Tuesday, March 31, 2009


dear 7 readers,
the move date has been set - april 24! the panda pen's final dissolution will be sad yet awesome. i've been making lists of things i need to set up my new domicile and, man, domesticity requires a lot of crap!

but boxes have been bought and, thanks to G-, bookshelves have been emptied and packed. (14 boxes so far!)

i pick up the keys today and check out my new digs. the first order of business: measure to make sure my bed fits.

i'm excited, yes, but the weight of responsibility is rubbing the edge off a bit.
perhaps i should feel more like a sonnet: contained by the form of my responsibility but liberated by the movement i have within it.

whatever. enough of the english major musings.
i have utilities to set up.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

BlogHer of the Week: me!

BlogHer of the Week: Ding, from Bitch Ph.D. | BlogHer

my 'Other Side of 200' was given a BlogHer of the Week!
holy cow!

Monday, March 23, 2009

almost but not quite

i have to give dawn turner trice some credit. her new column has its heart in the right place: Gay rights battle puts strain on parties -- chicagotribune.com

but i have an issue with the frame and the fact that it barely touches on the concept of privilege.

the problem shows up early:
"The women come to celebrate without having to worry about straight men pawing them. The gay men are there because, well, they don't want to be around a lot of women."

well, not really. gay men aren't in gay bars because they don't want girl-cooties; they're in a gay space because it's probably a respite after being stuck in a straight world all day. it's a world where you can't get married, can't have benefits, can't make legal or medical decisions on your partner's behalf, can't serve in your military, can't adopt children, can't be counted in the census, and can't really be sure that if you mention your partner at the office you won't suddenly find yourself eating alone at lunch.

by saying gay men don't like girls is 1) inaccurate and 2) not the point.
gay dudes like girls fine; they just have a problem with being forced to prop up our straight privilege when they don't even have full civil rights.

i wish dawn turner trice would at least call or email a queer history professor or queer activist before she writes stuff like this because her own heterosexism is all over the place. this isn't about a battle of genders but a battle for the kind of social privilege that straight women exercise and which the gay community wants.

these are some of the privileges/benefits bachelorette parties assert:
the ability to celebrate one's partnership openly.
the ability to celebrate one's partnership in a venue of one's choice.
the ability to be assured that everyone approves of, or at least does not want to take away, one's choice to marry.
the knowledge that there is a whole tradition of activities to support the idea of one's marriage.
the knowledge that one can see other soon-to-be-married people that look like you.
the assumption that one's marriage is a foregone conclusion.
the certainty that one's partnership will be legally recognized.
the certainty that one's partnership will not be answered with either verbal or physical violence.

if we're at all honest we will all stand up and say that tacky-ass bachelorette parties aren't the point. we all hate them. (admit it. the drunk trolleys, the bizarre toilet paper veils, the screeching, the pawing, the drunken singing - it's all awful and needs to stop immediately.) but straight privilege and homophobia? very much the point.

from the column:
"I asked reveler Blythe Thomas whether, in general, she believed holding bachelorette parties in gay bars was "heterosexist," or insensitive.

"I never would have thought about it like that," Thomas said, watching a curtainlike screen rise on four soon-to-be-nearly-naked dancers. "I could see how this could be frustrating to gay men. Maybe it's something I'll think about next time."'

*that's* straight privilege and i wish that trice's piece had made that more clear.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

awe-some: 'black men ski'

Thanks to Macon D at stuff white people do for this clip:

In Stew's song, you can hear the anger, the scorn, the utter contempt for white privilege's bullshit. It is beauteous - as is the uncomfortable silence of, I assume, the predominantly white audience.

(It strikes a thrilling chord in me, similar to the chord struck by Nina Simone's 'Pirate Jenny.)

More about Stew, his Tony, and his new film, here.

Monday, March 16, 2009

A Blog Memoir in 25 Things: The Other Side of 200

14. As a toddler, I'd eat my little sister's baby food. Snooze, you lose!

Sitting on the crunchy white butcher paper in my doctor's office, I was worried about butt sweat when I really should have been worried about the little frown on her face.

'Well, Ding, this is where we are.' She pointed to a chart. 'For your height and weight, you are in this area.' Her finger circled a bunch of red squares.

'And does this Red Zone mean I'm going to drop dead in the next couple of weeks?'

Her smile was just as brittle as the paper I was sitting on. 'Let me put it this way. You need to be on the other side of 200 - I don't care how long it takes, that's where you need to be. Your family's medical history contains huge red flags - hypertension, stroke, heart disease, heart attack, diabetes. If your lifestyle doesn't change, this is your history, too.'

I was silent. All I could think of were those tasteless, white, wet scoops of cottage cheese my mother made me eat when I was in the 8th grade.

My doctor continued. 'Ding, this is what my practice specializes in. You can do this.'

'Hypothetically, what if I don't get on the other side of 200?'

'You don't want that. Already, your blood pressure is causing other issues.' She sighed. 'Look. I'm not into skinny minnies. I'm not saying you need to shrink all the way down to a Bobble head. But you need to be on the other side of 200. I won't even give you a number. 199? Ok. 190? 195? 180? Fine. 175? 170? Better. But get on the other side of 200 and stay there.'

It's never good to see you're in the 'danger zone' and, if you saw me, you'd never think, Oh, she is morbidly obese. But, according to a chart in the doctor's office, I am.

Perhaps I'm deluding myself, but it wasn't the idea of losing the fat that made me a little shaky-voiced as I described the appointment to my Roomie and some friends. It was everything else.

Heart disease?
Potential blindness? (Because of my high blood pressure, a blood vessel had burst behind my left eye and a portion of my eye's left visual field became significantly blurred.)

I don't want these things. I DON'T want these things.

We can talk about 'fat acceptance' but as a now diagnosed, official, Fat Person I am saying that I don't want these things and if it means sacrificing my sociall unacceptable fat on the altar of Not Dying, sign me up. If not dying means losing a tire or two around my middle, then so be it. I have no affection for them. I am not wed to these rings around my middle. If it's going to be a choice between me and my fat rings, I choose me.

The fat rings, and the politics attached to them, can go fuck themselves.

So here I am - trying to get on the other side of 200. And I can't help but think of my mother.
The day after my mother died, I stood in my parents' kitchen. It felt so small. Like my head. My head felt like it had shrunk and everything I heard or saw came from a great distance.

I opened the refrigerator, just to do something rather than from any particular desire to eat. Next to the little cups meant to protect eggs, I saw 6 vials of insulin. Scooping them up, I went to my father's converted office in the backyard. As usual, he had a few of his church men with him. Their conversation stopped when I entered the room.

'What are these?' I lined up the vials on dad's desk.
'Your mother's medication,' he said.
'They're all full,' I said.
He was silent. The men left the room.

'She stopped taking her medication. She stopped taking her insulin.' My father just looked at me. 'Why didn't you do something?' It may have been unfair to raise my voice against my teary-faced father but I couldn't help it. Something needed to be raged against. Someone needed to be raged against.

But all my father could say was that she hated it. She hated being diabetic; she hated not eating what she wanted; she hated having a disease; she hated being told what to do; she hated getting up in the morning and pricking her finger and reading her levels and injecting herself. She would cry in the mornings and my father would have to give her the injections while she cried. My big, smart, strong-willed father was tortured thinking he was doing something to his wife that made her cry. But then, the crying - and the injections - stopped. He and I both knew what this meant. We didn't say it out loud, but we knew.

I scooped up the bottles again, went back inside my father's house and put the vials of insulin back inside the refrigerator.

My mother may have been a fast driver but she was a slow suicide.
This is me, trying to get on the other side of 200.

In the hipster Dominick's on Chicago, buying the kiddie snack packs of veggies and fruit from the Eating Right brand. If I have to control my portions, and thus my calorie intake, then these smaller versions of food will have to train me to make different choices.

Roomie takes one look at our regrigerator and says, 'We are eating like 4th graders.'

Me, in the morning, eating one whole wheat waffle with a drizzle of honey and a few scoops of low-fat yogurt with some crunchy cereal tossed in while catching a few minutes of Good Morning America.

In the cafe, for the one morning latte I allow myself during the week, to be made with skim milk and, instead of a large, I order a small.

In the later morning, feeling myself get a little munchy, I take out my lunch and eat the piece of fruit I've packed. Or maybe one half of the sandwich I've made.

After lunch, I walk with a coworker for 30 minutes down by the river.

When I come home, I begin to broil a nice piece of salmon drizzled with a little olive oil, some garlic and cracked black pepper. Roomie cooks some spinach with balsamic vinegar.

After dinner, I barely miss the cigarette I would have had with a glass of wine.

As the weather warms, I know I'll have to wave Roomie ahead and forgo the very comfortable and convenient ride home. I'll walk farther to the bus stop or take a different bus route, all to walk a little farther (about 4 blocks out of my way.)

I thought getting to the other side of 200 would have been more mentally difficult than this; I thought I would have kicked and screamed about 'dieting.' But I guess it's all in how you think about it. To me, this isn't 'dieting.' It's living. Not 'living' in the Oprah-sense: all blurry light, white clothing and huge gusts of breath about one's 'best life.'

What I'm doing is less glamorous than that. It's, literally, living - inhaling, exhaling, heart beating.

Fuck the fat. Fuck the politics. I'm changing the way I've been living because I fucking don't want to die like my mother.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


...and from the soft squishy feelings of best friend-hood, we go to another instance of police brutality against a teenaged black girl.

what. the. fuck.

bestest friends

so i'm starting to look for a new apartment.

Roomie and i have decided, in the interest of maturity and future growth (and the fact that we might want to develop healthier relationships with boys), to break up the panda pen.

in all honesty, though, i'm hoping to find an apartment down the street. (yes, we might have some attachment issues.)

but what else is friendship other than deep attachment?

the other night, we were talking about the day Roomie and i met; we even toasted the moment. we had just started at Big 4 Consulting Firm. during my orientation, she caught me rolling my eyes at the inanity of a HR girl and she said she knew then that we should have lunch and be friends.

i still remember that lunch. we went for chinese food, she told me a story about minnesota that made me snort out my pepsi and i wrote to friends in LA, 'i think i just met a girl who tells better stories than i do. she's funnier than i am, dammit!' thus began 9 years of our particular brand of cross-cultural exchange. like the night i got really loud in a bar arguing about the impact colonialism had on Africa and she said, 'I only wanted to know why Martin Lawrence is funny! i don't get it!'

Roomie flew out to LA when my mom died, suffering sunburn and church ladies. and when her mother died, i flew out with the rest of the Chicago 7 (as our group was later dubbed) to be her buffer and 2nd family. she was there giving my LA family updates during the removal of Agatha the Fibroid and i was there while we whipped down the hairpin roads of Italy. (to experience Roomie's driving is to experience an uncomfortable closeness with your Maker.)

as best friends, sisters underneath different colored skins, we are slightly demented parts of a unit. when we looked up our astrological signs, our pairing was called 'Sensible Elegance,' as represented by Blake Edwards and Julie Andrews.

the other night, in preparation for a dinner party with her boss, Roomie said: And what's off-limits?
Ding: (sigh) Rich people; yuppies; why Whole Foods and the people who shop there annoy the shit out of me; strap ons; politics; housewives; Republicans; why kids suck; sex.
Roomie: And what else?
Ding: (sigh) I can't have tequila or whiskey. Only beer or wine.
Roomie: Thank you.
Ding: Only for you, dude.

and it's true. there are things that i would only do for Roomie and no one else.

perhaps it's a cliche but LTFs go away while BFFs stay put, you know? it's a high school way of expressing it but i think the burdens of adulthood tend to smooth over the folie a deux quality that youthful friendships had back then.

anyway, to Roomie - Happy 9 years of friendship, lady.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

in honor of easter

i give you this.

i swear, this is really the only (fun) reason to have kids.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

huge: NAACP comes out against Prop 8

Go here to read the American Prospect piece on the NAACP national office's public stance against Prop 8.

From the piece:

With cover from the NAACP, black organizations moving toward support of LGBT rights won't have to go it alone anymore. At the same time, the NAACP still has to deal with opposition to gay rights from within its own ranks. "There is a lot of homophobia in the NAACP," says California Conference President Alice Huffman, who was also a paid consultant to the "No on 8" campaign. "There are a lot of Christians who feel threatened."

The NAACP still hasn't endorsed gay marriage -- but this is the strongest stance it has taken against laws that would prohibit the practice. The distinction is meant to alleviate tension between board members who are religiously opposed to same-sex marriage. But even so, several board members expressed displeasure with the letter Bond wrote to the California Legislature. In the letter, Bond writes, "Proposition 8 subverts … basic and necessary safeguards, unjustly putting all Americans, particularly vulnerable minorities, at risk of discrimination by a majority show of hands."

"There are people on the board … mainly clergy, they misunderstood," Huffman says. "They thought Julian was writing to support same-sex marriage when that is not the case at all."

"There are a lot of Christians who feel threatened." I've never understood this attitude from some religious folk. It's totally irrational. How does someone else's life/marriage 'threaten' (potentially cause harm) to me? Completely illogical and based in anti-gay hysteria.

If Christians are feeling under threat by the civil rights of others, I suggest perhaps they go and live in a country where there aren't any. Liiike, Darfur. China. Iran. Saudi Arabia. That little place over in South Asia that had the typhoon.

The fight for full civil rights for fellow American citizens is not going to end and, eventually, our side will win. I guarantee it.

Monday, March 02, 2009

phone conversation of the day: or, why not to go into non profits if your patience level is whisper-thin

Ding, calling State Assault Organization : Hi, I’m working on a proposal and I’m looking for our state’s plan or report to address sexual assault in IL.
Bureaucrat: Uh…
Ding: And it would also be great if you could tell me if the report on your website is the most recent and, if there is a newer one, when that’ll be up on your site or if you could email it to me.
Bureaucrat: New report…
Ding: Yeah. I’m writing this proposal and they require updated, current numbers about rape in Illinois.
Bureaucrat: Well, that’s the most recent one we have.
Ding: But all the stuff in it is from 2006. It’s 2009.
Bureaucrat: Well, we have other reports from other federal sources…
Ding: But those are all from 2003.
Bureaucrat: Yeah, they are.

(a beat)

Ding: Ok. Well, when can we have some updated numbers, at least on your agency report?
Bureaucrat: You know, I don’t think there are plans to update those numbers.
Ding: But they’re from 2006. You’re going to leave them up, like, forever??
Bureaucrat: Well, to be honest, you’re the first person to ever ask for it.
Ding: You are kidding me. (sputter sputter) I am the only person from a coalition agency to EVER request that our state statistics on violence against women be updated and publicly available on your website? EVER?
Bureaucrat: I’ve been communications director here a long time and, yeah. This is the longest conversation I’ve ever had about this.
Ding: Bureaucrat, you’ve shocked me. I’m speechless. And, yet, this explains so much.
So NO ONE in the whole state has ever expressed a desire to have Illinois-specific information collected in one spot to be updated on a regular basis??
Bureaucrat: Not that I can recall. Everyone just calls for the number of reported assaults in the state.
Ding: But that one number doesn’t tell you anything.
Bureaucrat: It tells you the number of reported assaults.
Ding: Which doesn’t tell me anything. It doesn’t tell me anything about trends, reasons why the number is what it is, who created the number or anything like that.
Bureaucrat: Well, no.
Ding: Ok, what happens to the report the state has to file justifying its receipt of federal assault money? Is that report ever made public?
Bureaucrat: I assume so.
Ding: Bureaucrat, you are going to give me a heart attack.
Bureaucrat: No one has ever asked this!
Ding: Theoretically, when would your agency consider updating the report that I’m looking at right now?
Bureaucrat: Maybe…2011.
Ding: So, to get 2008 numbers I’d have to get into my time machine, travel two years into the future and then maybe I’d see the report that I need for today.
Bureaucrat: Yes.
Ding: Heart attack, Bureaucrat. You are giving me a heart attack.

No wonder my sector is in the crapper if this is how it handles metrics.

I can understand how the lifecycle of creating such a report could take a couple years, but the fact that no one has ever asked for such a report boggles my mind. Not to ask the question?? At all??