“She’s Got Raisins” Takes a Different Meaning

Remember the SunMaid girl? Yes, the friendly Amish-looking one on the boxes of raisins.  She looked like this:

This is her now:

According to yet another badly written Yahoo! article on the change, the new image wants to be used in new product advertisements yet they want to keep the original “homely” girl the same too. The new version would do the things modern women do, like, grocery shopping. And going to the gym. And speaking foreign languages. What?

Yes among the 50,000 other things we usually have to do every day too. If you really want to use the cover of your box to promote health and nutrition, swap it around and put a “healthy guy” on it. Ah but men are seldom pictures of health and radiance right? Or don’t put anyone on it at all, since the selection will invariably be a thin white person of varying hair colors. Give your nutritional contents and that’s it. Because at this point, stereotypes aside, I haven’t learned a thing about how this box of raisins can help me make a healthier choice. The more I look at ads, more than I have in the past when I worked in advertising, and did ad analysis for classes in school, I see just really how far the rabbit hole goes on this “media fact”: skinny and big tits will always be healthy. No matter how you get there.

May be I’m analyzing this too far. I do that. But really. What do you think?


Stupak Amendment and Abortion

This is an incredible article on South Dakota’s approval of the ban on abortion. Full article found here, on RhealityCheck.org

I always considered myself pro-choice, but was never involved in the movement until South Dakota’s State Legislature passed an abortion ban and Governor Mike Rounds signed it into law.

Pro-Choice Activists joined forces and The South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families was formed.  According to the SDCHF website in less than 10 weeks, the organization successfully collected more than twice the number of petition signatures required to refer that abortion ban to a vote of the people using an all-volunteer force. With the help of our volunteers and supporters throughout the state, the abortion ban was defeated by a wide margin- – 11 points!

As a resident of South Dakota I followed news reports on the ban and the grassroots efforts to defeat the ban. I was hoping the ban would be defeated, but hadn’t given it much thought because as a married mother of two beautiful children, I knew we would welcome a third child and would never need an abortion, so the law wouldn’t affect me.

In 2006 I became pregnant and was thrilled.  After landing in the hospital with a severe kidney infection at 19-weeks gestation, I received my first ultrasound, leaving us shocked and thrilled to see we were expecting identical twin boys.

The joy didn’t last when our babies were diagnosed with Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome.  Webmd.com explains that Twin-twin transfusion syndrome as “the most serious complication of identical twins. It starts in the womb when one twin gets too much blood and the other not enough. The outcome for both twins is grim.”

the science of woman and things that just suck

The folks at Healthapalooza have made my sick little night (yes, I’m still sick).

In a Special Reports entry from this summer, they reveal some interesting things about women that may or may not be true. Some of it makes sense… some of it’s just unfortunate if it is true. Enjoy some highlights:



Several studies have documented an increased risk of suicide in women who have breast implants. A Swedish study published in 2007 found women with breast implants were nearly three times more likely to commit suicide compared to women without the implants. According to the study the increased suicide risk did not appear until 10-years after the breast augmentation surgery. But twenty years after the surgery the researchers found the rate of suicide in women with implants was six times the expected rate. Some studies have found women with breast implants also have triple the risk of dying from drugs or alcohol.

Doctors from the University of Florence in Italy say a glass or two of red wine may boost a woman’s level of sexual interest. They studied more than 800 normal women and found women who enjoyed drinking 1-2 glasses of red wine had higher levels of sexual desire compared to women who drank other forms of alcohol or those who abstained. It is possible compounds in red wine increase blood flow to key areas.

Women suffering from a rare condition called Persistent Sexual Arousal Syndrome, or PSAS, can have 300 orgasms each day or more. The orgasms in women with PSAS are usually unrelated to sexual activity or sexual thoughts, and they often occur at inappropriate and embarrassing times. In fact the orgasms come so frequently they cease to be pleasurable. Brain abnormalities have been found in some cases, but the cause of most cases remains a mystery.

New Mexican psychologist Geoffrey Miller studied female strippers and found they earn more tips in the week before their period than any other time during the menstrual cycle. This is the time of peak fertility, and Miller theorizes pheromones are signaling the men and causing them to tip larger amounts. In fact during peak fertility exotic dancers made twice as much money as they did when they were menstruating. The same study also found women on ‘the pill’ did not experience the monetary increase during this most fertile time.


Maggie Estep

I’ve really not been much of a “fuck men” type of woman most of my life. The common stereotype (sadly) is that women think of men as idiots or that they need to be “trained” like dogs or something. I like acknowledging the differences between genders and such, even the annoying ones, and I really do like men.

But hot damn do I ever hate the guys who seem to have no ears. Only horny eyes, small cocks and all the persistence of the sperm they carry in their malformed nuts, that hit on you on the street.

One of the first videos I saw that was a good tongue and cheeky cranky take on the whole thing is this one, “Hey Baby” by Maggie Estep. One of my fierce NY/NJ poets who I guess randomly had a band at one point. She did her best work doing the megacreepy readings over the brilliant Recoil tracks Recoil’s “Unsound Methods” is a PHENOMENAL fucking album. Do check it out if you like smoky triphoppy stuff with crazy spoken word and singing. Done by Alan Wilder, the man who should NOT HAVE LEFT Depeche Mode.

I’m going back to bed now.


more response

  1. I felt successful when I recognize the changes in my interior being reflected on my exterior. A calmer, more assured me has emerged.
  2. My biggest accomplishment so far, was to take some time to find myself and begin all over again.
  3. What I love most about myself is the need to learn all I can, about life; others; myself; everything.
  4. The motto I tell myself to get moving is… We didn’t do all this, to be caught sitting atop the fence posts of life. Run, girl, run- run through the fields and enjoy. You will be okay, I promise.

winspiration: women involved and growing

As part of an ongoing project, I’m asking women questions about their lives and what makes them tick. In this round, these are questions I’ve asked.

1 – What makes you feel successful?
2 – What’s your biggest accomplishment so far?
3 – What do you love most about yourself?
4 – Do you have a motto you tell yourself to get yourself moving and doing that you’d like to share?

Woman 1

1. The process of awakening.
2. Motherhood, definitely. To bring life into the world, and the lessons learned from it, are amazing.
3. My compassionate nature
4. For every good there is a bad, for every bad there is a good. This is strongly inspiring to me!

Woman 2

1. when i remain positive even when surrounded by negativity
2. my family…my kids so far are beautiful loving souls.
3. strong &loving personality. Also being forgiving has given me so much more then i ever thought.
4. i am gonna make my day a good one. Isay this to myself that iam in control….sometimes i really need the reminder.

Woman 3

1. I’ve learned to not worry about “success” or feeling “successful”, and instead to focus on the journey. This has to do with both living in the moment and living for the future, but without worrying too much about goals and accomplishments per se. Every life is different, and every part of life has its own challenges, experiences, insights, and rewards to offer.

2. Again, this is hard to answer, because if I think in terms of accomplishment, I always feel very unaccomplished. But if pressed, I think I would look to two places: my own soul-making (theosis), and networks of relationality (not just specific relationships with other people, but also capacities to nurture relationship, whether between myself and others, or between two other parties, or even institutional relationships or relations of ideas, if that makes sense).

3. That’s a hard one. Everything has to be loved into existence, so I think what I love most about myself changes and has to do with the places I see God working in or through me. Also, because the self is so relational, I think that loving myself is actually located outside me, in the world around me, in relationships.

4. “Sculpt the negative space,” which means, “Exploit your weaknesses.” I coined both of these in college after doing an art project where I chose to work with negative space because of my terrible lack of precision working with the positive space.

Woman 4

1. Completing a writing project or a work day with the knowledge that I’ve completed tasks correctly and to the best of my ability gives my a certain sense of satisfaction.
2. This is a difficult question because I honestly don’t feel like I have accomplished anything worthwhile in my life up to this point. I suppose I just have to keep trying and hope that someday I might arrive at a milestone worth mentioning.
3. My sense of independence: I like the fact that relying on others is something I only do as a last resort because doing so allows me to place my hope/faith in my own strength.
4.My path is my own. No one can walk it for me.

1. Completing a writing project or a work day with the knowledge that I’ve completed tasks correctly and to the best of my ability gives my a certain sense of satisfaction.
2. This is a difficult question because I honestly don’t feel like I have accomplished anything worthwhile in my life up to this point. I suppose I just have to keep trying and hope that someday I might arrive at a milestone worth mentioning.
3. My sense of independence: I like the fact that relying on others is something I only do as a last resort because doing so allows me to place my hope/faith in my own strength.
4.My path is my own. No one can walk it for me.

Tomorrow: “women and the media – say what?!”

love and marriage

I think I’ll do a few of these entries on the relationship between women and <<insert social thing here>>. We start with marriage.

In recent conversations with several women on this topic, which came from a few recent events and also just plain ol’ coincidence and so on, I’ve seen how far the pendulum swings and also where it freezes still for some women when it comes to marriage. Today, I found myself giving someone the following bit of advice, after the woman I spoke with told me about her last marriage and how much loss she experienced, and also, in a way, warning me of the same path. She said she used to believe in the formula of love and marriage and all that and it all turned to shit. To which I said…

Happiness is our own responsibility. You can’t ever let a past experience suck that away from you. This has been a lesson I’ve been taught repeatedly over the last year and a half, and the experience of learning, de-learning, and re-learning it, has made me believe in love again. I didn’t believe I was capable or deserving of it, and sadly many women don’t, for all sorts of reasons, but there’s most often the feeling of not fitting into to some kind of wife-worthy template that gets n the way for a lot of women too. In the relationship I’m currently in now, I have found that, FOR ME, my belief lies in the psychospiritual connection I have with him. From what I’ve observed when people talk about failed relationships and marriages, there’s this undertone of woe that their partner is no longer who they were when they were first united, which is an absurd thing to wish for anyway. We all evolve, and change, and an annoying yet gratifying thing about being human is that you’re always changing. You have a base sense of self but it is never actually permanent. You never stop growing, learning or changing. Ever. The same is true in a relationship.

Our culture tends to candy coat the FUCK out of domesticated pairings of all kinds, especially with monogamous human relationships. But there’s murder in the expectation. Grow together. Learn together. Don’t kill yourself with the way things “should be”, for there is no such thing. Your experience, your happiness and your truth lies in how you define it. I saw in that woman’s eyes at that moment the box I carried around in my chest for a long time, full of guilt, about mistakes that I had made. And I set it down some time ago, which let me open up to find and believe in love again. It is real and it can happen and it’s just… waiting for you to realize that.

One thing that’s always struck me about marriage, here in this country especially, is the fixation on the modern bride, THE BRIDE’s DAY, THE BRIDE THE BRIDE THE BRIDE, and yet the ceremony is still completely fucked up and the groom is also ignored. Intelligent, independent women doing the white-dress get up, being “given away”, her family footing the bill .. and the boys just show up dressed in black, and that’s that. It’s such a gross misrepresentation of what’s actually going on, of two people being united, not one forcing themself onto the other. It would be nice if men did/would be allowed the room to assert themselves more as feeling beings. So many of our rituals completely discount that, and leads to so many unnecessary imbalances in our society.

It’s in the little things. Look around.

Tomorrow: I open up Halloween Weekend with a real horror show — missing girls and gang-raped teens. Misrepresentation, poor focus, and a slack-jawed education of our children.

my process and me: how to self-publish your book

Greetings once again. How are you? Where have you been? Where have I been. Oh …

I’m back now, and happy to be. Check this out – at the beginning of the month, my wonderful alma mater Beloit College flew me out for a book signing and to do a small talk on self-publishing. I was asked several questions, but among the most popular was about the process of self-publishing, the discipline involved in the writing process, deciding on the art, how to edit, everything. So here is what I explained to everyone, and I hope this is of use to you. Enjoy my reckless of use of my favorite word. This is the home of strange women, after all 🙂

Strange Rule of Publishing #1 – Love what you’re going to say.

I can’t stress this enough. What you have to say has value. If you’re considering printing it for mass consumption, you believe this already. Don’t be shy on the page with what you have to bring out to the world, don’t let your inner critic mess with you, don’t try to outright imitate anyone (unless that’s the intention of the project). Love what you have to say. You do not, however, have to completely understand what you have to say. Sometimes, some projects come along like a hand guiding you through a dark room. Just trust it, do it, and complete it.

Strange Rule of Publishing #2 – Work According to the Way You Know How

Most writers have an understanding of how they work: things as basic as knowing they have to write in the morning or at night, on a full or empty stomach, in a good mood or a bad mood, etc. This helps tremendously when setting yourself up with a schedule. Depending on what you’re about to create, you will have to allot time for brainstorming, for creative flotsam (having a drink first, or listening to a certain piece of music while writing, wearing lucky socks — whatever!), for research, for getting your workspace set up, and so on. Pay attention to this. Plan for this. If you’ve never sat down to write anything lengthy before (lengthy either in actual length or a project that in itself may be short but will take you a long time to accomplish), start with small projects first. Understand how much time you need, know what distracts you or keeps you focused. Know yourself.

Strange Rule of Publishing #3 – Start Writing.

That’s right. Don’t actually sit and do the calendar first. Just get started. The amount of time needed will reveal itself to you, because this will change. When I wrote Women in Strange Places: Stories, I was working 930a – 530p, got home around 630, worked out, had dinner, showered, and was at the computer ready to write by 830/900p. I would write until about 1230am or 100am. This schedule developed after the first few weeks of writing and working out, because these were two very important things to me and I was worried I would fall off my schedule if I did one or the other too often. Eventually I figured out how to just push the two into the day. You may have to do the same thing — budget your time VERY CAREFULLY between important tasks. You may have to cut out things entirely. You will have to sit down and ask yourself, if something starts to get in your way, what really matters with regard to your time.

Developing the discipline doesn’t come in planning, it comes in doing. You will have to make sacrifices, if not right away then down the line. They say it takes 21 days to make or break a habit. Use that. Try it out. It’s going to be trial and error at first. Don’t get frustrated. You might write 20 minutes on day 1, an hour on day 2, 30 minutes on day 3 … keep going. Your mind will adjust.

Strange Rule of Publishing #4 – The Physical Manifestation of Your Dream!

It’s a scary fuckin’ thing to try and figure out who/what entity you will charge with the development of your project. Do your research. I tell people to do it all after they’ve finished the first draft of their book so that the worries of trying to decide what publisher to go with and how to edit and everything, don’t get in the way of the creative process. Let’s say for the sake of the example, you’ve finished a solid draft and are taking a break now to research who to go with for publishing.

When I worked for the Greenburger agency I came across a lot of material on the publishing industry and self-publishing was really starting to take off at the time. I chose my publisher because of a great spot in Publishers Weekly, as I prepared the mail to our clients abroad. It was talking about Lulu.com, and the self-publishing craze, and the freedom they allowed authors, etc.  I kept the information in the back of my mind.

From start to finish my book took me 9 months to write. I started to figure out who to publish through, and Lulu came to mind. Via twitter.com, and Joanna Penn’s website and a few others, I saw how popular Lulu had become since the time I had first seen it mentioned in PW. So I chose them based on people’s reviews of working with them.

There are several other sites you can through to self-publish. Wordclay is one, but I just didn’t like something about their structure, and Amazon.com also launched their BookSurge but their customer service is TERRIBLE. It’s very sales-based and you get completely ignored as an author. Lulu.com isn’t famous for their customer service either, but they are very consistent when it comes to addressing issues at least, and have a VERY strong author-based community where people help each other out.

There are many things to consider before you start the stone-cold process. What size should the book be? Page type and color? Font type? Art? The final title?

Go to the bookstore and look at layouts. Talk to your fantastic graphic arts/design friend (we all have about 20 nowadays right?), look around for a freelance photographer, or employ a good friend to take some pictures for you. Keep in mind the atmosphere and the message of your piece when you consider these things. How would you like for it all to be presented?

At only 170 pages, my book is a nice 5.5 by 8.5 (or so). Lulu gives several sizing and paper weight options. Price is dictated by this, and the page count, as well as how much color you have, if any, that’s going into the final book.  My best friend, Sarah Teodorescu, is an incredible photographer, and she helped me figure out the cover art along with our good friend Daniel Flores who does art and layout designs. A lot of Sarah’s photography is looped through my videos on my channel: http://www.youtube.com/womeninstrangeplaces.

Lulu also has formatting guidelines on how to structure the manuscript’s indents, spaces, characters per line, etc, to properly fit the sizing you’ve chosen. Play with this, and make sure that it looks good. Their tools are pretty accurate as well.

Once I uploaded the book in the uploading tool, the site will give you a .pdf proof of the book that’s free for you to download and stare at and print out as long as you like. This is not, though, an accurate depiction of what the book will look like. For this, you must order a proof copy of your book. You pay the manufacturing price of your own book every time YOU order it.

When your book comes in the mail, read it. There will be typos. Read it again. You will find more. Twist the book around in your hand, sit with it, carry it around, sleep with it under your pillow. Really love it. See it in your hands in front of you. Make your edits and changes to your manuscript saved on your computer. Then don’t touch it again for a few days. Read it again. You will probably find more typos or some other kind of inconsistency. Make more changes.

You will have to re-upload the manuscript and the art and all that again. You will also have to re-order a proof of the book. When you get the new proof, read it. If it reads clean, it’s error free, it’s gorgeous, it’s ready to go.

For pricing, Lulu takes $4.00 or so from the price of the book and gives the rest to the author. Something UNHEARD OF in traditional publishing, where you get anything from $0.05 to $0.25 off the cover of your first book (this also depends on the publisher and contracts and all that other muck). Once you set your book as “public” it is for sale, you design your sale copy and your store front and everything, which is what this link leads to: http://www.lulu.com/strangeplaces.

All of this is outlined in far greater and clearer detail in Lulu’s FAQ section, and in the author boards as well.

The bulk of self-publishing is free. I didn’t pay for anything beyond ordering 2 proof copies, and copies for bookstore consignments for which I was essentially reimbursed for later.

So, it’s that easy. Layout the manuscript. Choose your art. Upload these into the site. Order proof. Proof the proof. Okay the proof. Set your price. Viola.


The internet used to be a man on the moon kind of situation. Someone found a spot (a website), planted their flag, and bam, they were the newest latest, the freshest coolest. Now, EVERYONE AND THEIR MOM has a site, a blog, a twitter, a facebook, a myspace, a plurk, a livejournal, linked in, wordpress … it’s a giant cacophany of presence. You must now sit down and think, what makes YOUR project unique?

Go back to Rule #1. Why do you love what you have to say? What’s special about that? What’s the best avenue to use to tell people about it, and why it’s good for them to know? Don’t get bogged down on trying to have one of each site and blog and twitter and profile. After a while the process defeats itself, you can’t keep up. Start small. Keep a blog and a twitter first, say, and network through both. Find people with common interests or topics, or, people with rivaling interests or topics. Engage in conversation. Blog on your blog and comment on others’. Soon your network will grow and word of mouth will start.

My book is unique, I think, because it pushes a message of self-acknowledgement, no matter how dark the circumstance, in  genre that is known for shrouding things in mystery and truth-warping. I also have a very cinematic style of writing, which isn’t easy to do, and a lot of people are engaged when they read it. I can say these things with confidence because I own and love my book. If you’re nervous about your work, really sit with yourself and ask yourself what the book is about for you, what it communicates to people, and start to own that. Once you do, you can talk about it openly and PROMOTE it, suggest it to people, and so on. This is not arrogance, this is faith in yourself and your talent. That’s what self-publishing is all about — not waiting for someone else to discover you amidst the fabled slushpiles of old. Don’t wait for someone to speak your message FOR you. Go for it.

Coming Up:  Did you read Women in Strange Places: Stories? Have you checked out the excerpts on the WISP Channel? Play the Immaculate Lady game with me and put yourself in the place of one of the characters. What would you have done in their situation?

Also, The Emotion of Gender – what women and men are perceived to be entitled, and not so entitled to.

live stranger stranger live

Coming soon: some new work, new plans, new articles and new women. I’ve been traveling and thinking and (d)evolving off and on over the last few months so my consistency here has indeed taken a hit. For those of you still with me, I thank you, and I promise things will be getting all the more engaging quite soon.

I just did a book signing at my alma mater Beloit College, and the book was very well received. I also did a short reading from everyone’s favorite, “Swim“, which people liked as well.

It’s been a tough couple of weeks but I am very much here.

Stay tuned for some articles on identity, and some teasers from my novella series out next Spring.

Elsie wears red….