Oseberg ship’s head


Dear Internet,

The dubious quote above apparently comes from the Ethan Hawk movie classic, Great Expectations, so we’re just going to roll with it.

Tuesday I spent time wandering in 1999 and it’s been a painful walk down memory lane as I revisited, in explicit and intense detail, TheHusband and I’s first breakup, my intent to free myself of the tyranny I felt living in San Francisco, falling for Elvis, and my never ending obsession with one of my exes, Jeff (whom as I knew so many damn people or were related to those named Jeff, was referred to as “lucid” through most of my writing).

[Interlude —  Of course as I started writing this, I had to google stalk him. Well, let’s not be surprised he has a Twitter account and I made frowny faces as I read back his timeline because – this is not someone I would have ever dated in a million years.  But it should be noted his first wife had emailed me oh five or six years ago because apparently he spent most of his first marriage comparing her to me and wife #2 looks suspiciously like me circa when we were dating.]

Months up to June have been added for that year, but I stopped because I didn’t think I could handle reading any more in one sitting. There is only so much self-effacing and baring of the soul I can stomach before shutting emotionally down, even if it is about me. I will, however leave you with two foto posts of my exploits that year: One of 26 year old me via a B/W cam in April, 1999 and another one, written a month later, showing off my nipple and tongue piercings.

Which is a good segue towards this weekend, as I have a long standing appointment this Saturday to start work on tattoo #14. The inspiration is a Nordic dragon that will start at my shoulder joint and wrap its way around my arm. I’ve thrown the inspiration up on the Pinterest board I’ve started curating for ideas for the half-sleeve which will take over my right arm. It works that two existing pieces on my right arm right now are celtic in design, so adding a fiery dragon’s body will look fabulous.

My time off of work this week has resulted in more time spent in pants that I wanted to spend, but those are the sacrifices one makes. Lindsay came over to spend the day on Monday, which was good for our souls and Tuesday was spent running errands and seeing my therapist. As TheHusband and I had no intention of leaving the house this weekend, or at the very least, leaving the house and heading anywhere there might be flock of murderous shoppers, I decided to pick up some much needed items before locking ourselves in for the week. I shocked not just by the number of stores already doing pre-pre Black Friday sales but the number of shoppers who were jockeying for spots in parking.

The next couple of days are going to be very heavy food based entries as we prep for Thanksgiving dinner. Our menu is as follows:

Guinness marinated roast beef
Mashed potatoes
Cornbread and sausage stuffing
Roasted root veg
Greens cooked in bacon
Chocolate pecan pie

Ya’ll are invited. Dinner is at 4PM.


This day in Lisa-Universe:

The Bell Jar, the book cover, and mental illness

Dear Internet,

Earlier this year, there was a brouhaha all over Facebook and Twitter about how “disgusting” and “sexist” the new UK version of the 50th anniversary cover for Sylvia Plath’s seminal work, The Bell Jar. Here is the offending cover:


There are obviously several “chick-lit” cover tropes in play:

  1. Stock image of a woman applying make-up
  2. Vintage coloring scheme
  3. “Girly” cursive font

Given this context and novel’s content, everyone and their sixteen cousins are in a tizzy about the nature of this cover:

If Sylvia Plath hadn’t already killed herself, she probably would’ve if she saw the new cover of her only novel The Bell Jar. via Jezebel

How is this cover anything but a ‘fuck you’ to women everywhere? via Dustin Kurtz, marketing manager at Melville House

Awesomelycomicallyhistorically inapprop’ via Andy Pressman, graphic designer (in response to Kutz)

“The anniversary edition fits into the depressing trend for treating fiction by women as a genre, which no man could be expected to read and which women will only know is meant for them if they can see a woman on the cover.” via Fatema Ahmed, London Review of Books

“Insult to women everywhere” The Independent

Ms. Magazine, Salon, and The Guardian also weighed in, but kept their content more neutral, while Chicago Tribune and Huffington Post UK wrote the usual knee jerk reactions you would expect for the sole purpose of link baiting.

Interestingly, the controversy was never addressed in publications with consistently reputable book coverage, such as the New York TimesUSA TodayWashington Post or SlateWhat’s even more interesting is the cover was released in October of 2012 and only in the UK. A few souls bemoaned the inappropriate nature of the cover at the time, but it did not become WW III until someone at Jezebel decided to get their tits up about the topic. At which time, it became a feeding frenzy of OH EM GEE, WE MUST AVENGE SLYVIA PLATH.

So there is that.

Here is something to think about. No professional writer, blogger, or Internet commentator of note, made ANY kind of comment in the defense of the cover as a representation of the mentally ill, or fuck, did not make a single noise that it was recursive against the mentally ill. No, no, no – it was all about feminism, how Plath got jacked out of literary respectability because of the lurid colored cover and the overly female image, and her work has now, so say them all, been degraded to some emo representative chick lit that completely belays her importance.

So isn’t it funny that when it comes to someones idea of what a graphic designed cover of mental illness could look like, we decide to reject that notion on the basis it is disrespecting our vaginas? I mean really?

And listen — can someone put Jezebel out of their misery because they have become a hyperbole unto themselves? I do not get how it is seemingly appropriate for them to rail against the man in regards to feminism while seemingly having zero problems making insulting and stereotypical commentary about mental illness in the same breath. So sayeth my comments to the article:

“I’m varying degrees disgusted/ashamed only a small number of people called out the fact Tracie is an insensitive and obnoxious asshole for making disparaging commentary about mental illness and suicide. I tried to commit suicide when I was 17, my mother attempted twice in her 50s. Maybe next time we’ll just come to you for suggestions next time we want to off ourselves since you seem to have all the answers.”

What’s next, Tracie? Commentary likening Sylvia’s use of gas to kill herself to that of the Holocaust? Maybe somehow tie it in into ” exacerbated by the suffocating gender stereotypes”?

As a woman, who is bipolar, I don’t see the cover as “adjusting her make-up” or as some tricked pony of a color scheme to get more readers, or some flippant visual remark that the story is “chick-lit”, or being oppressed by the man for my gender (as you stated so eloquently).

What *I* see is what I see everyday in my OWN mirror: A woman with two faces. The public one I have to keep adjusted lest my illness be known, and the private one that is wholly different. The cover actually says A LOT about how much women need to carry more than one persona just to survive on a daily basis, even before the mental illness is added in.

It seems to me, that most people crying out “This is sexist bullshit!” or “That it’s an insult to women!” have never dealt with or experienced mental illness, which is far more stigmatizing for a woman.

And that fact has not changed in 50 years. Me, in response to the Jezebel article

So we come now, nearly a year later. We continually don’t want to talk about or disregard any representation of mental health in the media, even if that representation is wrong or misguided, if it goes against something else we place a higher value on, such as women’s rights.

But you can’t sacrifice one for the other. In an attempt to do so only reinforces whatever tropes and misguided notions exist whether the outlier is mental illness or something else entirely. And to reject a book cover under misconstrued ideals of what feminism looks like or that it is a rejection of contemporary ideologies — and remember, the baseline of what feminism is is the right to choose and portray our own lives — is just as hurtful and hateful as the projections everyone is attempting to claim the book is representing.

You cant’t have it both ways.


This day in Lisa-Universe:


Dear Internet,

When I started this entry originally — ooh, must have been sometime in the summer, I was responding to an article I read in The Guardian about the role of the reader versus that of the writer. Umberto Eco’s response surprised me as he struck me as someone who spent long hours with his nose in comics and books as he does writing them, but the positing of, “We are thus deeply influenced by books we haven’t read, that we haven’t had the time to read.” is deeply revealing not only of Eco, but also the world at large which I think was his point. I know I’m not the only person who when meeting another, especially once I’m invited into their home, immediately look for their bookshelves to see what their reading. But the advent of the Kindle and other ebook devices have now circumvented my nosiness. THANKS, AMAZON.

Which brings us to me and my reading and writing habits.

The ever growing To Be Read pile.
The ever growing To Be Read pile.

The image above is our TBR pile that is organized by owner as of mid-2012. What you’re not seeing is the nearly falling stacks in our bedroom on one of our dressers, our stacks of books on our ereaders OR taking into account the piles you see to your left have doubled since this picture was taken.

The topics on the shelves are diverse from ancient history to contemporary art criticism, with YA fiction thrown in for good measure and everything inbetween. Despite the breadth of content available, my secret shame is not what I have purchased and not read, but my reading lists on Amazon which number titles in the hundreds, organized neatly by topic. I want to read all the words in the world.

In the beginning of this year, I made the commitment to not purchase another book until my stacks were cleared. Which I mostly kept to – but I also snuck around this rule simply by ordering books via interlibrary loan and then reading them in bits and pieces before they were sent back. Two titles I’ve requested and received enough times that I really should just buy the damn books. I also circumvented this by supporting things via Kickstarter – because it’s for a good cause! And then later, you get presents you totally forgot about in the mail.

The problem I had been struggling with is my lack of reading books, but in my head I took it to mean I was not reading anything at all. When I did the update earlier in November on the goals laid out in Kalendae Januariae, I reconciled the fact my book reading was down because I was reading so much more in other media (magazines, newspapers, etc). But I feel a sickening shame and my heart drops, no matter how I try to spin it in my head, I’m just not reading enough and by that I mean books.  As of today, I have read NINE books in 2013, my goal for 2013 was to read 50. I am also influenced by people I follow across the social spheres who are reading books voraciously and widely, something I admire, which is helping giving me a kick in the arse to get going on my own book reading again.

To accommodate more book reading time, I’ve started with small changes such as taking an actual lunch break during the day and reading in the staff lounge instead of the usual eating at my desk while staring mindlessly at a monitor. TheHusband and I have also set aside, several nights a week, time after dinner to read which has been helping. I’ve also swapped my morning ritual around to include a breakfast that requires me to sit and eat, rather than eat on the go and it is during this time I catch up on newspapers, magazines, and of course books.

This upcoming week I am off for the holiday and I’ve resolved to read 3 books before I go back to work on December 2. When I go on holiday shutdown in mid-December, and I’m off for nearly a month, I initially resolved to finish a book a day. The more realistic approach to this since we’re having family in town and other plans is probably a book every two days.  If I can make those two challenges work, plus whatever other book reading I get in between then, should start making a dent in my back piles.

This also applies to my comics, which with gifts, Kickstarter, and my own personal spending habits have gotten widely out of control.

Now that I’ve been writing daily for almost a month, and even wrote a poem or two in the process as well as some notes for some shorts, I now know that setting the task of a small goal and achieving that goal can be done! It’s astonishing how such a small change can make a huge difference even in how you approach things in life, because knowing I set myself up for this, I find how as I write more, I want to read more, and as I read more, I want to write more. It’s a very pleasurable circle jerk that allows me to expand my world, one page at a time.

The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid. Jane Austen

Thanks Jane, I couldn’t have said it better myself.


This day in Lisa-Universe: 2008, 1998