strange fire

books. poetry. paganism. feminism. queerness. blog.

I leave in a week August 29, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 4:16 pm

Losing mind. Need to meme.

Go to the Random Quotations Page and look through the random quotations until you find five that you think reflect who you are or what you believe. Repost them in your journal (with this information) and, if you so wish, tag five friends to complete this meme. (Screw tagging. If you want to do it, feel free. If not, don’t.)

I needed more than five, so I picked ten.

Realism…has no more to do with reality than anything else. Hob Broun

Ours is the age that is proud of machines that think and suspicious of men who try to. H. Mumford Jones (1892 – 1980) US critic & educator

There’s a dark side to each and every human soul. We wish we were Obi-Wan Kenobi, and for the most part we are, but there’s a little Darth Vadar in all of us. Thing is, this ain’t no either or proposition. We’re talking about dialectics, the good and the bad merging into us. You can run but you can’t hide. My experience? Face the darkness, stare it down. Own it. As brother Nietzsche said, being human is a complicated gig. Give that old dark night of the soul a hug! Howl the eternal yes! Stuart Stevens, Northern Exposure, Jules et Joel, 1991

There are two kinds of people in the world, those who believe there are two kinds of people in the world and those who don’t. Robert Benchley (1889 – 1945), Benchley’s Law of Distinction

I have learned not to worry about love; but to honor its coming with all my heart. Alice Walker

The faith that stand on authority is not faith. Ralph Waldo Emerson

Do not wrong or hate your neighbor, for it is not he that you wrong: You wrong yourself. Shawnee Indian Chant

I never vote for anyone; I always vote against. W.C. Fields

“Only a novel”… in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour are conveyed to the world in the best chosen language. Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary. Steve Jobs US computer engineer & industrialist

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j’ai lu August 27, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 2:52 pm

So I’ve figured out how to read Superstars: in snatches, at work (uh, no pun intended there). Not too many people shop for groceries at 10:30 on a Thursday night, so I’m just standing there, bored witless, I might as well keep my French in practice. And it’s working; I’m about a quarter of the way through now. If I sit down for an hour, dictionary in hand, I’m constantly fixated on the words and structures I’m not completely comprehending, looking up every other word, it goes so slowly and I wimp out after 15 minutes. Turns out that when I can only read it in four or five minute increments, I don’t obsess so much over every word but get the meaning from context, and it’s surprising how much I understand. Of course there’s always the recurring verb that I can’t make heads or tails of. I don’t know what the heck se faufiler means, but apparently all the Parisian girls are doing it.

Also, the French tell the exact same dumb blond jokes as Americans. Who knew?

I’m not actually supposed to read on the job, heh, even though everybody does, and I got chewed out by my boss for paging through the magazines on the rack (well I do put them back for heaven’s sake!) God forbid Oprah* not recieve her pound of flesh. But she didn’t say anything about books. But I keep Superstars tucked away under the register, because, well, it is a French lesbian novel, and has a very naked woman on the cover (it’s a shame All Consuming doesn’t have a picture). They wouldn’t blink twice in Verdun, but I don’t think “Oh it’s not pornographic! It’s a French lesbian novel!” would really fly here…

*yes, I know, but my alternatives are tabloids with JonBenet or Nicole Richie on the cover.

 

go. read. August 26, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 9:52 am

Listen to carrion — put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap for power,
please women more than men.

Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

…As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go.

Hecate’s blog is one I read often, and her poetry blogging is not to be missed. She always chooses something beautiful, that hits you right in the gut, the way good poetry should.

 

Dear Rat-Bastard Corporate Pig Loan Company August 24, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 12:39 pm

FUCK YOU!

I can’t BELIEVE I have to reapply to you because you turned down my loan for SUCH.A.STUPID.REASON. You IDIOTS. I have perfect credit!! OF COURSE I have a patchy work history, I WAS IN COLLEGE!!! It’s generally considered a good thing if you don’t have to work your way through college. I did a work study program, nobody else considers that a real job, I don’t know why it makes such a big difference to you. I was in Europe for 9 months, teaching, everybody’s terrrrrribly impressed by that but I am sorry if it doesn’t fit neatly into your little application boxes, I didn’t get paid an hourly wage, I didn’t have a supervisor, ohmygod, some of us do something a little more interesting with our lives than work at the Gap every summer through high school and college and then move on to a nice normal admin temping position (some of us can’t get a nice normal admin temping positition for blood or money). I leave in two weeks, I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THIS SHIT. Jesus MotherFucking Christ, even with the loan I’m barely going to be able to feed myself in Arizona. YOU SHITHEADS.

i have no money, there’s no way I can do this without this stupid loan, and my parents don’t have any money because the fire department is forcing my dad to retire early so they can slash his pension to almost half of what he’s entitled to, and they both need major surgery. I am doing odd jobs for my fucking grandmother in a desperate attempt to get some cash.

I’m going to have a good cry, then go to this stupid fucking cashier job that I’m not sure I should quit because maybe I won’t be going to Arizona, this stupid job where they all mistake me for a boy because they’re ignorant bourgeois wankers.

Update: I reapplied, and hopefully it should go through this time. I called the college and they’re being incredibly cool and laid back about it all, but then they are Southwestern hippies (I’m going to be renting from one of my professors, as it turns out; so I’ll get to see what it’s like to live in a feng shui-ed home). Hurrah for alternative education!

 

late night porn blogging August 21, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 7:40 pm

well, when else should you blog about porn? long rambling unorganized post ahead.

So, Winter’s got a good post up, inspired by a conversation we had about the dynamics of lesbian porn in lesbian relationships. I agreed with her opinion; and personally, I think lesbian porn could facilitate as an avenue of communication or even bonding between a couple. A lesbian couple could use porn to discuss their needs and desires, explore their sexual dynamic. And it could be a way to establish shared values: talking about why one partner likes a certain genre and the other doesn’t, etc. Having said that, bear in mind I’ve never been in a relationship that’s been long enough or serious enough for the question of pornography to even arise. So, grain o’ salt.

But I’d like to explore two of the points that Winter suggested:

What I am asking is whether lesbian pornography has different meanings for lesbians because:
[…]
B. lesbian pornography is produced in very different circumstances to heterosexual pornography
C. as a genre, lesbian pornography has different meanings attached to it than the meanings heterosexuals generally attach to hetero porn because the context is different and it comes from a different culture.

I like On Our Backs, but my first copy of Slit blew my mind. Here was a magazine that was deeply political, that backed up its radical aims with more than mere sound and fury. It states its mission right upfront: “sex::culture::politics::porn”. Dyke sexuality as the nexus of these issues: what we like to do and why, how politics informs our sex lives and vice versa, how to create a culture that validates dyke sexuality, what role porn plays in that culture. Sure, it’s centered around photos and stories of naked women in flagrante delicto, and in my not so humble opinion, it’s pretty hot stuff. But that’s only the beginning: next to the dirty photos are interviews with Jack Halberstam and Joan Nestle, Buck Angel (FTM transexual porn), articles about the lives of sex workers, transgender history, aboriginal queers and black Parisian lesbians, features on artists of every possible kind, activists working on all fronts. You’re damn right I read porn for the articles! Slit stages events centered around each issue’s theme. And they’re non-profit, completely indie. From their first issue:

we are interested in considering the possibilities of creating a dialogue of sex and sexuality which is non-commodified and which takes back control over our bodies and desires rather than proscribing them. ’cause we are trying to figure out how to find an axis of liberation, cracks in the structure of capital, autonomous enclaves where we practice an economy of desire rather than capital. and cause one way to do this may be through getting sex crazy! this is a dyke sex mag. but what is dyke sex?

I eschew the labels “sex-positive” (an unhelpful term at best) and “anti-porn” and refuse to ally myself definitively with either camp. I find both “sides” (for lack of a better term) have valid arguments–why do you think I have Twisty Faster and Susie Bright next to each other on my blogroll?–but I don’t think it can be boiled down to “yes porn is revolutionary!” or “no porn is evil!” I was taught to distrust any argument that uses the words “always” and “never.” Slit doesn’t always get it right, to my mind; there’s sometimes stuff that I find uncomfortable, problematic, or downright offensive. But I don’t think that invalidates their efforts. I want an avenue of dyke culture that pushes me and provokes me, makes me think, while it gets me off. I believe lesbian porn is produced in vastly different circumstances to het porn; the lesbian porn I’ve encountered in addition to Slit is coming from a place that’s trying to challenge the status quo in the process of depicting dyke sex. Non-feminist het porn seems to be all about reiterating the values of dominance, abuse, exploitation, objectification. Of course it does, any media produced by the mainstream, the powers that be, whether it’s a blockbuster Hollywood movie or a hit TV show or Girls Gone Wild is going to maintain the status quo. I would argue that even the most simplistic dyke porn is a challenge to the dominant discourses of sex, if only because it promotes visibility. Criticism of the porn industry is a worthy goal, but I think we need to do more than that. Porn is a hugely influential part of our sexual culture, and I think we all agree there are some pretty fucked up sexual mores in this day and age. What we need is people to create alternative sexual cultures, ones that challenge and deconstruct and rebuild and celebrate fucking and healthy sexual expression. That’s what Slit tries to do, and while it’s not always successful, its efforts have been invaluable to me. Porn like Slit magazine helped demystify lesbian sexuality and erase the shame branded into my consciousness all my life.

the problem with late night blogging is that you get too tired before you get all your thoughts out. so, that’s it for now.

 

The best things in life are free August 15, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 11:15 am

but I need money.

I was at the bank this morning, counting out my nickels to the teller so that I would have enough in my checking account to cover the 100 dollar check I need to write to secure the room I’m renting in Arizona. It was embarrassing. I don’t know what happened to my last paycheck; it probably got sucked into my gas tank. I’m too afraid to figure out how much of my wages goes toward getting me to and from work.

I got a call from my uncle last week; he’s been pushing my resume at his company and they might be calling me up for a phone interview. My parents are positively giddy at the prospect of me working for a major consulting firm, writing proposals. As far as corporate jobs go, it’s not completely soulless. The pay is real money, and I’d get benefits, which as one of the unwashed uninsured masses, is a sexy prospect. There are five million other reasons why I should take this job, assuming I can even get it, and my only counter-argument is I’d hate it. I’m qualified, but I’d be miserable, sitting in a cubicle, bullshitting Corporate-Speak day in and day out.

I’ve been thinking about why my parents are pushing so hard for this, and it mostly comes down to money. Class, more accurately. This is a nice, secure job, a career-track position, I could rent a nice little apartment in a nice little suburban neighborhood.

And the people in the houses
All go to the university,
And they all get put in boxes,
Little boxes, all the same.
And there’s doctors and there’s lawyers
And business executives,
And they’re all made out of ticky-tacky
And they all look just the same.
“Little Boxes”, Malvina Reynolds

And I don’t want that, even for a year. “You could save up some money. You can study massage therapy anywhere, and do that on the side,” my parents suggest. Which is true, and probably the most practical thing to do. But I don’t want to waste my time. The program I want to study is in Arizona. That’s where I want to be. Life is short. It’s a cliche, but a very true one.

It’s not that I don’t understand my parents’ worries. I know I’m taking a big risk. And I know I’m probably being a bit naive about it. I can’t really help that. I’m a nice middle-class girl, I’ve never been financially independant, and I probably won’t be for another year. I’ve got a loan to cover tuition, a rented room for 400 a month, and with any luck I can find a job or two to feed myself. Even so, I’ll still be dependant on my parents. And my parents know what it is to rob Peter to pay Paul, they’ve been doing it all their lives. They started their marriage living in a trailer, mom using the money from collecting bottles and cans to buy milk and diapers. By the time I was born they were better off; but the only reason I’ve grown up surrounded by McMansions and private schools is because my dad has worked two or three jobs most of my life. But I don’t know what it is to be really poor; a life of genteel poverty, like a Victorian heroine, is what I’m anticipating. Even in Europe, I had some tight times, mostly due to my own money mismanagement, I was still rolling around in my middle-class priviledge. Most people don’t get the chance to bum around Europe for a year, and afford to come home broke.

Working as a checker at the local grocery store has been more educational than I ever imagined. There’s a lot more economic diversity than appearances would suggest. There are some stinking rich folks, generally my more unpleasant customers (their time is sooo much more valuable than mine, you know). Lots of families and elderly people, with fistfuls of coupons. White and blue-collar workers who stop and get their lunch. And more folks on welfare than I expected for an area with homes going for 300 grand at least. Mostly a lot of young single moms buying baby formula with WIC checks and foodstamps. Feministe had a great post about living off WIC checks recently. The folks using foodstamps try their best to look invisible. I once had a girl who was probably younger than me, baby in tow, red-eyed from crying. The stigma of being on foodstamps is something I’m terrified of. But if it wasn’t for my parents, I’d probably be using them too.

So class is huge part of the pressure I’m recieving; but normativity comes into it too. A more unconcious motivation, but it’s there. Okay, so their daughter’s a dyke, and she looks dykey too, but at least she can get a normal, “real job” (their term). Massage therapy is not a real job. Holistic medicine is certainly not a real career, according my mother the registered nurse. It’s okay for the meantime, to get you on your feet, make some extra cash on the side. I’m sure my parents (well, my mother especially) would be more comfortable with my sexuality if I looked more conventionally feminine; but at the very least I could get a conventional job!

It sucks, but I cut my parents some slack, because they’ll still help me out when I go to Arizona. Their actions speak louder than their words, and that counts for a lot with me. I want to do something meaningful with my life, serve a useful purpose, and this is how I want to do it. I know I can’t do it on my own, and I know it’s going to be plenty hard even with priviledge and parental support, but I don’t want to take the “safe” option. Every “safe” choice I’ve made turned out to be a trap. I won’t trade dreams for security.

 

late night poetry blogging August 10, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 10:03 pm

Now with a pagan twist!

So I’ve been trying to answer this archived Witches Weekly for a while now:

Do you consider yourself a political pagan? If so, what topics are most important to you and why? If you are not a political pagan, why?

and I’m just finding it really difficult to articulate my thoughts. So, in lieu of my own ramblings, a poem.

Everywoman Her Own Theology

I am nailing them up to the cathedral door
Like Martin Luther. Actually, no,
I don’t want to resemble that Schmutzkopf
(See Erik Erikson and N.O. Brown
On the Reformer’s anal aberrations,
Not to mention his hatred of Jews and peasants),
So I am thumbtacking these ninety-five
Theses to the bulletin board in my kitchen.

My proposals, or should I say requirements,
Include at least one image of a god,
Virile, beard optional, one of a goddess,
Nubile, breast size approximating mine,
One divine baby, one lion, one lamb,
All nude as figs, all dancing wildly,
All shining. Reproducible
In marble, metal, in fact any material.

Ethically, I am looking for
An absolute endorsement of loving-kindness.
No loopholes except maybe mosquitoes.
Virtue and sin will henceforth be discouraged,
Along with suffering and martyrdom.
There will be no concept of infidels,
Consequently the faithful must entertain
Themselves some other way than killing infidels.

And so forth and so on. I understand
This piece of paper is going to be
Spattered with wine one night at a party
And covered over with newer pieces of paper.
That is how it goes with bulletin boards.
Nevertheless it will be there.
Like an invitation, a chalk pentangle,
It will emanate certain occult vibrations.

If something sacred wants to swoop from the universe
Through a ceiling, and materialize,
Folding its silver wings,
In a kitchen, and bump its chest against mine,
My paper will tell this being where to find me.
Alicia Ostriker

In a world where religion, for the last several thousand years, has been a means of social control by men, a woman seeking spiritual wisdom on her own, without intermediaries or hierarchy or written dogma–I believe that’s a radical act. A woman seeking the divine just in her kitchen, telling the Real Religions, “No. Not good enough. I’ll find my own way” is a powerful thing. I’ve been hugely influenced by Starhawk, who teaches that activism is a spiritual act, is magic, that you can’t follow a nature religion and not fight for the earth, you can’t believe that everything is connected and interdependent and not work for the benefit of all, you can’t believe the divine is immanent in everything and not give everything you’ve got for justice and human rights and liberty. It was politics that lead me to pagan spirituality; this spiritual path influences my politics, in turn. So I consider my spirituality a political act; and I consider my political activism a spiritual practice. It’s not about having it all dovetail neatly together, or toeing an ideological or thealogical line. It’s about trying to “walk in beauty”, as the Navajo say, in an ugly world.