It was about 4 p.m. on a hazy summer Sunday afternoon when I made my way past a gravel parking lot bordering a dry creek bed, through a security station vending $15 tickets to a crowd of mostly rowdy, unsupervised teenagers, and took a seat on makeshift bleachers backed by rows of port-a-potties at an abandoned fairgrounds in a dusty rural town in Southern Oregon. I’d come to watch a cage fight.
In front of me was a ring – elevated and spotlit, enclosed by an actual cage – hurricane-style fences jutting upward at least 20 feet into the dusky air. As the bleachers filled, vendors popped up selling hot dogs and domestic beer – $2 a pop, IDs optional. The fights started at sunset: young scrappy local boys pitted against their peers – growing in skill as the evening progressed, but mostly snooze-worthy amateur brawls. Then, just before the headline fight was announced – the one that the crowds were really here to see – out came the female fighters.
My interest in pugilism started when I met a boxing coach at my small liberal arts college who encouraged me to join the school’s boxing club. Relegated to the bottom of the school’s list of athletics programs to fund, the boxing club had to fight for time and space to train its athletes. During the year I was active in boxing club, we met in a half-dozen locations – borrowing the wrestling team’s facilities whenever they weren’t using it, meeting in the basement below the basketball court when the basketball coach let us. We’d often find ourselves in the middle of a circuit workout, only to be booted out of our room to make way for another sports’ athletes.
And so it often goes with boxing: The sports’ best moments come when scrappy underdogs who must fight for the right to fight at all rise to the top; and boxing itself is something of a sports-world underdog; little mainstream air time mean little news coverage and few mainstream fans. And women’s boxing is the underdog of underdogs.
The female fighters that dusty summer evening entered the ring to a crescendo of excitement – they were to fight the last bout standing between the crowd and their favorite fighters. The two featherweights threw heartfelt punches amid catcalls and wolf whistles indistinguishable from those reserved for the “ring girls” – the women who strut around the ring in thong underwear, smiling and holding up round signs to appreciative jeers from the overwhelmingly male audience. The crowd’s reaction to the women’s bout served to illustrate that this fight was not a fight, but a sideshow. Something akin to a rodeo clown intermission – missable, and just long enough to leave your seat for a refill on your beer and get back before the real show began.
Earth Day was one of my favorite holidays as a kid, even though we never got school off for it. In the Marin County yuppie/hippie enclave that was my hometown, we’d always do fun things like paint folksy outdoor murals, color in pictures of the Earth, or watch educational doomsday videos about the Pacific garbage patch and the importance of snipping your plastic soda can rings. Then, when I moved to Oregon, we did no such thing – instead, everyone burned their trash and we all lived directly in the forest, surrounded by Real Actual Wilderness err’day – so much so that cougar and bear sightings were ho-hum to the locals. Once I got older, I started protesting planned mining developments (always sited for communities without the infrastructure to properly mount a NIMBY campaign – go figure) and going on hikes with a local environmental activism group.
Lately, though, my environmentalism has fallen to the wayside a la Paul Kingsnorth. The cynicism of adulthood plus a daily commute that can range from 40 to 3,000 miles leaves me feeling as if I’m more a part of the problem than the solution lately. Today is probably a good day to ponder how to get my green mojo back!
What do you do for Earth Day, dear readers, if anything? Are you a wild-eyed Earth child, middle-of-the-road responsible composter, or reformed radical/neo-fatalist like Kingsworth? Tell me your thoughts in the comments!
I’ve had a recent raft of celebrations, and it’s been so much fun! From weddings and graduations to new jobs (and more new jobs) to holidays to just getting together with friends, it seems like there’s been a reason to celebrate every week recently. If the rest of my life could continue with just nothing but lovely get-together after lovely get-together like the ones I’ve had so far this spring, I would be perfectly content!
Here’s what’s been on the docket recently:
- The loveliest bridal shower get-together for my friend, whose sister organized a cooking class in TriBeCa from a rad place called Cooking by the Book. It was run out of a wonderful couple’s home (with an industrial kitchen!) and we made some of the most amazing yams and quite possibly the BEST GELATO OF MY ENTIRE LIFE. (Who am I kidding, it was definitely the best!)
- A real actual wedding (same friend as above!), this time in the Bronx. That’s two new neighborhoods (boroughs? ‘hoods? nabes? whatever) visited in one week! My friend was the most gracious bride of all time, marrying the nicest manfriend ever, and I had a blast dancing the night away with (until then) complete strangers. Here is a picture of the view from the dance floor:
Doesn’t that look just so… quintessential? Oh and THEN! I went with my friend to see Rocky the Musical, on Broadway. It was pretty much the best thing ever. There was a training montage and so much cheesy goodness, plus we got Twizzlers and sippie-cup boozes. A good time was had by all!
- The graduation AND new job of my most hilarious and affable friends, which of COURSE involved one or more of the following:
- Midnight pancakes
- 20 types of tequila
- More karaoke
- $3.50 cocktails (can’t go wrong at that price, people)
- The new job of my other good friend, who not only now gets to work for an amazing company, but bring her baby to work and quit with the incessant globetrotting already, celebrated with brunch at one of my favorite spots in Portland
- An international visit from a good friend’s cousin, celebrated with the most excellent of cocktails and some mighty, mighty tasty grub
- Special ladyfriend’s new promotion (and employee of the year award!), which she has been working for for absolutely ever, celebrated with champagne and a special dinner at home; followed by a weekend dinner out with – what else – more food and cocktails with some of our favorite people!
Too much fun and far too much food, I tells ya. What have you been up to, dear readers? It’s been far, far too long.
Also: Happy Friday! And Happy Valentine’s Day! (And day after Gal-entine’s day!). It’s a holiday-love-a-palooza!
For those of you not familiar with West Coast USA lore, Oregon first became a state on Feb. 14, 1859 – the 33rd state in the union. #themoreyouknow
In any case, happy birthday to this lovely great green state – and to everyone else, have the most marvelous Valentine’s Day/Anti-Valentine’s Day/Friday ever!
What are your plans this weekend? Any Oregon-shaped birthday balloons in your future, or heart candies, or schmoopy date plans, or perhaps bitter quips hurled at those annoying schmoopy couples on the train? Share in the comments!
I recently wrote an article on xoJane entitled “How Not to be a Dick to your Childfree Friends” that’s been getting a lot of attention. I thought I’d provide some further reading on the topic and re-post my 2011 Mother’s Day polemic about how a disproportionate amount of social support program dollars go toward services for children, while grown-ups – especially the elderly – are often forgotten. Read it – it could be construed as flippant or offensive, but it’s also a polemic so there’s that.
A note: This was back before Obamacare and also during an election cycle.
This mother’s day, let’sskip the adorable kitten greeting cards and bunches of roses bred to within an inch of scentlessness, picked by fourth-world residents working in inhumane conditions, trucked halfway across the globe and sold at ridiculous markups, shall we? Instead, let’s talk about the politics of child-rearing! Or, more specifically, the politics of taxes for child-education and other kiddo-focused expenses.
I recently heard a new-to-me, somewhat shocking opinion on the topic. Here it is in summary:
“People who make the responsible choice not to have squalling brats should not have to pay to educate and feed other people’s mistakes.”
Harsh words, no? That’s not quite how it was put, but that was the basic premise.
As a properly trained tax-and-spend liberal, I like having lots and lots of social services, some of which I use, some of which I don’t: Maintained roads, public libraries, rest stops, Medicare, social…
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