to shave or not to shave

I just read this really, really cool article called Hair! (Not the Musical). This chick stopped shaving/ waxing etc. for about 18 months, and it’s fascinating to read her reasoning and experiences. She seems very down to earth, funny, and cool.

Source: Vagenda
I have a weird relationship with shaving. On the one hand, like Emer, I know that shaving is social gender construct. I know my disgust toward unshaven legs/ arms is completely indoctrinated by a thousand million different societal messages, both subtle and blatant. I know that, but every time I contemplate intentionally letting it all grow out, I feel a shuddering sense of revulsion. It’s very weird. Sometimes when I’m shaving in the shower, I’ll get this odd urge to just complete strip my body of hair — remove my arm hair and eyebrows and shave my head, too. I know perfectly well I’d look like a freak, but it’s also the logical conclusion to the association that body hair is gross/ unfeminine — if underarm, leg, and pubic hair are considered “gross” and “unfeminine,” why do the forearms, eyebrows, and head escape this judgment?
The first time I shaved, I was 13 or 14. I had fine, soft, pale blonde body hair when I was younger, and often wore shorts or cap sleeve shirts to school. One day a classmate realized my armpits/ legs had fuzz, and started screeching in disbelief in the middle of class, pointing at me and yelling, “You don’t shave?!? Ew!” I felt so embarrassed and confused — up until that point, I didn’t realize I was expected to shave. Everyone knew guys generally shaved their faces (at least, during puberty/ school years), but who shaves their body? That’s ridiculous!

She was so clearly shocked and disgusted, though, that it really impacted me. She wasn’t normally humiliatingly cruel at all– she was outspoken and kind of a badass (in my eyes). One of the popular girls. But she was cool, and usually nice to me. Her name was Dion, and she wore her hair in cornrow braids, had definite eyebrows that were plucked into a surprised arc, and wore bright lipsticks. In other words, she obviously had quite the beauty regime, even in 8th grade. I admired her attitude, how in-your-face she was to teachers and others students. I admired how brave she was, but how she was also normally thoughtful and kind to the less popular kids. So her shocked reaction the day she realized I didn’t shave was all the more devastating, because it wasn’t from one of the cliques or kids I normally tried to avoid because of their cruelty; it was from someone I considered an almost-friend.

I went home and found a razor in the shower– it may have been my sister’s, may have been my brother’s, I don’t know– and I tried to shave. I was so embarrassed that I hadn’t known about this thing that apparently everyone knew about that I didn’t ask anyone for advice on how to do it. I just used soap and cut myself a few times. Over time, I discovered shaving cream, then shaving gels, then after-shaving lotions and so on and so forth.

Source: Fashion Me Fabulous

The first time I was introduced to the concept of women growing body hair to subvert gender expectations was when I was 17 or 18. I really didn’t like my family ward, so I had started attending the Young Single Adults ward with my older sister. There was a young woman in that ward — we’ll call her Daphne, because I can’t remember her name — who was attending the local liberal arts college. I’d never met someone like her at church before, so clearly hippy and counter culture, but so devout at the same time. She wore long, loose maxi dresses in tye-died patterns and chunky leather sandals. She didn’t shave at all or wear nylons, so her armpit hair curled out from the edges of her short-sleeved dresses, while her bare legs flashed fuzz whenever her dress pulled up as she crossed her legs. I asked her why she didn’t shave, and she told me that she had fallen to the temptations of the flesh before, and decided to grow her hair out to signify her second virginity. She would not shave until her wedding night.

It was really an interesting idea to me, because it both reclaimed her personal ownership of her body (nominally for god, but she was the one who chose this unique method of re-virgination), but also because she was subverting socially-constructed gender norms to repel men. Another interesting thing about a woman choosing to grow out body hair in order to repel men is that this is something that could only happen in this place and time in history.

I don’t know how the tactic worked, ultimately. I stopped going to church for a bit (a year and a half), and when I returned she was gone.

Anyway, that’s just some of my own personal experiences with body hair and culture. I’d like to grow out my hair, but I don’t feel brave enough to. I like to wear skirts and tank tops and camisoles, and I don’t like the idea of drawing attention with hairy pits. Emer addresses this:

Q5. Do you actually go out in string tops and shorts with the unsightly keratin-based proof that you have gone through puberty on show for all humanity to see?This is a tricky one. Short answer – no. Cause it’s hard, y’know? It’s not so much the pointing and the laughing. It’s the fact that I’ve been socialised since birth to think that my body hair is unclean and unfeminine and, even though I believe in what I’m doing, when I go out in public something else takes over and I think ‘oh my God look at your legs woman, what is wrong with you?’ I AM THE CAGE.. . .  One of the first lessons the hair taught me is that my clothing puts me on display: bare arms and shoulders, fitted busts and waists, and short skirts with sheer tights – even in winter. I seriously re-examined my wardrobe. Not only did most of my habitual attire display a significant amount of skin, but the body parts on show needed to be ‘feminized’ before they were acceptable for display in women’s clothing at all. There’s a critique of the objectification and commercialisation of the female body under capitalism to be made here, probably, but the editors of Vagenda have asked me not to write like a total dryballs, so if you want to hear it, you’ll have to take me for a pint.

I think that pretty much sums it up. All the pretty clothes show my legs and underarms, and I am supposed to wax, shave, or pluck to be acceptable. Now there’s a trend of wearing skirts sans tights or nylons, so the shaving thing is amped up in importance — no more ignoring a bit of light stumble and throwing on nylons/ tights when you’re feeling lazy; you must be always perfectly hairless and smooth. I still wear nylons and tights, because I like them and if I’m all dressed up in a skirt, I want to look put-together all over. I personally feel bare legs make an otherwise nice outfit look weirdly casual and poorly assembled. Emer addresses the wearing of dresses and make-up, too, and I think she says it best:

Q6. But I have seen you wearing make-up! Are you not a big hairy hypocrite?I like a smidge o’ mascara on a night out, me. I choose to wear make-up. I know this, because I choose not to wear make-up the vast majority of the time. When I leave the house without make-up people don’t point and laugh at me. No-one handed me a Mac lippy the second I hit puberty and told me I had to wear it or everyone would think I was disgusting. I can choose to wear make-up or not wear it. I’m comfortable with that.I’m not waging a war against all things normatively feminine in our society. I like dresses, but I wouldn’t like it if dress-wearing were tacitly compulsory for all vagina-bearers. I would like dresses even better if the men who wanted to wear them could do so in public without fear of ridicule or violence. Fuck body policing! Smash the stupid arbitrary gendered bullshit! Do it wearing whatever the hell you want! Yeah!

Yeah! Fuck the body police! Fuck gender policing! I wear make-up because I choose to — I often don’t wear make-up, and I wear varying amounts of make-up when I do. I sometimes wear dresses because I choose to — I often lounge around the house in skirts because know what? They’re comfy. I do feel bad that guys face so much social prejudice for things like wearing make-up, skirts, or pretty colors. My husband would look amazing if he wore some eyeliner and mascara to highlight his gorgeous eyes and long lashes.

Advertisements

fixing my bike

So, there’s this subreddit called r/samplesize, where you can answer surveys and take quizzes and such. I like surveys, so I’m on there pretty frequently. It’s usually people asking for respondents to a survey for their statistics/ human psych/ sociology class, and they generally do not offer any sort of incentive (other than the love of sharing ones opinion!) for participating.
Well, a week or so ago, I offered to participate in a survey about media consumption and t.v. viewing habits, but this one was a bit more in-depth, with a Skype interview and such. So I got a $20 gift card (Amazon or AMC) for participating. I opted for the Amazon one, which is how I paid for these footpegs:
Through Amazon
I was planning on getting black pegs and handles, but these weren’t available in black (that I could see). These are the Emgo Slash-Cut Style Footpegs. They’re machined aluminum (the OEM ones I broke were forged aluminum, I gather), and they’re compatible with Yamaha R6 and YZF6 up to 2005. Some quick research indicates they’ll be compatible with my 2008 Yamaha FZ6, as well, and a close up of the picture on a different site indicates the same conclusion. They also have pretty positive reviews.
They were $25.60 through Amazon, so I only had to pay $5.60 out of our own pocket with the $20 gift certificate. They’ll be arriving in 3-5 business days. Overall, I’m pretty damn excited, and I should be back on the road soon, thank goodness. I’ll update with whether or not they fit when I actually get them. I’m just so super excite that they’re ordered and on the way!!!

watching t.v. and thoughts on advertising

I’m watching the Daily Show with Jon Stewart right now. It’s available on the Comedy Central website. A few years ago, John and I got rid of cable t.v. because it’s insanely and stupidly expensive. We didn’t like paying so much (about $160/month for cable tv and cable internet) for something like 80 – 130 channels — honestly, I can’t recall exactly how many, because who watches all those channels?
There’s like 5 ESPN channels. I don’t even like sports — nobody in our household does — but cable packages include a plethora of channels dedicated to shit we don’t care about. We can’t opt out, we have to have them. I don’t want to pay for MTV or MTV-2, but if I had cable t.v., I wouldn’t have a choice. And even though I was paying out the wazoo, there were still 7-10 minute-long commercial breaks. What the hell? Why am I paying extra for these channels (remember, you do get basic t.v. without having a cable package) if they’re loaded with commercials?!? And why do I have to pay extra-extra for channels like HBO and Showtime, but I still get commercials?
Remember when they started doing that thing where they would play the commercials — about 3 to 5 advertisements — then the musical chime and canned laughter indicating your show was back sounded, but it wasn’t back. It was just a notice saying, “Your programming will return shortly, after these messages,” and then they played more commercials. I hated all those commercials so, so much, so we canceled our cable t.v. package to watch t.v. solely through the internet.

That was when Hulu just started, and their commercials were minimal and usually advertising a nonprofit or something you’d want to hear about. You could watch South Park or Comedy Central programming almost completely commercial free. We had Netflix, too, which doesn’t have commercials at all. Basically, there was this whole setup where you didn’t have a lot of commercials and advertising interrupting your viewing. But that’s changing. Like I said earlier, I’m watching the Daily Show right now, and I just saw 3 commercials in a row.

1. A rip-off of a Saturday Night Live skit, except instead of fake jeans they’re selling Verizon phone plans.

2. A guy marrying a piece of bacon in order to sell Jack in the Box bacon hamburgers. Get it? Get it? Because men are supposed to be afraid of commitment, but Jack in the Box bacon hamburgers are so manly that a man will commit to this shit! So men will commit to meat!

He picked out a tiara and veil for his wedding meat.
image source

3. A woman and a man standing in their yard, playing on their smartphones. A neighbor asks them a question, and they answer, then snark, “So 2 seconds ago.” This situation repeats several times. The commercial is advertising how fast/ awesome AT&T speeds are by having the protagonists — the people we’re supposed to project ourselves onto as phone owners — be complete and utter assholes. This is not a one-off, but a whole advertising campaign:

I just don’t get this trend in advertising. I really, really don’t. I can almost see the adversarial, tearing-down-the-competitor trend we had a few years ago — remember when Quiznos had those “Subway Sucks” commercials? I enjoy Subway, but sometimes I used to eat at Quiznos. After those commercials, I just kind of . . . stopped eating at Quiznos. I don’t know, I felt like the logical conclusion to “Subway sucks,” was an unspoken, “and if you like them, you suck, too! To not suck, eat at Quiznos!

But while I didn’t like that commercial, I could at least see the logic behind it. Quiznos had a short 30 second spot, and they decided it was a better and more efficient use of their time to try to be hip (insulting) instead of going into why they believe their company provides a superior sandwich product and/ or customer experience. Nowadays, so many commercials don’t even give the pretense of saying, “Our competitors suck.” They’re just going, “You consumers suck. You’re awful. You’re assholes and you know it. Buy our shit, because we’re assholes, too . . . just like you!”

Watching commercials these days, you get the sense that not only do the corporations selling us stuff have no idea what the average American’s day-to-day life is like:

5 Hour Energy — “For when you don’t have time for coffee.”
Seriously? Seriously? When you don’t have time for coffee? Who can’t spare 5 minutes here or there?! 
Look at that guy! He sets his alarm, but he’s still too lazy to make coffee! He’s so lazy he doesn’t even have time to stop on the way to work for coffee, or to donate to his company breakroom with decent coffee that he knows everyone will enjoy — but he works at a job that pays enough he can chug a 5 Hour Energy drink costing $3/ apiece every day. He just doesn’t have time for coffee.
Look, don’t sell 5 hour Energy — or any energy drink, really — by saying it’s “easier/ quicker/ better than coffee.” It ignores all the other awesome reasons people drink coffee, like the taste or the cute barista, or that it’s provided free in the breakroom. If you’re selling your product by dogging on the ubiquitous coffee, at the very least try pointing out how global climate change is depleting the world’s coffee and chocolate crops, so in a few years we may not even have the option of a morning mocha — so make the switch to 5 Hour Energy now and save the planet!
You actually get the sense the corporations actively despise us. They think we’re lazy, self-involved, rude, and selfish. Protagonists of commercials, in trying to depict the everyguy or everygal, often end up depicting some of the most disliked and derided stereotypes, and it’s just sad. Why would I want to buy something from someone who clearly thinks I’m crap? And I’m hardly the first person to say this, so why aren’t advertisers changing their tactics?
I like Costco. Costco doesn’t advertise. Customers talk about how awesome Costco is, or the latest deal they picked up at Costco, and it spreads through word of mouth how awesome that place is. The closest thing they have to an advertisement is that coupon booklet they give you at the store, or the Costco Connection magazine. Why can’t more corporations rely on the quality of their goods and service to bring in customers?
As for television, I’d like them to deregulate the cable packages. I like it when I can access the shows I want, when I want. I’d gladly pay HBO directly to have HBOgo, and never have to deal with cable t.v. or all those other ridiculous channels I don’t want. I’d pay $2 – $5 extra a month on my Netflix streaming account to have HBO and Showtime and AMC stream commercial-free episodes to Netflix the same night they air on television. I’m tired of not having any real choice in my internet/ t.v. provider or the offered t.v. packages. All the rebranding in the world doesn’t change the fact that Comcast sucks.

found! (fun with euphemisms)

Found this on reddit:

From a Psychology of Women textbook, it’s a list of euphemisms for menstruation. The list includes these euphemisms (commentary in italics is all mine):

Bunny time (Australia) I don’t get this one.
Monthlies (Australia)
Mary is visiting (Belgium)
I have my moon (Canada) I love this, but I’m picturing carrying around a little handheld moon in my pocket.
Blowjob time (England) It’s funny cause it’s true.Blobbing (England) What? I don’t even . . . what?!Lingonberry days (Finland) Hahahaha! . . . I will never look at lingonberry jam the same.Japanese week (Germany) Because of the red dot on the Japanese flag? This just seems wrong.Monthly tax (Germany) I like this one.Cranberry woman (Germany)
Casual leave (India)
Out of doors (India)
Aunty Mary (Ireland)
Jam Rag (Ireland) very unpleasant visual.Cookies (Mexico) How did cookies and menstruation even get associated? I’m confused.Little Miss Strawberry (Japan)
Ketchup (Japan)
The tomato soup overcooked (Netherlands) Why do so many reference food?!? Stop it!
Mrs. Noodles (New Zealand)
Doing time (Nigeria) As in prison time? Like punishment?I have the red label in the old typewriter (Portugal)
Aunt Bertha (Scotland) People hate their aunts, I swear — Aunt Mary, Bertha, and Flo came for a visit and everyone got angry.
My aunt parked her red porsche outside (South Africa)
Granny came in a red Ferrarri (South Africa)
Wearing the red beret (Vietnam) I wonder if this is related to the uniforms of invading armies in any way.
The curse (United States) This makes me think of the Salem Witch Trials.The plague (United States) This makes me think of the Black Death and those crazy bird masks.Aunt Flow (United States)
Riding the cotton pony (United States) This makes me think of a Native American warrior riding a paint  pony.On the red (United States) I’ve always heard it ‘on the rag’.Shark Week (United States) This is almost as funny as ‘vampire’s teabag’ to me.

source: Museum of Menstruation & Women’s Health.

Euphemisms fascinate me. I tend to be exceedingly polite in public situations, but kind of sailor-y in my private speech. I use euphemisms for a lot of stuff actually — I have my “monthlies,” or it’s “that time.” I enjoy “intimate relations” with my husband, or we “do the hippity-dippity.” My nylons are too tight and my “area hurts.” I banged my thumb and yelled, “Jeezy cow on a butter cracker!” or, “Scheiße!” (less euphemism, more translation).

The funny thing is, I generally just use these substitutions in real life. The swearing substitutions I use a little bit on the internet (which is actually kind of weird, come to think of it). It’s interesting to me, though, that I often try to obscure the more controversial parts of my personality in real life. It’s a losing proposition, really, because there will always be someone who’s upset at something you do, so your best bet is to just be someone you’re comfortable with and proud of. I’m still trying to figure out the line — when is a euphemism perpetuating and promoting the idea that something is so shameful it cannot be referred to in direct terms and when is it just being polite or showing basic manners?

For instance, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the human body or breastfeeding. I think moms who breastfeed are awesome and more power to them, and the human body is beautiful and fascinating, flaws and all. But I still don’t like to see a woman breastfeeding in public — I’m not talking about the discreet, polite, shawl-over-the-babies head breastfeeding; that’s fine. I’m talking about a woman popping out her boob right in the middle of a restaurant/ mall/ park, latching the baby on and breastfeeding with her boobs exposed in full view of everyone.

And I can’t even really verbalize or explain why, other than I think it’s rude. I think it’s rude for someone (male or female) to walk shirtless into a sit-down dining establishment. I think it’s rude to wear heavy perfume in public areas. I think it’s rude to swear in public areas. I don’t think any of these things are, in and of themselves, inherently wrong. I don’t think it’s wrong to go shirtless say, on the beach. I don’t think it’s wrong to wear heavy perfume if you enjoy the smell and are planning on staying home all day so as not to trigger allergy attacks in strangers. I don’t think it’s wrong to swear.

I just think sometimes an action appropriate for one situation is not appropriate for another, and sometimes people get this weird idea that their rights are being infringed on if they’re asked to conform (nicely) to a harmless social nicety.

At the same time, this view makes me uncomfortable, because it’s the rabble-rousers, it’s the people who said, “Why shouldn’t I wear pants instead of skirts?” or, “Why do I have to wear a corset?” that set us on the path leading to me being able to wear jeans and enjoy freedom of movement.

So just because I personally feel uncomfortable with a strange woman flashing her boobage in the park, or overhearing a stranger in a bathroom stall yammer on about their yeast infection — does that mean I have the right to silence them? If they feel comfortable airing their most private information in public, who am I to say no? Maybe these people are, in some incomprehensible way, setting the path for the freedoms of tomorrow. I really can’t see how, but it’s feasible, right? Right?

on home ownership, PNW living, and motorcycles

I love living in the PNW. It’s friggin gorgeous out here. Since moving out of the house everything has been easier, even winters. It used to be I hated winters out here, all rainy and cold and wet. Now that we live in a rental in the city, the feeling of being “stuck” is gone. Home mortgages really suck, you know? I mean, they’re essentially 30-year rental contracts, with the option to own at the end. I know, I know, there’s all this other stuff involved with equity and perceived investment and blah blah blah, but the way I see it is this:
  • Society is more mobile now. We don’t buy a home with the intention to live there, retire there, and have our children raise their children there. We buy a home with the hope we’ll be able to sell it for some sort of profit in 5, 10, 20, 30 years. It’s ridiculous.
  • We tend to calculate the value of the home in terms of purchased price vs. sold price. We don’t factor in sunk costs for repair, renovation, interest paid, etc.
  • The idea of home ownership as a measure of success is a societal myth we built and perpetuated on ourselves, and has no bearing on reality.
I mean, if I live in a home, I have to pay “rent” (mortgage) to the mortgage company, who can and will sell my note to anyone they choose. We bought our home through First American, who sold it to Chase the day we moved in, who sold it to Litton Loan, who sold it to Ocwen. We didn’t get a say in any of this. We never even made a mortgage payment to First American, because they sold our loan immediately to Chase. I have to do my own repairs or pay a guy to do them — roofing, plumbing, etc. With a rental, my landlord provides a handyman and I gotta say, this is an aspect of renting that is highly underrated.
If I want to move (transfer for work, maybe?) or I get cabin fever from the same walls and layout every day, I have to either commute or deal with it until we can find a buyer. With a rental, you just look for a new place.
Oh, and you know how they sell your note? Believe it or not, the personality/ values of your mortgage company matter. I know it doesn’t seem like it’d effect you like a petty landlord does, but it turns out that some mortgage companies will work with you to overcome bad times, while some level fees against you and stick hard-and-fast to the rules until you have no choice but to foreclose. It has the overall negative effect and stress a bad landlord does, except a mortgage company can ruin your credit and send you into foreclosure. So there’s that.
I know, not exactly on target, but still hilarious.

I digress, though. This wasn’t supposed to be a post about home ownership, mortgage companies, and why I think renting > buying when it comes to living spaces. This was supposed to be a post about gorgeous PNW spring weather and how I want to ride my motorcycle.

I mean, seriously, it’s insane out there — the trees are budding leaves of green, and the sky arches blue and cloudless overhead. The pavement radiates warmth from the 70 degree sunshine. In the PNW, our roads curve and twist in spirals and loops both long and tight — with mountains and varying terrain everywhere, every motorcycle ride is both an adventure and an exercise in skill.

Source: A View of the World

We could ride to the ocean and talk to the instructors at the Grays Harbor MSF Course, who taught me how to ride. We could ride to Mt. Baker  or Mt. St. Helens or Mt. Rainer and enjoy the scenic vistas. If we had motorcycle insurance (Washington is one of the few states that does not require motorcycle insurance), we could ride to Portland, Oregon and browse Powells Bookstore for a bit — and we could do any one of these during the 7 hours or so Kidling is in school, and still have time for coffee.

Unfortunately, I can’t ride. Besides the obvious (footpeg being broken), I actually need to grab some riding gear, too. My helmet is about 4 years old by this point, and you’re supposed to replace it every 2-4 years, or immediately after an accident. John needs to replace his, too — his was on sale at something like 75% off for being unsold inventory when he bought it, so it’s actually about 6 years old. I need new boots, and we both need new summer gloves. Also, I need to adjust my chain, because it’s a little loose. And getting that motorcycle insurance wouldn’t go amiss.
So there are actually several reasons I allegedly couldn’t ride today — but let’s be honest, the chain adjustment is easy to do, and if my footpeg wasn’t broken, we’d adjust my chain and be off. I’ve decided I’m going to replace my clutch/ brake controls and the footpegs with matte black versions instead of the silver versions. I also want to get new gear.
I just realized all the gear I want is black. That’s . . . interesting. I wonder if that says something about my character or outlook on life. Most gear (when marketed to girls) seems to feature flowers, pink camo, and just various shades of pink. I’m not really a fan of flowers, pink, or camo, so I tend toward the neutral-toned gear.

plans change . . .

So I was going to do this year by year series of posts in honor of our 11 year wedding anniversary, covering all the stuff John and I have gotten through together. I wrote up to year 8, and I realized it just wasn’t working for me. The posts were too short; they didn’t allow room for any motivations or interpretations but mine. The experiences sometimes cast people we interacted with in a bad light — sometimes people I love, sometimes people I don’t particularly care about, but don’t want to humiliate, especially on a searchable blog.
I’ve been told by several people — teachers, friends, readers — that I should just compile all this stuff into a book. Frankly, I’m baffled (and delighted!) this blog has as many readers as it does, and is continuing to gain readers — I have a hard time believing anyone would want to read about my personal tragedies and hardships in book form. Then again, each draft post is basically the outline to a chapter, so maybe I should try my hand at it. Who knows.
So instead, I’ll just put the drafts in my documents to revisit later and share some links right now. Today we went clamming as a family, so I’m going to be making clam chowder. I like to use an altered version of this recipe from Allrecipes.com. The clams were huge, and we got one catch limit (40 clams). Both John and I have licenses, and with Kidling being under 14, we could have gotten 80 or 120 clams . . . but I’m not okay with that. I don’t see catch limits as “this is the minimum amount we are allowed,” but more as, “this is the maximum amount we are allowed, but we shouldn’t catch more than we’ll eat.“. We have enough clams for chowder, fried clams, and maybe garlic clam sauce over spaghetti.
Anyway, I’m all sticky with sunscreen, sweat, and saltwater, so I’m just going to go settle down with my Nook and read for a bit. I’ll leave you with some of the stuff I’ve been reading this week:

This breaks down the difference in Republican and Democrat-supported bills that effect families and the ability of moms to work. Basically, liberals and moderates in general pass more family-friendly bills that make daycare affordable, raise child tax credits, and make it easier for mothers to get educated, employed, and paid fairly. Hard-right conservatives, on the other hand, tend to promote and vote for bills that  have an end result of gouging middle class families.

Author Charlie Stross explains how by relying on disintermediation, Amazon has become both a monopoly and a monopsony — in other words, Amazon.com has taken advantage of  the changes retail internet sales precipitated to institute a situation where they both control the suppliers and what is offered to consumers, resulting in less market competition and consumer choice. He suggests that traditional publishing and bookstores can save themselves and move into the future by removing DRM restrictions and no longer treating ebooks like software. I agree, but I’d also add that I think it’s about time we start automatically charging sales tax to internet sales based on the zip code of the of the purchasing credit card and/or shipping address. Amazon has shafted traditional retail far too long in this regard.

Long story short, this NYT article covers the difference in mindset between creation of the Nook vs. the creation of the Kindle. If you want the short version: The Nook comes from a love of reading, literature, and bookstores, as well as the desire to preserve and promote growth in these areas. The Kindle comes from a desire to make money and corner the market share of readers.

So . . . read, enjoy, comment, share the word. And try that clam chowder, because it is delicious.

11 years today!

I’ll take back up posting a year-by-year marriage recap as of tomorrow. Today we’re all tired and sunburnt. I’m working on the year-by-year marriage recap entries, but I need to upload some photos or they’ll just be this wall o’text.
All three of us slept in today. John and I woke up to Sirius standing on top of us, panting into our faces. We usually put him out to go potty at 7 a.m., and we’d slept until 9:50 a.m. So we got up and John made coffee while I took a shower and got ready for the day. I applied for a job recently, so I wanted to go in to the store and check up on that situation before we took off on our family outing. After getting all showered, made-up, dressed, and coiffed, I went and made breakfast. I make the same (general) breakfast every morning, and it’s a great way to start the day:

Stovetop Oatmeal

2 cups water
1 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 tsp chia seeds
1/2 tsp flax seeds
3 tsp brown sugar
1/3 cup dried fruit (usually raisins/ cranberries/ strawberries)
Handful crushed walnuts

John and I eat this every morning. It’s super filling and healthy. I got the idea from Umpqua Oats. I read the ingredients list and thought, well that’s not hard at all, so I just started making my own version at home. I digress, though.
So we ate breakfast, then headed out to check on my application. After that was done, we went to the Family Fish Day at the city community center. Kidling caught 3 fish total; pretty decently sized. I actually killed/ cleaned a fish myself (yay, go mom!). By the end of the day, all three of us were tired and sunburnt. I went out to Costco and picked up this new Salmon Taco kit they’re carrying in the deli. It’s by Comida Del Sol, and we’ve been eyeing it since it came in. We decided to get it for our anniversary, and holy gods, it was yum! Then we came home and John and Kidling napped while I wrote. It’s been pretty much like any other day, except at random moments we grin at each other and say, “11 years!” or, “Happy stupiday!” or, “Happy anniversary!”

anniversary eve

Tomorrow is our 11 year wedding anniversary. I’ve been thinking a lot about the ups and downs and different influences in our relationship over the years, and thought I’d share the year by year highlights. So, for the eve of our wedding anniversary, here’s how it all began:
Spring 2000 — Winter 2000
In Spring 2000, I was 20 and dating an awful guy. We were in an on-again/ off-again relationship, and I didn’t know how to properly end it. I’d been inactive in the mormon church since meeting the guy, and I started attending church again to escape him and sort of clear my head. This is where I met John (18). John and I did not initially get along — I found him to be in-your-face, argumentative, and a bit of a know-it-all. John apparently found me amusing but very odd. Despite our poor first impressions of each other, we found each other intriguing enough that we became friends.
In June, John turned 19 and I left the state briefly in an attempt to kill my relationship with the awful guy once and for all. When I returned in August, John asked me out out to a church dance. I danced like an idiot; he didn’t dance at all. We went out again the next week, and the week after that, and the week after that. Although we were together nearly every day, he was all gentlemanly and didn’t make a move on me. I’m a bit ashamed to admit this now, but I wasn’t used to that at the time. All the guys I dated up until John were the type who expected sex immediately, and I thought that was just how guys were. So when John didn’t make any moves on me, I assumed he wasn’t into me . . . and I got back together with my ex boyfriend, again. When I told John, I knew the mistake I’d made from the stunned and hurt expression on his face. I didn’t dump the ex, though, because I figured I’d made my bed and now I had to lie in it.

This time, my ex became physically abusive. He would “jokingly” punching me in the arm or slap me upside the back of the head when he was irritated or angry at me. One night, I made plans to watch a film with John. My ex became irate that I was going over there, and kicked the driver’s side window of my car in on my face, shattering glass into my eyes and face, as well as across the seat. After washing glass shards out of my eyes and hair, I drove home and bought the ex a Greyhound ticket out of state. Then I went to John’s house for the movie. After that, John and I began kind-of sort-of dating. This all took place through September and mid-October.
By late October, we were officially-unofficially a couple. We spent every church activity together, partly due to my calling as the newsletter writer. I was going through the mormon repentance process for having sex with my ex boyfriend, and I wasn’t allowed to take the sacrament, but the bishop felt a calling would be beneficial to my repentance process. He made up a calling just for me — I wrote a ward newsletter to the missionaries sent off from our ward. I attended all classes, activities, and dances, interviewed people, and wrote up accounts of ward happenings to mail off to the missionaries. John was my constant companion and co-editor. Although our relationship was becoming very serious, we still abstained from sex. This was a unique experience for me, and it made our relationship all the more stunningly awesome to me. It was unusual to have a boyfriend care about me for me, not for what I could do for him. Our first kiss was shy and silly and goofy, and I’d never felt so nervous about a first kiss before — or so relieved when he proved to be a brilliant kisser!
I met his parents for the first time in November, when they returned to town for Thanksgiving. I’d met his sister already. We often invited her to church activities with us, but she’d had a bad experience in the LDS church and was attending a different evangelical youth congregation. She generally seemed disapproving of me, which John said was because I was LDS. Before their parents arrived, she took me aside to warn me that her dad often said things that seemed unkind or unfair to John. I figured she was exaggerating, to be honest, because I had a hard time (then) conceiving of an non-supportive parent. The initial meeting seemed to go well. There were the usual differences of family tradition to adjust to — they left the tv on during Thanksgiving dinner, my family didn’t; that sort of thing — but overall they seemed nice. The most awkward part of the evening was when his parents began sharing embarrassing childhood stories about John. The stories were less “ha ha cute-embarrassing” and more like “deeply scarring humiliation,” and I felt deeply uncomfortable with how unhappy John looked about the situation, and how his parents and sister seemed completely unaware/ unconcerned with his discomfort. To this day, I don’t remember any of the so-called “funny” stories, just the deep sense of sympathy and anger I felt on behalf of my boyfriend.
After that meeting, both John and his sister told me their dad approved of me. They didn’t mention what their mom thought, and when I asked they didn’t know. The general consensus seemed to be one of confused relief that their dad would not have a problem with me. I found all the worry a bit strange, but nothing to be overly concerned about, especially since their parents were never around (they’re long haul truckers). At that point, marriage wasn’t on the table. I just liked being with him. We continued dating, but now referred to each other officially as boyfriend and girlfriend.
December rolled around, and with it my mom’s usual delighted overabundance of holiday cheer. In our household, Christmas was a month-long celebration. The Christmas tree went up the first week, and every room in the house was decorated with Christmas cheer. It was like living in the set of The Nutcracker. On the first Sunday, we lit the Advent Wreath and had rice pudding. The whole month was rife with similar family traditions, so I had less time for John with all the family stuff. About a week before Christmas, we were discussing holiday plans and when we would exchange our gifts. John mentioned he would be free all day, since his parents wouldn’t be in town and his sister was doing a church-related activity. It was weird to me that he would be alone on a holiday I’d always experienced as a family-centric, so I asked my parents if he could join us for Christmas.
. Mom made me cover up
because she felt my top was immodest.
My parents adored John — a hardworking, respectful, intelligent, ambitious mormon guy? YES! — and gladly invited him. Unfortunately, the short notice meant his presents were kind of . . . sad. My dad apparently picked them up at the dollar store the night before Christmas. They were a red barrel of monkeys and a brown cotton scarf that was too short to wrap all the way around his neck. In dad’s defense, John has a 15-inch neckNo-one expected that, because he’s so fit.We exchanged gifts — I gave him a t-shirt I knew he’d love, and he gave me books and a painting by Amy Brown he knew I’d love. Love them we did, and still do. I have the painting framed in my room over my writing desk right now:
Amy Brown official site
We were pretty much inseparable for the remainder of the holiday season, and ended up consummating our relationship on New Years Eve. I remember the timing, because the next Sunday, I was supposed to be able to start taking the sacrament again. My new, sin-free life was supposed to coincide with the new year and the new millenium (depending on how you chose to count the beginning of the millenium). I knew I should feel ashamed and guilty at my failure in yielding to temptation, but all I felt was joy. I felt so ridiculously happy with John that my happiness actually scared me more than anything else.
John and I began discussing marriage soon after. The consummation of our relationship meant he would not be able to go on the mission he’d been thinking about, and I had just tossed 6 months worth of repentance out the door. We knew we should stop, break up, and ignore temptation — but we didn’t want to, so marriage seemed an equally reasonable solution (mormon-logic, I swear). I went on a brief freak-out about how serious it all was and hung out a few times with some stoner friends from my inactive days, which John and I fought about some. For the proposal, he drove me out to Tumwater Falls, one of our favorite haunts.
Olympia Daily Photo
We walked out over the first bridge, the one you can see from the Falls Terrace Restaurant. He was silent and seemed withdrawn and upset. I thought he was angry at me for all our recent spats, and was afraid he was about to break up with me and had brought me to a public place so as to forestall some huge display of emotion. He started talking, saying how we’d been having some hard times lately, but he loved me and knew I was the one he wanted to be with. Then he stopped right there in the middle of the bridge, dropped to one knee, and looked at me with those incredible blue eyes and said, “I love you, Laura. Will you marry me?”
After I finished screaming and shrieking and jumping up and down and swatting at him, I finally accepted and let him put the ring on my hand. The next day, we took my parents out to my favorite restaurant — Mini Saigon — and told them the great news. After that, I was flashing my engagement ring in every photo.
It was like a compulsion, I swear.
We initially planned our wedding for Summer Solstice, but my mom found out we were knocking boots and insisted we move the date up in case I ended up pregnant at the alter. So we moved it to April 20th, because, well, 4-20. John and I both found the idea utterly hilarious, even though we didn’t smoke out. Mom wasn’t anybody’s fool, however, and remembered the reference from my high school days. She put the kibosh on that snap-quick. So we moved our wedding date one day forward, to April 21, 2001.

volunteering

I am loving volunteering at the Book Fair. Besides the cash register, which is ridiculously and inexplicably fun to operate, I love being around the books. I love discussing books. I love being around the type of people who volunteer at and browse book fairs. I love it when the kids come up with stacks of books, and I look at what they’re buying and say,
“Oh! [Pokemon/ Naruto/ other comic]? My son loves these! You know, if you go to OCC — that’s Olympic Cards and Comics, it’s right there in Lacey on Pacific Ave — they sell [Pokemon cards and graphic novels], and they even have card games on the weekends. You should check it out.”
or,
“Oooh, Calpurnia Tate? I’ve heard such good things about it; I really want to read it. If you like historical fiction, you should totally check out Ann Rinaldi, too — I loved her when I was a kid.”
or,
The Hunger Games, huh? Good choice. If you like it, you might want to check out Divergent by Victoria Roth. It’s another dystopian futuristic young adult with a strong female protagonist.”
Anyway, Kidling has been in every day that I’ve volunteered to hang around and chat with me. When a rush happens and I get busy ringing up customers, he goes and sits cross-legged by whatever book he’s browsing and starts reading. In the past few days, I’ve seen him flipping through Bone, Vol. 1: Out From Boneville Big Nate Goes for Broke LEGO® Harry Potter: Building the Magical World and several Star Wars novellas and historical fiction books (mostly to do with the Titanic, which he’s fascinated with).
He hadn’t saved enough for any of the books he wanted, so he used his allowance to buy a bunch of silly animal erasers, which he’s been playing nonstop with. He wanted a UV glowlight pen to write me secret messages with, so I bought it for him today.
He doesn’t know yet, though. It’s a surprise. When he does something reward-worthy in the next day or so (which he will, he always does), I’ll reward him with it as a surprise. I bought him a book and a funny sticker, as well.
He could not stop giggling at that sticker the other day. I swear, 10 year old boys and their potty humor. They never really grow out of it, you know. My husband and brother are both in their 30’s, and they still snicker at potty humor. Anyway, I gave him the sticker today when he cleaned up his room without prompting. The book was just because he’s getting bored reading the same-old same-old for his homework — he’s read Harry Potter about a dozen times, as well as Levin Thumps and Maniac Magee and all his other books. He reads them as fast as we buy them, then reads them a dozen times over. His teacher lent him some book the other day, over spring break, and he finished it in a day.
That boy reads like a demon. I think I’m going to give him my Nook Touch when I pick up the Nook Glowlight. For some reason my 1st Gen Nook won’t work anymore. I think when my sil gave it back to me, she included the wrong micro-cable or something. It hasn’t worked since she returned it. Kind of bummed about that, since I did want Kidling to use it. Anyway, I’m out. I’ve gotta go pick up John. I’ve been driving the car with all the volunteering and other running around I’ve been doing, so John’s been either riding his motorcycle or walking to work. Today he walked, so I get to pick him up.

Blogs, books, and video: Media to consume

Sometimes I don’t have the time (or, honestly, energy + inclination) to write a longer, more detailed post. So the other day, I was thinking about some of my favorite websites, articles, books, etc., and I thought I should start doing a list of recommended readings/ viewings based on what’s on my radar this week.

Blogs

Bitch Magazine has been doing a series on bisexuality in the media called Visi(bi)lity. They’re focusing a lot on male bisexuality, which I’m super pleased about given that the negative stereotypes perpetuated about male bisexuals.
That said, they also address some of the stereotypes and misconceptions that follow female bisexuals, as well as negative stereotypes about bisexuals in general (like that all bisexuals cheat). I think it’s a really great series that should be read by everyone.
The Science of Relationships has a really interesting article about the pros and cons of changing ones name after marriage. This seems to continue to be a perennial issue, which kind of confuses me. I see it as pretty simple: If you can’t agree whose name to take, just make up a new one for the two of you. So instead of, say, John Smith and Jane Doe becoming:
  • Mr. and Mrs. Smith
  • Mr. and Mrs. Doe
  • Mr. and Mrs. Smith-Doe
  • Mr. and Mrs. Doe-Smith

I think going with a mashed together creation, ie: Mr. and Mrs. Smithdoe or a completely new name that appeals to something personal and unique about your relationship, ie: Mr. and Mrs. Awesomepants is ideal. John and I often have often discussed the things we would have done differently had we put off marriage for a few years, and the name change is one. We would have taken that opportunity for an easy, no-difficulties name change and gone with something awesome and unique to us. In the same vein of interesting relationship info, I really enjoyed this New York Times editorial about how studies show that cohabitation before marriage has a tendency to cause relationship failure. Did not see that one coming!

I just recently discovered Nerve’s Ridiculous Tips for a Miserable Sex Life, and I love it. It’s an ongoing series of articles spoofing the repetitive and unhelpful sex/ relationship advice circulated monthly by magazines such as Cosmo, Glamour, Maxim, and Men’s Health. Suddenly, these irritatingly repetitive and out-of-touch magazines vomiting out the same damn advice columns month after month have been rendered into comedy gold.

In fandom related reading, John is a big fan of The Walking Dead t.v. show. I’m thinking about reading the graphic novels, because I’ve been led to believe that the sexism so prevalent in the t.v. show isn’t nearly as bad in the graphic novels. Apparently, this has less to do with plot issues and more to do with the fact that the graphic novel medium allows for more nuanced and in-depth storylines.

In the meantime, I’m enjoying The Walking Dead less for the show itself and more for the fantastic fandom discussions of sexism in blogs like Irrelevant Comics. This entry in particular address both sides of the argument, ie: There is no sexism, women are just sensitive! and There is totally sexism, stop pretending it’s not there! 

Another really insightful read about bigotry in fandom is this Racialicious entry  about how fans react to black characters in popular shows, ie: Tara in True Blood, Martha in Dr. Who, and Guinevere in Merlin. Apparently (and this blew my mind, because I totally shipped Martha/ Doctor), there are people in the fandom who really dislike black characters for no apparent reason except they’re black– if a white character has a similar background/ education/ etc., they’re beloved. Slap that onto a black character, and rage. Blew my mind.
Anyway, John is falling asleep and I’ve got to get up early tomorrow to run some errands before volunteering. So that’s all for now.