A quest to make sense of it all. Or a sense to make a quest of it all.

Friday, March 18, 2011

"If the shoe doesn't fit, must we change the foot?"*

Yesterday while enjoying an afternoon run in the park with some good friends, I relayed an anecdote about a guy I recently had a first and only date with. The guy was more than a little creepy, and I made a joke about having to get out of there fast before I wound up with my feet in his freezer. (Hey, I never claimed to have tasteful humor; except around parents. Don't worry, your mom will love me. 'Cause she loves errbody, knowumsayin? Heh heh.) Anyway, the joke was met with appropriate snorts and winded chuckles, but I furrowed my brow for just a second as I filed away a troubling, involuntary thought to be chewed on later: that the second the words jumped off my lips, I immediately thought, "I haven't even had my first spring pedicure yet. My feet are not pretty enough to be seen!" Yes. As if my attacker would look at my off-season feet and be like, "Oh, wow, lady. Nice OPI polish, but ever heard of cuticle cream? I don't even know if I wanna do this now." I came back later to graze on this fresh patch of mental crabgrass and found that that twinge of uglyfoot-guilt was still there. Just for the teeeeeensiest fraction of a second, it was there. I didn't want anyone to see my feet, be it a suitor I liked, or my family doctor, OR the guy who (hypothetically) was only interested in getting said feet into a freezer. My brain is clearly a victim of the patriarchy. I'm not going to wonder too hard why I'm using a cow as a metaphor for my train of thought, but from there, it lifted its head, caught of whiff of something interesting, and slowly ambled over to...pokeweed salad. Which can be deadly when consumed incorrectly. That is to say, I got to thinking about femininity. Particularly the idea of inherent femininity vs feminine markers. What is femininity? Is it something I should want? I'm pretty sure I wasn't born with it, but that it developed early on thanks to the culture in which I was raised. Same thoughts for masculinity: does it come with the package, so to speak? Or is it learned? Is my own femininity something I should try to shake, or something I should exploit to get what I want, seeing's how the system itself is flawed and just by owning a uterus, I'm already going to have to fight harder for the same respect, job, dollar, and deal on a new car that a man gets with a fraction of the effort? What determines my femininity, and, in a flawed system, am I wrong for using it to my advantage, to rock the infantilization with which I'm still largely treated in this rural South until the right moment when I can unsheath my claws (cat reference!) and claim what I want? Why does it matter whether I'm a lioness or a big-balled lion? I just want some of the wildebeest. Whatever that means.

And then I read more about the history of foot-binding. After legitimately choking up with real tears at some of the pictures and recollections of women whose feet still only measure four inches in length because some man decided it was cute and girly for a woman to break her own bones...

I'm getting off the computer for awhile.

*Quote- Gloria Steinem

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Easing tensions.

Now that a date has been set for my moving out, things are a lot more chill back at the ranch.

Mom: You should wear a ponytail and big jewelry today. That would look so pretty!
Me: I'm a grown woman! I do what I want!
Dad: That suggestion was for me.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Para mi esposo.

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again that I was engaged to a very traditional Puerto Rican man. Our wedding was only a few days away, and Megan and Brandon were my maid/man of honor. As per family tradition, I was given the task of preparing a huge celebratory feast for my familia-to-be. My mother in law-to-be insisted that I use plantains and wild rice extensively. This dream was very vivid and very happy. Instead of being stressed, I was elated, and eager to please my beloved's mother, and the overall vibe of the dream was one of warmth and gratitude and feeling very loved. Megan and Brandon were helping me cook this feast, and there were a lot of warm colors and dried chili peppers, and there was a lot of laughing and kitchen tomfoolery. Basically that movie Tortilla Soup, but with this big happy engagement thrown into the mix and vaguely ethnic women telling me how to spice this or that. I didn't see my other friends, but I had the feeling they were all there, maybe in the next room. I also didn't see my groom-to-be, but I know I was totally in love with him and I couldn't wait to start my new life with him.

It was a great dream. I told Brandon about it this morning and he said,"I hadn't thought about it, but you would make a great wife in that family. You would totally run the house and have a lot of kids and do all the cooking. Your marriage would be passionate and fiery! Your arguments would be hot!" This is a ridiculous statement on a lot of levels, but he kinda did nail what I want. To have a husband I can't get enough of and be surrounded by my babies and high-quality produce.

And because I've never cooked with plantains and I've got a free night, that's what I'm going to do this evening. Dreams probably don't mean much, but this one definitely inspired me to get back in the kitchen, which is where I belong. I don't mean as a woman, but as a Sarah Saint. It's this girl's happy place.

**Update**
I think I'm going to make Asopao de pollo con Bollitas de Platano, which means Chicken Gumbo with Plantain Balls, as the recipe calls for both plantain and rice.
Also thinking about Arroz con Dulce, which is a sweet rice pudding made with coconut milk and rum-soaked raisins. Pictures to come.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Hot child in the city.

A couple weeks ago, I pondered briefly "Should prostitution be legal?". I'd like to say first that I'm not endorsing prostitution, nor do I approve of it. I couldn't do it myself. Like many women, I've already put myself through a lot and cemented my status as "a little different" by managing to recognize my sexuality as a part of my identity, while disentangling and holding it as far apart from my self-worth as possible. Much easier typed than done, and any woman who's ever let a sexy flirtation gone awry make her wonder what's wrong with her or ever used sex in even the teeeensiest way to get what she wanted is encouraged to sit and shush for a second, rather than rolling her eyes and saying, "Um, I've never based any of my value on my sexuality." Yes, you have.

So now imagine what it would be like to throw a paycheck into the mix!

I'd also like to add the disclaimer that none of this topic has to do with the (largely bull) concept of promiscuity. What people choose to do with their private bits, with what frequency they choose to use them, and with whom they choose to use them is entirely up to those people and no one's business but their own. So this is not about preferences or frequency or multiple partners. It's about selling one's private bits for money, and whether that occupation should be protected by legislation in the same way that, say, banks are, and what types of monitoring ought to be enacted to protect the working, the buyers, and the public.

Until I started looking into this subject, I had a misconception about the legality of ho-ing in Nevada. I thought it was this big open thing where a soiled dove could just set up shop anywhere she pleases, or not set up shop at all and just stroll the streets (in platforms and with an odd crossover gait that I, for some reason, tried to emulate after seeing Leaving Las Vegas in middle school. Wait. Real street prostitutes aren't really like Elisabeth Shue? Whatever.). Anyway, I was incorrect. Wikipedia informs me that selling one's ladycharms is legal there only in highly regulated brothels. Also, the ladies have to have weekly exams for assorted STI tests and monthly tests for HIV and syphilis. Condom use is mandatory for everything, and none of the brothel girls has ever tested tested positive for HIV. That's out of aallllll the brothels, since mandatory testing started in 1988. Pretty impressive. (Interestingly, it's very common for the customers to request that no condom be used. This request is denied, but it leaves one to wonder: what is wrong with these guys?? Why would any man intentionally have unprotected sex with a woman who has serviced literally hundreds of men? People are so weird.) An argument can clearly be made that with proper monitoring, legalized prostitution is tremendously safer than the illegal kind for both the prostitute and the customer, at least as far as disease control. In fact, upon my first foray into this halfassed investigation, I'm surprised to find myself more in support of legalized prostitution than I was when I first started thinking about it. From what I'm seeing, it's so much safer for everyone involved, and I dig that brothel prostitutes report their earnings to the IRS like the rest of us (workers, that is). However, I have a feeling that as I continue reading and perusing, I'm going to encounter the dark underbelly of sex-for-money. (That's kind of a no-brainer. I just wanted to type "the dark underbelly".)

To be continued...