Thursday, July 31, 2008

bloggy shout out: tonya gross millinery

my pal, who has been working diligently at launching her millinery business has been raking in the public kudos, of late. she showed at last week's Sidewalk Sale and was written up here.

congratulations, Miz T!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

open letter to lane bryant

unfortunately, i didn't write this complaint about a poorly fitting LB surplice top sundress but only wish i had:

I even doubted my bosom, questioning puberty and everything I ever knew about sex. Then I took the dress off and all was right with the world and my breasts.

In order to avoid such traumatic incidents from occurring in the future I’m forced to let you go. I could tolerate the polyester, inconsistent sizing, poor stitching, insane patterns, ill-advised employees, incorrect bra fittings, and discriminate bra sizing. But causing blunt trauma to my ego? Never, that’s where I draw the line.

if you haven't been reading Fatshionista!, you should.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Jitter jitter jitter.

What's with this free-floating anxiety today? I've had this feeling before - right before prelims.

There doesn't seem to be a reason for it. I had a wonderful weekend (loved the Randolph Antique Market and caught a movie with Roomie), cocktailed a little bit yesterday while watching TV and, this morning, woke up bright and early, managing to pull together an unexciting, yet serviceable, outfit; once in the office, I even managed to fob off a tedious project onto an intern. The day is golden!

What could possibly be bothering me??

Could it be the rather long Monday to-do list over there on my work notebook?
Could it be my body's way of marking the halfway point of the summer?
Could it be my body's way of telling me I'm kind of bored with stuff right now?

Or could it my body telling me I don't want to have coffee with MM on Wednesday but would rather get my eyebrows done? Hm. Coffee with MM, eyebrows. Eyebrows, MM.

So hard to tell. Clearly, I need to play tennis tonight to relax.
Two coworkers today sent me two articles from the Trib about race. I can't take it anymore (which is why I'm not linking to them - my head will explode.) I am declaring a month's moratorium on all things racial as of now. I have one month left of summer and I don't want to spend it gnashing my teeth about people's inability to make friends with brown people.

Because that's what needs to happen. If folks want to see this country's racial issues die down, then folks need to make friends with some other people in another ethnic group.
Back to my anxiety.
It's not bills (which are paid.)
It's not health (though it is time for my Pap.)
It's really not sex (which should be taken care of this weekend.)
It's not friends (who are all super busy like me this summer.)
It's not family (even Dad's sort of normal this time.)
And it's not future fears (I'm back to being cool about future change.)

What is it??
Now my stomach is burning. Frak. Maybe it's just heartburn.

Or, maybe it's PMS. I feel like I should either have a good crying jag, punch someone in the face or romp around on a bed of marshmallows while eating Doritos. Hm. It's starting to feel like PMS.

Friday, July 25, 2008

oh, wow. my old neighborhood!

via Negrophile: Leimert Park is the heart of Black Los Angeles!

My dad, who called me last weekend wanting to be taken to Violet Hour (and other hipster Bucktown spots) when he comes to visit, will be glad to know that he's in the heart of black hipness back home.

a syllabus on whiteness, of sorts

thanks to stuff white people do: fail to give credit to non-white people for understanding whiteness.

from macon's post, some summer reading:

Damali Ayo, How to Rent a Negro (2005)

James Baldwin, "Stranger in the Village" (1955); "The Price of the Ticket" (1985); "Going to Meet the Man" (short story, 1965)

Valerie Babb, Whiteness Visible: The Meaning of Whiteness in American Literature and Culture (1998)

Mia Bay, The White Image in the Black Mind African-American Ideas about White People, 1830-1925 (2000)

Octavia Butler, Kindred (novel, 1979)

Shakti Butler, Mirrors of Privilege: Making Whiteness Visible (film, 2006)

Charles W. Chesnutt, "The Passing of Grandison" (short story, 1899)

Vine Deloria, Red Earth, White Lies: Native Americans and the Myth of Scientific Fact (1995)

W.E.B. DuBois, "The Souls of White Folks" (1920)

Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks (1952)

Cheryl I. Harris, "Whiteness as Property" (1993)

bell hooks, "Representations of Whiteness in the Black Imagination" (1992)

Langston Hughes, The Ways of White Folks (short stories, 1933)

Zora Neale Hurston, Seraph on the Suwanee (novel, 1948)

Michelle T. Johnson, Working While Black: The Black Person's Guide to Success in the White Workplace (2004)

Chang-rae Lee, Aloft (novel, 2004)

Joseph Marshall III, "White Lore" (1998)

Charles Mills, The Racial Contract (1997)

Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye (1970); "Recitatif" (short story, 1983); Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination (1992)

Adrian Piper, "Cornered" (art installation, 1988); "Passing for White/Passing for Black" (1992)

David Roediger, Black on White: Black Writers on What it Means to be White (anthology, 1999)

Danzy Senza, Caucasia (novel, 1998)

George Schuyler, Black No More (novel, 1931)

Ronald Takaki, Iron Cages: Race and Culture in 19th-Century America (1979)

Thandeka, Learning to Be White: Race, Money and God in America (2000)

Melvin Van Peebles, Watermelon Man (film, 1970)

Richard Wright, Savage Holiday (novel, 1954)

Frank H. Wu, Yellow (2002)

George Yancy, What White Looks Like: African-American Philosophers on the Whiteness Question (2004)

snort: the mccain 'cover'


Oh, can't see it?

I'll just throw it up here, then:


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

new love: ill doctrine!

What I like about this clip is that the whole 'intent' thing gets thrown directly out the window. Excellent.

Monday, July 21, 2008

'responsibility' has more than one face

Hip Hop Leaders: Jesse Jackson’s Time Up | RaceWire

Two things:
1 - This is the reason why Season 1 of the Real World was the shit and they should have stopped there: Kevin Powell is running for Congress!

2 - I wonder if Powell and Nas, as the 'new' faces of black activism/accountability, are what folks think of when they deflect the conversation away from white privilege with 'when are black people going to start taking responsibility' waah waah waah whine whine whine?

Meaning, I think folks have a different picture in mind when they start saying, before we start unpacking white privilege, black folks should get their act together. (See Bill Cosby, whose talks about what's affecting various black communities never addresses structural issues.)

When they say 'get their act together' what are they talking about?

In my opinion, I think they're talking about conformity to a bourgeois/middle class identity. (And, no, I'm not talking about 'talking white.') I'm talking about the not so subtle codes that comprise middle class ideology: heterosexual normativity, 'bootstrap'/rampant individualism mythology, appropriate Judeo-Christian religious conformity (without any hint of liberation theology to it, and don't even think about being a part of the Nation), law and order obedience and a firm belief in, and support of, capitalism and its tools.

While middle class ideology has such an unshakeable belief in the Self it forgets that the Self comes handily wrapped in a colored skin. Middle class ideology, unfortunately, assumes we're all white. It is, in fact, built on the premise of white skin privilege and the access that white supremacy can bestow.

Now, turning this lens briefly to myself, I won't say that I, a brown woman, don't faintly resemble what I've just described. However, I am not unaware of niggling and persistent social structures that act as barriers for everyone to achieve the middle class dream. Let's call one such social barrier, oh, INSTITUTIONAL RACISM. If we begin to look at the world through this lens (and it's difficult and burdensome to do so because you start realizing that there is a lot of problematic shit all around you), then you begin to see (white) middle class ideology as a luxurious myth that's available to some people but not really to all, despite whatever aspiration they might have toward it.

I'm wandering a little. Let me go back to the RaceWire post, showing two very different young black men addressing black political identity and agency in different ways. Actually, there are 3 black men here:

Kevin Powell, Gen X writer, activist and candidate for public office. He is progressive, inclusive and looks good in a suit. He, presumably (and because I remember my Real World 1), listens to hip hop and is 'down.' Is he what black responsibility looks like?

NAS, hip hop artist and someone I'd never heard of before a month ago. (Shrug. I never liked carrying that black card, anyway.) His latest album was previously titled the N-word and he, uh, apparently has some strong opinions about the direction of his community:
"His time is up. All you old n---as, time is up. We heard your voice, we saw your marching, we heard your sermons. We don't wanna hear that sh-- no more. It's a new day. It's a new voice. I'm here now. We don't need Jesse; I'm here. I got this. We got Barack, we got David Banners and Young Jeezys. We're the voice now. It's no more Jesse. Sorry. Goodbye. You ain't helping nobody in the 'hood. That's the bottom line. Goodbye, Jesse. Bye!"

Is Nas black responsibility?

And the aforementioned Jesse Jackson, Sr., bogeyman for white conservatives and FOX News, the blurter of bigoted epithets and iambic pentameter-spouting symbol of a (bygone?) civil rights era. Likes to march a lot. We've already seen what Jesse has to offer. (Poor Jesse.)

I guess I'm asking if folks - the folks being asked in all these polls about their comfort with a black president and being asked if racism was really over and being asked what needs to happen for racism to go away without being asked about their own white privilege - would really want to see black self-empowerment and self-determination if that same empowerment was really politicized, conscious and aware that the myth of middle class aspiration isn't enough if you don't address our country's institutionalized race and ethnicity issues, among our other issues.

(Like upended dominoes covering a floor, one toppled piece must impact others.)

I mean, if there was a black leader leading a movement that really understood intersectionality and not just accumulating or accommodating power (like Jackson or Sharpton, easy targets, both of them), wouldn't that mean serious critiques of, and serious work against, our current power structure would have to take place? And wouldn't that mean that those who benefit from that power structure - those who are primarily privileged by it - are also implicated in that critique?

I guess I wonder if people really know what they're asking for when they call for a 'responsible' black community because, to me, a responsible black community is one that's grounded in politics, history and tradition - and its own interests, not necessarily the interests of the larger society. I'm not sure if this means a complete inward consideration, a kind of community self-hibernation while we work to change things, or something not so scary for other folks.

(Which reminds me of something my friend Prof. A- would say to me: 'Girl, there ain't nothing scarier than a black man with a degree.')

Responsibility perhaps isn't what people think it is. (And let's face it; our country does not have the greatest track record dealing with communities of color exercising self-determination, know what I mean?) For whom is the black community responsible? To whom or what is the black community, or the various black communities that exist, responsible? From where I sit, it's not the folks who want us to get our act together before addressing theirs.

I don't know. I'm just asking questions.

11 signs you're not as young as you used to be:

(why eleven? because the signs keep increasing.)

1. You have nothing to wear to a post-Pitchfork show on Saturday at some place called a Bottom Lounge.

2. You are dismayed to find that the headliner isn't going onstage until well after midnight.

3. You are doubly dismayed to find that it means you won't get home until much much later.

4. You are glad you wore comfortable shoes, though you suspect you look like someone's mom or older sister.

5. An offer of drugs, held out on a key, moves you not.

6. You are concerned about the state of the bathroom.

7. You are glad that you're going home alone (though there was a 50-50 chance that the evening could have turned out differently.)

8. The fact that the weather turned monsoon-like does not deter you from walking doggedly home, alone, after 1.30 am, barefoot, without an umbrella. The important thing is that you are going HOME.

9. You only think glancingly about the crime scene you are contaminating while you crawl, barefoot, over and under the police tapes at the shooting on Ashland, at 2 am, rather than walk around it. The important think is that you are going HOME.

10. You remember the nights, way back when you lived in Boystown, when you would have stayed at Fusion or Roscoe's until 3 am, ingested party favors, hit an after-hours party, hooked up with someone, stumbled home while the sun rose and still had the stamina for brunch in a few hours. You remember all this and want to slap that previous person you were - 8 years ago.

11. You also remember you have a tennis appt early in the morning and you don't think about canceling because you know you must and it would be good for you.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

hands off my ovaries, part one million and ten

Abortion Proposal Sets Condition on Aid -

This is the proposed intent:
The Bush administration wants to require all recipients of aid under federal health programs to certify that they will not refuse to hire nurses and other providers who object to abortion and even certain types of birth control.

Under the draft of a proposed rule, hospitals, clinics, researchers and medical schools would have to sign “written certifications” as a prerequisite to getting money under any program run by the Department of Health and Human Services.

How this report proposes to define abortion:
“any of the various procedures — including the prescription, dispensing and administration of any drug or the performance of any procedure or any other action — that results in the termination of the life of a human being in utero between conception and natural birth, whether before or after implantation.”
[bold emphasis mine]

This is the potential impact (from Womens eNews):
Organizations that don't comply with the proposed rule could be forced to scale back services due to lack of funding, leaving women who rely on government-funded family-planning clinics with fewer options for affordable services and supplies, Richards said. That would compound their financial difficulties at a time of rising rates of unemployment and higher costs for food and fuel.
The regulation could also undermine state laws that require hospitals to provide emergency contraception to rape victims and that require health care insurance plans to cover contraceptives if they cover other prescription medications, according to NARAL Pro-Choice America, an abortion rights lobby in Washington, D.C.

What else is impacted?
My fricking right to control my fertility without having a bunch of patriarchal asshats forcing me to tie my tubes (or stop having sex.)

Why am I kvetching about tying my tubes?
Because if hospitals are suddenly to be staffed by squeamish religious types who believe the Pill (and other devices) kills homunculi babies, then the only way to prevent pregnancy, clearly, would be to sterilize myself.

But would that really be cost effective for me (or any woman, for that matter)?
Tying ones tubes is not like having a vasectomy; it is not a simple snip-snip that can be done with a local anasthetic, in a soothing doctor's office while a little blue napkin lays across your lap. You don't go home and stay in bed for a few days with an ice pack between your legs. It's major surgery. It's invasive, expensive and hellishly inconvenient.

It looks like this.

Contraception, on the other hand, looks like this .

I've already done this, thank you very much. I would be more than a little resentful if I had to to it again.

As for the petty, ignorant, anti-woman Bush administration, I wonder if they convene meetings with agendas titled "How to Do the Most Damage in What Little Time We Have Left."

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

everyone needs a supervillain musical!!

how much do i love joss whedon?!
how much do i wish i dated a guy like joss whedon?!
how much do i love his new Dr.Horrible's Sing Along Blog?

and how much do i love this pithy description of a labor union dispute:
Once upon a time, all the writers in the forest got very mad with the Forest Kings and declared a work-stoppage. The forest creatures were all sad; the mushrooms did not dance, the elderberries gave no juice for the festival wines, and the Teamsters were kinda pissed.

read his Master Plan and check out the vocal stylings of Doogie Howser (aka Neil Patrick Harris) here.

Monday, July 14, 2008

more on clarity

By this time, all 8 of my readers should know that I read the Vows column in the Times every Monday. It's a 'thing' with me. I can't help it. I read them for the romance, for the little stories of love found, lost, delayed, diverted, grabbed, pursued, stalked, and finally landed, culminating in a gorgeous ceremony full of wine, friends and cake.

Reading these stories of love and marriage, I feel like I'm walking past the shop windows on Michigan Ave, catching a glimpse of something gorgeous and totally out of my reach, like a Cartier watch or a Chanel shoe.

If my therapist was sitting in front of me right now, she'd press me. She would ask me if I was aware that there's a gap between what I say I want ('The cheese stands alone!') and what my inner whisperings clearly indicate I want ('The cheese could use some company.') I am aware of this gap - I am even aware of a few reasons why this gap exists. I just don't know quite how to traverse it.

Oh, there's a map of sorts in front of me: continue the forward motion that was retarded when my mother died 7 years ago (an event that was like a flaming meteorite falling from the sky into my life); put down roots (i.e., stop living with a roommate); and explore the possibility that my life might have a very different trajectory than the one I thought it would have.

But knowing the general plan of action and then thinking about the mountain of details that plan will require is daunting. I have clarity but not enough.

Vows - Annette Berry and Dan Miller -

Friday, July 11, 2008

me, in a nutshell.

i have just found my new personal anthem.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

hm: is my airline pulling my leg?

though they say one is born every minute, i would hesitate to call myself a 'sucker.' so it is with a cocked eyebrow and skeptical face that i read an email from United Airlines, asking me to lobby on their behalf:

Dear Ms. Ding,

Our country is facing a possible sharp economic downturn because of skyrocketing oil and fuel prices, but by pulling together, we can all do something to help now.

For airlines, ultra-expensive fuel means thousands of lost jobs and severe reductions in air service to both large and small communities. To the broader economy, oil prices mean slower activity and widespread economic pain. This pain can be alleviated, and that is why we are taking the extraordinary step of writing this joint letter to our customers. Since high oil prices are partly a response to normal market forces, the nation needs to focus on increased energy supplies and conservation. However, there is another side to this story because normal market forces are being dangerously amplified by poorly regulated market speculation.

Twenty years ago, 21 percent of oil contracts were purchased by speculators who trade oil on paper with no intention of ever taking delivery. Today, oil speculators purchase 66 percent of all oil futures contracts, and that reflects just the transactions that are known. Speculators buy up large amounts of oil and then sell it to each other again and again. A barrel of oil may trade 20-plus times before it is delivered and used; the price goes up with each trade and consumers pick up the final tab. Some market experts estimate that current prices reflect as much as $30 to $60 per barrel in unnecessary speculative costs.

Over seventy years ago, Congress established regulations to control excessive, largely unchecked market speculation and manipulation. However, over the past two decades, these regulatory limits have been weakened or removed. We believe that restoring and enforcing these limits, along with several other modest measures, will provide more disclosure, transparency and sound market oversight. Together, these reforms will help cool the over-heated oil market and permit the economy to prosper.

The nation needs to pull together to reform the oil markets and solve this growing problem.

We need your help. Get more information and contact Congress by visiting

don't you feel sorry for all the big airlines? doesn't your heart just bleed??

i know how these things work. Big Conglomerate gets hit with bad business or bad publicity, the first thing they do is hire a firm to get them out - and one surefire strategy is 'Get the public on your side.' (Wal Mart has yet to grasp that concept, what with their suing brain dead women and all.) that site was created by some strategic marketing/communications firm and i wonder which one it was; i also wonder what the angle is.

because it's *almost* altruistic. an industry actually calling for market regulation??

that's almost anti-capitalist.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

celebrating freedom and wanting a do-over

Yesterday, in the middle of cleaning my room (yes, I still do this) and unpacking some bins from the move last September, my Roomie found me standing stock still in the middle of my bedroom, looking down at a stack of papers, reading.

'What's up?' she asked.
'Oh, nothing,' I said, crushing some trash into a Hefty bag. 'Just wishing I was fucking smarter when I was younger and could have seen what was right in front of me instead of wanting what I couldn't have. Fucking idiot.'

I said, 'You know when you realize how you got everything totally, completely, wrong because you thought you were sooo smart but you were really a fucking bitch and now you realize that your life could have taken a completely different turn but it didn't because you weren't paying enough attention? And you know that feeling you get when you realize you got it wrong and it's all because you found some fucking piece of writing that brings it all back and IT'S TOO FUCKING LATE?'

Roomie nodded. 'Ah. Regret.'
'Yeah, regret. Memories fucking suck.' Roomie nodded in understanding; she had some of her own to get rid of.

Like the main character in Emma, I had misread everything around me and set myself on a course of dissatisfaction and just plain old idiocy. Thank goodness for a tendency to look at my life with some kind of humor, or I'd have to add bitter to that list.

The epiphane I experienced had me shaking my head in disbelief. Aargh! Covered in dust and sweat (cleaning my room is serious business, especially when it requires assembling an IKEA bookshelf) I suddenly felt all of my 38 years, looking back at the myopic, stupid, wrong-headed girl I had been.

I wanted to build a time machine, go back to the year 1996, and shake some frakking sense into my head. If I had a time machine, I would be tearing holes in the space/time continuum right and left, exhorting my self, 'Pay attention! See - look! This, right here, is significant!'

I know exactly the moments of intervention I'd choose. Right before leaving for a certain party, I'd pop up in my machine and coolly explain to my self what's going to happen later that night and advise my self to stay home and study for my prelims; right before I open my window after hearing my name called, I'd rush in and whisper in my ear that this torn feeling, this wrenching thing that I'm feeling is ok but not to count on it - for heaven's sake don't make any decisions because of it; or, for a change of pace, maybe I'd just show up the afternoon before I lose my virginity and wryly encourage my self, 'Tonight will be great. Carry it with you. But if it can't always be like this, it's not worth it.' I would be my own annoying fairy godmother.

But science fiction was not a solution so, instead, I threw out all the papers related to my long-defunct dissertation.

Roomie said, 'Are you sure? You don't want to keep any of it? All that work?'
I snorted. 'J- threw her dissertation chapters into the Seine when she left her program. It's been 10 years. About time I stopped lugging all this crap around with me.' I shrugged. 'I'm never going back. Why carry it?'

Indeed. Why carry any of it around?

This is what's great about having some therapy under my belt - it brings a little clarity. Of course, the clarity is a little late in coming but it's something. (Woulda been great to have this kind of clarity when I was 26!) If not for clarity, recent blasts from the past would have been uncomfortable.

In short, Facebook is not something to fool around with, people.

Ghosts will pop up, make you their 'Friend' and before you click 'Approve' you will have to come to some kind of decision about your relationship to the past and whether you have enough clarity to be friends with a ghost. There is regret, yes. Regret for some missed chances and wasted opportunities - opportunities that would have forced me to take a step toward something that was real, that could have, for me, shortened this weird search for...something.

Clarity, for me, isn't about 'making peace,' 'letting go,' or 'coming to terms with.' It's about looking at my self and saying, 'Wow, ten years and you've been an idiot the whole time. Remember this feeling. Because maybe you should stop being an idiot now.'

Ok, enough navel gazing. My closet isn't going to clean itself.
(Though if I had a magic wand...)

Thursday, July 03, 2008

3rd of July: why am I in the office?

topics of conversation at work so far:

  • bill cosby is crazy and hates poor black people
  • the total problematic-ness of wanting to ship 'bad' people to the southern suburbs
  • where to buy bras
  • if bougie black people go to dive bars
  • names and possible goals for Ding's as-yet-unnamed all-female vigilante group (The Black Van Cabal? UPS - Underground Patriarchy Shitkickers)?
  • why the Taste grosses us out
  • how much more we like HRC now that she's shut up
  • why jesse jackson and al sharpton can't shut up (hint: because they're Boomers)
  • what eliot spitzer and jesse jackson and bill cosby have in common
  • why it's good to have a few things in your wardrobe that cost more than $16
  • the state of single black womanhood today (or, How to Remove Chocolate Stains/Doritos Powder from Sleepwear)

  • (why Kung Fu Panda? because he makes me giggle.)

    Wednesday, July 02, 2008

    work hell


    i am stuck in work hell. oh, work is fine but our state's frakking budget crap is putting all social services in illinois on the chopping block. i know there's going to have to be some kind of compromise and we won't get everything we're asking for, but right now we have zip. basically, we're all caught in the middle of some freaking, testosterone-fueled standoff between the governor and the speaker of the house. i don't really give a flying frak who comes out of this, but in the meantime, all us agencies who depend on state funding are standing in the middle about to get hit by a stray bullet.

    the situation is dire - more than dire. imagine a state without any rape crisis centers. none. no rape crisis hotlines. no counselors. no prevention educators. no one to train the police force on the proper collection of evidence or how to interview a woman presenting as a rape victim.

    yup. this is my day.
    Update: how quickly a day can change. the governor backed down! after every rape crisis center in the state lobbied our members, clients and constituents, funding for rape crisis services was declared 'preserved' at his press conference today!

    Whoo hoo!

    i really can't take this kind of excitement. my stomach is in knots.