Monthly Archives: August 2012

The “gives zero fucks” approach

Oh Jezebel!

When you tap, tap, tap it in the hole with your commentary, you’ve done well…

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And then, sometimes you have a hole-in-one that just slams home the message. This article accomplishes both. Erin Gloria Ryan taps the ball toward the hole, but the photo and catchphrase “gives zero fucks” is a hole-in-one, slam dunk, all out awesome-fest!

Also – Erin is a Wisconsin native!!!

Ms. Ryan’s opinion and Hillary Clinton’s approach just make so much sense – we are not defined by our appearances! Yes, good looks have been scientifically proven to make life easier; the same is true of being born in the U.S. or to a wealthy family or without a birth defect. Yet, all the time there is this constant yammering onandonandonandon about women’s looks. Waist-size, hip measurements, how big is the muffin top? So, I will go along with the reality that appearance affects image. However, the drive of today’s media to completely define people (women AND men) by appearance is enough to drive a person to seek out the solitude of a foreign country…

…like Ecuador (thought I was going Sicilian, didn’t you?).

I came to some serious realizations during the three months I spent living in Ecuador in 2003. Nobody really notices if you don’t shave your legs, armpits, crotchline – or wax any of those areas, or groom your facial hair, or even trim the hair on your head. If you’ve groaned, or expressed some gross-out factor, I just have to say – get over yourself. It is HAIR people! You want your beef, pork, and chicken to be “natural” so much that Big Food is tagging “Natural” on all of its food products – don’t be afraid of your own nature.

The guy you had lightning conversation with will still kiss you good-night no matter what. The funny girl will still try to make you laugh, and the smart chick will still debate ideas with you. The street vendor will still smile in return, even if your smile is your only attractive quality that day. The bus driver will actually slow down more quickly if you look a little run-down, and guys will talk to you like a real person if your facade isn’t so superficial. What I’m saying is that while I enjoy the costume design exercise we go through for the vibrant colors and self-expression, I am entirely OVER the use of appearance to control men and women, but especially women.

So, I’m joining the Jezebel-Hillary Clinton-GivesZeroFucks movement and continuing to go without make-up, continuing to shave when it suits me, continuing to give zero fucks how my appearance makes any statement on my ideas and actions! Come with me for this wild ride…

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“Scared?” asked The Stranger.

Check out the review of JWF’s new show in Seattle! The Stranger gave it a favorable review.

What do you think?

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Indigo Girls and Solitary Confinement

As we grow up, we start to define ourselves by the ways we differ from those around us – friends, family, local society, tv characters, book characters, etc. For many adolescents and adults still seeking our self-definition, music provides a bridge to the life we see for ourselves in the future. The Indigo Girls were one band who helped me begin to build my bridge to nowhere and to everywhere.

The bridge must be long enough and strong enough to support the connections I aim to maintain with the spaces, places and faces who accompanied me on the first 18-year leg of my journey. This sense of humanity is incredibly precious to me and as soon as it was tested during my college years, I knew I would never end up taking some of the risks I had hoped to take (namely smarty-pants types of Robin-hoodesque crimes). For years, I avoided being finger-printed, “just in case” I was someday put in a situation where I “had” to commit a crime for society’s well-being, or to save/protect my family.

“It takes a network of interconnected obligations, both in the present and extending into the past and future, to create and sustain social personhood.”
Lisa N. Guenther

Lisa Guenther talks about the social connections I was intuiting during that initial self-discovery phase. She discusses this social personhood in terms of her philosophy studies and the interrelationship with the experiences of prisoners in solitary confinement. She mentions one of the longest to be confined in solitary, Herman Wallace, whose story is the subject of a recent documentary.

As a person who is an enthusiastic hugger, likes to grab your arm when I am excited about an idea, and frequently asks for multiple opinions about how an experience felt among friends: I would go completely bonkers in regular jail or prison! In short time, I would be in a catatonic state were I to ever be put in solitary confinement.

I agree with Guenther that these practices, affecting over 80,000 U.S. citizens, amount to inhumane and torturous treatment. I hesitate to sound the doomsday alarm, however, I do hope you consider reading a little bit about solitary confinement. Think it over, roll it around in your mind and consider if that is something you think is a worthy punishment for something as simple as forgetting to return your lunch tray properly (one of the examples). We all make simple mistakes like forgetting to clear our dinner plate; criminals made big mistakes to land them in prison, but to further torture them is more than unpalatable, it is cruel.

When Amy Ray and Emily Saliers serenaded my coming of age, I imagined a world full of open-minded people just like me. With our shared mind, we created a utopia beyond belief. While real life has taught me that my “utopia” may well represent my neighbor’s “hell-on-earth,” I still believe there are basic standards due to all humans, no matter what your ideal society looks like. While some argue that solitary confinement is a necessity for managing prison populations, that difficult end does not justify these means. Employing people to inflict cruel punishments is toxic to our society; supporting systematic alienation of 80,000 people from human contact is unconscionable. It is that simple.

What seems simple to me is often the most difficult for me to put into words that get other people’s heads nodding along. The Indigo Girls point out that the hardest lessons to learn are those that are the least complicated. I’m gonna keep singing my song of compassion and humanity right along with these talented songwriters, musicians and humanitarians.


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JWF is coming!

We received a teaser gift from our artist friend today:

Jonathan Wakuda Fischer is a Seattle artist, who I have mentioned previously, and from whom we commissioned a wall mural for our home. We can’t wait to have him here!

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An unexpected Top Gun/Tony Scott Tribute: Running around an airfield is really really cool

Since 19 August, I have been thinking a lot about the movie Top Gun. News of Tony Scott’s suicide really bothered me and I kept thinking about the quotes I continue to use in my life from that movie:

Some of those that I say that are also super popular among fans:
…too close for missiles, Goose. I’m switching to guns.

I’ve gotta give you your dream shot.

You screw up just this much, you’ll be flying a cargo plane full of rubber dog shit outta Hong Kong!

“It’s classified. I could tell you but then I’d have to kill you.”

“You can be my wingman anytime.” “Bull shit, you can be mine.”

Then, of course, there are the numerous genitalia references:

Back and forth: “The list is long, but distinguished.” “Yeah, well, so is my johnson”

“this gives me a hard-on”

“Mother Goose, you pussy!”

Yea, that last one presented a REALLY uncomfortable moment with my mother that I still cannot forget…. I have to say that I learned quite a bit of my slang from this movie – thank you Tony Scott!

I was about to go on and list more memorable quotes that I’ve used to communicate with my siblings, to guide me through tough moments in life, and to simply amuse myself; but then I realized that I would pretty much be re-writing the script for you and there’s really no point to doing so.

Being too close for missiles, I’ll switch to guns (see what I did there?). Several mornings a week, my morning run takes me on a loop around the airfield. (NAS Sigonella is a Naval Air Station, after all). After a year here, I am still delighted when I get the opportunity to see planes take-off and land while I am out running around.

This morning, a plane landed nearly immediately overhead, it seemed to be coming down right on top of me! I watched as it banked sharply into its final approach. Then, it banked back. Now, it did not seem particularly windy, so I don’t know if the pilot was showing off for me or just maneuvering in the wind. I do know it was completely mesmerizing and inspiring!

As I was floating along, tippy-tapping my toes on the path, thinking what speed and energy I had, I starting feeling a warm rush of air swirling around me. I was running through it’s jet wash. Jet wash. Yep, now you see the connection to Top Gun. And, if you don’t, you should probably just go out and buy a copy of the movie. It’s worth it.

Thank you, Tony Scott. May you be resting peacefully or at least have found a moment of peace just before death if you aren’t resting anywhere.

*Tony Scott also directed another all-time favorite movie, True Romance. Watch it!

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The Profound Simplicity of a Father’s Love

Thus I am, I know that by now, part of the minority that makes a fool of themselves from time to time. Out of conviction.”

This German father and son are enjoying an afternoon together. The father is wearing a long elastic-waist skirt in solidarity with his son, who likes to wear skirts and dresses. The father explains his viewpoint in the original article (in German). Then the blogger over at Tumblr‘s Mea Culpa reposted and another blogger translated and I got the link here on the Feminist Philosophers blog. It reminds me of a wonderful blog called Raising My Rainbow. Isn’t the internet great?

I am one of those people who see every human being somewhere on a giant matrix of gender and sexuality. Gender norms are human-made, derived from the trends and social expectations of a culture. I used to say that everybody is on a spectrum of sexuality, that we’re all attracted to both men and women, but that many of us have a strong preference that overshadows the other. Current social norms implant that expectation in us, certainly, by posing the question “Straight or Gay?” – as any of us is 100% one or the other.

I still believe in the sexuality spectrum, and when I add in social norms based on gender, I think I am starting to talk about a matrix. The matrix is a night sky full of stars, simultaneously sparkling brilliance and throbbing darkness, without clearly defined boundaries or design, yet after some study patterns and rhythms emerge: there is a place for everybody in this matrix.

Finding our social place in life is difficult, no matter what advantages or disadvantages we are born into in life. This young boy is certain to experience angst, stress, fear, sadness, and all of the other difficult emotions life brings for us all. This father recognized his opportunity to be a positive and empowering part of his son’s life when he opted not to attempt to convince his son to conform to social norms. Instead, this father opted to embrace the beauty of a child’s innocence, to delight in a moment spent chasing happiness in a dress, and to crush compassionate hearts like mine with the profound simplicity of a father’s love.


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Ferragosto by the numbers

The Ferragosto holiday month, August, is the Italian time for ferie or vacanza. Everybody takes some time off in August and most people spend at least a day or two at the mare. That’s the sea.

As you can see from my photo above, Italy has some gorgeous seashore to dole out amongst its people. That was a photo from February in the Amalfi coast. Just imagine it in these hot summer months! The ubiquitous seashore is one of Italy’s biggest tourist attractions, historical strategic attractions, and Ferragosto attractions.

The shoreline is so grand that it is 7600 kilometers of Italy’s territory. That is about 4722 miles to you non-metric folk. For the roughly 60 million Italian citizens, that is about 12,766 people per mile, or about 2.4 people per foot. So, if everyone equally occupied the shoreline, it would be a little crowded.

However, imagining Italians sharing all the weekend days of Agosto (August), this leaves 1588 persons per mile, giving each person about 3.33 feet to themselves. Of course, this is taking it to the ridiculous, and after my rose I’m not even sure about the math anymore, but who really lines up hip-to-hip unless you’re rocking through the wilderness?

Italians line up in their lido chairs, and delight in the proximity they are accustomed to after squeezing so many people into such a desirable area for thousands of years. Everything here goes back thousands of years, without even trying. If you hit 10,000 years old, well, then, that is something special. This is quite the adjustment after living my life in the baby-fresh U.S.A.

Come to Italy to see the seashore, to revel in the antiquities, and to visit your favorite Jill. I’ll be here!


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Obfuscate Languidity

This photo says it all.

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No Doubt, We’re Out and About

If you are interested in language, dialects, accents and such, you MUST read this article.

The journalist cleverly describes a linguistic vowel shift occurring in the U.S. cities ringing the Great Lakes (Canadians will keep their accent, thank you very much, eh). Wit and puns abound, and the true delights of using and appreciating written and spoken word are celebrated in this article.

Plus, it points out something I have been aware of since I was a wee 18-years old: Great Lakes speakers are completely unaware of how fucking drastic their accents are.

As a bright-eyed college freshman, venturing forth from Wisconsin to the oh-so-far-away Missouri, you can imagine my utter shock when every single person I met commented on my accent. “I sound just like people on TV.” I retorted haughtily. For months I held my ground without giving an inch, and with a growing chip on my shoulder.

The chip got heavier when we watched the acclaimed Coen Brothers movie, Fargo. “WE DON’T SOUND LIKE THAT!” I remember protesting. I refused to laugh at the entire movie, certain that my accent was nothing like that portrayed on film, and absolutely nothing to be the source of amusement among my new peer group.

With this evidence of my complete deafness to my own accent in Missouri, you can imagine my surprise when I returned home in November to find that my entire family sounded just like Fargo. I was shocked and dismayed (not like shock and awe at all). The shock wore off quickly, but the dismay lingered for a while.

Being the good-natured sort that I often am, I started poking fun at myself and soon even left the message for our dorm room, “No doubt, we’re out and about” (if you don’t understand why this phrase would display my strong accent, talk to somebody from Wisconsin or Minnesota…or watch Fargo, or Drop Dead Gorgeous). I even re-watched Fargo and finally saw the brilliance and hilarity the movie offers.

Yet, with my newfound self-awareness, I was adrift on an iceberg in the cold Arctic Sea of my Wisconsin friend and family accent denial. As the studies in the article show, faced with recordings of their own accent, this group of speakers will fail to understand the speech and also utterly deny that they themselves have the same accent. After a few attempts at sharing my renaissance with my family, and their sharp barbs back at me, I quickly relented. My own dramatic self-discovery was still tender.

To all of the lovely Northern Cities Speakers reading this, thank you for keeping our accent, for contributing to diversity in our region, and to making linguistic history!

And to any folks traveling from Milwaukee, if you could just go ahead and check your roller bags at that gate, that’d be great…


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Two walls, a sparkling mountain lake, and a finish line

Several weeks ago, I began the long journey toward a slightly sadistic destination: the marathon. At first, I started adding longer mileage runs to my weekly routine in support of a great food, fitness, and lifestyle blogger, Sara. Then, as my schedule-philic self got into the groove of my Hal Higdon training program, I was hooked.

Here are three great Runner’s World articles I liked today:

Pre-race warm-ups

A theory on why you get sick on long flights

Using hard workouts to prepare for the race

Although early on I aimed for the Budapest Marathon, the timing was not right with the demands of my current contract position, which runs on the U.S. Government fiscal year (Oct 1 – Sept 30 each year). Thus, I sought out other European marathons and decided to dazzle myself by running alongside Lago di Garda (Lake Garda) in northern Italy. What a treat!

Registering for the race was another unique twist on living abroad. The organization of the entry form online bodes well for the organization of the race. The option for a foreigner living abroad was available, and I had no problems with making my payment. I must provide two requirements previously unheard of to me: a one-time 7 Euro fee for using the roads during the race (charged by one layer of Italian bureaucracy called FIDAL), and a health certificate. The health certificate must state that I am fit enough to participate – what a great requirement!

The International Lake Garda Marathon combines the sparkle of Italy’s largest lake with the dramatic backdrop of the Alps. When I come up against either of the two walls in the marathon, I hope the landscape will provide inspiration to keep climbing.


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