Archive | October, 2011

Reality Vs. Fantasy: Tabletop Edition

31 Oct

Today starts a new semi-regular series about delusion.

Holidays are coming up. Yeah, I said holiday not Christmas because there’s more to fall and winter than Christmas. You wanna make something of it? Thanksgiving is up first and I have folders and folders and folders of INSPIRATION just waiting for me to, um, be inspired. And I do get inspired. Oh, do I get inspired. Then? Well, reality sets in. And I realize that carefully gold-leafing each individual leaf of ten artichokes and then using organic thread which I have dyed myself to hand-embroider each family member’s name on said gilded artichoke for beautiful, meaningful place markers IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. EVER.

So I go have a little cocktail and hope everyone will enjoy a holiday dinner of frozen pecans and pimento cheese.



But I Really Do Like Pie

28 Oct

Y’all, I need a sister wife. My husband would like for her to be Cindy Crawford. I don’t care as long as I can get some help cleaning these damn floors.

ASIDE: Who puts white floors in kitchens and bathrooms? People who either don’t eat; don’t, um, bathroom; don’t have children; or do have an OCD sister wife.

Okay, I guess what I really want is a maid, not a sister wife. EXCEPT a sister wife would be nice when my honey wants to talk about hats. My husband likes a well-made hat. You’d probably have to pay a maid extra for that. Maybe what I need is a personal assistant. I know that’s what he needs. Someone paid to remember things for him and listen to him talk about hats. I say that as if I don’t ever talk about things he doesn’t want to talk about. My personal assistant would do nothing but reassure me I do not look like a sea creature in profile and that those jeans do, indeed, make my butt look good better.

My personal assistant would also make sure we have an array of stamps in varying rates. Do you ever have a postcard stamp when you need one? No, no you do not. He or she would be responsible for me in the grocery store.  I spend a ridiculous amount of time deciding what laundry detergent and body lotion to buy. And you know that section right there with all the sort of laundry implements, tool-type stuff, and tape? I am mesmerized by that section. You’d think I’d never seen electrical tape and clothespins before.  He or she would also be responsible for reminding me whether I like butt or shank ham better. There’s a price difference, but Lord, it’s ham. Isn’t it all just smoked ass?

My personal assistant would also write a new bio for me anytime I have to do something that requires a bio. I know, you don’t need to tell me. I KNOW I write. I should be able to do it myself. I should have a standard one I pull out for emergency bio occasions. I don’t. Sometimes you want snappy, sometimes you want competent, sometimes you want one that makes you look 20 pounds lighter. I would rather pose for nekkid pictures than write a biography paragraph. When I go to write one, all of a sudden I lose my ability to form sentences like an adult:

My name is Susan Wilson. I am from Laurel, Mississippi. I live in Memphis, Tennessee. I like pie.

My assistant would also be responsible for assuring me that whatever sound I just heard was nothing. The roof is not caving in, there is no monster/rapist/clown/politician lurking in the shadows waiting to eat me/rape me/make me watch balloon animal creation/crawl up in my uterus.

ANOTHER ASIDE: You know how your sheets and blankets have magical powers? Monsters, it’s a well-known, proven scientific fact, cannot eat you as long as no part of your body slips beyond the borders of your bedclothes. The top of your head is an exception. It’s a well-known, proven scientific fact monsters DO NOT start eating at the top of your head.  They start with feet. If no feet are to be found, they move on to your brother’s room.

My assistant would also be responsible for standing behind me and reminding me I was going to talk about something else today. And also what that something else was.

I would also like my assistant to be called Magda.

An Open Letter To Shoes

27 Oct

Dear Shoes,

I hate you.

I thought about ending the letter there, but I’ve got a lot of hostility built up right now. I’ve just ordered two pairs of shoes because I have–LITERALLY– one pair of shoes appropriate for my life in Autumn and Winter. I’m about to make some career gal on a budget extremely happy when I dump all the pumps and grown up shoes from my Former Life off at Goodwill.

I will admit most of the problem is mine. I have kite-shaped feet. Diamond shaped, when I’m feeling fancy. I don’t feel fancy right now. What I feel is dismayed at this, this, thing called a “shootie” that is the unholy spawn of an open-toed FMP and an ankle boot. The FMP ship sailed for me years ago. YEARS ago. Like during the Clinton administration. Why does this shootie need to exist? WHY? Oh, wait. I know. It’s for when I’m bloated, right? The open toe says, “Hay sailor, take you to heaven for a dollar,” but the boot says, “as soon as I finish watching Terms of Endearment and this bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Miniatures. And that can of Pringles. And are you gonna finish that burger? Do I look gross? DO I?!”

Shoes, I know women who would give up sex to go shopping for you. Women who call you their best friends. I don’t actually like any of those women, I’m just saying they exist. There are women who swoon at the mere mention of Manolo. Me? Well, let’s just say there’s this set of copper cookware I’ve been eyeing that I’d let get to second base.

I’m not saying I want to look like that librarian who scared the crap out of you in third grade. I want to look like a girl from the ankle down, sure. But, shoes, you know I’m flat-footed and therefore have no balance. Most of what’s out there sends me careening into doorways, making my ankles do a decent Linda Blair impression, and causing most people to believe I go through life drunk when that’s only true like 30% of the time.

I just ordered two pairs of you. They arrived today. They were not transformative shoes. These shoes are like the Temple of shoes. The Yale of shoes didn’t work out. I wanted Payton Manning. I got Kerry Collins.  I want to send them back, but…

I hate you. And while I’m on the subject, why has the circumference of boots decreased like a million inches in the past five years? I don’t, strangely enough, have huge calves, but your Barbie-sized boots give me YET ANOTHER body part to obsess over. THANKS, BITCHES.

Look, I’m probably going to keep these shoes because I don’t think I can do any better. But I want you to know this: I will pummel you. I will crush you. I will throw you in the back of the closet. I will run in you.




You Don’t Get This Sort of Stuff in Scientific Journals

25 Oct

Everyone has that one teacher. You know the one. The teacher that is such an inspiration that you’d thank him or her upon receipt of an Emmy or Nobel. I had several of them. But other than one great chemistry teacher, I can’t say any of them taught science. I’m willing to say that it could have just been me. I had some great math teachers, but they went right past me as well. Had math been taught as a language, my life would have been different, I believe. Math IS a language that explains science. And science is what they do on MythBusters. And I can get down with some MythBusters.

Chuck and I recently watched a PBS program on arctic dinosaurs and learned more about biology and geology in one hour than we learned in 17 years of schooling. Bill Bryson and John Polkinghorne have taught me about astronomy, paleontology, and quantum physics. Mary Roach taught me about cadavers and is now schooling me on the afterlife. Later in the week, she and I will be going to outer space. I get around.

I’m reading Roach’s book Spook, which is about what science thinks about the afterlife. I’ve just finished the section she devotes to ectoplasm. Ectoplasm, as any good GhostBuster knows, is the slime that ghosts leave behind. Or something. Ectoplasm was really big around the turn of the century and on into the 1920s. Your more highfalutin theatrical mediums used everything from cheesecloth to, well, animal entrails to approximate ectoplasm. They would secret away the effluvia to, well, um…here’s an excerpt:

And now I’m going to pass the microphone to William McDougall. For how many chances do we have to hear a Harvard professor hold forth on vaginally extruded extoplasm? “There is good evidence that ‘ectoplasm’ issues, or did issue on some and probably all occasions [from] on particular ‘opening in the anatomy’ (i.e. the vagina),” allowed McDougall in his summary statement for Scientific American. “The more interesting question is–How did it come to be within ‘the anatomy’? There was nothing to show that its position there and its extrusion from that place were achieved by other than normal means.” In other words–please forgive me–she stuck it up there and then she pulled it out.

I’ll just leave it at that, okay? That’s not even the part that struck me as really interesting. It has never occurred to me that conception was “discovered”.  I know, I know. I really SHOULD have paid more attention in science class. I vaguely remember the name Antoni van Leeuwenhoek and, if pressed, could probably have remembered mostly on my own that he had something to do with microscopes. I could not have remembered, however, his sperm work. He and these other science dudes thought sperm contained a tiny, tiny, tiny person. Eggs, well, they were there, certainly. Any farmer knows the importance of eggs, but only as vehicle or incubator. Leeuwenhoek actually tried to peel back the tiny green curtain of  spermatozoa and find the tiny person inside them.

Then a bunch of stuff happens and we learn how babies get here. Please, you don’t read me for my sparkling scientific commentary.

My curiosity was piqued when Roach mentioned a philosopher and Catholic priest, Norman Ford. In 1988, Ford wrote a book called When Did I Begin? I looked the book up and he got my attention in the  first paragraph. Ford writes, “As a lecturer in moral philosophy and in the philosophy of the human person, it has always been important for me to know when a human person begins. In cases of rape it was necessary to know how long after the attack it was morally permissible to attempt to prevent a human embryo originating as a result of violence. This knowledge was crucial in differentiating morally between actions that prevented conception and those whose effect was really abortifacient.”

Wait, what?

Ford goes on to argue that personhood (generally referred to as “ensoulment”) does not begin until the point that identical twinning is no longer possible. That’s about two weeks after conception. For a religious person, the question was what happens to the soul if the soul arrives at conception, but the the zygote goes on to become twins? Ford believes twins need not do with half a soul. Because that zygote could become two distinct people with distinct souls, Ford says, “[T]he cell cluster can best be understood as human biological material but not a unified living human organism.”

Later–and hold on to your garters for this one–he writes, “Any philosophical theory that places the beginning of the human person at fertilization needs to be examined if it appears to conflict with the facts of modern biology.” He says that to uncover the philosophical truth of the beginning of a human person, we cannot be afraid of science.

Look, I know these words can be used against me. In fact Mary Warnock, who wrote a later introduction to Ford’s book, is responsible for the UK’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act. Among other things, this law specifies when abortion is legal and banned research using human embryos more than 14 days old.

So what’s my point?

I do not believe I was a person from the moment of fertilization. Let’s assume for a second there is a God or some force God-like. God has made me more than the sum of my parts. I think, I feel. I have emotions. Oh, do I have emotions. (Sorry, honey!!) I have a conscience and I have consciousness. Calling the product of fertilization a person strips away the very foundation of what makes us human. If you want to say life begins at conception, fine. Cells dividing is life. It’s what happens when you grow tomatoes. A living thing, a pistil, is combined with another living thing, a stamen. Do it right and you get baby tomatoes. But do you slice up the flower of the plant and put it on a bacon sandwich and call it a tomato? No, because it’s not a tomato. Could you? Sure. But that’s be a BLF, not a BLT.

A sperm is a living thing. An egg is a living thing. Together they make a clump of cells. If all goes well, and it’s estimated that it does only 50% of the time, the clump gets implanted. Is it a person? Nope. It’s a zygote. Then it’s a blastocyst. The blastocyst, by the way, has an inner cellular mass that produces the embryo. The outer layer forms the placenta. So if this zygote–this fertilized egg- is a person, why are we getting rid of the placenta? Is it not worthy of exultation too? Some people bury it. Some people eat it. Most of the time it’s incinerated as medical waste. But why? Is that placenta not a person too?

You know why that sounds ridiculous? Because it is. Just as ridiculous as making human life about nothing more than a clump of cells. The question of what makes us human, what makes us people, is not something that can be legislated. If you believe abortion, birth control, IVF is wrong because you define a person as a lump of cellular material, that’s fine. You don’t have to take birth control pills or have an IUD, get IVF should you not be able to conceive by other means, or have an abortion. But don’t tell me that I can’t. It is not your business.

Personhood should be a philosophical question, not a political one. You want to make a fetus a person? Are you going to change the drinking age to 20 and 3 months? Can we now vote at 17 and 3 months? Drive at 15 and 3 months? What if I go past my due date? How do we figure that out then? Will my embryo get counted in the census? Does this mean we get more politicians to represent these zygotes? Because that’s just what we need. We absolutely need politicians who are concerned with nothing but zygotes so we can finally get a few to represent the rest of us. The humans. The living. The tax payers.

Technical Difficulties

24 Oct

Step One: Remember Every Dumb Thing You’ve Ever Done

21 Oct

I am prone to panic. I think of it as THE DEATH SPIRAL. You know how you wake up in the morning and you remember something you have to do that you don’t want to/you forgot something important/your in-laws are coming? (Me? I NEVER have this one. I have awesome in-laws! Hi guys!) Imagine feeling that way ALL THE TIME. That’s sort of what an anxiety disorder is like.

I rarely have full-on panic attacks. But I get these little baby ones that are just as annoying. Fortunately, I am able to get excellent psychological care and am well and appropriately medicated. That doesn’t mean that they still don’t pop up from time to time, as happened last night. Because describing a panic attack to someone who doesn’t have them is a bit like explaining the concept of infinity to a six-year-old, I’m going to try to construct a timeline of a panic attack. Feel free to print, clip, and share with the ones you love.

Ways To Tell You Are REALLY Southern

20 Oct
  • Dinner tonight consists of sausage spinach quiche, pork chops, sausage and rice stuffed onions. It bothers you not that every dish contains pork.
  • You know there are at least two kinds of iced tea spoons.
  • You know the silver patterns of all your best girlfriends.
  • You own more than one deviled egg tray.
  • And more than one relish tray.
  • You know there’s a difference between exclaiming Lord! and Laws!
  • You have a hymnal from some denomination somewhere in your house even if you’ve not been to church since the Reagan administration.
  • You plant a magnolia solely for use in holiday decorating.
  • You horde pecans in your freezer.
  • You have given a teething baby bourbon.
  • You had a slog while you were at it.
  • You have a signature dish you are asked to bring to potlucks.
  • You have more than one chafing dish.
  • You have never bought dining room furniture because you have Momma’s/Gran’s/Aunt Mittie’s.
  • You think furniture bought en suite is the work of the devil and a sure sign of the fall of civilization.
  • You have an MBA from The Wharton School and an entire library of Hank Williams albums.
  • Most are 78s.
  • You can think of at least five other things for this list.