Monday, January 30, 2012

The Wizard of Odd

(Photo Credit: Linda Davidson, Washington Post, 1/30/12. Newt Gingrich's campaign bus Sunday in Florida.)

He does look a little wizard-ish, doesn't he, all smiling and soft-eyed and puffed up even larger than he is in his natural state? And those hand-waving Floridians make perfect Munchkins, standing there in the bright sunshine as the balloon lifts gently away from Earth bus pulls away.

Oh, good lord, will it never end, this campaign from Hades? Apparently not.

Gingrich, who, he keeps telling us, is the Smartest Man in the Universe, dreams lofty dreams of Lincoln-Douglas style debates with the brainy fellow he seeks to replace.

Meanwhile, out by the bus, here's a toxic little snippet, from Stephanie McCrummen's report in WaPo, of what Gingrich's followers appear to want:
“Oh yeah, I can’t wait — I’m ready for Newt to debate Obama,” said [Claudio] Klestel, 49. “I’m an NFL fan and now that the season is over, this is what I’m going to watch . . . Newt putting Obama in his place.”
No dog whistles or secret decoder rings needed to figure out the basis of Gingrich's populist appeal, eh? Of course, the diabolical genius of the former Speaker of the House is that he has the audacity to promote himself as the Smartest Man Alive while tapping into the basest political emotions: racial resentment rooted in ignorance and economic insecurity. That's what he's doing every time he refers to Obama as a food stamp president, which writer Walter Mosely rightly describes as an example of Gingrich's "poetry of hate."

It is poetry, yes, but it is poetry that sickens the soul. One can only hope that the author of such despicable poetry will board his well-appointed bus for nowhere soon and leave us to ponder why we tolerated him in our midst for so long.

Happy Monday, darlings. Wake this dead dog when it's over, will you?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

You Can't Stop Us

Or, Another Damn Post on Marriage Equality. We'll stop writin' 'em when the homophobes give up the hate and extend the ball and chain the right to wed to all citizens.

Moose encountered and shared the vid below on Facebook the other day. It's of our Maryland state delegate (and pal!) Heather Mizeur, speaking on the floor of the General Assembly during last March's debate on a bill that would have brought marriage equality to the Free State. The bill passed in the Senate but was pulled in the House when it was clear there weren't enough votes to pass it. Gov. Martin O'Malley introduced a similar bill this week, so the whole battle is about to play out again. (Oh, goody -- Reruns!) The hope is that the bill will fare better this time around with O'Malley taking on more of a leadership role and in the wake of the passage of marriage equality in the New York state legislature. We shall see, kids. Y'all know we've been skeptical of O'Malley, pretty as he is, and now his equally lovely wife, Judge Catherine O'Malley, has ruffled feathers by speaking the truth, publicly declaring that the bill failed last year because "some cowards . . . prevented it from passing." Judge O'Malley quickly and predictably announced that she regretted her choice of words, though we happen to think she was right. Some delegates who had signed on as cosponsors of the bill ended up voting against it once churches in more conservative districts whipped up opposition. Because, you know, God Hates Fags.

In any case, watch the vid:


We like the rhetorical moves Mizeur makes in this brief clip, the calm yet righteous eloquence of her assertion that the bill's opponents cannot stop LGBT people from establishing marriages and families, from loving each other and declaring their love before the divine entity referred to around here as Dog. The repeated "you can't stop us from . . . " serves as a powerful anaphora that reminds listeners of how dramatically social and legal conditions for same-sex relationships have changed in the decades since Stonewall. It taunts those who would vote against the bill by suggesting that the war is in some sense already over and queers have won -- but then it pivots back to the painful reality of what the lack of full legal equality can mean for same-sex couples: "You can't stop us from loving each other," Mizeur intones. "You can't stop us from getting married. You can't stop us from pledging to forever to our God and to each other and to support each other in the toughest of times. You can't stop that. All you can do is make it really, really, really difficult for us in the worst, most challenging times."

Goose has long maintained that what fuels the right-wing hysteria about marriage equality is the recognition that teh Gayz Agenda has already captured the hearts and minds of the vast majority of Americans. As a generation of kids raised in and around and on Modern Family comes of age, the idea that civil marriage has to be protected from the assaults of creepy scary queers is losing whatever power it has left as a wedge issue. A November, 2011 Pew poll found that support for marriage equality was strongest among Millennial generation voters (born from 1981 to 1993), at an impressive 59%. Of course, Millennials seem far less invested in marriage than previous generations have been. The same poll shows that they are far less likely than earlier generations to marry when young. Currently, just 23% of 18- to-30-year-olds are married. By contrast, 49% of the Baby Boomers were married at that age. There is considerable irony in gays clamoring for access to marriage in a period when its power as a social institution seems to be declining precipitously. If conservatives had a lick of sense or objectivity, they'd realize that modernizing marriage and expanding access to it will do more good than harm. David Brooks, who has such sense, has been making that case since 2003.

As the Moms approach the 28th anniversary of their commitment to love without marriage, they are keeping a close eye on what's going on in Annapolis. They are still not chomping at the bit to run down to the courthouse and get legally hitched, but they respect the desires of those who are and they believe right down to the bottom of their ornery radical hearts that queers should have the same rights to legally wedded bliss or catastrophe that everybody else has. Mizeur is right: You can't stop us from loving each other and building lives together. You could if you wanted to build other ways to grant legal protection to relationships and to distribute the 1038 rights and benefits currently available only through marriage,  but until that day comes, a lot of us want and need marriage. You can't stop us, but you can hurt us and slow us down and make the darkest days of our lives darker still by setting up legal obstacles that make us vulnerable at moments of illness, injury, or death. You can't stop us, because the genie is out of the bottle closet. You can only make us continue to pay the price for your bigotry. Don't kid yourself that the creator of the universe is on your side in this fight. Whatever S/He is, Dog is assuredly on the side of love. Why aren't you?

Oh, we know you are on the side of love, my pretties, and we reckon some of you might also be interested in the drama unfolding in Annapolis. Want to help? We've got some ideas.
  • Make a donation to Equality Maryland, the state's largest LGBT civil rights organization, which is working hard under new leadership to pass the marriage bill and a gender-identity protection bill during this session. Full disclosure: Moose is on the Board of Directors of the Equality Maryland Foundation, but if you contribute there your donation is tax-deductible. Do it -- and tell 'em Moose sent you!
  • Get on the phone. Marylanders for Marriage Equality (a coalition, which includes Equality Maryland, set up to work for passage of the marriage bill) is holding weekly phone banks throughout the state to rally support. Find one near you, and start practicing your very best phone manners.
  • Sign up for Lobby Day in Annapolis. It's Feb. 13. Go march around in the cold, then head indoors to give your representative an earful or a pat on the back. The Moms can't be there, because Moose is hosting a shindig on campus that day (which you should totally attend if you are not able to go to Annapolis).
All right, rabble rousers, it's time to step away from the laptop and go enjoy what's left of this lovely afternoon. We hope it's pretty in your neck of the woods and that you'll do some fighting for joy as well as justice on this last weekend of January 2012. Peace out, and play fair.

(Image Credit: Via.)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Outlook: Hazy

(Photo Credit: Moose, 1/23/12)

Moose snapped this moody shot on her way off campus this evening. (No, it only looks like she was the last person to leave the joint.) Campus was enveloped in a thick mist all day today, which deepened the quiet of the still largely student-free zone. Spring classes begin on Wednesday. (Yes, that's ridiculously late. You won't hate us so much when we're wrapping up the semester around, you know, the Fourth of July.) There is still a lot to do because Moose has got a lot going on this term and still hasn't finished tweaking her syllabus for the third iteration of her blogging class.

Which means, darlings, that we don't have time to linger here with you right now, much as we'd like to. Forgive us, will you? You know we love you and will return as soon as we can. In the meantime, click on over to Arcade and read Natalia Cecire's thoughtful piece on academic blogging, which kindly  invokes Moose's riff on pseudonymity in The Journal of Women's History roundtable on academic feminist blogging. Or, speaking of Tenured Radical (who edited that JWH roundtable), go read her latest post on her midlife transition to a new job. Show her some love, kids, and, if you see her wandering aimlessly in a hallway near you, show her her classroom, too, will ya? Or, if you still read books but prefer books with colorful pictures, pick up Brooke Gladstone's The Influencing Machine. Moose just read it as part of her work for the Committee to Assure That All Incoming Students Read At Least One Fracking Book in Their First Year of College and enjoyed it immensely. It's smart and witty, but it also brings an impressive historical perspective to bear on questions about media and technology that are far too often discussed in completely presentist (and often alarmist) terms. And did we mention that it has lots and lots of pictures?

Off you go, my pretties. It's a great big interweb. Somebody out there is saying something terribly clever right now. Click away or you'll miss it!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Please Pass the, Um, Wite-Out?

(Photo Credit: Nikki Kahn, Washington Post, via)

Happy MLK Day, you lovely fighters for justice and accuracy in stone carving. We celebrate the occasion by noting that the department of the Interior recently announced that the badly truncated quotation chiseled into the side of the Martin Luther King memorial is going to be corrected. That is excellent news, because it suggests that some things actually are sacred and that government still can do -- and re-do -- big things when the occasion demands it. And, really, fixing a quotation so radically decontextualized that it made one of history's more modest men sound like "an arrogant twit," as Maya Angelou put it, is a big thing definitely worth doing. Raise the debt ceiling again if you have to, but please don't let generations of pilgrims to Washington walk away with the impression that Martin Luther King was a braggart.

Strike up the band, kids. On this day, let us all be drum majors for the exercise of bureaucratic common sense and the sanctity of public words. Here's to public history done -- or re-done -- right.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Woman of (Less) Substance

We pause briefly to note that it was one year ago today that Moose stepped on the scales at her first Lifestyle Adjustment Program meeting. By all means click away if celebrations of such things bore you senseless. Stick around, though, if you're willing to let a middle-aged broad indulge in a virtual happy dance. Take it away, Moose.
* * *

Thanks, Rox. Wow, what a difference a year makes, huh? Pound-wise, I am three-quarters of the woman I was on January 12, 2011. Fitness-wise, I am in dramatically better shape than I was a year ago. I can run four miles comfortably (if slowly) and could hang out in plank pose for the better part of a day if I had to. (And wouldn't life be cool if a girl were called upon to hang out in plank pose for the better part of a day? I mean, srsly. Think about it.) Attitude-wise, I feel sharper, calmer, and more resilient. I feel happier, more able to cope with whatever comes at me. Losing weight doesn't make life perfect by any means, but it can make the stresses and strains easier to manage.

I've been on maintenance since mid-July, though I actually continued to lose weight through August. My weight has now stabilized smack dab in the middle of the "normal" BMI range for my height. (Insert standard qualifiers about the limitations of BMI here.) What's working? you might ask. If you've been following my adventures in middle-aged embodiment, you already know the answer to this question, because what's working now is what has been working all along: Mindful eating, moderate exercise, and a supportive social network. (Thank you, Goose. Thank you, awesome LAP at Work group. Thank you, Facebook friends. Thank you, sisters [literal and figurative] and yogis.)

Is it really that simple? I feel sheepish and a little surprised to be saying this, but, yes, for me it has been that simple. I didn't need to radically change my diet. I just needed to eat less, drink less, and move more. My life now is not about deprivation and sacrifice. My meals aren't sad little piles of lettuce covered with fake cheese and fat-free dressing, and my workouts aren't daily forced marches. Over the holidays, I feasted on all of my favorites: my grandmother's olives, pecan pie, lobster casserole, chateaubriand (!). My feasting was a little more restrained than it was in years past, however, and I was pretty careful to eat light on non-feasting days to keep things in balance. I was also willing to spend 45 minutes on a treadmill on Christmas day so that I would actually feel hungry when it came time to tuck into that chateaubriand. My rule on exercise continues to be a firm yet flexible commitment to doing what I can when I can. I try to get in two or three cardiovascular workouts a week plus a 90-minute yoga class. Keep it simple. Keep it fun. Make exercise a priority, but don't beat up on yourself if you miss a day. As noted fitness guru Scarlett O'Hara once said, "Tomorrow is another day."

So, yes, the new normal for me is about balance and moderation, but it is also about joy and pleasure. I am not exaggerating when I say that the hardest part of this whole process was stepping on that scale one year ago today. Everything I've done since then has felt easy because I knew it was contributing to  my sense of well-being. I hope I never forget the flood of relief I experienced in that moment, as I realized that I had finally formulated the intention to rework my relationships to food, movement, and body. I will do a happy dance today to celebrate this milestone, but in a way I've been happy dancing all along. Thanks to all of you for dancing with me!

In other news, Hostess Brands, makers of Wonder bread, Twinkies, and the fruit pies Moose regularly devoured over the course of her misspent Midwestern youth, filed for bankruptcy protection on Wednesday, for the second time this decade. Are we alone in thinking the world would spin just fine on its axis without Ding Dongs and Donettes? Yeah, we didn't think so.

For other posts on the emergence of Moose 2.0: A Less Portly Dyke Than She Used to Be, go here, here, here, and here.

It would be wrong to end without an actual happy dance, wouldn't it? Hells to the yeah! Let's bring in a little Beyoncé, shall we? Move your body, baby -- and love it, no matter what. Peace out.

Monday, January 09, 2012

The Quiet Season

Or, Things We Did While Not Attending MLA 2012

Dr. Crazy went and so did Undine, but for the first time since 1995 neither of the English profs of Roxie's World attended the annual convention of the Modern Language Association, which concluded yesterday in the highly caffeinated city of Seattle. We're huge fans of the organization and its annual shindig but opted out this year because we weren't giving papers or shopping book manuscripts or serving on search committees and therefore couldn't quite justify the time and expense of a cross-country trip. So, what'd we do instead?

We burrowed in. Hunkered down. Laid low.

We decluttered. Depilated. Decompressed.

We ran a little. Walked a little. Finally tried Zumba. (Verdict? Not sure yet. Further research will be necessary, but Moose is not convinced her cardiovascular health requires quite that much hip action. She also recalls, however, that she felt similarly skeptical after her first aerobics class, once upon a time in the 80s.)

We toiled happily away on the kind of work that is hard to do when classes are in session and the calendar is a multicolored vortex of obligations. Goose had a 2-day team meeting for one of her electronic projects. Moose shifted into cruise-director mode to hammer out the details for the upcoming celebrations of her queer studies program's tenth anniversary. (I know: ten years of queering the turtle! Can you stand it? Click here for some of the scoop on what's in store. Details coming soon.)

Oh, and we watched us some basketball, because our fifth-ranked Lady Terps needed us to make sure they got through the weekend with their perfect record in tact. Fine, sophomore forward Alyssa Thomas helped, too, with her 24 points in Friday's heart-stopping comeback against Georgia Tech and her buzzer-beater that put Sunday's road game against Carolina into overtime, but we know that our passionate devotion helped carry the mighty women of Maryland to 16-0. 16-0!!!

After the haircut (the aforementioned depilation), Moose was hungry and so took herself to lunch. She had tapas. And a glass of white wine. It was Friday. She had gone for a run. Tapas is the perfect way for Lifestyle Adjusters to dine well without having to declare PointsPlus bankruptcy. She had a shredded cod salad, because a friend whose judgment she trusts says that if cod is on the menu you should always order it. She was not disappointed.

Then she went to a museum, because it was there. And there is a Gertrude Stein show she's been meaning to see for months but hadn't yet and now it's about to leave town, so she finally popped in. It's not the bestest exhibit ever, despite the forthright documenting of Stein's sexuality and her relationship with Alice B. Toklas and some marvelous images of the two women and their dog Basket, but it's well worth seeing. Moose was pleased to be able to snatch a pic of Jo Davidson's massive terra cotta sculpture of Stein, which she likes to think of as the precursor to the bronze Thinking Woman she brought home with her from New Mexico a couple of years ago.

What else did we do while not schmoozing, boozing, and cruising at the MLA? We watched Homeland, all 12 white-knuckle, Claire Danes-ilicious episodes. The show strains credulity in precisely the ways our pal Jill Dolan blogged about in November (before the season had ended) and its finale is vexing in all the ways David Haglund and June Thomas discuss in Slate. Nonetheless, the writing (if not the plotting) and the performances make Homeland riveting to watch. It's a fraught and fascinating piece of post-9/11 cultural work that deftly probes the psychic costs of living with and in the massive state (in)security apparatus that took hold in the United States in the wake of the fall 2001 attacks. Danes plays Carrie Mathison, a CIA officer haunted by the feeling that she missed something on 9/11 that might have thwarted the attacks. Damian Lewis plays Nicholas Brody, a Marine sergeant who was held captive by Al-Qaeda for eight years and has just been released and returned home. Carrie believes he was turned while in captivity and is now part of a plot to attack the U. S. Much of the thrill of this taut, smart thriller is in watching the dynamics of the Mathison-Brody relationship and trying to figure out who is manipulating whom and to what end. How much of what happens between them is personal and how much is a matter of each working to advance the goals of their competing missions? We don't want to give anything away. Go watch the show if you can. Then come back here prepared to discuss Homeland's complex racial/sexual/religious politics and the burning question of whether Claire's electroshock therapy will erase the crucial piece of evidence she recognized in that last moment before the big buzz jolted her brain. Hurry! We are dying to have this conversation with you!

One more thing we did while not attending the MLA? Moose took a lot of pictures with her new iPhone 4S, which is, as the hype suggests, equipped with a camera so good you might be tempted to stuff all your old point-and-shoots in the back of some closet. Both photos above were taken with her fun new toy, as was the one below, which we offer by way of returning to the theme of quietness and winter rest with which this post began. Here's hoping you've found such time at the beginning of this brave new year. Peace out, my pretties, and, again, a very happy new year to you and yours.

Monday, January 02, 2012

2012: One Slate Wiped Clean

Here is how the refrigerator door in Roxie's World looked on New Year's Eve:

And here is how it looked on New Year's Day:

Why? The Moms decided some de-cluttering was in order. Fear not, friends. Every item taken down was lovingly saved for posterity -- all the magnets, all the Hillary-porn, all the artwork and school photos in what Moose lovingly called the galerie des garçons. It may all enjoy a new life in some other location, but for now the Moms are grooving on the pleasing emptiness of the blank slate that greets them every time they catch a glimpse of the fridge. It's calming somehow and vaguely encouraging, which is a nice way to feel in the first week of a brand new year.

We hope 2012 is off to a calm, happy start for you and yours. We look forward to reconnecting with everybody soon. In the meantime, here's a pic of the yummy lobster-artichoke casserole the Moms served for a gathering of friends on New Year's Eve:

Goose (the chef/artist traditionally tasked with writing out the number of the new year in mashed potatoes on top of the casserole) got a little overly zealous with the paprika, which is why the dish has kind of a rusty look, but it was tasty as heck and supplied the touch of decadence that Moose believes New Year's Eve deserves. And, yes, the resident poster girl for health and fitness got up the next morning and went for the first run of the new year, a sweet little three-miler that knocked the champagne out of her system and left her with a smile on her face. Apparently, the virtue binge will continue in 2012.

Wevs, kids. Happy New Year!