International Women’s Day Thought Download

I spent the day doing what I always do (recently, anyway): I got up when the baby did, fed him, thanked my husband for making oatmeal for me before he had to head to campus, got caught up on FB while the baby dumped ALL of his toys onto the floor, then tortured the baby with continued inattention while I readied myself to teach. I drove us to campus, handed baby duties off to my husband so I could talk about the importance of communication to a room full of speech students: some who want to learn, some who just want to get through the class so they can crawl back to bed. I fed the baby a peanut butter sandwhich, wiped peanut butter off his face while he yelled at me, then ate my sandwhich while he toddled down the hall, my husband close behind him. I bounced and breast fed my son in my hsuband’s darkened office, hoping that he would go to sleep before my next class started. He didn’t, so had to leave him, half-asleep and wailing, so that I could go downstairs and teach my advanced acting class, again with the knowledge that some of my students genuinely want to learn, and some of them just want to crawl back to bed. I then tiptoed back into my husband’s office so he could teach his class, and got a little grading done while my son slept. When he woke up, I packed up all his stuff, all my stuff, and brought us back home so we could take a walk, eat, and play with all the toys on the floor. When he finally went to sleep for the night, I spent 2 hours grading, emailing students, and sloppily shoveling some food into my face.

I did not go on strike.

I did not attend a rally (there weren’t any rallies in this small town to attend.)

I did not change the world.

But I thought about the world, about my place in it, and about how complicated the fight for equal rights is.

I read a lot social media discussions that went something like this:

Statement: Women’s rights are human rights!
Response: You already have those!

Or:

Statement: Equal pay for equal work!
Response: Stop whining!

Or:

Statement: I don’t see what the fuss is about. I’m a woman, and no one is oppressing me!
Response: Where to begin…

And I felt the crushing wave of overwhelm bearing down on me again.

I’m tired. I’ve had some truly exhausting moments in my life, but I never felt the kind of soul crushing exhaustion that I feel in my bones now that I have a baby calling the shots. Part of this is because – in wanting to be more than just a wife and mother, I’m trying to juggle too much. Part of this is because our nation doesn’t particularly value women beyond their abiity to incubate life and mother, and it kind of wants them to do all that baby-having stuff on their own without help.

I’ve been working adjunct and freelance positions for the past several years – I don’t have job security, health benefits, a retirement plan, or maternity leave. When I found out I would be delivering Finn a month into the Spring semester, I began to sweat because it meant I’d have to take the semester off. Without pay. And I hardly make enough pay to do anything with anyway.

And now, here we are, my husband with a full-time tenure-track professorship that requires he also direct at least 3 of the 4 annual college productions – I’m still just adjunct. We’re quite a bit in debt, meaning even if I was alright with pushing pause on my career, we can’t afford for me to stop work anyway.

So…

I’m teaching 3 classes, raising a baby without day care or babysitters, and running a new play festival while my husband works full time and directs. Sure, I could ditch the new play fest – but it’s something I believe in and it is an important part of my growing body of work as an artist… something that really matters if I hope to ever get out of the adjunct pool and into a permanent teaching position somewhere.

Which I do. I don’t want to be a stay at home mom – never have. I’m not built that way. So I am happy that I am able to continue working, even though the schedule is brutal. And I am happy that I am able to continue coordinating and facilitating theatrical opportunities because it’s important to my artistic self.

Even though all of it feels like too, too, too much.

And most of the time I feel like I’m not doing enough.

And so, now that my baby is finally in bed, and I’m left with a few moments to put his toys away (so that they are available to dump out again in the morning), I’m thinking again about International Woman’s Day and how I spent the day trapped between all the hopes for what it should mean to be a woman today, and all the realities.

Statement: Women work hard, but we have to make choices about our lives that men never have to do. We have to decide whether or not to have children (if we’re lucky) and we have to chose whether or not to put our careers on hold if we do. There are societal judgments attached to all of this. And meanwhile, we continue to be judged on our looks, our temperment, and our emotions in ways that men aren’t. We are expected to do all of this with less job security and lower pay. We are expected to pay higher insurance premiums because the awesome power of our baby-making parts terrifies insurers. We are expected to be polite, attractive, and appreciative in ways that men never are. And so, on International Women’s Day, I don’t think it’s asking too much to say I’m tired of defending my fight for women.
Response: Stop whining.
Statement: Fuck off.

And that’s about all I have the time, or energy, to say right now.

I am a white American woman. I have a lot of privileges that a lot of women in this country and elsewhere do not. I am thankful – so very thankful – for the freedoms I do have, for the people in my life who never tell me to be “polite”, and for all the female role models in my life who fight for what they want/believe in/and love, who live their lives the way they see fit, and who continue to stand up for my right to do the same.

I hear you. I see you. I appreciate you.

But we have a lot of work to do, so I’m going to keep fighting.  That’s what women do.

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“But, I don’t want to apologize!”

One of the things that I find immensely frustrating about our new President-Elect is his inability to apologize.  The fact that he lacks such a basic societal function should be great cause for concern, yet his supporters don’t seem to mind.  Why is that?


via GIPHY

Accountability is something we teach to our children, applaud our spouses for, and appreciate in friends, co-workers, and bosses alike.  The ability to admit you have made a mistake is not only vital for healthy relationships, but it’s also an important step towards personal evolution and self-growth.

And yes,, there are follow-up steps required for an apology to be truly effective – if we only mutter the words “I’m sorry” but don’t change our behavior afterwards, those words lose their power pretty quickly.

  • “I’m sorry I hit you when you took my toy car. Next time you take one of my toys without my permission, I’ll ask you to give it back to me instead.”
  • “I’m sorry I hurt your feelings.  Your friendship is important to me, so I’ll try to be more sensitive to your needs”
  • “I’m sorry I ran the red light.  Next time I’ll drive more carefully”

In every instance, accepting accountability and weighing the fall-out from our actions (losing a friend, losing a lover, paying a fine, getting fired etc.) help us change our behavior for the better.  And that’s why the the “Next time I’ll try to…” part is crucial – it demonstrates just how much your remorse has effected you and helps you set a personal goal to be better.

But we are about to have a president who can’t apologize even when he’s caught red-handed for insulting/offending people.  We are about to have a president who blames everyone else for his mistakes.  He lashes out at news reporters reporting on facts and shoots vindictive and petty tweets at anyone who offends him.  He is vengeful.  He is almost exclusively focused on himself and how the world effects him.

 
“Stupid” is one of the president elect’s favorite words  via GIPHY

These are not qualities we would encourage or put up with in our children or our friends/family. They are not qualities we would put up with from a co-worker or boss.  They are not qualities we would set down as examples for our neighbors.

And yet… here we are.

And this inability to accept blame, to apologize for insulting/damaging behavior – it has consequences.

I’m seeing a lot of Trump supporters in the news who are unable to separate their own hopes for Trump’s administration from the facts of his behavior thus far.  They believed he would drain the swamp, even though he’s since admitted that he was just saying that because the people liked it.  They believed he would surround himself with the “best” advisors, and refuse to look closer at the Wall-Street elite and billionaires unfamiliar with or against the very departments he’s tasked them with heading.  They believe he will serve this country, although his own life proves that the only person Trump has ever served is himself.

It’s really, really hard to give up on the team you’ve backed.  And it may even be too early for many to even consider giving up on Trump, even in light of the mounting evidence of interference from, and probable collusion with Russia, to win this election.

But it’s made harder when the man you have pinned your hopes to can’t even admit the slightest possibility of fallibility himself.

If someone only takes credit for the “great” and “wonderful” things happening around him (sometimes even when they had nothing to do with the “great” thing that happened – like this, and this– and if you’d like to read a little more about it read this) no personal growth is possible.  We learn from our mistakes, and we endeavor to be better people because of them.  But when someone refuses to see himself as fallible, he resides in an arrested state of ego – a state that only begets more and more damage to those around him

But all the pontificating in the world means nothing to Trump – the man is in his 70’s, a natural salesman, and very set in his ways/world view.  The question then isn’t “When will our President-elect grow up?” but rather, “Will the rest of us grow in spite of our new president’s poor examples?”

Facebook: It’s What’s For Dinner!

Oh.  My.  GOD.  Facebook is ruining my life!  (not really)  I am constantly checking it for news and updates and (apparently) reasons to get my blood pressure going… It’s as though, in my new socially-isolated small town existence, I’ve substituted “Likes” and political arguments for the genuine human connection I — in my hermit-like state — didn’t realize I so truly needed.

But what’s a girl (and new mom) to do?

This new town of ours is smack dab in the middle of a very red state, is so small there isn’t evenfacebook-problems a movie theater, and I — in my “late 30’s” — have never been particularly good at meeting people anyway…

But this election!

THIS ELECTION!

It has driven me to heartache and tears, continued frustration, and an abject feeling of hopeless-helplessnes that I loathe with the very fiber of my being.

And some of my less-political or right-leaning friends probably think I’m crazy for getting so worked up about politics, but isn’t that part of the malfunction that’s led us here in the first place?  The American Apathy: consumption-obsessed, entertainment-gobbling, unimpressed-with-politics citizen who, as long as their internet isn’t too slow, has been content to let our politicians do as they please behind the big Democracy curtain?

runningFor a long damn time, the attitude has been “They just do what they want anyway, and nothing ever changes”, with any recognition that change only happens when the electorate gets involved – and yuck, who wants to, like, call people or write letters or (worse yet) go to a freakin’ town-council meeting?! So instead, we grumble along, distracted by the latest iPhone and reality TV.

(sigh)

At least, that’s how it feels to me.  I’ve not been particularly politically engaged before this election.  Sure, I signed a few petitions and wrote a letter to a Congressman or two, but I was mostly content pre-occupied with trying to figure out why my career wasn’t where I wanted it to be, what I might be able to do to get it there eventually, and trying to like, live my life, in the meantime…

But here I am.

Angry.

Frustrated.

Trying to do something about it all…

And instead of being productive – like, calling my reps every time I see them gearing up for something grossly offensive – I post another article on FB with some frustrated comment, and stew all day about how ineffective I feel.

So I’m quitting… sort of… well…

What I’m really going to try to do is turn my FB time way down, and instead focus on articulating my thoughts here or in my creative works as best I can. (Did I mention I have an infant?  He’s one of the reasons I’m reading news sites and FB so often instead of making art and spinning words like I used to.)  I used to keep an almost-daily blog, and I really miss it, so the thought of coming back to it is grand.  I just hope I find time (or more aptly, am able to make time) to track my thoughts here – I’ve had this blog for a few years now, and you can count the number of posts on two hands :-/

But I think that setting an intention to write more and rant less (on FB at least) is a good start.

The last thing I’d like to say about FB today is that many of my posts and discussions up till recently were shared in the genuine interest of connecting with my friends of differing views.  I read a lot of the things my friends post, even when I know I disagree with them, and I hoped that those friends would perhaps do the same – and maybe they did, I can’t really know.  I engaged with some of my friends with whom I disagreed in the interest of having a genuine conversation about the issues at hand, and I learned a lot from those discussions, even when they went absolutely nowhere (which was most of the time).  I completely believe that having discussions with people who are different than us is vital, and I appreciate every single person who was willing to talk about the issues and their POV’s with me.

I hope we keep talking.

But I also feel that my experiment with social-media debate has come to a disappointing close.  The divide between “sides” (the fact that we are all taking sides at all, in this democratic nation, is incredibly unfortunate) feels too sharp, jagged, and wound-ish to overcome through mere discussion, and I’m afraid my own in-the-interest-of-connection has sputtered to a sour place of “WTF, People?!”

I think a lot of things are going to have to happen before we all start listening and healing together – things like making news media accountable for spreading falsehoods or using slant to serve their corporate interests; things like fighting back against the top 1% who are hell-bent on keeping us divided, because divided people are easier to rule; things like making incredible art/reaching out through art in order to help build empathy in communities that are isolated and unsympathetic to the “Other”— but I have hope that we will get there, and that we will get there together, and I’m going to try my best to be part of the healing.

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But what do the artists say?

There are a lot of deep thoughts being had right now by a great majority of Americans.  Most of the deep thinking is in reaction to the existential panic this year’s election has stirred up.  You can see it in the faces of people walking by – their eyes focused on something in the distance… it’s the promise of a finish line!  But between them and it lies a hell-storm in the form of a fire-tornado spinning atop shark infested shit-water.

panicOur new daily mantra is “Dear god, please let it be over.” Followed by a quick, “And please let it be over in the best possible way.”

Of course, the problem is that we don’t all see eye-to-eye on who the “best” candidate is.  And the fire-tornado and shit-water are so hot and so putrid that we can’t argue politely about who the best candidate is either.  Instead, we rage, we re-post, we internalize to the point of making ourselves sick.  We try not to overstress the social thread keeping our diverse “friends” list diverse, while also struggling not to consider said diverse friends total idiots for not agreeing with us.

But the election is tomorrow.

And tomorrow we will finally have an answer.

We will have an answer because you and I, our neighbors and our not-so-neighbors, will have voted.

The politicians will have voted.

The millennials will have voted.

The mom-and-pops will have voted.

The veterans will have voted.

The artists will have voted…

And it’s this last group that I want to talk about today, because there’s something very important about this last group that I haven’t heard people talking about yet:  Almost all of the flash-mobs and “Get out and vote!” songs (and the other various celebrity-laden YouTube/Cracked/Funny or Die sketches) are pro-Hillary.

I think that’s worth thinking about.

Artists are humanity’s thermometers.  They observe, they empathize, and they see into things.  The fact that so many are using their skills to caution us against the hate-fueled, fear-mongering, demagogue named Trump should give anyone still sitting in his camp pause.

Why aren’t our artists making art to support him?

Maybe it’s because when you put racism on film, there’s no shrugging it off as “straight talk”.  Or because when you put misogyny into performance, there’s no hiding from its abuse.  Or because when you put hate on canvas, you can’t hide from its ugliness .

Or maybe it’s simply because you can’t dance with hate in your heart.

I’m not saying that artists are the only ones you should be listening to, but they yet one more faction warning us of the dangers of Trump.  And they are doing so as humanists.

I think we should listen to them.

Obligatory Annual Blog Post (or) Thank God it’s Autumn!

Weeeeell… shit.

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

And I don’t even have a good reason for not writing anything here in almost a year, except that I’ve been really busy writing things in other places.

BUT, there’s a lot going on in the world right now that has my busy little mind working over time, so I imagine there might be more impending frequency between posts.  (emphasis on the “might”)

I opened things up again though because this god-forsaken-convection-oven of a state that we currently live in has finally, FINALLY, tipped into fall and I am (as a result) FINALLY able to go outside without feeling like my skin is going to blister.

Hallelujah!

Seriously.

Autumn is the BEST.

Autumn-BridgeThe air is crisp, everything smells like pumpkin, and the light is softer.  Golden leaves are making their advance on every tree branch, and the evenings are actually, blessedly, cool.

Now, if we can dip just a few degrees lower, I can start breaking my sweaters and boots out, and the Autumn fun will really be in full swing.

The good news is that this is our last year in hot & humid, as we turn our eyes towards the possibility of landing teaching jobs somewhere with 4 proper seasons and not-so-southern geography… of course, we neither of us know what the future actually holds, job-wise, so I’m trying not to get too excited.  Husband could land a job in the same damn state a few cities over… all I can say is that if that happens, he better be making bank because the AC will be on full and the therapy chocolate purchases will be hefty.

In any case, today I celebrate the bounty of nature’s reprieve – Autumn… the time of year when all is golden and lovely and the air is ripe for long walks.  I wills savor this weather – because I know the ice is soon coming.  The ice that descends without snow… what total rubbish!  But even then, I get to wear sweaters and lush socks, and I get to make homemade soups and breads and breathe deeply the cool, crisp air.

Mmmmmmmmmm…

Lionsgate plans Hunger Games theme park and live-immersive experience, proving “The Capitol” always wins

HungerGames_Snow

Photo Credit: Lionsgate

Hungry for more Hunger Games? You’re in luck because (in an effort to wring the last ever-living penny from the franchise) The Capitol, I mean Lionsgate, wants to bring the dystopian society to life in a venue near you!

That’s right fans, the book series about a dystopian society that forces children to murder one another for entertainment is currently on track to wring even more money from your pockets via two new exciting, and experiential, manifestations: A live immersive stage show which aims to put audiences “inside the action”, and a mother fucking theme park!

Yes, you read that right. Apparently the powers-that-be don’t think the movies will be enough to satiate fan-lust, and believe that bringing the Hunger Games to life on stage will sell tons of over-priced tickets.

They’re probably right.

And if the live-stage show (targeted to open in Summer 2016) doesn’t give fans enough spectacle, the proposed theme park definitely will.

I imagine Lionsgate execs are sitting around one of their boardroom tables right now, main-lining pricey espresso, as they try to ignore the series’ most prevalent themes in a bid to come up with rides and amusements that won’t depress the fuck out of park guests.

Well, Lionsgate, I’m happy to say I’ve gone ahead and done the work for you by creating a theoretical run-down of what The Hunger Games theme park should look like. You can thank me with a big fat check and Capitol privileges once the park is built.

First, let’s plant the park in CA, just north of LA.

GIF via Giphy

You’ve got sunshine, you’ve got beaches, and you’ve got a lot of ready guests hungry to pay premium prices for an alternative experience – I mean, these people are tired of Six Flags and Disneyland… they just don’t know it yet. Plus, you’ve got access to primo tourism dollars with all kinds of people rushing to the Golden State in search of distraction on their hard-won vacation days.

Rabid fans of the series, oblivious to the work’s themes of poverty, class struggles, Roman indulgence, and war, will show up at the theme park’s towering gates, eager to fork over their hard earned cash to cover tiered admission fees: District prices will be lower than the exorbitant Capitol entrance fees, which is exactly how Capitol guests like it.

GIF via Giphy

District guests are then ushered into one of 12 lines based on their socio-economic status and existing skill sets, after which they are given district-appropriate dress to wear for the day. They are then ushered into miniature versions of their assigned Panem districts where they spend the first part of the day laboring away at assigned tasks.

HungerGames_Prim

Photo Credit: Lionsgate

District 12– Guests assigned to District 12 are given picks and canaries to take into fully functioning mine-shafts with them. Some of the canaries die as their guests dig for coal, which makes the younger children cry, but park officials dressed as Peace Keepers let them know that it’s okay because those dead canaries probably saved their lives.

District 11 – Park visitors in District 11 are made to toil outside, rain or shine, picking fruit and vegetables for the Hunger Games banquet to take place later that night.  Peace Keepers spray bug repellant on citizens and plants alike, prodding guests who complain with electric batons*.

District 10 – “Citizens” assigned to District 10 spend the day slaughtering livestock for the end of the day banquet. The task has the unexpected outcome of converting more people to vegetarianism daily than PETA dare even dream. An enterprising young grad student writes her doctoral thesis about the phenomenon and is later hired by Hunger Games LTD as a park consultant.

District 8 – Guests are forced to sit in front of industrial sewing machines all morning, making clothes and shoes for the next day’s park guests. Signs posted everywhere read, “Remember, you paid to be here.”

District 7 – Everyone is given a hatchet. They spend the morning cutting wood to help build houses for the homeless as part of the Hunger Games LTD’s non-profit branch. Anyone who complains of splinters gets the hose.

District 6 – Guests spend the morning learning how to operate and repair park rides, ensuring first and foremost that the park’s higher-paying Capitol Guests will have a smooth experience. District 6 guests finish the morning grumpy and covered in grease.

District 5 – Guests scuttled into District 5 spend the afternoon shoveling coal into huge furnaces and running on human-sized hamster wheels in order to power the park. Occasionally a coal-shoveler finds a note tied to a chunk of coal from a District 12 guest pleading for rescue. They throw these notes into the furnace along with the coal, not even flinching when the flames momentarily burn brighter.

District 4 – Park visitors in District 4 spend their morning fishing, diving for shellfish, and making nets. No one is given sunscreen. Everyone spends the morning grumbling about it until they later reconvene with friends who spent their mornings slaughtering animals in District 9, and then they shut their whiney chapped lips right the fuck up.

District 3 – Guests selected for District 3 have demonstrated a propensity for technological prowess and spend the morning scanning guest photos into the advanced virtual reality program in order to create realistic avatars for the afternoon’s games. Advanced coders are encouraged to pitch new ideas for Hunger Games apps, with all distribution rights and moneys belonging to the park.

District 2 –Guests in District 2 spend the day cutting stone and learning martial arts and advanced combat training. Everyone agrees it’s a tough district, but celebrate how “ready” they now feel heading into the Hunger Games competition later that afternoon.

District 1** – Park Guests who can afford Capitol admission rates but don’t make the pedigree cut are assigned to District 1, where they spend the morning approving designs for new park merchandise, designing the banquet menu, and learning advanced weapons training.

Meanwhile, Capitol guests are treated to the very best the park has to offer.

HungerGames5

Photo Credit: Lionsgate

They begin the morning with specialized spa treatments and personalized beauty services, before choosing from a stunning array of specially designed Capitol Couture fashion options. Guests are treated to a veritable cornucopia of gastronomical delights throughout the morning, each especially prepared by the finest chefs on the planet. Every item a Capitol guest eats, drinks, or wears, comes bearing a price tag letting them know exactly how many hours someone in District 4 had to spend underwater in order to catch their plate of oysters, or how many people in District 8 went without lunch in order to build the bodice of the hand-crafted gown they have chosen to wear. No one pays them much heed though, laughing at how absolutely delicious everything is.

Once the Capitol elite are ready, they are treated to unfettered access to the park’s rides which include rides like: It’s a small world, and we own it—a boat ride through Panem’s past, present, and future. The ride is an obvious Disney knock-off, but no one cares because the tune is just so darn catchy; The Haunted Mill in which park guests get the bejesus scared out of them by maimed and screaming extras pretending to be victims of Panem’s industrial catastrophes; and The Plague Coaster—a pitch-black roller coaster through an early “free clinic”, featuring eerily lit dioramas of medical emergencies experienced in the ill-fated District 13. Plague Coaster riders are treated to commemorative medical masks as they board the ride, lest a bug fly into their gaping mouths on one of the coaster’s thrilling loop-de-loops.

After wearing themselves out with the park’s amusements, Capitol guests reconvene for more luxury dining as District guests are finally let into the park.   Peace Keepers escort the District Guests from ride to ride, in order to prevent rebellion as guests realize none of the rides are very fun.

Eventually, all District Guests are guided into the park’s virtual arenas, and their excitement at finally taking a shot at a spot in the day’s Hunger Games overrides any frustration they may have been feeling over their District assignments. Each guest jumps into the park’s patented virtual reality simulation with gusto. One by one, guests vie for one of two tribute spots from their districts, virtually slashing, punching, and clawing their way through their peer’s avatars, hoping to score high enough to become their district’s Tribute.

Photo Credit: Lionsgate

Photo Credit: Lionsgate

As Tributes are selected, Capitol Guests are made privy to each player’s stats, and allowed to place bets on the winner.   They will watch the Games from a luxury box where each virtual player’s plight is perfectly rendered (using patented Hunger Games LTD technology) on one of the multiple HD screens around the box.

Park officials call each district to assembly in order to announce the lucky Hunger Games participants to the arena. Tired guests sneak jealous side-eyes at the people around them whose names are called.

Tributes are then ushered into a virtual arena, with park guests being made to sit with their assigned Districts. There are no bad seats, and everyone is given 3-D glasses with which to observe the virtual action.

GIF via Giphy

Tributes and observers alike are amazed by the advanced gaming technology employed by the park. The Games are hyper-realistic with each Tribute’s avatar looking remarkably like the park guest operating it. They even bleed convincingly when wounded. Shock pads are built into each players’ suit to allow for realistic pain transmission during “play”, which both upsets and thrills the guests wearing them.

The Hunger Games battle is always intense, bloody, and violent, with District audiences cheering their virtually rendered Tributes on. Guests can help revitalize a wounded Tribute by swiping credit cards into easily accessible kiosks, but Capitol favorites always survive longer than most.

Eventually a Victor is crowned, giving way to evening festivities in which the Victor hob-knobs at the elite Capitol banquet while District Guests are treated to a less formal dinner at The Hob. Dishes on the menu at The Hob include squirrel stew in a bread bowl from Peeta’s family bakery and grain-alcohol served room temperature, “Just the way Haymitch likes it.”

Photo Credit: Lionsgate

Photo Credit: Lionsgate

Finally the day is over, with exhausted park guests encouraged to fill out surveys.   Responses include comments like “Would have been better if Tributes fought for real”, “I thought the rides were kind of depressing, but maybe that’s just me, LOL”, and “The Fake Ceasar Flickerman was SO lame! Stanley Tucci FOREVER!”

Everyone agrees the park would have been more fun if they could have experienced it as a Capitol guest, but it’s just a theme park after all, and maybe they’ll manage to save up enough money to pay Capitol admission prices next year…

Lionsgate, meanwhile, laughs all the way to the bank.

HungerGames4

Photo Credit: Lionsgate

*Anyone refusing to follow their district’s “laws” are taken to the park’s Capitol Lab where they administered the park’s trademark “Morphling Cocktail” before undergoing medical experiments.  No one remembers what happens in the lab, even though they leave the park with mysterious puncture marks on their bodies. Days, weeks, and months later, guests begin loosing hair, having nightmares, and wetting the bed.

**Assignment to Districts 1 is highly selective and reserved for upper-middle class citizens. Higher admission prices apply just to be considered, and bribes are heavily encouraged.

 

 

Tornado Watch?!

I don’t understand how people live in tornado country and remain happy about it.   I understand that danger lurks everywhere, but to just accept that at least two seasons a year Mother Nature stirs up weather violent enough that it can spawn whirling dervishes of terror upon the earth seems crazy to me.  Then there’s the fact that it’s also hot as hell here in the summer, humid most of the year, and prone to ice-storms but not snow in the winter? I honestly can’t understand how people from here are able to talk about this place with deep fondness and a twinkle in their eye…  I mean, they seem just absolutely off their meds!

See, we’re living in an area that can go tornado at any moment, but you know what?  It’s temporary and I don’t have to like it.

Last night there was a tornado watch from midnight to 7 am.  I awoke several times to the sound of cannon fire breaching the heavens, torrential rain, and wind-whipped branches.  At one point I woke up to an absolute strobe-filled window as lightening apparently had an orgasm in the sky.

I do not like this.

I do not enjoy the kind of anxiety that comes from having to pack an emergency kit before bedtime.

Here’s to hoping that the number of tornado watches/warnings from here on out during our temporary time on the plains are few and far between… and here’s double-hoping that none of them actually ever result in an actual tornado.

Why isn’t my paper graded?

have_you_done_your_homework_yet__by_gwyn_wallow-d4swv66As an adjunct faculty member, it’s my extreme displeasure to navigate a total pig-sty of side jobs on top of this one, so that I can pay the bills.  And by bills, I mean all those Sallie Mae loans and Visa (and Mastercard, and Discover… shit, I need to win the lottery) bills I wracked up going to college so that I could now make not-enough money to pay them all back.

I mean, if I’m honest, I made way better money as an under-degreed waitress than I have since graduating with my MFA.  BUT, as a waitress, I didn’t get to use a white board or talk about theatre history; I just served people sandwiches and picked up their used napkins all day.

Geeee-ross!

So, I’m teaching now.  And writing for online magazines for added income.  And substitute teaching for added income.  And teaching desperately under-attended theatre workshops at various small theatre companies in the area for added income.

So you see, my little academic pupae, when I assign a due date, and you scoff at that due date by turning everything in two days later with some lame excuse about losing power and running out of caffeine and yadda-fucking-ya-da-da… well, you lose the privilege of getting indignant.

Because I will find time to grade your late assignment, but I will not lose precious extra sleep over getting your grade to you “ASAP”,  when you demonstrated so little regard for my time, your peer’s time, or justice’s time, in the first place.

Yes.  You read that correctly.  Turning in late assignments is an injustice!

Okay?

Okay.

(  ) …

Well, maybe I’m being a hair dramatic about the “injustice” part.

But you started it!

Bathing like a little old Korean Lady

I love the Korean Day Spa in LA – it’s affordable, relaxing, totally-nude fun!  I especially love the unabashed nakedness because it forces you to just get over yourself already, and walk amidst a myriad of other less-than-perfect bodies of other less-than-dressed women without any place to possibly hide your “I just know I’m the only woman in the world who has hideous fill-in-the-blank(s)” anxieties… Instead, you are forced to accept the many boobs and thighs and asses in your proximity as living proof that women are not all designed to look like super models –  not even in LA, where the Korean Day Spa attracts oodles and boodles of aspiring etceteras  on a daily basis.

No, here all women are the same: flesh to be pummeled into a relaxed state of bliss by tough Korean masseurs wearing just their own bras and panties.

bathBut beyond general enthusiasm for the “All of us are in this together” vibe and self-image-liberating experience this spa provides, I’ve recently found myself haunted by images of the spa standard: Elder Korean women sitting at the spa’s water trough, scrubbing down even the most delicate areas of themselves with nary a thought to the fact that there are no signs posted anywhere that read “Customers MUST scrub the hell out of their vaginas at the trough”.

I’ve been thinking about these women of NO fear because for the last 8 days, our new apartment has been sans a functioning shower head and I’ve found myself hunkered down in the as-yet-un-resurfaced tub, splashing and scrubbing away at my armpits and sensitive spots just like one of those little old Korean woman at the spa.

I’m really really starting to wonder if it will ever get fixed.

Not that I mind splashy baths – I have, of course, by now scrubbed that tub so hard that there’s naught but ceramic and my own sweat and tears left to cradle my naked ass, therefore affording me full bath privileges above and beyond the sit and squat method I had to employ before we were FINALLY able to locate and unpack the cleaning supplies two days after move-in.

But baths have become treats to be doled out after long strenuous days.  They come with wine and candles and that old (but oh-so-relaxing) Enya cd that you’ve been listening to in the tub for over a decade.

A hurried bath in the morning before you head out into the world just isn’t as refreshing or soothing as a real shower or bath should be.

Plus it’s harder to rinse all that shampoo and stuff out of your hair with a plastic cup from Harkins Theatre.

Definitely not as relaxing as the Korean Day Spa.  Not even close.

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“Oops, I have to feed my vagina”

Huffington Post ran an article today that made me want to poke my eye out.   Titled, “Oops, I slept with your boyfriend“, it was filled with the same vacuous, inane drivel a teenager might offer to a disapproving parent after getting caught sexting her 11th grade English Professor: “I knew it was wrong, but It just felt so right.”

Which is pretty much the crux of her argument.  While the author (and dating coach!?), Charlie, goes on and on about her ‘rules’ for her infidelity hook-ups – sober cheating only, please, and let’s make sure we both know what we’re going to be doing so that I can tell myself we’re being grownups about it… oh, and I probably won’t sleep with my girlfriend’s boyfriends… unless, you know, I want to – what she’s really reiterating with every word is that she’s a slave to her whims, a victim of her own vagina, a puppet to the wonton desires that drive our primordial brains to just fuck, fuck, fuck our way into a new generation of hunters, gatherers, and future fuckers.

Charlie is just doing her job as a good ape.

Gooooood ape, Charlie. Here’s a banana for you to suck on.

Unfortunately, Charlie seems to think her behavior places her in some sexually enlightened zone of “pleasure for pleasure’s sake”, when it reality it makes her a whirling sexual dervish of emotional destruction.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going out looking to f*ck guys who have girlfriends. And when someone tells me they have a girlfriend, I never pressure them to sleep with me. I don’t even disregard their relationship with some sort of “I don’t care if you don’t care,” or “she’ll never know.” Usually I ask them what her name is and how they met. Sometimes they show me pictures.

The few times I’ve found myself the mistress, we have had deep, real, meaningful conversations about their relationships and their commitments, their heart and their body. I encourage them to honor their commitments if that feels good to them. And sometimes it does. And sometimes it doesn’t.

Wow.  I mean, the psycho-analysis here is amazing – sometimes it feels good to honor your committments, and sometimes it doesnt?  WHERE HAS THIS GENIUS BEEN HIDING?  Oh, right – behind a penis.

Well, let me tell you something Charlie – you ain’t unveiling the unknown with that.  It IS hard to honor your commitments.  Whether to a lover, the military, a store you walked into short on cash, or a million other engagements – our lives are full of various commitments.  Commitments we decide each and every day to follow, or not.  But honoring our commitments is what lifts us out of Ape-Ville and secures us a place in Grown-Up-Land, and that’s something to actually be proud of.

But not Charlie… no, she’d rather feed her vagina at any cost – even if it makes her little more than a breakup toy:

My lovers have been in complicated relationships that are basically over but they can’t break up, and they are exhausted and need the kind of nurturing that you can only get when you are getting ridden hard and kissed passionately. I’ve had lovers with agreements that are unclear and undefined, with no way to clarify before one of us left town. I’ve had lovers who were very newly and casually trying out monogamy with someone and found that our long term friendship carried more strength, connection, healing and passion than their new quasi-relationship did. More than once I’ve had lovers who were separated, but not divorced, and we kept things under wraps for legal, or emotional purposes.

See, here’s the thing – I don’t care why Charlie loathes monogamy.  I don’t care what battles her Ego and Id are having on a daily basis.  I can’t see her nightmares, her heartbreak, her pains, or her joys (well, I guess we can see the sexual ones, since she’s put some of them on display).  She’s just a reckless chick who threw up a blog post celebrating her ego (and rubbing said ego in every other woman’s face).

What I do care about is that this woman has woven such an impressive web of bullshit around herself that she’s convinced it’s alright to summarily dismiss the rest of us V-card holders as idiots.  She’s the cockroach crawling all over Human Weakness, but it ain’t her fault, really – because her logic is “The penis does what the penis wants to do.”

Gag.

See, what Charlie seems unable to recognize is that the world is not just some penis-filled buffet table for lucky ladies to gorge themselves on.  I mean, well, it kind of is…  But slapping your vagina on every penis in the place ain’t the way to lasting personal fulfillment, respect, or – you know – having any female friends to help hold your hair back when you find yourself vomiting up all that oh-so-yummy man-seed.

Because that’s the problem with buffets… they inspire gluttony.

And telling all us women of the world that our men are probably on your menu is nothing if not gluttonous.

So how about this for some advice:  Shut up.  Grow up.  Be a better human being.

Tell your vagina to look for attention from dudes who aren’t already suffering through one of those “commitments” you seem to despise.

Because the thing about monogomy is that is is hard.  It is a challenge.   But it’s a challenge not just because our naughty bits get frisky when they catch the sent of “other” naughty bits.  No – that’s so damn close to the surface that it’s almost laughable.

Monogamy is a challenge because when you’re in a relationship, you traverse two paths instead of one.  His potholes become mine, and my detours become his… We negotiate two battles instead of one, and if we don’t do it well, we might not remember take our gloves off when the foe is gone – financial worries can haunt a couple like ghosts,  sparring emotional/sexual inequalities between husband and wife might linger, and the exhaustion that children cause could salt every meal.

Your vagina, bobbing around there at the top of the pothole is just a shiny distraction that serves to help pull him out of deep and complicated waters… for a while.

But you’re just surface, baby.

And I’m deep.

Which is why I’ll accept the challenges of monogamy every day and twice on the weekends, if it means we come out the other side of those potholes together, as a stronger team and better people.

That’s much more satisfying than feeding on potholes.

You see, I’d much rather feed my vagina a fucking stallion than a whole platter of pussywillows.

Nom, nom, nom.