Monday, November 29, 2004

something like fame!

a little bit of swarthmore makes it onto aldaily: textbook disclaimer stickers! how exciting.

for the record, i went to a religious skool that taught no theories of origin but evolution. we had three judaic subjects a day out of a total of nine. bible stayed in bible class; it never so much as tapped on the glass of a bio room door. if it had, it would have been laughed back into the hallway. and if it sought to commiserate with rabbinics or hebrew, i imagine they would have sniffed and walked away. rabbinics and hebrew knew their place and they would have very little sympathy for bible trying to cause trouble.

it just wasn't done at my skool to mix religion with anything that wasn't religion. theoretically, we were supposed to learn morals and ways of learning from the torah and apply them to our daily lives. but it's not like we were ever tested on that.

& sure, the skool fumbled from time to time. once the directors of the spring musical thought it would be a great idea to put on a funny thing happened on the way to the forum. then they cancelled out any points they would have gotten for progressiveness by censoring from the text all double-entendres and striking the word "virgin". i considered it disgusting at the time. now i'm gaining some perspective.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

nearly branded a communist cuz i'm left-handed

thanksgiving didn't feel too thanksgiving-y this year. for one thing, the electricity went out right in the midst of the cooking. the turkey had only been in the oven for half an hour. as i understand it, though i don't eat the bird, the bird must be cooked afore it can be et. my family regrouped, in relatively good spirits, and with the barest of notice we whirlwinded everything in portable containers, including the surprised still-pale bird itself, and moved the 15-person feast to another house.

the other house was blessed not just with electricity and a newly remodeled kitchen but also with a rear-screen projection television. those things are frikkin awesome. my six boy-cousins and i watched pirates of the carribean, feeling like we were in a mini movie theater.

for this and other reasons, the feast felt more fancy than festive. still, and always, it was good to be with my family. plus eventually the electricity returned to my house to keep the transported and well-traveled leftovers safe.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

pink positive

two celebrities came in today for me. well, not for me, exactly, but i was in charge of running and recording their auditions. if i'd known they were dropping by, i would have worn something nicer than glorified sweat pants, a t-shirt and my red zip-up. oh well. at least i washed my hair. besides, one of them was actually wearing sweat pants, unglorified by anything but his hunkiness, and the other looked like a hobo. for real. the receptionists were making ten kinds of fun of him.

thanksgiving's around the corner, friends!, and things are winding down in the entertainment industry. what we lack in work, i hear, we'll make up in enjoyment of free stuff. apparently we'll inundated with presents around the holidays, just inundated, and i like using that word because i remember exactly when i learned it -- from a worldly wise book in sixth grade english class. also, in sixth grade, i remember exactly, on the wednesday before thanksgiving, i became a Woman in that mystical, messy sense. i've been reminded of my Womanhood in that same mystical, messy way every year since.

i guess it's a reminder to be thankful for my Womanhood. after all, there are children starving in africa who would love to be women. or something. i don't know, i think i'd be happy being genderless. fewer catcalls.

one thing i am thankful for: in high skool, in european history, we had this assignment to make a map. now, european history (ironically, since i went on to become a major in american history) was when i perked up and started paying attention. we had a great teacher, i liked the class, and i was determined to be a good student. i still didn't do the map. i just didn't, and i don't remember why. when it came time for the maps to come back to us all graded and ready to affect our self-esteems, my history teacher approached me and before i could say anything she said, "ester, i'm so sorry. i lost your map. i know i had it, i remember seeing it, and it was good. i don't know what happened. it's my fault, and i'm giving you an A."

i did what any true young noble moral american would do. i said thank you. and in case i haven't said thank you enough for the many times fate has intervened to save my worthless ass from my just deserts, i'd like to say thank you again.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

holy mackerel! what happened?

as some of you may have noticed, i changed the layout a little bit. the intent is to increase the resemblance of my words to the words of that inimitable document, the Constitution. cuz maybe there's a treasure map on the back that i can read with the aid of a hairdryer and some lemon juice! you never know.

who can tell me the difference between the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence anyway? i doodled through american history in high skool. my majoring in it in college didn't help, since in college they don't so much teach you history as teach you why the history you learned in high skool was racist, sexist, classist, and so not as cool as the postmodern theory they're about to replace it with. i accepted that all previous history i'd learned was fatally flawed -- easy enough since i doodled instead of learning it in the first place -- but i started doodling again at the mention of theory. it's lucky i didn't actually have to demonstrate any knowledge to get that diploma.

wait, that's not true: i had to pass a written and an oral honors exam with an expert in the field. i did pass, too, as i recall. huh. how about that.

one anecdote: this afternoon at the health food store, the painfully-indie-and-cute young woman working the register SHAMED me out of buying a luna bar. she said, and i quote, "that has sugar in it," as though that meant "vampire spit and elephant feces and the blood of your children." i was about to tell her to mind her own insulin and just take my money, but starry-eyed ben had already leapt over the counter and started making out with her. over their slurping, i apologized for even thinking of eating a luna bar and to redeem myself packed handfulls of raw quinoa into my mouth.

Friday, November 19, 2004

national treasure

guys, i don't know if you read the comments. sometimes they're priceless. i just discovered this nugget from a post earlier this month that attracted comments almost a week after it was posted. in that post, i called the blue states "bluer than blue" because i & they were & are morose. in response, a fella calling himself a conservative webzine tore me a new one:
National Journal @ 4:40PM | Nov 11th 2004|

Actually, the blue states aren't "bluer than blue." All the heavily Dem states, like Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, even Mass to a lesser extent, swung significantly to Bush since 2000.

In fact, Bush lost ground in not a single blue state this time around. He increased his share of the popular vote by up to 6-7 points in each one. Gore won Jersey by 16; Kerry took it by only 6.

Let's stick to facts next time, shall we?
thank god i had a southern belle to come to my defense:
Angela @ 5:20PM | Nov 11th 2004| permalink

She meant people in blue states are SAD, stupid. Besides, can't you just appreciate the charming turn of phrase?

ps. Sorry, Ester, for rushing to defend your blog's honor . By the way, your last LJ entry excited me (was that man really wearing a bowtie?).
but national journal wouldn't die quietly:
NJ @ 5:41PM | Nov 11th 2004| permalink

There goes the condescending elitism again.

Since when did the phrase "bluer than blue" become some sort of literary ingenuity?

Stupider than Stupid (apparently),

sometimes, i earnestly, passionately, and truly love the internets.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

navel gazing

i wrote a story about a freshman at college, back when i was a freshman in college, whose dashboard, washboard, blackboard stomach started growing for no conceivable reason. nothing else about her increased and she wasn't pregnant; indeed, she could find no explanation. although i never finished the story, i envisioned it as a kind of a nod to kipling. her stomach was a punishment, like the camel's hump, visited upon her for her indolence, passivity, and general bad temper.

body as punishment. why did i give an otherwise thin girl a belly to teach her a lesson? it seems interesting to me now but i didn't think about it overmuch then. i still had a belly fixation left over from high skool, when it honestly seemed like self-worth could be measured in waist inches. that was reason enough.

did anyone else catch the mannequin article in saturday's nyt? it mentions that mannequin manufacturers are responding to a more diverse and heavier female population in making new "goddess" mannequins. now, color me skeptical of anything, except mists of avalon, that references "goddess." but curvier mannequins sound like they couldn't miss.

one designer (male) disagrees with me & goddess manufacturers: "There's a difference between what people look like and what they want to look like," he said. "They want to see what they're trying to look like." to which i reply, bullshit. i'm tired of seeing what i want to look like. tired and even bored. give me a sense in your store windows of how your clothes will actually look on a real person.

another designer (male) disagrees with the fact that the new mannequins have more of an jennifer lopez inspired ass: "It's a little sexist," he said. "It's not creating an image of a woman as an elegant creature. It's a little bit down and dirty, a little crass." isn't that AMAZING? creating a model of women more as they actually are makes them no longer "elegant." it's "crass." it's THE 21ST CENTURY, people! is elegant and miles above "down and dirty" still what we think the idea woman must be?

on the other hand, let's not get carried away by how revolutionary the goddess is. she's "still a discreet 34B-25-35 1/2. "It'll remind you of the sexiness," he said, if not actually show it in its full glory, but it is still bigger than his standard Size 4/6 model's 32A-23-33." holy shit. if 34-25-35.5 is crass, inelegant, and down-and-dirty, then what am i? what's the average woman?

eve ensler, the v-chip queen herself, has moved up a few inches to belly territory. a new battlefield but i wouldn't say a much safer one. i'm curious what she'll do with it.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

just kidding! leave the south alone

sometimes, when i was kid, a bus ride alone could make me nauseous. the lower skool nurse knew me well: i practically had a bed, not to mention kneeling space in her bathroom, reserved for when i arrived in her office at 8:05. sometimes i wouldn't make it to her office. i recall vomiting miserably onto the shaky ground between my feet. i remember vomiting into one of those hardy skool hallway trash cans.

it was part motion sickness & part stress because yes, even as a nine year old i had the ability to work myself into a panic over the fact that i didn't know what was going to happen over the course of the day. regardless, on the occasions when i did indeed throw up, my dad would pick me up and take me home, and nothing soothed me like marx brothers movies. we would watch them together and i laughed when he laughed until i no longer needed to take cues from him.

when i was in sixth grade and my first boyfriend told me he thought he might like someone else, i cried a little. then i watched the simpsons and forgot all about it.

in high skool, sometimes i had shooting pains in my stomach that i didn't want to tell anyone about -- god knows everyone already considered me fragile enough. jack nicholson movies worked better than pepto bismol. terms of endearment and chinatown were my belly's personal favorites.

at swarthmore, when i didn't want to think about swarthmore, it was sex and the city.

media is my pacifier. i can't tell you how many books i've curled up in when i can't stand what's happening outside my window, or, worse, the thought of what might happen outside it tomorrow. lately i've found solace in massive doses of the west wing. this past thursday, when i had a Moment on my way to work, a Moment that connected my stomach, my throat, and the West 4th street subway station, i knew i had to get out into the open air, preferably Washington Sq. park; i knew i needed to calm down, clear my head, stop driving myself crazy worrying about all the stuff i was worrying about; and i knew that, once i walked home, west wing would be waiting for me to make it all okay.

also, i finished jonathan strange and mr. norrell, and it was marvellous. consider this yet another plug for escapist art. it's the sort of thing that works particularly well & is particularly important when so many of the people you love, who you're accustomed to being surrounded by, are so irretrievably far away.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

forget movies ...

actually, go ahead, foam at the mouth for a few minutes. it's good for you.

i can't think of anything i would like better than to discover that karl rove and karen hughes organized a subtle but monumental takeover of our electoral system and stole the election for bush, only to be discovered and disgraced in the aftermath. at the same time, i can't hope for it, even as people continue offering evidence. what i can do? movies.

saved! left me a little disappointed this weekend. sure, it brought the funny, particularly in the first third. but the movie sets up this connundrum -- christ-loving good girl gets pregnant trying to convince her christ-loving, good, and gay-inclined boyfriend to be straight -- that it doesn't do anything with. first it tries to pretend she didn't know she could get preggers from sex simply cuz her skool had no sex ed. bullshit. then it pretends she could be in denial of her condition to such an extent that even when she has supportive friends and, ultimately, family, there's never a conversation about options. okay, no abortion: fine. why is adoption never even discussed?

of course i liked its message. be tolerant! jesus loves freaks & of course we're all freaks, even -- especially -- mandy moore. but i wish in the end it had been more citizen ruth and less full house.

this weekend was my grandfather's unveiling. nothing could match the pathos of the funeral, but it was a uniquely striking experience to see the stone. afterwards the usual suspects regrouped at my house for falafel and politics. i'm better now. maybe everything will get better now.

Friday, November 05, 2004

can i get an AMEN?

how glad are we all that this week is over? jeezy creezy.

overheard on the E train:
WOMAN WITH BRITISH ACCENT: i made myself breakfast for the first time today.
WOMAN: yes. just toast. but i was very proud of myself.

i love the subway. sure, i'm a big fan of the red line in dc. less close to home, i've enjoyed the never-ending, impossibly-steep moscow subway escalators that feel like they're taking you to hell and the budapest subway platforms where peasants hawk live fowl and yummy mushroom pastry. i've been delighted by the honor system in dutch and danish public transportation and, importantly, found both easy to navigate when less than sober. but the new york subway wins all the points. allow me to sing its praises.

first, everyone reads. not just the new york post. i've seen shakespeare and ann patchet, goethe and nietzsche, the wall street journal and mother jones. more people read on the trains in new york on a daily basis than in the entire state of mississippi.

second, it's ideal fashion-watching time. it's like flipping through a catelogue without having to waste energy turning pages.

third, priceless eavesdropping opportunities. see above.

i'm near giddy that the week is over. the farther we get away from this election the better. the sooner people stop debating whether or not john kerry was the right candidate, why "america hates us," what a mandate means (WHITEmandate, is how i like to think of it), and what's going to happen next, the for-damn-sure better. also, i think the phrases "red states" and "blue states" should be stricken from the record. it's frighteningly simplistic and basically dismisses the existence of significant minorities. the last thing that democrats in arkansas or utah want, i imagine, is to be even more marginalized than they are.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

yom huledet

the country celebrated my older brother's very first entrance into this world on November 4, 1980 by electing a B-list actor with a beaming smile. it hasn't gotten much better since.

november 4 is a very difficult birthday to have, especially if you're a political person. my brother is. my whole family is, in fact. so every four years, right around his birthday, my family gets very excited before becoming thrilled or crushed. last presidential term, my brother got a reprieve, as the election results didn't trickle in with finality until thanksgiving. this time, he wasn't so lucky.

my brother emerged from college with one goal: find his way onto an election campaign and keep the elephants from trampling on yet another birthday. in his first goal, he succeeded beyond imagination. for over a year now, he's been traveling around the country, living in and gaining appreciation for states i've never visited. one winter's day in iowa, he found that his car had been sabotaged. another morning, in an exhausted haze, he drove to work leaving half of his belongings on the sidewalk, including the inflatable mattress he'd been using as a bed. a woman living nearby contacted him later to tell him that she'd rescued everything and kept it safe.

despite his best efforts and the best efforts of his candidate and coworkers, the blue states are bluer than blue. but we were electrified for a while there, and that won't go away. it was a great year for politics and he got to be a part of it.
happy birthday, adam. however it worked out, at least you got your wish.

me? i'm mending. already i feel mostly back to normal. sleep helped. the world really isn't that different than it was three days ago, only the excitement's gone. like everyone else, i believe firmly that we can't give up. also, and seriously, i think it's important than the 49% not vilify the 51%. there are extremists (yes, some would say, on both sides) but the majority of us -- imagine a venn diagram with me now -- would agree on many things. certainly that nothing will be gained from alienating ourselves from each other.

i look, though not exclusively, to barack obama to help us heal this breach. he is one sign of hope.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

hope is a thing with wings -- and off it flies

i know i should feel angry, or up in arms like the kossacks. mostly i just feel like some kicked me in the face, pulled my guts out, and spat on me. sure, it's not ME they're against, it's my sushi-eating, volvo-driving, latte-drinking, vegetarian values. but in the haze of depression, the subtle distinctions are difficult to make out.

i don't think we did anything wrong in this election. honestly. the pundits will go over it with a magnifying glass, searching for turning points. should kerry have picked a different running mate? should it not have been kerry at all? maybe they'll blame it on the gays, because those initiatives banning gay marriage really brought out the evangelical voters. people are surprised that the initiatives lost. are they kidding? the only thing that could have lost by a greater margin would have been an initiative that pledged every first born male child to a satanic, vermont-based cult.

but if folks do blame the gays for seeking civil rights in the first place, thus prompting the backlash, i'll feel even more morose than i do. (um, if you couldn't tell, that's pretty fucking morose.) despair, catholics say, is the unforgivable sin to god. well, god, to me, the unforgivable sin is your turning your back on the world you created while letting the fools run amok in it, unchecked, thinking they're doing your work.

i can't blame myself for letting hope in. it seemed promising -- damn it, it did. people were riled up, they cared, they worked for it. people! not just swatties! in the end, it simply wasn't enough. (speaking of "simply," here's slate's interesting take.) maybe diebold delivered ohio to the president; thanks to its paper-less trail, we'll never know. in the end, i don't think it would have made enough of a difference anyway. people didn't want to change commanders in the midst of a war, no matter how wrong-headed and mismanaged a war it was.

the night before the election, i dreamt i was mugged. now i feel like i was. but i'll soldier on, as will you, until we find a silver lining we can cling to. we'll make it through the next four years. we may be in the minority, but we're far from alone.

my heart hurts. so much for ... for everything. & there's no one for me to hold.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

thus spake zogby


what are you reading this for? GO VOTE!

me, i'm alternately gobbling up exit polls, tearing the whites of my nails off with my teeth (eww, ester, in the office?) and eating other people's halloween candy. everyone's acting like kids today. have you noticed? people are giddy, high-strung, pouty ...

& people keep asking me if i'm all right. of course i'm not all right! GO VOTE!

Monday, November 01, 2004

as mama orders

my father is fine. they released him from the hospital today and he didn't even have to have surgery. diet, exercise, blah blah blah ... the point is, he's not in danger. thank god.

so my mom's on her way to ohio. ben just departed for there. amazingly, the flyers they'll be handing out, as they protect the rights of inner city voters everywhere, were designed by my oldest friend liz. it's like a reunion!, only, duh, minus me. i'll be here in new york, praying hard, and citing the example of sodom.

this was my basis for telling claire that i was relatively sure everything would be okay. if god wants bush to win, it's because he's ready for the world to end; and by his own mandate, he won't end the world if there are 10 good people to be found. the source for this is the famous story of sodom. god wanted to destroy sodom, a town known for its wickedness. abraham pleaded with god to save the city for the sake of its well-meaning inhabitants.

how many are there?, asked god.
50?, replied abraham.
nope, said god.
er, 40?
nope, said god.
abraham worked god down to ten. when it was established that fewer than 10 good people lived in the town, abraham stopped fighting and let god wipe it out. so 10 is clearly the ceiling! and there MUST be 10 good people in the whole world. at least 5 good friends of mine should qualify.

by the way, the handful of "good people" who did live in sodom got a warning to leave before Hurricane Char-ley hit. one of these people offered his 2 virgin daughters to an angry mob, one of them got mired in regret and was turned into a pillar of salt, and two of them conspired to trick and sleep with their father. makes you wonder what the wicked were like.

best of luck to all of you out doing noble work tomorrow, trying to keep the world from crashing in on our heads. let's hope we get a better result than we got 4 years ago.