Adventures of a Midwest Transplant

Movies

I Enjoy Less Because Feminism

The patriarchal cisgendered norms of my worldview have been buffeted by intersectional feminism.

In case that sentence was gibberish to you, let me break it down.

Patriarchal: When I use this term, I’m referring to the second definition, which refers to a society controlled by men.

Cisgendered: When I use this term, I’m referring to people who identify as being the same gender they were assigned at birth.

Intersectional: When I use this term, I’m referring to the concept that the problems of marginalized communities are interconnected, and cannot be separated.

Feminism: When I use this term, I’m referring to the belief in and fight for the rights of women based on the belief in their equality to men.

Intersectional feminism: When I use this term, I’m referring to an idea that the fight for equality for women is a fight for all women and femmes, crossing racial and social and economic and age and gender lines.

Having defined those terms as I am currently using them, let’s say that first sentence again using a lot more words.

The world defaults to the best interest of men, particularly those who were assigned the male gender at birth, and I was raised with those same patterns of behavior and views. In learning more about the world around me, particularly as it relates to the equality of all people, and the way all marginalized communities are connected, I no longer view the world that way.

I notice this in ways small and large. It has affected the way I see things, and changed the things I used to take for granted. I count myself lucky because I was raised by parents who taught me to be independent and decide for myself how I view the world. They taught me that even if I disagree with everyone I love, I must think, feel, and do what I think is right.

Some examples:

  • I can no longer watch TGIT with my mother because she and I disagree on the normalcy of the LGBTQ+ community. I’ve been visiting Chicago a lot recently for my mother because my grandmother is sick. This last visit, I watched Grey’s Anatomy, Notorious, and How to Get Away with Murder with my mom. Every show that night featured characters engaging in homosexual behavior. Each time my mother would say something along the lines of, “they’re so gay.” Her tone and redundancy bugged me, and I expressed my dissatisfaction. But aside from learning to not voice certain things, I don’t think much can be done to fix this situation. I no longer enjoy watching television with my mother. I am no fan of Raven-Symone, but I was so irritated when over the summer my mother spoke of her sexuality while we watched an eipsode of The View.
  • I can no longer attend church services at the church where I grew up. The last sermon I sat through there was a ranting mess about how gays and Muslim immigrants and bankers were responsible for the economic hardships. I was completely fucking floored and done with the church after that. The pastor of the church wasn’t there that day. The preacher who gave that awful ass sermon is now the pastor of another church, thank God. But his departure doesn’t change the reaction of the congregation during the sermon. I was horrified, openly horrified at that sermon, and I seemed to be the only one. The people who were actually listening, and who managed to follow his bullshit line of reasoning were responding as if it were any other barely mediocre sermon. I cannnot attend a church where they think blaming marginilized communities for our community’s problems is okay.
  • The song Hallelujah is one I have always loved. That mournful tone and the way the music swells as it builds to its peak have always been so beautiful to me. But the lyrics maaaaaan… The second verse is all biblical references normalizing a lot of crap towards women. It gets real rapey and hateful in just five lines. Pretty much the only version of the song I can listen to these days is the one by Pentatonix. I can easily listen to the beauty of their voices without the lyrics penetrating.
  • Eminem, who I would call one of my favorite rappers, says some awful things about women, homosexuals, etc. I don’t really love rap to begin with, and that is now tested even more. His song Rap God, which I used to listen to on repeat, now is like a slap across the face every time he uses the word faggot. It’s just not the same now that I no longer make excuses for the use of that word in music.

Those are just a few, but there are many more. Obviously, a lot of the issues I have come as a consumer. Music, television, even news articles just fall flat to me when they aren’t doing enough to fight for progress.

Several articles in the Washington Post recently address feminism, but they do it in such an incomplete way, that without a good knowledge base, you’d think they hate feminism and have never heard the word intersectional. I know feminism has a lot of problems, mostly that it tend to leave out those are aren’t white, cis, middle class, career-focused, American women. But these articles, which you can read here, here, and here, seem so limited in their scope. They seemed to make the point that there is feminism and there is black/poor/non-white feminism. In my opinion, they are not helping the cause.

The unity that is essential to resisting future overlord DJT feels like it’s being attacked from all sides. For any Harry Potter fans out there, remember that sucky speech Dolores Umbridge gave at the start of year feast when she was Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher? Basically she spoke a lot about preserving some traditions and pruning others. Just like DJT’s narcissistic ass, she sought to only keep the “traditions” that forwarded her and the Ministry’s selfish aims, damn those who are hurt in the wake.

If we are going to properly resist what’s coming (and already happening), we can’t let mainstream media twist and/or make light of important movements. And you can’t let the constant stream of music, online videos, television and movies (white-washed Dr. Strange, I’m looking at you… “Celtic” my ass…) shape and re-shape your perception of what’s normal–and what isn’t.

If you believe in equality, if you believe in progress, then pay attention. Learn their code words, and learn your code words. When I hear the word urban come up in politics, I know what they mean. It catches my ear and puts me on alert because what follows the use of that word is almost always some bullshit, and almost always is an attempt to harm my community.

I’m paying attention. And when the time comes, I’ll be ready.

Listen. Progress. Resist. Thrive.

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The Whole Reason We Moved to New York

You wanna know what I did Tuesday? If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, then you already know what I did Tuesday. But for everyone else, I’ll tell you what I did.

I went to the Tribeca Film Festival. This is such an NYC event. Wikipedia tells me (and no one has corrected it) that this Festival was started after 9/11 with the goal of economically reviving downtown. In the years since, they have, of course grown.

This is the corner of the building where the event was held. I was so excited, I looked it up on Google Maps to make sure I had the right entrance. Image from Wikipedia.org

 

This year, they put together an amazing evening in honor of Frank Sinatra, who’s 100th birthday would’ve been this year. There was a movie, of course. Following the movie, there was a concert consisting of singing, tap dancing, and a big band. My husband Chris (along with our friends Corey and Noah) got called to play in the big band, so of course I wanted to go.

I was able to get a ticket, and I was very happy to be all, “I’m with the band.”

Since it was a Tuesday, I had to put in for PTO for a few hours at the end of my shift. I didn’t have time to go home and change, so I got ready at work. So of course, this particular Tuesday, everyone from the CEO to multiple department directors were still there past 5:30pm.

Luckily, no one thought too much of me switching to a floor length gown, pinning up my hair, and strapping on high heels. The people in my office even helped me decide between two pairs of shoes. I hopped in a cab and headed to the Festival.

The movie they showed was On the Town. It’s a musical, adapted from Broadway, and it’s adorable. Chris sat with me for the first half of the movie before he had to go backstage to get ready for the concert.

I switched into critic mode, which is what I call it when I’m half taking notes for possible future gigs of Chris’s and noting what worked and what didn’t work about the event.

During the  movie, I noticed the higher sounds (the treble) were a bit too bright. One of the characters in the movie, who simple has to be related to Heather Matarazzo, had a voice higher than the other women. She sounded so shrill during the film, and there’s no way she actually sounded like that. So I was suspicious of the sound man, and wondering why he didn’t notice and fix this issue.

It was still an issue when the band was playing. As a result, I couldn’t hear above middle C on the piano well, the bass sounded clearer than the guitar, and the trombone clearer than the saxophone.

Good thing the musicians were all so amazing that the band still sounded great.

There was also a cameraman who I believe was queuing up the multimedia videos and whatnot accompanying the concert. And he was loud, like super loud. Halfway through the second song, I was chuckling along as each queue was either mis-timed or drew the attention of everyone further back than row M.

But what was amazing was the other cameramen. They didn’t miss a beat There were two large screens on either side of the stage on which showed video of what was happening on the stage. It looked like clips from a documentary or made-for-TV concert.

It turns out they were recording to make some sort of movie/video out of the event. I heard someone say they expected to see a turnaround of only 3 weeks on the first draft. I hope whatever they make is available to the public because I’d love to see that.

As much as I was fussing about the sound mixing, I sort of understood why they did it when I watched my video back. I thought both Ne-Yo and Brandon Flowers sounded so good in my videos. But then Chris said he thought they sounded better live. I wish I knew what the difference was that our ears heard. Knowing that would help bridge the gap in what the sound man was aiming for.

That is Ne-Yo, who I was so pleasantly surprised sounded this good to my ear live. I’ve seen him on Dancing with the Stars, and that is live, but still. He was in the same room and sounded fantastic.

That is Brandon Flowers and Alice Smith (along with Ne-Yo and Lea Delaria). They’re singing New York, New York. It’s the perfect finale song for such an event as this.

There has to be a way to make it sound both amazing live and on video though. I know it’s possible because that’s what happened when we went to go see Stevie Wonder in concert. Maybe the size of the venue makes a difference?

I wish I had the key to make a uniform sound in person and video. Someone tell me I don’t have to go get an additional degree for this.

I’m taking notes and learning with each of these events. The one thing I’m pretty good at already is the schmoozing that comes after. They had a room for the performers and assorted guests. That room had a bar in it. That was a pleasant surprise because this was a “dry” event thanks to the Lincoln sponsorship and car on the premises.

After eating my tiny bag of dirt flavored popcorn– I mean my white truffle cheddar popcorn– wrapped in the loudest plastic bag available for purchase– I mean wrapped in plastic and tied with an adorable red bow, I was ready for something to wash it down with.

I had been looking forward to my flask that Chris brought for me, but now I didn’t need it. I was happy to drink whatever red wine they were serving. That meant the flask was free to pass out to people who were very interested in taking a swig of Bulleit Rye Whiskey.

Chris and I were called “cute” and “adorable” and “fun” multiple times by people with varying levels of familiarity. That’s a sign of success. All of my upbringing as the daughter of the man in charge at work who’s also a deacon at church, the daughter of a judge who’s also Superintendent of Sunday School at church, the sister of a preacher who runs a school, the granddaughter of a Congressman who used to run a newspaper, the niece of a professor who was president of the national organization for education professors, has quite fully prepared me to the be the wife of an amazing musician.

I care very much about standing alone with my own name, not the __________ of someone else. But I’m damn good at being the daughter-sister-wife of my people.

I am also getting very better at being not-Fan-Girl when I meet these people. Aside from a likely scarily-large smile when I met Ne-Yo, and a moment where I begged Lea Delaria to tell me where I knew her from (not Orange is the New Black), I feel like I did pretty good.

Brandon Flowers is cool as hell, and I felt like inviting him over for a dinner party after talking to him for only a few moments. He’s just one of those people with a really warm spirit, you know?

After finishing all the whiskey, checking out the gift they gave everyone, and schmoozing, we headed out to a favorite bar of mine called Nancy’s Whiskey Pub.

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I took our friends Corey and Dericko there on a whim one day, and we’ve loved it since. It’s the type of place where you walk in and everyone eyeballs you suspiciously, but then 3 minutes later everyone’s laughing and recommending food and drink options.

We weren’t the only ones there from the event. We met a publicist, a video guy, and a venue planner. It was very cool to have people come up to the table, tell the band how much they loved them, then exchange business cards.

It’s moments like this that we moved to New York. We toasted to that like 5 times Tuesday night.

I can’t wait for the next big event. But in the mean time, there are hundreds of smaller New-York-awesome things to do. I can’t wait for those either.

Tony Bennett, Ne-Yo, Lea Delaria, Savion Glover, Brandon Flowers, Alice Smith and the JC Hopkins Biggish Band are who all participated in the tribute.


Getting Dragged From The House

Although you’re reading this some time after noon, I’m writing this shortly after midnight. Why aren’t I out partying? I’m at work, that’s why. I mentioned in a previous post an unfortunate set of circumstances that landed me at work on New Year’s Eve even though I’m not supposed to work holidays anymore now that I’m a supervisor. Just know that I’m getting through the night, and I’m just glad I’m in charge of scheduling in the new year.

In my last post, I was all busy putting my foot down about not leaving the house until I had no other choice, i.e., having to go work. Well that lasted until the peer pressure broke me down. The wife of the couple we had plans to spend time with on Sunday really truly just HAD to see Django that day and no other day.

After much cajoling, they got me to agree to go. No one believed me that my lip burn was much worse than it looked. They didn’t understand that my skin flap was just pushed up and hiding an awful looking sore. So it was either go out into the public or ruin everyone else’s day. So we went to see Django, which I had no interest in seeing. I’m not a fan of Jaime Foxx like that. I’m really not a fan of Quentin Tarantino. I don’t like it when Kerry Washington and Jaime Foxx are husband and wife in a movie either. But I do love me some Leonardo DiCaprio. I had to sit through three hours of a racist Leonardo with what felt like 60 full minutes of previews in front of it. It was a long ass afternoon.

After the movie, we went to the grocery store and bought fettuccine noodles, alfredo sauce, shrimp, crab legs, salad, chicken breasts, lemons, and powdered sugar. That sounds like a lot, right? Ah, but it was just enough for a great dinner. We had a chicken breast salad with red wine vinaigrette (my own special home-made dressing). Then we had shrimp alfredo. Then we had crab legs. Then we had lemon bars. I made smaller portions so no one over-ate. It was a great meal, and we had fun playing video games, drinking wine, and discussing the movie while we ate.

When it was time to say goodnight, we made plans to hang out again soon. The husband and I really like hanging with them, so it’d be nice to hang out more than once every couple of months. I don’t think I’ve mentioned it yet, but this is the couple whose wedding the husband and I met at. We were having fun regaling them with stories about when we first met that they’d never heard.

The story that really threw them was how we both knew from the moment we met that we simply must get together. We weren’t referring to a relationship though, we were referring to our physical chemistry. They laughed when we said neither of us expected things to go further than a fun weekend together. It still took us several months to get things right. Hell we were already engaged before we got things right, but it was amusing to look back on how wildly different our expectations were from how things turned out.

And as they left, they reminded me that my lip really didn’t look all that bad and I was being self-conscious for nothing. The husband agreed that it was worse in my head. The next day, I got out of the shower while getting ready for work. I noticed the little skin flap (doesn’t that give some odd imagery?) had come off, and now all I could see was a bright pink mark on my lip.

When the husband saw my face, all he said was, “oh.” My response was, “so now you get it?” And he did. What’s going on is that my upper lip looks terrible now. I have armed myself with neosporin and lip balm. I can only hope that soon enough, it goes away. And by soon enough, I mean months instead of years. My skin takes a really long time to heal from burns.

On a completely different note, I’ve been working out! It’s only been two days, so don’t get excited. But I’m just glad I got my lazy ass up off the couch and started again. The stress from work really has kept me from gaining too much weight. I’m only about a pound heavier than I was at my lowest weight when I stopped the last time. I’m just out of shape and flabby. This Tracy Anderson workout pulls everything in and makes you tight.

The couple we were hanging out with asked me why I cared so much about working out when I was smaller than most people. I told them it was because I cared about once again fitting into the dress I was wearing the day I met my husband. They liked that answer. The husband did too. So I’m trying to stay on the workout bandwagon. I’m too invested in my physical appearance to have so many jiggly parts.

Last time I was working out, I felt sure that Tracy Anderson was trying to kill me. This time around, I started to feel the same way, then I remembered that I brought this on myself. I’m the one who stopped working out. I’m the one who got out of shape. I’m the one who (wisely) started back over at Day 1 of her workout plan so I wouldn’t be behind the curve on the later workouts. I never feel pity for people with self-inflected problems, so I don’t have any self-pity now. It’s my damn fault everything hurts. But at least I have a wonderful husband who massaged my legs for me so I could keep going with the workouts.

It seems like most everything I felt had gone out of balance I’ve managed to get back in a few days. Something about putting into writing really put it into perspective for me. It really got my head on straight. Once I remembered my priorities, I was able to find the motivation. The hardest part was getting started. I figure that should last me about a week. Then I’ll have to find a new motivation to keep me going.

And, of course, at some point, I’ll work on unpacking our stupid apartment so I can pack it back up again in a few months.


The Worst Movie I’ve Ever Seen

There are some bad movies I’ve seen. I can get through a poorly made or poorly acted movie if it’s still interesting and enjoyable. But there are some that are so bad, I get upset I spent time watching them.

The runner-up for the worst movie I’ve ever seen is:

This movie was quite awful.

I wanted to leave the theater, this one was so bad. and I love sequels. I hated the plot, I hated the acting, I hated the characterization, cinematography, special effects, etc. You name it, I hated it. But even this doesn’t make it as the worst movie ever.

If I tell you the cast, you still won’t know it. If I tell you the genre, the year it came out, or anything, you still won’t know it. It had Mark Wahlberg, Christina Applegate, and Lela Rochon. It’s a heist movie comedy. It came out in 1998. Still don’t know? Of course you don’t! It’s because this movie is so terrible you’ve literally never heard of it.

Okay, I won’t leave you guessing any longer. This movie is called The Big Hit.

Seriously the worst movie I've ever seen.

If this movie is so bad, why did I watch it? Well, it’s all the fiancé’s fault. This movie came packaged with another movie I bought several years ago. I’d never heard of it and frankly never intended on watching it.

The fiancé however thought maybe it would be a good idea to unwrap a movie that was still in the plastic and watch it. Suffice it to say we spent the entirety of this movie going, “what the hell?” and “why are they doing that?” and “why are we still watching this?!”

Take it from me, never watch this movie. It really surprised me because I love Marky Mark, Christina Applegate, and Lela Rochon. Their acting was the one thing that made me not shoot myself while watching this flick.

What’s the worst movie you’ve ever seen?