Monday, February 27, 2012

I Am a Woman and I Vote

“ Quot capita tot ingenia.”
- Erasmus Adages 1.3.7; see also Tilley M583, quoted in Gratiae Ludentes, or Jestes from the University A Renaissance Jestbook

This common Latin proverb attributed to Erasmus is generally translated, “So many men, so many opinions.”

However, those wacky English once translated this proverb: so many heads, so many wits. A problem then arose because the proverb was found to be a manifest untruth. As one guy said: “For I, though my acquaintance bee but small;
 know many heads that have no wit at all.”

Don’t we all?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Going Off the Rails

“Today I want you get up and get dressed to lace-up shoes when you first get up in the morning. This means fix your hair and face, too. In order for us to change ourselves, we need to remind ourselves of what we are doing. I did this with yellow sticky notes throughout my home to guide me through my day. This was the beginning of my home control journal. I had little notes on my bathroom mirror to remind me to get dressed to shoes. Shine your sink before you go to bed.”

Shining sinks. That’s it? Why didn’t my mother teach me this? I’ve lived my miserable disorganized life sunk in the squalor of sinks stained with grime and particulates filtered from leftover dishwater; scarred with rust resembling bloodstains; slimy with grease gobs around the fixtures; fouled with the odor of an overworked garbage disposal belching undigested garlic and fried cabbage into the miasma of a decidedly unshiny sink overflowing with bowls of dried up uneaten cat food and congealing mystery meat fused to plates with egg yolks; stacked to almost toppling with the evidence of my disorder that shames me every time I shuffle into the kitchen wearing my bedroom slippers with smashed down heels, and a dingy cotton robe trailing its tattered sash behind on the unwept linoleum me to get more Doritos.

It is no wonder that I’ve had to stick notes on my bathroom mirror to remind me to do some stuff like put in my false teeth; put on shoes; and stop doing other stuff like to stop like meth; and spreading STDs; and watching HSN all day.

Shining frickin’ sinks? If I was given to profanity, I would have added some at the end of the previous sentences. Fortunately, I awoke this morning and found a note on the mirror to clean up my potty mouth, and shine some sinks sporting shoes.

What, you ask is Let’s just all hope it’s satire.

Monday, February 20, 2012

After the Thing Has Happened

"When one is a child, when one is young, when one has not yet reached the age of recognition, one thinks that the world is strong, that the strength of God is endless and unchanging. But after the thing has happened--whatever that thing might be--that brings recognition, then one knows irrevocably how very fragile is the world, how very, very fragile; it is like one of those ideas that one has in dreams: so clear and so self-explaining are they that we make no special effort to remember. Then of course they vanish as we wake and there is nothing there but the awareness that something very clear has altogether vanished." 
-- Russell Hoban, Pilgermann

I too, have known the feeling that something clear has vanished. Increasingly frequently in fact. True, I make no special effort to remember these things that seem clear at the time because such moments of clarity are often accompanied by my use of prescription medications and/or alcohol. Coincidence?

Sometimes, I try to write things down to recall later, but this most often leaves me with an even greater sense of frustration because all I am left with upon awakening from my dreams are fragments of sentences that make no sense without some mysterious and now missing context. Here are examples:

• Referring to self in 3rd person is pretentious. Someday, I should have invented time travel in order to refer to myself in the fourth person

• My smart wool socks have all shrunk. Slightly retarded socks?

• Désolé, la page que vous demandez est introuvable

• Compare/contrast offense being given vs offense being taken

• “In later editions of TOKOLOGY, alluding to methods of limiting offspring, the following paragraph occurs: ‘By some a theory called sedular absorption is advanced. This involves intercourse without culmination. No discharge is allowed. People practicing this method claim the highest possible enjoyment, no loss of vitality, and perfect control of the fecundating power.’" - Alice Stockham, M.D. Karezza: Ethics of Marriage (1903)

Perhaps I will institute a policy of simply listing these shards of ideas in my blog so that if I ever recapture those fleeting states of mental clarity I might remember an entire self-explaining blog-worthy concept.

Meanwhile, why should my blog be any more coherent than my mind?

Friday, February 10, 2012

What Year is This?

“Let me prophesy that different and improved methods will be devised to accomplish woman's work. The mothers of the future will be less burdened, and at the same time achieve more satisfactory results in the labor performed… Under the present system, many instances of demoralization in domestic life are in consequence of the mother's inability to fulfill all the requirements of her position. She is the tie that holds the home— mainspring of home-life. In the prophesied future, she may not wash all the dishes and bake all the bread, any more than she now does the spinning and weaving; yet the maternal love, life and instinct will build a nest far more adapted to successful rearing of offspring than is done under present conditions.” (Page 97—98)
Alice B. Stockham, M.D. Tokology, A Book for Every Woman (1893) “CHAPTER VII. HYGIENE OF PREGNANCY—DRESS. Congenial surroundings—Overtaxed mothers—An old lady's story— An every-day experience—Lucrative work—An author's interesting testimony—Prophecy for the future—Dress and fashion Commonsense shoes—Can ladies stand in street cars? —Bates waist—the divided skirt—Equestrian tights—Dress and freedom for women—Dress in pregnancy—What corsets can be worn—Fashion in deformity”

In Victorian times, some gentlemen of good breeding considered improper for ladies of good breeding to cultivate orchids because they had disturbingly shaped flowers that might suggest genitalia. Which makes sense because women might have otherwise learned that their genitalia disturbingly resembled flowers – at least those brazen whores who actually peeked.

Just yesterday, responding to a question about female soldiers in combat, Rick Santorum said, in his typically articulate and cogent way, "I think that could be a very compromising situation, where people naturally may do things that may not be in the interest of the mission because of other types of emotions that are involved." In fairness, he later explained that he meant that the men soldiers were the ones who might get too emotional seeing the ladies in dangerous combat situations. So, calm down girls.

Catholic institutions object to paying for prescription contraceptives, not because of the money, and not because their teachings have failed to deter the people choosing to use them, but because the practice conflicts with church doctrine. Those who propose that churches should not have to comply with civil laws when they conflict with their religious beliefs would presumably also concede that other religious groups should not have to comply with laws prohibiting female “circumcision” or marriage for 13 year old girls.

While we’re at it, let’s bring back laws that legally protect women - just like any other property owned by their menfolk. It might be best for everyone if we go back to the days when society sheltered and protected delicate little ladies from the coarse and throbbing world lest they become - as Mr. Santorum almost said - hysterical. No wonder there is such widespread "demoralization in domestic life" going around these days.

Upon consideration, that whole equal rights for women idea has probably run its course. Think what a relief it will be for us all when we can go back to having men give up their seats on street cars so ladies don’t have to stand, instead of having to compete with them for jobs.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

The Ineluctable Modality of the Visible

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
William Morris

Ok, this could be a problem. While I’m not ready to debut on the Hoarders TV program, the house I inhabit is also occupied by those whose aspirations toward that doubtful goal are thwarted only by their chronic indolence, low expectations and ultimately, by a failure of imagination.

Yesterday, while discoursing on this very topic, Tech Support Guy reminded me that we only have one junk room. He was referring to the room that is piled eight feet deep and high with the furniture of our descendents to the point where you can open the door, but only the cat can proceed further into the room - as if the entire stack of boxes and furniture was placed there for her climbing pleasure. And who’s to say?

In fairness, TSG is correct. The junk in the rest of the rooms of our home is loosely confined to stacks, dusty corners, and generally reposing languidly on indulgent furniture no longer being used for its intended purposes. In theory, an adventurous archeologist untroubled by any trace of claustrophobia might be able to carefully deconstruct these stacks layer-by-layer and read therein the history of my ultimately futile attempts to disperse the clutter. The trained expert might discern patterns there that might explain my descent into madness.

I could have as likely unscrambled an egg, but there was a time when I tried to organize my home, because I become more agitated in a cluttered environment than a canary in a coal mine.

I now realize that canaries in coal mines don’t struggle - they simply fall peacefully unconscious. Which is totally better than being crushed to death by a toppling pile of old shoes; or being speared through the heart by a broken umbrella knocked off a pile of cardboard boxes filled with broken strings of Xmas lights. Or dying of an anxiety attack brought on by inhaling hazardous waste dislodged in a misguided attempt to dust.

These days, I prefer instead to drink cheap wine and fashion my own creation myth from the clutter slowly burying me. I like to imagine that Chaos might one day arise from deep within the vast unreachable spaces filled with three lifetimes of crap, possibly exploding with a big banging noise from which gods, men and all the other stuff of a new universe might burst into existence from a dispersing cloud old papers, manuals for obsolete software, discarded articles of clothing, paper clips, ancient AOL trial offer CDs, and broken teacups waiting to be glued back together.

For all I know, the precise composition of crap needed to create this new universe might be forming at this very moment deep within the clutter in my junk room, a sort of cosmic spontaneous generation stirring unseen beneath the surface layers. Perhaps the formula lacks only a fragment of a handwritten musical score, a torn antimacassar, or some chipped cowrie shells. I’m sure they must be here somewhere…