Thursday, March 30, 2006

my world is split into several tracks: work, the now, and the past that runs silently underneath everything else.
i'm still up at 1.30 in the morning because of work; i'm trying to finish up a project an intern (of sorts) was doing for us for a presentation tomorrow and i feel like i'm pulling an all-nighter for school.

in the now, i'm feeling a little jangly. because work is increasingly becoming important to me and i'm being asked to be more responsible for things, i'm feeling the pressure; and, when i feel pressure, i tend to shut other things down so that i can concentrate. like - friends.

(to the gals, here's an apology. i'm sorry i've been distracted and not totally 'there.' i haven't been Making the Effort! i'm sorry!)

and keeping the work-pressure company is that guy, B* (to distinguish him from B-, he gets an asterisk!). he sent me an email tonight (he's working late, too); it was bowie's 'rock and roll suicide'. i've tried to decipher why he sent it, but i am too jangly.

and from the past there's S-. (and since he's probably reading, i'll be discrete. or is it discreet? i can never remember what the difference is.) S- is from my past and when we unexpectedly got back in touch early this week, it made me go back and trawl through my journals from 2001. (yes, it was that long ago.) i read about our first date and it made me giggle; it also made me wistful for that girl i was. i was so...ignorant.

so, beneath all the other stressors of this week, there are the side trips i've been taking to Nostalgiaville. on the bus, i think about the first time he and i kissed (on the roof of my building); the time he asked me to go with him to find a computer desk and he dithered about it for so long i wanted to chew my fingers off and run all the way home (and then i repeated the ordeal when he needed to buy a sweater and i waited patiently with the nordstrom salesman while S- doggedly looked for the right color white); then there's the time he sat with me and my girl friends and we made him blush at my dining room table and he was shocked (shocked, i tell you!) at our conversation but later...

and then i find myself in the naughty part of town, in Nostalgiaville. that's where i find the things i remember in the dark. those details.
and secretly, thinking about those things on public transportation, i smile.

and the work and the now disappear for just a bit.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

just before bed, a post about cnn's coverage of the anti-sensenbrenner marches (i like that frame better):
La Queen Sucia: How Stupid are the US Media?!?!
I think people who drive without seatbelts deserve what's coming to them.

You drove without a seatbelt and now you're crying. You should have known better. You should have made better choices. You're nothing except an irresponsible wanton seatbelt derelict.

How can you expect people to sympathize with you when you knowingly got in your car and drove without a seatbelt? You forgot? Your seatbelt malfunctioned? What a bunch of crap. You broke the law; you chose to break the natural law of good driving that says 'Click it or ticket.' You and that Gary Busey (who doesn't want to wear a helmet) - all you individual rights whiners, 'i wanna feel unrestricted'- well, all you 'this is my life' freaks need to shut up and toe the line.

And what gets me is all these people who want to make 'safe driving' part of our curriculum. Drivers Ed - give me a break! There is no 'safe' driving. Encouraging 'safe' driving encourages irresponsibility and a reliance on untested methods - like so-called 'defensive driving.' Just wear your seatbelt.

I mean, it's consequences, man. You drive without a seatbelt and - wham! You know what's coming. Don't whine. Don't cavil. You deserve it. Natural consequences.

This world would be so much better if people just suffered a natural disincentive for their actions...

[insanity via bitch phd]

Friday, March 24, 2006

just call me jael

This is a double-purposed post: one part about how I want to drive a tent stake through a guy's head; the other part about being progressive.

1. This is our second drink together and he's giving me a rash. Like, seriously. We've just yelled at each other about private vs. public interests, valuing education vs. valuing money, 'consequences' vs. comprehensive sex education, living with integrity and a sense of moral centeredness vs. life being just an existential hellhole. My face is flushed, my neck is hot and my chest itches. I've broken out into an ideologically-fueled rash.

He reminds me of Sidney Poitier in his early 40s. In fact, that's exactly who he looks like - neat, trim, dark, and tidy. We're meeting for a purely casual, this-is-not-a-date, after work drink. Why is this not a date? Because he already has a girlfriend. I'm happy to sit in a crappy bar and chat with a near-stranger about books, work, music, politics, relationships, and growing up odd.

(And, considering my less than stellar boy-record, I don't think I need to be dating anyone right now.)

But he's an utter pragmatist. Having a conversation with him is like talking with the Borg. Or a conservative from Dartmouth. Hence, the tent peg.

2. At one point during our conversation he leaned back and said, 'You really believe all that, don't you? Helping the poor, the brown people. You really swallow all that.'

And I said, 'Yes, I do. Every word of it.'
It makes me an easy read. I mean, you don't really have to think all that hard to wonder how I'll come down on an issue. And I'll trace it back to the book of bible stories I had when I was a kid. There was a fabulous illustrated story about David and Goliath. And that was it. David was a cute Israelite with smarter technology and Goliath was a moron. My ideological loyalties were born.

Political stances birthed by childhood Bible stories perhaps aren't the most flexible. Or the most 'of the moment.' There doesn't seem to be a lot of room for rhetorical maneuvering when you stake out a progressive claim.

fashion friday: you hairy monkey

i used to call the Librarian paul bunyan. he was over 6 ft tall, sported curly dark hair, was broad shouldered, long of limb, had ice blue eyes and a thick bushy beard.

the beard was disconcerting. it would intrude on kisses and, in the mornings, it would nuzzle my face and tickle my neck. eventually, i got used to it. it suited the Librarian's dark germanic face. it gave his face character.

but there were caveats: it could get messy. it could retain smells.

so some words of advice to those who want to sport the most wood-choppingest manly man beard of their desires: trim and clean your beard regularly. a beard that tastes/smells of nicotine/pepperoni pizza/beer is a little yucky.

Paul Bunyan, Modern-Day Sex Symbol - New York Times

Thursday, March 23, 2006

uh, it's poverty thursday

I'm about to get wonky on you. Get ready. Bear down.
The point of this post isn’t to make us feel guilty for being well off or comfortable; I’m proud of what I’ve earned and accomplished. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

But I’d like us to start realizing what it’s like for people on the other side of the street. And if poverty is a complex social issue, which it is, then why are we willing to fob off uncomplicated and superficial remedies (like marriage policies, like bashing immigrants, like trickle down economics and tax breaks for the rich)?

Note: Most of the numbers mentioned in this post are from a report that can be downloaded from here.

What's poverty?
There are actually four kinds of poverty, based on our federal index which is based on what a family would need annually to earn to feed them (no, it's not a perfect measure, but it's the way we measure poverty now. If you want to read more about how the index is measured and critiques of how it's measured, go here:

Here's our federal poverty level index for 2006:
Family size - 2006 poverty guidelines:
1 - $ 9,800
2 - 13,200
3 - 16,600
4 - 20,000
5 - 23,400
6 - 26,800
7 - 30,200
8 - 33,600

You are Income Poor if you fall within the parameters of the FPL
You are in Deep or Extreme Poverty if you live at or below 50% of the FPL
You are Low-Income or Near Poor if you live at or below 200% of FPL and have trouble meeting your basic needs because of rising costs (child care, housing/rent, health insurance - if you have this at all.)
A household is Asset Poor if it doesn’t have enough net worth to live at the poverty level for 3 months - if you experience one significant life event (medical crisis, job loss or divorce) you can end up homeless or go straight into Poverty.

(While this index is based on food cost, which probably needs to be changed, here's what the index doesn't include: cost of transportation/commute to work, cost of child care, cost of utilities, or the rising cost of housing. Factor those costs and the number of those who qualify as poor would probably increase rather than decrease.)

Who’s poor?
You might be poor if you are old; nearly half of IL seniors would be in poverty if not for Social Security benefits; Social Security benefits are primary source of income for two-thirds of IL seniors; 70% of senior women living alone live near poverty. Senior men had a median income of $20,363 in 2003 and senior women had a median income of $11,845.
(Dude. Who can live on that??)

You might be poor if you are a child; 37.2% of children lived in low-income families in 2004; 15% of children in IL lived in houses where the head of household didn’t finish high school (an indicator of poverty); 11% lived in crowded housing.

You might be poor if you are disabled; in IL the monthly SSI payment is $564 (the national average is $617.02); a disabled person would have to spend more than ALL of their SSI income to rent a one-bedroom apartment.

You might be poor if you are a woman; IL women have higher poverty rates than men; 13.3% were living in poverty compared to 11.5% men in 2004; 31.4% lived in near poverty compared to 26.7% of men; compound that with the worst gender wage inequity of the 5 most populous states and you have women working their asses off for not a whole lot in return. Most single heads of households in the state are women.

You might be poor if you are Black or Latino: nearly 30% of the black population in IL lives under the FPL; 16% of the Latino population in IL lives in poverty.

Maybe most of us think of the victims of Hurricane Katrina when we try to envision who’s poor – they were visibly destitute, almost sharecropper poor. But that’s just one face of poverty; not the only face.
I argue that the more quotidian face of poverty is probably the face of someone you already see: the woman who provides you with childcare; your company’s receptionist or assistant; the security guard in the lobby of your building; the woman who checks out your groceries.

You might not be poor if 4 crucial areas of your life’s needs are stable:
Economic well-being. Are you earning a living where all your basic needs can be met? Can you live on your wage? Do you have a ‘cushion’ of some sort?
Health Insurance. Does your employer provide them? Are you relatively confident you won’t have to lose your house if your appendix bursts?
Housing Affordability. Can you pay your rent or mortgage easily and without much stress? Can you afford to live where you live? Have you never had to choose between food or rent?
Education. Do you have a college degree? Do you have a professional degree? Have you graduated from high school? Are most of your friends and neighbors literate?

Before indulging in a superficial discussion of poverty ('poor people suck!'/'poor people are saints!') I think it's important to dispel a couple of assumptions:
* poor people are lazy welfare queens who don't work and
* poverty is about bad financial planning

Poverty is about a maelstrom of bad breaks: illiteracy, generational poverty, economic downturns, cuts in social services, no education, rising costs in the standard of living; lowering wage values, no access to health care. Access to work. In Illinois, one quarter of our work force lives below the federally defined 'poverty line.' These are people (most of them single moms) who work full time jobs; they work 40 hours/week just like you and I work. And yet, they're poor. And these are people who, every day, make crucial financial planning decisions – the thing is, they’re making these decisions with less money than you or I can even think of using to even live.

I was at a retreat for an organization for whom I sit on the Board and a woman made the point that, for most of us, we think of low wages as entry-level wages; we think "Oh, I made 28k when I was out of school for my first job! That's totally livable!" But for many of the working poor, 28k is not entry level. That's a life wage. That's a wage that won't change. Ever. No bonus. No signing bonus. No relocation bonus. No holiday bonus. Through children, illness, divorce, and death - that wage won't change.

Think $30k goes a long way? I earn a little over that amount in my new non profit gig. But I don’t have children, I have health insurance, an education and my rent kicks ass. (And I have a roommate who makes triple what I make and is willing to buy me a beer or a movie once in a while.)

But how far does that $30k go for a family of 4?
Or, maybe it’s $25k.
Or, maybe it’s $19k.
If you made $19k/year and had to support a family of four (or even three), what kinds of decisions would you make?


Yeah, Jesus said the poor will always be with us.
But that doesn’t mean their lives have to suck.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

hey, breeders!

from a favorite gay:

The GOP's message to straight Americans: If you have sex, we want it to fuck up your lives as much as possible. No birth control, no emergency contraception, no abortion services, no life-saving vaccines. If you get pregnant, tough shit. You're having those babies, ladies, and you're making those child-support payments, gentlemen. If you get HPV and it leads to cervical cancer, well, that's too bad. Have a nice funeral, slut.

What's it going to take to get a straight rights movement off the ground? The GOP in Kansas wants to criminalize hetero heavy petting, for God's sake! Wake up and smell the freaking holy war, breeders! The religious right hates heterosexuality just as much as it hates homosexuality. Fight back!

Straights Rights Update

time to move on?

I'm thinking about closing my ChurchGal blog for a while, if not permanently. I've loved writing for that blog but I have to admit the few times some fundamentalists have strolled on over, I've lost my equanimity and sense of humor. I know - only a few times. I should be glad it's not all the time.

This is what it is: They're rude. Like, I don't care what they think - I'd actually like it more if they talked more about what they thought - not what they think about me but what they think. But they're really crudely rude.

They feel comfortable saying things that, if they were standing in front of my face, in my home, I'd be forced to tell them, Get the fuck out my house.

As it's becoming distasteful to listen to them or engage with them, I also find that I'm becoming as humorless and dour as they and that's unacceptable.

The original goal of the blog has disappeared - I wanted it to be a snarky eyed view of contemporary religion but more recently it's becoming a place where people want to engage in seminary theology debate. If I wanted seminary debate I'd be in seminary, thanks.

Or, maybe I'll just do what the conservative blogs do and close comments. Yeah, that'll do it.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

I shouldn't be disappointed but I am. A business trip to meet/greet some politicos was called off for weather. I should be glad I don't have to get up at dawn to take a train to springfield; i should be glad i don't have to haul a bunch of stuff with me for the reception; i should be glad i don't have to sleep in a strange bed.

but...i really wanted to go!!

i was actually excited about it. a lot of this work is tedious - phone calls, emails, tiny detail work, the repetition of stats, the mind-numbing strategy and follow through. (you wanna know how politics gets done? a lot of effing meetings.) but there's a different part i find fascinating - the process, the personalities, the act of convincing someone that your cause is their cause.

i love this stuff.

Friday, March 17, 2006

fathers & daughters

In Los Angeles I saw my twin - and it was my father. For years the Ding Family has said, You're so much like your dad. I shrugged it off. I mean, yes, there is a physical similarity - I look like my dead grandmother, I have the Ding chin, the Ding mole, the Ding complexion, the Ding eyes and fingers. But beneath the skin, there is something else binding me to my father - the Ding Distance.

The Ding Distance is the vast emotional gulf between anyone from the Ding Family and everyone else (except that lucky lucky person we happen to be in love with.) If you are not loved by a Ding Family Member, then we will look at you with all the puzzlement and bwilderment of an alien landing on another planet. But if you're loved, if a DFM has decided to love you, then you can't get rid of us. We love hard and deeply. No matter what. (My sister is proof of this; she ran her husband to ground like a hound after a stag.)

So Dad and I are driving down Sunset, toward the ocean, at the best time of the afternoon when Los Angeles feels like a cool hand across your brow. We're talking relationships:

Papa Ding: I told her. God as my witness, I told her I wasn't
attracted to her.
ding: But then you invited her to a wedding.
Papa Ding: Well, I needed a date.
ding: But you knew she had feelings for you.
Papa Ding: But I told her there could never be anything between
ding: And then you asked her to make tamales for your party?
Papa Ding: I can't cook!
ding: But that's a special thing. You asked her to do a special
thing. You cannot reject someone and then ask them to do special things for
you! That's not right!
Papa Ding: I didn't reject her. I never said that.
ding: You said, I am not attracted to you. That screams
rejection. That's not exactly a big Yes, I want to be with you.
Papa Ding: I never used those words. I never said I rejected her.
ding: Oh, that's right - because you keep asking her to be your secret
Papa Ding: No!
ding: You need to understand some women's feelings, Dad. You may reject us but what we really do is look at what you do. If you say No but then ask us to be your date and cook you special food for your friends you're either in love with us or you're taking advantage of us. A woman in love - what does she want to believe? That the man she wants returns her feelings? Or that he has a hole where his emotional center should be?

I've had conversations like this before with my friends about a few boys in
my past; I've said I am not responsible for their feelings, even after I've just
stomped all over their little bitty hearts with my stiletto heels. I have said, 'But I made it clear where I stood! It's not my fault they chose to misunderstand me!' It was cool to be so flippant when it came to another person's emotions; my indifference turned me into an impervious tower. I was not moved by emotion. All my liaisons were rational, I thought. Everything was understood.

But then I think about this woman who hankers after my father, who plays by the same rules that I do. (And let me say my dad is not a bad man; he's just a man relearning what it's like to date again after 33 years of marriage and 5 years of being a widower. He has no idea what he's doing.) These are the rules that say, If you don't really care about the other person the most you can do is make sure they know where they stand.

So I think about this woman and these untenable rules and I think about how crazy she's become because of loving someone who doesn't see it or won't see it and can't love her back and how no one is putting her out of her misery.
And I think that I don't want to be the type of person who draws out the pain so much when just a quick snap of the neck will do.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

rough morning? yeah. you could say that.

You know when you're in bed and you've just gotten to a point in your dream cycle, and the bed is so toasty, that you feel that there could almost be another person in there with you and you go, 'Mmmm' and then you snuggle under the covers more and wipe the drool? Yeah, I was totally IN that place when I drowsily checked the time on my cell phone.

7.42!?! Motherfucker!
I have a Board meeting in 20 minutes! Shit!

Within 10 minutes, I pulled on fishnets, my brown wraparound dress, the cute brown/white jacket, my slingbacks, shook my hair around, put in earrings, scrubbed on deodorant, sprayed perfume, brushed teeth, grabbed cab fare from roomie and crashed downstairs to hail a cab, rushed to the office, after babbling to my bosses "I'm coming! I don't know what happened! I'm coming! Pick up the catering downstairs!" and ran into the Board meeting.

Where I immediately began to cough like Typhoid Mary and had to stagger *out* of the meeting, feeling my whole torso contract and my little Instead cup totally dislodge because I coughed so hard. Damn! So now I have to fix my feminary situation.

(Note to self: being on period while coughing up phlegm is nasty. Both ends, dude, both ends!!)

But there's no time! The Board meeting must go on and who will know what happened with capacity building if I'm not there to take notes? The meeting will drop into the memory hole of forever and the Agency will collapse from the weight of its amnesia. I can't let that happen.

So, sitting off to the side, I slip out my bottle of Robitussin, unscrew the cap (fuck that little plastic cup), and suck down a huge gulp. From the Board table, where they're giving me the fish eye, I'm sure I looked like an inappropriate drunkard.

Welcome to Thursday, everybody.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


are you radical?
are you brown?
are you a woman?

then this carnival's for you. � Blog Archive � April�s Radical Women of Color Carnival

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

taking a little break: learn something about meth labs

wondering if that anti-social, scabby, twitching neighbor of yours has turned your building into a meth lab?


Drug News & Features Meth Prevention Methamphetamine Information Community Information about Meth

Sunday, March 12, 2006

jp's limerick festival!

i'm back from los angeles, where i had a surprisingly relaxed weekend. while i'd love to catch up on everything, i'm too tired. i'm also fighting off some weird cough.

so, go leave a limerick at jp's space. they're fun. (i love limericks. i think they're vastly underrated and, frankly, my favorite way to seduce wordsmithy boys. hee.)

you don't have to read: 2006 youdonhavetoread San Patricio Limerick eFestival!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

my flight leaves in 3 hours and i'm still not packed. grr!

will miss you madly but will try to drag myself away from the family to scribble thoughts on L.A, smog and wonder, once again, why i didn't get a car when i had a chance.

play nice.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

it's official: i am tired of the 'boomers

yesterday was a long day and i have to blame a 4-hour staff meeting for the crankiness that led me to erupt at a coworker. there we all were, patiently walking down the Appriciative Inquiry path, when our boss asked a question about donor development and looking 5 years into the future.

it was like i saw the light at the end of the tunnel. it was like the craziness that hits the mountain climber when she's about to return to basecamp - she loses her grip and smashes into her trusty sherpa, killing him and everyone on the expedition with her.

our only male colleague kept saying how we needed to pay more attention to baby boomer women and their issues and i just couldn't take it anymore.

'jesus, i can't wait for their hegemonic grip on our culture to end. like the Greatest Generation, they need to die off. god.'

he got ruffled. 'hey, i'm a boomer!'

exactly, i thought. i said, 'when are we going to stop catering to them and actually think about the future? but no. we'll be strategizing around your needs for the next 50 years and nothing's ever going to change!'

you could almost hear the screech of the wheels as our boss tried to wrench the meeting back on track.

i went home, only mildly repentant that i had just made a 54-yr old guy feel irrelevant in a staff meeting. this morning, crossing the bridge on michigan avenue, i even tried to find another way i could've couched my contempt. but i couldn't.

it needed to be said for all of us around that table. (shrug)

Not Wanting to Be Left Out, Men Find Their Own 'Pause' - New York Times

Monday, March 06, 2006

black like me. or, uh, maybe not: how i spent my thursday night

The bar in Redfish almost fell completely silent.
Dropping his bar towel the black bartender said, "What do you mean you don't know who Common is?" He pulled the other bartender, a young black woman, to his side. "She doesn't know who Common is."
"No, she didn't!" she said.

My drinking companion, a 40-ish black man, whispered, "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that so loud."
The two black girls across the bar started laughing - and not with me, either.
I shrugged. "I'm sorry! I don't know who Common is! I grew up Baptist! I'm biracial! Uh, I don't listen to the radio!" The bartender said that was no excuse. "Do I have to turn in my black card?"

Guy bartender leaned on the bar in front of me and said, "Well, who's Common Sense?"
"There's no Common Sense," I scoffed.
The whole bar howled. The Guy Bartender threw up his arms and turned away. Even the white guy smoking a cigar across from me was laughing his ass off.
Then the bartender held up his hands. The bar was silent again. "So name me all the members of Public Enemy."
Bar howled again.

Bartender said, "Okay, how about 3 members of the Jackson 5?"
My mind totally blanked. "Uh, Tito...Michael..."
They waited. "Um...I got nothin'," I said desperate for another drink while the guy next to me (a very buppie lawyer, mind you) laughed and shook his head. Then the white guy across from me took out his cigar and rattled off the names of all the Jackson 5 (AND their sisters) like they were members of his own family. Bar howled again.

"Girl, you are whiter than the white guy," the guy bartender said. "I gotta ask for that black card back!"

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

unbelievable: alleged rape victim in contempt of court

Chicago Tribune Alleged rape victim threatened with jail

so. though she's been cross examined already and has testified she has no recollection of consenting to sex with this group of men, she's basically going to be thrown in jail if she doesn't watch a videotape of her own rape.

before you write me and say something really idiotic, ask yourself this: if she was your 20 year old daughter, would you want her to watch a tape of her rape?

if you're as pissed off about this dehumanization of a woman as i am, contact the men who should know better here:

call the judge: Judge Kerry M. Kennedy at 708-974-6759
call the presiding judge: Judge Anthony S. Montelione at 708-974-6288
call the chief judge: Judge Timothy C. Evans at 312-603-6000

[update: within minutes of me posting this, the Trib just posted an update - the judge backed down.]

[update2: scott lemieux has analysis here]