Trayvon Martin and Rape

It is a well established social norm that women do not deserve to be raped, regardless of what they are wearing. This isn’t Burma, after all. A crotch-skimming minidress and thigh-high patent leather boots are not an invitation to leer. Unless, of course, you’re the one she’s signalling. Clothing, like flashy cars, is a signaling mechanism, a way of projecting how one wishes to be seen and attracting those who are normally attracted to that kind of thing (hookers wear slutty clothes because their customers like slutty women; by wearing slutty clothes, they’re announcing their sluttiness). Contrast a streetwalker to a suburban mom running errands or a young attorney clawing her way to the top of the food chain at Latham and Watkins. Every one of these “looks” is designed to elicit a response; it is her way of controlling her image (and the opinions of others).

When one wishes to look like a hood rat, one might dress in hoodies. Of course, I dress in hoodies, and I am as far away from the hood as one can possibly be. And therein lies the issue. I dress in hoodies when I am feeling a certain way, when I don’t care who sees me as I’m walking in the park. Other people – perhaps Trayvon Martin – dress that way because they want to be seen as gangsters. I have no way of knowing this, of course. I’m just saying when a woman dresses like a slut, she might not be asking for YOUR attention, but she is asking for attention. Likewise, Trayvon might not have been a hardcore gangster, but he was projecting that image. Like the girl who is raped because a rapist happens to see her in her slutty attire, Treyvon happened to look exactly like a gangster when someone was looking for a gangster to shoot.

The whole case makes me ill. It is even more upsetting because we just don’t know the facts. The hoodie, though, is becoming an icon right before our eyes, and I’m not sure this is the direction we should be going as a culture.

Buying At Apple

Today I went to the Apple store to buy this:

I also bought a laptop stand. As I was finishing my shopping I set my products on a counter, whipped out my iPhone, went to my Apple Store app, and paid for my items with my iTunes account.

If the products had been smaller, I’d have thrown them in my purse and walked out, but I needed a bag. The salesgeek was happy to give me one, and out I went. The whole thing took about ten minutes.

It was the most enjoyable shopping experience of my life. No lines. No waiting for someone ahead of me to pay for their items with a temporary check from the Bank of Tehran. Just zip in and zip out.

Perfectly seamless.

Meanwhile At The Apple Store

While at the Apple store, a lady stood on the table and asked for everyone’s attention. As the voices quieted and then diminished to total silence, I glanced around at the fellow customers and employees, thinking how strange the silence was in this place that teemed with noise and energy. The lady held a cupcake in her hand, which I noticed had a candle on it.

“Ladies and Gentleman,” the employee intoned. “Today is our manager’s birthday. So please join me in wishing her happy birthday!”

Everyone burst out in a rousing rendition of the Happy Birthday song. I scrabbled in bag for my iPhone. It was pretty much over by the time I squeezed off a picture – but I got this of everyone applauding.

Even when it was happening I wasn’t sure if it was really cool or if it was a totally pretentious douchebag move. After the benefit of a few days of thinking about this, I think it was a very sweet impulse to wish her a happy birthday, if only because I am inclined to be generous in my judgements these days.


I don’t buy a lot of physical books anymore; I prefer to read on my Kindle. But art books demand the respect of being held in my hands.

The Van Gogh books and “Art & Agenda” were bought in London. The others are brand spanking new.

Last 25 Songs Bought

Since London

* I’ve been wearing Marks & Spencer underwear.

* I’ve said “quid” in casual conversation.

* My house looks like I took the American concept of patriotism and applied it to England. In short, it looks like a souvenir shop exploded in my living room.

* I miss sticky toffee pudding. How come we don’t have sticky toffee pudding here in America?!

* I have mentioned “Her Majesty The Queen” no fewer than one thousand times.

* Obviously, I have turned into a weirdo.

* I miss London. I will be back in June for the Queen’s Jubilee though. That is some consolation.

London Luck: Sylvia Plath

The theory goes: if I had been one minute early or one minute late, it would never have happened. But I think from the moment I stepped onto Fitzroy Road, something was already in motion, some act that had been gathering momentum for years and would finally, finally happen – and whether I was early or late really did not really matter because the concept of time had ceased to exist. It was going to happen because it was Destiny.

As I walked through the London Zoo, I spotted several huge red Macaw parrots, beautiful things that were strangely silent, refusing to disturb the peaceful morning with their loud calls. No other animal noises either, though I was keenly alert. In one of Ted Hughes “Birthday Letters”, he makes mention of the animal noises, which startled him when he moved into Sylvia’s flat after she died. But there were no roaring lions or calling Macaws. I wended through the adjacent pretty green park, where dogs were playing, and then – voila:

Just seeing the sign made a lump appear in my throat. I started to shake. As I walked up the wide avenue, I was looking desperately from one side of the road to the other. I spotted some scaffolding and was terrified that her house was being remodeled. But that was the house next door. Her house, the house with the Yates plaque, was pristine as in every picture I have ever seen of it.

The poems flew through my head. The magnificent woman who wrote them lived in that house. She dwelled among those walls with two sick little babies, waking at four in the morning to write, revise, and write some more, then bless the world with her shattering words.

I stood quaking across the street from the house, overwhelmed with all it stood for, with all the history, with my love for Sylvia Plath.

Then, as if in a dream, the door began to open.

“Oh my God,” I whispered to my friend. A woman appeared. Petite with blonde hair, in a neat bob, maybe in her early forties. She wore a black sweater, black trousers, and a smart patent leather belt. I don’t remember if she was wearing shoes. She glanced over at me, and the to the workmen at the scaffolding.

I began to walk toward her, as if she had called to me. As I crossed the street, she looked back at me. I had no idea what I was going to say. Usually when I approach strangers, I put a big smile on my face, a nice social mask to show that I am harmless — even if I want something from them — and I have an angle. But I had neither the desire nor the presence of mind to be anything but utterly genuine.

“Hi,” I said, climbing the small steps to the porch. “I’m Cara Ellison. I came all the way from America to take a picture of your house.”

I held up my iPhone rather lamely. Then for some reason – I was operating on some other level here, I don’t understand why I did the things I did – I dropped my phone into my handbag.

“I am a huge Sylvia Plath fan,” I said.

She smiled a little uncertainly. “We get that a lot,” she said.

“Do you?” I asked, trying to be a normal human being. “No Yates fans?”

“A few,” she said. Through her open door I could see her hallway. The hallway where Sylvia stood.
“But it’s the Sylvia people who come often.”

“I didn’t mean to disturb you,” I said quickly.

She pointed to the workmen. “You didn’t. They did.”

Behind her, from somewhere in the house, a phone began to ring. “I need to get that.”

“Of course,” I said. “Do you mind if I snap the front of the house?”

“Go ahead,” she said and shut the door.

I stood reeling. I numbly snapped some pictures, deliberately trying not to think about this yet:

And the workmen next door:

I walked to the end of the block and snapped a picture of the intersection:

As we walked back, slowly, so I could absorb the karmatic energy of the place, the door opened again and the woman leaned out. She asked the workmen to keep the noise down, then – seemingly randomly – asked me, “Would you like to see the house for a second?”

Would I like to see the house where Sylvia Plath lived?

I think I died for a moment. There is a blank space in my memory. I don’t know how I said yes, or if I said yes at all. It is entirely possible that I just walked up the steps and followed her inside.

Sylvia’s house is now modern and fresh, smelling vaguely of roses and cedar. The kitchen is pretty. My eyes kept going to the stove, though it has been replaced – possibly many times. But that is the place she did it. She killed herself there, not two feet from where I was standing. That beautiful mind, the “cauldron of morning”… gone.

We spoke only for three minutes or so. I only glanced at the living room and the kitchen, talking about Sylvia’s poems while my eyes devoured every inch of the space. My friend and I thanked her profusely and walked back outside. As I did so, I saw the world, in those few instances, the way Sylvia would have. A jarring realization.

I could not talk about it just then. I couldn’t do much of anything. I think the whole point of my obsession had been to see the place she died, and since I accomplished that, I was a little bit obliterated.

At the park, we caught a taxi and directed the driver to the church where Sylvia and Ted Hughes were married. It was closed. I took some pictures of the outside:

Later, I would realize the “workmen” would take on a new dimension to this escapade. In the book “Sylvia Plath: Method and Madness”, Sylvia was driven batty by the sounds of workmen outside her flat with Ted Hughes:

Secondly, it was a workman named Charles Langridge who was fixing up the building who allowed in the nurse who found Sylvia dead.

I don’t know what these things mean but I sense they are not random.

London Luck: Her Majesty The Queen

Almost from the moment I touched ground in London, I was blessed with what I would come to call “London Luck.” The entire experience of being in London seemed to be bathed in some benevolent power that would ensure things were going swimmingly. I had been in London for about six hours when my companion and I walked to Buckingham Palace. It being a Wednesday morning, barely noon, we were both a little taken aback by the huge crowds milling about, cameras at the ready. A peek through the crowds at the vaunted black and gold gates of the Palace showed what I assumed to be the Changing of the Guard. A magnificent spectacle no doubt, but was that enough to justify this huge crowd?

Police on horseback kept pedestrian traffic moving. Parts of the road between the Palace and the Queen Victoria monument were kept clear of all traffic. The flag flying atop Buckingham Palace was the Queen’s flag, indicating she was in residence (the Union Jack flies when Her Majesty is away.) My companion suggested someone may be arriving for an official state visit. I got out my camera and tried to capture some of the buzz of the scene.

Soon, the grand Palace gates opened and three Range Rovers roared out, instantly sucking along the crowd along with them, who were urgently snapping photos, trying to see who was inside the three cars. I was literally standing alone on a little patch in front of the Palace, watching the crowds start to leave because whatever the occasion, it had just ended with the departure of the three vehicles.

I looked to the Mall and there, flying her flag on her burgundy Rolls Royce, was the Sovereign. I stood agog, thinking only enough to take pictures. I got a series of several before I turned to my companion and said, “It’s the Queen!” Others then heard me, and then rushed for her, obscuring my view.

Next time I know to keep my mouth shut. Here is the series: (Note that if you click on the photo and magnify it you can see Prince Philip quite clearly and you can also see the Queen with her distinctive hat).

Later, at the Covent Garden market I would buy a little painting of her:

I have always loved Queen Elizabeth but now I’m just gaga over her. (I would be embarrassed to post pictures of all the Queen Elizabeth stuff and London stuff in general that I bought while there. I will say that leaving the Buckingham Palace gift shop, I spent so much money my bank became alarmed enough to contact me. I just feel good to have helped stimulate England’s economy.)

God Save The Queen!

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