May 23, 2007

An interesting article on limiting growth in mentally disabled people, which oddly makes sense from one point of view, but HOLY GOD brings up a lot of questions.



May 22, 2007

I just found my dinky bottle of Elmer’s Glue and spent a good half hour putting it on my index fingers and sticking it and un-sticking it to my thumb. As you may guess, this was not particularly condusive to the endless paper-writing experience.

Now, if I could only find glitter, I would be truly happy. Where’s second grade when you need it?

I’m optimistic today, though, for the first time in a while. I took an exam today, and it didn’t entirely make me want to stick a pen through my eye. I went to see my acupuncturist and when I exclaimed in pain when he stuck a needle on the top of my head, he told me that I store stress there, and palpated parts of my skull to prove it. Who knew that the head was so sensitive? The spot between my eyes is apparently also blocked, or something, but it just got this crazy build-up of pressure during Naptime, as I like to call it, or rather, the half-hour where I lie under heat lamps and the needles do their energy work. Also between the first two toes of my right foot. I’m stressed? Go figure. I just really dislike the mental image of nasty sludgy pools of energy that I’m getting. Fortunately, this is making me feel a bit more energised, and it should help when I have to go cold turkey on my thyroid horomones. Whoop. Also, the doctor is frail and adorable, so seeing him is a treat.

Back to Anna Karenina and her loss of self!


Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House in Concord, MA

Writing silly poems and letters I never send. Eg:

I wear my heart upon my sleeve,
And often I am much deceived
By seeming caring gentle souls
Out to pursue personal goals…


Curling up with a good book or movie while it’s thundering and storming outside. Eg: A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genious, or more recently chick flic galore: Music & Lyrics.

Singing to myself. (Song from Music & Lyrics)

Pretty dresses. Winter coats.

Taking pictures.


Pain au Lait with Milka Chocolate and Mariage Freres tea served with appropriate and coordinated paraphernalia.



Making lists.

Kind of Not.

A Bookstore Story

May 21, 2007

It was right around Valentine’s day freshman year, and I was convinced I had met the first great love of my life, as corny as that sounds.

February the fourteenth was fast approaching, and I dreaded it. It was going to ruin my budding love story. It meant expectations, it was commercial, and it was inauthentic, all unappealing prospects before even a second movie date had come around.

I did have other things on my mind, however, at least some of the time, besides the mysterious new boy, and it so happened that I had penciled in a lecture on Iraq at the XX Book Store on my wall calendar. The speaker’s face and name elude me now, but he – and the bookstore – were overwhelmingly popular, and the day of the event, there wasn’t a single empty seat left by the time I got there. I claimed a free patch of floorspace at the back, against a low bookcase, and tucked my tardy knees under my lap, adjusting my body weight and craning my neck to try to catch a glimpse of the speaker through ten rows of neatly crossed pant-legs. Abandoning that effort, my eyes lingered instead on the bookcase, and I found myself drawn to a children’s book, second to bottom shelf. The book was witty and charmingly quirky, with elephants and eros, with rhymes and irony, statues and paintings, and ripe with word games à la Marcel Duchamp. It was the perfect non-Valentine’s Day gift. Here was a book that literally said “I love you”, but might not mean it.

So I was talking to a friend the other night and one thing led to another led to spillage and fear.
You know how you can wonder, how on earth did this topic of conversation come up? Or how on earth did this happen? Well, I wanted to capture this conversation.

Mao’s preserved body rested in a glass case in his memorial. A security guard recognized a man he had seen waiting in line at the memorial every day for the past few weeks and asked him, “Why do you visit Mao every day? You must really admire him.” “No,” replied the man. “I just wanted to make sure that he was really dead.”

Preserved body, story of embalming said body leads to discussion of Damien Hirst and decomposing shark in murky tank and young british artists more generally speaking. A little wikipedia and recollections of Myra Hindley by Marcus Harvey painted with the handprints of children proceed to give us goosebumps. The Spanish merlot isn’t particularly helping. So now that we are on the subject of horrific crime, Lizzie Borden’s name pops up, and as we read about her trial, we find the website of the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast. I would put the link up, but it really is far too scary. And I wouldn’t want that kind of responsibility. I clicked on the site, and what popped up sent my friend and myself into hysterics. My friend jumped out of her skin, knocking over her Merlot, which made a blood-red stain on the hardwood floor. Lizzie Borden’s ghost and piercing, beady eyes (ooh are they beady) converted my room into an imaginary crime scene.

I don’t think I’ve been this afraid since walking back from the studio, feeling my way through pitch black tunnels, with the occasional ember glow of an emergency exit sign.

Having Babies

May 17, 2007

so while you ve been talking about weddings, i’ve been reading about having babies (although i should actually be reading about china).

so apparently, some clinics promote sexual stimulation instead of painkillers when giving birth.
wtf(!) and whoa tmi.

From Courrier International:

Accoucher : une expérience orgasmique

Douloureux, l’accouchement ? Katrina Caslake, elle, a trouvé cela divin, voire orgasmique. “C’était une expérience très sensuelle”, commente cette sage-femme de Wallington, qui a mis au monde (sans péridurale) ses deux fils, aujourd’hui âgés de 17 et 18 ans. “Toutes mes zones érogènes étaient stimulées. Je poussais des cris très proches de ceux de l’orgasme. De fait, c’était un véritable orgasme. Je vivais la chose la plus féminine qui soit donnée de vivre à une femme et c’était fantastique.” Même souvenir pour Frederika Deera. “Cela m’a remplie d’une euphorie indescriptible”, se rappelle cette attachée de presse qui a donné le jour à sa fille Delphine il y a deux ans à l’hôpital de Portsmouth. “C’était le nirvana : on a dû me faire une suture très importante, mais ça ne m’a même pas gênée.”

C’est cette expérience “jouissive” qui a poussé Katrina Caslake à devenir sage-femme. “Je savais que je n’étais pas un cas isolé”, explique la praticienne, qui travaille aujourd’hui pour Yours Maternally, un service d’obstétrique indépendant. “En encourageant d’autres femmes à faire confiance à leur corps et à se détendre, je me suis dit que je pourrais les aider à vivre des accouchements moins douloureux, plus agréables.” Même approche au Birth Centre, dans le sud de Londres, où Nathalie Mottershead, sage-femme, encourage activement l’accouchement sensuel. “Si les couples sont d’accord, on pratique des massages des mamelons et du clitoris pour faire apparaître les contractions, favoriser l’ouverture du col et du vagin et contribuer à soulager la douleur.” Objectif : faire de l’accouchement un moment de plaisir, voire d’extase. “Nous travaillons en étroite collaboration avec les femmes pour qu’elles puissent accoucher à domicile. Si les futures mamans acceptent de se sentir sexy, le travail peut être agréable, indolore, et le plaisir peut aller crescendo jusqu’à la naissance proprement dite.” “Si la femme se sent suffisamment à l’aise pour accepter une stimulation des mamelons et du clitoris pendant l’accouchement, cela aide à lutter contre la douleur et ça facilite le travail”, confirme Andrya Prescott, porte-parole de l’Association des sages-femmes indépendantes. Un petit tour sur le site Internet de l’Organisation américaine pour les naissances non assistées confirme à quel point l’accouchement peut être érotique. Le site décrit en détail des fantasmes de femmes où romantisme et rapports sexuels se traduisent par des “vagues de plaisir” et des “orgasmes cosmiques” au moment de la naissance. Manifestement, les femmes qui grimpent aux rideaux lors de l’enfantement sont plus nombreuses qu’on ne le croit. Sur les 151 femmes interrogées par la sage-femme américaine Ina May Gaskin, 82 disent avoir vécu au moins un accouchement orgasmique. Certes il s’agissait de naissances à domicile et de femmes ouvertes à ce type d’expérience. Mais les avantages sont loin d’être négligeables : un seul et unique orgasme serait 22 fois plus puissant qu’un calmant moyen, et l’excitation sexuelle entraîne une ouverture très sensible du vagin.

“Les femmes y réfléchiraient peut-être à deux fois avant d’accepter une péridurale si elles sa­vaient tout ça, mais personne n’en parle”, déplore Ina May Gaskin, pionnière de l’accouchement naturel, qui fut la première à découvrir la possibilité de l’orgasme pendant la naissance.
Mais il y a un hic : comme toute activité sexuelle, l’intensité du plaisir dépend largement de l’état de relaxation, de confiance et de sécurité que ressent la femme. Or la majorité des parturientes redoutent l’“épreuve” de l’accouchement. Ces craintes se traduisent, avant même le début du travail, par des contractions musculaires et une hausse du taux d’adrénaline. “Le problème, c’est que cette hormone inhibe le désir sexuel et freine les contractions, souligne Andrya Prescott. On est plus tendu et plus sujet à la douleur. C’est pour ça que le travail et la naissance à l’hôpital peuvent être mal vécus. Entourées d’étrangers, les femmes ont un taux d’adrénaline élevé. Dans ce cas, même si elles sont a priori partantes pour une stimulation sexuelle, elles peuvent aussi bien faire une croix dessus.”

Aujourd’hui encore, le sujet est tabou. “Beaucoup de femmes ont peur d’être considérées comme perverses ou anormales si elles admettent avoir des sensations sexuelles pendant l’accouchement”, souligne Carolyn Cowan, professeur de yoga. “Je donne des cours de danse érotique pour femmes enceintes, pour essayer de les débarrasser de ces inhibitions. J’ai deux ou trois trucs à leur apprendre – il a fallu que j’accouche de mon fils pour trouver mon point G.” L’excitation sexuelle provoque la sécrétion d’ocytocine, une hormone qui favorise l’affection et l’attachement, à l’origine des contractions utérines dans l’accouchement et dans l’orgasme. Il s’agit par ailleurs d’une endorphine : elle génère du plaisir tout en étant un puissant analgésique. Dans l’accouchement sensuel, le nourrisson n’est pas en reste. Inondé d’hormones du bien-être, il aura plus de chances de venir au monde heureux et détendu.

Under the Sea

May 14, 2007

Going along a conversation I had with some friends about weddings about a week ago…. Disney wedding dresses! How scary a thought is that?

Some of the cuts are beautiful, and I’m coveting. But how bizarre would it be to think, “I want to be a princess for my wedding day… I know, I’ll be Ariel!” How far would you push it? Seashell-shaped invites? Underwater decor? A seaweed cake with algae icing?

The last one is actually from a wonderful series of stores my mother and I told each other when I was little, about The Little Whale. The Little Whale was always anxious to see the world, so he would go to The Wishing Octopus and suffer all manner of unspeakable tortures until he was granted one wish– to go on land and be a boy. He’d swim to the beach and turn into a little boy with whales on his swimming trunks (how very New England!) and have adventures until, finally, he would grow homesick and return to the ocean, where his mother would be waiting for him with his favourite treat– seaweed cake with algae icing.

But I digress.

So, this whole wedding mania scares the bejeezus out of me. There’s a NYT article on a woman who studies the phenomenon (via Feministing) and shows us the reality of a bridal expo. Hundreds and hundreds of dollars are being siphoned away at every turn. Maybe it’s just the fact that suddenly tons of people I know are getting engaged or hitched left, right and centre, or maybe it’s the fact that my dad chose to have an awkward, but understandable conversation with me asking that, when the time comes, I not insist on 500 guests, and a dress spun of spider silk and beaded with black Tahitian pearls and canary diamonds (actually, this imaginary expensive dress sounds hideous, so there’s no real risk of that anyway), but I’m suddenly finding this coming up in way more conversations than it should be. (Boyfriend: if you’re reading this, stop hyperventilating. My dad watched a TV show, realised he had a daughter and freaked out, imagining himself bankrupted by my demands for custom table linens for my Big Day. Stitched by lesbian redheaded one-legged nuns in an obscure Andorran nunnery, of course. Nothing but the best and most unique for his little girl.) And the media pressure’s on. Suddenly the sheer possibility of making obscene little demands becomes a possibility, or even a necessity. What used to be an actual celebration of love now seems like a high-stress event the bride won’t even be able to remember, because she’ll be so focused on perfection. Bah.

In other news, apparently the divorce rate’s down. But only if you’re well-off and educated. And it might just be because you’re not getting married in the first place.