Elayne Riggs' Journal (for Leah)

Monday, September 07, 2009

Blogiversary/Labor Day Blogaround

These days, I take my breaks where I can get 'em. I sense more of a schedule crush than ever, and I still don't feel like I'm accomplishing what I should be. I get too easily frustrated by things that are out of my control. I yearn for time, but I always seem to squander it. In other words, welcome to life. A life I've shared with you, after a fashion, for seven years on this blog.

When I started, I had more time for everything. My day job not only allowed me unrestricted access to most every website, but afforded me quite a bit of free time, particularly when my boss was elsewhere and the business itself appeared to be winding down. I was mostly miserable in that somewhat soul-sucking position, but I did appreciate the writing time, if only to vent about the daily toll. Politically, the country was mired in a presidency that divided the nation, pitting the aggressively nasty and their semi-ignorant sycophants against reality-based citizens fearful of encroaching fascism and economic meltdown.

How things have changed. My best friend from college, my best friend from adulthood, and my father are all gone now (but remain in my heart every day). I hit my 50th birthday with no fanfare, no party, little hope for what lay in my future. It was shortly followed by over six months of grueling job-hunting, which finally paid off. Now I'm in a job I positively adore, but which comes with increased responsibilities and sucks time instead of my soul. It's a trade-up, believe me, but I do miss the freedom to just ramble on. And while the country's current centrist-pragmatic leaders aren't the bastions of liberalism many of my fellow lefty bloggers talked themselves into believing they were, and we've yet to climb out of nationwide joblessness (in the Riggs Residence alone, it's been nine months since Robin's last comic book assignment ended, almost inconceivable considering how well and fast he draws), rays of hope break through the clouds here and there.

Robin and I are still playing "constant effing improv" - i.e., happily married, for almost 11 years now. Both our cats are still with us; Amy turns 12 next month, and Datsa's hanging in there as healthy as ever at 16½ (or is it 17½?). I'm relatively healthy as well, despite the a-fib scare of a few years back and my "borderline" diabetes. We still live in the top floor of a lovely house in a nice, quiet neighborhood. Both my brothers are now happily married as well, and I get to see my Mom every few weeks during the late spring, summer and early autumn. So many people I love are still with me. There are always new (and old) things to listen to, watch, and read. And while it's true that Megillat Vashti, my opus of sorts, remains unfinished, and ComicMix changed its mind about having weekly columnists, I still use my writing muscles, mostly in the service of my job. And that's okay for now. Somewhere, just beyond the reach of my current consciousness, is the key to reacquiring that drive, that genetic need to write essays and stories for myself and for a willing audience. And I know I will always have a platform by which to accomplish that. Welcome to Pen-Elayne's eighth year.

Now, on to the blogaround, in no particular order.

• Hey Mom, this one's for you:

If I've embedded it right, clicking on the above will take you to the original on Randall Munroe's blog.

• Tony Bourdain reviews the latest crop of kiddie cartoons that his daughter watches.

• Melissa McEwan has received well-deserved praise for her "Terrible Bargain" post, which she reprinted and updated in the Guardian. I highly recommend forwarding this piece to the men you love, it's very good food for thought.

• Also from Liss in the Guardian, something I'd never thought about before: what's with the double standard in judging female legacy-holders differently than male ones? I didn't even realize I was doing this; would I have been so (inwardly) derisive of their lack of qualifications if Jenna Bush Hager or Liz Cheney or Caroline Kennedy were men? (And I like Kennedy, but I couldn't get over the fact that she'd never held public office, and I have to ask myself if I would have been as bothered if it were a male Kennedy with no previous elected experience.) And on her own blog, a debunking of the idea that sexism is a matter of opinion. While I get what she's saying, I'm still not sure I completely disagree. There's still that schoolkid inside me saying "How can you be sure what a hundreds-of-years-dead writer meant to say when there's no documented evidence?" On the other hand, Robin and I have been debating authorial intent vis a vis Beatles lyrics all weekend, so there you go. Lastly, Liss found an organization designed to help women escape magically-imposed situations that are in no way caused by other people who are not women.

• And while nobody can top Liss' great sarkiness regarding fat hatred, I also read a couple great posts on appearance-judging by two unlikely (at least to me) sources: Carrie Fisher severely and hilariously rips into people who expect her to still look like Princess Leia (my favorite line: "But here's this thing that I found myself wondering... what the fuck do YOU look like??!"); and Marie Javins wonders, if she's considered XL at a size 8, "what do the fat chicks do?" Tell me about it, Marie. It's like politics: those of us who are actual progressives rarely if ever see ourselves represented on major political media, which tends to run the gamut from far-right nutzoids to pragmatic centrist/liberals ever so slightly to the left of our President. Those of us who are over a size 20 rarely if ever see ourselves represented in any normal capacity in most major media, in stores, etc. (Thank goodness for catalog shopping! Even if said catalog doesn't feature any models who look like me, at least the clothes are cute, appropriate and affordable.)

• Via Terri at frogblog:

• Oh dear, just as we're all anticipating The Office's next season, Meredith up and quits her blog. I'm heartbroken. (I get the feeling Kate Flannery writes a lot of characters' blogs, but this one was just so wonderfully in-character funny that I'm really going to miss it.)

• Augie is dumbfounded that the post office doesn't charge more money for faster service. See, that's how things work when you have an institution that isn't run on the profit motive, but on the idea of performing a service for citizens. I don't think firefighters charge the public more for 4-alarm fires than 3-alarm ones, either. We aren't taxed more if police catch a serial killer than if they nab someone who "only" murdered one person. Honestly, when did this become such a difficult concept that people can't even understand why universal single-payer health care is the best, most cost-effective way our country can care for its citizens?

• Speaking of crime fighting, kudos to Chris Weston for his amazing abilities!

• And speaking of health care, Paul Krugman confirms what I've been saying all along, that most people in the media are more intent on "talking about talking" about health care (i.e., horse race reporting) than in discussing actual health care policy. Although things have become so outrageous that I don't know that I can blame people for talking incredulously about, for instance, how crazies are now shouting "Heil Hitler!" at Israeli Jews; as Jesse Taylor puts it, "We have now reached the point in the American dialogue where a Jew from a country full of Jews is a Nazi because his people have banded together to provide for their own health. But those same Jews are also the Jews of liberal fascism, because everyone who lives under a socialized health care system is also a victim of the system, even if they inflicted it on themselves. So, at the end of the day, Israelis are both the Nazis and the Jews of liberal fascism, brutalizing themselves under their terrible regime of paying for their own improved health."

• Yeah, we're there. Thank goodness for Sara Robinson, who has posted the third installment in her series about modern American fascism. As in, actual fascism, not accusations thereof being thrown at liberals and democrats by people who support actual fascism. (I love the art Sara uses as well.) Also from Sara, a brilliant analysis of the current conservative mind. Wow. Just, wow.

What Doc at First Draft said. Every time a government program does some good, it's like the people in charge of it try to kill it. As if to prove "Saint" Ronny's point that government is the problem. It's only a problem when it persists in seeing itself as the problem rather than the solution, despite mounds of evidence to the contrary!

• We really ought to know better by now, but Gary Sassaman confirms that the "shopper" who wanted an Apple computer but bought a PC instead in that Microsoft ad is, in actuality, a paid actress. It's like persisting in believing in the spontaneity in any given moment of a Jerry Lewis MDA telethon.

• I adore Stephen Fry, but I fear he's sorely mistaken that "Executives who once relied on secretaries to do their typing and their admin now have to do it all themselves. They even have to get their own coffee and pinch their own bottoms." Uncalled-for sexism aside, one of the reasons I became a secretary/admin/whatever the heck they call it now is because I knew there'd always be a need for people who can organize others' Rolodexes, workloads, appointments and so forth. And I'm damn good at it.

• By far, the best commentary I've read concerning Disney buying Marvel came from my old pal Vinnie Bartilucci. Well worth a read.

• I was a bit too young and not-into-music-yet for Woodstock, but Mike Gold remembers it well, as he was working for Abbie Hoffman at the time. And now I'm like one degree away from the late Mr. Hoffman; cool!

• Remember in last month's blogaround when I linked to Kath David's great post about being an adult? Here's another great post on the same subject by Amanda, who gives it an interesting feminist twist. Come to think of it, dudebros do seem to abound, but there's no female equivalent to a Peter Pan syndrome, is there? Because the Wendy syndrome is all about a kid taking on adult responsibilities, not the other way around.

• And speaking of Amanda, I concur with her about making death mean something in one's eulogies, rather than just mouthing platitudes, particularly when political activity was kind of the point of someone's life. Thers elaborates upon this theme.

• Lastly, thanks for the kind words, Bryan!

Well, I didn't quite get through all my blog reading (I have a lot of Group Blogs yet to get through), but at least the blogaround's done. Now, to make dinner and watch the second game of today's Yankees doubleheader. Onward to year #8!