Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Fascinating Dichotomy

But what if the universe was always there, in a state or condition we have yet to identify--a multiverse, for instance?  Or what if the universe, like its particles, just popped into existence from nothing?
Such replies usually satisfy nobody.  Nonetheless, they remind us that ignorance is the natural state of mind for a research scientist on the ever-shifting frontier.  People who believe they are ignorant of nothing have never looked for, nor stumbled upon, the boundary between what is known and unknown in the cosmos.  And therein lies a fascinating dichotomy.  "The universe always was" goes unrecognized as a legitimate answer to "What was around before the beginning"  But for many religious people, the answer "God always was" is the obvious and pleasing answer to "What was around before God?" 
- Neil deGrasse Tyson

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Whispering @ 7:25

Quite possibly the sexiest thing I've ever seen:



@ 8:16:  Whispering is cut short.  Meg looks up.  Glares at cameraman disapprovingly:  "George."  Pauses.  Then winks.

Jack:  "Where's George?" [Feints, as if Meg hadn't already warned him.]

Meg:  "George is right there." Points at camera.  Smiles coquettishly. 

Jack:  Looks into camera.  Discovered.  Holds head in his hands despairingly.

Meg:  "We're having a secret conference...It's things you don't want to know about, George.  Because...they would be too scandalous..."

***
In sum, voyeurism. is. hot.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The S-Word

Not too long ago, I was having dinner at Harvest with a couple of women whom I had known since grade school.  We were discussing wedding planning (yawn) and my acquaintance (I hesitate to even call her my friend), Julie, casually said something to the effect of, "well, she decided against the little black dress because it was too slutty."  I just about dropped my wine glass when my friend, Angie, agreed with Julie.  I hadn't heard Angie use the word "slut" in years, much less utilize it as a descriptive term.  Since that time, I've noticed with dawning horror that this word is used fairly regularly (I even had someone write it in my comment section recently).

You could easily describe me as insulated in this respect.  I've challenged my friends and family so often on their use of gender-specific (read: feminized) derogatory language that they rarely, if ever, use words like slut, whore, or cunt in my presence.  I have a real problem with the fact that there are twenty words synonymous with slut and no real counterpart to describe men (short of male-modified terms like man-whore, and such).  It has been shown in countless studies that slut and words like it structurally maintain sexism in the English language; hence, I do not use them.  Similarly, I do not watch TV that glorifies that sort of language (it won't surprise you to learn that I do not own a television), and I've been known to walk out of movies that are thick with that vernacular.  It disturbs me.  Just as the use of the n-word disturbs me.  I feel there is no place for that type of language in a progressive culture.

Outside of my linguistic objections to these sorts of words, I largely object to what they symbolize.  The idea that a sex-positive woman must be put down, must be marginalized, must be controlled and thus labeled a slut or a whore.  I understand that some people have a less generalized use of the term (ie:  a slut is not simply a woman who has frequent sex, but a woman who has sex in a scandalous manner - ie:  with men in committed relationships), but I nevertheless believe that its use is inappropriate.  It is a far too emotionally-charged word to use lackadaisically.  Words of this ilk have historically been utilized to teach hate and oppression.  I'd rather not propagate that mentality.

To get back to the "slutty" dress, I don't even know what that characterization is supposed to mean.  What exactly is slutty attire, anyway?  Is it low-cut?  Is it tight-fitting?  Is it mid-riff baring?  Is it something that highlights the female form?  I honestly don't comprehend why we need to be protected from our bodies.  I don't understand why feminity must be hidden.  I have a friend who routinely gives me disapproving looks for my cleavage shirts.  She thinks I am dressing too immodestly.  Granted, this is the same woman who had to fight tooth-and-nail in the Middle East to be allowed to appear in public with her head uncovered.  These are all social constructs.  What does it matter what form they take?  At one point in time, a woman who revealed her ankles was being risque.  Personally, I believe that a woman (and a man, for that matter) should be allowed to wear whatever she wants, as long as she is covering up her naughty-bits.*  If you don't like it, don't look at her.  There are bigger things in this world to concern ourselves with than how much skin a woman is revealing.  

Om shanti.


*Actually, I think people should be allowed to walk around butt-ass naked, if they so choose, but I know that isn't entirely realistic at this time.

Monday, May 10, 2010

And the Pursuit of Happiness

A number of female bloggers have recently written about how they predominantly (if not exclusively) use their blogs as vehicles with which to highlight the more positive aspects and happenings in their lives.  They've argued that no one wants to read about their misfortunes and so they make a concerted effort to focus their blogging on uplifting and/or comical personal stories.

Frankly, I take issue with the assertion that only the positive is fit for public consumption.  I, for one, would much rather read about a person's validly negative life experiences than to solely read insipid, inane flounderings toward a positive spin where one does not rightfully exist.  While gratitude journals certainly have their place, I would prefer to not have my online world subsumed by Oprah-esque, happy-happy, joy-joy ramblings.

Reading a piece by Rebecca Traister, Screw Happiness, verified that this phenomenon is hardly limited to online blogging.  It seems that omnipresent satisfaction is a regular expectation of women in American society, as follows:
But really, how could [women not get sadder as they get older], given the aggressive messages about happiness and how they must achieve it, and unhappiness and how they must avoid it that are foisted on them from every direction, making them feel like failures if they are not warbling and grinning their way through life?
It appears that we've collectively discounted the virtues of unhappiness.  Traister makes the point that dissatisfaction can act as a "propellant" to "show us what we do not want" and to "give shape and specificity to what it is we do want."  Further, she acknowledges that sometimes life is not unicorns and rainbows and that is fine, too.  It isn't bad, it isn't less than, it simply is.  The Buddhists hold that "life is suffering."  That suffering instructs.  That suffering builds character.  I believe that suffering helps us to fully appreciate the good things in life because we have something to measure against, something to provide contrast in what would otherwise be a monotonous, gray landscape.

Kurt Cobain once said, "I miss the comfort in being sad" and I've often empathized with that sentiment.  Sorrow can be an enriching experience.  Digging deep into the marrow of unhappiness can leave one feeling cleansed and even protectively enveloped in a cocoon of melancholy.  I'm not proposing that women should haplessly wallow in self-pity and despair.  It just seems that, every so often, taking a dip in the deep end isn't such a negative thing.  In fact, it could be a welcome opportunity for self-development and personal growth.  At the very least, I reject the expectation that women be ever happy, ever positive, and ever cheerful--like good little 1950's housewives.  All of my emotions are worthwhile and worthy of expression.  After all, they are reflections of my complete and expansive humanity.

Friday, May 7, 2010

A Word of Explanation

If you are new to my blog and/or haven't visited in the past twenty-four hours, you might be asking yourself, "What is that gorgeous, cock-and-balls shaped image at the top of Jen's page?"  Why, that, dear readers, is LBG-2377, a galaxy proto-cluster some 2.5 billion years older than any other light we've yet detected on this here planet.

More specifically, what you are looking at is light that has tirelessly traveled 11.4 billion light years* to arrive at our cosmologically insignificant watery globe.  In other words, you are traveling back in time to see our universe as it existed some eleven-and-a-half billion years ago - tantalizingly close to its nascency**.  Further, this is a stupendously colossal, highly energetic object you are viewing -- something exponentially larger and inexpressibly more active than our own Milky Way.  Scientist James Bullock, director of the Center for Cosmology at UCI, described it, as follows--

We believe LBG-2377 is a seed that eventually will grow into a massive galaxy cluster. Our finding suggests that this is a monster structure being born in a very bright, catastrophic event with a lot of gas and matter collapsing at once. We are not just seeing one solitary galaxy. We are seeing a bunch of bright galaxies coming together at the dawn of structure formation in the universe.

At the dawn of structure formation in the universe.  When everything we see today in our night sky was only a twinkle in the universe's eye (hee!). Attempt to wrap your mind around these concepts: the tremendous size, energy, distance, and time involved therein.  This is an infinitely enjoyable pastime worthy of my joyously sharing with all of you. 

Om shanti.


*Light travels at a speed of 5,878,630,000,000 miles per year.
**We now estimate the universe's total age at 13.7 billion years.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Runaway



"What makes you think I'd enjoy being led to the flood?"

An Amicable Exchange

After some consideration, I've determined that my overly abundant breasts are largely responsible for the continued perpetuation of my weight gain, for the following reasons:
  1. They leave me blissfully unaware of my ever-growing middle-section b/c they obstruct my view of same;  I literally have to push them aside in order to properly view my stomach;
  2. They serve as a distraction, in that the people around me tend to not treat me any differently, b/c they only seem to notice my goodly ladies, rather than the other plentiful parts of me; and
  3. They initially absorb much of the additional weight gain and hence distort my own sense of body mass - (ie:  "I can't be gaining weight, my pants still fit me fine"). 
To be fair to the girls, there are other things at issue.  For instance, after Mom fractured her hand roller-blading last fall, my workout routine suffered greatly and it became damn near non-existent after my car accident in January. As I'm sure you can imagine, crippling spinal/musculature pain can be quite demotivating.  However, my situation has become something of a self-propelling, negative feedback loop because the less I work out, the more I gain weight, the less my body is healthy overall, the less quickly my injuries heal, the less I work out... (you see where this is going). So, I've determined that I need to jump into a new routine already and work through the pain as I go. (It isn't as though anti-inflammatories and other pain meds are absent from the earth. If worse comes to worse, I'll start popping pills.)

What I've learned from leading scientific studies and my own experience is that having a committed exercise partner is the predominant indicator of successful maintenance of a workout program. Essentially, your partner motivates you to keep it up when you are unable and you do the same for them when they are feeling sluggish. For that reason, I sorely miss working out with my parents and sisters.  My mom and dad were VERY conscientious about exercise and very persistent about convincing me to join them. The only problem is that Mom can't really roller-blade anymore. Plus, I'm a little hesitant to return to that activity myself knowing that it deformed and crippled my mom's right hand.

I've been wracking my brains for that special someone who has the time and inclination to join me in an exercise program.  Of the infinitesimally small number of potential candidates, I've determined that my ex would be ideal. He lives just a few blocks from me and our gym membership is still current*, so convenience wouldn't be at issue.  Also, being a farm boy, he has (for all intents and purposes) endless strength and endurance** so I won't have to concern myself with him pooping out on me.

Given the above, I seemingly have everything in place to get back to a healthy body size--everything except motivation and inertia on my ex's part.  Prodding and poking him has proven ineffective.  I need to offer him something to sweeten the deal.  Essentially, to motivate him to motivate me.  What I thought I could offer up is casual sex.  I figure, why not?  We both excel at it.  We aren't having it with anyone else and goddamnit, I want a freaking gym buddy. Nothing makes for a more devoted work-out partner than one who is promised free lovin' afterward.  If our relationship set any precedent, I think he will remain tireless in his effort to get me to the gym and subsequently into bed.

Who else sees what a genius idea this is? ...Anyone? Anyone?! ...Bueller? ... *sigh*

Om shanti.


*Even though neither of us attends with any frequency--it is frighteningly true what they say about it being damn near super-human to voluntarily quit a gym.

**I once watched him valiantly magic a couch up three flights of stairs with minimal assistance.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Sex, sex, and fucking

I must be in that delightful aspect of my menstrual cycle where my testosterone level is at its zenith, because I can not seem to refrain from thinking about filthy, hot sexiness. Shoot, I was even flirting with someone over Scrabble chat today! And in a completely nonsensical manner. His comments were perfectly nonsexual and I desultorily took the discussion to a very bad place. [You can't see me, but I'm shaking my head and laughing to myself at the memory of my extreme inappropriateness.]

At present, something incomprehensible is occurring wherein I want nothing to do with men and/or women that I could feasibly date and have sex with. Rather, I'm exponentially more intrigued by people with whom it would be incredibly ill-advised for me to be involved. My theory is that this is some sort of twisted manifestation of a defense mechanism. In order to prevent myself from getting embroiled in another long-term relationship, I pine away for the most unavailable people. Not simply the married, but the married with children. Not simply the married, but the married to whom it would be oh so uncomfortable to discover my interest in their spouse.

For example, there is this woman, Ryan*, and I have this magnificent crush on her. It is the very definition of hardcore (leather, whips, chains - oh my!). I illicitly think about her far, far too often. However, she is married to a good friend of mine, so there is zero chance of our boning. What is noteworthy is that I've known the girl for years and I'd never thought of her in a romantic sense before. Out of nowhere (out of my inimical psyche), I began entertaining these terribly naughty notions about what I'd like to do to her and what I'd like her to do to me. BUT THE THING IS, when I'm alone with her, I don't want her in my immediate vicinity. If she tries to get too touchy-feely with me (ie during an ostensibly innocent hug goodbye), I will tense up and flee, as quickly as humanly possible.

It is as if I only want fodder for my fantasy life. The moment that something seems to be coming to fruition in reality, I am out the door. This response is so thoroughly ingrained that I feel it to my very core. When Ryan touches me, I become completely disinterested, I turn off inside, I retreat. But then the moment she is not physically present, I'm furiously thinking about her again. WTF, mind?! What is going on in there, head?! (Other than a whole lot of x-rated business with the most unsuitable partners, of course.)

I am taking my fear of commitment to a whole new, bizarre level. Who's coming with me?


*Not really her name