Thoughts while revising and piecing together my thesis:

- Holy god. I wrote this? I'm a genius.

- Bored. No one else wants to know this much about my life. Non-fiction is a scam.

- I won't ever write anything this beautiful again.

- Overwrought? Really, Alex? Oh wait. She's right.

- How much would a plane ticket to New York cost? Jodi needs an effing hug.

- I shouldn't be allowed near pens. Period.

- How many more hours do I have to do this? My heart has paper cuts all over it.

- I can't see the forest through all these trees. (And now I'm being cliche.)

- What does it say about me that I have to play an Eminem song on repeat for two hours in order to revise a piece about mourning?

- I'm going to make everyone call me Master Camp. Boom.

- If I don't finish this today, I'll be revising on my bithday. And I'm no masochist.

- Hemingway wouldn't even read this shit.

- Pam Houston might. And she's the one who's still alive, so I should think more about that.

- Would M.J. let me join her shell-shucking business on that Mexican beach?

- I should really start working on my grad seminar.

- I should really renew my visa so I don't get kicked out of Norway.

- Nothing feels better than seeing the word 'Brilliant' in the margins of my work. From Alex. From the MFA posse. Hell, from me.

And... scene.
, U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania.

, U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today, Rick Santorum has a chance to be the GOP candidate for President.

It's tough to find the words to explain why I will never vote for Rick Santorum. Wait. That's not accurate. It's tough for me to come up with my own words to explain what should be so obvious.

On the other hand, it's EASY to come up with Rick's words on the topic. I may be a registered Republican, but contrary to the cliched image of my party, a bunch of red necks in lockstep with the bombastic conservative talking heads on TV and the radio, I vote based on issue, not on the big letter R next to a candidate's name.

So, just for fun, I'll let the man himself make it abundantly clear why he will never receive my vote... and all based on the issues.


The issue: Gay Marriage (and Sex, in general)

"And if the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery." 2003

Good news. The Supreme Court has said that I have the right to consensual sex within my home. My Fourth Amendment right to privacy secures that. Personally, I'd prefer it if my President spent more time thinking about positioning our country for betterment and progress, and less time thinking about my sex positions. And I'm straight. I can't even imagine how much the gay community wishes their bedroom habits were no longer a topic for debate.

"[Contraception is] not okay. It's a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be." 2011

Young American women may not realize how close we are to finding ourselves shoved backwards into the realm our mothers and grandmothers fought and struggled to rise above. It's easy for conservative men (religious men) to talk this way. They're not the ones who get pregnant. If Rick Santorum could get pregnant, he'd buy a lifetime supply of condoms and shut up about it.

"In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That's not to pick on homosexuality. It's not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be." 2003

The slippery slope. I can play that game, too. If we allow Christians to marinate in their own ignorance, they'll start thinking that openly gay men are simply closeted pedophiles. Etc.

The issue: Women

"The radical feminists succeeded in undermining the traditional family and convincing women that professional accomplishments are the key to happiness." Excerpted from Santorum's 2005 book It Takes a Family.

Even better, this is the book he now claims was co-authored by his own wife. But he didn't give his wife authorial credit at publication time. 
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I knew I would never see a woman in the pulpit of the church where I grew up. Knowing this didn't drive me out of that church for good, though it potentially should have. My failure to react definitively to that point did make me feel like a hypocrite for many years. How could I fault Mormons or Muslims or people of any other patriarchal faith and not admit the similar shortcomings of my own cult: non-denominational Christians?

How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? (Matthew 7:4)

Yet I kept attending occasional sermons, occasional Bible studies, and occasional Sunday school classes. I acted in our church theatrical productions and read verses aloud in front of the Sunday morning crowd. Why? When I was sometimes so vocally against what our church taught, supported, and forbade, and when other young men and women hoisted their principles and walked out the door, why did I stay?

Blogger Rachel Held Evans tackled the opposite question today in her post 15 Reasons I Left Church.  Among my favorites:

1. I left the church because I'm better at planning Bible studies than baby showers...but they only wanted me to plan baby showers.

5. I left the church because I believe the earth is 4.5 billion years old and that humans share a common ancestor with apes, which I was told was incompatible with my faith.

8. I left the church because it was often assumed that everyone in the congregation voted for Republicans.

9. I left the church because I felt like I was the only one troubled by stories of violence and misogyny and genocide found in the Bible, and I was tired of people telling me not to worry about it because "God's ways are higher than our ways."

I'm right there with Rachel on all of these issues, and I respect her right and her decision to leave an institution which made her feel this way. Yet, I know I'll be in the pews of the American Lutheran Congregation here in Oslo on Easter Sunday, and I'll be sharing a hymnal with my salvationally-skeptical husband. Why?
Last night, Jonathan and I took our favorite short walk in Oslo: straight southeast from our flat in Frogner, through the grounds of det kongelig slott (the Royal Palace), down Karl Johans gate, to Jernbanetorget (Oslo Central Station). Temperatures reached the high 50s yesterday, but dropped off quickly once the sun lowered behind the buildings. We stuffed our icy, white hands deep in our pockets and moved at a quick clip to keep the blood moving in our toes.

The ponds behind the palace are still empty. We watched children, bundled up in chubby, one-piece suits, toddling across the pebbled surface to kick at the last, dirty piles of snow. After the first major snowfall, trucks had buzzed along our streets spilling gravel over the flat surfaces to provide traction for pedestrians. Last night we watched another large truck equipped with something like a mega-shop-vac as it howled along one of the paved paths near the palace and inhaled the gravel once again, leaving the dry path clean behind it.

Walking down the hill into the city center, I happened to glance at one of the large, winter-barren planters to my left. I stopped short. Flowers! The earliest, tightly coiled purple and yellow buds are nosing their way up through the dark soil beneath the still-bare trees.

So, Veldig Oslo - Volume 02 is spring color! Within the next few weeks, these brave buds will open toward the sky in bursts of yellow and purple glory.



Veldig Oslo - Volume 02: Yellow daffodils and purple pansies on the Oslo Royal Palace grounds in April 2011

Crossing my fingers against any impending frost. Survival of the brightest. Bring on the spring!
Spring is striving beyond winter's boundaries right now. After what turned out to be a fairly mild winter here in Oslo, we've had two weeks of "warm" weather in a row. Lots of sunshine. Lots of little birds filling dormant, leafless bushes with song. The snow has melted; only the rare patch of murky, aged ice remains in high, untrafficked places. Cafe tables and folding chairs have begun to reemerge outside Olso's sidewalk eateries. These are all signs of spring.

But we haven't seen the true indicator, the no-looking-back-now symbol of spring's arrival and dominion.The Oslo Bysykkel system is not yet active. And because the days are getting longer and the weather only warmer, this brings me to a new series of blog-thoughts... things I love (and currently miss) about spring, summer, and autumn in Oslo... Veldig Oslo (Very Oslo) - Volume 01:


Veldig Oslo - Volume 01: Cruising along the fjord near Akershus in July 2011.

Oslo Bysykkel racks are located all over the city. By purchasing a rental card, you have access to all of the racks. You can then pick up a bike anywhere and drop it off anywhere. It's that simple. The three-speed bikes come equipped with a bell and a small basket. They're not fancy, but they get you from here to there, and in a pedestrian-friendly city like Oslo, it's a safe way to travel, too. 

This is one of the things I've missed most of all since the bikes' removal in late autumn. Jonathan and I used the system constantly for more than six straight months. We didn't leave the house without grabbing our bike cards! 


Oslo Bysykkel rental bikes near Nowegian Maritime Museum on Bygd√ły

The bike rental system is available to tourists in Oslo, as well:

Tourists wishing to use bicycles during their stay in Oslo should contact the Tourist Information Centre by the Central Station, the central station or Fridtjof Nansen Square 5, entrance gate Roald Amundsen, who will assist with the provision of tourist card. (This is a translated excerpt; for more information, visit the Oslo Bysykkel website.)

Per the website, bikes should reappear at rental racks in early April. Then, bring on the spring!
A Valentine's Day gift from my dear friend, Cindy, arrived by way of my traveling husband yesterday. And I just can't help myself when it comes to jewelry this adorable. I must post about it here. These earrings will become, doubtlessly, my favorites.


And I know what you're thinking. Audrey, are you going to turn into one of those bloggers who posts pictures of herself wearing cute stuff every day?

Don't worry. I probably won't ever be that girl, and here's why:

  1. Not enough cute stuff! I'm no fashionista. I'm a t-shirt and jeans girl, so my fashion choices aren't worth noting either way.
  2. I have friends like Jeanette (Teak and Turquoise) and Rachel (My Blog. My Show.) who do such things, and as they are adorable and fashion savvy, I look to them for inspiration and beauty.
So why put this picture up here at all if I'm not into fashion blogging? To that I can only say that these earrings are special. Not only are they pretty, but they are constructed from tiny resistors! That's right, they're geek jewelry! See? Absolutely worth blogging.

Besides, I want to put these up on my Pinterest style board, but that means I have to put the image and info somewhere first. Turns out, these earrings aren't easy to find on the internet. 

The first mention I found is in a Society of Women Engineers newsletter put out by UC Berkeley. The second is a Facebook gallery of like-jewelry constructed of itty bitty computer parts. And it's no surprise you can find these on Etsy, too. However you hunt them down, it'll be worth it. Like most technological advances, these babies go with everything!

IMG_6282.jpgYosemite National Park. The best granite climbing in the world. The Tuolumne region of YNP is famous for its giant granite domes: Stately Pleasure Dome, Lembert Dome, Fairview Dome, and Pywiack Dome. One of our favorite multi-pitch climbs in Tuolumne is Zee Tree on Pywiack Dome. We've completed this ascent together multiple times. It's a good introduction to multi-pitch climbing as the overall rating is only 5.7. 

On multi-pitch, bolted routes like Zee Tree, permanent belay stations are located every 50 to 100 feet (the length of a single pitch); these consist of heavy bolts screwed into the face of the rock. Climbing works best in teams of two moving inchworm-style: Climber One is tied into the front of the rope and leads the climb, placing protection on his way, and fixes the anchor at the top; Climber Two follows once the anchor is set, cleaning the route by removing the protection, and arrives in time to belay Climber One on his next pitch.

The second climber in the team is better protected. While the "leader" (Jonathan, in our case) brings the rope up behind him, relying on the placement of gear to protect him in the event of a fall, I follow once an anchor has been built above me. If I fall, Jonathan's belay will have me within a few inches. If Jonathan slips on his climb, he will fall twice the distance between his feet and last piece of protection in the rock before my belay catches him from below. 

Above: Six pitches of slab will challenge both your physical and mental stamina, but the wide-open exposure has its perks. The view southwest to Tenaya Lake is a breathtaking sweep of emerald green and piercing blue. 

Objective: Zee Tree (5.7)
Style: Sport Climbing/Trad Climbing (final pitch)
Level: Easy/Moderate
Length: 700 feet, 6 pitches, 3 hours
Approach: Drive up and park on Hwy 120. (Winter closures.)

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People remember Katharine Hepburn as a feminist icon, but it's worth noting how many of her films could actually be construed as anti-Feminist fables, stories that show how far a prideful, powerful woman can and should fall.
My favorite of these is The Philadelphia Story (1940), a film following the final days before a socialite's second wedding. The drama surrounds the way Tracy Lord (Hepburn) is forced to reassess her own priorities and attitudes when her ex-husband, C.K. Dexter Haven (Cary Grant), returns as a wedding guest. It is when Haven reproaches his ex-wife by saying, "You'll never be a first class human being or a first class woman until you learn to have some regard for human frailty," that Tracy Lord begins to see the error of her "priggish" ways. 

Other examples of her less-than-Feminist films, at least as we look at them today, include Adam's Rib (1949), Woman of the Year (1942), and Pat and Mike (1952). All of these are good movies, and in all of them the moral is the same: a woman might be able to strive for equality, even superiority, but in the end she must submit to the viewpoints and values of her man.

So how is it that Katharine Hepburn is remembered as a Feminist icon? And how on earth did a Feminist in the 1930s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s manage to remain so predominantly loveable?

Over the course of her career, Hepburn would be nominated for 12 Academy Awards (a record only recently broken by Meryl Streep), and she remains to be the only woman to win the category four times: Morning Glory (1933), Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967), The Lion in Winter (1968), and On Golden Pond (1981). Movie-goers everywhere loved her.

Today, we take that fact for granted, but we shouldn't. The adoration of the American public was hers in spite of a personal reputation completely out-of-step with the time. 

Hepburn lived life according to her own dogmatic terms. She spoke out against censorship when Hollywood's infamous blacklisting began, and her name was mentioned in multiple hearings by the House Un-American Activities Committee. She was a proponent of birth control and abortion long before either had been federally legalized. She was an atheist when the vast majority of Americans believed in a Christian God. And then there was her relationship with Spencer Tracy

Her greatest on-screen love was also the love of her life. Their relationship spanned nearly three decades (and nine films), and all the time Tracy was married to someone else. 

He and his wife had separated several years before he met Hepburn, but his Catholic traditions prevented him from seeking a divorce. Hepburn and Tracy maintained separate residences, yet were together as much as possible; she didn't move in with him until he fell ill in the early 1960s. Friends say Hepburn's entire demeanor changed when she was around Tracy. She loved him "blindingly," according to Lauren Bacall. The last film they made together, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, earned Hepburn an Oscar for Best Actress and Tracy a posthumous nomination for Best Actor. Hepburn was with Tracy the night he died of a heart attack in October of 1967. She never watched Guess Who's Coming to Dinner because it was his last film. 

In spite of it all, the public continued to love Katharine Hepburn. They loved her angular beauty, her statuesque silhouette in high-waisted trousers. And, as film historian Richard Schickel explains, "Her best films were when she was presented as a woman on her high horse with slightly pretentious, often comically stated ideas about the world. It was for men to bring her down and get her to reveal herself as quite a good gal, sporty and democratic. We liked the idea that aristocratic people would be humanized by democratic values--in her case, by slightly rough-necked and good-natured males."

This last, I believe, is not only true, but is evidence of Katharine Hepburn's own, intentional crafting of her movie image. 

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