Wednesday, January 31, 2007

I Am Extremely Pleased With Myself

Because I've packed for 12 days and my backpack is lighter than when Jim and I pack for a weekend.

There must be a male/female lesson in here somewhere.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

What Does I-M-D-Pressed Spell

I'm sad, but not because an hour ago I handed over a very large stack of dollars for a very flimsy stack of pounds.

I'm sad because it's nearly the beginning of a new month, and as I was approaching my building this evening I saw lights on in the apartment directly above ours, the apartment that's been empty since the end of November.

I knew it couldn't last, but I was hoping...hoping....

Ah, well. In regard to my New York adventure, I feel similar to how Yeats felt about old age:

Much did I rage when young

Against the world oppressed

But now with flattering tongue

It speeds the parting guest.

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Incidentally

I've been forced to submit to the "New Blogger," and although the librarian in me is happy about the chance to finally categorize things, something funky is going on with my archives when I republish and I haven't got time or energy to deal with it right now, because I'm going to England tomorrow to get my demons expelled baptised into the Church of England so that I may play godmother to my nephew, the littlest Saxman.

North south east west

Urban Ohio is a favorite site in our household, so I was pretty interested to see this description of the now-infamous New Yorkers in Cleveland tour. [via jay-c via the gross report.]

These two statements in particular:

"I was given the east side, which is where I work and where I grew up. This was deemed a weakness on the part of the rest of the tour department...."

Umm, excuse me, can you say that a little louder? Did someone just say "the west is the best"?

"...everyone that wanted to take a second look at a place or sign a lease was doing so between W. 25th and E. 13th."

Interesting.

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Men, Women, Cats, Dogs, Whatever

In keeping with my philosophy of reading things that I don't just already agree with, I've been poring over the Dump Your Wife blog with great fascination.

Actually, I should probably expand that philosophy to include not just things I don't already agree with, but perspectives I hadn't previously considered.

I found this blog via the Wikipedia entry on the Men's Rights Movement, which I found via this article from Men's News Daily. From which I learned that a main point of the Men's Rights Movement has to do with preserving marriage:

"the men’s movement opposes same sex marriage, because it represents the final end of men’s role in family and society."

I'm not sure I understand this argument, if for the simple reason that I don't see how same-sex marriage prevents men from serving in the military, earning money, or being President, which they often do to great success.

The main reason why I hold the abovementioned philosophy has to do with the tediousness of posing societal ills as a "war" which one side must "win." [Now, I indexed an encyclopedia of actual wars once, so I have a pretty good handle on why most actual wars are fought: because somebody has something (land, control of a particular commodity) that somebody else wants. I digress, though I'm going to file this topic away for future discussion.]

So it dismays me to see an entire group of people - any group of people - get characterized a certain way: "men", "the feminists", "conservatives", "liberals", when what the characterizer means to say is "some women I have know or heard about", "the liberals Rush Limbaugh talks about but whom I have never met", "the Christian Right who I see on TV and who must populate the rest of the country in scary Bible-thumping droves so is it any wonder why I never leave New York City."

It strikes me that the us-them dichotomy does absolutely nothing but fracture society further. It's why, though I am so freaking liberal I drove around with a Kucinich for President bumper sticker until October 2005, reading Alternet often makes me wanna puke.

So back to the Men's Rights Movement. At first, it struck me as odd that a movement that's so pro-marriage would also produce this blog advocating men to ditch their wives. It might lead one to believe it's a hypocritical movement that's talking out of both sides of its mouth, just like "the feminists" want both the right to equal pay and the right to drain their ex-husbands bank accounts through alimony.

Here's the folly of falling for that belief, though: these are two different dialogues created by two different individual men. Just like every article written by every feminist has been written by an individual woman. I know there's something to be said for collective experiences, but there's also something to be said against overgeneralizing and assuming that because a certain person takes on a certain label ("feminist", "conservative") that they take on all the bad things that you, right or wrong, associate with that label. (For example, "all feminists hate men," "all conservatives are backwards and uneducated.")

While reading through Dump Your Wife, I noticed a common theme: that women are often gold-diggers who will reject a man if he doesn't make enough money as readily as a man might reject a woman if she doesn't have big enough boobs.

I can see the grievance here. Has feminist literature addressed this much? I don't know. Not that I recall having read, at least. How would I answer to this, since because I am a feminist woman, I (of course!) speak for all women?

The best answer I could give is that in my version of feminism, there's nothing that states that "all women are of superior moral character to all men." If that were the case, then it would've been me chastising Jim for cheating at the corn maze we went to last fall, not the other way around. (I was very humbled.)

I've also thought quite a bit about how many men that I know personally who would fit "man" as defined by a) radical man-hating feminists and b) men who think all feminists are radical man-hating feminists.

The answer is zero, but two in particular come close.

The first one is a friend-of-a-friend, the type who, before he was "bullied" into getting married by a woman he doesn't seem to have much respect for, would make the kind of generalized statements like "men are better at business" and "all feminists are ugly." I've actually never met his wife, so I can't speak to her character, but when I heard about their marriage it seemed to me that he was making a mistake, because he didn't seem to like her much, but also that he wanted a wife so that he could have someone to take care of him. He strikes me as one of the unhappiest people I've ever met.

The other is my friend's husband, whose resentment of my friend's education level and success in the working world has morphed into a deep disrespect of her personally, despite the fact that he has repeatedly refused to get himself educated, or, often, to even work at all. (He knew about all this before they got married, so it's not like she's "emasculated" him.) It might be different if he had any inclination at all to be a stay at home dad, but he doesn't, even though he pretty much just stays at home. Here is an excerpt from one of their arguments I overheard:

She: I just would like to be treated as a person in this relationship.
He: You're not a person, you're my wife.

The rest of the men I know are pretty great, and "their women" appreciate them as much as they, in turn, appreciate "their women." So I, as an individual woman, don't seem to have much reason to hate men as an institution (and surprise! I don't - I love 'em, I can't get enough of 'em, and, when it comes to sheer numbers, I have to concede that most people I've been friends with now and in the past are actually men).

It would seem, then, that women who hate men and men who hate women have perhaps never been around men or women who aren't worth hating.

Maybe?

Can't speak it as absolute truth, but it's one of those observations you can't come up with if you don't examine all sides of the argument.

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

"Another Candidate Also Backs Universal Health Care"

Ugh. Read all the way down to the bottom. I guess I should be happy that he at least got some kind of press that didn't include the word "quixotic," right?

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Dennis Dennis Dennis Dikembe

First of all, what he said.

Secondly, I watched the beforemath of the state of the union address on Fox News, and the aftermath on PBS. In both instances, the commentators pointed out Dennis, who stood grinning, as he does every year, right by the door, ever eager to shake the President's hand.

Neither news outlet made any kind of snarky comment about Dennis's so-called "quixotic" campaign. Both did, in fact, call Dennis "one of Bush's strongest opponents on the War."

Thirdly, Dikembe Mutombo is just awesome.

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Empathy Schmempathy

Oh the irony of reading this article after a lovely trip home on the subway during which an incredibly disgusting fuckup coughed directly in my face (deliberately!). My offense? I'd accidentally bumped his huge, disgusting feet, which were sprawled out in the aisle in such a way that I couldn't help it. Ahh, even going so far as threatening to "kick the shit" out of me if I did it again. If I had been at all teetering on the edge of deciding whether or not I hated humankind, this guy quite literally kicked me over.

Oh, to be infected with some revolting maggot's disease-ridden spittle exactly 9 days before I go visit my nephew who, by all accounts, has gotten sick more frequently in his 4 months on Earth than I have in almost 30 years . update: I should add that at least my nephew lives in the UK, where the little fella and his mum and dad get free health care while Auntie Christine pays $200 freaking dollars a month for hers. God bless America!

Ugh. Bring on global warming.

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Friday, January 19, 2007

Pretty Schmetty

The writer behind A Dress A Day defends a woman's right to be pretty, but also her right to not be pretty.

In this discussion at Alternet, the war is between those who think women go overboard in their beauty routines, and those who think a woman's right to be sovereign over her own body extends to liposuction and eyebrow threading (whatever that is).

Personally, I don't have a problem with people looking nice.

What I have a problem with is when the emphasis on a woman's appearance spills over into arenas where it just doesn't belong.

Free to be ugly? I think not. If that last article irritated you, here 's where to tell it:

letters@nytimes.com

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

January 17

Was yesterday, I know.

But it was also the first day this season that I had to wear my winter coat.

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Monday, January 08, 2007

Ohio Libraries ... Just Better

You can show me Hennen ratings, you can tell me that Connecticut State University found that Cleveland libraries are #1, but as far as I'm concerned, this is the ultimate proof that Ohio libraries are better:

At my job, I've been working on a book about ancient Egypt. Inspired, I went to the Met, as I often do, and spent the afternoon at the Temple of Dendur.

It was around then that I recalled a certain Sesame Street special I'd seen as a kid, Don't Eat the Pictures, where Big Bird and all the gang get themselves locked in the museum overnight, and then Big Bird and Snuffy meet a ghostly Egyptian kid who's been haunting one of the Egyptian artifacts, waiting in a sort of limbo-like state for the afterlife. Remember this one, fellow Gen-Xers? I loved it.

Surely, I thought, the NYPL would have a copy of this. Not just because they're a ginormous library, but also because the special was, essentially, just as much a ploy to "sell" one of New York City's most venerated institutions to children, as putting the Cap'n Crunch and Count Chocula at toddler eye-level is a ploy to sell sugary cereal.

I know, I know. Don't Eat the Pictures is nearly 25 years old. Kids today don't even know that Snuffy used to be Big Bird's imaginary friend. Still, I expected the NYPL to own one copy.

But they didn't!

Now.

I invite you to look for yourself and see how many copies the CLEVNET consortium owns. (Don't forget, search in the title field, and then click the availability tab.)

Uh-huh.

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Sunday, January 07, 2007

Do Not Pass Go

If you are thinking of ditching Cleveland for New York City, please read How to Move to New York City Sane and Not Broke and think long and hard about the first question. The answer is no. Go have yourself an expertly-roasted Phoenix coffee and go to the Cinemathèque to celebrate your wise decision.

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Saturday, January 06, 2007

I'm Just Terrible - Someone Slap Me

Interesting news developments with the PD and Cleveland.com. Looks like the latter will be recruiting bloggers to "start blogs about their suburb or city neighborhood, 'reporting, talking about an event, posting photos.'"

My first thought was that I should move back in with my parents and post some photos of all the lawn jockeys up and down their street....

ps - I should add that, although they might live amidst some backwards troglodytes who still apparently haven't been made aware of the Civil Rights Movement, my parents don't have a lawn jockey - although they might have a concrete goose, I can't recall

Friday, January 05, 2007

Womanly Pursuits

update: just hours after posting this, I find myself embroiled in this argument about maternity leave. Oh, the irony.....

This article about the gender gap in media by-lines (found via Writes Like She Talks) depressed me. As I said here, sometimes I resent being made to feel like I should even have an opinion on abortion, emergency contraception, fertility, the raising of children, because I feel like my limited attention span is better spent thinking about economic development, historic preservation, assorted Clevelandia, and (at the moment) The Dark Tower.

What further depressed me is that, in taking a closer look at Alternet, who published the aforementioned piece, I noticed that 3 of the Ten Most Important Alternet Articles on Iraq were written by women, and of those, 2 were about rape.

Guess how many of the Top Ten Alternet Articles about Sex and Relationships were written by women?

All freaking 10!

Sometimes I also resent feeling like the only woman in this country who could identify Turkmenistan on a map, yet fail to pick Sarah Jessica Parker out of a lineup, rather than the other way around.

Germaine Greer, in The Whole Woman, distinguishes between femininity, the realm of little black dresses and L'Oreal, and femaleness, the realm of wombs and ovaries and workplace inequities. I just can't help but feel that too many women exist solely in the spheres of both femininity and femaleness, and pay little to no attention to, well, other things that have nothing to do with being a woman or even with being a man.

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What is January For, Anyway?

Like Arthur Dent and Thursdays, I could never get the hang of January.

You look forward to the holidays, to the Christmas cookies and the pine-scented candles and the Brotherhood holiday wine, but what's to look forward to after the old ball drops and they haul Dick Clark out to pasture for another year?

I remember looking out the window of my Lake Ave apartment in January 2000, frantic with the fear that it might never...stop...snowing, and that I wouldn't be able to make it out of the house to restock my meagre provisions.

At the same time, though, I feel like January - and maybe February, too, another month I don't get - should be set aside for the solitary (i.e., indoor) contemplation of all those spiritual messages that come to you during Advent, the season of anticipation, and Christmas.

It's hard, however, to stay inside when the temperature is 56 degrees (tomorrow, it's going to be 64!) Despite what they tell me - that this is abnormal - I've now been through what, three mid-Atlantic winters? I'm not impressed. Winter gods, bring it on.

In the meantime, I've been trying to think of some other purpose for my January. Any ideas?