Being Home

Since my graduation from college, I lived in Michigan for only a little over two years. Three years of law school in Alabama, then those few years back home, and now two years and counting in Reno. Realistically, I don’t think I’ll leave Reno for good, probably ever. My job that I love is here. My boyfriend that I love is here. Eventually, I expect, we’ll get married and start a family of our own here. I’m a registered Nevada voter. This year I’ll be trading in my soon-to-be-expired Michigan driver’s license for a Nevada one. But if you look back on that second sentence, you’ll notice that I still instinctually refer to Michigan as home, because in my heart, it still is.

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I wouldn’t wish the kind of homesickness I had in my first year of law school on anyone. It was deep, draining. It was like a constant low-level hum…even when I wasn’t actively aware of it, it was still there, always in the background, coming to the forefront when everything else was quiet and lonely. And there was an awful lot of loneliness. I didn’t know a soul south of the Mason-Dixon when I moved down to Alabama. I spent my time on the phone with my friends, whoever would pick up the phone, cried about how much I missed Michigan and all the familiar people and things I loved. I tried to drown the loneliness and homesickness in drinking, always more, until I was able to pour 10 drinks into my 5’2″ frame and stay standing, stay semi-coherent even, and inappropriate sex, not for fun but to make the hum stop for a little while. It didn’t work. Somehow it evened out after that first year. Three months of Michigan summer dried me out, restored my equilibrium. There was plenty of drama and heartache ahead for me in those last two years in Alabama, but I never again sunk to the same lows. The hum receded, still present but never quite as loud as it had been. I left Alabama four days after I graduated.

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The two years I spent back in Michigan after law school were simultaneously horrible and wonderful. On the one hand, that was the time I was logging 12 hour days in the library studying for the bar, then spending months and months looking for work and increasingly despairing that I would never find it, and when I did, I was professionally unsupported and sexually harassed. When I think about that part of it, I wonder how I got through so much misery. But on the other hand, I was back with the people I love. My mom, my dad, my sister. Kailey, Crystal, Patrick. And the places! Ann Arbor, my mom’s lake house, my grandpa’s place in the Upper Peninsula. The things that were so familiar that they felt like putting on an old broken-in pair of shoes. Meijer’s. Vernors. Taking the empty Vernors back to Meijer’s to get money for can and bottle return. Party stores. Days out on the boat, the incredible sunsets over the water. Ice-skating on that same lake in the winter on the oval track my our neighbors at the end of the bay have been plowing the snow off since I was a kid. Knowing off the top of my head the best sandwich place in town. Being guaranteed to run into someone I went to high school with at the Zukey Lake Tavern. The rhythms of life were comforting, so easy to fall right back into like I’d never left. You underestimate it, until you leave home. How good it feels to not have to think, to just know.

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And then, of course, I ran to Reno to escape the bad parts of living in Michigan, to escape the dream I’d had of being a lawyer that had turned sour and started to suffocate me. It was never supposed to be more than a temporary exit. I’ve come to really enjoy living in Reno, it’s a great city, but it’s not Michigan. Life here moves on a different schedule. I don’t know I-80 the way I know US-23. I don’t anticipate the turns of McCarran like I do on the sections of M-36 that run through Hamburg and Pinckney. I’m used to the sight of slot machines in gas stations and grocery stores by now, but it still feels not quite right. I’ll get there, probably, over time. Time will do what it always does and erode the edges off. I’ll call Nevada home and mean it. But I’m not there yet, and damn do I miss being home.

I Cooked: Aloo Chaat

If you tell me that potatoes are a key ingredient to just about any dish, I will be interested in eating it (unless, of course, it has one of the foods I refuse to eat). This recipe had a lot of things I liked: potatoes, a short ingredient list, and a straightforward procedure. While there is real pride in attempting something complicated and succeeding, sometimes all you really want is to make something easy and succeed. I found this recipe over at Chilli and Mint, where Torie cooks up a lot of spicy, Indian-based food, so you should definitely go check out her stuff!

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1 pound sweet potatoes, roughly 1 inch cubes
1 pound white potatoes, roughly 1 inch cubes
3 tbsp olive oil
One half a can of minced green chilies
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 heaped tsp turmeric powder

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Place the cubed potatoes in a pan of boiling water for 13 minutes. You want them to begin to be soft, but not completely soft that they just fall apart!

Strain the potatoes. In a large pan heat the oil and add the cumin seeds, chillies and turmeric powder. Let the sizzle for 30 seconds before adding the potatoes and coating them in the seeds and powder.

Cook the potatoes on a medium low heat for a further 7 minutes, turning carefully a couple of times, then serve If you find the potatoes are still a little hard, add a little water and place the lid on the pan and they will soften after a couple of minutes.

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This turned out good, but unspectacular. Which, to be fair, this is Indian street food. It’s not meant to be a proper “meal”. I think it would be better after a big lunch sometime after it turns cool (read: fall or winter)…it warms the tummy, but there’s no protein so it’s not filling in a long-term kind of way. Also, while it comes together super quick and easy after prep, if you’re like me and slicing potatoes taxes your feeble upper-body strength, the prep will take significantly longer than the cook time. At the end of the day though, it was straightforward to make, inexpensive, it tasted good and I enjoyed eating it, so I’m calling this one a win.

I Ate: Naan & Kabob

Drew knows how I feel about Middle Eastern food. So when we found ourselves on the southern end of Reno, he decided to surprise me and take me out to one of Reno’s only (and reputedly its’ best) Middle Eastern restaurant, Naan & Kebob. What a sweetheart, right?

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I ordered some hummus to start and a falafel plate as my main course. And while both were solid, neither of them measured up to what I was hoping for. The hummus on the west coast that I’ve tasted has the wrong texture, to me. It’s too solid, not creamy enough. The pita served with the hummus was also off from what I’ve always considered “real” pita, which should be extremely flat, like a tortilla with a pocket. What gets served as pita out here is much thicker and fluffier. The falafel was good, but not great. A little too dry.

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The restaurant itself is nice: small, but with enough spaces between the tables to not seem cramped. The service was great, our waiter checked in on us regularly without hovering. Not a fancy restaurant by any means, but a nice place to come get dinner. I know I don’t sound that enthusiastic about it, but I’ve been spoiled by access to really amazing Middle Eastern food for almost my entire life. The food here is quite good, though. The Awesome Dude dessert (not pictured because I was much more interested in trying to eat it as fast as I could than I was in taking its picture), in particular, was amazing and completely unique (saffron ice cream with baklava).

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Naan & Kebob is located at 2740 S. Virginia St in Reno, NV. It’s right across the street from the Peppermill. There’s a small parking lot on site. Prices are very reasonable and it’s good quality food.

Good Enough

In many aspects of my life, if you were to ask me if I’m “good enough”, I’d be inclined to answer in the affirmative. I like myself as a person. I’ve got lots of flaws, but I’m loyal, a good friend. I’m optimistic and happy, and try to make the people around me happy, too. I’ve got a good sense of humor about myself. I’ve got a broad range of interests, so I can have conversations on a lot of different topics. As a professional person, I’m competent. I’m smart, and quick to catch on. I’m intensely verbal, a fast reader and good writer. I’ve got a fondness and skill for research. I know how to dress and comport myself in a wide variety of situations.

So I generally think I’m pretty good. Room for improvement, always, but good enough for sure. And then it comes to romantic relationships, and it’s not remotely the same story. I grew up never seeing a solid romantic relationship in the house. My parents broke up before I was born. My mother’s marriage to my sister’s father was tumultuous. She had a few boyfriends up through my time in middle school, but they never worked out. She had a steady relationship for a few years when I was in high school, but they always maintained separate households and even then, there were problems and they split up. There are all those stereotypes floating around about girls like me, who grew up without a steady father figure: issues, damaged goods. I didn’t date in high school. No one asked me out. Looking back, I think I was probably both too far down the social pecking order and intimidating to boot. I had little flirtations when I did summer programs (I had my first kiss during the Stanford summer program) because I was surrounded by people who weren’t threatened by my intelligence, but that was it until college. Freshman year, I had a brief dalliance with someone who lived in my dorm who told me that he liked me, but he wasn’t looking to get serious with anyone. The first time I’d ever asked a boy to take me seriously romantically and I was shot down. It was the first of many in that pattern.

The next year was when I got involved with Sean. He was the first real relationship I had, the first boy that I ever really loved and really loved me back. While I have nothing but fondness in my heart for him now, our relationship was deeply unhealthy. He left me at least 3 times, always (from my perspective anyways), when I pushed to take our relationship forward. When I started dating Scott, I wanted our relationship to be more than it was…it was a fling, and I don’t mean to say that it wasn’t fun because it was, but I wanted more. I held on, blowing on the embers, trying to keep the fire alive. It wasn’t until I found out from my sister that he was moving that I realized it was over. My next boyfriend, Jay, broke up with me every few months or so, whenever we were in danger of getting too stable. I was scared to ask him for even the smallest things I wanted, worried about pushing him away. It took a long time for me to recover from that relationship, I didn’t start dating Ben until two years later. And then when I started pushing for us to get more serious after a few months together, he balked. We broke up. We were starting to get back together when I left for Reno, and every so often I wonder if it would have been any better the second time around. Probably not.

And so I find myself with very little confidence about myself in my relationship with Drew. It’s hard to ask for what I want…every single relationship I’ve ever had has taught me that doing so is a great way to get myself dumped. It’s hard to feel good enough, even though I know I’m a good girlfriend, when every experience I’ve lived through would seem to tell me that I don’t deserve what I want. In those moments where I’m trying to screw up my confidence, it’s hard to ignore the idea that maybe I don’t deserve it because there’s something wrong with me, that maybe I should just stay quiet and let it be so I don’t cause problems. There’s very little Drew has said or done to feed into this mindset. He has never pushed back at me when I wanted something pertaining to our relationship. And while that’s reassuring, there are years and years of my life that have made me who I am in a relationship today.

I think it’s hard for people to understand that “confidence” isn’t this universal attribute that applies to everything. That feeling assured in some parts of your life doesn’t mean that there aren’t others where you feel small and undeserving. And so I’m left with a quote (often incorrectly attributed to Plato) by the author Ian Maclaren:

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle”

I Cooked: Garlicky Stewed White Beans with Mixed Peppers

As much as I enjoy finding new and delicious things that I can make and eat, I’m finding a happy food place: beans/legumes of some variety, stir-fried with veggies, garlic, maybe some greens and then some kind of pasta or grain. Not everything I make falls into that exact pattern, but it’s a baseline that I usually find to be easy to make and delicious to eat. So, although this doesn’t have greens or pasta, it falls right into my wheelhouse. It was straightforward, didn’t take too long, and was tasty and filling. Success! I found this recipe from Cooking Light.

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1.5 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 chopped bell peppers, any color
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon herb mix (I used Penzey’s Bouquet Garni)
2 (15 ounce) cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14 1/2 ounce) can tomatoes, diced and undrained

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Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and bell peppers, and cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Add garlic and crushed red pepper; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in water, herbs, beans, and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes or until thick, stirring occasionally. Serve and enjoy!

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So, like I said earlier, this was easy to make and tasted good. Win-win! I did make some modifications to the original recipe…when I was looking at the ingredient list, I thought that it looks like onions would taste good in this combination, and I think it was a good addition! I added a little more oil to account for the extra food. I also chose to use an herb mix rather than just sage, because I thought it would add more flavor, but that’s up to you. This whips up quickly and makes for good leftovers. What’s not to love?

I Went: Spa Toscana

For Christmas last year, Drew’s parents, Fran and Gordy, got me a giftcard to the spa at the Peppermill: Spa Toscana. It was a great present because I am about zero percent inclined to do spa-type things if left to my own devices. I’ll maybe shell out $20 or so for a mani or pedi every so often, and I get my eyebrows waxed every few months because I cannot be trusted to pluck them on my own, but otherwise, my “indulge myself” money goes to new dresses. I hadn’t had a haircut anywhere but Great Clips since I moved to Reno. I get two inches trimmed off the bottom of my hair a few times per year. I can’t justify paying someone $40 to do that. But with this gift card, I finally decided to go get a fancy haircut.

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First things first: the spa is waaaaaaay at the back of the casino. Which is almost certainly by design, so that you have to walk by the rest of the casino things before you get there. I see what you’re doing, Peppermill. Not gonna hate, I’d probably do that too. But I am definitely not a gambler, I haven’t so much as pulled the handle of a slot machine since I’ve lived here. I had never been in the Peppermill before, but it wasn’t hard to find the spa, there are lots of signs that point you in the right direction.

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Once I got there, I was whisked up in the elevator to the women’s spa floor. I only had to wait about two minutes before my stylist came out and steered me to her booth. The booths here are private, with walls between them and a curtain at the back if you really want to block everything else out. The experience itself was pretty salon-standard: she washed my hair for me (which I love the feeling of), and then got to work cutting, finishing up with a blow-dry and flat iron. I decided that, since summer here in the high desert is a Real Thing, to actually take some length off and got a long angled bob. I wanted the ends in the front to touch my collarbone, which they didn’t quite do (about two inches short), but I really love the shape and lightness of the cut. It’s a smidge short for me to get into a ponytail, which is a bit of a pain for working out, but it’s nice to have it off my shoulders and back without having to do anything to it. A shorter cut also does a better job of disguising how fine my hair is. I think I’ll keep this cut for a while and grow it out gradually until next summer and then chop it again.

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Spa Toscana is located inside the Peppermill Casino, at 2707 S. Virginia Street in Reno, NV. You can either park yourself (which I always do) or valet parking is available. Like I mentioned, the spa is way at the back of the casino, so definitely arrive early to your appointment so you can make it in time. Appointments do need to be made in advance (I made mine about a week and a half beforehand). They offer pretty much all of the traditional spa treatments: hair, waxing, massage, facials, etc. It is pricey (my haircut was $45, plus tip), but it was definitely a luxurious, pampered-feeling kind of experience, so I’d say it’s worth the cost for an indulgence every once in a while.

Birchbox: June 2014

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This was actually a very satisfactory Birchbox month for me. Even though I didn’t love everything I got, everything I got was something I would at least hypothetically use. Which is really the fun of Birchbox, for me. Getting my millionth BB cream sample when I don’t wear that kind of thing and know that I won’t start even if the product doesn’t suck makes it feel like a chore to try out my samples. I like exploring new products that I might actually start using: basic makeup (mascara, lip stuff, sometimes eyeliner), skin products for body and face, perfume samples, hair care. So this was pretty great!

Benefit They’re Real! Mascara: I’d actually already gotten a sample of this before, from Sephora at some point. It’s something I like, so I was happy to get another one! Apparently this is a bit of a cult product, which I don’t really get, but whatever. It’s a nice mascara, but hardly life-changing. Then again, I have naturally dark lashes, so I just curl my lashes as often as putting on mascara (read: not that often in either case), so maybe that’s why I’m missing the hype.

 

Perlier Body Cream: This I did not care for. I didn’t like the texture of it, it felt too greasy to me. I tried it on my hands a few times and didn’t use again because it’s not for me.
Davines OI / All in One Milk: This didn’t make much of a difference to me, honestly. I think it weighed down my hair more than anything else. I use a rich conditioner daily anyways.
Caudalie Polyphenol C15 Anti-Wrinkle Defense Serum: Even though it’s a small sample, I definitely appreciate the design of this serum sample in a little squeezeable package. The sample size here was so small that I didn’t notice any difference in my skin. I get that this is spendy stuff to buy a full size, but it’s sometimes a bummer when you only get a little bit of a skin product. How am I supposed to be able to tell that it’s working?
Catherine Malandrino Style de Paris: I actually really liked this scent…I usually gravitate towards a floral oriental, but this is a fruity oriental, which isn’t something I come across too often. Unfortunately, my discretionary spending is locked down lately (medical bills, dental bills, etc), so I don’t really have a spare $80 for a new bottle of perfume when I have six bottles on the nightstand anyways. I’d definitely consider it when I have more spending money though.
Davines Love Smoothing Shampoo: While I liked the sample size and packaging a lot, I can’t say I had much love for the actual shampoo. I know that apparently the chemicals that make shampoo all lather-y are bad for the environment and they say that the amount of lather doesn’t make a difference, but my experience has been that my super fine hair needs a squeaky cleaning daily and that low-lather shampoo just doesn’t cut it…there’s still oil in my hair after my shower. This shampoo is that kind of shampoo. Not for me.
Davines Love Smoothing Conditioner: The conditioner, while it had worse packaging, I did like using on my hair. It’s very rich (richer even than my usual Nexxus Humectress), so a little goes a long way, but my hair was so soft and smooth when I used it. It wasn’t enough of a step up from my usual routine to really consider changing things up, but a good product.

I Cooked: Kale and Chickpea Stew Over Creamy Polenta

So I’ve mentioned before how I, as a picky eater and creature of habit, tend to come around to food trends much, much later than pretty much everyone. Like the whole thing where the first time I cooked with quinoa was like, six months ago. Anyways, kale is one of those foods that everyone always talks about and is supposed to be all healthy and good for you and stuff, and that I’d never really eaten or made before. But this recipe for Kale and Chickpea Stew (my beloved chickpeas!) over Polenta from Whole Food Runner looked so good that I figured now was the time. If you’re looking for nutritious, straightforward recipes to keep your body fueled up and ready to go (bonus: most of them are vegan!), go over there and check out Megan’s blog and recipe index. Quality stuff!

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1 large bunch of Kale (about 12oz), de-stemmed and torn
3 Roma Tomatoes, diced
1 medium Yellow Onion, diced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup Water
2 TBSP Olive Oil
2 tsp Smoked Paprika
¼ tsp ground Coriander
1/3 tsp ground Cumin
Pinch of ground Cloves
2 15oz cans of Chickpeas (do not drain)
Salt & Pepper to taste

4 cups Water
1 cup ground Polenta
1/2 cup milk (could be made vegan by using unsweetened almond milk)
Salt & Pepper to taste

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Bring water to a boil in a large flat-bottomed skillet. Add the kale leaves and toss until they are bright green and wilted. Drain the water and set the kale aside. In the same skillet, heat the oil and over medium heat, add the onion, garlic and tomatoes. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the spices and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add the chickpeas and their liquid and bring to a boil. Add the kale and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for an additional 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In the meantime, start working on the polenta by bringing the water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the polenta and stir occasionally until all of the liquid has been absorbed. Add the milk, a little bit at a time, until the polenta reaches your desired consistency (I like mine thick and creamy). You may have to continue to add milk depending on the time it sits (it thickens quickly). Serve in individual bowls and top with the kale and chickpea stew and season with salt & pepper to taste.

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So here’s the thing: now that I’ve tried kale, I don’t think I especially like it. I was actually thinking about subbing in spinach, which I LOVE, before I made the dish, but Drew likes kale and convinced me otherwise. But I kind of wish I had: the taste of kale doesn’t bother me, but (and I don’t know if I made it wrong, so maybe this is on me, but the internet tells me this is typical) it was incredibly chewy. Which isn’t one of my favorite mouthfeels. I found myself kind of eating around the kale as I dug in, because I liked everything else that was going on quite a bit. Kale is apparently just not really for me. Which is fine, but now I know. I think this would be just as good with any other leafy green, so if kale makes your heart happy, go for it and enjoy, because you’ll like this, but if not, find something that makes you go “mmmm”. It’s pretty quick work to make, and like the original post suggests, would be a great tummy warming meal on a cool night. Or whenever you want your tummy warmed. You do you.

I Saw: June 2014

This month was back to normal in terms of being in town, but I didn’t manage to watch quite as many movies as last month. Only 4! Part of that is because I got a little burned out on watching too many movies I didn’t care for in a row, and switched over to watching some TV for a while to kind of recharge. Watching the number of movies I do can actually be taxing in its own odd way, and I need a little brain rest every so often. The other reason was that my spare media time was mostly spent watching World Cup! Every four years, I like soccer for about a month, and then go blissfully back to ignoring it again. But during World Cup, I watch as many matches as I can and cheer for whatever team has the cutest players (sorry not sorry), and get really into it. The movie watching, sadly, fell a bit by the wayside. Drew goes out of town next month, so I’ll have some more time then!

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Much Ado About Nothing: 4/10

SUCH a disappointment. I grew up on the Emma Thompson/Kenneth Branaugh version, who are just the two leads of a completely amazing cast. Shakespeare can be tricky to get right, to roll off the tongue naturally while getting to the feeling underneath. And this is a great play, full of wit and emotion. But as much as I enjoy the Whedon stable of actors, they are not up to the task, any of them. It doesn’t help that Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof have no chemistry as the leads. I actually watched the “good version” right after this one as a palate cleanser.

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Being There: 1/10

How much you will enjoy this movie depends entirely upon how much you are amused by its central concept: a middle-aged “simple” man, whose past is never explained, has spent his entire life as a gardener when the man for whom he works passes away. Helpless on his own, he falls in through happenstance with Washington DC insiders, who take his non-sequitors about gardening as being deep philosophical musings and consider him a wise advisor. I didn’t find it funny. I found it sad. Did no one in this man’s life think that he may need to interact with the outside world someday? Why did no one teach him even the most rudimentary life skills? Why doesn’t the maid, knowing he’s ill-equipped to survive on his own and seeming to be at least a little fond of him, try to help him at least find a place to stay? Why didn’t the lawyers who found him in the abandoned mansion where he lived his whole life help him connect with social services instead of just informing him he needed to leave? Why is this funny? Could not have hated it more.

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Inside Llewyn Davis: 5/10

I didn’t even especially like this movie, but it was a relief to at least sort-of like a movie after all the duds I’ve seen lately. That being said, I think the character of Llewyn Davis (and thus the entire movie) would have been kind of insufferable if not for Oscar Isaac’s performance in the role. Llewyn is the kind of character I usually find irritating: he’s devoted to his artistic endeavors despite having little success and sponges off his friends and family to make up for it. But as Isaac plays him, he’s actually sympathetic. Recognizable faces fill the supporting cast and they all acquit themselves well, but the movie is really a showcase for Isaac and he makes the most of it. Not spectacular, and I don’t feel any need to see it again, but I didn’t hate watching it and that’s a good thing at this point.

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God Loves Uganda: 8/10

This was one of the rare movies that Drew picked out. In a wild surprise, the couple who met on Democratic campaigns are both staunch liberals and tend towards the agnostic side of the religious spectrum. We were both raised Catholic, and while I’m not hostile to religious belief, I will confess to being strongly put off by aspects of Evangelicalism. The gist of this documentary is that hardcore American Evangelicals, faced with losses in the US culture wars, have found more fertile territory in which to plant their seeds: Uganda. The rise of anti-homosexuality in Uganda, not just culturally, but into their very legal system, is tied to the influence of American Evangelicals. Really, really interesting and definitely worth a watch.

Learning Shame

I recently found myself embroiled in a bit of a Twitter war. That’s not usually the beginning of a good story. The gist of it was a meme that’s been passed around lately, a photo on which a woman has written that school dress codes, which mandate that girls cover their bodies, usually for the understood-if-not-expressed purpose of “not distracting the boys”, result in the removal of girls from classrooms so that boys can learn. Which is sexist and gross. Three former law school classmates of mine, all men, felt compelled to try to undermine this argument, saying that dress codes apply to both boys and girls and that, assuming they’re being enforced equally, that’s not institutionalized sexism. Which anyone that’s ever been to high school knows is a blatantly false assumption. While boys are able to wander around with vulgar t-shirts more or less unrestrained, the ones who get in trouble/get pulled out class for dress code violations are overwhelmingly girls. While I don’t think there are statistics compiled on the gendered enforcement of dress codes, to deny that enforcement is in fact gendered is to deny reality. Which is what I inserted myself into the conversation to say, and it was not received well. I was told that my “unsupported railing” against the assumption that dress codes are enforced equally was irrational. The whole thing burned itself out pretty quickly, but it left a bad taste in my mouth.

This is about institutionalized sexism, the way that gender discrimination has become so deeply coded in the fundamentals of our culture (like, say, schooling) that it’s thought of as normal. The thing they said that I found especially galling was that they tried to deny that the dress code is in and of itself discriminatory, because both boys and girls are subjected to it. Let’s deconstruct this. The two common dress code segments targeted at boys are the forbidding of sagging pants and vulgar t-shirts, which seem to mostly be aimed at not offending adults. The regulations aimed at girls are all about covering their bodies (legs, bust, abdomen, even shoulders) so that they don’t get teenage boys worked up. Not only does this fly in the face of reality, which is that teenagers think about sex constantly without any sort of prompting, it also teaches girls that their bodies are bad. They’re distracting. They don’t belong in the public space, not the way you want to dress them. If a boy is driven to distraction by your body, it’s your fault. Your body is a embarrassing thing, a thing to be covered and hidden. This is one of the many ways girls in our culture are socialized to have shame about their bodies, an issue that haunts most of us well into adulthood. And while I do think a certain amount of the problem is attributable to unequal enforcement (a boy’s cut-off t-shirt exposing his shoulders and side of his chest will be ignored, while I don’t know of a girl that’s gotten away with wearing a tank top without issue and we can all agree that that’s not okay), the greater issue is the policing of female bodies. Telling girls that they should have more respect for themselves than to dress like that, as if self-respect is measured in portion of skin covered. I love clothes, getting dressed is usually a highlight of my day. I wear the things I wear because I want to wear them. How someone reacts to me, or to any girl’s body, isn’t about me. It’s about them. Let’s put the burden where it belongs.