Monday, October 30, 2006

Saw 3: A Bleak Commentary

This weekend, after being outvoted on my movie pick, "Marie Antoinette," I sat through the most revolting, gruesome, twisted piece of cinema trash that I've ever seen. "Saw 3" the third installment of the Saw series tells the story, if you want to dignify the lack of plot enough to call it a story, of a murderous sadist, Jigsaw, his self-hating, psychotic female accomplice, and the hideous, grotesque, stomach-turning, and mostly fatal, suffering that they inflict upon a group of imperfect human beings.

The producers of this simplistic excuse for a parade of horrors would have us believe that there is a moral hiding beneath all the blood and gore, something about choosing forgiveness over vengeance. In the bleak world of Saw 3, Jigsaw is God, and he's coming after the sinners to torture them into repentance. Woe to those who might be grieving the loss of a son and wishing for the death of their son's killer, committing adultery to escape a painful marriage, handing down sentences for involuntary manslaughter, or driving by an accident without stopping. For their flaws, they are made the sadist's playthings, encased in barbaric contraptions, and forced to cause themselves, and others, unspeakable agony. And, after all that, in order to survive, they are supposed to forgive, and in so doing show themselves worthy of escaping death - at least according to Jigsaw's rules.

Don't allow yourself to be fooled. Despite Saw 3's indelicate protestations to the contrary, there's nothing high-minded about this movie. At it's core, Saw 3 is about a killer's sadistic pleasures. Even more disturbing than the fact that there are people out there sick enough to come up with this stuff, is the fact that there are people willing to watch it.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


I'll be offline for a few days, as I'm back in Houston, this time visiting with my family and our relatives from Sweden. Before this morning, the last time I had seen my Aunt and two cousins was about three years ago. It feels so good to finally see them again. My Aunt is so cool. We've all spent the afternoon sitting around the backyard pool catching up, soaking in the gorgeous weather. It's 90 degrees, sunny, and the sky is crystal clear. The perfect day for a bbq, which we'll do later this evening.

Tomorrow, we're going to the Texas Renaissance Festival, apparently one of the largest in the country. I love those types of things. I think my cousins, particularly the one who is an avid World of Warcraft player, will enjoy it. I went to a Renaissance Fair with my friend Simone back in 1993, and had a fortune teller read my palm. She told me, at the time, that I would be married twice, and tha the second person I married would be my tru love. She told me a whole bunch of other crazy things that I remember being freaked out about. I think I'm going to have to get my palm read again to see what the universe has in store for me. So much has been in flux, both personally and professionally. It would be nice to have some hints about what lies ahead. Cross your fingers that she sees good things on the horizon.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Thursday Thirteen #13

13 Halloween Memories

1) When I was younger, Halloween was a huge holiday for me and my family that involved carving pumpkins, roasting pumpkin seeds, picking out the perfect costumes (such as Wonder Woman), trick-or-treating, and either creating or fighting back against various forms of mischief.

2) In my small New England town, the night before Halloween was called “Mischief Night,” and most of the kids did everything in their power to make the night live up to its name. I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that I participated in several, largely harmless but still very immature pranks, such as toilet-papering and silly-stringing trees in people’s front yards. Thankfully, I never did anything horrible like keying or egging a car. Karma points to me.

3) One year, the ratty little kids living down the street dumped nasty macaroni into our pool on Mischief Night. It was disgusting. We also had many of our painstakingly carved jack-o-lanterns smashed into little pieces on our front lawn. I can understand how that would be satisfying to destroy a pumpkin, as they explode so magnificently once they have been carved and slightly rotted, but it’s so uncool to smash them before Halloween. Negative karma points to the macaroni dumpers and jack-o-lantern smashers.

4) My two brothers and I, and to a lesser extent my little sister Bean (who is more mellow) are a competitive, focused bunch when faced with a challenge we believe worthy of our attention. Getting as much candy as humanly possible on Halloween was one such challenge that we threw ourselves into with gusto and at which we truly excelled.

5) We approached trick-or-treating just as we approached other challenges, such as, going on every ride in an amusement park, seeing all the major sites in a new city, or tasting every wine at a wine-tasting: With single-minded determination and inexhaustible energy.

6) I have many snippets of memories that include sprinting from one house to the next with my brothers, my breath cold in my throat from the chilly outside air, my pulse racing with excitement, looking over my shoulder to see if my Dad was keeping up.

7) My Dad was usually the designated driver on Halloween; not because we were drinking (duh!), but because we needed a driver to maximize our trick-or-treating. He would drop us off in a spot we liked, and once we had agreed where we would meet him next, we would race off to start methodically hitting all the houses in the vicinity. Looking back now, I see how much good-natured patience driving us around and waiting for us must have required of him; but I don’t recall him ever complaining. He’s cool like that.

8) When Bean was little (she’s 8 years younger than me, so when she started trick-or-treating, I was in my trick-or-treating prime, had much longer legs, and could run much faster than her), my Dad went slower with her, or my brothers and I slowed down to allow her to join in. I remember feeling the responsibility of watching out for her, feeling protective of her, and wanting her to come with us. She was so damn cute!

9) At the end of the night, after we had exhausted all of the neighborhoods on our list and ourselves, we would pile back into my Dad’s car and head home, our candy-filled pillow cases bulging on our laps, where our Mom had been doling out candy to trick-or treaters and keeping guard, and Phase II of the night would begin.

10) Upon our return home, we would weigh our pillow cases on the scale up in my parents’ bathroom (we always got pounds and pounds), and then go into the family room were we would start laying out all of our booty on the floor. Even though we largely got the same amount of candy, since we had all gone to the same places, there was much back-and-forth about how much candy each one of us had gotten, who got more, and who got the best stuff.

11) I remember spreading out all of my candy in neat rows, and organizing it by type and category such that, for example, all chocolates were grouped together, and then further subdivided into mini-groups of Musketeers Bars, Snickers, Peanut Butter Cups, etc. My siblings would do the same, so that huge portions of the family room floor were soon covered with piles of candy. It was pretty awesome, and I wish I had pictures of that now.

12) After the weighing, laying out, and organizing, came the most important part of the evening: The Divvying Up. Through much strategic maneuvering, intense negotiations, and lots of bluffing and feigning of indifference, my brothers and I managed to strike the deals necessary to trade our candy so that we all ended up with stacks of our favorites, and managed to get rid of the candy we didn’t like. I always tried to get rid of Butter Fingers and chocolate-covered cherries.

13) Remembering those times with my brothers and sister makes me both happy and wistful. I had a blast running around with them.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It's easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Lot 8: As Cute As Chloe

Since Chloe Dao won PJR last season, I've been dying to go check out her Houston boutique, Lot 8. Last week, when my work ended earlier than expected, I finally got the chance on Friday afternoon. I met up with my very pregnant and very beautiful friend Prue and had a lovely girls' afternoon out on the town, complete with lunch at a cute veggie-friendly restaurant in Montrose, pedicures, and the much anticipated trip to Lot 8.

Spacious, lit up by the sunlight pouring through its floor to ceiling front windows, decorated with large globe lamps and tiny sparkling lights, and filled with fabulous clothes, jewelry, and shoes, Lot 8 did not disappoint. From the front table and it's glass bowl filled with lollie-pops, to it's inviting displays of unique clothing and accessories, there was a relaxed, fun vibe to the place.

Chloe, sadly, was MIA (although she was set to be in the store the following day), but the other people working in the store made up for her absence, in part, by being exceedingly friendly, welcoming, and helpful. They didn't even roll their eyes when I gushed that I was a fan of Chloe's and asked if they minded if I took pictures.

My visit to Lot 8 was brief, as our pedicures had taken a bit longer than expected and I had to make a flight (Prue was awesome and braved the Houston traffic to get me to the airport on time). I maximized my time by whizzing around the store, taking in the ambiance, snapping pictures, and trying on a number of Chloe's designs.

I was thrilled to discover Chloe's "signature halter," a sexy backless silk halter with an extra long wrap-around tie, that comes in a variety of gorgeous, vibrant colors. As one of the store clerks explained, Chloe designed the halter top so that it wraps around and ties in the front, a conscious effort to make the wearer comfortable and confident, with no fear that the top could be untied without the wearer's knowledge. Nice touch, Chloe. I tried on the purple halter and loved it so much that I impulsively bought one in pale turquoise as well (pictured here). I can be bad like that sometimes. So cute, right?

If you have not yet checked out Lot 8, and need to pick up something cute in Houston, you should definitely stop by. Give my regards to Chloe!

My Past Few Days

I have been fairly busy the past week or so, running around, cleaning, chasing the puppies, and trying to relax with Tex, without getting stressed out at him and telling him where to go. But here it is in a nutshell.

We are now 16 weeks pregnant. I guess the baby is about 5 inches, he or she can suck the thumb, pee, swallow amniotic fluid, do summersaults, kick me even though I haven't felt it. I have gained about a pound per week, surprisingly my pants still fit, I just can't button them all the way. Probably the strangest thing for me is that I am waiting for Tex to gain weight too, sleep alot, and when I get sick, to feel sick too. He has been very nice when I am sick, making dinner, tea, starting a hot shower for me, or just rubbing my back; all of which I more than take advantage of.

Last thursday, I had a lot of fun. I was able to see my sister Buttercup's friend, Simone, while she was in town. Simone is so much fun and it was so good to see her. Though our visit was quick, we hung out and talked. She met my husband for the first time, and I was able to catch up with her and hear about what she has been doing. She has been very close to my sister for a long time as well as close to our family; it was so comforting to be able to see her and give her a big hug. After we met up with Simone, Tex, his little sister, and I went to 2 haunted houses. It was great, since it was thursday we didn't wait in line very long. I got spooked a few times, but for the most part I was having fun, laughing and giggling. I love haunted houses, so I couldn't resist going even though I knew my heart woud race once or twice.

Tex and I enjoyed our weekend with the pups. We cleaned the house, watched horror movies (it is a tradition for Tex and I to watch horror movies throughout October for Halloween). Monday wasn't very fun. I woke up at 5am for a 7 am dentist appointment. What was supposed to be just a "molding" for a permanent crown, and a temporary put on, became a pain in the ass. I was there from 7 until 2 in the afternoon. My mouth felt like a machete had ripped through it. My boss felt so bad, she let me go home and relax, so I did and enjoyed my extra hour of being home early. The pups were thrilled to have their momma home; they both came and laid next to the couch with their bones while I relaxed. Then, of course, Tex and I went to see Monday night football at a friend's house, as we have only missed one game. Tex was very disappointed when the Cowboys lost. He got upset when I told him it was because of their shitty QB Drew Bledose. He threw the game away, literally. I was a bit hopeful when they replaced him near the end of the game with Romo, who probably could have helped the team back, but he had far too little time and Bledsoe had paved him a shitty road to drive on.

Today has been allright. I woke up only to begin driving to work in a hail storm. I got very nervous when I pulled out onto the main road and my car fish tailed a bit. And, only 2 minutes down the road, the car ahead of me started sliding. The slush got a hold of her tires and she went off the road and slammed sideways into a truck trailer that was parked. I was frightened for this person. I pulled over cautiously and ran to the opposite side where the vehicle was. The car wasn't on fire or anything but the right side was done, the whole gas tank area was smashed in, and the backseats were up against the back of the front seats. I didn't see anyone in the front seats, but I found the woman in the back seat.

Fortunately she wasn't bleeding or injured badly, which is crazy because she landed all the way in the back seat. She was alert, or as alert as she could be after an accident like that. I called 911 and a sheriff was on the way. A gentlemen came out from his house to help assist us. The woman climbed to the front and the gentelman was able to get the door open. We were freezing as the hail picked up again. Thank goodness this woman wasn't injured because the Sheriff didn't get there for a good half hour. For a short time, she had forgotten what road she was on and where she was. I gave her a soft pat on the back and rubbed her back. What amazed me the most was that she was so grateful that I had stopped. Not many people stop when they see an accident.

When the sheriff arrived, he took a double galnce at her car and mine. He had thought that I had been involved. I explained I had just seen her vehicle veer off. He too was amazed that I wasn't involved in the accident but had stopped just to make sure this stranger was alright. It is sad to me that many will see something and just keep on going about their day. What would have happend if this woman needed someone right away? The gentleman from his house wasn't out right away, she could have been badly injured.

As I left in my vehicle, I felt very good about myself. The woman kept saying thank you and showing her gratitude towards me and all I could say was "It's no big deal, I am glad you are alright and not injured. Don't worry about your car either, be happy you are alright." I am not happy that she had to go through that accident, but I am glad that I was behind her and pulled over to make sure she was alright.

My week has been eventful in different ways, but with this morning, I am glad to be who I am. No one else stopped on the road today, they just sped on by to get to where they were going. I made it to work an hour late with spatters of slush and mud on my pants from passing by vehicles. I looked horrible, but I am grateful that I was ok. Things could be alot worse.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Unless You Want To Go To Prison, Kindly Refrain From Unwanted Touching

Dear Mr. Biker,

Yesterday, while I was walking north on Seventh Avenue, crossing 35th Street, I saw you barreling towards me and moved out of your way as a courtesy. It can be dangerous riding bikes in Manhattan, what with all the traffic and crazy cab drivers zipping through the congested streets. I didn't want you to have to swerve into oncoming traffic in an effort to avoid running into me, so I quickly stepped aside to allow you to pass.

As a thank you for my courtesy, you road close to me - much closer than you had to - and then, as you passed me, you hit me on my ass with your open hand. I'm not sure what you intended to do when you hit me, whether you were intending to grope my ass, or whether you meant to slap it as forcefully as you did. Maybe you couldn't control the force of your slap since you were riding on your bike. Whatever your intentions, you hit me hard enough that it stung, and I froze in the middle of the street stunned by your violation of my person, staring off after your retreating back.

Perhaps, in light of all the street harassment of women that you no doubt see on a regular basis while tooling around Manhattan on your fancy little bike, you are under the mistaken impression that women like to be harassed, fondled, and even hit while moving through public spaces. I'm here to tell you that you are wrong, and that your behavior yesterday afternoon was revolting and completely unacceptable.

Despite your apparent view to the contrary, a view I know is held by many of your brothers in this fine city, I have a right to walk down the streets of New York unmolested and undisturbed, and I do not enjoy being harassed or assaulted. Which is, by the way, what you did to me when you hit me on the street, you assaulted me. In New York, we have rules against assault. For example, under the New York Penal Code, a person is guilty of assault in the third degree when:

1. With intent to cause physical injury to another person, he causes such injury to such person or to a third person; or
2. He recklessly causes physical injury to another person; or
3. With criminal negligence, he causes physical injury to another person by means of a deadly weapon or a dangerous instrument.

It might also interest you to know that third degree assault is a Class A Misdemeanor, the penalty for which is "definite imprisonment" up to 1 year. Next time, before you assault a woman on the street, please consider that you could be facing a year in prison for your actions.

You are lucky that you road away so quickly on your bike because I would have done everything in my power to prosecute you, had you not run off like the pathetic, cowardly, despicable creature that you are. You are also lucky that this had never happened to me before. Next time a biker gets close to me, I'm going to be at the ready. If they go to slap me, I'm taking them down.

- A Woman Sick Of Street Harassment

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Observations of Wedding Bliss

I realized this weekend, to my surprise, that I've become one of those people who get emotional at weddings. It's because of all the love in the air. I didn't used to be like that, and I'm not sure how it happened. Weddings, expressions of other people's love, never used to move me, except towards the free champagne waiting at the open bar.

It's not because I'm cynical by nature. I'm a romantic at heart, and hope for the stuff of fairy tales, but on a day-to-day basis, relationship optimism comes to me only with some difficulty, and blind faith has been a practical impossibility. I tend to think of and test all the negative possibilities and assume the worst until proven wrong. It's a self-protective mechanism that has, I'm sure, made it challenging (to say the least) to be in a relationship with me for more than one ex-boyfriend. But, it also tries to keep things honest, which is where I've needed to be in order to feel comfortable and secure.

My greatest relationship fear is dishonesty. More so than the act of betrayal, I fear being lied to about an act of betrayal. I fear that I would not know what was truly going on in the mind of my partner; that I was trusting someone undeserving of my trust, or loving someone who did not love me back. The bottom line for me is that I don't want to be kept in the dark - about anything.

Love, betrayal, and dishonesty were some of the themes going through my mind this past weekend, when I attended the wedding of one of my law school classmates. Lovely thoughts for a wedding, I know. Several of the men there with their wives and girlfriends had been rumored to have been indiscreet at one point or another during these very same relationships. For years, I had judged the men because of their perceived past indiscretions - even though I do not know with any certainty the truth of the rumors, and certainly do not know the extent to which the parties may have "come clean" to their partners and moved on together. Perhaps because of my strong feelings on the subject of relationship dishonesty, I had always felt uneasy socializing with this group. By not saying anything about the rumors to the women - which I would only have done if I had had clear evidence, I had felt like I was somehow participating in a cover-up; like some of the men's slime was rubbing off on me. I had never been able to stomach the idea of the men having cheated (possibly) and the women not knowing (possibly) - staying in a relationship under false pretenses.

As I watched the bride and groom dance the first dance of the evening, the best man and maid of honor toast the happy couple, and the parents of the bride and groom choke up talking about how proud they were of their daughter and son, I found to my surprise that I was getting emotional. The bride was lovely, the groom was dapper, and both radiated happy contentment as they walked through the crowd beaming at each other and all of their guests. Watching them follow each other with their eyes filled with such love, I felt hopeful. These two loved each other so much that they had decided to commit the rest of their lives to one another. Wow! Here was an apparent example of love triumphing over all. My eyes started to tear up, and I forced myself to think about sports - something completely unemotional to me - in order to keep myself from ruining my mascara.

Soaking up the couple's obvious happiness, I found my judgmental attitude ebbing away. Thinking about the relationships of the couples in attendance at the wedding, I thought for the first time that perhaps the couples had been open and honest and made peace with each other before deciding to commit themselves further to each other. Certainly, I would like to believe that if a person has been dishonest, they would reach a point where they finally do the right thing and are honest about it; preferably prior to saying "I do." That's just having faith in humanity. For all I know, all of the couples there had long ago been honest with each other (or had been honest with each other throughout their relationships), had forgiven each other, and had only decided to move on to the next level of commitment once they had achieved a state of honesty.

It would be nice if everyone entered relationships perfectly mature and capable of caring for each other with sensitivity, self-lessness, and understanding, but that's not often the way it goes. Sure, some people meet, never fight, and appear to effortlessly live happily ever after. But for the rest of us - the vast majority of us, I think - the road off into the sunset is a whole lot bumpier. It takes time to grow as individuals, and it takes time to grow as a couple, to understand each others needs, and to figure out ways of making each other feel loved and supported. Along the way, people make mistakes, they cause each other pain, and they try to figure out if they can be together; if they want to be together, despite all the challenges. In dealing with the mistakes, they learn about forgiveness and they learn about love; the type of love that's based on understanding, honesty, and compassion.

It's hard, and it takes a lot of effort to make a relationship work. But when two people decide, despite all the challenges, that they want to be together for the rest of their lives, it's an amazing, humbling, and beautiful thing to observe.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Thursday Thirteen # 12

13 Things I Like About Hotels

1) Big Fluffy Beds and Perfectly Weighted Comforters - The W's Heavenly Bed is the best, hands down. I don't think they use down; I think it's closer to what the Europeans use. I'm sure IKEA would have something similar.

2) Blissful Silence - With their insulated walls and windows, floors far above street level, and big fluffy bedding, hotels are the only place I can sleep without my earplugs. It's like being in a desensory tank; something I think I'd really find relaxing.

3) Room Service - Who doesn't like coffee and freshly prepared food delivered to them at their whim? The Four Seasons makes it fancy with silver trays and utensils and huge pots of coffee.

4) Big Bath Tubs - I'm not sure if I've mentioned the issues with the bathtub in my apartment? Suffice it to say, for now, that luxurious baths are not an everyday occasion. However, hotels have enormous bathtubs and are the perfect setting for relaxing bubble baths.

5) Big Fluffy Bathrobes - I have a frayed purple bathrobe at home that I use on occasion. It's no match to the soft, white robes the hotels provide for guests. In the B&B that Raj and I stayed in in Victoria they also provided nice fluffy robes, I think from Nautica.

6) Big Fluffy Towels - I'm sure you're starting to see a pattern here. Big, fluffy and soft all translates into an indulgent, pampering experience.

7) Television For Me And Me Alone - As much as I love snuggling with Raj watching TV, it''s nice every now and then to have a TV devoted solely to my viewing pleasure. I'm sure he feels the same way when I'm not around asking him to mute football or flip back and forth between his sports and my reality shows.

8) Sleep Enhancing Details - Hotels have made perfecting the sleep experience of their patrons an art. For example, the Four Seasons has a bedside book about how to enhance the sleep experience, along with a relaxation CD to help you wind down at the end of the day. I most certainly am in need of such reminders and instructions as to how relax.

9) On-Site Gyms - I love having a treadmill nearby. By "nearby" I mean within the building in which I sleep. Not that I've used it yet! But I'm hopeful that I will as it's only a few floors below me. They also let you rent movies while on the treadmill. What could be better? When I grow up, I want a treadmill in my house.

10) Courtesy Cars - At the Four Seasons they provide courtesy cars to take guests anywhere they need to go in downtown Houston for no charge. It's a nice change from cabs, and it gives you the sense for how it must feel to have a limo at your beck and call. Not a bad life.

11) Business Centers - They're great for when you're actually on business and have saved my tush numerous times by provided me with last minute copies or fedex-ing my banker boxes. When you're not on business, they're a comfortable place to check email, make plane reservations, and print out any needed confirmations.

12) Cute Seating Nooks - Perfect for curling up with a good book, your work, or sipping tea and thinking.

13) Clean, Pristine, Perfectly Organized Space - I often think how awesome it would be, and how clarifying and soothing for my mind, if I could keep my apartment as nice and organized as hotels always seem to be able to do. During a brief stint when I had a cleaning person come every 2 weeks to clean my apartment (before I moved in with Raj), I used to look forward delightedly to the day that my apartment would be cleaned. I would come home, peek through the door expectantly, and then drift around the apartment admiring how neat and organized everything looked. I wish I could do that!

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It's easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Don't Tell Me What Happened on PJR!

Houston royally messed with my Wednesday night television viewing pleasure. First, there was the small matter of the one-hour time change. Being used to east coast time, I'm used to looking at only the first number and avoiding the second whenever the times of TV shows are announced. Call it what you will, it's my east coast privilege and I like it.

For example, I'm used to seeing that ANTM shows at "8/7c," focusing on the "8" and ignoring the "7c." Who cares about central time anyway? Unfortunately, that attitude leads to problems in Houston (and rightly so, let's be frank) such as me coming home after my deposition at 6:45 pm, sighing to myself that I had 1 hour and 15 minutes to kill until I could unwind by watching ANTM, and keeping myself occupied by reviewing today's depo transcript and dying my roots - things that did not have to be done right that second - while boxing was on in the background. Yes, boxing! No, I'm not a fan. I just didn't care what was on at 7 pm because usually nothing good is on at 7 pm. Plus, I was totally freaked out that I was going to turn my part orange, as it was my first foray into the wild, wild world of root dying. God, tonight is so sad for so many reasons! Did I mention that I'm getting old and I have gray hairs. So sad, but enough about that.

So, I missed ANTM. To be accurate, I happened to catch the last 10 minutes of the show when I turned to CW at 7:50 pm in anticipation of catching the beginning of the show at 8pm. At least Anchal survived for one more week. I'm sure all these details are fascinating. What can I say, such is my life at the moment.

But, wait, there's more. After missing ANTM and realizing my little time change error, I thankfully caught Lost at 8 pm. Phew. After Lost, I was supposed to watch the season finale of Project Runway, and since I had all of my time figured out there should have been no obstacle to achieving that goal (I had to do work but my plan was to have it on in the background). Can you imagine my horror when I discovered that the Four Seasons does not have Bravo!?!? Who doesn't have Bravo in this day and age? The Four Seasons sets itself out to be a fancy-pants hotel and it doesn't even have one of the most basic television channels. It's so egregious it might just be grounds enough for me to stay elsewhere next time I'm in Houston.

Or, I could just get a DVR. It's not even that I watch a lot of TV. I really don't. It's just that I have three shows and they all happen to be shown on Wednesday and for various reasons I always end up missing part of them. It's not fair! I'm a simple girl. I just want one night where I an relax and enjoy my TV. Is that so wrong?

I'm all over a DVR, just as soon as October quiets down a bit. (Btw, the picture is ANTM because I didn't want to risk looking up PJR and spoiling it for myself. My dad taped it, so I'll be able to watch it next weekend).

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Exhausted in Houston

I arrived in Houston today for work after a mad dash couple of days. I have been so stressed out and exhausted because of the last few days, and now, as I'm sitting here in my hotel trying to prep for tomorrow's deposition, I'm feeling all of my circuits starting to crash big time.

The silver lining to my mind and body's current state of exhaustion is that I accomplished a ton. Over the weekend, with the invaluable help of my brother Frey and Raj, in addition to discovering the disturbing world of UFC, I finally moved all of my remaining belongings out of storage. It is such a relief to have myself disentangled from that money pit! Of course, moving everything out of storage meant that I had to do somehow make them fit in the closet that Raj and I currently -affectionately- call home. Easier said than done as stepping over boxes to get to the refrigerator simply was not a sustainable solution. After much lifting, organizing, and creative thinking, I managed to make the apartment livable for the moment, but still have a large stack of boxes that I'm going to have to deal with when I get back to New York. :( Raj and I really need to invest in shelving. I feel like shelving would be kind of revolutionary for us.

I'll be in Houston through the end of the week, and then am flying straight to Michigan for a wedding of some of Raj's friends. I know them too, so technically I guess they're my friends as well, but he knows them far better. I'm not sure how I feel about attending the wedding per se, as I haven't kept up ties with this group of people. I'm anticipating a whole bunch of semi-annoying stories, but am trying to maintain a positive outlook (I'm succeeding well, can't you tell?). Weddings are usually fun; everyone's happy, drinks are flowing freely, and love is in the air. I'm excited to be going as Raj's date. I think he's going to look very handsome, and I'm hoping my dress looks cute. I'm also excited because going to Michigan means that I'll be able to see some of my closest friends, Wood and Dutch. It was Wood's b-day this past Saturday so celebrations are definitely in order.

Okay, enough of this blogging and worrying about the week ahead. I'll be so thrilled when the week is over and I'm on my way to Michigan - hopefully well-rested and relaxed. On that note, I'm off to bed. I can't wait to sleep. Good night!

Monday, October 16, 2006

UFC: Ultimate Testosterone Overload

Perched upon a bar stool at the Playwright Tavern on Saturday night, flanked by my brother Frey on my left and Raj on my right, I witnessed the ultimate testosterone-crazed blood-fest: Ultimate Fighting Championship ("UFC"). The pay-per-view event, for which each bar patron was charged a whopping cover of $20, consisted of six to eight almost-no-holds-barred matches between fighters competing for various weight class championship titles.

UFC is freakin' crazy. Fighters are allowed, and indeed encouraged, to commit all manner of imaginable brutality upon each other. With the exception of the standard rule against contact with the male genitalia (of course that would be off limits), and another rule against kneeing fighters in the head while they are on the ground (kneeing them in the head, face, and directly in the nose are all okay as long as the fighter is not lying on the ground), pretty much every other act of deliberate violence is considered fair game. The point, per my brother Frey, is to knock your opponent unconscious.

In the matches I witnessed, I saw fighters wrestle, attempt to suffocate one another, punch each other repeatedly in the face, head, and ribs, break each others noses, box, kick, throw each other to the ground, and scrape each other across the chain link fence that encloses the octagonal fighting ring. There was so much violence and blood - particularly in the third match - that I got queasy several times; more so about the violence than the blood. The way the men were throwing each other around, it was easy to see how they could kill or paralyze one another, and my stomach kept flipping over imagining one of their necks breaking and the irreparable harm that would cause to the victim.

I was also a bit queasy about the crowd. Most of the people in the bar were men, although there was a strong female contingent, many of whom were drinking, dancing, and shrieking up a storm - encouraged of course by many of the male patrons and the bartenders. With the exception of me, and perhaps Raj, everyone in there seemed to be gunning to see some blood; my own brother included. Every time a fighter delivered a nasty hit, particularly when it drew blood, it was met with a roar of approval from the crowd. The crowd cheered even more fanatically on the replays where you could actually see fists connecting with noses, bones breaking, faces crumpling and then re-expanding, and blood dripping all over in slow motion. Before seeing those replays, I hadn't realized that faces could cave in on themselves and then re-expand like beanbag chairs. I couldn't contain my winces, imagining my own face being broken into pieces.

This all made me think about men, testosterone, and the spectacle of male violence. Rome had its Gladiators, we've had our boxers, and now UFC - clearly a step closer to the Gladiators, and I don't mean that as a compliment. Prior to witnessing UFC, I had thought boxing was the ultimate in stereotypical male-ness. UFC, however, made boxing look like a cake-walk. And in its almost-no-holds-barred mentality, UFC is far closer to gladiators than boxing, with it's big puffy gloves, could ever be. What is it about setting human beings upon one another and letting them battle as close as possible to the death that we as a people find so fascinating? What's the bloodlust about? And isn't there something severely wrong with our society that we celebrate such spectacles of violence, depravity, and brutality?

It also made me think about questions of exploitation. It seems to be a generally accepted fact that most of the competitors in UFC, and even boxing, come from the disadvantaged in our society. Upper-crust, highly-educated members of the privileged classes do not appear to be well-represented in the ranks of the UFC participants, nor boxing or Gladiators for that matter. Members of the elite do not fight with each other for the right to get beaten to a bloody pulp for a a fee. They don't have to because they have money and they have options, something I suspect many of the UFC contenders lack.

The more I thought about the UFC contenders, the more they started to remind me of another group of individuals: Strippers and prostitutes. Both groups sell their bodies, one for violence and blood, and the other for sex. (Not that the two are mutually exclusive). Both groups meet demands in our society, and it could be argued that the participants willingly choose to meet those demands. But when you look at who is "choosing" these particular career paths, and you consider the tremendous costs to both groups of individuals, you have to wonder whether the decision to pursue either is a true choice.

If my only viable option for success, however that word is defined (i.e. food, clothing, shelter, financial security, the ability to raise a family, and the ability to direct the course of my life), was to sell my body, I think I would "choose" to sell my body. Similarly, if my only viable option for success was to get beaten to a bloody pulp for a fee, I think I would "choose" to sell my body and my blood to the crowd. What rational being wouldn't in the absence of any viable alternatives?

But, it shouldn't be that way; there should be viable alternatives. Neither men nor women should have to allow their bodies to be brutalized in order to survive, and the spectacle of their exploitation - however "willingly" entered into - should not be the source of our society's cheers. It's so unseemly.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Bird Goddesses?

Strolling through the Metropolitan Museum of Art the other day, I came across these figurines of women with the heads of birds. More evidence that the Goddess once ruled several thousand years ago.

This one, smaller than the others, with rounder features and more elaborate detailing on her body, was my favorite. I think she might be holding a baby female bird goddess. How cute!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Thursday Thirteen #11

13 Reasons I Love My Girl Friends
(not all 13 reasons apply to each of my GFs)

1) They take as much glee from the model drama on ANTM as I do.

2) They prefer shopping to sports, and would never leave me in the middle of a shoe store to go grab a beer in the bar next door.

3) They're not resistant to using products.

4) They understand the beauty of bubble baths, and never accuse me of having "too many _____" (insert: lotions, bath oils, moisturizers, lip sticks, etc.).

5) They don't stereotype movies about romance, love, and emotions as "chick flicks."

6) They listen, validate and understand.

7) When I'm wrong, they tell me, but in a really nice way, and they make sure that I know that they love me anyway.

8) I don't have to wonder if they're checking out Heidi's rack when I watch Project Runway with them.

9) They don't pump their fists in the air and vehemently curse at the TV when games are on (except for maybe Prue).

10) They don't act like the smell of nail polish is toxic.

11) No matter how far away they are, or how long it has been since we last talked, they are there for me.

12) One of them is an incredible mommy, and one of them is about to be.

13) They're all intelligent, independent, strong, compassionate and amazing women.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It's easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Lost - Kate, Jackie, and James

What a Wednesday! LOST and PJR all in one night? It's almost too much goodness to handle. Some spoilers below so beware!

With respect to Lost, I'll just say, for the moment - since it's late and I'm off to bed - that I'm glad Sawyer hasn't changed his incorrigible ways. WTF is up with the Others? I have a friend who believes they might be a group of extreme eco-scientists intent upon destroying the world and creating a new civilization ala Oryx and Crake. The crazy psyche experiments might be to weed out those who deserve to be saved from those who don't. But if so, then why all the torture right up front? Why the cages and chain gang? I don't know what I think, except that I don't like the Others.

Ooooh, the drama on PJR. Laura got a bit nasty and my gut is that Jeffrey might not have deserved her suspicion. I can't believe we have to wait until next week to see who wins!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Odds and Ends

While sitting in on a prep session with one of our experts this afternoon, I experienced what it feels like to contribute independent critical thought to the big-firm legal process, to have my contributions appreciated, and to be able to learn by watching more experienced lawyers in practice; three experiences that are basically non-existent in my work under Dragon Lady. It was a refreshing change of pace.

Raj is going to the gym tonight, but I can't because I have a number of things to take care of before I go home, and for the moment I'm not feeling bad about it, berating myself for "getting fat" or feeling miserable because I'm still at the office. I wished him a good work-out and we agreed to meet at home later, then went back to being productive. I'm not sure why I handled that well tonight...but I'm proud of myself. Go me! I think it has to do in part with the fact that I had a productive day and am not intensely stressed out. Life is so much better in DL's absence.

I finally got my bloglines and accounts up and running (although I have nothing tagged yet in because I can't download the dang button onto my work computer). I find that it's difficult to keep up with blog-reading because my time is so limited. Most days I feel like it's quite an accomplishment if I post something on Buttercup & Bean; I'm a superstar if I also check out and comment on some of favorite blogs like Strange Dark Gypsy Girl, The Star Shine Report, Words Thoughts Nonsense, and She's A Betty.

I finally booked by airline ticket to Detroit for a wedding next weekend. I also mentally picked out my outfit for the wedding, an all-important step. I think I'm going with my little black dress. It's a 4 pm wedding, with an evening reception following the ceremony, so I think black will be ok. I'm in need of some sexy new shoes, so may have to go shopping for a bit this weekend. No problem with that on my end!

I'm looking for the apartment organization ideas to cleverly revamp my and Raj's teeny, tiny New York apartment. Send me your ideas and if I use them I'll post before and after shots with a link to your blog!

I'm finally going to catch the Project Runway reunion episode tonight at 11 pm. I can't wait! And then tomorrow we find out who wins. Michael! Michael! Michael! If not Michael, then anyone but Jeffrey!

Monday, October 09, 2006


How did it get to be 8 o'clock pm today and I'm still at the office? I've spent the whole day trying to check a binder the paralegals prepared for me of all the documents cited in an expert's report. It's filled with dull accounting literature and long bates numbers and it's so b-o-o-o-r-i-n-g. How am I going to get through 87 more days of this?

Here's some good news to balance out the gloom and doom: On a wave of optimism earlier in the day, I researched and signed myself up for a knitting class for the month of November. How cool is that? Just writing about it is cheering me up again. It's like I'm a normal person with a normal life that includes exploring my passions and interests. I can't believe I've been in New York for exactly two years and six days, and I've never taken a class. Hi, life.

I'm psyched about the knitting class because I think it will be (1) relaxing, (2) creative, and (3) potentially a way to meet other cool girls. Depending upon what skills I can acquire, I also might be able to make a few x-mas presents. I'm sure my family would love that.

By the end of my knitting class, it will be December, a month filled with, among other things, my birthday (ooh la la), christmas, family visits, and vacation. If I can just get through the rest of October and November, December will fly by and then I'll be down to two weeks in January. I can totally do that. (I just have to keep telling myself that).

A Far Cry From The Princess And The Pea

This weekend I spent the night in a Domestic Violence ("DV") shelter in order to keep one of my clients company. It's one of the "good" shelters; 24-hr security, a location on a calm, quite, tree-lined street, and individual rooms for clients. I slept on the bed where my client's sister usually sleeps. Her sister has been in the hospital since last Saturday. She's getting better, and will probably come "home" in a few days. I'm grateful she has a temporary home to come back to, but I wish she were coming back to a better place.

I discovered this weekend that the bed that she will be coming back to, like all beds in the shelter, is a mattress covered in vinyl that feels like it's made of lumpy cement. Lying on my back, trying to go to sleep in it, I squirmed around trying to figure out whether the pressure I could feel pressing into my back were springs or clumps of mattress stuffing. I couldn't figure it out. I woke up repeatedly during the night because every time I moved, or my client in the next bed shifted position, it sounded like one of us were slipping off of a plastic raft; you know, the kind that float in swimming pools. I had one sheet between the vinyl and my body, and no top sheet between my body and an itchy woolen blanket. By the morning, the sheet - slippery against the vinyl - was a crumpled mass at the bottom of the bed and I was lying on plastic.

Bad as the bed was, the pillow was worse. All of the adjectives that usually are used to describe pillows - fluffy, soft, cushiony - don't apply. It was obviously very old, the cotton stuffing was clumped together in uncomfortable knots, and when I rested my head upon it, the pillow squeezed down into nothing. It was basically like resting my head on a small pile of rags.

I woke up with my back and neck achey and sore, and I'm still stiff today. After that one night of attempted sleep, I finally understand why my clients have been having so much difficulty sleeping, and why they often feel achey in their bodies. Here, I've been telling them how important it is to get a good night's sleep, encouraging them to go to sleep early, and they've been tossing and turning on plastic-covered concrete slabs. I had no idea, and they - not having experienced anything better, and not wanting to complain - didn't say anything. I feel so bad for them. The good news for them is that the problem will (hopefully) be fixed. The team of individuals with whom I work on this case - members of the non-profit organization who initially sought my firm's pro bono assistance - have had numerous discussions in the last two days. Actual pillows and egg-crate mattresses are in the works.

When I told my client that piece of good news, she asked, "Will everyone in the shelter be getting better beds, or only me and my sister?" She's so thoughtful and sweet, despite everything that she's had to endure. I had to tell her that for now, we were looking to get better bedding for only her and her sister. Funding for two clients is one matter; funding to upgrade the bedding in an entire shelter is a completely different matter.

I've worked with DV shelters before and know that they're not rolling in money. However, as long as there was a bed available for my client and counseling services, I felt like the immediate needs of my client had been met. At least they were not getting beat up. At least they were safe. I had never given much thought to the quality of the beds. I suppose in part that's because until Saturday, I hadn't realized that beds could be of such poor quality. It's also because when you're dealing with a crisis situation, you focus on the crisis. Comfort gets lost in safety planning and security concerns.

But comfort shouldn't get lost, because it's an important part of healing, of feeling safe, of a sense of well-being. Particularly for those clients who have to stay in shelters for more than a few days. After escaping an abusive situation, people need to heal. They need their basic necessities taken care of, and one of those necessities is sleep. Good sleep is impossible to get on a lumpy piles of concrete. That shouldn't be the best that women and children can expect upon escaping their abusive situations.

There are many excellent DV shelters out there, and perhaps some of them have better quality beds than the ones at the shelter I spent the night at. I don't know, because I haven't been there. But, I suspect that most of the DV shelters all over the country need funds. If not for comfortable and comforting beds, than for other basic necessities for their clients. I'm not sure why I have never donated to a DV shelter before, but I think I'm going to start.

If you are in need of a DV shelter, looking for information about domestic violence, or interested in making a donation, both of these organizations in New York, Safe Horizon and Sanctuary For Families, provide excellent resources and services. Check 'em out.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Choking On Garbage In The Name Of Counter-Terrorism

I'm so pissed at the idiotic actions "Homeland Security" has taken in the name of countering terrorism. I've been pissed for a while on behalf of brown people and those of Middle Eastern descent, many of whom have been targeted by this administration's wars. Two weeks ago, while traveling in Canada, I got pissed on behalf of Canadians and Mexicans, our neighbors to the North and South, who have to put up with our mad plans to wall them out. I even got pissed on behalf of those Canadians who muttered, "Let's kick all the Americans out," in response to a news article describing the proposed US-Canadian Immigration Fence, while I was standing next to them, innocently, buying OJ in a convenience store in Vancouver. It's only natural for Canadians to bluster about kicking Americans out of their country when Americans seem so intent upon kicking the world out of our country. I would have probably felt and said the same thing if I was them. But I'm not. Thanks to Bushie, I'm part of the North American behemoth currently casting a shadow across the globe.

I'm pissed on behalf of immigrants in general, who are now often treated with even more suspicion, disrespect and disregard than they were before this latest round of preventive strikes and isolationism began. I'm especially pissed on behalf of asylum seekers who now, in addition to having to demonstrate through excrutiatingly detailed accounts that they have suffered persecution - which is understandable, though emotionally and sometimes practically difficult -, also have the burden of convincing oftentimes ignorant, unkind, Ameri-centric asylum officers that they are not terrorists because they are from Pakistan or Afghanistan, because they wear or wore a headscarf, or because they are Muslim.

I'm pissed on behalf of the 50% of Americans - me included - who don't support Bush who can only nod in sympathy - as if to say, we're with you, not them - when people from other countries tell us that they are boycotting America until at least 2008, which is what a friendly Welsh couple told Raj and I over breakfast at our B&B in Victoria, B.C. America is growing increasingly divided within itself and from the rest of the world. I don't want to be divided from the rest of the world, but that's the posture this administration is forcing upon me.

I'm also pissed on behalf of myself because, during the last few times that I flew, I was unable to bypass baggage claim by packing my belongings economically in my carry-on bag because the administration decided that items as small and innocuous as mascara wands, liquid pens, and foundation bottles could be used to conceal explosive materials. Because of recent "relaxed" restrictions that allow passengers to carry "liquids, gels or aerosols in containers of 3 ounces or less, as long as they all fit into a clear 1-quart plastic bag" I'll be able to carry my make-up with me on my next flight. It's about freakin' time. What exactly did our esteemed government expect the would-be terrorists to do with all that banned make-up? Did they envision 20 terrorists gathering together on the plane and surreptitiously dumping out the contents of their lipgloss containers into the palms of one lucky suicide bomber?

Clearly, all the policy-makers at Homeland Security ("HS") are men. Women know the painstaking effort it takes to get the last bit of mascara out of the tube, or the last smudge of lip gloss, and could have told HS that the idea of a bunch of men huddled together shaking make-up containers in the air in order to get out their explosive materials is highly improbable, let alone ludicrous. And even if they tried it - say, by passing the make-up containers down the aisles to one another - don't you think someone would notice?

Above all else, I'm pissed on behalf of the environment, because Mother Nature is suffering big-time because of the efforts of HS. During the wholesale ban on liquids, passengers in security lines were throwing away water bottles - along with innumerable other containers - by the thousands. With these latest relaxed restrictions, passengers are now able to bring on liquids purchased in the gate area after security, but they will still no doubt throw away their water bottles prior to going through security. Can you imagine how much extra garbage this is generating? Our landfills were already overflowing before "Homeland Security" started running things. God knows what they look like now.

That's just the United States. In Canada, when I went to purchase an OJ in the gate area, I was told that every liquid purchased must be poured into a large paper cup at the time of purchase due to "airport regulations." I was thirsty and hadn't had breakfast so I bought it, and in doing so I tripled the amount of garbage I alone would normally have produced for absolutely no reason whatsoever. Dumping the contents of a plastic container into a paper cup that I could drink in the gate area, but which I had to dispose of prior to the flight, in no way made air travel safer for me or my fellow passengers. To be fair, as this was in Canada I suppose I can't blame HS, although I'm sure their behind it in some way.

Getting back to the US, normally I travel with a Nalgene bottle that I refill as I go so that I don't leave behind me an unnecessary trail of waste. This last trip, I knew I was on precarious ground allowing my empty Nalgene bottle to go through security. Sure enough, one officer opened his mouth to make a fuss, but thankfully a different officer shut him down by saying shortly, "It's empty, man." HS has us so paranoid about liquids that even empty water bottles are suspect!

It's all so ridiculous. Yes, the thought of terrorists bringing aboard liquid explosives scares the daylights out of me. But we're not going to counter those threats by over-inclusive bans that provide terrorists with a roadmap as to how to avoid being targeted by our security. Practical issues of counter-terrorism aside, I'm all for policies that make our country, and the world, more secure. But, I don't believe that drowning our country in garbage is going to help us become more secure. "Securing" our nation will be an ultimately pointless endeavor if in so doing HS destroys the very thing it's attempting to protect.

Come to think of it, maybe this is all part of an elaborate terrorist plot? Instead of destroying our economy and killing us all off, they're trying to turn the forces of American consumerism against America! If we bury ourselves alive in garbage, there will be nothing left of America for the terrorists to try to destroy. We'll do their work for them while they're home relaxing in front of their satellite TVs, watching CNN chronicle the whole dramatic story.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

I Hate Being This Kind Of Lawyer

These are the weeks I hate at work. In the last three days, the only thing I have done - other than get a few hours of fitful, drug-induced (sleeping pills) sleep, is work. Monday, I got home at about 3:00 am and then couldn't get to sleep until close to 5 am. I had horrible sleep and I was so hot and sweaty the whole night. Raj kept moving because he was getting attacked by a mosquito.

Tuesday, I felt delirious and sick at work. I was stressed out because of Dragon Lady and some personal stresses, and my eyes kept feeling like they were moving slower than my head whenever I turned sideways. I had to ask my secretary to go get me water because I felt like vomiting. Too much stress, too little support, and way too little sleep.

Today has been a little better, but it's still been a 15 hour day filled with stress. I had to meet with Dragon Lady which was confusing. She smiled at me when I entered her office and didn't treat me like I was a complete moron. I think it may have been because I looked like I was going to kill anyone who gave me any shit. Also because I used the word "screwed" in a sentence. As in, If everything goes to hell, we'll have these copies and we won't be screwed. She respects that sort of thing I guess.

Ah, miserable existence. I'm almost in the 80s so you would think my spirits would be up, and just between the two of us they were until personal stress combined with work stress; then it became too much. I know I've said this lots of times but I hate not having time to do anything. And when it's this crazy at work - preparing for effing depos for Dragon Lady - there is simply no time. At least the deposition ends at 6 pm tomorrow. Then I'm off to counseling.

That's the only thing I didn't cancel this week. Which is really good, because at the moment I really need it.

So much for being all zen.

P.S. Eventhough I still hate working for Dragon Lady, I must admit that I feel a bit bad for using the "C" word about her, though it's not the first time. I was so angry and in the moment the word seemed to fit. But how are we - i.e. feminists - to reclaim the word, when women - i.e. moi - keep calling each other that as if it's the worst possible thing you could say? It wasn't nice of me. Sorry Dragon Lady. Even though you are not nice and really stress me out.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A Proposed Small Step For Womenkind

Pondering the issue of unwanted male attention, I found myself thinking about another unwanted encounter I had on Sunday afternoon while walking down another block on 8th Avenue to meet Raj for a quick bite.

A man fell in step with me on my right (putting himself between the street and me, just as the other one had) and said, "Excuse me, do you mind if I introduce myself?" He was a tall, skinny white male in his 40s with shaggy brown hair, faded denim clothes that didn't look especially clean, and a guitar slung across his back. I said, "No," but in a clipped, polite, noncommittal sort of way, and he told me that his name was "L." Not liking where this was going, I said, "I'm on my way to meet my boyfriend." He mumbled, "Okay, then" and fell out of step with me.

Another one bites the dust. Kudos of a sort to me. But, what had I accomplished in this encounter?

For those of you keeping track, that would be two unwanted encounters with males in the span of 3 days. Either I've been looking exceptionally hot, New York males have been feeling exceptionally desperate, there's something strange going on on 8th Avenue, or men everywhere feel a warped sense of entitlement to accost women in public places. Raj said it's my fault for wiggling my butt suggestively when I walk, which I most certainly do not do! (Unless he's behind me on the stairs.) But, I digress.

According to Gravelly, I need to do a better job of not putting myself in situations where I could become the target of unwanted male attention. But, as a woman, that's difficult to do because so often it doesn't matter where we go, what we do, what we wear, or what time it is. There is almost always going to be some man who feels entitled to gaze at, ogle, comment on, approach, or take forceful possession of our bodies. Although I refuse to concede that I must limit my freedom of movement because of the bad behavior of men, I’m wondering if I could do a better job of combating it on an individual level.

This problem of unwanted male attention is about men, not women. Or more accurately, this problem is about the gendered imbalance of power between men and women in our society. It's about men feeling like they are entitled to any piece of female ass that shows up in their vicinity. Unless of course said piece of female ass is already taken by another male. If a woman has been claimed by another man, then other males will often back off, hence my handy "boyfriend defense." Whereas an unclaimed woman in our society (this goes for lesbians too, which though claimed by their female partners are not claimed by males) is open territory - a loose cauldron of bubbling sexual energy to be controlled by men - a claimed women has already given over her sexual energy to the male system, and in so doing has gained a protector she can trot out to fend off the testosterone-crazed masses whenever they mistake her for one of the female free agents operating out in no-man's land. No one said patriarchal possession didn’t come with its positives.

What's the solution to all this, and what’s a girl to do to make it happen? The solution would be for men to come to realize that they are not entitled to every piece of female ass that shows up in their vicinity, whether or not said piece of female ass is already claimed by another male, has a male protector waiting for her on the next corner, or wiggles her ass when she walks. The solution, as our powerful songstress of soul said so eloquently, is to teach men some R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

The boyfriend defense is a handy way of telling men to buzz off, and it’s a nice way of warning would-be attackers that you are not alone (let’s not overlook this other perk of the defense), but it doesn’t teach men to respect women. Rather, it reinforces a problematic aspect of the gender power structure in which men show respect for one another, and other men's belongings (in our patriarchal system that would be us ladies), but not for women in their own right.

The defense also has the unintended consequence of perpetuating unwanted male behavior because it keeps hope alive in the hearts of men. When women use the boyfriend defense as a shorthand way of explaining their lack of interest, as I did, it allows males to delude themselves with the fiction that the object of their desires would have been interested but for the fact that she was already taken. It allows them to imagine that the next woman they approach on the street might actually welcome their advances. In helping myself by shooing L away, I did the rest of the women walking down 8th Avenue on Sunday a disservice.

What should I have done to do my small part in shifting this powerful tide of male entitlement? What should I have said to send the clear message that men are not entitled to approach women willy-nilly on the street and to expect that women will be interested in their often times crude ovations unless they are already claimed by another male?

When he asked me whether I minded if he introduced himself, I should have looked him straight in the eye, owned my lack of interest, and declared, "Yes, I do. Now leave me alone.” I should have done my best to crush the hope within his chest. That would have helped me and my sisters on 8th Avenue.

Can you imagine if all women started responding in such unequivocal terms when faced with unwanted male attention? Men might actually start becoming afraid of approaching women on the street. That would be something.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Toxicity's Waning Grasp

Six days ago I moved into double-digits. Hoo-yah! Ever since, I've been humming to myself a little ditty that y'all might know about 99 bottles of beer on the wall, 99 bottles of beer... It brings back a lot of pleasant memories. Most of them associated with green leather seats in the back of school buses, shrieking going over big bumps, and delightful middle school drama.

Tonight, with Raj's help, I created a new version of that old favorite. It's 10:42 pm and I'm stuck at work dealing with a billion request from Dragon Lady. Raj is home ironing shirts and watching a movie. You have no idea how much I wish I was at home with him instead of here.

The inspiration behind my artistic genius is that Dragon Lady has been in rare form these past few days. Tonight, she acted like a flat-out duplicitious bitch. She made me so livid I started contemplating once again the idea of telling all the partners that I'm leaving because of her and her abusive treatment when I give my two weeks notice. Fucking bitch.

Dragon Lady, this one's for you:

94 days with the Cunt left to go,
94 days left to go-o-o.
You knock one off, go twirl around,
94 days with the Cunt left to go.

One more time! All together now:

94 days with the Cunt left to go,
94 days left to go-o-o.
You knock one off, go twirl around,
94 days with the Cunt left to go.

For the creative types out there, who can come up with another verse for my new personal anthem? Send me your suggestions in comments. I can't wait!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Tara Would Be Proud

I had a challenging and emotional weekend, but am feeling quite zen about things, which is surprising me. It's been some time since I thought to myself that things happen for a reason and believed it.

It happened this weekend in response to witnessing the difficulties two of my teenage clients are having dealing with the psychological effects of their parents' abuse. They are very depressed, among other things, and were recently placed on anti-depressants as part of their treatment. Because I'm close with them and because they trust me, I found myself in the position of talking with them about their depression and trying to reassure them that what they were experiencing was normal, understandable, and something that was not going to last forever. I tried to counsel them to be honest with their psychiatrists in order to better help their doctors help them feel better.

I've come a long way since the afternoon 14 months ago when I first walked into my therapist's office and told her that I didn't trust therapists, felt weak and like a failure for being there, and doubted that therapy would be able to help me deal with the issues with which I was struggling. At the time, I was aware of the benefits of therapy because I had seen them work on other people close to me, but at the same time felt like a personal failure for not being "strong" enough to deal with my - what I perceived to be miniscule - problems on my own.

Now I get it. I get that I was strong by reaching out for help instead of staying frozen and sad inside my own head. I get that I wasn't having a difficult time because I was "weak" but because I was under enormous stress and was having a rough time. I get that it's ok to go through a rough time and it's ok to ask for help. That's what I'm now trying to convey to my clients, so that they won't add the negative baggage of our society's mental health stigma to the already considerable stress, depression, and pain with which they are dealing.

The zen component came into the picture when I realized this evening that I would not have been able to counsel my clients the way that I did if I had not gone through my own experience with depression this past year. I don't mean to suggest that if you haven't experienced depression, you can't understand the experience of depression. What I mean to say is that if I had not had my own experience with depression, I do not believe I would have been able to understand it as I now do.

Confronting my own feelings of depression, and facing the stigmas around mental health which I had unknowingly internalized, I learned a great deal about myself and came to understand the tremendous potential benefit of therapy. My journey was not fun, by any stretch of the imagination, but it made me stronger, and it gave me knowledge that I now find myself drawing upon to help others.

If my experiences in any way end up indirectly helping these two girls, then everything I went through was worth it. Even working at the firm. Even Dragon Lady! Now I'm really getting zen.