Friday, February 27th, 2009

post-****** bliss

Filed under: amusements — alison @ 07:58

Mark called me urgently, urgently from the kitchen to his office so that I could share his enthusiasm for a design concept for a wide-screen tv. He is now singing to himself in Latin.

Monday, February 23rd, 2009


Filed under: movies — alison @ 07:35

So how did Viola Davis not win for Best Supporting Actress in Doubt?

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

messy (evolution of)

I remember when I was about four or five and my father was trying to get me to put my things away, I finally told him that I didn’t care. If he cared, he should put them away. He called me a princess. I was confused because in the books I read, princesses were always virtuous heroines but by his tone of voice my father didn’t seem to be praising me. I tried to get him to explain but he had lost patience by then.

When I was about ten or eleven I was sitting at the dining room table working on a craft and dropped something on the floor. I was about to lean over and pick it up, when I realised that I didn’t have to. I didn’t need it right away and it was perfectly fine sitting on the floor until I did need it. All I had to do was remember where it was. This epiphany was accompanied by a worried suspicion that I was going to regret my insight.

Anyone I have lived with has, with a single exception, complained about my messiness. With that single exception, none has cheerfully accepted my other contributions to the household as adequate compensation for needing to pick up after me.

When living with that single exception, who did not, after all, pick up after me, rather the opposite, the house was so filthy that when a pregnant friend we were chatting with on the sidewalk needed to pee, we lied and said the toilet didn’t work. I think that was when I faced the fact that there was something seriously wrong. We never discussed it.

In Margaret Atwood’s The Robber Bride, there’s a scene where a pathetic, dependent character breaks something and there’s glass on the floor. This is one more contribution to a discouraging sequence of events, not because she attached value to the broken thing but because “now she would have to remember.” As in, it doesn’t occur to her to sweep up the shards; instead she will need to spend the rest of her life trying not to cut her feet by not walking in that spot. I was shocked to discover that I was a type.

For a couple of years one of my annual objectives at work in my performance review was to clean up my desk. I never really got around to doing a complete job. My boss eventually gave up. For the past four years or so my bosses have been elsewhere — Winnipeg or Mississauga or Toronto — and have not seen my desk.

It’s not that I like being messy. I don’t even like ordinary cheerful clutter; I love a stark, open, spare space. One of the first things I did upon getting a regular job was to hire a cleaning lady. It’s more that it seems too complicated. I like doing laundry, and do it diligently even if it means hauling it to a laundromat, even if it takes all weekend. Laundry is self-limiting. There is not an infinite amount of stuff that could theoretically be put into a washing machine. Once it has been washed, it needs to be folded and put away. Very simple. Not only that, I know where laundered things go. Clothes have drawers and shelves and hangers; sheets and towels have closets; dog blankets go back on dog beds; soft furnishings go back where they came from. If I start to clean a house I never know when to stop: there’s always something I didn’t get to and feel guilty about, always a decision that I don’t know how to make.

Mark determined that part of my problem is that not everything has a place to go. I feel bad when stuff is lying around in heaps, but it’s not as though changing the situation is always a simple matter of putting it in its place. There often is no place for it, so more radical intervention is called for. When he moved in he put a lot more storage in. It helps. 

Still, the other day someone said that if I were an employee, she’d fire me; that if I were a roommate, I would be out on my ass in two days. She doesn’t even know me that well. It’s just that obvious.

My boss is in town for a day. I cleaned off my desk this morning in preparation, which mostly consisted of stashing papers and the binders into which they are some day to be filed, into drawers and bins where they will be invisible to the casual visitor. Still, I feel better.

Mark has been stomping around crossly for the past few weeks, issuing dark warnings that we both need to change if we value the relationship. I’m not sure I can change, exactly. But perhaps I can put “cleaning off the dining room table every Saturday” into the same doable category as “laundry.”

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

Orfeo ed Euridice

Filed under: amusements,death,movies,reality check — alison @ 18:29

Just came back from seeing a live broadcast of an opera performance at the Met. Cool use of cinema.

I cried at the beginning when Orfeo was mourning the loss of Euridice, because of the utter completeness of loss through death. And I cried when Euridice was contemplating a life loving someone who did not return her affection, because that’s what life with Mark is often like. (Euridice determined that death was preferable.)

After the opera Mark went home with somebody else, and I cried again.

Saturday, September 20th, 2008

Biddy, amused

Filed under: amusements — alison @ 23:35

Mark bought two tickets to Sigur Ros, one of his favourite bands. He keeps insisting that I like them because the lead singer is a woman, but I find them dreary and dissonant and generally difficult to listen to. The lead singer doesn’t even sound like a woman, but like a man singing falsetto. They aren’t bad, I don’t hate them, but in general I would rather be listening to Macy Gray.

Finding someone to go with turned out to be surprisingly difficult. He asked me again to go with him, so I said that he could tell his single-parent friends that I would babysit – but that yes, if that didn’t work, I would go.

It didn’t work. So tonight I prepared by drinking half a beer, taking acetominophen and ibuprofen, and buying earplugs. I sallied into the night to do my best at enjoying an outdoor concert with my beloved.

It was quite nice, really. This old biddy had a good time. The music was somewhere between Bjork and whalesong, and the lead singer is a man singing falsetto.

Friday, March 25th, 2005

Movies and things

Filed under: movies — alison @ 20:25

Attended a Donna Haraway lecture a few weeks back entitled “We have never been human – companion species in naturecultures.” Being totally out of the academic circuit I had never heard of Dr. Haraway before but apparently she is a very popular academic thinker. I can certainly understand that she’s a popular speaker, being droll and animated. In her presentation she followed up some links in human/canine relationships across time, geography and politics establishing that we are connected through our dogs to everything that our dogs are connected to, and that our dogs are connected to us through their integral roles in our histories and ways of constructing ourselves.

Later in question period she pointed out that you could do the same thing with a mass-produced commercial object. So it wasn’t clear that the deliberate cultivation of webby thinking the way she illustrated it would necessarily lead to a commitment to the ethical treatment of animals; she just chose to present it that way. Which was confusing, because she initially seemed to be saying something specific about the relationships between dogs and people, but when she explained what she was saying it was no, she was saying something about people, that when you look at our connections in a webby way we have more in common than we might like to think.

Which seems to be a very old notion. One that has more to do with adulthood and becoming one’s parents and looking fondly at people who are young and leaving their parents than it does with dogs or cyborgs or naturecultures.

But given that I don’t know what a natureculture is, is not for me to say.

What disappointed me was her reply to someone asking how to apply her philosophy in such a way as to convince evil profit-centred capitalists of the necessity for veganism. She said that thinking of meat-eaters as concerned with profit did them a disservice, and that while it might be unfortunate that the entire planet wasn’t vegan at least there were active movements to improve the treatment of domestic animals, such as cage-free rearing of chickens and that we should think about these and be optimistic.

When sharing a planet with six to seven billion other people who are continuing to multiply, when many of them are simultaneously going to increase their abilities to consume, when the vision of the future is an increase in people increasingly competing for increasingly limited resources, when what we know of true poverty is that it breeds a philosophy of “life sucks and then you die,” what the **** does the niceness of cage-free rearing of chickens have to do with anything?

But I get the impression that I might simply not have understood any of the lecture at all. Like my mother says: “Sometimes you can’t tell whether you don’t get the joke or whether you get it but you just don’t care.”

Anyway. Went to something presented with much smaller words on Thursday, and even illustrated. With moving pictures. I’m pretty sure I understood it. Turtles Can Fly, a fictional movie about children in wartime in Kurdistan acted by war-injured children. I almost walked out in the middle of it. The experience recalled visiting television-owning friends in 1985 at the height of famine in Ethiopia. They would be watching the news and I would be desperately ordering them to Turn that thing off! “Why? What’s the problem? Aren’t you interested in international news?” That’s not the point! Maybe you can invite starving children into your living room to die in front of you while you don’t lift a finger to help them. Maybe you think that’s interesting. But I can’t do it and I don’t want to know how you can. Turn that thing off!

Am still a little shaken.

Hugs to all, dogs and children especially but chickens and academics too.

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