Friday, November 11, 2011

Dedicating a space

I am not great at dutifully, well, writing. Which is kind of a ridiculous claim because now I teach writing, and take classes for which I write giant papers, and I'm a writer. But blogging is not natural to me. But it is good! Blogging is good. I'm going to try harder. Harder!

I live in Florida now, and I have some ideas. I started writing a lot about Romani writes issues on here, and I think it's fair to say that I have more than a passing interest in them. But I dropped it-- mostly because other life-stuff became quite pressing. But I would really like to dedicate this space to some kind of intelligent discourse about Romani people-- rights, stereotypes, customs... I'm really interested in how my people can be at once romanticized and demonized through the ages. I have a liminal position as a member of my community. I have been at once within and outside my own culture-- I stand on the threshold. My Romani grandmother fled from Germany after the war and had to keep her ethnicity a secret. I was raised with some customs and not with others. I've lived in Europe and America and seen extreme reactions to my ethnicity and my fellows'. I see problems, misrepresentations, and human rights infringements. I see mythology spinning out of control. For a long time I have wanted to say something but did not know what to say. So I will say this: I have one voice that comes from many places. Just like everyone else.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Nail polish: the gender wrecking ball

Dangerously Cute

The Daily Mail tells me that celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez, Gwen Stefani, and Christina Aguilera don't mind indulging their sons' interest in manicures. When questioned by People, J-Lo apparently shrugged and said, "It's just paint." Too true.

It went on to mention a J Crew ad which has thrown some people into a pink and blue tizzy. This "controversial" ad shows Jenna Lyons, the chain's president and creative director, painting her son's toenails neon pink. And here is the shit-storm that followed:

But psychiatrist Dr Keith Ablow told Fox News: 'This is a dramatic example of the way that our culture is being encouraged to abandon all trappings of gender identity.

Media commentator Erin Brown of the Media Research Center also had strong views, calling it 'blatant propaganda celebrating transgendered children.

She wrote: 'Not only is Beckett likely to change his favorite color as early as tomorrow, Jenna's indulgence (or encouragement) could make life hard for the boy in the future.

'J Crew, known for its tasteful and modest clothing, apparently does not mind exploiting Beckett behind the facade of liberal, transgendered identity politics.'

Read more

Jo B Paoletti, author of Pink and Blue: Telling Boys from Girls in America, thankfully told Fox that everyone is overreacting.

How could nail polish have such dramatic effects on a person's psyche? Apparently it does a bit because this article is sitting in the "Femail" section. Its power is really that explosive to the other sex. As much as I hate to burst the crazy bubble, I must do it. Little lady-girls are not born with magenta fingernails that need to be maintained weekly, lest their little private bits morph into penises (which consequently shrivel with the threat of polish, the color pink, and voting for Hilary Clinton). These gender trappings are just that-- trappings. Things we've created. A whole bunch of nonsense that we like to label as Girl or Boy with indelible stamps. Just as my metaphor is just so much ink, nail polish is so much paint, and only that. It won't turn your boys into girls, or your girls into Kim Kardashian. It's just nail polish, made by us for whoever cares to use it.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I'm gonna get me a pair of Bossypants

So I just finished Tina Fey's book Bossypants, and it made me want to writer her a love letter that would go something like this:

Dear Ms. Fey,

I think you're brilliant. Not only are you smart, lovely, unabashedly feminist, self confident, but you're so funny that I laugh uncontrollably in public while reading Bossypants, or remembering a 30 Rock scene, or one of your sketches on SNL, and everyone thinks I have some sort of undiagnosed but near debilitating social-awkwardness disorder. And that's awesome for me. You are my role model. You and Edna St. Vincent Millay and the fictional character Dixon Bainbridge from the Mighty Boosh have shaped my personal and professional aspirations to an enormous degree. I realized two important things while reading your book: 1. I feel completely and delightfully pleased with the fact that I am a writer, and I want to succeed. And 2. I need to laugh every day because it dramatically changes my mood, and because of this, I think that intelligent and socially-conscious comedy writers like you are doing wonderful, magical things for the world, and I deeply appreciate it.

Also, if you are genuinely seeking a stranger's advice about whether or not you want to have another child, here's mine: Do whatever feels right to you. And if what feels right is to not have any more kids, then don't worry. As an only girl child all grown up, I can report that I'm perfectly happy and well-adjusted. Sure there were times when I thought it might be nice to have a sister, but there were loads more times when I was grateful that it was just me.

I could go on and on about how great you are, and it would probably weird you out. So I'll just say, I love your work, I love your ethos, and I I think you're the business. "You are my heroine. And by heroine I mean 'lady-hero.' I don't want to inject you and listen to jazz."


In conclusion, I think y'all should buy and read Bossypants, and watch 30 Rock every week. It'll make you better.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Graduate Schools

I am going psychotic waiting to hear back from the MFA programs I applied to for Poetry. April seems disproportionately far away. Just sayin'


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Mike Tyson, Ellen, and Opposite Day

Was anyone else confused that Mike Tyson was a guest on Ellen yesterday? The convicted rapist and wife beater was being praised and petted for his kindness by.... Ellen, the amicable and benevolent lady. Is it because he's vegan now? Maybe... but I'm vegan and I'm not on the show... not convinced. Is it because he treats pigeons better than people? Because I'm not sure that's not just a sign of mental illness. And if that weren't baffling enough, it aired on International Women's Day. That was genuinely the first time I ever thought, "What the hell, Ellen?" I decided to comfort myself and leave my adoration of Ellen intact by concluding that it probably wasn't her decision to have him on the show, it was probably some ABC-Animal Planet mating ritual, but even so, there's nothing worse than a fat cokehead.

Monday, March 7, 2011

America, wind, cracking bones, and other concepts

L and I moved to America-- Ireland was beautiful, but coquettish, and we had to abandon her. I hear spring is hatching there now, but in NH it's still cold, cold, and snow. I forgot how the wind hurts. It occurred to me that I don't understand wind-- where does it come from, what gives it it's force? It seems bizarre that I don't understand all of my surroundings-- I bet that most people don't. I don't know why my body aches and my bones crack, but they do.

I had someone argue with me that because life is temporary, it's not real. I pointed out that the two are not mutually exclusive, and he looked as though he wanted to cry, or hit me, or both. I continued saying that if I were to hit him, I would be responsible for my actions, my hand would ache, his face would bruise, and that's real. He remained unconvinced, saying that in sleep we return to the timelessness of the spirit, and every day life is unreal. This, touched a nerve. "I've cried out in pain in my sleep," I growled, believing that this thinking could lead to heinous crimes against a person in the name of "unreality, timelessness, spirit." I was angry that someone could neglect the calls of a body, of any sentient thing, but I reconsidered. I think some people need to not participate in reality. They decide not to know about the pain, the wind, or anything because it's they feel it's less frightening to try to live above it in some barely forged ether of the unsettled mind. I don't mind-- although, I do find it a little terrifying.

I'd rather know why things happen, feel my body and know I am it and its animation. Moving country again is a scary visceral feeling. I don't have many connections, I'm not sure where I go next, I don't understand my friends' references, I say 'vitamins' in an Irish accent.... But I'd rather be present and accept my life as real. I don't know how else I'd enjoy it.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Los Angeles Review


"Hyssop in the Forest" came out in the Los Angeles Review a few months ago. Check it out! I haven't been able to read it yet because my contributors copy was sent to NH and I'm still in Ireland. But my parents tell me it's a great issue! My poem tells a family story-- it was really exciting to be able to write about some of the experiences that my Romani family had during the Holocaust.

Perhaps I will post again, soon. Let's see if I really do get better at keeping a blog!