state of the ciara address, winter 2011

first of all, my apologies for the fact this blog seems to be turning into a repository for book reviews. not that anyone has been complaining. but i feel kind of guilty because i do not write the book reviews specifically for the blog. i post reviews here when i feel like i need some blog content but don’t have the time or energy to write something original.

why have i not had the time or energy to write anything original? part of it was the fact that i was busy hanging out with jared while he was on break. i love Vacation Jared. he’s a far cry from Dr. Tabler, the character that jared affects during the school year, mostly while grading papers. Vacation Jared seems to have nothing better to do than cater to my every whim. he drove me clear across town one day just to buy a box of brownie mix. he actually suggested one morning that we drive to kansas city to check out the american girl store at the oak park mall. that worked out well because the mall also features a hurricane simulator. for two bucks, you get to stand in a plastic tube while a machine blasts you with 78 mile-per-hour winds. only in kansas. i was actually a little offended on the behalf of all people who live in regions of the world that are routinely devastated by real hurricanes. but that doesn’t mean i didn’t take some video of Vacation Jared yukking it up in the hurricane simulator (real quote: “it’s really dusty in here”). we even drove all the way out to columbia, missouri one day to play mario kart for wii with our friend cait.

now jared is back in school & i have been busy alternately being sick, vaguely depressed, & busy fielding bullshit drama. the sick: i caught two colds in one month. what the fuck? why do i suddenly have the immune system of a newborn? the vaguely depressed: it’s winter, it’s cold, it’s snowy, & i have been bummin’ hard about the dearth of badass political ladies in my day-to-day life. naturally i can talk politics with jared (in all iterations from Dr. Tabler to Punk Rock Jared aka the Tabez [for his propensity to wear leather jackets & punch household appliances in order to get them working again] to stern, misanthropic Jared Knows Best) & that’s awesome, but it’s not the same as bonding with the ladies.

there’s this pop song that is really big right now, despite not being all that good, in which the singer says, “make me feel like i’m the only girl in the world.” the first time we heard it, jared said that it was an ode to excessively high expectations. he said that he was sorry, but he was probably not going to be able to make me feel like the only girl in the world, but he could make me feel like the only girl in the car…at least until we picked up his brother & his brother’s girlfriend to go bowling. i told him that i wouldn’t actually want to be the only girl in the world, because then who would i have feminist solidarity with? i am realizing that for me, regular contact with badass feminist ladies is crucial–just as much as water & oxygen. it’s not worth living without it.

& the drama. oh, the drama. it’s taken various forms, from people being shocked to learn that about 78% of the point of the internet is for people to talk smack on one another, to my latest headache, which is a series of increasingly ridiculous to & from my mom. regular readers may be aware that i am more or less estranged from my mom. i’ve seen her in person exactly once in the last four years, & i’ve talked to her about three times. this latest e-mail exchange is the first we’ve had in perhaps five years.

highlights: she was recently diagnosed with chronic emphysema. when i asked if she was going to quit smoking in an attempt to extend her life span, she replied that she had “tricked” the doctor into thinking she had lung obstructions & that she was in fact fit as a fiddle with no intentions to quit smoking. she also played it cool with regard to her political activism (she is super-mega-passionate about middle eastern liberation struggles & apparently converted to islam a few years ago) by telling me, “i know very dangerous people, ciara. the less you know…the better.” she hinted that some of the people she knows are in fact–prepare yourself, because this is some scary shit–HACKERS. i know. i clutched my pearls too. is there anything more terrifying than a hacker? i mean, maybe a kitten is a little bit worse. due to the fact that hackers are not remotely scary. but i think my mom must actually watch the movie “hackers” on a 24-hour loop, judging by the level of imminent danger she feels they present to the average middle american casual political blogger. my other favorite part was how she assured me that she is taking precautions to protect herself & her loved ones from said hackers & other political enemies by blogging under an assumed name. never mind that the assumed name is also her REAL NAME, first & last. she is protecting herself by TELLING people it’s an assumed name, so that makes it the very LAST name that anyone would ever associate with her. you be the judge: mind-bendingly brilliant, or the dumbest thing you’ve ever heard?

i could go on, but i’ll hold some back in reserve for the next time i am running low on comedy gold.

yesterday was an especially bad day as far as mom drama goes, but luckily, i was informed of a new feminist book club forming in town mere hours before its first meeting. so i went to that & it was pretty fun. it was just a planning meeting to discuss what topics we might like to cover & get some volunteers to start thinking about books. next week we’re going to watch a film & then discuss–most people seemed interested in an especially cheesy teen movie. no one was moved by my suggestion of “bring it on,” the greatest teen movie of all time. i don’t know why; it has everything you might want, from class warfare to racial strife to gendered double standards to clash references. a fair little chunk of attendees specifically vocalized an interest in zines &/or riot grrrl, which was especially cool because i didn’t know any of those people. other ladies in lawrence who are into zines &/or riot grrrl! sweet! there was also a very strange moment during the moderated discussion on “biggest issues facing feminists today” & “what does feminism mean to you,” during which the facilitator specifically said, “we haven’t heard from any of the men in the room yet. do you want to speak up?” i felt like i’d fallen into a wormhole. really? a conversation about feminism in which the gauntlet was thrown to only the men? even though almost every woman that said anything was saying something about how men are just as negatively affected by patriarchy as women are…which i completely disagree with, actually? someone evn suggested that we have a special event on “feminism for men”.

i’m just gonna say it. i don’t care about dudes in my feminism, okay? dudes of the world, feel free to be feminist allies, read feminist books, educate yourself on feminist topics, & behave in feminist ways with the other people in your life. feel free to liberate yourself from the oppressive strictures of patriarchal masculinity. but do it on your own time, because this lady is not interested in hearing about it. cheers!

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