Monday, August 10, 2009

An Interview with Criss (part I)

I know you are all anxious to hear what Criss has been up to lately, since she has not been blogging because she is way too busy leading her glamorous, fascinating life. In order to catch you up quickly, we have decided to offer this special interview right here, on Criss's blog, for your reading pleasure.

Criss, thank you for joining us, here on your blog. It truly is an honor.
The pleasure is mine.

So, tell us, what have you been up to lately?
Oh, not much. I started my new job, which is very nifty. So far, I'm liking it a lot (it's only been a week and a day, but I still feel confident saying that).

It's good to know the job's going well.
Thanks. The only thing that irks me is that this job, as is the norm in the US, apparently, does not offer any sort of maternity leave pay, and I can't even take the Family & Medical Leave Act until I've been there for a year. It's kind of depressing to realize now that I should have had a kid last year, while I was at my last job, where I had 30+ personal and sick days saved up (so I could pay myself to take six weeks off). So Freddy's and my plans to start a family will have to be pushed back a little, but I guess it could be worse.
Of course, I've got my fingers crossed that we get some sort of decent health care plan passed soon!

How's the writing going?
I've been working on a couple of stories for contests. I've been neglecting my novel, but I will be getting back to it this week.

Have you had any run-ins with borderline psychotic characters in the last week or so?
Funny you should ask! I had a... well, shall we say an "interesting" exchange with a complete random stranger at Borders the other night, when I was with the members of my critique group. We were discussing another writer's story, a male writer's story, and a female colleague and I were pointing out how his satire could go unnoticed and be taken as gospel by people such as George Sodini. This led to tangential discussions of the concept that women are not baby-making machines, and that -- gasp! -- we are independent, thinking beings. Now, I was not the only one voicing these thoughts; there was sarcasm used (which might have been this bloke's problem, perhaps it was beyond his grasp), and, again, this was all being discussed in the context of the story, and how it could be misrepresented especially with the recent events in mind.
Anyway, out of nowhere this guy comes up from behind me and shows me an iPhone (encased in a very pretty purple cover) showing a photo of kids sitting on some railing. He asked me what I thought of it, and since I had no idea what to think of it because I had no idea what he was showing me or WHY, I eventually said something along the lines of, "Uh... cute." He then said he was glad his wife didn't think like me, that my ideas were outdated by 200 years, and that people who think like me are going to be responsible for the downfall of society.

Are you serious?
Yes -- as the members of my writers group! I tried to ask the guy exactly what it was that I thought, since, you know, he knew me so well. But, of course, he kept his tail tucked tightly between his legs and yelled gibberish at me as he left the store.

What a loser.
I know. You wanna know the best part? The guy left his wallet on the table [at the Borders Cafe]. I was tempted to do something, if nothing else to take it out to him and make him talk to me, for lack of a better expression, "like a man" before I gave it back to him, but one of the other guys in our group jumped to action before I could. The loser just said "Thank you," didn't say anything about disrupting our group with his caveman babbling.

There's just no reasoning with some people.
No, there's not. I wish that group were smaller than it is, though.

What do you mean?
Well, just today, for example, I read this post on Feministing, about the backlash against organizations that are calling the Pennsylvania shooting an act of misogyny. The commenters quoted say that there is no culture of misogyny in this country, because we allow women to walk outside on their own and we don't force them to cover their face and women can go to school and get jobs and stuff.
It seems I've heard several times this week -- okay, I've read, really -- this idea that "we don't need feminism anymore because we've fixed it already." I agree we've come a long way from June Cleaver and all that, but we're in no way "done." That things are much better doesn't mean they're "fixed." That's like saying we've "fixed" the problem of racism because Barack Obama is President. Sure, it's great, and a long way from the days of separate water fountains, but we still have a long way to go. Maybe you aren't racist, or you don't see its effects in your neighborhood, but the problem is still there, and we have to keep fighting.
Not an hour after I read the Feministing post, I clicked on this story, about Hillary Clinton being asked what her husband thought of the growing influence of China. The guy didn't dare ask HILLARY CLINTON what HILLARY CLINTON thought, he asked her what her husband, "through Mrs. Clinton" thought. She responded by saying her husband was not Secretary of State, she was. She could tell the kid what SHE thought, but she was not going to "channel" her husband.
As you can see from the article, they use a photo -- FROM ANOTHER EVENT -- where Hillary is caught in mid-word, making a weird face. That's disrespectful; I know that's a game the media plays, but let's not ignore that it is a game they play. Then, the text of the article talks about her "losing her cool" and how she "finally had enough" -- implying she exploded in frustration -- and that she "snapped" at the student, adding "Clinton wasn't done" again, giving the impression of a long beating and the bully coming back to kick the guy in the gut while he was down just one more time.
There's not a culture of misogyny? Then how do you explain that a woman asserting herself and stating a FACT is protrayed this way? And let's not even get into the comments section of that article. Of course, how could we talk about a woman acting in any way that could be percieved as less-than-submissive and NOT make a comment about it being "her time of the month."
If you want to see the actual exchange, I'll post it for you below. So you can see that ALL SHE DID was assert herself. HOW DARE A WOMAN DO THAT. You wanna see someone REALLY "lose her cool"? Come ask me about this issue.

I see what you mean. Watching the video, you can tell she feels insulted, as she should, but she very much keeps her cool and tells the student that if he wants to ask her about HER opinion she'll be glad to answer, but that she's not there to speak for her husband. She's composed when she says this.

Well, it's getting late, and I know you have to be up early tomorrow, so I don't want to keep you. How about we continue this tomorrow?
Sounds good to me.


  1. I love the idea of writing this as an interview.

    And I wish you could've shown the guy a picture of your nephew who's obviously SO MUCH CUTER than his own kids. That might've shut him up. ; )

    Last thing-- it takes a year for FMLA to become active, but 9 months for the baby to be made. So, technically, if you get knocked up in 3 month's time you'll be covered by the time the kiddo's born. ; ) (You also could look into disability insurance-- yes, I know, lovely, isn't it?) which can pay you out for maternity/paternity leave. But I don't know how much they cost or what the terms are...

  2. I know it's not the end of the world, but it is annoying. Especially since I did ask about disability, and it turns out you can't do that. You might be able to get away with it if you have a C-section, because that would be a medical reason for you to recover (as per the HR lady). I was reading the paperwork last night, and short-term disability wouldn't kick in until you've exhausted your sick days or 30 days, whichever is longer. So, either way, it's DESIGNED to NOT be used as maternity leave.

    Just another example of healthcare's war on mothers.

  3. Really? Interesting... because I know a lot of people do that. I wonder if that's a difference specifically with the insurance through your work, vs with other companies and policies? Or maybe it differs according to state laws? California has a state-wide disability program that covers everyone, and people use as their paid leave when they have a kid. Maybe the difference is that I think it's technically family disability leave, so you can use it if you have a family member to take care of that needs it-- like someone (mother/father/spouse/child) gets sick or, you know, you have a newborn. Zach would have been able to use it to get partial pay if we'd been living in the US when we had Donovan, and friends of ours who just had a baby both got partial pay through the disability coverage.