Archive for January, 2010

last day of January in South Carolina

January 31, 2010

We had a slight ice storm here yesterday. I wouldn’t call it “ice STORM” actually, because I’ve seen those up north. This was a lighter “ice glistening”. I went out and took a few pictures for the rare occasion. Up north they are having lows below 10, and highs in the 20s if they’re lucky. We are getting down to their high temps. at night, and will reach up to the 40s at least.

This morning it is about 30 degrees and climbing, not warm by any means, but the sun came in so bright by 8am that it woke me from a sleep. I was once again dreaming of working with children, guiding them to somewhere. This is my constant dream, I am a teacher or guider of children. I am sure that is my calling, at least for what the Bahai’s call the “core activities”. When I am not in contact w/ children, I feel very out of sorts. So one project I need to take seriously and get done is an organized set of 15 lessons on virtues that I can have ready to do anywhere, something open to all, something that helps children find the gems inside of them.

I’ve had money on the brain so once again worked on a budget this morning. I could write a long essay on this but suffice it to say, I am thinking back over how Al & I have struggled financially all our lives. Our entire life together. For many reasons. Nothing was ever handed to us on a silver platter. If my father had LIVED (longer than he did), then maybe I would have had such a thing. But not after he passed when I was 16 yrs old. From then on, it’s been one financial struggle after another. Then Al and I got married before we were 20. In Al’s father’s book, that meant we were on our own. Nothing ever came from there to help us out financially. So from ages 18 & 19, we have made it ourselves.

What this means is a particular UNDERSTANDING of what it means to be first generation college, make it on our own, because that’s exactly what we did. My father having a PhD did nothing to show me the way through the academic zone. I did it all on my own. Through the 1980s & downsizing, we were hurt by that when Al lost at least a couple middle management jobs. I know what it is to need food stamps, to stand in that line, to have people think you’re stupid, to be looked down upon, to have people in the grocery line behind you give you hate stares. I know what it means to ask my doctor’s permission to get my kid vaccinations free from the county health dept. & have them turn me down, because I was dressed well and they “didn’t think I needed it”. At the time, I was job hunting. I know what it is to have a “friend” get mad at you for having 4 kids, because she thought we couldn’t afford it. She told me she stopped at 2 because of us. She was nuts, but these things stay with you. And I know what it is to stand in a line to get government cheese. These things leave their mark on you that never leaves.

Al and I have worked HARD all our lives. So all that being said, we have made it, always made it. But besides all the things we had no control over, I wonder now what part of it was us. When you live all your married life, always living within your means but never saving a dime, something is going on psychologically that you never have the EXPECTATION of saving anything. That is what I am now trying to change. There is no reason why, at this time in our lives with our current income, we cannot save something every payday. So I spent some time again working on a budget.

This is nothing new either, I’ve done budgets out the wazoo and nothing much ever comes of it. But you have to just go back to it again, yet again, and look at your circumstances. For some time now, I’ve kept detailed records. They are just now becoming even more detailed. We will figure this thing out. I figure I have 20 years to work, build up a retirement check from TIAA-CREF, then retire. The best thing we can do besides that is save some money ourselves, regularly, without fail. This will make all the difference in the world for our kids to have anything when we pass, and also help us when we get “old”.

The pond is calling to me and my plan is to take a lengthy walk. I must get out into this gorgeous sunshine out there, even if it is “cold”.

publications

January 28, 2010

I have no publications. But I have a number of possible ones. An incredible number of them in fact. It is exhausting but I’m hoping that all of a sudden, a bunch of them will come out all at the same time.

First priority is my book. I have to revise chapters and don’t know what I’m doing, but I’m just gonna do it and send something in. Rutgers Univ. Press and another one expressed a real interest and I haven’t done a thing with it since. That was rough dissertation chapters. When you’ve never done this and you don’t really know what the hell a publisher wants, it’s dang hard to crank it out. If an editor would tell me, Do this, do that, you need this, take that out, I’d do it in a split minute. But no, you’re just supposed to read 3-4 books they “recommend” and “just do it” and then hope for the freakin’ best. It is really confusing and I feel like I’m fumbling in the dark all over again.

What it really boils down to is the same thing as always: Go forward on faith.

Other publications in the works are:

  • my 10-yr-old idea for an article on gender and race in children’s picture books,
  • a small entry on “Code of the Street” for an Encyclopedia on African Americans and Criminal Justice. I’ve talked w/ these people a number of X & they always say it’s going forward, but I never see any result.
  • a NEW offer to write a chapter for an upcoming book on Private Prisons, with my chapter being “Grassroots Initiatives Against Private Prisons.” No clue where I’ll find the time to write that one but it’s supposed to be sent in 6 mos.

If I ever get these accomplished, I have Bahai-related articles I’d like to work on. For example, comparing Max Weber’s iron cage with Shoghi Effendi’s blueprint for future society. Also publishing something on doing online research, or something on finding white supremacists within a prison reform group. Would also love to go back to & re-do my paper on whiteness and oneness: Racial identity among white women in the Baha’i Faith.

haiti

January 28, 2010

(AFP/Thony Belizaire)What comes to mind to write about Haiti, is that I was watching CNN night before last, and saw starving hungry people standing in a food aid line, who eat about once every 3 days right now. And then I saw armed law enforcement spraying them back with pepper spray.  It was the most disgusting display of human tragedy I’ve ever seen.

Any of us would give our dinners to these suffering people. Millions upon millions are being collected and sent, and in the meantime, their infrastructure, airports, docking stations for ships, are so destroyed, plus the general state of chaos where bureaucracy no longer works to get anything done, that 150-200 planes WITH SUPPLIES AND FOOD await PERMISSION TO LAND.

Conditions are so unimaginable, it boggles the mind to even think about it. What good does it do for me to sit here and write about it.

The cruelty of racism, oppression, colonialism from years and decades past set up Haiti to be the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. And now the latest, a huge earthquake. You can’t help but see the beautiful brownness of the people in all the news coverage. It reminds me of Katrina footage.

Today I read they pulled a 16-yr-old girl from the wreckage of a house, who had been buried for 2 weeks. She is alive and no doctor knows why.

What this shows is how the world needs to come together — I mean really come together — and have a functioning world superstate that administers justly and fairly the resources and food of the world. There is no need for such suffering. All we can do is text our $10.00 donations to ATT by texting “haiti” to 90999, and pray that it makes a small difference. All they can do is fight every day for whatever help the rest of the world wants to send to them.

antics on the pond

January 25, 2010

This morning, a small group of 3 geese landed across the pond from our house. One of them was evidently appointed as sentry, as he stood slightly away from the others, honking constantly. The other two were unconcerned about their surroundings and walked around near the edge of the water. Suddenly, I saw a heron to the left of the group, intently staring in their direction. Then he lunged at them, as if to say, “Get out of here, this is my corner of fish!” The geese fluttered a little bit but when I looked back, the heron had flown away.

We get birds flying around our pond but most do not land in it. The herons walk around the edges, looking for small fish. The people of this neighborhood breed fish in our pond, with some catfish and carp getting huge in there. We see them occasionally while walking around the edges. I think most duck and geese don’t swim in our pond because they might encounter fish twice the size of themselves. Either that or they just fly over another set of houses and have access to a much bigger and more diverse place (the large lake).

tree frogs

January 24, 2010

It’s a week from the end of January, and we’re under tornado watch and I heard treefrogs driving home from the laundromat tonight. This South Carolina weather is different! When out today, I said, “This is tornado weather.” It’s hard to explain but it’s unusually WARM, plus cloudy/rainy, plus a light wind that feels eerie somehow. Maybe it’s a change in the air. It feels like the calm before the storm.

Treefrogs are the coolest sounding thing ever. They are LOUD when it’s rainy like this. Very loud. If you get out away from houses or near a pond, you hear them. They were so loud, and this area is so rural, I heard them when I rolled my window down, since it felt too stuffy in the car. They have a loud trilling sound that almost crackles at the same time. Kind of like a high-pitched cat purr combined with running a pencil down the piano keys.

I am oddly unable to stress about my classes this semester. I think last semester was high stress, and came after finishing the PhD, passing the defense and graduating a year before. It was all too much. No one understands what it did to me, to just finish the diss. I truly believe it took 2 years off my life. It’s like knowing that you can only hold your breath for 2 minutes but swimming through an area which required you to hold it for 4. And you made it. After that, you just refuse to ever put yourself in that stress position again. And it’s real hard to gear up to revise it into a book. I just have to do it.

hidden word no.33

January 22, 2010

O SON OF SPIRIT!
With the joyful tidings of light I hail thee: rejoice! To the court of holiness I summon thee; abide therein that thou mayest live in peace for evermore.

 (Baha’u’llah, The Arabic Hidden Words)

kick ass schedule

January 22, 2010

I just want to say, this semester I have a kick ass schedule. My week starts on Monday at 1:00, then I stay to also teach a night class that night. Teach Tues. & Thurs. at 9:25am and 12:15pm. On Wed. I teach one class at 1:00. NO CLASS ON FRIDAY (3-day weekend if needed)!

Of course the reality is we are working in our offices the rest of the day and at home most evenings.

Last semester I had an extra class (which made 5 in one semester) and nearly 120 students. It was way too much, I nearly collapsed. I am so relieved this semester. It gives me a great sense of freedom to have Fridays to do whatever work I want and to not teach.

Why Lil Monkey black baby doll?

January 21, 2010

Weeks ago, I wrote a piece titled, “Lil Monkey Black Baby Doll” on this blog. It was my thoughts on the fiasco committed by Costco stores, in putting two baby dolls out for sale, one white and one black. No problem there, except they named the black one “Lil Monkey” and put a banana in its hand, and named the white one “Pretty Panda” with a bottle or something else in its hand. You can read the piece for my detailed reaction.

I just thought I’d write about it being the one and only piece that is consistently and repeatedly searched for and read, on my blog. It FREAKS ME OUT, people!! What the heck?? Are we so obsessed?

What is it about this piece that grabs people’s attention to the point that I get 100 searches on it in one week?

Yes it deals with racism, but so does the piece on the swimming pool in Philadelphia. So does the piece on Henry Louis Gates. Is it the fact that it’s about racism, children and dolls? No one ever comments, they just look it up. Makes me think some instructor is pointing students to it, I don’t know. One person did write to me and thought I was saying it was okay, somehow, for Costco to sell the dolls the way they did. I have no idea how he could think that from reading my post, but he did. His comments were so angry and full of profanity that I deleted them.

so you tell me, why the fascination with this post? What else can we talk about, or is there more to say on that one issue but nobody’s speaking up?

the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

January 18, 2010

I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

desire for pilgrimage

January 14, 2010

I reach across a chasm

but cannot get there,

Who would have guessed,

if I did not see you then,

that before I would ever see your face

it would be 5 more years, to 10?

My love, my longing, my aching heart,

I feel the gentle breezes of your closeness,

as I wander amidst the gardens,

How I long to make the journey to be near you,

to appease my fluttering heart,

For some, it is done so easily,

for others, we wait an eternity,

Who knows the reasons why.