Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Bring it home, B.O.

Asheville <3's Obama, according to this short graphic series from the NYT, and western North Carolina is less sure of him (one character in the strip shouts from the sidelines, "He's a Muslim!"). This jives with what I saw when I was there: Obama signs all over! Interestingly, where there weren't Obama signs, there weren't McCain signs either, even in the wealthy, white Atlanta areas.

Obama seems to be moving with more purpose these days (cutting off the batshit crazy Jeremiah Wright, for one thing). Hopefully it will be enough. I can't handle this race much longer. I can't lose any more respect for the Clintons or Americans in general; it will be bad for my liver.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Kalamazoo and tigger too

birdy brain
Originally uploaded by charrow.
JJ, as depicted here in a piece of Charrow art, was one of our hosts for the past few days as Mr. Ben and I sojourned in the Southlands. These strange foreign lands, as it turned out, didn't feel as strange or foreign as I expected. In fact, Atlanta reminded me strongly of Seattle, only with more traffic and way less charm. People in Seattle also get bonus points for friendliness compared to their Southern counterparts, unless you count the bum in Asheville, NC, who, trying his hardest to make us feel at home, called after us, "Happy Hannukah!"

JJ was an excellent sport over the weekend in Asheville, where we were up to our chins in Judaica with Mr. Ben's family the entire time: she nibbled matzoh for breakfast without complaint and sat through both seders. Even when Mr. Ben's mom's SPP (straight person partner) Harry played Hebrew songs on his new harmonica with more exuberance than skill, JJ didn't flinch. A righteous woman, who can find her? Her worth is above rubies.

I realized during the service that these seders consist of lots of lying to God, and not just the standard "You're so merciful and gracious!" stuff. Just for example, there's a long prayer where the chorus goes, "It would have been enough!" -- i.e., if God had rescued us from Egypt but not parted the sea so we could get through, it would have been enough. The song continues, mentioning how the Lord brought us to the land of Israel and vanquished our enemies and built us the temple. But of course, if God had done one or even some of those things and not the rest, it wouldn't have been enough, not by a long shot. We wouldn't be here to tell the tale year after year.

Later, there's a true whopper set a beautiful, ghostly melody. It goes like this, roughly:
I have been young
And I have grown old
Yet never have I seen a good man starve

I mean, please. We teach this stuff to children?

After the second seder Sunday night, without waiting for the dough to rise, we packed up the Honda and sped past Bob Jones University and Clemson U., the South blurring into fast food chains and churches in the dark outside my window. Charrow and JJ's Little Five Points apartment is beautiful, all old wood and bright colors and windows everywhere. Mr. Ben's mom's house was the same way, charming and well-lit. (Not that I can complain about real estate, but we do pay the same for our place as my MIL spends on hers, only hers includes several bedrooms, a backyard, a stained-glass pantry, and more nooks and crannies than an English muffin.)

I hadn't seen Charrow since she guest-starred as Maid of Honor in the production that was my wedding nine months ago. That is much too long. She and JJ will be moving up here in the fall and the fall cannot come fast enough.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Disturbia: Women Who Make Us All Look Bad edition

It's been a week for disquieting news from the womb-bearers. First, there's this new book by a plastic surgeon to help small children understand why their mommies are voluntarily going under the knife. There's no explanation given except the mother's dream of looking like a pageant winner.

To start with, the mother looks fine; by the end, post-procedures, she looks like a more exaggerated cartoonish version of herself, in hot pink no less. The once-skeptical daughter looks thrilled. Thanks, newly high femme Mom, for perpetuating irritating stereotypes! (Via Newsweek)

Next up, the abortion art installation from Yale, created by a student who inseminated herself and then induced miscarriages.

She speaks, yet she says nothing: "I believe strongly that art should be a medium for politics and ideologies, not just a commodity," Shvarts said. "I think that I'm creating a project that lives up to the standard of what art is supposed to be."

Uh huh. Well, does the project speak for itself?
The display of Schvarts' project will feature a large cube suspended from the ceiling of a room in the gallery of Green Hall. Schvarts will wrap hundreds of feet of plastic sheeting around this cube; lined between layers of the sheeting will be the blood from Schvarts' self-induced miscarriages mixed with Vaseline in order to prevent the blood from drying and to extend the blood throughout the plastic sheeting.

Schvarts will then project recorded videos onto the four sides of the cube. These videos, captured on a VHS camcorder, will show her experiencing miscarriages in her bathrooom tub, she said. Similar videos will be projected onto the walls of the room.
I think her uterine lining must be smarter than she is. This is why I kind of hate art. It gives people cover to be snotty & self-absorbed.

I have only divided outrage left for the Georgia belle who was scared to be Michelle Obama's roommate at Princeton. She and her mom are still semi-racist but reflect ruefully on their fears at the time. Michelle Obama turned out to be the stately, witty, graceful woman we all know, but she and the Southern GOP-member-to-be never exactly bonded. Perhaps out of guilt, the belle and her mother (who still doesn't believe in intermarriage) are considering voting for the big O. How many such sins do you supposed will be atoned for at the ballot box this year?

Monday, April 14, 2008

portrait of the teenager the artist used to be

One of the many dangers of Facebook is that someone from your past will scan in pictures from your past, the dark, shadowy, awkward, pale, bespectacled parts, the parts where you wore your brother's t-shirts and tended to stare at people. These pictures will appear for the world to see, including your newlywed, who will take one look and say, sounding almost impressed, "Wow! You look as bad as you possibly could!"

He lacks imagination. I could have boils, or bugs crawling on me. My skin could be peeling off along with leprous chunks of my nose. My hair could stick straight up high enough to be measured in inches like Marge Simpson's, the way it did from 2nd grade through 4th when my mom finally let me grow it long.

But the fact remains that the boy next to me looks about 4 years old and drugged, and I look like the 40 year old who drugged him. What is amazing, though, is that, when this picture was taken, one of us was already getting sexual attention from the opposite sex, serious adult-like attention, attention which occurred in the safety and comfort of a Jerry's Subs and Pizza bathroom. Prizes for anyone who guesses which of us that was!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

six word memoirs

In the spirit of this project, I've been brainstorming six word memoirs of my time at Swarthmore for work. So far I've come up with:
“dorks everywhere! never been so happy”

“I learned to love my belly”

“School funded film about dancing tampons”

“They say, ‘Wait til college.’ They’re right.”
These are sort of rosy ... maybe I'll write a more cynical series. Ones for my actual life would be even harder. I could write one for Mr. Ben, who is finally getting sworn into the New York bar tomorrow morning: "After 3.5 years, attorney at last."

ETA: More cynical ones:
"Four full years of sensitivity training"

"Blissful navel gazing in ivory tower"

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Stasis again

We have moved! And I have a new mantra, or a new blessing, rather: May everything that goes wrong be minor and manageable. We were lucky enough in that respect. A tire went flat only once the car it was attached to had come to rest close to 4th avenue, a street with not one but TWO tire shops in the immediate vicinity, as well as a couple gas stations.

The movers showed up a half an hour early, definitely before we were ready to receive them, but my mother, the brigadier general of Venezuela, preceded them and threw the apartment into shape.

The movers also asked, on the spot, for twice as much as we had agreed on. Luckily that had initially agreed to perform for so little that twice as much -- which we bargained down anyway -- still felt like a good deal.

Nobody broke anything or even really scratched anything. Nobody was lamed or maimed, although we were shamed a little when my mom saw the filth that accumulates in a fridge that goes uncleaned for years. Nothing we couldn't survive. In my head I am still the teenager who would recycle clothes rather than go to the bother of doing laundry, so I feel proud of myself that I voluntarily do dishes as soon as I'm done with them, even if scrubbing fridge shelves with regularity remains beyond me.

The new apartment feels somewhat magical. Doors! Who knows where those could lead? Doors are a slippery slope. For now we leave them all open. The first morning I ventured OUT of the bedroom to eat my cereal; and Mr. Ben followed me, knotting his tie while standing behind me. When I looked around and smiled at him, he replied sheepishly, "It's weird being farther away from you than this. I'm not used to it."

I haven't yet asked the washer/dryer to dance. It makes me shy. But the new stove works! And the backyard works! It sits there and looks pretty, just like it is supposed to. You know what also works? The free cable and the free wireless internet. Though both, I accept in advance, are probably temporary, for now I thumb my nose in the direction of Time Warner. Who needs you, Mr. Man? I got rhythm, I got music, I got our WEDDING VIDEO in three versions -- tall, venti, and super-sized -- and who could ask for anything more?