Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Today is the annual Back up Your Birth Control Day, where those that can try to raise awareness of the availability - or not - of emergency contraception. This year's theme is specifically EC = BC, and there's a rather fab tumblr of iconic images rebranded with the EC = BC equation.

This is important because - as a lot of feminists have been warning for bloody ages - there really is a groundswell of people trying to brainwash us all that emergency contraception is abortion - and, indeed, that the pill is an abortifacient. It's not. When you have fairly serious political journalists such as John Dickerson giving that viewpoint respect, as he did recently on a Slate political gabfest podcast, it shows how much they've been able to use that branding.*

Anyway, today is Back Up Your Birth Control Day. I've taken emergency contraception twice in my life, both times back in the UK and, possibly both in the 20th century. Nonetheless, due to health concerns, my GP has had me come off hormonal contraception. While we are incredibly careful, accidents with condoms do happen, as with all birth control. So I'm backing up my birth control today by sharing EC coupons, purchasing my own EC, and blogging here (and pointing you to other blogs here).

*(NB: While some of Dickerson's own criticisms of British journalism are valid, this is a prime example of what I find utterly infuriating about the often used "neutral" U.S. journalistic approach - all viewpoints are valid and deserve time. No, they don't - this is not true, scientifically, and it needs to be pointed out that they're wrong. Just because it's a sincerely held belief doesn't mean that it's not wrong. But that's a whole other post).

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


This morning I actually had to listen to an NPR reporter asking why this might bother the black community.

But we're in a post-race society where people don't see colour, right?

I can't put into words how awful this is. So I'm not going to. But truly: Humanity is not my favourite thing right now.

Monday, March 19, 2012


About a week or so ago I was most disgruntled about the change to daylight savings and it being dark when I arose for boxing lessons. Oh, what a difference a few days makes; yet again, I am overexcited about the joys of spring. The weekend was absolutely glorious, allowing me to boat around Central Park, eat a lot of Grom hazelnut gelato, visit the beautiful magnolias at the BBG, and do several hours' hard graft in the back garden. It needed it, I have to say. This year I plan to spend a lot more time just gently idling and pottering in the garden. I think it's good for me, as I tend to be an all or nothing type, and gardens require consistent but, often, low-level attention. I say this every year, of course, but I'm determined to make this year different. Yesterday saw much raking and turning of the soil (I'm so sad people don't really use the term "hoeing"). This week I need to turn some more, fertilise, and then this weekend we need to mulch/re-do the paths with wood chips and then do some serious seeding / planting.

Friday, March 16, 2012


I've associated New York City with Keith Haring since my first visit here. He's someone I wouldn't have known about without KTB, and so when I came here for the first time, I made sure we went to Pop Shop, the store on Lafayette that sold all things Haring - t-shirts, mugs, skateboards, dominoes; you name it, it was there with a Haring design. We bought an unbelievably cool flanneled hoodie dressing gown with Haring's Little Angel on it for our friends' 8 month old (meaning that child is now 10 - holy hell). I bought a cool t-shirt that I still own, albeit tattered and faded.

Today I went to the Members' Preview of Keith Haring 1978-1982, a really cool retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum. It was fabulous. His works were enormous and vibrant; they surprised me in their visceral and often overtly sexual nature. His work was playful and joyous and exuberant. I hadn't realised how much he used video, whether bopping away to a messed up version of the Flying Lizards' Money (That's What I Want) as his Tribute to Gloria Vanderbilt, or painting away to a Devo record. That movement is echoed within his paintings, where everything is in motion: his figures grow and stretch and dance and kick and wave. His use of street art is exciting and part of his overall sense that art should be for the people, not something bourgeois or only for the educated middle classes. One of my favourite things in the whole exhibition was a wall reproducing adverts for his performances and art works and installations - fliers with his photo, scrawled times and dates. You got the sense of excitement, but also how easy it would have been to ignore his work. I see signs stuck everywhere in the city but would never have thought that there could have been a Keith Haring behind it.

The exhibition also emphasized how bloody cool New York City was in the late seventies and early eighties and just why those who were here then have a sense of superiority at having been here; why they feel it's not as edgy or cool. Because it's not. Not anymore.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Queensberry Rules

My latest fitness fad, after my flirtation with Bikram last year, is boxing. With a friend I'm taking beginners' boxing classes. These lessons emphasise everything I love in exercise: a lot of sweating; competition; a real sense of personal progression; and, significantly, stressing the skill, speed, and strength of your body - this is not exercise solely for the sake of getting skinny. Although I thought I'd like it, it really is beyond anything I'd imagined. I feel much more mentally calm - despite being physically shattered - after our classes. While you're working on your technique that's all you can think of, how to get your body to do what it needs to do, how to improve. While you're holding for someone else, you're watching what that person does, how she or he does things better than you, and how to hold better so your wrists don't ache all day. It's utterly absorbing and consuming.

And it's all due to the power of Groupon. Yes, I finally used a Groupon and have used up nine of my ten classes, and am definitely going to be buying more.

Friday, March 02, 2012

The Morning After the Night Before

So, I drank last night. The first drink was at one of my favourite bars in Brooklyn, and it was a strong one: the Aviation, a combination of gin, maraschino liqueur and creme de violette. I did have a couple more drinks over the space of the evening - a michelada at Caracas, a purveyor of gorgeous arepas, and then something called a Honey Bear. They were nice indeed, although the michelada was the drink I enjoyed the most, I think. I have to learn how to make a good one.

This morning I did not too clever, I have to say. I paced myself last night - three drinks in four hours. Lots of water, lots of food. But this morning I felt rancid. Stomach churning, head hurting a little. But it wasn't those things that bothered me the most; instead, it was the fuzziness, impreciseness, forgetfulness. I am not good in the mornings at the best of times, but this morning I had to go back to the house twice: once to change my coat (mine was covered in goodness knows what stain - from arepas sauce, I think), and then again to pick up my work pass. I really feel as if I've been clearer-headed in the past month. Having not had any for a while, it was fascinating to fully experience the effect of alcohol in much greater depth and detail than one does if one drinks a lot.

It's only an initial foray back into drinking, so I should not make grand pronouncements. But I think a potential lesson is that quantity for the sake of it is not worthwhile. Certainly not on a school night. But, also, no need to overreact, eh?