...except for me and my monkey! "Everything we see hides another thing. We always want to see what is hidden by what we see." -Rene Magritte

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Teach for America update

Around eleven this morning I got am email from Teach for America, informing me that I had not been selected for the program. Shock, disappointment, fear, regret, shame, anger, embarrasment. Lather, rinse, repeat. I skipped lunch-hosting and my Mormonism Seminar and spent most of the morning crying on the phone to my parents, in bed, and in Kugler's office. I have very little idea what I'll be doing next year.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The end of an era

The discussion forums of The Rebelution, stomping grounds of future evangelical, reformed, and fundamentalist leaders (and their wives/helpmeets, of course), have closed down. When I first read the message about the temporary closing of the boards while the administrators "step back and evaluate what we are doing,...institute necessary changes and reforms, and ...corporately re-focus on why we are here," I felt a twinge of guilt, as though the closing were partially my fault for occasionally challenging some of the assertions made on the boards (like, for instance, that women shouldn't attend college, but should rather be "stay-at-home daughters.") But I'm almost certain that I had little, if anything, to do with the closing of the boards; although I disagree fervently with a lot of what's been said on those forums (and oh, the stories I can tell), I always tried to maintain a respectful tone when I entered the discussions, since I was a guest in their forums and agreed to their statement of belief when I registered and whatnot. I never, ever tried to stir shit up, as much as I was dying to ask the girls in the female-only segregated discussion area if, for instance, they thought it was impure or unchaste to use tampons, or to take the Pill for non-contraceptive purposes.

I disagree with the majority of those kids, and sometimes they infuriated me, but I'll miss their voices. My favorite thing about The Rebelution was the way it exposed to me the diversity of opinion within the conservative Christian community. My understanding of conservative Christianity is much more nuanced, now, because of the contact I've had with the Rebelutionaries. Several of the kids I grew to really respect; I learned a lot from several of them. I wouldn't identify as a Christian Noahide were it not for the vocabulary lent to me by one of the kids, with whom I'm now facebook friends. I've enjoyed corresponding with other liberal (or at least not radically conservative) students who found themselves in a subaltern position on the forums.

The administrator writes, "From the beginning, the purpose of the forum has been to be a place for Christian young people who understand and share the vision of the Rebelution to network and interact. It is intended to be a training ground for godly leaders and communicators. It is intended to be a place for rebelutionaries to be encouraged and equipped." I expect that part of the subtext of that message is that the membership of the forums is going to be scaled back to the original Rebelutionaries, the True Believers, the inner-circle. I don't expect to survive the purge, and I'm very sorry about that.

(This probably also means that now all of the comments I make during Bible Study for Hippies will be about Hasidic Judaism. That's either a positive or a negative depending on how interested you are in hearing anecdotes about Reb Zusya.)

Friday, February 23, 2007

Yeah, no woman likes to drive her car fast

Oh, women! They're so stupid!

Here's a Friday Funny of my own:

Q: How many radical feminists does it take to change a light bulb?
A: That's not funny!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Whatever you say, Miss Electra Complex

From Ladies Against Feminism comes this gem: "...Patiently, the young lady helped her adorable little sister place the last toy in the bucket, then she straightened up and said cheerfully, “Rose, let’s go make cookies.” With the little one in tow, she brightly made her way to the kitchen, pausing to bestow a few encouraging words to the cluster of small boys on the play area rug, stopping to admire the diligence of the older ones as they sorted through a complex array of tools, and casting a smile and a loving, “Need anything?” to her busy mother. In the spacious kitchen, she set to work, and just as her little sister finished licking cookie batter off a spoon, the maiden heard her father’s car crunching in the gravel drive. “Dad’s home!” she cried, and caught up Rose to join the delighted pell-mell to greet Daddy. As she hugged her father, she said, “Dad, we’re making cookies for you to take to the family down the road that you wanted to minister to.” “Thank you, honey,” her father replied. “You are a precious gem to our family.”

Between Biblical Daughterhood and Purity Balls, it seems like these fundamentalist/evangelical/Reformed Baptist girls have a whole truckload of Daddy Issues. I mean, I love my dad, but yeesh.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Gender essentialism rears its well-coiffed head

You all know the old trope, right: "Women are to men as nature is to culture." In its less careful manifestations, the analogy often becomes the idea that women have some innate, natural connection with the Earth and the cycles of the moon and whatnot that men are not privy to. Now, I'm not actually sure that interpretation is supported by the analogy itself, which is more a statement about the ways in which gender roles are constructed across cultures, without making a statement on the validity of those roles. Women's innate connection with nature is trotted out regularly by people from all over the feminist and antifeminist spectrums. (Note: I'm not a gender essentialist feminist, but I don't deny their feminist credentials. I'm also kind of a spiritual essentialist--I believe in the soul, for instance--so I'm sympathetic to essentialists, even though I disagree with them.)

I feel like "women are to men as nature is to culture" was sort of the battle cry or whatever of last semester, since it came up in nearly every session (if not in discussion, then in my own reflections) of Feminist Theory, Methods in the Study of Religion, Short Story, and James Joyce/Virginia Woolf. And it's not like it's not an interesting idea, and it offers an incredible interpretive power in beginning to understand gender, but at the same time, I kind of feel like it's the only thing I ever write about, especially in my literature classes. For me, gender essentialism is to literature as Hasidic Judaism is to Religous Studies.

Even Rishona, who taught Joyce/Woolf and is now my Postcolonial Literature professor, joked in class that I was probably sick of the analogy. But I'm working (well, "working") on a paper right now for Postcolonial about Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart, and the only thing I can think of to write about is "women are to men as nature is to culture." I feel as though Rishona's expecting me to write about the biblical allusions in the text, but I just can't find the right angle on that, and I'm thinking I can maybe do something interesting with the fact that Nwoye, Okonkwo's son, subverts traditional gender roles by preferring to listen to the women's folk tales, which are all about animals and the natural world, than the men's war stories.

The paper is due at 5:30 tomorrow afternoon, so I'll have a couple hours to pull it together after Spanish (and I finished my six page Spanish paper yesterday), but it would be great to have an outline for this thing before people start coming over tonight for my birthday.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Anatomy of a Saturday

After Shabbos services at P'nai Or this morning I walked up to Market of Choice and bought a salad and then I went to the liquor store, where I saved big bucks by buying bottom shelf everything (I asked the lady behind the counter which was the best of the Kahlua knock-offs and she told me that I could use Monarch brand as long as I was mixing it with something else. I didn't tell her that what I would be mixing it with was bottom shelf vodka). Then I went to Pappaccino's, the coffee shop across the street, and ate my salad and drank coffee and read Don Quijote.

I realized as I was walking up the hill that according to halakha, Jewish religious law, you're not supposed to carry stuff on Shabbos. Probably only the really frum follow that, and since I'm not Jewish I'm not bound to halakha anyways. That doesn't stop me from feeling virtuous about walking rather than driving to shul, though. It reminds me of something Reb Asi, the Lubavitcher rabbi in Eugene, told me: although Chabad might not be as passionate and outspoken about environmental conservation as the Jewish Renewal movement, how many people can say that they're commited to not driving their cars for 24 hours each week?

One of my roommates is making jello shooters for my birthday tomorrow. I've never, you know, shot jello before. I'm looking forward to the experience.

Teach for America

October 24, 2007: Edited to add: if you're finding this page through a Google search, be sure to read my follow-up post. Good luck!

It occured to me that I probably shouldn't talk too specifically about my final Teach for America interview, or at least not on my blog, since it seems like they try to keep some of the specifics about the activities and the role-plays under wraps. I don't want to be Dooced, especially since I haven't even been hired! So, I'll just say that the final interview day down in Eugene went well, and at times very well. I felt like my personal interview was excellent, and that I had súper buena onda (good rapport) with the woman interviewing me. The most nerve-wracking part was the five-minute lesson: all TFA candidates have to prepare a five-minute lesson for a grade and subject area of the applicant's choosing, and then teach that lesson to the TFA staff and to the ten or so other applicants. I chose to teach a 3rd/4th grade general science lesson about the constellations, and how to find Polaris. I was nervous, but I think it went well. It wasn't the best lesson presented, but it wasn't the worst, either. It was fun seeing what other people came up with: one kid (who was also from LC although I didn't recognize him) taught us some Kiswahili phrases, and another kid did this lesson about the arrangment of atoms in different phases (?) of matter. The best one was designed for an ESL class and was about "sneaky silent letters." One girl did this lesson about similes and how to identify them, which I thought was kinda lame since that's the example they give on the Teach for America website.

The whole process reminded me a little of the International Baccalaureate exams, actually. Everything was carefully timed and regulated: "You have one minute to read through the instructions for the group activity. Your reading time begins now." "You have one minute preparation time for your lesson. Your prep time begins now." There was also a document-based question to determine whether we could read and interpret data, just like on the IB exams.

I suppose that I was lucky the final interview was in Eugene: since I'm from there, I could just stay at my parents' house, and it's easy enough to get down to Eugene from Portland via Greyhound. Several of the other applicants were from either LC, Reed, or Portland State, but there were also applicants from Whitman, Whitworth, and even Boise, Idaho; they probably had to take several days off from school or work to make it to Eugene for the interview.

Thanks to all of you who wished me well or who prayed for me! Overall, I think I represented myself accurately, and my strengths came out. I find out Teach for America's final decision the afternoon of February 27th; I don't know how I'm going to be able to wait.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day! Here's some horrible news!

A fellow blamer over at I Blame the Patriarchy, one of my favorite feminist blogs, just mentioned that grapefruit interferes with birth control pills--which sucks, because the grapefruit is my favorite fruit, but I also love having regular periods without horrendous cramps and no babies growing inside me.

Teach for America update coming later tonight.

Monday, February 12, 2007

It's just a restless feeling, by my side

Well, I kind of had a little panic attack this morning after going through and mentally adding up exactly all I have to do this week and nearly started to cry at the beginning of Postcolonial Literature. So, I think the best thing for me tonight is to stay in and plow through some readings, rather than go to the Greek Orthodox class, especially considering I have plans with my roommates to watch "I Love NY" at 9 and a friend's birthday party at 10. I'm still planning on attending the Greek Orthodox class next week, though, after the shitstorm passes.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Sunday morning, praise the dawning

A friend of mine ("A.") is thinking of converting to Greek Orthodoxy. We talked about it a few days ago when we ran into each other in the Dovecote, and she invited me to attend the information classes with her at her church. Today we both ended up waiting for the shuttle downtown at the same time, and rode back up to campus together, talking about spirituality and relationships; Orthodoxy, Protestantism, and Judaism; fasting, legalism, pride. I'm becoming more and more certain that I'm going to leave the UCC after this year, in part because I feel closer to the Spirit of God in less rationalized/secularized (in the Weberian sense) religious traditions. As much as I admire and support the UCC for its progressive social and political stances, I don't find expression of the joyful mystery and mysticism of faith in the UCC churches I've attended that I do at, for instance, P'nai Or, or during less rationalized Christian services, like Taize. Tomorrow is the first Greek Orthodox class; maybe I'll find what I'm looking for there.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Conversation fragments

James, Frances' boyfriend, to Eric: "You're from Kansas? You don't look like a Kans...Kansean."
Eric: "Sure I do: look!" (brandishes cross.)
James: "I mean you don't look like a meth-head."

Hispanic guy waiting for the shuttle, to Daniel: "Hey, did you go to Beaverton Central High School?"
Daniel: "No."
Guy: "You really look like someone who did."
Daniel: (silence.)
Guy: "I mean, I'm not saying that because I'm racist, and I think all white people look alike."
Daniel: (silence.)
Guy: "Shit, man, you're offended. I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that."
Daniel: (silence.)
Guy: "If it makes you feel better, I'm half-white, and half-offended right now, too."

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Just a smile would lighten everything

Last night I was so tired that after reading fifteen pages of Don Quijote I went into my room and passed out (not literally, silly) on top of the covers with the lights on, without brushing my teeth, without changing out of my clothes. I dreamt that Carla and I were spending the night at Julia's house in Chile, but for some reason Clay was there and called me downstairs to take a phone call. It was Ryan, and when I heard his voice I tried to give the phone back to Clay because I didn't want to talk to him but Clay said I had to. Ryan and I both apologized to each other and I think I cried.

When I woke up and realized it was all a dream, I couldn't decide whether I was happy or sad that it hadn't really happened.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Maybe this is what being a grown-up is like

Today I went to Safeway and bought wrapping paper for Daniel's birthday present and a bottle of champagne and soup and cottage cheese, and as I was waiting in the check-out line I felt slightly melancholic and sad, but also like I was accomplishing something significant--sort of the way I felt last year in Chile when I had to go to the gynecologist and then to the bank to deposit money for a lab test to be sent off to Santiago. It struck me as I filled out the deposit slip, that November, that nobody was holding my hand or showing me what to do. This is how people live in the world; this is what it's like to be an adult.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Get your Urim and Thummin off my family!

I'm researching the controversy surrounding Mormon baptism of Holocaust victims for my Mormonism seminar (in a nutshell, Mormons believe that dead people can be "baptized by proxy" so they can achieve the highest level of heaven, even after death. In 1995 Jewish leaders and the LDS church met and the LDS church pledged to stop baptizing Holocaust victims, but the practice still occurs). Out of curiosity, I went to the LDS Family Search database to see if any J----eks have been baptized. I was a little sickened to see that the names of four of my ancestors, all of whom were born in the early 1900s, were submitted in 1991 by an anonymous LDS church member. It feels like a violation of my family's memory and heritage; I can't even imagine how horrified and devastating it would be to have one's Jewish Holocaust-victim ancestors baptized.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Hal'leluya, hal'leylu! YAH, my God, I am praising you.

This weekend is Tu B’Shvat, the New Year of the Trees, and P'nai Or is celebrating in good Jewish Renewal-style, with a lot of emphasis on environmental conservation and the responsibility of the Jews to lead the nations in care for God's creation; as they put it on their website, "to heal the world from Global Scorching" (the language of tikkun olam should be obvious!). I'm going to a Tu B'shvat seder tomorrow at 7 at the shul. I love Spirit-filled weekends like this: the monthly Taizé prayer service was last night; I went to Shabbat services this morning; and tomorrow I'll to go UCC services in the morning then the Tu B'shvat seder in the evening.

Every week after Shabbat services at P'nai Or, they have an oneg (kind of like a fellowship hour. I'm not sure if oneg needs an article in front of it. "They have oneg?" If you know, feel free to correct me) and the rabbi blesses the Kiddush cup. I usually leave immediately after the service ends instead of staying for oneg because I feel shy about talking to people I don't know and awkward about standing around by myself pulling little pieces off of the challah loaf. Today I ended up staying, though, and talked with several people; they're not so scary, after all. At one point the rabbi, Reb Aryeh, and I were standing next to each other and he was like, "So. I see you've been attending services for awhile now. What's your story?" We ended up talking for about twenty, twenty-five minutes about my faith background and the Jewish Renewal movement, and the differences between mystical and ascetic orientations towards the world (although our language was not quite so explicitly Weberian). One thing I love about P'nai Or is the singing, dancing, clapping, and free-flowing Spirit; it's so, so different than staid mainline Protestant services. In fact, the rabbi told me that he feels he has more in common, spiritually if not theologically, with a charismatic Pentacostal church than he does with more mainstream Jewish denominations. That's a sentiment I definitely understand, since I feel like I have more in common spiritually with mystical practitioners of all religions than I do with inner-worldly ascetic Christians--which is anti-intuitive, given by Congregational roots.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

How to attract weird looks in the gym

Read the Book of Mormon while riding on the exercise bike.

I feel like making a t-shirt that says "It's for a class!"