Saturday, April 26, 2008

it's a new jack city

we got a new camera yesterday. the nikon coolpix p5100. i spent a good part of last night trash-talking it and staunchly defending my beloved kodak easyshare, but that's mostly because the new camera has too many bells and whistles and i'm resistant to change AND i tend to be fiercely loyal (keep in mind: kodak easyshare came back from the dead after taking a dive into the cats' water. also keep in mind that when you support kodak, you're supporting rochester, ny).

anyway, here are some pics from the garden. i'm a little sad that i might miss the garden going buck...but we're only gone for 12 days or so...so it should be aight. the stuff i really look forward to are the peonies and the alliums and the delphiniums, the butterfly bush and the bee balm. and my hollyhocks. the garden bugs the dotytron because of it's haphazard, motley crew, bad news bears disorganization. i like it. it's like a scrappy little misfit.

my brother and the dotytron's buddy A came over last night. we went for jean's for dinner and then came home and chilled. i was thinking of going out dancing with them but the bro said the party wasn't that much fun and i was tired and wanted to pack and sort myself out for italy and play with my new camera.

the roomie and i had a semi-tense discussion. it wasn't that tense, but i got to voice some of the stuff that's been bothering me over the last little while. one of them is when she cherry-picks what she likes to eat and what she doesn't like to eat. so, if there's leftovers she's not into, she'll just let us eat them and eat the newer leftovers that she is into. this kind of drives me mildly crazy. then, last weekend, i had two pies: a key lime pie, and the peanut butter pie. we had the key lime pie on saturday and on sunday, we had bwong and dr. rei over for peanut butter pie. as dr. rei is serving it up, the roomie says, "oh, i don't want the peanut butter pie...it's too salty and heavy for me right now. can i have a half-slice?" so i'm not big on slicing up the half slices, but anyway, then she changes her mind and says, "is there still key lime pie left?" and i say yes, and then she goes and cuts herself a slice and a half out of that. THAT drove me bonkers. there are few things i loathe more than when people make requests. or, there's a certain way of making requests that makes me feel like ass. like i'm SERVING you instead of the food coming out of my own generosity and love. the montreal friend I, does this. "i like my hollandaise REALLY lemony" (when i'm in the process of making eggs benny). or, "you know what i REALLY feel like right now? ____" it makes me feel like a short-order cook.

ACTUALLY, what it really makes me feel like is someone who is being disenfranchised and alienated from their labour (yet another way that karl marx was the rightest person ever). it turns it from something that **i** choose to do, out of my love for my friends, into something that becomes unpleasant and feels like a chore. and it's not like i'm completely oblivious to the desires and wants of people i know and love. i know what my friends like. i know that dr. rei loves creme brulee (the chai spiced one) and the sweet potato pecan pie. i know that bwong likes things deep fried. i know that my friend D is too polite to ever criticize anything i make and i also know that the devil's food cupcakes with brown sugar buttercream always go down like gangbusters.

that's the smaller quibble i had though. the dotytron brought the camera home and he had also bought a 4 gig memory card, forgetting that we already have a couple of existing memory cards that total 1 gig. so i go, "you idiot! we already had one" (in a really off-hand, conversational kind of way). then the roomie pipes in: "i think you should put a quarter in a jar every time you call the dotytron an idiot" and i was like, "lady, PLEASE. i think you should let the dotytron be a grown man and put me in my place when and if he feels like it". and it kind of rankled. so later in the evening we had a big conversation about it. and she's like, "well, i just want to try to make you aware of how you sound sometimes" and i'm like, "it's not like the dotytron is a CHILD. he's fully capable of telling me to shut up and calling me a moron when i'm acting like one." which is true. and one of the reasons we've probably been together forever is PRECISELY because we're pretty equally matched and he can put me in my place and i actually listen (as compared to other boyfriends, where i was all, "EFF YOU" and rode roughshod over their poor asses). the roomie: "well in my house, we never were allowed to call each other that" blah blah blah. in my house, my family is always calling each other stuff. it's just part of the jokes.

is it a matter of nomenclature? because there are definitely times when i hear my parents or the dotytron's parents getting persnickety with each other where they may not be saying "idiot" but it's in their tone of voice. or when my sister calls my outlaw bro an "assjack."

i think i was feeling put upon because the roomie felt the need to talk about how i don't have any "compassion" last night and all the other stuff she trots out when there's an audience. so i was like, dude, honestly...i'm fine if you're gong to go down this road...but KNOW YOU THIS: you're setting a very dangerous precedent for when you're in a relationship. i just don't think it's the roommate's place to weigh in on someone else's relationship. ESPECIALLY when it's so one-sided (ie. the dotytron is the poor, defenseless, schlub and i'm the harpy). especially when the roomie has a tendency to consistently mis-read me and the dotytron. like, obviously dr. rei can do it because i feel like she knows and understands us both well enough to mediate and negotiate. i don't think the roomie shares the same world-view enough to give her a platform.

anyway, it was good just to get it all out in the open and there's no hard feelings. inevitably when you're sharing space with people, things are going to come to a head and you get it out and carry on your merry way. say what you will: i may be a one-woman army, but the fact that i live in a perpetual present means i rarely hold on to anger. it's a vicious storm that blows through leaving nary a disturbance in its' wake.

jean's was a bit of a gong show. we got into a big discussion about china and tibet and me and my bro were kind of team china and A was trotting out the usual human rights stuff. the restaurant was full of the white-haired, older, privileged hippie contingent (the kind who WOULD eat at a vegetarian thai restaurant in riverdale) and some of them were obviously listening into the conversation and getting a little perturbed by what me and my bro were saying. essentially, we were like, SHUT UP WORLD. this is not to say that cracking down on tibet isn't a terrible thing. it is. the problem is, the lack of nuance. buddhist monks (and the dalai lama) are really hard to depict as anything OTHER than the innocent lambs and the media and the world contribute to a very uni-dimensional (i would say racist) painting of the situation.

you can't ever say ANYTHING bad about the dalai lama, ever. (even though dr. rei's dad thinks he's a tool of imperialism. me and dr. rei's dad are kind of the same person...politically...ha). because it's an issue that's easy to paint with very broad strokes and the beastie boys get involved and support them and so do celebrities and now they're going to make a stink about the beijing olympics...when the olympics were held in NAZI GERMANY. so, here are my problems:

a) it's curiously telling that tibet becomes the flashpoint issue and NOT the fact that china oppresses it's own people.
b) no one would ever get THAT upset about sudan or something equally heinous in countries populated by a people that don't get the same level of pr as the tibetans (ie. the fact that china is buying so much oil from sudan is crazy...but that's the lesser issue in the media). as numerous scholars have noted...there's a colour spectrum of people we privilege and people we don't...and brown and black are always near the bottom.
c) china is propping up the economy right now and that makes our facile attempts at outrage pretty thin. so...we'll take the money and the cheap goods, but feebly yap our mouths? (yes, i'm talking to you old lady hippie).
d) A's arguments on behalf of tibet were also particularly unstable because he's gone on that israel homeland trip, taken a photo of the 10 foot tall wall in his aunt's backyard, and then will take up the tibetan cause.

so, allow me to say for people with low-level reading comprehension skills - I AM NOT CONDONING CHINA'S ACTIONS. i'm making an argument for a more fully realized contextual understanding of the complexities of why it is that tibet can always be discursively recuperated and other people can't. which is ALSO not to say that i'm excusing my culpability. we're all guilty, we're all stained. we all lack in a critical engagement because there's a cognitive saturation point that allows us to live our lives. however! it is equally dangerous to allow western benevolence (as gayatri spivak would say) to wash away the hypocritical stench of our sins.

ultimately, what interests me is the selectivity in discourse construction for the moral consumption of the west (this is my post-colonial studies training coming in). it is all abhorrent. so why tibet? what is it about the content of tibet and buddhism as a signifier that has allowed it to lend itself to the benevolence of the western gaze?

what makes it okay that michael pollan can write something like this (from his article entitled, "why bother?" in the "new york times"):

"Let’s say I do bother, big time. I turn my life upside-down, start biking to work, plant a big garden, turn down the thermostat so low I need the Jimmy Carter signature cardigan, forsake the clothes dryer for a laundry line across the yard, trade in the station wagon for a hybrid, get off the beef, go completely local. I could theoretically do all that, but what would be the point when I know full well that halfway around the world there lives my evil twin, some carbon-footprint doppelgänger in Shanghai or Chongqing who has just bought his first car (Chinese car ownership is where ours was back in 1918), is eager to swallow every bite of meat I forswear and who’s positively itching to replace every last pound of CO2 I’m struggling no longer to emit. So what exactly would I have to show for all my trouble?"

yet another clipping for the "blame china" chronicles (there's also a folder for the "blame india" chronicles). i can't decide if he's being tongue-in-cheek, but if he is, i read an unsavoury element of latent racism there.

today i'm packing and doing errands and reading and then trying to wrap my head around the ttc strike and figuring out how i'm going to get to dr. rei's birthday thingy and to my documentary tonight.

fin.

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