This happened

Went out for karaoke. Sang Lisa Loeb’s “Stay.” Remember this song? It was soooooo everything I loved early highschool. it was not as terrible an experience as my first karaoke attempt, probably because I picked a song that didn’t require much vocal range, and i knew a little more what to expect. The crowd was super sweet, which might have something to do with the fact that I looked really big eyed and nervous.

Remember the movie Reality Bites? I remember being unhappy as a teen that she went with the scruffy loser who got fired for stealing a candy bar. I was pretty sure he was terrible but wasn’t sure why.

I am worried I am a plush frog head

I spent a lot of today reading about Gurlesque on the web, because I am always last to the party and what was new in 2008 is new to me now in 2011. I read Arielle Greenburg’s original talk here, then this series of interviews where she better articulates the ideas, and finally a series of responses, most of which are still active but some of which were dead because 2008 is in internet time the 18th century.  My favorite is not a direct response to Gurlesque posts but an essay called The Cuteness of the Avant-Garde by Sianne Ngai. I’d never read anything attempting to explain the effects of cuteness on the viewer or why our desire for cute might have a darker side. The essay pertains to cute objects, but as noted in the footnotes, cuteness is often associated with women and childishness (also associated with women). As a woman who has been considered cute by others, who has actually been told she’s adorable when angry, and who on occasion finds her smallness noticed before anything else — well. Cuteness, of course, is complimentary; there are far worse things to be called or considered, and if it is a quality I’ve possessed in my life then I have no doubt that it has served me in ways obvious and subtle, just as anyone’s attractiveness has some impact on his or her life, however we might pretend or hope otherwise. But I also know that  “cuteness” does have negative aspects, and Ngai’s description of the cute object provoking both aggression and tenderness, a desire for mastery as well as cuddling, seems to apply to “cute” women as well (perhaps “cute” (and this would also be interesting/difficult to define) men?).

Also, I write this wearing a little shirt with frilled sleeves that any 11 year old girl would be pleased to wear. I’m well aware that I play into the very thing I’m faintly complaining against.

Two things/luxury

I was writing but then was hungry, so I walked to the red mill and grabbed a peach and an apple. Then I climbed down a rock and sat by the Gihon river, eating the fruit.

I was conscious of two things that felt to me like sumptuous luxuries.

One was that I had been hungry, and then there was a bowl of fruit. I know the bowl of fruit is connected to a chain of labor, and money, and also care and regard. I felt these things, and I also felt the simple happiness that comes from having a need fulfilled not only quickly, but well. The peach was ripe and juice ran down my hand into the river. The apple crisp. Both cores I let float into the current and disappear in a small rapid.

The second was that I was alone, and did not have to explain myself to anyone. I could eat my fruit, and be surrounded on almost all sides by rushing water and the sound of that water. I touched the moss on the rocks and it reminded me of when I was a child and did the same thing. No one asked me to articulate my thoughts or feelings. I didn’t feel the pressure of being perceived as some sort of cipher. I didn’t feel the disappointment bearing on me when I’ve failed to meet some mark of sense or logic.

Good Intentions Paving Company, Joanna Newsom

Interestingly, when I first heard this album this was my least favorite song and I was very tempted to press next when it started (but did not, as Ys had taught me that this woman makes albums, not singles, so I knew I needed to listen through as I rarely do for most artists).

Nowadays, I love this song. Love the lyrics especially (“in love with the hook upon which everyone hangs”). Frustratingly, this video does have a few errors — most importantly, “stay in the right lane” which they have as “stay in the right land.” This seems to be as official a video as you’re going to get, so it’s amazing to me that error would be there, especially as it screws up a metaphor. The other errors are fairly minor, but I have to correct that one since it’s so egregious.

And now for something completely different

A lot of my poems are associational. For good or for ill, I ask my reader to follow me through some pretty big jumps in thought, hoping that it’s a pleasurable sensation and that they aren’t uncomfortably lost. So the following anecdote/post is a sort of narration of how my mind works, I suppose (or how it sometimes works — in telling this, I will actually be adding a linearity that wasn’t really there)

As I was walking tonight from the Red Mill to Maverick studios, I became conscious that I derive a lot of pleasure from the sound of the keys jangling on my wrist. I have been given three keys here: one to Maverick building, one to UP Red Mill (where I sleep), and one to my studio proper. I didn’t have a keyring as I’ve given over my housekeys to my lovely catsitter, Kara, and so the first few days I wore the keys around my wrist with a hair tie, which actually rather cut off my circulation and pressed my wrist uncomfortable (yet, aesthetically attractive, as when I was photographed the fellow was taken with the look of the keys around my wrist). I graduated from this attractive but painful rigging to a very unattractive but much more comfortable plastic springy thing a girl gave me here, from which a key ring and the three keys dangle. Now I jingle when I walk, unless I hold the keys in my hand. Walking and chiming, as well as choosing occasionally to silence the sound, is strangely pleasing to me.

Once I realized this, I thought about why this might be. I knew it wasn’t simply the sound. I realized I was thinking of the metal and glass bangles Indian women sometimes wear on their wrists, a look I find really lovely, as well as the sound. The wrist looks delicate and the bangles pile attractively. For about a year, I wrote bangles on one wrist, but they were inexpensive, lost their gold color after a few months, and sounded as cheap as they increasingly looked. The now silver metal flaked off, and I finally had to trash them. So the idea of these bracelets is something I have wanted but not really had. Now the keys make this sound.

Having thought of the wrists with the lovely bracelets, I thought of the first (and still the best) Bollywood movie I’d seen: Jodhaa Akbar. Jodhaa Akbar is set in the sixteenth century, and tells the story of a politically motivated marriage between a Muslim Emperor and his Rajput wife. Romance happens, of course, as you might expect when you cast Aishwarya Rai, who’s been voted one of the most beautiful women in the world, and Hrithik Roshan, who is no slouch either, but the film is also interesting for the politics, the costumes, the scenery, the sword fights — in short, it’s epic (see what I did there?).

There’s a scene in Jodhaa Akbar I particularly like. At this point, the marriage is unconsummated, and, as you might expect for dramatic tension purposes, unwanted to varying degrees by both parties. In this scene, the wife comes upon her husband unexpectedly in the courtyard.

There’s a lot of reasons I like this scene. Let’s get the obvious one out of the way first. Yes, that is a very, very, very attractive man. Now that we’ve dealt with that (take your time, watch more than once if you must, no judgment), ask yourself how often is is that we see in film an extended view of the male body presented as powerful, sexually attractive, beautiful (note that arm cuff), and most importantly, under the gaze of a woman who is just realizing desire. And in the context of the movie, it’s not even an objectifying scene — since the entire movie is delayed gratification (no sex, no kissing, sorry folks) her appreciation for his physicality is just one of the many parts of what makes her fall for him. That’s heady stuff.

So let’s review: keys against my wrist chiming out into the night to bangles to Bollywood  to female desire.

You’re welcome.

I am amused

A woman here at VSC is taken with my hairstyles. She found this one excessively cute and so photographed the back of my head!  Yes, this is just the sort of intellectual rigor you can expect from my time at the VSC.

Awesome movie

Watched Diabolique today.

Really, really, really liked it. Was super sleepy due to lack of sleep, but riveted and forcing myself to stay awake. Must. Know. What. Happens. Also, scary, without monsters or overt violence (ok, one murder).