Thursday, June 18, 2009

Beer and chips

Some days dinner is just too hard. These are the beer and chips days. I might round it off with some fried eggs. Don't worry, I'll go for a run in the morning.

I am feeling particularly gratified to be stuffing and crunching away with the delicious salty crumbs scattering down my front, while cravatted men waffle on about the fine knowledge of Italian cuisine and the difference between barley and farrow on Masterchef.

I made these chips by opening the bag! And using the corner of my skirt to twist the top off my delicious beer. Mmmmm.

Monday, June 15, 2009

My private power ballad playlist

Gutsy lady hits, to be wailed by me at opportune moments, in a particular order:

Total Eclipse of the Heart - Bonnie Tyler
Nobody Does it Better - Carly Simon
Heaven is a Place on Earth - Belinda Carlisle
Piece of My Heart - Janice Joplin
Today I Sing the Blues - Aretha Franklin
Can't See My Way - Etta James
100 Days, 100 Nights - Sharon Jones

The first three tracks feature heavily in my karaoke selections (along with Alice Cooper's Poison, Bon Jovi's Blaze of Glory, Michael Bolton's Love Is A Wonderful Thing and Queen's Don't Stop Me Now), while the list then verges towards the soul end of my musical tastes. If I were to meander further from the dubious 'power ballad' label, there'd be some Porgy and Bess and Sarah Vaughan lord knows what else.

The catharsis of wailing a power ballad with abandon is matched only by the tolerance of my good housemates and general acquaintance.

On Saturday afternoon I had the added bonus of a grand piano to writhe around on top of, a ridiculous pleasure that everyone should experience at least once in their lives*.

* Wear your good knickers if you plan to kick your legs. And be careful, those things are slippery!

Friday, June 12, 2009

In Two Minds: The Porn Conundrum

I like to think that I know my own mind. I am certainly prone towards neurotic levels of analysis: of others, of situations, and of myself. And like any somewhat neurotic person, nothing motivates me more in my analysis than a conundrum, some inexplicable feeling or situation. But recently I've hit upon an inherent truth about myself:

I am completely, and frequently, capable of holding two contradictory positions simultaneously.

I've been aware of this in a murky way that I'd never examined too closely until a year or so ago, when I realised that I both loved myself and hated myself to an uncompromising degree. This is something that I think most people, on some level do. We think we're quite special and unique, and when we get a promotion, or a new lover, we feel very gratified that other people are recognising our true worth. And at the same time we can loathe ourselves, and feel deserving when other people reject us or hurt us, and punish ourselves in all kinds of cruel ways. I know I do. I think I'm smarter than most people and can be smugly righteous, and yet in the past I've deliberately physicaly hurt myself (not in a suicidal way!) because I think I'm so shit, and I needed an outlet. Other people have other methods like alcoholism or 'arsehole' syndrome. I feel vainly gratified that my lover would choose to be with me, yet would find it pathetically understandable if he were to abandon me for someone more attractive. I think these things all at once. It's amazingly daft.

I can't remember who said it, but I recall a line being delivered to someone else: "You are both far more important, and far less important, than you think". To me, this is nearly always true, except for those wonderful glimmers of humble perspective which are the exception rather than the rule of my thinking.

But the other day this internal contradictory state crystalised quite profoundly for me. I was looking up porn on the internet. I haven't really done this before, but I was curious, and so I went looking. The footage I discovered was both compelling and also in no way sexy. I had a sort of clinical fascination with it, and moreso with the people who were making it. What were they thinking? Did they find it empowering, sexy, or just a way to pay the bills? Did they have low self-esteem? Do they see their bodies as an instrument that is seperate from some kind of 'self' or are they deliberately undergoing a something more experiential. Do they find it gratifying to imagine all kinds of people getting off on the footage, or did they just want to be famous? Were they exploited? Or were they exploiting? Or could both be true at once? And how was a viewer accessing these images on a laptop in the privacy of her room possibly to know the difference? All these questions and more have been occurring to me since, as have recurring images of some of what I saw (none of which could I relate to what I knew as sex - all those bleached and hairless genitals made it all seem highly removed from my 'real life' experiences).

The only conclusion I have come to is that I like porn, I find it curious and arousing and it makes me question my body and has stimulated some new bizarre fantasies. And at the same time, I find it confronting, it makes me feel a bit upset on behalf of the performers and worried for them when I try to understand their self-image, and troubled that some people see this as the pinnacle of possible sexual activity. And some of it makes me really angry. And some of the stuff that makes me angry also makes me hot. But then a lot of people can find self-destruction appealing, so I guess there's no rocket science going on there.

I can relate to people who defend porn, and who occasionally curl up at home and have a good go at themselves whilst watching it, and I can also read and intellectualise about inherent power dynamics and active vs passive gender roles and find it all a bit off. I've never really been much of a post-feminist after all.

For now, I'm not going to think about it much further. I shall remain a riddle, wrapped in an enigma, couched in a mystery, who is a bit of a hypocrit.