strange fire

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

coolness June 29, 2007

Filed under: feminism — andygrrrl @ 9:55 am


  Which Western feminist icon are you?  

You are Emma Goldman! You are the mama of Anarchist/Communist feminism and you inspired millions to embrace the labor movement. Without ever directly saying so, you directed efforts toward saving wymyn and children from exploitation. Oh yeah, you were also a total sexpot!
Take this quiz!

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Not what I expected, but any woman (er, womyn) who can make pince-nez punkrock is alright in my book. I have a playlist of political music on my iTunes I called The Emma Goldman Mix. I should read up on her.


Further postcards from Hippietown June 26, 2007

Filed under: hippietown,life — andygrrrl @ 10:50 am
  • “Yams have a higher vibrational frequency than potatoes.” I’m entirely not sure what that means, but my roommate Elrond assures me that’s why he’d rather use yams when making raw vegan mashed potatoes.
  • Elrond also had his friends and family back home (in the South) drumming at a party in an effort to literally teleport him there. Something to do with South African drumming rhythms and the earth’s rotation…it didn’t work. But he could hear the drums and feel the heat of the fire. Apparently.
  • We’re friends with a chocolatier who makes raw vegan truffles (death by chocolate, dear readers, but oh what a happy way to go!); he has a daughter, Lyra. She’s the only three year old I know who would rather eat dulce than candy, and who has a t-shirt of the Hindu elephant god Ganesha.
  • She also has dreams about aliens. Her parents believe this means she astral-travels when she sleeps.
  • People don’t go on diets here, they do “Master Cleanses” and drink apple juice for three weeks.
  • I think I officially qualify as HippieFreak because I’ve done an authentic sweatlodge. There’s a guy in town who has it all set up in his backyard, and it’s invitation-only; “you have to be a friend of a friend” kind of situation. He could make a fortune if he was willing to sell his culture to tourists. It was intense. I don’t recommend doing one “just for the hell of it”, because you won’t be able to handle the effects.
  • Of course, every day feels like a fucking sweat lodge now. I wish we had a swamp cooler (like air conditioning, but environmentally friendly. Something to do with blowing air over water to cool it off).

The Sunday Smooch June 24, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 5:16 pm

So, I’ve decided that this blog isn’t gay enough. And so I give you The Sunday Smooch–girls kissing every week!

Nan and Kitty

It’s only fitting that I start the Sunday Smooch with those Victorian music hall lezzies Nan and Kitty. It would only be a slight exaggeration to say that Tipping the Velvet made me gay; it certainly helped kick me out of the closet, if only to myself. I mean, what’s hotter than drag kings making out? Victorian drag kings making out on stage. Okay, so Rachel Stirling is far too femme to play stone butch Nan, but she does look great in a tux.


fuck it’s hot June 21, 2007

Filed under: nature,witchiness — andygrrrl @ 11:40 am

but happy Solstice anyway.

In my ideal world, on the summer solstice I’d get up and watch the sunrise, preferably in a field full of wildflowers, on the edge of a forest. The day would be spent in every fun summer activity you can think up–rope swings and swimming holes, climbing trees, playing silly childhood games like freeze tag and hot box, making daisy chains, blowing bubbles. At high noon me and all my witchy friends (because I would have many, a big community of friends and lovers and poker buddies, a chosen family of like-minded pagans) would have a big, fun, crazy ritual culminating in a Spiral Dance and we’d all collapse in a big laughing heap. And then we’d pig out, on watermelon and blueberry cobbler and ice cream (home-made, of course) and lemonade and apple pie and all of our favorite foods. Maybe we’d have a food fight. Then I’d lie in the grass and watch the birds. Find a hammock and a good book of poems. At dusk we’d say good bye to the sun and greet the coming autumn, build a huge bonfire and party all night, drumming and boozing and dancing. The whole day would be like Gay Pride and Mardi Gras and the Fourth of July all rolled up and crossed with a block party.

Someday. As it is, it’s 105 degrees in the shade, here in the desert (oh, but it’s a dry heat!). I have homework to do and errands to run on what amounts to my day off; but it is nice, for once, to not have to work or go to class, like I usually have to do on my sacred holidays. So, if you get a chance, even if you’re not inclined to nature worship yourself, I still think everyone should use the solstice as an excuse to go to the park and have a picnic. If it’s not too hot out.


I’m very serious in this one June 20, 2007

Filed under: feminism,holistic medicine,life — andygrrrl @ 11:07 am

But this has been on my mind for a while.

So I was sitting with my friends after our yoga class one day, and I don’t know how we got on the subject of activism, but we did, and I said how I had been very active in the pro-choice movement in college. “Gee, really?” said my friend, in that “No Shit” tone of voice. Yeah, I’m That Girl, the Political One, the annoyingly opinionated. I’m used to being The Feminist (in addition to being The Dyke, and The Wiccan).

The thing is, I’ve got this reputation as an outspoken firebrand, which I don’t really think I deserve. Not any more. It’s just that openly expressing feminist opinions outside of strictly activist circles makes you stand out. I’m not badgering anyone or bringing up conflict constantly. It’s been a few years since the March for Women’s Rights in D.C. These days, I don’t do much of anything, politically.

Which is frustrating. The thing is, I’ve been witnessing a classic example of politics in personal life for the last few months; and I’ve felt pretty powerless to do anything about it.

My friend and classmate—we’ll call her Jane—got pregnant a few months ago. She’s still pregnant, and she doesn’t want to be. The system, such as it is, doesn’t make it easy for a 22 year old Native girl to get an abortion, not if she doesn’t have five or six hundred dollars ready to drop, which most of us working for minimum wage don’t. By the time she’d saved up enough money for the pill, it was too late. And now the system keeps jerking her around—drive two hours to the nearest clinic, take three days out of her life that she can’t afford to get it done with money that she doesn’t have. She told me, almost by accident, at the beginning. I mentioned that, if she was interested, I knew which herbs you could use, and where to get them. But that was it; we’re not close enough as friends for me to feel like I can do anything more, except be someone to confide in, which she doesn’t do very often.

Then Leah got pregnant; another classmate. But this a happy occasion this time; 21 years old, engaged, making wedding plans for Mexico. She may be young, but she wants to have a big family; she’s in a place where she can start one. Leah’s forbidden from getting certain types of body work and techniques done, because of her pregnancy. Jane doesn’t say anything, so I find myself working verboten Chinese meridian points on her, doing Thai massage techniques that I shouldn’t. Maybe the idea is that if we both pretend that she isn’t pregnant, she won’t be. I don’t feel like I’m in a position to say anything; Jane smiles and laughs a lot, but she keeps herself to herself.
And so I found myself sitting in the clinic office the other day, waiting for my client, and the receptionist (also a therapist) was talking on the phone. “You mean it’s not illegal??” she said, with a strange pitch to her voice.
“What’s not illegal?” I asked, curiously, when she hung up.
She looked at me a long moment, with this expression of utter fear in her eyes, and I realized I had accidentally said the wrong thing.
“That pill. You know, for when…I’m 36 years old and I’m pregnant. I feel so silly.”
“RU-486.” I said. “Yes, it’s legal here.” Whether you can get it or not is another question, I thought to myself. There’s a Planned Parenthood the next town over, but in a Red State, that really doesn’t mean a damn thing.

And then we dropped the subject and it’s never come up since. I know another therapist knows. Jane’s pregnancy is something of an open secret as well. But no one really talks about it.

It’s really incredibly frustrating to watch all these private dramas happening, and to see the connections between them, the political discourses that shape them, and feel helpless in the face of it. A young woman of color getting pregnant (out of wedlock, with a white man) is a desperate thing, shameful, discussed in hushed tones. And there’s no one to actually help her. A young white woman getting pregnant is a wonderful thing because look, her boyfriend proposed! And gave her a ring with his grandmother’s diamonds, no less. We all coo and exlaim loudly, as if to hide the fact that we’re ignoring another woman with a less certain fate. And a grown woman who doesn’t even know what her options are, and she’s not a young teenage girl raised with abstinence-only policies. She’s a member of the health care profession; and she doesn’t know that RU-486 is legal. And we all pretend like these are individual, unconnected scenarios.

It’s all very well to talk about conciousness and organizing and sisterhood and alliances. But how do we actually do it? In the face of such ignorance and silence?


inner dialogue of a radical romantic June 12, 2007

Filed under: books,feminism,movies — andygrrrl @ 2:13 pm

Scene: Me, at home, watching the BBC adaptation of North and South for the zillionth time.
 Right, I can’t believe I’m watching this for the zillionth time. I’m unemployed and watching a glorified excuse for a soap opera. I’m officially a loser.

Hey, stop with the self-hatred, alright? I deserve a little comfort food. Besides, I’m not watching it, I’m just skipping to the good parts.

Ooh, like the part where Margaret tells Thorton to fuck off for being an arrogant exploitive capitalist?

Yes! I mean, no, well, it’s so sad! He totally gets his heart broken. It’s so romantic.

Oh, BARF. I can’t believe I’m actually enjoying this Victorian drivel. Gaskell’s totally ripping off Austen with the whole boy-meets-girl, girl-thinks-she-hates-boy-but-is-secretly-attracted-to-him plot.

She is not ripping off Austen. Sure, it’s the same basic structure, but it’s using it to examine class and regional conflicts, North vs South, working vs middle class.

Whatever. The heroine who seems to have smattering of social conscience about the lives of the working poor ends up capitulating to patriarchal mores and marries the capitalist pig! Everything stays the same!

He’s not a capitalist pig. He’s a mill-owner.

Same difference.

Anyway, where do you get off calling yourself radical? You’re as middle-class as Margaret Hale. Talk about arrogance.

All I’m saying is that as a feminist should you really be enjoying a heteronormative story that simply reifies the capitalistic status quo?

A) stop turning into the feminist police; B) John Thorton is a well-rounded character who crossed class boundaries to work his way up to mill owner so you can’t really call him a capitalist pig–

–oh, don’t even give me that individualistic boot-straps shit—

C) romance is a genre about individual psychology, not social revolution and D) considering all that, I think Gaskell did a pretty good job of looking at the bigger picture and criticizing the effects of industrialization on the lower classes.

Hmph. In a totally myopic, sentimental Victorian sort of way.

It was 1855. Give her break.  Besides, you have to admit that it’s refreshing to have a smart, outspoken heroine who seems to actually eat three meals a day.

Okay, so Daniela Denby-Ashe is gorgeous. Point taken. But it’s still a variation of Man Domesticated/Reformed by Good, Virtuous Woman.

Oh, SHUT UP. It’s the part where he gazes longingly after her carriage as she leaves Milton forever!

You’re really gross, you know that? What kind of lesbian are you?

Better than being a pendantic, policing pain in the ass. Besides, you have to admit that kiss at the end is really fantastic.

Totally historically innaccurate–no way they’d be making out in broad daylight on a train platform–but yeah, definitely a hot kiss.

See? Romantic always wins in the end.


This is not a test June 8, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 2:17 pm

Lost my job the other day. Elrond tried to comfort me by saying it was a “sign” that I needed to “move on” and “let go” of whatever that job represented in myself and my life. It was a good thing! It means I can grow.

To which I replied, very politely, bullshit.

 This doesn’t mean I need to let go of something; it means it’s going to be very difficult for me to visit my family and my girlfriend this summer. I may be a pagan who moved a thousand miles more-or-less on the advice of a tarot card reading, but I’m not so “open-minded” that my brain falls out. I’m not going to ascribe any cosmic meaning to my money struggles. That’s not to say that there isn’t a spiritual or esoteric element involved–they’ve got a whole suit of the tarot about money for a reason–but the Universe isn’t trying to foster my personal spiritual growth through economic hardship. I haven’t subconciously manifested job problems because I don’t have enough positive thoughts, as The Secret and Law of Attraction folks would say. The Goddess isn’t testing me to see if I have enough fortitude/courage/compassion/happy thoughts. I’m being nickled and dimed, essentially. Making ends meet on minimum wage is fucking hard as it is; doing that while going to school is that much more difficult. If I take care of myself physically, emotionally, mentally–make sure I don’t wear myself out and don’t take shit from people–I suffer economically. If I bust my ass for that dollar, if I’m a good little worker bee, my physical and mental health suffers. In pink collar jobs you gotta be sugar and spice and everything nice and I have two facial piercings and blue hair and a sarcastic sense of humor. I have a hard time putting up with insincerity and fake friendship for the sake of arbritrary social rules. I don’t like it when people pretend to like me when I know they think I’m wierd. I don’t like being forced to pretend to be someone I’m not just so I can make shit wages that barely cover my bills.

 I’m really sick and tired of all these “new-age” or “progressive” spiritual types who say how every difficulty is sent to you as a test. As if life were some sort of metaphysical SAT and you don’t get to be enlightened unless you pass. Everything’s a lesson, according to this line of thought. A challenge manifests in order to teach you something. It follows along with the idea of karma and reincarnation, that every life we have to learn until we become enlightened and escape the burden of physical existence entirely. I’ve never liked that particular philosophy; I think it’s crap. I think all of this is just another clever way of blaming the victim. I actually had one of these Law of Attraction types explain to me that a woman he knew decided that she had “chosen” parents who sexually abused her so that she could learn compassion. Bad things happen to you? Well, why did you attract that negative energy into your life? What lesson is the universe trying to teach you by giving you cancer/losing your job/destroying your city with a hurricane?

Conversely, if good things happen to you, you must have sent out enough positive energy to manifest it. You deserve it! All those rich business owners deserve their wealth not because they exploit the poor and immigrants, but because they have enough happy thoughts in their head. Gee, this sounds suspiciously like Puritanical Christianity, where God rewards the good with riches and the bad with poverty. Maybe we aren’t so enlightened after all; maybe we’ve just dressed up old thinking in new vocabulary. It’s a clever way of individualizing poverty and economic oppression–these are personal failings, not social dysfunction.

I think the point of life is living. We learn from our experiences, good and bad, because that’s our particular adaptation. In evolutionary terms, we’re a lame species. We can’t run fast, we don’t have claws, can’t fly, don’t shoot poison out of our fangs. All we have are really smart brains. So every new situation and experience does teach us, but that doesn’t mean that that situation exists solely as a cosmic lesson. Shit happens; either we learn something useful from it, or we don’t. It would be nice to think that if we just learned enough, if we passed the test, we could prevent shit from happening. But change is the nature of the universe, not control.

Which means I gotta suck it up, find another job, put things like family and relationships on hold, and hopefully muddle along till I graduate and can actually make a living wage. Now that would be nice.