Thursday, February 26, 2009

in the waning days of Black History Month, i went back and read my posts tagged with 'race.'
i was sort of surprised at how strong some of the writing was.

so, yeah, in a completely self-serving and vain-glorious way, i recommend you read some of them. there are some great links and resources there.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

whoops: my own economic meltdown

I just finished a grueling morning project and thought I’d take a break and see what my spending looked like for the past 2 months. I didn’t think I was really overextending myself. So I downloaded all my transactions from my bank.

Since January, I've spent over $5000 while my monthly revenue is considerably less than that. How I managed to do this without the use of a credit card, I don't know.

What I've Spent in ONLY Two Months
Meals (includes takeout, morning coffee, lunches, dinners and bars) = 688.29
Misc (i.e., non-essential shopping) = 677.63
Cash (every ATM withdrawal+fee)= 663.00
Rent = 600 (Roomie gives me a special, non-market rate deal)
Savings = 606
Entertainment (movies, books, netflix, iTunes, uh, online services, etc.) = 445
Grocery = 438
Utility = 359.96
Medical = 243
Cleaning lady = 170
Work expenses (travel, etc) = 152.96
Transportation = 40

The stuff in black? Rather modest, as monthly expenses go, I think.
The stuff in yellow?? Totally out of control. Un-ac-ceptable. Especially if I want to get my own apartment in the spring.

What I spend in two months on extras could clear my debt! I feel like an idiot.

Monday, February 23, 2009

this was really a work dream. really.

in this dream, i'm sitting next to LTF on his lumpy couch.

we have to talk, he says.
ok, i say.

we need to communicate better, he says. i'm not happy with just seeing you on the weekends, when you send me a message or text. i think we could do better.

uh-huh, i say.

i'm not happy with just this little slice of a relationship, he says.

oh? i say.

because, he says, i think that we could really lo--

and that's when i woke up.
perfect timing, huh?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Blog Memoir in 25 Things (inspired by Facebook)

25. I was unofficially voted Most Likely to Flirt With Your Boyfriend. The truth of this depends on what alcohol is at hand. (See #24.)

There are two early memories I have of boys, both named David. Well, there are more than two memories, and more than two boys, but these are the most telling.

David Oliver was my first childhood crush, a teenage boy who lived in our apartment complex on Santa Rosalia. (Which we pronounced San-ta Ro-sa-lee-ya, an iambic, musical sound I’d whisper to myself.) Back then I didn’t know that we were poor; I thought our white stuccoed apartment building was beautiful. Scarlet bougainvillea crawled over the front walls, sunlight shined warmly across the hard wood floors of our apartment and so what if my sister and I slept in what was clearly supposed to be the dining room. We had a piano our father would play while making up funny songs to make our mother laugh, mom made hammocks strung across the hallway so we could swing quietly in the air (while I imagined we lived in trees like bananas) and we would sometimes climb into a cardboard box and launch ourselves down the smoothly worn stone steps to crash against the front door below.

(We did this until my mother decided it wasn’t exactly safe for me to send my light-as-air sister hurtling through second story space to bust through the front screen while I pealed with laughter on the landing above.)

But David lived across the automotive oil-splattered courtyard with his single mother who was, more often than not, drunk on her ass. He was a light brown color and his bouncy afro was smooth, neat and medium sized; he was as thin as Encyclopedia Brown and he liked hanging out with our dad who was handsome, young, employed and friendly to everyone in the building. I see now that the patterns of my youth pretty much dictated what my later family life would be: my father would be everyone’s father figure and every man I met would be a rival for my father’s affection.

Buried in my family’s stuff, my dad still has the audio tape of a recording he and David made, spoofing the old TV show, Kung Fu. You play it and first you hear the shooshy white noise of a hand held tape recorder then the wobbly theme music of the show. Then you hear my dad’s voice as The Master, giving Grasshopper a test. It’s five minutes of improvised nonsense about the price of eggs in the ghetto and in the background you can hear my mother laughing while my father and David struggle to keep it together. I love listening to that tape.

He would come over a couple of nights a week or on the weekends to practice on our piano. I remember he said that he wanted to go to Julliard. I was only a kid, maybe 5 or 6, but I would hide behind the wood slatted doors of our dining/bedroom and listen to him practice and felt something that made my little girly chest squeeze tight. My unreliable memory tells me he practiced Moonlight Sonata but my common sense tells me I have no way of knowing what it was he played all those times.

Between the slats of the door, I’d watch him, unable to take my eyes off his long fingers running over the keys, playing music my dad didn’t know. Everyone in the house would stop to listen to him – my mom standing still at the stove; my little sister huddled at my back; my father in the living room with David, listening.

With the hindsight that comes with pop psychology, age and a couple years of therapy I realize, and have peace with the fact, that David was playing for my father. My little crush on him was nothing compared to the love and yearning David had for a father like mine. His love swamped the paper boat of my five-year old squishy feelings, which were probably created more by the music than actually falling in love with a 15 year old neighbor.

When we moved to our new house later (doesn’t every childhood, ‘first love’ story end with someone moving?) I remember clearly that David clung to my father and cried.

(Here is where I hope my memory has betrayed me.)

We never saw David again. I think that we had heard, through old friends, that his mother stayed at the apartments while the Santa Rosalia neighborhood crumbled around them and that David may have become just another young black male statistic, cut down by the death-dealing gangs of Los Angeles.

The 39-year old me thinks about the gentle, 15-year old he’d been and, oh, how I wish that he’d made it to Julliard.

There was a little loud black kid, David, who was in my third or fourth grade class. He had freckles, a square-top ‘fro, and jumped around the playground with his little gang of friends, like a terrier. My friends back then consisted of the Girl Who Peed, the Girl Who Wore Pajamas to School and the Girl Who Picked Her Nose. I was not high on the Mar Vista Elementary social totem pole.

One day he bounced up and began to run the dozens on the Girl Who Wore Pajamas to School. She was mortified; I could see little tears beginning to form in the corner of her eyes. Then he shoved me in the chest and called me fat. Without hesitation I kicked him in his little elementary school balls so hard he dropped in mid-laugh.

Sure, I got sent to the principal’s office; sure, they called my parents (my father, who worked the night shift at the station was home for the call and when he heard it was basically self defense, he told the principal to stop wasting his time when she should be calling the bully’s mother, instead) and, sure, they made me apologize in the end to little sniffling David.

But I’ll never forget the feeling of shock, anger and then the adrenaline-propelled pleasure as I stood over David’s keening body on the cracked elementary school playground.

Girls are taught to avoid pleasure. Pleasure will give us a reputation; it will get us in trouble.
But when I felt my little third/fourth grade foot connect with David’s testicles, and heard his laugh choke off, that’s what I felt. Pleasure.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

awesome: Tell It WOC Speak Carnival

Tell It WOC Speak: Hear Us Roar

this is a great round up of writing by women of color touching on identity, violence, feminism, politics, activism, sexuality - and it's all through our eyes. (do you detect a tone? why, yes. you do.)

if you haven't read these women before, please check them out.

Monday, February 16, 2009

best intentions gone horribly awry

it's president's day, gorgeous out (but probably cold enough to freeze my nose hairs) and i am home! bwa-ha-ha! (non profits may not have much in terms of salary, but they really give you all the holidays they can.)

so i'm sitting here, with all this free time to write, and i'm wondering what my monday post should be. after all, i have the opportunity to really fisk the hell out of some current event, or reveal my life's convoluted inner contradictions, or at least pound out a few snarkily condemning paragraphs on something. i even have time to draft my Awkward Sermon draft for the Geez contest i'm entering.

there's so much going on!
OctoMom and the vitriol her story has inspired (this post by Twisty is nifty for it.)
Chris Brown's domestic violence issues (Jay Smooth's interview with Elizabeth Mendez Berry is making the rounds so check it out here.)
Black History Month and the ongoing conversation about whether it's still necessary (yes, it is.)
The shenanigans in DC and whether our expectations of Obama need to be dialed back a bit (do you really wanna give our first black president a stroke??)

so, yeah. i'm sitting here, the day spread out in front of me like a delicious blank page and all i want to do is head up north to LTF's place, hang out, watch horror movies, read a graphic novel or two and frolic a bit.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

black history month post

i'm trying to think of an appropriate post for black history month, but i am tapped out. i wrote one for work, instead. shorter ding's post for work: since most folks are so ignorant about basic american history, period, they need to shut the frak up about how black history month is unnecessary.

there. that's my black history month post.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

someone needs to read Orientalism

this first piece in the Times' Week in Review about 'Racial Epithets in Cultured Accents':

"Chatting as she sat in a BBC green room after recording “The One Show,” a television magazine program, Ms. Thatcher, it later emerged, said something to the effect that the French tennis player Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who has a white French mother and a black Congolese father, reminded her of a golliwog. Several people there complained and word got out to BBC officials, who said the remark was “highly offensive.”
The BBC fired Ms. Thatcher from her slot as a regular contributor to the program after, it said, she dismissed her comment as a “light remark” and failed to make an appropriate apology."

gee, maggie thatcher's daughter sees nothing wrong in calling a person of color a 'golliwog'? what a surprise.

(the Week in Review piece almost comes out and says what i want it to say, but doesn't. the writer can't actually say that being a die-hard imperialist/colonizing asshat and saying shockingly racist things go hand in hand.

instead, it only makes using racial epithets a class marker and not the result of generations of deliberate, specific, political and racial ideology: "Prince Philip, the queen’s husband (and Harry’s grandfather) and the epitome of the old-school upper classes, has a famous history of insulting groups of all kinds around the world, from Scotland to Australia."

wow, a royal with a habit of insulting groups who were colonized by the Brits. how... unheard of.)

anyway, here's something i stumbled on - a series of posts ably taking apart the 'golliwog' and serving as a timely antidote to the ahistorical, chicken shit-ness of the New York Times:

And We Shall March (parts 1-5; it's really worth reading them all, especially if you like Allan Moore and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, if you're interested at all in knowing what you're talking about when you call something 'minstrelsy' - and if you had no idea how Fisk University got their seed funding, like me.)

Monday, February 09, 2009


i didn't call and wish my dad happy birthday yesterday for various reasons, most being my penchant to procrastinate.

i still haven't finished christmas shopping for my family - or my niece's birthday in january.

i have an important meeting tomorrow and still haven't prepped for it - even though i'm flying out this afternoon.

i still don't exactly know what it is i want from LTF, if anything. adventure, habit?

this economy is scaring me a lot (it is really bad out there, folks) and i still haven't sketched out a rudimentary Plan B for my career if the bottom falls out of my sector.

i have a make/break it proposal due by end of month - in two weeks - and i'm not sure if i can count on other team members to hold up their end.

what happened to the focused person i used to be?

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

what. the. hell.

YouTube - Norwegians Got Soul

think i should go to norway?
(thanks, Roomie.)

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

alert: hold the line on the stimulus

from the National Women's Law Center:

Support the Economic Recovery Plan
Opponents of President Obama's economic recovery plan are doing everything they can to derail and weaken the bill. If they succeed, provisions that help women and families could be scaled back or eliminated — including health care, education, child care, Head Start, job training, and child support.
But with your help, we can make economic recovery a reality for women and their families. Please help us flood your Senators' offices with calls of support.

Will you take 5 minutes to call your Senators? Below is a script and toll-free number to make it easy for you to make a difference.
Please call 866-544-7573 and ask to be connected to your Senators. When you're connected to their offices, tell the person who answers the phone:
I am a constituent. My name is ____________.
As an advocate for women and their children, I urge you to vote for the economic recovery plan and oppose any weakening amendments.

Congress is currently getting a lot of calls on this issue. If you are unable to get through using the above number, please call the main Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or lookup your Senators' direct office lines in our directory. If you can't get through on the phone, you can also e-mail your Senators through our website.

For Illinois:
Sen. Durbin (202-224-2152)
Sen. Burris (202-224-2854)

my thoughts on this stimulus:
yes, the primary purpose is job recovery and infrastructure support to create employment opportunities.

but what the GOP doesn't seem to get is that folks are teetering on the brink of everyday ruin. if they don't get some kind of social support (in the form of child care support or even health care support - yes, birth control should be included in healthcare support because now is *not* the time for unintended pregnancies) then the bottom falls out of our state even faster.

most middle class and asset poor families are one emergency/disaster away from economic catastrophe so the 'social programs' folks are complaining about? these are the programs that help stave off whatever emergency could drop a family into a hole so deep, they have no chance of climbing out.

our government signed over $700 billion to the banking industry with the vague idea that, somehow, our largesse was going to trickle down to the little guy and help us out. somehow. that hasn't happened and likely won't.

but this bill can have an almost immediate material impact on us. community infrastructure support programs that impact families (said by the woman with no kids) can help a woman or man keep their job, or give them the ability to look for work without choosing between work and family.

more childcare centers = more available child care for infants and toddlers, allowing a mother to go to work;
money for the expansion of Medicaid = easing the burden of state budgets and allowing laid off workers to go back to work, as well as provide more benefits to the economically vulnerable;
stimulus checks and tax credits for individuals and families = a lower burden on moderate income families and single people (if we spend those checks);
money for violence prevention and sexual assault means organizations = sustained community infrastructure networks and continued services to victims of violence during this recession (is there a connection between economic downturns and upticks in violence? i think so.)

if public officials focus solely on the 'shovel ready' programs they forget about the people who should be holding those shovels - and that they have needs beyond employment.

and will someone please explain to me how giving another corporation another frikking tax break is going to help some faltering family through the next few years??

here's an anecdote to illustrate how immediately dire things are in our state:
a redundant-since-december friend told us on sunday that chicago's careerbuilder site had listings for only 39,000 jobs available in the tri-state area (IL, WI, and IN). normally, the average job posts for our area number at least 100k.

in november and december of 08, IL lost over 76k jobs - and more cuts are coming, once we enter fy10. and let's not forget folks who have been on unemployment for much longer but their benefits ran out a while ago. so i'm guessing there are probably more than 76,000 people out of work in this state. and right now, the stimulus bill is projecting maybe something like 136k jobs for our state.

our budget deficit? $2.5 billion.
our revenue outlook? what revenue?
what will illinois look like without this bill?

this isn't a perfect bill, by no means. it's not going to be a magic bullet and i think there's room for compromise. but we can't have an economic recovery built on the backs of low-moderate income and working poor people.

this bill - with social supports included - needs to pass. (the Senate version is here.)
because i'm drowning in blogs, tweets, status updates, my trashy novel draft and the like (not to mention drowning in this buck-ass legislative session at work) i've put ChurchGal (my other blog) on hiatus until spring, or thereabouts.

i expected to feel more conflicted about that but i'm not.

so. where can you find me?
here, on Screed. (this was my first blog and i'm never letting it go.)
very occasionally at Bitch Ph.D. (out of the 4 Bitches, i have the lowest post rate because, well, let's just say i only have one nerve to get on, which the Head Bitch understands.)
on Twitter as PrincessDing.

ok, back to work.