Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Inspiration! Roundup: Ikea relationship repair, defying gravity, suffering, and stained glass cabins

This week's "I want to go to there":
I'm still feeling the jet lag, so bed is my wish.

Relationship Saving Station

This Relationship Saving Station that comedian Jeff Wysaski set up in his local Ikea is hilarious and awesome.

Defying Gravity

This Israeli acrodancing couple blows my mind. That move where he's standing on her shoulders and they fall backwards? YEGADS!


Firsthand Accounts of Katrina

Artist Dapper Bruce Lafitte has an exhibit currently out called Kingpin of the Antpin that includes some beautiful and moving drawings depicting his firsthand experience with Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. If you're not in New York (I'm not!) then check it out on Fierman Gallery's website here.

Suffering

"The truth that many people never understand, until it is too late, is that the more you try to avoid suffering the more you suffer because smaller and more insignificant things begin to torture you in proportion to your fear of being hurt."
—Thomas Merton

Stained Glass Cabin

I have fallen in love with this cabin made out of stained glass windows. I don't know how it's not frigid in the winter and stifling in the summer, but if they've succeeded at making it comfortable, I will move in tomorrow.


Following Your Heart Can Backfire

Here is one family's meaningful reminder that pulling a Wild or an Eat, Pray, Love (or whatever other self help memoir inspired you to follow your heart and leave your life behind) isn't always the dream it's made out to be.


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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

TOUCHDOWN!

I am home home home!


Europe's been a gas, but it's always good to get home to my bed, my cat, and my life.


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Monday, April 24, 2017

Cute! Roundup: Doggy Wilson, shoulder cat, buddy plant, and more!

Gertie is 100% the reason why I can't have nice things. Well, Gertie and the fact that I spill everything.

But mostly, it's because whenever I bring something pretty into the house, she tries to eat it.


OTHER CUTENESS:

It's like the doggy version of Wilson in Home Improvement!

Sweet hairdo.

Not that I'd ever trade Gertie in, but if I could have a cat who sat on my shoulder - oh the joy!

This plant is your buddy.

Ducklings!

I always thought mice were kinda cute (if only they didn't poop in your food), this one takes the cute cake!


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Friday, April 21, 2017

Learning! Roundup: Genius octopi, singing fish, the best waterproofing ever, and more!

Learning! Roundup: Smart octopi, loss of groundwater, and more!

Octopi are GENIUSES...

...and now maybe we know why! Looks like octopi, and other cephalopods have about 11,000 RNA coding sites (compared to a human's measles couple-dozen useful sites), and that these allow them to edit their genes on the fly, adapting to new environments in a snap.

The Ground is Going Dry

We are using up vital groundwater, and (unlike Beyoncé's unfaithful lover) it is irreplaceable. This is caused mostly by farming practices - instead of using water from rivers and streams, 43% of water for crops and irrigation comes from the ground.

Singing Fish!

That's about it: there are species of fish that are not only vocal, but that SING SONGS! In CHORUS!

Everybody's Got It

Okay, not everybody. But a new study shows that almost half of Americans have genital human papilloma virus (HPV). Since certain strains of HPV can lead to the fun times of cancer, this is kind of a big deal. Vaccinating 11 and 12 year olds against HPV is seen as our best line of defence so far.

Waterproof EVERYTHING

If you've ever tried to waterproof something, you know that the worst part is how fragile whatever the coating is: a little scratch or abrasion and BAM! Wetness. Researchers have developed a new waterproofing spray that is durable and even self-repairing. So basically, it's waterproofing MAGIC that can be used on clothing, roofs, and whatever else you want to make impervious to water.

One-Hour Flu Testing

Right now there's no quick and easy way to prove someone has the flu, which means that people with flus often get prescribed antibiotics, which do nothing but increase antibiotic resistance and hasten societal breakdown and death. Luckily, some scientists have now created a flu test that can give results in one hour, hopefully seriously reducing the number of unnecessary antibiotics out there.


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Thursday, April 20, 2017

WWRAD: What Would Rich Andrea Do?

You know the good, old-fashioned game where you imagine what you'd do if you were super rich?

Recently I was chatting with a friend of mine about how much we enjoy certain aspects of our frugal lifestyle: shopping second-hand, making and repairing our own things, and clothing swaps, to name a few. We both expressed hope that we wouldn't leave these parts of ourselves behind if we ever got rich. (Because, you know, we really need to worry about that.)


I know that wealth tends to bring a whole host of changes along with it, and that things that seem important now, like the satisfaction of making my own shelves, may diminish when buying them becomes the equivalent of buying a pack of gum.

This lead me to think - if I don't want Rich Andrea to start wearing insane jewelry and hanging portraits of herself on a wall, what would I like to see her indulge in?

Sure, if I suddenly came into money my first actions would be boring things like debt elimination, charitable gifts, and old-age savings, but what about the fun stuff? What luxuries would Rich Andrea realllllly enjoy?

Rich Andrea's First Luxury: A housekeeper/personal assistant.

If I could have someone manage cleaning, grocery shopping, laundry, meal prep, and battling my cell phone company when my contract needs renewal, life would become an actual dream.

Life would instantly be 10x better and I would be able to do SO MANY MORE THINGS if all the nitpicky details were just managed for me. I mean, it's basically what men used to get when they got a wife (and still sort of do thanks to uneven division of housework and emotional labour - YAY!), and it makes devoting your life to meaningful work and relationships so much easier.

Rich Andrea's Second Luxury: A bigger home - ideally on a commune.

That's right, I would prefer to live in a small home and have a housekeeper/personal assistant than live in a big place! Bigger homes take more work, and I don't want that ramp up the amount of stress in my life BEFORE I have help in place. Who has time for that?

Reasonably-Rich Andrea would get a reasonably-sized home in a decent neighbourhood.

In true dream-land, however, I would buy a large parcel of land in, or close to, the city. My friends and I would build homes on the land and plant community gardens with grazing goats and eat weekly meals together. My main floor would be all open for hosting parties, as well as plays and concerts. There would also be a black box theatre space on the land with a large patio area that can be covered when rainy.

Also, there are tree forts.

Alternatively, I would buy a large apartment building, turn the first floor or two into common area with said theatre and other community space, and then have all my friends live there with me.

Rich Andrea's Third Luxury: A vacation property.

A place to go near water and trees with enough space for friends to come along. I may even opt for this before I opted for a bigger home. Getaways! All the getaways! Maybe my commune-living friends and I can each get vacation homes in different areas (mountains, islands, farms) and then we'll have all the options.

Rich Andrea's Fourth Luxury: Regular travel.

This is pretty obvious. I'd like to be able to travel more and be more carefree about it. (She says, while currently flying to Europe.)

I wonder how wealthy I'd have to be to consider buying a personal jet?

That's about it. Boring, right? I mean, I have Upper-Stratosphere Wealthy dreams that involve opening a science and arts research/production centre and throwing money at all the world's problems until they are solved, but I think those dreams fall in a different category than the luxuries I'd like to indulge in?



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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Inspiration! Roundup: Imagination, girls in a boy band, hijab (w)rapping, promises, mercy, and more!

This Week's "I want to go to there":
In this busy season of life, a little stillness would be marvellous.

Alike

A beautiful animated short on imagination.


This Boy Band is a Girl Group

I super-duper love that the latest boy band to get everyone in China excited is actually made up of girls. They're called Acrush, and they are the latest big thing. Turns out that androgyny is actually pretty huge in China right now, which is awesome. Tear it up, Acrush!

Wrap My Hijab

Pretty into this rap about hijabi life.


Making Promises
"We live in a society that puts a lot of emphasis on freedom and personal choice. But the big thing I’ve learned recently is that if you spend your years keeping your options open you will lead an impotent, fragmented life."
-David Brooks
This is just one quote out of an entirely quotable commencement speech from David Brooks about the importance of commitment to having a meaningful life.

Mercy


A CoinciDANCE!

This brought joy to my heart.




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Monday, April 17, 2017

Cute! Roundup: A cat and his doppleganger, trouble with doors, and more.

Gertie is, obviously, my baby. My bestie's baby is, equally obviously, her baby. So then our babies are, basically, cousins. Here is a picture of two cousins.

Cute picture of my fur baby (aka my kitty), and my friend's human baby. Basically, these two are cousins.

OTHER CUTENESS:

This gentlekitty looks just like his forebears. (Also, what I wouldn't give for such a portrait of my Gertie!)

Sometimes Gertie has trouble finding the opening in the door, too.

Teaching his son to play catch.

Couldn't you just fall into those eyes?


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Saturday, April 15, 2017

Singalong! Supermodel by Jill Sobule

In my impressionable youth, I loved this song because I kind of loved the idea of being a supermodel. I would practice my runway walk around my bedroom and imagine I was wearing the best clothes (you know, low-rise flare jeans, baby doll tees, and some sweet platform shoes). I don't think I ever actually saw the music video, because the whole Carrie storyline was very unexpected.


SUPERMODEL
by Jill Sobule

I don't care what my teachers say
I'm gonna be a supermodel.
Everyone is gonna dress like me,
Wait and see

When I'm a supermodel
And my hair will shine like the sea.
Everyone wants to look like me
Me

Cause I'm young and I'm here and so beautiful,
I'm gonna be a supermodel

I wish that I was like Tori Spelling,
With a car likes hers and dad likes hers.
And I show them how how it was done.
That be fun, that be fun.

And I write my school report,
Why I love my jeans, why I love my jeans.
And oh, on my locker door it is the coolest thing
That you have ever seen.

I didn't yesterday,
I'm not gonna eat today
I'm not gonna eat tomorrow
Cause I'm gonna be a supermodel

So beautiful, I'm gonna be a supermodel
Cause I'm young and I'm here and so beautiful,
I'm gonna be a supermodel

Cher in Clueless, the movie where Supermodel was in the soundtrack



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Friday, April 14, 2017

Learning! Roundup: How to be cultured, personality, spiritual awareness, and more!

If you're a cultured person, you probably recognize this painting.
(Hint: Goethe in the Roman Campagna by Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein)

What Does it Mean to be Cultured?

Turns out, according to a study done for American ticketing agency Vivid Seats, 40% of Americans have no idea what it means to be cultured, but most seem to think it has something to do with going to see live plays (yay!), recognizing paintings, and listening to classical music.

For more stats on perceptions of being "cultured", check out this infographic.

Does Personality Stick Around?

The longest-running personality study has shown that we are completely different people from youth to old age. Beginning in 1950 in Scotland, they had a group of 14 year-old-students and a teacher answer questions to determine six personality traits: self-confidence, perseverance, stability of moods, conscientiousness, originality, and desire to learn. Then again at the age 77, the subjects completed the personality test and nominated a close friend or family member to do it. They found no significant overlap between the two tests.

I do wonder if there are some issues with the study: a teacher rating a teenager is going to have a different view than a close friend rating you at the age of 77. How much of these changes were based on life phase, over personality? Teen-hood is a nightmare of hormones that might change your personality, and physical decline in old age may subdue a personality. Still, it's an interesting study!

Spiritual Awareness Leads to Health

Here's at least one reason why following a religious or spiritual path is beneficial: people who avoid spiritual struggles (the "big questions" about life) have more depression and anxiety than those who face them head-on.

Tea for Life!

Tea drinkers, join me in rejoicing! Not only (apparently) does drinking tea have beneficial effects on things like cancer and heart disease, but it also may prevent cognitive decline. Drink uppppppp!

Physician Competence

A new study shows that a medical treatment was more effective when administered by someone who came across as warm/competent as opposed to cold/incompetent. The placebo effect is SO INTERESTING!!!


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Thursday, April 13, 2017

This Week in Church: Jesus, food, and children

Welcome to the series wherein I share my take-aways from church. The things that, I think, are beneficial to all of us to know or think about, whether or not we believe in any church-related things.


This week I got to church late and was feeling pretty disengaged. It was a different kind of service: instead of a sermon, they asked the congregation to share things they had learned that week about Jesus/the Bible/God/etc. They had some more eloquent questions than that posted on the screens for us to ponder, but that was the gist of it.

This week in church a child talked about Jesus and food.

Perhaps my favourite part was when the children were being surveyed about things they had learned about Jesus from the Bible. One little girl says (paraphrased): "Jesus liked to eat. There are lots of parts of the Bible that talk about Jesus eating. I really identify with that."

I mean, COME ON!!!?!?! Best kid ever, right?

Also, thumbs up for finding everyday, human ways to identify with Jesus. Let's not reduce our day-to-day joys to something silly or base. The way I'm digging on peanut butter and apple lately is DIVINE.

This week in church I watched some kids go bonkers.

Apparently this week was all about the children. Because I arrived late, I had to sit in the very back, which is sort of the "run-amok" area for children and parents bouncing their babies. Normally I would find it distracting, and maybe a bit annoying, to sit back there. Hearing the messages is kind of important to me.

This time, however, I wan't too concerned with following the through line of everyone's comments. Plus, I was tired and my brain was distracted enough without the interference of the kids. Instead, I watched them play.

There was something kind of meditative and beautiful in that. The toddlers toddled around, older kids would pick them up and play parent or run around with each other. Right next to me was a father with three boys. I see him almost every Sunday, and the whole family is a picture of stylish adorableness. The boys are both well-behaved and incredibly rambunctious. This week was rambunctious. They were crawling all over their dad, running around, tackling him and each other. Mostly, he just let them do their thing, reigning them in when they got too loud or crazy, and let them climb all over him. He interacted a bit, but mostly just had a bit of a smile on his face as he watched the service and his boys. It was really beautiful.

Maybe that is one picture of what God the Father can be like: just chilling and letting us do our wacky thing.


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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Inspiration! Roundup: Grand Theft Terra Firma, the perfect little dance, Wal Mart stands up for climate change, and Christian extremism

This Week's "I want to go to there":
I'M THERE! (This is an old map of Europe
- I think Russia is represented by an octopus?)

Grand Theft Terra Firma

Since we love violent video games so much, why not play one that recreates actual, historical violence? Why throw hire, beat, and rob fake prostitutes when you can mimic the colonization of Canada? A new art exhibit, Grand Theft Terra Firma, suggests just that. It's not a real game (let's not give people the opportunity to play out their prejudices), but is a really provocative look at Canadian history, colonization, and video game culture.

Fly Me to the Moon

A little piece of perfection.


Bizzaro Universe Confirmed

If you care about the environment and social justice, you know the way things normally go: governments try to implement environmental regulations, Big Business fights back with all their lawyers and corporate donations, and nothing changes.

In further evidence that we've entered some bizarro parallel universe, Trump rolled back environmental regulations on businesses, and many of them said, "it's cool, we're going to keep doing these things. OF OUR OWN VOLITION."

I am skeptical, confused, and cautiously incredibly excited.

The Christian Equivalent of ISIS

For anyone who has tried to explain to a Christian (or someone spouting anti-Muslim rhetoric) that the Bible and Christianity has just as much extremism and violence as ISIS, here is some inspiration: a Muslim lawyer listing some of the extreme violence perpetrated at the hands of Christians. I believe that this is an occasion to use "lawyer" as a verb: that guy got LAWYERED.


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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

So long! Farewell! Auf Wiedersehen, Goodbye!

I am LEAVING YOU! Today! In the most dramatic way POSSIBLE!

I am RUNNING AWAY! On an AIRPLANE!

GOODBYE!


(I will be back. And posts are still going to happen because I scheduled a bunch in advance because I love you. But I will be in Europe for two weeks, so there will be less posts over that time. And then I'll come back and jump right back in like nothing happened.)


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Monday, April 10, 2017

Cute! Roundup: Bird massage, fennec foxes, Bob Ross, and more!

Gertie really cares about our safety while traveling, and thus checked out my man's suitcase before we took it on the road. It passed inspection.



OTHER CUTENESS:

Sometimes a massage is just realllllly amazing. Right, little birdie?

I didn't even know that a Fennec Fox was a THING! Look how CUTE!

#SquadGoals

Bob Ross did more than paint. He took care of adorable rescue animals.

Business Cat will see you now.


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Saturday, April 8, 2017

Singalong! Vacation by The Go-Go's

I'm going on a vacation! VACATION! For the next two weeks I'll be galavanting around Europe, free as a bird on a budget. To celebrate, let's party with The Go-Go's catchy tune about taking a vacation to get over a break up.


VACATION
by The Go-Go's

Can't seem to get my mind off of you
Back here at home there's nothin' to do
Now that I'm away
I wish I'd stayed
Tomorrow's a day of mine that you won't be in

When you looked at me I should've run
But I thought it was just for fun
I see I was wrong
And I'm not so strong
I should've known all along that time would tell

A week without you
Thought I'd forget
Two weeks without you and I
Still haven't gotten over you yet

Vacation
All I ever wanted
Vacation
Had to get away
Vacation
Meant to be spent alone

A week without you
Thought I'd forget
Two weeks without you and I
Still haven't gotten over you yet

Vacation
All I ever wanted
Vacation
Had to get away
Vacation
Meant to be spent alone


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Friday, April 7, 2017

Learning! Roundup: Ballet and life skills, stem cell advancements, the #NotAllWhitePeople quiz, trans awareness, and more!

Image by Tommy Wong

Just Enroll Your Kids in Dance Already

Here's another great article on the vital skills that kids learn from taking dance that you don't get from science and technology. (Besides, if Prince George is taking ballet, then obviously it's good enough for everyone, right?)

Stem Cell Advancements

A 60-something man in Japan was the first person ever to receive a transplant of stem cells donated by another person. They took donated skin cells, reprogrammed into IPS cells (induced pluripotent stem cells), and then turned the now-stem-cells into retinal cells for an eye surgery.

SCIENCE!

The #NotAllWhitePeople Quiz

Ever wonder how systemic racism has impacted your thoughts processes? Here's a simple quiz of yes/no questions that might help you identify some sticking points of what you've internalized from society.

It's a bit of a difficult questionnaire because the questions are all framed through the extreme lens of absolutes: "have you EVER ____" - well, I can't say for sure whether I have ever done some of these things. I've been alive for 32 years. I don't think that I've ever made fun of a characteristically black name, but in the past when I was less secure in myself I went along with a lot of jokes that made me uncomfortable. Were some of them racist? Undoubtably. Did some make fun of black names? Maybe.

That aside, it's still a useful survey of some of the signs and symptoms of systemic racism and how we can be a part of it.

Trans Visibility Day

Last week was Trans Visibility Day! Here's a bit of groundwork to get us started.


"Most people are comfortable with the gender label they're assigned. But for some people it never quite fits and doesn't feel right. That's what's called being transgendered... The most important thing is that there is no right way to be trans."
Want to learn more about trans life and issues? The Trans 101 website has a bunch of videos and background info from trans people.

Trans Research

Speaking of trans people - there is growing research around transgendered people, finding that the brains of trans people pre-transition are more similar to the brains of their gender identity than their biological sex/assigned gender.

It's good to remember that there is no "male" or "female" brain, but a spectrum of brains with more women falling on one side and more men on the other, but this research still shows that when a person says they feel like they are meant to be a different gender than the one assigned at birth, there is a medical backing for that claim.

The Biggest Threat to Men

You'd probably guess heart disease as the biggest health risk to middle-aged men, right? Or some stress-related illness? Turns out, it's loneliness. It starts with family: when you have one, and are still busy with work and managing a home, you aren't going to abandon your kids, you're going to abandon your friends. Add in the fact that women are encouraged and expected to maintain social lives and men aren't, and the lack of vulnerability socially expected from male friendships, and it's a recipe for loneliness.

Oh, and if you're thinking about people who don't have kids (like I did), here's a thought: even if you don't have kids, chances are that many of your friends do, so you may not be doing the abandoning, but getting abandoned. (Although they may perceive it the other way around.)


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Thursday, April 6, 2017

New thoughts for your thirties

I am 32 years old.

By most measures of old-ness, I'm not even close. I am, however, officially old enough that things are starting to go downhill. Ageing used to be all about excitement and new experiences.


These days, I still get exciting new experiences, it's just that some of those new experiences are new thoughts. I am thinking thoughts that never even occurred to me before. No, I'm not talking about the mortgage/marriage/babies trifecta that dominate most peoples' 30s. I'm talking about brand new physical realities, and unexpected questions that go along with them.

Here are a few of the questions that have become regular fixtures in my psyche since I joined the 30-Something Gang:

"When was the last time I checked my mole hair?"

I have a mole on my chin that likes to randomly sprout hair. Sometimes it's a long, stubborn, black hair. Other times it's a tuft of baby-fine blonde hair that shines like a beacon when it catches sunlight.

This thought always pops up when I'm on my way somewhere, so all I can do is obsessively rub the mole to feel if anything is there, cursing myself for not carrying a mirror and tweezers with me at all times.

Of course there are many other hair-related thoughts: greys, that peach fuzz on my upper lip, and other hairs that randomly appear where previously there were none. But let's not make this entire post about surprise body hair.

"If I have a second glass of wine, will I be hung over tomorrow?"

The problem with this thought isn't the need to reduce my drinking, but the fact that it's a question. That it's not consistent. Sometimes I have a handful of drinks and wake up the next morning with a song in my heart and a gleam in my eye. Other times I dare tread over the line of "just one drink, thanks", even by a sip, and I wake up feeling like I was doing keg stands the night before.

I just want to know what I'm getting myself into.

"Should I know how to/take the time to fold a fitted sheet properly by now?"

This one is always followed by a big ol' "nahhh!", because I have other things to worry about. Then I fold my sheet nicely in half and roll the whole thing up into a ball.

"Why does my [insert joint here] hurt?"

Joint pain and I have been friends for most of my life. At ten years old, I got osgood-schlatter disease in my right knee from ballet, often had random, jabbing hip pain (probably also from ballet), and my joints popped and cracked all the time - my sister could hear my joints coming down the stairs.

This is different. My joints just... don't feel good. They're stiff. All the time. I do yoga and stretch regularly, and they are just closing in on themselves. A little while ago I slept funny on my shoulder and it hurt so bad I couldn't swallow without jolts of pain. This fragility in my body is new, and I don't like it.

Here's one thought that never crosses my mind anymore:

"What time does the last bus leave?"

I used to plan my weekend parties around how late I would be able to catch a bus home. Guess what? When you turn into a pumpkin at midnight (or 10pm), this is no longer a problem! One less thing to worry about.


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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Inspiration! Roundup: Tuna Comics, C.S. Lewis, five women, synesthesia, and more!

This Week's "I want to go to there":
Next week I'll be on an airplane! Okay, I am not particularly excited about the
airplane part of things, but I am STOKED about where I'll be heading.

Tunlaya Dunn Comics

Thai illustrator Tunlaya ("Tuna") Dunn creates funny and dark comics under the banner Tuna. Check them out!

The Most Beautiful Bookstore

I love a good bookstore. The long rows of books have a glow of possibility that is pretty much irresistible to me. I love theatres even more: a WHOLE SPACE devoted to imagination! A building where people gather to create and share stories! They are like magic!

So I am pretty stoked on this 100-year-old theatre in Argentina that got transformed into a bookstore.

Sharing Praise
“I had thought of praise in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honour. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise, unless shyness or the fear of boring others is deliberately brought in to check it. The world rings with praise—lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favorite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favorite game…

I had not noticed how the humblest, and at the same time most balanced and capacious, minds, praised most, while the cranks, misfits and malcontents praised least…. Praise almost seems to be inner health made audible.

I had not noticed either that just as men spontaneously praise whatever they value, so they spontaneously urge us to join them in praising it: “Isn’t she lovely? Wasn’t it glorious? Don’t you think that magnificent?”

I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation… the delight is incomplete until it is expressed…. [and] the worthier the object, the more intense this delight would be." 
-CS Lewis

Plant Trees, Not Bombs

Abdullah Arsala defied the Taliban and grew flowers for beauty, not for opium. Specifically, he grows roses and bitter orange to distill into essential oils, creating his own economy that is not connected to the war in Afghanistan.

Five Women, Five Distinct and Inspiring Humans

Did you know that Dior has its first female Executive Director EVER? Well, it does! And she is trying to celebrate the multi-facetedness (is that an invented word?) of womanhood and feminism by lifting up women from a variety of fields and sharing their stories.

Here are five women: two models, a neurologist, a chef, and an entrepreneur, all with their own definitions of felinity, strength, and what their jobs mean to them. I basically want to do a pull quote for every single thing they say on here, so just read the whole thing.

Experience Synesthesia

Most of us will never understand what it's like to experience synesthesia, the cognitive condition where sensory pathways mix and mingle, causing people to (for example) experience sound visually, seeing shapes and colours to accompany voices or music.

Artist Anne Patterson has given the rest of us the opportunity to get closer to the experience with her art installation Pathless Woods.


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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Mike and Karen Pence: Good for you, not for me - or for most women

The Pences. Photo by Gage Skidmore.

Did you hear? Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, have a deal in their marriage: neither of them will eat a meal alone with a member of the opposite sex. He also won't go to events where alcohol is served without her there.

I KNOW, RIGHT????

Depending on your views about politics, relationships, sex, alcohol, and gender, your "I know, right?" was either enraged or emphatically supportive.

As someone who grew up in a conservative Christian church, I am very familiar with the notion that men and women are automatically in danger of doing something inappropriate when left alone together. A common refrain is, "Why put yourself in the path of temptation?"

That's a good question - why would someone want to put themselves in a situation where they'll be tempted to do something they know they shouldn't?

I'd like to believe that we can all be self-aware enough to balance the level of temptation we will feel with the value of the event in question. If you are a newly-recovering alcoholic, maybe a week at an all-inclusive resort with tequila stations at every turn is too much temptation, even if it means missing your friend's wedding. On the other hand, if you are feeling strong in your recovery, you might be able to go to the wedding without being too worried.

So if I had a male friend or colleague who I felt attraction for, I would probably avoid spending time alone with them, because who needs to feed into that? If, on the other hand, I have a male in my life for whom I feel nothing and from whom I only receive friend-vibes, why shouldn't I treat them as I would any other friend?

But that's just me. I am not the Pences - thank goodness.

Still, it's kind of ridiculous. And a little bit, potentially, reasonable.

It is RIDICULOUS to say that men and women cannot ever be friends, or at least friendly enough to have a meal together, without something untoward happening. As a blanket statement, this is offensively ludicrous and just reinforces destructive views of gender as two opposing camps.

It is REASONABLE to have a boundary in your relationship that makes it feel safe for you and your partner. If there is a history of infidelity or addiction, then perhaps you have to be pretty vigilant.

It is RIDICULOUS to say that no one should attend an event with alcohol without a guardian.

It is REASONABLE for a person with a history of trouble containing themselves while they drink to avoid events with alcohol unless they have a  "safe person" there.

It is RIDICULOUS to continue to shove men and women into these binary camps that are constantly opposed or attracted to one another. Barring friendship (or friendly colleagues), how about the fact that many people are not straight or don't fit into these categories. This stance does not account for trans, non-binary, or homosexual people.

So basically, Mike and Karen Pence's rules are both insanely ridiculous, and kind of reasonable, depending on circumstances we will never know. Maybe they have a history of fidelity problems. Maybe Mike struggled with alcoholism at some point.

Or maybe, they just believe archaic and damaging things about gender and sex dynamics.

Either way, it's not my relationship, so it would ideally boil down to "good for you, not for me." If they want a relationship with such strict roles and boundaries, well, they are the ones who have to live with those choices. It's certainly not hurting anyone.

Except... well, it might hurt some people. Specifically, it might hurt the women who work under Mike Pence.

If he will truly never have a meal with a woman unless his wife is present, then only men he works with have the opportunity to eat a casual lunch with him at work. Casual lunches, as I am told, are the places where relationships and trust are built with management. It's where major projects can be discussed in a low-stakes environment. Where the groundwork is laid for advancement.

So, that sucks. I mean, if you think women deserve equal opportunities to contribute to the workplace as men.

It's also insane if you think about the implications in his current position: would he really never have a meal with a female head of state? A governor or congresswoman? What if Ruth Bader Ginsberg needed some of his time to talk about some issue in the courts? I doubt either of them would feel any temptation, could he make an exception for that? (I realize that's not probably how the court system in America works, but you catch my drift.)

I would love to just shrug my shoulders and wonder if they are really happy, but I can't help but wonder how this impacts a lot of women and their opportunities.


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Monday, April 3, 2017

Cute! Roundup: A pup on a bike, brave birds, and a bee that is either adorable or terrifying

Can I just recline and have Gertie cuddle on my chest for the rest of time?


It's the circle, the circle of doooooogs! (If you didn't pick it up, I am singing this to the tune of Elton John's 'Circle of Life'. Feel free to back and sing along.)

A friendly biking pup.

The bravest budgie.

These cats demand good service!

#HousecatGoals

This was posted on the Awwwww subreddit, but I'm pretty sure it's completely terrifying. You choose.


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Saturday, April 1, 2017

Singalong! b.i.t.c.h. by Meredith Brooks

When this song was playing on the radio, my family really just had one big radio that we all shared. I would listen to the pop station and dance around, except when this song came on. Then I'd sit right next to the radio and turn the volume down every time Meredith Brooks said "bitch", so my parents wouldn't hear it. To this day, I have no idea if my parents even noticed, or if they knew exactly what I was doing and just let it go. Either way, I now appreciate this song for its portrayal of women as complex beings, and once again wonder if 90's music was more progressive than what's popular now.


B.I.T.C.H.
by Meredith Brooks

I hate the world today
You're so good to me
I know but I can't change
Tried to tell you
But you look at me like maybe
I'm an angel underneath
Innocent and sweet

Yesterday I cried
Must have been relieved to see
The softer side
I can understand how you'd be so confused
I don't envy you
I'm a little bit of everything
All rolled into one

I'm a bitch, I'm a lover
I'm a child, I'm a mother
I'm a sinner, I'm a saint
I do not feel ashamed
I'm your hell, I'm your dream
I'm nothing in between
You know you wouldn't want it any other way

So take me as I am
This may mean
You'll have to be a stronger man
Rest assured that
When I start to make you nervous
And I'm going to extremes
Tomorrow I will change
And today won't mean a thing

I'm a bitch, I'm a lover
I'm a child, I'm a mother
I'm a sinner, I'm a saint
I do not feel ashamed
I'm your hell, I'm your dream
I'm nothing in between
You know you wouldn't want it any other way

Just when you think, you got me figured out
The season's already changing
I think it's cool, you do what you do
And don't try to save me

I'm a bitch, I'm a lover
I'm a child, I'm a mother
I'm a sinner, I'm a saint
I do not feel ashamed
I'm your hell, I'm your dream
I'm nothing in between
You know you wouldn't want it any other way


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