Saturday, June 14, 2003

How Do I Bluff Thee, Let Me Count The Ways

Two weeks until my older brother gets married. Two weeks. My brother is less than two years older than me. It occurs to me only now that when he was my age, he was already engaged, already planning the wedding; this wedding. With this in mind, I suppose its not too strange then that I am coaching myself on good answers to the question, "So why are you single?".

At the wedding, people may phraise it more politely. They may ask, "Are you seeing anyone?" "So when is the next wedding going to be?" or perhaps, "How are the prospects at home?" Both the bride's brothers are seeing people. My little brother's too young to really date anyone. I'm going to be the only bridesmaid who's not a teenager, dating or married, as far as I can tell. Most of my brothers friends are already married, as are his fiance's. I can see people mentally catogorizing me with the middle aged divorc├ęs.

Its not like I haven't run across this problem before. Back in college, when I went home, people kept pestering me about lack of dating options at school. I bravely told them there were tons of options.. I neglected to say that I wasn't prepared to choose any of them. A few months ago I attended a dinner lecture with my father, and the conversation wondered to the subject of gift bouquets, I don't know how. Someone gently suggested I must recieve quite a few. I told them Dad only gave bouquets to his secretary, nipping that subject in the bud.

But now I need some fresh answers, answers that won't make people run for the hills, fearing a protracted conversation about therapists(If you aren't dating there's obviously something wrong with you) or man-catching strategies, or a big ol' wailing session about becoming and old maid. I would also reather not hear later from my brother that people were wondering if I was pitching for the other team or something. I considered getting Sister Andrea to come with me and presenting her as my life partner, but that really would be false advertising, and Andrea deserves better.

Lets face it, no one likes to talk to single women at weddings. We usually sound bitter and jaded, and mutter about how we don't want to catch the damn bouquet, and wished we were at home jamming ice cream down our gullets. Single men don't have this problem, because they don't attend weddings. They know if they do, someone will pair them off with a single female who's so and so's cousin who isn't that bad looking... I'm sure they prefer the couch and a pint of Ben and Jerry's too, they just won't phrase it that way.

Give me some ideas girls, some schtick about being independent and having a grand time without having to mention I live at home. I know the minute I mention this, a look of pity will come into the listener's eyes, and their attention will drift to Uncle Beevis in the corner of the room working on his third glass of wine. Maybe he's got a tip on stocks he'd be interested in sharing..

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Sister Andrea, I think you might get a kick out of this blog. One post in particular strikes me as pretty darn funny.

To quote: From the My Religion Is Cooler Than Everyone Else's Religion department: I just bought ice cream for honest-to-God religious reasons. So there.

Yeah, we've heard that somewhere before..

Try your hand at Andy's Word Puzzles

Scroll down, they're in there someplace
Its raining here, and because there is no one to play Pinochle with, I turned to word Puzzles, and the most recent Atlantic, which has a very nifty story from Garrison Keillor, if you're interested (sorry not online yet). I solved the first of Andy's puzzles, and I'm sure the rest of you can too. The second one is from Encyclopedia Brown, the heartthrob from Idaville, and I'm still working on it. Actually, I'm just day-dreaming about Encyclopedia, but I'll get to the puzzle eventually.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

The French are Crazy

You know, I really liked my trip to Paris a few years ago. I loved the beautiful art and architecture, the twining streets and the shops full of fun, interesting clothing. When my neighbor told me she was going to Paris, and asked me to watch her pond, I wished I was going with her.

Now, I'm really glad I'm at home keeping her frogs happy, because she's stuck in a hotel as close to the airport as possible so she doesn't get isolated by the strikes. People are getting violent, and the helicopters are apparently swarming the city. What group could be causing such an uproar? Teachers unions.

Pictures here.

UPDATE: Wow, I'm actually updating something! Okay to be serious, my neighbor got home last night and told me a bit about her trip. Her stay in Paris was pretty short, and she spent most of her time in northern towns, making short forays into Germany. From her time in Paris though, she found that most of the city was subdued, the rioting and such being concentrated on small central sites. In the outer reaches of the city, transportation has not been brought to a complete halt, only debilitated (For example, on one train line which usually ran four trains, only three are running). Private sector people sound pretty exasperated, because they have much smaller pensions than government employees. Unfortunately, my neighbor couldn't really say much more, because the French news media is not very good at being straightforward. Most of the 'news' is really opinion. Thus, she found it hard to get the whole story.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

I just noticed a post of Niki's that I hadn't completely read before, on transvestite women in the Middle Ages. Of the list she gave, the only figure I am familiar with is that of Christina of Markyate, an English saint who had to go through all kinds of troubles and travails in order to maintain her chastity before she finally found safety in the cloister she founded.

Caveat here: information about Christina (and, I'll bet, all the other women you mentioned) comes from her hagiographies. A hagiography is a description of a saint's life. In the course of the text, it tells of miracles the saint performed in the course of his/her life and after death. Some features of any hagiography tell less about the figure represented and more about the traditional idea of what a saint should be. Other features, unique or uncommon, give us our real evidence about the figures in question.

A woman who is strong enough to maintain her chastity in the Middle Ages sometimes loses the identification of "woman" and becomes virilis, manly, in her strength. By dressing as men and serving their God as men, Christina and her cohorts become men, and eventually rise to the heaven where, according to Augustine, everyone is asexual.

Please forgive the previous post. I forgot to insert a quotation mark in a hyperlink and thus rendered the post completely unfixable. If any readers of the blog know how to get back to the post source code (not in safe mode, so I can change it!) please add a comment.

Ralph Fiennes! You shall have to tell us all about it.

In any case, this last weekend, I cannot claim to have seen the Divine. I did successfully stay awake all night Thursday-Friday (erev Shavuot), where forty-some USYers (members of United Synagogue Youth), former USYers, former reluctant USYers like me, international directors of USY (well, only one of those) and miscellaneous Jews sat and discussed holy texts. We did talk about G-d all night, in permutations from the angry wind-deity who destroyed the Tower of Babel to the still, small voice Elijah heard from his cave. I walked outside at five to breathe cool air and listen to the silence, which was probably as close to a mystical experience as I was going to get.

At seven in the morning I did find myself sight-reading a prophetic passage known as the Maaseh Merkavah in traditional chant as part of the morning service. Trying to pronounce obscure Hebrew words describing the power of angelic beings after having stayed up all night should be another mystical experience, but I was too busy trying to get the vowel sounds and cantillation marks correct to pay attention to the whirlwinds coming to me out of the north.

Ralph Fiennes! You shall have to tell us all about it.

In any case, this last weekend, I cannot claim to have seen the Divine. I did successfully stay awake all night Thursday-Friday (erev Shavuot), where forty-some USYers (members of United Synagogue Youth), former USYers, former reluctant USYers like me, international directors of USY (well, only one of those) and miscellaneous Jews sat and discussed holy texts. We did talk about G-d all night, in permutations from the angry wind-deity who destroyed the Tower of Babel to the still, small voice Elijah heard from his cave. I walked outside at five to breathe cool air and listen to the silence, which was probably as close to a mystical experience as I was going to get.

At seven in the morning I did find myself sight-reading a prophetic passage known as the posted by Sister Andrea @ 11:12 AM   0 comments

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I'm not actually sure what I did that created the gradual rightwards motion of the left column, but I rather like it.

Hmm, transgenderism has been coming up in conversation a great deal lately. My friend Rebecca directed me to a discussion in the LiveJournal community regarding whether LJ should add more gender options in its registration forms. Sadly, even if LJ changes its forms, it's not really going to make a difference in the world, I think. The crucial forms... for example, the U.S. Census... will not add OTHER to the gender slot until John Ashcroft gets a sex change and starts performing at Boston's Man Ray on Tuesday nights.

Oh, how I wish I could see that.

Iris, do you suppose the reason you've only seen FTM transgendered individuals is that you went to a women's college? I have been told that MTFs exist, and that not all of them have reconstructive surgery to make them transsexual as well as transgendered.

The only transgendered person I have actually met is female-to-male. Since the person made the transition from female pronouns to male pronouns after we both graduated and I lost touch with (then) her, I haven't had a chance to discuss the issue with the individual in question. I'm quite curious about the person's motivations, but all I have is fourth-person gossip so I really can't speak to the issue.

Dear Iris,

Your point on hidden misogyny is interesting, incidentally, the book does deal with the fact that MtFs often dress up ultra feminine for the first few months wanting to be more like a woman than any 'real' woman, before slipping into jeans and sweatshirts like everyone else, because they realise that not only do they look ridiculous, but because it also has nothing to do with how well you are recognised as female.....if you look like a man in a sweatshirt, you'll look like a man in a skirt. Also, it concluded that social mannerisms were maybe the hardest thing to change and that for some it never worked. My point with the quote was much like simply don't really recognise or take seriously the inhibitiveness of certain aspects of being a woman..until they stand in the situation themselves ( which many of them never will). It is true...whether they are MtF or FtM, people have chosen to change gender on the basis of all they have known, which is stereotyped gender roles and once they do change, they simply slide into the role and even claim to be much more comfortable in it !

I think the point iof the book was, that however successful you are in changing your attributed gender and even with a sex change operation, you will never become 'a woman' or 'a man', but always be transsexual, because in the end, your genetic make up does not and can not change. It is a process which never finishes and something you have to prove to yourself and others time and time again.

I am not saying hooray, lets all change gender, in fact I still don't really understand what goes on in these peoples minds, but it just made interesting reading. I am wondering why your trangendered paid resident went to an all-woman's college and how much of her wish to be called 'he' was to do with gaining power or empowewring herself ? Especially in an all female environment.

Changing the subject entirely, I was sitting on the Tube as it is called here and listening to my cd walkman. People always tell me to switch it off because it will make me deaf etc., but when I think of all the noise that my ears are subjected to on the Underground, in buses, busy roads here in London, I don't think it makes much difference. If I put my earphones in on the street, then get into a bus or the underground, the noise of the vehicle will most often be so loud, that I can't hear the music very well. The noise of traffic on Tottenham Court Road or Oxford Street is at least as loud as my walkman and it is the same for the underground and buses. If listening to my cd walkman will make me deaf in the long run, then living in London and taking public transport will have the same effect.

Oh, yes, and just to make you Nunnies a bit jealous, I am seeing Ralph Fiennes in Ibsen's play Brand tonight........giggle. I have always wanted to see and Ibsen play and with him in the lead, all the better. Tell me, why do all Hollywood actors want to tread the stage in London. One would think the fad had become unfashionable by now, they have been at for 2 or 3 years now. London has enough starving actors looking for work.

St. Scarlett

Monday, June 09, 2003

Sister Niki, regarding S/He, as a person who lived with several transgendered individuals (slightly different from transsexuals, these are individuals who would like to be referred to using the pronouns of the opposite gender.. basically its a woman thing, I've never seen men try this), the transformation achieved in the minds of the individuals is sometimes thwarted by the physical realities. You can hide the hips and boobs in baggy clothes, but hiding the feminine fuller lip and narrower face, not to mention the social mannerisms is pretty hard. The transgendered woman I lived with in my senior year of college came closer to mimicking a very feminine gay male than really becoming an actual guy. Her insistance on being referred to as 'he' created some alienation in the house, since he/she was the paid resident, in charge of keeping order and enforcing regulations. The personal clashed with the official persona to the extent that we could all tell she/he wasn't quite sure what she was, therefore how should she tell us how we were supposed to be?

I heard a story on This American Life (Episode 220, first aired 8/30/02) about a woman-turned-man who inadvertantly become the subject of abuse from men who for some reason like beating up smaller, weaker looking men for simply existing within three feet of them. So while women may shut up while you talk, it doesn't necessarily mean men won't shove you in the bathroom.

This is a little off subject, but the thing that bugs me about men who wish to become women, is that they wish to achieve a sort of super-feminine reality that real women don't have. Men who become women are not really becoming women, they are becoming better than real women could ever hope to be. Its almost its own form of misogyny: men knowing how a real woman should be. For women who become men, they are trying as hard as possible to not be women. I've never seen one who hoped to better the rest of their chosen gender. They just want to be invisible. In effect, each seems to take a very gendered approach to becoming the other.

Webmistress Andrea, do you think we should look into this?

Ah St. Scarlett, you will have that address soon, and I'm sorry if I sounded like a zealot on the lawn thing.. I guess random stretches of grass don't bother me as long as they aren't soaked in herbicides and fertilizers to the point the yard becomes a dead zone for living things. Have you ever seen those lawns where even cowbirds and sparrows fear to tread? *Shudder*

Subway Rules

I know both of my fellow bloggers use this form of transportation, though for one of you, the proper term is Tube. I have found several entertaining lists of proper behavior underground.

The Basics, By Mr. Kottke.


The Delux By Ms. Catherine. Found via Anil's Dashes, which was found via Buzzmachine. I don't think I need to link that do I? Its kind of like linking Instapundit...

My favorite is Ms. Catherine's rule number sixteen:

16. if it is a crowded train, take off your backpack and place it at your feet. if i subtly nudge your backpack in an attempt to alert you to its existence, do not swing sharply around and look at me accusingly. you stupid [bleep!*], take your big dumb backpack off!
Rule number ten on kissing is also quite good. "your fellow riders are repulsed by your love; have a little respect for their bitter, lonely worldviews, okay?"
Almost gives me an inclination to go make out madly with some random fellow on the platform just to piss her off.

*Making this blog safe for Old people since 2003.


First at few comments on your extensive blogging.....

Sister Iris, you asked what became of Irani young men. Well, some of them find jobs in shops and small business, train to do skilled work like mechanics and the like. But one of the things that was pointed out to us, was that there is a very large proportion of unemployed young men in the country, who also have a lot of frustrations. The reason why there are more women in higher education, is that they do better at school and therefore have better chances at getting through entrance exams. This is not surprising, in most countries girls do better at school simply because they apply themselves more. Maybe they should simply make quotas.....

I agree with you that the world needs men with advanced qualifications just as it needs women and especially (from my own selfish point of view) that we women need challenging male companions, at work as at home !

Reading Sister Iris's piece on gardening, I felt slightly, well, touchy. I think I am one of those people that should be exiled to permanent apartment-in-big-city-dom with occasional licence to roam the countryside. I don't want to be stuck in an apartment for the rest of my life, preferably, I want a house later on, if I can afford it. With a garden. But this garden will include a) grass b) fruit trees and bushes. I am notoriously bad at gardening and find it somewhat of a bother. I can't tell the difference between a weed and a newly sprung flower. I hate the way my back aches after gardening. But I love the green and I love having fresh produce from my own garden. Hence, I have figured it thus : if I have a lawn, i'll have a fresh green space and fruit trees and bushes will flower and give fruit. And my husband can cut the lawn and trim the trees/bushes. Good plan ?

Oh, and I don't insist on astro-turf like lawns...if the dandelions want to grow there, they can go right ahead.....

But, my dear Sisters, I actually wanted to blogg on a bit from a book today. It is called S/HE - Changing Sex and Changing Clothes (Claudine Griggs, Berg 1998). This is an anthropological study of transsexuals ( Male to female and Female to Male) and i took it down the shelf, bc I thought it might be useful for my paper on clothing and the body. It turned out to be much more interesting than I thought. Apart from the fact that it is highly autobiographical, which can get annoying at times, it really gave a good insight into something which I think most of us have a hard time understanding and brought up a whole lot of very interesting issues.

I stumbled over a bit which I thought in some ways fit into our men and academia here goes...:

'Elements of the sought after gender role can cause private discomfort once it is obtained, i.e., most male to female transsexuals do not appreciate moving into a world of 'second-class citizenship' or being victims of sex discrimination. And while I understood some of the inequities when I lived as a man, it was quite a different matter to experience them firsthand. Some new matters included lower wages and a presumption of stupidity. I tolerated unwanted sexual advances and couldn't understand why 'no' didn't convey 'no' after I changed attributed gender'.

I can't say, I didn't feel slightly triumphant reading this passage. Claudine pointed out, that most female to male transexuals found, that people listened more to what they had to say as men. Do men find academia unattractive because in these spheres women may question their 'natural' authority ?
I wonder......

Well sisters...just one final reminder....I need you adresses, as I have now completed the production of our newest Nunnery CDs, please send them to me....Sister Scarlett

Sunday, June 08, 2003

An Internet poem generator on our dear website:

Interfaith Nunnery A { lifestyle.
Some women and checkout
McCaffrey.. no one in the Man:
and sexually.
And being
bored and played
the interim, she ..!