Tuesday, December 22, 2009

there's a boy in my stocking!

(habits are hard to break.  the title of this post was going to be 'Ding's 1st Christmas - With a BOY.')

Remember all those holidays I spent complaining about LTF's lack of will when it came to spending time with me when I finally had the time? Remember those posts dithering about some vague desire I had to give him a holiday gift? (The most I ever mustered was a Christmas card.)

Well, this time I get to spend a real Christmas with a real dude, and not some frakked up facsimile thereof.

He's spending Christmas Eve with his family; I'm spending it with a friend's family. (Happy Birthday, mom.)
Then we'll be together for Christmas to exchange gifts, watch movies and grab Chinese food.  My perfect holiday.

I used to laugh at my sister every holiday as she'd dump a pile of gift-wrapped boxes at her husband's feet when they were dating in college; I thought she was a tool of the patriarchy.  Now I laugh at myself as I wander Michigan Avenue trying to calculate his shirt size or whether he'll prefer cotton PJs to flannel. The universe played a joke on me and I have to give it props for its timing.

Navigating this new relationship, and the various ripples from it, makes me think about the progress I've made as a result of those two years of coaching and therapy.  I'm so glad I went through that process.  (I really can't recommend it enough.)  I was feeling stuck and was just emerging from the fog of my mother's death.  The progress since then may look tiny, but it's significant to me.  From being blocked, guarded, defensive and numb to where I am now - autonomous, independent again, working to be present, checking in with myself, being more clear-eyed about what it is that I really value and what I needMoving past B-/LTF.

Of course, these are 'first-world' problems; who else has such luxury to navel gaze? 

But I'm proud of the internal progress I've made.  Maybe 'Kick Ass' isn't such a bad resolution after all.

Merry Merry to all my 11 readers - thanks for sticking around this long!

Monday, December 21, 2009

unmasking Ding

some things will be changing around here.

if anyone follows me on Twitter (or pays attention here) you'll notice that my pseudonymity is just about to disappear. i've decided that i've been hiding my professional light under a bushel for long enough and if i'm going to start going after what i want, i need to start pushing my 'personal brand.' sigh.

for years, Ding/ChurchGal has been a 'brand' of sorts, but i can't really take advantage of that as 'Ding' forever, you know? it would be like walking around in a cowl and hood.

so...this means that Screed will start migrating some of the personal stuff to another place. (can't really build a reputation on swooning over the boyfriend, you know?)

if you want to follow my Tweets, you can still do so here.

what was my new year's resolution a few years ago? Make An Effort.

this year, i'll add to that: Make An Effort and Be Ambitious.

Or maybe the other way around: Be Ambitious and Make the Effort.

or maybe i'll just condense it: Kick Ass.

Monday, December 14, 2009

sigh: i might as well be killed by a terrorist

Marriage eludes high-achieving black women - msnbc.com

apparently, my 'marriage market' has 'deteriorated' to such an extent i, and sisters like me, are doomed to singleness forever.

we're DOOMED, i tell you.

how come all these articles like this are about black women? how doomed are my high achieving asian girl friends? my over educated latina sisters? huh? why come all this pathologizing of the black women?


looks like M- is my ticket out of spinsterhood.

(just kidding, M-! just kidding! kinda.)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

since my visit with my family last week, there's been a post floating around my head about the community i come from, the religious community i come from and both those communities' inability to address family abuse (both physical and sexual) - and how that refusal ripples outward, creating more and more shit.

but, of course, i'm a little swamped right now.

and it's frakking 2 degrees in chicago.


but this one is coming up. soon.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Power to the Sheeple

[in BossLady’s office]

BL: Ding, I got your presentation. I LOVE it! It’s great! It’s well-researched, thought out, love the strategy…

D: Great!

BL: But…it’s too informative.

D: What??

BL: It’s not going to work. It’s…going to scare the crap out of them. You’re going to start a panic.

D: Have they seen the news??

BL: Well…you know that, I know that. But you have to understand… They can’t handle this kind of thing. You want to manage people, don't you?

D: Uh, no. Not if it means catering to idiots who need to be treated like they're brain-damaged.

BL: Well, that's who we have. They think they want to know, but they really don't. Let me just show you what I think needs to be taken out. It's not a lot. [crossing out a few slides about how bad and disastrous our state deficit is]

D: What?! But-but that’s what the presentation is about! You can’t get rid of that! It’s on the news, in the papers, every policy wonk in the state releases a report about our numbers. They can’t handle policy??!

BL: (sigh) These aren’t directors; these are middle managers. They are sheep. They won’t know how to handle this information so we need to manage it for them. [crossing out a slide of message points]

D: Oh, no, I have to TOTALLY disagree with that. If we are supposed to be asking them to help us fight for a better state budget, we need to give them the tools! Otherwise, what’s the point of this presentation? ‘Uh, the state budget is bad but I can’t tell you how bad or how to talk about it.’ What the fuck??

BL: Ok, ok. You have a point. I guess it can stay. But this has to go. [crossing out phrase ‘uninformed public.’] This is them. Can’t say this.

D: But we can call them sheep. Niice. I thought we were about empowering women. How can we empower staff, ask them to perform for us, but not trust them with what we know or trust them to be rational adults? What about giving everyone the benefit of the doubt and treating them like equals?

BL: (wince) Yeah...no. We actually set the bar a little lower than equal.

D: But they’re our Leadership council! Being a leader is about responsibility and trust – but we don’t trust them? What's this group for? And how come I'm not on it?

BL: Senior management realizes now that this was probably a mis-named group.

D: Jesus.

Monday, November 30, 2009

thankful for not having swine flu

basically, i spent the entire thanksgiving holiday knocked out on my ass due to flu. couldn't eat, broke into flop sweats, weak, achey, whiney and congested. lovely. and did i mention broke? yeah, good times.

also had the most alarming dream wherein B-/LTF reappeared, just as crazy and delusional, and basically stalked me thinking we'd pick up where we left off. the dream ended with me screaming at him to get the hell away from me but also panicked that i was missing an important work deadline.

so there you go: i don't have swine flu, B-/LTF still haunts my dreams (and not in a good way) and work is giving me nightmares.

happy holidays.

Monday, November 23, 2009

the most boring couple in the world

a quick M- vignette to tide you over the Thanksgiving hols:

you know you might be in it for the long haul when your guy's head is in your lap while you're watching an old Mexican horror movie and he's letting you pluck his crazy italian stray eyebrow hairs, and you marvel at them together ('wow, that one's huge') before blowing them away.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Worth sharing: an online guide to health care reform news, policy, wonks and wags from Slate's Timothy Noah.

Carry on.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

yeah, so. work.

stuff like that.

writing my ass off there so i'm utterly depleted here.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

precious wrecked me and i don't even know why

just saw Precious.
wow. this is not going to be an analysis - just my first impression. but still, wow.

the bus was packed with a bunch of african american teenage girls and i just thought it was because school was out and they were going to the mall. nope. they were all going to see Precious. the theater was full of these young girls. and the theater was pin-drop silent.

(movie going with teenagers in the audience? it's never pin-drop silent.)

i wouldn't say the movie craft is *brilliant* but it's still a movie that should be seen - with performances that should be recognized:

Mo'Nique (without a doubt, so far ahead of anything she's done before.)

Gabourey Sidibe (for an unknown to carry this whole thing is amazing - this could *not* have been done by a Hollywood actress. no way. they're too mannered, too practiced, too fake, too stiff, too soap opera-y. it would be the equivalent of watching Holly Hunter play a dysfunctional cop from Oklahoma - sinewy and wrong.

my one quibble: i know most of Precious' subjectivity lives in her head but it would have been great to see more of her inner life, her push, somehow made more visible, other than the fantasy sequences that allow her to disassociate from whatever blow she's just received. This is a point that someone else - PostBourgie? - made somewhere and i agree with it.)

the other girls in the ABC class (don't you recognize each of them?)

after i saw it, i walked around for a few blocks wanting somewhere to sit and cry but that would have just looked crazy. it made me look at my aunts, the girls i knew from my church, the girls i see on the bus - differently.

if you've seen it, or read the book (which i haven't) would love to hear your thoughts.

Friday, November 06, 2009

the world needs meds

what the HELL is going on out there?

if the actual shooting at Fort Hood wasn't bad enough, the growing cacophony of anti-Muslim/Islam hysteria is about to eclipse it. on Twitter someone asked for the over/under for FOX News calling for the immediate segregation of all Muslims by Tuesday. why no link? it's unnecessary; just click on any comments section of *any* online newspaper or blog, liberal or conservative.

(frankly, i think the real story here is about mental health support, or lack of it, in the military but that's just me.)

then there's a second shooting today in Orlando and the difference in coverage is freaking startling (no instant speculation about race, ethnicity or religion - just 'crazy workplace shooter' narrative.)

question: why not treat the Fort Hood shootings like any other workplace violence story? or like a random school shooting?

and then the stupid ish i read in The Root huffing all insulted that the actress from Precious has the *nerve* to be all unashamed of her body?! (she must be mentally ill, The Root says. we're all caving to the PC gods if we don't shame her about her weight, The Root says. i say shut the frak up to The Root.)

makes me wanna holler or at least eat some bicuits and gravy. (i've missed lunch, too.)

it's a humdinger of a friday, folks.

carry on, if you can.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

halloween is for *kids*

i'd post a couple of h'ween pics from the party on saturday but, uh, they are not appropriate for public consumption.

note to self: just because the open bar closes in 20 minutes does not mean that BOTH hands must hold pints of Gumball. nor does it mean that, at the next bar, one must switch from beer to jameson.

highlight of the night? overhearing a girlfriend's boyfriend murmur, 'you know, i actually like how i feel wearing a dress' and watching a girlfriend take a photo of M-'s spandex-clad crotch.

sorry the posting has been so undergrad-y, lately. i haven't even read a newspaper in a few weeks; there are elections going on?? some gov't relations hack i am. but work, as usual, is kicking my ass. tomorrow i take the metra out to the end of the Milwaukee West line to pitch a conservative GOP congressman on why he should include my org on his list of appropriations. (yeah, that means pork!) it'll be the third such meeting - which means i'm submitting 3 proposals to 3 different offices for earmarks.

when folks get upset about 'pork' it's really clear they have NO frakking clue what it takes to get it. it's literally a crap shoot - especially if you're not a hostpital, museum, research facility, university or loaded with juiced up Board members and/or lobbyists/consultants. you talk to a staffer, you pitch your org, you gauge their interest and then you fire a short proposal into the air and if it lands, you sometimes don't know.

if you're lucky enough to actually get through the district staffer then you have to get through the DC staffer, who'll be creating the list for the congressman/senator to review and approve. and then, if you make that round, you might not make the final list before they have to submit to the appropriations com'tee. if you make it onto that list you might have a chance of making it to the omnibus, but it all depends on how the budget negotiations proceed. so you could get knocked off.

in other words, when you're not juiced up with a lobbyist or a personal connection to the elected official, a little org like mine getting 'pork' is a frakking miracle. and pure luck.

and once you get it, you don't really 'get' it. the process shifts from being a discretionary one ('hey, they do good work and could use some support.') to a federal grant. have you ever written a grant proposal for a federal agency? they are frakking long, complicated and onerous. most human services orgs don't have the capacity to write one because it takes a team to do one well. there are budgets, narratives, assurances, and metrics that have to be submitted. in other words, they make you work for your pork. they want every dollar accounted for - if you say you're going to spend $87.50 for a brochure, at the end of the award year your expenses better reflect you spent $87.50 for a brochure.

when it comes to pork, you don't just get a fat check in the mail to do with what you will. they either parse it out to you in small chunks per quarter or you incur the initial cost of providing the service and they reimburse you for the expense. there is nothing 'free' about this money.

and don't even get me started on how long it takes this process to roll along. if you're applying for FY11 appropriations year, you don't actually receive your money until 18-24 months later.

and? this is one time money. that's it. one year of funding to pilot or support a program and then - poof! gone. it's a lot of effort for brief relief.

so don't talk to me about how pork is evil.

thus endeth the rant. carry on!

Monday, October 26, 2009

another milestone of the kidney kind

Around the time that M- dropped the L-word for the first time, and I was feeling a little weird about it, someone suggested going through an 'emergency room' scenario, a mental exercise to clarify my own feelings.

We have exchanged L-words (I just can't say it, can I?) but this weekend sort of cemented things. In other words, you know you love someone when you rush from your cozy apt on a cold rainy night to go to the ER all the way on the north side because a nurse called and said 'Your boyfriend needs you.'

He had called from his house earlier:
M-: So babe. What are the symptoms of a kidney stone? (groan)
D : Sharp pain, hurts to pee, and blood in your urine. (my old lady television viewing habits come in handy, sometimes.)
M-: I might have a kidney stone. I have to pee all the time. No blood, though.
D: Wow. Are you sure? Sharp pain in your lower back?
M-: Yeah, but I'm ok. Maybe it'll go away. (groan)
D: Kidney stones don't go away unless they leave your penis. I think you should go to the ER.
M-: Maybe I'll take a tylenol and then come over for our date when the pain passes.
D : Whatever. Our date is off. You need to go to the ER.
D: You need to be at the doctor; tell me where to meet you.
M-: (GROAN MOAN) Uh, I gotta go, babe. I just tried to pee and almost passed out.

He called from the hospital parking lot (yes, despite fetal position-inducing pain, he *drove* himself): 'I'm about to check in (groan) so I'll call you later. I'm at Swedish Covenant.'

Really trying not to fret I watched tv, looked up kidney stones on the web, ate a sandwich and checked my Blackberry. When an unknown 773 number popped up, I grabbed it.

'Your boyfriend needs you.'
'Tell him I'm coming and I'll be there as soon as I can.'

I texted my friends ('M- is in the ER with kidney stones! I'm out!'), dressed, grabbed keys, blew out candles, flagged a cab, grabbed cash, and rushed to the hospital, where I overtipped the cabbie.

It was a novel feeling to rush in and breathlessly say 'My boyfriend was just admitted and I'm here to see him.' Even more novel was the feeling that I *really* did not want anything to happen to this guy. This was beyond the 'gee, I hope things are ok' feeling; this was 'oh, god, it's only kidney stones but if something happens this will wreck me.'

Weird, huh?

Things fall immediately into place when you face what you really feel. The class bullshit I was still holding onto ('we don't match, he's not like anyone I've gone out with before, I graduated from college and he didn't, I don't know if he fits my circle...'), I dropped.

Priorities realign pretty quickly when you see your guy wearing a sad little hospital gown, hooked up to monitors, drugged out of his head, smiling woozily up at you in front of the nurse, and slurring, 'Gimme some sugar.'

Not once did I think 'Let me examine the gender, class and race implications of my brown self being here while these doctors and nurses look at me hold his lily white hand.'

Maybe that's why I didn't mind spending the whole weekend at his place, getting to recognize what it sounds like when he's feeling a 5 mm stone squeeze its way down his ureter. Or feeling gently sympathetic standing in the 45-min line at the high school haunted house, watching him go to the restroom every 10 min or so. Or watching how his gait changes when he's in pain or listening intently at the bathroom door for a tell-tale thump to make sure he didn't faint.

We hid out, reading comic books, watching classic horror movies, eating ice cream and making jokes about the sexiness of peeing into a filter. Silently, I counted to myself how many glasses of water he drank, if he was taking his pills on time, and in a rare moment of domesticity, I even made breakfast. (Who cares if it took me 2 freaking hours and I made enough pancakes for a whole football team?)

When I got back to my place last night, I even had a little bit of a cry, for some reason.

It's frakking brutal, this falling in love thing.

[And if you need a more timely political frame for this post, because you don't want to read pointless, girly, journal entries from Ding, shouldn't *everyone* have this same right to rush into an ER and say to the admitting nurse 'My partner is in there and I need to see him/her!'? Civil rights for all is really just that simple. How the world works for me, as a member of the dominant group, is how it should work for everyone.]

Thursday, October 22, 2009

cinderfella has nothing on me

my to-do list:

1. Prepare for Halloween (buy pumpkin; choose template; get lights and drill; buy little pots of grass and little plastic jack o lanterns; decide on Flapper vs. Every Female Judge on Law & Order for costume party)

2. Buy crack/hole filler to stop millipedes from entering my abode.

3. Pick up myterious gift at dry cleaners. (wha-huh?)

4. Revise resume so I can apply for that statewide organizer thingy.

5. Frolic with M- before I forget how. (it's been two weeks! TWO!)

6. Sympathy card for dead cousin.

7. Buy ticket to LAX while I can still afford it.

8. Clean house.

9. Negotiate contract with bar owner for New Year's Eve party.

10. Buy train ticket to Springfield next week. (grrrrrr)

11. Meet friend's husband for drink while he's in town for a conference.

i think i need a freaking vacation.

Monday, October 19, 2009

a week's worth of posts could be written about Black Dynamite (even though it made me laugh) but i'm having another one of those weeks.
on the good news front, my weird allergy is clearing up! yay, antibiotics! (boo, antibiotic-imposed celibacy.)
in M- news, he has found my father's website and hasn't run screaming into the night!

carry on.

Friday, October 16, 2009

doubled conversations: or, this is not about hair

i love my Girls. i really do. we are like family.
but sometimes ...we have conversations that misfire.

we're talking about Chris Rock's movie about hair, the anger some older black women had about it making them look bad in front of white people and somehow we're talking about if white people think about black people's hair. my XRoomie said white people don't think about black people's hair at all.

i snorted. 'they may not think about it consciously but they sure do want to touch it a lot.'

XRoomie said 'what are you talking about?'

i said, 'i cannot go a week without someone wanting to touch it, compliment it or comment on it. it's fucking fascinating to them.'

XRoomie said, 'when does that happen?'

our friend T- said, 'when i worked at the Center [on the south side] all the girls wanted to touch my hair.'

i said, 'that's totally different. the context is different.'

XRoomie said, 'i've never seen that happen. i've never heard of that.' and she mentions some women of color she's worked with who never mentioned things like that happening.

'they wore wigs and weaves all the time,' she said. 'they thought it was hilarious watching their senior partners get confused when their hair changed.'

'i'm sure this has happened to them. almost every woman of color i know can tell stories about white people wanting to touch their hair - with or without permission. that's fucking problematic,' i said.

'well,' she said. 'that's your baggage.'

'that's not my baggage, that's our history. and i'm sure that if they weren't talking about how annoying this shit is in front of you, they are talking about it with their black friends.'

we went back and forth about baggage and history for a bit but this is where something interesting happened: XRoomie insisted that the conversations she'd have with these women would be the SAME as the ones they have with their friends of color.

that's when i stopped. i shrugged and said, 'ok.'

leaving unsaid, of course, was the admission that there are conversations i only have with my friends of color that i would never have with my white friends. (or my white boyfriend, for that matter.)

also left on the ground was whether this habit of splitting conversations was particularly fair. fuck it. i'll think about fairness later.

so we went back to watching a show about a white south african family held hostage by a taiwanese rapist.

[noted because of this and this.]

Monday, October 12, 2009

work just about made me pee my pants so there's not much to share today, buttons.

other than M- gave me a key this weekend. not THE key, but A key.

baby steps.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

My Random 5

1. So I found 2 lumps under my right armpit. Just TWO frakking weeks after my 40th birthday!! This wouldn't freak me out so much if my 40th hadn't just happened; if my boss wasn't diagnosed with breast cancer in March and is walking all over the office wearing a baseball cap because she's going through chemo; and if a colleague wasn't also diagnosed last year and is about to undergo intense radiation. Signs, you know?

What I really hate? The fact that I'm so vain, all I can think about is losing my boobs. I really really like my boobs. They're two of my favorite features.

(And then all this thinking on how 40 really represents how your body rebels against you is making me wonder if I'm going to go nuts like my mom because she became menopausal in her 40s....the loop of crazy-thinking is endless, I tell you. All because of TWO freaking lumps.)

So, yeah. Get those tests. It's Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

2. One night we're at Nilda's and M- says, 'You know, I'm always talking about my job and my office but I want you to know that I think about your work, too.'
'Really?' No guy has ever indicated that he's ever thought about my work at all. B- thought it was an annoying barrier to his getting it on.
'Yeah. You're meeting all these important people, talking about things that matter to women and you're really doing something important for Chicago.'
'Really??' I couldn't tell if my skepticism was about him telling he thought this or that he actually thought it.
'Yeah. And I haven't said that to you and I wanted to. Your work is important to you and I'm really proud of what you do. I'm proud you're my girlfriend.'

How lame that I actually teared up because my boyfriend said he thinks my work is important and he's proud of me?

Swear to god, if I discover this is all some complicated psycho-mind-job, I will kill him.

3. When my sister was dating her husband in high school, I would make fun of the little bedroom shrine she had created with all of the things he'd given her. There were cards, notes, little toys, figurines, movie tickets, bits of ribbon, a dried flower or two, or random Spanish words that no one else could figure out. (Like, 'verde.' I know it's 'green' but what the hell does that mean??) The other morning, I was getting ready to leave his place and while I was slipping on my shoes, I looked over at the window sill by the couch and saw a card.

It was a card that I’d had for a while (waiting for the right person to give it to, I guess.) It said something snarky on the front like, ‘What if I call you up and ask you out and unleash upon you a volcano of lust?’ or something like that. Seeing it there was kind of a surprise. Because I leave so freaking early while he’s still in bed, I usually leave him a note under his keys or cigarettes. Do guys keep these things in a special box to rummage through later?

4. Yesterday, my CEO ran a resume past me of someone she’d like to recruit to a com’tee we’re putting together. It was an awesome resume – very academic and policy-oriented - and I gave it a hearty thumbs up. Then she BCC’ed me on an email to the owner of this resume inviting her to a coffee, as well as to run a job opportunity past her for external communications and relations. Instantly, my mood changes. My knee-jerk Competitive Queen Bee reaction kicked in. I know it’s totally irrational and petty. But it’s what I felt. I felt that someone was coming onto MY PATCH. This is what I DO. Why do we need her?? And HELL NO will I report to her!! Again, irrational. There’s more than enough work to go around and not enough people to do it.

So, to feel better, I went to get my whole face waxed. Laying there while a tiny lady spread hot wax on my hairy bits and ripped them off was cathartic. With each pinprick of pain, my crabbiness drained from my body and I went to the office feeling loads better.

5. Halloween is coming up and I’m thinking of dressing as Every Black Female Judge on Law & Order. M- might be Green Man. But then he sent me a pic of him last year as a glam rocker – fur coat, tall boots, long wig, spandex pants, belly shirt - and it made me flush with naughtiness.

We might have to save that for a special occasion.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

calling all M- fans: ding is clueless

so, i need to plan more, and i'm really bad at planning.

for almost the entirety of our dating history (all whopping 5-6 months), M- has been the main Date Planner. he's way more into logistics than i am and i'm bad at it. (and, frankly, i'm really lazy.)

but i don't want to burn M- out, so give me your date ideas, Fans of M-.
i'm desperate.

Monday, October 05, 2009

taking a break

Warren G. Harding had a black family??

(I was almost going to give this some thought - hey, whose family doesn't have someone in to who 'passed'? - then it just seemd kinda paranoid...)

Thursday, October 01, 2009

This American Life: or, Dammit, Why Didn’t She Teach Us Tagalog?

Ding: hey, V-.
JP: hey
Ding: gotta question
how do i research my mom's names?

JP: the answer is "no"
Ding: you suck.

JP: what are your mom's names?
what do you want to know?
Ding: gurindola and monblanco
like, what they mean. i know 'white mountain'

JP: wow
Ding: i misspelled one:
JP: I’ve never heard names like that before
Ding: i KNOW!
i've been on these stoopid Filipino surname sites and i can't find them!

JP: you want to know what they mean and stuff?
Ding: yeah. i want to redo my tattoo and i think i want to do a great big shout out to my moms.
JP: what did Google tell you?
Ding: i found these really neat Filipino tribal tattoos but that's not me
Google gave me shit
and Bing gave me even less
i think my mom had made up names!
my mom's a mystery.*

JP: see if there's a facebook group for people named 'guirindola'
Ding: ooooh
JP: or monblanco
Ding: good idea
where is your family from?
JP: the one with V- has the Spanish crest and everything
Ding: niice
JP: their hometown is Sto Tomás, La Unión.

Ding: remember when you snapped on your landlady and said your name was the product of 300 years of Spanish colonialism?
that was funny.
JP: they always talk about being Ilocano
actually only one of my grandparents is from La Union
and my roommate said ¨that would do it.¨

Ding: i can't remember if my mom was from Romblon or Leyte
JP: she was Visaya, right?
Ding: i guess so (yes, I’m a bad daughter)
so what does Visaya mean?
is that a region?
and yes, you are my pathway to my Filipino origins

JP: yes,
it´s the main region
Ding: shit. so where do i start?
JP: it’s like saying 'she s from the west'
without saying ‘she’s from so cal’
sorry, Spanish keyboard
Ding: so would Leyte or Romblon be in that region?
Leyte is this teeny island in the middle of nowhere.
it's in the middle of the whole Philippines cluster
JP: that middle cluster is called 'visayas'

Ding: ohhhh
I’m going to have to write my titas.
I kinda wish she came from a neato mountain family.
that would be awesome.
JP: they are both in the Visayas region
you are a goofball
Ding: like the song
do you remember singing the song?

JP: did i teach you that song
Ding: my mom would sing it then you sang it and it freaked me out!
JP: oh god.
listen, did you try asking Google for your mom's names plus either one of those islands?
Ding: no. i asked Bing and it was useless
JP: did you hear what my mama said after she taught that song?
Ding: i forgot but i bet it was funny
JP: she said, "sometimes those Filipinos discriminate [against] those negritos, too. why don't they leave them alone?"

Ding: bwah!
i remember!
JP: lunch time
gotta go
Ding: my dad would sing this song!**

*being the daughter of a closed-mouth immigrant is a pain in the ass - especially now that she's dead and i can't confirm any of these blasted details.
**why this is interesting: if my mom taught him this song, I think my mom had a real bitchy sense of humor.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

asshat of the day: National Review’s John Derbyshire

When you think the congenitally stupid nostalgia these people indulge in couldn't be any more ... well, stupid, there's this:

DERBYSHIRE: Among the hopes that I do not realistically nurse is the hope that female suffrage will be repealed. But I’ll say this – if it were to be, I wouldn’t lose a minute’s sleep.
COLMES: We’d be a better country if women didn’t vote?
DERBYSHIRE: Probably. Don’t you think so?
COLMES: No, I do not think so whatsoever.
DERBYSHIRE: Come on Alan. Come clean here [laughing].
COLMES: We would be a better country? John Derbyshire making the statement, we would be a better country if women did not vote.
DERBYSHIRE: Yeah, probably.

In addition to repealing women's suffrage, he wants to get rid of the Civil Rights Act because, well, you can't force people to be good. (So, let's just indulge everyone's self-interest and see what kind of country we have then, right? Frakking idiot.)

What year do these people want to live in? Someone should ask them.

And they'd probably say the 18th or early 19th century.

Think Progress » National Review’s John Derbyshire: Women Should Not Have The Right To Vote:

Monday, September 28, 2009

pork belly for everyone

what an exhausting weekend. (oh, listen to me complain about all the fun i had.) so here's a list instead of a perfectly tuned out post:

1. i keep walking past the card from M- and opening it to hear it blare 'Brick House' and i can't stop giggling. (he wrote inside that he hoped he'd be with me for all the rest of my birthdays and every time i read it, my underarms itch a little.)

2. if you're in chicago, you really need to eat at Perennial. order the pork belly. or the halibut. you must.

3. for a woman w/o cable or the intewebs, is getting a wii really that prudent? (even though said woman is now hooked on wii bowling? and loves sweating during the Super Slice? maybe a Wii Fit?)

4. it's scary how well my friends know me. how did they know that the perfect topper for my cake would be a teeny microwave with some scorched panties inside?

5. birthday resolution #1: this is the year i will rework my tattoo.

6. birthday resolution #2: this is the year i will (cough) get my drivers license.

7. birthday resolution #3: this is the year i will really, really eat better and exercise more. really.

8. i think i have the nicest AND dirtiest boyfriend ever. i mean, DIRTY. let your imaginations run amok. that's all i'm saying.

9. the art is beautiful.

10. i need a new couch.

Friday, September 25, 2009

40 is cool

the cool things that have happened to me on my birthday, so far:

M- sent me a Song of the Day just for me! (The Best of Altered Images, 'Happy Birthday')
XRoomie sent me a few JibJab cards featuring my face that are preventing me from working.
FB friends have covered my Wall with well-wishes.
My coworkers are doing Indian lunch with me.
I paid a couple of bills.
M- said my present arrived and he needs to wrap it. (See? No ring!)

And my dad said that he's changed his mind about the whole Israel-Palestine thing. (My dad is thisclose to becoming a radical in his later age.)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

NewGuy or...NewMan?

The other night, the young kids next door decided it was time to rehash all their roommate issues at 5 am. My first-floor bedroom window was open to let in the heavy late summer air so it was as if the two of them were standing at the foot of my bed arguing about who was going to be the one to move out.

Next to me, M- turned from his back to his front. He put the pillow over his head. He snorted. He grumbled. I rubbed his back, drifting in and out of my own dream state. I wished that a flaming meteorite would land on these kids and incinerate them both.

M- got up, climbed over me, shuffled into the living room. For a minute, I thought he was going to charge outside in his underwear and yell at the kids. But he came back with a glass of water, drank some, handed it to me, went back into the kitchen and came back.

The arguing continued and it was clear that our sleep was irrevocably broken. I could tell the sky was going to lighten soon. We'd both have to go to work. I tossed. M- tossed.

Then M- sat up, wrenched off the comforter and boomed out the window in his Chicago guy voice, 'Take it inside or we're calling the police!'

Silence. A screen door slammed. Silence.

'Thanks, sweetie,' I mumbled, patting his arm as he got back in bed. Grumbling, he pulled me close and said, 'Well, now I can't go back to sleep.' And we waited for 6.15 am (when he had to leave) and spent the dawn talking and complaining about how frakking rude 20-somethings are in this neighborhood.

At the door, he said he appreciated how I didn't get mad at him for yelling out the window.

'Why would I get mad at you for yelling at them? I call the cops on those damn kids all the time.'
'Just...thanks for letting me take care of that.'
'Uh, ok.'

I get the feeling that these things are important to him - taking care of things, being the Guy. Or is it being the Man? I don't know.

According to this Modern Love, M- looks like a Guy but acts like a Man. Or is it the other way around?
Because it's all over the place.

Modern Love - Forget the Men. Pick a Guy. - NYTimes.com

my friends are silly

last night:

T- : so what if M- proposes over dinner on Friday?
Ding: what??
XRoomie: come on. you know there's a possibility.
Ding: no way. i already know what he's getting me. art.

T- : really?
Ding: yeah. i mentioned i liked this guy at the craft fair, he asked for his website and later he mentioned that he ordered something for me online. so it's art.
XRoomie: you are so bad at reading these things. reading everything.
Ding: he's not going to propose. it's - what - month #5, 6? don't be crazy.

XRoomie: what are you going to do if he does? you'll have to tell him to back off.
Ding: SIGH. he's NOT going to propose! he's getting me art for my birthday! hiroshi akiyama!
T- : what if he gives you a promise ring.
Ding: i'm going home.

We are in our blasted 40s (or at least late 30s) but you wouldn't think it to hear us. If folks want to see a ring, they better look in H-'s direction.

But to clear the air, how do I know M- won't suddenly go insane and pull a Bill the Vampire on Friday over dinner at Perennial?

Because he's not that type of guy. He'd want to do things traditionally: meet the family, ask permission. We haven't even exchanged keys (though that, lately, has crept into conversation); we don't even have personal drawers or closet space at the other person's house (though he left a white t-shirt the other day and where am I supposed to put that?)

Maybe this is something my friends haven't considered, but we've actually talked about this. We're not at the ring-popping stage. Saying 'Love you!' at the end of phone conversations? Sure. Ring-popping? No.

If romantic comedies are useful, they provide a handy guide to relationship progression. (Just think of every montage in every movie you've ever seen.) There's the shopping together, cooking together, hanging out with each others' friends, long walks through trees, the weekend away, the road trip, the real vacation together, the visit to the family, the holidays with the family, the crisis, the big fight, the big reconciliation, THEN the velvet box comes out.

See? We're not even close to that.

(However, we are now publicly 'out' as a couple on Facebook. We are no longer 'dating.' We are in a 'relationship.' I guess movies haven't caught up to that, yet.)

Has a corner been turned? Yes. Things have settled into...something and it feels nice. I like it. I'm struggling with my schedule (and he gets that) but, so far, what's not to enjoy about this? I really don't need the specter of some bullshit, hetero-coercive ring messing up my head.

Whatever. He's getting me art for my birthday.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

um, frak YOU, lane bryant!

dear lord,
thank you for my blog friend Sid who posted this on her blog which led to me seeing it and which will become my future destination for plushy girl fabulosity.



All hail, Igigi.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I'm taking a break from some painful work writing so indulge me an M- story.

He and I spent the entire Labor Day weekend together while I house-sat for a couple I know. It was like a mini-test. Could I spend a whole freaking weekend with a guy and not want to run away?


I learned a few useful things. He loves grilling. He does not mind a little terrier sleeping on his head in bed. (If we lived in an alternate universe where children suddenly became part of the picture, I have a feeling he'd be the indulgent parent.) He will reluctantly leave my side to give a jump to a friend who's stranded on the side of the road at midnight. His desire to do things for me encompasses everything and will eventually exhaust him.

I also learned he thinks Vick's VapoRub can cure almost anything and he has no idea what 'expectorant' is.

We were both fighting off a cold/flu/whatever and I was having a devil of a time sleeping because I would be wracked with the kind of cough that's so hard, tears would pop out my eyes and I'd almost vomit. (Yeah, classy.) He was going to CVS to pick up some things for his upset stomach and asked if I needed anything.

'i need an expectorant or something.'
‘expectorant?? What are you expecting?’
‘it’s to help with my phlegm!’
‘expectorant. ha ha. that's what vick's is for. expectorant.’ And he walked off, shaking his head like, 'you crazy kid with your weird words.'

And, sure enough, when he came back, no Mucinex. But I slept that night smelling like menthol.

We’re not talking about some wacky sci fi invention like a molecular transporter, here; we’re talking about Mucinex. It’s prolly a sign of our book learning differences but that’s ok. I’m learning that when you care about someone, you learn to ignore things.
No, that’s not accurate. You don’t ignore it (you know it’s there) but you choose not to draw attention to it.

When you care about someone you learn discretion.

(and, yes. a growth area is definitely the 'listening' thing. it's uncanny how like my dad he is.)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

our current political moment is like a bad bible study flashback

For those of you who go to church, grew up in a fundamentalist church, or was dragged to an evangelical campus bible study group once (once is all it takes, frankly) then I want you to think of the WORST bible study group you ever encountered.

You know what I'm talking about. Maybe it was the lay leader. Maybe s/he chose an obscure passage from....crap. One of the little Old Testament books or, god forbid, Hebrews. And then this lay leader, who didn't go to seminary but sure had a lot of tabs in their bible, decided to do a little lay-exigesis.


Or maybe you were up really late one night and you stumbled upon the late night ramblings of Gene Scott's daughter, standing there, spitting out random Greek and Hebrew translations, making bizarre diagrams and then connecting all dots leading to the Rapture.

THAT is what this video triggers.

And it is what scares the CRAP out of me if 'their side' wins.

Monday, September 14, 2009

where cognitive dissonance rears its confused head

like every other morning, i'm watching GMA while i get dressed.
and, like every other morning, they are covering the latest happening in PObama's healthcare reform push. and, like every other morning, their coverage makes my head explode.

first, there's Stephanopoulous reviewing PObama's poll numbers; an ABC poll finds that folks are just about evenly split. 48% for; 48% against the way PObama has been handling this. (which i find a stupid question, anyway.) then george notices that the poll numbers get slightly worse when the dreaded Public Option is mentioned and that if PObama just dropped the Public Option then maybe his numbers would jump a couple of points, rightly or wrongly.

and this is when my head exploded.

rightly or wrongly?

why are we still acting like this healthcare reform fight is like who's running for senior class president in high school? rightly or wrongly, this isn't a popularity contest. rightly or wrongly, we seem to be in danger of caving into the demands of people whose demands have no bearing on reality or fact. rightly or wrongly, we are illogically ceding this fight to the really stupid masses who think that making their healthcare affordable will make their healthcare worse than it is now. rightly or wrongly, there is nothing worse than now.

i mean, rightly or wrongly, i CANNOT afford my healthcare.

rightly or wrongly, i have hobo mouth and will need an oral surgeon (who will be charging to my medical insurance) to extract two problematic teeth and, rightly or wrongly, the cost (nearly $6000) will almost certainly bankrupt me if i cannot think of some way to pay for it. rightly or wrongly, the bacterial infection in one tooth could spread if left untreated and could lead to nerve damage or worse.

you know, rightly or wrongly.

rightly or wrongly, without a public option, healthcare reform will be negligible.

Friday, September 11, 2009


Unmarried Women Hit Hard by Poverty

sometimes, being right is a burden.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

in the weeds

I am a Bruin from the early 90s. I went to UCLA at the apotheosis of Derrida, the battles for ethnic studies, Bloomian debates about the value of multiculturalism, the identity wars, the canon wars, and the LA Riots/Uprising.

Two events stood out for me during that time: my introduction to semiotics and becoming a AAP tutor for first generation students of color. (If there are old Bruins of color out there from the 90s, give a shout out if you were AAP, too.) The two events stand out because they reinforced each other.

I remember reading some text, about Saussure, explaining the signifier, the signified, the sign and how this can be a lens through which to create meaning, or interpret meaning, in the world and it was like that moment in The Matrix, when Neo could finally see the code running behind everything. It was the concept of systems of meaning, of 'hidden' ideologies and values that fascinated me. It was glorious play to break down the semiotic system of the Western, for instance; or to disassemble the semiotic system of a Vogue magazine. Lay over this a growing gendered and racial politicization through hanging out with feminist and proud brown undergrad and grad student tutors in AAP (who could even politicize math) and suddenly my way of looking at the world changed.

Like Paul on Damascus, my scales had fallen away.

There are no accidents, my reading taught me. There is no 'But, it's just a monkey!' Because the chain of signification doesn't end with the word or image 'monkey.' Every piece of the sign has its own signifier and signified, and these bits have cultural histories and meanings of their own. The words and images are fraught with ideological, culturally hegemonic meaning; for something to be without value or meaning, its conception would need never to happen.

It is sheer mental laziness that people cannot ask simple critical questions about what is going on around them:

What does this mean (both literally and ideologically?)
Where is this coming from?
What is the value system manifested by this event/image/language, etc.?
Where do I meet these values?
Where do these values come from? (what is the context?)
Who wants me to agree with these values and meanings?
Who benefits from my agreement?
Who doesn't?

From my Tweets, you can probably tell I've been taking a look at the Van Jones resignation and the rhetoric that led to his resignation.

What does this resignation mean? It means several things. It
means that we lost an important policy maker and progressive on the frontline of
green economies and policy; it means that it will be that much harder to bring
green economic empowerment to urban (i.e., of color) communities; it means that,
once again, a smart man was brought low (however temporarily) by mediocre minds
beneath him.

From the opposing side, it means that the Big Black Buck stereotype

It also means that the progressive movement is wearing a target on its

Where did this come from? It came from Glenn Beck who has lost all
his major advertising sponsors because of the petition campaign waged by
ColorofChange (of which Jones was a founder) in protest to his white supremacist
remarks about President Obama. He, and other conservative hosts, drew a
target on Jones and went for it.

What is being valued? In the action against Jones, racial
stereotypes, racialized anxiety about communists and militants and 'un-American'
behavior is in play. In the larger political drama, the values of the
status quo are firmly supported.

Where do I meet these values? They bother me, deeply. Beck's
campaign was as big an example of race-baiting that I've ever seen.

(Let's pause here: what distinguishes the campaign that ColorofChange
launched against Beck and the one Beck ran against Jones? Ideological
honesty. ColorofChange is an anti-racism and racial justice organization;
Beck's language was identified as supporting the ideas of white supremacy and
they petitioned sponsors to distance themselves. Were Beck's words white
supremacist? Yes. In contrast, Beck's campaign was fabricated out of whole cloth
- both the rationale for it and the claims made in it. Would he admit his attack was racially motivated? No. But it is, because no other explanation has merit.)

Where do these values come from? They come from long-standing white
supremacist history and practice of demonizing people of color who threaten the
perceived status quo or current power structure.

Who wants me to agree with these values? The side Beck fights
for. Those whose interests would not be met by a green economy benefitting
poor communities and communities of color. Those whose interests would not be met by a successful Obama administration.

Who benefits from my agreement? The side Beck fights for. Those
whose interests would not be met by a green economy benefitting poor communities
and communities of color. Those who have an interest in a failed Obama administration.

Who doesn't? Those outside the power structure Beck supports.
(meaning: the rest of us)

Systems are systems. But they aren't impersonal systems. They come from us and we, whether we're talking about race or gender or sexuality or class, have a choice to support the system, to critique the system and/or to dismantle it. (If that's even possible.)

The Van Jones action, and others planned by men like Dobbs, Beck and Limbaugh, has made me look closely at the continuing activities of the GOP and their operators against this administration. It's hard to find what's redeeming about them, anymore.

Do they really want to become (in the words of Tim Wise) the Afrikaner party of the United States? Do they want that? Do they really want to hang a sign on this country that says 'For Whites Only'?

Because if that's what they want, we should call it what it is.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

people are freaking idjits

Below, the evil, propagandizing speech Pres. Obama will use to bring your children to the dark side of...higher test scores and matriculation (if someone could pull out the evil bits and show them to me, that would be great):

Prepared Remarks of President Barack Obama
Back to School Event
Arlington, VirginiaSeptember 8, 2009

The President: Hello everyone – how’s everybody doing today? I’m here with students at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. And we’ve got students tuning in from all across America, kindergarten through twelfth grade. I’m glad you all could join us today.

I know that for many of you, today is the first day of school. And for those of you in kindergarten, or starting middle or high school, it’s your first day in a new school, so it’s understandable if you’re a little nervous. I imagine there are some seniors out there who are feeling pretty good right now, with just one more year to go. And no matter what grade you’re in, some of you are probably wishing it were still summer, and you could’ve stayed in bed just a little longer this morning.

I know that feeling. When I was young, my family lived in Indonesia for a few years, and my mother didn’t have the money to send me where all the American kids went to school. So she decided to teach me extra lessons herself, Monday through Friday – at 4:30 in the morning.

Now I wasn’t too happy about getting up that early. A lot of times, I’d fall asleep right there at the kitchen table. But whenever I’d complain, my mother would just give me one of those looks and say, "This is no picnic for me either, buster."

So I know some of you are still adjusting to being back at school. But I’m here today because I have something important to discuss with you. I’m here because I want to talk with you about your education and what’s expected of all of you in this new school year.

Now I’ve given a lot of speeches about education. And I’ve talked a lot about responsibility.
I’ve talked about your teachers’ responsibility for inspiring you, and pushing you to learn.
I’ve talked about your parents’ responsibility for making sure you stay on track, and get your homework done, and don’t spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with that Xbox.

I’ve talked a lot about your government’s responsibility for setting high standards, supporting teachers and principals, and turning around schools that aren’t working where students aren’t getting the opportunities they deserve.

But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world – and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed.

And that’s what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education. I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself.

Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide.

Maybe you could be a good writer – maybe even good enough to write a book or articles in a newspaper – but you might not know it until you write a paper for your English class. Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor – maybe even good enough to come up with the next iPhone or a new medicine or vaccine – but you might not know it until you do a project for your science class. Maybe you could be a mayor or a Senator or a Supreme Court Justice, but you might not know that until you join student government or the debate team.

And no matter what you want to do with your life – I guarantee that you’ll need an education to do it. You want to be a doctor, or a teacher, or a police officer? You want to be a nurse or an architect, a lawyer or a member of our military? You’re going to need a good education for every single one of those careers. You can’t drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You’ve got to work for it and train for it and learn for it.

And this isn’t just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. What you’re learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future.

You’ll need the knowledge and problem-solving skills you learn in science and math to cure diseases like cancer and AIDS, and to develop new energy technologies and protect our environment. You’ll need the insights and critical thinking skills you gain in history and social studies to fight poverty and homelessness, crime and discrimination, and make our nation more fair and more free. You’ll need the creativity and ingenuity you develop in all your classes to build new companies that will create new jobs and boost our economy.

We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. If you don’t do that – if you quit on school – you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country.

Now I know it’s not always easy to do well in school. I know a lot of you have challenges in your lives right now that can make it hard to focus on your schoolwork.

I get it. I know what that’s like. My father left my family when I was two years old, and I was raised by a single mother who struggled at times to pay the bills and wasn’t always able to give us things the other kids had. There were times when I missed having a father in my life. There were times when I was lonely and felt like I didn’t fit in.

So I wasn’t always as focused as I should have been. I did some things I’m not proud of, and got in more trouble than I should have. And my life could have easily taken a turn for the worse.
But I was fortunate. I got a lot of second chances and had the opportunity to go to college, and law school, and follow my dreams. My wife, our First Lady Michelle Obama, has a similar story. Neither of her parents had gone to college, and they didn’t have much. But they worked hard, and she worked hard, so that she could go to the best schools in this country.

Some of you might not have those advantages. Maybe you don’t have adults in your life who give you the support that you need. Maybe someone in your family has lost their job, and there’s not enough money to go around. Maybe you live in a neighborhood where you don’t feel safe, or have friends who are pressuring you to do things you know aren’t right.

But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life – what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you’ve got going on at home – that’s no excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude. That’s no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. That’s no excuse for not trying.

Where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you’ll end up. No one’s written your destiny for you. Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future.

That’s what young people like you are doing every day, all across America.

Young people like Jazmin Perez, from Roma, Texas. Jazmin didn’t speak English when she first started school. Hardly anyone in her hometown went to college, and neither of her parents had gone either. But she worked hard, earned good grades, got a scholarship to Brown University, and is now in graduate school, studying public health, on her way to being Dr. Jazmin Perez.

I’m thinking about Andoni Schultz, from Los Altos, California, who’s fought brain cancer since he was three. He’s endured all sorts of treatments and surgeries, one of which affected his memory, so it took him much longer – hundreds of extra hours – to do his schoolwork. But he never fell behind, and he’s headed to college this fall.

And then there’s Shantell Steve, from my hometown of Chicago, Illinois. Even when bouncing from foster home to foster home in the toughest neighborhoods, she managed to get a job at a local health center; start a program to keep young people out of gangs; and she’s on track to graduate high school with honors and go on to college.

Jazmin, Andoni and Shantell aren’t any different from any of you. They faced challenges in their lives just like you do. But they refused to give up. They chose to take responsibility for their education and set goals for themselves. And I expect all of you to do the same.

That’s why today, I’m calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education – and to do everything you can to meet them. Your goal can be something as simple as doing all your homework, paying attention in class, or spending time each day reading a book. Maybe you’ll decide to get involved in an extracurricular activity, or volunteer in your community. Maybe you’ll decide to stand up for kids who are being teased or bullied because of who they are or how they look, because you believe, like I do, that all kids deserve a safe environment to study and learn. Maybe you’ll decide to take better care of yourself so you can be more ready to learn. And along those lines, I hope you’ll all wash your hands a lot, and stay home from school when you don’t feel well, so we can keep people from getting the flu this fall and winter.

Whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it. I want you to really work at it.

I know that sometimes, you get the sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work -- that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star, when chances are, you’re not going to be any of those things.

But the truth is, being successful is hard. You won’t love every subject you study. You won’t click with every teacher. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right this minute. And you won’t necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.

That’s OK. Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who’ve had the most failures. JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected twelve times before it was finally published. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, and he lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, "I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."

These people succeeded because they understand that you can’t let your failures define you – you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time. If you get in trouble, that doesn’t mean you’re a troublemaker, it means you need to try harder to behave. If you get a bad grade, that doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying.

No one’s born being good at things, you become good at things through hard work. You’re not a varsity athlete the first time you play a new sport. You don’t hit every note the first time you sing a song. You’ve got to practice. It’s the same with your schoolwork. You might have to do a math problem a few times before you get it right, or read something a few times before you understand it, or do a few drafts of a paper before it’s good enough to hand in.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and to learn something new. So find an adult you trust – a parent, grandparent or teacher; a coach or counselor – and ask them to help you stay on track to meet your goals.
And even when you’re struggling, even when you’re discouraged, and you feel like other people have given up on you – don’t ever give up on yourself. Because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country.

The story of America isn’t about people who quit when things got tough. It’s about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything less than their best.
It’s the story of students who sat where you sit 250 years ago, and went on to wage a revolution and found this nation. Students who sat where you sit 75 years ago who overcame a Depression and won a world war; who fought for civil rights and put a man on the moon. Students who sat where you sit 20 years ago who founded Google, Twitter and Facebook and changed the way we communicate with each other.
So today, I want to ask you, what’s your contribution going to be? What problems are you going to solve? What discoveries will you make? What will a president who comes here in twenty or fifty or one hundred years say about what all of you did for this country?

Your families, your teachers, and I are doing everything we can to make sure you have the education you need to answer these questions. I’m working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books, equipment and computers you need to learn. But you’ve got to do your part too. So I expect you to get serious this year. I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you. So don’t let us down – don’t let your family or your country or yourself down. Make us all proud. I know you can do it.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

girlfriends can find anything

XRoomie: Because I am utterly bored, I have been surfing MSN, which led me to surfing the recommended sponsor website—a dating sites for geeks, pet lovers, intellectuals. Fascinating. Anyhoo, M-'s is still up there from ages ago. I’m like “dude, ‘X’ looks like M-." And NO, I did not search for him. Of COURSE he’s heard of this site. Of course. Fabulous.

Ding: Wow. Of course. And you didn’t send me the link?? Pshh.
XRoomie: (sending me the link) You’re weird about shit. Didn’t want to seem exploitative. And if he’s 5’7,” then I weigh 140.

Ding: Now, now. We all have our blindnesses. Wow. I’m afraid to explore that site more.
XRoomie: Did you notice most of their pics were taken on a webcam. Heh.
Ding: I wonder when the most appropriate time is to tease him about this. I mean, are we there yet?

XRoomie: Get over it! 'Are you there, yet?' Lady, he said he loves you! You spend at least 3 days of the week together! You're there! You're there! (mumbling)
Ding: You may have a point.
XRoomie: Gah.

Monday, August 31, 2009

so my tonsils are the size of loquats and i just learned that hot compresses help drain them.
amazing what you learn when you don't go to the doctor.

sorry the blogging here has been light lately. i'm taking a mental holiday.
everything, and everyone, sucks and i can't trust myself with the conversation.

so i'll just suffer through my swollen tonsils and drink peppermint tea.

you know, it might be the end of Screed soon, anyway.

i said a temporary goodbye to ChurchGal and don't seem to be returning to it anytime soon.

maybe Screed has run its course, too.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

it's all connected: land theft yesterday, wealth gap today

From Race, Wealth, and Intergenerational Poverty in The American Prospect:

"Economic studies also demonstrate that inheritances, bequests, and intra-family transfers account for more of the racial wealth gap than any other demographic and socioeconomic factor, including education, income, and household structure. These intra-familial transfers, the primary source of wealth for most Americans with positive net worth, are transfers of blatant non-merit resources. Why do blacks have vastly fewer resources to leave to the next generation?

Apart from the national failure to endow ex-slaves with the promised 40 acres and a mule after the Civil War, blacks were deprived systematically of property, especially land, accumulated between 1880 and 1910 by government complicity and fraud as well as seizures by white terrorists. During the first three decades of the 20th century, white rioters destroyed prosperous black communities from Wilmington, North Carolina, to Tulsa, Oklahoma. Restrictive covenants, redlining, and general housing and lending discrimination also inhibited blacks from accumulating wealth."
[bold emphasis mine]

Remember this post, during the longest election cycle of the year? (And the one I wrote about the lynching exhibition?)

This connects to that. The dots are so easy to connect once you know what they look like.

back to normal

feeling the ground under my feett again at work. i didn't realize how hard the past 2-3 months had been until i went to work last week and felt an energy and clear-headedness i hadn't felt since may.

my old CEO is sending me job descriptions of positions she thinks i might be interested in; yesterday's message was for a position with a city dept as their director of policy. it looked good on paper but the city has a fiscal deficit the size of Texas and working for the city just fills me with images of dusty file cabinets, beige walls and desktop computers loaded with Windows 2001.

and, oh yeah. maybe it would be good to actually revise my resume.


Monday, August 24, 2009

sometimes one needs to stop thinking so much.

Friday, August 21, 2009

on my own

well, M- is off for a guy's weekend.

what should i do this weekend?
(other than bathe my ex-Roomie's big dog and attend the Danny Davis town hall?)

hello, white racial frame

When the story about Caster Semenya was on Good Morning America this morning it triggered my memory.

What was said about Debi Thomas - that she was pure Sport compared to Katarina Witt's Art?

What was said about Surya Bonaly:
You know, competitors like Surya and Midori Ito, they had the really
masculine, exotic sort of style and yeah, it got them some great technical
marks. I mean, not many women are out there attempting triple axels.
But skating is really all about beauty and sophistication and all the really
powerful women skaters have modeled themselves after Grace Kelly or Audrey
Hepburn, or that sort of a thing. That’s what our women have to offer and
it just comes natural to them. And I’m not saying they’re not up there
technically. I mean, they’re obviously not as aggressive as someone like
Surya, but she’s never really had the respect, you see. She’s a great
skater, in an exotic kind of a way I suppose, but she’s missing the classic
basics our girls have. And she’s not the nicest person out there either,
let me tell you…

(sure, the quote comes from a Canadian coach but US media commentary pretty much conformed to this; Dick Buttons would be brutal on Bonaly during her skates for not being graceful, for having more jumps than grace, for showing bare legs, for being so muscular, for 'attacking' the ice. Thanks, Dick.)

What continues to be said about the Williams' sisters.

What was once said about First Lady Michelle Obama, that she was shaped like a 'horse'? (Wasn't this on the Daily Show?)

Back to Caster Semenya: The GMA correspondent didn’t blink at all as he’s describing how this athlete has to have her genitals examined, her chromosomes counted and analyzed and her organs picked over, like she’s a ‘thing’ rather than a human being. It’s like a live autopsy. Like Sarah Baartman, all over again. Once again, we see the disturbing tendency of the West to literally/figuratively dissect Other women.
Do we really have to remind folks about the intricacies and pervading influence of nationalist, white supremacist, imperialist, colonialist discourse?
(And I'm not going to recreate the scholarship here. Why not? Because I'm not the only one who can use Google Scholar. Shit.)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

david cassidy can go jump in the lake

It is a truth universally acknowledged (at least by all the romance novels I've read) that the best thing to happen to a woman EVER is to hear the object of her affection whisper 'I love you.' It's where every novel ends, the absence of it is the source of endless conflict and its presence the proof, somehow, that a couple is destined to be together.

But in reality, when those words are whispered, it freaks me out.
'I love you' comes with all sorts of baggage attached - responsibilities, expectations.
Like the expectation, for instance, to say 'I love you' back.

When I hear it, it's like there's a test coming up and I haven't studied for it, yet.

I've said it once (in the throes of frolicsome ecstasy) and didn't mean it; I've felt it once (maybe) and never said it. So I'm going to take my sweet-ass time saying it this time around, just to make sure my feeling and my meaning get to the same place, at the same time.

Monday, August 17, 2009

one more relationship epiphane

where did august go?
it's like it left the house to buy a pack of cigarettes then got waylaid by a floozy, never to be heard from again.

i was going to write a whole snarky post on nearing 40 and growing carnal appetites that are slow to be met but i'll take a page from a more discreet life and just say that it is ... unfortunate that men and women are such different sexual trajectories. what's the biological imperative in this difference?

my mom didn't have a chance to tell me this. (and i don't think my dad ever noticed, and if he did he certainly wouldn't choose that as a topic of conversation to have with his daughters. though he has no problem telling me about his prostate issues.)

mom also didn't tell me about the various sexual anxieties men have. this is sort of a surprise to me. once again, the horribly inaccurate picture i have in my head of the clueless, confident Modern Man has led me down a path of assumptions that was about to set me off on a diatribe about 'getting the job done' instead of actually, you know, thinking about the other person as a person.

it's weird. i've rarely ever thought of men as people. (there are exceptions.) women are people. people are complex, complicated; they are onions to be peeled; they have layers. men don't have layers. they have...behaviors that have been programmed by a sexist and patriarchal culture and such behaviors are to be controlled and/or avoided for the benefit of one's personal safety. most of their layers have been erased by the time they are 20; the layers remaining are labeled Sport, Sex and Collectibles.

well, glad to say i'm on my way to correcting my thinking. yes, i can begin to admit that, indeed, men are people. i was wrong: they have anxieties, worries, insecurities, fears and the whole shebang of layer-itude that women have.

whaddya know. men are like women.


Friday, August 14, 2009

an oldie but goodie: do manners trump bigotry?

This past week of town hall protests and white supremacist/segregationist rhetoric has tired me out.
Once again, you people have disappointed me. (And feel free to interpret that 'you people' as you wish.)

I don't even have the energy to write a whole new thought on how ignorant our masses our, how we clearly fail to read books and how useful it is to be knowledgeable of western history and be aware of what happens when large, ignorant mobs of hysterical white folks get really scared of losing their privilege and power. (Even though that fear is largely unfounded. I mean, really. REALLY.)

I'm so tired of it, I can't even bring myself to wonder what the hell can be done about it. I'm just about out of hope that our culture can bring its face out of the Cheetos to correct itself.

So here's an old post on manners: Screed: bringin' bougie back?: or, do manners trump bigotry?

From a comment of mine:

"well, as a woman of color who's getting mighty tired of waiting for people to 'get it', i guess i'm wondering if us folks in the target communities (women, people of color, gay folk) - if we even frakking care anymore.i mean, i'm struggling with the almost unpoliticized notion that i don't even care if a racist or bigot changes his mind or thinks harder about these things; at this point, trying to educate the 'masses' about privilege and bigotry is such a frustrating, brain busting endeavor that i just wanna go for the quick fix: change the behavior and at least make my life a little easier."

Sigh. Such a disappointment, you people are.

Monday, August 10, 2009

pillow talk, 3

[Saturday night, my place, fan on High, the hottest weekend of the summer so far.]

M-: just lay here and don't move.
D: i can't move. it's too hot to move. (only our pinkies are touching)

M-: if you close your eyes we can imagine we're camping...
D: on the sun....
M-: ...on a cool, fluffy...
D: camping on a grill...
M-: on a sticky, gooey marshmellow...
D: camping on the surface of a volcano.

M-: I want to have sex, but it's too hot.
D: If you touch me, I will kill you.

'the election broke their brains'

worth spreading - and watching:

Rachel Maddow and Frank Schaeffer discussing the increasing hysterical and violent rhetoric (and actions) of the right wing.

Contrast this with the way George Stephanopolous won't press Newt Gingrich when Gingrich defends Sarah Palin's statement about 'death panels' - instead of calling it pure nutbaggery.

it's only 8 months into the Obama term and already the fringe element has reached a level of hysteria that's usually reserved for ...bunkering down and waiting for the Rapture.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Do we trust women?

Apparently not.

Oh, Florida. Why are you so fucked up?

(Again, another reason why I'm so adamantly pro-choice.)

this blog is AWESOME

i usually save all capital letters for sex or food or really great leather bags.

but this woman's blog deserves it: Fugitivus.
you need to read her.

i sort of wish she lived in chicago and we could have a beer. i might develop a creepy, blog-girl crush on her. i'm already envious of her turn of phrase.

anti-sexist, anti-racist and funny as hell.

thanks to my fellow blogger, m. leblanc, for introducing me to her.

healthcare dumb

Do not laugh at my question.

But...um, can anyone give me links to *really good* summaries/breakdowns/outlines of this healthcare reform thingy? Timelines, analysis, what have you.

I've been so buried in work and NewGuy, that I haven't devoted one single minute to forming a rational opinion on it.

And, really. I don't want to hear about how Obama is going to kill your grandma. I'm not that healthcare dumb.

So please, well-informed readers. Help me. (All 10 of you.)

Wednesday, August 05, 2009


Sometimes the most useful conversations about race, privilege and the cultural frame of whiteness comes from outside politics and the media. Mainstream media should take note.

Check out the discussion thread here: SF Signal: TOC: The Mammoth Book of Mindblowing SF edited by Mike Ashley

What I like about the thread is not just the fact that privileged assholery is severely out-numbered but that the level of argumentation is just so cogent (and funny as hell); there is also a sense that the community of writers participating in the discussion actually cares about the implications of white supremacy on their genre. The community cares about it - not just one or two voices in the wilderness, getting frustrated that no one is 'getting it.' That matters, you know?

(And here for further context and discussion of intersectionality.)

h/t to racismreview.com

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

hands off my ovaries

Playing the Abortion Card - The American Prospect:

"Far from cackling as they sneakily lobby for "abortion-on-demand" legislation, women's health advocates are actually rather anxious. In the Senate, anti-choice Republicans say they will oppose any health reform plan that subsidizes abortion coverage or even includes, in the proposed health insurance exchanges, private insurers that cover abortion. Currently, 87 percent of health plans offer some abortion services. That means if Democrats capitulate, the majority of women who currently have abortion coverage could lose it. The result would be a near-blanket restriction on women's access to insurance-subsidized abortion, one far more radical than the Hyde Amendment."

M- and I have actually talked about this - what would happen if a freakish unintended pregnancy occurred (despite the Pill, the condom and the Plan B.) No doubt in my mind, I'd call my Ob-Gyn and make an appointment for termination. Currently, my medical insurance covers this procedure.

So the idea that some conservative assholes can threaten to take my right not to be pregnant away makes me angry as hell.

Monday, August 03, 2009


i like this.

M- and i spent the weekend apart; it was my best friend's birthday this weekend and i wasn't going to have time for him. i had told him this a while ago and he quietly made other plans to go to the beach, fix his computer, see his friends and wait for me and my running around to end.

i like that, too.

at the birthday party, i'm sitting around with my girl friends, catching up.

a friend looks at me and asks, 'how are things going with M-?'
i say, 'things are good.'
she looked at me like she was expecting more but there wasn't anything more to say. we are enjoying getting to know each other and, so far, we're just happy to make it to the end of the week and still like each other.

and, i don't like so much the feminine tradition of living relationships out in the open. sharing little things here and there is different. here, it's about little vignettes, stories, anecdotes. things to make you laugh.

but the emotions, the real introspection i go through about this relationship are kept behind a little veil. just a little one. there may be a peek or two.

and, besides, there isn't anything to talk about really. there isn't enough to fill a whole conversation about us. we haven't come to any grand conclusions. we haven't said the big words to each other. we just watch movies together and fall asleep on the couch like old people.

we're the most boring couple in the world. (and i'll never make fun of my sister and her husband ever again.)

the other day, while shopping for my best friend's birthday, i found the cutest little band-aids. they were covered with comic book words like POW! AARGH! UUGH! WHAM! and i bought them for M-. i thought it would be a cute, silly thing to give him for our unofficial 3-month mark.

i put the little canister on the front hallway table and try not to feel self-conscious about it.

but other than that, there isn't that much to say.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

let's call it what it is

From Adam Serwer, at Tapped:

"...whether it's the full-on embrace of birtherism or Glenn Beck leapfrogging the shark yesterday by claiming the president is someone "who has a deep-seated hatred for white people, or the white culture."

I think what's going on here is pretty simple. The GOP has elevated a number of figures it believes represent justified white resentment at minorities encroaching on the power that is their birthright as "real Americans" from Sarah Palin to Joe the Plumber, and they're attempting to do the same thing with Sgt. Joseph Crowley." [emphasis mine]

Read the rest of the post; I have one quibble.

I would say that the GOP's tactics aren't merely 'increasingly racial' but increasingly white supremacist. Calling their tactics racial, or even racist, isn't enough. It allows folks to
"only accept such appeals as coded...deniability is an important factor in modern racism, because without it, it's too radioactive for people to associate themselves with." In other words, coded racism is too benign a cover for the true evil lurking underneath - the political and social ideology of white supremacy, a hard-core belief that the natural order of things begins with a white man on top.

At last, racism goes from the personal ('But I'm not racist! I've never done anything wrong to people of color!') to the structural (America and its institutions, its definition of citizenship and its values are for the benefit, and support, of White Power.)

And now is the perfect time to start calling that shit out.
And calling it what it is.

(I mean, we can all get behind being anti-white supremacist, right?
I mean, no one would be an apologist for it, right? Or do we want to indulge in another mealy-mouthed 'conversation' about white supremacy?)

Monday, July 27, 2009

busted: my knee and race relations

I sat in the Northwestern ER for 3 hours yesterday because I misjudged the distance between a curb, a flowerbed and a sidewalk at 2 am on Sunday morning. I fell, bounced and landed so hard on the edge of a concrete step, a divot of flesh was wedged from my knee and I barely avoided smashing my kneecap.

Some moments from the past 48 hours:

Sitting in my kitchen, both of us ready for bed, my leg in his lap, while we both look at my divoted knee, getting totally grossed out at all the bloody flesh. He looks up and says, 'It'll be ok, babe.'
I say, 'I might need stitches.'
He says, 'Do you want to go to the ER?'
I say, 'No...it can't be that bad, right?' Despite how wrong we both were, it strikes me that, other than my parents and my very close friends, no one has taken care of me before. Correction: I have not allowed anyone to take care of me.

Post-makeshift bandage, kissing in my kitchen, while the thought runs through my head that blood or no, busted knee or no, there is always room for a frolic.

The next afternoon, hobbling and exhausted after 3 hours in the ER, hearing a knock at my door and there's M- on his bike who dropped by to check on me and feeling a little, 'awww!'

And before the fall (heh), waiting for my hot dog at the Portage Theater during the monster flick triple feature, while M- runs into an acquaintance and hearing him introduce me as his girlfriend.

A milestone? Or is it a milestone when *I* start introducing him as my boyfriend, instead of 'my friend, M-'?
In other, more serious, news that has nothing to do with Ding's new relationship, here's a post on the Gates/Crowley Affair from the Tenured Radical about the 'danger' posed by white folks. (Thanks to SybilV's Tweet at Bitch, Ph.D.)

This whole thing has only made it obvious to me that conversations about 'race,' 'race relations', etc. are woefully uneven and won't ever get to any useful point because, frankly, we're all at different reading levels. It has also made it clear that the training I received from UCLA re: semiotics comes in handy. Because when we talk about race, we are really talking about conflicting systems of knowledge and conflicting mythologies that form the foundation of that knowledge.

There is a mythology (of history, of human interactions, of experience) that most North American white people unblinkingly buy into and which people of color (unless they have been privileged by class - and even then, only very rarely) have never had the luxury to believe.

Like, the policemen are our friends. Or, Bridgeport is a perfectly nice community to live in. Or, missionaries just want to read the bible to you and give you blankets. Things like that.

Using Pat Buchanan as an extreme example, there won't be any common ground wrt race relations until we first see the Buchanan mythology of America as intrinsically flawed, one-dimensional and, at its core, the product of white supremacist ideology. Or, if that phrasing makes one uncomfortable, then perhaps White Racial Frame is more palatable.

(what Feminism 101 does for basic feminist discourse, RacismReview does for academic studies of race/anti-racist work and is a gem of a site if you're honestly interested in anti-racist discourse.)

I remember using one of Pat Buchanan's early essays about the 'manifest destiny' of America, waay back in the early 90s, as an extreme tool to challenge the idea of 'neutral' values (as well as provide the ideological backdrop of cowboy narratives.) Values are never neutral. Some ideology, or interest, is at play. And, frankly, since the White Racial Frame constitutes the foundation of our western culture it is, unfortunately, everywhere. Right thinking people naturally distance themselves from a Buchanan because he is so blisteringly and overtly racist (and his Southern accent doesn't help) but fail to see the how the White Racial Frame invisibly informs our culture and our experiences and, consequently, makes them complicit in disseminating it.

Which brings me back to the Gates/Crowley Affair. Listening to our national media, and the pundits - as well as the folks around here - speak so simplistically about it makes me think that, unless all parties get on the same page, 'talking about race' with most non-people of color will continue to be like speaking to a Stockholm Syndrome victim.

Friday, July 24, 2009

work, again.

this past week has confirmed it: i am *not* cut out for direct service provision or program operation. ugh.

we have a number of volunteers through a national volunteer program assigned to our site; then the budget thing happened. we had to lay off one of our program directors who was going to supervise half of the volunteers. to keep our volunteers, we offered them alternative assignments which necessitated, basically, the reworking of the volunteer program from the ground up - or ass backwards. whichever.

long story short: i am not a program director; i just write the proposal. why am i creating the workplan for a program? i am not a program director; i just write the proposal. why am i creating the job description for the program? why am i talking to the volunteers? why am i doing what a program director does? grrrrrr.

i'm cranky AND hungry.
last night i cooked dinner at M-'s place.
keeping things simple, i whipped up a very nice carbonara. but, geez, dude tools are primitive. do all single guys have kitchen tools from c. 1978?

we watched a few shows (catching up on TrueBlood and Hung - which is hilarious), held hands, dozed off on the couch and went to bed. and...that's it.

i have chosen to adopt a different attitude when it comes to the school-night celibacy we seem to be practising. i realized why i was so upset with the idea of it before - i have always placed an inordinate amount of value on sex as a rubric for how much a guy likes me. in other words, if a guy likes me, he'll have sex with me. this is not to say that this is true. B- had sex with me, but i don't know if we 'liked' each other. and i'm happy to say that there are dudes out there who have been fond of me (and i them) and we have never had sex. so it's not exactly a correllary.

but. in the past, i have equated my own value with the amount of sex had. there. that's closer to the truth.

(if my therapist was reading this, she'd be proud of my breakthrough just now.)

so when it seemed that we weren't having sex as regularly as i thought we ought, i automatically thought it was a reflection of my value. where this thinking comes from, i hesitate to probe. or, i'll just blame it on B- who will become my boogie man for all things dysfunctional and messed up.

(ExRoomie says that's unfair. 'He was mentally ill. He was on meds, or off them, neurotic and crazy. You cannot use him as a measuring stick.')

i realize that kind of thinking is warped, as well as sad, hence the change in attitude. the school-night celibacy is not a metric of my value (or a measure of his lack of regard for me); it is merely we are old and tired, in food coma and it's the middle of the week after a hard day at work. who wouldn't go to bed next to the person they like after all that?

baby steps that i will eventually allow myself to shower there in the morning.
P.S: to all my 9 (!) readers who were curious to know if M- knew about my blogging about him. Yes, he does.

Last weekend (which was really lovely and I'll write about it later, perhaps), we were hanging out in Nilda's and having really serious conversations again about our families. It's odd, the moments we choose to open up. We do it in public. Huh.

Anyway, we were there, forcing ourselves to be honest about things. He was honest about his family history; I was honest about mine. He was honest about his past lovers; I was honest about mine (though if he asks about my number, I will not answer - so none of his business.) And so, in the interest of honesty, I said: You know I mention you on my blog.

M-: Yeah? Everything?
D: No...just observations. Things that happen on a date or a funny conversation.
M-: Am I famous?
D: No, but you're popular. You're beginning to have a following. The posts about you are the ones with the most hits. Are you cool with that?
M-: Maybe I'll have groupies.

There you have it. M- is cool with it and looks forward to fan mail. Let the M- stories continue.