Armor, Spanx, and Stupid Codpieces

Good morning sleepyhead,

I might be the sleepyhead.  You might have already danced with veils and coined scarves.  I wonder what early morning belly dancing could do for a day?

Spanx! I love them because they make certain clothes possible–the things that sit in my closet and wait and wait to not worry about jiggle.  And then, voila, with Spanx everything is possible! I wear them when I need a little armor.  The bad news is, they do feel damn good to take off at the end of the day, and they remind me of my mother, or more, me turning into my mother.

I feel a bit daft, or maybe it’s because I’m just getting through my first cup of the best part of waking up, but why is the crush over?  Was the constant judging done by these men a turn off? Which did you take shelter in, their concrete opinions, or the lone voice of the person who disagreed?

So this actually doesn’t apply at all, but it reminds me again of Orwell’s frustration with Dali–that people leave taste to waves of morality or sophistication, and rely on both to carry them off as well-informed and smart. He doesn’t have the answer for his own dislike for Dali, but he just wants us to engage with our opinions instead of nonchalantly offering them as a distinction of intelligence of upright servitude.  I like to hate on things as much as anybody else (probably more so), and the work Orwell is requesting sounds tiring.  I admire that you are more involved with the examination than the group zing of instant judgment and glee at the weakness of taste in others.

Ooh! Your glower, and I do imagine you glowering, at the judgy-judginess of these fellows (if I have understood correctly) directly ties to my dilemma with that certain sample of the male population I was fuming at yesterday.  They hold out their opinions like codpieces.  You can’t have a conversation with a codpiece.

For an upcoming Netflix/Hulu escapade, should we try to stay in the sixties?  There is something delicious about looking at the products of the time, while chewing over Madmen and pretending that Draper and boys (and Peggy!), could have whipped the thing up to sell us candy pink stoves.

Also, I had a dream last night that I was back at the spa, in my towel, looking for the steam rooms and the cups of salt.  I didn’t actually find them, but I knew they were around there somewhere.

To the wonders of salt! Salut!



Crack a Dick Joke

Dear Carla Fran,

Hmm. I come to your question perplexed. And just a little afraid of the other half. I often reflect that, if I were a man, I would find women terrifying. I might have been the ultimate misogynist. Women can so often be judgmental, clique-obsessed, label-crazy, and content to be content with the merely frivolous. Even their relation to serious things–marriage, or babies, or work–can be compromised by a massive immaturity, or an insistence on the zaniness of the young.

That all this is not exclusively the purview of women should not be a surprise. But it disturbs me every time. One gets used to a particular kind of prejudice, and the problem with new forms is that one always has to consider that they might be legitimate and true.

I am friends of sorts with a few males, and we occasionally go out for drinks. Most of the conversation revolves around little-known movies, the poor performances of well-known actors in those B- (or C-) movies, and the slight surprise that each additional judgment (claiming exclusivity, discrimination and taste) stacks upon everyone else–including those who claim to like the movies being condemned in the latest judge-a-thon.

My crush, incidentally, ended just now, and as a direct consequence of all this. While the goodwill towards humans of the male persuasion mostly remains, it does so only because I recognize, in each round of judgment, that someone disagrees. I take shelter in that person’s wide-angle lens, and bask in their absolution. I hate myself for this.

All of which is to say that I don’t know. I don’t know how you escape the mantle of gender, or how you turn your voice into an actual one. I am not after all of this club–I’m a visiting member, as it were–and while they tolerate me, I’m definitely not a decision-maker in the group. I hear the dick jokes, I laugh obligingly some of the time; I have no desire to get in their way (I would resent it if a boy in a girl-group got weird over vagina puns). Still: verdicts get passed, and I watch, not as a voter but as an observer. I am at best a citizen-journalist.

The moment of redemption from the day that I can share with you is this: I had a male student refuse to do part of an assignment because he felt it was offensive to the study of poetry. I took great pleasure
in handing his ass–and his writing–to him on a silver platter via my written response to his assignment. He needs it badly, and the triumph is that on paper I feel brilliantly genderless. The power of writing, I think, is that it can do this. It lets you command ethos in ways that presence does not.

That said, no one knows better than I do the dangers of written communications. I wonder, though, if you could look for a way to make them see how they’re being unfair–or sexist. Either by adopting the same offensive tone, or by parodying them, or by somehow using humor to defuse the situation. This is the only tool I’ve found so far, and I hand it to you with all its lumpy imperfections and banana cream pies.

Fondly (and a bit disillusionedly),


PS–Today I WORE Spanx, for the first time ever. Theme!

Mad Men

Dearest Millicent,

I envy your belly-dancing.  I have tried the art twice, both times lapsing into a gawky “isn’t this hilarious” stance in order to avert all eyes from my lack of rhythm or failed attempts at sensuality.  Once was at a belly dance class at the YMCA where the teacher didn’t seem to understand that the snakiness that was so natural to her took a little thinking (she had that worst sin of teaching–the inability to imagine life without the knowledge that is being transferred.  She knew her dance, but didn’t know that some of us had never used those muscles).  The second time was in Tunisia, where my boss was less than pleased that I had been invited to actually participate as a real person on our trip.   But I agree–it is beautiful and powerful.  I heard somewhere that women learn to belly dance in order to train their muscles for childbirth–which I find fascinating.  And there are sequins! And, there is that really cool breath noise that comes from your esophagus sliding on your diaphragm when the upper half of the torso moves. I can see how the class would bring up memories of the baths–especially because of its insistence that the body itself is the beauty, and that it should be appreciated for its form instead mashed into hiding under shame, jeans, or Spanx.  I bet Belly dancing hates Spanx.  They would fight if they met at a party.

I came to this post today ready to rant about the poor behavior of two of my peers (I guess they are peers, I’m unsure).  They remind me of Madmen.  These two gents (I work on a mutual side project with them), most times I interact with them, leave me frustrated and outraged.  They are masters at exasperating me and making me feel powerless (thus, the exasperation).  They insist they respect me and my intelligence, and would never ever agree to the fact that they are sexist.  Yet, with every interaction, they assume I have no ability, and in no way an intelligence equal to theirs.  I was ready to call the whole thing off, and then they painted me into a new corner, where if I quit it looks like I am pouting because they disagreed with me.  It would be too revealing (and boring) to go into the whole event.  But it has brought about a couple of questions.

How do you defend yourself when the person you are talking to leaves no space for words or logical response? Do you simply not engage? Do you wait your patience until the perfect “so there!” arrives, and then deliver it? Do you write an articulate emailing saying that the shenanigans are over, and then give a flying fuckwad to what their interpretation of your response may be?  Or do you just make a note of overall assholeness and remember not to trust them with anything that actually matters to you?

This also brings up the question of keeping people in your life because they bring a little more daring into the world than you can get on your own, or because they have some strange connections that might behoove you one day to know about.   I was chatting about this with a beloved mutual acquaintance of ours, and she mentioned that the firecracker friends (the ones that you don’t want to see often, but you do want to know–the ones that when you are with them, strange elements appear (vast amounts of porn and candy, champagne and ho-hos, 36 hours of actual fun party, offense, nudity, arrests, thrills)–are overrated.  My fear is that without them, I am a bit of a bore.  We realized that it boiled down to the fact that we are grown-ass women who still want to be with the cool kids in the cafeteria.

And, then, because it made me feel better, I read Orwell’s thoughts on Dali.  He has a whole part about people who want to be geniuses, but they don’t know in what.  Their skills are fine, but how can they become majestic mysteries….the answer is wickedness.  He offers that wickedness is the one way where, in our culture, you get an instant pass to be officially “interesting.” I like this because it suggest that the firecracker friends (at least some) are using the mania as a cloak for an average or above average set of talents.

I know I am making my ego happier writing all this.  But, I doubt that is a good thing.

How do we get men who are sexist (and blind to it) to listen to the complaint without transforming (they do the transforming, it would be cool if I could) our words into nonsense, whining, or I don’t know, snowflakes, before it reaches their ears?



PS: I actually like Spanx.