Monday, November 28, 2011


I've seen a lot of talk about cultural appropriation lately. From the ubiquitous sugar skull costumes around Halloween, to posts about wedding traditions including a discussion of mehndi, chuppas, and jumping the broom, to a discussion about smudging with sage on a shelter blog. There seem to be two views on all of these things: a) that we're all members of the "human race" or "human culture," and thus all traditions are to be shared, and b) that we should be careful--especially, that people with certain types of privilege should be careful--to not use the traditions of other cultures in ways that might be insulting, hurtful, of just plain incorrect to their cultures of origin.

I'm pretty solidly in group b, which was solidified not ten minutes ago, when a blog I frequent used the term for the most sacred rite in the religion I was raised in, to signify something that, while I know she meant no offense, was comparatively trivial. And it kind of stung.

Now, due the fact that the rite was baptism, as practiced by Baptists (Southern ones, even!) I'm trying not to get all bent out of shape. Christians in general have done our share of appropriation--look almost every tradition surround Christmas, for a timely example. Not to mention that the Christian experience in the States is so widespread that you can't help but absorb some of it, or even a lot of it, and the dominant culture really has nothing to whine about. But the most important act in a young Baptist's life, one preceded by prayer, meditation, and pastoral guidance, one performed publicly in front of one's entire faith community, laden with tradition and one on which the very state of one's soul may rest? is not the same as falling out of a canoe on a chilly day.

So, I have my little taste of what it's like to be on the other end of things. And I would like to apologize to anyone I've stolen culture from, in ignorance or in a misplaced sense of "sharing." And I'll try to do better.

A quick note: one of the blog posts that got me thinking--the wedding one, on Offbeat Bride--had a sort of solution to the urge to borrow culture in it. The writer and her husband, inspired by the meaning behind the glass-breaking in a Jewish wedding, invented their own tradition to honor the meaning without appropriating the act. In their case, this was adding a small charm to each of their outfits, as a  remembrance of hard times during their joyful time. And in the smudging discussion, several commenters recommended Western traditions with similar intent, instead of borrowing an act the OP was obviously unfamiliar with--for example, cleaning the house thoroughly and lighting new candles, or rearranging furniture to make a space seem new and cleared of bad memories. Perhaps USians need to remember that we do, in fact, have our own traditions, and we need to find ways to honor those and rediscover our own meaning in them.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

You know what bugs me?

Gendered nursery design.

Really? I mean, really? This child that just slid out of your birth canal OBVIOUSLY won't like pink and will like orange and brown because it happens to (apparently) have a Y chromosome?

This bugs me. Maybe more than it should given ALL THE OTHER THINGS that should be bugging me, but still. I read a lot of shelter blogs.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Will nobody rid me of these troublesome sinuses?

Puffs Plus: check.
"snot-rag bag"*: check.
Simply Saline nasal wash: check.
peppermint aromatherapy shower tablet**: check.
beat the roommate to a steamy shower: check.
Ayr saline gel***: check.
Aquaphor****: check.
apple juice: check.
Panera Bread broccoli cheddar soup: check.
Yogi Throat Comfort: check.
Cable tv, internet, and ps3: check, check, check.

The cold from hell is good to go.

No, seriously, GO. Jeez. I blew my nose so many times between 12:00 and 6:00 I had a Very Dramatic nosebleed just as I was about to clock out. If I could get the stupid manager to change the filters on the vents it would really, really help.

*This is what my dad calls the plastic grocery bag employed to segregate tissues from the communal trash. Also portable!
**It doesn't clear my sinuses, but it does make me very aware of them.
***To moisturize the inside of the nose.
****To moisturize the outside of the nose.

My colds are, obviously, a bit of a process.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Highschool English

Books I remember reading in highschool and liking:

Their Eyes Were Watching God (my first AP English teacher was in love with this one)
Wuthering Heights (But the ending sucked. I recently got an oddly romantic email about it from an old highschool friend. Go figure.)
parts of Canterbury Tales (I'm descended from Chaucer's sister-in-law Katherine Swynford)
The Killer Angels (actually this was eighth grade, I'm cheating)
The Great Gatsby (the high point of ninth grade english)

Books I read in highschool and hated:

Heart of Darkness (BLECH. It was a good teaching tool, being dense and short, but BLECH)
The Yellow Wallpaper (short story, not a book, but still, I detested it)
Lord of the Flies (Really now. Blech.)
Crime and Punishment (boring, nasty, long, and the epilogue doesn't make a lick of sense in context)

I'm not sure if I had to read Huckleberry Finn until college, actually? But I'm oddly indifferent to it.

I really thought I could remember more. Apparently, most of what we read was forgettable dreck? At least I was never made to read Ayn Rand.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Of all the things to be annoyed by

It suddenly ticks me off that in Discovery Channel shows about sex and sexual attraction, hetero sex is always man-on-top.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011


I decided upon graduating to take a year off of school.

That year is up.

Now what?

Man, a BA in Literature gets you nothing.

Anybody have any ideas on how to become an editor?

Anybody have any advice on getting really awesome recommendation letters for gradschool?

Anybody know if you can put a key back on a keyboard when even the little squishy doohickey underneath is gone? My quotation mark key popped off...more than a year ago and I'm sick of it. I managed to write a thesis without it, too.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

In Which a Hobby Reinforces Harmful Gender Policing

I love it when blogs I would categorize as "fun" cover topics I call "serious." So imagine my delight upon finding The Studioist, and this post:

As the Guiness scientists would say, BRILLIANT!

The comments continue the goodness, with such snippets as:

"When I commented that “I think this personal space arms race is often a sign of culturally-reinforced familial dysfunction”, what I meant is that there are strong cultural narratives about how families should work that undermine families."

"...the “caveman” image insults everyone–it suggests that in the home or family sphere, men are incompetent, monosyllabic oafs, leaving women to be the Responsible Caretaker 24/7."

"I also found it strange that they call it a mom cave. As if women in general can’t have a place to themselves, unless they are a mom."