Sunday, September 30, 2007

Gender Blank's Reading Corner

Are you a nerd? It's okay to admit it around these parts. I'm a nerd, and I married a nerd, so it will only make me like you more if you tell me you're nerdy. Not Weird Al nerdy, but into-books-and-intellectual-conversations nerdy. I don't find a pocket protector all that sexy, but I suppose it would depend on who was wearing it. But I digress...

Anyway, if you're into books, you can go here and vote for Book of the Year, as nominated by The Quill for their Quills Book of the Year contest. I admit that as nerdy as I am, I've not read a single one of the books on this list. Because of that, I don't feel it's right to throw in my two cents. But feel free to throw in yours if you've got an opinion.

By the way, I just finished The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. I know this is far from being a new release (I'm only about twenty years behind the times), but it was a recent purchase for me (along with Alison Bechdel's Fun Home, which I have yet to read). I felt I should read it on accounta its feminist underpinnings, but I gotta tellya, I was disappointed in the ending. I hate it when a book ties up the end of the story too neatly (I'm looking at you, J.K. Rowling), but geez Louise! What the aytch happened to these people? We're talking severe subjugation of women here - severely restrictive dress codes, a breeding caste, etc. - so I'd like to not have to infer the main character's fate. 'Cause in the dystopia of Gilead, that fate could have been anything (sorta like in the bizarro dystopia of the U.S. under GWB, where people die 'cause the boyking is too stubborn to admit defeat and I-can't-fucking-believe-they-just-did-that moments happen all too frequently, only this ain't fiction). And the whole academic conference setting of the appendix felt out of place. I'm sure a zillion people liked it, based on the fact that it won some awards and shit, but the ending just wasn't my cuppa tea. Apparently I need a bit more direction. Your thoughts?

Also, what should I read next? I've got Fun Home calling out to me, but I've also had the following books on my interest list, all for different reasons:

Snow Flowers and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
The Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Empire by Gore Vidal
The Arrangement by Elia Kazan
The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards

Anyone read any of these? Your guidance is appreciated. I know it seems that a self-proclaimed nerd ought to have read some of these (and the ones on that other list) by now, but I got a late start. I didn't really start reading until I was in graduate school, so I'm way behind. I gots me some catchin' up to do.

Happy October, all!

What I'm listening to tonight, 9/30/07

Take a listen to this song from "Shine," Joni Mitchell's latest CD. She sounds like a cross between Nina Simone and Billie Holiday. With a little Macy Gray thrown in. Her voice is smoky and sexy, and I simply can't get over it. Rowrrrrrrr!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

How well do you know the United States?

Here's a little quiz fulla questions (only 25) taken from the new naturalization test to become a U.S. citizen. I missed three, resulting in a score of 88%. Not my best work, for sure, but I'm not in jeopardy of getting yanked outta the country or anything. I can think of about fifty people I saw today about whom the same probably cannot be said. And I think I only saw about fifty-two people today.

Oh, if only some of them could get yanked outta the country for being stupid. Is that really too much to ask?

Monday, September 24, 2007

See? I'm all growed up!

You've Experienced 72% of Life

You have all of the life experience that most adults will ever get.
And unless you're already in your 40s, you're probably wise beyond your years.

I especially appreciate how they put a purty picture of a random heterosexual couple at the top of this. 'Cause that, like, totally represents my life experience.

h/t to Phydeaux for the quiz.

Flighty diversion

If you're bored, go here. You can test your virtual paper airplane flinging skillz against the rest of the virtual nerdworld. At the time of this writing, including my dozens of attempts, over 97 million virtual planes have been launched. 97,244,699 to be exact.

My furthest (farthest?) fling was 74.185 meters, which is easily longer than I've ever tossed a real live paper airplane. That puts my global rank at 16,813th. That's right, folks. You're reading the blog of someone who has a global rank in something. Bask for a second in my reflected glory. It's okay.

All right. Stop basking now and go fling your own damn planes. Blessings on the camels of the first person to report a fling that beats mine.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Growin' up. It's about fucking time.

So. I s'pose it's been awhile. Too long, in my opinion, but shit's been happening.

As I may have mentioned about a bazillion times, I hated my job (and most other things) in New Hampshire, so MonkeyPants got a new job and we up and moved to New York. I secured a job as a residence hall director and am now fully immersed in a type of prison wardenry for over 200 freshmen. I'm responsible for leading a team of seven RAs to some sort of residence hall glory and, most importantly 'round here, for busting the shit out of the douchebags who do stupid stuff to the physical structure and the living beings in my hall.

That's right, folks. The girl who just wants to be liked has a job that virtually requires her to be unliked by at least some of the people some of the time. Hell, some of the people won't like me all of the time. But if I bend to please them, then a whole other crop of people won't like me. Catch-22. Nature of the beast. Blah, blah, blah.

I spent the entire month of training crying and asking myself why in the world I thought I could do this job. I, one of the world's biggest introverts, spent a month forcing a smile and an enthusiasm that didn't exist, and my ass was tired and depressed at the end of each and every day. I pretty much gave myself a year at best. 'Cause I wanted a job where I could deal with people one-on-one, not one where I had to get up in front of 200 people at once and talk about all the shit they aren't allowed to do in the place I live. I wanted a job where I could talk about ideas and books, not lobby decorations and dining halls. Things were looking pretty grim.

But then the strangest thing happened. The night before we opened the hall to all the 18-year-olds and their parents, I was overcome with an extreme sense of calm. I thought, all of a suddenlike, "I think I can do this." And then I just started doing it. I knocked off all my scary events (like that all-hall meeting) one by one, and I started being able to breathe again. And I found that I wasn't all that scared to confront students when they were out of bounds. Even when they were only slightly out of bounds, which is pretty good for me. I pegged myself as the type (based on prior experience) who would look the other way for as long as I possibly could, hoping the douchebags would just knock off whatever it was they were doing, just so I wouldn't have to deal with it. Or, more importantly, so I wouldn't make anyone mad at me. As it turns out, I don't give a shit if some 18-year-olds are mad at me. Huh.

I also thought I would hate, hate, hate having to have difficult conversations with my staff members when they were being immature or irresponsible. But I had to do that pretty early on, and that wasn't so bad either. In fact, it turns out that I'm pretty good at it. I broke my wildest mustang in no time flat, just by being direct and genuine. He is by no means perfect, but he is manageable and responsive. To me, at least. Other people will have to break him on their own. I can't save the whole fucking world.

In the midst of this inner transformation, I started carrying a professional bag. It doesn't ride as well or carry as much as my trusty backpack, but I feel that I earned it. How fucked up is that? I didn't not carry a professional bag before because I couldn't find one good enough for me; I didn't carry a professional bag before because I didn't feel I was good enough for one of them. I felt fraudy. Like everyone could tell that I'd rather be carrying a backpack. Like people could sense that I had no idea what the hell I wanted to be when I grew up.

Well. I still can't say with certainty that I know what I want to be when I grow up, but for the first time I feel I'm on the right path to find out. Gender Blank is growin' up, folks. It's about fucking time.