Practice makes perfect

I hadn't thought about going back to Ladies Rock Camp in Portland so soon. I thought probably I would go back in the fall. But one thing led to another, and now Sweetie and I, as well as a friend, will be heading down there in May. I'm going to go for bass this time rather than drums. No real reason, just a change of pace. I play bass because I play guitar, not because I learned how to play bass. I have mostly played it on my own recordings, with one brief but proud appearance on stage at our last Girls Rock Camp filling in on the anthem. I'd like to learn from someone who is an actual bass player. I am also looking forward to helping create a song from the bass part.

I certainly haven't given up on drums. No way! I'm taking lessons, rather irregularly. I'm not blocking out enough time to practise, but I'm still doing it. I have lots of exercises to work on, and I need to get better at them, so that's not that much point in having another lesson yet.

One exercise is one I'd never heard of: drum scales. I bet that sounds really scintillating to you, especially if you've ever played scales on the piano. The drum scale I'm working on is something I can do with my practice pad, which is good. It means I can dive into it more easily, and I don't have to convince myself to go into the cold basement. I do it with a metronome set quite slow, around 60 beats per minute. It goes like this: 1, 1, 1, 1 (one hit per metronome click), then 1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 2, then in threes, then fours, all the way up to eight per click. I haven't actually managed to get that far. I can do up to six, but seven is pretty hard. Once you get to the top, however far you go, you go back down to one, and then back up again.

Sounds tedious, eh? In a way, it is. But I'm finding it challenging in a good way, and it's the challenge of it that keeps me interested. I want to nail that five beat, get really smooth on the six beat, finally succeed at that seven beat, and eventually get all the way to eight. I want to get better at going down the scale (at first I wrote "get better at going down," but that's a whole different skill), which for me at least is harder than going up. Oddly, after counting through six and five, I mess up on a simple four!

Hmmm. I just got sick of the Oscar telecast. It's going to be one of those interminable years, I know it. But maybe I should watch some more but make it useful and do some pad practice at the same time. Then I can see more dresses too! That's really all the Oscars are for. Oh, and to look at James Franco too. He and Anne Hathaway are so cute together!



Whether or not it's spring(ish) where you are, spring is coming. It must be, because spring fashions are out! So far, I have resisted a shopping trip. I need to make room in my closet. OK, really I need a bigger closet.

I love clothes, and I love fashion. I just do. I claim I inherited my love of clothes from my mother. And look at me—almost no curves, long legs. I look singularly unimpressive naked. What else is there to do except dress me up like a Skipper doll (Barbie is too curvy)? In last month's InStyle, there was a section on how to dress for your body type. About the only "problem" I have to deal with is my shoulder width.

Don't hate me, my female friends. I'll take your curves any day.

Is there such a thing as a feminist fashionista? Isn't that an oxymoron?

There was a post with comments on just that subject a while ago in Feministing.com. The conclusion? Inconclusive.

A few things struck me. Lori Adelman, who wrote the post, had this to say, which a couple of commenters cited: "I like the idea of loving myself enough to take care of myself, groom myself, and present my best face to the world every day." That resonates with me. As long as we live in a climate that requires us to wear clothes, the way we present ourselves to the world is an expression of who we are and how we feel about ourselves. That's one big reason that I like to look as good as possible, whether I'm dressed up or down. I'm saying, This is me. I'm more than this, but this is how I chooose to present myself. I put some thought into my appearance.

There really isn't any way around being evaluated for appearance. That's going to happen whether I wear a designer gown or a T-shirt and sweats. There's nothing inherently wrong with declaring, with your appearance, that you don't care about conventional beauty standards. That's a valid statement. But that's also the point. No matter what you wear, it's a statement. In my case, I choose to make a different statement, because that's who I am.

The ambivalence, however, is never far away. Lori wrote this as well: "It’s about letting myself derive pleasure from things that are aesthetically appealing, while rejecting the culture of superficiality that often characterizes communities that value said aesthetics." I love beauty. I realize the trap it can be. But it's hard to find the balance.

There isn't necessarily "feminist fashion." Perhaps it's a matter of the two being orthogonal, so that it's not feminist to be a fashionista, but it's not anti-feminist either. To me, that's important. I don't want to undercut my values by my love of fashion. So I try to find my own balance.

I drool over stuff in fashion mags, but I'm careful and conscientious when I buy. I'm trying to buy fewer pieces of better quality. It's hard, because I love new things as much as anyone. But I know I can't just buy and toss away. I'm always trying to buy clothes from local designers, made in Canada of sustainable materials. They tend to cost more, but they'll also last longer than something trendy from H&M. Yes, I still do succumb to the lure of trends, but less than I used to.

It's human, and not un-feminist, to love art and beauty. I can't draw, but I seem to work pretty well with my own personal canvas. I enjoy it. I find it fulfilling. I try not to get obsessed with it. In the end, I don't want people to see only what I'm wearing, but I do want them to see that I'm making my own statement.

Like Lori, I'm still working on this. I'm still questioning. I'm trying to be a feminist fashionista, or a feminist who loves fashion, or a fashion lover who is nonetheless feminist. Do you think it's possible?


Chillin' love

Last night everything broke
"We're Desperate," John Doe and Exene Cervenka

Am I supposed to write something on Valentine's Day? It's been too long since I wrote anyway. Sorry about that, my few readers. It's winter, and I just haven't had stuff to write about.

Sweetie and I went to see Avenue Q a little over a week ago. That was wicked fun! She had seen the show in New York a couple years ago and really wanted to see it again. I loved it, and she loved it again. That's some of the catchiest music I've heard in a while, and several songs' worth, not just a showstopper or two plus filler. And of course the lyrics are very funny. The show somehow manages to be both liberal-minded and politically incorrect—my kind of combination.

Last Thursday, I met a friend whom I hadn't seen in far too long for coffee. We chatted for nearly two and a half hours until they started to close the place around us. Not exciting to you, I imagine, but a very nice afternoon for me. And it's never a bad day when you know you're looking good and as you step out of the SkyTrain station some guy who's not creepy and in fact kind of good looking says you look pretty.

So here we are on Valentine's Day. Sweetie and I have rarely made a big deal out of it. We're going out to dinner tonight, which is probably the biggest thing we've ever done.

As nice as that's going to be, you know what I'm really hoping for today? That the refrigerator repair people call back and say they can come right away. Yep, the fridge started to make lots of noise and the freezer stopped freezing. We don't keep that much in the freezer, but we didn't want to lose it all. Our very kind next-door neighbour let us use a bit of space in hers, but I'm a little apprehensive that things had started to thaw just enough to cause trouble later. We'll see. Meanwhile, the freezer is off but the door keeps pissing on the floor, which is not at all nice. And I'm not even sure that the fridge, which is supposed to be separate, is keeping anything cold any more—milk and yogurt and cheese and tofu and a few squares of leftover lasagna and lots of leftover chick pea curry. Maybe even though the fridge and freezer have separate controls, the broken compressor runs them both.

You don't even want to hear about the screwed up US tax forms from 2008. Suffice it to say that US taxes when you live and work in a foreign country are beyond hellish.

So please, refrigerator repair person, please be our Valentine today! And somehow I'll figure out that tax thing.

Happy VD, y'all! Sweetie and I have been together for nearly 30 years, and we still get all squishy inside thinking about each other. We'll survive tax forms and a broken fridge!


Feministing TNG

Jessica Valenti is leaving Feministing!

I shouldn't be surprised really. She has a family now. She and her baby daughter were dealing with serious health problems, a situation that I hope has improved. And as she wrote on the site, she is now 32, and she intended Feministing to be a site through which young (20-something) feminists could express themselves.

You think that makes me feel old?

Even though I shouldn't be surprised, I still teared up a bit. I've been reading Feministing.com pretty much since I figured out what an RSS feed was. Even though it's not oriented toward women my age, it has still been a great site for news and information. Especially as the staff has grown, there is an increasing variety of material and points of view. Samhita Mukhopadhyay has been at the helm for a while now, ever since Jessica's pregnancy, so I'm sure I can count on the site continuing to be a good read.

I don't always agree with what I find there. I thought they were rightly chastised recently in several well-written comments for their reflexive dislike of evolutionary psychology. As someone wrote, feminism should not be afraid of science. But in general I am grateful to have such a great source of information from women's point of view.

Thank you, Jessica! Be well! I know we haven't heard the last from you by any means.