Monday, April 27, 2009

Overheard at a 7-year-old's birthday party.

A 7-year-old guest, anxiously asking the father of the birthday boy: "Is it ok if someone farts in here?"

Sunday, April 26, 2009

New and improved hugs.

I have it on good authority that hugging me is better now that there aren't annoying boobs in the way. The hugs are better from this side of the equation, as well. If you've hugged me both before and after, feel free to weigh in on this, ahem, *weighty* issue, but I'm going to assume that the hugs now are an improvement over the old ones.

Before I go to sleep and forget it all...

because Twilight, the movie, is rather forgettable...

* Bella comes across, not as the woman in the book who is overcome by Edward's presence, but as simply, annoyingly, tongue-tied. This very quickly becomes painful to watch.

* None of the vampires, with the exception of Edward (barely) and Alice, look like I'd imagined them. This would be fine except that they mostly looked like those black and white postcards that add tint to blond hair and red lips. Not a good look, especially for Dr. Cullen. (Mr. P says: "Bela Lugosi meets Pleasantville.")

* The tree-climbing scene was stupid.

* The book, overall, doesn't translate well to the screen (because there's so little plot), so actually, I have to give the director and screenwriters credit for getting as far as they did with it.

* The scary vampires weren't scary (although all the vampires do seem to have scary hair). The filmmakers need to watch 30 Days of Night.

* The film did preserve some of the passion of the novel, but only some of it.

* I do not have a feminist analysis yet. I know there is a battle raging around this book, but so far, I've gotten as far as noticing the eroticization of abstinence (which, again, plays out much, much better in print than on screen). I also noticed that Bella's girlfriends pretty much disappear whenever any guy is around, and that's kind of sad - the only person she really connects with in the whole story is Edward. On the one hand - ugh. On the other hand - this makes both of them loners who find someone special in each other.

* The music was all wrong. Whiny, nasally boy "alternative" singers?! Really? A little goth would have gone a long way. It didn't have to be Bauhaus. Even Evanescence would have worked.

* I do like the complete reinvention of vampire legend. Why should Anne Rice have a patent? The book was pretty creative in playing with exiting vampirology, like the idea of what happens when they go out in the sunlight.

* I suppose I should be grateful that Edward doesn't morph into a Buffy vampire, at least.

* Despite all of this, I'm probably hooked for the series.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Things Annoying Me Today.

1) The association of "trans" with "men" - not as in "transmen," but as in the idea that a transgendered person must, of course, be male. As in, 'oh, no, transgendered men are taking over Women's Studies!' As in, 'allowing trans people to use public bathrooms is the same thing as allowing men to use women's rest rooms!' What drugs is the internet taking that we are still having such difficulty with these issues?

2) That I have not, as I thought I might, gotten up early and finished all my grading.

3) That there is nothing good on t.v.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Guest post by Angry Lesbian Bride on getting married in Iowa.

Dear Readers in Same-Sex Relationships,
If you are thinking of heading over to Iowa to get hitched, read this first.

My wife and I were having our usual, lazy type of Saturday morning (possibly early afternoon) on April 4, 2009. We had slept to the point of sloth and risen only to cook and eat a huge breakfast together (hash browns, lattes, cheeseomelets and bacon). After we ate, I ventured out to get the newspaper. When I opened it, I did a little jig of happiness. My partner (let's call her B) now describes it as a victory dance/lap around the house in my bathrobe. I would maintain that she is exaggerating, but I do have a tendency to giddiness, especially when the happy event I'm experiencing is unexpected.

Just to add some perspective, it WAS love at first sight when we met in May of 2007. Just over a year later, on June 14, 2008, we held a modest, non-legal wedding in a park in Minneapolis. We had a huge number of attendants because all of our sisters and most of my wife's nieces were in our ceremony. I think our guests just barely outnumbered our wedding party, actually, but it was beautiful and perfect and we loved it. Our cake pretty much melted, but that's the only thing that really went wrong. Just in case you are wondering if you missed a court decision/law change, gay marriage is not legal in Minnesota. We live in South Dakota, so it really doesn't matter (legally) what we do or where, since the constitution here was (barely) changed by popular vote in 2006 to ban same-sex marriage, even though there was already a law banning it. I guess they just really, really wanted to be sure no recently-married gay or lesbian couples would be embracing and kissing on the courthouse steps in Sioux Falls.

What state you live in matters a great deal because in 1996, Bill Clinton signed into law the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), allowing states to ban same-sex marriages and to refuse to recognize such marriages performed elsewhere. I am curious to know if a legal gay marriage performed in, say, Connecticut, is recognized right next door in Massachusetts, where gay marriage is also legal, but no one seems to know and I'm betting it's not because of DOMA.

Clearly, however, my wife and I don't care about DOMA or anything else (although we do know we need to set up legal protections for each other and our theoretical children, especially when you consider that my parents are both homophobic lawyers). We choose to call our wedding a wedding and our life together a marriage, even though it has no legal standing anywhere. We have already loosely planned to take vacations/elope in the various states that it is possible, so when the state right next door suddenly allowed it, I hopped to attention and started planning right away, on the floor of our living room on April 4.

I thought it would be fun to write a queer guide to marriage in Iowa for out-of-staters like myself. Every state handles marriage differently, so you have to research a little bit to make it happen. I've already done that for Iowa, so why not share and help others out?

I thought "what could go wrong? It's the LAW. The SUPREME COURT of Iowa said so." I became the excited, jumping-up-and-down instant-wedding planner. B is naturally more cautious, and warned me from the beginning that there were bound to be problems.

I hope this isn't too tedious, but I'm just going to walk you through the whole thing so far.

We decided to get married in Des Moines, since it's the capital city and only 4 hours away by car. Also, if anyone we knew wanted to fly in, it would be easier for them there. I already had May 1 off as a vacation day. B thought she could get it off. We would leave in the morning in time to pick up our license and get married on Saturday, May 2, which is pretty much as soon as possible in the circumstances.

I googled LGBT organizations in Des Moines and found one that had a link to a wedding chapel.

I called the chapel and talked to the owner. We talked about the package we wanted, where the chapel is, email addresses, when I should call again to finalize, and what number to call on Monday to get the legal ball rolling. Elated, I hung up. B and I started sussing out other details, etc.

I called the Polk Co. Recorder on Monday, 4/6, to make sure that my Googled information was correct and that we had all of our ducks in a row. I explained the situation to the friendly woman on the phone and she put me on hold to check her information. I had the impression that I was her first same-sex questioner. After a brief time on hold, she told me:
-There is a three-day waiting period once the license is issued before it becomes valid.
-Don't forget your $35 check to us.
-Go ahead and fill out the application in front of a notary with your one witness as soon as possible. She would put it in the mail that day.
-Call on the 24th to see if that is the day it will issue. She had heard it could also be the 27th because of furloughs. (It turned out to be the 27th.)
-Pick up by 5pm on Friday, May 1, for your planned May 2 wedding.

We received, signed and sent back our contract for the wedding with the chapel. It's a 1/2 hour elopement package and we will probably have to pay for two witnesses, since no one we know lives in the area.

A few days later, we had our first possible roadblock when B found out that she couldn't get May 1 off from work. We emailed the officiant to see if she would be willing to pick up our license. She said she would, but I should let the recorder know so that they would allow it.

I called the Polk Co. Recorder on the 13th to check on the process and make sure our officiant could pick up our license for us. I spoke to the same, helpful woman as before. She was apologetic and told me that it might be sent back, since they were now being told, just as that afternoon, actually, that they were not to keep applications by same-sex couples that arrived before the 27th. I hoped that I concealed my dismay and disgust, and pointed out that I had been told, specifically, that it would be held. She apologized again. I asked for her name to make sure that, if I called again, I could speak to the same person, and she told me. She also said I could call the next day and speak to her supervisor. I said I would be on a business trip, but that I might be able to squeeze it in. After I got off the phone, I emailed the owner of the chapel and asked if, through no fault of our own, we couldn't marry on May 2, we could change our date without losing our non-refundable deposit. She said that would be no problem, which at least kept me from feeling that the recorder's office potentially owes us $150.

About 20 minutes later, a strange thing happened. My phone rang, and it was the same woman from the recorder's office, apologizing profusely and saying that, since I had called the week before and been told that she would hold our application, she would still hold it. In effect, making an exception for us. She clearly felt really bad about upsetting me before. (I did not yell, scream, or cry, but my voice may have wavered slightly.) I said a little prayer to the Midwestern Gods of Tact, Thoroughness and Reason, and thanked her, making a note of the fact that she told me to call again on the 27th and check on things. She also said it was fine to have our officiant pick up our license.

We booked the hotel suggested by the chapel owner. It was a good rate and a convenient location at a national chain hotel. The lady on the phone congratulated me and sounded really pleased when I told her we were eloping lesbians.

Yesterday, I was riding in a car on the way home from a conference (my business trip). I was with three colleagues. My cell phone rang, it was a woman from the Polk Co. Recorder's office. She is the supervisor of the woman I spoke to the first three times. I think she was the one calling me because her subordinate was afraid of me either yelling or crying. She said that they had just been informed that applications made before the 27th might not be considered valid later, so she is going to return our previous application and payment so that we can do it again. I would like to say that I kept my cool, but I burst into tears. I'm crying again thinking about it. I wanted to be mad about it, but both women from that office have been so thoroughly midwestern and kind that I can't hold a single drop of ire for them. We talked for a few more minutes, trying to figure out if there was a way to beat the three-day waiting period and still get married on May 2, but it isn't possible unless we manage to have everything signed before the post office closes on the 27th and that isn't possible because B works until about 5 without a lunch break and anyway how would I find a notary who works that late? The waiting period can be waived, but we would have to find a judge who would do it and appear in court during the week, which isn't possible since we both work full-time jobs.

One of my colleagues handed me a tissue as I tried to get my snivels under control and txt B about the situation. I realized that the only thing worse than a 6-hour car ride is one that includes a bawling co-worker, so I pulled myself together. The woman who handed me a tissue told me that she was a notary and she would do anything she could to help us. We talked about logistics, but I still can't find a way, short of time travel, to make May 2 work. I complained a little to B on the phone and she pointed out how little it matters that it be that particular day.

I tried to tell myself that it's not that much different from having your flight changed/delayed during a trip. You're pissed or sad (I tend to run to frustrated tears in these situations) because you had a plan for it to be one way, but it changes, and it's usually not anyone in particular's fault, so you just suck it up and chalk it up to another travel horror story you can tell later. However, as I thought about it on the 5 more hours I had before I got home, I realized that it's not like that, really. First of all, it's way more important, even if it is just symbolic. Also, it's more like if everyone got on the plane and was ready to go, and you got into your seat and did all of your settling in only to be singled out. Told that YOU are the one who cannot go to your destination on the day that you chose. Everyone else who sent in an application for a marriage license in Iowa last week can get married on May 2, just not us.

So, as pointed out in the Iowa Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage:

Child abusers can marry on that day, just not us.

Sexual predators can marry on that day, just not us.

Parents neglecting to provide child support can marry on that day, just not us.

Axe murders can marry on that day, just not us.


Other gay and lesbian couples who live there and can get their application in on the 27th or 28th (assuming they are not too swamped to issue licenses in a timely manner) can marry on that day, just not us. (which I'm cool with)

Now, I'm wondering if I can have the marriage license mailed to us, to spare our officiant a trip. I'm wondering if we should try to pick a new date. June 13 would be nice, since it's only one day off from our first wedding, but I don't want to schedule with the chapel and maybe have to change it later, again. By then, the new rules will have been in effect for about 7 weeks, so all of the bugs should have been worked out. On the other hand, the rules may have been changed again. The ability for same-sex couples to marry, in theory, can't even be challenged in Iowa now without a constitutional amendment, although I'm sure there areplenty of dedicated, homophobic lawyers combing the books looking for a different way to stop us. Fortunately for us, it is not very easy to change the constitution in Iowa. It would take a few years, at least.

Complicating matters is the fact that I'm supposed to hear about a job I applied for on April 27th. Of course, they would be insane not to hire me, since I am SO PERFECT for the job, but I was considering it lucky that two important things might happen in my life on the same day - our first marriage license and my first job in a new field. Now, I'm changing that to thinking that I shouldn't have to suffer disappointment twice, and maybe these hiccups in our wedding plans spell happy, happy news on the job front on that Monday in April. Or maybe I should just stop being so superstitious and grow up already.

I'm calling our officiant tonight, as planned in our first conversation. I emailed her about the problem yesterday. I'm just hoping I can keep from blubbering when I tell her we have to postpone.

Also, a friend of mine is planning her (straight, legal in South Dakota) wedding. I was already fighting slight annoyance that she can do that. Now, I'm afraid that if she starts nattering about her plans, her dress, how she wants us all to dance for her, I may cry or scream at her. It's not her fault at all. She doesn't even know about any of this. It's not my fault, either. I may just have to go lock myself in the bathroom until it passes or stick my fingers in my ears and say "lalalalala". I'm also knitting wedding garters for a childhood friend and my cousin. I'm trying to only put good thoughts into that work, but it's difficult.


Monday, April 13, 2009


Plain(s)feminist is shake shake shaking her booty (I dug out all my disco cds and played them while driving around in the car doing errands).

Plain(s)feminist is despairing of ever getting Bean to finish his homework. (Fuck it. I'm going to bed in an hour and a half, and if it's not done, it's not done. (That goes for my own homework, as well.))

Plain(s)feminist is wondering how she can tell if the dark chocolate she bought that tastes good and is clearly more milky than the dark chocolate she bought that doesn't taste as good is still considered "dark chocolate," and who decides, and where the line is drawn.

Plain(s)feminist is things are looking up - Bean has brought his homework into the study and is DOING IT, RIGHT NOW.

Plain(s)feminist is out of ways to procrastinate and needs to plan class for tomorrow...

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Spring Cleaning.

This afternoon, I tried on most of my t-shirts and tank tops to see which ones look ok without boobs in them and which ones do not. The verdict:

*My "Got Breastmilk?" tank was too ironic, even for me; I used to get comments when I wore that one, anyway, and I'm not in the mood for the comments that are likely to come if I wear it now.

*Almost all of the pink and white shirts have to go. Because they are so light, and because most of them are designed to fit snugly, they are too revealing of the weird lumpiness near my left armpit. This means I have to give up one of my "This is what a feminist looks like" shirts, my Amnesty International shirt, my "Feminist" shirt, and my "I love my vagina" shirt. (I will admit that I haven't ever actually worn that last one, as it has been difficult to know the occasion that would make that shirt the proper choice of attire.)

*Even though I will probably never wear it again, I am keeping my Jay and Silent Bob t-shirt, which seemed like a good idea at the time.

*There are several shirts that didn't fit before but do now, and these happen to be some of my favorites, including my Dooce shirt and the one my roommate after college designed for her then-girlfriend's band.

(Oh, my god. I think this is the most boring post I've written in the three years I've been blogging. I'm not kidding about Facebook. Is this what it's come to?)

Anyone else feel like Facebook saps their blog creativity?

I feel like I am so busy "liking" and "friending" and trying to be witty in my comments that I have nothing left for my poor blog. I can just imagine what it would be like if I tweeted...

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Daniel Zamlen - missing. If you're in the Twin Cities, please help.

The University of St. Thomas is requesting help over the next few days from anyone who is willing to volunteer to search for UST freshman Daniel Zamlen, who has been missing since Sunday. To help, go to room 154 of Murray-Herrick Campus Center on UST's Saint Paul campus, 2115 Summit Ave, between 9am-5pm today, tomorrow, and thru this weekend.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

I am so excited - SPEAK! Radical Women of Color Media Collective

I didn't know about this until now, and I'm really excited to order my copy - check out the list of contributors!!

Saturday, April 04, 2009


I think this is the most intensely I have ever felt my gender and my gender presentation to be at odds. I say this having been mistaken in my youth for a boy, and having gone through a couple of periods (in college and grad school) during which I cut my hair quite short and was often called "sir". The grad school short haircut was a mistake - I had gone in to get a cut and had a disastrous miscommunication with the hairdresser, who cut my hair shorter than it had ever been before. After that haircut, there was a noticeable, confused reaction from people who saw me on the street and couldn't tell whether the close-cropped person in a bulky winter jacket was a man or a woman.

I have been surprised to find that I kind of like my new body, sans breasts. I feel somewhat streamlined. I feel comfortable. I'm still figuring out what clothes to wear - I had finally figured out "what not to wear," and now I need to rethink it all for a new shape - but it's also kind of fun to try on looks I could never wear before.

I've been wearing a lot of earrings and scarves this week, both of which signal my gender to people. The scarves help camouflage the absolute flat plane of my chest - they don't hide it, but I think they make it less obvious. The earrings make my hair look more intentional. Together, they look good, and I've been happy with how I look.

But yesterday, I ran out of clothing options, and I ended up wearing jeans and a fleece hoodie. I forgot to wear earrings. And I realized that I was a walking gender contradiction, at least to some people. I don't pass as a man, and my voice and my movements betray me as a woman, but upon first glance, I am sure that some people would mistake me for a man or would need a second glance to figure me out. Thankfully, I didn't think about this until halfway through the day, so I didn't spend all day worrying about whether or not people were staring at me.

I know that I'm writing about this from a place of privilege. My hair will grow back and it will continue to be a gender indicator that will allow people to easily read me as a woman. Or maybe I will get prosthetics and that will be their cue. Either way, this is a temporary state, but it's one that requires some thought on my part.

(Off-topic: Please welcome David Capogna to the blogroll.)