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October 23, 2006

Designing my mezzanine with SketchUp

I'm currently remodeling my loft. Part of the reconfiguration will make much better use of my mezzanine. I want to put my office / workspace in there. (...Lie. I don't want to put my workspace in the bedroom, but it's the only place it'll fit.)

The other day I downloaded SketchUp and started to play. After some maddeningly annoying and frustrating false starts (please tell me it's a bug that there are no keyboard shortcuts assigned to tools by default!), I was able to model my entire mezzanine with a new furniture concept in about 5 hours.

There are things I don't like about this layout: the office area is too busy, and the whole place looks more office than bedroom. So back to the drawing board, but sketchup is a great tool for visualizing my space.

Note: the little wall-mounted horizontal stacks of books represent these invisible book-stacking bookshelves from Chiasso. They mimic the Sapien bookshelves I have downstairs, which currently hold most of my books. PS, I love Chiasso. Check out these vertical stripey tealight holders.

October 20, 2006

Feminism versus Femininity

Salon published an article the other day titled Feminism vs. femininity. It's a review of a book by Laura Kipnis.

Femininity -- which Kipnis defines as "tactical: a way of securing resources and positioning women as advantageously as possible on an uneven playing field, given the historical inequalities and anatomical disparities that make up the wonderful female condition" -- seeks to ameliorate all these disadvantages by "doing what it took to form strategic alliances with men." But that means that femininity "hinges on sustaining an underlying sense of female inadequacy," which puts it in opposition to the goals of feminism. No wonder we feel a little uneasy when the possessor of a brand new boob job proclaims, "I did it for myself." I believe this is what Marx called false consciousness.

Recently, every time I get dressed to go out -- heels, skirt, jewelry -- it strikes me how incredibly non-functional are the clothes that make women look feminine, especially in high fashion. When I wear heels I can't run, I have to take small steps, I have to balance carefully, I have to take cabs. Small evening-appropriate bags are absurd: I can rarely fit keys, phone, wallet in one of the small and sleek bags that are favored for evening. Big earrings: attract attention, and if they snag on something, you get hurt. A tight skirt? Can't walk. Padded bras? Typically very awkward. Full skirt, short? Gets blown about by the wind, and I have to dedicate extra attention to ensuring I don't pull a Marilyn. Full skirt, long? Yeah, try to do anything functional: you spend half your time keeping it out of the dirt or needing a red carpet underneath. (Don't get me wrong: I love ballgowns.) Makeup: you have to periodically check it to make sure it hasn't gotten smeared in the wrong direction. Fingernail polish: oh god, the dreaded chip! There goes another half-hour to redo my nails plus an hour of drying time when I have to be really careful about what I do with my hands (or $20 if I go to a salon) and you have to do it every five days -- maybe more frequently if you wear darker polish that shows chips; I wear neutrals, which mostly don't.

I doubt I'm saying anything new on the subject; there are legions of feminist scholars who have written books and papers and discussed all of these issues. But the above excerpt from Kipnis crystallized the conflict that I feel every time I dress in a way that looks feminine. Because when I dress like that I am less functional. I can't ride my bike or walk to the BART -- I have to drive or cab or be picked up. I specifically avoid walking through my rather-sketchy neighborhood when dressed like that because I get way more untoward attention than when I'm wearing jeans and a t-shirt.

I don't have a huge beef with anyone trying to look attractive, but it sucks that the definition of female attractiveness is so tightly bound to female helplessness. Perhaps this is also true for male fashion, but I can't say because I'm not well versed in it and don't feel its codes the way I do the codes of female dress. Surely, too, dressing to helplessness is also a marker of social class and wealth -- I don't need to walk so I can wear high heels, I can wear a white dress because I can afford to have it cleaned, I don't need to run because I am safe and protected and have other people to do my work for me, I don't need a big purse because.... I have a boyfriend to pay for all my drinks and drive me around.

October 17, 2006


The other night I made this breakup mix CD for a friend of mine whose S.O. broke up with her. Fortunately, these days, it's really easy to share with the world by publishing to iTunes.

And because it was so easy, my California iMix.