Sunday, February 17, 2008

Archival, Sort of

From myspace, which I'm dismantling, and want to preserve this short note that I had written there last year.

My sister is way too cool (monday 5 february 2007)

can i tell you how happy i am that my younger sister no longer views 'feminist' as a dirty word? the first person who ever came out to me as a feminist was my brother, J, over 15 years ago, and my feeling of being impressed has now extended to our sister. she's 19 years younger than i am, in her first year of uni. i never looked at myself as that older, wiser influence on her: she teaches me as much about life and family dynamics as i do her. i love that she is outspoken and clever, that she doesn't view casual sex as a social experiment in gaining 'life experience,' that when i told her i'd just discovered Regina Spektor and that my favourite song of hers, so far, is 'Better,' she screamed, "me, too!" when em was little we used to dance to Sarah MacLachlin's 'Ice Cream' (or is it 'Chocolate'?); em would have been around 8 - little enough that i could still pick her up - and we would sing to each other: your love is better than ice cream/better than anything else that i've tried... as we twirled around the living room. she makes me laugh, and makes me think, and gives me hope.

Non Sequitorial Currents

Last night I went out for Tammy's 30th birthday party. There was a group of about 15 of us, first for dinner at Southern Accent (the panko encrusted cod was fantastic) then to the Biermarket on the Esplanade to dance and drink. It was so much fun to hang out with Tam and her friends from university; to see her boyfriend, Doug, and chat with him, since he and I rarely see each other; to get caught up with her brother, Michael, and make a new friend in his girlfriend, Andrea. I haven't been out to anything resembling a club in forever. And, as much as I love people watching, it didn't take long until I realized why I don't go to establishments like this anymore.

Soon after getting there, Tam and I went to the Ladies. After doin' our thang, we had to cross the packed dance floor to get back to our gang. A man was in the way of our progress, so he politely moved and I said, 'Thank you,' and he said, 'I'm married.' I actually stopped. 'What...?' He backed up another small step. 'I'm married.' I know I furrowed my brow. Did I accidently say, 'Fuck me,' when I was pretty sure I'd said, 'Thank you'? Is this his way, maybe, of starting a conversation? - because we all know that single women see married men as a challenge, as having a proven track record in commitment and this makes them sooo attractive to us lonely gals. Maybe I should have said, 'congratulations.' Instead, I stressed, 'I said thank you,' with what I hope was a confused and irritated enough tone to get across the point that good manners have nothing to do with marital status. But, maybe he's just covering his ass in an atmosphere where the unwritten rule is that if you do talk with someone of the opposite sex, it's only for one reason - apathetic unfriendliness equals safety from unwanted attention.

Yeah, in these environments I just end up feeling super-self-conscious, hyper-aware of my mistrust of men and their intentions, extra-sensitive about my age (although I look younger than quite a few of the women there). But, it never crossed my mind to say something like, 'I'm 38,' or, 'I don't give head till the fourth date,' if a guy were to say, 'excuse me,' as he passed. Or, maybe I should. Now, there's a social(izing) experiment.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Vocal Re-Wiring

Two years ago when I lived downstairs I spent a summer without light in the kitchen. The bulb had blown; I had changed it; there still wasn't any light. I was busy that summer -- camping, serving at the pub, playing ball -- so I wasn't home enough to really worry about it. There came a point, as there always does, that it had to be fixed. I called my pal, an electrician, to have a look at what the deal was with my kitchen lighting fixtures. He showed me, alright: the insulation around the wires themselves was so old it was crumbling and flaking; the switch inside the panel was porcelain, and I'm pretty sure he said such things hadn't been used since the 1950's.

I called Luke. I said something about 'fire hazard' and the work was done amazingly quickly.

Fast forward to February 2008. I had called Luke about my uplifting toilet, and also brought the lighting fixture in the dining room to his attention. You see, two of the four light bulbs had burnt out, and when I unscrewed said bulbs there was a little 'pop' and the sockets smoked. He changed the light bulbs for me; gracious, I know, since I've traditionally been incapable of such domestic tasks (read sarcasm, please). And I was told, basically, not to worry too much about it.

Last night I got home around 11:30 pm, and my friend noticed that one of the bulbs in my dining room was out (one of the original four). He got on a chair to unscrew it (maybe I should start employing official home-bulb-changers...) and as I was telling him about the 'pops' the socket 'popped' and all the lights went out in the kitchen, dining room and living room. I lost it. (Although, it seems, my 'losing it' is very restrained and polite and articulate.)

I called Luke. Probably not a nice thing to do at 11:30ish on a Wednesday night, but I was angry. And I wonder: are my initial concerns about averting potential disaster (like, oh, an electrical fire, say) not taken seriously because I'm a woman? (I had this thought, actually, while Luke was telling me that it was the toilet seat, not the toilet, that was broken. See post below.) I'm no expert, but aren't all of the above problems not normal? Does it matter what gender I am when expressing concern? 'Concern' seems too mild a word. And here's the thing: if I speak in my 'normal,' undeniably feminine voice then I am not taken seriously. As I had written earlier, it is necessary that I lower this voice. I think I've found one element of adulthood: expressing righteous anger in a righteous voice.

It's all in the voice. A couple of days ago, I was speaking with one of my profs who was telling me about her dealings with internet/phone providers. As she put it, she "pulled her doctor card" out and lost it on them, in what I imagine as her 'normal,' (though angered) woman's voice. I realized that I don't have that card yet to play and so must rely on this deeper, more serious voice to get things done. I rather like this deeper voice of mine, although using it begs the question: do we women need 'a card' to play to get shit done? Domestic shit doesn't seem like a big deal, but it is: one of the things I have dreamt of and worked hard for is this sanctuary, this special place where I can be myself, by myself, from which to share myself with the world. (This is hard work, and fodder for another blog.) And, not being an expert, I rely on those who are to fix things -- don't we all? Isn't that the point of different people training to do different things? Anyway, I just wonder when or if, really, 'a card' is necessary for stressing one's righteous anger as a woman to facilitate action, regardless of the issue that needs to be addressed.

Righteous voice, righteous anger. Light.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Dear Diary Moment

In the spirit of trying to be a better blogger (and avoid avoidance-of-blog guilt), I'm sharing a very special moment.

A year and a half ago I decided to study biblical Hebrew with one of my favourite profs. As it turns out, it's good that I started when I did: now that I'm halfway through my first year of my Master's, I'm at the stage in learning the language where I can begin my own translations of Judges 4, the chapter which is the focus of my thesis. The class had been using Lambdin's "Introduction to Biblical Hebrew" as its text; we're almost through the whole thing, but I was soooo over it. I wanted to get to the Bible, learn the nuances of the text itself, do the cool translating of this fantastic literature. I felt a little like Luke Skywalker telling Yoda he'd had enough training as a Jedi and was ready to kick some Dark Side ass when, after the Christmas break we resumed our class. I staged a coup, and won: we're now translating selected chapters directly from the Tanakh.

So, two weeks ago we were a third of the way through Genesis 38. I didn't expect us to finish the chapter that day, and had only completed 20 of 30 verses. As it turns out, we finished - and I was unprepared. I hate that. But, I took two of the remaining nine verses, read them, and with some help, translated them on the spot without a dictionary. It forced me to slow down, focus, not worry about making a mistake in front of my classmates/colleagues (and said favourite prof) and just concentrate on the text. I have a long way to go, but wow it felt very satisfying and empowering to know - truly know - that I can do this.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The New Loo

Yes, it's been far too long since I've spent time here...nothing like a few pervs to scare you away from your blog. Well, fuck ya, pervs, I'm back at my post. Posting.

So, I moved upstairs a few months ago - exact same apt, one floor up AND with a very cool balcone. Shadow and I like to watch the grey squirrel rip the shit out of the cardboard boxes of Cinquante, left on said balcone, for his nest. I like to think that Labatt is keeping him and his family of the next generation of grey squirrels warm -- and, it was very interesting, I thought, that this squirrel started this activity just before the huge snowstorm hit four days ago. I guess the last few storms destroyed his other layers of insulation.

Yes, I have a new loo.

You see, you had to be careful when standing up from doing your thang on the old loo, because it was missing the front two screws and would actually lift off the floor. Imagine: the whole toilet acting like it was the toilet seat. There wasn't any flooding, but an unpleasant odor would escape and it was worrisome: what if the whole thing unhinged itself? Would I be left with a gaping hole in the floor? Would I be left with a third world potty in my 1920's walk-up in modern Toronto? What are the positives of such a scenario? 1: no more cat box (but what if he fell in?). 2: my legs would become quite muscular from all those squats (but what if I fell in, or a guest, or oh, my god, what if I were hammered?). 3: I could start making home-make pot pourri...because I have time for that.

So, I called Luke the Superintendant. While on his knees in a pose reminiscent of worshipping the porcelain god he proceeded to wiggle the toilet seat. "This must be what you think is the problem," he said. "It's not the toilet but the toilet seat that's loose."

I lowered my voice and pointedly spoke slowly and evenly. "No, it's the whole toilet, Luke." (Hear: don't tell me I'm making this up. I sit on it all the time and the fucking thing isn't screwed in properly.)

He moved the toilet. "Oh, it's not screwed in right."

Two weeks later, I proudly sit on a shiny white loo that is more water efficient than the old one. I don't have to babysit my toilet after it has been flushed to ensure there is no run-on; I don't have to worry that if I stand up with authority that the whole apparatus will pull away from its moorings.

Peace of mind has been easy to achieve in this one department of my life.