Saturday, November 26, 2005

Sad News

Several years ago, at 2 1/2 years old, my youngest niece was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. There ensued 2 years of intensive and frightening therapies which were often as dangerous to her as the disease itself. Fortunately for our family, my niece beat the unfavorable odds and survived her illness. She is now in remission, and is enjoying a normal, active life. We learned today that one of her friends is losing his second fight.

Parents and children on pediatric oncology units tend to separate themselves into tribes, based on the age of the affected children, and the disease the children are fighting. The kids with my niece's diagnosis, almost all very young (the disease attacks babies and toddlers), became over time brothers and sisters of sorts. They all have natural siblings, but their fellow patients were their trench-buddies. They were all children who felt well, but were told they were sick, and then brought to a hospital where people gave them medicine that made them feel sick. Each knew what the other was suffering after surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or stem-cell harvesting without being told. They played together, went bald together, ate together when permitted to eat, celebrated their victories together, and even went to the same cancer-patient camps together the summers after their hospitalizations ended. Last year, the "older brother" of my niece's tribe was told his cancer had come back, and was inoperable. After a year of fighting the illness again, all his options have been exhausted, none of the children's hospitals can think of any way to prolong his life, and his health is failing. At nine years old, all he wishes for now is that no other kids have to have cancer like he did. Me too.

(Note: Edited for intelligibility)

Friday, November 25, 2005

Late Giving of Thanks, and Some Thoughts on Black-Friday

Happy Belated Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Sappy Stuff First
I am deeply thankful for:
1) My mother, who is always always encouraging, generous, and loving with me. She taught me by example and with words how very important it is for me to be the woman I need to be, rather than the woman others would have me be. Go multi-generational feminism! While I'm at it, I should thank her mother and grandmother for having had the courage to be formidable women in a time when women were meant to be perpetual girls, and thank her father and grandfather for being proud of their wives' accomplishments.
2) My sisters, amazing people that they are, who were willing to drive up to Microburg from a suburb that isn't ashamed to claim itself as such so that our family might celebrate Thanksgiving together.
3) My nieces and nephews (family midgets), who never fail to make me laugh, even when I'm in the full power of my end-of-semester writing neuroses coupled with standard-issue holiday-hostess neuroses.
Youngest Niece, upon seeing me write margin notes in a book Wednesday: "Oooooh, that's so rude. I'll bet you get in trouble for that. So disrespectful!" Friday: "Reading, reading, reading! It's like you don't know how to do anything else. There are snowmen trapped on the lawn, and they need us to get them out!"
Eldest Nephew, upon arriving (after work and a long drive) at an ungodly hour of Thanksgiving morning and seeing my apartment for the first time: "So, this isn't a disgusting collegiate place. Want me to bring some dirty socks to throw around next time, so we can do this place up RIGHT?"
Eldest Niece, arriving with Eldest Nephew: "I brought stuff to make my very first from-scratch-pie, but you have to show me how."
4) Being in graduate school. As much as I whine about the work-load, and I do, this is the first work I've ever done that I wouldn't run from if I won the lottery. Also, as the first child of my generation to earn a B.A., simply being welcome in a graduate program is a constant source of amazement to me.
5) Having long-time friends who accept that I disappear for four months at a time, encourage my ambition, but occasionally insist that I surface for much-needed socialization.

Black Friday
I do NOT shop on Black Friday. Never have. Frankly, I find the idea of a national shopping day rather distasteful. Today, as I spoke to friends who do shop on Black Friday, they told me about shout-fests and physical altercations they witnessed that boggled my mind. "I will provide the newest toy/clothing/electronic doodad for my child, regardless of the immoral, illegal, and unsafe actions I have to take in order to do so" is not my idea of good parenting, folks. I don't have children, and I don't pretend to understand the pressures of parenthood, but ... damn! Imagine if your children saw you BITING ANOTHER CHILD'S MOTHER because she was in line for the much-to-be-desired sale-price object before you were. I was not permitted to own all the artifacts of affluence I wished as a child (in the 80's, so there were many), and guess what? I'm OK. It's very possible that your children will grow up to be fine, productive citizens without owning the "right" toy/clothing/electronic doodad. They'd probably prefer the embarrassment of that lack to having a parent arrested for assault. Just sayin'

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Tired, Stupid, and Evil

1) came thisclose to wishing my PoMo professor -- the one whose pet peeve is the demonization of Indians in the old west -- a Happy Thanksgiving. Me, smiling: "Ha... [realization dawns, awkward silence]... uh ... [Internal dialogue:Quick! Say something, fool!]...Have a good weekend." PoMo prof, laughing: "Oh, you too." (wink)
2) While prepping pies for Thanksgiving (I'll be hosting this year), considered setting the parental controls on my TV to block out episodes of Law & Order just for the joy of watching my visiting family freak out.
3) Discovered that Queen Bertrada's name means "Broadfoot," laughed for several minutes, then tried to figure out how to form a Germanic name that means "One who argues with inanimate objects."

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Democracy: n. 2005 edition

1) System of governance in which the majority of citizens are repeatedly asked to abandon their civil rights and legal protections to cater to the;
a)will to power,
b)religious convictions, and/or
c)bank-accounts of the minority.

It seems as if the only way -- the ONLY way -- some democrats can see the democratic party returning to power in the near future is to abandon the fight for women's rights to bodily autonomy. Now, last I heard, women were about 52% of the voting public in this country. And, based on the most recent polls the majority of Americans consider it a woman's right to determine for herself whether or not she will carry a pregnancy to term. So, why not just surrender women's rights to appeal to the MINORITY of the country who find self-determining women a threat to God's immortal plan for white, male, Protestant American domination of the globe? Fucktards!
Here's my modest proposal. Dump the party that wants women to give up their rights "for your own good, precious" AND the party that wants us to give up our rights "for the greater good of all" and come up with another fucking party. A party that holds the belief that women are, funnily enough, grown up people who can make moral decisions about their own bodies and lives, all by themselves. Couple that belief with some rudimentary mathematical skills, and you've got yourself a winning team.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

I'm a Follower. Rats!

Also stolen ... er ... appropriated from Quod She:

You scored as Wiglaf. Loyal and brave in your own right, you are Wiglaf, one of Beowulf's Geats. You are the only one of Beowulf's hand-picked troop who stood by his Lord's side as he faced the dragon. After Beowulf's death, you rebuke those who fled when they were needed most.





The Dragon




Grendel's Mother






If You Were in Beowulf...
created with

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

I Am Too Smart!

An idea appropriated from Quod She:

You Passed 8th Grade Science

Congratulations, you got 8/8 correct!

Procrastination Meets Narcissism (with a dash of self-abnegation for flavor)

Question: What to do when one has three 20-page research papers due frighteningly soon, a stack of grading taller than the average kindergartener to get back to students, and is rapidly running out of clean socks?
Answer: Write a blog entry.

I really, really miss feeling smart and organized. It was a nice feeling, and I want it back. Back in the good old days of smart and organized Heo Cwaeth, I was convinced that this was unshakeable self-esteem. Ha! The degree to which I based that feeling (when I had it) on the approval of others was really brought home to me last week when the professor who frightens me most, the one who will not speak to or acknowledge students until he's convinced they're not complete dunderheads spoke to me for the first time. (It took twelve weeks to get out of dunderhead-land, that's a bad sign.) I was alarmingly pleased with the tiny little approving nodling that I got from this guy. Part of that probably comes from the fact that I had nightmares and daymares for a week leading up to my presentation in his class that I would give my evidence, make my argument, and he would just look at me and say "No." This didn't happen, of course. I got two whole syllables out of him. And I bragged about those two syllables to a friend, too. It's almost as if convincing this guy that I'm not vapid somehow proves that I really can handle grad school. Now, how sad is that?

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Random Advice: With No Expectation of its Reaching its Target.

Putting my two cents in, in the vaguest possible way:

Sometimes it's very hard to let go of an insult, or what you perceive to be an insult. I've been there. I've even caused gigantic scenes about my insult, triumphantly informing others of the slight against me, and trying to woo them over to my side of a debate which was raging only for me. I've made myself childish, too. The temptation to revel in one's injured pride and 'obvious moral superiority' to one's opponent is great. However, I've also paid the price for that behavior, and it was high. Nevermind that what I thought my pride demanded of me resulted in more damage to the respect others had for me, and my self-respect than simply saying "Geez, I hate it when people do that" and then walking away would have done. Nevermind that my pride still wouldn't allow me to drop it and walk away after I knew the whole drama was an exercise in pointlessness. "Dammit! I'm tired of being 'the better man,' and I won't do it this time" was my mantra. The real issue, the one that will continue to be with you when that intoxicating, invigorating feeling of righteous indignation leaves, is this: the knowledge that the better part of the problem, the part that began when you decided to make a personal crusade of your injury, was your fault. You directed your energy toward this slight. You let it take over your brain and define who you are. The only one you changed in the process was you, not for the better. And it wasn't worth it.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Clarification Needed

While walking to class recently, I happened upon a male professor I know and we engaged in conversation. So far everything's normal, right? This professor and I were going into the same building, and therefore needed to walk through the same doors. Professor X reached the outer door to the building before I did and opened the door for me, leaving me in the vestibule and able to open the second door. As I reached for the handle of the second door, Professor X yelled at me to wait. Startled by the sudden change in volume, and assuming some danger awaited me or another at the opening of the door, I let the handle go. At which point, Professor X reached past me, opened the door for me, and using much more civil tones and his inside voice, stated "I can't change the way I was raised." Now, I like a good irony as much as anybody, however I'm a bit confuzzled by this experience. Aren't feminists supposed to be the ones out in the world yelling at people over door issues? Also, having been born without a dangling participle, I did not get The Gentleman's Handbook and would like to know the rules regarding shouting at random women. Any ideas on this?