Monday, December 31, 2007

new year, new you (?)

first, a confession. i used to hate new year's. it always seemed like a forced-fun event. an arbitrary evening to slug back champagne and watch the eerily youthful dick clark on television. or attend parties full of people you didn't know. new year's always felt like a competition, an end in the means, an inevitable drunken debacle. but now, i see it differently. almost hopefully. at best, with cautious optimism. a dreamy rebirth.

that is why i have cautiously entitled this post "new year, new you (?)" because i beg those who try to shed their old, their pounds, their particular "question mark" problem to abstain this year, from abstaining itself. i, too, used to think the new year should beckon in the new and improved jacks. one who swore less, was fitter, a better person, smarter, happier, more well-rounded. but i was under the false impression that to be shiny new jacks, i had to give up, avoid, abstain, decrease. this ultimately left me unhappy. trying to shed rather than trying to gain. trying to close rather than open. i'm good at this. shedding to the bare minimums to perfect those while losing sight of what's more.

last year, i attempted something radically different. i added instead of taking away. i splurged instead of showing restraint. and now i have something ridiculously good to show for it. and it didn't take much. didn't feel like persevering. not like a chore. or a burden. but fun. essentially, i got fun for new year's.

at the end of 2006, i made a commitment to volunteer. i became a big sister. and now my life has a new dynamic that makes me feel good about myself. not too this or that. not not enough. not a work-in-progress. but a real live giver. doer. contributor.

now i tell you all this because i am cautiously, optimistically, breathlessly constructing new add-on goals. not take-away ones. and i'm all giddy with the possibilities. overwhelmed even with the notion that i can choose anything and, as my track record so far can attest, achieve it. that is really a crazy realization.

that i can do anything.

rather than i'm not enough.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

i should be relaxing

isn't it weird that you desperately crave downtime and then go stir crazy? i guess xmas downtime isn't really downtime though. it is kinda a fake break. you still run around like an idiot buying gifts, then doing everything until you can open the gifts, then open the gifts and in between see everything you know, cook and eat countless meals and generally do everything christmas-y imaginable like (deep breath) watch movies, eat chocolate, roast chestnuts, drink eggnog, drink rum and eggnog, drink copious amount of beer and wine, drink hot chocolate (i think i've mentioned i like to ingest stuff), spend time with friends and family, travel to see friends and family, shop some more, pay bills, go to fantastic holiday movies, and see lights, trees, and more lights whenever possible. and eat and eat and eat.

so i guess it isn't surprising that when you get a second to yourself, your head is still spinning. so today, when i should be relaxing, i am thinking about how i will be presenting at the Northern Voice Blogging Conference in february. a year ago this february, i attended the 2007 installment Northern Voice and marks my inauguration into the world of blogging. i had no idea it could/would be this much fun. it also marks a little over a year since the official start to my fieldwork (which is sadly done now. which is why i am supposed to be writing. not procrastinating. by writing a blog. a blog i thought i'd never have. anyhoo). so of course, to come full circle, i am going to talk about online dating at this conference and i gotta tell ya, i'm pretty friggin' excited about it.

over these fine holidays we visited with our lovely and talented friends L. and D. they are academics, have interesting topics of research, and generally treat life like a challenge. that is, they never run from the difficult. as top athletes and top minds, they will not be swayed from goals. taken off course. dissuaded. we talked about our dissertations (and collectively tried to avoid the always sickening "is it almost finished" question that NO ONE should EVER ask a phd student. EVER). while talking, i've realized that my educational journey has taught me one thing. that although it seems that nothing is getting done, that progress is stalled, that there is no end in sight - there is because i am just marinating. stories for me come from a place inside that i do not quite understand. probably will not ever understand. but i have learned to be patient. to wait. because they are coming. in a burst of what i would like to call inspiration, but rather resembles a kind of anxiety-induced near-expiration, it comes out. all flowy-like and rapid.

so knowing this one thing about myself, i have decided to call on my blog readers if, indeed, you are out there and are yourself cautiously awaiting the inspiration to expirate, to tell me your burning questions about online dating. to remind me what is the most compelling part of the oceans of data swimming in my head. what would you like to hear about the how tos, the practices, the processes of online dating of you were, in fact, attending the 2008 Northern Voice Blogging Conference? because this is a "non-academic" conference, i want to tell stories. and with your burning questions, maybe my marinating can turn into cooking. or grilling. or whatever one does with marinated stuff. you know what i mean.

i know it is a lot to ask at christmas. but consider it a gift. yes - ask yourself why you haven't gotten me a gift already. yeah, that's right. where's my friggin' gift?


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

i'm full

i was going to title this post as the next in my sequential ordering of "bad blogger" posts but i'm too full. i think i am on a tryptophantastic high. anyhoo - i'm a bad blogger because i was under the impression that bloggers take christmas holidays. but i was wrong. all the blogs on my blogroll have faithfully and miraculously replenished themselves with the same insightful, witty, and creative stuff of always. so you heard it here first folks: bloggers don't get a holiday. armed with this knowledge, i too will try, high on turkey and massive quantities of carbohydrates (including my grandmother's kick ass stuffing which i am proud to say i can adequately approximate), attempt to write something. insightful. creative. witty. jeesh.

holidays make me think of food. which is obvious if you take into account that i stuffed myself like a christmas turkey moments before realizing my requisite duty to my dear, dear blog. also, this past christmas eve, i watched the new version of hairspray (and btw, wasn't there an old version with ricky lake? did i dream this? is this the turkey talking? help me out here folks). the film is about difference and accepting difference (exemplified in the themes of life-as-a-fat-girl who wants to be famous and a racially segregated baltimore seeking integration through the vehicle of a local television show aptly named the corny colin show or something equally retro-tastic). this intersection of holiday feasting and fat phobia apparent in the film resonated compellingly as i think about what is ahead for many this new year. that's right folks. exercise. dieting. the quest, as one gym i saw today advertised, for the "new you" this new year.

i, of course, pig out on holidays. take a break from everything. including worrying about how big my thighs are or how flappy the skin under my arms is when i wave (chicken wings i believe they are called). and i guess we all do. it is why we have holidays - to take a break from the always and everything of worry. plowing ahead. getting through the day. and perhaps this is why we panic when the new year hits. not only were we dissatisfied with our bodies in the everyday but then we went ahead and ate. and ate. and ate. (now i am making myself slightly hungry thinking about all the chocolate under the tree. i know. i'm full and still frothing at the mouth for dark chocolate. i never said i was strong. or not disgusting. or well-disciplined). getting back to the everyday means allowing those voices to once again control us. mentally measure our thighs. watch the flaps of skin flail.

what i was most astonished by watching hairspray was not how distracting john travolta was as a woman or the fact that christopher walken can still move like he did in his deer hunter days. nope. it was the fact that a young woman was portrayed who was strong. uninhibited. proud. talented. and fat. this is an image we never see. isn't available. does not exist in hollywood. but there she was. beautiful and bold. never once wincing at the slights, the insults, the discrimination against her fat that the movie depicted with hilariously horrifying (a expert john waters technique) clarity.

i don't want to get into a conversation about how the media does this to us. to women. and increasingly to men. because it is not enough. to think we are put upon. agency-less. void. but i do want to encourage thinking about difference as a way of experiencing the world. we can worry about our "new selves" - which are just copies of what is ultimately similar (that is, youthful, thin, fit, active, well-adjusted, happy - the list goes on. and on. and on) - as something beyond the confines of our embodiment and the narrow ways we have to inhabit those bodies. rather our "new selves" can be defined by different categories. and we can perhaps realize, much to our surprise and decreasing worry, that our "old selves" are increasingly habitable. because difference exists. no matter how hard we try to stamp it out with resolutions. to encourage our bodies to be something other. ultimately, and unlikely, similar.

and perhaps a smidge less fabulous.

now where did i put that chocolate...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

the un-sexy pole dancer

this past sabbath-day-of-rest, i was pole dancing. with a "learn to lap-dance" chaser. perhaps i can explain. apparently, pole dancing is the number one choice these days for bachelorette parties and it just so happens that my lovely friend A. is getting married, so what better way to prepare her for what's to come than do things like "pretend your shy" (i'll let you decide what that is on your own) and "ask for your tip" (something i can see coming in very handy). i found myself conflicted from the beginning. first there was the issue, if you remember from a previous post, that i hate heels and therefore don't have any. basically, i felt inadequate and unprepared without at least one pair of stilettos or plastic-heeled hooker boots (don't pretend you don't know what i'm talking about - just because they never leave the bedroom doesn't mean you or your loved one don't have any).

i settled on a new pair of no-heeled turquoise boots because they are cute. and who doesn't feel sexy in some slouch turquoise ankle boots? turns out, i don't. i'm not sure what i could have worn to feel like a sex pole dancer but it would have had to be a lot less. a lot. then there was the fact that every move was broken down into parts, so things that you might customarily do that you, at the very least, think are sexy, somehow became very unsexy-fied. sexy-less. sex-less.

and i couldn't help but feel conflicted. once, a lone time ago, i watched a pole dancing party on t.v. (an attempt to inform about the popularity of the phenomenon i suppose). i was incensed by the end. granted, i get incensed about the way women's sexuality is regularly portrayed on television and i get particularly incensed about the way in which it gets packaged and presented to us at so-called 'sex' parties. as if we are there to get an education about what our partners (if they are male) know, want, and like. pole dancing was eerily similar.

don't get me wrong. it was fun and it was an experience. the teacher was an athlete in the art of the pole dance and my jaw literally dropped when she did a little routine at our request. but it is based on the presumption that we can feel sexy, be sexy, as women primarily when we conform to men's desires. when we act naughty. shy. aggressive. there is something strange - beyond the notion that we would pay and not be paid for such work - about a group of women getting together and grinding over invisible partners in a big multiply poled room together, no?

i don't want to sound like a prude, or an anti-sex feminist, but i wonder why we as women can't get together and define the ways we would like to be sexy. and i don't mean by talking about our vaginas. or or maybe i do. i think the sense of displaced anxiety and general discomfort with ourselves (or perhaps, just myself) is about a refracted desire. a desire we have seen before but does not constitute our own. i don't mean this post to be biologically essentialist - as though desire is something men and women have and is not, itself, constructed by allowable acts and gendered arrangements. that is not my intent. my only point is that in the hierarchy of desires, women's is somehow other. undefined. easily usurped by the lure of the male-desire driven strip club.

as final thoughts, i would like to reiterate: that i'm glad i did it, i would like to come up with alternative desiring practices for the future of bachelorette parties, and i would like to wish all ya'll happy holidays. because every pre-christmas post should be about pole dancing (you'll be happy to know that i want to say something about "north pole dancing" but i won't because that would be lame. see how i protect you from myself dear blog reader?;).

Friday, December 14, 2007

why i'm a bad blogger - installment # 2

i'm a bad blogger, or simply an annoying person, because i think that since i have begun blogging - everyone must. i'm like one of those people that finds a new restaurant and the EVERYONE has to go, reads a new book and EVERYONE has to read it, turns a certain age and then EVERYONE has to be that age. well, perhaps the last one is a bit of a stretch, but you are smelling what i'm cooking. suddenly, i can't help thinking about the fact that everyone i know is interesting, have compelling pursuits, and are talented in the arts of the mind (is that immodest to say? everyone i know is fabulous ergo, i'm fabulous? (fyi, i just accidentally put a "t" on the end of ergo, because i thought it was silent, and found out that ergot is actually the name of a species of parasitic vagina among certain grasses and grains - no joke, look here. don't say i never taught you anything, especially about the interspecies cornucopia of vaginas).

anyhoo. i am going to continue to be a bad blogger by attempting to make my fabulous friends torn among the doubtless fabulous blogs my other fabulous friends are wont to make now that i have incessantly insisted that everyone must blog their respective and collective fabulousness. whew. that is a lot of immodest fabulousness.

in closing, i am going to leave you with a collection of words i am not super fond of. of course i had to name my blog "i hate my blog" thereby compelling me to think of things i actually do hate and thereby perpetuating hate on "i hate my blog" blog. a disclaimer: i love love. swears. just look at previous posts.

gross words:

* panties - however, panties has significantly grown on me. when i was 11, saying panties to me could have resulted in copious amounts of vomiting.

* mustache - it is gross to say and gross on people's faces. for real.

* skakum - a country road near where i grew up.

* taste - i don't actually hate the word taste but i hate when waiters and waitresses ask you how something "tastes." i find that a deeply personal question that should not be asked flippantly. :P

* speaking of vaginas - the t word. i can cosy up to the c word in a subversive kinda way, but the t word? please. it's horrible.

what are some of your unfavouritest words? what words give you the creeps? induce vomiting? tell me - i need to add to my repertoire...

Monday, December 10, 2007

i should be at the gym

instead of being accountable to my fitness regimen, and my cardiovascular health and the like, i have instead opted to sit on my couch and write on my blog (please refer to post image for my current philosophy on life). instead of being a conscientious body technologist, i am thinking about going to cincinnati in march to a fat studies conference. as i previously mentioned, i am thinking a lot these days about fat, its meanings, narratives, and morality tales. in a recent discussion with friends about the conference resulted in a conversation about the meaning of "fat" and if it can truly be subverted with the rearticulation of "fat" as a subversive term. using fat in common parlance seemed to cause unease, dis-ease, with any notion of empowerment bandied about at the table.

i balked at the idea that we cannot get out from inside the hate that breeds hurtful slurs, pejorative parlance, unhappy embodiment. but it provoked thought about the power of words, the making and unmaking of our collective realities. the connection i make here to my own state of laziness has nothing to do with any equation between laziness, the gym, and fat but rather about the morality tales we tell ourselves about our own relationship to proper embodiment, desirability, and the amount of "like"ness we can have in relationship to our corporeal forms.

everyone has the voice that encourages them against or toward their desired bodily forms. don't eat that. eat that quickly so it doesn't have time to stick to your hips. thighs. ass. going for a walk/gym/run feels good. getting up off the couch is for losers. etc. the same voice that tells us were not worthy. too simple. not sufficiently complicated to keep the interest, get the job, make it work...

i guess i want to relate to fat through my own body. position myself up against its problematic, pregnantly possible, potentially persistent edges and embrace it. as it affects my thoughts. dreams. will to exercise. everyone has a tale to tell. an "i beat fat" or "fat beat me" story of failure or adventure. of daring to dream something other. or live in a state of heavy flesh. i think fat provides us a window onto our tiny voice. our unarticulated anxieties. our unpronounced denouncement of our fleshy cages. fat signifies a freedom of will. and a failure of control for those who subscribe to a moral discourse. but can fat be other? why can't fat be more? can fat be more?

i think those at the conference in march will teach me so.

Friday, December 7, 2007


i am currently reading a fabulous poetic book called how the blessed live by this fellow vancouverite writer/blogger here. the main character has this lovely habit of writing deliciously rich lists that are chalk-full of meaningful life lessons, reflections and paradoxical states-of-mind. i have decided to make my own list of pet peeves which will be reflective of nothing mentioned above but will please me on a listless friday afternoon when, of course, i should be working...

i) when stores are obviously closed and they leave their blinking open signs on. i always think, "oh, they're open late" and then am crushed when i cannot, in fact, get my keys cut in an hour at midnight.

ii) amateur porn. really? must you? stop it.

iii) cat fur tumbleweeds in my apartment that even a swiffer can't wrangle.

iv) being sweaty and cold at the same time (this happens less since moving to the westcoast but it happened in o-town all the time. it's the second coldest capital after moscow, don't-cha-know?).

v) that you can't eat poutine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner without adverse health affects.

vi) sickness of any kind. after two flus, one pukey and one not last winter, i am officially a germaphobe.

vii) roman numerals.

viii) boring research.

viiii) people that don't like christmas. this, my friends, is virtually unimaginable.

x) not having a cellphone for the two times a year i need it.

xi) wearing tights. it's a faulty crotch thing. i seriously believe it can't be helped. or they would fix it, no?

xii) high heels. wanna love 'em and wear 'em. can't. or won't. you choose.

xiii) anything with eggplant. the word moussaka makes me throw up in my mouth a little.

xiv) any movie with nicole kidman (save for moulin rouge but that is ONLY because ewan macgregor saves the day).

xv) roman numerals - really, what is up with these?

xvi) plane travel. i always get stuck in the middle seat.

xvii) how i can never go to the theatre and smell popcorn and not eat it.

xviii) being late. which i'm gonna be if i don't stop blogging!

thanks for indulging me. i feel better now.

Monday, December 3, 2007

i love love

despite my blog title alluding to hatred, i actually love lots o' stuff. i love cats, beer (and how i wish i didn't!), teaching, learning, reading, walking, EATING, christmas (holidays in general), my family, my friends, my love, and love itself. yup. i love love. lots. it explains why i tangentially study love - dating is meant to lead to love, no? - and why i while away countless hours talking to my friends and loved ones about love. i have come to wonder about how love exists in degrees as well as in ways i don't fully understand. there is love that is really fear of loss. love that is jealous. love that is new. fresh. shiny. there is lasting love, love that is fleeting, and love that is so sweet it makes your teeths hurt.

love is often perceived as a mystery. an elusive and wispy creature that strikes at a moments notice. when you least expect it. when it rears its head and emerges surprisingly, "at first sight." love is constructed as fragile, easily lost, hard to capture. what function does this notion of love have? is it a moral tale: those that are nice, kind, willing, able deserve love? to get love, you must give love? to be unloved is to be nothing. to be lonely. to be somehow undeserving. or is it a tale that neatly sets us up in institutions of marriage. of bondage. of cycles of unproductive reproductivity? or is it a fairy tale? a non-existent make believe that invades our imaginations and limits our own creativity. narrows our view of possibilities. perverts our gaze. none of the above i say! because i am a love loving unromantic. non-romantic. anti-mantic.

i think love causes us to do things we wouldn't otherwise. makes us feel compelled to emote. and emote lots. i am a believer in listening to what love tells you to do without succumbing to fantasies of utter fulfillment. perfection. or mistake the fleeting love of the beginning for what must always be.

i am often asked if i believe in soulmates. soulmates are another pervasive theme in my research as many of my research participants are motivated to online date in order to facilitate a faster, more efficient, route to their soulmate. and the honest answer, is yes. i believe in soulmates. but i don't believe you find your soulmate all packaged and clean off the shelf and ready-to-go. i think you find your soulmate like you find your favourite sweater. the perfect pet. your favourite spot on earth. or maybe it/they/he/she finds you. maybe love is a fiction. a fantasy. a pre-fab house. fake. unstable in hurricanes. not so fire-retardant. but i don't think so. what is lost by believing in love? what is gained by resisting it?

if i put my feminist hat on, i could say many things about what is gained by resisting love. total independence. lots of time not spent on emotional labour. lots of money saved on fluffy wedding dresses and expensive catered meals. but i think, even as feminists, we can imagine a love that doesn't confine us. belittle us. congest our lives with cleaning and rearing. we can love and be free.

but perhaps only if we critically imagine love as a constructed mystery.

and not a for-real sherlock holmesian one.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

the largesse of fat phobia

i've been thinking a lot about fat lately. not in the "i want to lose five pounds" kinda way but more in the "fat phobia is a pervasive theme in my research that i eventually have to turn into a dissertation" kinda way. i have never thought so much about fat. other people's, my own, my cats'. i had an msn conversation yesterday with my friend A. who lives in far off korea at the moment and we discussed, well, what else? fat. we discussed how fat is that last bastion of overt oppression. where one can say discriminatory things about another's weight in a group and not be reprimanded because that person just happens to be fat. as though it is a moral weakness. an all too obvious display of livin' the good life.

fat phobia seems to represent a number of different things. it is reviled as a blatant example of being being off the mark of some kind of ideal, some kind of normative standard. yet the phobia produced and displayed is much more visceral than simply the result of some kind of non-conformity or failure to fit into an ideal (which A. and I also problematized for being too simplistic - is there but one ideal? how can we all live within our awkwardness, our large feet and noses, our stretch marks and pocked faces if we are all striving toward one, someone's, version of what's id/r/eal). no. fat phobia is about fear. it is born from within and spit out like venom in hopes it will shield us. protect us. from that which is other. out there. in its largesse.

i have become enchanted by this blog here called the 101 Reasons I Hate Being Fat. it is an introspective and honest account of living with fat in a culture of fear and loathing around fat. similarly, i watched an episode of oprah who paraded individuals who had lost massive amount of fat about for her ew-ing and ah-ing audience. such an achievement that we even had to see a man pull the skin that formerly stretched over his large stomach from inside the very large pants he used to wear. interesting.

i don't have any answers as yet (not with regard to my own work anyway) but one notion keeps occurring to me. fat phobia, like other phobias, or fears based around difference from sameness, is just that: about difference. it seems to me that in a society that greets/treats difference as subversion, fat fits the bill. because overweight people (according to medicalized discourses of proper BMIs, that is) are targeted as "different," they must pay the price. become marginalized. stigmatized. fat is less about health in these instances than about rightness. moral turpitude. fiber.

fat simply isn't (th)in.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

reasons why i am a bad blogger: installment #1

in what i hope will become beloved feature of my blog, i present why my emergent blogging abilities suck. this is done solely for the purposes of improvement and not for purposes of pure masochism. because grad students LOVE masochism. it's how we do. reason number one that i am a bad blogger is as follows:

i don't not provide my readers with paragraphs. apparently this eases the reading process and makes reading inane blog posts more palatable. who knew? i thought my endless ramble of text was visually appealing. even seductive. apparently reading masses of meaningless text sucks ass. i get that.

henceforth, i am committed to paragraphs. i say, "the more, the BETTER!".

another, somewhat related reason, that i am a bad blogger is that the rules of grammar, at times, elude me. i mean, what actually are grammar rules? did we learn them? when? and can i get my time spent in like grade one through twelve spent on learning the english language back? please?

i realized this grammatical elusiveness when i was meeting with my lovely fellow soci phders who talk about such matters as grammar. we are potentially the coolest group of hipsters one can find. ;)

also, i can't properly pronounce the word "egg." i hope this doesn't interfere with my blogging.

finally, i think when people use the word "douche" to describe a person, it is freakin' hilarious. i have committed to trying to use this word subversively as a feminist and not perpetuate the misogyny that gave birth to this trend.

this final point is a testament to how i am a bad person however. not a bad blogger.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

ode to reality television, otherwise known as: hook it to my veins

the impossible dreariness of today compels me to write on my beloved blog. i have been thinking lately about the function of procrastination and i believe graduate students excel at the art of procrastination like no other (what else is graduate school if not the procrastination of many of the socially proscribed compulsions of life - partnering, procreation, post post-secondary life in general - or at least this is how i imagine my grandmother sees it). today i want to comment on my other love, that is, television. an aside: i have a friend, S., who i have known a long time. whenever i call S. and ask what she is doing, she says, "watching television." never t.v., never 'the tube,' never anything but that lovely word: television. i love calling television television because it harks back to a fictional time when television was an art, an alternate way of seeing, a transporter to other lives, loves, maybe even lurid, sordid, and unspoken yearnings. anyhoo. my televisual eyes were not fully opened until i discovered, and fell desperately, consumingly, all-encompassingly in love with reality television. when i was thirteen or so i discovered the real world but that was just the beginning. i think my reality television love really began with the onset of the survivor era. when EVERYTHING became fodder for the lens of the reality phenomenon. what i love most about reality television is that it actually provokes discussion about what is "real" and what is not. in effect it exposes the lie that we are not always already mediated by that which surrounds us. frames us. alters us. for me, reality television cannot be about reality but must be. that is its central paradox. why it cannot be 'real' is of course a matter of modern truth-making in a postmodern world. but why it must be is the more compelling concern. when i see discussions about the ethics or problematics of how to correctly capture the 'real' and properly package it for television, i listen intently. for example, the recent kafuffle about the new american series kid nation provides an interesting example. cries of child labour, exploitation, enslavement and the like. as though relatively well-off children having the opportunity to demonstrate that children are in fact capable, able, and not desperately in need of suffocating 'protection' for cameras (and the entertainment of the masses) is damaging. as though putting children in a former ghost-town with bunches of rules and no adults is somehow real. or is it not? isn't the problem that actual child exploitation is a little too much to bear? a little discomfiting on a wednesday night at 8pm when we'd rather watch t.v.? isn't a show like kid nation a distraction, a simulation of what passes as 'normal' childhood these days in the face of child poverty and such? this post is far too cerebral. it was intended as a meditation on my favourite reality television shows. so before i list them with accompanying witty commentary, i will just say that reality television is my favourite because it upends the notion of the real by rubbing in your face the constructions (simulations? fantasies? de/i/llusions?) of everyday life.

* big brother - the quintessential reality show for the consummate addict. one day i will 1) stop claiming that this is the summer that i will resist it and, 2) stop being too cheap to pay for the live feed.

* the real world - this show NEVER gets old. how could it? egomaniacal americans in their late teens and early twenties in close quarters. please. this shit is genius.

* america's next top model - pick what is not to like about this show: beautiful women, drama, clothes, make-up, and did i mention drama?

* everything on mtv - mtv is the mother of all reality shows. those of us obsessed with anything from the hills to a shot a love with tila tequila should petition to give this channel a medal. or a nobel peace prize. or SOMETHING!

* beauty and the geek - two of my favourite things.

* daytime talk shows - from oprah to rachael ray - it's gold people. gold. (don't judge me dammit!).

* the food network - reality food shows - what can i say? i'm in heaven, i'm in heaven...

jacks out.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

coming out of the graduate school closet: off of the beach and onto the internets

i have been effectively blogging for over a month now (such a huge commitment i've made to the internets, i must say) and recently realized that i haven't actually said what it is that i am studying that makes this blog necessary in its: a) capacity to familiarize me with the exciting world of web 2.0 and, b) to offer me a place of solace, of peace, of genuine procrastinate-y goodness. drum-roll: i study online dating. now at parties, this makes me unbelievably popular. similar to my master's work when i did an "intensive" two month stint on a nude beach and got: 1) the best tan of my life, and 2) a master's degree out of the ethnographic account of it i gave in my thesis, this project is of widespread interest because of the amount that is not known about such an everyday activity. like nude beaches, online dating sites are places people might have stumbled upon or clandestinely ventured into for a "sneak a peak." but the folks i am interested in are the ones who stay and bask a while in what can become a lifestyle. online dating, as i am compelled to understand and research it, can become a lifestyle as well - or more pointedly, can alter the course of one's lifestyle if indulged in seriously. and i gotta say folks - people are serious about online dating. and why shouldn't they be. it is a wonder that popular culture references online dating as though it is for the desperate, defective, or depraved. my research, perhaps unsurprisingly, demonstrates that online daters are really just people that are committed, diligent individuals trying to meet people in a city that is infamous for its inhospitality to singles. online dating of course has a sexy side, a fetish side, a dissenting side, and a niche market side but what interests me most are those people simply and unabashedly looking for love. i mean theoretically i am interested in all of the online daters many-faceted motivations, expectations, and struggles to (be)come and show who they "really are." i have always been fascinated, since i was a child, with difference and what difference means in a world of the similar. online dating in some ways demands to be seen as a "different" way to meet people. but what is more fascinating is what that difference means to the lives of online daters and the ways that they understand themselves in the world. not only can you life, location, and love-life change, but your understandings of yourself and the effect you have on the other can also change. not that i am suggesting that engaging in online dating necessarily evokes change and wonderment at oneself. but it does offer a opportunity to reflect, on oneself and one's desires and thus a fertile valley of publicly accessible and vastly engaging accounts of the self. we must make ourselves intelligible in this world if we are to attract (an)other(s). being compelled to seriously look for those others in a forum such as online dating is interesting in its difference but also in its sameness. to oneself intelligible, one sometimes has to put themselves into boxes that don't quite fit, shade in areas of alien importance, and deign to answer those requests, behests, of those just not quite "right." i will have more to say about areas of the intelligible but for now i enjoy having intriguing dinner party talk and a memory of a summer on a hot canadian beach.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


there is a trend that bloggers i admire sometimes subscribe to and i have decided to take the plunge and braindump about the random (and no so) thoughts (that the everest survivor i read about in maclean's eloquently equates with bats zipping in and out at dusk), by considering what i consider to be some not-so-random-thoughts albeit written and presented as unconsidered randomness of the most randomly random. yeah. sometimes it feels good to talk shit. here goes:

* shockingly, a four-year phd seems impossible. or that is what everyone who has their phd tells me. who knew?

* the old adage that says that life happens when you are making other plans was impressively de-corny-fied by my lovely friend M who has deep insight into not only human behaviour but jacks anxiety as well. i believe she said something, characteristically simple-but-always-shockingly-profound about how life is surprising and ultimately the surprises are always good because they result from (and in) choices that you make/have made. she is an old sage dressed in cute pixie skin i tells you.

* i am not always as funny as i think i am. again: who knew?

* housewifedom, not matter how diametrically opposed to what i am doing (and really, how different is it? i once met a guy at a party who asked me what i did and, during my long graduate student pause, offered that there is no shame to being a housewife to which i promptly replied, "i'm basically a housewife who reads a lot." see how i think that i'm funny?), will not save me or deliver me from my dissertation. no matter how many bonbons i eat. seriously.

* i think britney spear's new songs are danceable. and this makes me a fundamentally bad person.

* everyone deserves a warm-weather destination vacation fully paid by their work or the government

* i have no idea what actually goes on at american thanksgiving (nor how it is different from american christmas) (nor how american and canadian christmas differs) (nor why the fact that austrians apparently have a baby jesus that flies to and fro on christmas eve (?) kinda scares the crap outta me).

* i am puzzled as to why my brain refuses any kind of systematic inquiry. like math, coding, making lists (and actually checking them), writing in an agenda, playing risk, strategizing of any kind, really, making plans over a week away, and editing. the word editing seriously makes me shiver. i won't mention it again. just for my own safety.

That, my friends, was an attempt at brain-dumping randomness. which is actually impossible for me because even randomness requires some kind of systematicity which i have only badly approximated here. i know you want to read a blog that is better at random thoughts. well here it is: here . so there.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

posthuman paralysis

on friday i am going to preview ideas for my dissertation. tell the story. convince inquiring minds. i hope. currently i am grappling with some of the most exciting and interconnected ideas EVER. my supervisor tells me it's gut-work. the story you know because it exists in the data. was not preexistent, of course. but emergent. it is like i already know the story. it's there. staring at me. but it is the connections. always the connections. i know they will come. i have faith. the faith. swears. the most exciting moment so far is in understanding how individuals construct themselves in the pursuit of their desires. desire is an interesting thing. it seems like it must also exist in togetherness but it seems to often exist alone. alone in your mind. in front of the screen. a screen. any screen. it is something that we wear. inside out and outside in. we construct ourselves around the pursuit of what we want to make manifest. we construct the things that are in our power to change, alter, augment, in the hopes of sometime, someday being fulfilled from the outside in. a few days ago i began a post marking the day of remembrance with a meditation on ambivalence. it was an ambivalence about death. the ultimate loss of that which we have made manifest through our desires. our lived desires. our hopes to be one that has been, will always be, accepted in our excesses, our estrangement, our identity. identity is such a narrow and slippery slope. it walks the plank between oblivion and boundary-ied box. it fixes one in place while promising possibilities of plurality. the ironic relationship between identity and desire is what puzzles me now. what paralyzes me. what makes us all always. already. posthuman.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

disarming good

with all the hoopla about positive thinking in the realm of new-agey BS, i thought i'd give it a shot. can't hurt. can it? as a disclaimer i should say that while i don't believe in the innateness of human characteristics, i might just have been born a cynic. asking the universe for what you want, creating your own reality, being positive all seem like things people do if a) they are unhappy; and/or b) they are dirty hippies (just wanted to say dirty hippies. hehe.). but my softer, more "open" side compels me to think, to know, to believe in the old adage that you catch more bees or flies or whatever with honey than with vingear. i have no idea why one might want to catch bees, so flies is probably the ticket (although aren't you just trying to kill them in this watery/honey-filled grave you are constructing? this is like the moment you find out that fairy tales are actually the scariest horror stories ever told. bees. flies. imminent death. a tragedy i tells ya). anyhoo. i recently wondered what the worst thing that can happen out of being positive is. and, of course, it's nothing. so i tried it on for size and it isn't too bad. for one, the annoying bus lady that talks too loud to her friend about the intimate details of her life was actually a gift to me yesterday as we stood still on the granville street bridge for a really. long. time. her story was interesting and made her multi-dimensional. like an actual person you know. a friend. keeping you company on the bus. then there are the actual friends in your life that support you. are kind to you. respect you. and yet you never see it. it is like you are blind to kindness until it smacks you in the face. by bringing you tea, coming to your talk (that they have heard over and over and over), giving you fabulous ideas. kindness and good stuff abounds but perhaps we are closed off to it. afraid of the unknown that is good. positive. disarming. we struggle against what we are, what we do, who we know, what to be. but for nothing. we all have our struggles. our unease. our unfinished projects of the self. but even knowing that is positive. good. refreshing. like honey water. maybe mixed with vingear for some bite.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

critical skating: the only way to roll

when i was three i started figure skating. i skated my ass off after school, before school, DURING school until i was about 13. ten years of trying to be elizabeth manley (an obscure canadian skating reference - congrats to all those who got it) , to be good, to be noticed. one thing i always prided myself on, and my parents encouraged, was that i never cried if i failed a test, lost a competition, fell down. what i remember, and perhaps this is selective memory, is always being encouraged by others with kind words and other forms of wood and plastic trophy-like praise. i was my harshest critic. i was the one that berated me for not doing my figure-eights perfectly, for not landing a jump, for falling in the annual skating show. i wanted skating to be fun and i knew when i was young i was good at it. i wasn't allowed to "just" do the fun parts, like making up routines and dancing with the partner i received to compete with as a result of being picked from the ice-rink stands as his perfect skating companion. no. i had to do it all. i had to go through the levels as quickly and as precisely as one can at such a young age with no real thoughts of where these circles were leading. when i was 12 or 13ish (my memory already fails me), i quit. just like that. such a big part of my life, gone. i had had to make the decision whether to pursue it as a future and begin lessons with another former olympian or hang out with my friends. be a kid. have fun. maybe i exaggerate. i don't know what would have become of my skating. surely not the olympics or anything close. but perhaps something. but i'll never know. and i'm okay with that. most of the time. but my skating past reminds me of my present. my striving toward a goal. only this time, i know what it means. i know it means a future. a job. (part of) my life. and i've come to wonder why we, to borrow a beautiful phrase from a loved one, wear our goals, our lives, our work like a burden. why we, when we have everything feel like we have nothing. not enough. like we need more. why we feel less encouraged. under-appreciated. criticized. especially without out wood and plastic reminders of our successes. our achievements. our lives. these days i try not to see things as either/ors. i try to remember that i do everything because it suits me. because it is me. and i am doing everything i've always wanted. and wearing it like a burden can only amount to crying over skating.

Friday, November 2, 2007

i'm an impressionable bricoleur (*blush*)

i used to think that if you were going to do anything, you had to do it right. so i used to not do anything. cause you can't do everything right all the time. or even most of the time(?). i used to think you had to do the whole thing if you were going to do anything. i used to do everything in that sense because it was possible in my mind. obsessive thoughts about how to do everything right all the time and the whole thing all at once. but does anyone do everything all the time? i profane of fakery. faking "it." faking that you have it all together when you have nothing but fear. the people that do this all the time make me nervous. they make me think that somehow, some way, grasping for every/any-thing is a reasonable pursuit. i think it might rub off. onto me. into me. of course, the best advice is to always "be yourself." i think being oneself is possibly the most liberating thing there is. but it takes work. work like that of those "faking it." except in the reverse, the work it takes is to open oneself up. to criticism, praise, ambivalence. it's exhausting. to be oneself. more than not being? hard to say. they both take performance. but Turkle makes me wonder. about our relationships with ourselves as mediated by objects-to-think-with (in her case, this object is the computer). it is interesting (and of course not new) to think about the world around us as mediating our understandings ourselves. and others. and the objects themselves. while i don't completely buy Turkle's vision of our intimate relationship with computers (because it gets into AI and social-psychological explanations that focus too much on the individual and not on the tripartite or networked relationship human-computer-human, that is, relationships between people that are mediated by technology), i do like her notion that she borrows from Levi-Strauss about the bricoleur. the bricoleur takes extant information and re-situates/constitutes it to make the world intelligible. thus we have bricolage - the process by which problem are solved or knowledge is constructed/acquired not from top-down design but by arranging and rearranging a set of well-known materials. we are all bricoleurs. we all negotiate our surroundings that separate, alone and bare, would be less intelligible. we would be less intelligible but for the bricks we cobble together about ourselves. whether they are weak and crumbling or strong and Inca-like. maybe that is the point. as bricoleurs of our selves we cobble together what we have. what we are given. and what we are refused.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

i heart halloween

i have been thinking a lot lately about the significance of halloween, mainly because it has been taking over my life for the past week and a half. in recent years i have discovered that i LOVE halloween. it is such a silly thing. it's not like i'm goth (or ever was), like death, or enjoy hanging out in cemeteries (even though i did take a ambulating tour of mountainview cemetery lately and it was pretty freakin' cool). i've decided, as much as one can, that the significance for halloween for me is the transformative effect it has on - wait for it - everyone. i know, i know - ohhhhhh - everyone gets to be someone/thing else - isn't that liberatory (reminiscent of Turkle's Life on the Screen which i am currently reading). but seriously, there is something cool about the transformative effects of change, no? while the internet may be a hasty receptacle to pour all of society's hopes and dreams for liberatory change, empowerment, and utopian je ne sais quoi, this tendency does beg some interesting questions about the human desire for transformation, growth, change and something "other." we could chalk it up to consumerism, as we could everything, including my precious halloween, or we could think of it as an exercise in the technological imaginary a la de Lauretis. the combination of anxiety and desire around technology (and other transformation objects, effects, and affects) is a compelling and powerful, if not heady, experience. someone recently told me that they think people like scary movies in order to feel something, to feel alive. to be scared into your own humanity is a interesting proposition. to remind ourselves that we are alive, have the capacity for change, and the desire to seek it out makes every other day (other than halloween, that is) seem lacking. my tenuous halloween-as-a-metaphor-for-technologies-of-the-internet thing might be lacking as well in that both produce fear, anxiety, and a certain amount of pleasure but one happens only once a year and the other pervades our everyday, every minute, every second. maybe the desire for transformation and change does as well but we are "programmed" to ignore it, push it down, hide it in the recesses of our mind until we are allowed, enabled to set our difference out into the night of all hallow's eve - the simultaneous celebration of life and death. do we not seek to say something about ourselves, whether blogging or dressing up as something clever? is it not all about us on some level. the work on the self. the identification with the other to become more, different, better. anyhoo. monster mash just came on. must go do the twist. another imperative on halloween.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

on hate

i know what you are thinking. hate is such a strong word. therefore we need some clarity in this endeavour. i don't actually HATE this blog but i'll let you in on a little secret: i hated my last blog. it was painful and "professional" and horrible. i needed to get rid of it. so i dumped it for this sweet new glossy one. all pretty and easy to use. so hate is a misnomer. so there. on my last blog i felt compelled to be confessional, professional, and...well, that was just boring. but this is a whole new story. as someone who has always loved to write and who now studies new media technologies, i decided that i NEEDED a blog. what makes me so needful of a blog? i guess the advice of another recently morphed phd student come doctor who recommended a blog for procrastination purposes (find her fabulous blog here). and a conference where another phd student tracks the pedagogical importance of blogging for other phd students (find her personal blog here - it links to her phd research blog). so i'm putting a lot of eggs in this basket. i am hoping for catharsis for sure. so maybe hate isn't really a misnomer. i hate the compulsion to narcissistically write about oneself. but hate stills sounds so harsh. i also hate the compulsion i feel to outline the uses and abuses of my blogging. like an outline for an essay, i feel i need a plan. i have been watching way too much of the Showtime series Dexter and feel that this prefatory blog entry is inspired by the painful articulation of his innermost thoughts which acts as the narration of the show. maybe that is what this blog will be: a narration of my writing-up "process." a friend recently encouraged me to join his ten-year plan for the (un)completion of his phd process. wittily, he explained that people immediately stop listening as soon as you tell them that you are writing your dissertation. he has been effectively hedging people off and doing his phd swimmingly for ten years now. as envious of his procrastination as i am, i still want to be finished in a year. so while the time starts ticking, the hate stops here. until, of course, i begin to hate my dissertation which is TOTALLY gonna happen. fer sure. it's coming. wait for it...