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.
Click on this picture to read my article in this month’s Bitch about women in boxing.
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.
READ MORE about women and the sweet science of bruising in this month’s Bitch Magazine!
Have you hugged a tree today? (I have.)
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!
No one likes a Monday. Here’s a cute bunny rabbit to get you through!
What are the big things you guys want to get done this week? Me, I’m planning a triumphant return to the gym, and hoping the habit sticks through all the stress, school, work and travel I have coming up. Send good, motivating thoughts my way!
Good morning sweet peas, and happy Friday! I’m East Coast bound once again, and I’m only a little bitter about it. If you follow me on Twitter, you know that this is not news – I’m always coming or going, and mostly I do OK with all the travel. Really, I wouldn’t mind a bit, only a last-minute schedule change from The Employer has landed me in the Big City on my birthday – a day when I would so much rather be at home, having a modest piece of cake and steamy snuggly tea (read: keg party), and going birthday shopping with lovely ladyfriends. Se la vie, eh?
It’s times like these that I sit quietly and contemplate my ever-mounting pile of frequent flier miles and fantasize about Excellent Future Vacations. Which I will begin taking juuuuust as soon as I’m done with The Graduate Program. And paying for The Graduate Program. Ahem. Moving on!
Paris! London (and Manchester – I haven’t forgotten you, Silly!)! Dublin! Amsterdam! New Zealand! Israel! Moscow! Oh, the places I could go! All those miles, quietly piling up… one day, one day. One day soon!
Since I’ll be variously in meetings or on planes for the weekend and beyond, entertain me with tales of your most recent wonderful vacation, would you? Or, your favorite vacation you’ve ever taken. Or, ideas about one you’d like to take! Or, barring that, your plans for this weekend – just so long as they don’t involve meetings. Down with meetings!
Tuesdays are the worst.
“Look! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s … TUESDAY!”
Sure, everyone and their favorite orange cat hates Mondays. But Tuesdays are the real threat here. No one suspects a Tuesday, which makes them all the more insidious. They’re like the sneaker wave of the workweek, the disproportionately shitty weekday that appears without warning, catching workers unawares and washing them out to Wednesday and beyond.
Here’s how I see it: Mondays are like getting punched in the face. You don’t see them coming and you have very little time to react. There’s a response delay to a Monday – by the time you’ve realized what’s happened, it’s over. You’re in shock. The pain hasn’t set in yet.
But Tuesday, oh, Tuesday. Tuesday is when you look down and realize there’s blood on your shirt and your nose is out of joint. Your jaw hurts and your head throbs and you realize you’re lying on the floor surrounded by everyone who saw Monday’s facepunch go down. Wednesday was the closest and is trying to convince you to take off work and go to the hospital, Thursday was walking by in the hallway and just stopped to make fun of you, and Friday is nowhere to be found.
Tuesday, my old nemesis. From now on, let’s all greet Tuesday with suspicion, a well-stocked supply of whiskey, and a hockey mask.