new respect for ants

I feel like when I was a kid, it was constantly impressed upon me how awesome ants are. I don’t know if it came from teachers, parents or what, but it was always stuff like “ants can carry 10x their body weight, hummingbirds can flap their wings 15-80 times per second (depending upon the species), or turtles carry their houses on their backs” etc. It was the wonder of nature conversation that happened quite frequently in state parks, science classes, or just “did you know?” kind of situations.

I would test the ant knowledge, by trying to give ants delicious bits of my lunch whenever I ate outside, just so I could see their amazing strength up close and personal. My grandmother had a hummingbird feeder, so that part of the lesson was covered, but the ants– the most amazing thing I ever saw them do was scurry when I knocked down their home (which my dad showed me how to do with almost perfect results). When I gave the ants delicious marshmallows or bits of candy, they would shun it and chose instead to just wander frantically in circles like they were late for something, but didn’t know how to get there.

I soured on the wonder of the ant.

Until this morning when I saw my cat staring intently at his food bowl. My cat staring intently at his water bowl is nothing new as he is fascinated by the way that water moves and can be manipulated, but rarely is his food ever anything to be impressed by. What he was looking at, I soon realized, was an ant carrying practically an entire chunk of catfood out of the food bowl. This piece of food was easily three times the size of the ant and it was walking on a vertical surface. It slipped occasionally, but persevered, and made a lot of progress. My cat didn’t seem angry at this thieving, he was just as fascinated as I was.

So I took it all in, years after so many people tried to convince me that ants were amazing, I finally got the proof. Unfortunately, all I could think after the amazement had passed, was that this creature had no business in my home. I interrupted his brave and harrowing journey with a quick pinch of paper towel, but that doesn’t make it any less impressive.

May 9, 2008 Posted by | by theagirl, seriously? | , , , , , | Leave a comment

why I hate hipsters

SETTING: House party

AT RISE: Tall man is shoved in a corner because of a lack of chairs.


You look like you’re hiding from monsters


I’m not


Yeah, I know


I see you’re drinking from one of those POM glasses


Oh am I?

(look at glass)

Guess so, it’s nice.


Yeah, like every house I’ve ever been to has at least one of those mumblemumblemumblemumble



May 4, 2008 Posted by | by theagirl, seriously? | , , , | 1 Comment

So what you’re saying is…

Discussion based coursework is always a bit touchy-feely, i.e. English majors often relate stories to their personal experiences. However, professional degrees (like, say, librarianship) should not have the same outcome. One can expect people in psychology programs to have anecdotal evidence to add to discussions about their families, their hometown, the fights they have with their grandma– sometimes, but I feel like those sorts of personal bits of information just don’t seem to apply to my class on University Library Services, or Management of Library Services unless, of course, your grandmother fights with you about collection development or funding.

There is one particularly egregious offender in my class this semester. Now, I am one of the youngest people in my program but this girl makes me look downright worldly. She thinks the discussion is one between her and the professor, and the rest of us are just a willing audience. At one point she got up and actually took the chalk and started to try to illustrate the teacher’s point on the board for us. She has a real penchant for reiterating peoples points, “So what you’re saying is this…” and often doing it incorrectly. The other day, she called on someone.

Since the beginning of the semester she has taught us:
-The school where she got her undergraduate degree does not have a disability clause. (this is simply not true)
– She went there and also one other local school so she knows. She took five years to finish. For more information on why she is wrong please go here:
-Everyone in her small town in Virginia is afraid of black people. Mostly just the big manly ones, though. She doesn’t apologize for this. (In fact she actually said “I will not apologize for being afraid of black people)
-Her favorite book is He’s Just Not That Into You, it really helped get her through that “dark time.” And now she’s engaged! She brought this particular book up during a discussion of business texts, specifically, Who Moved My Cheese
-Her mother’s side of the family has conversations by interrupting each other. We also now know her mother’s maiden name and a bit about where she is from.
-The word “bitch” actually means female dog. None of us actually knew that because unlike her, the rest of us didn’t go to elementary school.
-Everyone from New York (besides NYC) is a rural white person.
-She works at a video game store
-She based her “Philosophy of Management” paper on World of Warcraft

Now I seem like I am ranting, and you know, I guess I am ranting, but the older I get the more I learn the value of both the dollar and my education, and as this young (and racist) girl goes on and on about her mom’s side of the family I think about the things I could buy with the 40 or 50 bucks this class is costing me. Like a nice pair of shoes. Or 300 pairs of earplugs.

What I really do not understand is, is she really so bad at reading peoples facial expressions that she doesn’t see that there are 35 restless frustrated and bored people hoping to possibly move the discussion back to some sort of learning? Is she so starved for attention and an outlet that she simply doesn’t care? I had really hoped that by grad school, this genre of student would have been weeded out, that they would be too busy making babies to relay their life stories to, or pan-handling on the street, talking about those good old day back in Virginia to an imaginary audience, but the more time I spend in this program the more I realize that admissions criteria must just not be that stringent, and that this strange strain of storytelling-know-it-alls ALL want to be librarians. Aren’t librarians supposed to be quiet!? If they are the future shhhshers, who will be shhhhshing them!?

I expected a few quirks to be common among library students: we all like to read, we all like our cats, I even predicted the really quiet girl who doesn’t like people to sit near her. But chatty, racist, video-game loving ignoramus?, that stereotype has just thrown me completely off guard. Where did you come from, and why librarianship? This will be a cold unfriendly world for you!

Of course, she’ll probably never notice.

April 29, 2008 Posted by | by jennatalia, oh my | Leave a comment

Mommy, what ripe, full breasts you have

I suppose I shouldn’t be completely surprised by this.

If you’re a Beverly Hills mommy who wants to maintain a youthful appearance well past the age at which it is appropriate, how to you explain to your children why you sometimes go away, come back with bandages on, have to say “please don’t snap my healing girdle”, or “Mommy can’t hold you for a while, her chest is a bit tender?” Well, now there’s a book that can tell you how to handle all of these potentially awkward queries, and give your kids valid information with which to discuss your procedures on the playground. Instead of them telling their friends “she got bigger, but smaller… she doesn’t look like my Mommy!” They can say “Her skin was stretched causing it to pucker and while she was at the doctor, they just shaved off that unsightly bump.”

I’m reminded of the book Beauty Junkies by Alex Kuczynski (which I highly recommend), where the author chronicles (with delightful honesty and humility) her own experiences with plastic surgery. Initially limiting her experiences to assorted injections, the author eventually decides to go under the knife and have liposuction. Post-surgery she is feeling fit, lean, and fabulous in her bikini when a little boy approaches her and says something to the affect of “You had fat sucked out of your legs with a vacuum.” She denies this vehemently, after all, what’s the point of having work done if people, even ten-year-olds, know you have.

“No,” the boy insists, “You have those dimples in the side of your leg just like my mommy, and she says they’re from having fat sucked out with a vacuum.”

So there is one mom out there who didn’t need this manual to get through it. Unlike the mother in the article who says that she and her son have read it half a dozen times. Is the kid requesting this? It doesn’t seem like a particularly compelling read to me, but I’m no 4 to 7-year-old.

Also, the doctor who wrote the book, Michael Salzhaur, got the idea after many mommies came into his office with their children who were often frightened and confused. Really? you can afford plastic surgery, but you can’t afford a babysitter for three hours? “Parents generally tend to go into this denial thing. They just try to ignore the kids’ questions completely.” But, he adds, children “fill in the blanks in their imagination” and then feel worse when they see “mommy with bandages,” he says. “With the tummy tucks, [the mothers] can’t lift anything. They’re in bed. The kids have questions.”

The text doesn’t mention the breast augmentation, but the illustrations intentionally show Mom’s breasts to be fuller and higher. “I tried to skirt that issue in the text itself,” says Salzhauer. “The tummy lends itself to an easy explanation to the children: extra skin and can’t fit into your clothes. The breasts might be a stretch for a six-year-old.”

The book doesn’t explain exactly why the mother is redoing her nose post-pregnancy. Nonetheless, Mom reassures her little girl that the new nose won’t just look “different, my dear—prettier!”

April 24, 2008 Posted by | by theagirl, oh my | , , , , | 1 Comment

The Clash!

JERUSALEM – Dozens of Greek and Armenian priests and worshippers exchanged blows at one of Christianity’s holiest shrines on Orthodox Palm Sunday, and used palm fronds to pummel police who tried to break up the brawl.  From Chicago Tribune.

So this is rather old news, but I want to keep talking about nothing else. It’s rare that true stories are so completely hilarious, and I almost never hear about people beating off police with palm fronds– so it’s worth mentioning again, and again.

I realize that religious strife is a centuries-old tradition, but can people not bury their animosities on this the holiest of days? I really just can’t say any more about it because, oh man.

Ok, I have to, What Would Jesus Do?

April 23, 2008 Posted by | by theagirl, news | Leave a comment

sorry, I’m infertile

For someone with my experiences I am tragically naive and trusting to a fault. Though I border on being completely dense, I say exactly what I mean and mean exactly what I say. Unfortunately I expect others to interpret my openness and honesty quite literally. Ladies pick up on it and appreciate my candor, but some dudes refuse to hear what I’m spitting at them. Misogyny runs rampant and even though I expressly repeat (and must defend), yes I’m single, no I don’t want to get married, no I don’t want kids some dimwits just don’t get it. I’m not being coy, I’m actually being upfront with you and you don’t respect me enough to listen.

Recently I visited a couple of friends in Portland OR and wanted to get to know some people in the city. It’s possible that I’ll move out there this summer and would like to have a circle of friends established so I can make a smooth adjustment. One evening I found myself without dinner plans and decided to call a friend of a friend with the hopes of getting to know him on a strictly platonic level. Later that night a group was going to a late show of No Country for Old Men and to me it was just rational to grab a bite prior to the movie, and this fellow seemed nice enough – I could see myself playing scrabble with Dude on facebook, maybe going out for happy hour, nothing more. We went in with different expectations and I was put on the defense all night.

Dude shows up at J’s doorstep dressed as swanky as a man his size can be and I’m unkempt – hair sloppily pulled back in a clip, glasses, baggy jeans and a hoodie. Since Dude knows I’ve no interest in dating anyone right now (during an earlier outing I extolled the virtues of being single and completely self-centered) I assumed he knew I just wanted to hang out. I live four states away and am only visiting for a week. Clearly I am not trolling. During the most uncomfortable evening of recent memory, he searched for compliments and I felt he was so insecure and self-loathing I tried my best to boost his self-esteem without coming across as invested. Dude tried to sell himself to me – he’s in law school, wants nothing more than to be married with child and is close to his family (far too socially-dependent on his parents for a 27-year old) – but he didn’t listen to a word I said all night.

Anytime I opened my mouth he cut me off with an irrelevant anecdote. If I tell you I’ve never seen ‘Farscape’ because sci-fi is not my thing, drop that thought-train right then and there so we can discuss something less polarizing. I’m sorry, but I’m not flattered that you think I’m reminiscent of a character on the show. That means nothing to me. And for fuck’s sake, don’t bring up Buffy. If I tell you what I hope to accomplish with my life, don’t trivialize it because it differs from your dreams. Actually, I can’t have kids and I’m okay with it. Maybe one day I’ll get married but right now I can’t even fathom the commitment. If you tell me you can’t get a good read on me, well shit. You aren’t listening.

During No Country for Old Men, Dude insisted on sitting next to me. Because of his sheer girth he was spilling over into my seat and I inched as far right as I could, practically sitting in A’s lap. No Country for Old Men is a rare movie that shook me to my core and I jump at the chance to get interpretations from others and share my thoughts. On the horrifically long ride home, Dude lectured me on why my take is flawed and wouldn’t let me get a word in edgewise. Having spent three years with a man who stifled me, anytime someone, male or female, makes me feel I don’t have a voice, I’m brought back to 2003. People like that bring out the worst in me: I become sullen and withdrawn and detached and search desperately for an out. For a spell I contemplated jumping out of the car but thought that too dramatic. Instead I stopped talking about anything topical, commenting only on what was directly in front of me (check out those lawn ornaments), wishing J’s house was more centrally located.

How sad that women who choose to be single must reaffirm their decisions to people who aren’t worthy of their attention. Why did Dude try to cut me down because I’m not the Donna Reed type? I’m sure there’s plenty of women who would be thrilled at the comfort a marriage with an established lawyer can provide, and I’m not knocking it. If you aspire to be someone’s mother and wife, more power to you. If you differ from that norm (and FYI, that was never the norm), some people feel it’s within their right to question your decisions and ridicule your dreams. That is arrogant and judgmental and no way to live life. Even writing this blog, I feel I’m defending my decisions, though I wonder to whom. I’m lucky to have supportive family and like-minded friends, so fuck all the Dudes in the world.

March 10, 2008 Posted by | by kellyjeanjellybean | | 1 Comment

Dear Red-Headed Man

I have to say, I had more fun with you this weekend that I have had with anyone in years. When first faced with the idea of spending a long weekend at this conference, I was daunted, to say the least. Thanks to you, it flew by. And once you and I found a common enemy to savage– it was magical. Do you remember, I know you do, when the awful woman from Phoenix want on a rant about proper funding for something-or-other, and you said, “I don’t know how you can call it proper funding for such an improper idea.” Hilarious. It was a magical moment.

You are one of the wittiest, sharpest people I’ve ever met, and you make me laugh hysterically, and we have more interests in common than I do with even my best friends, but I’m sorry to say, I could never date you. You have red hair, and with that comes the pink “constantly sunburned” looking skin. I find this odd and creepy. Maybe I could get over it. The real reason I can never date you is because you don’t look enough like me. I have brown hair, and you have red hair. Even if I chose to dye my hair, or if you dyed yours (which most guys have been unwilling to do), we would still never look enough alike to satisfy me.

I need to be in a couple where people see the two of us walking down the street and say “are they brother and sister, or sleeping together… or are they both?!” I need to create intrigue without doing a thing. I thrive on it. You may be the man of my dreams in every other way, but unless we do nothing but talk on the phone, we can’t have a real relationship.

I know that a lot of people these days say personal standards have become impossible, I agree with that, that why this is my only real criteria for a significant relationship. I want to stare longingly into a face so like my own that it scares me a little. I want to have children who make people puzzle as to which of us they look like, and in old age, I want us to look like identical shriveled peanuts with brown hair.  This is what I need, and I’m sorry to say, you cannot give it to me.

Good luck with everything in the future

February 3, 2008 Posted by | by theagirl, false, letters | , | Leave a comment

the end of an era

After too many bad experiences, I’m hanging up my hat – I will never donate blood again. The only healthy and helpful addiction I’ve had just hasn’t been good to me. Perhaps the altitude is too much for my thin blood, as every time I’ve donated in Bozeman I’ve gotten incredibly dizzy and expect to be out of commission for at least three days. Today I actually fainted. In Borders. At the checkout. Mid-sentence.

It sucked. And I needed my mommy to make me feel better.

Recounting my spell with my mom, the first pop-culture reference that came to me was, of course, Sex and the City. Miranda has recently moved into swanky new digs and nearly chokes on Chinese takeout, heimliching herself. She calls up Carrie in panic, terrified that she’s going to die alone in her apartment with only her super to discover cats feasting on her decomposing body. Fainting isn’t on the same level as choking but both leave you shaken, and more importantly, Miranda and I were both overwhelmed by loneliness.

Overall I don’t feel lonely. I really don’t. Sometimes I miss the familiarity and comfort a relationship brings but I like being single. Too many people, women especially, jump from one relationship to the next without taking any time to figure out who they are, what they want out of life and all the existential bullshit we must plow through. I’m lucky to have the opportunity to be completely self-centered. But at that exact moment it would have been SO NICE to have someone with me.

Maybe I was so shocked because I’ve never fainted before, but I imagine the experience is surreal to everyone. I blearily opened my eyes to discover two strange faces gazing down at me. The guy waiting in line behind me was nice enough to catch my head so I didn’t get a concussion – aww – and my cashier pilfered some orange juice from the cafe. For a moment I got a taste of what alzheimers must feel like: I was terribly disoriented and seemed to have forgotten how to move and speak. As I struggled to sit up, two nurses from the Red Cross came to my aid with a 10-pound bag of ice and cookies. For 15 minutes I laid on the floor of Borders with ice on my chest and my feet elevated on a chair, exchanging decorating tips with the nurses. When they were satisfied that I had regained enough color (until this afternoon I wasn’t aware that I had ANY melanin) I was set free.

Giving back to others is so important to me, which is why I’m on my way to a third AmeriCorps term. Donating blood is quick and easy and it actually saves lives.

Okay, I’ll try donating one more time and if I faint again, I’m really done.

February 1, 2008 Posted by | by kellyjeanjellybean | , | 1 Comment

That much just for beaver??

I’ve got strippers on the brain.

I just finished reading Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper by Diablo Cody, which was a fascinating account of the author’s foray into the Minneapolis stripperdome. She explains her obsession with stripping and strippers as something that manifested out of a childhood that was too wholesome. No divorce, no drama, good grades– therefore she was looking out for the “other”. Of course, she got out after a year or so, which most girls don’t do, but most girls have different reasons for starting out in the first place.

So I learned a lot from this book, namely that (in Minnesota at least), fully nude bars cannot serve alcohol. I don’t understand this; is it an issue of sanitation or something? Maybe it’s not wanting to let the patrons have their cake and eat it too. So guys go to these places, spend $9 on cokes (2 drinks minimum), just to see girls without their pants on.

I always thought that going to a strip club for guys was like a male bonding experience: you drink some Bud, have a little conversation, and watch girls flap their boobies in your face. The boobies are kind of a bonus in my mind, but the guys would be there anyway.

This no drink thing takes it to a strange place for me because it seems like men are all too willing to have a rather uncomfortable experience just to see girls completely naked. I could see some people (creepier people) frequenting a place like this, but it seemed like it was doing brisk business when Cody worked there. Also, to put myself in the position of the stripper, it would make me more uncomfortable if everyone looking at my crotch was in full possession of their faculties.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my vagina. It’s fabulous, beautiful, it gets the job done– but it seems amazing that guys are willing to pay so much just for that extra bit. Above and beyond the 2-drink-minimum, there are tips, private dances where the guys are expected to buy the dancer a drink as well– of course this is all starting to sound like I’m just very, very cheap. That ends up being a lot of money just to see girls naked.

I guess, when I saw male strippers, I was very disappointed that it was all ass cheeks and no penis, but I don’t know if I would have paid extra.

So, now I want to know more. It’s so odd to get a glimpse of the giant world that co-exists with “everyday”, but rarely overlaps. I don’t know if it is something anyone can really understand. I haven’t gone to many strip clubs, but when I have, I tend to think of the dancers as people and imagine what they do when they get home. The whole experience is never sexy for me, rarely exciting, and winds up being an exercise in psychology.

Cody said in the afterward that there was very little redemption in the story. Obviously, she is doing well for herself, but the story was “I wanted to do this, I did it, I got tired of it.” It’s easy to forget that there are girls out there who want to be strippers; girls you don’t have to feel sorry for, who are making a killing doing what they are good at.

January 27, 2008 Posted by | by theagirl, stripping | , , | 1 Comment

an open letter to 40-year-old virgins who aren’t nearly as cuddly and non-threatening as the main character in the movie of the same name

Dear Sir:

I realize that you were just trying to be friendly, but I have to tell you– you’re friendliness has a distinct air of desperation-bordering-on-scariness about it. I spoke to you because you are an acquaintance of a friend, and because we were sitting next to each other at the bar. Really I would have preferred to watch the TV.

In the spirit of self-improvement I feel I should tell you that mentioning your match.com account within 10 minutes of conversation (not even constant conversation), is not a smooth move. I am happy that you are on facebook, but you will never be a friend of mine on facebook regardless of how many times you mention it. I don’t know if you could tell, but I didn’t want to give you my last name, certainly not a phone number or email address. I could see you hovering and trying to talk to me again when I had turned away to speak with my friends, that is why I kept my back to you. Also, I wasn’t even really involved in the other conversation, I just wanted to shut you out in the hopes that you would go away.

Are you the type of man who at work eats a lot of carrot sticks and yogurt, but only in front of other people? The type who eat that particular lunch every day, never with any enthusiasm, or really lack of enthusiasm, but still everyone who sees you knows that it’s “diet food”. Everyone knows that you eat heathily during the day, but go home and binge on your fattening food of choice. That’s why, even though you consume 120 calories for lunch eat day, and say you exercise regularly, you never get any smaller.

I appreciate the fact that you like and respect old people, but I don’t really care. I’m sure that as a city councilman, it’s necessary to gladhand the seniors, but do we really need to talk about that? Especially since I never gave you any indication that I like old people, or even know any. Why can’t you re-group and think of something else to say if you insist upon talking to me. I feel like you do this often, and to many girls, perhaps you should have a ready list of topics to discuss in case she seems uninterested in hearing about how you LOVE text messaging and are CONSTANTLY getting text messages.

Was it really necessary for your friend to bring his laptop? We went to this event to watch the primary results come in, and there was a giant screen projecting that to the whole room. Also, you had some kind of hand-held device, which I’m sure has internet access, that I’m also sure would have become the topic of conversation if I hadn’t turned around when I did.  Is it that important that you see immediately what Wonkette is saying? Can’t it wait until you return to your empty bachelor pad and eat ice-cream and cheesecake until you feel slightly ill?  You know you’re just going to re-read it anyway.

The reasons you continue to fail with women are many, but very few have anything to do with anything but yourself.  Take this time to re-evaluate your strategies, or just stop trying.


the female population

January 12, 2008 Posted by | by theagirl, Gentleman Callers, letters | , , , | Leave a comment