...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

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Whiplash boychild

It was a moment both touching and humbling when I realized that my most challenging student wears socks from the BabyGap; curled up on his mat during rest time, he doesn't look like an aggressor or a fight-starter, just an exhausted four-year-old nestled into a red fleece blanket.

Friday, May 25, 2007

I also like James Joyce

You're Ireland!

Mystical and rain-soaked, you remain mysterious to many people, and this
makes you intriguing.  You also like a good night at the pub, though many are just as
worried that you will blow up the pub as drink your beverage of choice.  You're good
with words, remarkably lucky, and know and enjoy at least fifteen ways of eating a potato.
 You really don't like snakes.

Take the Country Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid

Thursday, May 24, 2007

I like gentle touches

When I met my co-workers Lisa and Adriana at the bus stop after work today, they were talking about how we've all kind of picked up the preschool inflection: the hyper-empathetic tone of voice and turns of phrase that the school encourages for use with the kids. Our school is structured around a few philosophies of childhood care and education so alternative (and yet totally common-sensical, once you get used to them) that they don't even have Wikipedia pages devoted to them; since all the teachers and parents support the philosophies, a certain language and vocabulary have really developed at the care center. L., A., and I all trained together and started at the same time, so we've become a kind of cohort group, as we go through the adjustment and acculturation (for lack of a better word) processes together. Today we talked about how we find our school vocabulary creeping into our non-school lives--the other night I asked Daniel whether he was going to rest on his belly or on his back; he responded, "Your preschool voice creeps me out."

Sunday, May 20, 2007

What's wrong with calling Paris Hilton a whore?

I spent most of this afternoon in bed, drinking coffee and reading various feminist blogs. One of the ones I came across, via a comment on Feministe, was Taking Steps. I cannot recommend the post slings and arrows highly enough:

"It gave me pause, but of course I jumped in: "Is your problem that she was driving drunk, or that she has sex?" Spluttering from both about her obnoxiousness. "Yes, but is it good she's doing time because she's a rich, entitled person who thinks she can do whatever she wants, or because she doesn't wear much clothing?" My mother notes, quietly, that we could be using 'the dreaded c-word.' At that point, I really had to hold myself back, while my brother insisted that, no, he has no problem with people having sex, I mean, no problem with women, you know, it's just that--"

Read more.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Teach your children well

I spent most of today at a Kindercare in Gresham, becoming CPR and first-aid certified and taking a class on how to recognize and report child abuse and neglect; both classes are required by the state of Oregon to work with kids. On the MAX on my way home, I noticed a tall, thirtyish Caucasian man with a shaved head get on with a young preschool-age boy. They sat down one seat behind me and across the aisle. The boy bounced happily in the seat and smiled at the man, then made a sound of discontent with something.

"Stop whining; you sound like a girl," the man told him.

I turned back to my music and gritted my teeth. "Not my issue," I told myself. Across the aisle, a high school-age guy laughed.

"I tell him that when he whines like that, he starts growing boobs!" the man turned and told the guy. "I say that one day he's going to wake up in the morning and have a full rack!" The man threw his head back and laughed. The boy looked at him in confusion, with the hesitant smile of kids who aren't sure exactly what their parents are doing or what's expected of them but want to please the big people.

I turned up my music and thought about blogging about the incident as an example of the social construction of gender, and the way that hatred of women is taught to children in a patriarchal society, and how that short-changes everyone. The MAX sped towards the Lloyd Center. Some people got off, and more people got on.

After a few minutes I saw some movement out of the corner of my eye and turned back to look at the man and the boy. The man was "play"-punching the boy in the shoulder, hard enough that his clenched fist pushed the little boy's body against the window on impact. The boy seemed to have shrunk and had his hands up in front of his face, huddled in the corner of his seat, still with the hesitant smile on his face. "Say something!" the man demanded. "You're just going to sit there and take a beating?" The boy squealed, "Stop touching me!" As the boy spoke the man moved his punches from the boy's shoulder to his cheekbone, right under the eye. "Pow!" the man said. My heart pounded. I had just completed the class on recognizing and reporting child abuse.

"HE SAID TO STOP TOUCHING HIM," I said loudly. The man turned to me with a surprised, slack-jawed grin. He laughed in a way that made me wonder if he was drunk. "You telling me how to touch my kid?" he said uncertainly. "Just look at the smile on his face. We're just messing around!"

I held the man's gaze for a second and then turned back to my music. The stoned-sounding teenage girl sitting behind me started telling her boyfriend how disrespectful she would have found it for someone to tell her how to raise her own child. "If his mother was here there would have been an explosion if she'd'a done that!" the man said to no one in particular. My heart was still pounding. The MAX arrived at the Lloyd Center, where I needed to get something, so I got off. I thought about the incident throughout the rest of the day.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Quote of the Day

Excerpt from a comment on I Blame the Patriarchy, left by LMYC:

"....Feminism should be threatening to the established order, and if it doesn’t make him confront icky things about himself that make him a bit queasy, it’s not doing its job. You’re all there to work your asses off for women, not kiss some Nice Guy’s backside to reassure him he’s not Like Those Other Guys, You Know, The Bad Ones We’re Protesting Against...More importantly, and I can’t say this enough, hold to extremely high standards and do not compromise them one millimeter. And never allow yourself to back down because you want to “be nice” and “give him a chance.” You do not owe ANYONE that. You aren’t shooting these men dead or throwing them into a lava pit; you’re merely excluding them from a march. If they’re decent or have that capacity in them, they’ll understand. If not, the hell with them. I mean, what is this “be nice and give him a chance” but yet one more variation on the overarching theme of all women’s lives: Don’t Piss Off Mr. Sir Or Else He’ll Get Very Angry And Do Bad Things To Me. It should go without saying that that dynamic has no place in a feminist activist event, or feminism at all. Piss them off, and don’t dare be afraid to do so."

(P.S. Read the post itself. It's outrageous. If you have to ask "Am I raping my girlfriend?" the answer is yes; and if you send that question in to Twisty Faster you already know the answer and are probably getting off from shoving your heteronormative sexualized violence in the face of a radical lesbian feminist. Letters like this dude's make me think that Andrea Dworkin was on to something!)

(P.P.S. I'm in The Dalles right now on my way to Walla Walla to pick up my little brother from college; longer post when I'm back in Portland in a couple days.)

(P.P.P.S. I got the job!)

Saturday, May 05, 2007

The Herakleopolite Gnome

(Note addition to the links bar: umbrellas are for transients, my friend Emilie's blog.)

My parents and I arrived at the Religious Studies department reception about an hour late, since the Phi Beta Kappa induction ceremony started at the same time (and they didn't teach us the secret handshake! What's up with that??). When we arrived at the reception, Ellen and Tom both came up to me gesturing all excited and whispered that I should quickly go sign the card for Rob and then we could present him with the gnome; I thought it was thoughtful of them to wait for me to arrive before giving it to him. The gnome was about fifteen or sixteen inches tall and was holding a little ceramic shovel. Katie had written "Herakleoplite" in black sharpie on the base of his little red cap.

Katie, Ellen, Tom, Andy, Heidi and I all gathered together and pulled Rob out of the crowd, and Katie gave him the gnome on behalf of our Biblical Studies seminar. He was totally surprised. but got the joke immediately and laughed loudly for a long time. Actually, I don't know if I've ever seen him so genuinely tickled about something, including when he won Teacher of the Year. "This is the most perfect gift!" he exclaimed. "You know, I never made the connection between nome and gnome. This guy is going in my office." He said that he's going to take it with him to the upcoming American Society of Papyrologists conference, where he'll be presenting a paper about texts from the Herakleopolite Nome during the Ptolemaic period; Heidi suggested that he take it with him to Greece next semester and take its picture in front of various sites, like in Amelie. He thanked us profusely, and carried the gnome around with him for the rest of the reception. We were all so happy that he liked it so much; it really went off perfectly. It was a great way to end my Religious Studies career here.

This evening was the Senior Soiree, a fancy dinner for graduates and their families, and faculty; tomorrow is commencement itself, and Monday I'm interviewing at the preschool.

Quote of the Day: Dean de Paolo, at the Phi Beta Kappa induction ceremony: "Congratulations on being inducted into Phi Beta Kappa; you will find that this key will open many doors...all of them metaphorical. It doesn't open any real doors."

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Five things about yesterday and today

1. I interviewed for a position as a bilingual preschool teacher last Friday, and I'm scheduled to go in for a second interview to see how I interact with the kids for three hours on Monday. Please pray or think good thoughts for it going well; it would be a great job.

2. I've been officially dismissed from the community of Christian Noahides because of, among a couple other things, my pro-choice/pro-reproductive freedom beliefs.

3. Last night I couldn't remember the name of Pedro de Valdivia, the Christopher Columbus of Chile. (I realize now that I was confusing him with Pedro Montt, a former president, whose name I couldn't remember either.) I remembered little details--like that Avenida Pedro Montt ran behind the university, parallel to Errázuriz, and that one of the guys Mariah and I met at our tango lessons at la Piedra Feliz bar was from Valdivia--I could even hear him, in my mind, saying "Soy de Valdivia, ¿cachai?" (I'm from Valdivia, get it?)--and that Estrella distante by Roberto Bolano was set there, and that the plane on the way down to Punta Arenas stopped there, and that Nona Fernández (Hernández?) queered Valdivia in Mapocho, one of the books Carla and I read for our feminist/gay literature class, but I couldn't think of the name. It finally came to me a couple hours later in bed. It always makes me sad when I can't remember things like that about Chile--the other day I was trying to think of how to say "bundle up" and I had to search for it online (it's abrigarse)--even when I can remember the details.

4. I finished my final seminar paper on the function of the Word of Wisdom in contemporary Mormon society and how it's used to construct cultural boundaries around the Mormon community. I guess it's my last college paper, but because I never did the Book of Mosiah reading I still feel sort of unfulfilled and incomplete about the semester. I think I will try to do that tonight and tomorrow morning.

5. Carla and I just got back from seeing The Namesake, and it was very good. We both cried a lot and afterwards we agreed that it was a good movie to cry to. I like Mira Nair (but I still don't really want to see Vanity Fair.)

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Insert your own "melts in your mouth, not in your hand" joke here

From No Greater Joy: To Betroth or Not to Betroth? That is the Question:

Most “Christian” young people are “damaged goods.” Church youth groups are hotbeds of immorality. And I am not limiting my evaluation just to those that have copulated. Would you buy a candy bar that had not been eaten, but the wrapper had been partially removed? What if it had not been handled, just displayed in a partially unwrapped condition? Would you buy the candy bar if it had not been eaten, but just licked? After all, licking by one or more persons would leave the proud, new owner plenty of candy bar to take home for his own.

The lesson: if a woman's hermetic seal has been broken, don't buy her. Somebody else has probably licked out all the gooey filling.

Another addition to the links bar

Joebankey, my little brother's LiveJournal. It's sporadically updated but pretty adorable. "Perhaps Jesus smiled down on me this Easter Sunday as I bought his reduced priced Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs. God bless us, everyone!"

I have my Post-Colonial Literature final tomorrow (technically today) at 1pm; it's my last final, although I need to finish my final Mormonism paper and read/summarize the Book of Mosiah (an assignment that was due in February, but that I never did because I was gone that day and also the Book of Mormon is confusing and boring. I don't expect to get credit for it--it was just a credit/no-credit assignment--but I need to do it for my own personal sense of completion and fulfillment**). The Mormonism paper is due Thursday; I wanted to have it done by tomorrow afternoon, since I'm going over to Daniel's Wednesday night and I wanted to be completely done, but if I need to finish it Thursday morning, it's not the end of the world. This evening Iliana and Carla came over for dinner and we talked about Salman Rushdie and Jamaica Kinkaid, google-stalking our professors, and movies. Thursday Carla and I are going to see The Namesake; Friday my parents are coming up to Portland, and Sunday I graduate!

**It was the same situation with my stupid star sketch for Astronomy. The sketch--observe and draw the Big Dipper, the Little Dipper, Polaris, Casseiopeia, and if possible Cepheus right after dusk, then again three hours later, then predict how you think the stars will look right before dawn--was assigned the very first day of class; we were supposed to do it the first clear night of the semester. I was intimidated, I think, because I've never been able to find Big Dipper (shut up) so I didn't do the sketch the first clear night...or the second...or the third...and then there was a solid month of cloudy nights. By the time I finally did the sketch in early March I was embarrased to have done it so late, so I put off turning it in (I felt I needed to give it directly to the professor rather than risk it getting lost in the shuffle of the homework pile) until the very last day of class. I told him I didn't expect to get credit but that I wanted to turn it in for my own sense of completion; he said he understood and that there was a good chance he would give me half credit, which sure enough was the case. It wasn't going to make or break my grade but I just feel better knowing that I've done everything assigned.