Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Marshmallow fluff

I'm not in the kind of shape I want to be in.

I discovered that my new (used) iPod has a pedometer among other things, so on Wednesday, July 7th, I began walking 4000 steps a day. Two weeks later, I was walking 5000, and I've been going up 500 steps every week. Now I'm at 6500 a day (which translates to, for me, 2.7 miles approximately), which means of course that I have to finish my second cup of tea and get my lazy ass moving.

This is a good plan, for me. It allows me to slowly, but not so slowly that I don't get any health benefit, make my way up to 10,000 steps a day, which I should be starting around October 4th.

10,000 daily steps is the recommended exercise by the sexist, classist, fatphobic, disability-unfriendly, healthcare industry.

Since I am a mostly healthy currently-able young person, it's a good goal for me.

Already, I am less stiff come morning (this is helped by the weight-lifting I've also been doing a couple of times a week). Walking is much easier, and I can go much longer distances without needing to stop and rest.

And since discovering Librivox, I'm catching up on some wonderful books. Right now, I'm listening to an Old-Fashioned Girl, which was much beloved in my youth, and next I shall be listening to the Hound of the Baskervilles, which I am ashamed to admit I have never read.

The part that makes me kind of a dork is that I am documenting my fitness on a spreadsheet and graphing the data.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Read This Book! The Known World, by Edward P. Jones

It is one thing to learn dry accounts of slavery in America in history class (accounts which often seem to say that Lincoln Freed The Slaves And Then Everyone Was Cool and Hey A Party, but I digress), but it is difficult sometimes for the modern mind (especially the privileged one) to truly understand how monstrous the entire institution really was. These books about slavery and the human condition have changed more lives than just mine, I know, and I think they should be on every bookshelf:

Wench, by Dolen Perkins-Valdez.
Beloved, Toni Morrison
Family, J. California Cooper
Kindred, Octavia Butler

and now I'd add The Known World, by Edward P. Jones.

While readable and engrossing, this is at times a very difficult read simply because Jones has the ability to make you care deeply about his characters. With the first chapter, in which he creates in loving detail the county of Manchester, VA down to fake census records and town gossip, you are helpless to do much else until you finish this book. I took it with me on a walk around Lake Merritt yesterday, and stopped no more than four times to read a chapter here, a chapter there, because it was so hard to put down.

One of the things about this book that will break your heart and make you angry as you read it is that Jones refuses to make "good guys" and "bad guys". Bravely, Jones tackles the controversial and highly difficult topic of black people who owned slaves, and he does not spare us the readers by making these slave masters of color kind and egalitarian. They are slave masters just like any other. He also grimly shows just how fragile supposed "free papers" could truly be. No more on that, though, as I don't want to spoil it!

This book made me cry and nearly made me throw it. When it was over, there was a lump in my throat that refused to dissolve.

It won a Pulizer, and I can understand why.

Read this book. You won't be sorry.

Read This Book! The Carpet Makers, by Andreas Eschbach

This is not a life-affirming book. It doesn't contain witty asides. It's unsatisfying in a way; if you like a nice, neat package that teaches you a Lesson About Life, well- this book is not for you.

I'm not saying this to say you're not deep enough for it or any such James Joyce-loving nonsense, no, but rather, I'm warning you. You should know what you're in for.

The cover drew me in. Stark, white, interesting looking graphic- a woman on a loom? Hmm. I was desperately seeking reading material on a recent trip to Philly and picked it up on a whim. I read the first chapter right there in the bookstore, in a cushy chair by the window (if you don't have the kind of bookstore that has cushy chairs in which people sit for hours and waist high stacks of books, you probably aren't my favorite), and it knocked me right over. Wham. Kind of like when I read this book for the first time.

It's less a cohesive novel and more a series of vignettes, some pointed and some seemingly pointless- stories in the lives of people in a dying empire, and about the sad pointlessness of the minutae to which individual lives are devoted. It's the picture of those lives and the purpose which connects them. It's not the meaning of life. It will leave a strange open space in your chest when you finish reading.

Read it anyway. You won't be sorry.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Hoist the Fail-Sail and Go Forth!

This may or may not be a series, if people continue to be redonkulous. These are some bizarre things that have been said to me or in my hearing recently.

Animal rights groups (emphasis mine) and middle easterners are the people discriminated against these days.

Ok. What?
First of all, let's get rid of this idea that anyone who is "different" from the "norm" (read: straight, cis, white, presently-abled, young, etc) is NOT facing discrimination every. single. f-ing. day.

Secondly, animal rights groups? Really? You mean, these people? The same people who were racist, fat-shaming douchebags to Aretha Franklin? The same people who compared owning a pet to the horrific murder, rape, degradation and enslavement of millions of people for centuries?

Discrimination against fat people also, insert gay people, women and smokers is the last acceptable form of discrimination.

Listen. Nothing is the new racism-against-black-people. Black people still have to deal with racism every single day.

Secondly, why are "black people" and "women" always two separate categories? Do you mean to tell me that people who tick off both the "woman" and "black" boxes on their census forms are nonexistent, like unicorns? Are you telling me that Angela Davis, Renee of Womanist Musings, Gabi of Young, Fat and Fabulous, Latoya Peterson of Racialicious- these African-American Woman-people are imaginary?


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Dear Governor Jan Brewer;

I lived next door to illegal immigrants for a short while. Know what they looked like?

Well, they were white Canadians on expired student visas.

...but of course, the police are gonna be on the case of people like that.

Babakiueria- Watch this film!

I just learned about this amazing and sadly obscure film made in 1986. This is satire at its finest; Aboriginal Australians colonize a land full of white people.

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Read this book! #2

Good afternoon, everyone! *squints into the empty theater* Hi, reader. Thanks for coming.

I just want to tell you about this fabulous book I finished reading! What is it?, you say? No? You just have to pee? Ok, go ahead. I'll just talk to myself here.

Anyway, here it is: The Untelling. This is the kind of book that you finish and sigh. If you're me, you put down your apple enormous chocolate-chip cookie and close your eyes. Tayari Jones doesn't leave anything unsaid, but you still want there to be more book there. Maybe it's because Aria is so much like so many of us; imperfect. Hard on herself. Fallible. Sometimes, weak. Get yourself a nice tall glass of iced tea and settle in with this one. You're not going to want to stop reading.

Speaking of books that make you seriously consider only working on your legs since barbells make you have to put the book down, here's another one I read recently: Wench, by Dolen Perkins-Valdez (Powell's thinks she's just Dole- she's not). Wench is Perkins-Valdez's first novel, and takes place at a resort in free Ohio during slavery times that was visited by white men and their black mistresses. I wish there was another word I could use here that takes into consideration the complicated relationship a "favored slave" could have with a man with whom she had no choice but to sleep with- in any case, this book is amazing, and heart-wrenching, and you should read it.