Wednesday, January 28, 2009

So, I get to kick him in the balls if I see him now, right?

Did anyone catch Bush the Elder making this reeeeeeeeeaaaally sexist joke in a speech to some sort of automakers' forum?

Because I'm home from work today (no heat in the office! Woo hoo!), I've taken the liberty of transcribing it, just in case you'd rather read it:

"One time, we thought we'd outsmarted the crowd. We sent a decoy limousine off in one direction, while I snuck out in the back entrance. As we rounded the corner-I'll never forget it-uh, I saw one of the ugliest and angriest women I have ever seen in my entire life. Boy, she was really bad. And she charged my car with a sign-and I don't see why the secret service let her up that close, right next to the window-'Stay outta my womb!' No, problem, lady."
America, how could we have let assmonkeys like this be PRESIDENT?? Why doesn't Bush just tell a black joke while he's at it? "Ha, feminists are UGLY and ANGRY and they can't have sex because they're so UGLY. Get it?" Bush, feminists exist because feces-heads like you can't figure out that women don't exist just to look pretty and have sex with you. She's angry because you DON'T FUCKING GET WHAT HER SIGN MEANS.

"Jokes" like that aren't fucking funny, ESPECIALLY when they come from a former president. It's just scary that this country was run by that man in my short lifetime. No wonder we still have pay disparities and fights about how and when we can have babies and sex and play professional sports. We let a bunch of sexist privileged white men into office. Shame on you, 1989 voters.

Oh, one more thing, Bush. If you think the womb is where sex happens, I feel real sorry for Barbara.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

This post may contain hilarious euphemisms and feminist outrage

The fuck, conservatives? When are you going to learn that PEOPLE HAVE SEX? There is NOTHING you can do to change that. We are humans. We fuck. Bone. Fornicate. Rodger. Bump uglies. Boff. Bury the weenie. Knock boots. Insert things into other things, repeatedly and rhythmically.

Are all conservatives 5 years old, inserting their fingers into their ears, grimacing, and squinching their eyes shut when something reminds them that we fuck? Because they keep doing things like banning the sale of "any device designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs." For serious, Georgia??

This ordinance is primarily aimed at the sale of sex toys, but also affects things like ribbed condoms, lube, and at-home adult novelty parties (Pampered Chef parties are for my mother. I want me some pampered snatch). I don't see any provision limiting Viagra sales. But, you know, God didn't intend for women to enjoy sex, and it's fucking sinful for them to seek out the means to an orgasm. Let me just find my Bible here...ah, here it is:

"And on the eighth day, Eve did complaineth that Adam's holy eruptions were hasty and sloppy, and that she wisheth to erupt of her own. And God did see that there would be no use for Adam, and so he forbade Eve from touching her forbidden fruits. And he did sayeth to Eve: Women, ye shall layeth on thy back, and spreadeth thy legs, and thou shalt not seek thy happiness any further. Oh, and thou shalt maketh Adam and me a sammich."
-Genesis 4:12

Why does sex scare conservatives so much? If they feel that products like The Fister are perverse, why can't they just abstain from using them in their own lives and let others fist to their hearts' content? The use of dildos and cock rings and lube doesn't interfere with their lives. Whether someone uses their jelly glitter dildo tonight or not doesn't change ANYTHING in anyone's life. This "moral indignation" is absurd and antiquated, and now that an ultra-conservative is no longer in power, these frivolous ordinances ought to stop.

On a similarly outrageous note, Republicans forced Obama to remove a $200 million addition to his $825 billion stimulus package that would have allowed 23 states to cover contraceptive services for the poor who don't qualify for Medicaid, without a long application process. It was basically a package that would have let women in 23 states do exactly what I did this summer when I was unemployed: Obtain free birth control from a family-planning organization although I did not qualify for Medicaid (but did not have the insurance to cover a gynecologist or the money to cover the cost of a prescription). It's not like the package was sneaking birth control into the water. It was meant to cut down on wait times and administrative costs, and get low-income women the reproductive healthcare that they need. But Republicans were all "ICKY! WHY WOULD ANYONE NEED BIRTH CONTROL? WOMEN DON'T HAVE SEX! I'M HOLDING MY BREATH 'TIL I PASS OUT IF YOU DON'T STOP TALKING ABOUT IT RIGHT NOW!"

So instead of letting them all faint and bang their heads against the coffee table and die, Obama had to pull the funding out so the rest of the package would pass. Obama, you're a stand-up guy, but this "reach across the aisle" shit doesn't fly with me if it means that the government keeps denying us access to reproductive health services.

Damnit, Republicans. Don't tell me not to park the beef bus in Tuna Town.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

She might be ready for it, but I'm not

My grandmother is in the hospital for the first time in 53 years. The last time was for the birth of my father. She has an enlarged heart, and was experiencing some difficulty breathing and fluid retention. Apparently, she is expected to do fine for the time being and should go home Monday with no problems. But at one point (I'm sure because of her age) her doctor had to obtain her wishes regarding resuscitation, should the worst happen. My father told me her answer:

"I'm done."

Thursday, January 22, 2009

It's a new day

Perhaps I am the only blogger who didn't post on the momentous and historical occasion yesterday. However, you won't begrudge me forgiveness when you learn that I scored reservations at the posh (does anyone use that word anymore?) 21 Club for restaurant week (a week of discounts at select uber-fancy restaurants), and was busy indulging in game terrine, braised beef, and a half-bottle of shiraz all night. And then promptly falling into a satisfying, full-belly stupor upon my return home.

That said, I am glad that I waited to post, because today I realized that I feel something different than what I felt yesterday. Yesterday I felt proud, excited, almost giddy. For the first time in my adult life, I was actually proud of my government. When President Obama danced with his wife, I wanted to dance along in my living room. Today, however, I felt something different: Safe.

I realized that for the first time in eight years, this country is controlled by a competent, qualified person. A person who earned his position, rather than inheriting it from daddy. A person who is educated. A person who recognizes the importance of serving the disenfranchised of the nation. A person who can read (read this Vanity Fair piece. People were asked to avoid giving Bush long memos, because he's "not a big reader." This among other, more serious travesties, like, um, ignoring 9/11 warnings?).

This administration is not interested in forcing the tenants of conservative Christianity on the masses (shout-out to "non-believers" in the inaugural speech, anyone?). It does not want to tell me what to do with my uterus. It does not want to serve the interests of the wealthy, or large corporations, or the oil industries before the interests of the people. It does not want to start frivoulous wars. It does not want to model this country off of the plot of The Handmaid's Tale.

Already we have seen change, and it's only been a day. President Obama ordered Guantanamo closed within the year. He showed support for Roe V. Wade on its anniversary today, stating that it "not only protects women's health and reproductive freedom, but stands for a broader principle: that government should not intrude on our most private family matters." He is expected to reverse the "global gag rule" that banned US aid to organizations that perform abortions or refer women to abortion clinics. He started talks with his national security team to pull troops out of Iraq in 16 months.

But there's more. The Obama administration website has been overhauled, and there is an entire "agenda" section that clearly states future plans, organized by categories such as "poverty" and "civil rights." Some of my favorite highlights:
President Obama and Vice President Biden will work to overturn the Supreme Court's recent ruling that curtails racial minorities' and women's ability to challenge pay discrimination. (side note: as I write this, the senate has just passed Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. We got this shit locked down). They will also pass the Fair Pay Act, to ensure that women receive equal pay for equal work, and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.

President Obama and Vice President Biden will ban racial profiling by federal law enforcement agencies and provide federal incentives to state and local police departments to prohibit the practice.

President Obama supports full civil unions that give same-sex couples legal rights and privileges equal to those of married couples. Obama also believes we need to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and enact legislation that would ensure that the 1,100+ federal legal rights and benefits currently provided on the basis of marital status are extended to same-sex couples in civil unions and other legally-recognized unions. These rights and benefits include the right to assist a loved one in times of emergency, the right to equal health insurance and other employment benefits, and property rights.

President Obama voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2006 which would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman and prevented judicial extension of marriage-like rights to same-sex or other unmarried couples.

President Obama agrees with former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili and other military experts that we need to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. The key test for military service should be patriotism, a sense of duty, and a willingness to serve. Discrimination should be prohibited. The U.S. government has spent millions of dollars replacing troops kicked out of the military because of their sexual orientation. Additionally, more than 300 language experts have been fired under this policy, including more than 50 who are fluent in Arabic. The President will work with military leaders to repeal the current policy and ensure it helps accomplish our national defense goals.
There are more promises. Clear-as-day promises, in 24 categories. President Obama has four years to make good on them. I am not naive enough to believe that he will fulfill every single one. I am not naive enough to think that he will always make decisions with which I agree. But I know what I saw today from the Obama administration. I saw potential. For now, that's enough to make me feel like an American.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Old white guy, who are you?!

Boyfriend and I both have off work today, and because my self-esteem concerning sports isn't crippling enough, Boyfriend suggested we bowl. Mostly there were just kids bowling (Liz Lemon moment: Oh god! Youths!), but for most of the first game we were tucked away in a lane by ourselves. Then, near the end of the first game, this older couple came to bowl in the lane beside us, with a young grandson. They had two other men with them, but eventually I realized that the two men weren't bowling. Instead, they were standing behind the family, watching. Wearing suits. Just...watching, with their arms folded in front of them.

"What are those suits doing? Are they...are they bodyguards?"

Cue me intensely scrutinizing the three faces of the bowling family. "Is the kid a child star? Does the grandmother look familiar? The grandfather is really hamming it up. Is he a comedian? A politician? Boyfriend, make a sudden move to see what the bodyguards do! THROW YOUR BALL AT THEM NOW I HAVE TO KNOW IF THESE PEOPLE ARE IMPORTANT."

So they bowled two games beside us and I still have no idea who the fuck these people are, to have bodyguards. Or maybe they aren't bodyguards, maybe they're just butlers that the family pays to follow them everywhere. Fuck if I know. The only info that I got is that the grandson was named Nathaniel and the grandfather may have been named Victor (that's right, I looked at their scoreboard. I MUST KNOW).

So if anyone happens to have some trivial knowledge of famous old white men who live in New York City, bowl in Harlem, and have a young grandson named Nathaniel, for the love of god tell me so I can tell people that I bowled beside someone famous.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Women and children first? Really? In 2009?

In case you haven't heard, a plane crash-landed in the Hudson River the other day, right near Manhattan. Everyone got out okay, and no one died. At some point during the evacuation of the plane, someone (I am finding mixed opinions as to whether it was a staff member or a passenger) gave that ages-old cry of "women and children first."
In this particular case, I wouldn't fault the passengers for making this antiquated and sexist decree. This was obviously an emergency situation and people were just trying to bring some order to the chaos. The problem here is whether "women and children first" is still an official evacuation policy. If a crew member made this call, then there are some real issues:
  • Why women? Is is that you are assuming we are weaker, fragile, and less likely to survive? Are you assuming that we are better suited to care for the children who disembark first? Neither are necessarily true.
  • This policy neglects the elderly, the sick, and the disabled who should be allowed to disembark before all healthy and able-bodied women. Why would anyone call for able-bodied women to evacuate before disabled people?
  • This policy neglects single fathers. Why should a strange woman be better suited to care for a child than the child's own father? We aren't "natural caregivers" by virtue of having female reproductive organs. And if the concern is then shifted to keeping the caregiver with the child, regardless of caregiver sex, why shouldn't both parents be allowed to evacuate simultaneously with their child? It seems nonsensical and tragic to split families in an emergency.
  • Some women have claimed that they don't care if this gets their asses off the sinking ship/plane faster. Sorry, that doesn't fly with me. If we want to be seen as equal, we have to start acting like the strong women we are. We can stay on the plane and help the disabled, elderly, children, and families off first. Hell, we can help the people who can't swim if we need to. But we need to stop accepting help that we DON'T NEED.
I want to reiterate that I'm not faulting any passenger in that flight who, in the heat of the moment, felt that women and children should go first. But if airlines still endorse this policy, or if their crews aren't well-trained enough to know that they shouldn't use this policy, there is a problem. "Elderly, disabled, and people with children" first. All able bodied people last.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

To my best friend's daughter, on her second birthday

When she was born, she didn't look like anyone. She had fat cheeks, a smooth bald head, and wrinkly skin, like someone had mistakenly given her the size-large skin suit instead of the medium. You would be hard-pressed to say that she looked like anyone in her family, unless Buddha or Winston Churchill was her uncle. When they brought her home, dry skin flaked off of her forehead in droves, and she moved her alien hands stiffly and in mysterious, ninja-like patterns. Everything seemed to surprise her. She would squint and widen her eyes again and again; her dry cupid lips would form into a tight "O," as though she was practicing her whistling. She was gassy and messy, and gave many darling outfits foul, un-ladylike stains. She flashed big, gummy smiles if you made just the right face. She was soft and warm and small. When you held her, you could feel your heart beat out of your chest and into your throat, then out of your mouth and into her hands.

She is two years old today. Today, she is all sturdy toddler legs and flashes of color as she speeds by. Her hair is straight and blonde; its limp wisps graze her deep brown eyes and the tops of her ears. Her cheeks are still plump, and when she poses for the camera they turn into two glossy ornaments that frame her toothy smile. She smiles a lot these days. She can say all sorts of things, including "no" and "mine, all mine." She uses these phrases liberally and with zeal. When she is tickled she squeals and scrunches her face as she protectively shrugs her shoulders up to those infamous cheeks. Books are one of her favorite toys. She will sit in your lap and demand that you read board-book after board-book until you are hoarse. She is no doormat, and is quick to show the other kids who is boss. She can drink through a straw and ride a tricycle. She has her daddy's Lithuanian-blonde hair, brown eyes, and straight nose. She has her mommy's full lips, big smile, and oval face. She is as impish as both of them.

I still don't have my heart back. I think she put it in her pocket so her hands are free to kick the world's ass.

Happy Birthday, Kid.

Can a bitch get some pay equity?

Congress is voting on Lilly Ledbetter today, and I wait with baited breath. For those of you who don't know, Lilly Ledbetter is a woman who started working for Goodyear Tire in 1979. Apparently, Ledbetter had long believed that her male co-workers were receiving higher salaries, but she couldn't prove it until 1998, when someone slipped a letter in her mailbox confirming her suspicions. Ledbetter sued, and the Supreme Court (in its infinite wisdom), ruled that she couldn't sue because of an 180-day statute of limitations. Basically, the Supreme Court told Ledbetter to suck it, because she hadn't sued 180 days after she was hired in 1979.

So today Congress votes on the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which will determine that the 180-day statute of limitations begins with every paycheck, rather than the date that the pay is agreed upon.

This case highlights a lot of the ongoing discrimination that women still face, but I think what bugs the fuck out of me is that something is terribly awry with the Supreme Court. I realize, of course, that 6 of them were appointed by the Bushes and Reagan, so OF COURSE something is wrong with them. But really. I'll never understand the urge of some people to side with big business over actual people. I'm not saying that rulings which favor business don't have their place; but for crying out loud, this is an obvious case of equal rights. The court had a chance to take a stand against the pay disparities that have been plaguing women since...forever, and they failed. It sickens and saddens me that the judges on the highest court in the nation still favor business' rights over women's rights. In fact, I believe the Supreme Court recently took a vote on their new official slogan: "Bros before hos."

Our vaginas don't make us less competent, less able, or less valuable employees. If we perform the same job as a man, we get the same pay. It's that simple. And if we DON'T get the same pay, we get to sue the shit out of the company for damages and backpay. Businesses need to learn that women aren't inferior workers, and that there are consequences for treating us that way. Society leaves us at enough of a disadvantage without the added injustice of receiving 79% of what men make. So come on congress: take a stand for eliminating sexist business practices. Or my vagina will get you in your sleep.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

A movie that will punch you in the face

If you happen to be sitting around today, and you think you might be feeling a little too happy or optimistic and you need to take it down a notch, have I got a movie for you.

We saw The Wrestler last night (which is on limited release now but will be nation-wide in a few weeks), and it felt like the movie slapped me around for awhile before it just stomped on my heart with soccer spikes. Repeatedly. It was a story about a pro-wrestler, whose career peaked in the 80s (think Hulk Hogan). 20 years later, he's washed up. He can barely afford the rent for his trailer home, his only child hates him, and the only woman he loves is a stripper. On top of this, what's left of his wrestling career grinds to a halt when he suffers a heart attack.

Mickey Rourke's performance as the wrestler is totally genuine. I think it must be very hard to act in such an emotional role without making it into a contrived, Lifetime-movie type of thing. He pulled it off with sincerity. At one point, you even sympathize more with him than his daughter, despite the fact that his character is an absentee father.

My only recommendation is that you follow this movie with lots of ice cream and cuddly animals. Otherwise, you'll spend all night brooding over the cruelty and hopelessness of life.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

My days as a deaf blog are over...

Because I got myself an Ear! Or an Earie, as I like to call it. Lucy over at Lucy's Life in Suburb World saw fit to award me the Van Gogh's Ear award for thought-provoking blog. Lucy is one of my most loyal and conservative readers, and I have appreciated her contribution since I started this blog. I don't necessarily want to preach to the choir with these posts; part of my goal is to foster an open-dialogue about my topics. Lucy has proven that we can all talk about our differences without resorting to commiting felonies.

The award is an arts award, but includes writing as an artform (and indeed writing is). So here are my picks for the next Ear recipients:

Courageous Blogger: Possummomma (aka, Atheist in a minivan)
I've written about my girly lesbo crush for Pmomma before. Pmomma is an atheist mother of four awesome kids. She also suffers from lupus, and more recently got royally fucked over by some weird Jon & Kate Plus 8 internet-fan base (it's a weird story, but it involves overzealous religious supporters of J&K accusing Pmomma of something that never happened and then trying to post her personal info all over the internet). She went offline for a bit, but is back and bigger than ever. What I love most about her is her total honesty about her atheism, and ability to stand up for herself (and children) when challenged.

Insightful Blogger: White Trash Academic. She's smart, she's had a really interesting life, and she's overcome a lot. Oh yeah, and our childhoods are eerily similar. 17 thumbs up, WTA.

Provocative Blogger: Stuff White People Do, a thoughtful look into racism and white privilege. Macon D has a bottomless supply of posts on all-things racist and ethnocentric, written with great care and insight. I really appreciate his ability to make me step out of my comfort zone and take a hard look at how myself and the world around me in these terms.

So, congratulations, bloggers. You've won an Earie from a total Rookie :) Pass on the love.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Does Not Play Well With Others

If I were to make a totally honest resume, the title of it would be the title of this post. Since that's not entirely factual, there would be a smaller, bulleted point below that explaining: "When micromanaged by incompetent supervisors."

I don't hate my job; I hate my supervisor. In turn, she makes me hate my job. "Freya" doesn't deserve her position. She isn't qualified: she neither holds a degree nor has any relevant experience in our field. She got the job because a relative of hers attended the same daycare as the relative of a higher boss. Not only does Freya have no clue how things work in our field, she also lacks managerial skills. She's timid, inefficient, and inflexible.

Since these qualities revealed themselves to me in the last few months, I've smelled trouble. I've had trouble containing myself in the past when working with people like Freya. I've been known to either completely shut down or totally blow my top at some point. This time, I've elected to shut down. I minimize my contact with Freya; I keep our meetings as short as possible; I've stopped offering much input when she asks (she doesn't really want it, anyway. It seems that she asks our opinions just so she can tell us that she's doing it differently, anyway).

So today myself and my office-mate, "Carrie" (who is awesome), had our coats and were heading out the door. I believe it was about 4:55. Freya is at her office door.
Me: We're, out, Freya.
Freya: Oh...*check watch* Carrie, do you have class?
Carrie: Um, no?
Freya: Oh...
Me: Do I need to stay for (other employee who is coming in)?
Me: Ok. Goodnight.

Then Freya proceeded to stand awkwardly and watch us go. It was clear that she had some issue with us leaving 5 MINUTES EARLY. The thing is, Carrie and I are both salaried. There isn't a punch clock or anything. And we had finished our work for the day. But Freya is the loneliest fucking workaholic in the universe. Leaving at 5 is early for her. Which is cool, if you want to be a lonely cat-lady for the rest of your life. But I think she expects Carrie and me to stay as long as she does, which is unreasonable when THE WORK IS DONE.

I come home and open my laptop, to find an email from Freya: "Phoebe, Can you be sure to stop in and see me tomorrow?" Those are what I call "doom messages." They don't specify the subject of the meeting, so it's clear that it's not gonna be nice. The thing is, if Freya was a good manager, she would have either understood that 5 minutes is a negligible amount of time, or she would have asked us if we could stay to finish a particular task (if she even had a task).

So now I have to go in tomorrow and argue over leaving 5 minutes early, like when I was 16 and punching out of my fast-food job early. I can't wait until the day that I get to be the boss.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Hug someone you love today

Last night, something like 300,000 people were a 20 minute subway-ride from our apartment, shivering and celebrating 2009 with Dick Clark's mummified face. Our friends from college were in bars, drinking and smoking and laughing. The five people that we know in New York (count 'em!) were at loft parties or private parties or in their apartments, watching those suckers freeze in Times Square.

We weren't with any of them. Instead, we were in our apartment with a bottle of champagne, pigs-in-a-blanket, steamed shrimp, and chocolate chip cookies. We also had one guest: our 52 year old neighbor, "Rose." Normally Rose would be in her own apartment with her husband, hosting her own guests. She would be steaming her own shrimp and serving her own drinks. But exactly 2 weeks ago, Rose's husband died. They were married for 27 years.

This is the same neighbor who asked us to help move her husband to the bed when he fell, a few short weeks ago. Apparently he had been diagnosed with skin cancer last year, but was relatively okay until he developed brain tumors in November. From November to December was a fast downhill spiral, and he was gone much sooner than she expected. She buried him on a Monday. The following Friday, she spent their wedding anniversary alone.

Before she came over on New Year's Eve, she was filling out insurance papers to cover the cost of her husband's burial. She was moving the computer out of his bedroom, so she wouldn't have to be in there so often. She was choosing which of his clothes to give away, and which she wanted to keep just a little while longer.

When she came over, we talked about many things, but especially her husband. They met in India while he was on an extended business trip. She was 25, he was 46. He brought her home to the States, and they built their own business from the ground-up. They traveled all over the world for his job. He didn't cook, so she learned to cook for him. During the last months of his life, Rose said she was sure to make him something he would love for every meal. Yesterday, she brought over a few of her cookbooks for us to have. Some recipes were marked with an star, and I can't help but imagine him sitting at a table with Rose, telling her how much he liked her coconut-lemon cake, and would she make it again sometime?

Rose came over around 9, and stayed until 11:50, when she politely excused herself despite our insistence that she stay and have champagne with us at midnight. Maybe she was tired and didn't really care about waiting until midnight. Maybe she didn't want to sit with a couple while watching all of the other couples kiss on television. Or maybe she just wanted to sit on the couch that she had shared with her husband for so many years, and wish him a happy new year one last time.
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Van Gogh's Ear Award