I have this thing here

But who cares. Here’s a photo:
rest stop hillside

I took that with my digital last Sunday when I went up to Winchester. I also took some film photos, but most of them didn’t come out that great. Either I need a new battery for the camera, or I need to not use the cheap UV filter I bought at Walmart. I don’t know, does modern print film now compensate for UV better than it did when the Canon AE-1 Program was new? Photos I’ve taken without a filter look great.

Check out you and your female privilege!

TW: rape, internal misogyny, me being cranky about it.

I’d like to thank Dean Esmay over on the Twitter for pointing out this blog post, The Female Privilege Checklist, to me. He may not be so thrilled with me by the time I get done with it, though. Oh well, gotta blow up some eggs in the microwave to get me to clean it, or something. (Actually, that’s what happened this morning: my roommate forgot to put one of the parts of his four-part microwave egg-cooker on when he assembled it this morning and I woke up to asploded eggy microwave.)

Anyway, to this fellow woman’s post. I’m going to skip all the part where she goes on about how POCs and other complaining about privilege are just taking part in a victimization contest because I don’t want to be here all day (though I’ll just say this: if you think being a victim is some sort of prize in a contest, maybe you need to rethink your ideas about life). I’m just going to get to my favorite thing, a list — namely, the list she provides of things that I, as a woman, are supposed to be privileged with. Warning: this is a long-ass thing, so I’ve put it behind the cut:
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Let’s read… a list of questions I answered!

I just love answering questions I find on the internet. Here’s a list I found over at the Happiness Project. “Want to know yourself better? Ask yourself these questions”, the title orders. Okay. I’ll play. Here goes:

Q: If something is forbidden, do you want it less or more?
A: It depends on the thing forbidden. If the thing is some dangerous object (like a nuclear weapon) or something that belongs to someone else (like their jewelry) I don’t automatically “want” it. If it’s something that I have a right to as a human being (for example, the right to not be forced to get married in order to be treated like a full human being) then of course I want it.This question is much too black and white for such a complicated subject.
Q: Is there an area of your life where you feel out of control? Especially in control?
A: I feel gradations of control and lack of control in all situations. For example, I control my car when I’m driving it. On the other hand, I can’t make it fly or go faster than the speed of light.
Q: If you unexpectedly had a completely free afternoon, what would you do with that time?
A: Probably the same thing I do with expected free time: sitting about like a lump, reading the internets. I’m quite lazy.
Q: Are you comfortable or uncomfortable in a disorderly environment?
A: That depends on what exactly is being disorderly or orderly. Right now I’m typing this in what is basically a junkroom. But I’ve got my things about me, big windows to let light in, it’s not too hot, and there is no one giving me grief. If on the other hand I’m in the office on a bad day, and it’s full of complaining people and everyone’s in a bad mood, but the place is all neat and spotless, I am very uncomfortable.
Q: How much time do you spend looking for things you can’t find?
A: Way too much time but a lot less than I used to. I learned that just chilling often results in my remembering where the thing I lost was.
Q: Are you motivated by competition?
A: No. I’ve no interest in worrying about what other people get up to.
Q: Do you find it easier to do things for other people than to do things for yourself?
A: That depends on the thing. Some things I do for other people because they don’t know how to do it and I do and it’s easier just to do it myself. Other things they can damn well do for themselves. As for doing things for myself, well, how else will anything get done? I don’t have a bevy of servants at my beck and call. This question isn’t worded well. It would make more sense if it was like this: Do you find it easier to do things for other people or to let them do it themselves?
Q: Do you work constantly? or think you should be working?
A: This is just bad wording. I don’t understand what it means. I work, I relax. So do other people though some might work more than others. Also, people need to sleep.
Q: Do you embrace rules or flout rules?
A: All of them at once? Why all these binary either/or questions? Anyway, I tend to try to follow the rules, unless they are egregiously stupid. But I also try to keep away from situations with stupid rules (i.e., sports).
Q: Do you work well under pressure?
A: No I do not. I can do it, but being pressured means I often end up being sloppy and making mistakes. Don’t pressure me, people.
Q: What would your perfect day look like?
A: Kind of like the one I had today (sitting around in front of the computer, drinking tea) only with more productive writing gotten in (that is, no tweeting or blogging).
Q: How much TV do you watch in a week (include computer time spent watching videos, movies, YouTube)?
A: I can’t even measure that little bit. I did watch a classic Doctor Who serial last week on Youtube. Otherwise I don’t even “watch” Youtube as most of my collection is for the songs.
Q: Are you a morning person or a night person?
A: Night.
Q: What’s more satisfying to you: saving time or saving money?
A: Neither I’m afraid.
Q: Do you like to be in the spotlight?
A: No.
Q: Is your life “on hold” in any aspect? Until you finish your thesis, get married, lose weight?
A: Yes. I’m between living-on-my-own situations.
Q: What would you do if you had more energy?
A: Write more.
Q: If you suddenly had an extra room in your house, what would you do with it?
A: Darkroom for film developing! Only I’m in an apartment, and it’s not mine so any unexpected extra room wouldn’t just be mine to decide what to do with.
Q: What people and activities energize you? Make you feel depleted?
A: In general, people deplete me and solitary pursuits (reading, writing, taking photos) energize me. I am not a “people” person.
Q: Is it hard for you to get rid of things that you no longer need or want?
A: It was, but it’s getting easier every year.
Q: Do you get frustrated easily?
A: Yes.
Q: On a typical night, what time do you go to bed? How many hours of sleep do you get?
A: One-o’clock AM or so. Not enough hours of sleep.
Q: If at the end of the year, you had accomplished one thing, what is the one accomplishment that would make the biggest difference to your happiness?
A: If I had (shouldn’t that be “have”?) finished polishing up my novel draft enough to get it published.
Q: And here’s another question for you. What questions would you add to this list, to help other people know themselves better? It’s so important, and so elusive.
A: There was nothing here about what books you read, just something about tv.

Big Brother is Us

We Americans have a tendency to go about describing ourselves as being citizens of the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, and bragging about how courageous we are, yadda yadda. Well it’s not true. It hasn’t been for quite some time. While some of us may be courageous as individuals, as a society we’re a mass of scared babies. We’re obsessed with safety, and every other phrase out of someone’s mouth when the subject of crime or terrorism or traffic fatalities or fat people or “those people” comes up is “the government should do something!”

I live here. I hear these conversations. I participate in some of them. I know what I’m talking about.

So when the powers that we have put into place start acting like Big Brother, who is to blame? I’m in a (rather one-sided) twitter discussion about yet another fun incident at an American airport with hostile gate security personnel harassing travelers. The thing is, the TSA and its shenanigans did not happen in a void. They were not imposed on us out of nowhere. We asked for more security, we asked for more protection, we asked that the government do everything in its power to prevent anything like the attacks on 9/11/01 ever happening again. We Americans tend to be quite naive about just how much power our government has thanks to our tendency to ask it to do more and more things for us. We’re finding out, and we don’t like it one bit, do we?

That’s not the only problem, though. The thing is, we’ve given our government not only too much power, but too many things to do, and many of these things are contradictory to the other things we want it to do. So we want to be made safe, safe as houses–but we also want to have ultimate freedom to travel within our borders and to be left completely alone to let our freak flags fly because this is By God America Land of the Free and Individual. Also, we want to be loved and admired by everyone in the whole wide world but we do have some problems… so we demand that our government show complete fairness to everyone regardless of race creed color freak flag whatever, and to Not Notice anything at all different or weird about anyone, because that’s prejudiced and ableist and racist and unfair. The problem is this is a setup for the comedy of errors that is airport security in the USA. We want to be made “safe” but don’t want to lose any of our freedoms. But you can’t be both safe and free–some dead white guy in our past did say something to that effect, didn’t he? Well never mind.

On the other hand, I can’t get too sad when the object of the affections of the TSA personnel is a middle-class, middle-aged white male. Most of the problems in this country can be laid at the collective feet of this passive-aggressive, partisan-politics-playing, exploitative-sports-and-tv-watching, all-of-the-privileges-having demographic. You hold most of the power in this country, White Anglo-Saxon Protestant Males. You can take a little of the discomfort and pain you’ve been meting out to all “THOSE people” in the past. Maybe it will open the eyes of some of you to what it’s like to not have all those “freedoms” you take for granted, but I doubt it. So far all I have been seeing are cries for their guy to be put in power and maybe by some sort of magical vote magic he’ll (yes, it will be a “he”) make all the TSA stuff go away or just bother those strange dark foreign people who come here who are obviously terrorists. And then when their guy shows no more intention of giving up even the tiniest crumb of government power over our lives, any more than any previous guy, they’ll just start campaigning for the next guy. Because they are about as foresighted as pigs who can’t see past the trough where their slop is poured. Grope on, TSA!

Random thoughts are random

Oh hai guyz. I just can’t seem to put any thoughts together into a coherent whole hey what was that noise you know I think my desk would work better in the other room. What?

Anyway, I’ve come off my twelve-hour day, and even though all it involved is sitting in an air-conditioned (actually, pretty refrigerated, so everyone has a space heater under their desks) office typing into into a keyboard and stapling papers together, it also involved me having to talk to people, not just in person but on the phone, which for some reason is more wearying than talking to them in person and I already find that a chore and a trial. So by the end of the day no matter how relaxed I started I end up by wanting to KILL ALL THE THINGS so yeah. And then I have to drive home on the roads of rural Virginia with the Virginia drivers who all have very important appointments with, I don’t know, their pigs or their tractors or something, so while I’m trying to chill out by admiring the pretty bucolic scenery and also not drive off the roads into a mess of cows and manure, they’re riding up my ass with their huge Dodge Dakotas.

So I was thinking. You know that thing where right wing bloggers start talking about “why aren’t there any” Asian or black or Hispanic people in some profession. Like, journalism, or investment banking. And then they link to an article with some stock photo off Stockphoto.com of a bunch of blond white people in a room, as if that were proof of anything. And it occurred to me why this irritated me so much was because it reminded me of a thing the boyfriend I had for about a year when I was trying out that normal heterosexual male/female thing did to me. He asked me “Why don’t you like to walk in the rain?”

Let me describe the scene where this took place. I’m sitting on the couch in the living room of the house we lived in with his parents. (He lived with his parents. No, I don’t think this means he was some sort of failure. Most people in the world think the way Americans expect children to move away from their families at a young age or any age to be bizarre and weird.) Anyway, I’m sitting on the couch, and reading something, and in general minding my own business and relaxing. Outside one of Central Florida’s apocalyptic rainstorms, complete with lightning and crashing thunder, is going on. Educational pause: Florida leads the nation, and probably the world, in lightning deaths. A lot of it is due to stupidity (no, in fact your golf cleats will not protect you from being hit by lightning) but lightning really is a danger. I’ve had lightning hit trees next to me as I was driving down the highway and my car was showered with hot blue sparks from the exploded trunk. I’ve lost a network card and usb port in a computer after lightning hit the supposedly protected cable box outside, which cable was connected to my computer. (I had been napping on the couch, because nothing relaxes me like violent storms. I slept through Hurricane Andrew, Charley, Irene, and Frances.) Anyway, in Florida it’s not generally a good idea to go for romantic walks in the rain… but that wasn’t even the issue.

What miffed me was the subject had never even fucking come up. We had never discussed walking in the rain, and we were the sort of pretentious hipsters that sneered at cheesy romantic things like walking in the rain and all those popular songs about walking in the rain. But still, it’s not even something we’d talked about, and I had no idea where this came from, and it really irritated me that he brought it up in such a classically passive aggressive when-did-you-stop-beating-your-wife kind of way, and during an obviously dangerous storm where going out in the rain could actually get me killed.

That was the beginning of the end of the relationship, though it dragged on for a while after.

Anyway, this is what I think whenever I read my fellow tightey whiteys waxing supposedly wise about how this and that minority “doesn’t seem interested” in a certain profession or other and then attributing that non-interest to some brain inferiority (black people just can’t do journalism, which I guess is like nuclear physics only not easy) or some other pseudo-scientific evo-psych bullshit reason (“Asians aren’t individualistic enough to ask questions also blah blah face YELLOW SCARE SLY SLANT-EYED LIARS PARANOIA ARGH ARGH ARGH”). Never mind that there might be some very real obstacles in certain professions that rely on old-boy networks, knowing people who know people, secret handshakes and nepotism; in other words, there might be the equivalent of dangerous lightning storms keeping sensible non-white, non-upper-middle-class, non-part-of-the-club minorities from putting themselves through hell just so they can see their first column rewritten by some (white probably) editor into unreadable blandness, all the while being treated like some sort of interloper who “probably” got where you were through some sort of “unfair” quota system.

Not to mention which of course there are black journalists and Asian actors and so on and so forth, but what I don’t see is the fact that a real discussion ever took place. It’s just assumed such and such is the case and it must be due to so and so, while treating the actual supposed subject (minorities who are underrepresented in professions that upper-middle-class white people have chosen to elevate above all others, like journalist, politician, etc.) sitting on the couch being talked at like a child.

Anyway, that’s a thought I had.

Another thought is more something I realized, and that’s that when Western tourists go to supposedly poor, “backwards” “Third World” countries and then come back bragging about how they haggled “like a real native” in the markets there or for something else, that it’s not only incredibly rude and privileged (as if it mattered if a rich American paid five dollars instead of six for a rug that took months to weave), but probably makes said Western tourist look incredibly stupid. Or rather, reveals the stupidity of said tourist. Because, see, we don’t, in the West, in general, haggle for the price of everything. Yes, big ticket items like homes and cars are things you can negotiate the price of (and you are generally wise to do so), but everyday items, or even items that aren’t everyday but are just accessories, like rugs and trinkets, are something we just buy. Every once in a while there’s a chance you’ll get a bargain (a chair on clearance that you get a bit more off because there’s a stain you don’t really mind — I was able to buy a futon for 30 dollars off because it had a rip of about an inch long, which I didn’t care about because I had a cover), but really, we don’t do this showy haggling thing that we seem to think they do in those “exotic” foreign lands in all those “colorful” outdoor markets. So the result is we really have no experience in this sort of bargaining technique, and when most of us try it must literally hurt native-born experts who are forced to witness our clomping all over their centuries-old traditions (assuming this is even a culture that has such traditions and is not merely assumed to have them by some uneducated Westerner who learned everything about the Mysterious East from cartoons like Aladdin).

But that’s not all. The other insulting and stupid attitude I’ve seen and heard from a lot of my fellow Westerners who travel to Exoticastan and come back with a hold of loot (that they could have just bought off the internet but never mind) is that they have to do this sort of thing because if they don’t, they’ll be thought of as gullible tourists (and their otherwise perfect disguise will be broken!), and then those sly foreigners will take them for everything! Because you know how those people are. Sly and ever-eager to take advantage. I don’t even think I have to explain how utterly abhorrent this attitude is, especially coming from someone whose spare change found in the couch could feed a family of four in many countries.

So in short, if you find yourself in a bazaar in Marrakesh and really want that rug, and you’re a rich Westerner (and you are, don’t even argue), just pay the fucking asking price. Especially if it’s for something trivial like a trinket or a piece of cloth or a snack. I mean really.

Okay, I really need to work on this months thing I’m doing, which is another 50,000 worder for Campnanowrimo. I haven’t really done anything from November’s effort–it needs a lot of work, and I’m just not up to it now. Also I keep thinking of new stories. See you later.