Song of the Day: Taylor Swift ft. Kendrick Lamar, “Bad Blood”

It’s not the most interesting song, and the best parts of it are Kendrick Lamar. But the video, oh my, the video is all kinds of interesting, which is why it’s been blowing up your social media feed of choice. It walks through several sci-fi films, especially the Tron sequel while also borrowing a lot from female empowerment comic films. I wonder if Mad Max had come out before this video how much it would have influenced it? Mariska Hargitay as Justice. I’m in.

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Commonplace: Andrew Gopnik, “The Plot Against Trains”

Trains take us places together. (You can read good books on them, too.) Every time you ride one, you look outside, and you look inside, and you can’t help but think about the private and the public in a new way. As Judt wrote, the railroad represents neither the fearsome state nor the free individual. A train is a small society, headed somewhere more or less on time, more or less together, more or less sharing the same window, with a common view and a singular destination.”

~Andrew Gopnik, “The Plot Against Trains” read the whole article here at The New Yorker

Commonplace: Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway

“But it had been a silly thing to do, in many ways, Peter said, to marry like that; “a perfect goose she was,” he said, but, he said, “we had a splendid time of it,” but how could that be? Sally wondered; what did he mean? and how odd it was to know him and yet not know a single thing that had happened to him. And did he say it out of pride? Very likely, for after all it must be galling for him (though he was an oddity, a sort of sprite, not at all an ordinary man), it must be lonely at his age to have no home, nowhere to go to. But he must stay with them for weeks and weeks. Of course he would; he would love to stay with them, and that was how it came out. All these years the Dalloways had never been once. Time after time they had asked them. Clarissa (for it was Clarissa of course) would not come. For, said Sally, Clarissa was at heart a snob — one had to admit it, a snob. And it was that that was between them, she was convinced. Clarissa thought she had married beneath her, her husband being — she was proud of it — a miner’s son. Every penny they had he had earned. As a little boy (her voice trembled) he had carried great sacks.

(And so she would go on, Peter felt, hour after hour; the miner’s son; people thought she had married beneath her; her five sons; and what was the other thing — plants, hydrangeas, syringas, very, very rare hibiscus lilies that never grow north of the Suez Canal, but she, with one gardener in a suburb near Manchester, had beds of them, positively beds! Now all that Clarissa had escaped, unmaternal as she was.)

A snob was she? Yes, in many ways. Where was she, all this time? It was getting late.

[…]

For her father had been looking at her, as he stood talking to the Bradshaws, and he had thought to himself, Who is that lovely girl? And suddenly he realised that it was his Elizabeth, and he had not recognised her, she looked so lovely in her pink frock! Elizabeth had felt him looking at her as she talked to Willie Titcomb. So she went to him and they stood together, now that the party was almost over, looking at the people going, and the rooms getting emptier and emptier, with things scattered on the floor. Even Ellie Henderson was going, nearly last of all, though no one had spoken to her, but she had wanted to see everything, to tell Edith. And Richard and Elizabeth were rather glad it was over, but Richard was proud of his daughter. And he had not meant to tell her, but he could not help telling her. He had looked at her, he said, and he had wondered, Who is that lovely girl? and it was his daughter! That did make her happy. But her poor dog was howling.

“Richard has improved. You are right,” said Sally. “I shall go and talk to him. I shall say goodnight. What does the brain matter,” said Lady Rosseter, getting up, “compared with the heart?”

“I will come,” said Peter, but he sat on for a moment. What is this terror? what is this ecstasy? he thought to himself. What is it that fills me with extraordinary excitement?

It is Clarissa, he said.

For there she was.”

~ Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway

Those Appearance Demons

As some of my friends know because I spent a considerable amount of time yesterday gushing in our messaging thread about it, I’m reading Amy Poehler’s Yes Please, which I got a Christmas, which tells you something about this semester. I finished precisely one book not directly work or class prep related, and I finished it at graduation on Saturday. (Yes, folks, your professors bring reading material with them to graduation. We too only like the part where they call your names and you guys get your diplomas.) At any rate, Poehler has this section on the demon that tells women they aren’t attractive enough that dovetails nicely into this Amanda Palmer post about how the whole idea of embracing your flaws implies that there’s something flawed with you in the first place. Palmer argues that embracing a flaw essentially means admitting that wrinkles or stretch marks or any other thing with your body that’s considered wrong by society is in fact just part of the “exactness of” you:

MARRED? dude. i’m FINE, me my personal collection of hard-won scars and hairs and curves and and stretch marks and twinkles and wrinkles and folds and flaps and muscles and and freckles and lashes and nails and veins and stuff.

they’re not “flaws”. fuck that. they are the exactness of me and always will be, nothing to be done about that.

Palmer goes on to slam such companies peddling the love your flaws argument because ultimately it’s about buying a product in the end that will help you moisturize or wash that skin or hair you’re suppose to embrace as flawed. Most marketing to women these days works this way: message of empowerment, sell you this product to help you be empowered, as if soap does that. What I love about Palmer’s argument is that line–“the exactness of me.” We should protect the exactness of ourselves. Poehler talks about the demon that is this obsession with looking perfect? (Side note: I’m not sure it’s an obsession with looking perfect or an obsession with looking good in a picture. Contouring is about photography, as far as I can tell, not about everyday life.) Poehler explains:

     Hopefully as you get older, you start to learn how to live with your demon. It’s hard at first. Some people give their demon so much room that there is not space in their head or bed for love. They feed their demon and it gets really strong and then it makes them stay in abusive relationships or starve their bodies. But sometimes, you get a little older and get a little bored of the demon. Through good therapy and friends and self-love you can practice treating the demon like a hacky, annoying cousin. Maybe a day even comes when you are getting dressed for a fancy event and it whispers, “You aren’t pretty,” and you go, “I know, I know, now let me find my earrings.” Sometimes you say, “Demon, I promise you I will let you remind me of my ugliness, but right now I am having hot sex so I will check in later.”

Other times I take a more direct approach.When the demon starts to slither my way and say bad shit about me I turn around and say, “Hey. Cool it. Amy is my friend. Don’t talk about her like that.” Sticking up for ourselves in the same way we would one of our friends is a hard but satisfying thing to do. Sometimes it works.

Even demons gotta sleep.

Radical self-care–thank you Anne Lamott for teaching me that term–isn’t about fixing the flaws or embracing them. It’s about figuring out that what and who you are is more than the sum of pretty parts. We aren’t blazons, even though poets and photography breaks us down into eyes and cheek bones and lips and skin and cellulite. We’re just people who inhabit bodies. Our exactness matters more, which is something we all need to remind ourselves of.

(Another side note: isn’t it great to live in a world where smart women can voice these ideas.)

Supergirl

It’s upfront week and all the networks are unveiling their new shows for the fall. Most will fail even if their premise right now looks compelling. I’m rooting for Catch and Quantico on ABC, and I just don’t even look at NBC these days. Everything gets canceled. A lot of the new shows are really dark, but Supergirl on CBS looks amazing, fun, and still like CW superhero drama fun. It’s like if Flash or Arrow had a really big budget. Oh and Calista Flockhart channeling Anna Wintour and reclaiming the word girl in the trailer is amazing. I’m hoping she chomps through every scene like that. 

Semester’s End

I’m in that strange lull at the end of the semester when the grades are uploaded, the graduates have walked across the stage, and I officially have no more classroom related duties until summer 1 begins on June 1. It’s strange because I feel like I should have some sort of work to do. And in reality, I have a lot of writing I want to get done as well as other smaller projects that aren’t work related but doing involve modge podge, crafting wall art, and knitting baby bonnets. But I know diving directly into those projects without a break is less than useful.  Okay, the bonnet needs to happen for a certain Princess Ava, but nothing else has a need to do now label on it. I won’t be productive if I dive right on in, and it’s time better spent doing nothing but relaxing. Indeed, my boyfriend sternly told me to do nothing yesterday and didn’t seem at all surprised that I both took a 2 hour nap yesterday afternoon (I sure was) and slept in this morning (ditto). Doing nothing is not something I’m particularly good at. I ran this morning, sneaking it in before the next round of rain. I’ve frittered away time on the internet, spent some luxurious time reading Amy Poehler’s ridiculously good Yes Please, and resisted going back to sleep with the kitties, whom have had no problem turning today into a full on exercise in gentle, furry napping. All of this makes me feel unproductive, as if there were more things to tick off on my list of things to do. In reality, all of that can wait until next week, when I am rested and ready to be a clear minded writer. I could get that graduation gift today, but will tomorrow. I could run errands, but I did that Monday. I’ll see my best friend tomorrow night. We’re going on a mad dash to Jonesboro for a graduation this weekend, leading off roughly a month where we’re not at home on a weekend. Oh, and my semester officially ended yesterday when I posted grades. It’s not like doing nothing isn’t warranted, and yet I feel guilty for it. Perhaps I should bake tomorrow after my conference call?  (See, I should tell myself, work is happening.) Maybe doing something that seems productive when in fact it’s pie, and pie is all about the opposite of productivity, is what’s called for here.