MAD MAX

The new Mad Max was so good that I saw it two days ago and I can’t stop thinking about it, dreaming about it, writing to friends about it. I don’t even want to write about it because I won’t do it justice, but I am compelled because I can’t think about anything else.

First of all, it looked great. It was exactly what you want out of a Mad Max movie. The crazy scary cobbled-together post-apoc cars, the grotesque costumes and makeup and names, the horrifying dystopian desert hellscape, the nonstop nihilistic car chase, the aesthetic that my old man tried to describe as “Halloween rockabilly with skull gear shift” or “zombie wearing top hat driving one of those huge tricycle motorcycles” but that is probably best summed up as “postapocalyptic psychobilly.” Australian accents. Plus a man playing a flame-throwing guitar at 80 mph. It had all of this in spades. But it had more. A LOT more.

As everyone knows by now, this movie is a feminist parable. Maybe you think it’s flawed, or has counter-feminist messages/images, etc., which is fine. One of the cool feminist scholars I follow on twitter has already weighed in with her classic thing about how because the women were all “privileged” (I think she means they were predominantly white and attractive; surely she’s not talking about the material conditions of sex slavery) it wasn’t truly revolutionary. This thing where all discourse is just about identifying exactly, precisely which degree of privilege every single type of person holds and then devaluing whatever they have to say if that degree of privilege is higher than someone else’s. Okay. If that is the rhetorical tack you want to take, go for it, although it’s funny that the very people who believe they are most aware of resisting neoliberalism are not able to realize how this kind of radical atomization of all people into unique webs of privilege serves the needs of neoliberal policies to a T, because it keeps us from actual unity and communal action. Anyway, whatever, you do you. But EVEN IF this is a valid critique–that the women in the film are too pretty, basically–there is still no avoiding the fact that the movie represents a legitimate and, I feel, SINCERE attempt to articulate and explore an actual, deeply-argued, straight-up, feminist politics. If it was a flawed attempt, doesn’t the fact of the attempt itself already make it better and more valuable than any other big blockbuster you have ever seen? Eve Ensler was hired as a consultant on the script! Which, again, maybe you have legit problems with Eve Ensler, and that is totally fair, but nonetheless, the fact remains that George Miller was TRYING to make an actual feminist film out of Mad Max and I think that is very interesting, and I respect that effort. I do not believe that to be properly feminist a statement has to be completely perfect and without flaws. Such a statement doesn’t exist.

When I heard about how feminist the movie supposedly was, I assumed it just meant that Charlize was really badass and killed lots of dudes, which is indeed the case. But it was feminist in a MUCH more focused way than that (and badass women killing people is only arguably feminist to begin with, as I will discuss below), and this is what surprised me.

It is strange to see a high-octane super-action movie that isn’t just not-deliberately-sexist but even actively feminist in some fairly deep and sustained ways. I think there are recent blockbusters where women are not depicted in a way that makes me want to shriek, but that’s not the same thing as a movie being “feminist.” For example, in the truly great film “The Edge of Tomorrow,” the woman is the equal of the man, and they work as soldiers/brothers, fully respecting the skills and humanity of one another, and it was a big part of why that movie was so compelling to me. But still, that movie wasn’t ABOUT women and men. It wasn’t ABOUT patriarchy. So Mad Max takes it this huge step forward, where yes, there are women and men working together without gender clichés being enacted (like can you even imagine if at some point Max was like “Furiosa you stay here it’s too dangerous” LOLOL), and it’s great, but also the story itself is about women and men and what happens in capitalist patriarchy, to both women and men.

And then it went even further than that. It was a movie about how all women have humanity, dignity, value, and legitimate subjectivity, regardless of their age, appearance, function in society, etc. Whether they are badass macho warriors, beautiful fragile pregnant models, or withered old salty crones, all women are valuable and worthy of respect and attention. It was about how capitalist patriarchy strips women of intrinsic human value and instead values them only as commodities in one way or another. But it was also about how this same capitalist patriarchy brutalizes and ruins all people who live within it, including men as well. I loved so much how the War Boys were humanized and given dignity and subjectivity in the form of the one dude who joins their party accidentally. We’d previously only seen the War Boys as these terrifying nihilistic forces of destruction, glorying in flinging themselves into death to fight for their warlord. But the little dude brought it home in such a real way. He’s been raised in this system, which rewards and respects only violence and self-annihilation, so those are the values he holds. He finds them joyous because no other option has ever been presented to him. The moment he is seen and cared for as a human being by this new group, his internal landscape shifts. He starts seeing that there is pleasure in this different sort of comradeship, where you help each other because you care about each other, where other things matter than gasoline and war. He looks grotesque, he’s been twisted and made monstrous by the system that raised him, but inside of him (and by extension, all the War Boys, all men) there is this possibility of going down another path, finding new ways to value life and other people and himself. I found this to be a surprising turn the story took.

The reason for all the War Boys and the harem producing babies and the horrible room with women hooked up to milking machines is that this is a metaphor for capitalism. One warlord controls and benefits from the labor and products of every person’s physical body. The slaves who work the crazy system of cogs and wheels that make his weird cave-castle run; the War Boys who joyfully die whenever he tells them to; the women whose milk he pumps out so he can drink it and feed his kids with it; the women who he keeps as breeders so he can perpetuate his power via the children they produce from their bodies.

In the warlord’s realm, there is no money, but what he controls is the water. They live in this desert wasteland but he has some sort of aquifer deep in the rock where he lives (i.e. a natural resource that he did nothing to create but only holds for himself by brute military power). The whole system functions only via slave labor. Great masses of seething humanity live at the base of the rock, so dehydrated and destroyed that their sole concern in life is getting water. This condition is created on purpose–there is an immense, unfathomable supply of water, but it is blocked up and distributed only in the meanest, unequal way. This is done because so long as the working classes are so solely focused on obtaining this one resource that they literally need in order to not die, they will never be able to have their consciousnesses raised; they will never have the mental space OR communal mindset necessary for fomenting revolution. This sounds familiar to any denizen of late capitalism. Periodically the warlord releases a huge waterfall down the side of the rock, so the masses down below get just a little taste of it (although, as Sarah noted, he releases it in such a showy, wasteful way that most of it just gets dumped on the ground). In other words, the water….TRICKLES DOWN. Except it doesn’t. He tells them not to get used to water; that it will make them weak (à la Republican arguments against welfare/a living wage/etc.).

What the movie is about is OPTING OUT OF ALL OF THIS. Putting your life on the line to live by your beliefs. Refusing to be a part of a system that damages everyone in this way. This message was made explicit in lots of ways. The moment the girls find the War Boy in their midst, Max wants to kill him, but the girls say NO, we don’t kill people unless we have to, and we don’t have to kill him, it’s not his fault, he doesn’t know any better, he’s been poisoned by the system’s lies. They set him free, and this act of kindness starts a revolutionary change in the kid that will ultimately benefit everyone. Another time the message is explicit is when the harem girls write “Our babies will not be warlords” on the floor of their prison before they flee with the badass truck driver (Charlize Theron, the actual star of the film as even the stupidest reviewers are observing). They would rather die and have their children die than deliver them into the hands of this twisted, destructive system that has “killed the world,” as one of them says later.

While the film used the metaphor of motherhood as a means of visualizing a different society, as I will discuss below, it was also not sentimental about motherhood. It presented motherhood as an alternate value system but also as a representation of perpetuating the status quo. In capitalism, every person who intentionally has a baby is implicitly signing off on the system in which they live. Sure, they may know it’s a bad system. They may not like the system. They may use cloth diapers. But they are agreeing to perpetuate the system, by using their own bodies to reproduce the system’s work force. They are saying, here, system. Here is a new cog for your wheels. Here is a new piece of cannon fodder for you to chew up and spit out. Or, here is a new rich person to feed parasitically off the suffering and disenfranchisement of the global poor, which it is impossible not to do. Simply by existing, in capitalism, we do harm to others. We do this every time we buy a house, an iPhone, a pair of pants. We do it every time we value something in monetary terms. We do it every time we procreate. We do it when we hire a maid or a nanny, when we put our parents in a nursing home, when we put gas in our car, when we fly on an airplane, when we drink water, when we eat animal products, when we throw something away, when we use the internet, when we call the police, when we take drugs, when we get pedicures, when we accept any job. We do it with every move we make, and we are trapped into making those moves; we have no other choice. We can minimize wherever possible, and be thoughtful, and try our best, but our choices are constricted to the point of meaninglessness. You can’t opt out of the system from within the system. There are no “better” consumer choices. There is no “good” capitalism.

So although the film took the concept of motherhood seriously as a means of generating new value systems, it also was not sentimental about it. It did not provide false hope or easy outs. The women can’t change the system from within, by making better consumer choices (for example, teaching their children that being a warlord is bad, while knowing full well that their children will have literally no choice but to become warlords. Or teaching their children to respect the humanity of the slaves that support their entire existence), but they can refuse to perpetuate it by reproducing it. So they bail, even though they know they will probably die. It is brave and real to prefer death to submitting to a system that is morally wrong. And what do they find, by opting out? They find something else, another way of thinking about society. And it’s one explicitly founded on CARE.

Here is where I could imagine some feminists getting mad. As women, we are sick of being reduced to our wombs, and we are sick of being essentialized as “naturally” more maternal and peaceful. This rhetoric has had the effect, historically, of keeping women down. Narratives that suggest mothers understand the forces of nature and plants and gentle baby deers while men are basically chimps who must tear one another with their teeth, and it’s all just biological, what are you gonna do…those narratives don’t sit well with me, as a rule, because they are usually pretty half-assed and based on easy stereotypes. Plus they allow men to keep being assholes. “Boys will be boys!”

I am fine with it if someone wants to bring this critique to this film. However, for me, I felt like the movie explored some of these ideas in a more thoughtful, coherent way, that resonated with me. For starters, it helped that the film was so insistent about showing us that all women have value and human dignity, whether they are pregnant/mothers or not. Charlize is not a mother, although she comes from the “land of many mothers.” The old crones are surely past childbearing age. But their worth was not contingent on their wombs. And the fact that there were two men equally a part of this group–including the putative star/narrator/titular character–I think emphasized this. Everyone has value; everyone is capable of performing acts of caring, not just women, not just mothers. The metaphor of motherhood is, I suppose, a gender-based metaphor, but it was not applied only to women. It was available to anyone.

The film presented the value of “nurturance” in a more elevated way than tying it only to women’s dumb animal biology…AND YET it also did take that dumb animal biology seriously. It IS amazing, to make a baby inside your body. That SHOULD bring with it a different awareness of the world you are bringing your child into. The value of caring for a child IS a real value, a good value. I liked the way this film approached this topic because, unlike a lot of other “feminist” action films (T2, for example, in which a woman becomes a badass because she is willing to murder literally every person on earth if it will help her offspring, which is a terrible message and a hateful take on motherhood), this one WAS NOT presenting only one way of being an awesome fully-actualized woman. All too often, movies, ads, people, sloganeering, etc., seem to want to position women as being “just as good as” men, by pointing out that women can do all the things men can do. And these “things” that men can do usually boil down to: making war, playing sports, being a badass capitalist with shitloads of money and power. That Superbowl ad about feminism that was just about making sure your daughter is allowed to throw footballs and punch people? Ugh. Movies like T2 FEEL feminist because they are presenting the possibility of women being badass and macho and shooting guns and not being dependent on men, and of course there is something empowering about seeing those representations. And yet, do women not also have value and dignity if they AREN’T avatars of hideous violence? Do women not also have value and dignity if they ARE dependent on others, as indeed we are ALL DEPENDENT ON ONE ANOTHER? Aren’t fragile beautiful pregnant models valuable too, not just angry violent women? Aren’t ancient old women valuable? Aren’t women who don’t have wombs at all valuable? Aren’t women who have penises valuable? Aren’t women who are peaceful valuable? Aren’t fat women and thin women and black women and white women and all kinds of women valuable, on their own terms and for their own sake, not for how well they can fit themselves into a masculine-capitalist mold by killing people and not needing anyone but themselves? And, if we accept this, then doesn’t that mean that ALL types of people have value, and deserve care and thought? War Boys. The seething poor at the base of the aquifer. Hunky Max himself. Everyone is a real person, and everyone is enslaved by the system. For example the nice mirroring between the women removing their chastity belts and Max removing his face mask–all of them were physically enchained by this absurd system that was parasitically preying on their bodies. They broke those chains, and saw one another as humans.

We say we believe all women have worth, but all too often we let our rhetoric imply that women have worth only if we recognize that they can do what men do. Rad smart feminists argued against the insane person Francis Fukuyama (who said women are biologically more peaceful than men) by actually listing all the women who have been violent. Women serial killers! Women soldiers! Joan of Arc! SEE? Women and men are equal!

I think this is the wrong question to ask and the wrong rhetorical tack to take, and I think the film avoided taking this tack very skillfully. Women aren’t valuable because they can do what men can do. What we should be asking is: is what men do GOOD? Is patriarchy a good system, or not? I think what Mad Max was trying to explore is something like, what might the world look like if people who have other values were the ones who made it? And for those “other values,” the film looked to a type of person historically on the margins of this world; a type of person who historically has not had much of a say in designing the world. People on the margins often do have other values, other ways of seeing things. Much has been written about how differently women see the world than men, BECAUSE OF their marginal status (not because of their biology). The hunted sees the world very differently than the hunter sees it.

What I appreciated about the film was that it acknowledged that women live in a world created and run by men, and that there is NOTHING MUCH THEY CAN DO ABOUT THIS, except recognize it. It would not be possible, in this world, for women to be gentle tree creatures who never hurt a fly–indeed, the “green place” the old women once lived in is now a poisoned wasteland. Their utopia is still part of the ruined world, no matter how hard they have tried to exempt themselves. In the desert, one of the harem wives expresses disappointment at finding out that the old desert women actually kill people. She’s basically like, “we thought you would be different,” i.e., different from the world we are trying to leave behind. The old woman gives her a wise and knowing look, then shows her all the seeds she’s been carrying around in hope of planting them one day. I felt that we were meant to think about how alternative societies aren’t actually possible within the totalizing context of today’s capitalist patriarchy–you can’t just have your little utopia that is separate from the system. It’s not possible. In order to continue living (if you deem that a viable choice), you have to navigate within the system successfully in some way. These women live in the Mad Max hellscape and they can’t change that. So they have to become canny, and violent, and willing to kill. Of course, you could opt out completely, and just go lie down and die in the desert, but I thought it was powerful the way the women were depicted as living by necessity in a world that is not of their choosing, while staying alive and awake to other possibilities, and to visions of alternatives. Furiosa doesn’t WANT to be a badass killer with a robot arm. She wants to live in the green place with her mothers and sisters. But you know what? She doesn’t live in that place. That place literally doesn’t exist, anywhere. So, given the available options, she has done the best she can, by finding ways of surviving, while holding on to a different worldview and way of making decisions than the dominant one.

I would say the alternative society Mad Max firmly and insistently advocated for was very simple, and was one based on what Carol Gilligan has called an “ethic of care.” If your politics are based on an ethic of care, then before making any political decision, you must think of what the outcome will be on ALL people. This ethic of care was advocated for by 19th century feminists, for example, who felt that things like the French Revolution were based too much on abstract, theoretical ideals, and not enough on actually thinking with GENUINE CARE about the repercussions of all that abstract theory on actual human beings of all types, from the King himself down to the starving peasants–you can’t chop EVERYBODY’S head off to build your abstract utopia. The reason women have historically been more interested in this ethic of care seems obvious to me, and it doesn’t have all that much to do with biology, although it’s also not completely free of biology either. On the one hand, women have been utterly marginalized since the imposition of market capitalism back in like the 1400s. They have been on the outside looking in, observing. They have had to develop different sets of survival skills than those of men. They have been forced to reproduce and care for children for free, as slaves to the system. On the other hand, they have been the ones who–along with, in various ways, colonial subjects, ethnic minorities, and children–have borne by far the greater brunt of the consequences of the political decisions made by others. Women are the spoils of war, to this day. They have not been able to support themselves, to legally advocate for themselves. They are raped and maimed and murdered–by men, always men, shockingly often their fathers, husbands, brothers (the people who are supposed to “care” for them)–in droves. They have been the victims of a lack of caring, basically. Of course this kind of subject position will give you a different perspective on the system in which you live than another, more privileged subject position might. And finally, with specific regard to an ethic of care, women are the ones who historically have had to give birth to children, to reproduce the human species, in pain and suffering. Women have been the ones who have to care for these children, while men go off to war, business, the office, their mistresses, etc. Single motherhood is an epidemic; single fatherhood is barely even a thing (no offense–there are obviously some amazing dads out there). So yeah, I think it would be surprising if this awareness–that children are your responsibility alone, essentially–did not lead, often, to a different kind of political consciousness and a different value system and way of imagining society. I guess there is a biological element to that (the people with uteruses are the ones babies come out of, real talk, there’s nothing we can do about that fact, God knows I’d change it if I could) but I think the much more powerful shaper of some sort of dubious concept of “women’s consciousness” is SOCIAL, and stems from a deeply, systemically-ingrained marginalization at the hands of a system that is not based on caring for others.

So yes. You could make Mad Max instead from the perspective of colonial subjects; from immigrants; from minorities of many types; from gay people or trans people; from the working class. And all of these would be great movies that would provide valuable social commentary. Any of those perspectives would (and have!) enable(d) a wise filmmaker to envision society differently in probably positive ways. But this movie was about women and patriarchy, specifically, and I think that is great too, and I think that in spite of its focus on women, it also used that focus to speak systemically, about everyone, EVERYONE, just “all of humanity,” in a way I found really moving.

It was about how an “ethic of care” should be the basis of a society. We should care for our children, sure, but we should also care for less self-focused things–we should care for the earth, for plants, and, MOST importantly, we should care for one another, always. The one girl’s first reaction on finding the War Boy in the back of the truck was not fear or violence–not self preservation–but simply to ask him why he was crying, and to accept him immediately as not a threat, not a competitor, but a fellow human being whose feelings were valid. What a profound moment. The bonding between Max and Furiosa also was heavy, and real. The trust and respect that grew between them was the foundation of a new way of being, in the world, at least for Max (Furiosa raised his consciousness; hers was always raised). It had nothing to do with romance or sex. It was about “care” on a much, much deeper, more communally-oriented, level. Instead of navigating the world as an atomized, self-serving individual (what capitalism ultimately has in store for us all), Max was forced, finally, by the dormant seeds of care inside himself (which germinated and sprouted due to being around people who cared for one another as humans), to act with a social unit that was working to create change. Max (and the little War Boy dude) represented the possibility of the new man–not yet realizable (War Boy dies; Max leaves), but at least conceivable; if the film could depict it, then it is conceivable. I loved that Max ultimately wordlessly devoted himself to the group not for any tangible reward (as in Road Warrior). He just did it because it was the right thing to do, the only thing to do, and that was that. He fought against care but finally submitted to caring.

One of the best aspects of this film, though, is how it fully acknowledges that this social change is impossible. There is no hope; there is no oasis beyond the salt desert. Maybe there will be this socialist-feminist takeover of the aquifer, and maybe for a time that small society will change. But there is still Gas Town. There is still the Bullet Farm. There is still the poisoned soil and the irradiated wasteland. The world isn’t different, only their tiny little patch of it. To maintain their society, they will still have to be warriors; they will still need people to sacrifice themselves; their babies will still have to grow up to be warlords. Perhaps kinder, wiser warlords, but warlords nonetheless. I felt that the hope the film presented was not exactly a false hope, though. Rather, it was a hope that was very small and very sad, but of absolute importance. And the necessity of holding onto that hope was not presented as a means of actually changing the world, but rather as simply the right thing to do, the only possible thing to do in order to remain a human being and not become a monster. So you plant seeds knowing they will die; you flee your harem knowing you will die; you try to start a feminist-socialist eco-utopia knowing that it will fail and you will all be slaughtered. But to NOT make those attempts would be cowardice. To give up, to just shrug and submit nihilistically to the dominant world order; that is real death.

And finally, of course, there was GUITAR MAN, a.k.a. THE DOOF WARRIOR (see above re: this feminist-socialist eco parable somehow also being fully a Mad Max movie. George Miller is like “well we might as well have some fun while we’re here.” Doof Warrior represents macho bullshit but also sometimes macho bullshit is pretty fun, we’re not made of stone):

Mad-Max-Doof-Warrior-630x420

In conclusion, this film has everything, and I cried pretty hard for the entire final third. It filled me with sorrow but also moved me deeply. Great performances, great Charlize, great use of CGI (a.k.a. not very much cgi at all if you can believe it), great use of the dies irae from Verdi’s Requiem, Tom Hardy is a beautiful man, two thumbs up, five bags of popcorn, capitalism is death

Posted in Opinion | 2 Comments

Me Auditioning to Write Restaurant Reviews for the New Yorker

“It takes a bold restaurateur to set up shop in the No-Man’s Land of [insert absurd neighborhood name associated either with Wall St. or poor people], but [ludicrously stupid restaurant name] just might succeed where so many other farm-to-table efforts have failed”

“The fetal duck braised in its own mother’s tears was insouciant, but a refreshing fricassee of locally-sourced stinging nettle and the claws of Hudson otters brought an invigorating, earthy crunch”

“The house cocktail, which incorporates hand-strained gin into a spicy slosh of ram’s blood and pulverized chickpeas imported from war-torn Syria, left one patron flummoxed and longing for an un-hip gin-and-tonic”

“In the criss-crossing alleyways of [impoverished developing nation devastated by the structural adjustments imposed by American banks], the [quaint street food] reigns supreme. At [restaurant named after its owner's dog], [celebrity chef] combines its native charms–grease, salt, and red meat–with the sensibility of the Wall Street [polite synonym for douchebags] who flock to this out-of-the-way gem during happy hour. The results–[quaint street food] piled with perfectly-roasted flecks of crispy kale, stuffed with hand-killed shredded ox throat, and finished with a light dusting of the ash from burned hundred-dollar bills–are the perfect guilty pleasure, especially when paired with the in-house mixologist’s signature concoctions (the best is the Lazy Ol’ Swayback Mule, based on his fond childhood memory of the ancient African-American man who polished his father’s shoes every morning in the family’s Hamptons villa)”

“Although the menu is mostly vegetarian, the chef wisely includes a few items that normal people with legitimate tastes might actually want to eat, such as gigantic, drippy cheeseburgers garnished with bacon, and served with a side of fries drizzled with melted duck fat. Who cares about global warming (or your arteries) when the meat is done this well? Open weekdays, until 2 a.m.”

“The attempt at cheekiness often foundered. The baked mac-and-cheese–an ironic nod to middle-America–was marred by the inexplicable inclusion of chèvre, while the ‘Mom N’Pop escarole salad with house-made ranch dressing’ was as limply bland as a Midwestern accent and as tedious as a middle class person’s anecdote about attending a state university”

“Both Chelsea Clinton and the comedian Dane Cook stood at the bar, vainly trying to get the attention of a waiter, while at a nearby table Mark Zuckerberg, Beyoncé, Jonathan Franzen, half of the band Mumford and Sons, the ghost of JP Morgan, and the performance artist Maria Abramovic were discussing entrepreneurship.”

“The highlight of the menu is the suckling pig, hand-raised to love and trust its owner before having its throat slit and its body held kicking and struggling over a hand-thrown vintage-modern clay blooding toureen made by the chef’s wife, a sculptor whose work has been commissioned by Pottery Barn and the Met. Roasted over exquisitely-cured mesquite branches from the owner’s Texas ranch, the pig, who had been shown nothing but gentle kindness until the moment its owner grabbed it by the hind legs and hung it up on a hook while it screamed in terror, is served whole, on a bed of lightly-braised endangered songbirds (the owner has a permit), its skull daintily split open so that the whole table can share its brains. As one patron was heard to remark, while sipping her third sloe-gin fizz, ‘Viva la Revolución!’”

Posted in Opinion | 1 Comment

You Seem Fun

The other night my old man asked me if I could think of any ways I am tangibly different because of being with him. I thought of SO many! And all of them basically boil down to “not acting like a child anymore.” Instead of throwing garbage all over the car, I bring the garbage inside and put it in the trash. Instead of not putting more toilet paper on the roll when it’s empty, I do. Instead of not paying bills for months until collectors call and I cry on the phone, I pay them (real talk: or I put them on his desk and he pays them, but still, they get paid). Instead of incessantly getting parking tickets ALL OF THE TIME, and NEVER paying them, and also getting my car towed a shocking number of times simply due to being parked illegally, I don’t do those things. I got my first parking ticket in like 9 years the other day and it was an honest mistake this time (sort of) although it did still feel like a regression.

In EVERY one of these instances, it’s not actually that I have fully changed on the matter. I still have within me the pure and real desire to throw garbage around in the car, not pay bills, park like a spaz*, etc. It’s just that every time I am about to do one of these things, I quite literally hear my husband’s voice in my ear saying “just put it in the garbage/just read the parking sign/etc.” and I sigh and think okay, okay, I will behave like an adult human.

He has also been trying to get me to stop rushing, which is a tougher project. Whenever I fuck up mightily he asks me if I was rushing and I always have to sheepishly say that I was. Remember my horrifying arm wound? That was from rushing, as he pointed out. That was only the worst of my many rushing-related mishaps. Remember those children’s books about Mrs. Higgeldy-Piggeldy? She was a supernatural Poppins-esque figure who would appear in the life of a child who had a singular flaw–lying, being lazy, etc.–and help them fix the flaw by enchanting them. There was one about a girl who rushed, and was always falling down stairs and stuff. Mrs. Higgeldy-Piggeldy enchanted her so that she could only move in slow motion. At first it stressed her out but then she came to like how calm and deliberate it made her do everything. When the enchantment wore off she was a better, slower person. That’s what I need. Maybe i just need to stop drinking coffee. Ha! I would rather get another arm wound

I hope you enjoy revisiting the arm wound story. I just re-read it and there are lots of tidbits I’d forgotten, like Steve getting pulled over for being on the phone but then the cop letting him off with a warning because the call was about my arm emergency. Also I hadn’t looked at the pictures in a long time and was LITERALLY SHOCKED by them, I can’t believe that happened to my li’l ol’ arm. And now look, the arm is fine and the scar is barely noticeable! Time TRULY DOES heal all wounds jk

Anyway my point is that due to my husband’s gentle guidance I have tried to become a better grownup in all these small but real ways, and I’m really glad about it, as it has saved me money and hardship. However, when stated so baldly it also makes me feel bad, for being such a dork, and for my husband basically having to be my mom. But then I felt worse because we tried to think of tangible ways that I have changed HIM, and we couldn’t! The only thing he could think of was that I had “made [him] a man,” which doesn’t even mean anything. I mean, he has become a good cook and he vacuums all the time and he goes to bed early now but those are maybe things he would’ve done on his own. I also hector him to stand up straighter and drink more water. I guess I need to hector him about more helpful things.

Oh, I made him go vegetarian and stop smoking…that’s something I guess (boring)

Anyway it’s been 12 years, maybe after another 12 years I will be able to fly

Oh wait it’s been 13 years. Fuck!

*Can we bring ‘spaz’ back? I know it is technically offensive but I feel like its offensiveness is lost to the sands of time, like ‘strumpet’ or even ‘idiot,’ which used to specifically refer to a mentally disabled person and now is just a great word all can enjoy. Like it’s short for “spastic,” which is an ancient word for….who? I don’t even know. As slang, ‘spaz’ has a resonance that I feel is unequalled by any other word. I love how it connotes fucking up but with a tinge of affection, like someone is gently daffy in a crowd-pleasing way. In my fantasy version of how I believe others see me, all of my horrid foibles are actually just me spazzing out and everyone kind of gets a kick out of it, even though I know this isn’t true (see above re: husband hectoring me like a child). If my use of this word has upset you please do let me know and I will consider your argument against it. As you know I am not a huge fan of how our entire public discourse about social inequality has boiled down to us fighting about what words aren’t ok to use, but nonetheless, if you make a strong case I will cease my efforts to bring back this once-great pejorative.

Posted in Opinion | 3 Comments