Friday, July 31, 2009

Blog Roundup

Ever have one of those days where you're just like "What the fuck? Seriously. WHAT. THE. FUCK." I don't want to say today was bad. Work went well. The weather was nice. I may have found an apartment. But other things that I needed to go right, did not. And I'm struggling not to let it piss all over my weekend.

Anyway, this post is for me to share some of the blogs that have been consuming a lot of my free time lately. I've been feeling radicalized on three related subjects: feminism, fat/body acceptance, and racism. In my net travels, I've stumbled onto a few blogs that I felt were giving voice to feelings I've had and some I didn't know I had.

While doing research for a school project, I found the feminist blog Bitch PhD, which led me to Shapely Prose, a fat/body acceptance blog that opened and then blew my mind. Reading that blog was the first time I came to see fat acceptance as a social justice movement. Reading SP also led me to Fat Nutritionist, Angry Black Bitch, an awesome blog about many things, but mostly about some of the affects of racism. ABB led me to Racialicious, which bills itself as "the intersection of race and pop culture," and features an awesome podcast called Addicted to Race. I actually don't remember how I found out about Jezebel. I must have seen it linked elsewhere. It's an excellent blog that takes on sexism in the media in the snarky voice of its parent, Gawker.

So, this is where I'm spending a good portion of my online time. Read. Agree. Disagree. Or Ignore. It's your call.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

On Viewing Myself Through Others’ Eyes - Or Am I Really That Intimidating?

I rarely post pictures of myself here, but this one is germane to the post I’m writing today. Because this post relates not just to how I look, but I how I look to other people.

True story. Back when I was living in New York City, I went with my best friend and then-roommate, E to a birthday party for one of our good friends, C. At the time, we lived in the East 90s and C lived in the West 100s (this makes sense if you’ve ever lived or worked in NYC for even a short period of time). In any event, we made our way across the east-west chasm to C’s apartment building. I remember two things about that night. 1) I was wearing incredibly uncomfortable heeled sandals; and 2) the reaction of the person who opened the door when we got to the apartment.

As E fumbled in her purse, I rang the bell. A young Asian woman, who I later learned was C’s roommate opened the door and greeted me with a look of fear. It lasted mere seconds, but I remember it as clearly as if it had happened yesterday. Her look seemed to ask: “Who invited the scary black girl?”

My initial impulse was to laugh. Me? Intimidating? My mother and sister would bust a gut laughing at the very thought. They’ve spent most of my life telling me that I need to be more assertive. So, the idea that someone would look at me and find me remotely intimidating is, as I noted earlier, pretty laughable.

But the fact that I am the least intimidating person you could ever meet is beside the point. Perfect strangers see me and my skin color, my hair and goodness knows what else screams “SCARY!” to them. It would be laughable if it weren’t so disturbing and sad.

The experience of seeing the look on that woman's face drove home to me - once again - that the meme of African-Americans as scary and inherently threatening is one we've all internalized to one degree or another.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Music Got My Head Spinnin' All Around

Every now and then, I go a little nuts and listen to a bunch of music, when I should be doing something more productive, like finishing my book or writing my review that's due in two days. Tonight is one of those nights. So, here's what I've been listening to.

The Roots
Medeski, Martin & Wood
Jamiroquai (of course-lol)
Roots Manuva
Lo Fidelity All Stars

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Datsuns

So, last Wednesday, I went to see The Datsuns, a New Zealand rock band, at The Empty Bottle (a local venue in Chicago). I was covering the show for Consequence of Sound. It was kind of a fish out of water experience for me. I only recently discovered the band (as in, a week before the show-lol). Anyway, here's the review I wrote for the website. Enjoy!

Why Didn't I Read This a Week Ago

I could have saved myself and my blood pressure a lot of agita by following the simple Judge Sotomayor Confirmation Hearing Preparedness steps. Ah well, live and learn as they say.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Feature on Consequence of Sound

Here is my latest article for Consequence of Sound. This one is a profile of a local live venue, Schubas, which is in the Lakeview neighborhood in Chicago.

I'm really getting into this writing-regularly-for-pleasure-and-not-for-a-grade thing.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I've Got Your Flat Stomach Rule Right Here!

I need to rant for just a minute (ok, maybe a little more than a minute). I cannot be the only person who is sick and tired of seeing those flat stomach ads on every damned website I visit. If I never have to lay eyes on the words "1 rule to a flat stomach: obey!" it will be too fucking soon.

First off, I hate the use of the word "obey." It has not escaped my notice that this word is always placed above a once-fat-but-newly-svelte woman. Obey. Because clearly that's the problem plaguing women, all of whom apparently need to lose weight - at least that's the assumption. And there's the ever-present assumption that fatties are too morally and emotionally weak to lose weight, so they must constantly be scolded like disobedient children. Until they get their (fat) asses in line and OBEY, fatties aren't entitled to respect and dignity.

This is the implication behind ALL diet literature - even when the diet isn't called a diet. If they make you feel bad enough about yourself, you'll be bullied into losing weight, damn the consequences to your metabolism and your psyche.

Having dieted, I know this is how all diet programs work. But something about these flat stomach ads sends me over the edge more than the average Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers shilling. Maybe it's the body objectification that SCREAMS "your self-worth is tied to the flatness of your stomach." We're not whole people anymore, we're slabs of flesh. Fan-fucking-tastic!

Maybe it's the fact that, once again, women are singled out as most in need of weight intervention, because heaven knows, we voracious females need to have our appetites reined in.

Or maybe it's the fact that just as some of us began challenging the notion that weight loss should be a lifelong obsession, the diet industry roars back with ads basically saying "screw you and your attempts to maintain self-esteem, regardless of your weight!"

It's true. At $55 billion a year, the diet industry isn't going anywhere. But then again, neither is the fat/body acceptance movement. So, here's my one rule I need the diet industry to obey - go fuck yourselves!

Monday, July 20, 2009

What's it called when race-based preferences benefit white men?

Oh right! When race-based preferences benefit white men, they're called the status quo. In today's NY Times columnist Ross Douthat scolds the proponents of affirmative action for perpetuating race-based preferences. He hopes affirmative action can be eliminated by 2028, because obviously, the entrenched and institutionalized racism and sexism that has been part of this country's history since its founding will all be over.

And he's serious, too, writing lines like this with a straight face.
As this generation rises, race-based discrimination needs to go. The explicit scale-tipping in college admissions should give way to class-based affirmative action; the de facto racial preferences required of employers by anti-discrimination law should disappear.
The best thing about this op-ed are the rockin' comments that follow it, because some of my everyday fellow Americans do an admirable job of ripping this dipwad a new asshole.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

What I Want to Write

When I woke up this morning, I decided that writing a novel is not my ultimate goal as a writer. Instead, I want to write a long - maybe 20,000-word - essay or magazine article. One that I have to research for 9 or 10 months, interview hundreds of people, read tons of books, newspaper articles, research papers, etc. Maybe I'll get to the novel eventually.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Latest Article and Catching Up for the Week

Here is my latest article for Consequence of Sound.

On the catch up front, I had a minor flip out today at Screenz, the local Internet cafe/fax & copy center. I had to fax something and was already feeling annoyed that I had to go somewhere and pay to do it. So I wasn't in the best mood when I got to the store. When I gave the clerk my debit card to pay for the 3 pages I was faxing, he told me that there was a $5 minimum for faxing. That's when I kind of lost it. I didn't yell at him, I just muttered that it was irritating that I was now going to have to leave the store, find an ATM, get money and come back. I stormed out of the store and cursed all the way to Walgreens. I was convinced that this $5-minimum rule was being invoked just to annoy the shit out of me. Which is ridiculous of course. But, as I said, I wasn't in the most rational mood. Also, I hate it when customer service people parrot dumb rules that inconvenience me, then stand there like blocks of wood while you try to reason with them.

In happier news, I saw the new Harry Potter movie today and I loved it. I realized it's been years since I finished reading the series, and I miss the characters and the story. Maybe it's time to revisit them - you know, when I'm done reading the 15 books on my "to-read" list.

A New Name?

One of my readers says the title of my blog is too negative. She suggests a new name. Do others agree? I called the blog "I Hate Writing" because when I'm in the act of writing, I do hate it-lol. Fellow writers, y'all know how I feel.

But maybe the name isn't projecting a positive enough image. And contrary to my various rants here, I'm generally positive.

So, readership (all four of you :-) feel free to post suggestions for a new name in the comments.

And Happy Friday!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

My Least Favorite Words in the English Language

"Our computer system is down," which is usually code for "we can't do what you need us to do because we're paralyzed with out the holy, all powerful computer" and "you can't be mad at us, because it's the computer's fault."

These words just make me want to slap people into the ground. FUCK YOU and your computer system. Honestly, what the fuck did we do before computers? Did we get work done? For fuck's sake. UGH.

I have heard that phrase entirely too much in the last few days.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Roger's Tears

Federer cries during the 2009 Australian Open trophy ceremony.

Per Wikipedia
The term crying (pronounced [ˈkraɪɪŋ] from Middle English crien or Old French crier [1]) commonly refers to the act of shedding tears as a response to an emotional state in humans. The act of crying has been defined as "a complex secretomotor phenomenon characterized by the shedding of tears from the lacrimal apparatus, without any irritation of the ocular structures"
I got thinking about this when the tennis media reminded us that back in January, Roger Federer was in floods of tears after losing the Australian Open final to Rafael Nadal. Boy, did he get a lot of grief from the there's-no-crying-in-sports brigade. He was also accused of stealing the spotlight from Nadal, which was, nonsense of course. But I digress.

I've always loved Roger's tears, because a) he cries whether he wins or loses, and b) his show of emotion tells us how much it means to him to compete at the highest level of a sport he loves. Plus, Roger's Melbourne Meltdown led to one of my all-time favorite tennis photos.

In some ways, crying is a strange physiological phenomenon. It is the body responding to workings of the mind and heart, territory even the most advanced scientifc research still struggles to explain.

I have no other big statement to make about tears (lol), this post is just an observation about how they're sometimes perceived by others. I'll end with the poem below about tears.

Tears, idle tears,
Tears, soulful tears,
Tears, helpless tears,
Tears, determined tears,

Before I accepted
The life of aspiration,
My tears were the tears
Of real sorrow.
Now that I have accepted
The life of aspiration,
My tears are not tears of sorrow
But tears of real joy.

I like the tears
That flow from the depth
Of my helpless despair.
I love the tears
That flow from the depth
Of my dawning aspiration.
I adore the tears
That flow from the depth
Of my Liberation-sea.

By: Sri Chinmoy

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Current Musical Obsession: Gotye

Pronounced "gore-te-yay," Gotye is Melbourne, Australia-based musician Wally De Backer. His second album Like Drawing Blood has taken over my life in the last few days. Below is the video for the awesome song "Learnalilgivinanlovin," which comes on like a lost Motown outtake - and sounds nothing like the rest of the album. Released in 2006, Like Drawing Blood (so named for its arduous, two-year recording sessions) is a pastiche of pop music, with alternative, electro, indie, ska and reggae all making appearances. The schizo inclusion of diverse genres actually works. I'm just in love with this guy's music.

Friday, July 10, 2009

On My Mind

It's been a strange week. I came off a truly great weekend with my best friend, who came to visit for 4th of July. It's amazing how, even though we no longer live together, we can just pick up where we left off when we did. Hanging out with her was wonderful, especially since she got to meet some of My Chicagoans (I'm very territorial about them :-) So, overall, I was feeling good when she left on Monday morning, even though I'd already begun to miss her.

Then, Monday during work, I started to feel awful. I've been suffering from dysphagia on and off for the last year and a half, and this week, it really became uncomfortable to the point where I couldn't eat properly. The gastroenterologist I saw last month had scheduled me for an endoscopy (scope of the esophagus) at the end of this month, but I felt so terrible earlier this week, I called and got my appointment moved up to today. I'd had an endoscopy done before (in 1999) for the same reason (difficulty swallowing brought on by acid reflux). The procedure isn't fun. You have to be sedated (obviously, if they're putting a forearm-length scope down your gullet), so you have to have someone drive you home. Luckily, my friend Brook kindly agreed to do this for me.

So, we set off at the ridiculous hour of 7:30 this morning for Oak Park Hospital. The procedure itself isn't the hard part. The hard part - as I was reminded today - is finding a vein in which to stick the IV needle for the anesthesia. I never thought my veins were that small, but apparently, they're not only small, they were playing hide-n-seek with the nurse who was trying to find them. I hate needles, but I haven't cried at the sight of them since I was a teenager. Today, I came close, because after being stuck with one needle for 15 minutes, having it hurt and then being told the IV wasn't dripping into the vein, I was really about to go nuts.

Anyway, someone from the anesthesia - a nice man with a comforting Southern accent - came down, numbed my hand and found a vein. I vaguely remember feeling the scope go down my throat, then being wheeled out to recovery where I took what felt like an extended nap. Brook really was a doll today, driving me home and picking up food - jello, Gatorade - that I could try to ingest. I took another loooong nap when I got home, only waking up when my body decided it couldn't stand the starvation (per doctor's instructions, I hadn't eaten since Thursday night) any longer.

So that was the craziest part of my week. I did manage to crank out a review for Consequence of Sound.

Other things on my mind this week - Roger Federer, crying and self-hatred. I will get into each in subsequent posts.

Monday, July 6, 2009


15 - Major titles accumulated by Roger Federer between his first Wimbledon title in 2003 and his sixth acquired yesterday afternoon at the expense of the always game Andy Roddick. No other male player has more Majors to his credit.

1 - Ranking Federer took over (again) after winning Wimbledon.

Congratulations, Roger!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

A Real Article...By Me...Published [UPDATED]

Update - 2:08pm I had my other article published and - for the time being - it's on the front page of the Consequence of Sound site. It's the article titled "Guilty Pleasure: Jamiroquai A Funk Odyssey." You can read the full article here.

So, I started as a writer for the music Web site Consequence of Sound last week. Here's a link to my first article. Since it's a music site, I get to obsess about my favorite bands, and not have people think I'm weird. In this case the object of obsession is Massive Attack, specifically, their 1996 performance of "Safe From Harm" in Phoenix. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I Twittered or Tweeted or Whatever You Call It

While watching Andy Murray's match on Monday at Wimbledon, I tweeted my reactions. Here they are. The most recent posts - i.e., those at the end of the match - are first.

murray really did show heart in this match. i heart him.
2:41 PM Jun 29th from web
and kudos to Wimbledon. the roof was clearly worth the $400 million
2:39 PM Jun 29th from web
good on Murray to win that tough, tough match.
2:39 PM Jun 29th from web
Holy crap! This match is insanity.
2:35 PM Jun 29th from web
2:30 PM Jun 29th from web
the roar of the centre court crowd is literally deafening.
2:28 PM Jun 29th from web
i have to to stop investing so much emotion in tennis matches
2:26 PM Jun 29th from web
sigh - brits, you didn't think this would be easy, did you?
2:24 PM Jun 29th from web
on my screen i am having a hard time distinguishing murray and wawrinka
2:15 PM Jun 29th from web
fuck. I'd forgotten how well murray returns
2:13 PM Jun 29th from web
hot damn! murray just killed a backhand!
2:09 PM Jun 29th from web
night tennis at #wimbledon. whoda thunk it?
2:07 PM Jun 29th from web
shit! murray just broke
2:06 PM Jun 29th from web
I actually love that wimbledon has a roof now. Would be nice if the US Open got one too. The French will never do it, because they're French2:04 PM Jun 29th from web
It's like Wawrinka got a second wind at the end of the 4th set. How'd he do that?
2:01 PM Jun 29th from web
besides, what would grand slam tennis be without 5-set matches?
1:59 PM Jun 29th from web
i heart john mcenroe. that is all.
1:57 PM Jun 29th from web
Fifth set for Messrs. Murray and Wawrinka. It had to be this way for the first full match played under the $400 million rooft at Wimby.
1:54 PM Jun 29th from web
I feel a fifth set coming on
1:53 PM Jun 29th from web
hmmm...first full match under the roof at Wimbledon and boy is it a barn burner