Autumnal Pizza

One of my internet friends expressed interest in recipes that use butternut squash, so I had to share my creation, which I call my autumnal pizza. Sorry I don’t have pretty pictures like a real recipe blog, but it’s still way too warm here in California to actually make this, so you get what you get!

INGREDIENTS LIST:

Pizza dough of your choice

Caramelized onions

Butternut squash

A tart Apple of your choice (Granny Smith, etc)

Goat Cheese crumbles

Olive oil, salt, pepper, etc.

I like to make autumnal pizza for myself for Thanksgiving, since I don’t eat turkeys. It is pretty labor intensive if you do everything yourself, but premade pizza dough will save you some time. I also always just buy the pre-chopped up squash from the store, I’m not about to mess around with the whole squash.

That said, I almost always make my own pizza dough because what the hell, if I’m going to bother cooking at all, I’m going to go all out. My go to recipe is this Whole Wheat Pizza Dough from Girl Vs Dough.

The other thing you need to have done well in advance is your caramelized onions. There are many, conflicting opinions on the internet about how to properly caramelize onions. I just put mine in my slow cooker with some olive oil and leave it on low heat for a while. I check on them after half an hour or so and then again every 20 minutes or so. I usually do the onions the day before I’m going to make the pizza and then put them in the fridge over night.

You can prep your squash the same day or the day before, whichever. Cut it up into fairly small chunks (I would aim for about half-inch cubes or a bit smaller), toss with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Roast (with a lid on) at 450F until done. Every 20 minutes or so, give the squash a stir ‘n poke.When it’s soft enough that a fork slides in easily, you can take it out of the oven.

Now it’s time to assemble. Roll out or stretch your dough into a pizza shape. Brushthe top with a generous helping of olive oil, enough to coat the surface but not so much that it pools. Spread the caramelized onions over the dough. Take your apple and slice it up nice and thin, place slices over the onions. Next goes the squash, and finally your goat cheese.

Bake according to the directions for your dough. The dough I usually use takes about 10-15 minutes at 500F. Let it cool for a while (if you use the whole wheat pizza dough linked above this is extremely important; trying to remove it too soon will end in disaster. You have to be patient) and then cut and serve!

OPTIONAL EXTRA:

After baking, top with arugula and a drizzle of balsamic.

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On Reading YA

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Ed note: I originally wrote this post over a year ago, but for some reason (being a terrible bloggist) neglected to publish it. I no longer work at the bookstore I did when I first wrote this, but I decided to publish the post without editing references to the bookstore out.

Twitter can be a super frustrating communication tool. On the one hand, it makes it so easy to respond to things and start conversations, which is great! On the other hand, I definitely find the character limits make it incredibly easy to misunderstand and be misunderstood. What there isn’t a lot of room for on Twitter is context, or qualifiers, or teasing out an idea when you’re not sure what you really think yet.

At least that’s what I find. Some people probably find Twitter a lot less limiting than I do. But I find any time I’ve tried to have a conversation about anything more substantial than “OMG SCANDAL,” inevitably I am misunderstood, I get the feeling I’m misunderstanding the other person, and we go around and around in circles until I have to check out because it stresses me out way beyond what a Twitter interaction probably ought to and triggers an anxiety spiral.

I’m a wordy person; I always have been. I like to slowly circle my point, thinking it out as I go. I can’t do that effectively on Twitter. Which stinks because I actually really like Twitter and think it can be incredibly useful for sharing information and stories. If you are good at brevity anyway.

Anyway, this post is actually not about Twitter! Do you see what I mean about my love of context?!?!

So a little while ago I got into a discussion about literature and young adult books with a writer and critic whose work I often enjoy and admire. Even when I don’t agree with her conclusions, I think she usually makes her case with strength and clarity and I always make a point of reading her work when she is talking about something I am interested in.

So the first bit of trouble is I wasn’t sure what exactly she was responding to when she started talking about YA readers, but it really was sounding to me like she was saying that adults who read YA fiction are just not sophisticated enough to read real literature, or that reading YA was in itself a sign of immaturity. I want to be clear that those are not direct quotes! That was the sense I got from a series of tweets, and in the course of our discussion I came to believe I misunderstood precisely what she was trying to get at. I probably should have asked her for a link for more context but I was honestly a little weirdly starstruck by the fact that someone who I respect who is Totes Internet Famous was talking to me and I was kind of fumbling to keep up with her responses since I do have such a difficult time editing myself down.

But anyway, the conversation I think was not a great success; I don’t think we really got anywhere useful with it, but over the last few days I’ve been puzzling over the reactions I had and trying to tease out my feelings about it all. Like what would I have said in a different medium than Twitter?

So, I don’t think I can separate my feelings about the YA question from my perspective. I’m a bookseller in a small bookstore. I’m in my early thirties, so I came of age when YA was just starting to be a big thing. There were teen books, but it wasn’t nearly the industry back at the turn of the millennium that it is now. The mix of teen-marketed books and adult-marketed books that I read has not changed all that much from my youth: I was reading both types when I was a teen, and I continued reading both types into young adulthood, and I still read both types now. Part of that is because of my job: I try to read stuff from all over the store, for all age groups, although if I’m not specifically working at it, I tend to stick mainly to SFF/weird fiction/speculative fiction/blahblah and to the YA versions of same. Sometimes a YA is nice, because a lot of the adult books I read are depressing as fuck; YA tends to be a little easier on my psyche when I need a break.

I don’t think there are many people who read Serious Literature all the time. We all need a break sometime. Some people pick up a thriller or a romance when they want a snack-book; I tend to go for YA, and that’s for a couple of reasons, like:

1. It is less likely than adult-marketed pulp fiction to contain gratuitous violence, rape, or badly-written sex.

2. I can still indulge my love of weirdness with books like The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, which I honestly think would probably not have been marketed as YA had it been published twenty years ago (this book does not meet reason #1 as it does contain a tremendously upsetting and violent rape scene).

Another thing I have noticed which is highly highly subjective is, it seems to me that the quality of the books marketed as YA is more variable now than in my youth. The teen books I remember were things like Fear Street, Christopher Pike, Lois Duncan (She was the BEST!), Sweet Valley University… Lots of stuff about witches for some reason. Very pulpy, in general. Nowadays there are more literary options, books that deal in a lot of the same issues and questions as adult Literature but in a somewhat more easily digestible form.

So anyway, I think when I see someone talking about “Adults who read YA,” my assumption is that they’re talking about people like me, and quite a few of my friends: adults for whom YA novels are our snacklit, the things we read in between more serious stuff. Whereas I now realize that Sady was talking about adults who ONLY read YA and never read anything more substantial or weighty.

Which just isn’t something I’ve really run into, myself. In my store, adults don’t buy a ton of YA, and those who do usually buy other types of books as well. Teens and young adults are buying the YA. Now part of that could very well be that our customer base tends to self-select for a certain type of literary person who sees added value in an independent brick and mortar bookshop and is willing to pay a little more for that value (as they won’t stop reminding me; dearest customers, I know you mean well, but it really is awkward when you cheerfully tell me “I know I could get this cheaper on Amazon but I want to support you!” You and I and everyone know(s) it’s cheaper at Amazon, I think it would be ok if it went unsaid). I could certainly see that being correlated with a desire to read serious literature.

Now, it is true that some people only read snacklit, but I kind of honestly don’t care. It’s a bit cliche to mention it, but a lot of what we now consider classic literature was snacklit in its day; in earlier days, the novel itself was considered a form for only unserious literature, the purview of the newly-literate working classes who devoured serialized sensation novels. Do you remember that bit in Pride and Prejudice where Mr Collins “protested that he never read novels?” From The Annotated Pride and Prejudice, edited by David M. Shapard: “Novels at this time [P&P first published in 1813] were scorned and denounced by many, either as intellectually frivolous or as morally corrupting” (127).

At this point I’m starting to lose track of my point, to be honest.

Too much TV, that’s my problem.

At any rate, the truth is, once I realized what Sady was trying to get at, I realized I don’t really disagree with her much at all (there is some stuff about the fundamental arbitrariness of labeling books YA or literary or genre, which I’m not sure anyone really “gets” until they work in the book industry in some capacity — like at the store I used to work at in Oregon, several of the female employees griped from time to time that Nicholas Sparks was shelved in “Literature” rather than “Romance,” for no reason that we could determine other than that he’s a dude. We eventually got him shelved where he belonged. Anyway the intricate dance of finding books their proper home on the shelf is a post for another day). (Run on sentences and parentheticals are another reason I am bad at Twitter).

I actually do get a bit of a furrowed brow about the dominance of YA these days, myself, but not really because adults are reading it, even if they’re reading more of it than anything else. Adults have fucking stressful lives and I can’t blame somebody for not wanting to tackle a challenging work in the ten minutes of reading time they have before they go to bed. I am more concerned that teens are over-relying on YA. When I was 16, I read Les Miserables (which is great because now I can say I did it and I never have to do it again. I actually tried again last year and, no I can’t make it happen a second time). I read Siddhartha. I read The Handmaid’s Tale when I was seventeen, and almost all of Margaret Atwood’s other novels by the time I was 21. 1984 when I was fourteen. Pride and Prejudice at fourteen and most of Jane Austen’s novels (I have still never finished Sense and Sensibility for some reason) by the time I finished high school. The summer after graduation I read East of Eden and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead at the same time and had the creepiest dreams about inescapable fate. None of these books were assigned reading; I read them because I was curious, because I wanted to, and because I had this epic thing called summer fucking vacation and no job. Also I blew off my homework a lot. Oh also I read a freaking Clockwork Orange at some point as a high schooler, what the hell? Some important books I think are actually best read when you’re young; it was a profoundly disturbing reading experience and I very much doubt I could stand to be in that character’s head now as an adult.

I mean I also read a whole shitload of Dragonlance novels, though, and for a week one summer I was like, weirdly convinced that I was in love with Raistlin (look that was also the summer I started trying mind-altering substances and let’s just say I skipped the “gateway drug” and these things may or may not be related). Also I thought Tarot by Piers Anthony was like, super deep, man. I reread part of it when I was like twenty and was horrified that I’d ever liked it. Damn but there are a lot of paragraphs dedicated to describing the sexy body of a young teenage girl.

Was there a point to any of this, Kate?

I think so. I think it would be useful if all of us could stop thinking of YA as simply “inferior literature for teenagers” and started thinking of it as a type of literature that occupies an important place in our literary landscape. I think YA is important in that it centers the voice and experiences of young people in a way that I think can be really validating and important for young people (although it has much-discussed problems involving which types of young people — mainly white, mainly straight — get to have their voices and experience centered. However, literary fiction and adult genre fiction also have these issues). I think it can also be really helpful for adults to refresh their memories about how it feels to be young; reading YA may or may not be the best avenue for this, but personally I find understanding and forgiving my past self to be a really vital process in my recovery from mental illness.

And that, my friends, is why I am bad at Twitter.

Rich and Poor in Ikea

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The first time I went to an Ikea, I almost cried, because for years I had heard jokes about how cheap Ikea was, and there I was in the land of cheap furniture, surrounded by things I would never, ever be able to afford.

I touched the bookcases that lined the walls and they felt solid. Smooth dark wood that lined the walls of the little mini-apartments in the Ikea showroom. At home in my apartment, books piled in stacks on the floor, or in teetery shelves made of particle board, left behind by my old roommate who replaced them with something nicer.

My couch was a loveseat a friend had rescued from the dump for me. Blue and green plaid upholstery, with a hole in one arm, perhaps from a zealous cat scratching. No coffee table, but an ugly side table and a dining table with only one chair. They matched each other, that was one thing, but they didn’t match the lovely white and gold bedroom set, two dressers, one being used as a TV stand, and a desk with my computer on it. More castoffs, the furniture and the computer all hand-me-downs. All things I could never buy myself.

I don’t really think I was that poor. I know every few months I would have to ask my mom to buy my groceries, and I know that sometimes at work I would sneak a roll of toilet paper home so I wouldn’t have to go to the store right away, but it’s not like I was poor: I always paid my rent on time, and they hadn’t shut off my electricity or anything. And even if I couldn’t always buy it myself, I always had food. I wasn’t hungry.

A few years before, the electricity was getting shut off. A few years before I would have weeks where I would never really feel full, not totally.

I wasn’t poor, not really, I don’t think. It feels somehow wrong to claim I was.

But still sometimes, someone makes a joke about Ikea, how cheap Ikea is, and I remember that first trip when I realized that the cheapest stuff the middle class could imagine cost more than I could ever hope to pay.

My life has changed a lot since then. For one thing, I have furniture from Ikea now. It’s nice, it gets the job done, I like it. Actually, I love it. It all goes together. I spent happy hours screwing the pieces together. My bedroom set is a lovely deep blue, and the dresser and the nightstands match. The coffee table, a brownish black, matches the TV stand, matches the side tables at either end of the couch. It looks like furniture somebody bought in a store. I have a husband and he has a good job. By those middle class standards, maybe we’re still kind of poor, I don’t know. I was investigating how much we would need to buy a house in our area, and it seemed like an absurd amount, but we live in a relatively expensive area, so, who knows. But we have things like health insurance and a retirement account, those are middle class things to have, and I’m glad to have them. I feel, somehow, simultaneously like I’m unimaginably rich (we go on VACATIONS! WHO DOES THAT?) and still, always, now and forever, somehow poor.

Some brilliant words on Planet of the Apes

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I found the BEST thing, a thing of transcendent wtfery that I just love.

It is the most amazing review of the 1968 film Planet of the Apes. Please, I beg of you, read the entire thing. It is a work of art.

Right off the bat, Dave starts strong, with a bold declaration that “The film was and still is a blatant piece of evolutionary propaganda made to push the unproven and unprovable theory of evolution.”

OF COURSE. I thought it was a fairly unsubtle social critique about the perils of dogma and the precariousness of civilization with some standard late-sixties Cold War fear of the bomb and maybe some animal cruelty issues mixed in, but with fucking awesome anthropomorphic apes. And also Charleton Heston taking huge bites out of whatever scenery is available. Incidentally, don’t let my snarky summary fool you: I love Planet of the Apes, a lot. Possibly a little too much. I love Planet of the Apes so much that when the Tim Burton movie came out in 2001, I not only went to see it at the drive-in opening weekend, I wore a chimpanzee mask. I took it off during the movie because I couldn’t see so well, but I had it. The very first date-type thing that my now-husband and I did after moving in together was go see Rise of the Planet of the Apes (again at the drive-in). I insist on watching some Planet of the Apes movie on the Fourth of July every year. The 1968 version if I can manage it, but if not, anything will do (I was greatly distressed this year to find that there were NO Planet of the Apes movies on Netflix Instant anymore). But back to Dave’s amazing review.

This paragraph is maybe my favorite thing that has ever been written in regards to Planet of the Apes or any Charleton Heston movie:

In regards to the theory of evolution itself, if we had this sort of evidence that the movie portrays in support of the theory itself, that would be one thing. But we have no talking apes who build great empires, religious institions to worship their gods, and courts of law to administer justice. No, they just eat, defecate, sleep, fight, procreate and not much else. Well, on the other hand maybe they are signs of intelligence, because that’s all most of the human race seem to do… but I digress. The movie is pure science fiction, through and through.

I mean!

“The movie is pure science fiction, through and through.”

Yes. Yes it is.

Now listen, it would be ONE THING if there really were talking, intelligent apes to build “great empires.” But there aren’t, ok! Ergo, evolution is not true, ergo, Planet of the Apes is a bad movie.

What?

I’m… not sure I follow.

😀

I don’t know what it is, but the spectacular illogic of this particular train of thought just fills me with glee. It is probably mean spirited of me! I am comfortable with that.

Ain't give a damn

Ain’t give a damn.

One final word from our friend Dave:

One more thing I was pondering was the idea of the “Forbidden Zone”. The 60’s saw Western society cross over our own “Forbidden Zone” in regards to sexuality and other mores. Was it a good thing? Well a look at any graph showing anything from increases to STD’s, divorce rates, murder rates, abortion rates, theft rates and so on will show that we had a more religious and God-fearing society and so a safer and more stable society. Some “Forbidden Zones” perhaps did need to be crossed, and the established Church did do some things that were not right, but we have gone too far the other way in reaction against the wrongs of our forefathers. We will have as much (or perhaps more) to answer for to our descendants (but they won’t be apes, don’t worry!).

 

CHARLTON-HESTON-PLANET-OF-THE-APES

SPEAKING OF FORBIDDEN ZONES AMIRITE

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I apologize for everything about this post! It’s been a weird couple of days!

 

#YesAllWomen

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The day before #YesAllWomen started trending on Twitter, I stopped at the grocery store after work. It was probably close to nine o’clock at night, and I was feeling good. Great, actually! I’d had a good day at the bookstore and I was about to have my first three day weekend in ages. I was wearing my favorite boots, which I’d gotten myself for a birthday present last fall. I love these boots so much. You know how some articles of clothing just make you feel awesome, for whatever intangible reason? I felt gorgeous, happy, confident, powerful. I was headed home, hips swinging, face smiling for no particular reason. It was a good feeling.

And then I almost made eye contact with an older man who was walking towards me. And I felt myself shutting it down. Shutting off the confident walk, the smile, the power. Making myself smaller so he would take no notice of me. Looking away so he wouldn’t think I was flirting.

I’m not sure if this really makes sense. Nothing happened. He didn’t say anything or make an obscene gesture or try to grab me or do anything as far as I know. He was just there, existing, and I felt myself shut down.

The next day I started reading the #YesAllWomen feed, and this moment from the night before loomed large in my mind. But how can you share something like that in 140 characters? You can’t. Well maybe someone else could, but I can’t. Because nothing happened, except internally, in me. I was feeling good and just existing in my own body in a moment with pleasure, and then in that moment I remembered a dozen other moments where I was told that I couldn’t exist in my own body for myself.

* * * * *

One afternoon when I was eighteen or nineteen, I was walking down the street in the South Park blocks in Portland, Oregon, with a friend of mine whom I’ll call Iris. I had either just moved up there or I was going to be moving up there soon. It was a beautiful warm sunny day and I was giddy with the joy of newfound young adult independence. No parents. It was a precious feeling, to feel happy, since only months earlier I’d been so deep underwater in depression that I couldn’t see sunlight, couldn’t remember what it felt like. Into that precious giddy feeling came a man, probably in his late twenties, maybe thirties, walking in the opposite direction. And as he passed by me, he said “I can see your nipples; you should really wear a bra.”

But just typing it out I can’t tell you the disgust in his voice, how repulsed he was by me, that my nipples dared to exist in the world without his permission. That I dared to exist in the world without his permission. As if his opinion should matter.

Not that it matters, but I was wearing a bra. I always wear a bra. I wish I could walk around with no bra. I’d save a lot of money for one thing (you can’t buy 30G bras for less than $50, and that’s if you get them on sale). But I don’t wear padded bras, and sometimes, yeah, you can probably see that I have nipples. So fucking what? I mean everyone has them, you know.

But that’s not even really the point. The point is that I was feeling happy. Feeling alive and full of optimism, which is rare and beautiful in my life and deserves to be nurtured. And here came Some Guy and he broke all that into pieces. It wrecked my good mood, you guys. It wrecked it so hard that 13 years later, I can still hear his disgust echoing around in my head.

Some months later I was on the MAX train when I happened to make eye contact with a man who was probably in his forties. He did this obscene thing with his mouth at me, sort of oral sex-ish? Because I half smiled when I made accidental eye contact. My bad, I guess.

* * * * *

I have a million of them. We all have a million of them. Things that, taken one by one, don’t really seem like a big deal. Little hiccups in your day, stuff that bums you out or scares you a little but nothing really happens. The drunk guy I had never met before who ran up and slapped me on the ass when his friend and I were flirting pretty aggressively. I guess he assumed my interest in his friend extended to him, too, even though he hadn’t spoken a word to me (I kicked him in the dick, btw, first and only time I’ve done that). “I want to eat your pussy” shouted from a moving car. The truck driver who asked me (age fifteen) for directions and kept telling me to get in his truck so I could show him. That was probably the scariest. Nothing happened there, either. Obviously I didn’t get in, but I was terrified as I walked away that he was going to grab me. Or follow me home.

There was the time I got a text on my phone from a number I didn’t recognize and when I asked who it was, the person said he was trying to text his ex-girlfriend. “Sorry, wrong number dude,” I told him. The next text I got was “Yah right lying cunt.”

I told that story on Twitter, tagged with #YesAllWomen, and it got me my very first troll: “Well that’s what you get for being such a cunt. Cunt.”

I felt like a real internet feminist! Some random guy calling me a cunt just because he can. Just because he assumed it would hurt me and he wanted to hurt me.

* * * * *

In an anthropology course I took my very first quarter at college, back when I was still going to classes in the real world instead of just online, The Worst Teacher I’ve Ever Had told us about how during sexual arousal, the lips flush with blood, becoming plumper and redder, and mentioned that lipstick was designed to simulate this effect. So far this is all fine, but he followed it up with “It sends mixed signals, and then people get prosecuted for rape.”

It sends mixed signals. And then people get prosecuted for rape.

Wear lipstick = get raped. Just a misunderstanding, really. I mean how is he supposed to know you’re not into it with your lips all red?

I think my eyes just about popped right out of my head. If I’d been nineteen, I don’t know what I would have done, besides complain about it on my horrible blog. But I was twenty-eight, and I steeled myself up and waited for class to be over.

I waited around after class, but there were a whole bunch of dudes hanging around to talk to the prof. He was an older dude, in his sixties. White. Spent lots of class time telling us about how the administration of our community college was “intimidated” by his Ph.D., which is why they hadn’t hired him full time (any amount of class time spent on this would have been too much).

He noticed me hanging around. I would have preferred to wait until the rest of the dudes were gone. I was way outnumbered here. Five dudes, one little me. But I was committed. I told him that “the thing you said in class about lipstick leading to rape was way inappropriate.”

He did the whole song and dance, of course. I’d misunderstood him (really how do you misunderstand “It sends mixed signals and then people get prosecuted for rape?” That’s a direct motherfucking quote). He tried to like, debate with me? And something about people in the Middle East who say the same thing about women having their hair uncovered? (somehow this was supposed to back him up, I don’t know how). And he kept taking steps toward me, and I kept backing away.

This is an intimidation tactic, by the way. In anthropology the use of space in communication is known as proxemics. Different cultures have different tolerances for personal space, and when you move too far into someone’s personal space, you make them uncomfortable, get them off kilter. And I know this professor knew that, because he’d taught us about proxemics a week earlier.

After a few minutes of this unproductive discussion (such as it was), I muttered that my dad was waiting for me and left the room, shaking. My dad really was waiting for me, but I wish I hadn’t felt like I had to invoke a male relative. I was shaking, my heart was pounding, and I was way too close to crying not to get out right then and there.

All I was trying to get through to him was: you’re in a room with 30ish people in it. In that room are sitting some people who’ve been raped. In that room are sitting some people who’ve committed rape. Which group do you want to give aid and comfort to?

Anyway, I was scared to go to class the next session, but I did. He gave a vague apology “to anyone who was offended by anything I said.” It was as happy an ending as I was going to get.

Also he was just a bad teacher, like, just terrible.

* * * * *

There was the guy who hung around us in high school. We’ll call him Ralph.

Ralph was not in high school. Ralph was in his thirties.

He was involved in our theater department in some capacity, and he was very vocal about how he didn’t think of us as “kids.” He liked to hang around with us. And he loved to “compliment” the girls. High school girls. Underaged high school girls. Comments on our bodies. On how sexy we were. How we made him wish he were fifteen years younger (we “made” him… it was beyond his control, the thoughts our bodies forced him to express to us).

Oh it’s just innocent, Ralph insisted. There’s nothing inappropriate about it, I just don’t think of you all as kids, I think of you as my peers. None of the girls mind!

Mmm-hmm.

We minded.

But say anything to Ralph and it was allllllll denial. It’s just innocent. Don’t take it so seriously. Learn to take a compliment, don’t be so uptight!

I graduated 13 years ago. Ralph kept hanging around that high school theater department until he was forced to leave (I do not know the circumstances and can only surmise that somebody’s parents finally got sick of this creepy dude hanging around hitting on their daughter. I hope it is not because he escalated to touching).

Years later, I grudgingly accepted Ralph’s friend request on Facebook and proceeded to mostly ignore him for a couple of years.

Then he started the self-pity train because someone had called him out on his inappropriate sexual comments to much younger women. How could someone say that about him, they don’t even know him, and the girls don’t care and so on and so forth. I’d heard it all before, over and over and over again. For a week or so he whined about the great injustice of having been called a creepy weirdo for making sexual comments to much younger women.

And then he posted a meme of a woman in a “sexy Girl Scout” getup with some kind of perverse caption that amounted to: “I would like to eat cookies and also have sex with this woman.”

And that was how I decided I was Officially Done With Ralph forever.

Also did I mention that he has a daughter? And this is how he treats women. Poor girl. I hope she has some other men in her life, men who aren’t like that.

* * * * *

Because, and I know there are some fellas in the audience who are going to bowled over that I know this without their having explained it to me personally, I do in fact realize that Not All Men are like that. Although it’s very kind of you fellas to take time out of your day to explain it to me, it’s not actually necessary. I know. If I may be so bold as to speak for all of womankind, we pretty much all know. Yes there are some radfems out there who would disagree, but in a pure numbers game I think there are probably fewer of them than there are men who are Like That. And as what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for gander, allow me to take a moment to say: Not All Feminists.

That was fun.

* * * * *

But the thing about Not All Men is that it doesn’t matter, because you can’t really tell which ones are Like That until they start acting Like That.

When women talk about being nervous around men, there’s always someone ready to jump in to scold us for being prejudiced against men, I’ve noticed.

But also, how many times have you heard “Well what the hell did she expect would happen when she went back to his apartment?”

So which is it, though? How do you win?

When all I want to do is just walk home from the store.

I know so many of these stories sound like no big deal. But it isn’t any of the individual stories themselves, really. It’s what happens in the aggregate. How these little events form a callus, and how you start changing in response to them. Changing how you dress, how you walk, where you go, what you say, just to avoid the hassle. And because you don’t know which guy will escalate from hassle to something scarier. The hassle is bad enough, but always in the back of your mind, there’s that awareness that this time might be the time it becomes violence.

My #YesAllWomen tweets are embedded below.


Not dead yet!

Where the heck have I been for the last year plus?!?!

Not blogging, that is for damn sure!

How hideous is it to have your last blog post be titled “Depression again?” Like that is some dark shit. If I happened across a blog like that I would be profoundly uncomfortable. But I’m fine. I’m actually great. And I mean that. Better than I have been in a long, long, long, long time.

More to come?

I’m thinking about doing some writing about Battlestar Galactica in the near future (timely!). So stay tuned for that? In the meantime, I am at least going to set my Goodreads account to publish my half-assed book reviews over here so the blog won’t be completely alone, poor baby blog.

Oh also? I have a bunny now!

anybody missing a slipper?

anybody missing a slipper?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cute, is she not? We’ve had her about six months. She’s awesome.

This blog is coming back. I MEAN IT THIS TIME.

Until I get bored anyway.

There is a draft in my WordPress dashboard titled “How to Help.” It was created last May (almost a year ago!). But it’s empty. It’s just a title, nothing else. I wonder what it was supposed to be. I wonder what I planned to write and never did.

There is another abandoned draft in my dash with the excellent title “As long as we’re on the internet, let’s talk about Game of Thrones.” Ha!

* * * * *

When I was in high school I wrote copious diary entries. Writing writing writing all my messy feelings nearly every day for four years. When I was twenty-three or so I read all those high school diaries and became so deeply embarrassed of myself that I destroyed them so that no one else would ever see them.

Now I wish I had not done that. Because now I am so curious about that fifteen year old girl. Who was she? Why was she so ridiculous and sad and scared and why didn’t she realize she could have a crush on some dude in her theater class without it meaning they were destined to fall in true ultimate love forever? Nothing ever happened with that guy, but when he graduated — I was a sophomore — I wrote in his yearbook that I had a huge crush on him at the beginning of the year and wasn’t that silly? I thought I was so daring. I was adorable! The girl I found so embarrassing at 23 I find endearing and almost charming now that I’m 31. I wish I could know her better.

I would like to reach back through the years and let her know that she’ll be ok. I would like to tell her, when she is desperately sad and thinking she’s lost her best friend, that sixteen years later, that friend will still be her friend, that we’ll be living in different countries but through the magic of the internet watching Scandal together every week.

Anyway, I will see you again, blog! Very soon.

Love, your benevolent dictator,

The Katriarch

Depression again

TW: Depression

I am not having a good day today.

The specifics behind this bad day are not really important. In fact, I have a strong suspicion that mentally healthy people, upon reading about the things that have made me so upset today, would consider me to be totally overreacting. This is because mentally healthy people don’t slide into spirals of self-destructive thoughts every time something goes wrong.

One of the many terrible things about my life with depression is this: I cannot ask for what I need. Especially not if what I need is emotional support. I cannot ask for what I need because I do not deserve to have needs. I am the one person in the world who ought to be totally, 100% self-sufficient in every way, and if I cannot live up to that (obviously impossible) standard, then I am a total failure of a human being.

Since I still stubbornly insist on having needs despite the impeccable gargoyle logic displayed above, the most I can do about getting those needs met is ask indirectly, passively, and hope someone likes me enough to hear it and recognize it. But asking directly is out of the question. Every act of kindness, every favor done for me, is a gift. It’s not something I deserve. I have no right to expect it, I am not entitled to it, and to ask for it outright is completely out of the question.

This is the reality of life with the gargoyle. It is pretty much the most exhausting thing I can imagine. Sometimes I am able to take a step back and look at the way my own brain works and I am just amazed that I can live like this. Because this is an impossible way to live. And then I imagine having to go on like this for another thirty, forty, fifty years, and I feel myself shriveling up and shrinking away because who could take this kind of abuse for that length of time?

Who should have to?

And yet the only other option is equally exhausting to contemplate. I started seeing a therapist this week, which is a good first step, but oh my god, it is going to be such a slow and difficult process and thinking about doing it just makes me so tired. I’m so frustrated right now. I wish I could just be better.

If there is any cause for optimism in any of this, it’s that I have survived this long. And I am better than I was, so there’s reason to believe I can get better still. And there is this fact, too: that despite what I tell myself, people actually do love me. I have proof.

I have the proof because there are people that hear my indirect and passive requests for support, and they offer it. The gargoyle wants me to believe that no one really cares about me, and he insists that no one ought to. That I deserve loneliness.

The gargoyle is wrong. I know that. Someday I am going to learn to feel it. Someday I am going to learn to believe it.

An Irrelevant Announcement

I cannot bring myself to care even the tiniest bit about the Hobbit movie. 

People are really excited about this movie? I am given to understand? Meanwhile my entire reaction is: “Another four hours of looking at New Zealand from a helicopter? NO THANKS!”

The appeal of this movie. I am not seeing it.

I think I am more and more out of step with the rest of the movie watching public, even other geeks. I thought The Avengers was ok but pretty far from perfect, when the geeky consensus appeared to be that it was literally a perfect movie. I didn’t think Prometheus was a complete waste of time; I actually liked it (although yes, the script was a mess and it made no sense). And the prospect of a Peter Jackson Hobbit extravaganza, somehow padded out into three bloated films makes me sleepy, bored, and slightly irritated when it appears I should be peeing my pants with joy.

Enh.

Les Miserables might be ok.

Memories from the culture wars

I’m in high school. A boy I’m meeting for the first time asks me very seriously “Do you believe in God?”

I think about it for a second. I’m not sure what I believe in at this point, but I know that it’s not the Father-Son-Holy Ghost my mom and grandma taught me about when I was little. I’m experimenting a bit with some paganism but I don’t know if I really Believe in it or not. But I know that’s not really what he’s asking.

So I say: “I believe in a god…”

“Oh,” he says. “So you’re going to hell?” Smugly satisfied that he’s categorized me correctly, he smirks and turns away.

I’m stunned. I’ve been a non-Christian in a high school dominated by smug evangelical kids for two years, but I’m still not accustomed to this. Who is this kid? And where does he get off?

* * * * *

I’m twenty-two. I’ve stumbled into a good job that I’m shortly going to lose, doing data entry and correction for a state government agency. Going to work at 8 in the morning is wreaking havoc on my not-a-morning-person body, so I compensate by flooding my system with caffeine and nicotine. Every two hours I meet up with some friendly ladies from the building and we hang out and smoke.

The ladies are much older than I am, but I like them. They know that I’m young and always broke, so they don’t mind sharing their cigarettes with me. They are friendly and encouraging and sweet, and I enjoy their company.

One day one of the ladies mentions that she found out that “The Atheists have their own tv channel, can you believe that?”

The two ladies agree that this is appalling and disgusting.

A wall has gone up. One one side are the nice Christian ladies. On the other side is me. I smoke my cigarette and I wonder: is it just being atheist that is the problem? Or is it only talking about being atheist that is beyond the pale?

And I shrink away and feel the loneliness of the knowledge that these nice Christian ladies whom I have always gotten along with so well hate something about me. They don’t know it, because they don’t know that they’re talking about me, but it’s still true.

I watch the smoke drift lazily into the air and I wonder what would happen if they knew.

I don’t say anything. I have to see them every day. But I remember.

* * * * *

I’m twenty-nine years old. I’ve been living in California for a while, but less than a year. It’s summer. My soon-to-be-husband and I are sitting outside drinking homebrewed beer with a friend. I say something that prompts the friend to ask me with surprise “Are you Catholic?” (he is).

“Sort of,” I say. “My mom is Catholic and I’m… I don’t really believe in it, but culturally, I’m Catholic. A Catholic atheist, I guess.”

“That’s the wrong way to go,” he tells me, seriously. And goes on to explain why it would be ok to be agnostic, but atheist is Just Terrible. He doesn’t ask why atheist means when I say it or why I identify that way. He doesn’t assume I might have Reasons for the way I identify or that I might know more about what it means than he does. He just projects his idea of what an atheist is and tells me why I’m not one.

I don’t want to have this argument. So once again, I stay silent. I gaze away and stop listening. Behind my sunglasses, my eyes sting with the frustration of once again having to choose: defend my right to exist, or not?

Love is winning. Worldwide.

So I haven’t had a chance to post of late, between finishing up fall term and starting my new job (yes! I got a job! Maybe someday I’ll tell you all about it!). And I don’t think this post is going to be long. But a couple of links for you:

The first same sex couple to receive a marriage license in King County, Washington this morning. Look at those smiles! Those ladies are so happy! I almost can’t look at the photos because I think I might cry. They’ve been together for 35 years. Congratulations, ladies. I wish you so much joy!

“In a unanimous ruling Wednesday, the Supreme Court of Mexico has paved the way for same-sex couples to marry in every one of the country’s 31 states…”

And what do you know, but yesterday Colombia’s marriage equality bill passed the first of four votes required for it to become law.

Love is winning. The haters can throw all the tantrums about it that they like, but love is winning. Love is going to win this one. We’re going to win this one. Marriage for everybody who wants marriage. It’s on the way. It’s not here yet. It’s going to take a while. But love is going to win.

Love wins. That’s something worth celebrating.

Seriously. Look at their faces. Love wins.