Thursday, February 28, 2008

Out of it

Hello, darlings. Pretty Lady is just feeling human again, after the nastiest bout of strep she's had since junior high. 'Delirium' is not too strong a word.

Pretty Lady's Gentleman Friend is, she must say, the Best. Chicken soup and ginger ale, re-heated and re-filled every hour, whether it was consumed or not. Patient, and sometimes not-so-patient, negotiating with healthcare providers. Door-to-door chauffeur service to doctor's office. Company in doctor's office. Blankets, humidifiers, back-scratching, dishwashing, car-moving.

Did she mention that her G.F. is the Best? He's the Best.

Also, antibiotics and Tylenol are wonderful things. Also P.D. James. Pretty Lady is going back for another nap, now.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Healthy Home

Hello darlings! Pretty Lady apologizes for being ever so political, these last few weeks. She doesn't know what has become of her. She suspects that she is a victim of seduction; she just discovered that Barack Obama has the same personality type as her Gentleman Friend--ENFP! No wonder she has such a crush on him! The age of the NF is upon us, after literally millennia of domination by STs! Perhaps, one day, it will be safe for INFJs to enter regularly into society without risking nervous breakdowns.

However, before that happens, we sensitive, introverted, intuitive types will still be spending a lot of time at home. And Pretty Lady has discovered, quite by accident, that she is a better housekeeper than she had previously thought.

For let it be known that Pretty Lady has very little in common with the garden-variety German housewife. One may eat off her kitchen floor, only if one is strengthening one's immune system for an extended tour of Cambodia. The corners of her bathroom tend to putty up. The inside of the microwave, the back of the stove, and the areas under the kitchen table and fridge get a rigorous scrubbing, nearly every year. She does a lot of Artful Draping and Stashing of unattractive clutter, when people come over.

Furthermore, this being a New York apartment, space is naturally at a premium. Therefore every square inch of her home is Densely Packed and Efficiently Used. Pretty Lady's 750 square foot one-bedroom is full-time residence to one lady, one gentleman, and one short-haired feline; it contains one painting studio, one bodywork office, one eat-in kitchen, and one video-editing station. It also contains a second office under the loft, an extensive art collection, four floor-to-ceiling double-stacked bookshelves, a media center, and a great deal of second-hand furniture.

And when a Sensitive Person enters Pretty Lady's home, they generally are not subject to a full-on allergy attack. So she must be doing something right. Here is what she does.


One large HEPA filter runs in the bedroom/office/studio, 24/7/365.

Air filter over heating/air conditioning intake, changed regularly.

Water filter on drinking tap, changed regularly.

HEPA filter in vacuum cleaner.

Humidifer in bedroom/office/studio during winter; it makes things feel warmer, and reduces scratchy skin from dehydration.

Plants: as many as possible, in front of every window.


Small garbage bags and waste baskets are used, so as to be emptied once a day, tied up and carried downstairs whenever anybody is going out anyway. Cat box is stationed in bathroom, next to toilet, with broom and other cleaning accoutrements right by, thus providing a Strong Hint to anyone who happens to be using bathroom regularly.

Cleaning products:

All non-toxic. Castile bathroom cleaner, Seventh Generation dishwashing detergent, all-natural shampoos, toothpastes and hand soaps.


Before every single client arrives. Specialty nozzles are used on furniture and in corners. Bathroom given a wipe-down at the same time.


Rinsed and put into dishwasher as soon as they no longer contain food. Dishwasher set to run at night, and emptied first thing in the morning. Counters and stove-top wiped down whenever empty, which is usually.


Windows opened every day the weather permits.


Same-day drop-off wash and fold is $.50/lb on the corner, and worth its weight in gold.

Sweeping re-organization and straightening of scattered objects:

Whenever Pretty Lady gets stressed and cannot think properly, which happens with reliable frequency. This is how Virgos manage. It is not a bad thing.

Pretty Lady, let it be known, is Not Your Mother. Nevertheless she earnestly recommends that people with allergies, chronic health problems, mental health issues and/or pets give her methods some consideration. These simple habits are not excessively time-consuming or excessively onerous; in fact, after a bit of set-up, they are less stressful and intrusive of creative hours than the constant tripping, sneezing, and working around great piles of chaos that inevitably happen otherwise.

(Also, as a last resort: A Word to the Wise.)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Pretty Lady for President--NOT

Pretty Lady is quaking in her boots:
I don't think Obama is particularly economicly sound. Although certainly Clinton and McCain are not, either. I do think he's more honest than they are, but I'm afraid that's not necessarily saying a whole lot.

What I haven't heard any is of the three say: Guess what, like all Americans, the Federal Government not only has to spend no more than it takes in, it also has to pay off its debts. I've heard lots of talk about spending more on the military, on the poor, on health care, etc, but nothing about the debt. A little here and there about a 'balanced budget' but nothing about debt repayment.
I don't support any of those three. I'll have to see who the third parties put up before I make a choice.
Perhaps I should write in 'Pretty Lady'. (Okay, actually, Pretty Lady's author, since I've very carefully made sure I've got her name right, just in case someone asks about the t-shirt, you understand.)
Well, all that can be said about Pretty Lady and economics is that she believes in providing actual value for every dollar she earns, as she sternly told those people who tried to sell her some parasitic viral-marketing scheme last week. This has not made her wealthy, but at least she sleeps soundly at night.

But she is sorry to say that she is not running for President, and would turn down the position if it were offered. So you and David will just have to write in Ron Paul instead. The poor fellow needs the moral support.

Your economic concerns, Boysmom, are indeed valid. Pretty Lady rather suspects that a great many American citizens are going to have to adjust to some radical changes in standards of living, sometime within the next ten or twenty years, due to the subprime mortgage crisis, the effects of globalization, and this situation of the dollar vis a vis China, which is giving Pretty Lady nightmares. And it may be far, far too late for any action by the U.S. government to do anything about it.

However, the pointing out of a few facts is in order:

1) The Clinton Administration left office with a rather large budget surplus. This, as far as Pretty Lady understands it, was brought about by the technology-driven economic boom in the late 90's, which was spurred by individual creativity and entrepreneurship, bolstered by an existing infrastructure of communications and universities, which were at least partly government-subsidized.

2) The Bush administration tax cuts for the very wealthy have not produced anything like this sort of boom.

3) We are hemorrhaging money in Iraq.

4) Citizens who are assured of decent health care, education, food and shelter are better fitted for taking on entrepreneurial challenges than those who are clinging desperately to three minimum-wage jobs for fear of starving.

5) NAFTA didn't do American industrial workers any favors, and Mr. Obama knows it.

Pretty Lady could go on and on, about the connections between Islamic terrorism and poverty, the happiness quotient of the Danish people, and the pitfalls of unrestricted free-market capitalism. But suffice it to say that she'd rather have a government which admits it doesn't know everything, rather than one which thinks it knows all.

Healthcare: Force vs. Encouragement

As you darlings all know, the issue of Health Care is quite an important one to Pretty Lady. In fact, she has sent her personal proposal, that for government-subsidized health savings accounts, in to dear Mr. Obama; he hasn't gotten back to her yet, but she understands that the gentleman has more pressing issues on his mind at present.

However, she would like to point out once again that a seemingly subtle, semantic difference between the attitudes of the two leading Democratic Presidential contenders on this issue is, nevertheless, starkly significant. Mrs. Clinton wishes to legislate that all American citizens be forced to purchase a Health Insurance Plan, whether they feel that they personally need it or not. Mr. Obama feels that American citizens can be trusted to make such vital economic decisions on their own; he merely wishes to assist the poorest of us with our payments.

Pretty Lady can attest, from personal experience, that being legally required to spend 10% of her nonexistent income on a health insurance plan, during certain long periods of her youth, when she was so bursting with health and animal optimism as to be a stranger to even the hint of a doctor's office, would have been literally crippling. It would have been barefaced totalitarian robbery. Pretty Lady believes, furthermore, that the two halves of Freedom are: Freedom to manage one's own resources, and Freedom to screw up.

Freedom to watch one's child die in an overcrowded county emergency room, of a treatable illness, in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, not so much.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

In Defense of Sincere Egoism

All right, you people. Pretty Lady is Fed Up. Extreme times call for extreme actions, and Pretty Lady is no coward. Prepare yourselves. Pretty Lady is going to defend Hillary Clinton.

For she finds it absolutely absurd that so many of you should be propounding the notion that Hillary's notorious 'choking up' incident was mere Political Manipulation; crocodile tears, as it were. The implication of this position, as you very well know, is that Mrs. Clinton has no actual, human emotions at all, but is simply a power-hungry automaton, with ironclad calculation and control over her every word and gesture.

Good heavens, people. Get a clue.

For it seems to Pretty Lady that a simply enormous number of people are willing to push an infinite number of their fellow human beings over the cliff of Non-Humanity, simply on the basis of an ideological disagreement or two. They attribute the most deliberately scurrilous of motives to others on the basis of exactly no thought at all; the notion that Human Beings are, largely, Human, never seems to have occurred to them.

This gives them, of course, a built-in excuse for all their OWN lapses in perfect judgment, rationality and consistency, since THEY are, in their own estimation, Human; but those Others out there are, patently, Not. And so they must be judged and condemned by the standards one would apply to a hopelessly outdated computer program--trashed, in other words.

So let Pretty Lady set you straight. Hillary Clinton is all too Human, in her words, actions, thoughts and feelings. She is a sincere egoist; she is power-hungry, self-righteous, controlling, manipulative, and lacking in self-awareness. Her emotions at the prospect of being denied the prize her ego demands as its birthright are all too real; Pretty Lady has no doubt that her 'choking up' was quite genuine. The very definition of the ego is that it rails bitterly against any hint that its wishes are not sovereign.

This sincerity does not, of course, mean that the ego should have its way, in any circumstance.

For Pretty Lady feels that she has failed, verily, in pointing out what the ego actually is. The ego, darlings, is the source of all misery. It is the perception that one's individual identity is separate from, and in competition with, all other manifestations of consciousness everywhere. It is the source of war, poverty, cruelty and suffering; it is at the root of Death itself. It is the true enemy; all other apparent enemies are but projected shadows of its malignance.

So for all of you out there who yet maintain that Hillary is insincere in her egoistic emotions, Pretty Lady tells you: she is as sincere as you are, when you state that Others must be blamed, so that You may be innocent. She desires as potently to be Right, that others may be Wrong, as you do. She is fully Human; her flaws are your own.

Charmed, I'm sure

Dear BECA gallery,

Pretty Lady is ever so pleased and delighted to receive your semi-personal invitation to submit an application for your 'Mirror for the 21st Century' exhibition. It has been simply years since she has had the pleasure of visiting New Orleans, and she looks forward to exploring what looks, from the photos, like a gloriously re-emergent art scene there.

Upon reading the fine print, however, she noticed that there appears to be some confusion regarding business practices, which she would like to clarify before proceeding with her application. As you have noted, Pretty Lady is an emerging artist, which means that her fee for participating in an itinerant event is relatively modest; she charges a mere flat rate of $1000 per engagement, plus travel expenses, including air fare, car rental and lodging. Of course it goes without saying that shipping expenses in both directions, as well as full door-to-door insurance, are the responsibility of BECA gallery; she assumes that the assertions to the contrary, in the 'Delivery and Return of Artwork' section of the application, are a mere clerical oversight, which will be promptly rectified.

Pretty Lady will be happy to submit her application as soon as an advance of $500 has been deposited into her Paypal account, balance to be due upon completion of the application. She greatly appreciates your interest, and your continued dedication to the cause of emerging art.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Fie on 'Health Insurance'! Fie!

As if this were a surprise:
Have health insurers been systematically cheating patients and doctors of fair reimbursement for medical services? That is the disturbing possibility raised by an investigation of the industry’s arcane procedures for calculating “reasonable and customary” rates.
This system is an invitation for abuse. UnitedHealth owns the company whose database will affect its costs and profitability, so both have a strong financial interest in keeping reimbursement rates low. Even Ingenix seems unwilling to stand behind its numbers. In licensing its database to insurers, it stresses that the data is “for informational purposes only” and does not imply anything about “reasonable and customary” charges. Yet that is precisely what the health insurers use the data for, as Ingenix knows, according to investigators.
Since we are paying for the vast majority of our medical care out-of-pocket, anyway, as this article attests, WHY IN THE WORLD are we, the American consumer, continuing to support this corrupt and parasitic system? Pretty Lady calls for Revolution! Medical savings accounts for all!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Darlings, Mind Your Production Values

Pretty Lady apologizes profusely for this. However, she felt an overwhelming compulsion to demonstrate, with Concrete Evidence, the deleterious effects of kitschy aesthetic sensibilities on--well, let us just say that she feels almost sorry for Hillary.

Here: an excellent piece of propaganda. Note how the subliminal Emotional Buttons are pushed, although the rational mind is protesting vehemently against manipulation with clichéd, simplistic sloganry.

Here: not so much. Fatuous, twee, utterly horrific.

If you watched the whole thing, you have a stronger stomach than Pretty Lady.

Children are Not That Sensitive

Gracious. Those French people certainly seem to be losing their vim:
PARIS — President Nicolas Sarkozy dropped an intellectual bombshell this week, surprising the nation and touching off waves of protest with his revision of the school curriculum: beginning next fall, he said, every fifth grader will have to learn the life story of one of the 11,000 French children killed by the Nazis in the Holocaust.
“It is unimaginable, unbearable, tragic and above all, unjust,” Simone Veil, a Holocaust survivor and honorary president of the Foundation for the Memory of the Holocaust, told the Web site of the magazine L’Express. “You cannot inflict this on little ones of 10 years old! You cannot ask a child to identify with a dead child. The weight of this memory is much too heavy to bear.”
Pretty Lady seems to recall that when she was in fifth grade, she and all her friends read and re-read 'The Diary of Anne Frank,' for fun. It was exciting! Even though you knew how it ended.

Pretty Lady strongly recommends that the French get over their pusillanimous squeamishness.

Friday, February 15, 2008

How to Have a Glamorous Career

Pretty Lady must confess that she has been emboldened to take the precipitate step of offering Glamorous Career Advice--even though her own career has not, as yet, peaked--due to the recent and tragic meltdown of her dear colleague Deborah, who made the error of appearing competent in public:

SELLOUT gets a lot of email. Most of it is unhelpful. It's mostly strident requests for personal advice, personal sad stories, *enormous* jpegs of people's work, and kind of stalky stuff about where I, personally, have been seen on the internet and in real life. And re-mails wondering where my personal reply to the personal advice question is. I get a lot of these.

Wading through these anxious, grabby, selfish emails takes a lot of time and gets depressing. As a result, I have developed a much better understanding of what gallerists and curators go through--why they tend toward such strongly policed boundaries.

Well, gracious. Pretty Lady can relate. And she has some very stern words for all you young, or not-so-young, artists, musicians, actors, fashion designers, writers, models, dancers, and wannabe Famous People out there. They are:

NOBODY can GIVE you a career. NOBODY is GOING to give you a career. You have to develop your career YOURSELF.

This would appear, on the face of it, to be simple and obvious information. But Pretty Lady fears that the youth of today have been grossly misled, by travesties such as American Idol, America's Next Top Model, the careers of a few interchangable blonde 'singers,' and the Art Star phenomenon, into thinking that all they have to do is get Discovered. Additionally, they have to Want It Really Bad. At least, this is what Pretty Lady gleaned, the one or two times she has troubled to look at a television, during the last several years.

Darlings, Pretty Lady must then begin with the obvious: You are being manipulated. You are being manipulated in a most unsubtle fashion; you are being manipulated into believing that the power is all Out There, in the hands of Them, and you must wait around for Them to give it to you. This is how They keep you quiet, quiescent, and obedient, and how They get your money.

Pretty Lady can't believe she had to spell that out for you.

So. On to the Real World, which is ever so much more fun than all that goop.

1) Pick something you love, and work very very hard at it.

Again, it seems rather tautological to have to say this, except that Pretty Lady has encountered ever so many people who behave as though it Weren't So. While running her gallery, she received enthusiastic exhibition proposals from 'artists' who had painted two paintings. She was the focus of ongoing schmooze campaigns by 'artists' whose portfolios were indistinguishable from the output of your average sophomore painting class; she received peremptory demands for an exhibition date from 'artists' who were not, currently, making any art.

She furthermore has known 'writers' whose life's oevre consisted of a handful of clichés, written on stray scraps of paper, 'fashion designers' who felt it was a waste of time to learn to sew, and 'singers' who believed that voice lessons were an insult to their creativity.

To these people she says: Get over yourselves, go away, and DO something, before you bother Pretty Lady, or anybody else, again.

2) Take some initiative.

This does not mean 'corner an agent, gallerist or producer and torment them until they agree to represent you.' It means 'get together with a few peers and produce your own project.' It will, in all likelihood, be a Complete Flop; this is called a Learning Experience. We all require them, and it is much, much better for you to have them in relative obscurity, among friends, than in the International Spotlight.

3) Assess and re-assess your own efforts, with scorching honesty.

If you are a musician, record yourself, listen to the recordings, then listen to twenty recordings by artists you admire. (If there are not twenty artists you admire, you are a narcissist; please go away.) If you are a writer, write 500 pages of manuscript, put it away, read 10 great novels, then reread your manuscript. If you are an artist, paint 20 paintings, then go to the Met, the MoMA, and the Tate; also visit the sophomore painting seminar at your local community college. If you are a fashion designer, learn to sew, and wear your own designs. Examine your body afterwards, for chafe marks, and the clothing, for unplanned gaps, puckers, and holes.

Compare and contrast. Have a hard-assed friend or two do likewise.

4) Learn to consider criticism objectively.

This does not mean knuckling under to every spiteful, ignorant comment that is casually flung your way; nor does it mean ignoring the 50 people who point out the exact same weakness in the exact same thing you showed them last time. Know your standards and objectives, and adhere to them with integrity and humility.

5) Show sincere interest in other people's work.

Nobody wins friends and influences people by talking about themselves at every opportunity. Get out and meet people, find out what they're doing, and talk about it. You may learn something, and you may make genuine friends.

6) Market.

Don't hide your light under a bushel; websites and blogs are easy to create, and very cheap. Postcards, ditto. But do not push the marketing to excess if you are not actively engaged in steps 1-5; you will merely demonstrate to a great many people that you are a complete jackass.

7) Give as you expect to receive.

This, perhaps, is the toughest prescription to follow. An aspiring creative person is, frequently, a chronically penurious one; she may feel that she is perpetually at the bottom of the heap, and has nothing to offer except for her Shining Talent, which ought to be enough.

It isn't. At the very least you can offer a listening ear, and an occasional home-cooked meal, to a friend in similar straits. If you can offer these things to a friend, it is but one step to offering them to someone with a bit more clout. Cultivate an attitude of serene, overflowing generosity, rather than Desperate Deprivation. People will want to be around you.

Do not, however, try to manipulate people with a 'tit for tat' agenda, however artfully concealed. This is bound to backfire; people do not like feeling beholden. Also, if a person proves themselves to be the sort of parasite who takes and takes without reciprocating, stop giving and walk away. There is no point in being a patsy.

A genuine, fruitful connection proceeds organically, with both parties to the endeavor giving willingly, within their means, at their own pace.

8) Handle your finances realistically.

Pretty Lady has already written on this issue at length; she has only to add that nobody ever got famous by shopping. And if you DO hit the jackpot, for heaven's sake don't fly off the handle and become a drug addict. Invest, invest, invest! If you have a chunk of money socked away in real estate, mutual funds, and money market accounts, you can afford to tell your skeevy dealer, craven producer, or double-dealing agent to take a hike, instead of being a slave to whatever crass mogul happens to hold your leash.

And finally, for a truly inspiring portrait of a person who combined grinding hard work, realistic self-assessment, canny perspicacity, and timely intrepidity to realize a Dazzling Career out of the depths of poverty, Pretty Lady recommends Act One: the autobiography of Moss Hart. Her seventh-grade teacher handed it to her, when she was in seventh grade, saying "I think you'll like this." Pretty Lady still has no idea how she knew, but still rereads it every five or ten years.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Political Interlude

Pretty Lady would just like to note that a permanent Surveillance State in this formerly free country has just been enacted by the U.S. Congress. She would further like to point out that every single Republican in the Senate voted in favor of this totalitarian legislation. She would further like to point out that Senator Obama voted against it, and that Senator Clinton abstained.

Monday, February 11, 2008

How to Settle (or not)

Darlings, Pretty Lady must be quite, quite serious with you this morning. For it strikes her that in the Matrimonial Wars, a lot of people are getting away with hyperbole and half-truths, brought on, no doubt, by a lack of guidance from Experienced Elders. Pretty Lady is not quite an Elder, yet, but the one thing she does have is Experience. And so she will share it with you, in an attempt to prevent some of you from making Terrible Mistakes.

On the one hand, we have a bit of pragmatic advice from a lady who made the hyperbolic and quixotic decision to while away her wait for Prince Charming by becoming a Single Mother, on purpose, with a Sperm Donor. Thus we understand that this person's nature is already given to extremes:
My advice is this: Settle! That’s right. Don’t worry about passion or intense connection. Don’t nix a guy based on his annoying habit of yelling “Bravo!” in movie theaters. Overlook his halitosis or abysmal sense of aesthetics. Because if you want to have the infrastructure in place to have a family, settling is the way to go. Based on my observations, in fact, settling will probably make you happier in the long run, since many of those who marry with great expectations become more disillusioned with each passing year.
And then we have the predictable Idealist Backlash:
At this point, you realize the entire article is reactionary bullshit the author herself doesn’t believe. How do I know? If she really thinks that being married to a closeted gay man who exchanges housework for her willingness to pretend she doesn’t know what he does on weekend nights, then she would go husband-hunting at her local ex-gay meeting. If you want to be a beard, then there’s an easy, quick, no-nonsense solution for you. I don’t see how it couldn’t work.
Now, now, everybody. Settle down. Pretty Lady means it.

For it strikes her that here we have a classic case of ill-defined terms. Our underlying assumptions regarding these terms may be vastly different; moreover, our experience with reality may encompass similar extremes. On top of it all, Pretty Lady has noticed a distressing tendency in modern society to treat other human beings as mere shopping-mall commodities; as interchangable appendages of Image and Status, and not as the unique package-deal phenomenae that each and every one of us are.

So let us get a few things straight.

First of all, as you well know, Pretty Lady has many times experienced that passionate high, that luminous miracle, that overwhelming compulsion commonly referred to as True Love. She is intimately familiar with the instantaneous familiarity, the roseate view, the suspension of time and physics which accompanies it; she has explored its channels and vicissitudes from haloed beginning to apocalyptic end, time and again.

And she is certain of one thing: This feeling has nothing to do with actual love. It is a strong indication that the object of one's passion has triggered an unhealed Issue in one's psyche, which requires addressing in order to achieve genuine emotional maturity.

This is not to say that one should shun this feeling of True Love, or refuse to explore it. It is merely to say that things are bound to end badly. Be certain to take notes on why that should be, and how to do better next time.

Second of all: if you are the sort of person who sees no ethical problem with dumping a person with whom you have excellent conversation, compatible values, and decent chemistry, simply because you think you can do better, you are a jerk and an asshole and deserve to die alone and forgotten. See above, viz. the commodification of actual human beings. It is narcissistic and disgusting to treat another person as merely a vehicle for the aggrandizement of one's ego; it is a particularly noxious form of parasitism which states, 'well, he's fine for the time being, but I really couldn't consider marrying anyone who wasn't richer/better looking/funnier/more adventurous in bed.'

Ladies, we have a word for the fellow who tells you, "You're nice and all that, but you really need to lose a few pounds." If we expect Equal Rights, we must take equal responsibility for not being Total Pigs.

So: when a person with actual integrity is deciding whether to Settle for her current swain, or to continue trolling the deeps for her soulmate, it is PARAMOUNT to understand that you are not choosing between Mr. Present Tense and Mr. Future Perfect. You are choosing between Mr. Present Tense and being ALONE.

As Pretty Lady's friends know, she once made this painful and difficult choice. The potential partner in question was, really, a dream come true--handsome, wealthy, debonair, adventurous, and inherently monogamous. He also had a quite splendid extended family, with whom Pretty Lady fell collectively in love, and passionately wanted children, who would, of course, be raised on two or three continents simultaneously, surrounded by loving family and friends.

It is important to understand that Pretty Lady did not feel that she could do better than this man. In fact, she was quite convinced that if she left him, she would undoubtedly do worse.

However, looking ten years down the projected line, Pretty Lady saw her future self, and she did not like what she saw. She saw a frustrated, passive-aggressive person who would be unable to constrain herself from doing things which would cause herself and her family great harm. The fact is, she and her paragon were simply not compatible, and something indelible inside Pretty Lady knew it.

So, in order to spare him this travesty, Pretty Lady called it off. Remaining with him for pure social and financial advantage would have been inexcusably selfish. In fact, he found a genuinely compatible lady, and due to Pretty Lady's honest communication and heartfelt recommendation, lived happily ever after. Pretty Lady wrote him a thank-you note for being such a splendid boyfriend, and he wrote her a similar encomium.

And as it happens, having honestly dealt with her Issues, Pretty Lady didn't have to settle for eternal solitude, after all.

So it seems to Pretty Lady that there are varying degrees of Settling, and the author of this article lumps them all in together, willy-nilly. Pretty Lady will enumerate her personal list of Unacceptable Traits in a Matrimonial Partner, which obviate settling of any kind, and automatically strike the person from the lists:

1) Do not marry someone who is gay. Not even if you were molested as a child, and thus find your spouse's sexual revulsion toward yourself to be vaguely reassuring. You will be bound to feel abandoned, creeped out and despondent when he inevitably disappears into the next room with a 'friend.'

2) Do not marry an alcoholic or a drug addict.

3) Do not marry someone who is severely mentally ill.

4) Do not marry a philanderer.

5) Do not marry a compulsive gambler, or who otherwise demonstrates flagrant financial irresponsibility.

Beyond these obvious no-nos, the only necessary traits in a spouse, according to Pretty Lady's rock-bottom list, are:

1) Good conversationalist. You will be conversing with this person, if all goes well, for the rest of your life; make sure you're not bored.

2) Compatible values. This includes values regarding sex, money, and personal responsibility. It is no good marrying a chatty, engaging polyamorist if you are fundamentally monogamous.

3) Decent chemistry. Earthshattering fireworks are not required, but do not marry someone who repulses you. This sort of thing pushes normal everyday conflicts over the top, rather than assisting in resolving them.

If these three items are full and present in your relationship, you are not Settling at all. You are Sensible and Mature. Please reproduce, now.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Pandemic Misogyny: A Sick Fantasy

Gracious! What with the furor on Sexism over at Edward's, Deborah's response to it, and now this treatise on pornography from Jamie, it seems to be Gender Issues Week in Pretty Lady's neck of the woods. She is terribly sorry to see that some gentlemen appear to be jumping on the bandwagon of Victim Hyperbole:
Not one to pull his punches, Jensen dives right in with the story of how he gave a three hour workshop on pornography to 40 women at a “center that serves battered women and rape survivors” and how much it hurt them to hear of the hate behind the images. His conclusion: “Even these women, who have found ways to cope with the injuries from male violence in other places, struggle with that pornographic reality. It is one thing to deal with acts, even extremely violent acts. It is another to know the thoughts, ideas, and fantasies that lie behind those acts.”

Am I misreading here, or is Jensen saying that porn not only leads to violence against women, it’s worse than violence against women? Women, how do you feel about that? Fellas, do you think your fantasies are worse than rape? I must admit, I used to really beat myself up over my fantasies, but I never thought I was worse than a rapist.
Now, what leapt right out at Pretty Lady was--what kind of misogynistic sadist gives a three-hour workshop on violent pornography to a group of battered women? It strikes her as a distinctly unhelpful activity to engage in. A person whose boundaries have been severely violated needs to feel more safe and protected, not less so. Rubbing a person's nose in this alleged violent hatred of her person is not the way to accomplish this.

The fact is, Pretty Lady thinks that this whole business about 'men hating women' is vastly overblown. There are, she grants you, a few men hither and yon who project the damage within their personal psyches onto anything female in their general vicinity, but they are grossly outnumbered by the perfectly decent ones who think that most women are rather nice.

Moreover, society in general persists in conflating modes of arousal with actual emotion, no matter how often experience indicates that the two are largely unrelated, particularly in the male psyche. As pointless as it is to attempt to legislate emotion, it is even more pointles to attempt to control the part of the human psyche which hasn't yet achieved the level of sophistication required to produce emotions. Fantasy, which is sharply delineated as such, strikes her as an eminently responsible way of managing the lizard-brain in all of us.

Pretty Lady: Third Person Singular

Every now and then, Pretty Lady hears some of you grumbling. "Why does Pretty Lady write about herself in the third person?" you want to know. "It's so pretentious. So annoying. We sometimes find her words amusing, but ye gods. Enough already."

Well, darlings, as much as Pretty Lady's first objective in life is to make you happy, there are some very good reasons why she cannot oblige your finely-honed aesthetic preferences in all ways. Pretty Lady's third person singularity is part of her entire raison d'etre.

You see, my dears, the most important thing about Pretty Lady is that she is, specifically and explicitly, not her author. She is a fanciful Postulate who incorporates, perhaps, a few of her author's characteristics, thoughts and adventures, but not all of them, and not in the same way. Pretty Lady's author can assure you that, were she to incessantly spout 'dears' and 'darlings' all over her physical friends, she would soon have a lot fewer of them.

Moreover, being a Postulate, Pretty Lady has specifically delineated characteristics, which may or may not always apply to her author. She is, by definition, Pretty. She is, by definition, a Lady. By definition, she loves everybody, although she may occasionally betray a bit of egoistic impatience with some of you, every now and then. Not even Pretty Lady is perfect. Although she may be perfect in her imperfections, just like all of you.

Since Pretty Lady is not an actual person, but an Abstraction, then, she may also incorporate the Universal within her scope. In her singularity, she transcends; thus there is a bit of Pretty Lady in every one of us. Pretty Lady feels that it is vital to remind those she loves of this--that when any one of you look into your mirror or your soul, that you find a bit of Pretty Lady there. That you find perfection in your flaws, and a hint of universal, overflowing affection.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Doom the Perceptive

As Doom has correctly perceived, Pretty Lady now has a Boutique! It is so brand new that the paint is barely dry; check back often for improvements. Pretty Lady has decided to go the Crass Commercialism route, frankly, because she has to. It is a fine thing to starve on one's own, but when other people are involved, the issue of Ethics rears its formidable head. Creditors must be paid, and dependents must be nurtured.

You will also notice that "Donate" buttons are yellowly scattered throughout; this is to remind all you darlings that if you feel that Pretty Lady's words have been of value to you in some way, then you are free to emphatically express this in concrete terms. This is, of course, an entirely voluntary option, and rest assured that Pretty Lady will continue blathering away for free, as long as she feels like it.