Monday, March 29, 2010

Holy Week and the Hutaree

I spent the morning in bed with M- on Palm Sunday so I watched The Greatest Story Ever Told, instead; I had quite a good time being reminded of the simplicity of my faith: love your neighbor as yourself and do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Simple. In the horrific ideology of the Hutaree (and militias like them) where is Love Your Neighbor? Where is Do Unto Others? If this is the greatest commandment, then why is it so easily trumped by guns, violence and murder?

I blame Christian comics.  What a world.  They'd take contemporary characters (like Archie) and use them to tell Christian stories and morality.  I read things like The Cross and the Switchblade or 1970s retellings of the Prodigal Son (so groovy!).  But the best one?  The one I remember the most and which laid the foundation for me becoming the Bible Answer Girl in my Saturday Bible class?  This one.

The Revelation is like Ray Bradbury and Richard Matheson dropped acid and then took Ecstasy and then maybe dropped into a huge K-hole.  And I, like every fundamentalist kid in America, swallowed every psychedelic drop. 

(Note: the comics about demon possession were even more awesome than the ones about the Rapture.)

And it's this version of Christianity and the 'end times' that Christian militias either want to catalyze or hope for.  (Clearly, however, something was lost in translation. If the Hutaree are believers, wouldn't they be snatched up in the Rapture? So who are they training to fight against if they aren't going to be here when the battle happens?)

The point is: none of this makes sense. The story of The End Times is a fascinating story for a kid to read.  It's the best comic book ever.  But with adult eyes, it has no relationship to the words and precepts of Christ that I actually believe. 

Because this is Holy Week, I'm supposed to contemplate the submission of Christ to His destiny, the cross.  Like a good Christian, I'm to sit in the dark on Maundy Thursday and feel the weight of His death - and look forward to the final celebration of His resurrection on Easter. With the resurrection, the commandment to love one another is eternal. This is the cycle that gives Christianity its meaning.

Not the crazy last chapter.
No one like Mondays. Especially when you come into the office and discover your laptop has been stolen. Along with 4 others.
In other news, M- and I have taken another teeny step toward solidifying our relationship. I know it seems strange to mark progress like this but that's the Spock in me. I need to know that I'm achieving something or it's not worthwhile.

A friend of mine and her partner are looking for a place together and it got us thinking: would we be open to moving in together?

Having just moved out on my own, and also just renewed my lease, I'm not in any particular hurry. And we're both older and stubborn, set in our ways. And we both seem to have different ways of living. What would we be like living together?

So I asked him.
He said, 'Not like now. I'm living in a dusty dark man cave because I didn't give a damn. But if we lived together, I'd really want to make a home with you.'

'You don't think we'd get tired of seeing each other, all the time? Every day?'

'This is why I'm thinking we'd get a large place. A room for us, a room for my stuff, an office for you.'

'What about your collection? Wouldn't you need to touch it, look at it, go through it all the time?' (I know comic book boys. They're weird about their collections.)

He said, 'What am I? Rainman?'

We didn't come to any firm conclusions but now it's out there, on the table between us, ready to be taken up again later.

And this weekend will be Easter dinner with the parents of a good friend and maybe some other of my friends - a retest of the two of us in mixed company.

Friday, March 26, 2010

pay no mind to the woman behind the curtain

I may be one of those women so long decried in business magazines: the woman who silently seethes for lack of proper recognition.

If I was a man, I doubt that ManChristina would be so...acquiescent about being the 'voice' for his boss.  I doubt ManChristina would be ok standing behind the curtain, writing the words that get other people kudos.  I also doubt ManChristina would be so slow trying to figure out what ManChristina was going to do about it, without sounding petty or childish. 

In fact, I don't think ManChristina would give a flying fuck whether he sounded petty or childish.

Oh, sure. ManChristina would understand that this is part of being on a communications team, but sooner or later, he'd simply say: 'I want fucking credit for my work.'

I wonder what ManChristina would say to me?

ManChristina: You are being such a whiner.
DeliaChristina: No I'm not! I'm trying, really hard, to be a team player!

MC: (snort) Whatever, you big baby.
DC: I don't want to be the ... disruptive, angry one. Uh, anymore.

MC: You also don't want to be the one who gets credit. Your choice. (shrug)
DC:  You don't understand! We're a team! Our team's job is to make the CEO look good. So...that's what I do. I do the policy research, create the argument and serve it up all nice so she can repeat it.
MC:  (snort) That's some bullshit.
DC: You don't get it.  That's what a communications team does.  Our labor goes into lifting the profile for the organization.

MC: Then why are you so mad? If that's your job, that's your job!  Deal.  Suck it up.
DC: You're such an asshole.
MC: And you're a whiny baby! Why are you so angry, then? Don't you like being the researcher, writer, argument-maker, secret policy brain?
DC: No! I am tired of being the smart brown girl who does the frakking work and then some savvy, connected white chick comes along and then uses my work to get the big byline, sweet gig or promotion! Aagh!

MC: Then what. Are. You. Going. To. DO.
DC: I have no frakking clue.  This is not the best job seeking market, you know.  Communications folks are a foot thick on the ground out there....(whine whine)
MC: You need to stop making excuses and do fucking something.
DC: You are no help, ManChristina.

MC: You need to stop being such a girl.

Apparently, ManChristina would be a sexist pig.  Huh.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

go, team!

(Two weeks ago)
M: So babe. We've been invited to a party in a couple of weeks on Sunday. You free?
DC: On a Sunday? Always.
M: Cool. We'll talk about it later.
DC: Wonderful.

(last Saturday night, pillow talk)
M: Babe, don't forget we have that thing tomorrow.
DC: Oh, right.  What is that again?
M: It's my godson's birthday party.  We'll be in and out.
DC: Wait. Children?!?

(Sunday afternoon, Walgreens greeting card aisle)
M: These cards suck.
DC: You could get him a blank card and just write 'Hey, Happy Birthday, kid!' (lady next to us snorts)  They're twins, right? What about a card for the other one?
M: Naah. They need to learn how to share.
(I laugh really really loudly.)

(Sunday afternoon, Oak Park bungalow, livingroom couch)
M: (whispering) Do you want anything to eat?
DC: (whispering) No. Your godson picked his nose and touched all the cheese on the cheese tray.

(soon after)
Host: Ugh. That Sarah Palin.
M: (to me) He hates Sarah Palin.
DC: Oh? (having no clue what the political waters are here)
M: He used to be a raging Republican but now -
Host: I'm more Libertarian. It's the gun issue, mainly.
DC: Really? guns?
Host: Oh, I don't own any. But don't say I can't!
DC: Ah.  Yes.  (to M-.) Los Angeles has guns everywhere. My dad has a gun.
Host: And that's his Constitutional right!
DC: (silently taking sip of Sprite)

Hostess: Did you know M- was our best man?
DC: I had no idea!
Hostess: (pulling out photo album, showing me a photo of the bride herself, hoisting M- in her arms) He's always been slim.
DC: I see that.
Hostess: M- is one of the best guys; he really is. (Giving me a hard look.)
DC: I know.  That's why I'm keeping him around.

(much later)
VeryNiceLady: Oh! They're voting on that healthcare thing today! You work with government - what do you think?
(M- is very very silent next to me. VeryNiceLady's VeryConservativeHusband gives me the fish-eye.)
DC: You know, I was at a panel discussion earlier this year and it was so interesting! There are some unintended consequences, I think, to healthcare reform that local municipalities haven't quite thought about, yet.  (I blather on about public healthcare and Stroger Hospital) But there's no doubt that something needs to be done.  I mean, premiums in Illinois are predicted to jump at least 25% by 2015!  There are questions, though...
VeryNiceLady: (nodding) I know what you mean...
M: (whispering) Thank you.

(last night, on the phone)
M: They invited us for dinner next week.

Teamwork, you know?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I have apologized to my coworkers for being such a flaming bitch during the entire month of February. I think my mood will be much better in March, especially once I refill my Ativan prescription.  The snow is gone, the sun is out, and I don't have to wear snow boots anymore; how interesting that my mood is directly related to how cute I am able to look.  For instance, today is all about the Naughty Librarian With Red Pumps.  I feel fabulous; I look fabulous. I smell good.

Happy Tuesday to all!
So I think my sister L- will be moving back in with dad.  He seems to think she's on solid ground, but is worried that my brother in law is about to lose it.  (As am I; though he's a very cool guy, he is rather regimented.  And we all know what happens when regimented people crack their shit up.) While I'm concerned for everyone back in LA - especially my dad, who is SO not prepared to have one of his daughters move back in with him and put a crimp in his 66-year old bachelor lifestyle - my thoughts naturally, of course, turn to me.  What does my sister's divorce mean to me??

My bottom line: Sweet lord, I'm so glad I'm not married!  Marriage is apparently crazy-making. It carries a psychological and cultural expectation of permanence that doesn't encourage one to be in the Now - it's all about two inexorably bound timelines that stretch waaaaay into the future. Like, into Eternity. That is a lot of pressure. And I'm so glad I don't have it!

I mean, yes. I love M-.  He is my guy.  But we live in two different spaces. We spend days apart doing our own thing.  Our timelines, while running alongside each other's for a bit, aren't bound. They can diverge, oh yes they can. There is no expectation of Eternity. Oh, there's an expectation of mutual monogamy (though we've tentatively discussed other arrangements - as well as mutually decided our relationship is too new for us to get too creative with its structure.) But there's no expectation of frakking Eternity.

I try to imagine myself married and I can't get past imagining what I'll wear to the courthouse for a civil ceremony.  (I'm thinking a creamy, soft suit with nipped in jacket and pencil skirt and some kind of nifty hat. And really really hot shoes. And nude fishnets.) Or, if I get past that, I think of the small, intimate afternoon luncheon at a nice French restaurant afterward.  Then that's it. My imagination goes dark.

Anyway, I know there are a few among all 15 of my readers who enjoy their marital state and this is not to say y'all are chumps.  I think y'all are champs

You have chosen, however, a life structure that confuses me to the core. 

Ok, it's after 9. Carry on!

Friday, March 12, 2010

can't a brown girl get an amen? no? really? *crickets*

How Your Race Affects The Messages You Get « OkTrends

Black women write back the most. Whether it’s due to talkativeness, loneliness, or a sense of plain decency, black women are by far the most likely to respond to a first contact attempt. In many cases, their response rate is one and a half times the average, and, overall, black women reply about a quarter more often that other women.

Hmph. We are not chatty. We are polite.

Also interesting:
Men don’t write black women back. Or rather, they write them back far less often than they should. Black women reply the most, yet get by far the fewest replies. Essentially every race—including other blacks—singles them out for the cold shoulder.

Sigh. Harsh.

I know nothing about stats; but I know online dating like the back of my hand. And interesting. Whatever submerged, unconscious racial stereotyping floating out there is doing us some serious damage. Not all of us black/brown girls care but, really?? EVERY single dude (including the black and brown ones) diss us on dating sites? Damn.

Apparently, M- and I are outliers.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

stuck on amtrak, i think about relationships

Talking to my dad yesterday about the utter destruction of my sister's marriage he asked how things were going with me and M-.

I said we were going strong and he said something like, 'You two will be screaming at each other like all the rest.’

‘Uh, no,’ I said. ‘I think I'm doing pretty well here; we actually talk. We're honest.’

Dad snorted. ‘Honest. I’m honest.’

‘Whatever, Dad. M- and I actually talk about how we feel and we don’t wait for shit to blow up before we do. I know exactly why I’m in this relationship and so does he. If that changes anytime soon it won’t be the end of the world for us.’

‘We’ll see,’ Dad said.

It’s funny; Dad has seen how repressive and strangling the conventional rules of marriage are, and have been for a lot of people. He even admits it. But it’s a weird sort of reflex to not only see people conform to that convention, but see them twist in it and suffer. Maybe that's a Baptist thing. For all that the folks I went to church with clapped and congratulated each other for marrying, they practically salivated with pleasure when those marriages cracked and crumbled.

There was this strange mentality: 'You thought you were so special. So different. But you're not. You're just as miserable as I am. You're no different.'

This must be a black Baptist thing. Yeah.

In any case, I refuse to conform to it. And then people can marvel at my unconventional happiness.

As well as kiss my ass.
In related news - related to my sister's marriage and my and M-'s relationship - I had been thinking that this would be the summer I bring a boy home. Yeah, sort of a big thing. But not really. Folks go on trips all the time!

But with the destructin of my sister's marriage, where the hell will we stay?!

Yeah. It's all about me. It IS!

Monday, March 08, 2010

if only the poor were more like me!

If only poor people understood nutrition! The Fat Nutritionist

That post up there, btw, is brilliant. Unfortunately, she had to shut down comments because some folks were deliberately misreading her thesis, which I will repeat and clarify for you:

You want people to eat better? Give them enough money, a place for cooking and storage, and access to a decent variety of food.

There. That's her thesis in a nutshell.

I'll boil it down even further:
So, if we want other people to shop and consume like us, in our hip, healthy, and globally conscious ways, then they're going to need what we have.

What do I have that most really poor people (earning < $16k/annually) do not?
I have a properly operating kitchen, with counter space and lighting.
I have a gas stove that lights when I turn it on. (And all burners that work.)
I have a large refrigerator that freezes the things that need to be frozen, and a fridge that keeps my butter from melting and my food from spoiling.
I have a pantry that is free from bugs and mice so I can store dry goods there.
I have a running sink with water that isn't all gunky or rusty.
I have a mexican mini-mart, a walgreens, AND a large, clean Dominick's all within short walking distance.
I have a dude who sells fresh fruit/veg from the back of his truck during the spring/summer.
I also have about a $50/week grocery shopping allowance. Sometimes, I go over my allowance and buy $100 in groceries/week.
I live in a part of town that does not have slum landlords.
I have a few bus lines within walking distance and a train line.
I work in a part of the city that hosts farmers markets during the summer that I can visit on my lunch hour.
I have Bon Appetit, Saveur, Cook's Country Kitchen, Cook's Illustrated and a stack of other cookbooks from Borders and friends in my kitchen.
I have internet access to
I have a wok, pots, pans, serving platters, mixing bowls, forks, utensils, measuring cups, cutting boards and towels.
I have a place to store them.

I also have a job, no kids, healthcare, access to public transportation, flexible work hours, and adequate housing.

Basically, I am middle class, with typical bourgeois middle class tastes and habits.
Here is a completely irrelevant personal story (irrelevant because personal stories, while illustrative, are not prescriptive):

My parents were poor before they were middle class; the clothes I wore were not my own but hand-me-downs from another family. We received bags of groceries from anonymous church members - there would be a package of Peppridge Farm cookies in one of those bags. Or a bottle of Tang. A block of gov't cheese could last a really long time - for tacos, grilled cheese sandwiches, ham/cheese sandwiches, on crackers, in the toaster oven slapped over white bread.

We were poor but we ate dinner every night: chicken, pork chop or steak, a salad, rice and a desert (jello or ice cream). A glass of whole fat milk. In the morning, it was a hot cereal, orange juice or toast with butter and then to the bus.

Eventually, our meals got more complicated - coinciding with my mom going back to work and my dad getting a better job. Then we were shakily middle class.

There was a Chinese supermarket two blocks away for emergencies (we didn't trust their meat after one bad incident), and if we had to drive to a supermarket, there was a Vons or Ralphs only 15 min away by car. I remember going with mom every week after she got home from work to do grocery shopping. I hated unloading our 10 or 12 bags of groceries, my arms held stiff, the plastic handles making red rows in my skin.
Think of that. 10-12 full bags of groceries. Every two weeks. For a family of four. Without fail.
Whether we want to acknowledge it, this is the middle class standard most of us have running in the backs of our minds when we tell poor people to eat, or grocery shop, better. We never have their memories in our heads. We don't think about how the hell they're getting 10-12 heavy shopping bags from the supermarket 2 miles away from their house, on foot, with only a couple small kids to help them.

Much less from organic farmers market to farmers market.
Do you know where poor people live? Oh, not your hipster living in Ukrainian Village in an apartment no bigger than two cubicles at your office. Real poor people. Like, over in Greater Grand Crossing or Austin. Or Lawndale. Or Chicago Heights. Like, in those places you can see from the Green Line headed toward Cottage Grove. Or those places you see if you take the #66 bus all the waaaay west to the end of the line. Ever check out the apartments in that neighborhood that always sees the police action? Or the 'hood that always gets the helicopters hovering over it? Do you know how really poor people live?

I've only been in my Aunt D-'s apartment two or three times. It is so stuffy, I want to gag. Incense smells try to cover up other smells, but don't. And in the hallway outside, that splotch is either shit or vomit. I won't go in her kitchen. (I have never been invited to see her kitchen.) I don't dare ask to use the bathroom.

Once, when I dropped off some clothes and extra pots/pans/cooking pans, she kept us standing in her living room. There are only two bedrooms in this 'garden' apartment and I think she sleeps on the couch in the living room, giving the bedrooms to her daughter and son. She complains about the landlord who won't fix anything; he just collects the reimbursements from the gov't for providing Section 8 vouchers. She says, though, that once my cousin reaches 18, their rent is going to double or my male cousin will have to move out. (18 year old black boys, it seems are a threat to building.)

Down the street from Aunt D-, there is a KFC, McDonalds, a fried fish shack, a Chinese joint and a couple of gas stations, where you can buy cigs, bottled water or soda pop. The nearest real supermarket is in Hyde Park which is about a couple of different buses away. That's where the Walgreens is, too.

She doesn't have bus cards, so I gave her a few with $10 on them. In Chicago, one bus ride is $2.25. How far can she get on that? And how often? You do that math.
At my very tony Presbyterian church we once had a social services program to help provide healthier meals to really low-income neighbors. (You'd have to find these neighbors with a magnifying glass and move a few neighborhoods over, but they're there.) A friend served on this task force and they were told to help develop and test cook menus for this project.

But there were rules:
Think healthier ingredients, not necessarily 'healthy'.
The meal's ingredients couldn't cost more than $10, total.
It would have to be enough to serve at least 4.
Meal preparation couldn't involve more than 1-2 utensils.
The meal had to be cooked/served in the same dish.
It had to be able to be cooked on a hot plate.
Task force members could not assume refrigeration was available.

When you or I are cooking 'healthy' how many of these rules do we break?

It isn't class warfare to point out that the poor live differently from us. To ignore that fact maintains our caste system rather than demolishing it.

So until we are prepared to solve the 'problem' of their poverty first, perhaps we should keep mum with our 'advice' to poor families about making better nutritional 'choices'.

(And that means you, Jamie Oliver.)

Monday, March 01, 2010

my espresso bean mood...lifting

Reasons for the sudden uplift:

1.  M- and I are still going strong.  We've both admitted to minor, ridiculous jealousies; we don't need to fill the air with chatter; we're still the most boring couple ever; the sex is still...good god; we're both frakking adults about shit (like work stress, scheduling, my HoboMouth, listening to the other person) and I'm getting better at being part of a public couple.  My travel schedule to Springfield isn't as horrendous as some have to endure, but for me, it's annoying as hell; the best part about coming back is emailing him from the train and telling him how I missed him while I was down there. 

He noted, "You always miss me more when you go to Springfield."  (Then he makes a problematic joke about thalidomide, which never fails to make me guffaw, which is equally problematic. I know. I'll repent later.)

And I do miss him more.  I've found that he steadies me when work makes me nuts.  The idea of not having him to quiet my crazy mind almost brings tears to my eyes.  I wouldn't want to deal with what I'm dealing with at work if I didn't have him to come back to.

Uh. Yeah.  Anyway...

2.  I was accepted into the 2010 Spring Leadership and Policy Institute through the NWLCI'm so excited about this opportunity!  I've said to myself that if I was going to be serious about a public office career, then chances like this would be key.  And, they paid for my lodging!  AND - the White House Project bootcamp is coming to Chicago in May!  Maybe I'll go after that, too.

3.  I'm realizing how my satisfaction is so often connected to my core strengths.  As a leadership exercise, we were given this book and my 5 core strengths turned out to be: Ideation, Input, Focus, Achiever, and Connectedness.  Apparently, when things go out of whack or I feel that these needs of mine aren't being met, I go to my Dark Side: my dark, sarcastic, bitter, negative, highly critical side.  It's not pretty.  But I'm becoming aware of it - and how it can really negatively impact a team. So I'm trying really hard to not indulge in my fits of grrrr!  It's not productive.  (Though I still really like the Stockholm Syndrome analogy.  It's apt.)

So there you have it. I'm coming back into the light - and I achieved something I never would have achieved a year ago!  (And, clearly, my revamped resume rocks.)