Monday, June 27, 2005

I am happy. I am single. Now shut up.

Bridget Jones, in both her eponymous novel and movie, does a lot of complaining. She also does a lot of drinking and a lot of whining, but that interests me less.

One of Ms. Jones' favorite complaints is against Smug Marrieds, or those who have indulged in wedded bliss and can't stop demonstrating it to everyone on the planet, regardless of these people's interest level; Smug Marrieds also find it impossible to stop (vocally, publicly) wondering why everyone ELSE is not a Smug Married, because obviously something must be wrong with those who have not found their soulmate

I am having a similar problem, though Smug Marrieds do not exactly fit the bill. I am having issues with Smug Coupleds. Smug Coupleds are the young twentysomething equivalent of Smug Marrieds; usually, Smug Coupleds and Smug Uncoupleds alike regard young twentysomething Marrieds as a frightening species, doomed either to catastrophic failure in their marriages or an absolute removal from everything Smugs consider normal society, to be so wrapped up in each other that they are incapable of relating to anyone else.

But I digress. I was remarking that Smug Coupleds are, currently, making my life difficult. This difficulty has intensified since my return to East A-Hellhole this summer, of course, since there is the proverbial "so much to talk about!" with everyone I don't talk to all school year long.

Here is how it usually goes: I meet or see a Smug Coupled in a public venue - coffeeshop, restaurant, side of the road, whatever. The Smug Coupled will sometimes (though, to their partial credit, not always) wax poetic on the fabulous qualities of their CoCoupled. The Smug Coupled will then INEVITABLY (and necessarily, because this is part of what makes them Smug), question as to the nature of my love life. And then, also inevitably, when I tell them I am single, they will cast this absolutely gorgeous pitying look in my direction and say something along the lines of "don't worry, you'll find someone soon".

There are a few reasons why I find it difficult not to punch Smug Coupleds in the nose. The first is their very public inquiry into my very private affairs. I would like to make it clear that any Smug Coupleds I find it necessary to complain about are close enough to me such that, were I to find myself in a relationship, they would inevitably know. I'm not huge on the keeping-of-the-secrets, and I don't really care about keeping a meaningful and monogamous relationship a secret anyway. Why bother? Too much work. So the vast majority of Smug Coupleds are asking superfluous questions in the presence of people I don't really want hearing about the intimate details of my private life.

The second infuriating Smug Coupledness is that look - that pitying, "oh how horrible" look. It makes me want to launch into the following monologue:

"Oh Smug Coupled, I demand that you stop looking at me in that infuriating manner. I demand it because your look requires that I defend myself to you, in the manner I will now detail: 'I am happy. I am not looking for a boyfriend. I do not particularly care should I happen to find one, but for the time being I do not give a crap, which is infinitely preferable to the self-loathing spiral of negative thoughts in which you apparently think I am. Please allow me the respect of assuming that I am not a person whose entire self-worth depends on whether anyone wants to hold my hand in the mall.' Second, your look, and the feeling of pity that inevitably accompanies it, require that I defend myself against your assumptions by saying something resembling the above, which in turn makes it look like I feel the need to defend myself, which makes it look like I am insecure when I am not. I am happy. I am single. Now shut up."

Much, much worse than the Smug Coupled is the Smug Non-Virgin. (Grandpa, you might want to stop reading here). Of my circle of high school friends, there is a not-insignificant percentage of females who are still card-carrying members of the V-Club. There is nothing, nothing, NOTHING THAT MAKES ME ANGRIER than a non-virgin lording their status over a virgin.

I have a particular example: two best friends, one a virgin and one not. The non-virgin is continually making references to her presence of sexual activity (she is also, as you might have guessed, a Smug Coupled). Then, after these references, she will throw a comment to the virgin along the lines of "Don't worry, Non-Virgin, you'll have sex soon. Any time now."

As you might have already guessed, I have absolutely no strong stance on the waiting-for-marriage/true love/whatever debate. Have sex if you want. Don't have sex if you don't want. I don't care, though if you use protection I'll really appreciate it. I do, however, have a problem with the notion of fetishizing the act of sex itself - by which I mean socially fetishizing, creating clubs of virgins/non-virgins whose respective populations could not possibly understand the other's point of view. So, when a Non-Virgin chooses to walk up to a Virgin and characterize their virginity as a character flaw, some sort of obstacle, a goal they have so far failed to attain, that bothers me. It doesn't even matter if the Virgin herself has fetishized the act and is berating herself for not having performed it - that is no reason for dragging the entire issue out for public scrutiny and discussion. Your own sexual activity is or is not private, depending on your social proclivities; your friends' sexual activity is ABSOLUTELY private, until brought up by the friend themself with the intention of self-deprecation or -elevation.

Having sex for the first time at 14 is not, in and of itself, unhealthy. Having sex for the first time at 30 is not, in and of itself, unhealthy. The creation of obsession, of an entire self-image, around the time and manner of one's first (or many, really) sexual encounters is ABSOLUTELY unhealthy. Virginity or non-virginity, singledom or coupledom, is nothing more than one characteristic in the vast resume of a person's life, and I am really tired of them being conflated with notions of personal or social worth.

Bridget Jones is not the best-written novel I have ever read, but I must say that she hits Smug Marrieds smack on the (metaphorical) nose. If only she would widen the lens a bit, I'd have an entire world philosophy packed into 300 pages and approximately 10 pronouns.

(ha, ha, ha, Bridget, pronouns are not optional.)

Saturday, June 25, 2005


Ok, I lied. I did learn something both meaningful and fun by reading the Times today, and that was the update on the arrests of those CIA agents in Italy (I'm too lazy to link, so I'm going to assume you know what I'm talking about). I think it's great. I think it's hilarious. And I hope to God it finds a way to backfire in Silvio Berlusconi's face, because there are not enough words to describe my intense dislike of Silvio Berlusconi. However, if there were enough words, most of them would probably combine "sexist" and "bastard" in some innovative way.

Second, Feministe readers! Hi! I just realized you were here. Did you know that you're really intimidating? Because you are. You really, really are. Hopefully most of you are gone by now so I can go back to being an idiot with impunity.

I have an extensive post about being single that I need to write up here - if I haven't done it by midweek, either remind me or come looking for my dessicated body underneath the bedroom floor. I don't know how I'll get under the floor, but I'm quite resourceful. I assume that's a trait I will retain after my untimely demise.

I'll Tell You What That Bulge Is, and No I'm Not Pregnant

but I definitely think I swallowed at least two pounds of sawdust today and it's all settling in the lower torso area somewhere.

Today was day 1 (or 6? or something) of New Schedule Wherein They Pay Me but I Never Get to Sleep. That is not strictly true, actually, because I had yesterday off and went into work at noon today, but what is life without hyperbole? So I went to work and it was a trip - people at the museum who do not! work! there! Who were looking at art! Who knew?! Then again, the place closed at 5, so any potential artviewers were unceremoniously booted somewhat earlier than I would have expected on a summer Saturday.

So I spent rather more hours than I am comfortable with (lie) screwing around on the internet because I am at something of a standstill in most of my various ongoing projects, and Saturday = no boss with whom to consult about said projects. However, screwing around on the internet with no Flash, no Java, no Windows Media and no player for internet radio sucks, is boring, and leads to frighteningly shallow perusals of the most recent New York Times. There was an election in Iran? What? But hey, I can tell you all about mommies who think their babies got autism from vaccines despite all logic!

Meh, who am I kidding, I only read the science section of the Times anyway. I am a fraudulent educated college student. The shame, the shame.

Anyway, after the hours upon hours of getting paid to be useless, I went upstairs to help an artist create his art. I thought this would actually involve art. Silly Allie! Instead, it involved creating a floor. A new floor. At waist height above the original floor. Which itself involved cutting a lot of certainly-toxic-when-breathed pressure board. Which involved sawdust. Lo, I am sawdusty. But the upside is that I got to play with the ShopVac, since I am marginally less competent than a trained squirrel when it comes to using real power tools with the ability to maim. Actually, come to think of it, I continued to be paid to be useless, because Grandpa can tell you that my major role in any kind of shop/wood-involved setting is limited to gawking.

So I gawked for 4 hours, and then I drew some little Xs on the pressure board, and then I drove home. But I bought the guy a Pepsi, so it's ok.

And I get to do it all again tomorrow!!!!1!!!1!2!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

A Scenario

Picture, if you will, one of the most revered final bosses in the entirety of video game history - a boss whose perverted name serves as the avatar for a veritable legion of nerds.

Now please picture one skinny art museum intern, with a slightly overlarge nose and feet to match, intent on rescuing the planet from the maniacal schemes of this boss.

Picture a party, two of whose characters have been killed and the last of whom has one mere hit point. Unable to cast spells and confused, the remaining character fires one last salvo as the sighing intern bends over to turn off the Playstation, convinced of her imminent doom and willing to try again another day.

NOW please picture the most feared final boss in all of gamedom bowing before the incidental might of the gameress and her harried party, leaving only...



(shut up, I know what you're thinking, you don't need to tell me).

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Bad Jokes

So I'm sitting in bed rotting my brain at the temple of the Idiot Box when James walks by. He stops, peers into the room, says "I like big BUTTS and I cannot lie!", and giggles to himself before walking out again.

A joke that I stole from Jeannie which is funny when she tells it but terrible when I tell it:

Q: What's the capital of Taiwan?
A: Beijing!

A joke I made up today:

Q: What do you get when you make a jail out of oatmeal?
A: A goo-lag!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Things That Should Be Blogged

but haven't found a place for themselves anywhere else.

1. A couple weeks ago, I went to Petsmart for some fish drugs (my fish are the happiest fish around, ifyaknowwhaddimean). Happily clutching my ludicrously expensive purchase, I headed back out to the Maternal Mayhem Mobile. As I was opening my door, a black Mustang drove past, and in the trunk lay a teenage kid screaming "WHY WON'T ANYONE HELP ME?" Whereupon I burst into such laughter that I got a fairly serious stomach cramp.

2. The first morning we were in Barcelona, Jess and I decided to go scope out Las Ramblas (see Spain-related entries for more complete narrative). To get there from our hotel, you had to cross a fairly major thoroughfare, ending in a big ol' plaza. We walked along - not that we really had a choice, because this plaza was so full of people it was like walking through the Gulf Stream. In the other human stream, heading toward us, came a totally nondescript middle-aged man who I absolutely would not have noticed ever in my life


as he headed toward us, Jess and I saw him stoop over a trashcan, perform the briefest of rummages, find a Starbucks cup, drink what was left inside it, throw it back into the trashcan, and walk off - all in the most rapid and fluid of movements that you would never have seen if you weren't watching.

Obviously, that had some sort of effect on my puny little brain.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


This is the kind of crap that makes me really ashamed to go to Duke.

Not that she's graduating summa cum laude and going to Harvard Law (although, puke). Nor is it that the writing is particularly bad - the Our View column is where my brain cells go to die, so I've got particularly low standards in this case. I mean, it's not good, but I've seen worse. Actually, it's kind of like reading the essay my curator wrote for the front of the book in that my first impression is "holy god, you went to college and they let you out with this?!" But I digress.


I think I'm going to write an Our View column about how much all the other Our View columns suck. Whatever space is left will be filled with *gasp! ohno* political commentary or something *gasp! ohno* interesting or useful. Maybe I'll be like the other hypocritical columnists and complain about the sensationalism of American masa media! (I can't think of the phrase "mass media" in English anymore. Similarly, all leftovers of anything have been converted to "restos" and I will call them restos for the resto of my life. ahahaha.)


Has anyone formed a comprehensive feminist theory based on the Smurfs? Because they should. And if they have, stop reading here.

Actually, this isn't really comprehensive. Never mind.

I've been considering the significance of Smurfette's status within the world of the Smurfs. Obviously, her femaleness (and femininity, I suppose) set her apart from the rest of the Smurfs. While everyone else is classified by the content of their respective characters (there's a nerdy Smurf and a cranky Smurf and a protective, nurturing Smurf), Smurfette is different just because she is an -ette.

Right. This is all pretty obvious. My question is, does Smurfette's exclusion on the basis of her gender reinforce or destroy preexisting gender stereotypes? On the one hand, you could argue that the female status of Smurfette precludes all other distinguishing characteristics - although there are nerdy and mean and sporty and happy boy Smurfs, none of these characteristics could ever be identified with a girl Smurf, because she is already sufficiently othered by being female. She is excluded from the preexisting social conventions that define Smurfness (I would imagine that, as a young male Smurf comes of age, there is a whole Smurf-naming process undertaken from which Smurfette is necessarily excluded. Like a Smurf bar-mitzvah without the accompanying bat-.) The idea of Smurfette as limited and identified by gender is further strengthened by Smurfette's really annoying giggliness, which cements her in the stereotypical role of dumb chick. She can never be identified by anything other than "girl Smurf" and she can never rise above the inherently denigrating state of "girl Smurf" - though, as previously stated, she never really tries.

However, there's another reading of Smurfette, and it is - what if being a female IS her defining personality characteristic? If you look at it that way, the Smurfs frame gender in a nonessentialist, almost subjective light, casting it as a socially determined factor. Nerdy Smurf chooses to be nerdy, Pigheaded Smurf chooses to be pigheaded, Papa Smurf chooses to save the rest of the clan from Gargamel, and Smurfette chooses to fill a gaping niche in a society of 50 "men" by casting herself in the role of "female". Clearly, her status as lone woman in Smurfland cannot be solely biologically determined, unless she has litters of 100+ Smurfs per pop, is immortal, and never experiences menopause. So Smurfette, realizing that there are a number of personality paths afforded her, chooses to follow the one that says "girl". In this case, she is as full a member of society as any other Smurf. Having chosen her place in the Smurf Village, she is now merely fulfilling her duties.

So, does Smurfette reinforce the status of woman as inherently limited or does she throw the entire concept of gender into flux? Leave me a smurfing comment and smurfing tell me already, you smurfing son of a smurf.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

There Is An Incredible Amount of Irony in This That I Might Tell You About Later

McDonald's, in its typical misled attempt to be "with it", or "phat and stupid and poppin' fresh", as my friend Peter Griffin might say, has succeeded in stereotyping the next group of eligible minorities: ze weemen. (right, we're not really minorities, but I'm oppressed. Shut up.)

The commercials for the new Fruit and Walnut Salad features girls in their "natural habitat": bikinis and the beach. Hey look, it just came on! One of the female stars is commenting that the other "like, hit [the ball]".

Yeah, McDonald's. That's totally how it is. Females find nothing more satisfying in a visit to the beach than standing around and looking good while pretending to play sports. God forbid we might actually enjoy them, as the male in that commercial obviously does. And God forbid we use our brains to formulate a sentence that doesn't contain the word "like".

You know, if McDonald's wanted to talk about how their salads are good for a "female lifestyle", why not show someone spiking the ball into one of your ad executives' snakey faces? OH! And then, why don't you take the commercial with all the African-American women "keepin it real" and stuff it? Unlike yourselves, some of us don't hang out in groups that consist solely of one racial or ethnic demographic.

Thursday, June 02, 2005


"Hi Allison,

Wanted to share some news with you. It was decided yesterday that Epworth
would be a residence hall for the upcoming year. So, would you like your
old apartment on the first floor? Please let me know a.s.a.p because if not
I'll need to hire someone.