Date:10-25-2014 05:58pm
Subject:driving practice #14: baby's first highway driving

You know when is a terrible time to practice driving? When the sun is directly in your face.

Okay, I've driven with sun-blindness before, but highway driving when you can't see the speedometer...

I wasn't actually super-anxious, though -- I definitely slowed down whenever I couldn't see the speedometer (and FCS-Ian would alert me when I got down to 45 or 40 -- the posted speed limit was 55), but there wasn't a lot of traffic (it was ~7:30am on a Saturday); I think with more traffic, the limited visibility would have made me a lot more nervous.

Driving on Mt. Auburn last weekend, I really felt the difference between 20mph (which I'd been comfortable driving at) and 30mph (the posted speed limit), so I was nervous about the ~60mph nature of highway driving, but because of the road surface, I mostly didn't feel it at all -- which is a little nervous-making, because I can't rely on my bodily experience of the driving and have to be sure to keep an eye on the speedometer (and the traffic around me, which would usually be primary, but in the absence of much traffic, very much the speedometer) or else I could easily drive a wildly different speed than I intended, but I was mostly fine.

I didn't do the full drive to Framingham, 'cause we used up FCS-Ian's anxiety quotient (not that I was driving badly!) plus he was helping with AV stuff at Super Saturday so he wanted to get there early-ish and while I was hovering around the speed limit (even getting up to ~65 at times) when the sun wasn't blinding me, obviously he drives faster.

We talked about doing some Sunday morning (pre-church) highway driving (possibly on north-south roads, to avoid the sun-blindness issue) because he wants me to get to practice changing lanes on the highway without there being much traffic.


On the drive home, we had productive and enjoyable church-related conversations, in which I acquired more to-do list items, but I am currently in phase one of my "do laundry then go the fuck to sleep" post-Super Saturday to-do list (I was out late last night because Drag Gospel at Club Cafe, and up early this morning because Framingham; bonus: I biked ~16mi yesterday for the first time in a while [my work commute is ~8mi roundtrip] and my knees were definitely feeling that during the afternoon workshop today).

2 sparks of | knowledge

* * *

Date:10-19-2014 05:14pm
Subject:driving practice #13

Shoshana's plan for driving practice today was real roads, preferably multi-lane roads, to work on my difficulty staying in my lane.

I definitely still drift a lot (and overshoot turns), but there were no collisions or even honking -- even though I was initially responding really badly to bicyclists on my right (slowing down AND moving over into the lefthand lane? terrible idea). And I successfully yielded to rotary traffic (and am developing more of a habit of looking in my lefthand mirror at least). And there was one intersection where Shoshana said she was impressed by my handling of it (mostly her verbal contributions, other than GPS-type stuff, were to express concern about my driving -- which is totally fair and appropriate).

I'm not sure if I'm now less or more nervous about highway driving this Saturday (with FCS-Ian, going to Framingham for Super Saturday).

Oh, and I didn't think to intentionally look after I got out of the car when we were done, but I pulled up in front of the church and I don't think I was ridiculously far out from the curb.

1 spark of | knowledge

* * *

Date:09-24-2014 09:28pm
Subject:"May you have a 5775 as sweet as it is palendromic" -Scott

Every year I repost this from Amy:

One of the big pieces of the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is that you reflect over the past year, and you attempt to (A) accept and forgive anything that has been done to you, and (B) apologize and ask forgiveness for anything you have done to others.


Anonymous is enabled, and all comments are screened. If I've done anything to hurt you this year, let me know. If there's anything you think I might still be upset over, let me know that too. I won't unscreen unless you specifically request I do [...] The goal isn't to start fresh- that's often not possible- but to acknowledge what has happened over this year (or any previous time, if you so choose) as an attempt to not have it happen again.

I promise to treat anything you say seriously and respectfully, and I will seriously be considering it over the next ten days.


* * *

Date:09-14-2014 09:38pm
Subject:driving lesson #12

As we were finishing up lunch this afternoon, Shoshana asked, "Do you want to go driving?"

I said, "No" -- but that it was what we had on the schedule for the afternoon ... and that while I felt nervous and anxious, I am committed to this.

She asked what I wanted to work on, and I said three-point turns and parallel parking. She said she didn't feel well-equiped to teach me to parallel park, so we just did three-point turns.

She drove us to Mount Auburn Cemetery and despite the terrible dappled light, I navigated all the turns etc. successfully. And I apparently have a high tolerance for people repeatedly telling me I'm slightly too far over to the left (or the right) -- which is good, since appropriately staying in my lane is apparently a skill I have not yet mastered.

We practiced three-point turns turning to the left and turning to the right. Having done them a bunch, it definitely felt more intuitive.

After about an hour, we drove back to church (where my bike was parked), so no rotaries or anything. There was a bicyclist going the wrong way on Mass. Ave. and flipped him off and complained but forgot that I have a horn for displaying my displeasure (hey, there are a lot of things to remember in a car).

This morning, FCS-Ian and I chatted about when he might be willing to go back on sound booth rotation and/or resume driving lessons with me, so when we do resume in October-ish I'll try to remember to ask him to focus on parallel parking.


* * *

Date:08-19-2014 07:57pm
Subject:driving practice #11 // also, ASA & smartphone

FCS-Ian's wife gave birth to their second child the night after our last driving lesson.

Sunday afternoon, Shoshana picked me up at my house and drove us to Mount Auburn Cemetery. I drove around, getting used to her Prius.

Then I practiced three-point turns and parallel parking. I did them successfully (eventually), but I needed step-by-step instruction and definitely need a lot more practice. (Steering wheel direction while reversing continues to be completely non-intuitive to me -- among other issues.)

She GPSed us out of the cemetery (yay, technology) and thought I could drive back to my house (she GPSed it and directed me). So that was Mystic Valley Parkway, and rotaries.

I didn't crash into anything or even get honked at (until I was almost home and was being careful of a bicyclist in front of me and the car behind me was cranky), despite some seriously flawed driving.

QOTD was possibly, "We're yielding to rotary traffic, remember?"

Though as she pointed out, there's a steep learning curve when first learning to drive because there's so much you need to pay attention to -- and as you do it more, much of it becomes rote and you can focus on just paying attention to the stuff that's unfamiliar.


On the drive over to Watertown, I talked about my continuing indecision about ASA. I told her that the previous afternonon I had told Ari that basically I want someone to convince me to go to ASA, and that in that conversation Ari had said, "I'm not hearing anything that tips me over from neutral."

During our conversation, Shoshana said, "I think you want someone to convince you NOT to go," but she was attempting to be amenable.
AAR/SBL is clearly the better choice for me -- but I have the disposable income and vacation time &c. that it doesn't have to be an either/or choice.
Just showing up to panels and taking notes is basically what I do at Arisia -- I mean, I end up bumping into people I already know and hanging out with them, but I don't go out of my way to make new friends. So doing that at ASA isn't going to feel like a waste of a con to me. And there are sessions on sexuality and media and stuff that's of interest to me at basically every time slot, so it's not like I'm spending a thousand dollars or whatever just to go to the porn panel.

I also talked with Jenna at Coffee Hour. She asked, "What else would you be doing with this money? [...] I'm not trying to encourage people to be reckless, but..."


In, "decisions I feel more equipped to make than ASA," I think I'm finally going to get a smartphone.

Based on my previous experience with could-be-smartphones, I have a strong preference for one with a pullout keyboard. Otherwise I don't really have any specifications in mind. I want to keep my phone number and transfer my contacts, so that probably means staying with Verizon, though I assume those transfers are doable across carriers, albeit possibly for a fee.

Input is welcome.

2 sparks of | knowledge

* * *

Date:08-03-2014 11:21pm
Subject:[MCU] Guardians of the Galaxy (2014-08-03)

I saw the preview before Captain America: The Winter Soldier and thought it seemed ridiculous and fluffy and I had zero interest in watching it (also: if they're going to start a whole new non-Avengers franchise, they can do one that includes a talking ~raccoon but not one that's led by a woman or a PoC?) -- but my Internet is in MCU fandom, so I used it to cash in my annual "dinner and a movie" birthday gift from Jeff B.

Read more...Collapse )


* * *

Date:07-29-2014 10:55am
Subject:driving? driving! (take 10)

FCS-Ian and I went driving after work yesterday. He has a Ford Focus and yeah, it definitely handles differently than my parents' Toyota Corolla.

He proposed that he not talk (unless necessary) -- because when he's nervous he talks more, and that's not necessarily helpful (to me), that I know the stuff I need to practice/be careful about/whatever and him continuing to tell me doesn't necessarily help me any. I don't think it's unhelpful, but I said sure.

I briefed him on the driving practice I did with my dad on Saturday, and he said he thought it was good for me to get practice in other vehicles (and with other instructors).

I asked where he wanted me to drive (recalling that we had planned to do more trafficked streets) and he said I could go wherever I wanted. (And we did talk while I drove, he just didn't tell me where or how to drive -- much.)

I did some familiar routes (there are only so many side streets around the church) and then decided to take a right instead of the left we'd done last time, even though I suspected that would take me toward a more trafficked street (yes, Shoshana was like, "So you knew you needed to practice on more trafficked streets and you were avoiding them?"), and yup, that was Broadway coming up ahead of me. The police had pulled someone over up on the left, so instead of taking a left onto Broadway we took a right -- then a right onto Medford Street. While on Medford Street I noticed it was 6:05pm and suggested we head back since he needed to get home. He actually hadn't noticed the time at all (yay!). We took School Street to Highland and then came through Davis Square (the easiest possible way, because it's just staying to the right, but still -- and FCS-Ian did remind me to be attentive to people trying to merge into my lane as we were coming into Davis on Highland).

I was definitely like a foot and a half away from the curb when I pulled up in front of the church, but we didn't really have time for me to work on parking at that moment.

FCS-Ian said I was more confident (and [thus] a better driver) on the more trafficked roads -- which makes sense; they're wider, more predictable (you have the yellow line to your left and parked cars to your right and everyone's just doing their thing, fewer cross streets or people etc. possibly jumping into the street). I still get nervous when there are bicyclists on my right, worried I'm going to be too close to them and tragedy will ensue (since I still don't have a great sense of how much space my vehicle is taking up -- I can get into a groove on the road, but when there's something between me and what's been on my right...). He said the bicyclist and I were clearly aware of each other and I was being conscientious and he gave me permission to let go of that worry.

(It occurred to me later that I could drive us to my house -- not through the Powder House Rotary of death, but the way I bike home.)

I still haven't done a lefthand turn onto a ~major street -- oops.

Shoshana volunteered to take me parallel parking etc. once FCS-Ian is indisposed due to newborn (baby is due August 7). I think parallel parking and 3-point-turns are the things you get on the driver's test that I really don't feel equipped to do. *looks up the list online*

Page 31 of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Driver's Manual says:

During a road test, you should be prepared to demonstrate your ability to...
• Use hand signals
• Start the engine
• Start and stop the vehicle
• Parallel Park
• Back the vehicle approximately 50 feet
• Make left - right turns
• Start, stop, and turn the vehicle on a hill
• Turn around between curbs (three point turn)
• Enter and leave intersections
• Recognize and obey traffic signs, lights and signals, and other rules of the road
• Use good driving sense

In addition to judging your overall driving skills, the examiner will note how well you follow general good-driving procedures, including whether you...
• Use good driving posture, with both hands always placed properly on the wheel
• Drive in the proper lane and look carefully and signal properly before changing lanes
• Maintain enough distance between your vehicle and the one ahead of you
• Always drive at safe speeds to comply with speed limits and varying traffic conditions
• Properly yield the right-of-way
• Are generally aware of your actions and particularly those of other drivers


* * *

Date:07-27-2014 02:50pm
Subject:How do I not have an icon that accurately expresses my nerdy excitement?

Remember when I posted about maybe going to ASA?

On the phone yesterday, Ari asked about it, and I said I wasn't feeling so sure anymore.

For reasons I won't bore you with, we ended up looking at the Call To Action conference (not going) and the AAR (Academy of Religion) Annual Meeting.

Whereas the ASA session descriptions are SO academic as to make our eyes glaze over (I learned that reading them aloud helps with my comprehension), reading the AAR program (which only has the names of the sessions/papers and the names and affiliations of the people presenting/presiding/responding/etc.) made me really excited -- lots of sessions I want to attend, lots of sessions where I am only interested in one paper so I want to email the presenter to get coffee while we're there, lots of names I recognize (authors I recognize, names I recognize from BQTF, ~friends of mine it would be lovely to see again).

I've got time before I need to decide, but I'm still holding the possibility of going to both (and also allowing for the possibility that I'll decide to go to neither -- but I feel like Being Brave is probably a better choice than taking the easy route of staying at home&work). Exciting project: figuring out a schedule of all the sessions I want to go to at each (for ASA, this will help me figure out whether it's worth going; for AAR it'll help me figure out in advance which of the many interesting sessions offered at a given time I'll pick to go to and which ones I'll just email presenters to ask to get coffee together). I am telling myself to do other things with my afternoon than this project. Sooo exciting... but I do have other things to do.

3 sparks of | knowledge

* * *

Date:07-27-2014 02:04pm
Subject:driving? driving! (take 9)

I was in Norwood Friday night for a belated joint birthday celebration with Elyse and her mom Janna (they live 2 towns over from my parents).

At dinner, I said to my mom, "You're not going to let me drive to Janna and Elyse's tonight, are you?"
my mom: "Are you capable of driving there?"
me: "Define 'capable'."
My mother was not inspired by this answer.
I explained that obviously I think I'm capable if I'm asking, so I didn't really know how to answer the question.
She asked about the driving I'd done and decided that no, I was not going to drive to Janna and Elyse's -- but she pointed out that my dad could take me driving the next day.

So we did. I drove around the parking lot a bunch first to acclimate to the car. I hadn't expected to need to do that, but taking my foot off the brake the car moved a lot more than I was expecting, so I wanted to get used to maneuvering it before I took it on the road. (He asked me what kind of car I'd beee driving and I had no idea. I mean, I know it's about the same size and it's also an automatic and I know how to adjust the mirrors in the car ... but I pay zero attention to car brands. My parents' car is a Toyota Corolla, but I couldn't have told you that until Saturday.)

My dad let me choose where I drove, since I know the town. I mis-estimated, however, and ended up on more trafficked streets after not too long. There wasn't a lot of traffic, though, so it wasn't very stressful. I think I still haven't done lefts onto major roads now that I think of it, but I've done rights onto them and crossed them (both of which I'd done before). I also did a rotary for the first time -- almost empty, which is good since I got all confused about how I was supposed to be signaling (where I wanted to turn off would have been a left when I entered the rotary if it wasn't the rotary, but you don't signal until you're approaching your street and at that point it's a right).

I mostly stayed in my lane -- though at least once my dad pointed out that I was drifting across the white line on the right; and the big thing was that I need to start turning sooner when I make turns ... I pull out into the street and *then* start to turn, which is inefficient bordering on dangerous. Intellectually I believe him when he tells me to start turning, but it totally *feels* like if I start turning then I'm going to hit the parked car that's on the street I'm turning right onto.

I felt less stressed driving than I usually do, and I'm not exactly sure why that was. I think partly the roads felt wider -- like it felt less claustrophobic than driving on the side streets around FCS where not only are the roads narrower but the houses are so much closer together. I think it also felt more like suburban driving than city driving -- less traffic (and thus fewer instances of concern that I was going slower than the cars behind me -- though I definitely did have some of that), not having cross streets all the time, ... NO BICYCLISTS! (though there was one who had been riding on a sidewalk and crossed in front of me and hey, there's a hedge there so cars can't see you until they're practically in the intersection so maybe you wanna be more careful bicyclist dude), fewer intersections where you have to pull up into the intersection to see everything (probably related to houses etc. being more spread out, less piling all onto each other).

I think I'm getting better at keeping an eye on my side mirror.

We drove for ~45min and my dad was silent for most of it, which was basically fine, just different from driving with FCS-Ian. In part, I think this was because my dad was basically letting me just practice driving, whereas FCS-Ian (a) has a history of all the times I've driven previously and the bad tendencies I have and the things I need to work on, and (b) therefore has some agenda for what we're practicing that day.


* * *

Date:07-21-2014 09:12pm
Subject:driving? driving! (take 8)

We did the same side streets around the church (starting with pulling into College Ave. and then taking the immediate next right off) as we did last time -- extending out a bit further, but one can only go so far in any direction before hitting major-ish streets.

The plan for next time (this Thursday) is to intentionally go onto more trafficked streets -- practicing turning onto a street and staying in my own lane the whole time. Today I was mostly chill about going onto ~major streets, but multiple times turning onto streets (low-traffic ones) the car felt really unwieldy to me, so I am v. dubious about this exercise. Obviously this is a skill that people master, but yeah.

In general I think I am getting more comfortable, though. And I mostly displayed good judgement driving today -- and was marginally better at actually paying attention to behind me. I did edge close to the right a few times -- and there were various other times when FCS-Ian would point out/remind me of things (there is a lot to keep track of while driving!).

Parking the car at the end, I was like a foot and a half away from the curb. When I parked I felt like I was too far away, but since last time I'd crunched up onto the curb I didn't want to trust my judgement.


* * *

Date:07-11-2014 02:37am
Subject:"Your silence will not protect you." (Audre Lorde)

Last year, someone peripherally connected to my social circles committed various acts of assault, including rape.

That summer, my housemate and I had our joint birthday party as we usually do -- this time with bouncy house (because I was turning 30) and a semi-public house concert.

Aforementioned rapist showed up, and friends of mine felt uncomfortable. In case anyone ever doubts that I am confrontation-avoidant, I refer you to the fact that I actively chose to not approach my housemate about it.

A few weeks ago, aforementioned rapist showed up at a major community party and there has since been a lot of conversation about making community spaces safe spaces.

I've read a bunch of posts and some comment threads thereon, and this is the one that struck me:

Merv was banned after years of creepy and unacceptable behavior, culminating when I found out that he'd raped an ex of mine.

This was a complete shock to me and I've been sort of dealing with it all morning. Here's the short story: Merv and I struck up a bus-friendship once upon a time, but it became so unavoidably creepy and bad that I wound up actually BUYING A CAR so I wouldn't have to take the bus to work anymore. But you know what? I never told anyone that before today. And you know why? Because I kept seeing him at large social gatherings, so I thought, it must be me, I must be oversensitive and making it up. So I didn't "come forward" or "give specifics". I quietly assumed I was crazy, because that's what good girls do.

That got me thinking seriously, and from a somewhat different perspective, about my silence last year. I emailed the friends who had raised concerns to apologize for not speaking up, and Housemate and I had a brief conversation about last year (she affirmed that if she had known he was a rapist, she would have made him leave, and that she would want to know that sort of information about anyone who was at our house).

A few weeks ago, Molly asked, "What would you do if you were brave?" and while I would rephrase it as bravER, I've been thinking about it a lot. If I were braver, I would speak up more, pushback against microaggressions, be more openly who I am (or who I want to be)... And I'm starting to try to dig into why I don't do this more -- what I'm scared of. Because I'm aware of my discomfort and also of how I have so much privilege and I'm not actually risking all that much ... so what is it that I'm scared of losing? what is it that I feel I'm risking? ... because those feelings are clearly very real, but I can't effectively do much about them if I don't know what they are.

And in recent days before conversations started really blowing about this local event, there's been Rick Remender's Captain America #22, which I wouldn't have thought of as connected, except tonight I read this post "Comics and the Language of Consent" about normalizing behavior -- which relates back to moominmolly's comment.

And tonight I rewatched the Kings pilot episode ("Goliath") and David says he's not a hero, that everyone has misunderstood that pivotal moment, says "Everyone thinks I'm brave, but I'm not;" and his brother says, "Be brave now." I can't change the choices I've made in the past (though I can certainly apologize for them), but I can strive to make better choices in the future.

I've RTed a lot of stuff from RoseFox tonight, and one of the things they raised (which a friend of mine also raised in a locked post) was the issue of who we're protecting, which in a broad sense is really a core issue here and elsewhere -- who (or what) are we protecting with the choices we make?

3 sparks of | knowledge

* * *

Date:06-19-2014 07:09pm
Subject:driving? driving! (take 7)

We were aiming to start closer to 5:30 (FCS-Ian needed to be home by 6:15), but he got stuck on the T so we started closer to 5:50.

Pulling out into College Ave. he wanted me to try to pull out actually into my lane rather than into the other lane and then compensate. I started to pull forward (I did reverse first, eyeing my rearview mirror and everything) and totally felt like I was going to hit the car in front of me, and then reversed further and tried again and ditto. He assured me I would not hit the car in front of me, based on the space between the vehicles and the position of my wheels &c. and I trust his spatial judgment even though I did not actually believe I would not hit the car -- and I successfully did not hit anything. I got a little bit flustered trying to straighten out the car and also take the next right &c., dealing with the traffic that was now all around me, and I definitely like hit the windshield wipers instead of the turn signal and stuff, but I turned onto the side street and didn't hit anything and no one honked at me.

I felt more comfortable driving than I did the other day, and FCS-Ian was not expressing anxiety that I was going to run into parked cars. He said he felt like I was overcompensating and staying further to the left than he would have, but I was staying within my lane.

I'm still inclined to stop longer at stops than he would.

Near the end, I turned onto College Ave. and off again without too much stress. And we ended with my pulling over and parking, and FCS-Ian asked me to get as close to the curb as I could, and unsurprisingly-to-me I overshot slightly and crunched up onto the curb -- he was expecting me to be a perfect 8 inches or an overshot 3 feet away from the curb or something. The street is not all that wide, so I was not expecting a redux of parking lot parking where I am way far out from the right.

He said he thinks it's a good idea for us to keep doing these shorter more-frequent lessons (instead of only doing lessons when we have the time for longer ones, which means we end up with a long time between lessons because scheduling) -- but not next week, since he'll be away on family vacation (which I knew).


* * *

Date:06-16-2014 08:00pm
Subject:driving? driving! (take 6: sun blindness)

We met outside the church after work and blessedly there was a pause in the rush hour traffic so I could pull out into College Ave. and then take the immediate next right onto the side streets where we spent the next half hour.

Yeah, usually we're out for about an hour, but FCS-Ian kept getting really nervous that I was gonna hit parked cars on our right (I said usually I leave too wide a berth between me and other stuff, but he said I overestimate on my left and underestimate on my right, which is probably true, esp. since I did go up on the curb once today) -- though he also pointed out that he did zero driving this time (usually some of our time is spent on main roads getting places; he said maybe highway driving not next time but the time after).

I tried getting in the habit of looking in my side mirror at least while on these slow side streets, though the one time I overshot a turn and stopped and had to reverse to get around the parked car I had stopped behind, it totally didn't occur to me to look behind me -- FCS-Ian was telling me what to do and I was just following the instructions. Oops.

Apparently I have a habit of slowing down at intersections even when there's not a stop sign (I was reminded that in early lessons, I was aware that the crosswalks pinged me to stop), and I also tend to pull over to the right at stop signs (I think because there cease to be parked cars there and so I feel like I "should" pull over to the right now that I'm able to).

Mostly I did well, though.

I learned that when you're turning you don't have the right of way -- and I learned how (in FCS-Ian's car at least) to flash your high beams to indicate to the person facing you that they can go.


* * *

Date:05-19-2014 06:38pm
Subject:driving? driving! (take 5)

Yesterday, FCS-Ian and I went driving again.

Read more...Collapse )


* * *

Date:05-08-2014 09:11pm
Subject:I spent my day biking in the warm sun and at a funeral.

[content notes: suicide of someone I know from church who struggled with treatment-resistant depression]

Read more...Collapse )

4 sparks of | knowledge

* * *

Date:05-06-2014 09:35pm
Subject:[SHIELD] 1.21 "Ragtag" [2014-05-06]

RainaCollapse )

2 sparks of | knowledge

* * *

Date:04-10-2014 07:38pm
Subject:[SHIELD] 1.17 "Turn, Turn, Turn" [2014-04-08]

Well, that was an episode of tv.

spoilersCollapse )


* * *

Date:04-08-2014 07:58pm
Subject:[MCU] Captain America: The Winter Soldier [2014-04-07]

(I really need to acquire myself some MCU icons, don't I?)


Ari drove us to TBC on Thursday, and I was gonna maybe make hir drive us to the nearest movie theatre (~10mi away in Enfield) to watch Cap2 that night, but we were both exhausted and ze was getting sick.

I took Monday off from work to recover from TBC, so while Ari was at ANTS I biked to Alewife to catch a matinee (there was no online ticketing, so I was guessing I could just show up, and yeah... when I initially walked into the theatre I thought I was literally the only person there -- I wasn't, but there only ended up being like 6 people total).

preliminary thoughts -- spoilers for the move and some for the Agents of SHIELD tv showCollapse )


* * *

Date:04-08-2014 07:39pm
Subject:[Touch] Sexyback: or what you will [2013-03-24]

A few weeks ago, Touch Performance Art did a workshop production of "Sexyback: or what you will" at Club Oberon.

The website said 8pm. Doors didn't even open until 8:07, and the show didn't start until ~8:35 (because not only do you have to wait for everyone to get in, but you want everyone to buy drinks). Le sigh -- I forget what Club Oberon shows are like. I saw Sarah V. from feminist sci-fi bookclub in line, and we hung out once we were inside, which was nice (the killing time part is more enjoyable with friends). I was hoping people would be actually dancing during the pre-show, but people were just standing about, alas.

It does with "Twelfth Night" what "The Donkey Show" does with "Midsummer" -- bare bones of narrative with lots of song+performance. Which actually basically worked. spoilersCollapse )

FWIW: After the show, they said their plan is to do 3 more workshop shows in July and then 10 full shows in the fall.


* * *

Date:03-23-2014 06:55pm
Subject:[V&V] The Taming of the Shrew [2014-03-22]

Someone posted to LJ:

I'm directing a gender swapped production of Taming of the Shrew being done in Arlington on March 22, 28 and 29. We've got the men playing the women's parts and vice versa. Some people view Shrew as a misogynistic, outdated play. The experiment I wanted to try was whether by swapping the roles it becomes simply a love story between two socially maladjusted people. While I expected this to be interesting, I have been fascinated at what swapping the genders has done. In the hope that some of you will come see it, I won't say more so your own experience won't be tainted one way or the other.
I was really intrigued, so Cate and I went last night. [Verse and Vodka's website; tickets to this show via Brown Paper Tickets]

However, (a) they didn't genderswap the opening frame story (which confused me because I was expecting gender-swap); and (b) they kept all the language intact (so it's all, "your sister Bianca," etc.), which I think lessened a lot of the impact of the gender swap.

Given the LJ post, I was expecting the gender swap to do more than I experienced it actually doing. Petruchio was great -- and the genderswap enables some stuff one couldn't do in standard productions (like, I think it was the first wooing scene, Kate is sitting down and Petruchio sits on her lap, straddling her, which I think would have read much differently if it were a male-presenting person on top of a female-presenting person) -- but mostly I felt like I was just watching any other production of Shakespeare (possibly in part because my brain has gotten somewhat used to parsing people as their character even when that is ostensibly at odds with the gender I'm reading them as).

In the frame story (which I always forget exists), they put a guy in a dress, and when the drunk !lord was wanting to hook up with the "woman" and "she" was putting him off, I felt super-uncomfortable because the expectation is that the audience is laughing because they know that if the guy does get under "her" skirt he'll realize she has a penis and won't that be a terrible shock and ha ha ha -- and hey, that's a very real fear that lots and lots of trans women live with every day. I've read lots of trans women pushing back about the "guy in a dress as humor" trope, but I don't think I actually internalized it until that moment.

When I think about this play, I so want to read Petruchio/Kate as a consensual BDSM relationship, and in the first "wooing" scene it feels plausible; but then when Petruchio is keeping her from eating or sleeping it's clear that Kate hasn't consented to this dynamic and while I understand how we're supposed to parse Petruchio's plan, it makes me uncomfortable -- and as it continues with the sun/moon etc. thing on the way back, to think of it as leading up to a consensual BDSM relationship makes me think of lots of sketchy narratives wherein the guy dominates the woman without her consent and she ends up liking it (despite her expectations) and that somehow retroactively makes his boundary-crossing behavior okay.

I also didn't get much sense in this production of Kate herself coming to be sort of in on the joke -- she does during the encounter with the old man after the sun/moon bit, and Petruchio's whispering to her at some point (I forget if it was during that scene or the closing scene), but while I want to read Kate's final speech as her being super over-the-top saying shit she doesn't believe to just piss off all these other women, I didn't really get that sense from this scene.

They don't close out the frame story, and I was thinking about what the (existence of the) frame story suggests about the main play (reversals, illusions, etc.), but I wasn't really coming up with anything -- so I went to Wikipedia, as one does.

Which wasn't helpful for this specifically, but which did quote [RSC] director Conall Morrison:
By the time you get to the last scene all of the men – including her father are saying – it's amazing how you crushed that person. It's amazing how you lobotomised her. And they're betting on the women as though they are dogs in a race or horses. It's reduced to that. And it's all about money and the level of power. [...] It is so self-evidently repellent that I don't believe for a second that Shakespeare is espousing this. And I don't believe for a second that the man who would be interested in Benedict and Cleopatra and Romeo and Juliet and all these strong lovers would have some misogynist aberration. It's very obviously a satire on this male behaviour and a cautionary tale
I found this interesting because I know I didn't even think about the contest from that one-level-back perspective or about the implications of everyone's glee at Kate's having been tamed.

My Riverside Shakespeare (2nd Edition) says:
Northrop Frye once remarked that the Katherina of Act I is not really dissimilar from the Katherina of Act V; at the beginning of the comedy she is persecuting her sister Bianca, and at the end she is engaged in precisely the same activity---except that now she has learned how to do it with social approval on her side. (Anne Barton, p. 139)
the stage convention which allows the actress playing the part to show plainluy in her face that she falls in love with Petruchio the moment she sets eyes on him has much to recommend it. Heartily sick of a single life, not to mention all the adulation showered on Bianca, she is really more than ready to give herself to a man but, imprisoned within a set of aggressive attitudes which have become habitual, has not the fainest idea how to do so. (Ibid)
I think one of my difficulties with Kate's trajectory through the play is that I know so little about her pre-Petruchio. We see her fighting with Bianca, but we know almost nothing about either of them. We're told that Kate is shrewish bladdy blah in a way that suggests she acts like that to everyone and has for a while. Offstage she breaks the lute (of the tutor who's just there to woo her sister, so possibly she's not just being peevish for the sake of being peevish...). We don't really know why she's so upset at Bianca -- when she's asking Bianca which suitor Bianca wants to marry and Bianca's all, "Whichever you want to marry you can have," there's lots of room for Bianca to play that in various ways (is she refusing to answer Kate's question to provoke her? does she really desire Kate's happiness, as a plain reading of the text would suggest?) and this production just played it as a plan reading of the text, so we get no insight into why Kate is so upset with Bianca, and Bianca herself remains flat and uninteresting. (Not that I'm saying you have to stage this scene against the plain reading of the text in order to make sense of Kate's crankiness at Bianca or in order to make Bianca and interesting and/or complex character, just that this scene is one of your only opportunities to do so -- well certainly for the former; admittedly we do see Bianca with the tutors picking a favorite and participating in a ruse, so she's not entirely the flat paragon of passive virtue that the early scenes might suggest.)

My Riverside also says of Petruchio's "taming" of Kate:
he goes on assuring her, despite everything she can do and say to prove the contrary, that she herself is gentle, rational, and loving: exactly the hidden qualities in her that he needs to foster and encourage. Petruchio wins in the end not because of superior force but because he succeeds in showing Katherina both the unloveliness of the false personality she has adopted and the emotional truth of the self she has submerged. (139)
I don't buy that, because whatever he actually believes about her (and I do think he genuinely likes/cares about her), all this rhapsodizing about her is entirely enmeshed with the "taming" such that everything he says to her feels false or cheap or insincere or IDK the exact adjective I'm looking for here.

The Riverside also says of Bianca: "Once married to Lucentio, she ceases to be 'sweet Bianca.' At the wedding feast itself she reveals an unexpected streak of bawdry, willfulness, and arrogance" (140), which I thought was interesting -- I think we tend to have a fairly flat impression of Bianca (because there's not much there there), and we interrogate Kate's closing speech to the exclusion of interrogating anything else about that closing scene (and I include myself in that "we").

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1 spark of | knowledge

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traveling traveling
my world
just outside
the circle of light