Tag Archives: ruminations

Wilderness music

The dust bunnies have been self-actualizing again, so I decided to spend the weekend cleaning. Music usually helps make the dusting and wiping and scrubbing less tedious, so I tucked an iPod in my pocket and set it to my mid ’90s playlist, otherwise known as “Wilderness Music.”

I call it that not because I went camping a lot during that time, but because the songs on the playlist are from the years right after college, aka my wilderness years.

I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life after graduating from Bryn Mawr. I hadn’t yet decided on journalism, and my somewhat nebulous notion of becoming an English professor died shortly before I turned in my senior thesis. It didn’t help that there was a recession that summer, and the next year, which meant even entry-level jobs were hard to find. Read more

Women’s work

lighthouse In 2010, I took a trip to Victoria, British Columbia. I had been there for a few hours in 2005, but this time actually stayed in the city for a few days.

One of the tours I took while there included Fisgard Lighthouse in Esquimalt Harbor. It was built in 1860, and was on a small islet until a causeway was built in the 1950s, joining it to the mainland.

I love lighthouses. They are as romantic to me as castles, and I feel like I haven’t seen enough of them. The fact that most of them are obsolete these days because of GPS makes me sad, though I embrace that technology. Read more

Words to live by

Sometimes, people try to destroy you, precisely because they recognize your power. Not because they do not see it, but because they see it and do not want it to exist.
–bell hooks

A new acquaintance posted the above quote on social media today, and it really resonated. I’ve come across people like this in my life, not just in school or at work, but in closer, less transitory settings.

In fact, several alleged friends and blood relatives seemed to operate in this fashion, always taking pleasure in squashing me like a bug at every opportunity. I have managed to cut most of these toxic people out of my life. The ones that remain are very far away, and I tell them nothing, or at least nothing about what’s important to me. Why give them ammo?

It depresses me that it has to be like this. Nor do I understand what makes people act this way. All I know is that I will fight to the end to make sure I never become one. I hope I don’t fail.

All text copyrighted by A.K. Whitney, and cannot be used without permission.

Women draw: Cartoonists who rock my world

UnknownWhen I was a child, I loved comics, whether in long form or in strips. Growing up in Italy, I read Asterix, Tintin, and Lucky Luke. Later, I would love Peanuts and Garfield, and as I got older, it was all about The Far Side and Calvin and Hobbes.

What do all those have in common? The cartoonists are all male.

I was aware of the Cathy comic, but I never connected to it. Cathy Guisewite’s sadsack heroine depressed me. But when I got to college, I came across two women who draw: Lynda Barry and Alison Bechdel. I connected more to Barry, with her tales of kids not belonging, though Bechdel’s Dykes to Watch Out For was a window into a different world. I hadn’t had much exposure to out, proud, social activist lesbians before I went to Bryn Mawr, and Bechdel’s comic answered questions I was too shy to ask my classmates.

In the years since, I haven’t really sought out women who draw, but devoured a comic compilation by a French cartoonist named Claire Bretecher that I’d stolen from my mother. I also loved the New Yorker’s Roz Chast.

I recently came across Gemma Correll, a British artist who draws Four Eyes. I love her obsession with pugs. And Allie Brosh, of Hyperbole and a Half fame, will never make me look at a cake or a dinosaur the same way again.

Who says women don’t draw cartoons?

All text copyrighted by A.K. Whitney, and cannot be used without permission.

My tragic life, according to Esquire

c21fizuko4vbzwuif9ddWhen I looked at my Twitter feed today, a lot of people were talking about an article in Esquire by Tom Junod.

I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve never heard of the guy. Then again, I’ve never been much of an Esquire reader, I don’t live in New York, and my newspaper background means I’m more familiar with those writers than with magazine ones.

But anyway, Junod has written an ode to women: 42-year-old women, to be precise. He opens with this gem:

“Let’s face it: There used to be something tragic about even the most beautiful forty-two-year-old woman. With half her life still ahead of her, she was deemed to be at the end of something—namely, everything society valued in her, other than her success as a mother. If she remained sexual, she was either predatory or desperate; if she remained beautiful, what gave her beauty force was the fact of its fading. And if she remained alone… well, then God help her.” Read more

Quick Bites: CSA cravings

csa Four years ago, I wrote about Community Supported Agriculture for the Los Angeles News Group. As part of the story, I joined a local CSA, and was delighted by the haul. The picture on the left is from the first week.

Having to cook with seasonal vegetables someone else chose for me was a fun culinary challenge, and I really wanted to support local farms, because I don’t always get to the farmers market every week. More important, the markets around here have a fairly loose definition of local. A lot of the produce is from San Luis Obispo, 200+ miles away. Read more

My ghostly guilty pleasures

I’ve always been a skeptic. From a young age, I was drawn to facts and fascinated by science. That’s not to say I didn’t love magic and fairytales, but I never forgot they were pretend. Reality always had a way of interfering before I could even consider it.

My unwillingness to believe made for some awkwardness around Christmas, since my family had a tradition of having Santa Claus deliver presents to the house on Christmas Eve. I quickly figured out that my father was always conveniently gone when Santa arrived, because he had a burning need to go buy cigarettes. And the plastic mask Santa wore was unconvincing. Finally, at about 4 years old, I confronted my mom about the issue. Read more

Summer flower gardening

flowers14 A few years ago, we installed a garden window in our kitchen. I’m not much of a gardener; arthritic joints don’t do well with kneeling or bending or digging hard ground. But I’ve had windowsill herb gardens before.

It’s been a mixed bag, success-wise. I started with those Chia herb gardens, which are the plant equivalent of a Sea Monkey kit, and after some trepidation just bought seed packets and potting soil. I quickly discovered the quality of the soil made a huge difference. As did keeping my young plants away from others, since all it took was one rosemary bush from a nursery to infect everyone with mites. That was heartbreaking. Read more

Happy Fourth!

1235px-Flag_of_the_United_States.svg I must admit I’ve never felt particularly connected to the Fourth of July. It is one of those holidays I think you have to have childhood memories of, and I don’t have any, since I moved to this country as a teenager. I was catching up with my best friend on the phone yesterday, and she reminisced fondly of spending time with grandparents, having barbecues and watching fireworks.

For me, those memories are associated with Bastille Day. We spent summers in France when I was a child, and I remember it being a two-day celebration with lots of good food and a dance in the main square of the little village where my grandmother owned a home. Read more

RA Diaries: Feats of strength

hands I’ve never been into sports.

Partly, this is because I’m female, and girls and women, at least where I grew up (Mexico and Italy) weren’t really encouraged to be fans of sports like football or baseball, much less play them. When I moved to the United States as a teenager, my high school had girls’ teams for track and swimming, but the boys’ teams were still the ones who were lionized. Read more

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