Archive | December, 2008

Dear GChat (and other interweb things)

17 Dec

Dear GChat (and other interweb things),

You are AIM for adults. And oddly enough, even people who scoffed at AIM (my sister) now use you regularly. For extended conversations. With a friend, a boyfriend, and a sister. Simultaneously.

And here’s the thing: I had some Major Conversations on AIM in middle school and high school. Like tear-jerking, friendship-evaluating, crush-inducing chats. My recent experience with you, GChat, has not been nearly so emotionally draining. Then again, there’s been a significant decrease in drama in my life as a whole since I stopped passing notes in class and flirting with people next to their lockers in between fourth and fifth period.

Facebook, too, not nearly as drama-filled as it used to be. For one thing, most sane people have figured out that they should just leave their “relationship status” off the interwebs, because if people do not know you well enough to ask what is going on, they have no right to be informed anyway. And who wants everyone they’re Facebook Friends with to know when you break up? Gah. I guess it’s a personal preference, but it’s a strong one of mine.

It also results in some great moments. Like when my friend E got drunk a few nights ago, went over to her boyfriend’s house, and asked him why he wouldn’t be her Facebook Boyfriend. To which he replied, “…You won’t be my Facebook Girlfriend…” As she tells it, E went silent. And then said, “Oh yeah.” And moved on.

I’d like to point out that this is another great example of why no one should pick relationship fights (or almost any fights) when they’re drunk. And in the interest of full disclosure, I had a moment when Facebook told me the guy I am dating had changed his status from “Single” to… nothing. Oh yes, it’s true, it was a turning point. Or something.

GChat! I’m a big fan. You make AIM acceptable for adults, and I have fond memories. Plus you’re convenient. It drives me crazy to email back and forth one-liners about directions and what should I bring when I can see the other person is sitting on their computer. Then again, there are several people on my email list I have no desire whatsoever to ever, ever talk to in an online-chat-sort-of-format, and I haven’t figured out how to be invisible to a select few. Which would be a useful skill in real life as well. Google? Any thoughts?

Also, if anyone has any ideas about how to respond to the sign-off “Cheers!” on GChat, let me know. In an email, it’s easy enough to say it back. And not that many people say it out loud… but in an online chat? How do the Brits handle this?




Dear George W

11 Dec

Dear George W,

I’ve been patient up until now.  Or resigned, or defeated, or whatever you would like to call it.  Complacent, if you feel like being harsh.  We’ve had our laughs– that Bushisms calendar I gave my dad for Christmas last year really has seen us through these final months.  (He keeps his favorites and they live on our kitchen table at my sister’s and I’s places until we come home and read them.  Only then are they recycled.  Or perhaps he salvages them from the brown grocery bag in the pantry and frames them; I guess I don’t know.)

Some things I’ve got a no-tolerance policy on though: waking up a toddler when I’ve just gotten him/her down for a nap, using the last chocolate chips and not buying more, quietly eroding women’s rights and undermining basic health issues, and feeding me food so spicy my jaw hurts.  Ok, so maybe I’m hungry, as that seems a rather food-centric list.  And it’s definitely not complete.  At any rate, let’s talk about the third item down.

Georgie, that’s enough.  Stop it.  Health workers are required to provide the best care possible.  If they don’t want to provide health care, they should be in a different field.  And yes, providing emergency contraception to rape victims is health care.  It is basic health care.  Actually, emergency contraception falls under the category of–wait for it– gasp! contraception.  That’s right!  It’s not even abortion.  (Anyone want to talk about how that also is legal, and that also is health care?)  Anyone want to talk about how Georgie and his lovely wife have two children?  Either they’re really good at counting or they got a little help of the medical variety.

[I’m talking about George W. Bush’s last minute somersaults as he leaves office:  as Martha Burk on the Huffington Post puts it, “W’s Parting Gifts to Women.”]

Honestly, shouldn’t you be trying to sneak out as quietly as possible?  What happened to senioritis, where lifting a pen seems like hard work?  Maybe the White House should start doing end-of-the-term yearbooks so you could be spending this time drawing moustaches on people and changing their names into dirty words?

It’s like this: we usually only hear half the nursery rhyme.  Full verses go….

George Porgie, Puddin’ and pie

Kissed the girls and made them cry

When the boys came out to play

Georgie Porgie ran away.

Here’s the thing, Georgie.  QUIT MAKING THE GIRLS CRY.  The bad guys are going to make you run away anyway.  And the men and women coming to town have work to do.  No more peeing in the sandbox before they get there.  Go home.

Just take a nap until January 20th.  I’m not saying please anymore.  I’m done counting to three.  In your room NOW.


Dear Mr. Postman (again)

10 Dec

Dear Mr. Postman (again),

First of all, it makes me really happy when I see your scruffy face behind the counter at the post office.  You seem to talk more and move faster than all the other post office workers.  And you certainly have more personality.

This week, you said, “Anything explosive?  Flammable?  Dangerous?  Spellbinding? Entertaining? Staggering or heartbreaking?”

“No no no yes yes definitely,” I hurried to keep up.

“Applications? English? Teaching?” you rapid-fired, barely glancing at one 9 x 12 envelope.

“Writing,” I said.

“I’m a songwriter, you know,” you said.  I didn’t know.  So you told me more about it.

Journey was kind of your style, but a little different, you know, and have you ever heard of The Roaches, from New Jersey?  On YouTube, The Roaches from New Jersey, I should really look them up, good band, good sound, so you were humming one day and a friend said it sounded just like a The Roaches song, and  you looked them up, on YouTube, and it was, your song was just like them, so you sent them a tape, and they liked it, they did.

“They liked it?  That’s great,” I say, glancing at the 10 Christmas packages marching down the aisle, the 5:47 pm clock, my envelopes stacked and stamped and not going anywhere.

“Yeah, but I want them to record it, you know, not just like it, so,” you say.  “Hey!”  you say, “hey do you still have cassette tapes?  You know cassettes?  You bring one in and I’ll make you a tape, a cassette tape, for you, one writer to another.”

“Next week,” I promise.  “I’ll be back next week.”

Do I have cassette tapes?  I think my car still plays them…maybe I can let him record over an old Neil Diamond tape?  But I love Neil Diamond.  But do I want to pay for a new blank tape?  Maybe my mother, from when she did research and stuff– you know, back in the nineties.  With cassette tapes.

Mixed tapes = definitely in for Christmas.  Your loved ones will appreciate the hours you spend rewinding, and pausing, and backing up just a little, then forward…almost…just one more…damn missed it again…

The Roaches = they’re something all right.  Perhaps something on the radio.

Cheers, ciao, au revoir my funny moustached mailman, until we meet again.


Dear Holiday Lights

8 Dec

Dear Holiday Lights,

You make it much more fun to drive around at night.

I hope you are taking yourselves seriously and burning bright.

(Ha!  Rhymes!  See what dark December does to me?)

I don’t really care how tacky you are, if you’re colored or white, if you are reindeer-shaped or make wreaths and bows, loops and swirls, candy canes or elves.



Dear Pantsuits and Politics

2 Dec

Dear Pantsuits and Politics,

First off, congratulations to our new secretary of state. (Hi, Hillary!) Secondly, this letter is about women (and men) in politics, it’s about the things they wear and the things they (and we) say. I should be honest and admit I’ve essentially stopped watching political coverage since the election is over—hey, all the sexy stuff is done. I mean, I mean, hard work! Onward! As G told me, when I asked what he’ll obsess over now, “there’s the transition and the first 100 days and then it’s practically midterms…” Wonderful. We’re in a perma-election cycle.

But aside from that, let’s take a look back at some of my favorite observations (that’s what you do at the holidays, right? Reflect? Me too).

Reflection OnePointOh—I went to a canvassing rally at some point and spent most of my time observing the candidates’ attire. They were all saying the same thing, so I checked out what they were wearing. Keep in mind I’m in Washington state, with an all female lineup currently at the helm. Patty Murray is our resident Senator in Sneakers, or Senator-Mom in Tennis Shoes, or some other catchy clothing-related slogan. She was decked out in a sweater, khaki pants, and…sneakers. Maria Cantwell, younger, taller (by about a foot), was wearing a pantsuit. And Chris Gregoire was in black slacks and an orange jacket. She really loves that orange jacket. You know the one I’m talking about? And then there was Jay Inslee. Broad-shouldered, respectably gray. Aging despicably well.

And then there were the state house candidates.

Now, there is a difference between state and federal politicians. Some of the state politicians looked okay. Their clothes fit, for the most part, they chose dark colors, they were wearing pretty non-descript stuff…but the federal politicians—their clothes fit no matter what they chose to wear. And the price jump in haircuts was visible (shout-out to John Edwards).

Reflection TwoPointOh…—Maria Cantwell looks like Maggie Gyllenhall and even has some of her same mannerisms. It’s disconcerting. Especially until I realized who she was invoking.

Reflection TwoPointOh!—Patty Murray, Maria Cantwell, and Jay Inslee all looked professional. They all looked well dressed and coiffed. But it was easier to look at Jay Inslee, to listen to his voice, and think, now that’s a politician. That’s how ingrained my image is of an aging yet still strong (and oh-so-male) Representative is. Somewhere in my zeitgeist, probably in the same place that thinks I would like to ride horses (damn those 1950’s novels), I still think my Representative, my elected voice, is somebody’s grandfather. Not mine, obviously. But that kid down the block, who everyone was jealous of, because their grandfather was young-ish and played tackle football and told really cool war stories and let the kids taste his beer. Oh, and is a powerful man in Washington, DC during the week.

Really? That’s who I want speaking for me? What? Where does this come from? Oh yeah. The zeitgeist.

Reflection Three—I have the feeling my counting system is not super consistent. Also, I’m going to ignore any references I could make to Sarah Palin’s wardrobe budget here. (People! We judge our female politicians by how they look! No wonder! Plus she was shopping with Cindy McCain = Beer Money! No wonder!) All right, moving on.

Let’s just have a quick chat about Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone. Who said that Hillary had flabby arms and then was surprised or annoyed or something that made him feel the need to bring it up again in another article and add in the fact that Erika Jong had said something about him and his mother and Freud on the Interwebs. Let’s recap:

Matt Taibbi: yada yada Hillary has flabby arms yada yada yada.

Erika Jong: Matt Taibbi wants to have sex with his mother.

Matt Taibbi: yada thing other thing “ancient plastic surgery survivor/sex-novelist Erika Jong” got mad and said this thing when I said Hillary has flabby arms other thing yada

I’m paraphrasing. Except for the part in quotes. Which I have to respond to really quickly with the words of Steve Martin. Actually, this is kind of my response to all of it: Excuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuse me?

Why were you commenting on Hillary’s arms? Why describe them as flabby? First of all, in her orange pantsuit, you cannot even see her arms. Secondly, if you (Matt Taibbi) are going to try to tell me that it’s the same thing as saying (President-Elect) Obama has big ears, back up and hold it right there. It is not the same thing. I’m not going to explain all the reasons why. This is not, actually, Sexism or Feminism or even Political Correctness 101. Saying Hillary’s arms are flabby is a blatant example of the kind of misogynistic pinching that went on under the table throughout this entire election.

So, G tells me, yeah, but Matt Taibbi knows he’s being sexist—he just does it anyway. Okay… but does he know why it’s a problem?

Erika Jong is known in other places (like The New York Times, most literary circles, and English departments across the country) as a groundbreaking novelist, poet, and essayist. Does he know why calling her an ancient plastic surgery survivor/sex novelist is a problem?

Here’s a list of real questions:
From Geraldine Ferraro to Hillary Clinton to Sarah Palin….what’s it mean? I like to partner this question with the following: What has John McCain done to women in politics in this country? What about women in general, with the way his VP pick validated and normalized all the misogyny people had, apparently, just been waiting to pick up and throw? (It’s sort of like with Hillary they were disguising the pitches as sliders. Sarah Palin just made it okay to go ahead and aim for the batter.)

How far do inflammatory comments on the part of either side get you? And how much do they just make you seem like an asshat?

And how well does it serve you to join in the media pigpile by having more of a developed style than a cohesive worldview? (See Scarlett Johansson in Dear Woody Allen Movies. Unless you have her lips, I don’t recommend it as a long-term strategy.)

Also: how did feminism get assigned the same ending as racism and sexism?

Pantsuits. Carry on.


PS– I really can’t tell you if this is fan mail, a thinking of you, or a disciplinary memo. Maybe it’s a customer complaint. Stop trying to categorize everything. Just let the zeitgeist sing.

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