A friend posted this story of a man returning a lost camera on Twitter tonight. It’s a heart-warming story of someone going to great lengths to do a good deed for a stranger, but my first instinct was to be creeped out. The return of the lost camera (and the photos, which was really the important part) was initially so overshadowed for me by the stifling creepy crawly feeling of being invaded and vulnerable if someone had been doing that much detective work to figure out who I was and where I lived and how to contact me that I actually had to step away from the story and take a deep breath before I kept thinking about it. Continue reading
For all the substantial progress of feminism, the larger culture is still awash in portrayals of women that hew closely to the long-standing stereotypes, that push us to think about ourselves in terms of our attractiveness, our sexual appeal, our fashion sense, our youth, etc etc. These issues intrude, one way or another, into almost every facet of life- into our work and the beers after, into our family life and our relationships, into our education. There is always someone critiquing our bodies or our style. There is always someone trying to sell us a miracle skin cream or a pair of shoes or fucking yogurt or whatever on the grounds that it will make us more acceptably and attractively feminine. Now, we’re adults and we can handle it, but sometimes, frankly, the cultural stereotypes of heteronormative femininity are a pain in the ass. Sometimes one gets pretty fucking tired of being appreciated, shamed, warned, and appealed to ‘as a woman’.
This is a fantastically written piece, and while it’s specifically about hockey and the CBC’s new (and shamefully sexist) “While the Men Watch” broadcasts, it sums up how I feel about things like Baseball Boyfriend and the Victoria’s Secret cross-branding with MLB to a tee. People like Greg Papa have jobs and get to make face noise at me on my television on the regular, but Jaymee Sire and Susan Slusser barely get any attention. I can buy this or this but not a shirt or jersey of any past Giants great in women’s sizes. Meanwhile I can take my pick of Bonds, Clark, Mays, McCovey, Cepeda, Marichal, Snow, Kent, Aurilia (and probably more I’m forgetting) if I’m willing to buy a men’s size that will never quite fit the way I want to because hey, sorry, I do have tits and am not 6’ tall. Continue reading
I have a confession to make. It’s a confession that no one who is reading this on tumblr, and relatively few people who follow me on Twitter, will be surprised by, but I think it’s time I said it plainly and on the record.
I’m a baseball polyamorist.
You see, I’ve been baseball married to the Giants for pretty much my whole life. Certainly my whole life as a baseball fan, which is roughly twenty-two years and some change, if we’re dating it back to the 1989 World Series and my first clear memories of baseball. I won’t say it’s been a perfect marriage, but every relationship has its flaws, and we’ve learned to live with ours (and in this case by flaws I mean the Giants inability to have pitching and offense at the same time for most of my life and my inability to not scream profanities at the television and curse every one of their souls* at least 40-50 games a season). For better or worse, I swear on my Noah Lowry game used jersey, I will never leave them. Continue reading
I’ve written and trashed, started and re-started, edited and tweaked and changed angles on what I’m about to write probably fifteen times in the past week and a half or so, and it’s still not quite right. I’ve accepted that this is hard for me to write and decided to just put it out there in the best form I think I can muster right now, because I’d rather say something imperfectly than say nothing.
Tuesday a week ago (February 7th, to be clear) I was, as is pretty normal for me right now, doing some pre-season baseball research and bantering back and forth with my usual gang of Twitter compatriots when someone, I can’t even remember who exactly, came across the nearly hilariously misogynist “fantasy baseball for girls” disgrace Baseball Boyfriend (I’m not directly linking because screw them, I don’t want to give them the traffic, but you can Google if you’re that curious and somehow missed the kerfuffle). There was an initial furor, which quickly turned into some giggle fits that left me snorting my afternoon Diet Pepsi, but, as the day wore on and the news of the California Proposition 8 appeal ruling broke, I saw a few people (actually mostly women) who seemed to think that the people who were aggravated by women being treated as if baseball needed to be more like some middle school sleepover game to be interesting to them needed to be quiet and pay attention to the “real” issues in the world. The sentiment bothered me at the time, but I wasn’t quite sure why. I mean, on the surface, it’s a reasonable enough thing. Who cares about some silly fantasy baseball game whose target audience is clearly not me or most of my friends when there is real injustice to be fought? But still, it bothered me. Continue reading
I was reminded today, for god knows what reason, of a conversation I had as a freshman in college, curled up late one night with dorm room coffee and too many books on French history and Shakespeare interpretation and web design and music theory, in the cozy but miss-matched lounge of my 1960s brick dorm, one of the ones mostly full of first years and sophomores because it didn’t have the allure of the gorgeous 19th C. column and stone step adorned ones on the main green. Somehow the snippets of conversation being tossed back and forth between bouts of reading and note taking had turned to baseball. It was early 2001, and here I was, a displaced California girl and Giants fan sharing threadbare but once lovely couches with a Yankee fan, a Red Sox fan, and her equally Bostonian boyfriend (as is entirely unsurprising, given that I went to college in New England). Now, I have to point out here that I am older than the hills in internet years, I realize, so you have to remember that this was back when the Red Sox were still cursed and the Yankees were a total juggernaut that seemed like it might never be stopped, which I felt like put me pretty squarely in the middle of the pack. The Giants had Barry Bonds and a shiny new ballpark, they had just won the division (and then gotten pretty roughed up by the Mets, but we can ignore that), and the pitching wasn’t yet a complete joke, so I mean, sure, I couldn’t really talk much shit to a anybody rooting for the navy pinstripes, but I could hold my own in this discussion.
Point being, things got a little heated as we eventually closed our books and shoved things aside to more accurately talk with our hands (including one memorable impression of Jason Varitek done by my Tino Martinez t-shirt wearing dorm mate in front of the fire place for extra “flames of hell” flavor (1)), finally ending with the Red Sox boyfriend, who was a pitcher at a nearby large university, shouting “you’re just fans!” before leaving to get a snack or smoke a cigarette or piece his fragile, barely post-adolescent masculinity back together, I’ll never know which (I admit I was better friends with the New Yorker, so we may have sort of ganged up on him a bit). In his world, calling us “just fans” was the heaviest insult he could level while within the confines of our exclusive women’s college that wouldn’t get him summarily beaten up and tossed off campus, possibly never to return. “Fans” was only one rung down, in the grand scale of insulting language, from things I would never, ever allow anyone to say to me. This guy would have called me a bitch before he told me I was “just a fan“, and at the time? Well, it was an oddity. A young guy who took his career as a D-1 middle reliever with no likelihood of being drafted too seriously for my already over-educated, eighteen year old taste.
It’s hard to say how the brain works, but I think maybe my sub-conscious drug this up from the annals of my random past because I’ve seen so many people denouncing the title of “fan” lately. Analysts who are loathe to admit they ever had any strong team loyalties to begin with, people who I would consider fans in a positive way riling at being referred to as such and demanding the title of analyst or at the very least blogger, balking I suppose at some connotation of fan as an overgrown man-child homer who yells puerile insults at the opposing team in between slugs of mass-produced domestic beer (2). That fan exists, sure as anything, but I know far more fans that aren’t that guy than who are. Being a fan means that you have a deep affection and attachment to something, no more and no less. That affection and attachment is a lifeline for so many of us, a touchstone through good and bad times in our lives and a connection point to form a larger community of people who entertain and support and educate us, who make us think and feel and love that much more. The fact that I keep seeing people want to disown that, as if there is some Hobson’s choice of intelligence and analytical ability or nothing, is disappointing to say the least.
A lot has been written about Gen-Y and Millenials and the culture of entitlement and self-esteem padding with which many of us were raised. For a long time I had a pretty distant relationship with this whole idea. I had a comfortable upbringing, but I was raised by overachievers and don’t recall ever having the “oh honey, you did your best” platitudes tossed at me when I didn’t deserve them and, frankly, I succeeded at nearly everything when I was young. If I got praised, it was because I legitimately did well at something, but I never got the kind of rampant fawning and pandering that some of my friends did. I never once got paid a cent for my grades, even though this was something of a common practice in the community where I grew up, nor do I recall getting more than a “good job” and maybe dinner out or something for any other achievement. That said, I sat through plenty of “let’s all love each other, ‘kay guys?” seminars in school, especially in middle school, and, just as an example, I vividly remember a girl who was so incensed at not being invited to take a special honors enrichment class during early period in the seventh grade that her parents paid for an outside assessment company to do an IQ test and petitioned the school to let her into the class. A couple weeks into school she was let into the class and, while everyone was perfectly nice about it, I remember thinking even then that her parents had done her a disservice by encouraging the idea that she deserved to get whatever she wanted and that throwing a hissy to the school administration over a slight that was, in the grand scheme of things, pretty minor was ridiculous and out of proportion. I was lucky enough, I suppose, to be pretty outgoing when I was younger and had a lot of varied interests that I was eager to explore, so I never had to be bribed or weedled into doing things the way many of my friends were forced or paid off to continue with softball or band or church groups or whatever other extracurricular activity their parents deemed important that my friends were no longer (or maybe never were) interested in. Continue reading
“Women fans only talk about looks.”
“Don’t be such a cleat chaser!”
“So you like baseball because of some guy, right?”
“You just think that/like that player/like that team because he/they are cute!”
Over the weekend I found myself, yet again, in the middle of having to defend the honor of female baseball fans against claims that we only want to talk about looks and derail the conversation to go to superficial places, only this time I was given the oh-so-fun challenge of doing so to another woman. Yep, this was not an unfortunately clueless male this time but in fact multiple women who were quick to throw our entire gender under the proverbial bus.
I sat there somewhat dumbfounded for a few minutes as I tried to process just where this type of “eat your own young” behavior could come from. Most of the female fans I’ve become friends with over the years have had to fight that sort of crap from men often enough, why would someone who has had to contradict that attitude then perpetuate the same kind of misogyny that makes everyone look bad (and, for the record, isn’t representative of the majority of fans of whatever gender, in my experience)? The more I thought about it, the more I kept coming back to one thing — that maybe one way to not get accused of being one of “those” female fans is to engage in the rhetorical equivalent of jumping up and down and yelling about how much all the other fans aren’t cool. Sort of a “no no no, don’t look over here, look over THERE!”, social media misdirection move. And well, I suppose I can see it. “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”, and all that.
But really? The kind of fans of whatever gender who would engage in making blanket statements about other groups of fans are precisely the ones that I’m disinclined to pay much heed. If I just wanted to be liked or blindly listened to in the baseball community, I’ve figured out ways I could do it. I could pull out every straw man and argumentative fallacy I could find and do a constant song and dance of “East Coast bias”, “traditional metrics suck”, “listen to the narrative”, “SABR geeks live in their mothers’ basements”, “Red Sox don’t want it”, and “Yankees buy championships” and probably have exponentially more Twitter followers and be at least marginally tumblr famous if I wanted to. But it would require pandering of the most gross and unappealing nature and alienating the fans and analysts whose opinions I respect and whose friendship I value. Continue reading
I try not to make any secret of the fact that I’ve struggled with mental illness to varying degrees for pretty much my entire life. I talk about it fairly openly (that is, when it’s appropriate and to people with whom it’s appropriate) not because I want to use it as an excuse, but because I think it’s important that people be reminded that there are plenty of us who seem totally normal and together who are quietly dealing with this stuff.
The most frustrating part of the whole thing for me isn’t the number of pills I juggle every day and the constant adjustments to them. It isn’t the rechecks with the psychiatrist. It isn’t even the actual symptoms when they rear their ugly heads. It’s the fact that I can be so blindsided by them. The fact that one day I can feel pretty much okay and a few days later I realize I’m on the verge of falling apart. The fact that there are times when all I can do is take some time to myself, divest myself of my normal responsibilities, and heal.
So, that’s what I’m trying to do. I’m being cared for by wonderful people, both medically and friends and family, and it’s important that I take the permission I’ve been given by professionals to take this time to heart and truly allow myself to make as much of it as I can. Rest, be with my family, do things to recharge, let the medication adjustment kick in, do all the things I know will make this worthwhile.
On that note, I’m going to start by sleeping without setting an alarm, a luxury I haven’t had in awhile.
“Every experience is a paradox in that it means to be absolute, and yet is relative; in that it somehow always goes beyond itself and yet never escapes itself.”
– T. S. Eliot
One of my favorite quotes and ridiculously fitting given the bizarro world I’ve been living in of late.
I spent spent most of my twenties in the same long term relationship in which I was really pretty middle aged old-married at far too young an age. When that relationship ended, I spent the past year and some change making up for my dissolute twenties being not so dissolute with some wonderful friends and some silly but ultimately harmless bad decisions and generally the kind of stories one expects to get out of their twenties. And then, well, I met someone.
Not just someone. I met an amazing man who called me even though I told him I absolutely didn’t expect him to. Who voluntarily started what was basically a long distance relationship, temporary as it was. And suddenly I find myself with the boy-thing and his adorable four year old son and a dog and a gorgeous condo in Potrero Hill all waiting for me, should the cards fall correctly. Nearing the end of my twenties I suddenly find myself spending Friday night flipping through a copy of Real Simple while sipping a chai latte with a friend at a bookstore cafe after a quick phone call to check in with the boy-thing. If geography were no issue, I have a feeling tonight would have entailed dinner and watching the Giants game on the couch, or maybe at The Connecticut Yankee.
I have to admit, I like the look of that scene. And that’s more than a little paradoxical.