Saturday, October 17, 2009

Dolores Claiborne: Not a Review

Man I have been trying to figure out how to write this post for days. That's the problem with never finishing enough lit courses is that, while I know what I want to say, I don't know how to say it.

I don't know if you guys know this, but I have a deep and passionate loathing for both present tense and first person*. So it's kind of funny that one of my favorite Stephen King books is Dolores Claiborne.

So, I could talk about its portrayal of domestic violence and sexual abuse. I could go on about the strong female characters, the lesbian subtext, the underlying messages about feminism, etc etc etc. But really, let's face it. That would take me twice as long to write, and it's already been three days since I finished my reread. Also, that is too much work. So let's focus on why I don't complain about the first person with spats of present tense.

So let's be honest here: the entire reason why I love Dolores Claiborne so fucking much is its narrative voice.

This is a book that's made to be read aloud. It's one big long monologue, complete with local dialect and turns of phrase. If you have the audiobook, read by Frances Sternhagen, it's like listening to your grandmother tell you a story.

Your nice grandmother that makes cookies and still calls her neighbor a bitch in front of you, not the crazy grandma who tried to throw you down a flight of stairs once.

That is just something I fucking love. I could listen to people tell me stories all day long. Especially if I have some apple cider. And maybe a piece of pumpkin pie. That is the kind of book that is.

See, that is why I like this book. It's someone talking to me, not someone reciting events and conversations at me. The story slips in and out of tenses, just like real conversation does. That, I can handle. And I guess that sums up what I like about Dolores Claiborne vs. what I hate about, say, most urban fantasy. I feel like a real person is telling me a story. With other first-person narratives, they still manage to be as cold and impersonal as third-person, leaving me wondering why the author didn't just write them in third-person.

Basically, what I'm saying, is that it sounds natural.

Black House is similar in a way (read: not at all). What makes it palatable to me is that it's present tense told by an omniscient narrator who mocks the characters. Could the same thing have been achieved with the past tense? Yes. But the snide remarks delighted me enough that I wasn't spending every minute griping over the present tense.

This was going to be longer, but I'm sick of writing this entry and I don't think I'll add any more to it before it's scheduled to post. I think you get the idea, anyhow.

*I don't give a shit what you think of either present tense or first person. Nothing you say is going to convince me that it's anything other than clunky, heavy-handed, lazy writing, so save your breath**.

**I don't care about constraints of the genre either.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Can't Stop the Signal

(Warning: about rape)

Man, I write all these awesome angry posts in my head while I'm on my way to work, and when I finally get in I've already blew my wad and don't care anymore. I mean, I care still, but I've forgot most of what I was going to say and can't be arsed to try to remember.

So, there's this post on LiveJournal by kathrynt (link) about Phaedra Starling's post at Kate Harding.

I'm not sure if that post was caused by the Sweet Machine's XKCD post, or if they already had it lined up and it was just coincidence that XKCD fans decided to go batshit in the XKCD post*.

But. The point is, I was thinking about both the quote Kathryn quoted in the car this morning, reminding myself to boost the signal when I got to work**, because my drive is a million minutes long and I have a lot of time to stew and get angry. And what made me angry is this:

I will guarantee you that if you show that quote to a group of guys, there will be at least one of them who will be going "Well I've never done that either so it's still not fair that I'm being painted with the same brush as rapists and potential rapists."


HERE IS THE THING. Because I think this needs to be spelled out because there are at least two guys I can think of off the top of my head who would say something like that, or at least think it very hard in my direction.

Let's pretend, for a minute, that you're right! You've never made a sexist joke. You've never said anything sexist in the presence of either men or women. You've never said nothing when someone near you said something like that.

Congratulations! You are a decent human being!

But, that girl you want to talk to who maybe isn't giving off "come talk to me :D!" vibes because she just hasn't noticed you or maybe isn't giving off "come talk to me :D!" vibes because she wants to be left alone? That girl has no way of knowing that.

She's not a fucking psychic. She can't tell that you're a descent human being. She is making a judgment of you based on past experience. And I will guarantee you that her past experience is that strange men do not respect women's anything.

And here's the hilarious part. What you're saying, whether you realize it or not, when you complain that it's not fair for strange women to look at you and see you as a potential rapist is that your desire to be seen as a good person trumps women's right to feel safe.

Which isn't even a full step away from this:
So if you speak to a woman who is otherwise occupied, you’re sending a subtle message. It is that your desire to interact trumps her right to be left alone. If you pursue a conversation when she’s tried to cut it off, you send a message. It is that your desire to speak trumps her right to be left alone. And each of those messages indicates that you believe your desires are a legitimate reason to override her rights.
As soon as you start prioritizing your desires over my rights, fuck that shit, you've gone from decent human being to potential rapist. Good job there buddy.

**I love XKCD as much as the next person. It makes me laugh more often than not, I agree that it's usually feminism 101 for nerds, and that does not stop it from failing it up occasionally. If you're too much of a fucking dumbass to see that get the fuck off my flist before I burn your LJ down.

**idky I am still in love with that phrase and the idea behind it.

(Also, I swear, this post was better in my head. Also angrier.)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fail Harder

I belong to one of those online communities that's very large (for an online community) and very diverse. Recently, there's been a lot going on in that community about privilege and pointing out when people are "being privileged" (a more polite way of saying point out "Hey, that thing you just did/said/wrote was kind of racist/classist/homophobic/transphobic/etc"). And so you get posts like this one, which make me literally angry with rage:
I'm all over trying to make [community] (the world) a better place. As I said above in my post, I believe that all of these issues are important. In addition to their importance, I'm tired of being lectured on them ad nauseaum. Granted, that's fun and [community] fun for some people. Good for them. It's not fun for me.
(bolding and things within brackets mine)
Holy shit you guys. She's found out our big secret. Pointing out people's race/gender/trans/class/etc!fail is fun. That's why we do it! It's not because it hurts to see well-meaning people saying stupid shit, it's because it's fun!

I don't know about you, but when the TV is telling me only middle class+ people are deserving of human rights, and people in this community parrot the old "If only you worked harder" line, I'm having fun.

And hey, being told that the only thing I'm good for is servicing men in whatever way they require, and that if I don't then whatever happens to me is my own damn fault? Well fuck me with a pogo stick that's the most fun of all!

Jeez, never mind how apparently all my friends are good for is raping/stealing/murdering!


I don't know if anyone's picked up on my subtle message here, so let me spell it out: Pointing out -isms and -phobia isn't fucking fun.

Are you seriously trying to tell me that if someone said something insulting to you/about you/near you, that you would just sit down, shut up, and ignore it? Did you actually think before letting that vile filth spill out of your mouth, or were you too busy crying in your cushy middle class white girl seat because your life is so hard and people are so mean to you and you don't deserve any of that.

So hey, let me wave around my fucking torch and pitchfork. I mean, god forbid you have to acknowledge that you said or did something shitty, that's just asking. Too. Much. God forbid you're expected to be a decent human being! I don't know what I was thinking!

Jesus fucking christ.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Hello New Home!

I've decided to leave Wordpress for here, because this (warning: discussion of abuse) is fucking bullshit.  The tactics being taken/that were taken are far too similar to the tactics described in this (warning: about rape culture) for me to be comfortable using their service anymore.

I know I'm late to the game, especially considering I used to read that blog, but that doesn't make me any less angry.  Maybe in a couple days I'll be less-angry-enough to articulate why.

In Which Our Heroine Is Concerned About Finances

The more I look at ads for small farms on websites, the more I become convinced that it is hard being a single person.

No matter how much I work, no matter how much I can reasonable expect to be paid, I will never be able to afford a farm that is selling for more than 300K, and that's being generous. Yet everything I look at in Massachusetts is asking 350+K. Unless, of course, I'm willing to settle for a <1 acre lot.

Which I am not.

I should be grateful, I know. At least I know I will be able to afford some sort of house plus land when the time comes. The time probably won't come for another ten years, but in the meantime I can afford to rent and own animals on rented land. I am lucky.

But, in the traditional American Way, I can't help but want more.

Plant Matter

I wish I could link you to an ad here, maybe from LandAndFarm, and say "This is the farm I want. This is the farm I'm going to buy. This is where I will be for the rest of my life."

Unfortunately, I'm nowhere near the point in my life where I can do anything more than dream.

I've been thinking a lot about what I want out of a farm. For a long time, and I'm talking since I was real little, I believed that I wanted a farm with lots of animals. Then, as I grew, I started to focus on sustainability and self-sufficiency, and decided that I wanted a row crop farm. I think, now that I'm maturing, I'm back to wanting farm animals more than I want to be completely self-sufficient.

I can definitely see myself working a farmers' market in whatever town I end up in, but I just can't see myself getting up at buttfuck o'clock to pack a truck full of pretty-lookin' vegetables, and trying to convince people that they want to buy from me and not someone else with similar produce. When it comes right down to it, I'm just not that friendly. So I think I'd better keep to the other side of the booths.

So maybe a small garden, just enough to keep me in the vegetables I like all summer long.

I grew up with a backyard orchard with apple and cherry trees. I definitely want to always live somewhere that lets me go outside when I want to make a pie, instead of having to go to the store. Wild blueberries and strawberries and raspberries and blackberries and huckleberries, too. I doubt property with those on it is all that hard to find in rural New England.

Maybe I could run a u-pick operation! I'm still not sure if I want to be a full-time farmer or if I want to just hobby farm. And by "still not sure" I mean "I'm still not convinced I have what it takes to make it full-time." I wonder how much time a U-Pick takes up? And I love baking pies, but I hate eating them (I know, I'm a freak). I could sell pies!

In the end, though, I know what I love. And that's animals.

But that's for another post.

Important Bullets

  • I am a woman
  • I like other women
  • I'm an Adult Child of an Alcoholic
  • On any given day, my hot button Issue is either fat acceptance or classism
  • I believe feminism is the radical belief that middle class white women are people too
  • I don't have a snappy word for the belief that poor women of all races are people too
  • I still identify as a feminist
  • If you don't believe the US needs universal healthcare, I don't want to talk to you
  • The very concept of bootstraps, regardless of whether the word is used, makes me froth with rage
  • I am rather opinionated

Comment Policy

  • Don't feed the fucking trolls.
  • Misogynist, classist, racist, ableist, transphobic, and homophobic language will not be tolerated.
  • Calling me out for using any of the above will.
  • Back your shit up.

About Me

I'm Erin. I'm a computer science major when I'm in school. I spend a lot of my time currently being a college dropout due to health and financial issues. I work for the security division of one of the computer world's largest storage solutions.

I want to be a farmer.

I was born dirt poor in the middle of nowhere in Massachusetts. I grew up less poor in the middle of nowhere in Massachusetts. I spent a lot of my time fucking around on a family friend's farm.

I tried living in Boston and the surrounding cities for four years. It didn't take. Neither did being in school. So I dropped out and moved to a different middle of nowhere still in Massachusetts.

I currently live in a six-family house with my dog, a handful of indoor cats, and the flimsiest lock known to man on my front door. Thank god for friendly neighbors. Needless to say, my apartment is pretty small, but the size of the yard is worth it.

While the yard is big, I have no garden because I expect to pull up stakes in six months, when my internship -- and thus my cash flow -- runs out. Instead, I spend my time at farmers' markets and ag fairs, dreaming of the farm I'll have when I secure a steady job.

Dykestra's Algorithm is a pun on Dijkstra's Algorithm, the solution to the shortest path search problem in graphs. I'm a dyke looking for the shortest path to a farm of my own.

Welcome Post

Welcome to my blog!

Before I get started posting actual entries, why don't you check out the important links over to the side to learn a little bit more about me?