The Question of Snownership

And in the face of snowpocalypse, here is something light…

There is a lot of snow around Washington D.C. today, epic piles of it. There has been snow around, in varying quantities since before Christmas, actually. I really like snow, I am fascinated by it because I didn’t grow up with it. Every time I see it, it’s an exciting adventure. I also like to play with it. Now, I don’t mean throwing or building massive sculptures – just sort of push it around a bit, touch it, eat it, mould it into little chunks – the way people who are fascinated by snow are prone to do.

Now as I understand it, people play with snow local to them. Like one’s children go out into the local park, or one’s garden and play in snow. So if you have a house, with a garden the snow that falls on the garden is your snow, for you to play with, just as the snow that falls on your drive is yours to shovel. Similarly, if I lived in an apartment with a balcony I would assume that the snow on my balcony was mine. I used to think that living in an apartment I had less snow to my name, perhaps just the snow that fell on my car – because I own the car, so surely I own that snow. When I was an undergrad the snow that fell around my building at Mason was snow I had the right to play with.

I now live in an apartment block, behind a public building and my car lives in a garage. As I see it there is no snow for me.

So, I have been pondering what snow I can play with:

It is acceptable to play with the snow on other people’s cars, or in their gardens? If you were a car owner or homeowner and you came out one morning and found the snow atop your vehicle had been tampered with, would you feel violated? Similarly, if the snow in your front garden was disgruntled from play, would you feel something had been taken from you, the chance to muss your own snow up as you shuffle to your buried mailbox? I know I would.

Similarly, there is a space for walking dogs in my building complex, but I do not have a dog. Am I allowed to play with that snow, or will I seem like I’m waiting to steal someone’s terrier?

So, I think the snow I am allowed to play with is either National Snow, the snow that has fallen on the monuments or the Mall in Washington, or the snow at Georgetown (but even that’s a stretch because I’m not living on campus – but I pay tuition, surely that buys me some snow!) And both of these places are quite far away from where I live, there’s basically no snow in Virginia for me! I’ve been borrowing people’s snow! Playing with snow at Katharine’s house or at Paul’s house and asking stupidly, “may I play with this snow?”

Right now, I have to satisfy myself with the little bit of snow that has become trapped between my screen and my windows.

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And your new Miss America is…

Miss Virginia, Caressa Cameron from Fredericksburg.

Frankly, there was no reason for me to watch the Miss America Pageant, but I have almost every year since I moved here. I like the glamor of it, the excitement of the girls, seeing which state has the prettiest Miss and honestly, Clinton Kelly’s witticisms are enough. Every year it makes me ask a myriad of questions about how the pageant operates and what it means as a cultural object.

This evening I watched it with Paul fact checking the backgrounds of the contestants on the Miss America website and in text dialogue with my friend Katharine. We went back and forth commenting on whose hair, which dresses we preferred, and which girls we thought were likely picks to win. (As a Facebook post can evidence, my picks were Miss Virginia, Miss District of Columbia (Jen Corey), and to reduce geographical bias, Miss Tennessee (Stefanie Wittler)

Miss America, 2010, Caressa Cameron

What interests me about this how it figures the way an “ideal” for a young American woman is imagined. Repeatedly, the host, Mario Lopez refers to the women as “accomplished”.  What does it mean for a young woman in America in 2010 to be accomplished? Certainly, Miss America contestants seem to sing and dance, they get good grades and they have “opinions” about world and national issues. They also appear to be the picture of good health, with sparkling white teeth, trim little waists, rosy cheeks and shiny, flowing locks. Certainly, early ideas about accomplishments and womanhood did not revolve around looking awesome in a bikini or interpretive jazz dance but rather being a fully rounded individual.

I suppose it seems suspect that these women are given so many moments to demonstrate their often extraordinarily beautiful bodies and dresses, a mere seconds to demonstrate whether they are intelligent, well-spoken, charming or eloquent.

Also, Father Winter has deposited his glorious flakes upon fair Virginia once more,  I am snowed in the weekend I needed to drive to Richmond. Thank you, you icy bastard.

Snow Survival.

Last night it began snowing in Virginia. Instantly, everyone in the Northern VA/DC area began panicking. Racing to the grocery store and buying toilet paper, bread and milk.

This morning, in order to get Sonora to the train station (Union Station) I went out in the snow. I got up at 7:30, at 8:00am, I shipped out, all bundled up into the snow.

I walked a mile to Sonora’s apartment, a mile back to the metro, and then to and from my apartment building.

This is what I learned on my epic trek:

Coat. I was really happy I got my peacoat out.

Curbs. I don’t know if any of you have ever fallen on a curb in normal weather, but in snow, curbs are trecherous little beasts. I fell on a curb, nearly slipped into a gutter and lost my foot. I took curbs…very carefully.

Buddy up. Greet and smile at people who are snow trekking with you, a nice man on highway 29 prevented me from falling over, and we then walked together, so we wouldn’t fall.

Mittens. Mittens are better than gloves.

Also…there is nothing to be afraid of, as long as you’re wiling to tread on foot, almost anyone – including someone as awkward as me, can master the snowy fortress.

Take that, you icy bastard!