1. My upper body strength is hell.
2. I do better when I try and kick the boxing head gear off the top of the stand than when I'm trying to kick the air.
3. Those walking lunges are tiring.
4. I have about 25 minutes of go before I think: Oh, no.
5. I really, really like it, mostly because it's physically and mentally challenging.
6. My hips are tight.
7. Most of the other people at the gym are men. But not all of them.
8. If I go to ladies kickboxing class on Thursday night, I will get better faster.
9. Boxing is fun!
10. Working up a good sweat is a good thing.
I planted these pots this weekend. I went to Home Depot, and I asked the plant expert what to get, and I picked out five plants and five pots. I also got some potting soil and some Miracle-Gro. At home, I put some dirt in the pots, and then the plants in the pots, and then some more dirt around the plants in the pots. Then I walked around for a while and decided where I wanted to put them. Then I watered the plants in the pots. I got dirt everywhere, including on my knees, but my husband vacuumed it up for me. After that, it rained.
I wrote kind of a fun post about what strippers can learn from CEOs on my Forbes blog:
She steps out from behind the curtain. She’s wearing a black bra and black panties, and that’s it (unless you count the towering heels upon which she’s balancing). At the other end of the stage, a dozen white males are waiting for her. One of them has stuffed several George Washingtons into the waistband of his pants, to which he is pointing.
I've taken up Muai Thai boxing and really love it. Here's why.
It's all about aggression
I think as a woman sometimes it's not OK to be aggressive. Even if you're six-foot-plus. Or maybe especially if you're six-foot-plus. In a way, Muay Thai boxing is all about aggression. But it's not about being angry. It's about focusing intensity for maximum effect.
It's a great workout
My sit-ups and jumping jacks aren't too bad, but, my god, my pushups are an exercise in humiliation. Apparently, I have no upper body strength. Muay Thai boxing is great for being long and lean, for losing fat, and for building muscle. All good things.
I would probably be at a total loss if I hadn't done karate several decades ago. Because I did, I get some of the basics. And I'm not too twitchy about striking someone. At the same time, there are some things I learned that I'm now having to unlearn. That's the hard part.
Last week, I attended the Investigative Reporters & Editors conference in New Orleans. Here are some thoughts about my experience there. tl;dr Journalism is a boys' club.
What's up, dicks up
There are many reasons why I'm not really an ideal fit for a conference like this. I'm a freelancer, and many of the attendees were institutionalized, which is to say with bigger media outlets. I'm an introvert, and there were something like over 1,800 people in attendance. The event took place in New Orleans, and the last time I was there was in 2005, when I got wiped out by a hurricane.
A lot of the time that I was there, I felt sort of overwhelmed: staring at the long, snaking line to register on the first day, sitting in the back of conference rooms while panelists mumbled on about PowerPoints, milling around mixers trying to read the name tags of people I didn't know. If fashion is branding, there was a real lack of people in black, girls with rings through their noses, and interesting tattoos. The fleet of beings that most fascinated me where the Broadcast Girls, who stomped from presentation to presentation in skintight, primary-colored sleeveless dresses, their hair styled just so, their makeup on like pancake spackle. I suppose their investigative journalism falls into the category of HOW YOUR LOCAL BUSINESS IS RIPPING YOU OFF!! but who am I to judge? I was the one in the Gap men's khakis wondering what the fuck I was doing.
There was a reception on the second night I was there. It was at the aquarium. I went by myself because I didn't really know anybody, and eventually, mostly because my husband told me to via text, I managed to start walking up to people and talking to them. I am six feet tall (more than that, actually), but I am shy. I got to talk to people with various cool outlets: stringers for the New York Times, and a shooter for the Washington Post, and a nice man who wrote an entire book on the Pulitzer Prize. The fish floated in their tanks, and a shark darted through the water, and at one point I got into a HURRICANE SIMULATOR and paid a few dollars to find out what it was like to stand in 70+ per mile an hour winds and mostly just smiled inside its plastic tube. At least with the hurricane winds, I didn't have to talk to anybody.
Somewhere along the way, between the panels I loved hosted by the Dart Center, and the advice about how to be a better business person with your freelancing career, and the stories about the data journalism and the FOIA chatter, I realized that this was a boys club. Sure, there were women in attendance. Yes, there were ladies on the panels. I met some really cool chicks there. But there was something distinctly bonerific about the entire event. I think that was in part because of the investigative aspect. It was like the media's version of having a professional erection. Like, you had to prove how manly or how tough you were by doing battle with some giant lummox, and that, let's face it, at least how I understood it, was a man's job.
The most helpful time I had there was at an event at a bar in the French Quarter that was for freelancers. I ended up sitting across from a woman at a long table, and while she and I had very different beats, and we lived in different parts of the country, we had a great conversation. Here's what she did: she listened. Right now, I'm working on two book proposals: one is about X, and one is about Y. This is me; this is two versions of me. X is more wild. Y is more academic. This is how we compartmentalize. This is how women compartmentalize. I am X, I am Y. This is who I am. But it is hard to be two people, isn't it? What this woman made me realize, by asking wonderful questions and by listening really, really hard, was that maybe I should be working on one chimera of a proposal, and that proposal is XY. Or, no, maybe it is Z. The end of the alphabet. Like, you know, the conclusion of everything. So that's what I'm going to try: combine the two into one. Because who wants to exist in a fractured existence? I know I don't.
I get it. Sure, I've got it wrong about the conference. Journalism really isn't a boys club, and while my experience is valid it's probably wrong. Or, you know, maybe I'm right. The data boyz with their FOIA bonerz seemed to be engaged more in some sort of locker room battle over the lengths of their dicks than their ability to ... write. In fact, that is what I missed most and heard so little about at this conference: writing. Even with your data buckets and your FOIA requests, you still have to turn the thing into a fucking story. Where is your narrative? What's your meaning? Or maybe for you guys it's all just posturing. I'm looking for something bigger, something deeper than that. Something not quantifiable but ultimately far more real.
I was going to write some other sections of this, but that's all she wrote, fellas.
i was somewhere north/south of 16 when a movie came to town, and that would be palo alto, ca. i can't remember as to how i heard of this hapnin, but mind you, this was in the 60's, long before this medium and all its red headed step cousins swam upstream. it was a russ meyer film at a small theater off university ave. so i went, probably on my bike.
At 64, the tailings of that night are as fog. nothing substantial, for sure, but perhaps a seed was cast. i remember it , in that they seemingly were hiding some best parts, or just teasing me in a fashion we don't do today. so that's it, it was a provocative film for its time, and I was there.
But then that memory triggered a snap shot of another episode contained within that same chapter. I can't remember whose idea it was, but [redacted], a bro at [redacted] high, played the leading role. we went to a bookstore of sorts. this was not brick and mortar by todays standard, rather a lovely victorian, just a house with many books for sale. so we made our way in and [redacted] - I think- grabbed the book.
Within some minutes after leaving, and I do recall this, we were laying in the shade of some grand ole tree with [redacted] reading. oh my, this might have been the seed yet. it was erotic. he read so well, and we all laughed that laugh of innocence.
So for me, it is not so much the eye candy as I write you, rather, [redacted] reading well spun erotica in some summer of my youth that is perhaps a certain cornerstone of where I abide today.
I went to a breast cancer support group last night. I've been cancer free for four years, but I felt like going back to a group. Sometimes I think the business of that still lingers, and I'm interested in getting rid of it. It was interesting. It makes you remember how it's so common, and everyone is different, and everyone is the same. It was raining outside. There were only six of us inside. In a way, it was a bit like a war veterans meeting: everyone with their missing pieces, and their invisible wounds, and their unloading of the past.
I wrote a post for Forbes about who people working in the adult business want for president, but it's also about how this is the first election where, it seems, porn is a total non-issue. It used to be that there was more anxiety during election season regarding how a new president would impact the adult community. Would he pursue obscenity convictions or not? Now it seems a moot point.
"Nowadays, though, porn is part of American pop culture. And the Internet has obliterated the concept of 'community standards' altogether. Increasingly, porn has lost its taboo stature, and the War on Porn is largely considered to be over and done. (tl;dr the U.S. government lost) At the same time, the adult movie industry that once purportedly produced 80 percent of all adult videos has been wholly disrupted by technology. Cam girls are the new porn stars. Bedrooms in flyover states serve as adult movie backdrops. Tube sites offer X-rated content for free."
I came across this amazing photo by Ted Streshinsky for Corbis while doing some research.
Here's the caption:
1969: National guardsmen, called out by Governor Reagan to quell demonstrations, surround a Vietnam war protester during the People’s Park riot. The guardsmen herded protesters into a carpark with bayonets
Somewhere along the way, I gained ten pounds. Here's what I'm doing about that.
More yoga: I'm a Gordian knot.
More walking: I'm a flaneur.
More exercises: I'm a machine.
"Fortunate or not, I was in college when The Devil in Miss Jones was released to porn's first popular audience. My roommates and I treated it as a joke, of course, since we’d never seen porn before. We giggled on our way to the University auditorium where the U.C. Regents were screening it (during REAGAN's stint as California governor - his signature is on my U.C. Lit Degree). And we're not girls, then or now, who giggle. The auditorium was packed, of course, with sweaty red faced college men and discomfited college women. I wondered who watched these things. I had an active fantasy life by then, my junior year. Maybe it was the big screen but fantasy is so intimate and this piece of porn was so BIG, weirdly more anonymous than my anonymous fantasies, and, of course, focused on mechanics rather than relationship, even when one’s 'relationship' fantasies don’t include any one-on-one you'd actually care to experience. I pretty much signed off porn forever after that, preferring The Story of O and Kate Millet’s critiques of sex-authoring men like Henry Miller and Norman Mailer - a worn paperback copy of Sexual Politics that I'd pilfered from the radical feminist women’s center I volunteered at."
"The First Time I Saw a Porn Movie" is a digital project. Want to share your story anonymously? Email email@example.com.
In the spirit of improving my performance on my Forbes blog, I'll be posting my monthly traffic stats here.
I'm required to post a minimum of five times a month, which I did in May. In June, I'm aiming to post five times a week, as a way of building my traffic.
In May, two posts have proved to be traffic duds thus far: "This Champagne Gun Will Make You Feel Rich" with 411 views and "Is This the Most Expensive Gun in the World?" with 208 views. The latter was only published yesterday. At the very least, both suffer from weak headlines.
The top performing post of the month was "Absolut Vodka Gets Provocative with Transgender Ad" with 28,115 views. This post was also the most interesting post of the month, because the comments on it generated debate. Some people loved the ad: "Bravo Absolut! This was great!" Some people hated the ad: "I find it offensive." And one reader said my choice of title was "disingenuous and rabble rousing," adding, "Kudos for guising your transphobia." While I disagree with the "transphobia" accusation, I was open to changing the headline to, per their suggestion, "Absolut Vodka Releases Transgender-Positive Ad." I emailed an editor about making that change, but haven't heard back yet. The commenter was pleased with that idea, but noted that I was engaged in "linguistic terrorism." So I guess I'm a terrorist.
My favorite post of the month was "This Dancer Is Turning Strip Club Conversations into Art" with 17,883 views. I interviewed this post's stripper subject through email, and I included several examples of her terrific art. I was careful with this post to not make it so racy that someone at Forbes would get annoyed, and I thought I did a good job of that.
Of course, blogging on Forbes provides its own set of challenges, the most egregious being that it pushes readers to dismantle their ad blocker. Obviously, from a market standpoint, I understand that the company needs to make money and readers must pay in some way. At the same time, Forbes page loading times are simply horrendous and make it more difficult for contributors to the site whose readers most tolerate impossibly slow load times ... or leave. I don't understand why the page must be encumbered with more ads than an overloaded burro descending into the Grand Canyon, but I suppose there isn't much I can do in that regard. Other challenges particular and not particular to me regarding posting at Forbes include the fact that there are so many damn contributors -- it would've been nice to have capped that number before it went over, say, 1,000, or, you know, long before that, in order to maintain quality levels -- and I surmise the current channel I'm in, Lifestyle, is not one of its strongest in terms of traffic (I'm not entirely sure about that). Regardless, there are contributors on the site who get an absolute shit ton of traffic -- mostly writing about technology, games, and movies, it seems -- and I've been remiss in being on the ball as a contributor as of late. That's part of why I'm writing this post -- to locate the strengths and weaknesses of this process.
Final monthly stats:
Total Monthly Visitors: 98,340
One-time Visitors: 94,837
Repeat Visitors: 3,503
Current Recency Score: 64
The Recency score is something newer to the Forbes contributor pay model. Instead of allowing contributors to coast on highly-trafficked evergreen posts from the past -- for me, it was "The Hardest Thing About Being a Male Porn Star" with 1,923,289 views -- more recent posts are given a score that gives greater pay weight to newer posts. In other words, more recent posts make you more money.
In the past my traffic has been as high as 500,000 views a month, so that is my goal for June: 500,000 views. I'll report back on that in a month, if all goes as planned.
This weekend I read Patience, the new graphic work by Dan Clowes. Published by Fantagraphics, it's oversized and hardbound. The blurb describes it as "a psychedelic science-fiction love story," which sounds about right. It's about a guy whose girl gets pregnant, and the bad thing that happens to her, and what happens when you travel through time to fix things and sometimes end up fucking up everything. At times, it can feel a bit dry or campy noir. The tale is at its best when it gets freaky and Clowes allows his visuals to go nuclear. The book also raises some interesting philosophical questions about love and identity. "I could feel myself breaking apart," the main character confesses, "each little chunk somehow fully alive and conscious." As it turns out, it's not always easy to keep yourself together when you don't know who you are or where you belong.