aaaaaaand… the answer is relative.

I am interested in too many things. Starting projects might be one of my greatest talents. Finishing them… well. My dad bought me a shirt that says ‘I never finish anyth’ and it is without a doubt my best self-defining shirt.

 Image
 
This would be the second best.
 
Recently, I’ve been cross-stitching, and reading Anatomy and Physiology for Dummies, and contemplating using beer as the yeast in my next homemade bread. I’ve been thinking about buying a brew kit and learning how to make my own beer. I insisted on making and decorating my own wedding cake and crafting my own centerpieces/favors for the wedding. (My favorite thing about the wedding – the actual wedding, not the after party – was wearing the dress that I watched Jon make me over the course of a couple weeks.) I have an incessant itch to learn how to quilt. I want to start a garden and grow tomatoes, chamomile flowers, lavender, peppers, basil and garlic (and that’s just to start out). I’m obsessed with books about Tai Chi, alternative healing, philosophy, and sociology. I want to learn massage therapy. I’ve already detailed some of my travels into the realm of computer programming and theoretical physics is basically my religion. Fantasy and science fiction created my morals and drive my passion for travel. I’ve crocheted, attempted to knit, obsessively studied abnormal psychology and dreamed of majoring in everything from creative writing to mechanical engineering to equestrianism. I love building things with my hands – one of my proudest achievements is contributing to the construction of a horse shelter. I taught myself how to draw (although I can’t really draw so much as copy black-and-white photographs in graphite) and study shadows and colors and space. Someday, I want to be a yoga instructor. I want to own a bakeshop. I want to pick up my violin and relearn music I haven’t played in well over five years and join a bluegrass/jazz/Celtic metal band. I’m in a technical writing class right now and I truly believe I could make money from the skills I am learning. I hope to become a major part of my dad’s business, which films conferences all over the States (and some of Europe) and posts them online.
 
I fucking want everything.
 
And this is part of the reason why I never finish anything. Because as soon as I’ve started on one thing, I become terrified that that thing is going to prevent me from all of the other things I want to do. So I have to go do something else. Sometimes it’s a matter of consciously giving up what I’m doing in favor of something else. Other times, it’s simply a matter of attempting to juggle too much at once and having bits and pieces fall by the wayside. Sometimes I don’t realize I’ve stopped doing something I love for months or even years, and when I realize it’s gone… I freak out and need to start doing it again. But then something else falls away. My life can often look like it’s in shambles, and the people who know me know not to take me too seriously when I become obsessed with yet another thing. Because it’ll fade out. The more intense the obsession, the quicker it goes away.
 
Some things stick. Some things come back again and again. I have to learn how to manage my time.
 
There’s never enough time.
 
//

Batman and Feminism

I briefly mentioned the fact that my days occasionally consist of listening to Fat Man on Batman, a podcast in which Kevin Smith talks about his lifelong hero, The Joker (oh hush, I’m kidding). Now, before you go thinking that I am made of awesome (which I am), I must admit that I’ve come to be a fan of Batman through my boyfriend (that’s totally not cliche). Which isn’t to say Batman wasn’t my favorite super hero before meeting him. However, my knowledge of Batman consisted of a) knowing who he was, b) really loving The Dark Knight and c) believing that a self-made hero is clearly cooler than heroes with literally no weakness (I still think Superman is kind of lame) or heroes whose Hollywood renditions paint them to be whiny snots (I’m looking at you, Spiderman – and no, I haven’t seen the new movie even though I really want to because Gwen Stacie is totes more awesome than Mary Jane and Emma Stone is a sexy boss).

Tonight, we sat down to watch some Batman: The Animated Series, and it just so happened that we ended up watching the two-parter The Cat and the Claw from the first season, in which Catwoman is introduced, Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle have mad chemistry, and there are seriously lots of cats. Now, when it comes to comic books and their related television shows, I have a very, very hard eye for how female characters are treated. Given that I’m not as immersed in comic book history as the people around me, whenever I bring up the treatment of a female character that angers me, I usually get a ten-minute lecture about when the damn story was written, who it was written by, and why the sexism is either acceptable within the context of the show (which angers me) or within the context of the writing of the show (which frustrates me). Which doesn’t prevent me from ranting, but still, it is nice to know that I’m surrounded by a bunch of twenty-something dudes who legit pay attention to the treatment of female characters in their shows, even if their acceptance of dated sexism grates on my nerves.

Now, aside from seeing one episode of Batman: The Animated Series in which Ivy fruitlessly attempts to help Harley Quinn escape from her abusive relationship with the Joker, I’ve had little context for how The Animated Series treats its female characters (although that ONE episode was enough to instill a certain amount of respect). So, giving it the benefit of the doubt, I set myself up to only be minorly annoyed, in that sense that, as a young woman who was deeply engaged in the angry, ranting stage of feminism for about six years, I am minorly annoyed by a lot of things I know logically shouldn’t annoy me, such as ANY time I see a man saving a woman at the last second it kind of irks me, even if I know the writer of the story to treat his or her female characters well and it just had to happen that way THIS ONE TIME because it fits the structure of the story. Anyway, I was prepared to enjoy the story for the story instead of spending an hour with my brain soaked in cortisol and ALL THE ANGER. Which, luckily, is exactly what happened.

Except, I can’t entirely turn off the feminist voice. So, of course, the first thing I noticed about Catwoman was that she wasn’t wearing heels. Her costume was sleek, simple, and mostly practical (I don’t think form-fitting fabric is really practical, ever, but… all the heroes wear it, so it’s not a gender thing, it’s just… a comic book nerd thing). AND SHE WASN’T WEARING HEELS. So that pleased me immensely. And throughout the rest of the episode (well, both episodes), I wasn’t forced to shut off the feminist voice, nor did I particularly want to, because the episode did something that I would have thought almost impossible two years ago and which now I know can happen – it pleased the feminist in me. It made her, me, a little bit less angry. And every little bit of ANYTHING that makes me less angry as a feminist is something that gives me hope, fills me with a sense of positivity, and helps me to be more accepting of myself and those around me. (I used to hate the color pink on principle alone… even though I secretly liked it… Hey, it can take a long time for a disenchanted teenager to grow up.)

So the things I liked about this episode:

*Selina and her cats – she truly is a crazy cat lady, and she actually personifies the cats instead of using their nature to fulfill some inner neediness, which is the go-to vibe for crazy cat women, it seems. She admires them and respects them and identifies with them, as well as using their image to shape the persona of her alter-ego.

*The villain, Red Claw – a female villain who is not sexualized, not incompetent, and not working to please some Master Man. My first thought when she appeared on screen was, wow, that lady’s an amazon. And she is, and I kind of wish Wonder Woman were conveyed with the same unapologetic, super tall, super buff kind of physique. Not that Wonder Woman isn’t often portrayed as super tall and super buff, but there always seem to be gratuitous curves, as if to say, ‘We’re sorry she’s not petite and fragile. Here are some extra boobs to make up for it.’

*When Batman first murmured to himself, ‘So, our new cat burglar’s a woman,’ I had a vague notion of, ‘Why is that information important, Batman?’ but didn’t say anything. But when he exclaims upon seeing Red Claw for the first time, ‘Red Claw’s a woman?!” I turned to my boyfriend and said, “Always the tone of surprise.” It was a half-joke, half exasperated sigh. It’s not that I don’t understand how it fits into the context of the story – everybody thought that the Red Claw was a man up to that point. Also, this is clearly taking place during the 1930’s or 1940’s, so a little bit of sexism on some of the characters’ parts is to be expected.

*More for the sake of the story and less for the sake of feminism, I adore Catwoman and Batman’s dynamic. They’re definitely my favorite DC couple, and specifically in this rendition, I like that Bruce blushes when he first meets Selina Kyle. I can envision a Gotham City in which they successfully team up together, trust each other, know each other’s secret identities and are a bad ass couple who lasts, like, for years. (I’d say forever if such concepts weren’t so foreign to me.) I think Selina Kyle is the best shot Bruce has got at a healthy relationship and I want him to take it. That so many Batman stories are focused on him being incapable of healthy relationships for long periods of time frustrates me on so many levels. These two episodes, however, gave me the brief sense that the positive future I see for them might not be torn apart by Bruce being stubborn and so damned noble and Catwoman being addicted to crime.

*Back to feminism: even Selina’s secretary is pretty strong. I like her. She doesn’t panic, and for some reason when she’s being backed into a corner by a bad guy with guns, she’s crying to herself in her head, ‘Selina! Help!’ So the fact that Batman saves her didn’t frustrate me in the least.

So I’ll be upfront in saying that my preoccupation with gender and finding gender inequality EVERYWHERE has, more than once, gotten in the way of me being able to find my own happiness. But I LOVE that I have a group of guy friends who it is safe for me to honestly say that I harp about gender inequality a bit too much – because they really do get it. And how do I know that they get it? I know because we talk about it when discussing stories, and the actions of the people around us. I know about it because I wasn’t the first one to say, ‘I’m glad they’ve made it so she’s not wearing heels, those are so impractical.’ It was one of my guy friends.

see Dee truckin’…

Most of the cats that you meet on the street speak of true love
Most of the time they’re sitting and dying alone
But one of these days they know they’ve got to get going
Out of the door and down in the street all alone
-The Grateful Dead, Truckin’

Today, I have a little something to say about music.

Most mornings when I’m feeling sunny, or most evenings when I’m feeling like a crash-test dummy after work, I’ve gotta turn on some music and sink into a different world. In my music world, feelings are condensed into snippets of lyrics, or a particularly solemn moan on a violin, or Les Claypool telling me not to complain even if I’ve got my snout in a trough and a bunch of lions on my back (I think I’m mixing songs here). These past few days I’ve made up a ‘Dee’s Country’ music list, which won’t at any point play any songs about tractors. And if it does… iTunes has got some explaining to do.

My list consists of a couple of my favorite Grateful Dead songs (Truckin’, Althea, Friend of the Devil, Touch of Grey, some others – songs I grew up with), the best – no, check that – The Very Best of Violent Femmes, Animal Liberation Orchestra’s two most recent albums (Roses & Clover and Sounds Like This), and a fantastically folk-y Bruce Springsteen Album called We Shall Overcome.

Not exactly country music? Who cares? It’s Dee’s Country.

But whenever I’m feeling Dee’s Country list, I’ve got to start with Truckin’. I’m a chronic traveler myself, was born that way. Not only was I born that way, but it’s kind of my destiny, if you believe in such things. My background consists of pioneers and pilgrims and Mormons. What have these three peoples got in common? I’ll tell you what: travel. Westward travel, mostly, but the term manifest destiny, with all it’s unfortunate political connotations, is a phrase that in my family simply tells us to leave home.So, for that and a couple of other reasons (is it gettin’ personal in here or what?), Truckin’ really speaks to me.

Which led to an awesome conversation this morning between my boyfriend and me. I’m getting warmed up, stretching my hands, opening Code Academy (to find amazingly that I can now learn Python on their site! WOOT!), and itchin’ to hear some sweet, antiquated Grateful Dead music. (What is it my boyfriend called it? Oh, yes, anachronistic. To which I replied, if the Grateful Dead is anachronistic, then so is a part of my soul.)

My baby and I make fun of each other’s music a lot, because we basically can only agree that hot, talented red heads are the stuff awesome is made of (Florence Welsch, Loreena McKennitt, Tori Amos, any number of the Celtic Woman ladies), fiddles are the shit, and metal was a musical genre created solely for the integration of Celtic folk-tales into modern music. Other than that, he insists that Freddie Mercury is better than Bob Dylan and I think Regina Spektor is clever and sexy all the way from her wide, babydoll eyes down to her quirky, repetitive lyrics.

So this morning we’re talking about the anachronistic nature of the jam band scene, which I insist isn’t all that anachronistic because my parents are still very much a part of it (they follow Phish like it’s a religion, and that’s really not hyperbole at all), and exactly what it is we like about what we like. What’s the value in repetitive lyrics? What’s the value of in-your-face performance versus just sitting down on a stool in front of a microphone and letting the world know you’ve got some stellar lyrics? How in-your-face should a performer be about his or her talent? Is a show where the music simply provides an atmosphere of lazy, friendly, chilling-with-strangers and selling your jewelry (and other various concert paraphernalia, you know, har har) worth the money, even if you only spend a small portion of that time actually absorbed in the show itself? Or should a performer work to make the show all about his or her stage presence? Should they grab you by the collar and not let you go until you’ve been so thoroughly bathed in their presence that you’re half drunk on it?

Frankly, my experience at Phish shows is the former. And I enjoyed those a lot – especially the one in Indiana where the sky decided to join in. When you’re entire world is enclosed by lightening and Trey Anastasio playing Runaway Jim just for you, that’s a stellar experience and completely worth the money. But Phish doesn’t have my undivided attention throughout a show – the vendors, the hippies, the blankets on the lawn and mingling with like-minded strangers – they’re all a part of the experience. They’re all a part of what I expect in a performance, and a part of what I’d be willing to pay for.

But there is totally benefit to a show where the oomph of the experience comes solely from the performer on stage. To me, this is more like what a musical is – I’m in a theater, I’m not there to socialize, I’m not there to buy cool stuff. I’m there to become absorbed. My experience at a Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert was like this. I would expect a Celtic Woman concert to be like this.

But which do I enjoy more? I don’t know. The whole air of the former reminds me of lazy summer nights, sprawled around a bonfire while an old, grizzly man strums an acoustic guitar and every once in awhile breaks out a recognizable song. It’s the peace and quiet of my childhood and it will always have a hold on me.

Whew, that was a long post. Still trying to get a hand of a decent blog voice here. : ) Oh well. The more I read of other blogs, the better I’ll get. Have a fun and lazy Sunday!