Monday, August 30, 2010
Thursday, August 12, 2010
I like this because here I see my cranky Westerberg-inspired rebellion in full bloom, before I bowed to pressure, cut the hair shorter, and poured in the mandated late '80s hair product. By the time I had my senior pictures taken, my hair exploded. The final product is a backlit disaster which I will not reproduce here (or anywhere). At least it was better than others from that session, in which my mother insisted I put on a white sweater and fold my hands over the back of a chair. I'm serious. She didn't know me very well, but no one in the late eighties really did.
All this is on my mind because my classmates from those days recently gathered to celebrate the 20th anniversary of being freed from that prison....er, graduating from that fine educational institution. I didn't go. My three years spent in high school were a lonely, maddening time that I'd rather not revisit. Ever. EVER EVER EVER. Unfortunately, I don't have that option, as my two children are going straight through the meat grinder themselves before too long, but that's another angsty blog post for another time.
My insatiable curiosity, though, has kept me busy for hours on the Facebook photos from the event, poring over everyone's face and bod just as studiously as we did back in the Commons. Who's bald? Fat? Had too many kids? Divorced? Dead? What a disappointment to discover that I am just as shallow now as I was then! Have I learned nothing in two decades?!
I'm told that the event was such a success that another will be held in five years. Stephanie, if you're back in North America in 2015, I may allow you to drag me along. Maybe. Who knows--I may be fat, bald, and/or dead by then myself.
This is a very circuitous way to inform my readers that I have new work appearing in a new venue: Femomist.com, a site dedicated to "the radical notion that moms are people." Interestingly, my essay "The Mother of Online Re-Invention" addresses my longstanding need to appear cooler than I really am, a concern that only intensified when I became something called a SAHM. Facebook makes this easy! Today's high school students don't know how lucky they are, the ungrateful little twerps.
I also wrote a piece for the site that touched on an academic passion of mine from college: reader response criticism, a field of study that focuses less on the text itself than on the interpretations of the readers who consume it. In other words, your version of Toy Story 3 is going to be different from mine. It's also going to be different from the intern at Ms. magazine and the author of the Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life blog. My take is called "Toy Story 3 and reviews that review the reviewer."
If I'd gone to the reunion, maybe I would have had the chance to ask others for their interpretation of the years they spent at Edina High. Good? Bad? Indifferent? After twenty years, does it really matter anymore?
Monday, August 2, 2010
[In the early spring of 2005,] the following letter was sent to every major pharmacy chain in the Twin Cities:
Dear Sir or Madam,
I am writing because I am hearing alot in the news about pharmacists being able to deny a prescription to a customer because of their beliefs. Is this your company’s policy? I’m worried about what this might mean for my family. It seems somewhat unfair.
Both CVS and Walgreens wrote Mrs. Black quickly, informing her that the corporation did agree with her that it was a bit unfair to refuse to fill a customer’s legally obtained prescription, but these companies felt obligated to allow employees to act on their sincerely held beliefs. Interestingly, Target Corporation demanded to know the location patronized by Mrs. Black before they would offer an answer. Whether this was an attempt to identify Mrs. Black as a crusading phony or a hot-to-trot slut with a year's supply of Ortho Tri-Cyclen, I didn't know.
“Has no one pointed out the obvious?” E sighed. “If you don’t believe in the Pill, maybe a career in pharmacy isn’t right for you, idiot!”
“I don’t believe in Viagra,” K offered hopefully. “But that’s probably just because I’m a lesbian.”
“As someone who hopes to have hetero sex when I’m old, I’m for it,” I said. “But if a guy can control his sexuality with Viagra, a gal has the right to control her sexuality too.”
E brightened. “Viagra is not for procreative sex!” she shouted, as our alarmed waiter dropped a plate of tater tots on the table and ran. “A religious nut would deny the Pill should also deny an 80-year-old man his Viagra! He’s not planning on being a father!” She scribbled these thoughts in her notebook, the place where she cooked up her best plots. E was, in fact, bypassing me for the Best Feminist title. That’s easy to do when you’re not constantly distracted by pregnancy-related constipation--the Grumpy’s appetizer menu was wholly fiber-free.
I told E and K the story of panicking at my own pharmacy several weeks before [during a scary second trimester bout with the flu], certain that my pharmacist would yell across the store that this SICK, DISGUSTING PREGNANT LADY was trying to procure CODEINE in a twisted attempt to GET HIGH and DESTROY HER BABY’S BRAIN!!! After all, we’d heard of restaurants refusing to serve obviously pregnant women wine, whether in the glass or in the soup. “You’re absolutely right,” E said. “It won’t stop with contraception. They want to regulate everything about our lives.”
“Would a pharmacist be able to deny the drugs that treat HIV?” K asked. “Because the person who needs them is a sicko gay pervert and he deserves to die?” She paled.
E looked up from her notebook. She had a determined, patriarchy-smashing smirk on her face. “Oh, it’s on, ladies,” she said. “The new CVS in north Minneapolis opens in two weeks and we will be there.” Best Feminists do not debate; they decide. E’s troops could only chew on tater tots and await their instructions.
Our marching orders were to round up all of our friends, print up a batch of signs and appear at the new CVS on the date she assigned. I allowed Matt to take Elliott for the morning, but I recruited my sister and her three-year-old son to join us. Like Elliott, he was a good recruit for any action involving stomping and yelling. This morning he was more sluggish than usual, preferring to snuggle into his stroller while he snacked on the donut holes I provided. I waddled over to the crowd and flipped over my sign for E’s approval. In black sharpie against a yellow background, I wrote: NEED THE PILL FROM CVS? THIS COULD BE YOU! I rubbed my chubby, overalled belly for effect.
[unfortunately, the glare on this photo obscures the top half of my sign, but trust me, that's what it said.]
"Holy shit," E said. “Shannon, you are the best feminist in the entire universe.”
I thought so.
Sunday, August 1, 2010
George is correct. My language is sometimes "unseemly," if not downright "saucy" (and remember how that haunted unelectable Al Franken!). My campaign would only appeal to felons, vegans, 12-year-old boys, radical feminists and other fringey types.
I do accept contributions, however.