Aug 05 2009

Spinster aunt still not dead

Heartwarming Hill Country Tap Water

This just in from Spinster HQ: I ain’t dead. I don’t even have a summer cold. In fact, a team of experts has measured my vim and found it sufficient.

Neither, it pleases me to report, am I (at least this time) one of those internet feminists whose real life is so fascinating or fraught with desperate obligations the non-fulfillment of which would cause a plague of locusts that the only thing I have time to write is “sorry I haven’t blogged lately, but I’ve been so busy!”

The busy-blogger is universally the Head Cheese of Ennuitown.

So if I’m not dead or vimless or busy, why haven’t I posted in about three and a half years?

Because, as is consistent with the idyllic bucolic life of a gentleman farmer, the water that comes out of my faucets is brown.

It’s not only brown, it’s thick, and it stinks, and it occasionally pulsates. Pretty much liquid gangrene. After I take a shower my hair smells like a herpetarium full of rotting toads. And eels. I’d be better off dunking the spinster physique in my fish pond. A little algae in the teeth would be preferable to the odoriferous, tinty ablutions I currently endure.

What does purulent water have to do with not posting to the blog? Well, this aquatic crappiness, combined with (a) the ongoing drought, which perfect example of Cosmic Indifference is killing all my trees and all the heartwarming furry woodland creatures that live in’em, and (b) the 45 consecutive days of 101-degree-plus heat, has completely indisposed me toward patriarchy-blaming. In sum, I’m too querulous, sulky, hot, smelly, and dessicated to blame. When I so much as think about blaming and all it entails — the endless lobe exertions, the reading of unpleasant news on the internet, the furnace-like heat radiating from the computer — I have to lie down and put ice cubes on my wrists. The only exercise I can imagine that would not cause extreme physical anguish is absolute idleness, undertaken in a recumbent position in front of a large fan. Having conducted a scientific survey I’ve determined that this heat-related peevishness afflicts the entire population of Austin and the Texas Hill Country. Everyone I meet exhibits a stinkeye and a sweat-bead mustache. To those who don’t I give a wide berth.

“Hey, did you get any rain the other day?” one of these fresh, clean delight-os will say. “We got a quarter-inch out in Spicewood!”

“Fuck you” is the standard response. Whereupon one turns away pointedly, which pointed turnaway, unless one’s rain-drunk interlocutor has volunteered to truck some non-brown water out to your place along with a few tons of dry ice for your wading pool, is not without a certain injured hauteur. The self-righteous indignation of the rainless is a badge one wears with pained pride. Of course you didn’t get any rain the other day. Getting a quarter inch of rain is like getting a call from a lawyer in New York: “Congratulations! You’re JP Morgan’s long-lost heir! The jet-powered hovercraft will be arriving momentarily to whisk you away to your private island off the coast of Spain!”

Confidential to people who got rain the other day: You don’t cavort around town saying, “Hey, I’m JP Morgan’s long-lost heir!” if you want people to continue thinking of you as someone about whose screaming death they don’t fantasize.

Meanwhile, down at the barn today I was standing ankle-deep in sweat, shooting the shit with the horsey chicks about my yella lab puppy’s inverted vulva. This wasn’t weird. Conversations about domestic animals and their endless abnormalities is a standard topic among horse people. What was weird was this: when I mentioned the vulvulo-plasty recommended by some veterinarians, one young woman in her twenties said, “Don’t they do that to girls in those weird countries?”

I was seized by a pang. I’d almost forgotten that there are people sauntering through the world who have never heard of labiaplasty, for whom FGM is an undreamed-of figment, whose prevailing sense of the non-Western world is that it’s “weird.” But these lucky people are everywhere. I have walked among them.


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  1. ambivalent academic

    (a) the ongoing drought, which perfect example of Cosmic Indifference is killing all my trees and all the heartwarming furry woodland creatures that live in’em, and (b) the 45 consecutive days of 101-degree-plus heat, has completely indisposed me toward patriarchy-blaming.

    OMG Jill!!! Has the Patriarchy sabotaged your H2O supply just to shut you up??!?! Christ on a popsicle stick, you must have really pissed them off!

  2. givesgoodemail

    You have outlined most of the reasons (FUNKY water, air temperatures fit for making very rare castrated-bull-flesh, and the predominance of “lucky” people) why I abandoned the Lone Star State to the Great Frozen North.

    Unfortunately, the “lucky” people were here as well. And large slices of Frozen Hell from October to April.

  3. B. Dagger Lee

    Phone call from JP Morgan to Jill: “Child, don’t worry, and don’t envy! We, JP Morgan–and every other vulturous bank or venture capitalist–are in the process of buying up rights to the natural gas in the Marcellus Shale in upstate New York–where it has been raining for three months! After we’re done, we’ll be pulverising stuff and extracting it from the watershed with a whole lot of heavy machinery, and all of the polluted water in the state of New York will make your stinky old Texas water seem like pure glacier water! Gotta go, love you! Don’t bother calling back!” Click.

  4. slythwolf

    I lived in a house with water like that for a while. The bathtubs and the insides of the toilets were perpetually rust-brown. CLR does nothing to that shit. We had to buy those three-gallon jugs of grocery store water if we wanted to drink any. And if we wanted to make margaritas, we had to buy grocery store ice.

    Friends who had not actually been to our house used to advise us to buy those filtering pitchers. My roommate, who had lived there longer than I, had tried it once, and the filter had clogged in a week. It was cheaper to buy the grocery store water.

  5. Shopstewardess

    Your interlocutor is indeed innocent in the ways of the world if she thinks weirdness of the female-hating type is limited to non-western countries.

    As an example from a supposedly respectable newspaper in the UK I put forward the following –


    I’m not sure whether the major share of the fuckwittery of this report should be borne by the so-called psychologist who undertook the “research”, the reporter who wrote the story or the editor who decided it was worthy of printing. But I know what I blame.

  6. PhysioProf

    After I take a shower my hair smells like a herpetarium full of rotting toads. And eels.


  7. Jill

    “Sex without condoms can keep you sick or dead.” It’s a misprint.

  8. givesgoodemail

    I am currently not quite sure what motivated you to move to El Rancho Deluxe.

    Arthropods. Water From Reptile Hell. Thunderstorm-induced returns to pre-electricity living. An hour’s drive just to get to BumFuckingHell, Texas. Chuck.

    Sure, the quiet and solitude might be cool, but I’m reminded of when the pre-RobertDowneyJr Sherlock Holmes (can you hear Conan Doyle rotating rapidly in his tomb?) remarked to Dr. Watson about the potential dangers of rural isolation.

  9. BadKitty

    Tonight I shall kneel on one of the many the stoney beaches of Lake Superior and be profoundly grateful that I live on her rocky shores. The water may be as cold as Pat Buchanan’s soul but it is crisp, clean and delicious and it flows from my tap in bountiful quantities.

  10. incognotter

    Jill, I’m so glad (though not surprised) to hear you’re Still Not Dead. Maybe you can break your stink water down into its component poisons and sell it to the corporatocracy. Or convince MRAs that the smell of rotting frogs is a manly scent guaranteed to get them hawt chicks. That way you could sell it to them as aftershave and feminists would be able to spot them and avoid them. I hope your drought breaks soon.

  11. Notorious Ph.D.

    I am so very glad to hear that there are still places in this country where women have never heard of labiaplasty, much less considered it necessary. My own bunker, sad to say, is located in a town at the other end of the spectrum, where non-pornosity is regularly pathologized.

    I would like to share one comeback that I actually mentioned to get off to a member of the beauty police: When the woman cutting my hair kept insisting that she could “fix” my eyebrows (curly hair = unruly brows), I replied, “They’re not broken.”

    It’s not exactly blaming, but it’s a start.

  12. ma'am

    I wish coffee flowed freely from my tap. Imagine the productivity!

    Seriously, sorry about the water. 100 foot is pretty shallow. Can you drill deeper?

  13. pheenobarbidoll

    After a 12 year drought, we West Texans have stolen the Hill Country rain.

    We had 3 gully washers in a row last weekend. Complete with the thunder that shakes your house. Unfortunately it came with gustnados.

    But I prefer rain being blown at 80 miles an hour to dirt.

  14. blondie

    Sorry, pal. That’s gross.

  15. Laughingrat

    Jill, sorry to hear about the shitty weather conditions and the disgusting water. I miss your blaming ways, but it’s important to blame on as full a reservoir as possible lest one burn out, and it sounds like life is fairly reservoir-draining for you right now to say the least. Fortunately, you do not have to shoulder the blaming burden alone; the recent murder of a bunch of women by a misogyny-crazed fuckstick is generating some seriously hefty blaming at the moment, although (of course) not in the mainstream media, which claims to be baffled at why a man would haul off and do such a thing. Le sigh.

    Horses, puppies, and (dare one hope?) tacos are all excellent ways to recharge. Me, I’m opting for vodka and ice cream, practically simultaneously. I predict I’ll be back in top form within the hour. Take that, Patriarchy!

  16. Wolfhound

    Come on up to Vermont, Jill! It’s cool and mostly rainy here this summer. I’m hoping to drown the patriarchy with the floodwaters, but that’s probably wishful thinking.

  17. yttik

    The weather has been weird around Seattle area, too. One day it’s 59 and normal and the next day it shoots up to 103, breaking all our records. It’s tough on people living around here because they’ve had no chance to adapt. Bodies can’t handle 40 degree changes like this. If you’re sick or elderly, it’s not good at all. We’re also in the midst of a drought, 77 days with a record breaking lack of rain.

  18. ivyleaves

    The Horror!!! Please post again soon as that photo is scarier than the previous one with the creature in it. Shudder.

  19. Felicity

    Miss your posts Jill, all I have is the frantic ravings of the daily mail about Harriet Harman to keep me company. Read this if you want to throw up.


    Only in the Daily Mail can Harman addressing equality for women and domestic violence turn into a bizzarro- land discussion about how violent women are! One angelic- looking teen is photographed, with a caption about how she is part of a violent uprising.

  20. bertalou

    So that’s what Texas tea looks like. Mmmm sweet light crude. urf. I empathize with your predicament.

  21. Squiggy

    Yeah, but in the picture it looks for all the world like icy root beer on tap. Dennis the Menace’s and my life-long fantasy. Then again we don’t have to smell/drink/bathe-in the reality of it.

  22. Joyce the art teacher

    I am in awe at your writing. It’s not just the superb blaming, though I depend on you for excellence in that realm but just the sheer power of your words – better than the smell of roasting green chile in the fall.

  23. procrastinatrix

    Hi, Jill,

    I’ve been too damn depressed to even comment on the two blogs I comment on–IBTP and Shakesville. But, this link at feministing, about a young woman from the audience at a Green Day concert who just grabs the opportunity to play guitar with them onstage by the balls, made me smile. I thought I’d pass it on in case it gives you a smile in the heat/drought/”lucky” people realm.

    Supposedly it’s not a fake/plant situation. Hope the link works :)


  24. Mortisha

    Gawd – you are giving me flashbacks – and no doubt flash forwards- nothing like a drought to make a person really really appreciate our resources. Is that bore water? We get down to stinky dam water, but i make the drive into town for a tank load of clean water so at least the drinking /rinse water is OK.

    When I inherit a huge pile of money from a relative I know nothing about I want to get one of those air /water extractors that runs on solar – free clean water for me & my horsey forever!! Woot!

    Luckily those machines are getting more efficient – even in very low humidity and cheaper.

  25. Laura F

    You’ve been able to bathe in that stuff without getting 20 different kinds of parasites and bacteria?

    At minimum, you need a reverse osmosis water purifier.

  26. Kelsey B.

    Shopstewardess: Wow, I can’t wait to inform all my male friends that their semen contains “anti-depressant and immunological agents.” And, yes, I did click the link twice while writing this comment to assure myself of the fact that someone, somewhere, who is purportedly a scientist, actually used that phrase.

  27. Mortisha

    Actual another way of getting water is to make like a Namib beetle.
    But you have to stand with your butt held high to the wind at breaking dawn.
    Haven’t tried it yet – but droughts can make you do crazy things sometimes……..

  28. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Mortisha, my 12-yr-old brain read one of your sentences as “breaking wind at dawn”. I’m ashamed.

    Even more shameful is the hissy fit I threw back in July at having been without electricity for 1.5 hours after a particularly violent thunderstorm. When I read of the agonies being suffered by rural Texans, my shame lobe positively squirms.

  29. Cimorene

    A friend of mine moved to the wintry coasts of the Great Lakes, the land known mostly for blizzards and the fried chicken wings that keep us warm, several years ago for grad school. From Georgia. That October, we had one of the most destructive storms ever–the leaves were still on the trees, and it was between 31 and 32 degrees out, so the snow was very wet and heavy, which made all the trees fall down, which took down a bunch of electricity and telephone wires. Some people were without heat for a week, and without water (water treatment facility lost power) to boot. He told me recently, after a trip home to Georgia, “When I moved here, I thought to myself–how can humans live here? How did people adapt to actually survive here, and why do people just decide to have cities here? But after two days in Georgia, now I’m like, how do people live here? It’s too hot to do anything–anything but lie around in front of fans or air conditioners and feel like they’re about to die.”

    And I said that I’d choose blizzards and school days to drought and heat any day. Especially because, what with the freezing temperatures and all, we don’t have any poisonous dangerous bugs that we are forced to kill to keep our domestics safe. All I ever have to worry about is my dog trying to eat a bee when it flies around his face.

  30. Jill

    Somewhere in the world it’s 72 degrees every day. I wonder where that is? Monterrey?

  31. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    San Diego. But they have earthquakes and wildfires to worry about.

  32. givesgoodemail

    “Somewhere in the world it’s 72 degrees every day. I wonder where that is? Monterrey?”

    The Twin Cities have been running mid- to high-70s through most of this summer.

    Oh. Sorry. You meant 72 degrees above zero, right?

  33. pheenobarbidoll

    Hawaii. It’s a constant temperature with light afternoon showers every day.

  34. ambivalent academic

    There’s a good scientific takedown of the anti-depressant semen paper here if anyone is interested. Suffice it to say that *most* scientists think that the paper is a load of crap, poorly conducted, and initiated from incorrect (and stupid, sexist) assumptions.

    And yes, Monterrey. If only I could afford to live there.

  35. yttik

    Hawaii is absolute paradise, except for the tsunami, hurricane, and volcano risk. Just the same, it’s totally worth it. Hawaii really drives home how fragile life is, how powerful the Earth is, how small we all are in the grand scheme of things. You can also bake this concept into yourself in the middle of a drought, but it’s not nearly as pleasant.

  36. Tata

    Here in New Jersey, we’ve had rain nearly every day for two months, root rot and tomato blight. Somewhere there’s a happy medium, perhaps a pipeline for excess rain?

  37. Laughingrat

    This should brighten your day. I got two words for you: Justice Sotomayor.

    Not as good as news of rain in Texas, but pretty damn great. Now where’s that yacht party you promised in the event this actually happened?

  38. Samantha B

    I know this is somewhat off-topic, but I’d love to see photographs of your newish house. I’m an architect, and the bits and pieces I’ve glimpsed in various posts have piqued my curiosity, detail-wise. Didn’t you mention a while back that your house was being photographed for some article on modern architecture in Texas or something along those lines?

  39. Shelby

    This is of course why there is such debate and derision over the topic of global warming and climate change. Dudenation rubs their hands with glee as even the most prominent blamers throw their hands in the air. They cease broadcasting socially important issues because they have to worry about where their next drop of water is coming from. With a population worried about survival for themselves, their animals and their land, blaming becomes all too bloody hard.

  40. birkwearingblamer

    When I saw that pic, I hoped that you got a fancy new coffee dispenser. Now that I confirmed it’s your water faucet, I’m officially grossed out. Does Sparkletts deliver out in the sticks?

    Down near the Gulf Coast, Texans are sweltering and heavily armed. No hurricanes, though, so life is good.

  41. niki

    Even my somewhat savvy Nigel said ‘Labiaplasty? You mean girls actually do that to themselves???’ Then came the predictable rant about foreskins, and how they are often removed without consent, and how he would have coddled, cared for, and loved his foreskin had they let him keep it.

  42. TwissB

    @ procrastinatrix (you copied my well-merited nickname): a daughter informs me that Green Day used that same appealing ploy of letting a young fan join the band for a set when they performed this summer in Baltimore. So it’s scripted in a way, but a real crowd-pleaser. Nothing to blame here, except the universal fact that all but the very best musicians play deafeningly to cover their artistic shortcomings. Los Lonely Boys and some other good ones do it too, however, because the audience demands noise to cover their conversational shortcomings.

  43. wondering

    In my skanky black-water days (water came from a scoop-out. When the scoop-out was frozen over in the winter, the water that came from the taps was thick, black, and noxious smelling), we avoided showers and only took baths. Before entering said bath, we poured bleach into the water, turning it from horror-show black to a sad beige. It helped somewhat with the smell as well, so long as you don’t mind the smell of bleach. Probably killed the worst of the bacteria and parasites as well. It was very hard on the hair and skin, but at least you felt like you might be getting clean.

    (We melted snow for drinking and cooking water, for those who may be curious.)

  44. Josquin

    Jill/Twisty: I love coming here and reading your bracing, comical, wry, trenchant writing. So glad you are topped up with vim.
    And a tired “huzzah” to your labiaplasty observation. So sad, so true.

  45. tinfoil hattie

    Why does Green Day choose “girls,” and not “women,” to jump up on stage and play?

  46. Solniger

    because no woman wouuld be caught dead at a Green Day concert

  47. Gayle

    Oh Dear,

    No new post? Does this mean you’re still waiting for rain? How many days/weeks has it been?

  48. speedbudget

    I think it’s great that they picked a non-beauty-2K-compliant girl and gave her the proper props.

  49. procrastinatrix

    Hi, TwissB,

    I understood that they pick someone at each concert, of all genders and ages (though I’m sure the ages skew young), based on who says they can play guitar and/or sing. Sometimes they’re good, sometimes they suck.

    tinfoil hattie, I didn’t write the post, just linked to it. Feministing often uses “girl” on their site where I would use “woman”.

    The thing that made me happy about the video is just that the young woman goes for it and makes the most of an unexpected opportunity to rock out.

  50. Jezebella

    I would think it’s alright to refer to a teenager as a “girl”. And it’s most likely teenagers who are going to be up front at a Green Day show.

  51. Twiss Butler

    @Procrastrinatrix – I understood why you posted that happy link to the girl having a great time playing on the big stage at the rock concert. Sorry if I seemed to have missed the point.

  52. TwissB

    Shucks. The demand for “Name” suckered me into outing self. Won’t fool me again.

  53. procrastinatrix

    Hi again, TwissB–my post wasn’t very clear. I was responding to other commenters with the last part, not to you. I get that you got it :)

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