Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Emma Spaulding Bryant: Spitfire

Letters from a wife to her husband, from 1873. The short version: Woman takes a trip to get medical attention. Husband accuses her of infidelity with the doctor. Woman comes down on him with righteous fury.
I have never lived with you on other terms than those of the most perfect love and trust and equality. I never intend to live with you on other terms. I love you and I hope to be your true wife for time and eternity but I cannot (God helping me) will not) cast my womanhood from me.
I have by mistake burned the sheet which I wished to enclose to you, speaking of the husband as absolute head over the wife using the parallel of church, government, nation, companies etc. It was apparently a very conclusive and satisfactory argument to you at the time, but I wished to give you the pleasure of re-reading it with these other paragraphs.

I have only to say in reply -- if you value my love -- if you wish to retain my respect -- if you desire to remain my ideal of what is manly and noble and true, never use such words or sentiments to me again by letter or by word

You degrade yourself by them, and would degrade me if I received them. This sheet is my full, final answer to your letter by express -- I will do anything, everything, in my power for your happiness my darling husband and, if I could, perhaps I would believe (for your happiness) black to be white, and a lie to be the truth, but unfortunately I cant. There are women so constituted that they can, but I am not thus constituted as you must have learned before we were married, so please do not urge impossibilities.
I've been enjoying Ta-Nehesi Coates's recent posts on 19th century feminism, and it's nice to see these independent urges evidenced on a micro level.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

East Coast Problems

Can we have a subset of First World problems for things most commonly occurring in East Coast metro areas? Examples:

- The Acela was all booked so I had to take the Chinatown bus.
- Cannot find good Mexican food because "Mexican" restaurants are actually Central American.
- Ruined $500 boots walking in slush.
- Just hired a tutor to help Junior prep for the preschool admission exam.
- Bikeshare station rack was completely empty!
- Terrible service on the subway again.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Open thread

I don't even know what to blog about these days, mostly because I am rarely on my computer at home.  What's new in the world?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Blind squirrel finds nut

Sady Doyle on class consciousness:
So I was in New York, and I was twenty, and as far as I was concerned, I had no father. I’d made a mistake, loving him; I’d corrected it; I was done, ready to forget. Which was hard, because the streets were filled with men dressed exactly like him.

The boys were growing their hair long, that year. They were wearing what they called “trucker hats,” sometimes with the John Deere logo, sometimes without. They wore the tough-guy polyester vests, the puffy zip-up kind. They wore t-shirts for metal bands; the understanding was that you didn’t wear those shirts because you listened to the bands, you wore them because they were funny. In a magazine called Vice, I could see that the daring boys were going for the jean jackets. I was puzzled, thrown off; I’d come here to get away from my father, to get away from the world he lived in, and everyone worth knowing wore that world around, laughing at it. And as little as I loved my father, I couldn’t bring myself to laugh.

Because those boys, and the girls they knew, sounded nothing like my Dad. They talked about their time in Prague, their time touring Europe; they talked about bands they’d hung out with, and those bands were The Walkmen and The Strokes and some of the girls had fucked some of them; one of my roommates was one of the girls, and when she saw that I had a Juliana Hatfield CD, she smiled and said, “yeah, I’ve partied with her a bit, she’s awesome.” I try to remember that these boys and girls were children, some of them only eighteen years old; I try to remember that I was stupid too, unbelievably stupid, that I also had bad politics that make me shudder to recall. It still doesn’t take away the way they made me fee. I still remember the way I felt, standing in a grocery store, trying to pick out beer with the Juliana Hatfield roommate. I pointed to a beer that I thought was suitably exotic, something city people would drink (feeling guilty, dirty somehow, because nice people didn’t drink beer at all, my father drank beer, nice people only drank wine or cocktails) and she laughed at me, picked up some PBR. “I only drink domestic beer,” she said, in a voice I’d come to realize denoted “irony.” Feeling sick and weird there, in that moment, because if drinking domestic beer was ironic, then drinking it unironically was bad and funny, and I’d only ever drunk it unironically, only ever knew people who did, which meant we were bad and funny; if I drank the PBR it wouldn’t be a joke somehow, they would know. Or: Going to a bar, with my boyfriend, with the activist friends he’d made through Greenpeace; it was called “Trailer.” It was decorated to look like somebody’s idea of what you’d see in a trailer person’s home. To be precise, it was decorated to look like my home; it was decorated to look like the houses I’d visited growing up. We sat on a couch that had also belonged to my grandmother. And to my mother, during the bad years, right after she left my father; it was a hand-me-down. I traced the pattern of fruit in the print and thought about how I’d chipped my brother’s tooth, bouncing with him on the cushions.

“That whole white-trash chic thing,” said the girl who’d invited us there.

That was when I figured it out, the name for what we were. Our name was trash.
She captures this moment so well: the realization that even your aspirations were just further testament to your social inferiority. After you get what you want, you don't want what you wanted at all.

In other news: Winter's Bone is all the movie the critics said it was, and not nearly as depressing as expected. I was anticipating Precious-level poverty porn, and was surprised.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Weekend Bake: Cream Cheese Brownies

An excellent recipe. Best paired with long weekends and action movies.

Brownie base:
3.3 ounces flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
6 ounces milk chocolate
8 tbsp butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3 eggs

Cream cheese filling
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg yolk

Preheat oven to 325. Melt butter and chocolate, whip together with vanilla and sugar, then eggs (one at a time). Add dry ingredients and mix until smooth.

Mix the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and egg yolk in a separate bowl until smooth.

Line 8x8 pan with parchment paper and smear half the brownie batter, then spoon in half the cream cheese mixture, then repeat. Bake for 50 minutes. Eat.

Monday, October 03, 2011

FDA orders Bay Area man to cease manufacture of sperm

The FDA has begun targeting men who provide free sperm donations.
It began in December 2006, when Trent Arsenault, now 36 and a bachelor outside San Francisco, began offering his sperm through, a website bedecked with shots of Arsenault as a cute toddler and hunky outdoorsman. Tall and blond, Arsenault works as an engineer at a tech company and is a former Naval Academy midshipman (he dropped out to move to Silicon Valley). His qualifications might make a sperm bank drool. But he prefers to work independently, he says, having already donated to about 50 women, mostly Bay Area lesbians. Perhaps thanks in part to his twice-daily “fertility smoothies” (a blend of blueberries, almonds, and other vitamin-rich fare), he has sired at least 10 children, he says.

His prospects came to a halt in September 2010, when FDA agents knocked on the door of his 700-square-foot bachelor pad. They interviewed him in his bedroom, and collected medical records and other material related to how he “recovers and distributes semen,” according to the FDA investigation. The tone was cordial, Arsenault recalls. He even wrote a thank-you letter to the agency, complimenting “the professional and courteous attitude” of its agents.

But the following month, there came another knock on the door, this time from local police delivering an FDA order to “cease manufacture” of sperm, the first such order leveled against an individual citizen, according to a search of government records. Per the order, the agency considers Arsenault to be essentially a one-man sperm bank, referring to him as a “firm,” and alleging that he “does not provide adequate protections against communicable diseases.” If he engages in the “recovery, processing, storage, labeling, packaging, or distribution” of sperm, he faces a $100,000 fine and a year in prison.
The FDA has made its decision; now let it enforce it.