31 December 2007

Drinking the KoolAid, holy crap

(says she of the Blogger platform.)

Even though I love my job and this is the nicest company I have ever worked for, I can't imagine spending 4-5 hours every weekday weaving a chainmail banner with the company logo on it, like this Googler did. I notice the stats don't include a time estimate of how long many hours spent on the project.

28 December 2007

the saga of my boobs, part one million

Sarah Hepola has a great salon piece on what it's like to have big boobs. She articulates everything I really minded.

I was in the middle of a semi-naked makeout session with the man I was (foolishly) dating when he interrupted to ask a question.

"What size are those?" He meant my breasts.

A sleazeball, right? Of course. But I've gotten that question, too. It's like kissing me is some kind of license to ask. Gee, why don't you ask how much I weigh, too?

A gajillion porno sites and essentially all of modern pop culture would suggest having big boobs is a wonderful thing, an aspirational thing; hey, people pay good money for these puppies. But for me, it's something I never wanted, something that never fit what I felt like inside, something I try badly to ignore. Unfortunately, most people don't return the favor.


But underneath all the good-natured self-mockery and the saucy, low-cut tops, there is something else: I am embarrassed by my knockers. And the fact that something I am embarrassed about is the first thing people notice about me? Well, that kinda sucks. I feel like I could save a baby from a burning building, I could cure cancer with glitter alone, and I would still be referred to as "Sarah, you know, the short one with the big tits."

Ditto. It's not really any fun. One of my first husband's best friends referred to me, for years, as "the lassie wi the big tits." Um, thanks. That was after the reduction, which, if you are interested, brought me down to a 32DD. My surgeon's response, a year after the reduction: "Huh. I thought they'd be smaller, more like a C cup." Yeah, I thought so too. But you don't need to slice me up again and cut off my nipples and reattach them again and leave big swathes of ropy scar tissue - it's okay, I'll live with it. It's certainly an improvement from the G cup or whatever I was wearing before. I was too embarassed to go to the old ladies in a department store who would have measured me, and it's uncommon to stock even a 32DD (which is why I often end up wearing a 34D and tugging at the back as it slides up all day). Never mind the 32G.

And not knowing your own cup size is another point that Hepola touches on:

I'll sum up my early adolescence like this: I wore T-shirts in the pool. I showered alone. I learned that clever ruse of changing clothes but never being naked. I tried to be terribly quiet about all this, because if I was terribly quiet, then all of it just might disappear.

Which is the kind of magical thinking that got me to the age of 33, not knowing the size of my breasts. I don't need an "Oprah" episode and a thousand women's magazine articles and the cast of "What Not to Wear" to tell me I'm in the wrong cup size. My breasts spill out the top. (I was horrified to discover the tabloid press had a name for this: quadriboobage!) My breasts spill out the bottom. They spill out everywhere boobs can spill out, basically.

It's been ten years since I had the reduction, and I still think it was a great decision. Even though my boobs, outside of a bra, fall about halfway to China, at least within a bra, I can look normal and wear dresses off the rack and stuff. Mostly because I am 5'7" and slim, so the boobs can get smushed into a sheath and look fine, as long as it's got some elastic.

But pre-operation, I was the object of admiration from my friends for how I could change without ever getting undressed. They also admired how well I hid my disproportion. And then they refused to let me borrow clothing, because it would get stretched. Which was true but annoying.

They look like I expect: Beige and giant, like you could parachute out of a plane with them. I try them on and she is surprisingly hands-on with me, running one finger along each seam, sticking a finger deep in the crevasse of my cleavage and rooting around, jiggling things unexpectedly. Even my boyfriend and my doctor aren't this thorough.

Yeah. How about the time I was getting fitted - bad enough to be topless in front of a bunch of strangers with your untoned stomach jiggling all over the place and muffin top seeping over the top of your pants with no sweater in place to camoflage it - and one lady commented on how saggy I was. Awesome. Why don't you also recommend aerobics so I can tone my thighs a little (as a waxer once did)?*

I'm sure she didn't mean to wound me, but if you're 21 or so and some white haired old broad is clucking over your tits and speculating that it's happened extra fast because of the reduction, that's no fun. Of course she's right; they are at my elbows and I offer proof:

cat pictures 002
I really should go braless less often.


I might be angry, but I'm supported.

it has always been my not-so-revelatory suspicion that this entire industry -- this luxurious, pink powder-puff, thongs-as-women's-empowerment industry -- is really just about pleasing men. Because let's face it: I am much more comfortable in a jogging bra and cotton boy shorts, and those don't run me $100 a set. It's all well and good to find a bra that fits, but the truth is that I wanted a bra that not only fit but could also be seen in daylight by the man I'm in love with.

Yeah. Except actually, a good sportsbra with an underwire seems to run me about 50 - 60 bucks. Worth every motherfucking penny.

* it's funny, I seem to mind the comments from other women more than men. Maybe because I expect that kind of bullshit from men, but when another woman - and one you are paying, who is seeing you vulnerable, in a state of undress - offers up her opinions about your body, well, it's like a double betrayal.

27 December 2007

holiday cookies

as usual, I indulged my taste for the intricate and the macabre. I'll start you off slowly.

snowflake resized
This took took like eleven hours to make. (See? slow!)

evil gingerbread tableau
The gingerbread Lestat.

gingerbread vampire killer gets his comeuppance
Lestat meets Akasha. Yum.

Even my precious snowflake is far less gorgeous than the one in the picture accompanying the recipe for roll-out spice cookies by Dorie Greenspan. The dough tastes delicious, is easy to make and roll out and the cookies are pretty damn good, too.

Everyone else is doing a year's best

so why not jump on the bandwagon?

So the other night Dave and I had a long stoned conversation* while he cooked dinner and I cleaned up cat barf about our picks for the year’s best album. Dave’s choice was, of course, John Davis’s solo album Arigato! (Davis is the frontman for Superdrag, one of Dave’s favorite bands ever. One of mine - now - too, if I think about it.)

Arigato! is straight-up rock but Davis is a born-again Christian and most of the songs are about God, which definitely sheds a different light on the “who sucked out the feeling” guy. “Sucked Out” was written by Davis when he was still all rock-and-rollerish and not sober; then his dad died and he quit drinking and converted. I don’t know why this background information fascinates me, but it does. (I allow the biographical information of authors to inform my reading, also.)

We saw a reunion Superdrag show this fall and no joke, it was the best show I think I’ve ever seen in my life, despite the presence in the audience of an occasional tiny fuckhead with a pierced neck. (Don’t worry, I elbowed her right back as hard as I could.) It was a reasonably small venue (the Paradise) and a sold-out crowd. (More trivia: the Paradise in Boston is where Superdrag played their last show before taking a break.) The opening acts were awesome and local to Knoxville, where Superdrag is based.

I have never seen such a high energy show for TWO FUCKING HOURS. I still feel guilty because I was sober and my back hurt from standing on a concrete floor for three hours during the opening acts and I was wearing earplugs the whole time (because live music fucking hurts) so I don’t think I looked very enthused, but I was. There inside my own head, I was thrilled. And they played all the greatest hits off the Superdrag CDs – I was surprised to find I knew every song – and a whole bunch of stuff off Arigato! (much of which I also knew, since Dave downloaded the singles off John Davis’s MySpace page (that link will take you to the page where you, too, can listen and download) and had been playing them ever since.

So we bought the album at the concert and it’s really good. It’s not Christian-christian, in that kind of safe-pop way that I think Christian rock tends to get categorized as; it’s much closer to John Donne’s gripping raw struggle with God. Which is cool to see – at leas faith works for someone, even if not for me! And while the message isn’t doing it for me, the rock does. It’s straightforward and sincere, which is Dave’s thing – he really values authentic emotion. It’s also a very skillful album – the songs are well-thought out and well crafted, without the craftsmanship ever actually taking over. A terrific balancing act.

So I liked the album a lot, but it wasn’t my pick for year’s best. Probably my personal favorite this year is Andrew Bird’s Armchair Apocrypha, which is clever and a little goofy and kind of experimental. And not quite insincere, but there’s no raw emotion, everything is polished to a high gloss. It’s very cerebral and a little cool, if you consider that a flaw, which I don’t (not for this album, anyway.) Those things are all the things that I dig, though, and that link above to the John Donne isn’t an accident – the metaphysical poets are my favorites because they take this emotion and compress it really tightly into tightly constrained boxes of metaphor and rhyme scheme and when it works, it gives me goosebumps. Andrew Marvell’s bracelet of bright hair about the bone, oh my! The risk with doing that kind of thing is that you can slide into insincere artifice (see: the later work of They Might Be Giants, or some of Pope’s poems) and just play by the numbers, which is boring and sneery.

Bird doesn’t do that, though. Imitosis is probably my favorite song on the album. I mean, how can you not love this?
“despite what all your studies had shown/
What was mistaken for closeness was just a case for mitosis”
So smart! The internal rhyming, the pun! And it’s a fucking peppy salsa number with violins! And then the chorus “we were all basically alone” is haunting. Not all the songs are that good, although I also love "Plasticities" (guaranteed to get me bobbing my head at my desk at work like a looner) and "Fiery Crash" and "Dark Matter" and ohhhh, all the songs, really.

So what I think it comes down to for year’s best is really a matter of taste. I feel kind of fraudulent professing any musical taste at all since I’m unable to create music myself (no, can’t carry a tune or keep a beat, it’s sad for me since I LOVE to sing). But I guess a lot of critics don’t necessarily produce. (Theoretically critics are well-educated, though, and my musical education is suckola.) I don’t think either of these albums is obviously head and shoulders above the other; I don’t think either album will go down in history as much more than a footnote, not necessarily because of the quality of the work but because neither is well-known.

So, blah blah blah, here’s some other stuff I found this year.

Best Album to Play When Parents Come Over: Amy Winehouse, Back to Black. Yeah, I’m sick of her tabloid antics too, but your parents will love the Phil Spector 60s heavily-produced orchestral sound. And maybe you’ll get a secret thrill from all her swearing which your deaf parents don’t notice. But although I still like the album, there’s not much more to it than what you hear on your first listen, which means I don’t listen to it very often. I bet it would be great for a party, too.

Best Guilty Pleasure: Belle & Sebastian, The Life Pursuit It can be totally twee but The Blues are Still Blue is a fucking terrific track. Plus, soft spot for the Glasgwegians singing about cups of tea and Morningside because awww, net curtains and sweetness.

Best New-To-Me Discovery That Was Not New This Year:
Butch Walker, Letters. Dave’s drummer gave him a copy of this album and it’s awesome car music, kind of sunny-yet-melancholy sensitive-songwriter boy pop. Yay! Also in the category is The Pernice Brothers, Yours, Mine and Ours.

Most Flexible Album: Fiest, The Reminder. 1234 made it into an iPod commercial, but don’t hold that against the band, because the singer’s voice is terrific and out of 14 songs on the album, there are only a few that I skip. (“Sea Lion Woman” sucks, but “My Moon My Man” more than makes up for it.) But you can totally play it with kids in the room, or parents (and no worries on the swearing), or as background music in the car, or just sit down with a drink and listen to it, and it holds up to all that stuff. Sometimes innocuous can be a virtue.

Best Pop Album: New Pornographers, Challengers. I have a feeling this album will come to mean “fall of 2007” to me, it feels very specific like that. I will note that after seeing them play in concert in bored fashion, I lost interest in this album and now only play it sporadically. I think I overplayed it, actually; my lack of interest might be due to user error and not the album. Whatever. It’s still a great poppy record, and shit, it has a LOT of really great songs on it – it would be shorter to list the tracks that suck (“Failsafe”, “All The Things That Go To Make Heaven And Earth” and “Adventures in Solitude” is iffy) than to list the super rad awesome tracks (“My Rights Versus Yours”, “All the Old Showstoppers” – the best track on the album, I think – “Challengers”, “Myriad Harbour”, “Unguided”, “Mutiny I Promise You”, “Entering White Cecilia”).

Most Overrated: it’s a tie between Rilo Kiley’s Under the Black Light and Wilco’s Sky Blue Sky. The Wilco album has a few good tracks (“Either Way”, “You are My Face”but it seems self-indulgent (Impossible Germany is like, skippable Germany); if this was a book I’d say it needed another round of edits. The Rilo Kiley is interesting and experimental and plays around with different genres a lot – something I appreciate (see Andrew Bird) but in this case, it’s mostly not a success. Standout tracks include “15”, “Smoke Detector” – heh, I smoke in bed too - and “Silver Lining”, although I’ve got a soft spot also for “Breakin’ Up” – one of the songs where the experimentalness works. Moneymaker, on the other hand, sounds like a cover of an obscure disco song, and not in a good way. And that was the single they chose, too. Bleah. Why didn’t someone ask ME?

* all I really needed to say was stoned, huh? length is kind of implied

17 December 2007

I love this picture


It's not the most flattering picture ever taken of me (although the haircut looks terrific, thanks to Matthew-the-genius-hairdresser) but I really like it because Zoe is looking straight at the camera (Dave's cell phone) and I'm not. So - a nice picture even if it shows my nose in profile, which I don't like.

Plus this picture is really typical of Zoe and me - she sees the laptop come out and climbs right into my lap, giant Campbell's-soup-kid-eyes alight, and then sort of burrows in. She is warm and cute but uncomfortable, so I end up hunched over the (warm) laptop losing the battle with Zoe's fur which is oozing onto the touchpad. You can like, see how soft her fur is, though, and how sweetly she rests her chin on my (typing) arm.

The casual nature of digital camera photos is fantastic. You can take like a million versions of a picture, or the subject doesn't have to bother to look at the camera, and whether you choose to use the picture or delete it, it's free. I feel less compelled to smile for photos because I don't have to pay to get them developed and if it's unflattering, I can delete it, instead of thinking, "that was a waste of film". (The challenge now is to make sure I'm not wearing the exact same flattering-photo-smile-face in all my pictures.)

Anyway. Happy me and the internet and Bobo and her Campbell's-soup-kid-eyes (which I suspect is maybe due to diabetes vision problems. She did turn out to be diabetic after all, but so far it's minor and might be controllable with diet for a while. And as long as her quality of life is good, I can handle committing to an insulin regime, even if it does mean we can't just pile up the Meow Mix and take off for the weekend any more. Not like we do that anyway, I just cling to the idea that some day I'll take advantage of the spontaneity available to me. Also someday I will make our Christmas stockings.)

04 December 2007

Internet roundup

News of the Weird:

MSN’s Bad Santa. Just in time for the holidays, MSN created a “Santa” you can chat with. But apparently this Santa has a dirty mouth. Check out the transcript from the register. My favorite part is when Santa calls the children dirty bastards, but second-favorite is the tone of outrage in the story, since I don’t really believe that the “children” in the story were actually children. Anyway, if your kids are IMing with strangers, a Santa-bot with some bad code is not great but isn't the most harmful thing they could run across. But still not good news for MSN's already greyish public image.

News of the Depressing:

Credit card interest rate rise up to 30% triggered if your credit score changes. (A change in credit score can be triggered just by opening a new credit card, or enquiring in a couple of places about opening a new credit card. Awesome!) See Pandagon for the full story. I knew there was a reason I was working on getting my credit card balance to zero. (Apart from moral satisfaction, of course, which is not that much of a motivator when confronted by the shiny and the pretty.)

News of the Cuteness:

As long as we’re talking about pandas, check out this video of a baby panda sneezing. It’s only 14 seconds long. (I hate embedded videos – normally - they take forever to load and you don’t know if they’ll last ten seconds or 10 minutes.)

01 December 2007

Bits and bobs

There's a scrap store called Bits and Bobs in Edinburgh, although when I clicked on the link to see if it was either new or if I just didn't remember it from when it was there, it's not really in the city, it's outside. Edinburgh is a funny city in that about 5 miles outside the city center, you hit farmland and start to see cows. That was always surprising to me, that country and city rubbed shoulders so closely like that without any surbuban strip malls to ease the transition.

This is really a follow-up post, anyway.

So I changed the sheets last night, with Inty "helping", which means she kept jumping up on the bed and trying to settle and then acting all surprised when a blanket landed on top of her, then attacking the sheets from the inside out, frightening herself and running away, and then coming back to yell at me before the starting the whole cycle all over again. It was annoying-cute, like Winston is ugly-cute.
A friend suggested I get some baby food since Zoe's lost so much weight, and Zoe fucking LOVED that shit. It smells, if possible, grosser than wet cat food, and I really can't wait to clean up the inevitable baby food cat barf, but at this point, I'll do anything that will get some calories into her. Her spine is all knobbly, it's just like I remember from Vince, who I can't link to because I can't figure out how to get my pictures from iPhoto onto the internet because I can't figure out the file path. This whole Mac OS baffles the crap out of me, which makes me feel stupid and lazy for not trying harder to learn it but also impatient, because I need my brain for storing information about Britney Spears's latest driving infraction.

Anyway. Vince got a tumor and died. I don't feel ready for the same to happen to Zoe. Also it's really cold out and I think the ground might be frozen by now and what do you do, pay a hundred and fifty bucks to get the cat cremated or put the cat in the freezer until spring when you can bury it for free? That's a dilemma I don't want to have. Another thing I don't want to have: migraines. Since this recent low, I've stopped drinking in an effort to limit the frequency of migraines, but so far no go.

And as long as I'm talking about how cheap I am, I just one minute ago caved and turned the heat on. It was at 61 and I'm boiling it all the way up to 66. I know how to party. But we've got a quarter tank of oil and it will probably cost about half a month's rent to refill it and I'm trying to put off that moment as long as possible. I may be cheap but we're also legitimately broke, although hopefully Dave's new job will go some way towards easing that pain. In the meantime, I'll continue to wear my fleece indoors over three layers and a blanket, thanks.

Since I wrote this, I seem to have magically lost about 10 pounds despite not making any changes to my eating habits. Which just makes me think that body weight is at least 80% genetic. Also it reminds me to point out an interesting response to that post from a friend, who confessed she hadn't taken my talking about compulsive eating completely seriously because I'm not overweight. I'm not - I'm 5'7" and usually weigh about 135 pounds. This means I don't suffer any social disapproval or other prejudice based on my appearance, which is nice, but since I'm of a normal weight I can't really complain about how fucked up my body image is without pissing people off (which I understand. It's like saying, "Darn! My eyelashes are so long they brush my sunglass lenses!", you know? Cry me a fucking river.)

And oooooh, Dave just came home with flowers. Just because. Yay! I'm off to make vodka cupcakes and put my flowers in a vase. Man, I love flowers but never want to spend the money. I can already smell the lilies, I should remember to spoil me more often.