Performance

The pearl-clutchers have been using this word somewhat frequently in recent months.  Or maybe I’ve just been paying more attention in the past six months or so…  but the hysteria over the “performance of femininity” has been particularly noticeable.  At least to me.

The makeup tax.  Transgendered women.  Passing.  How terrible it is that other people judge women on how feminine they are.

It is terrible.  We should all mind or own business and not worry about stuff that doesn’t have shit to do with how we pay our bills or sleep at night.

But like having 100 outrages should mean you have no outrage at all: the fact that every human being is judged on their performance of humanity… it isn’t any more or less terrible than people getting judged on their performance of cultural norms.  It is stupid to compare miseries, but it is also stupid to suggest women are the only ones with this performance tax, whether it is psychic or fiscal.  Being a minority is a delicate dance requiring near constant awareness of where one is in relationship to the dominant culture.  If you’re too much of one thing, you’re dismissed.  If you’re too much of the other, you’ve sold out.

We are all on stage in the world performing normal.  Performing gender.  Performing culture.  Performing sexuality.  And we are all judged on it.  So is it worse to be a woman performing femininity than a man performing masculinity?  Or a black man trying to navigate a culture that has historically both exaggerated the ferocity of his manhood and punished him for the exaggeration?  I don’t think women have it worse.  Comparing miseries is pointless, but so are the histrionics about the fact that we live in a society and societies have always operated along tribal lines.  Anyone who deviates too far from the mean gets expelled.  That’s how we’ve operated for millennia.

I’m not claiming this is good, only that it is.

You are a performer.  No matter what your gender, orientation, skin color, cultural history, you are a performer.  You have a closet full of costumes that say to the world “this is who I am,” just as an actor is given a costume to signal to the world who their character is.  We are social creatures.  We are a storytelling species.  The first story we tell to those we meet is in how we present ourselves to the world.  We are doing what we’ve done for millennia.  Should mascara hold a woman back professionally?  No.  But it is foolish to think that performance expectations are going to go away.  They aren’t.  They are just going to evolve.  As they have been doing for millennia.

Just… if the issue doesn’t get between you and paying your bills when it comes to judging other people, can we just all agree to leave well enough alone?

 

The Camellia Resistance: By A.R. Williams

Really appreciate this review from Catherine… The positive feedback is lovely, but Catherine was also incredibly generous in posting her review on Amazon and Goodreads as well.

Catherine Rose Putsche Book Blog

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The Camellia Resistance is set in a dystopian future where the USA has become an eroding wasteland after a major pandemic broke out (Herpes) and killed off a large proportion of the population. The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Security are the new government and now rule the smaller population, with the exception of Texas, that remains independent. Willow Carlyle, works for the Ministry and is fast becoming a rising star, as she has spent the majority of her adulthood tracking the spread of sexually transmitted viruses and their impact on the population, until a night of passion with a handsome stranger changes the outcome of her future. Willow is diagnosed with Herpes and is instantly dismissed from the Ministry and struggles to make sense of her undoing until an unexpected encounter with a member from a resistance group, The Camellias (who live outside the Ministry and its…

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Starting Late, but Right

I fear I am headed back into serious territory in the next few weeks, but for now—having taken a bit of a break from thinking about much at all—I want to kick off 2016 with gratitude.  2015 didn’t distinguish itself by being an easy year: but it was a good year, overall.  Mostly because of the people.  I have such lovely people in my life.

My father.  After some serious challenges this summer with his health, he is as feisty as ever.  Already this year, I’ve had to fuss at him for using a chainsaw alone.  He agrees and then does exactly as he planned to before I got all concerned about his welfare.  He’s teaching me woodworking and I’m facilitating his time in the workshop.

My sisters.  Superficially, it might be hard to see how we all come from the same family.  Vastly different interests and lives from each to each.  But the core—fair-minded, stubborn, family-fierce—cut from the same cloth.  I’m so proud of my family.

Tink.  Our lives are out of control, but the knowledge of a friendship that runs bone-deep provides sustenance.

The Mixologist.  My favorite curmudgeon, save my dad.  As we are both headed for the straight and narrow in 2016, we made sure to take it off the rails on the last day of 2015.  She is always there for misbehavior of the best sort.

Isoke. We couldn’t be more different.  She is organized and focused, I’m chasing butterflies.  But god knows I need this woman.  She is sticking with me so far, even though I know me and my butterflies have to be maddening.

Ratwell.  Story consultant.  Technology guru.  Ever-ready source of calm.  Also, a good example of what patience in practice looks like and the reason I get out to see nerd movies.

Neal.  A reason to be grateful I can’t begin to explain.

  1. I don’t know where to start with the reasons I’m lucky you are around.

In short?  I hit the people jackpot.  Which I’m going to call better than winning that $1.5 billion powerball from a week or so ago.

Snowed In

2016-01-23Lily and I are cozy as can be coming up on day 3 of enforced writing time.  That’s the hole she made in the snow when I tried to take her out the front door.

Okay, so I snuck away from the computer for a little while to play with fabric, but other than that, it has been solid writing time.  Basically, the perfect storm: stuck in the house with power and food.

Happy camper.  And pushing 10k words on TCRIII.

 

Politics & Prose

Wednesday night, on the brink of DC’s surprise snow event, I drove up Connecticut Ave with a friend on an errand.  It was one of those errands with multiple components: a package of items that needed to be dropped off at Politics and Prose to include proper marking so the package ended up where it was supposed to, a check, and the items in question.

To make sense of this, you have to understand what Politics and Prose is within the context of DC.  P&P is one of the premier independent bookstores in a city full of people who are either super smart or are convinced they are super smart.  When you want to tell a first date that you are a smarty-pants who knows the right place to buy a book that supports local businesses, you suggest P&P.  If you really want to impress a date with your intellectual acumen, you take them to P&P for a lecture.  Within the Beltway, P&P means something.

My mom was born in a house with no indoor plumbing.  She died with a decent retirement fund, a doctoral degree, and a paid-for Subaru.  I’m not sure there was anything she was more proud of than the distance between her and the now-razed home in a now-reclaimed mining town she was born in.  Not just the distance, but the diminished expectations of a miner’s kid from Seebe Alberta compared to everything she achieved.  My mom loved going to P&P.  There was just so much to enjoy.  There was even knowing that P&P existed, there was being able to keep up with the book readings and discussions held there, and there was being confident enough in her knowledge of the city to navigate to P&P on her own.

My companion parked the car across the street, we dodged idling cars to get into P&P, I handed over the package per instructions, and we ducked back out of the store before we could buy every book on the shelf.  Once outside, it hit me.

I just dropped off copies of my book to sit on the shelves and be sold at P&P.  My mom could have come to P&P and browsed the shelves until she found me.

Holy shit.

Did that just happen?

Yes, I think it did.

Input/Output

One of my many struggles is with managing input and output.  I can’t seem to do both.  The past couple of weeks, I’ve been inhaling books and summarizing them for retention.  But when I’m taking in like this, the output falls apart.  Maybe it is my time management.  I envy those individuals who can squeeze the most out of every day and who take energy out of the things on their to-do list. My publicist is one of these admirable people: organized, driven, and her social calendar is restorative. 
I’m driven, but my commute time is often absorbed reading political news because this election cycle feels so apocalyptic.  Work hours are otherwise claimed.  And after work… Well, I’m not gifted when it comes to time management.  So I’m going to work on getting back into my posting rhythm here.  Maybe I’ll review one of the more fascinating of my reads: The Culture Code…  an older book, but certainly worthy of a reaction.

Book Review: Small Move, Big Change

Our building has a library, and Small Move, Big Change is the latest in my rotating collection of overdue materials.  100% worth borrowing.  Also, worth purchasing, even though the author uses 200+ words to cover what could probably have been addressed adequately in 20.  That being said, the examples and context she provided gave me some ideas, so the extra words weren’t entirely wasted.

The short version?  Vague resolutions don’t work, so skip the “get skinny,” “get organized,” or “get healthy” resolutions.  They’re too vague.  Instead, make small resolutions that target habits and work like a habit works: cue, response.  Time to go to bed, brush your teeth.  You don’t have to think about it.  Small items turned into regular habits have huge impact.  One cookie every day turns into 10 lbs of weight gain, given enough time.  One less soda every day turns into 10 lbs of weight loss, given enough time.

My micro-resolution, which I’m still fine-tuning, is to get out of bed when the alarm goes off, no snoozing.  I’m down to one snooze, but now it is a matter of principle.  I think I need to quit the snooze habit.

Anyway, in this time of resolutions and optimism, consider ditching the big resolution in favor of Small Move, Big Change.