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The (Video) Feed I’m Not Turning Off

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Department Of And How Did You Spend *Your* Weekend?

Dateline: last Friday evening, riding MAX (the Portland area’s light rail system) with MH, on our way to attend the first night of the Portland Folk Festival. My phone beeped; ‘twas a message from friend JWW, who had been caring for our house while we were out of town for several days. I dictated my reply as the rail car jostled along the tracks.

JWW:
I still have your keys. May I bring them by?

Moiself:
We are not at home.
We are on Max, on the way to the Portland Fuck Festival
at the McMenamin’s Crystal Ballroom.

Fortunately, I proofed the message before I sent it (and rarity for moiself, I must confess). I first had to show MH the unedited translation. He said that, the acoustics on the light rail being what they are, my cellphone’s translation app was just making logical fill-in assumptions as per my usual vocabulary. 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Just Wondering

If there were a Portland F*** Festival, what venue would host it? How would the publicity be handled, and who would be invited and who would print the tickets….

Never mind.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Thoughts That Seemed Profound In The Early Morning Hours

Life is like a toilet. Sometimes, every flush is smooth, and other times there will be minor snags – your tank’s lever chain gets hung up on something and you have to jiggle the handle….

Frontal lobe:
Shhhh, go back to sleep.

 

 

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Department of Defusing The Bombs
( aka, “Why is the door open until we have to slam it shut?” )

 

♫  I wanna walk through the park in the dark
Men are scared that women will laugh at them
I wanna walk through the park in the dark
Women are scared that men will kill them
I hold my keys…between my fingers….  ♫

(chorus of Nameless Faceless,
by Courtney Barnes )

 

 

I am reading Know My Name: a Memoir.  Until the author wrote the book she had no public name; she was referred to as “Brock Turner’s/that Stanford swimmer’s victim,” or “Emily Doe,” after her victim’s impact statement was posted on Buzzfeed.

Chanel Miller is the young woman y’all and moiself had heard about but whose name we didn’t know, until she revealed it four years after she became Emily Doe. Few people knew her personally, but that didn’t stop thousands of people from commenting on social media and new outlets about what they saw as her flaws.  This is because the American pastime is not in fact baseball; rather, it is two related bloodsports:

* criticizing other people’s parenting skills, and

* blaming sexual assault victims for their own attacks

 

Trigger warning

 

This book has been a difficult read. Not quite as difficult as Ayann Hirsi Ali’s Infidel[1]   still, one chapter at a time is all I can bear.

Miller writes beautifully, with vivid imagery precision, grace, and even a survivor’s humor. What happened to her was, in a prosecutorial view, “the perfect case, in many ways – there were eyewitnesses, Turner ran away, physical evidence was immediately secured…” Still, Miller experienced profound isolation and shame in the aftermath of her assault, and “…her story illuminates a culture biased to protect perpetrators (and) indicts a criminal justice system designed to fail the most vulnerable.”  [2]

It saddens me that, to be realistic, I am not exaggerating to consider that so many women (99%, I’d bet) who’ll read the book will identify with at least one of the experiences Miller has had, both before and after her sexual assault: via just walking to class, running for exercise, meeting friends for coffee… in just Stepping. Outside. And. Being. In. The. World…. Both the realism and sadness continue, as I must also consider how many men will not be able to understand at all, or even try to empathize, with such experiences.

Which is why I want menfolk to read it.  Yes, all of y’all.  Send this book to the top of the GQ and Men’s Health reading lists.  [3]    Even you who consider yourselves to be feminist, supportive, “woke,” etc. – I  know many such men and appreciate you more than I can say – y’all need frequent reminders about the frightening, nasty, time-consuming, ambition-choking, overwhelmingly unjust and yet unspoken assumptions of the patriarchy, which fall upon women: that of men feeling entitled to have access to women.

“Wooo there honey!” (accompanied by various whistles, grunts, tongue-clucking and other sound effects)
“Where are you going?”
“Do you need a ride?”
“You look nice; Can I walk with you –
I’m just trying to start your day right…”

“Hey pretty girl you sure are pretty…”
“Come talk to me (after making a u-turn in his van to follow her),” I’m lonely.”
(not even scratching the proverbial surface of comments, from a man/men to a women walking by herself
[read: “alone,” as in, without a man to claim her as his] ).

Read it, and please read it again, paying particular attention to chapter 4, where Miller unloads on her (genuinely) supportive boyfriend, Lucas. After her assault by Turner and before the trial, Miller moved across the country to attend college. She recounted to Lucas her *daily* experiences with (always male) strangers, on foot and in cars, who felt entitled to honk, click their tongue, smack their lips, and make comments to her as she walked to and from class or the park or a grocery store or for exercise….

 

 

Miller used her cellphone to tape many of those encounters. She sent them to Lucas  (who, I would add, likely did not get that these encounters are daily reality for women across the nation, they were not particular to his girlfriend *after* her assault). He offered to pay for Miller to rent a car, so she would not have to walk to and from classes, to the store, etc. He also asked her to stop sending him the videos (“I can’t watch them, these guys make me too angry.”). Miller agreed, then regretted doing so ( my emphases):

“I felt like I’d done something wrong…It also seemed like he’s said, ‘If they’re bothering you, why are you still walking?’ It didn’t seem like a solution at all; they’d forced me to seal myself off in a car. I didn’t want to give up my sidewalks.

I called Lucas back. ‘That’s not fair,’ I said. ‘I just want to walk home from school, I’m not doing anything wrong. I should be able to. You can walk anywhere you want.
It’s not fair you get to unsubscribe from the videos. You get to turn off the feed, you get to see it selectively. I don’t have that option, to decide not to live it. I’m trying to show you what it’s like for me. It doesn’t matter what I do, doesn’t matter what I wear, how I act, it’s constant, the harassment is constant.’”

“Walking down the street was like being tossed bombs. I fiddled with the wires, frantically defusing each one. Each time I was not sure which wire would cause it to detonate, tinkering while sweat ran down my forehead. Women are raised to work with dexterity, to keep their nimble fingers ready, their minds alert. It is her job to know how to handle the stream of bombs, how to kindly decline giving her number, how to move a hand from the button of her jeans, to turn down a drink.
When a woman is assaulted, one of the first questions people ask is, ‘Did you say no?’ This question assumes the answer was always yes, and that it is her job to revoke the agreement. To defuse the bomb she was given. 

But why are they allowed to touch us until we physically fight them off?
Why is the door open until we have to slam it shut?”

 

 

 

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Department of Epicurean Excursion   [4]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

The Ultimate Vegan cookbook for your Instapot, by Kathy Hester

Recipe:  Indo-Chinese Corn Soup

My rating:

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher  [5]

*   *   *

May you be cognizant of when other people cannot “turn off the feed;”
May future generations not need the
hold-your-car-keys-between-your-fingers advice;
May mundane household conveniences supply you with life metaphors;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] Which, after all these years,  I have *still* not been able to get through, as I cannot go far past her description of her undergoing genital mutilation.

[2] Quoted excerpts from book jacket.

[3] No, I don’t know if those magazines even have such a list. Maybe you could suggest they start one?

[4] A recurring feature of this blog, since week 2 of April 2019, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go through my cookbooks alphabetically and, one day a week, cook (at least) once recipe from one book.

[5]

* Two Thumbs up:  Liked it
* Two Hamster Thumbs Up :  Loved it
* Thumbs Down – Not even Kevin, a character from The Office who’d eat anything, would like this.
* Twiddling Thumbs: I was, in due course, bored by this recipe.
* Thumbscrew: It was torture to make this recipe.
* All Thumbs: Good recipe, but I somehow mucked it up.
* Thumby McThumb Face: This recipe was fun to make.
* Thumbing my nose: Yeah, I made this recipe, but I did not respect it.

 

The Book I’m Not Finishing

Comments Off on The Book I’m Not Finishing

Department Of I Should Have Known Better

It was a podcast that sent me back to the book, this time.  By the book I mean the book I should have finished reading several ( as in, almost ten ) years ago.  Do you know what I mean?

 

Of course you don’t. Because I am the only person on this planet who does what I am about to describe.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali came to the attention of the wider world in an extraordinary way. In 2004 a Muslim fanatic, after shooting the filmmaker Theo van Gogh dead on an Amsterdam street, pinned a letter to Mr. van Gogh’s chest with a knife. Addressed to Ms. Hirsi Ali, the letter called for holy war against the West and, more specifically, for her death.
A Somali by birth and a recently elected member of the Dutch Parliament, Ms. Hirsi Ali had waged a personal crusade to improve the lot of Muslim women. Her warnings about the dangers posed to the Netherlands by unassimilated Muslims made her Public Enemy No. 1 for Muslim extremists….
The circuitous, violence-filled path that led Ms. Hirsi Ali from Somalia to the Netherlands is the subject of “Infidel,” her brave, inspiring and beautifully written memoir…..
Ms. Hirsi Ali describes a journey “from the world of faith to the world of reason,” a long, often bitter struggle to come to terms with her religion and the clan-based traditional society that defined her world and that of millions of Muslims all over.

The book I’m not finishing is the much-praised (as per the above excerpts from William Grimes’ review in the New York Times) Infidel: My Life, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

I have had the Infidel book for…I don’t know how long.  [1]  And I have started reading it….I don’t know many times. Last weekend, as I have done before (and before and before and before), I found the book in my stash pile, started over (it had been at least a year since my last attempt), then, once again, set it aside.  I haven’t been able to read past the chapter in which the author – using an almost journalistic,  dispassionate prose style I’ve come to recognize as being common to PTSD survivors – describes her horrific torture and mutilation at that age 5, when she (and her younger sister) underwent the barbaric procedure of FGM or female genital mutilation (which was, and in some cases still us, euphemistically and mistakenly referred to, by the countries and cultures and religions that practiced and/or mandated it, as “female circumcision”  [2]  ).

Ms. Hirsi Ali’s bravery seemingly knows few bounds; she is a passionate and articulate activist for feminism,  human rights, free speech and freedom from religion, despite being under constant fatwas or death threats from Muslim extremists  (ala another ex-Muslim writer, Salman Rushdie, who lived for years in virtual exile).  [3]    I’ve read/heard  excerpts of Hirsi Ali’s other works and speeches;  I know she is respected in the free speech and Freethinker communities, and I feel that, in order to respect her work, I need to read her influential memoir in its entirety….

And yet I just can’t get past her recounting of the misogynistic, life-negating, barbarism, which – as is the norm in FGM – was arranged and abetted by trusted family members. I know she survives her ordeal and eventually escapes from other self -negating circumstances (including an arranged marriage)…but the FGM was done to her when she was only five years old, and moiself, perhaps immaturely but self-protectively, wonders how much more deprivation, ignorance and brutality is going to be served up until I can get to the Triumph-Over-Adversity ® chapters?

What am I, some kind of intellectual coward?

 

 

chickens

 

 

 

As a long-time feminist activist with a background in reproductive health care, I am no stranger to the horrific reality of FGM.  Still, it affects me in ways that reading about other brutalities (e.g. war; serial murders) do not, possibly in part for the personal/worldwide/political ramifications of such a primitive, atrocious, spirit-crushing, female-hating ritual.

I’m wondering if others have had the same problem, when it comes to reading about gruesome trauma?  There have been other books I’ve read, usually memoir other non-fiction, where I have been unable to get past certain passages, then felt it was somehow disrespecting the integrity of the work as a whole to continue reading the book via skipping problematic passages or chapters, so I set the books aside for a few months…but eventually tackled them again and was able to finish. But, in this case, I’m talkin’ years of avoidance.

And now, once again, the Serious Book ®  – which I’ve come to view as a literary equivalent to cleaning behind the refrigerator, taking cod liver oil, and memorizing the capital cities of all fifty states (i.e., daunting tasks that are supposed to be “good for me”) sits on my nightstand, atop my I’ll-get-to-it-eventually pile.  [4]  Not that I’m paranoid or anything, but I swear the book’s front cover has been glaring at me disapprovingly, each night since I set it atop my reading pile, as it sees me open the literary equivalent of Twinkies on my Kindle reader: two other memoirs (one of a recently deceased actor and the other of a punk/pop “princess”).   [5]

 

 

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Department Of You Had To Be There

Sighting of week: Dateline, Monday morning, just before 7: 30 am. A big ass truck (y’all know the kind) pulls into the driveway of a house I am approaching on my morning walk.

 

 

big truck

This about captures the size ratio.

 

 

 

The driver’s door opens, and inside the big ass truck I espy a very petite, very blonde, very, very pregnant young woman. Dwarfed by the mammoth vehicle, she exits the cab by somehow sliding down the side of it (the truck has no cab step). She manages to land gracefully and delicately on her tiny feet, then waddles toward the house.

On the one hand, nothing remarkable, right? On the other hand…I have different fingers.

 

 

bearmeme

 

 

Sorry.

On the other hand, it seemed like a noteworthy feat for me to bear witness to, let alone for the Very Petite, Very Blonde, Very, Very Pregnant Young Woman ® to accomplish. The image has been coming back to me all week, and has served as a reminder that there is a kind of extraordinary grace – even beauty – to be found in ordinary situations.

 

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Department Of If You Haven’t Got Anything Nice To Say, Come Sit By Me

Dateline: last week, driving to the beach.  I took one of my favorite “shortcuts” from the Sunset Highway to the coast – a very windy, two lane road snaking through the Nehalem River Valley, Route 53,  which MH and refer to as Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride – and stopped for lunch at a café off of Highway 101. I’ve eaten at the café many times in the past few months; I’ve found the service is friendly, and the food a notch above standard diner fare if mostly unremarkable.

There was much food remarking that day, however, between a young man working at the café and an older couple who were seated at a table near the door. The café is small, and I couldn’t help but hear the conversation, which began with the couple complimenting their lunches (“This is hands down the best food we’ve had on the coast!  [6]  ) to the young man when he refilled their water glasses. They asked him for dining recommendations as they headed north; the young man enthused about a Thai restaurant up north of Astoria, then the three of them began discussing other local dining options

The couple said they’d heard about a new restaurant in Manzanita, which several people had recommended to them, but it had a crazy (to them) name:  YolkWhose idea was it to call a restaurant, Yolk? the man chuckled. It’s not very appealing, but their food is good, I hear. Maybe, a little on the fancy side?”

“It’s hard to imagine it would be as good as this,” said the woman, indicating with her fork the mass various yellow, fried items on her plate.

Young Café Man thanked them again, and said he thought that his café’s food could stand up to that of any other restaurant, including the “high end” ones, like Yolk.  He treaded lightly at first – he said he had friends who’d dined at the new place and liked it – then he dove right in.

“I don’t want to knock another local place…. Young Café Man said (as he proceeded to do so). “Fancier places like Yolk have a impressive menu and all. But most people don’t realize we local restaurants all  get our food from the same suppliers, then they serve the same thing – they serve the same French fries we do – only  call it something different and charge four bucks more a plate for it….”

And there I sat, eating my Gardenburger, trying not to smirk as I realized that holding my tongue when I first heard the mention of Yolk was a good idea. I was going to offer, after the man had said their food is good, I hear, that indeed, IMHO, Yolk’s food is not only good but great – in fact, Yolk was my favorite place in on the coast for breakfast and I would highly recommend it, for the incredible, tasty, creative menu items, a visually appealing dining space and friendly service….

But if I had done so, perhaps I wouldn’t have had the guilty pleasure of listening in on Young Café Man’s bogus claim about Yolk’s food sources.

Yo, Young Café Man: it’s one thing to share your opinion – to which of course you are entitled.  But when you start making allegedly factual statements that are untrue….

“… then they serve the same thing – they serve the same French fries we do – only  call it something different and charge four bucks more a plate for it….”

 

 

 

we are not amused

 

 

 

 

Young Café Man, I have many meals at your restaurant, and also at the restaurant you unjustly disparaged.  Not only does Yolk have an entirely different menu than your establishment,  [7]   they do not, in fact, “serve the same French fries.”  Thus, I assume you were just talking out of your ass.  Let’s hope your restaurant doesn’t cook that way.

 

 

 

ass

“You want to cook out of my what?”

 

 

 

 

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Department Of And One More Thing

BTW, when you’re in Manzanita, be sure to get either breakfast or lunch at Yolk. Owner Connie and staff will take good care of you. Their lemon ricotta pancakes are rave-worthy, their take on huevos rancheros (served atop a delectable grilled cornmeal patty instead of a corn tortilla) is sublime, and whatever you order, be sure to get the molasses oatmeal bread. My go-to favorite is their roast veggie hash (with just the right touch of harissa, a simple yet inventive touch rarely found in a breakfast dish.  Yummers!).

 

 

 

yolk

 

 

*   *   *

 

May you be able to see the grace and beauty in mundane situations;
May you have the courage to finish the books that need finishing;
May you know the difference between expressing an opinion
and unfairly dissing a competitor;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

 

[1] I purchased it not long after it was released, so it could be as long as 10+ years.

[2] FGM could only be compared to male circumcision if male circumcision involved the excision of the entire penis, rather than a portion of the skin of the tip of the penis.

[3] And then in the good ole USA, Hirsch Ali had an invitation for an honorary degree withdrawn from the university that extended the honor, after her telling the unvarnished truth criticisms of Islam’s treatment of women was called, “hate speech.”

[4] Well, at least it’s at the top of the pile.

[5] Respectively, IN THE PRESENCE OF GREATNESS: My Sixty-Year Journey as an Actress, by Patty Duke, and Lips unsealed: A Memoir, by the Go-Gos Belinda Carlisle.  I purchased both of them within minutes of putting down Infidel.

[6] To which I thought, “This is your first day on the trip?”

[7] I double-checked, both in person and online, to make sure my memory was correct.