Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Dear George W.

Please tell us when you're
going to drop the big one. I'll be tuned
to CNN or MSNBC. I could even buy a second set.
I won't miss a thing. It will be more grand than towers tumbling
to the ground. No people falling, though. Instead, they'll maybe
bounce into the air? Or just be running fast, their hair on fire? Will
we see them screaming? See their body parts? What will we see,
George? Will we hear their wails? What will we hear,
George? Will we feel? I don't know,
George, this will be
a television
I wouldn't
miss it
for the world,
of course,
it's not
prime time,
or it
on me

Sharon E.
citizen in despair

From bush rage: collected verse by Sharon E. Streeter

Saturday, March 19, 2005

The Mice are Keeping Me Away

Alas, it seems the severe mouse infestation in our house has migrated to my bedroom. Since that's where my computer is, and since I've been avoiding my room as much as possible (due to my extreme phobia of mice), I have not been able to post much (or sleep, or much of anything else other than have severe anxiety attacks because of the mice).

It looks like until the mouse problem is dealt with, I will not be around much, as the only other chance I have to post is at work -- and frankly, I don't have all that much time while at work to post.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Of Punks and Poseurs

Amanda and Volsunga have both been talking about punk. Really, they're both good reads. But, I have to admit, they made me giggle.

Volsunga said:
What the hell is with teen tribes? It seems like all of a sudden, the past few years, kids have been more and more keen to label themselves as “punk” or “emo” or “goth”


It’s not the little ones that annoy me. It’s the 17 year old+ people who think all there is to life is how well you fit a stereotype. College is full of these kids who identify as “emo” or “goth” or “punk”, with corresponding styles of dress and attitudes; why the fuck do so many people want to be just like everyone else? And when did punk become all about fashion?

I remember wondering this same thing, bemoaning the whole "new generation" of college kids who were so into identifying as punk in order to be cool -- when punk started becoming a semi-popular fashion trend. I remember shaking my head at the new commodification of the punk lifestyle.

But the thing is -- it was the kids who were getting into it via the "trendy" bands like Green Day and Nirvana, Sublime and Rancid who were causing us the problems. It was the popularity of the very bands that introduced Volsunga to punk that distressed us "old school" punks.

Of course, there were those who felt the same way when my cohort joined the ranks of punk rock. My first introduction to punk rock came via Quincy. I was only 11 when I saw this now infamous episode, but instead of being scared away from punk, I was utterly intrigued. I loved the music, and wanted to hear more. But, being only 11, that would have to wait a few more years yet -- IOW, by the time I entered the "scene," even the former "Quincy punks" were "old school." But, by 14 I was thoroughly enthralled with The Violent Femmes, The Smiths, The Cure, and other such bands. I died my hair and started hanging out on "The Ave."

Eventually, I earned my "cred" and became part of the core group of punks who could now whine and kvetch about the new "weekend punks" with the "safety dos" (the hairstyles that looked "normal" during the week and "punked out" during the shows).

Of course, there were those "punks" who came in with me who did it just as a "fad," their dedication to punk petering out eventually, just as there were in Volsunga's cohort, and just as there will be in this next generation.

But, there will also be those who, in 10 years, will be bemoaning the new trend of rebel, the new commodification of punk, and looking back fondly on the old days when punk was "real."

Monday, March 14, 2005

Sick and Stressed

I want to apologize to everyone for not posting in almost a week. Last week was a very bad week for me. I spent most of the week dealing with a stomach bug. It was pretty bad -- but I did get to spend some of that time watching a lot of Freaks and Geeks, so I guess it wasn't all bad.

I don't usually post about personal things, but there's this one thing that's got me so stressed right now, I can barely think of anything else. So, I figured I'd try and write about it -- get it out a little.

In order to explain this, I have to give a bit of background history. This means going back 15 years.

In the summer of 1990, when I was 19, I took a job basically doing telemarketing work (setting up appointments with people for our "salespeople" to do a pitch). It was shitty work -- in fact, while everything was perfectly legal, I knew it was all just barely so. But I was making good money and good friends and I was having a lot of fun. I went out drinking and to concerts with my coworkers and boss (one time we even went to see Danzig, after which I ended up on the tour bus and going to breakfast at Perkins with the band -- and no, I didn't fuck them, get your head out of the gutter).

About 6 months later, the parent company decided to close that office and move us to Massachusetts. Not everyone went, but a small group of my closest friends did go. We moved to a small town on the border of New Hampshire and all lived together in a small one bedroom apartment across the street from the office.

At first, it was pretty hard. We were just starting the office, so we had no money. But I didn't care -- I was happy. You have to understand, these people I was living and working with had become my family. Most of my life has been spent seeking a place to "belong" -- a place I felt was "home," where I belonged and was valued and needed and, most important, wanted. I had only really had this feeling one other time in my life, and believe me, that (in retrospect) was a much worse group of people (very long story). To this day, I have yet to find that sort of closeness again. Perhaps it's something that just never really happens, at least, not in healthy relationships. Perhaps it's just something I haven't been able to find. But I felt all of that with this group of people. I loved them, and they loved me (or so I believed).

Well, as I said, it was a hard time at the beginning. And one night, about 3 weeks after moving up there and after not having eaten in several days, we decided to treat ourselves to dinner. Of course, with no money, that meant planning to do a "dine and dash." Well, we did that, but it didn't work out as planned. Instead, we ended up spending the night in jail in a small New Hampshire town.

When the day came for us to appear in court, only 2 of the 4 of us originally arrested were in town. So, the 2 of us showed up, and the judge postponed the court date for a time when all 4 of us would be there. But during that court date, the judge made mention of the possibility of paying back the restaurant and seeing if they'd drop the charges.

A week later, my boss told me that's exactly what happened. And I believed him. Now, you may be wondering why the hell I'd believe him, and not, at the very least, check up on that. But, you have to understand, this guy was my best friend, I loved him dearly. And, keep in mind, I was young and naive -- after all, this is the same guy who talked me into buying a car in my name, promising me that the company would make all the payments, only to have to do a "voluntary reposession" of that car 4 months later (not one payment was made) and then help a P.I. find said boss when he disappeared with the car. But I didn't know all this then. I still thought this was a great guy. And yeah, in retrospect, I should have checked up on all this after the whole car thing, but by that time I had moved back to New York and forgotten all about it.

Over the next several years, I completely forgot about the entire incident in New Hampshire. About 7 years after all this happened, I discovered that there was a possibility my name was not cleared. I found out when talking to one of the men I had been arrested with (not the boss-guy, a different one who I had stayed friends with over the years). He had moved to Nevada and tried to transfer his license. That's when he discovered that there was still an open warrant out for him in New Hampshire.

At the time, I was a (very) poor college student, I couldn't afford to go to New Hampshire and try to fix any of this. Besides, I had never had any problems. And I did one of those internet "background checks" on myself and it came back with a clean record. I thought that maybe when M had taken care of his thing, it took care of it all. Or maybe, because it was because M hadn't shown up at the first court date, that was what was causing his problems. Since I had shown up, I was OK. Yeah, stupid, naive, but I really wanted to believe that.

But, I suppose a part of me always thought that this was possibly all still hanging over my head. But I didn't know for sure until last summer. Last summer, I tried to transfer my license to Oregon and discovered that I was having the same problems M did in Nevada. I had a friend of mine call the Salem, NH police department and, sure enough, there is a bench warrant for me. It's so old, it's not even on the computer -- they had to go to the basement and check the card files, but sure enough, it was there. My friend was told that I would have to return to NH to take care of it -- which I couldn't afford to do. The clerk told my friend that perhaps I could talk to an attorney here and see if it could be worked out.

So, I did that. I talked to a friend of mine here who is an attorney (although, does not usually handle these sorts of cases). He wasn't able to find out anything, and was unable to talk to the prosecuter (who simply told him that he refused to talk to anyone about the matter until I showed up in NH).

Well, my NY state driver's license was about to expire, and I knew I had to do something. So, I called the NH Department of Transportation (which turns out to be quite difficult in itself -- as it's just one woman answering 2 lines -- what kind of backwards state is this?!). I got the "docket number" and the number for the Salem District Court. Sure enough, there it is. And the only way to take care of this is to turn myself into the Salem police and go to court and pay the fine (minimum $530) and hope that they won't give me any jail time.

She suggested writing to the prosecuter and try to work out a deal where I agree to turn myself in, plead guilty, and pay the fine in return for setting a court date on the same day and not being sentenced to any jail time.

I have done that, and I am waiting for a response. This is not something that's going to be easy, in anyway. I will have to come up with plane fare, and then figure out how to get to Salem (I'll have to fly to Manchester or Boston -- and I can't rent a car, as my driver's license is now expired, so I guess I'll have to take a bus). Then I'll have to come up with the fine -- which is, as I said, a minimum of $530 (the prosecuter could decide to fine me more). I will also have to take time off of work to do all this.

I really want to take care of all this -- but I'm freaking right the fuck out about all of it.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Bill to allow DV victims to collect unemployment

Oregon Rep. Paul Hovey (D-Eugene) has introduced a bill that would designate safety concerns due to domestic violence as a "good cause" reason for quitting, allowing them to collect unemployment benefits.

SALEM — Rep. Paul Holvey (D-Eugene) introduced a bill Thursday that would help victims of domestic violence, stalking, and sexual assault. The bill, HB 2662, would expand current laws to allow such victims to collect unemployment benefits if they leave work to protect their safety or the safety of their families.

Presently, the law provides that unemployment benefits are available only to people who must quit for “good cause.” Holvey’s bill would provide a legal framework to ensure that only victims can decide what steps to take to protect themselves from physical harm.

“Though threats of violence are not always specific to the workplace, they may be so insidious that a victim’s only safe alternative is to quit work and physically relocate,” Holvey said. “These victims are already under terrible emotional stress. We should not force them to choose between employment and safety.”

Without the legal protections offered by HB 2662, victims are less likely to leave work to seek safety, Holvey added. The availability of benefits enables victims to take the steps they need to protect themselves and their families without risking homelessness or bankruptcy, he said.

Violence between intimate partners is pervasive in Oregon, Holvey said. The Eugene Democrat referred to the findings of a current study conducted by in cooperation with the Oregon Department of Human Services. The study concluded that one in 10 women between the ages of 20 and 55 in Oregon had been physically or sexually assaulted by their current or most recent partner in the five years preceding the study.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Notice for Alas Readers

Anyone who regularly reads Alas may have noticed that it's down. Turns out that they've been kicked off their server (again). Amp has asked that I put up a notice here, so any cross-over readers will know what's going on, and to reassure you that Alas will be back soon. More details about the tech side of things can be found here.

Friday, March 04, 2005

But women do it, too

In one of the links provided by Sarahlynn (see previous post), I came across an incredibly powerful and persuasive essay on the subject of the "best interests for children" in custody cases that involve domestic violence. The entire article is incredible, but I wanted to point out one part in particular -- one of the best responses to the "but women do it too" diversions I've ever read.

From What is Fair for Children of Abusive Men? by Jack C. Straton, Ph.D.
In the process, I am going to talk today about the effects of male power and control over children, not about parental power and control. I know that it is popular these days to de-gender family conflict, to talk about "spouse abuse" and "family violence" rather than "wife beating" and "rape." I know that we want a society in which men nurture children to the same extent that women do.

I know that fathers and mothers should both be capable parents. But if you ask "What about the kids?" I want to give you a serious answer. I cannot seriously entertain the myth that our society really is gender neutral, so to consider "What about the kids?" while pretending such neutrality is to engage in denial and cognitive dissonance. I cannot hope to arrive at an answer that will positively affect reality if my underlying assumptions are based on fantasy.

So I am going to talk today about the effects of male power and control over children, not about parental power and control. As I cite examples, some of you may hear your internal voice saying, "But women do that, too." As this happens I would ask you to be aware that such voices are often the voice of guilt that try to distract us from what we really know about men's violence so that we need not take responsibility for this violence.

It is true, for example, that some women do batter men. But the number of severe cases of this type is so low when compared with the virtual war of men's violence against women, that they cannot be seen above the statistical noise. This voice that says "But women do that, too" has as its purpose, not compassion for battered men or lesbians, but a distraction from the noble goal of ending battering of women.

So as you hear this voice today, become consciously aware of it. Let it into your conscious mind for a moment, and then let it drift on. It is just a tape recording that you can always come back to in an hour or two if there is a need. If you find that you just can't contain this voice, that others must hear this tape recording, please do not hesitate to raise a hand or even to shout it out. We will pause to give it some space.

Why doesn't she just leave?

Sarahlynn at Yeah, but Houdini didn't have these hips has an excellent series (is 2 a series?) of posts on Domestic Violence and answering the question, "Why didn't she just leave?"

Sarahlynn's posts are moving and powerful, and there's not much I can add to them. But that's never stopped me before.

Her first reason why an abused woman might not leave her abuser is, IMO, one of the most powerful and important ones, and the one that most people understand the least:

Abusers are often very smart, very talented, very convincing. They might seem like wonderful men to family and friends. They might seem very honestly apologetic after the fact. And many of us took Psych 101. We know that we respond very well to inconsistent systems of reward and punishment. We love gambling. We prefer stocks to bonds.

Yet in the present case we have a man who, though he beats his wife, is often very charismatic to the rest of the world, and perhaps to his kids. And even if he beats his kids as well, it is known that intermittent affection can be a stronger binding agent than consistent affection. We also have a man who has demonstrated his power over another human being through brutality.

I have a personal philosophy (learned through years of experience): The more charming a man is, the farther away a woman should stay. Because here's the thing -- an abuser does not start using abusive behavior at the beginning of a relationship -- it can take months, often even years, before he starts abusing. Abusers often have a history of being abusive. In some cases, they may genuinely feel that they are not going to be abusive this time. Regardless, they know the possibility of abuse is there, so they overcompensate by being overwhelmingly charming -- to the woman in a new relationship and to outsiders.

In addition, no abuser is abusive all of the time. Even after abuse has happened, there are often times when an abuser is quite apologetic, caring, and loving. In the cycle of abuse, this is referred to as the "honeymoon period." During this stage, and abuser is often remorseful, making promises that the abuse will not happen again, often volunteering to get help in changing, making heartfelt declarations of love.

During these times, a woman genuinely feels that she is loved (and, truth be told, she probably is -- although it's not a healthy love). She genuinely wants to believe his promises, because she doesn't want to have to leave the man she loves. And when he's in this stage, he really can show her how much he loves her.

And, she doesn't want to be alone: all people in our society, but especially women, are socialized to believe that there is something wrong with being alone. People (especially women) fear that if they leave, they may never find another person to be with; that this is as good as it gets. The bad times may be bad, but at least she has the good times to go along with it; at least she's not alone.

When talking with the women staying in the shelter I work in, I strongly discourage them from calling their abusers. Part of that is the whole confidentiality thing; but frankly, the main reason is because it is one of the primary reasons a woman will return to her abuser. After a couple of weeks, the memory of the abuse has faded somewhat (just as the memory of the pain of childbirth fades). The abuser is often desperate to regain control of her, and will do anything to get her back. The promises of change and the declarations of love combined with the faded memories of abuse, the love she feels for him, and her fear of being alone are oftentimes too powerful and undermine her resolve to leave him. This is one of the main reasons that it takes a woman, on average, 4 - 7 times to leave her abuser for good.

Related to this issue is guilt. The guilt women feel due to their being socialized to take on the burdens of all of their loved ones. Last week, I spent a good portion of my week encouraging a woman not to go back to her abuser, of letting her know that the contract she was going to make him sign making him go to batterer intervention and "really working on the issue" was not going to be enforceable when he's choking her the next time. When he tried to apologize, she was able (after talking to me and other staff people) to see through it. When he tried to diminish the harm he had done, she was able to see through it. But what she couldn't get past was her own guilt. He was having to take time off of work (as a bank manager) because of "this situation." He was feeling "bad" about being a "wife beater." They had just moved here not too long ago, and he was struggling with pressure from work, and this was making everything so much worse for him. She couldn't undo that socialization that she was the one who needed to take care of him, despite the fact that he was the one who put himself into this situation.

Love is a powerful emotion. And it can be used as a powerful weapon. Until we, as a society and as individuals, recognize this, we will not be able to stop the cycle of abuse.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Location Meme

bold the states you've been to, underline the states you've lived in and italicize the state you're in now...

Alabama / Alaska / Arizona / Arkansas / California / Colorado / Connecticut / Delaware / Florida / Georgia / Hawaii / Idaho / Illinois / Indiana / Iowa / Kansas / Kentucky / Louisiana / Maine / Maryland / Massachusetts / Michigan / Minnesota / Mississippi / Missouri / Montana / Nebraska / Nevada / New Hampshire / New Jersey / New Mexico / New York / North Carolina / North Dakota / Ohio / Oklahoma / Oregon / Pennsylvania / Rhode Island / South Carolina / South Dakota / Tennessee / Texas / Utah / Vermont / Virginia / Washington / West Virginia / Wisconsin / Wyoming / Washington D.C /

Go HERE to have a form generate the HTML for you.

via Lab Kat

Congrats to blue lily

Thanks to some helpful prodding by Alsis, blue lily has been more active on her blog, The Gimp Parade. I've been a long-time admirer of lily's, and I'm pleased as punch to see her writing on her blog more. I've always had immense respect for her writing and her insights on disability politics.

And now, I'm not the only one. The online disability magazine, Ragged Edge, has taken notice and is going to be publishing some of her writing.

The Invisibility of Feminism

Antigone at XX, Lauren at feministe, and Rox Populi have all encouraged -- to put it nicely ;) -- women bloggers to take this survey. So, I did it, and I'll encourage other women to do the same.

When I got to the question 9 (magazines you subscribe to) I noticed that out of 92 magazines to coose from, there was not one single feminist magazine listed.

Maxim and Men's Health are both listed (of course). American Rifleman and NRA Rifleman, Aviation Week, 2 magazines for Mac users, to name just a few of the "hobby" magazines; several mainstream and leftist political/news mags, TV Guide, People, Cosmo. But not one single feminist magazine.

And yes, feminist magazines exist:
This is not even close to a comprehensive list of all the feminist magazines and journals in print, and I didn't include any on-line magazines. (For a more comprehensive list, you can check out the University of Wisconsin-Madison's list of Magazines and Newsletters on the Web (Women Focused).)

Yes, some of these are "journals" rather than magazines, but then so is JAMA, and that made it on the list. And they can include Aviation Week, why not Woman Pilot?

This is yet another example of how feminism is made invisible in our society. Feminism is here, and it's about time people started acknowledging it.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005


  • Have you ever had a secret that you really wanted to get off your chest, but couldn't dare tell anyone you know? Or maybe you're one of those people who likes to read other people's secrets. Either way, you should check out PostSecret. Hundreds (maybe thousands) of people have contributed so far to this on-going art project, wherein people are invited to creatively use a postcard to reveal a secret that they have never shared with anyone else. via Worshipping at the Altar of Mediocrity

  • Media Girl takes a look the irony of the U.S. Government condemning human rights abuses in Iraq:
    Who the fuck is the Bush Administration to condemn Iraq for acts of turture and human rights abuses that the Bush Administration itself advocated and administered in the very same country at the very same time?
  • Black Looks takes a look at the effectiveness of judicial intervention in foreign affairs. Also be sure to check out her synopsis of the 19th FESPACO (Pan African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou) which opened this week in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso in West Africa.

  • Jessica at feministing gives us a sneak peek of a publication she's been working on that is coming out tomorrow: Beijing Betrayed: Women Worldwide Report that Governments Have Failed to Turn the Platform into Action. I'm intrigued.

  • Romance novel covers don't really need to be parodied -- they're pretty silly to begin with. But that didn't stop someone from doing just that anyway. via (...Paranthetically Speaking)