a musing on recently trendy slang

i’ve noticed that the word ‘douche’ or ‘douchebag’ is being used quite a bit by even my most intimate circle of friends to denote ‘a person or attitude that is unpleasant or uncaring’. and M remarked a while back that she’s not particularly fond of it and doesn’t use it herself, because she thinks it’s misogynistic.

i don’t use those kinds of phrases much, mostly if i’m going to call anyone a bad name i call them an ass[hole]. this is surely unfairly denigrating that most important part of us upright striding beings, but it is absolutely universal and doesn’t single any group out over any other. [bastard=children of unmarried parents, bitch=women, dick=men, etc…] i’ve also tried to scrub out of my language words that evoke the struggles that some people face every day [lame, retard, crazy, etc. i struggle with crazy, and do slip up with that one. it’s mostly because i haven’t quite decided how much i can legitimately reclaim it as someone who has a lot of mental illness in my life. but that’s another post.]

so douche. it’s a pejorative term. its literal meaning is “a device used to introduce a stream of water into the body for medical or hygienic reasons, or the stream of water itself.” (thanks wikipedia) but obviously most of the time it’s used to irrigate the vagina.

now, most hippie womens’ health texts do not encourage the practice of douching. most of my friends are hippies of some sort or another. so, they might be using this phrase pejoratively because they personally think that the practice of douching is bad, bad for women, bad for vaginas. so they might be using it in a way that’s not misogynist.

but [there’s always a but!] given the phrase’s widespread acceptance in straight culture, i’m going to hypothesize that M is right, and that the reason that ‘douche’ is considered an appropriate way to heap scorn upon someone is that people think that vaginas are gross. not that douches are gross.

and that’s misogynist.

so i don’t use douche, and i kind of wish that no one did, kind of like i wish that many fewer people casually used ‘bitch’ to describe their female co-workers/ex-best-friends/difficult female relatives.

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professional blues

i probably shouldn’t write about work here, and i won’t say anything specific, but instead just meditate on hard times for a moment. i’ve been out of school for several months now, looking for a job steadily during that time. i haven’t sent out tons and tons of applications, because what i’m looking for is really specific, but i also believe that i’m an extremely well-qualified candidate for the thing i’m looking for.

and i’ve sent out all these job applications, and had one interview. one. for a temp job, and i didn’t get it. i understand how hard it is right now with the bad economy and funding for just about everything drying up. but i want to know why i’m not getting interviews. i know people who get interviews all the time and flub them. i don’t, as a rule, flub interviews. i shine in interviews. i convince people who think i’m woefully underqualified that i might just have what it takes after all. even the job i didn’t get gave me tons of positive feedback on the interview.

but now my student loan payments are coming due, and i really thought that by this time it would have happened. i would have found something amazing. or at least good enough. as the year gets darker and colder, and the bills that i was just about covering comfortably almost double with the addition of my loan payments, i feel like i’m sinking into a kind of darkness. i hate being dependent on the kindness of anyone — even my beloved spouse, who is subsidizing me right now. i hate looking at myself in the mirror, growing puffy with lack of exercise and wearing old clothes that were either purchased three or four years ago or in thrift stores. i feel like my brain is slowly atrophying with the dullness of my temp job.

i know this will pass, or at least i cling to the hope that it will. i have lots of good days. i am surrounded by good friends and i have a warm place to live and food to eat and even health and dental insurance. but i want to be able to provide those things for myself. and more than that, i want to be challenged and appreciated and useful. i want to be employed not only to provide material things for myself and my loved ones, but to be contributing to the cultural exchange of ideas and work. i love working. i love going to work and having colleagues and the drama of having big deadlines to meet and the challenge it takes to meet them. i’m sad right now because i don’t have those things, and i’m not creative or disciplined enough to manufacture them for myself. some people have a day job, and a creative endeavor that is their true sustenance. for me, my work is my sustenance. which is why i’ve been selective about what to apply for — but now, i suppose i’m paying the price.

i’m really struggling with how sad and hopeless i feel about all this. i’m frustrated with myself on all sorts of levels. i can’t get away from the self-blame — if i were just more ambitious, if i had sent out more applications, if i had taken different classes or developed different skills i wouldn’t be suffering this way. if i were less gay. if i were more corporate. if i were smarter or more savvy or less self-indulgent. i don’t even know what i should be — the hard thing is that it feels like what i am is wrong.

this will pass i know but i just had to get it out of my system. thanks for reading.

***update***

literally just this minute i was notified of a job interview. maybe i just needed to wallow in misery for a while. the universe uses me as a yo-yo. whatever. i feel a bit better now.

i hear the way you lie…

so, you remember my post about that eminem & rihanna song, where i discuss how painful and difficult it is for me to listen to it, and how i do and don’t identify with it.  and lo and behold, some amazing people remade it with a message of empowerment and survival.

i am so glad.  it is like a perfect antidote.  and though it gets a tiny bit corny in a couple of spots, i’m just so happy it’s out there, and when i think about that song i can think about this version now too.

enjoy!

when i rule the world

all workplaces will have the following:

1.  tea/coffee stations, where you can boil water, make tea, and access various products which one might like to add to one’s tea.

2.  child care facilities, that will be staffed partly by paid attendants and partly through volunteer labour from the parents who use it.  these volunteer hours will be taken from the parents’ workdays and paid at their regular rate.

3.  a nap room, which can be signed out for up to 1/2 hour once per day by any staff member.

4.  an anger-management room, which will be soundproofed completely and contain an assortment of items like bouncing balls, a punching bag, a few free weights, etc.  this room can also be signed out by any staff member for up to 15 minutes.

5.  gender neutral bathrooms, where each stall is private and lockable, and there is a main area for sinks & hand-drying facilities.

6.  windows with access to natural light.

happy monday, everyone.

white-grey november

where the leaves fly off the trees like flocks of birds and the rain is so wet and cold it cuts you.  but i still love it.

last night i got to meet ivan coyote.  she was performing in the ‘dangerous mammals’ tour with bear bergman (cute, right?), and a local progressive librarian group put on the show.  it was amazing.

in the course of the show, ivan said that she believes that storytelling is the best way to effect social change.  that getting straight to the compassionate part of people, appealing to their humanity, showing them the way to seeing us as real human beings ourselves with thoughts and feelings and things in common with them, is the best way to change the world.  that it’s not about legislation or protest rallies or all the other things we do out there to try to be heard.

which is funny, because i’ve spent a great deal of time working on changing the rules we live by from the top down — working to legislate transgender equality here in MA, working in my old school to promote lgbt inclusion in the curriculum.  if my activist self had come of age a decade sooner, i would have been front and center in the marriage movement, as many of my friends now were then.

so i could have felt dismissed by ivan, or put down, but i didn’t.  telling stories is one of my primary methods of communicating to people why these changes in the legal structure of our society are so important.  there are lots of reasons why rules are important.  they are a way of agreeing on something as a society.  that’s where their power to do both good and evil lies — the rules are often self-reinforcing, amplifying our values to the point of distortion.  right now we think that wealthiness for individuals builds national prosperity — and the gap between rich and poor has widened so much that our nation’s well-being index falls when this gap is taken into account.  we are very worried about sex and bodies — so people whose sex is ‘different’, or who want control over their bodies, are marginalized and punished.  sex workers, gay people, trans people, abortion-seekers — all are legislated almost out of existence in our country.

so i agree with ivan — and i think that those stories are what change people’s minds, so they can begin to collectively sign on to the new rules we try to put in place to reflect the humanity we all share.

i’d like to go on, but i promised myself i would write for 15 minutes only and i’m done now.   maybe i’ll add some links to back up my points tomorrow…

xoxo fg

be still my beating heart

oh not really.  wouldn’t that be the dreaded alternative we’re always reminded of on our birthdays?  and how do i always end up starting blog posts with non-sequiturs?

oh dear.  where i was going with that was, omg two posts in one month!  be still my beating heart!

ok focus!

i’m in montreal right now, and i thought i’d write about it.  the storm from hell has been raging all day, which means your correspondent was bedraggled and wet before the day even got started, and my resemblance to ‘something the cat dragged in’ got stronger and stronger all day.  no one seemed to mind though.

i’m really impressed with this city.  we’re staying in the gay village [village gai] in a ridiculously gay guesthouse.  the guy who runs it looks like he’s a cross between an aging hipster dude and some guy from a 70s porno.  hilarious.  he smokes, so the place smells like smoke, which thankfully doesn’t really bother either M or me.  there are big windows that look out over the street, and it’s right in the thick of things.  ‘breakfast’ consists of coffee served on the proprietor’s countertop — i think he doesn’t do anything but run this place, and spends most of his time sitting in his living room watching tv.  he asked me in to drink my coffee at his table this morning.  i was worried it was/would be creepy, but actually we just talked about the city and what things are good.  i’m surprised by how laid back this experience is.

then i set out into the city and walked the mile to downtown.  in the pouring blowing rain.  i KNOW i could have gotten on the metro which is literally 200 feet from the inn.  I KNOW.  but then i wouldn’t have gotten to see the streets, how the city fits together, the shops that are the same and different from the US.  so, soaking wet, i finally ended up at the art museum, because i can never resist a good decorative arts gallery.  i looked at some art and then sat in the museum cafe and drank coffee and had a brioche cannelle aux raisins, which is french for the BEST PASTRY EVER (actually, it’s french for ‘raisin-cinnamon bun’).  the gift shop was also amazing.  it kindled all my dormant materialist desires, and inspired me to go home and use my vast fibre arts training to make myself cute things to wear.

i step away from the sparkly accessories, remind myself that i can go shopping when i get a proper job, and move on to more art.  i exhaust the museum and face the harsh reality that i a) have no dinner, b) have to get home through the hideous rain some how and c) if i go back to the inn at that moment i will feel like i wasted a whole day in montreal doing nothing.  so i set off for the atwater market, which is a huge conglomeration of cheese shops, produce stands, butcher shops, and a massive patisserie to top it off.  i drooled over everything (making lots of friends in the process) while selecting what i was having for dinner and conducted two out of four transactions entirely in french, which made me feel amazing.  once upon a time i was on my way to having french as a real second language, but disuse has buried it into the deepest recesses of my brain.  i’m in the awkward phase now where i figure out what they said several minutes after the transaction is over.

tonight M is stuck in a big conference dinner, which i am not totally clear on why i am not able to attend (isn’t that something that people do — they bring their spouses to conference dinners?  or was that just my dad?  i have a distinct memory of sitting in a hotel room in belgium at the tender age of 11 while my parents were at the big HP conference dinner.  but whatever, it means i have time to write to you all), but afterward we are planning to stop by the women’s bar across the street from us.  can you believe it?  montreal has a gigantic women’s bar.  wtf is wrong with boston??

oh yeah, to continue the food narrative…i bought some cheese, cider, and strawberries (all quebecois!) for my dinner.  i also had a funny conversation with the produce guy about ground cherries — everyone was selling big buckets of them, and i finally asked what it was, and he laughed and gave me one to try.  this was one of my all-french interactions, so i was really pleased.  i liked it but i felt like it needed cooking so i got strawberries instead.  but now that i’ve done a little more research, i’m tempted to get a big bucket of them on our way home & make a ground cherry pie!

another thing i’ve noticed is that older women are more stylish here than in most of the US.  i walked into a store that looked (to my eye) like an upscale, hip boutique, and i realized as i was walking around loving the stuff they had for sale that all of the other clientele were well past 50.  i passed a woman of about 60 on the street and couldn’t stop staring at her awesome studded leather jacket.  she wasn’t an aging punk — she appeared to be a proper modish middle class lady.  it’s just that her jacket was really cool.  i feel like that’s largely unheard of in the US, at least in boston…

and so, dear readers, this comes to an end, because i think my bedraggled glamorousness needs to take a nap.  i’m on vacation.  and people who are on vacation get to nap, or so i’ve heard…

 

omg it’s totally october.

hi everyone.  it’s been…a month.  i’ve written lots and lots of stuff, been to new york and back, been to washington dc and back, and am off to montreal in a hot minute…but i haven’t been here.

well i’ve been here in my head, thinking about things i want to write and tell you, thinking about things i could say about my life, or the weather, or i could write more about my feelings about apples, or i could write about how it’s almost pomegranate season.  or i could write about how i was struggling with hard emotions last week, and every week.  and so i don’t write at all.  i’d rather cuddle with you.  or sit on the couch side by side as we surf the web randomly and point out funny pictures or read snippets of interesting articles to each other, being irritated a little because it’s distracting but liking the camraderie of the moment.  i’d rather take a walk in the mist with you and talk about your life and my life and the intersection of race and poverty and gender and sexuality.  i’d rather watch a movie with you in a dark theatre with a big bucket of popcorn with real butter.  i’d rather cook you dinner.

given that i’ve never met most of you, and the ones i’ve met mostly don’t live nearby, these things won’t happen tonight.  so i’m writing something down to say hello and remind myself that i exist in this space, that this space exists for me.  i told M today that i would consider moving to nowheresville [she is sending off job applications, and i dread the interview request issuing from the middle of nowhere the country] if she sets me up in a lovely house with a studio so i can be a writer.

i surprise myself with my audacity.  i’m not a writer, i’m a 32 yr old with a lot of angst and delusions of grandeur.  but i’d like to be a writer, in an airy studio with floor to ceiling windows covered in white gauze curtains, overlooking rolling greenness with a misty pond in the distance.  maybe a neighbor will have a picturesque horse who hangs her head over a fence and takes apples from me when i’m out for my afternoon yoga walk.  i suppose i could let my hair grow, and be a hippie femme with flowing garments and a pagan stone circle out in those fields…or i could keep my shorter hair and my urbanness, always on the edge of out of place…

but my life always intrudes, there’s always something pressing to do.  organizing that has to happen.  work to be done.  a paycheck to be gotten.  groceries to buy, relationship to process and clarify and sustain, friendships that need love, cats that need feeding.  writing isn’t prioritized — it rips itself out of me when i’m distressed, as a tool of clarification.  rarely do i give it my full attention.  it is there for me when i need it, but not when i want it.  i sit sometimes in the time allotted to ‘write’ and look over my blank page at whatever pretty view i’ve arranged for myself, lost in the moment and disconnected from the words in my head.

sometimes the world intrudes too.  i wrote a post but i put it on facebook, because i thought it would reach more people that way.  i posted it to my friends and networks, instead of just my usual circumscribed list of people who i actually like.  i wrote about how too many young people are dying, and it’s our fault.  that we are responsible for their deaths and should be actively working to prevent them.  it was meant as a guilt trip, but the only feedback i got was people who do so much already thanking me for posting it.  with the lone exception of my little sister, who is the best and strongest straight ally i know, who said she would try to do better.  i want her to do that.  but what i really want is the straight and clueless assholes who share this world with me to get going and make it safer for me.  because if it’s safer for me it will be safer for the beautiful young people who would rather die than face this homophobic horror movie.  and i miss each and every one of them.  it is breaking my heart.

coming out day is coming up.  i’ll try to write my usual plug for coming out.  in solidarity with queer youth in general, check out the blog at http://www.kickedoutanthology.com/ and consider sending in a message of solidarity.  i’m working on mine now.  and write to me.  hold me accountable for writing to you.  i miss you.