Tag Archives: won’t you be my episco-pal?

wise as serpents and innocent as doves

Hey, gentle readers. Sorry about my absence! As much as I enjoy linkspam, I like this blog to have actual content, and while I’ve had a few ideas kicking around in my head, none have entirely come to fruition. So this post is kind of all of them at once. In case you get confused, just come back to the thesis, which is: how Olga is Miss Marple.

My first grown-up book was Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians, which I read at the end of third grade or beginning of fourth grade, and which was pretty freaking morbid for a 9 year old, and also kind of racist, but whatever. I got totally hooked on Agatha Christie and plowed my way through most of her back catalogue over the next three years. As a result, I have read almost all of her Miss Marple books and short stories, a fair amount of her Hercule Poirot works, and ALL of Tommy and Tuppence because they kind of rock. Namely, Tuppence rocks. Can I be Tuppence? But that is not the topic of this post. The topic of this post is why I really like Miss Marple.

This is Miss Marple’s schtick, for those of you who are not familiar with her: she is a little old lady who lives in St. Mary Mead, a quiet little English town, and people think that she is a tad bit doddering and off in the head. But Miss Marple is incredibly smart and a great observer of people, and she solves crimes, often using her harmless appearance to great advantage.

Recently, I have been reflecting on how much I no longer regret my decision to major in classics. For quite some time after choosing to forsake the world of togas for the world of forsaking bras, I looked at my classical period primarily as a springboard for future endeavors and six years’ worth of training to write the best Harry Potter spells OF ALL TIME. (At least, that was my motivation when I started taking Latin in 2001.) Now, however, I’ve realized that a background in classics has had other benefits, namely, accelerating my transformation into Miss Marple. Wikipedia agrees with me: “Miss Marple’s Olga’s acquaintances are sometimes bored by her frequent analogies to people and events from St. Mary Mead the internet The Past, but these analogies often lead Miss Marple Olga to a deeper realization about the true nature of a crime the patriarchy life, the universe, and everything.”

Being Miss Marple means that I spend a lot of time connecting the dots, but it also means other things, namely that I spend a lot of time sitting around going, “Somehow, Inspector Fox, I don’t think you’ll find the murder weapon in Mr. Clarendon’s shed.” In other words, I spend a lot of time debunking things. Prehistoric matriarchy! Goddess worship = female empowerment! The decline of Western civilization!

I really, really hate the “decline of Western civilization.”

In other ways, I have also been like Miss Marple. For a long time, I liked appearing to be innocent and sweet, and in some cases, namely in my relationships, I really tried for the sweet part. But when you are a grouchy and smart old lady, that tends to rear its head after a while, especially if you are trying to keep some of that on the down low. It also gets aggravating, day after day, to have people constantly underestimating and undervaluing you, assuming that you are eye candy or just She Who Keeps The Home Fires Burning (not that these in particular are Miss Marple problems).

At a certain point, appearing harmless and fluffy, having people tune you out because you don’t get straight to the point, and then surprising them when you hit them upside the head with your awesomeness isn’t subversive. It’s just kind of sad.

I’m still a grouchy old lady, though.

Ironically, after I came to the realization that it was best to just fly my freak flag and let the chips fall where they may, people started making even more erroneous and frustrating assumptions about my innocence and purity because I got Jesus. (That’s a phrase I deeply enjoy using. Like, fuck yeah, Jesus is the mud I’m rolling in! except it’s like spa mud because it’s made by God, and it’s also like regular mud because it’s outside and available to everybody, at least in rainy seasons!) What I had once enjoyed – creeping out my housemate with my tentacle bunny plushie, getting approved of by partners’ parents (hoo boy), alarming various people with the egg story (I only tell that one in person) – had lost its charm. When my mom told Martin that it was okay to tune me out sometimes, I just talk a lot, it runs in the family — that was not funny. Also, not ok.

For a long time, when I was very sick — that’s why I’m a grounchy old lady! not exaggerating, my dear readers! — I kind of forgot I was smart. I assumed people tolerated me on sufferance and attempted to buy their loyalty with baked goods. (In case you were curious, I make a truly bitchin’ three bowl devil’s food cake.)

Miss Marple is smart. She is a badass. People often forget this. That’s why, when she catches the bad guy, it’s a surprise. It shouldn’t be a surprise when women are smart, observant, socially aware. Those shouldn’t be “women’s secrets,” either. And when women talk, it’s worth listening. If people ever listened to Miss Marple finish her stories… well, those books would be a lot shorter. And possibly more morbid.
Which is fine by me.


yay, christmas

This is not an actual blog post, just me posting my favorite prayer because it’s Christmas.

God, it is night. The night is for stillness.
Let us be still in the presence of God.
It is night after a long day.
What has been done has been done;
what has not been done has not been done. Let it be.
The night is dark. Let our fears of the darkness of the world
and of our own lives rest in you.
The night is quiet.
Let the quietness of your peace enfold us, all dear to us, and all who have no peace.
The night heralds the dawn.
Let us look expectantly to a new day, new joys, new possibilities.
In your name we pray. Amen

– from the New Zealand Prayer Book

the unbearable fatness of being

Sometime in late 2007 or early 2008, I started following Fatshionista, a community on livejournal dedicated to plus-size fashion. There was a recent kerfluffle when the moderators decided to restrict OOTD (out of the day) posts to members who wear a US size 16 or higher. This alienated a substantial minority of its members, self-described “inbetweenies” who fall in the gap between plus sizes and straight sizes. The heretofore largely sedate sister community, Inbetweenies, was suddenly flooded with new members – many of whom were not pleased with the new state of affairs over at Fatshionista. Despite being at the smaller end of the size range at Fatshionista, inbetweenies had previously made up a significant percentage of OOTD posters, and the wake that trailed behind them as they moved to new ground was substantial.

The mods at Fatshionista had good reasons to change their previously more open-ended size cap. Fatshionista is a size-positive community; it’s not a place for people to come and feel good about themselves because they’re not as fat as “some” people. The mods also wanted to make people who were solidly plus-size feel welcome. While I’m wholly supportive of Fatshionista’s decision, I’m also one of the inbetweenies who can no longer post there.

This post is not another episode of “The Passion of the Inbetweenie”; I’m less interested in exploring the politics of Fatshionista’s new policy and more in investigating what it means to exist in this liminal state somewhere between marginalization and acceptance. For many years, I struggled with my participation in LGBT organizations — not because I was concerned about supporting the community, but because I didn’t feel like I was “queer enough.” I vacillated between taking an “ally” or a “bi pride” button every time Pride Alliance tabled in ye olde student center. Then I started making “pretty, witty, and christian!” rainbow buttons for my campus ministry’s table and decided that worrying about LGBT welcome and inclusivity in my community was more productive that staying up all night worrying about the tokenization of bisexuality in Katy Perry lovin’ college environments. (At this point, I think I’d have to elope with Cyndi Lauper to Iowa to feel adequately gay.)

Me at the Prop 8 protest in St. Louis, November ’08.

It’s a lot harder to negotiate the liminality of fatness, though, because it’s so subjective, and unlike your sexual preferences, kinda out there on display. When I said proudly in class, on embodiment day, “I’m fat,” was I reclaiming language for myself, or just promoting body hate? When I still look at myself, in the mirror, what does it mean that I see that I am fat, as opposed to, I dunno, middlingy? I love my body. I love that I have the gifts of mobility, sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell, although several of those are limited or have been in the past by my disabilities. I want to be able to say, “Yeah, my body doesn’t fit into straight sizes real well, and it has fat weird places, but I’m proud of it and what I can do!” I want to reclaim fatness.

I’m just not sure if fatness is mine to reclaim.

I encourage you, gentle readers, to reply if you feel so moved; I’m interested in hearing your thoughts.

yeah, I’m on vacation

All I really want to do is recommend you some vids, because, yo, I’m obviously not doing anything constructive on vacation, but perhaps this post should have some content. Or maybe not. At least, it’ll have some links.

– I love Dinosaur Comics. So, naturally, I also love fanstrips that address the Serious Issues of cultural appropriation and racism in dance moves. I think this may be a call to action, action in this case being a slumber party with Save the Last Dance, lots of alcohol, and critical analysis. Or maybe just some Bring It On.

– Apparently there are no good fanvids for Golden Girls. Well, I don’t believe that. None that I can find easily. This is frustrating.

– I actually recommended a fic to someone the other day with the endorsement, “It references Stanley Fish!”

– My church’s book club is reading Small Gods for January and Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bible! for February. Previously on Olga’s Church’s Book Club: Cat’s Cradle and The Poisonwood Bible. I am pleased. (I have not yet read Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bible!, and I keep getting it confused with Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains!, which I am fairly sure is not the same.)

Okay, done with content now! Vid recs, absurdist edition!

– As I said to my friend Mer, who is the target audience for this fic, “Christian Bale + Zefron = NO = yay!” “Bet on It” meets Newsies for a ludicrous Disneygasm.

– There is no way that the execution of “Harry Potter meets Snakes on a Plane” could ever have topped the concept, but my, does Dualbunny’s vid give it a run for its money. I have at best a tepid tolerance for the first four Harry Potter films, and neutral feelings about HP vidding, but this vid won me over.

– I have feelings about the first Twilight movie, feelings which mostly boil down to, “I am so glad that my friend Dallas bought this for me, because I would never have paid money for it, but it is the best excuse for drinking games ever.” (Sidenote: despite what the content of this post, and possibly the content of this blog, may suggest, I have never played a drinking game.) However, this vid has made me see that, deep inside this… this… I’m trying to find a synonym for “black hole” that doesn’t have disturbingly yoni-like connotations — this abominable snowman of a movie, there is actually a pretty hilarious film. From Cappy, “All Apologies”. Ah, Nirvana and Edward… a match made in heaven. I cried happy emo tears.

Next time on the blog: actual content, as opposed to a mashup of links I keep emailing my poor innocent best friend in France & my Twitter feed.

when necessary use words

Ravenswood Community Services, which operates out of my church, All Saints Episcopal, was recently featured in two articles which appeared in New York TImes via the Chicago News Cooperative:

“Outside a World of Wealth Stands the Reality of Hunger”
“Vandalism at Food Pantry Shows Best and Worst of People “

You know, it’s really tempting to make broad generalizations. It’s really tempting to talk about RCS as though it’s a group of Robin Hoods, robbing the sidewalk space of a wealthy neighborhood to *gasp!* feed “the poor.” You know, “the poor” who need our help, our charity? Yeah, this is totally a story you’d like to read. It’s a feel-good story; you can feel righteous anger toward the family with the carriage house across the street, while you sympathize with the line of hungry men and women and children who wait patiently for generously proffered bounty.

That story is also bullshit.

Our neighbors are neither rich jackasses nor voiceless Jacob Riis photographees, okay? Everyone in our neighborhood IS A NEIGHBOR, IS A PERSON, whether they come in for dinner or just live down the block. Even if they did, actually, complain to the alderman about the people waiting outside of the church on Tuesday nights. I don’t care. If those people showed up, I would still welcome them in. We are not in the business of “rescuing” people or fighting the good fight against the indolent bourgeoisie around us. We… feed people. Who are hungry. Who need food. Physical bread, spiritual bread, it’s all good. On Tuesday nights, we have food.

On Tuesday nights, we also have coffee. I work with Betty, who volunteers social work services every other week; on those nights, I head up beverages with a rotating cast of assistants. I have the privilege of keeping my schedule free on Tuesday nights. As a graduate student, I may actually make less money than some of our neighbors. (Actually, I’m pretty sure that’s the case.) But I have social capital that they don’t. I have a safety net, hard-won as it is. So I make the coffee. One of our neighbors sets up the cold water, the hot tea. And our other neighbors help me carry the coffee out, help me wipe the table, bring me the empty carafes and sugar bowls: we work together.

Here’s one of my favorite blessings, which we used at my campus ministry from time to time:

The Wisdom of God,
the Love of God,
and the Grace of God
strengthen us
to be Christ’s hands and heart in this world,
in the name of the Holy Trinity.

Sometimes, I really feel like every sermon I ever give, and every essay I ever write boils down to the same thesis: “shut the fuck up and actually do some shit, you guys.”

Or, as St. Francis said more eloquently: “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”

I’m glad to see that, in his follow-up article, Mr. Warren seems to have considered the power of his words, even if he isn’t checking his class privilege quite so much. Although the vandalism is very unfortunate, it did not do any permanent damage, and no one is holding any grudges. It’s sad that a window had to get broken and a church had to get flooded for someone to point this lack of grudge-holding out.

sexy tudors, fwd, & how to get olga from zero to pissed off in under a minute

This blog hasn’t gone to sleep for the holidays. Mostly, I just got sick and went crazy, which is pretty par for the course for finals, but is no less nervewracking and energy-expending.

Help yourself to some Sexy Tudors.

Something to look forward to: I have been asked to write a guest post for FWD/Forward by my friend Anna, which will show up sometime in the next week or two. I will definitely link to it from here, but I encourage you to check out FWD if you haven’t already! Right now, I’m trying to decide what to write about.

I also totally forgot to submit an abstract for Slayage. Rats. Oh well. I will go anyway, and have a good time, and not have to stress about presenting a paper.

Next time on the olgablog: a really angry post about the treatment of Ravenswood Community Services and our neighbors in the NYT/Chicago Tribune. RCS is what I do every Tuesday night. It is not about “rescuing” the “unfortunate.” Jesus said, “Take, eat–” This shit ain’t rocket science. We are all children of God, ok? Likewise, please don’t make condescending statements about those with whom we share this neck of the woods – we work hard to have a good relationship with them. This is not about a battle between bourgeois hypocrisy and the victims of poverty. And suggesting this, o NYT writer… just makes you look like a dick.

tonight was the most amazing night of my life

I danced to “Don’t Stop Believin'” with my rector. Who was wearing a scary eighties prom dress (with a butt bow!). And I drank spiked punch.

Prom-themed Stewardship Friday, you will go on and on and on and on in my heart!

I love my church so much.