Tuesday, August 29, 2006

What hath Oprah wrought

I channeled my inner Grandma the other day and wrote a letter of complaint to O Magazine. (I also wrote a letter of praise to novelist Carolyn Parkhurst, and she wrote back to me, but that's not what I'm talking about here. It's just cool.)

The subject of my complaint? Stationery. Not just any old printed notecards, but ones designed by Kate Spade and featured in a multi-page spread in the September O. Stationery that costs $189 for 50 calling cards (that's a boring design, and one of the cheapest ones, too.)

I am not often one to shake my fist at excess or deny anyone the right to have nice things- if you know me, you know that I greatly enjoy shopping and don't like cheap crap. But, as the Slacker's Prince often points out, our worldview is very much shaped by our lower-middle class upbringing. My definitions of "cheap" and "expensive" are VERY different from Oprah's definitions, or the definitions of many people that I meet here in California. Either way though, I find it vulgar to spend that kind of money on cute paper products when there are starving children in Africa.

Which brings me to the conundrum (dare I say "hypocrisy") that Oprah creates on a weekly basis. Oprah defines what is good, acceptable, desirable, and worthy of attention for millions of people worldwide. It sounds glib for me to use "starving children in Africa" in a guilt trip, but those African children are some of the people that Oprah cares most about in this world. Yet she can have an episode about her trip to South Africa air on a Thursday, and then next Tuesday the wildly popular "Oprah's Favorite Things" episode airs, where she gives away televisions, jewelry, cheesecakes, handbags, and other things that have caught her fancy over the year.

Is it impossible to both have extravagant things and provide real support for charities and worthwhile causes? No, it is not impossible. Mostly for Oprah and the SuperRich. Am I saying that Oprah doesn't do enough or that she shouldn't like Burberry jackets? Not at all. What I would like to consider is the fact that most people cannot both make a real difference for a ministry or charity and save for the latest Balenciaga dog collar or Prada silk tampons. So Oprah is sending a very mixed message to her viewers: You can make a difference! You need this flat-screen TV! You need to and can do something about the situation in Africa, or for women in Iraq, or for the kids who can't read in your city! $180 moisturizer is the only way to go!

Which is the priority?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

An epiphany, but not as impressive

I can't seem to put what I want to say into paragraph form, so you get bullet points:

  • I have wandered both geographically, spiritually, and professionally for most of my adult life.
  • I don't have many of what the cool kids like to call "accomplishments".
  • Sometimes this makes me feel like a loser.
  • There are better ways to look at this.
  • God is keeping me humble, being that I'm so fond of being a smarty-smarty.
  • I'm supposed to give thanks in all situations.
When I examine things just from my point of view, I love my life and I like all that I've done and everywhere that I've been. It's just when I think of how others are looking at me that I get all defensive. Which is stupid. I guess that I also think, "I should have done/been more," but that is pure vanity.

I started writing this yesterday, and today I feel much better about things. I suppose that writing while exhausted doesn't do anyone much good. It just results in whining.

I got this Bible verse in an e-mail message today: "The vision is for an appointed time. Though it tarry, wait earnestly for it, for it will surely come." (Habakkuk 2:3)
That pretty much says it. I know that God is doing things in and through me and one of the things that He has been trying to beat out of me is my need to control things, so I get to float. But I'm floating with purpose- being transformed and molded, so I need to do so with more appreciation and peace.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Well, nothing really has been new.

I see that I haven't written anything here in a couple weeks, but there hasn't been a lot to talk about. I haven't finished my exploration of feminism and what my definition will be, but it's always bouncing around. I'm just so tired of the old stereotypes of what makes a feminist, a Christian, a liberal. It's all one, big, churning mass of thought right now, so not too great to write about, but here are things that are informing the internal debate:

A quote from Irish writer/feminist Rebecca West that I found through a high school friend:
I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.

An excellent (so far) book that I'm reading with a title too long to include, so just follow this link. The subtitle should tell you where I'm going with this.

So, what are these things doing for the debate? Well, I hadn't seriously considered the need to read the early feminists, but I guess that I need to do that. And up to this point, the book is making me firmer in some of my convictions about what a Christian should really be. And then that leads to the endless circle of "You're too judgmental. But now I'm judging you." So I guess that I shouldn't so much say, "what a Christian should really be," but rather "What I need to be."

I spent eight days with our California family, and that was very nice. Two-day trips every month or more are really not enough to truly get to know a large group of people and have good conversations, so this was really great. It was lovely to be able to spend four hours at a time talking with B and not feel like I'm ignoring the other members of the family.

Also, it was the first time that I actually felt that I would enjoy living there. But I don't want to live there! (harrumph) Well, it doesn't help matters when one of your favorite kids in the world (well, let's be honest- one of the only kids you like) says to you, "I really wish you guys lived here near us!" It's just that I love where we live, I love living near the ocean, and I love living in the Bay Area. The real desires have been to move closer to the water, closer to San Francisco, or all the way down to San Diego. This is why I wait on God to see how He directs our path.

Good for me! I actually got a real post out of the ether!
One last note: when doing the spell-check on this post, "Toronto" was suggested as a replacement for "doormat".

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Why I do this

I've just spent the last hour or two listening to the podcasts of a guy from high school, one who I actually had a major crush on for about four years, but that is neither here nor there, I think.

You know what? It doesn't even matter. It doesn't matter what he is doing or what anyone else is doing. The point is what I am NOT doing. Anything. And now the phone rang and I had to talk for a few and get out of my pity party. Moving on.

My point is that I want so much more from myself. I want to be a part of the big conversations and to be smart(er) and know things. I fill this void by posting about things that don't matter much on discussion boards and vomiting out my opinions on minutae on myspace and here. I appreciate this blog and I love doing it because it is the only form of writing that I practice right now, which leads to the constant fight between writing in slacker/realistic form because it is my little corner and I can do whatever I want and trying to be grammatically perfect and write as if I'm forming the argument of a paper, just in case someone reads this page who doesn't happen to be one of my two best friends who already know what I am capable of doing.

Bill Hybels speaks of a "holy discontent" that God uses to show you where you should act. I know that this isn't completely what he means by it, but that phrase is what is in my mind right now. Perhaps this restlessness I feel is my holy discontent bubbling up in my direction. I'm in a place of transition. We'll see what's next.

I'm sure it's just me

Husband and I were both bitten by a dog this weekend. Nothing major at all; just a bratty chihuahua mix who was scared. I wouldn't say that I was upset afterwards, but I was shaken. Perhaps it was shock or something, but I was trembling for a bit. Now, here's the weird thing: even right away, I was almost glad for it. I don't know if anyone would understand this, but I look at it as almost a milestone of some sort. Let me see if I can explain.

I haven't been bitten by a dog since I was little, and not that I'm afraid of dogs at all, but no one really wants to be bitten, so there is always a little fear kicking around in the back of the mind: What if I get bitten? I'm chewed on pretty regularly by the various dogs in my life, but this was an angry bite and there is a bit of a hole in my hand right now. So here's the glad part: I was bitten, and it was no big deal. Like I crossed a line or something. Yes, it was just a little dog, not some big mutt trying to take a chunk out of my leg or anything, but I feel a little bit like, "Oh. Got that taken care of. I lived. Good to know. Moving on."

So that you can mentally prepare for an upcoming post: I am currently pondering feminism- its current definitions and my place in them. It's probably going to be a big one, and soon. Just so you know.