Thursday, December 18, 2008
The rule will go into effect before Obama takes office and will force Obama's administration to take a stand on reproductive rights. We can only hope that he will not punk out on us in a feeble effort to unite the nation.
Now that I mention it: Obama, you're an asshole, too. Someone who styles himself as "fierce advocate for equality for gay and lesbian Americans" does not invite a rabid homophobe to speak at his inauguration.
ETA, because I'm pissed off: Where were all of the poor oppressed healthcare professionals demanding the freedom to refuse service? Were they marching, demonstrating, being deprived of their civil rights? Were they born to be health car providers and cannot choose to not be health care providers? How can that rule be passed, with so little outcry, but gays not be granted the same basic rights as straights after marching, lobbying, and just being out there de facto married? Gay people have been demanding something so basic as the protections and rights guaranteed to the married heterosexuals, but have been ignored. Worse, they have been told, through such measures as Prop 8, that they are expressly forbidden to marry. Yet, people who knowingly enter a profession when they morally object to parts of the job are protected.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
1. Who kissed you on new years? No one. Thank heavens because that just leads to trouble and grief.
2. Did you have a New Year’s Resolution this year? Not to have any resolutions. Same as every year. Resolutions just lead to disappointment and self-loathing. I can do that fine without resolutions.
3. Does it snow where you live? Yes. Just enough to be delightful and not wear out its welcome.
4. Do you like hot chocolate? Yes! Very yummy. I sometimes make it with coffee in the mornings. Once, I ordered some at a chic little tea room where I had gone with a friend to celebrate finishing the first draft of my master's thesis. They put a piece of chocolate in the bottom. My friend, who was classier than I, said that's how real hot chocolate was made.
5. Have you ever been to Times Square to watch the ball drop? No. I'm not sure that I would particularly like it, either, because of all of the crazy people. Still, I wouldn't turn down the opportunity.
1. Who was your Valentine? No one. See January's #1. I can buy my own candy, thank you.
2. When you were little did you buy Valentine’s for the whole class? We had to. So no one would feel left out. All of those cheap, stupid Valentines. Yet, it seemed like a cool deal, when I was 6, mostly for the little class parties we had with the candy and cupcakes and juice. Now that I think about it, those poor teachers must have been insane to have whole classrooms of 1st graders hopped up on sugar. Also, now that I think about it, this practice reinforced heteronormative romantic notions of love. What a stupid holiday.
3. Do you care if the groundhog sees its shadow or not? No. Never understood this tradition. Not sure if I've ever seen a groundhog, either. If I did, I think I mistook it for a beaver.
4. What did you receive for Valentine’s Day? Nothing, unless you count the candy that I gave myself!
1. Are you Irish? 1/16th or something like that. Although they were probably Scots-Irish, which isn't really either, although it probably explains some of the contrarian strains in that side of my family.
2. Do you like corned beef and cabbage? Actually, I sorta do. Not for every day, of course, but maybe once a year. In fact, the best sandwich I ever had was a Reuben (which has both ingredients) that a friend served to me after I had biked halfway across Houston, Texas. Damn, that was a tasty sandwich that day.
3. What did you do for St Patrick’s Day? Ate candy?
4. Are you happy when winter is pretty much over? By March, yes. Winter isn't so bad here, but in New England, by March I was certain that either the sinuses or the depression was going to kill me.
1. Do you like the rain? Usually. Especially if it matches my mood and I have work to do.
2. Did you play an April Fool’s joke on anyone this year? No. They are cruel.
3. Do you get tons of candy for Easter? Only what I give myself. I give myself a lot. (Do you detect a certain candy theme in my life. I swear, if I'm ever diagnosed with diabetes, I will not be surprised. I will consider it the worst day of my life, but I won't be surprised.)
4. Do you celebrate 4/20? No. That's Hitler's birthday. I was the only 1st grader who knew that.
5. Do you love the month of April? I don't not love it. Usually, toward the end of the month I like it a lot better.
1. What is your favorite flower? All of them! Especially if they smell pretty, too!
2. Finish the phrase “April showers…” "May come your waaaaay!" Also, "...aggravate my depression."
3. Do you celebrate May 16th: National Piercing Day? No. What an odd celebration. I have more than enough piercings for someone my age. I'm going to have to have about two more decades before any more piercings becomes cool, rather than a pathetic grasp for youth.
4. Is May anything special to you? The end of the semester!
1. What year did/will you graduate from high school? 1985. I actually have nothing more to say on that except that it occurred in May, not June. I graduated on a Friday, and began my first office job the following Monday. That job taught me two things. First, I didn't want to become a lawyer. Second, I didn't want to work in an office.
2. Did you do anything fun during this Month? Went to the Berks, a workshop in Mississippi, and flying. So, lots of fun! Did I actually end up blogging about any of that except flying -- other than the crappy American Airlines story?
3. Have a favorite baseball team? Hell no. What a boring game. I think of the Simpsons' episode in which Homer decides to go on the wagon and discovers that drinking had made baseball interesting.
1. What did you do on the 4th of July? Slept.
2. Did you go to the fireworks? No. Too many people, too hot.
3. Did you blast the A/C all day? Oh hell yeah. I live on a swamp, of course I blasted the a/c.
4. Did you go on vacation? What is this "vacation" of which you speak?
1 What was your favorite summer memory of ‘08? Flying. Berks. Mississippi. Flying.
2 Did you have a sunburn? No. I don't burn easy. I also don't stay outside long enough to burn. Years ago, when I had a bicycle, I went out for hours on end. I didn't burn my back so badly, but I did burn the tips of my ears so badly that I got blisters. Putting sunscreen on my ears had never occurred to me.
3 Did you go to the pool a lot? No. Here, the pool is a big urinal for kids. Also, I don't own a bathing suit, and can't face going to purchase one.
4 Were you ready for school at all? Nope. Too exhausted. Still too exhausted.
1 Are you attending school? No; but I did attend an acting class. Does that count? I teach school.
2 Do you like fall better than summer? As much as I love summer, fall has just a bit more of an edge on it, probably because I never had fall until 2001.
3 What happened this month? School started. Isn't that enough?
1 What was your last Halloween costume? A serial killer. They look just like you and me. If you don't buy that, a vampire.
2 What is your favorite candy? Oooh, so many! Smarties. Skittles. M&Ms. Junior Mints. 3 Musketeers. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Need I continue?
3 What was your favorite thing(s) about this month? The Opening of the Candy Season!
1 Whose house do you go to for Thanksgiving? VUBOQ's Punch and Pie Party!
2 Do you love stuffing? Yum! Yes! With sage and gravy!
3 Anything special in this month? Went to a conference and chaired two panels. Oh, yeah, and the U.S. elected itself a black president!
1 Do you celebrate Christmas? I try not to; but every time I think I'm out, the suck me back in. Bastards. It's the nephews. Christmas is the only time I can see them, so I go to Texas, and then they have the tree and such. I refuse to do presents. I will bring the nephews presents just 'cause, but I tell everyone that I don't want presents and that I won't give presents. My present is that they can take the money that they would spend on me and spend it on themselves. The whole present-giving thing is too much trouble and stress for everyone, and so unnecessary.
2 Have you ever been kissed under the mistletoe? No. But once, in 7th grade, I tried to get Jeff Walker, the darling little trumpet player on whom I was crushing, to find himself under the mistletoe. Our family had gone camping the weekend before, and my brothers and I harvested tons of the stuff mostly because we had never seen it before, much less seen it growing on a tree. I was going to whip some out around Jeff in the band hall. Sadly, my cockblocking frenemy told him what I was up to, and he totally avoided me. When I found out that she told him, I avoided him. So, no kiss. In fact, a decade would pass before I got any kiss.
3 Get anything special last year? Nope, unless you count the three month funk that followed Christmas. See the whole no-presents policy above. My aunt did unload an armoire, gigantic mirror, small table, and fireplace mantle on me. She was getting rid of them, so I took them. Almost all of my furniture is second hand, but the best secondhand pieces come from her. They class the place up. So, I never refuse.
4 What do you want next year? To keep my job.
5 What do you love most about December? The end of the semester!
Friday, December 12, 2008
Since next week is finals week, many students are "getting religion." That is, they are suddenly realizing that their performance in class is not going to earn them an A, or even a B or C, so they come begging to do extra credit or to make up that missed assignment. They are almost cute in their sudden desperation, as they begin to realize that some lessons of college aren't in the curriculum.
I warn them about this grade mortality at several points through the semester. I'm like a minister, preaching about the fiery pits of hell. "Who needs an A in this class?" I call. "We do!" they respond. "NOW is the time to start worrying about that A," I testify. "Amen," they shout. "Turn in your assignments. Do the online quizzes. Show up for class," I proclaim. "And verily, ye shall receive that passing grade." "Praise be," they cry, feeling the spirit. Still, some don't convert until they lie upon death's door, staring down that F.
This is normal, this getting of religion at the end. Yet, I'm beginning to become bothered by a note of disrespect in their requests. They probably don't mean disrespect -- heck, they probably don't even see me as someone or something connected to the concept of "respect." They are just trying to get through their lives. Still, disrespect it is.
For instance, I have students come to me admitting that they "forgot" to do one quiz or another, or they "forgot" that an assignment was due or even existed. They aren't giving me a sob story or a list of all of their other obligations. They just "forgot."
Others will try to play on my status as a single, childless person. "We have families," they will plead. Not that someone in the family was ill. Not that the babysitter couldn't show up that day. Not that someone died or gave birth. Simply, "we have families, so we couldn't do the work." I, the barren spinster, could not possibly understand, and therefore should trust them that the family obligations are an acceptable excuse.
Still others come to me saying that they want to take the final at another time, or they have to leave class early, or they skipped class because they have too many other tests on that day, or they have to get to another class, or they had to study for a test in the other class. One student even wanted to know if she could take her final in my class on another week -- not this week, the week before finals, but some week AFTER finals -- because she had too many finals to take during finals week. Usually these classes that I am supposed to accommodate are math and science classes, which are naturally more important than my mere history class.
I begin to wonder if these students realize that, in all of these instances, they are showing me some basic disrespect. They "forgot" to do an assignment, thereby betraying a complete lack of attention to my class. Then, I'm supposed to "be nice" or, worse, "be fair" and let them complete it, despite the fact that this creates more complications and work for me. That is disrespect for my standards, my class schedule and my time (because late assignments mean more work for me).
Those who use general family responsibilities show disrespect for me by implying that I should give special consideration to those with families, and not to those without, like myself. This is the sort of attitude that leads to workplace environments in which the single, childless people are supposed to pick up the slack of parents. While I'm perfectly willing to accommodate illnesses in families, childcare glitches, deaths and births, and a host of other family-related emergencies, the very fact of having a family should not give these students privilege. I accommodate emergencies because that is a fact of life. By the same token, they should accept that school attendance and assignments are still required, even with a family, because that too is a fact of life.
While the "forgot" excuse is flabbergasting in its gall, and the family excuse is understandable, the area of disrespect that really pisses me off is the one in which they expect me to accommodate another class. In that case, they are saying that the other class is more important than mine. How can history be as important as chemistry? Chemistry is HARD! History is just a hoop through which they have to jump. These students are not even majoring in anything science-related, they just find history to be easier than chemistry or biology or algebra. I understand. I feel the same way. Yet, while my subject may seem easier, that does not mean that it is less important, nor does that mean that I should accommodate that other class. I also wonder if they are going to the chemistry or biology teacher and asking them to accommodate history or English.
I notice that they never say that they are working on an English paper, or studying for a sociology test, and can't attend class. It's always a math or science.
I really do understand what they face. Their lives are difficult and crowded. They have families to care for, they have full time jobs, and they are going to school full time. They have to pay a lot of hard earned money to go to go to school and to survive. They have to do so in an environment of dwindling paychecks, jobs, and opportunities. I've been in similar circumstances. I feel for them. I wish I could make their lives easier and less fraught with anxiety. I wish I could create the conditions for them in which they could really have the luxury of enjoying learning for its own sake, of enjoying the experience of having their minds expanded through the pursuit of knowledge and ideas. Really, I do!
Meanwhile, these are the conditions of their life, in which they still have to take a history class. They still have to fulfill the requirements of my course. They still have to meet the deadlines. They still have to learn the subject. Every time they try to get me to bend on those matters because the requirements of my class just don't work for them, they tell me that what I do is insignificant and an annoyance to them.
I don't expect them to become history majors, nor to make my class the center of their lives; but, dammit, I do expect them to treat what I do with some respect, and to treat their role in my class with some respect. I also expect them to treat themselves with some respect, realize their own limitations, and plan accordingly.
How do I communicate this to them without being a bitch? How do I communicate this as a lesson of life that they will respect? This is the point where I realize that I am not one of them, I do not live my life in anyway that they understand, and that any advice or lesson in this regard will not be heard.
Saturday, December 06, 2008
Bold the things you have done, italicize things you want to do, /strike out / (I don't feel like coding all of the strike outs) what you’ll never do and leave the ones you don’t care about in plain text. Dykewife tweaked a few from her original version in order to include Canada, since the list was Amerocentric.
Start my own blog (duh!)
Sleep under the stars (on a particularly hot camping trip where some friend had rented a "cabin" -- you and I would call it a "shed" -- with no cross ventilation. The picnic table was much more comfortable. Deers woke me up in the morning.)
Play in a band (Drums, baby! Drums. I'm assuming this "wanting" doesn't include "having the skills to." Otherwise, tamborine -- no, cowbell!)
Visit Hawaii (Given how much I'm dreading Christmas, I wonder if I could just go here, instead? You know, and say that I am doing humanitarian work, like in that Four Christmases movie.)
Watch a meteor shower (I think I might have, but probably not. I would remember something like that, wouldn't I? This memory loss thing is getting brutal already.)
Give more than I can afford to charity (I'm not particularly giving, as my choices on this list will indicate)
/Visit to Disneyland / Disneyworld/ (And yet, are there discounts at Christmas -- or is that a busy season for them?)
Climb a mountain (Not like Everest. In the Big Bend. One of the day hikes takes you up a mountain. The trail started paved, then became gravelly, then dirty, then rocky. You walked at the beginning, but crawled by the end. At the top, an eagle flew buzzed me, flying about five feet over my head, and cooed.)
/Hold a praying mantis/ (Is that supposed to be lucky or something?)
Sing a solo (Again, assuming that actual skill is not required.)
Bungee jump (Hell yeah! But I'd have to trust the facility.)
Visit Paris (Now that you mention it, do you think I could get my expired passport renewed in time for Christmas?)
Watch lightning at sea
Teach myself an art from scratch (I presume this does not mean "mastered an art." I had a therapist who recommended that I learn to do something badly. It was a means of breaking me of my paralyzing perfectionism. So, I taught myself to paint. Badly. I'll post examples, if you like.)
/Adopt a child/ (Nice idea, but kids are lots of work.)
Had food poisoning (I'm southern. I've attended funerals and picnics. Warm mayonaisse and shellfish makes for a miserable 24 hours.)
Visit Parliament Hill (Does Canada require Americans to have passports these days? Or was that only Niagara Falls that waived them?)
Grow my own vegetables (Watermelon! And pumpkins! Without even trying too hard.)
See the Mona Lisa in France (Again, passport renewal?)
Sleep on an overnight train (The train they call the City of New Orleans.)
Have a pillow fight (I went to slumber parties as a kid. Also, I had brothers. In the second case, more emphasis on the "fight" and less on the "pillow.")
////Hitchhike ///// (Do you know what crazies are out there? I don't have that detachable vagina installed just yet.)
Take a sick day when you’re not ill (Don't tell. Not at my current job.)
Build a snow fort (Maybe I did this when I was 2 and lived in Minneapolis and Des Moines, but not since. I once dated a guy who bragged that he built an igloo and stayed in it. He was trying to impress me with his burly he-man skillz. I thought, "dumbass. A hotel is so much more comfortable.")
Hold a lamb
Go skinny dipping (No comment.)
Run a Marathon (The idea seems nice, but 6 miles seems to be my magic number. Beyond that is just a little too much effort.)
Ride in a gondola in Venice (Again, how soon do you think I could get my passport renewed?)
See a total eclipse (Moon, not sun. From the Fenway. After the Red Sox World Series win. Then, I got teargassed.)
Watch a sunrise or sunset
/Hit a home run/ (This would never happen. I can't hit the broad side of a barn with a bat.)
Go on a cruise (Actually, this depends on what type of vessel, where to, and for how long. A smallish vessel, overnight would be fine. A resort on water, not so much.)
See Niagara Falls in person (Amazing.)
Visit the birthplace of my ancestors (Which ancestors, and how far back? I see Louisiana about once a year. I'd like to see Nova Scotia. France and Ireland would be cool. I'd have to get DNA testing to know where else to go.)
See an Amish community (They have a town called "Intercourse." Heh.)
Teach myself a new language (Really, it's a crime that I never learned Spanish. I know a tiny bit of German and French. Spanish would be nice. Maybe I should look into that?)
Have enough money to be truly satisfied (Is this even possible in this world?)
See the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person (I also want to take one of those kitschy, distorted depth perception pictures that makes me look like I'm holding it up.)
Go rock climbing (Technically, not a rock, but an indoor wall.)
See Michelangelo’s David (Heh.)
Sing karaoke (But, I'd have to be drunk. Would this also allow me to cross off the singing solo item, too?)
See Old Faithful geyser erupt
Buy a stranger a meal at a restaurant
Visit Africa (This might never have been a desire, but then I started learning more about African history, and now I really want to see the West Coast. Egypt, too. In fact, how long will it take to get an expired passport renewed?)
Walk on a beach by moonlight
Be transported in an ambulance (Like the marathon thing, this sounds exciting in theory for a drama queen like myself, but would probably suck in real life if I were the patient. As anything other than the patient, sure. What the hell?)
Have my portrait painted (Of course, this depends on the quality of the artist. Cliche as I may sound, I'd have loved John Singer Sargeant to paint my portrait, especially if he made me look like Madame X.)
/Go deep sea fishing/
See the Sistine Chapel in person (Why not? While I'm there, I could ask the pope to absolve me of my guilt for having skipped Christmas and traveled to Italy.)
Go to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris (Where I could absolve myself for having skipped Christmas and traveled to France.)
Go scuba diving or snorkeling (This would require overcoming much anxiety about drowning, but that would be part of the fun.)
Kiss in the rain (Not that big of a deal.)
Play in the mud (Better than the kissing in the rain thing)
Go to a drive-in theatre (Jeez, I remember those. When I was a very tiny Clio, my parents would go to the drive-in. I would play and sing and do baby things in the back of the station wagon, driving them to distraction. I tended to be a night owlet anyway, so they asked the doctor how to get me to go to sleep. The doctor recommended Vodka in my bottle. They only suceeded in getting me drunk, and I was a boisterous 2-year-old drunk. Unrelated to toddler alcoholism, drive-ins began to go out of style not long after. They began playing all sorts of seedy movies for a reason that actually only just occurred to me this minute. My dad was driving us home from some cousins' house one night when we passed one displaying a wall of tits. Then, a close up of tits. My dad nearly wrecked the car. My brother and I told this tale for many weeks after.)
Be in a movie (Actually, I want to play the dead body in a Law and Order episode. Barring that, a nice juicy throwaway bit, like the one that what'shisface "with a little twist of lemon" had in Beverly Hills Cop would be so much fun.)
Visit the Great Wall of China
/Start a business/ (Too much effort. Plus, I'd need a good bookkeeper even before I had any sort of business idea.)
Take a martial arts class (I have lots of aggression that I need to release)
Serve at a soup kitchen (Not giving. Although I wouldn't refuse the opportunity if presented.)
Sell Girl Scout Cookies (Mostly to myself.)
Go whale watching (Yup.)
/Get flowers for no reason/ (There's always a reason. Often not a good one either, like in the case of my friend, who got to the point where, when he handed her flowers, she responded, "what did you do?" Totally ruined flowers for her.)
/Donate blood, platelets or plasma/ (Pain involved; therefore, no. Although, yes, in a crisis.)
Go sky diving
Visit a Nazi Concentration Camp
Bounce a check (I had the funds, I just grabbed the checkbook from the closed account. With all the fees, I ended up paying $60 for a Super Cut.)
Fly in a helicopter (Hell, yeah!)
Save a favourite childhood toy (I come from packrats. I still have my first toy, a well-loved Raggedy Ann.)
Visit Quebec City (Passport?)
Eat Caviar (Everyone said how wonderful it was. My reaction was "retch!" I began to wonder if those people really thought that it was yummy, or they were just saying so because that was a mark of sophistication and expensive taste. I felt the same about pate', which, to me, both looked and tasted like poo -- not that I know what actual poo tastes like, but I can imagine that it would taste like pate.)
Piece a quilt (Just two blocks, and I used a sewing machine; but, still.)
Stand in Times Square (In the middle of the day and the middle of the night. It feels like a commercial in Blade Runner.)
Tour the Everglades (The last time I was in Florida, I demanded to see an Everglade. So we drove in, found a rest stop, I took pictures, and we returned. I think an airboat tour would be much more fun.)
Been fired from a job (The T.A.s at my grad school formed a quasi-union of sorts, at the chair's suggestion, no less. Technically, we weren't "fired" as a result because we were T.A.s on year-long contracts, but only 1 of us had our contract renewed.)
See the Changing of the Guards in London
Been on a speeding motorcycle
See the Grand Canyon in person (What's the weather like at this time of year?)
Published a book (Two!)
Visit the Vatican (Again, absolution for skipping Christmas...see "Sistine Chapel" above.)
Buy a brand new car (Ten years ago. I still drive it.)
Walk in Jerusalem (Why not? O.k., the bombs and stuff; but still.)
Have my picture in the newspaper (All local. I was on the front page of the school paper when I was a freshman. I was in my aerobics workout clothes, complete with the leg warmers. Yeah, I know, but I was still cute. I was just put in the school paper here for sponsoring a socialist student group meeting. Not an attractive picture at all. I was also once on the cover of a local paper in New England. They showed me reading Moby Dick outloud on a whaling barque. I was cute. I was also on the cover of the Socialist Workers' Party paper, and image that was later used in their subscription ads.)
Read the entire Bible (maybe if I went to Jersusalem.)
Visit the White House (You have to get tickets through your representative. Did you know that?)
////Kill and prepared an animal for eating/// (I don't even like my meat to look like actual flesh because I don't want to know where it came from.)
Had chickenpox (During Mardi Gras season. I had to stay inside for a couple of parades, but that was o.k. The parades ran down my grandparents' street, so I watched from the window. Also, the Mary Martin verison of Peter Pan was on t.v.)
Save someone’s life (Would if I could and must, but not a thing you hope to do one day.)
Sit on a jury (Escaped it twice. Once four people in my office were called to jury duty in the same month. Three of us had Ph.Ds, one was a college freshman. Guess which one got picked?)
Meet someone famous (Remember Joan Osborne? Also, William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy back in my geeky, middle school, Trekkie days. I also got bell hooks and Anne Rice to sign books. how could I forget John Hope Franklin, too? I met a couple of dancers at the city ballet in Texas, including the first black principal ballerina in the U.S.. When I was an usher, they kept us away from the talent. Oh, and I schmoozed David Blight. I worked at a project where a previous princple investigator had barred all research. His sucessor didn't have any real feelings on the policy, so I got his begruding approval to let researchers know the project would help them if we could -- and by "the project helping" I meant me and my co-worker. So, when my old advisor introduced me to Blight, I told him to give us a call. My boss got all of the public credit, but I did the public good.)
Join a book club (It was a feminist group who all read books by and about women. Good books. The first one they read was Carolyn Heilbrun's Writing A Woman's Life. I'd like to do it again, if I could find a good feminist group that read interesting books.)
Lose a loved one (who hasn't?)
////Have a baby/// (Oh, hell no. Bring on menopause!)
See the Alamo in person (Heh! I just taught about this last week. They had it coming.)
Swim in the Great Salt Lake
Been involved in a law suit
Own a cell phone
Been stung by a bee (Bain De Soleil tanning oil. The bees luuuurve it.)
Ride an elephant (But only if the elephant were well treated.)
Thursday, December 04, 2008
Here is a brief (and not at all comprehensive) list of assholes -- or people who are simply jackasses (which is another, related category) -- whom I have encountered this week:
1) "He's Not Black," by Marie Arana, in the Washington Post. While she is correct in her summary of the multiracial genetics of many, if not most humans, and while it would be nice if one day humans could recognize this and move beyond racism; Arana is completely ignores the social construction of race, particularly in the U.S. In fact, in reading this column, I think of the fabulous Wanda Sykes and her bit about Tiger Woods (a clip that I cannot seem to find on YouTube, but it is in her concert video "Sick and Tired"). Sykes says that she remembers when Tiger Woods was black; but the more successful Woods became, the less announcers would call him "black" and the smaller the percentage of African heritage they would grant him. "Tiger Woods, he's 1/2 black. Tiger Woods, now he's 1/4 black. Woo, Tiger Woods, now he's 1/16th black." She said that the only reason they would continue to admit that he was black was because his father would show up at the matches. (Of course she said it much funnier, than I.) Now that Obama is president, Arana seems to say, "Barack Obama, he's 1/2 black. Barack Obama, he's 1/4 black. Barack Obama, he's not black at all." To say he's black is to perpetuate racism.
2) The person driving the station wagon down Gravel Street in Mystic. This person stopped in the middle of a street that was barely wide enough for two Model Ts, and waited while her passenger jumped out of the car and ran into the flower shop to make an order. "Fuck the rest of you guys trying to drive down this street in the shopping district on the busiest Saturday morning of the year," she seemed to say, "I'm not going to circle the block or try to find a parking space to wait up the road until my passenger returns. I'm going to sit right here blocking two lanes of traffic waiting for her."
3) While we are on the subject of asshole drivers, let's add the three white sedans zigzagging through traffic across the George Washington bridge on Saturday night. These guys narrowly missed taking off a few rear view mirrors in their effort to demonstrate that their timely arrival was far more important than the safety of everyone whom they nearly shoved off of the road and into the Hudson.
4) Let's also add the SUVs who drive with their headlights on bright. Simply owning an SUV seems to say to the world, "fuck you all, I'm going to use as much gas as possible, create as much pollution as possible, create driving hazards for those who cannot see around me as they try to pull out of parking spaces or when I blind them by having headlights that, under normal conditions, shine directly into their rear view mirrors when I tailgate them. I have to keep my family SAFE, dammit." Driving with your lights on "bright" in even moderately heavy traffic, thereby blinding everyone withing a mile ahead of you just adds to your asshole status.
5) And how about the person driving that electric blue sport scar that came zooming down the parking garage ramp and around a hairpin curb only to come within a foot of running me down? It's not a speedway, asshole. By the way, only dudes who are overcompensating for something make their cars growl like that.
6) The maintenance department at my apartment complex. I called the emergency number on Thursday when my dishwasher would not drain, so my dishes were rinsed with dirty water, which then sat at the bottom of the machine. When I ran the water in my sink, it drained into the dishwasher, which then overflowed onto the floor. This meant that I couldn't wash the dishes in the sink. Twenty-four hours later, I had not heard a peep from them, so I called the emergency number and put in a second work order, because that is all that you can do. Then, I called the management office and left a message indicating that, while I understood that this was a holiday weekend, they call these situations "emergencies" for a reason. I left town for the next two days, and returned early Sunday morning to find the water still standing in the bottom of my dishwasher, gradually becoming more and more rank. No indication that maintenance had even dropped by. So, I called management again, left another message in which I informed them that my next call would be to the county because a person should not have to wait four days or more to have an emergency maintenance situation addressed. Invoking the county results in more responsive and apologetic management. This was not the first time that this has happened either. Still, no word from them as of Sunday evening when I called in the problem for the third time. They finally showed up on Monday morning. Why bother with an "emergency" number if the emergency isn't going to be addressed until regular business hours? Assholes.
7) While we are on the subject of apartment management, the same people for their responses to the parking shortage that they created. About six months ago, they doubled the price of the garage parking, so everyone stopped using it, thereby flooding the parking lot, which is free. When people complain that there are absolutely NO parking spaces after about 9 in the evening, the managements says, "it's not our fault." The shortage may not be their "fault," but it sure as hell is their problem when 1/4 of their tenants cannot park unless they pay $75/month for the privilege. When tenants complain, too, management tells them to park on other properties -- properties that they do not manage, do not have the same owners, and with which owners they do not have any agreement for such an arrangement. Then, they brag and say "this is just a sign that we are so popular that we have a high occupation rate." Yeah, we'll see how long that high occupation rate lasts with that attitude.
8) The clerk at my book signing who pointed to the title of my book and said, "shouldn't that be 'An History' instead of 'A History'?" I replied, "I probably should have caught that, but that was the least of my battles over the book." "Well," he said, "It's a pretty big and permanent mistake to have." How did expect me to respond to that? Did he think he was being cute? Did he think that he was impressing me with his brilliance? Did he think that, by pointing it out, he had invalidated my authorship of the book and validated his own importance? What was the point? But, then, I met that attitude a lot in That Place. Must be the water. That, or all of the big fishes flopping around in a shrinking pond that they think is the entirety of the world.
9) My "friends" who did not show up for my book signing even when explicitly invited. They know who they are. They know what they are, too.
10) "Friends" who tell me every single minute detail of their lives and express no interest in mine; who, in fact, say that something is wrong with ME if I have a problem with this arrangement. Then try to tell ME the story of MY life, regardless of whether they are correct or not.
11) The people who brought us Windows Vista, or any other Windows "upgrade." Not a damn piece of ware, hard or soft, will upload without some problem or another. You can't even plug in a simple USB device without some error message or malfunction occurring. Then, in attempting to fix the problems, the "help" function takes you through a set of steps that, after the first two clicks, in no way resemble the options presented to you by your computer.
12) My parents, for letting one of my four year old nephews play unattended in their backyard where they have a problem with poisonous snakes. My parents also for defining that nephew's three hour nap as "he's just worn out" rather than a product of his 102 fever, which they did not notice. My parents, ultimately, for their general negligence in the whole childcare department.
13) That nephew's father, my brother, for saying that my sister-in-law overreacted when she took my nephew to the emergency room because his temperature then went up to 104 degrees and he was too dehydrated to sweat, spit, or have tears when he cried. The doctors had to rehydrate him intravenously, and still, my brother said his wife overracted.
14) My other brother, who has now trained his four year old son to tell women "two in the pink, one in the stink" and call them "bitches" all because he finds this funny. This same brother for refusing to read to his son or help his son learn his ABCs because my brother thinks that reading is not important and is therefore not a skill that his son needs to learn at any great pace, if at all.* This same brother for telling this to my librarian mother for no other reason that that he knows that it will piss her off and hurt her. In fact, this same brother for treating his son as if the child is a funny trained monkey who will act out my brother's own hostilities and juvenile fantasies. This same brother for trying to turn my sweet little nephew into an asshole himself.
15) My family, for insisting that I admire and respect this brother because "he has overcome soooo much" (they mean his addictions, in which he still indulges), despite the fact that he is probably a borderline sociopath. He is absolutely a dry drunk and a bully. My family, for demanding that I like him because that means that they can indulge their Norman Rockwell fantasies.
16) Whoever decided to make Christmas the season for people to "prove their love" by going into bankruptcy from buying crappy gifts for everyone they have met in the past year and turning their homes into a carnival of electroshock therapy in lights and decorations. The conservatives who try to drum up "the war on Christmas" each year when anyone questions this holiday orgy of consumption and rising debt. Also, I should probably include the people who literally and figuratively buy into this crap, even when they can't afford to and even when they know that it is all a crock.
17) Jesus Christ, for not returning simply to smite the people who piss all over his birthday by defiling his message. Really, if war and injustice doesn't get his attention, shouldn't this? This, after all, is personal.
18) The "famous journalist and historian" (who is a famous journalist but is most decidedly NOT an historian) and the whole publicity machine that brought her to our college. Why are they assholes? Because they act as if she is the first person to ever even consider writing about the elite women of the early American republic, thereby "giving these ladies of liberty the recognition they so greatly deserve." Forget Linda Kerber and Mary Beth Norton, this "custodian of time-honored values" has "a much-needed addition to the shelves of Founding Father literature" and "sheds new light on the generation of heroines, reformers, and visionaries who helped shape our nation."** Her! No one else has ever looked at this group of women ever before! She is an asshole for using her influence to dabble in history without paying homage to the actual historians who came before her. The members of her publicity machine are assholes for promoting her as the one and only voice on the subject. The faculty member -- who is an actual historian himself, and should know better -- who brought her to campus to speak is an asshole because he also has the same hagiograhic opinion. This all also goes for the attorney who came to our campus to speak about his book on slavery and the Constitution, as if he were the first person to notice that slavery was included in and part of the debates about the Constitution. As if Paul Finkleman did not exist.
19) Me, for being jealous of #18 for all of the publicity and success associated with their books.20) All of the people mentioned in this news story, "Will Supreme Court take case on Obama's citizenship?" found through Field Negro. Obama isn't American? Halt certification of California votes? (I get an idea that the halt does not include the yes votes on Proposition 8.) Makes me wonder what sort of crazy schemes we are going to see in the next 4 years.
Bitching is done. This was a particularly pissy week. Now I paraphrase the alcoholic's prayer, "grant me the strength to change what I can." Amen.
*I'm actually in the process of writing a children's book about Frederick Douglass learning to read -- framing reading as a powerful and subversive activity -- and giving it to this nephew as a present written just for him.
**All quotes from the Amazon.com ad for her book. Watch her, or one of her minions, find this blog and file a libel suit against me!
I answered: "Bruce Springsteen in 1984. U2 in 1987.Peter Gabriel in 1993. Ani diFranco in 1999"
Ahh, but that just doesn't do justice to my fond if middlebrow concert going past, and I began to think of some fine times I had in my younger days at that rock-n-roll religious service, the concert.
The first concert that I ever attended was in 1978. Neil Diamond. Don't laugh! I was 11. My 5th grade teacher the year before had read us Jonathan Livingston Seagull and played the soundtrack for us. I promptly asked Santa Claus for this album -- cassette, actually -- and played it back-to-back with my Star Wars soundtrack, dancing like Martha Graham in front of my bedroom mirror, from Christmas until the end of the summer. I still have a soft spot for ole Neil. Like William Shatner, he's so far into uncool that he comes all the way around back to cool again.
In my freshman year of high school, HBO aired Simon and Garfunkle's reunion Concert in Central Park. Last night I finished reading Carrie Fisher's memoir, Wishful Drinking. About Paul Simon, she wrote, "I loved this man's lyrics. They were one of the reasons I fell in love with words. How can you not love someone who writes 'medicine in magical/and magical is art/think of the bubble/and the baby with the baboon heart.' The answer for me was I couldn't. I couldn't not love him." I get it, Carrie. I felt the same way.
I was obsessed with this concert. I would watch it whenever it aired, even if that meant staying up late late at night. I held up my little tape recorder to record the whole concert from the t.v. (yes, kids, that's what we had to do in the old days). Then I would listen to this recording morning, noon, and night. Paul Simon KNEW me, dammit! He spoke to the tortured ennui of my 15 years!
Between my sophmore and junior years, bouyed by the success of the HBO special and subsequent record sales, Simon and Garfunkle went on tour. My mom and I got tickets to see them in the Astrodome, and I was the envy of my three friends. As is wont to happen in that part of the country in the late summer, a hurricane loomed off shore and caused the concert to be postponed. This date was at the end of the tour, which had reminded the two of the reasons that they split up in the first place, and the concert was cancelled permanently.
Do you know what Paul Simon did that day, instead of playing a concert to an audience containing me? He married Carrie Fisher. How dare he?
Never fear. He made it up to me in 1999. He and Bob Dylan toured together and came to our town. I probably should have added this concert to my list at Shakesville because Paul totally made amends for standing me up to marry Princess Leia.
At least, from what I remember he did. It was an outdoor concert, so smoking was allowed. When smoking is allowed at concerts, and when the audience at a concert consists of both old school and nuevo hippies, well, let's just say that no one anywhere in a mile radius was feeling any pain.
Yeah, that was a damn good concert!
By the way, Simon's marriage to Fisher ended two years later, so I might have had a chance. Turns out he liked women my age, and from Texas, as demonstrated by his choice of wife #3. I saw her in concert, too. She opened for another of my great rock-n-roll loves, Don Henley (call me!).
Between my junior and senior high school year, Bruce Springsteen hit with Born in the U.S.A. Much of what was true of Paul Simon's lyrics was also true of Springsteen's. Their lyrics manipulated words into images; and although I confess that Simon was probably more of the wordsmith, Springsteen's lyrics seemed that they could have been dropped down at any point in the 20th century from the first Great Depression to this. Then, both added the emotion with the music; and in the case of Springsteen's Phil Spector inspired Wall of Sound, the music phonically overcame you.
I wish I could afford to see him now.
By my senior year, and I was making a little money babysitting and in retail hell, so I could afford to see concerts fairly regularly. Attending concerts was, in fact, the closest I came to being a regular teenager and enjoying it. For me, concerts were like I imagine the tent-meetings during the Second Great Awakening with the conversion experiences and speaking in tongues and wild displays of abandoned emotion. Maybe this only seemed true because you could still smoke inside the concert venues, and because my taste tended to run to older "classic rock" music, and those two factors meant that no one in the smoky building felt much pain.
Whether or not the "cigarettes" enhanced the experience (it probably did), I loved losing myself in the music and the crowd. I loved feeling the spirit of that music move me to dance and sing. I loved the whole, transcendent experience. In my very dull, circumscribed, protected, sheltered, white bread, "comfortably numb," suburban life, I felt alive in every fiber of my being at concerts. That was intoxicating, even if the let down for the rest of the week underscored just how hopeless I felt otherwise. I would take that form of a hangover for those two hours of bliss.
This was most true at Bruce Springsteen's concert. I think I model my teaching style on his, with the storytelling and the high energy performance. I always wanted something like that to be a part of my life.
U2 made my list for the same reason. I was late to their game, but fell totally in love with Bono listening to "Sunday, Bloody Sunday," "New Year's Day," and "Bad" on the radio. Bono's voice took a bit of time to get used to, as did Springsteen's for that matter. Once you did, it conveyed the perfect, tortured timbre for his subject matter.
When they toured for Joshua Tree, I ended up in the 8th row. By this time, smoking was banned indoors, so the exhiliration and euphoria from that concert can only be attributed to the power of the music and Bono's aching need to connect with the audience. As a lonely recovering anorexic, that was about all of the intimacy that I could handle with any other person: when he was on stage singing impassioned political songs and I was 8 anonymous rows back, able to sing along with no one insulting my voice because they were doing the same and we were all drowned out by the concert itself.
Five or so years later, I worked security for their Zootropa concert. I actually worked for the ushering section of that security company, opening doors, taking tickets and handing out programs at the symphony and Broadway touring productions (I saw Tommy Tune up close, and carried flowers onstage for Mikail Baryshnikov, who leapt higher than my head). When they got the U2 contract, I asked to work it. They put me in charge of some empty section that was supposed to be for VIPS or out-of-control people or something. The story kept changing. I was basically there for show, which was fine with me because Bono, in some scortching hot black leather pants, jumped up on the speaker about five feet above my head. As Molly Bloom would say, "Yes."
Then two guys got into a fist fight in the middle of the "No War" chant at the end of "Sunday, Bloody Sunday."
The Peter Gabriel concert took place the night before I moved into my first apartment (at a very advanced age). That chronology has significance, I think, because his was the second to last concert at which I felt the euphoria of rock-n-roll.
Gabriel, like Springsteen, had mastered the art of performance, having started his career in the days of theatrical rock. He didn't dress as a daisy or any of those crazy outfits that he used to wear in his Genesis days; but he did know how to use the space creatively to enhance the music without detracting from it. I see some of these "productions" with fireworks and massive numbers of back-up dancers, and lead singers who aren't even actually singing because they are putting on a show, and I feel all crotchety and old. "THAT'S not a show!" I say. "That's just a bunch of sound and fury. Peter Gabriel, Bruce Springsteen: THEY put on a show."
Throughout all of this I saw many many other concerts. Harry Connick, Jr., Ray Charles, B.B. King, the Cars, Hall and Oats (shut up!), Tom Petty (three times because he was on the bill with the act that I wanted to see; but he put on the better show), the Grateful Dead, Don Henley (call me!), the Del Fuegos, Frankie Goes to Hollywood (because a friend had a spare ticket, they were horrid), Robert Plant, Bryan Adams (shut up!), Z.Z. Top (I am Texan, after all), Lilith Fair (where I accosted Joan Osborne), INXS, Tina Turner, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, Lone Justice (who opened for U2), Stevie Ray Vaughn (once with the Fabulous Thunderbirds), Elton John and more that I can't remember right now, and some of these more than once, more than twice even.
Ani diFranco was probably the last concert that I attended at which I felt this same conversion experience. She played at a small venue with an open seating sections for dancing. I was pushed up close to the front of the stage with all of these women a decade younger than myself, and all were figuring out their sexuality, and we were all squishing up against one another and...well, let's just say that I desperately wished that homosexuality were, in fact, a matter of choice that night. Then Ani came out and blew the whole room away. No alcohol. No "incense" in the air. Just music and young women who loved to dance and Ani leading us all.
That was the last time that I felt that pure, unadulterated surrender to the music. I saw Ani again two years later, but she had broken her foot the week before and was on pain killers, so she cut her set short. Also, she did not have her band, but the seating was set up for dancing, which mean a lot of standing. Not comfortable. The whole time I couldn't wait to get back to my warm bed and put my heating pad on myaching back. And those women who loved to dance? So annoying now, bumping into you and clearly disregarding everyone else's personal space. The music wasn't even dance-worthy! Clearly not a rock-n-roll experience.
I saw Lyle Lovett over the summer. He puts on a nice show, but I go for the experience. Had I a lawn chair and a cooler of wine, I might have had a more enjoyable time. Even then, the desire for a lawn chair during a concert indicates that I may now be too old for a rock-n-roll experience. The tickets are so expensive, not the $10 that they were back in high school. I don't keep up with today's music and I fear that the classic acts will disappoint me, like Ani did at the last one. I'd like to see the Eagles because their lyrics occupy several GB of my brain's memory; but I just know that all I would see is a group of grandpas trying to hold on to their youth.
Plus, music just doesn't do it for me anymore. Not like when I was a teenager. That's good, too, because part of the appeal of music and concerts for me at that age was that feeling of being completely alive -- and that being alive was a good thing -- that the music gave me in that powerless period of life. I like to think that I have more power in my life now -- I better! -- so I don't need that transcendant escape.
I like to think that. I'm just not sure that it is always true.
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
"Higher Education May Soon Be Unaffordable for Most Americans, Report Says."
I suppose the news shouldn't be surprising, given the anti-intellectual buffoon who brought us "No Child Left Behind" sits in the White House; but this can't all be blamed on him. What have we come to when even Harvard loses $8 billion of its endowment and community colleges become too elistist because of the cost of tuition?
Can we call it a Depression yet? Or can we at least predict a date when, at this pace, we can say we are in a Depression?
Well, dammit, I hope something is wrong. If something is wrong, then that might explain this malaise, irritability and fatigue that has been in crescendo for the past several months. If something is wrong, then they can give me something to fix it and the malaise, irritability, and fatigue will go away.
One can hope, can't one?
I feel like my whole life has been plagued by this malaise and fatigue -- irritability, too, but that may have something to do with the fact that being depressed and exhausted all of the time will also wear on your own nerves. Also, if you are exhausted and depressed all of the time, but don't run a fever, or have cancer, or have some virus or bacteria -- that is, if nothing is visibly wrong to the eye or the microscope -- people, including medical people, tend to dismiss you as lazy and seeking attention.
One of the reasons that the two conditions that have distressed me -- my depression and force-10 migraines -- went undiagnosed for so long was that I was always told that I was faking both. As a child, I would lie prostrate with migraine or in inexplicable, hysterical tears,* and the response would be, "if you just got up off of your lazy ass and DID something, then you would feel better."** Maybe, but the problem was that I COULDN'T get up off of my lazy ass. If I had a migraine, then I would throw up. If I was in a depressive episode, then I would be exhausted from sitting up and have to lie down again.
I'll admit to being a bit of a drama queen as a child. One did have to put up a scene if one wanted to draw attention away from the two other drama queens in my family, my mother and grandmother, both of whom worked hard for that Oscar nomination for best temper tantrum by a martyr in real life. But, I was not faking migraines and depression. Why would I fake those means of gaining attention when there were much more fun methods, like beating up boys, being bossy, being too girly by demanding frilly dresses, not being girly enough by climbing trees and light poles (in those same frilly dresses, but with shorts underneath), and the thousand other techniques that I employed?
Even as an adult, I had a difficult time getting some doctors to take at least the migraines seriously. Once I had a difficult time getting a psychiatrist to take my depression seriously, despite the fact that two other non-psychiatrist MDs were demanding that he medicate me so that I could simply get out of the damn bed in the morning. How can we forget that damn FAA doctor from the summer? (Given that most of my readership is feminist, this should come as no surprise that these doctors were old white men from my grandfather's generation. The psychiatrist in question thought that women were medicated too often -- and while I respect that point of view as a feminist, mine was not a case of unnecessary medication -- I should just "get over it." That doctor, too, was the one who told me that, as a 27 year old, single grad student, I should start having kids right away because "there isn't much time left.")
So, I internalized many of these messages. Even now, I feel un-entitled and yet very defensive of my depression and migraines. I hate them both because they are miserable and painful. I hate them both because thy are so inexplicable and pointless. I hate them both because they both have such stigma that I don't trust anyone -- doctors, friends, family -- to take them seriously.
The fatigue I've never had addressed. Almost two years ago, I did bring it to the doctor because I could barely make it to work, and once slept straight through for 24 hours -- I missed a whole day -- and wasn't the least rested. The doctor did blood tests and determined that I had had mono, but didn't have any cure or medication or any advice other than "take some walks, that will make you feel better." Walks. Nice. The mono diagnosis made me feel a bit better, but still, I feel as if I should be physically collapsing in the doctors' office, like in some medical drama, to be taken seriously.
That is, after all, how the doctor who finally gave me a migraine diagnosis took me seriously. Waiting for him, after having spend two days in pain and the whole morning with my head in the toilet throwing up, I turned off the office lights and curled up on the cool cool tiles of the floor. He came in, took one look at me and the symptoms I had listed (the same as I had listed for every other office visit at about four different doctors) and said, "Ah, you must have migraines." Thank you! Now do something!
As for the fatigue, I'll give you an example. Yesterday, I taught two classes, went to the doctor, went to the lab, went to the pharmacy and went to the grocery store. None of this was high energy except the teaching. Still, while I was in the grocery store, or in the line at the pharmacy, I felt as if I would fall over with exhaustion. The thought of checking out, or going to my car, or driving, or any of the steps I had to do next, made me have to sit down and catch my breath. I got home at 7 and was asleep by 8. I woke up at 8:30 this morning, and now -- at nearly 10 am -- feel that I need a nap. We won't get into the desire to cry at any cue. I've slept at least 10-12 hours most nights, and still can barely get the energy to take a shower. This can't be a normal condition.
Did I bring this up to the doctor yesterday? No. Like I said, I don't trust most people to take seriously actual diagnosed conditions that I have. Fatigue? Who the hell isn't fatigued at this time of the semester? At this time of year? I was still upright.
Yet, something in my gut tells me that something is wrong and that I'm going to have to bite the bullet and tell the doctor, even if he dismisses me. I'm hoping that the lab results will do the work for me.
*I can recall, with distressing detail, depressive epsiodes and migraine attacks as early as age 7 and 6 respectively.
**Yes, I was spoken to in those terms as early as age 5. Just like Bill Cosby's Jesus Christ and God Dammit, I though my name was Lazy Bum until age 10, and Bitch for most of my pre-teen and teen years. We were a class act, our family.