Monday, January 23, 2006

Back to Work, Part 2

It is chaotic. Though it may reveal too much (please see Fetish #1; I'll get to my other fetishes later), I have to explain the working "conditions"--a hall in a hotel filled with light-gray dividers that wobble if you touch them and that end 6 feet from the ceiling so every sneeze, laugh and syllabus read can be heard 2 "classrooms" away and that are filled with narrow tables covered with tablecloths (you cannot learn on a tablecloth). One day, someone moved the classroom numbers. At least we have white boards though here in week 2, the dry erase markers are disappearing as if dying out while erasers multiply. I have to yell without raising my voice so I am heard, have to bend with hand cupped over ear to hear students then ferry their paraphrased comments, questions, asides, correct and incorrect answers from one side of the "room" to the other. By the end of class 3 of my 4 of the day, I feel squint-eyed, ashen, babbling and wish even more that I'd had a margarita at lunch. I'm not at "for lunch" yet.

The one copy machine broke this morning. The on-the-spot revamp of my lesson plans added what feels like 2 hours to the day.

A(nother) title I wish I’d thought of first

(my Blog for Choice a day late. I should've posted it right away like Bitch Phd.)

Read I’m Pro-Choice and I Fuck. I just wish I’d come up with the title first. It so sums up my feelings and philosophy….

According to Cristina Page, vice president of NARAL Pro-Choice New York, pro-life groups not only want to end all abortions they are also "opposed to anything that leads to people having sex and not having a baby." They are anti-abortion and anti-sex and see abortion as “birth control” (as a conservative WASPy male student once told me—he never made that damn mistake again), as women getting away with sex, as women being cold-blooded and slutty. That sex is bad and good people save sex for babymaking. When in 2002, data indicated that the rate of abortion had risen among low-income women, pro-choice commentators saw it as a sign that low-income women faced obstacles getting contraceptives and therefore had more unintended pregnancies while a spokeswoman for the National Right to Life Committee, Laura Echevarria, said that conclusion was "probably a bit of a stretch" and added "I'd like to see what their educational levels are, how many of them have access to educational material, how many of them understand childbirth." As if only stupid women who are afraid of labor have abortions, as if an abortion has anything to do with that.

I’m pro-choice and I like to fuck and the first time I was pregnant I was in a grad program I desperately hated and a brand-new relationship (that I liked) and made $6K/year in a southern state with right-to-work laws and a stingy welfare system. Labor pains were not the issue. I had 2 college degrees, more, I am sure, than Ms. Echevarria, and had access to plenty of educational materials on childbirth, abortion, breastfeeding, diaper changing, anal thermometers and how to clean almost anything and none of that information had anything to do with my abortion. I am grateful every time I fuck and don't have to worry about getting pregnant and I know how damn lucky I am. Not everyone is.

Like I tell my students—if you’re against abortion, don’t have one, but you cannot tell me or anyone else what to do with her body and the rest of her life b/c of your “belief.” Those 9 months are no walk in the park (from serious complications to annoyances) and are nothing compared to the next 20+ years. It is not something any man, woman or other should be forced into.

UPDATE: A response to a short-sided (short-thought-ed, to be more accurate) bit by Mr. Mark Joseph on The Huffington Post site :
You must be kidding. This is sarcasm right? Let me see, a young white male whose target audience is Christians is judging the sentiments of a woman nearly old enough to be his mother who has clearly lived life. Yes, you are judging. I seem to recall your Christ in your Bible saying something to the effect of Judge Not, Lest You Yourself Be Judged. The Native Americans say a smiliar [sic] thing with a similar thread, Don't Pretend To Understand Me Until You Have Walked A Mile In My Moccasins. Being married to a woman who had an abortion before we met I have had a glimpse into the mind of a scared 18 year old whose male friend shared their fun then disappered emotionally when that yielded a fetus. I have seen a life that could have gone one way go another completely. To this day she is firmly pro-choice but I doubt would consider another abortion unless there was [sic] health risk involved. The emotional scars she carried from that have affected her sexuality and the rest of her self-esteem. It has taken literally decades to get to a sense of balance in her. She is now in her 50's so the decision to ever face again is soon moot. But, ask our two daughters if she made a mistake 35 plus years ago. My point is that there are women who are for abortion and those opposed. Men, who make the laws, execute the laws, for the most part, judge the propriety of the laws and run the religious institutions are in the weakest position to opine the merits of abortion. I find nothing in the Bible to support an anti-abortion stance, nor do I find anything to support the opposite. I find science which I believe to be God-given which says a fetus can no more exist outside the body than I can flap my arms and fly to the moon. So, to me, the fetus is an extension of the mother host and, if left to thrive, could one day BE a life when it can draw breath on its own and live outside the womb. I have had the opportunity to work with the poor in this country, with parents of children with mental illness, mental retardation, autism, birth defects galore. I have seen abandoned babies, crack babies, infants doomed to early death or lives of need that their families are unable to fill and the rest of us, through our government, unwilling to fill. I am not convinced that is better. I have many Christian friends who profess sorrow and compassion at such situations but oppose government spending because it requires their incomes to be taxed and minimizes what they can buy for themselves or for their own healthy children. I direct their thoughts to the Epistle of James and the difference between faith and works. I know it is unfair to use their precious Bible to call their attention to what their Christ says they ought to do as opposed to what they are doing but, really, Christians and the rest of the world would be better off if they actually tried to emulate the behaviors of Christ rather than use some of the words from the book as a bludgeon on those of us who don't measure up and as a wedge between factions of this society. So, I am decidedly pro-choice. But, that is the opinion of a Man and I have stated it is something to which I am entitled but not something which I carry the authority to complel any woman to believe or on which to make her own decision to let the fetus grow or to stop it. Neither do I feel I have the right to judge her decision when made. And, I certainly don't have the right to consider her outrage at the opinions of those of us who don't have those rights as a showing of intolerance. To say the concept of abortion, for her, is visceral is understatement at a cosmic level.
Posted by: ReformedRepublican on February 19, 2006 at 07:45am
Thanks, ReformedRepublican. I am sorry, though, that your wife comes from a generation that feels guilt about abortion. Men have always had the privilege to do what they "have to do" (read: whatever the fuck they feel like doing at the damn time). Women, who face real consequences and responsibilities and risks, make the really hard decisions.

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Saturday, January 21, 2006

Chocolate City II

You think it's the "Can't you feel my breath, heh/Gainin' on ya!/All up around your neck, heh heh" that rankles?

Uh, what's happening, CC?
They still call it the White House
But that's a temporary condition, too
Can you dig it, CC?

To each his reach
And if I don't cop, it ain't mine to have
But I'll be reachin' for ya
'Cause I love ya, CC
Right on

There's a lot of chocolate cities around
We've got Newark, we've got Gary
Somebody told me we got L.A.
And we're working on Atlanta
But you're the capital, CC

Gainin' on ya!
Get down
Gainin' on ya!
Movin' in and on ya
Gainin' on ya!
Can't you feel my breath, heh
Gainin' on ya!
All up around your neck, heh heh

Hey, CC!
They say your jivin' game, it can't be changed
But on the positive side
You're my piece of the rock
And I love you, CC
Can you dig it?

Hey, uh, we didn't get our forty acres and a mule
But we did get you, CC, heh, yeah
Gainin' on ya
Movin' in and around ya
God bless CC and its vanilla suburbs

Gainin' on ya!
Gainin' on ya!
Gainin' on ya! (heh!)
Gainin' on ya!
Gainin' on ya!
What's happening, blood?
Gainin' on ya!
Gainin' on ya!
Gainin' on ya!

What's happening, black?
Brother black, blood even
Yeah-ahh, just funnin'

Gettin' down

Ah, blood to blood
Ah, players to ladies
The last percentage count was eighty
You don't need the bullet when you got the ballot
Are you up for the downstroke, CC?
Chocolate city
Are you with me out there?

And when they come to march on ya
Tell 'em to make sure they got their James Brown pass
And don't be surprised if Ali is in the White House
Reverend Ike, Secretary of the Treasury
Richard Pryor, Minister of Education
Stevie Wonder, Secretary of Fine Arts
And Miss Aretha Franklin, the First Lady
Are you out there, CC?
A chocolate city is no dream
It's my piece of the rock and I dig you, CC
God bless Chocolate City and its (gainin' on ya!) vanilla suburbs
Can y'all get to that?
Gainin' on ya!
Gainin' on ya!
Easin' in
Gainin' on ya!
In yo' stuff
Gainin' on ya!
Huh, can't get enough
Gainin' on ya!
Gainin' on ya!
Be mo' funk, be mo' funk
Gainin' on ya!
Can we funk you, too
Gainin' on ya!
Right on, chocolate city!

Yeah, get deep
Real deep
Be mo' funk
Mmmph, heh
Get deep
Unh, heh
Just got New York, I'm told


G. Clinton, W. Collins, B. Worrell, 1975

Friday, January 20, 2006

Chocolate City

Part of the flak over Nagin's chocolate city comment (he said it when he testified in front of Congress and no one seemed to notice though that time he did smile as he said it) is that no one has a sense of humor when they are looking for a fight. No one seems to know about the Funkadelic song or that other cities (DC and Detroit especially) have also been referred to as chocolate cities and there were no white riots. The only commentary I've seen that even slightly understands the humor and truth and joy in being a chocolate city is Sam Smith. My favorite part:

But to this white DC native, Nagin's worst offense was to try to rip off our nickname.

Having lived much of my life in the real Chocolate City, I find myself far more bothered by people who become irate at the impolite subtexts of those who haven't done as well as they in the American system, and who not only regard the suffering as inevitable but believe it should be endured with silence and gentility.

There is a curious connection between NOLA and DC. They are both cities that early had an unusual number of free blacks. Segregation operated under local ground rules, sometimes at odds with the larger southern standard. There were an atypical number of black Catholics. Class distinctions intermingled with - and sometimes surpassed - ethnic ones both within the black community and its relations with whites. There were an atypical number of whites who grew up with cross cultural experiences and an atypical number who found it part of the pleasure of the place.

Dan Baum, in his remarkable description of the New Orleans police in the New Yorker, writes:

"Everything is viewed through a racial lens in New Orleans, but it refracts differently there than elsewhere in the South. Louisiana was colonized first by the French, whose Code Noir encouraged intermarriage between whites and their black slaves to create a buffer class that might prevent insurrection; and briefly by the Spanish, whose custom of coartacion let slaves buy their freedom. By the time the United States took over, in 1803, the two customs had helped to create a large educated middle class of black freemen and black French Creoles that divided itself socially according to skin color. The Americans who poured into Louisiana made no such distinctions and generally treated all of them as inferiors, which rankled especially in New Orleans, where the most privileged blacks and Creoles lived."

The plagiarism aside, Nagin's comment seemed to me perfectly normal. It was the sort of thing I had heard in DC for years. And I didn't mind it because it was my Chocolate City too. It still seems odd to many whites, but you really don't have to be in the ethnic majority to love a place.

The whites who live in New Orleans proper, not the suburbs, love this city just like that, without having to be the majority and able to appreciate and mingle and second line and eat red beans on Monday and take down Christmas decorations on January 6 and only eat king cakes between King's Day and Mardi Gras. Few whites that I have talked to, who really love the city, who really live in the city, who really appreciate the city, took offense. Most nodded, many smiled and kept trudging through the New Normal. New Orleans IS different. That's why I moved back 9 years ago, that's why I came to Jazz Fest every year when I didn't live here, that's why I lived New Orleans even when I wasn't in New Orleans.

Instead of giving Nagin shit when he's trying to counteract some of the bullshit the New Orleans diaspora hears and trying to tell folks to come on home, it's still home, people need to ask the Red Cross where all that money they collected is, ask why Mississippi has gotten more money, trailers and insurance payouts than Louisiana, get the men in trucks back to work. No offense but people not from here who can't get with the program need to stay the fuck out.

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Monday, January 16, 2006

Martin Luther King, Jr.

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., do something (attend a candlelight vigil, read a book, bake a cake, sing some protest songs) and read Juan Cole's post 10 Things Martin Luther King Would have Done about Iraq. I think he is right on many points. It is easy to forget or not know

that Martin recognized love as the principle that all the great religions saw as the "supreme unifying principle of life," including Islam. His religious universalism might be a starting point for Americans to rethink the Islamophobia that has become so widespread.

Yeah, you right.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Fetish #1

I respect Dr. Crazy's last Chronicles post and shift to new space, her discussion of identity, how much to reveal, the threat of revelation with the need to reveal more than usual in academe (and the possible personality/employment problems), the difficulties of balancing concealment and the honesty of controlled revelation.

And then it occurred to me: the only reason I’m in this predicament is because I’ve been terrified of people knowing who I am. (as we all should be) As much as I’ve dealt with my “real” identity being revealed to a few people, I’ve also been really afraid of the consequences of being a “real” person in the blogosphere. And so, I thought, maybe the solution is to come out – to just write under my “real” name, to tell people in my real life that I blog. (It's always about "coming out," isn't it?)

As I thought about it more, however, it seemed to me that to write under that name is no solution, ultimately, because it would limit my writing here in the opposite direction. I would, in a way that I had not been able to with the voice I had created before, be able to talk explicitly about my work. But I would feel like I would have to eliminate things like pictures of my cat and stories about nights out with friends or whatever. Why? Well, because ultimately a single girl who blogs about her cat or friends is judged in a way that, just to give an example, a man who writes about his children is not. And let’s say I go on the market in the coming year, and through the magic of googling this is the picture a search committee gets of me. And because my professional name is on the blog, the blog is seen as a professional document. I will not be evaluated positively. How do I know? Because I would not evaluate positively any candidate like me who had pictures of her cat on her professional website. (Excellent point) With where I am in my career right now, I just feel like to write the kind of blog that I want to write under my professional name and as a professional document would be stupid. I also think there are issues of personal safety that a woman in my position needs to consider. Even if the blog would not be a detriment to me professionally, I’ve got to consider that anyone I begin dating will google me, and given the number of weirdos in the world, it doesn’t make sense to have extensive information about myself easily accessible under my “real life” name.

In the New Normal of the University, I have to wear an ID tag. Usually, I’d rather lose my house than wear a tag letting any- or everybody know my name and possibly use it. I stand in the back if I’m forced into group pictures. My phone number isn’t listed and almost never has been. Until I had a kid, I moved every 1-2 years, a person whose address you wrote in pencil. I have relatives, ones I like, who do not have my phone number or my address or certainty where I live. Only my “professional” email address lists my name—“professor,” an initial and my frighteningly-common last name. I’m the colleague who’ll tell you she’s been in jail or a crack whore or some other mouth-gaping secret yet will walk away without telling you her first or last name or what department. If I had more time (and other things), I’d have multiple Internet identities going at once, cyber-MPD to go with my post-Kat PTSD and ASC-US.

But to explain my secrecy fetish, I’d have to reveal too much.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Scum-sucking lobbyist stool pigeon

Abramoff says he could implicate 60 lawmakers

How they got caught: After lobbyist broke off engagement, ex-fiancee told of illicit dealings to FBI Bitches get mad AND even.

Bush is keeping $94K in Abramoff money

A Glance at the Abramoff Case

Key Events in the Jack Abramoff Probe

Ha ha!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Back to "Work," Part 1

Bitch PhD (Happy New Year) is in full pre-semester prep and me, too—got to the hotel where displaced (read: temporarily homeless) faculty and all our students will live for 8 a.m. The Provost told us to hug each other. Then the president, after a long story about a number 1 Rose Bowl float that ran out of gas, told us to hug ourselves and give ourselves a round of applause. My colleagues and I paid $10 to park for 15 minutes of hugging, self-hugging and clapping. No offices were assigned, no plans were revealed, no update on campus repairs or the alleged shuttle that will take us the 15 blocks from the hotel to our office space, no VPs (for a change). Like I told my chair, I could’ve stayed home and found someone to hug me.

Syllabi? What’s that again? Writing? Huh? I didn’t meet a professor there ready to teach, much less read a newspaper article. I am staying in denial.

Zimbabwean women want Dignity.Period!

Listed on