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...over-educated and under-experienced, or so they say...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Disease Of The Eighth Nerve

Okay, so it's day seven on the antibiotics for my ear infections and the ringing is still with me. The doctor had told me that if day seven (today) rolled around and my ears were still ringing I needed to see a specialist (an ENT). To top it off, the paper he handed me had two boxes checked: one for infection of the middle ear and the other for tinnitus. I can make jokes all day long, but the reality is I don't want to spend the rest of my days with ringing ears.

Knowing that today was nigh approaching, I did what every good patient shouldn't do and went looking for information about tinnitus on the Internet. Do I need to admit right now that I wish I hadn't done that? Apparently, everything from high cholesterol, vitamin B deficiency, high blood pressure, ear disease, aneurysm, some constant meningeal fluid, and lets not forget insanity can be the cause of tinnitus. This is another one of those "ignorance is bliss" moments. I should have just taken that referral slip, made my appointment, and walked in saying, "Yeah, my ears are still ringing," and let him look with his ear scope thingy. But no, I thought I'd go look up symptoms and causes and see which ones I could rule out. I know which ones I want to rule out, but seeing as how most of them are silent killers, unknown to you without proper testing and exams, yeah... I did myself no favors here.

The best and most terrifying description came from a book titled, _Text-Book of Nervous Diseases_ by Charles Loomis Dana:

The disease attacks adults in middle or later life. Men and women are alike affected. Neuropathic constitutions and an unstable circulation favor it. The arterio-sclerosis of old age, cerebral aenemia and congestion, sunstroke, tobacco, and alcoholism lead to it. It occurs often in melancholia and in neurasthenia. Some local disease or congestion in the middle ear is usually present. Tinnitus also occurs in Brights disease, gout, and dyspepsia.
...Tinnitus accompanies insanity, sometimes, and may be the source of aural hallucinations. ...Despite the long list of causes, the chief factors may be summed up as neurasthenic states, local ear disease, humoral poisons and irritants, reflex irritants, arterio-sclerosis.

So, yeah... All of that was written under a large section titled "Diseases Of The Eighth Nerve" also known as the acoustic or space sense nerve. The best part about it, now that I've scared all of you (hopefully just as much as I scared myself, though I doubt it), I stopped giving that portion too much credit the moment I realized the book was published in 1898 (which explains the creepy Dr. Frankenstein tone of the writing, though I doubt he was a Mary Shelley fan). This is not to say that Dr. Charles doesn't have some points, I simply mean that I can't equate late 19th century medicine to early 21st century medicine. I will also say that the information I found aside from this had a little less fear attached to it.

Most made reference to possible cardiovascular causes, but in those cases the tinnitus is a pulsating sound (which I don't have) keeping up with the heart beat indicating something wrong with the carotids. The other possibilities are related to head injury (which I don't have), neck problems/pinched nerves (which is a possibility for me, since I refused to take the advice of the ergo guy at my office), jaw joint trouble, and middle ear infection/disease (which I have right now). The only one that truly scares me would be the cardiovascular case, but given the circumstance I'm in and that my blood pressure two seconds ago (no joke, I checked) was 104 over 69 I think I'm good.

There is, of course, the possibility that I'm one of the thousands of people that go the rest of my life with ringing ears and no one can figure out why. All of the sites, however, assure me that it isn't due to insanity. The tinnitus associated with insanity is the constant sound of voices talking to you. Of course, I take that with a grain of salt because if I ever publish any of the books I plan to, and if I happen to turn out to be the writer no one reads until after I'm dead, one of the things they will probably write in the "background about the author" section was that she was overcome with tinnitus sometime in her mid thirties and it was said her inspiration to write came from long bouts of insomnia and the constant voices in her head.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Lunch Room

(Misanthrope sits at the back table by the window eating his sandwich. Pandora sets her soup and salad on the table and sits across from him)

Pandora: What’s up, Misanthrope? Been playing Warcraft lately? Up to level 80 yet?

Misanthrope: Eh, my play time has gone down a bit since the semester began and I started getting a bit o’ exercise again, so no, not 80 yet. 72 though!

Pandora: A bit o’exercise? Running again?

Misanthrope: (chuckles) No, better! P90X!

Pandora: P90 what? Never heard of it. Educate me.

Misanthrope: Oh…? Well, it’s a kickass, adrenaline pumped, muscle maximizing, home work out system. A series of DVD’s for working out. From what I hear, it’s actually a legit system with potential for real results, unlike the “Hip Hop Abs” or the “Rosie O’Donnell Diet” series… And from what the last 10 days has told me, it FEELS legit. (looks over his lanky physique) oh so sore…

Pandora: Dude… You’re gonna be RIPPED!!!

Misanthrope: (laughs a bit) I hope so!

Pandora: Totally. Then you could go out back and pull those weeds with one arm, like the true Death Knight you are!

Misanthrope: (thinks about his Warcraft Death Knight for a moment) So you think I could really look like that?!

Pandora: Well, sure… minus the pointy ears, horns, and the cloven hooves. Biceps, tricepss, and power quads… sure. (she winks)

Misanthrope: …I’ve got hooves…

Pandora: What? You’ve worked out with that thing for ten days and it gave you hooves? (she takes a bite of salad and starts pointing with her fork as she talks) You may want to return that equipment. I think it came from some twisted Disney studio artist. The more you use the machine the more you’re going to turn into some kind of Beast. I mean, you already have the set up for it. You’re pretty much a Hermit, with a creepy garden of death in the back. All you really need now is to become The Beast….maybe some talking utensils and singing candlesticks… and that’s that. Plus, there’s no way you’d ever find a Beauty to come save you because… well… you never leave your house, and there’s no reason for Beauty to go investigate a mysterious tract home because… well… it’s just one more pink house on the block sitting next to another pink house on the block – there’s nothing mysterious about a tract home. (she takes another bite of salad) Your parents might bring a good church going girl over to try to save you, but chances are, given your cloven hooves, she’d think you were demon spawn and run. And, unfortunately for your parents, this would do nothing but make you laugh because I think you think your transformation is just proof of Darwinian Theory. (she points her fork at him again) But you’re wrong. All you really are is some victim of a magical Disney writer who hates his job because the bad economy forced Disney to lay off 300 writers and he now sits in a cubicle writing advertisements for workout equipment. He totally hates his life. And you, my friend, are doomed because of it.

Misanthrope: Hmm… This could be bad. What if I put up an ad on Craigslist? “Looking for a Beauty to complete my fairy tale” Many women would apply because they’d think it’s some cute, sweet, prince charming type request, right?

Pandora: Oh sure. They’d respond to it, but they’d run away screaming right after they saw you, just like the poor little church girl. And, the only reason you would do that is to keep yourself entertained. You know, watching women run from you. It would get old though. And all of those ladies would report you to the police who would come and investigate, which may then lead to a few science experiments -- you being the test subject of course. And now that I think about it, that’s how you’ll meet Beauty. There’ll be some crazy female scientist that works the night shift in the observation room and you’ll start telling her all about your addiction to Warcraft and the weeds you never pull and your random trips to the middle of nowhere in search of radioactive materials… It wouldn’t take long. She’ll start looking up from her clip board more and more and eventually you’ll be saved: true love’s kiss (via Science) will bring you back to normal.

Misanthrope: I like where this is going! What kind of timeline am I looking at here? I AM an impatient hooved-foot hermit, you know…

Pandora: Well, given the fact we still have to fill in the details of your development, the time it takes for the whole Craigslist fiasco, and the transfer from Police custody to Science project… not to mention the whole falling in-love issue… I’d say about six months, which is great, quite honestly! I mean, in six months time you’ll no longer be a menace to society? How lucky is that?

Misanthrope: 6 months?! But I’m so impatient! (despondently sits back in his chair) Well, I better resign myself to the opposite then. I’m going to sell my Disney workout equipment, plump up to grandiose roundy proportions, and find God. (sighs) I’m going to miss these hooves...

Pandora: What?!!! No! You’re ruining my story! And what’s this plump up and find God stuff?! You’ve been the Chaos Theory Guy as long as I’ve known you. You’re the Chaos Theory Big Bang Man Of Science and I’m The Lady Of Providence; there’s no changing your archetype in the middle of the story!

Misanthrope: You’re right. I’m sorry. Guess I’m just in a slump.

Pandora: Well snap out of it. I can’t take it. You can’t be stuck in a slump. Who’s going to lead the rebellion if you grow plump and roundy?! That can’t happen. (takes a sip of water) Okay. How about this: the timeline is a six month span but the story runs like a feature film and you really reach the happy ending in two hours

Misanthrope: Ok. I’m sorry. No more slump, but this two hour deal does have me intrigued. So, can you make it so I’m able to fast forward through the boring, monotonous parts of life? …like in that movie Click? I like where you’re going with this. Continue…

Pandora: Fast forward? Boring and monotonous? I happen to believe that were I to actually pull a story like this off it would be far from boring and monotonous.

Misanthrope: I like your spirit. It’s definitely encouraging. But, I dunno… Could you maybe shorten it to commercial length? You know, run like one of those black and white, romantic perfume commercials? With me, the hooved-beast, frolicking on the beach next to the beautiful Ms. Science?

Pandora: …a perfume commercial? You’re killing me.

Misanthrope: And at the very end of the segment, the backdrop of myself and Ms. Science blurs and in the foreground, a hideous looking cologne bottle appears to the side. And a low, sexy woman voice whispers, “The Beast. For Men.” And then a normal voice chimes in on fade away, “Gift packages available at Macy’s and Dillards.”

Pandora: So… basically you want to remain the musky smelling hooved creature with a hot scientist standing beside you?

Misanthrope: And in the gift package? A half gallon bottle of The Beast, in the form of a mini fire extinguisher, a heavy duty file for hoof maintenance, and a mini pick for getting the rocks out of your horseshoes.

Pandora: (stares at him) I can’t believe you. I wrote this great love story to transform you back into a human but what you’re telling me is that you want to be this half horse half man thing, you don’t want to go back to normal, and you want to keep the girl. …and you want me to write it as a commercial for men’s cologne. What are you doing to me?! You’ve basically just turned me into the Disney writer who cursed you in the first place! I’ve gone from writing screenplays to writing crappy cologne commercials?!

Ok. I’ll write your crummy commercials, and your science girl can create the cologne -- she’s going to need to because you’ll probably smell bad anyway. But you better prepare yourself, because I’m going to hook myself up with the bitter Disney writer and have him teach me the ways of dark writing magic. Yes, heed my warning, Misanthrope. All those men who use your cologne will turn into Little Mermaids and attract nothing to themselves but a bunch of singing crabs and flounders. Then, I’ll take my bitter Disney writer man and we’ll go on strike.

Misanthrope: Ah, I’m so sorry! Don’t do that. You’re right, you’re right… this is your tale. I won’t try to take control again, I swear! No more cologne or commercialized beach frolicking…

So going back… I have 6 months then, right?

Pandora: What? Feeling bad for the transgendered mermen surrounded by singing crabs?

Misanthrope: Yeah, you’re very quick to toss the curses about… I need to watch my words carefully, me thinks…

Pandora: (sits back with a smirk) Yes, six months. But, because you’ve seen the light, I’ll write your beach frolicking commercials, after the film is released, and I promise not to curse the cologne.

Misanthrope: No. No cologne necessary. Let’s just see this love story out…

Pandora: Love story it is. I’ll let you know when it’s ready for production.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Poe, Tinnitus, and The Ringing of the Stinking Bells, Bells, Bells, Bells, Bells, Bells, Bells...

My ears have been ringing for three weeks. Yes, it's annoying.

I woke up around 2:30 this morning, got a glass of water, and went back to bed. I laid there, trying to go back to sleep, but the silence of the room left me nothing but the sound of the damn ringing in my ears. The more I tried to focus on relaxing and sleeping the louder the ringing became. There was nothing but this constant high pitched tone consuming my mind, like a dog whistle that no one can hear but me.

I started analyzing the sound. There is a sort of break in it, a very slight variance in pitch from time to time, but there is no rhythm. I can't keep time to it. I can't march to it. It's just there, endlessly ringing, but not like a bell.

I started thinking about how annoying it was, how it could potentially drive a person insane. Then, for whatever reason, I started thinking of Edgar Allen Poe and how annoyed I always was by the poem _The Bells_.

Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells -
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.

I love Poe and his writing, but this one poem always drove me nuts (kind of like this ringing in my ears). It drove me nuts because it seemed that the teachers never "got it." They would stand at the front of the class and clap their hands together with joy and say something stupid like, "Oh, I just love this poem! Doesn't it just ring like a bell? And look at all these bells: wedding bells, golden bells, silver bells... Poe must've been really happy when he wrote this one." What? Happy? Poe? No. At this point I think it was more like he had tinnitus and laid awake one night listening to the "tinkling" and the "jingling" in his head so he decided to get up and write something.

You see, these teachers come from the old school that poetry is all about rhythm and rhyme and the poet's ability to wield it like the masters that they are. The problem is, by focusing on just the rhythm they miss the big picture and lose the opportunity to show their students the true art of the poet.

This poem is written in four parts: the first being silver bells and the "world of merriment their melody foretells;" the second being golden bells and the "world of happiness their harmony foretells;" the third being brazen bells and a "tale of terror...their turbulency tells;" and the fourth and final part being the iron bells and the "world of solemn thought their monody compels." Monody, people! The final stanza of the poem tells of Monody which smacks of lament, of sorrow, of mournful loss, of tragedy. Now, that being said, shall we all clap our hands together joyfully and say how much we love this poem and that Poe must have been happy when he wrote this?

The true art of the poem is that this rhythm that makes these teachers clap with innocent glee is a subtle reference to the rhythm of life and our blind following of the "time time time" that it keeps. The repetition of the bells, bells, bells indicates our repetition of a pattern: there is birth, there is love and romance, there is alarm and warning of all that is destructive and burns like wild fire, and there is death that inevitably tolls like an iron bell for us all. This is the "Runic rhyme," the one written in stone somewhere by a supernatural force that won't allow us to do anything but eventually die. Additionally, there are people, like ghouls, hanging about the steeples, ringing the bells of death. That is their only job and they don't get to do it unless we die. There's a sense of sick pleasure in the death because now they have purpose -- to ring the bell after you and I kick the bucket!

Now I ask you, does this sound like a man that woke up happy from his bed, or does it sound like a man that couldn't sleep because of the damn ringing in his ears that could be interpreted as an "alarum bell" indicating that the "iron bell" of death is waiting just around the corner? I'm pretty sure you know what I think.

(and if you're worried, I did go to the doctor yesterday. I have an infection in both ears, hence the ringing, and I could go off on the symbolism of that, but I won't.)


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Stalkers and Valentines

I wasn't going to write anything related to Valentine's Day at all. Nope, nothing. Despite the special requests that were sent in by a couple loveless people, I was going to let it go... I was going to make my way past that stupid holiday and say naught about it. But after yesterday, I decided The Universe wasn't on my side with that one and I am now forced to say something.

It's difficult to ignore the "romance" and my lack of it when I basically spent Valentine's Day weekend driving out to Rhedondo to have dinner with my ex-husband and his new wife in an attempt to help them smooth out some blended family issues with the kids. Need I go into detail over the mixed emotions that later tied me in knots that night?

So I had to play nice with the enemy, so what, right? So I had to sit in their new home and eat food prepared in the kitchen of their beach house, big deal. I can shake that off, no problem. But when I came home Monday night I came home to some flowers. (Don't bother with the "oos" and "aws" because this is me we're talking about here and it wasn't like that.) There was no name on the card, so I stood there with the flowers in my hand running through the mental files of who I knew that would possibly send these to me. I have a few friends that could've sent them, knowing how miserable I was over the weekend, but none of them took credit for it. So I just stood there with dread in my stomach because I was certain I knew where they came from.

Back in August I went out to dinner a couple times with a man who instantly fell head over heels for me. After dinner number two, I knew he was nuts and I also knew it was a waste of time to do anything more with the man, so I politely explained to him that I was not interested. It seemed to me, being thirty-something, that we both held enough maturity to shake hands and part ways and wish the other well. Apparently this thirty-something man adheres more to "the menace to society" idea than anything else because he proceeded to stalk me.

He called me incessantly, sent crazy text messages telling me he was in love with me and I just didn't realize that I was in love with him, showed up at my home unannounced a few times, left gifts at the front door and so on and so forth. I had told him in September that this was harassment and, aside from a random love text on Halloween, it seemed to die out.

The week before Christmas I came home and found more gifts from him at my front door (expensive gifts at that). Knowing that I have the ability to break necks and rip out trachea, I was unafraid when I packed up his stupid gifts, drove out to his house, and handed them back to him saying, "You have disrespected me and my requests to be left alone. You have shown up at my front door unwelcome and unannounced for the last time. Contact me one more time, in any manner, via phone, text, email, snail mail, gifts at my door, anything and I will contact the police, I will file a report, and I will place a restraining order on you." His dumbfounded wide eyes were an indication that he understood me and I hadn't heard from him since.

Obviously, while holding a bouquet of flowers in my hand with a note saying, "I hope this isn't weird, but ..." I assumed that in the past two months of silence, the man had forgotten my threat and the promise I would follow through. I instantly went into battle mode; it was time to get the evidence and make allies of the police. I called the flower company and learned they can't give out the sender's name without permission. I let them know that if I didn't get the information from them I would have law enforcement find it out for me. An hour or so later I get some text message from a number I don't recognize saying, "Hi Pandora. This is Leonard...from Walgreens. Did you get the flowers?"

...the Hell?! Leonard?! From Walgreens?!! What the hell is going on with my life?! I can't even pick up a prescription with a smile without someone looking up my information in a computer and feeling the need to send me flowers?!

I have never wanted to be tied down by the sacred bonds of matrimony more than I do right now. I'm not joking. This is getting old. I hate dating because it's always some lame story, but the fact that I can't even walk around and be polite to the local Walgreens cashier without the dude thinking he might strike up a romance with me by dropping me some flowers (on phone and address information that I didn't volunteer to him)is just silly and creepy! I had to stop getting a cup of morning coffee from the Circle K because the old bald guy behind the counter believed I was coming in to see him. Now I have to change pharmacies?

The Mormons are right. If you're not married and getting laid regularly by the age of twenty-five, you are a menace to society. Circle K has now lost business because of the menace working behind the counter. Walgreens is about to lose business because of another menace working behind the counter. And I'm a walking talking apocalyptic menace to capitalist America because companies are losing money due to the fact that I'm not walking around with a nice big rock on my left hand to deter these idiots from saying or doing something stupid.

This whole single thirty-something mess is really starting to bug me. It's as if The Super Power Forces are having too much fun toying with me, but it's really starting to feel like this has crossed over from "the slightly irksome" to "the downright ridiculous." And Valentine's Day, one of those happy little holidays with cupids and hearts posted on windows everywhere, did nothing for me. My friends are always amused. One friend, after the Walgreen Guy Flower Episode, likened me to the Cameron Diaz character in _There's Something About Mary_, and until yesterday that's not how I would've seen myself. Unfortunately, the thought of a pizza guy pretending to be a crippled architect, a private detective hired to spy on me, and a past boyfriend with a stress related rash sounds a little too much like the men in my life. After laughing at me, my friend did her best to remind me that Mary was going to tie the knot with Bret Favre and that maybe this means I have Kurt Warner waiting in the wings for me somewhere. You and I know better though.

Friday, February 13, 2009

I Blame Tornadoes and My Ex

Though this is the first night with no sleep in the past eight weeks, the usual insomniac cycle is one week on and three weeks off. I can't really tell you what triggers it either, depends on the circumstance I guess. If I lie down to sleep with an overactive brain I never really relax and all it takes is one significant something to pull me out the rest of the way. (Tonight it was the stupid drunk man downstairs that shouted out an extremely complex sentence consisting of mostly slurred F-words and one final resounding F-word to prove his point.) So I've been up since 1:30, killing time on the Internet until I started asking myself when these bouts of insomnia really began. I used to blame it on graduate school and the constant writing and research I did while loaded with caffeine and nicotine. But as I sat here tracing my sleep patterns backward, I decided the true origin was somewhere in Enid, Oklahoma where I had to endure tornadoes and a husband that slept with earplugs.

I'm from California and, though I fear and respect the earthquakes, I would much rather endure an earthquake than a tornado. Earthquakes are unpredictable but you can live for years without experiencing one and, unless you're extremely close to the epicenter, most of the time you just get a good jolt and you're on your way (false sense of security, I guess). But tornadoes are seasonally random; you never really know when it's coming for you, but you have the promise that it will be coming (sometime between March and July) and it will come for you over and over again (like a recurring nightmare). To top it off, it makes an entrance with some ominously black rolling clouds, like the vengeful voice of the angry Old Testament God, and a sound like the wheels of an unbelievably overpowered semi-truck straight from a Hell created by Stephen King (one of the most terrorizing sounds I've ever heard). And when these ominous forces of destruction touch down, depending on its size and its fury, it also promises to damage and/or demolish everything in its unpredictable path.

Now, keeping all of that in mind, I was twenty-four years old and five months pregnant by the time tornado season came upon us. So, take an overly sensitive hormonal pregnant girl, add an irrational sense of fear instilled by The Wizard of Oz, some alarms reminiscent of bomb dropping Nazis, a husband that sleeps with sound proofed ears and... voila! The Light Sleeper is born.

I can't tell you how many times I went to bed at night telling myself to stay awake just enough to hear the sirens. Similarly, I can't tell you how many times I endured a grumpy husband, angered by me telling him to wake up and get in the basement. One time he was so angry with me I just left him there, I sat in the basement by myself worried, frightened, but resigned to the idea that at least the baby and I would be fine, once they dug us out of the rubble.

Obviously, I don't live there any more, nor am I married to a man that stuffs his ears with sound stoppers, but apparently I never got over the need to keep my ears alert while sleeping. And since that time I've filled my mind with books and research and intangible theoretical ideas that I constantly try to prove or disprove through life experience -- this creates a situation where the brain refuses to shut down. I suppose it thinks that if the ears are awake the imagination may as well stay up too. Intellectually, I have no problem with this. I enjoy being awake and I enjoy using that time to create something out of nothing. Physically? It takes its toll. And after about four or five nights of no sleep the migraine sets in with a promise to knock me down and out.

And I'm not even sure why I'm writing this, other than I can't sleep and I chose to. It really has no point. Nor is it very humorous or entertaining. This is more like something I should put in a spiral notebook that no one reads, not even me.

I realize that I'm not being very considerate of my reader, since this is basically a boring piece. Perhaps you can pretend that you snuck into my home and found one of my random notebooks thinking you'd take a peek at some of Pandora's secret and intimate thoughts. Now you can pretend you're disappointed that it wasn't something juicy -- you grabbed the wrong notebook.

Feel free to give this a C. I would.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

What We "Make-Up" For

I was sitting at my desk the other day when a fellow emailed me a random question:

"What is your personal definition of make-up?"

After giving him the dictionary answer and then reading his response, which was something like, "I can read the dictionary, Miriam Webster. I wanted to know how you personally define the stuff women put on their face," I said something like this:

My personal definition would be the stuff I put on my face because I’ve been socially programmed to do so. Not only does it appeal to men, or so women as a whole are told, but it also appeals to other women in that we believe it makes a distinct improvement on our features and we impress each other just as much as we impress members of the opposite sex.

Make-up is some subtle form of flaring out peacock feathers, or something along those lines. Additionally, through media and social programming, I have come to believe that I look better with make-up on than without (though my daughter regularly tells me I’m pretty without it and I don’t need it).

Women without make-up are often referred to as plain, homely, insecure, ugly, masculine, lesbian, feminist, etc. and so forth, anything that could possibly be perceived as a negative connotation. So… make-up could also be considered War Paint against the battle of negativity which comes from all sides (i.e. the side of feminists that argue against it have created their own zealous diatribe about make-up and women who wear it and the side of those traditional women and men who continually make negative comments about women who don’t wear it).

Make-up is one of those catch 22 things that you finally just have to say to yourself, “I like the way I look in it and so I’m going to wear it” or, “make-up is a pain, I hate putting it on, I look beautiful without it, so screw everyone and what they think.”

He asked me that question because he had apparently made a comment to his girlfriend about "make-up" being little more than a compensation for our wish to have green eyelids and black outlines instead of the regular plain faces that we have. Considering me a "level headed female" (which I laughed at), he thought he'd get my take on it since (at least I suspect) he received a somewhat hostile response from her. But he has a point, and his point is probably what rubbed her wrong. He basically stated that we "make-up" for what we perceive ourselves as lacking in the beauty department. This of course implies a sense of low self-esteem and we literally paint on a mask to cover that up. This aligns quite a bit with the feminist argument that we should see ourselves as beautiful and powerful women just as we are and not succumb to the pressure of society (which they consider patriarchal and oppressive)and make ourselves "pretty" because we're little more than visually pleasing objects. I guess this is why I've grown a fondness for make-up as war paint.

As a student of Humanities, you have the unavoidable pleasure of constantly sitting in class with the young ladies who love to shave their heads, wear camouflage and combat boots, claim themselves enlightened feminists and see every moment and everything as a perfect time to argue about patriarchal oppression of women. External beauty is always a prime target for their bullets. One of their favorites is that the beautiful woman is not free; she continually subjects herself to male dominance by presenting herself as the "object" and thereby hinders her ability to be respected for her internal attributes such as her powerful intellect. They also accuse her of being a follower, not a leader, and a terrible advocate for women because she is, through the acceptance of mainstream society, perpetuating female oppression. (on a side note, one of these shaved head ladies once told me I was very intelligent and my arguments were good, but they were invalidated by my long hair and make-up. "You would be so much more effective if you cut your hair." Effective to whom, is my question. Last time I checked, in a classroom of forty students, there were only two women with shaved heads and combat boots. If my arguments are good, I think I'd rather get through to 38 people instead of the 2 who've judged me for my appearance even as they claim to be my advocate.)

None of this is to say that I don't recognize my female self as an "object" of a man's lust. But in my experience, I could walk around with a shaved head and no make-up wearing a potato sack and they'll still lick their lips and make lewd comments if they feel a stir in their loins. The reality is, I can only please some of the people some of the time and this argument is a stupid waste of time.

Society does have an idea of how women should appear, but the same could be said for the appearance of men. And as a feminist, I would say it is important to be free of all societal chains that bind you (including overly zealous feminist diatribes that sound every bit as wacky as an overly judgmental evangelical christian); be aware that true beauty is internal and figure out what that means; know that your power is your mind and the way you use it; and don't be ashamed of your physical attributes because they are a part of the package so why not flare out your peacock feathers.

Let's put it this way. Some women want to be the Red Corvette: flashy, sleek and sexy and fun to drive but ultimately useless (this requires make-up). Some women want to be a four wheel drive, so they can make their break into the mountains where they don't need anything but all natural beauty (this requires no make-up). Some women think it best to be an army tank, convincing themselves that they must camouflage their appearance so they can accurately target their enemies and take a few hits before blowing him up (this requires no make-up, but some alterations in the way you dress and possibly shaving the head). Women like me? We prefer to be the James Bond vehicle -- the silver BMW that everyone wants to ride in but only we know it's equipped with machine guns, rocket launchers, a passenger seat eject button, and blades that pop out of the tires to grip the ice and snow as we make our escape without slowing the pace (this requires make-up).

Friday, February 6, 2009

Waking up and remembering you didn't keep your promise...

So I haven't written in quite a while. And this one isn't going to count as writing-- not for me at least nor for the reader I made a promise to yesterday.

You see, she reads my blog religiously. She sometimes emails me with questions about them, or tells me of stories she relates too, or which ones made her laugh and which ones made her cry. A few weeks back she emailed me asking why I hadn't written in a while and she told me that she reads the blog because it gives her something else to think about (poor girl... reading my blog must be like reading the work of the student who refuses to do their homework until the panic over the grade sets in, meaning: it's hit or miss. Sometimes I'm right on target with that A+ and sometimes I hand ya a C-). At that point, some of the more tumultuous events of my life (the holidays...) were coming to an end and smoothing out so I vowed to write weekly (as I vow to myself weekly) and well... you see what's come of that.

I write now because just the other day the same girl made yet another comment to me about how I need to be writing on my blog, that it's over due (see... she even sounds like the teacher prompting the slack student to get her work in on time), and that she knows she's not the only disappointed reader. So yesterday, my response to her was a promise. I promised to write (because I had a great topic in my head and I had every intention to write it out) and if she didn't have a Mixed Number notice in her email the next morning she could take all of her anger and frustration out on me. Bad part is, this tripe I'm writing now is to make sure she gets a feed notice in her email. What's even worse is that, though she may crack a smile at this rambling, I know (like the teacher student scenario) she's basically going to hand this back to me and say, "Nice try. Now write the real thing." And worst of all, I have a feeling this lady has some seriously pent up frustrations she would just LOVE to blast on someone and well... I sorta put myself out there as a willing sponge and...

Yeah... I am such a slack student.