Friday, May 29, 2009

why the story matters

This is my parents' story:
One of my parents was an immigrant; my other parent grew up in a Compton project. One of my parents never earned a college degree and worked as a secretary her whole life; my other parent earned his college degree at night school while working in a warehouse and then earned his Masters at the same time i was entering college. Both of my parents were poor, abused, refused housing, worked blue collar jobs or civil servant jobs and yet still managed to buy a home, send two daughters to college and have a good life - all while living in south central L.A.

If we're honest, their stories weren't supposed to end this way. Their stories were supposed to end in the projects or somewhere back in the Philippines.

But their story becomes my story and follows me to grad school, corporate America and it's here with me now.

Why my story (and the story of Ursula Burns or Sonia Sotomayor or my parents) matters:
Because it gives the lie to the story that this world is only for powerful white men. It is a powerful middle finger to the socially constructed, and supported, narrative that women and people of color have a 'place' they need to stay in.

You can call us affirmative action babies; you can say that we aren't qualified or that we stole a job from some long-suffering, more qualified white dude, but who the fuck cares what you say?

(And this is why I love the 'cool' of President Obama. You call him an affirmative action baby? Were you the editor of the Yale law review? Are you the President of the United States? Didn't think so.)

We're going to keep fighting to be in your board rooms, your courtrooms, your senate floors and your offices. And who cares how you say we got there. We got there.

And once we're there, our presence will be a reminder that the story of our 'place' is a lie. It is a horrible, hateful, disgusting lie and we proved it's a lie. Those places you claim as your own will become our places, too. Maybe this is the truth you can't stand. Maybe this is the thing that makes your batshit crazy racist rhetoric so batshit crazy.

The old story of where people like me belong will eventually be chipped away, erased. And even if it won't disappear completely, if it takes another 400 years or so, what gurgling satisfaction there will be when one more of us with a story stands in a room we were never meant to enter.

Our stories don't matter to you?

Our stories aren't for you.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

our budget mess explained.

why does raising the income tax matter? because our tax structure is frakked up.

does fixing (yes, that means raising) the income tax thing help the budget? yes, among other things.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

you have the right to...nothing

Justices Ease Rules on Questioning Suspects -

you know, folks i know who are big fans of the Roberts Court had better contort themselves into little pretzels if they want me to go along with the idea that a Roberts court is 'reasonable' and 'not so bad.'

what the fuck is this?!

(we now return to our regularly programmed swooning over NewGuy.)
don't you love long holiday weekends?

the fun, the grilling, the sunburns, the over-indulgence of various alcoholic beverages, the realization that one has a boyfriend...

yes, memorial days are fun.


and how about that supreme court nomination?

the next morning, catching him carefully fold and pocket the scribbled note i wrote with my 1 a.m. food order on it from saturday night.

sunday morning, having coffee on my front stoop with NewGuy, as a friend slowly walks up and meets NewGuy way before i planned.

running the clock down, knowing we have to scoot, but wanting to hang out more on my couch, feet up, listening to the radio and making fun of terry hemmert. (he can't stand Breakfast With the Beatles.)

waiting for NewGuy before the bbq and he walks up, handing me a dunkin' donuts bag because he knows i haven't eaten anything yet.

hanging back, watching my friends slowly adjust to him - some faster than others - and fielding silent text messages of 'thumbs up.'

catching the last bits of some kind of heated conversation with NewGuy, XRoomie and another friend, and walking away. (we're all adults and he can handle himself - and the friends can deal. but note to self - no politics, maybe.)

debriefing on the day at home while we're brushing our teeth (!!) and i realize i'm brushing my teeth in front of a guy, in my bathroom, in my so not hot jammies, sorta drunk and what the hell just happened??

being asked, in his corny, goofball way if i wanna be his girl and i say yes.

so there you go.
Ding's going steady.

Friday, May 22, 2009

spines of jelly-like substance

amen, Rich Miller:

Legislators are worried sick that if they vote to raise taxes to balance the budget they'll get the same treatment as the hapless Cook County Board President Todd Stroger.

Understandably, nobody wants to be roasted alive. But their job sometimes requires them to do what's right, not what's easy or popular. And sometimes that means doing things that nobody appreciates, like making sure the government doesn't collapse, even though a furious public doesn't believe a collapse is imminent.

when i was down in springfield earlier this month, i was in a meeting with a state senator, pitching her (which it is) on our issues and testing the budget waters. the waters were mad.

'you know,' she said. 'you all always ask for money but where are you when we need to vote for a tax hike and we need the cover? you all want something but no one is out there willing to take the heat for us.'

i murmured something conciliatory and understanding but in my head i asked, 'but that's not my job, is it? to take your heat when you need to make a difficult decision that you're being paid to make for the benefit of the state.'

i'm sorry; i work for an organization that has been taking the 'heat' of a bad state fiscal situation for decades, now. we've taken the 'heat,' Madame Senator. we've laid off people, cut services, closed centers, tightened belts, frozen salaries - what more heat do these frakking people expect us to take??

i love my job but there are times when i want to be honest when i speak with elected officials. i can understand the need for pragmatism and i understand that there are bigger priorities in the queue in front of me. but is that really all they're concerned about? making it through the next election cycle? not angering their clearly ignorant constituents who can't get a grasp on the fact that Illinois is sinking into the tar pits??

there is NO other plan, people!

we have NO revenue coming into this state - we have a $12 billion state deficit that needs to be resolved. where do people think revenue comes from? the Revenue Fairy (who's been on vacation for the past 8 years)??

grr. folks need to pay attention and politicians need to get off their duff and speak to their districts in a bluntly honest way.

then *my* job gets easier. shit.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


oh. in addition to spock, robert downey jr is *also* my boyfriend.
speaking of which, a historic first is about to achieved: i am bringing NewGuy to a bbq on sunday to meet my friends. after hanging out at Happy Village last night, we sat on my tiny stoop (but at least i have one!) and continued our conversation about the comic books i was missing.

NG: you know, you've got a connection now.
Ding: who?
NG: me! i can bring you anything you need. if they stopped pulling for you, just make your list and let me know. you'll have 'em in a month.
Ding: but i like supporting my local.
NG: do. but i can still get you what you need.

(Ding, frantically reading subtext into everything before she tells her brain to STFU. it's only comic books.)

Ding: um...what are you doing this weekend?
NG: i'm on the roof! with you.
Ding: really! you've got no plans. no parties, cookouts, whatever.
NG: nah. i'm all yours.
Ding: uh, well, my friends are having a thing on sunday, a friend's brother is in town, it's super casual -
NG: i'm there.

(let's stop here. if you trawl the B- archives you will inevitably notice that the world he and i inhabited consisted solely of his rinky-dink apartment on the northside. that's it. every invitation i made to hang out - meet some friends for a beer, watch the soccer finals, come to an election party, spend christmas holiday together - was met with a lame rebuff: 'nah, i'm not really in the mood to be around other people right now.' for. 8. years. NewGuy? he ponies up in 4 weeks.)

NG: i'll be at your place on saturday night so i'll go to my place, change clothes and come back here. we can go together.
Ding: yeah...i thought this would be harder.
NG: Ding, i'm there. what kind of beer do your friends drink? will they like me?
Ding: you're bringing beer. they'll love you.

if he makes everything this easy maybe i won't have to be such a freak about liking him so much.

i'm sorry. what was that sound?
that was the sound of Screed jumping the shark to become the online diary of a 14-yr old girl.


Monday, May 18, 2009

something new

i have a new 25 Things post almost ready to go but i'm going to delay it to gaze at my navel a little bit.

in 2nd grade i had a massive crush on ivan e., a blond egyptian kid with long surfer hair whose father was a professor at USC.
in 3rd grade i crushed out on stephen t., another teutonic youth, who shared my table and encouraged me to sneak books under the table during our math lesson.
in 6th grade, i returned to my crush on ivan e., who was then a minor god at our school.
in 7th, 8th and 9th grade, bobby b. became my obsession.
in high school, my crushes were several: john m. (the quarterback), dana j. (the tennis star), as well as andrew the punk rocker, whose parents taught at UCLA (and who once asked me out but i totally thought he was joking.)

i didn't care they didn't know about me - weird looking, chubby and with the kind of eyebrows only a russian dictator would love. it was enough that they simply walked the playgrounds or the quad. i was glad to peer at them from behind a book in the library, from behind a shelf, from under a bleacher or perhaps through a crack in our shared school counselor's door.

ah, shadowy, nerdy, and unrequited love. the journals from that period still make me cringe.

you'd think i would have outgrown this, but then, you'd be dead wrong. in grad school, my virginal infatuations were longer lived and became a team endeavor. i enlisted spies of my own who kept me apprised of teaching schedules, office hours, gym visits as well as important sartorial changes. (if you haven't fallen into limerance with a creamy-skinned white guy in a kilt then you haven't lived, my friends.) these journal entries are, in the rereading, comic and farcical.

what ties all these objects of my affection, from elementary to grad school, together is the process by which i fell for them and then began to hate them.

Stage 1: The Thunderbolt. It usually happened at the beginning of the semester, during roll call or picking squads for PE. Or the first day of new TA orientation or perhaps while impatiently showing him how to use the copier and you happen to glance up. That first choking gasp. The dazed stare. The flush at first sight of The Beloved. It's devastating, isn't it? I have made elaborate mental meals of reliving the first moments of charged non-contact.

(And before you all start thinking I'm some delusional psychopath, I knew this was wholly one-sided. It was delicious anyway.)

Stage 2: The Thread. In Jane Eyre, which I love, Rochester says to Jane they are connected by a string, one that binds them across distance, mental illness, locked up wives and Britain's social crevasses. Such was my feeling. In this stage, I'd connect everything about them to me, until our 'relationship' map resembled a nutty god's-eye. 'Ivan likes OP shorts! Me, too!' 'Bobby is in my creative writing class! We're perfect!' (Though he wasn't very good at all.) 'Knightley reads Neruda! See??!!'

The Thread was enduring and, depending on the enabling antics of friends, could last for at least a year or two. But one can't really sustain that kind of one-sided intensity without some strain.

Stage 3: Threats. Oh, not verbal threats from me to my Object of Affection, but external threats to the infatuation I had built up. In other words, Reality. Friends, tired of being on stakeout, would slowly begin to sabotage the fantasy. One friend put it to me bluntly: "He is a tool. An Irish sweater-wearing tool who fakes a Scottish accent. You are being ridiculous." Or, as a result of friends' machinations, one realizes their Beloved can only clap on the 1-3 instead of the 2-4. Such knowledge is a killer.

(Of course, the rumor that the Beloved already has an out of state girlfriend as well as a girlfriend in another department is just another rotten cherry on my sundae of disappointment.)

Stage 4: Disdain. Where once I listed their virtues I now canvassed every one of their shortcomings. 'He's not in AP English.' 'His Spanish pronunciation is so gringo.' 'He has no rhythm.' 'Gymnastics is stupid.' 'He's sort of a paranoid freak, isn't he?' 'Only retirees wear cable knit sweaters!' Love, or limerance, is on the wane. Where once my Beloved walked with a golden nimbus of divinity, now he is a duffer who won't dare to eat a peach and wears his trouser bottoms rolled.


so in this richter scale of infatuation, where am i with NewGuy? am i in the Thunderbolt stage? am i frantically weaving threads to tie us to one another, no matter how fragile? or is the golden halo already growing dim?

i don't know. it's an odd feeling, being requited.

if desire is lack, then what is it when you already feel full?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


spock is my boyfriend. sorry, NewGuy.
i haven't written anything substantial in a while for the following reasons:
nothing's caught my eye or mind
no interwebs at home
news avoidance

but things will be coming. i'm just a little wrung out right now.

not holding my breath

that David Mamet’s ‘Race’ will be anything more than an 'N-word'-filled 90 minutes of macho, sexist race baiting. unless he's suddenly going to pull off a play based on Todorov's 'How the Irish Became White.'

i'd totally pay to see that.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

the borrower

this post brought to you by the purchasing power of my father who bought me my new little, cute, Dell Mini. it's red! it's also brought to you by the borrowed intertubes at my XRoomie's while i do my laundry.

my life is snatched from others' largesse.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Hm. The NewGuy.
Not sure if I want to write about him, yet.
But of course I am.

I'm surprised by a lot of things and if I was still seeing Dr. C-, she'd tell me to explore these surprises.
I'm surprised he makes me nervous. Not nervous in a 'omg, he's going to kill me!' way but that buzzy nervousness of...something else.
I'm surprised at how quickly I liked him. Usually, there's a period of 'wait and see to confirm that, indeed, I am not into him.' I'm into him.
I'm surprised I told him that (of course, waiting until he said it first.)
I'm surprised that I took down my profile on Match, the day after I met him.
I'm surprised that, so far, the incomunicado walls I erected with LTF/B- don't exist. We're usually in contact throughout the day. He texts and I'm glad. He sends email and I'm glad. He calls and I actually answer the phone. I actually call him.

I've forgotten that this is the way liking someone is supposed to feel. If I'm totally honest, I haven't liked someone like this since 1998. And now that I recognize what 'liking' is, what the hell was I doing with LTF??

(But despite all this positive navel gazing, I'm still not going to 'friend' him on Facebook. Baby steps.)

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

traffic jam!

there are all sorts of writing thingies coming up.
i have another 25 Things post brewing and a couple of other pieces, but work is a little bit hectic (hello, end of legislative session) and i'll have to carve out some time.

and, besides, my interwebs aren't up, yet. i think i'm waiting to see what my budget is like before i start adding stuff to my new life's expenses.

and, yes. there might even be a NewGuy to write about soon. we'll see.

Monday, May 04, 2009

asshat: marvel comics (you males are killing me)

a most perfect take-down of the annoying-as-hell use of 'females' when referring to, talking to, or even nodding in the general direction of a WOMAN.

and a perfect fisking of Marvel's casual, asshat sexism:

When men turn up, they are not “males”, but “guys”, in this truly wonderful quote:

“Since our core customer has always been guys, we need to be very careful when we introduce female product so that we don’t alienate our core,” said Paul Gitter, president of consumer products, North America, for Marvel Entertainment Inc. “What we have found through testing is that we haven’t alienated them, which gives us the OK to move forward with female product.”

That’s what he says. What I read:

One: When introducing things specifically designed for women, we must be careful not to alienate guys. Because when it comes to things for women, it is the opinions of men that are most important.

that, people, is patriarchy and why fucking feminism fucking exists.

[NOTE: it is an indication of future incompatibility if some dude steps up and uses the word 'female' or 'ladies' in casual conversation. as in, 'there are some fine females up in here.' guh-ross. and, get away from me.]

Friday, May 01, 2009

why i love alfre woodard: a mother's day preview

this is from an Onion A/V interview with the badass alfre woodard about getting moms wrong onscreen:
Americans have a hard time writing moms. I’ll get a script and everything’s really great, everything’s well-drawn, but the mom is like this character, like stock footage, they go and get that out. They plug it in, this idea of “mother.” You could lift moms out of any script, no matter what the culture, what the neighborhood, what the economic status, even if it’s a period mom, and you could switch them around, and they’d be the same person. I think it’s because most people don’t really have a human idea, a specific life that they attach to who their mother was. Their mother was there for them, so it either gets deified, or the opposite. That Mommie Dearest kind of thing. We love them or we don’t, or we rebel, but we can’t see who they are. That they are a person in life with taste, with sexuality, with opinions, who is pissy also, who has a right to not be the big tit for you every time you want something. And then we leave, and we go off to college or off into the world to work—you really appreciate your mom then. But there’s that big chunk when you don’t know your mom’s faults, desires, wishes, distastes.

my very favorite part: That they are a person in life with taste, with sexuality, with opinions, who is pissy also, who has a right to not be the big tit for you every time you want something.

in an old post on my other blog ChurchGal (currently on hiatus) i wrote that i thought my mom was happier when she went back to work and came to this realization while watching her during work parties (she'd take us with her because there was no babysitter and dad worked the nightshift.) i saw a different Mom at those parties. well, some commenter went batshit, offended that i could say my mother had an interior life that was about more than caregiving.

if anyone responds to this post, i don't want this to turn into a 'good mommy' v. 'bad mommy' thing; i want us to start seeing motherhood, and talking about motherhood, in all its multiplicity.

and this, from a woman who will never be a mother.

PS: Dear film people - give Woodard more play!

hammer, dropped.

i've just told (ok, emailed) LTF and said the sleeping together portion of our relationship is over.

i don't think he'll freak out; do you?