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Matisse

Added on by Nadine Friedman.

"You see as I am obliged to remain often in bed because of the state of my health, I have made a little garden all around me where I can walk... There are leaves, fruits, a bird."

 

Pain, etc.

Added on by Nadine Friedman.

Friday night and I’m home, watching Gone Girl aGain, reading blogs about chronic pain, icing my awful hips and working, instead of divorcing this from my identity, to accept it is part of my identity.

I get angry sometimes, especially this spring and summer, so wasted on pain. But mostly I'm sad. 

Infrequently, I bargain with a universe insisting on teaching me lessons about selfishness

endurance

humiliation

isolation

unfunny jokes. I will trade this affliction for another. I will take worse headaches if you give me back pain free legs. Go back and give me one extra month in between my mother dying of a chronic disease and me contracting one. Shit… what I would do with that month. 

Don't worry, universe, I know that's not how it works.  

I feel saturated in pain sometimes, like Carrie up there, exposed in her bucket of blood. Sometimes I feel like Carrie, yes, and am astounded nobody sees the drenching pain when they're looking at me, because it feels so bright and I bring it everywhere. I am not always clear about it, but one could detect it in unreturned phone calls 

ambivalent planmaking

or wanting to leave, soon? Do you mind if we leave soon? I'm sorry, I just need to split. I'm sorry. 

I bargain not for my old life, not even for my old body when I was hot

 thin

 bratty

 bulimic

a gymorexic and control freak, terrified of sickness- but for when my body belonged to me. I miss the body, sure, but I mostly miss what it’s like to own it. When it was MINE, instead of unpredictable, unfixable. The irony, man. 

What I would do for that extra month, and how I would repair all all all the months before and be grateful instead of paranoid. I would not harm my body. 

I am not missing out on the world; it just feels like I should be moving along with it.  

I just can’t fully commit to the world, nor do I always know how I will fit in it

 forget about pain 

how to communicate to my loved ones I often feel deeply alone

I sometimes beg for my Old Self, but then I remember this is who I am. Pain is part of my life; I am supposed to be cool about it but I am troubled. I am troubled sometimes by this five year old, new me who believes, resolutely, there is no break from suffering, no matter life's pleasures like my marriage

 work

dog

family

career

academia and incredible ideas and 

my wonderful friendships and community

There is so much I can talk about that is good, but sometimes I only want to think about pain.  

Lyme Disease opened up and challenged me in good ways- my projects

my creativity

my feelings about my mother, and my empathy 

my relationship with my husband. I would still take Lyme five years ago, because who might I have been otherwise? What wouldn't I have learned?

I don’t always want those lessons. Lyme is horrific and scarring, though I am otherwise healthy and doctors these days surprisingly take me at my word that I am not free of it, from the nerve pain and the constant headaches, the grief. The joke of lost pregnancies and the deep belief that I am septic. 

I have been run over and there is leftover stuff I cannot fix and I want to fix it. All I want is to be fixed. 

I'm smart woman. I don’t always need lessons; I could have figured at least some of this shit out on my own.  How savagely I feel about this.

I know nothing stays the same.  But I misread this often; instead of finding peace, I fight. I fix.  

I know:

things are  worse for others (people remind me of this sometimes) 

I am lucky and alive

I work harder and take no good days for granted

this disease, plainly, made me a better person.

And more often than not, the pain of the world overwhelms me more than my own.  

I have to accept this, integrate the Friday nights when the pain won't allow me see anyone. Or speak. Accept that this is my life.

I am really

really

fucking

trying 

Frog

Added on by Nadine Friedman.

In my childhood house, the computer room (where I discovered the secrecy and likely peril of chat rooms when the internet came to our place in 1995) was a repository of suburban esoterica- the laundry chute, parents' teen journals, hundreds of records, my mother's nameplate from her years as a secretary at Dime Bank- "Elissa Shivek"- etched proof of life before the other three of us. The storyboard department at Home Goods would be enthralled, them or the anthropology department, provided either such departments exist. 

There was a wicker frog filled with matchbooks from Long Island restaurants. Wicker was an 80's thing, marketing via smoking paraphernalia too, and obviously frog never goes out of style. They sold the house in 1998, when I moved to New York, and I finally took the frog with me at some point. To 3rd Ave? Eastern Parkway? Dean Street? Did it just arrive here? 

Better than the frog , though, is its empty wicker guts filled with the mathbooks. Elegant rectangular boxes and cheap bendable cardboard flaps. I love shoving my hand in and grabbing one, digging it out like a claw machine.  

The matchbooks are miniature museums of suburbia, printed with addresses of restaurants, most (I'm sure) closed. Sometimes we pull out a book and read the name: Bedell's at West Wind, Fine Waterside Dining and Catering. La Cisterna, the map to 109 Mineola Blvd. printed minutely and helpfully on the back; it does look a little confusing around the street. Sometimes we consider picking a matchbook, going to the address and dining at whatever is there now as tribute, even if it's an auto body shop and all there is to eat are Snickers. 

We have lighters here but I always light my bowls with one of the matchbooks, even if the sides are Goldilocks-caliber inadequate. Sides too dry, too wet, too ancient. The sticks too brittle. I still drag the matches across, until I see that triumphant little orange, sometimes wasting entire books. I will never run out.

I'm smoking a bowl right now with a pack from-hold on- Bobby Rubino's. Their ribs were fantastic, and this isn't even nostalgic editing. Just really good, vinegary bbq. It was my favorite place to go with Bret and my parents, where we could eat dirty and with our hands. 

My dad always made great decisions, both heroic (the sacrifices, gentleness and compassion he showed my mom as she deteriorated)and everyday (those exciting nights out, or a day trip to the pond or the museum,grounding us and following through). The strange decision of keeping matchbooks in a frog, one that has turned utterly sentimental and practical for me.  He is such a hero to me, always was. 

When I dig my hands into that frog and pull out some tiny jewel of wood and paper- a deli in Merrick, a Chinese buffet in Wantagh- it isn't wicker, or sentiment or passe late 20th century decoration. It's a little, ugly treasure chest.

I can't wait to see you tomorrow, dad. 

Another Two Horsemen: Thoughts on the Midterm Election

Added on by Nadine Friedman.

The New Yorker’s Andy Borowitz recently ran a bitterly amusing headline: Boehner, McConnell Seek Two Additional Horsemen. The list of new nominees is long. It’s also sexier than the last round and, per David Brooks, exemplifies “the beau ideal of American Republicanism.”  After the majority of registered voters made the democratic decision to stay home, our new Congressional majority is comprised of Conservative action figures, “prudent business leader[s]… active in the community, active at church and fervently devoted to national defense.” But there’s no need to celebrate or fret the Apocalypse. The midterm election didn’t signal End Times, nor a powerful shift towards Conservative policymaking; rather, it’s a rehash of our last two electoral Olympics which ushered in the likes of Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin and Co., whose main distinguishing characteristic from 2014’s crew were being specifically old and white (and forgetting to shut their mics off). Brooks maintains this slicker, more ethnic GOP reflects the building blocks of American virtue: “the business community, the military, the church and civic organizations,” and will make waves. But besides the irrelevancy of these “pillars” (no science? Education?), he’s also wrong. Though the GOP brand is undergoing renovations, it won’t change Washington’s inertia anytime soon. They’re just Horsemen of a Similar Color.

 

Confidence the new Congress will pass anything substantial is already low, per Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. “About one-in-five Americans (21%) say Republican control of the Senate will change the way things are going in this country ‘a lot’ and 37% say it will change things ‘some.’ Nearly four-in-ten (38%) expect little or no change as a result of the election. Republicans are about twice as likely as Democrats to think that the GOP winning the Senate will usher in major changes (32% vs. 18%).” There was little change in public opinion from 2010’s election to 2014’s. As for Brooks’ gloat the latest Republicans have their fingers on the economy’s pulse, he’s again out of touch. Of course, Pew reported, upper-income households favored Republicans on economic and tax issues. But, “among those with family incomes of less than $30,000, just one-in-four think the Republicans have the best approach.” Those Republican ideals suit a small percentage of Americans; this new cast of characters is unlikely to please the rest.

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback is focused more on pressing issues like upholding the gay marriage ban and making public assistance cards a bright, scolding red than petty problems like the state’s multi-billion dollar shortfall. Closer in line with Brooks’ “pillars of business” model, Brownback‘s back-scratching deal with the Kochs (fossil fuel patriarchs) meant turning his back on recorded support for renewable energy. As for Brooks’ praise of Republican patriotism, re-elected Horseman McConnell’s consistently opposed expansion of veteran rights. H.R.5683 (Veterans' Job Corps Act), which would have returned our service members to work, was blocked by McConnell and his ilk in 2012. And little changed under the new GOP vanguard: just this year, Bernie Sanders eviscerated McConnell for blocking aid again. At the paltry (relative to Iraq war price tags, at least) cost of $21 million, a bill would have expanded vet education and medical services. Sanders addressed the GOP’s fingers-in-their-ears policy towards bipartisanship: “I had hoped that at least on this issue--the need to protect and defend our veterans and their families--we could rise above the day-to-day rancor and party politics that we see here in Congress." If today’s GOP won’t agree on vet rights, what will they agree on?

Brooks namedrops private sector hero Larry Hogan and his Change Maryland, “an activist group,” as symbol of the GOP’s new civic advocacy arm. The Change Maryland website, however, is dedicated only to taxes and a vague “How We’re Going to Do It” manifesto: “Educate, Engage, Energize”. Change Maryland’s Facebook page aims to bring “common sense to Annapolis”, but it’s mostly disturbing user rants about “liberal socialist brainwashing” and Islam in schools. There are suggestions, though: say, eliminating mass transit services to urban areas (a racially-tinged issue), and advancing Concealed Carry laws (legislation one confused Facebooker believes is granted by “the 14th Amendment.”) These are the progressive “bipartisan” efforts Brooks lauds Hogan, and other millionaire GOP seat-warmers, for?   

 

There’s Thom Tillis, formerly of PricewaterhouseCoopers (recently fined $25 million for compliance with foreign money laundering) as harbinger of modern Republican business ideals. Aside from his PwC association, we know we can trust Tillis with numbers: he once reassured his constituents, though Hispanic and Black voter populations keep growing, the "traditional population of North Carolina and the United States is more or less stable." That’s the civic-minded voice of the 21st century Republican Brooks is talking about! Further evidence of Tillis’ forward thinking is anti-abortion legislation he sneaked into a motorcycle safety bill. We can’t be sure where this type of maneuver fits into Brooks’ “beau ideal” but it’s a relief to know our reproductive organs could be carefully regulated as Harleys. Speaking of advocacy for 51% of the population, the GOP is tripping over itself to trot out Utah’s new black female rep, Mia Love. Her anti-choice position and plan to defund Planned Parenthood goes against the interests of all women, especially minorities; she embodies Brooks’ bygone “inexplicable oddities from another age,” except it’s 2014. She doesn’t look like Todd Akin, but she’s singing the same old song.

 

Cognitive dissonance is again at work when Brooks reminds us of Sarah Palin’s existence but neglects to mention her second coming in Smith and Wesson totin’, pig castratin’, climate change rejectin’ Joni Ernst. Among the litany of ideas put forth by Iowa’s newest Senator: eliminating the EPA, shuttering the DOE, threatening to shoot people and (of course) a Personhood amendment. A joint resolution she signed “would’ve defined and defended life from conception.”  Details of the legislation, unfortunately, escape her: “I’m trying to remember how we phrased it, but basically that there was an inalienable right to life.” Devil’s in the details (and in premarital sex and Big Bang Theory education, apparently), and she’ll need to back this up next election.

 

“If the party is to fully detoxify its image, something will have to pass next year,” says Brooks.  Hard to imagine what that something might be. Attach reproductive rights to motorcycle maintenance? Pander to CEO’s? Shut down the government over the Socialist Black President’s health plan again? With all these impressive resumes, Mitch and John will have their Horsemen shortly. But luckily, due to vicious bipartisanship, reliably prehistoric Republican ideology and Democratic spinelessness, Congressional action will be glacial. Republicans will create bills, Obama will veto them. Republicans will ignore science, women and vets while people like Brooks crow about modernity and Democrats pretend to get a phone call in the other room. And after two years and millions more spent in the name of Citizens United, fair-weather voters will turn out and the whole mess will start again.

 

The Self Made Man Myth

Added on by Nadine Friedman.

The “Self-Made Man’” is an allegory borne of free market aspirations and our attraction to the possibility of becoming something from nothing. Swansburg’s Slate piece, however, highlights the myth’s thorniness. Americans love a yarn, and the Self Made Man Myth (SMMM) is one of our most dangerous; his article attempts to relieve us of our idealism about the correlation between scrappiness and success. Even Oscar-nominated paean to the rags-to-riches narrative, Cinderella Man, is in on the artifice. “It’s no joke, pal,” says a character, as Depression-era New York City caves in around pugilistic family man and hero, James Braddock. “People die in fairy tales all the time.” 

 

Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism summarizes the insidious relationship between morality and material wealth in the United States. Capitalism is influenced, and intertwined with, religious ideology; according to Weber, the system’s “dominated by the making of money, by acquisition as the ultimate purpose... economic acquisition is no longer subordinated to man as the means for the satisfaction of his material needs. This reversal of what we should call the natural relationship, so irrational from a naïve point of view… expresses a type of feeling which is closely connected with certain religious ideas.” Weber introduces Ben Franklin (a Swansburg SMM) as early proponent of the idea that “the earning of money within the modern economic order is, so long as it is done legally, the result and the expression of virtue and proficiency in a calling.” He cites Franklin’s autobiography and the entrepreneur’s regurgitation of Biblical law: “’Seest thou a man diligent in his business? He shall stand before kings.’” Unfortunately, the pious, determined entrepreneur is Dr. Jekyll to a paradoxical Mr. Hyde: if someone’s poor, it’s due to his or her laziness and gluttony. This is a major design flaw of the SMMM, amongst the many others Swansburg’s subjects illustrate.

 

He opens the conversation about this faulty American allegory with the bootstrap metaphor: Pulling oneself up by them is actually impossible.  The original meaning, steeped in sarcasm, was “a crackpot inventor’s attempt to build a perpetual motion machine." It’s one of several pointed attempts to shake us from our cinematic ideas about who can succeed.

 

Swansburg profiles Andrew Carnegie, an example of the SMMM that revealed “mounting ambivalence” towards its legitimacy. A man who “ruthlessly fought to depress wages and extend hours at his steel mills, [while] writing passionately about the need to administer to the community,” Carnegie made a fortune off practices he decried publicly, lauding that bootstraps ethos while ignoring his own workers’ plight.  Carnegie is pure fiction, from his interaction with T.T. Woodruff to his coded condescension about mobility. “’If by chance the professional sweeper is absent any morning,” he told aspiring captains of industry, “the boy who has the future partner in him will not hesitate to try his hand at the broom.’” It’s a threat disguised as free market platitudes. If you don’t want your 14-hour Thanksgiving shift at Walmart, someone else surely will.

 

 This sentiment is a modern Classical Liberalist’s get-out-of-jail-free card for corporations to pay low wages, create deplorable conditions and prevent upward mobility. Recently, sandwich empire Jimmy John’s forced all employees (including those sweepers Carnegie venerates) to sign a noncompetition agreement stating employees can’t work for “any business which derives more than 10% of its revenue from selling submarine, hero-type, deli-style, pita and/or wrapped or rolled sandwiches” within three miles of a Jimmy John’s for two years or risk litigation.  Efforts like this are designed to frighten a minimum-wage worker to stay put, for fear of being sued or unable to find other employment. Intimidation tactics like these were modeled by “SMM” Carnegie (who, like Jimmy John’s, also crushed unionization attempts). 

 

The case of Horatio Alger speaks to the power of cognitive dissonance around the SMMM by lionizing a pedophile as literary giant and relatable, redemptive son of a gun.  Alger, apparently, had only a small hand in shaping his own myth, one based in our attraction to the idea you don’t have to do good to do well. Instead of piety and hard work (mandatory for a SMM like Franklin), the public was drawn to Ragged Dick’s ascent due to “good luck and the good offices of a wealthy benefactor.” We have an appetite for seeing characters like Dick go from dockside-drinking depravity to respectability without trying very hard; given the opportunity, it’s how most of us would do it post-recession.  One could compare Alger/Dick’s bad boy arcs to the NFL’s valorization of millionaire victimizers like Michael Vick (dogs), Ben Roethlisberger (women) and Ray Lewis (New Year’s Eve revelers). Lewis, from a background not unlike an Alger protagonist, had an NFL finale that baffled a few people. “His teammates, many of whom like Michael Oher (of The Blind Side fame) come from deprived backgrounds, have taken his message [of redemption] to heart,” wrote USA Today Paul Steinberg of the “the hypnotic trance“ in which Lewis placed his teammates, the public and himself.[v]  NBC Sports dissected his martyr-like word salad when asked what he’d tell his victims’ families: “‘It’s simple, you know,’ Lewis said.  ‘God has never made a mistake.  That’s just who He is, you see? To the family, if you knew — if you really knew — the way God works, He don’t use people who commits anything like that for His glory.’” It’s a profitable, childishly scripted narrative, but so is Ragged Dick.

 

Swansburg’s Nasty Gal profile explores feminist grit and flexibility of the Self-Made “Man” vernacular. Sophia Amoruso, resident “Girlboss,” is positioned antithetically to Lean In ‘s Sheryl Sandberg. By proudly holding up her scrappy entrepreneurialism as a contrast to Sandberg’s path of privilege from Harvard to the Treasury Department to the C-suites of Google and Facebook,” it’s tough to fault the one woman in the narrative. But just as “Amoruso counsels the future girlboss to emulate her …and her aversion to debt” the message is still “coming from the purveyor of $360 stiletto-heeled boots.” The Nasty Girl website’s overwhelming exclusivity contrasts with the SMMM’s modest, relatable values. The clothes are prohibitively expensive, the models are thin and white and it takes six pages on the blog to see a single woman of color. Imagine the effect on young women of color, conspicuously absent in Swansburg’s piece and the majority of American media, if Amoruso wielded her capital to approach women-run industries with intersectionality and diversity. It’s the same complaint - privileged dimness- held against Lena Dunham, our current literary/television IT Girl and NastyGal spokeswoman. “It is not so wrong to craft an exclusively white world- certainly a significant portion of America lives in one,” Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote in The Atlantic.   “What is wrong is for power-brokers to pretend that no other worlds exists.” [viii]  Will we ever see a Self Made (Trans, Queer, Black, Wo)Man? Shouldn’t we?

 

Indeed, right as Swansburg begins to expand the image of the SMMM, the piece returns to his father- a standard issue SMM model. However, Swansburg is well aware of the story’s illusion, and the historical holes poked in it.  These stories are vital for us, providing vision and hope.  In a struggling capitalist economy with few jobs, divisive leadership and a widening gulf between rich and poor, we need aspiration. We need these fairy tales.

 

We know how the Grimm ones usually ended, though.

 

  

Extraordinary Organ is DONE!!!

Added on by Nadine Friedman.

My husband and I have just finished our short supernatural film, Extraordinary Organ, and sent it off to Sundance! Trailer soon. Logline here!: 

After losing her unborn child, a woman is disturbed by an uninvited presence in her home. A supernatural drama, Extraordinary Organ examines marital discord, grief and reproductive pressure. Directed by Brooklyn screenwriter Jared Roberts and Nadine Friedman of Salon and Bitch Magazine, it stars Christina Roman and Christopher Wild and features the talents of festival-favorite cinematographer Shawn Regruto and Sound Designer Gllen Forsythe. 

My piece in Salon on Bridezillas, Bitches & Brats

Added on by Nadine Friedman.

Very happy to work on this piece, exploring the intersection of two powerful institutions specializing in the infantilization, exploitation and degradation of women: the wedding industrial complex and reality TV.

A few have commented that reality tv being fake and manipulative is old hat; what I'm pursuing here is not exposing that truth, but asking people to look more deeply at the messaging behind it and why it matters. We see in our legislation the reality: those in power think we aren't capable of handling anything bigger than a party, let alone our own bodies. We are frivolous, jealous and spiteful, and good mostly for what we can spend. It's bad. And all of our pleasures are thus, guilty. 


http://www.salon.com/2014/07/24/wed_bring_up_painful_memories_to_make_brides_cry_exposing_the_brutal_world_of_wedding_reality_shows/

On Penis Drawings and Teachable Moments

Added on by Nadine Friedman.

There's an incident I haven't forgotten from last summer. I was managing a restaurant-  a quick (I didn't tell the owner I planned it to be quick), well paid gig I was generally disinterested in till something better came along.  It was a popular, lowbrow upscale place (you know the type) with an even parceling of the stroller crowd and new Brooklyn money, people drifting out of their brownstones on a Sunday to eat and ask for multiple coffee refills. A sprinkling of hipsters and neighborhood weirdo stalwarts who'd come in afternoons. Very famous people occasionally. Very white. Good tippers.  

This night, one of the female servers had a table of four white, late 20's, 3 men 1 woman; I didn't pay much attention to them (I barely paid attention to anything, just sort of walked back and forth across the floor for 4 months). They'd already paid and left when she came up to me, gaping at their bill. She stood half-shocked, half-laughing, in that way when you haven't yet determined your feelings or decided they are valid. 

At the bottom of the check where they'd signed off, someone had written "I'm not satisfied, M (they used her full name, obviously I won't)... but I could be..." with a smiley face and a large, crude picture of a penis. Then a phone number. She held it to me, unhappily. 

The kitchen staff, three men, smirked and did not see the diminishment, the threat. "It's just a joke, man."

They wrote her first name there, which to me, was a nasty little power exercise. They knew her name when she wouldn't necessarily ever know theirs. They wrote a crude, degrading message to a woman they don't know. She only knew he knew her name and where she worked. The vulnerability and unfairness of that receipt. They tipped well, of course, because she did her job well. They determined her salary, her worth.  

And THIS dingdong. His name, phone number and credit card info right there for me to do anything with. I could do nothing, which is what she asked me. "It's no big deal," she said defeatedly, "I mean, they're gone." The owners wanted me to drop it, because women's well-being and making money don't often pair well. I could take a picture of the receipt, accidentally send it to Jezebel. Or, I could call him; my husband was decidedly against this tactic, because "he knows where you work, why escalate this, it's not fair but please don't CALL him."

The unfairness, the fact that my response was considered escalating bad behavior rather than calling it out, was why I called. 

He was bewildered at first, maybe thinking there was a problem with the credit card. No, I said, but someone at your table left a message for my staff member that made her feel offended, embarrassed and a little afraid. And that's not the kind of people I want around where women work, no matter if you tip 18 or 35% and Love Women or Just Kidding. It was a moment you can forget, I said, but imagine this young woman having to walk away with your awesome tip and your contempt. I reminded him that leaving personal info with this kind of message isn't smart.  I asked him how he felt about this. 

He blamed his friends for writing it, at first. He said he was sorry and asked to talk to her; she preferred not to. He apologized again and again, and said "I would never do something like that, I'm not like that". I recommended he remember that next time he was in a straightforward power imbalance, and do his best to think about another person's welfare. I sincerely thanked him. We hung up. 

For a few days, a woman kept calling to talk to me, but I kept missing her calls and she wouldn't leave a number. I assume it was the one from the table. 

Here's the thing- I knooooow the joke could have been worse, and I'm still using brain real estate for something insignificant in the larger scheme of injustices perpetrated against women. And it wasn't the worst thing that could have happened to her. But these microaggressions and degradations add up.  I don't care if I look like I'm overreacting, or if maybe I don't have a place to make something a "teachable" moment for basically good people, (which I'm sure this guy was). But I do believe that when you're in a position to treat people well or badly, you treat them well. And I saw her face when she got a high tip and a disgusting message with a penis on it. And it's not fair that when someone acts out, my husband has to worry about me, "because we don't know what they'll do." We live on the defense. 

Many tenets of working in the hospitality industry are pretty shitty, based partly on the fact that customers, not employers, decide how much money you make and partly, for reasons like that moment: people are made to feel diminutive, especially women. I've heard terrible stories from my female friends, many of color, who've been treated unbelievably cruelly.  People will impeach your personal space, snap their fingers at you, yell and then, worst of all, determine your income. It's the same for all servers, but women have it especially tough, because we deal with an sense of non-safety EVERYWHERE we go. My husband is used to me defriending over hashtags or confronting misogyny on the street or calling strangers and giving my full name to talk about penis hieroglyphics on a receipt. I have to deal with the reasons they happen.  I'm not even sure this warrants writing about, but I'm still thinking about it. 

You take those small moments or they turn into larger things, policy things, things you eventually end up petitioning against.  Be safe about it, but take those small moments to let people know it is not ok, and fuck anyone listening who'll tell you you're overreacting. 

 

Jewish Daughter Diaries came out!

Added on by Nadine Friedman.

The book I got published in is now for sale. I got called a "compelling" "standout" in several reviews. The essay sort of marks the end of a chapter in my life where I explore my relationship to my mother and the concept of motherhood... I wrote it while waiting for an EPT test to go + or -. 

It was + ; unfortunately, pregnancies can often go one of three ways (pop culture, media, they don't often mention the third) and I lost it. Specifically, through a ectopic. but this was written in the moments that I was waiting to know, when I'd never heard of something as weird and unlucky as an ectopic. 

Anyway, some of the stories are great-poignant and interesting. Check it out!

 

 

Linda and Eastern State

Added on by Nadine Friedman.

There was something about this visit that felt oddly relaxing. Strange to say that? I feel like I'm close to the end, that I know where I'm going and am aware of the lessons. Weird that this kind of peace and sureness came in a prison. 

1396733_10151795536923687_1278904400_o.jpg

My asshole thoughts on this asshole jury

Added on by Nadine Friedman.

Cory Booker specifically told us on Twitter not to curse the jury, but I'm going to anyway because today is full of salt, and returned "firearms" and conservative radio victory laps for murderer George Zimmerman. And yes, SYG laws and Florida and sinister prosecution/Zimmerman Sr. conspiracy theories and bungled case and bad witnesses and underlying hatred of black men, but let's start with this motherfucking JURY.

What Florida swamp did they have to dry up to find 6 women who hadn't heard shit about this case, or at least pretend hadn't? How is it even possible? And the cross-section of jurors- gun owning, dog saving, property owning, "the black or hispanic one"- how did it all add up to them deciding to be less than women, women who have experienced the shared terror of walking home alone at night? I know Florida's not Brooklyn and its alleys, poorly lit and solitary subway stations and late bars. But there's grocery store parking lots, and scumbag relatives and misogynist, racist policymakers and no mental health care and horrible courts, so women are alone there too. They're alone everywhere, we see it more and more everyday.  And yet these women clearly show that the latent belief black men are hot-tempered, uncivilized predators supersedes the shared fear of walking home alone. Trayvon was a little boy who lived his last moments in terror. Too many women do, whether the monsters are a husband, uncle, friend, stranger, psychotic vigilante bigots. And yet, he didn't deserve their empathy.

This is what's driving me to distraction. I want to know exactly who these women are, and I want their lives to be at least temporarily horrible as they step out into the world and see what they've done, what message they've sent little black boys- that their lives are worth less than a nutbag's 2nd amendment right to take it. I want them to become horribly depressed and not be able to share their depression, because everyone who knows them would spit on them if they revealed who they are.

I'm going to go ahead and hate the jury right now, #sorrynotsorry. Why not throw Zimmerman in jail for a couple of years at LEAST? Measure the value of a life taken for 5 against one taken forever, one that didn't even start. People hit other people with cars and get manslaughter, they don't stalk, shoot and then lie about it. Did they think they'd get in trouble for "connecting the dots" as De la Rionda said to do and that genteel Confederate thug Mark O'Mara told them they weren't "allowed to"? Would using common sense land them in jail, did they wonder? Did they think Zimmerman (100 pounds lighter than as he sat smugly in front of them last week) stuttering on-the-spot lies to Sean Hannity, doubting him in their guts, was off the table? It's not illegal to use your brains. It's only illegal to have someone stalk and shoot you while you're walking while black.  I mean, isn't that what you're saying? That Trayvon Martin is the guilty one?

When you know exactly what it means to fear for your life, to feel unprotected by society and the world, to hope that maybe that person over there will just walk by you and you can eventually sigh in a shaky, relieved breath, feeling silly. But in the interim, you devise a panicked strategy- where to run, what to yell, will I be able to do either because I'm so paralyzed with horror that someone wants something from me, and I don't even know who they are.

We know what it's like, whether we're homeowners, dog savers, "the black one". We know because we're accidentally born into these bodies and we live in fight or flight, under our skin, whether we know it or not. Trayvon Martin didn't ask to be born black, to be born at all. He only asked for the right to walk home once he was born into this shitty, racist world. And you, you six women should have done better. He was not a Black Predator; he was a boy. But you-mothers, women, victims of the patriarchy no matter how many homes or guns you own- chose to forget, maybe because it also gave you a pass on the logical next step of considering Tracey Martin a father.

You were there to represent "a jury of peers"... and while there's much to debate about what that really means in this system, I'd hazard you're more of a peer to Trayvon than you'd like to believe.

I don't know a shitton about jury mentality but I do know what fear is like and I know it's legal to use your brain and say, "this shit doesn't add up". These women are not me.

And yet, I'm sure, if I was sitting on the jury and Sybrina Fulton looked at me, she'd be thinking the same thing.

A most New York of interactions

Added on by Nadine Friedman.

After a passive aggressive, pointless, faceless discouse with a neighbor taking place on a Restoration Hardware catalogue cover as canvas, you're gonna love the outcome.

A men's bike has been chained to the stairwell in my building for the entire time I've lived here- 11 months of a fine Italian road bike gathering dust and hogging the one good real estate here. I've had bikes stolen from out front (chained and locked, the tires gone in the morning and the skeleton upturned, pleadingly facing the sky) and from inside the building (with nothing to tether it to, it sat helpless until someone walked into the building after a neighbor's careless house party and stole it from our unlocked lobby). I decided the other day to take my Kryptonite and my brand new Bianchi (which I've been saving up since October for) and hook it right up to... their bike. I know. Not cool. But I tell you, there were no other options- there's only space for one bike to lock to the stairwell, and no room on the radiator. It's a sitting duck otherwise. I'd been lugging it up a flight of stairs resentfully, as if my neighbor had any idea of my disease, the way my right side lacks strength and function, how difficult it is to carry things.

I got a note two days later (well, the next day, but I thought the catalogue was just left on my seat out of meanness). The glossy RH volume sat on my seat, saying this in caps letters:

 "Stop locking your bike to mine. Find somewhere else to chain your bike, please. This is how I get to work."

I was self-righteous, enraged and determined to fuck with them after that. They NEVER rode this bike!!! I'm not stupid or blind. This bike doesn't move. I USE mine. 

I'll steal the bike; I'll pop the tire; I'll leave a note saying "I'll just lock my bike to yours and when you need to go to work, knock on Apartment 2 and I'll unlock it", leaving them in a total fix- either they admit they lied and never ride it, thus never knocking on my door. Or, they knock, they have to , humiliatingly, ride their bike around the block a few times to indicate they DO in fact use it, leaving me room to now lock MINE to the stairwell AND , ultimately, winning. But of course, then I'd be leaving my bike vulnerable to the sort of attacks I'd planned on theirs.

Instead, I took a friend's advice. I was honest and I gave in, because it's easier and better. I left a note, on a real piece of paper, on their seat: "I'm not trying to be an asshole. I didn't see this bike move and thought it was cool to do. If there was a way to share the stairwell, I'd love it; if not, it's yours."

This concession left me curious and relaxed. I gave in, gave up. When I got home tonight, there was a note, another one, from him:

"I'm sorry I was an asshole. It's totally fair to share the stairwell and I'll see if I can attach my bike to the radiator. I have to run now, but let's work it out."  There was more, but that's not for here.

I responded with a flood of appreciation, a note that seems absurdly intimate to anyone who's never sat at a bar too late and shared secrets with a stranger, ones nobody else knows and that you feel thrilled and absolved to tell. One of those New York moments where it's imperative someone you'll never see again (even if they live mere yards from you) has with you. I wrote that my medical condition makes it hard to carry things and it made my gesture seem passive aggressive and childish; that I appreciated his openness; I reflected on how Brooklyn this all is.

I'm looking forward to his response. This reminded me that extreme proximity can drive people apart, and that a single gesture of cooperation can render us neighbors, not strangers. 

 

 

 

 

Dove parody: You're As Beautiful as We Think You Are

Added on by Nadine Friedman.

So, so fucking excited about this parody video we shot in response to Dove's campaign (which I've super uncool-ly ranted about at length).

You're as beautiful as we think you are: that's the message from corporate interests, mainstream media, the pro-dysmorphia beauty industry. Unfortunately, nobody can be all THAT beautiful, or Dove wouldn't make any money.  Mis en scene of typical beauty campaigns includes minimal diversity, hypocrisy, impossible standards and, most critically, the all-importance of external validation.  The women in the original ad can only move forward once they are affirmed as conventionally beautiful. Buy the message, buy the products, let them disabuse us of what's important.  God forbid anyone describes these women as ugly, or fat, or big-nosed or dark. What would they do???


Dove's all about "real women"- whoever the fuck that is.  Here, we offer "real women"- the blond, the dark-skinned, those subverting gender and artifice, the extremely dysmorphic. In exchange for their desperate self-hatred, Dove offers a coupon of beauty, into the pageantry of the light skinned and thin. Grateful, baptized, ready to begin anew; these "real women" embrace their day pass.  What, however, is the take home message for female consumers in the lose-lose set up staged by companies like Unilever, the producer of the natural lit "You're more beautiful than you think" campaign as well as Axe ads, rendering women as fawning, superficial dumb fucks?

Dove's latest surge of manipulated self love is just them walking back its bread and butter message: you're as beautiful as we think you are.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b326rlrg2jM&feature=youtu.be

Eat shit, Dove. I'm as hot as I think I am.

Added on by Nadine Friedman.

I mean.

This Dove campaign's being so lauded as progressive, so mold-breaking and Real, with sunset lighting and hand-held camera wiggliness.   I'll admit, for a multicragillion dollar company, it's the most exceptional in body-acceptance marketing.  But, and sorry to be all catlady 'bout it, it doesn't upend media's beauty bias at all. Instead, it's reaffirmed,  the moral being we're only as attractive as others think we are and by casting the closest approximations of standardized beauty: the main subjects are like 5 pretty, thin white women. Yeah, there's 2 women of color, and a couple of 40 somethings. That's it for diversity.  There's no dark skin, no big women, nobody old. Nobody with controversial, large or disproportionate features.  No disabilities. No men, no trans (where that at in Dove's "real woman" shenanigans?), no dreads,  just plain ole cisgendered, straight-haired, attractive women: advertising's bread and butter.  

They describe themselves (horrendously, it's so sad) to a sketch artist, who then asks a stranger to describe her. They're mollified when they see the "strangers'" version of themselves. Those people's language- "she's thin." "Nice, thin chin" (wtf's a thin chin?), "little nose" "beautiful blue eyes"- just reaffirm aspirational beauty standards. One woman practically gasps with relief at her stranger's description. Says of her own version: "Her face is fatter". So what the fuck if it is? Oh SHIT, what if the stranger had described her as equally fat, or fatter?!  What hole must she crawl into then? What products could she even bother with? Thankfully, the 'stranger sketch' is her 6 Flags day pass into the pageantry of the slim, unlined and light-skinned. The one Dove, and the entire beauty industry, caters to. Remember this major dumbfuckness, and that racially/conceptually clueless one? I'm not even gonna with the Unilever skin-lightening thing, people far smarter than me have talked about it at length.

"I need to do some work on myself". 

Appreciating our natural beauty is "so critical to our happiness". She can move on now.

Teary catharsis once they find out they're hotter than they thought, Stranger Approved®. This is just a more indie tagline telling us pretty is the vehicle to contentedness, that self-esteem is based on external approval.  "You're more beautiful than you think",  but, Dove? You're the last one with the right to inform me. You're one of the companies setting up the lose-lose for women. Don't tell me how beautiful I am.  I'm more than my face and hair and body, or anything a stranger tells me. Dove- owned by Unilever, whose Axe ads portray women as superficial, stupid and fawning assholes- is pretending to exorcise this formula from mainstream beauty marketing.

It's so goddamn hypocritical I can't feel anything but sad for these women and this manipulative surge of self-love.

                         Now that a total stranger's said I have symmetrical eyebrows, I can quit therapy

                         Now that a total stranger's said I have symmetrical eyebrows, I can quit therapy

Reading at the Raw Fiction event on 4.7.13

Added on by Nadine Friedman.

I'll be reading a selection from the in- the-works book on living with MS throughout the United States with Raw Fiction  on April 7th at The Joint on Myrtle. Contact Zahra Patterson on how you can mentor or contribute to an organization empowering youth through creativity and entrepreneurial ideas:

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Raw Fiction's mission is to provide an urban independent publication that bridges the gap between high-end literature and mainstream ideas. Created by young New Yorkers, Raw Fiction is a new initiative focused on the quality of fiction published for the enjoyment of our readers. We aim to publish writers from New York who want to challenge society's everyday thinking, who question the norm, and who present original characters and ideas.