. Rather than "masculine" or "feminine," which claim a rightness or an essentialism to the way that some women and men act, I think we need new words that won't have a negative connotation, and can simply be descriptive.

I propose "froofy" instead of "feminine."

I'm still looking for a good word for "masculine."

Let me know...

*My income has gone up this spring, giving me a certain amount of disposable income the likes of which I've never seen. It's not much in the grand scheme of things, but it makes things like a weekend of reasonably priced, though not absolutely necessary items possible.

*Have I mentioned that I friggin' LOVE Netflix?? It's inexpensive, and lets me watch as many old PBS shows as I can manage!

Final Stretch

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Only 7 more days of work before the summer. Well, more, actually, but seven days with children.

It's taking every last ounce of energy to get there, partially because I'm impatient, and partially because all of my little darlings' brains are full and they're acting up....

They're so little that the concept of summer vacation doesn't exist yet. They have, however, had more than 6 weeks of school in a row without a break, and it shows. Pedagogical research shows that children (up to about 3rd grade, I think, but don't quote me) can't really go more than 6 weeks at a time. Their brains are absorbing so much information that at a certain point they can't take any more.

The result is a serious decline in concentration, behavior and retention of material. My preschool sisteren and I don't have accademics to deal with, per se, but we have certainly noticed that kids are antsier during story time, wilder during play time, and need to hear instructions about 37 million times. That's up from about 1,000.

Also, the quality of sleep in the nap room has plummeted. That's extra annoying for me, since I'm the one who has to "supervise" the nap room. Which, when everyone sleeps, really means "take an almost-nap and surf the internet." I've really come to value that part of the day. It's calm and quiet, and I can recharge a little.....usually. This week has been a wash, so far. I hope I can get these sleep resistant beasts back to a nice routine.

Only a week and a half till summer! Then maybe I'll write about something more interesting than 3 year olds!

The Clumsiest Girl

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The comic misadventures continued this week:

Thursday night, I spent an hour and a half translating a recipe into pictures. As in, removing all the words and replacing them with images of the ingredients, the amounts, what to do with them, etc. I did this so that my students could follow the recipe themselves, which makes cooking with kids more fun, because they feel like they're "reading." It also creates opportunities for meaningful interchanges and some "math."

Anyway, it was gorgeous. Never has a recipe for applesauce brownies been more beautiful.

I saved it to my desktop and went to bed.

Then, in the morning, I forgot my computer on the couch when I went to work.


Later that day, I got home from work, realized I was thirsty and decided to go to the corner store for a soda.

I got my bag, my shoes and my sunglasses and left the house, pulling the door shut (it was latched, of course). I then reached into my bag to pull out my keys to lock the screen.

They were inside the house.


My supposed 3 minute trip to get a soda turned into an hour long trek over to Cal, so that I could get keys from Boyfriend. I took the circuitous route around campus, got stopped by families of graduaters wanting me to take family photos and got a little lost (cause I'm used to accessing his lab from North Side, not from South Side)......

And that, dear friends, is how I started my weekend.

Must go on grandma duty now.

Great. Just. Friggin. Great.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

As if my week weren't bad enough. It was one of those "everything that can go wrong will go wrong" weeks, topped off with a complete lack of sleep. I was waiting for Friday. All week, I waited for Friday. Friday came, and it looked like it was going to be an ok day.

Then. My head teacher determined that one of our kids has lice.

Yes, lice. As if my week weren't shitty enough, we had to discover lice in the class.

We think it's just that one kid. We hope he hasn't given it to the others. That, however, remains to be seen.....We'll have to do really thorough checks on Monday morning.


Happy Mother's Day to all you mommies.

Quick Singer Rant

Friday, May 8, 2009

At the risk of confusing my non-musician or non-classically-minded readers, I'd like to share a few things that one should NEVER say to a classical singer:

"You should go on American Idol!"

"Do you sing like this: *cue wobbly weird sound that crosses Tarzan with Julia Child*?"

"Oh, you sing Renaissance and Baroque music? Have you ever sing at the Renaissance faire?"
(This one could also be "Do you wear garb?" which is also forbidden)

"You're an opera singer? Like, you mean Phantom of the Opera?"

"You're an opera singer? But you're not fat!"

I know that I've heard others, but this is a basic list of things that will probably annoy or offend a classical singer. Please make a note.


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

My writing has been poor to non-existent lately.

I'm really sorry.

I've been generally angsty about lots of things (singing, body stuff, blogging) in the last couple of weeks, and my lack of meaningful writing is among them.

I would like to move away from re-posting other people's work, with only brief comments, because I feel like that's a cop-out and a poor excuse for blogging.

That's really all I had to say.

Further Proof that Music Programs are Good for Young People

Thursday, April 30, 2009

This charming little story of 2 would be muggers and a 17 year old girl.

They approached her from behind and demanded her money.

And then she beat the shit out of them with her marching band baton.

On behalf of band geeks, choir sluts*, orchestra nerds and everyone in between, I say:
"Awesome job, girl in Quartz Hill, CA. You Rock!"

(via the AP...why Yahoo filed it under "odd news" is unclear. Obviously it should have been under "awesomest news")

*refers to musical promiscuity. We used that term in high school for those of us who sang in all the choirs at school, and probably some outside of school as well. Yes, it's weird. So are teenagers.

Finally, Reasonable Thought From the Government

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Secretary of State Clinton addressed Congress the other day. Here's a transcript:

Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ): —my question: Is the Obama administration seeking, in any way, to weaken or overturn pro-life laws and policies in African and Latin-American countries, either directly or through multi-lateral organizations, including and especially the United Nations, African Union, or the OAS, or by way of funding NGOs like Planned Parenthood; and, secondly, and so we can have total transparency—you know, you know, as a former lawmaker, we always have definition pages when we write legislation; definitions do matter—does the United States' definition of the term "reproductive health," or "reproductive services," or "reproductive rights," include abortion? I yield to the distinguished gentleman.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: Congressman, I deeply respect your passionate concern and views, which you have championed and advocated for over the course of your public career. We obviously have a profound disagreement.

When I think about the suffering that I have seen of women around the world—I've been in hospitals in Brazil where half the women were enthusiastically and joyfully greeting new babies and the other half were fighting for their lives against botched abortions. I've been in African countries where 12- and 13-year-old girls are bearing children. I have been in Asian countries where the denial of family planning consigns women to lives of oppression and hardship. So we have a very fundamental disagreement.

And it is my strongly held view that you are entitled to advocate, and everyone who agrees with you should be free to do so anywhere in the world, and so are we.

We happen to think that family planning is an important part of women's health—and reproductive health includes access to abortion, that I believe should be safe, legal, and rare. I spent a lot of my time trying to bring down the rate of abortions, and it has been my experience that good family planning and good medical care brings down the rate of abortion. Keeping women and men in ignorance and denied the access to services actually increases the rate of abortion.

During my time as First Lady, I helped to create the Campaign Against Teenage Pregnancy, and while we were working to provide good information, access to contraception, and decision-making that would enable young women to protect themselves and say no, the rate of teen pregnancy went down. I'm sad to report that, after an administration of 8 years that undid so much of the good work, the rate of teenage pregnancy is going up.

So, we disagree. And we are now an administration that will protect the rights of women, including their rights to reproductive healthcare.


It's really great to hear reasonable, 21st Century thinking coming out of the administration. None of this "oooh, no, we won't give you money unless you promise you won't let those women get uppity and live their lives independently" bullshit.

(transcript by Melissa McEwan at Shakesville)

Beyond disturbing-update

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Am I the only one who's completely, physically ill over the Supreme Court's probable decision that a school strip searching a 13 year old girl is just fine??

I'm sorry for the nearly incoherent previous sentence.

I'm absolutely grossed out. Literally, it makes me physically ill to think that the nation's highest court sees no difference between changing for gym class and a forcible strip search. Of a child. In fact, they laughed about it.

Justice Ginsburg will probably be the most vocal dissenter, but the fact she will be in the minority is at once not surprising and totally shocking. Not surprising because the court is full of asshole men, but shocking because how could even the most assholic of assholes not realize that strip searching A CHILD is downright repugnant.

There are many sites that are reporting on this (just none in the mainstream media....go figure), but I'll choose to link to Alas, A Blog. Read up on what happened. Follow Amersand's links, too, because apparently this isn't the first time that Justice Alito has given the ok to strip searching girl children.

**Update: Commenter "PG" posted the dissent from the circuit court case. It's comment number 27 after the post to which I linked**


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

There was an article on Yahoo today about an Ivy Leaguer who "infiltrated" Jerry Falwell's Liberty University in order to write a book.

One sentence really caught my eye:

He visited a campus support group for chronic masturbators, where students were taught to curb impure thoughts

Okay, now that that's over with, I'll open up to floor to my darling readers:
What do you think the poster for that support group would say??

What the Hell, Yo???? Part 2

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Yesterday I stopped in Whole Paycheck on the way home from work. I don't usually shop there (the prices are prohibitive), but I was very short on time, and needed a couple of ingredients for a salad that I wanted to take to some friends' goodbye party. I dashed in, tried not to be run over by self-righteous yuppy mommies, and got what I needed. Actually there was a really cute moment at the fish/meat counter when the kid behind me in line looked at the shrimp and started chanting "Ebi.....eeeeebbbbbiiiiii.........eeebbbiii......ebi...."

Sadly, cute toddlers are not the point of the post.

Anyway, expensive shrimp (and less expensive but still overpriced produce) in hand, I got into the shortest line that I could find, which moved pretty quickly. At the register I noticed a little sign:

"Bring in any conventional food item, and we will switch it for a 365 Organics equivalent item."

Then, in MUCH smaller letters underneath it said:

"Conventional items will be donated to the Alameda County Food Bank."

Um..........what? Yuppies are too good for non-organic food, cuz it'll kill you, ya know, but poor people don't deserve "good" food?


Does that rub anyone else the wrong way?

(Not that folks should be feeling all virtuous for shopping there anyway. Just cuz their stuff is grown without chemicals does not mean that their suppliers can farm according to susstainable, bio-diverse theories. How could they, having to supply such vast quantities?)

What the Hell, yo???

Monday, April 20, 2009

Apparently people who earn $250,000 a year don't think they're rich. And the mayor of San Jose, CA thinks that they're "upper working class" and that they can't afford to buy a home.


They, therefore, are not to pleased with President Obama's proposed tax changes.

That's right. Even though they fall into the category known as "richest in America" who make more money than 98% of Americans, they don't "consider themselves" rich.

Excuse me while I laugh hysterically.

The article doesn't say that these people think that rich bastards should decide for themselves whether they should pay higher taxes, but it comes pretty close. I'm especially fond of the "But my car is nearly a decade old. I can't possibly be rich!!"

I wonder if these people even realize that they come off sounding like total assholes. When the phrase "We're meeting our needs, but just barely" or whatever, comes out of the mouth of someone who makes more than the 300,000,000 other people in the country.

I make about as much in one year as the featured family pays in church tithes. To them, and the rest of these whiny dirt-bags, I say "pftflpfyfpfltfltpfht!"*

(that was me blowing a big fat raspberry)

Why Yes, Mezzos Do Have the Sense of Humor of 12 Year Old Boys

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Tonight is my first concert with Big Nationally Known Period Instrument Orchestra. Yay!!!

Further proof that all those trouser roles have gone to my head, here is a sampling of things that I've scribbled in my score in the last couple of days:

-Silent games of hangman with my tenor friend who sits next to me (the words we choose? "Hamburger" "Butthead" "Tom is a Tool"*)
-Adding an "s" to the word "breast" in a recitative sung by Famous British Countertenor, which makes the sentence "What sacred horrors shake my breast! Ah! 'Tis the pow'r divine confessed! Who can his energy control? He comes, he comes, and fires my soul" extra, extra funny.
(I mean, it's pretty funny already, but I think that the unintended innuendo gets better when it's "breasts." Am I wrong?)
-changing the words to a recitative cadence from "prepare to answer thy offended queen!" to "prepare to answer, I'm a flaming queen!"
(no, I was not making a judgmental comment about the person singing this recit. I just think that these words fit the notes better than what Handel wrote)

So yes, my sense of humor is horrible and reprehensible.

This follows in the grand tradition of changing the words to some of Handel's frequently sung music. A friend of mine was singing "Where e'er you walk" several years ago and accidentally sang "Trees where you shit" instead of "sit." At the Conservatory there was the perennial Messiah concert that was so tiresome folks would daydream about changing "There were shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over the flock by night" to "There were shepherds imbibing in the fields, drinking scotch on the rocks by night."

Not to even mention Latin. I mean, Hildegard actually uses the word "speculum." And "nati poenas inclyti" really? That joke just makes itself.....

Anyway, yes, I have the mind of a 12 year old boy.....'cept with bigger words.
I just needed to make that confession and get it out of my system now, so I don't giggle all the way through the oratorio!

*This dude Tom is being a total tool. He keeps turning around and glaring at the row behind him when someone sings a wrong note, or apparently even when they sing in a way he doesn't like. He also walks around trilling, just to prove that he can, or something....ugh, tenors


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Earlier today an idea for a post popped into my head, nearly fleshed out. It has since popped back out, and I can't for the life of me remember what it was.


Random tidbits while I think of something more interesting to write

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The annual egg roll (chase?) took place this weekend at the White House. It really wouldn't be that interesting, except that the President read a story to the kis as they waited to begin. What did he read?

Where the Wild Things Are!!!

The president! Obama yelled "Let the wild rumpus begin!" at the top of his lungs!!!!

I can't even tell you how cute that is.

In other Easter-related news, the Washington Post put up photos of the Peeps diorama contest. If you haven't seen them, you really should.

(I'm not sure what's up with the Guantanamo bay one, though. That's just in poor taste....)

Notes from Preschool

Thursday, April 2, 2009

My beasties (aka the 16 3 year-olds with whom I spend all day, every day) are endlessly interesting and sometimes quite humorous. I thought I'd share some interesting anecdotes, and one more serious issue.

Scene 1:

There are 3 bathroom stalls in our classroom. They have curtains instead of doors, and lines of tape on the floor in front of each one for kids to stand on to wait in line. Some children have a hard time not playing with the curtain while they wait, and this really bothers one little boy.
One day while being pestered by the flying curtain, this little guy (who has a terrible stammer) lets loose with:
"Heeey, Stop FUCKING with me!"

The head teacher and I looked at each other, stopped cold and stared.

(yes, we did talk to him about appropriate language)

Scene 2:

A little girl is chatting with Andrea, one of the preschool English teachers, and is being as cute as she could possibly be. Andrea looks down at her and says: "S, you are sooo cute, I think I'll just put you in my pocket, take you home and you can be my baby." S looked up and said "Well, Andrea, I could go home with you and we could MAKE a baby together!"

(She's so little that it actually came out "wew Andwea....")

Scene 3:

Q, a ridiculously smart little guy in my class, with eyes that are a lighter, more piercing blue than anything I've ever seen, and a control issue that leads to squirreling things away, was discovered hiding push pins. He was apparently working them out of the wall and stashing them somewhere. The head teacher found his stash, and so he promptly moved it, partially to his back pocket. The little weasel made it home with 8 push pins in his pocket. When his mom discovered them, he responded:
"Mommy, I just LOVE needles!"

Q's mom reported the conversation to us the next morning, and ended with "Great, in 20 years he'll be one of those guys in the Tenderloin rolling his head back and going 'mooooom, ahhh just loooove neeeedles.....'"

(for those not from the San Francisco area, the Tenderloin is a neighborhood best known for its drug dealers and users)

Those were the cute/funny ones.

The obnoxious one involves a little girl, Y, her dad, and our Thursday Workshops. They're called "Décloisonnements" in French, but that really doesn't translate. What happens is that the teachers and assistants (8 of us in all) each plan an activity in one of 8 topics, and the kids in the preschool each choose one. They have the opportunity to work with other teachers and meet kids from other classes. I do music (duh), and my current activity is an exploration of Carnival of the Animals (by Saint-Saëns).

Anyway, there's a chart up in the class with little drawings of all of the activities and the date, so that we (and the parents) can keep track of who goes where, and also so that the children can look at the pictures and choose their activity for the week.

Last week, the kids chose their activites on Thursday morning, which meant that some parents were there while the choosing happened (this was not the case previously). One dad looked at the chart, looked at the activities that his daughter had done already and said:
"Science? It's really weird that she would do that. She hasn't shown interest in science before. Here, Y why don't you do music or library this week? You like music so much! Yeah, why don't you do that?"


A, the head teacher and I, didn't say anything at the time. Later, though, we just raised our eyebrows at each other, and vented our frustration that the dad had obviously steered his daughter away from a less "girly" activity, and toward a more acceptable one. Y has never done either of the outdoor choices either.......The funny thing is, though, that my music activity is very large-motor oriented, and involves roaring like a dinosaur (the rowdy boys love it).

We haven't let the beasties choose activities with their parents around anymore, by the way. One of the points is for them to choose things they might not have had access to before.


Tuesday, March 31, 2009

In general, I don't really like it when serious bloggers tell me what they've been making for dinner. I don't know why, but it kind of bugs me.

That, of course, means that I'm going to share what I had for dinner last night!

My friend Celeste gave me some lentils last week, when she realized with horror that I've never cooked with them before. Trying to figure out what to do, I remembered a dish that I ate quite frequently my first year of college. A brown rice and lentil "casserole." I ate it all the time because it was the only vegetarian meal option that my dorm dining hall offered, and at the time I didn't eat meat.

Anyway, a quick google search resulted in a very simple recipe that sounded similar. Brown rice and lentil casserole, with a cheese topping. The recipe couldn't be simpler.

Combine in a baking dish:
3/4 C Lentils
1/2 C Brown Rice
3/4 C Chopped Onion (that was about 1/2 of a medium-large onion)
3 C Chicken Broth (or whatever other broth you like)
Some Garlic (they recommended garlic powder, I crushed a couple of cloves of fresh)
1 t Italian Seasoning
**I added 2 small zucchini, quartered the long way and chopped**

The recipe recommends 1 C grated cheddar sprinkled on top. The accompanying picture made that look pretty gloppy and gross, so I substituted freshly grated Parmesan. I think I actually used a little more than a cup, but my microplane grater makes the cheese shreds so fluffy that it's probably a lot less (in terms of mass) than cheddar would have been.

Cover with foil and bake at 300 degrees for 1hr 10min, then remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes (if you're doing parmesan, you might want to bake for an hour and 20 minutes, then take the top off for 10, so that the parm doesn't burn).

The results:
The flavor was really good, and I particularly liked that the parmesan and lentil flavors complimented each other. I have always had trouble cooking brown rice, though, and this was no exception. Even after all that time, the rice was pretty hard still. I think that I got brown basmati, this time around, but since I got it from the bulk bins (either from Berkeley Bowl or Star Grocery, I can't remember), there are no cooking directions. Oh, and also our oven is a pitiful immitation of an oven, so that might have something to do with it....
When I make it again, I will likely add more liquid.

If one wanted, I think that carrots would taste good in it. Boyfriend would prefer mushrooms, but he'll have to cook it himself on other premises if he wants those nasty things. If one wanted a heartier, meatier flavor, I'm sure some chopped bacon or pancetta would be really good. It might get a little soggy, though......

Tonight is another casserole night. This time it's an old favorite of ours. "Cacciatore Style Chicken Bake" is chicken, red and green bell peppers, a little onion and tomato sauce in a baking dish with bread crumb topping. This is a perfect outlet for Trader Joe's "Starter Sauce," which is tomatoes, onion, garlic and basil. Nothing else. I cuised it so that it was smoother, and sturred in some (lots of) oregano and salt and pepper. I use whole wheat bread for crumbs, and I mixed some parmesan into the topping.

I don't know if we'll continue the "All Casseroles All the Time" trend this could be fun. I've got several more in my recipe file.


Sunday, March 29, 2009

What do y'all think of the new look??

Michelle Obama--too "ambitious"??

During the presidential campaign, Michelle Obama was the subject of much scrutiny and criticism. Most of it was for really stupid reasons, like her wardrobe or her strong opinions. Well, why stop at the election, or the inauguration?? It seems that the news media is perfectly content to keep critiquing her choices. This time, it's not about sleeveless tops, but about her "platform" and whether it's too "ambitious."

The role and duties of the first lady is not super well defined. They get stuck with the traditionalist bullshit like hosting tea parties in the White House, of course, but also tend to pick a "platform" of issues that need more publicity and thought. Lady Bird Johnson threw herself into highway beautification and wildflowers, for instance. More recently, First Lady Hillary Clinton chaired the task force on universal health care (we know how THAT worked out....). It seems that First Ladies, since they have given up their own identities and all, have traditionally picked one or two things on which to focus and talk about.

Michelle Obama, however, has a platform with many issues, and that's worrying some people.
She's keen on promoting: Fitness, parenting, the environment, women's rights, self-esteem for young girls, volunteerism, improving life for military families and helping working women balance home and career life.

OMG, she's got varied interests!!!! ARHG!!!!

That list is taken directly from the article (Politico via Yahoo), and I think that in hopes of making it seem really long, they listed things as seperate when they are really sub-issues a larger topic. Self-esteem for young girls, for instance, should really fall under both parenting and women's rights (OMG intersections!!!). Helping working women balance the challenges of careers and home, that's also women's rights, and, if I'm not mistaken, it's one of the original tennets of feminism....

Laura Bush's press secretary says that it's important to focus on two or three things with which you can make a difference. Let's see, for Laura Bush, those on....**crickets chirping**

Some marketing person says that if you do more than a couple of things, you will become fragmented. She wonders why Obama is wasting time "planting herbs." Besides the obvious answers (because gardens are cool, because you can teach your kids about plants and biology, because homegrown food is satisfying....), I was smacking my head over this marketing person's company. It specializes in strategic branding.

Yes, because that's what the First Lady should be doing. Strategically branding herself. Turning herself into a simplified, pretty-fied product that can churn out memorized speeches about how "our children should read." Or something.

Just now, Boyfriend had a really good perspective. His thought was that in a perfect egalitarian universe, in which true gender equality is acheived, it really wouldn't matter what the first spouse would do. She or he would keep their job in wherever, jet to DC for part of the week for family time, and otherwise go about his or her business. Since we don't have that yet, we must suffice with the First Lady being a symbolic throwback to the Ladies Auxilliary and stuff like that.

I also brought up the ridiculousness of Bush's press secretary being interviewed, given that I couldn't remember Laura Bush doing anything. He said: "Oh, yes. Wasn't she vociferous in making sure that people in Africa can't get birth control?? See, she did stuff, she was just on the side of Satan!"

So yes, in this weird world where the spouse of the president is unable to go about his or her life, and must sit in the White House looking for things to do, we've got Michelle Obama. We've got someone who is interesting, capable, driven and yes, probably very ambitious. Last I checked, none of these was negative.

(if you want to induce head/desk collisions, here's the article.)

oh! p.s. "she can't possibly talk about military families, because she's never been in one!" um.....she's never been a tomato either, but it's not gonna stop her!


Saturday, March 28, 2009

So, I'm totally dissatisfied with the look of Bitchcraft. Time for some spring cleaning, methinks.

I'm going to play around with colors and images, and in addition, I'm hunting for a template that will be inviting, interesting, and relate to the theme/content.....

What do you think of these options?


What have you all done to make your blogs all pretty-fied and interesting??


Mo's My Homie

Friday, March 27, 2009

And now for some non-ranting. I know it's a strange thing on this blog, but I thought I'd surprise you....

I'm totally digging Mo Willems at the mo. Sorry....couldn't resist.

I first encountered his book Knuffle Bunny, a Cautionary Tale in about 2006, and have since been really enjoying reading his books to all the little beasties in my life.

A couple of weeks ago, the head teacher in my class was absent, so I got to lead circle time. It's always lots of fun, but particularly so when you get to read a book called Leonardo, the Terrible Monster (except that it was in French, so it was really Léonardo, le monstre épouvantable (in French you only capitalize the first letter of the first word of a title). I loved it even more than my class did, I think!

The plot is that Leonardo is a terrible monster. Terrible at BEING a monster. Cuteness ensues, and it's not entirely dissimilar to Lamont the Lonely Monster, which was a favorite of mine when I was a child.

It's also a wonderful little collision of monsters and children, which reminds me ever so slightly of THE.BEST.BOOK.EVER.WRITTEN.

His websites are lots of fun, too.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I finally, finally, finally got my work laptop on Monday afternoon. I had to sign an agreement saying that it's for school-business related things only, not for anything personal.....

Of course I immediately went home and used the thing to type a paper for my child-development class and surf the web. Which I've been doing ever since.

So, yes, I'm back in the land of Tech, finally. I've been catching up on blogs, which has been a challenge, because ordinarily I just click "bookmarks" and work my way alphabetically through my list of sites. Since I'm on a new machine (which is really an old machine, but still), I've been trying to remember all of the blogs I read. It's a bit hard, really.

On Sunday, given my lack of net to surf, I spent all afternoon watching TV. Oy vey. I hadn't seen an episode of MTV's "The Real World" since maybe the 7th grade, and so I stopped in to see how it's doing. Well, the misogyny abounds. It was pretty appalling, actually, that the boys on the show (I won't even give them enough credit to call them "men") get away with the horrendously offensive sexist language and behavior. One charming example went something like this:
"Where are those dumb girls?"
"I dunno, probably shaving their vagina hair."

Wow. Um, leaving aside the crassness of the answer, which is not even worth commenting on, the child needs an anatomy lesson.

The interesting thing, though, is that this season's real world has a transgender character. Caitlin (I don't know how she spells it) is a 24 year-old trans woman. For the most part, the housemates seemed really respectful and supportive. Since the premise of the show is that it's a house full of people from all different backgrounds, I assumed that the conservative army kid would be a shithead to and about her. In fact, he really wasn't. He asked some questions that seemed awkward and poorly worded, but you could tell that it was coming from a sincere place. Even after coming out to everyone (which she did little by little), people seemed to use the right pronouns when referring to Caitlin and seemed to value her. Except one, who started by asking what seemed like sincere questions and ended up spending days tormenting her with the same lewd, inappropriate suggestion. It made me want to throw up a little....

I watched for as long as I did to see whether the women of the house would ever call out the boys on their sexist language and actions. The answer seems to be: nope. Not at all....


The other pop-culture horror that I saw a bit of was called "Tough Love" (I think). This one is straight-up barf inducing. I'm sick this week, though, and so maybe I thought that I only deserve things that will make me feel sicker.....I don't know. Anyway, this little gem involves a male "matchmaker" reforming a bunch of undateable wenches into charming, matched up ladies. Or something. I think that the basic message is "You should be looking for a man all the time and your goal should be to pair yourself up and if you don't make yourself look the way the menz want your useless and a bitch."

Yeah, charming, huh?

The women on the show (why on earth would they sign up for something like this???) all seem to have labels "the princess," "the bad girl," "the ball-buster" (she's Russian, of course, because ethnic stereotypes are even more fun than misogyny). In the first couple of minutes of the show, they were analysed by a group of "real men" and then told all of their flaws in gory detail. Bien sur, "doesn't take care of herself" and "could drop some weight" were used at least once.

I was really, really angry. Then I got to thinking: If you really buy into this idea that being paired up is the most important thing in the world, and you are "searching for love" all the time, why not do whatever it takes to get you some man-meat? If that means being degraded on national television, then, hey, that's millions of MTV watching boys who can see you and maybe want you as their very own Barbie inspired doll!

Or, you could work on being and interesting, independent person who gives the finger to the notion that if you're not paired up with a gel-and-Axe-body-spray-covered male of the species you're worthless.

The whole show included *one* decent piece of advice: "Work on yourself. If you don't know who you are and what you want, you'll never succeed." Of course, this girl was already thin and conventionally pretty.....

Status Update

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Hello all!

I wanted to check in and let you all know that I am, in fact, alive. And yes, I do intend to keep blogging, despite my nearly one month absence.

My computer died, and I'm still waiting to be given the work laptop that comes with the long-term sub replacement that I'm doing. You know, the one that started at the end of January??? Until then, my only computer time is snippets on Boyfriend's laptop (when he's not madly writing or researching, which is rarely) or even smaller snippets on the computer in the school library. I can't blog from the school network, because they forbid any sites with the word "bitch." A coworker, though was able to look up some European porn start guy from her laptop in the staff room, and even find pictures.......typical.......

So until the laptop materializes, I'm pretty stuck.
I hope you all are patient with me!!

Random Round Up

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Hey there,
I've had a lot of little ideas rattling around my head, but none has developed enough to take up a whole post on its own. This will have to be like one of those flashback episodes of a sit-com or something....

I was hired to take over for a coworker who's going on maternity leave. This means that I have guaranteed work until June (woot!). This also means that I have to finish up my Early Childhood Education credits, which I've been putting off for a couple of years. I'm taking two classes online, which is the least painful way to do the classes, even though it's tough to stay motivated.
The experience has been strange, actually. One of the classes is on how to teach the Anti-Bias Curriculum, which is a wonderful idea. The point is that society not only constructs complex roles for people to fill, but also teaches us (from birth) to have biases against those who don't embody those roles. The idea behind the curriculum is to dismantle racism, ableism, sexism in the youngest members of society, which will hopefully help to get rid of them in the rest of us.

Sounds great, right?

Well, being an online class, the professor wanted to maintain some medium for class discussion. She hit upon the online forum idea. We all have to answer certain questions on the forum and then respond to other people's posts. The first big topic of discussion went like this:

"In order to know about biases, you have to know yourself. What are your biases and where do you think they came from?"

That was it. No other instructions. Point final as they say in French. Nothing about being respectful, nothing about avoiding hate speech, just a big space to wallow in your hatred of other groups of people. Oh, yeah, and no moderation either.

Big fat balls of hate were thrown at gays and lesbians, immigrants (especially those who "refuse to learn English"), Middle Eastern people, the homeless, the poor, those on welfare....The list goes on.

A couple of us interpreted this as "we need to get over our biases," and so we set out to respectfully provide counter-points to people's assumptions. I have tried to phrase things in such a way that I seem sympathetic, but also thoughtful and critical......Like I said, I tried. If you know me or know how I write, try to imagine how hard that is.....
Those responses, though, have been met with "Well that's just how I feel, so you don't get to jump down my back."


This is the future of America's (or, California's, anyway) early childhood educators????? Oy vey.

I've been so worked up by these discussions that it's making it very difficult for me to concentrate on other things. And sleep. And finish knitting the scarf for my best friend's birthday. These things all need finishing! Stop poisoning my brain, you stupid online class!!!!!


Okay, I'm calmer now.

Next up is the Vatican, who has tallied up some essentialist assumptions, uh...I mean research, and decided which deadly sins are most often done by men and which are more perpetrated by women. Um, yeah. Women are prideful and envious. Men are gluttons and lustful. Big shock, eh? This research was done by a 95 year-old Jesuit monsignor, who obviously knows so much about women from his vast life experience avoiding them completely. The article I read (BBC) also told me that they have added some new deadly sins:
Genetic modification, experiments on the person, environmental pollution, taking or selling illegal drugs, social injustice, causing poverty and financial greed.

So, let's see.....Catholic church, you encourage giant families, which inevitably leads to environmental pollution. You deny the civil rights of vast swaths of the population (women, lgbt folks, etc) thereby perpetuating social injustic. You force priests and nuns to take vows of poverty. You amass money and art and keep it from the public, and have done for, oh, 1,000 years or so. You may or may not eat genetically modified food (if you're the American branch of the Church you do....European branch not so much).

Great. How many of those are most perpetuated by the very body who has deemed them sins??? Screw you, Catholic Church. And your little dog, too.


In far more positive news (heh, sex positive...hehe...), Feministe recently linked to a site that provides real, accurate, non-judgmental, non-het-biased sex advice to teens and people in their 20's. This site, Scarleteen, provides advice, information (that kids don't seem to be getting in sex-ed classes anymore), and education. Some of it is totally basic (information about anatomy), some of the questions in the advice column are *head/desk* inducing, but I'm really glad that there is accurate information out there. I honestly can't wrap my head around the idea that "abstinence education" was ever a good plan, but nonetheless it stays around, which makes Scarleteen very necessary.

Speaking of "abstinence only education" does anyone know whether that kind of sex-ed actually includes things like basic anatomy and physiology?? Because some of the questions on the site lead me to believe that no, they don't.

I suspect that one's "lady bits" are not explained in the slightest. This leads me to my next link, which is "I almost wish my vagina were mysterious and powerful" It's from the blog "Tiny Cat Pants," and the author keeps referencing someone named Campfield (who, I gather, is some Tennessee republican) who is apparently terrified of vaginas. Or women. I'm not entirely sure, but the post is really, really funny.

Update: It helps if you read the previous post, "Campfield's Anti-Fatherhood campaign" for context.


Crooked Timber posted a survey about gender justice. It's designed to be administered to (I think) college students, probably in a history/sociology/women's/gender studies department, but it's really interesting and thought provoking. Definitely worth checking out.


So, there it is. A random mish-mash of things I've read and thought about this week. Not terribly coherent or cohesive, I know....Sorry.

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