Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Not the Only One...

I just received a package from Amazon.com that contained: two Neon Genesis Evangelion DVDs (the new movies), one copy of Guy Debord's Society of the Spectacle, and one copy of Ottaviani & Myrick's graphic novel biography of Richard Feynman. The person who packed this order must have looked at these things and thought, "...What a dork." I can only assume that s/he then thought, "Awesome."

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Brief Rant About Rolling With A Spare Tire -OR- How I (Still Haven't) Learned to Love My Body.

I very rarely weigh myself. The last time before last week that I stepped on a scale was at my aunt's house in D.C. in early May. She just had the scale laying right out there and I couldn't resist, which is exactly why I do not own a scale. So then last week I was sitting at my desk as I do all day every day and I decided that my shorts felt tight and I should just give up on that top button. Which then made me wonder why my generally well fitting (if a tad short) shorts felt tight. So I weighed myself on the scale in my parents' bathroom (which lives way back under the counter and looked a bit dusty, likely from lack of use). I had gained 10 pounds since May, probably due to my rather lackadaisical attitude toward both strenuous physical activity (it's haaaard)and conscientious food consumption (sandwiches are gooooood). My first reaction was "huh...oh well" but over the course of the afternoon it continually popped up on the tracks of my train of thought. So I texted my boyfriend to complain.

K: "I've gained ten pounds since graduation."
M: "What does that mean?"

I gave him the acceptable educated-socially-conscious-liberal-feminist responses.

K: "Mainly it means that my clothes are fitting more tightly. Also, that I have probably been eating too many brown foods and not enough green foods. Also, I need to be mindful not to lead a sedentary lifestyle."

He acknowledged my polite reasons and gave the appropriate response one gives when trapped into a conversation about someone else's weight.

M: "Yeah, I should eat more green foods and not be sedentary, too. We'll do it together!"

And then we switched subjects because he knows how to field my insecurities with great aplomb and I wasn't about to start harping on my weight because I KNOW it's a silly thing to harp about so why was I harping internally?

So I started thinking more about his question - WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? And I think I know what the real answer is, and it is ugly:

It means that I have been inured in the belief that to be fat is a moral shortcoming, and that to be fat is to be less pretty, which is to say have less worth as a human being. Now, I am cognizant of the fact that I have been raised in a society that is severely damaged, wherein the majority of what we are taught is predicated on whether or not we can be sold something afterward, and that this damaged society hates women...and fat people...and men, for that matter (until, of course, we've dropped enough money into "fixing" what's wrong with us and by "enough money" I mean "all of the money" and then we will be told that it's just not enough). However, this knowledge only helps me freak out MARGINALLY less when I discover that I've gained ten pounds. I am still convinced that at least some of my public worth as well as my self-worth is inversely related to the number on the scale.

I am gripped by these insecurities infrequently. Generally speaking, I am well aware of my good fortune and good genetics, I am unconcerned with an exact pound measurement, I am healthy and capable, and I know at least a couple people who would affix the label "hot" to me (specifically myself and my squeeze but, c'mon, there's GOTTA be someone else among the 6.5 billion out there by whom I would be considered a sexy mama). But it's weird when these self-denigrating thoughts slither into my empowered woman psyche. They did not come from me, and I do not accept them being there, but I have yet to outfox them before they assault me like thought-slugs on the leafy green Hostas of my brain. I doubt I ever will learn. But at least I know why.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Confession and Then Some Complaining

Here's a confession: I don't know the multiplication table. I never learned. I am practiced enough that I can add very quickly in my head, but if you ask me "what's 7 times 4?" I have to add 7 four times to get 28. Or I have to break it down into smaller multiplication problems. Like, 5 times 9 - I know 5 times 4 is 20, so do that twice and you have 40, plus 5 is 45. No, taking 5x10 =50-5 =45 does not occur to me. It's complicated, it's time consuming, it's depressing. It never mattered before because somehow I always managed to fake it, but now I'm studying for the GRE where I have to do something like one math problem per minute, plus I have to be able to factor which is exceedingly difficult for me since I take this ridiculously roundabout way to multiply forward and it's impossible to apply it backward. So I'm panicking.

I'm going to blame the public school system. See, I excel at reading and writing. In grade school, teachers would see how well I did on spelling tests and just assume I was "smart". I am smart. Being smart in general doesn't take into account strong subjects and weak subjects, and neither did my teachers when they were giving me lessons. It's not their fault; they had 30 other 9-year-olds to contend with. I was good at faking what I knew. I am, still. So when it came time for testing, I would do my crazy multiplication pidgin and get away with it. What happened is that I slipped through the cracks. I didn't have the aptitude to actually learn this lesson the way it was taught, but I was never so obviously unable to grasp it that I got extra help. This is the story with a lot of children, the kids that are doing "just fine".

In a perfect world, there would be a way to implement a strategy like what the GRE calls a Computer-Adaptive Test into our everyday school system. Basically, the test starts out with easy questions and then adjusts the difficulty level based on how well one answered the last question. If you do well, you get harder questions and if you make a mistake, you get easier questions until the difficulty level is averaged out on an individual basis. I have no idea how we could use a system like this (maybe grouping students by skill level rather than by year?) but it would be awesome if we could.

So here I am taking the time when I should be drilling my multiplication tables to talk about the fact that I'm going to have to drill my multiplication tables. Because this is where my strong points are. And factoring is for chumps, anyway.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Stuck in Traffic Mix, Volume 1-6

While I was commuting to and from campus, my friend Patrick was working as a process server. Both of us subsequently were spending hours in our cars alone every week. It came up one evening over craft beers that Patrick had not much to listen on these longs drives other than aggressive metal and I thought that probably wasn't good for his blood pressure to be fuming at traffic while the constant machine gun report of a double-bass pedal slammed his ear drums. I set about to make a mix cd for us both, one with lively but non-heart-rate-raising tunes that would make sitting back and even relaxing while sitting in traffic a possibility. It turned into a four-month, six-disc project as I whittled down the *mumble*teen-thousand mp3s in my collection to a shining 101 tracks spanning myriad musical genres. It's complete now, and here is the track list, mostly so Patrick can see what the Sam Hill he's listening to! Also this post will be pretty long and take up the majority of my front page, since Blogger still doesn't have cut tags. LOL, oh Blogger.

*Dear Patrick,
Hi. You're reading this to see what the Sam Hill you're listening to. That's fine for Volumes 1-5. For number 6...I got confused and burned you the wrong line-up. I don't remember in what order the tracks are, but they're all the same as the V.6 line-up I'm posting here. The one you got is probably shitty (there's no FLOW)...or you can think of it as your own special mix! Yeah! Anyway, I can help you IRL if you need further info on any of those. YOU'RE WELCOME.
Stuck in Traffic

Volume 1
01. Nina Simone - Feeling Good
02. Al Green - Are you Lonely for Me, Baby?
03. Esperanza Spalding - Precious
04. G. Love & Special Sauce - Willow Tree
05. Toro Y Moi - Blessa
06. The Octopus Project - Loud Murmuring
07. The Walkmen - Wake Up
08. Papercuts - Future Primitive
09. Phantogram - Mouthful of Diamonds
10. Glasser - Apply
11. Portishead - Pedestal
12. Thom Yorke - Harrowdown Hill
13. James Blake - Limit to Your Love
14. Flying Lotus - Tea Leaf Dancers
15. Passion Pit - Swimming in the Flood
16. Zola Jesus - Lightsick
17. J. Tillman - Ribbons of Glass

Volume 2
01. Beach Fossils - Daydream
02. Twin Shadow - At My Heels
03. Amon Tobin - People Like Frank
04. Bjork - Hyperballad
05. Scarlett Johansson - I Don't Want to Grow Up
06. Passion Pit - Cuddle Fuddle
07. Uh Huh Her - Explode
08. Sun Airway - Your Moon
09. Neutral Milk Hotel - Everything Is...
10. The Octopus Project - Queen
11. Electric President - Insomnia
12. Beach Fossils - Golden Age
13. Small Black - Goons
14. Deastro - Tree Frog
15. School of Seven Bells - Windstorm
16. Small Black - Panthers
17. How to Dress Well - Ready for the World

Volume 3
01. Scarling. - Hello London
02. The Strokes - Killing Lies
03. Kid Koala - Fender Bender
04. Blind Melon - Life Ain't So Shitty
05. Tom Waits - Jockey Full of Bourbon
06. John Legend - Stereo
07. Sin Fang - Sing from Dream
08. Emancipator - Soon It Will Be Cold Enough to Build Fires
09. Astronautalis - Some Things Never Change
10. P.O.S. - Savion Glover
11. Q-Tip - Gettin Up
12. Jurassic 5 - What's Golden
13. DANGERDOOM (feat. Cee-Lo) - Bizzy Box
14. Astronautalis - Mr. Blessington's Imperialist Plot
15. Blackalicious - Sky is Falling
16. The Roots - You Got Me (Jill)

Volume 4
01. The Clash - Guns of Brixton
02. Matt Skiba - Good Fucking Bye
03. OK Go - WTF?
04. Bad Religion - Sorrow
05. The Kills - Last Day of Magic
06. The National - Mr. November
07. The Notwist - One with the Freaks
08. Lackthereof - Chest Pass (Your Anchor)
09. Hot Water Music - Bleeder
10. Ramona Falls - I Say Fever
11. Alkaline Trio - Blue in the Face
12. The Raveonettes - Sleepwalking
13. Tapes 'N Tapes - Just Drums
14. Menomena - Gay A
15. The Smashing Pumpkins - Jellybelly
16. Viva Voce - Octavio
17. Menomena - Strongest Man in the World

Volume 5
01. Efterklang - Modern Drift
02. The National - Daughters of the SoHo Riots
03. Bowerbirds - Human Hands
04. Radical Face - Doorways
05. Damien Rice - Delicate
06. Modest Mouse - Talking Shit About A Pretty Sunset
07. New Order - Ceremony
08. Devendra Banhart - This Beard Is for Siobhan
09. Nick Drake - From the Morning
10. Beirut - La Banlieu
11. Woods - Time Fading Lines
12. The Dodos - Men
13. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Over and Over Again (Lost and Found)
14. Horse Feathers - Albina
15. Sin Fang Bous - Sinker Ship
16. Shearwater - Castaways
17. Zoe Keating - Don't Worry

Volume 6
01. The Unicorns - I Don't Wanna Die
02. The Chemical Brothers - Let Forever Be
03. The XX - Islands
04. The Ronettes - Be My Baby
05. Toro Y Moi - Master of None
06. TV on the Radio - Modern Romance
07. Cat Stevens - Can't Keep It In
08. Schneider TM - The Light 3000
09. Eels - Fresh Feeling
10. Dion & the Belmonts - Runaround Sue
11. Patsy Cline - Foolin' Around
12. Royksopp - Remind Me
13. Mike Doughty - I Hear the Bells
14. Fats Domino - Ain't That A Shame
15. Weezer - El Scorcho
16. Sean Lennon - Home
17. Space Needle - Never Lonely Alone.

And that's it! Hooray!

Return to the Burn

It has been over a year and a half since I last updated this here ol' blog. I had some things to do: mental housekeeping in more private places, exploring other interests. I finished school, traveled a lot, started seeing someone new, got a real big-girl job, drew new friends in close and old friends in closer. I'm on a regular Monday-Friday schedule now with set hours and everything! I'm working from home and have a lot of downtime as long as I am tethered to my computer. As such, I intend to write more about the music, movies, blogs, books, television, food, and art that I like. Not really a new direction since that's really all I ever did with this blog to begin with, but a new attempt at more regular posts. HOW MANY TIMES HAVE WE HEARD THAT BEFORE? Let us begin...