Thursday, December 29, 2011

Top Ten--2011

Top Ten Awesome Things about 2011:
  1. The Crisis has made some progress in the right direction. And it's not nearly as bad as it could be.
  2. Huge strides in my quest to get more publications under my belt.
  3. My job is going really well, mostly, and I have opportunities that would probably not otherwise be available to me.
  4. The Hubby and I have figured out a date-nigh/babysitting exchange with another family that has been really valuable.
  5. The Babydoll and The Baby Boy are doing quite well in school and in extra-curricular activities.
  6. Friends who had been wanting a baby for nearly five years, and who had a stillborn in the process, welcomed their beautiful, healthy son. A number of other friends also welcomed healthy babies into their families.
  7. Finally had my bridal portrait framed, three years after I actually posed for it, and 10 years after I actually got married. (Of course, The Hubby cracked the glass in the process of giving it to me for Christmas, but, oh well.)
  8. My hair is doing great. I'm learning to handle it in its unrelaxed state and I've had a very useful shift in my definitions of beauty. I feel sassy and I learned to swim (kind of)!
  9. Regarding another crisis with family friends, one unrelated to the major crisis in my life, another year has passed that moves them closer to a resolution of a very bad thing.
  10. The little world in my house is pretty good; my children are mostly unaffected by the horrible things that I know are going on and they are, I think, really and truly happy children who express their love for us and each other; my husband still loves me and I still love him. And I like him a lot of the time, too.
*And here's a bonus: I finished the awesome list much more quickly than the suck list.

Top Ten Sucktastic Things about 2011:
  1. The Crisis will not freaking go away. It gets better, then randomly and unpredictably gets worse. And there's so little I can do about it.
  2. The Crisis insists on sprouting branches, most of which I can barely do anything about.
  3. We lost an elder in our family.
  4. Still have friends who haven't yet been able to realize their dream of becoming parents.
  5. Still not on anybody's tenure track.
  6. Still having migraines, despite efforts to change my diet (although that's helped some) and I might need to switch medications again.
  7. Something that I wanted to happen for a long time fell into my lap and then was snatched away. It still has not materialized in a successful way.
  8. My faith is . . . challenged. And confused. But that might just be this week.
  9. I missed a perfectly free Stevie Wonder appearance because I was at a conference.
  10. Failed goals.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

This Christmas (Donny Hathaway style)

Merry Christmas to all!

"Hang all the mistletoe. I'm gonna get to know you better. This Christmas.

Fireside is blazing bright . . . ."

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Linking Love--"A Journey"

I'm glad every year to link this beautifully written, deeply moving post. Enjoy:

http://badmommymoments.com/2011/12/22/a-journey/

Saturday, December 17, 2011

To the Victor

So, our shelf is filling up with trophies. The Babydoll and The Baby Boy have a year or two of sports and activities under their belts, and they've been rewarded with trinkets at the end of each season. At this point, we've already been involved in dance, gymnastics, karate, baseball, softball, and basketball. I see the line of demarcation, when the activity starts to be recognizable as an actual sport; there are scores, winners, losers, rules, referee calls. I appreciate the entry level when they were around three years old and simply trying to figure what they were supposed to be doing. I also see that most activities have a separate realm for those who are "special" or "gifted" in an area. But now, I kind of wish there was a little more merit involved in general.

My children are likely not on their way to compete in anybody's Olympic games (for many reasons, including my belief in normalcy and refusal to spend all of my money or turn my life upside down) so leaning towards merit might also mean they would be left trophy-less. What I'm really thinking is that I want them to know when are really good at something and when they are just doing it for fun. When they need to work harder to master a skill. When they can look to their peers as an aspirational example. I'm sure that's coming, and I'm not so much looking forward to the pain of losing or failing--their pain or my pain because I am a horrible loser. But The Babydoll asked when she was playing softball, "What will happen if we don't win?" I didn't know how to answer that. The coaches explained that if they worked hard in practice, they would win more games than they lost, and they did. And when they did lose, they told the girls that they could learn from those games. But my answer to the question was basically, "Nothing." I meant that nothing bad would happen if they lost a game, like being poked with a red hot poker or forced to hit balls until they hands bled or banished from the game forever; but The Babydoll is also very Type A, so I wanted her to know that I would also not be angry with her if they lost. It made me a little uncomfortable, though, because nothing really did happen when they lost. They got the same trophies at the end of the season no matter how they played. That's true even for my son, who decided in the middle of the short season that he was waaayyy over the pushing and tackling for the balls that were pushed two feet and rolled off the tee. He thought it better to stand perfectly still the entire game and fake a tummy ache. Gymnastics seemed to sort of split the difference by giving scores during the meets (it's recreational, not elite) and ranking them, but they were ranked all the way to eighth or ninth place so that every girl in every category had a place on the podium. They still all received the exact same trophy, though. The Babydoll had a relatively high number, but I couldn't help but think that if I were number one in my category, I'd want my trophy to actually read #1. Then, there's that whole Tiger Mom thing, that suggests that there's great reward in pushing yourself to the limits and accomplishing something through sacrifice and extremely hard work. Then again, I value normalcy, and playing piano 80 hours a day just ain't normal . . . .

I'm sure this will take care of itself soon enough, as my children as still very young. The agony of defeat will show itself readily whether we want it to or not. And when I think of it again, this "trophy just for showing up" method serves my purpose quite well, as my thought was to allow them to try lots of activities while they are young so that they can see what they like and what they are good at for when they are older. (I think that teenagers need something to take up their time and something valuable to keep them on the straight and narrow--I have a lot of theories, huh?). So maybe it doesn't matter that they get a trophy for doing the minimum. Of course, I know that I'm paying for those trophies as much as if I just went to the store and bought them. In the end, our shelf is filling up with rewards, not awards. But maybe that's okay. For now.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Other people who like "Reed Between the Lines"

I knew there was something very right going on with "Reed Between the Lines." Here's another comment on what this show is getting right, despite the weaknesses and writing and comedy, which they seem to be working on. Again, I'll give it an A for effort.

http://crunkfeministcollective.wordpress.com/2011/12/01/reed-ing-gender-between-the-lines/

Friday, December 2, 2011

More harried linking (sorry)

Since it's the end of the semester and I'm way behind on grading, preparing for an exam, and blah, blah, blah, I wanted to share this clip. I wanted to write an actual post, but I have nothing to say that doesn't have to do with running to programs, baking, and--of course--reading essays of various and questionable quality. And that's boring, so enjoy a different bloggy mom. She's as harried as me, probably more so, and yet she can still blog. Hmmm. Oh well, I'm not that sorry since it's a good read. Enjoy:

http://www.justicejonesie.com/blog/blog/category/motherhood/

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Day link

Happy Turkey Day. Check out this thoughtful post on the topic:

http://piepmeier.blogspot.com/2011/11/sarah-josepha-hale.html

Enjoy!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Why I’m liking “Reed Between the Lines”

(I'm saying "like" rather than "love" because, while I'm excited about the premise, this is not the best writing I've ever seen. And sometimes the chemistry is weird. But I think that it could be really good if given some time.)

  • The allusions to “The Cosby Show”—their parenting riffs off of the ways in which the Huxtables demonstrated lessons with elaborate skits and loving logic. Keenan has had a number of Theo-like moments when he’s scheming, and doesn’t want to stress himself with school, and thinks all the girls want him.
  • The ways they ramp up the old school—Carla and Alex Reed are as affectionate as Cliff and Claire Huxtable, but they are kinkier. There’s lot of role playing and more than just affection. They clearly have sex. ! And their family offers our best wishes for a blended family. The older twins call their stepfather “Dad” and their biological father “Pops”. And Alex is a loving and professional father, but he’s also a homeschooling dad.
  • The reinvention of actors and actresses who we’ve known and loved—obviously Tracee Ellis Ross from “Girlfriends” and Malcolm Jamal Warner from “The Cosby Show”. But there’s also Anna Maria Horsford from “Amen” and Melissa DeSousa from “The Best Man”.
  • And, of course, there’s that sexy, cool, English professor thing!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Boys Don't Cry (and they don't take showers with grown men)

Once, DH and I were at a family event and his 7-year-old nephew was trying to lean on him. He made the boy get up. Later, when I questioned what I thought was unnecessary meanness, he told me the boy was too old to be laying up against a man like that. I relayed this incident to a male friend and he, too, agreed, sharing that his young nephew (the age escapes me, but he was younger than 7) had rested his hand on my friend's leg once and he promptly picked it up and moved it. Apparently, the end age for male touching comes pretty early in a boy's life.

So, a grown man--an unrelated grown man, especially-- taking a naked shower with a 10-year-old boy is just not supposed to be done. Even if and especially if it is "just horseplay." Come on, Jerry Sandusky, you have got to do better than that. As one of Herman Cain's accusers advised of him, just tell the truth so everyone can move forward.

Seriously.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Waltons of Oz

My daughter just walked in and saw me watching "The Wizard of Oz" and asked me why I was watching "The Waltons" with costumes.

Hilarious.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I Just Realized

I'm watching "Our America with Lisa Ling". She's exploring modern plural marriage. I just connected the dots and realized that this version of marriage includes not just one husband and several wives, but also wives who are married to each other as well as to their shared husband. This, of course, results in children who have more than one mother.

I wonder how conservative people in plural marriage deal with this weird parallel.


*Okay. I see that Ling acknowledges the link. A group of lesbian women is working with the women to help them with activism to keep the gov't out of both their bedrooms and marriages. Hmmm.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

In Hair News

Twice recently black hair has shown up unexpectedly on television in interesting ways.

First, on "Reed Between the Lines" Traci Ellis-Ross and her head full of curlies tried to teach her TV daughter a lesson when the daughter straightens her hair. Initially, the straightening is about a role in a play; they give her a knotty wig to wear that looks terrible, so she decides to flat-iron her own hair instead of wearing the wig because the character is supposed to have long, flowing hair. But when her crush sees her and compliments her, she decides that she should wear it straight all the time. Ellis-Ross finds the daughter just before she applies a home relaxer and tries to get her to see the error of changing something she likes about herself in the name of pleasing some guy. Then a rather "Cosby Show"-esque skit ensues when both parents pretend to be a 1950s-ish June Cleaver, man-pleasing couple. The daughter's crush is over for dinner and seems to think this kind of man-catering is a great idea, at which point Malcolm Jamal Warner (just realized that these people have a lot of names--Anna Maria Horsford is on the show, too!) takes him into the kitchen to correct his ideas about gender. Eventually, the daughter just decides that she likes her hair and starts wearing it curly again, telling crush boy to like it or leave it. It was a surprising way to engage black women and hair. Hmmmm.

The second instance was even more surprising. Olivia on "The Waltons" (which my family has renamed "Mommy's favorite show!) is bent on making a change in her mundane, routined life. She settles on changing her hair and gets hooked up to one of those hair-curling monstrosities that you only see in books--with a thousand hooks and cords that descend from the ceiling and look like they would rip every hair out one-by-one. Unfortunately, she hates the permanent wave that results and her whole family laughs at her. So she goes over to Birdie's house because she's heard that her people know how to straighten curly hair. Well, Birdie laughs at her, too, and tells her that the women in her family don't know nothing 'bout straightening no hair because they've always worn it natural. I was pleased at the shout out for natural hair, even in the 1920s, and kind of glad that the one black person on Walton's mountain didn't end up, in this instance, simply serving the random needs of this family. But it was also kind of funny to me that Olivia seemed so desperate to learn the mysterious ways of black folks' hair.

As usual, I don't really have a take on these moments, but it's interesting to me that black women's hair is so pervasive an issue that it finds its way into stories all over the place.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The World of Boys

I freely admit that I do not understand the world of boys. My only experience is of the men in my family--father, grandpas, uncles, but no brothers. Sure, I know boys. The ones I wanted to date. Kind of. And I think I understand girls. I have friends, plenty of women in my family, a little bit of reading in women's studies, and lots of opportunity to observe. But the world of boys baffles me.

I'm getting ready for parent-teacher conferences with my children's teachers, and that got me thinking about how much more often my son has a less-than-stellar discipline report from school. He's a happy child. He's funny and bright and has a way with words. I often think of how he will charm unsuspecting girls with his quirky humor and easy laugh. He has lots of energy, but he doesn't always know how reign it in appropriately. Lately, he's come home with stories of how groups of boys--sometimes all of the boys in his small class--were on the receiving end of a consequence. I know that sometimes my son doesn't do the right thing because he tells me; but sometimes he tells him that he hasn't actually misbehaved and that he's only been playing with the boys when they all got in trouble. Or that the behavior that landed them in trouble was talking too loud or playing too rough. At their old school, the names on the sad face side of the board at pick-up time belonged to boys more frequently than girls. And I know a boy who stayed in trouble with his teacher because he sat with his knees folded under himself instead of on his bottom in the desk.

I'm wondering if this is because that crazy-inducing hormone called testosterone compells boys to break the rules. But the conclusion I'm leaning towards is that the rules may be breaking the boys instead. One of the books I bought to teach me how to raise a boy (am I a nerdy scholar or what?!) suggests this. In fact, I heard a number of books make this assertion long before I even had a son. What if the loud talking and running around isn't really "bad" behavior, just not easy behavior? What if trying to force them to sit down and be quiet and not punch each other or roll on the floor doesn't serve them best? And what if we don't expect boys to be the trouble makers?

I'm just wondering what it's like to be a little boy.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

I'm just saying . . .

Companies who make girls' clothes:

For your information, my daughter does not want to be sexy. She wants to be six years old. Low rise jeans make it hard to play on the jungle gym. Skinny jeans create wedgies. And weirdly cut underwear shift around when she runs. These are not desireable results.

So, get it together, folks.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Easy on the Small Screen

NBC is set to develop a new detective series based on Walter Mosley's character Easy Rawlins. This is exciting news.

I first met Easy in the movie Devil in a Blue Dress starring Denzel Washington. (It, too, is based on a Mosley novel of the same name.) Although I love Denzel, Don Cheadle stole the movie as Easy's sidekick Mouse.

I recently had my students read the novel which was actually my first time reading it as well. (Mouse does not steal the novel which leads me to say, Kudos, Don Cheadle!) It's a quick read and an intriguing story. I mean, it's a mystery novel. If you're looking for something not too heavy, but not that light, it's worth the read.

What concerns me about this series, however, are two things:

1. Non-comedic shows with black leads do not do well on broadcast television. I was so excited about NBC's Undercovers (who wouldn't be excited about Boris Kodjoe!), but, as I suspected it would, it went away. I worry how this will do.

2. It will be set in the 60's. Again, what's with the 60's nostalgia? I know, I know. The series takes place between the 1940's and 1960's. Maybe in this pro-60's era of television, this was the best time to propose this series? I don't know, but I raise an eyebrow to it.

Regardless, when it comes on, I'll watch.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

It's Too Hard to Say Goodbye



I have had my car for 14 years. It is my first car and it has gone everywhere with me--or rather taken me everywhere. I drove it to my first graduate school classes, pushing the gas to make it to Shakespeare's Comedies and Tragedies on time. It went with me to College Town where it sat outside my very first apartment and braved the ridiculous winters, never once groaning because of the many feet of snow nor throwing me into a spin-a-round when we encountered ice. I welcomed my new husband into the passenger seat (more often driver's seat--and that's not a metaphor in any way). I parked it in front of the building of my new job as an English Professor having just earned my Ph.D. I drove it back and forth from my apartment to my new house, transporting clothes and crafting materials and boxes upon boxes of books. Later,my car reliably took me to the hospital regularly to sit with my daughter as she battled it out in the NICU. And eventually, many months later, I nervously, cautiously drove her to the babysitter on our first solo ride together. Just the other day, as I picked The Popcorn up from school, she ran to a car that was the same color as my car thinking it was my car and revealing that she is learning to distinguish it from other cars. My car has been with me for a long time.


But, now, in spite of its almost-problem free history, it is starting to have some problems. It doesn't always go forward immediately after I press the accelerator and sometimes, it will not only stall, but go backward. It pains me, but we have started looking for a new car.


I want something the same size as my car--economy-size--but DH wants a mid-size car. Really, he wants a cross-over, but that's not going to happen. We went car shopping this past weekend and I test drove a Volkswagen Jetta. Ever since I was a non-licensed teenager, I thought I would want a Jetta. The ride was okay, but I had to press harder on the accelerator than I was used to in order to make it accelerate. DH was concerned that when he had to drive the car, he would not be able to fit in comfortably on long trips. My brother said he should be able to fit; he would just have to leave his manhood outside. Jokes. He got jokes. Anyway,I guess the Jetta is out.


My mother-in-law tried to help me out by telling DH that a professor should be driving a Mercedes. We looked at a sweet white one online. I could see myself behind the wheel in that, shades on, radio playing Nina Simone. Bringing sexy back to the English professors. DH said professors don't drive Mercedes; they ride bikes. I could only laugh because it's true. Especially for someone making an English prof's salary.


So, where does this leave me? I'm taking my car to a transmission shop today and hopefully they tell me, "Oh, you just have this minor (read: cheap) issue and we can fix that right away." Leaving me many more years and miles to go in my car. Maybe, just maybe, it will last long enough for The Popcorn to not only distinguish it from other cars, but eventually drive it, too. Okay, I know that's just wishful thinking.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

My Confessions

I'm pretty sure I dozed off in class today while students were reading aloud.

Since we are now doing karate, scouting, Tball, gymnastics, and sometimes dance, I think I may have become one of those parents who spends all her time being personal assistant to her children. This was not my plan and I don't know how this happened.

My big plan for a healthier, migraine-eliminating diet is falling victim to a string of birthday parties (i.e. cake) and Hubby's cookie/ice cream/candy runs. Also not my plan. But much more delicious.

If my children don't stop fighting each other, I'm pretty sure I'm going to join in. And I will not lose.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Why I Love First Year Students

While they also annoy me and are prone to toatlly losing their way without warning, first year students are refreshingly, well, fresh.

They say things like, "Is it okay if we read ahead on the syllabus?"

or

"Can I volunteer for that?"

or

"Can I see you in your office hours?"

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Isn't that interesting?

After teaching for a while, a few things have become commonplace. I will have a student named Brittney (or Brittany or Brittanee). And one named Ashley. And one with strange colored hair. And one from Chicago.

Except this semester I had a class in which not one student was from Chicago. Or any state in the Midwest. I know because we did an icebreaker.

But you know who was in that class? Two students born with six fingers on each hand.

TWO of them!

Isn't that interesting?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Yesterday




This is what I don't get: what's with the nostalgia for the 60's? You have all this hubbub over The Help and before that there was Mad Men. Now, the Fall TV line-up includes Pan Am and The Playboy Club. The Nationalist scholar in me says this might be a backlash against Obama as president--a longing for a time when there was absolutely no chance for a black man to be the head of the PTA let alone be the POTUS. The Feminist scholar in me is suspicious of these portrayals of women in subjugated positions. Stewardess? (And I meant to use that word.) Playboy bunny? Th Gen Xer in me is just annoyed.


I remember a few years ago there was a sketch on MadTV about this 50's restaurant that had opened up. Four friends went to dine there, a white couple and a black couple. They all thought it was great with its rock and roll jukebox and the waitresses in poodle skirts. It was great until the black couple couldn't be served. They were directed to a sign on the wall that read "No coloreds." The clamor for these 60s-inspired shows seems similar. Just what is the nostalgia for?


I am open to the idea that these shows are just the result of the TV& Film industry's total lack of originality. But even if the intent is innocent,what will be the outcome? How will this nostalgia for the 60s shape our 21st century world?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Random

Is it just me, or are basic cable television shows suddenly using the "s" word left and right? I've heard it repeatedly on Lifetime's new show, "Against the Wall" and on TNT's "Rizzoli & Isles". Love the shows, but I'm not ready for the potty mouth. Cheese and crackers!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Help, I wish I could quit you

We started meetings on campus this week, and nearly every conversation with my colleagues came back to The Help again and again. We couldn't get away from it. Since I like it when people affirm my thinking, I'm excited to read what big time scholars and thinkers have to say. Melissa Harris-Perry (who I totally heart) and Valerie Boyd and others have made really smart commentary. Also LOVE Viola Davis, and would be happy to see her in a role that is softer and pretty than anything I've seen her in till now. Check them out!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Starting again

I guess I have to start planning fall syllabi, huh? I've been so engulfed in the children's school preparations that my stuff has been shelved. I'm trying some new things with my classes, so I feel both excited and nervous. I also have an essay that really, really needs to get done before class starts. And one that needs to get started and finished soon after school starts. And to boot, I'm debuting my new curly hair when class starts. We'll see how it goes.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Monkey See, Monkey Do?

So, a few months ago, I read this really smart post on Cocoamamas about a teacher who read Caps for Sale to her class and had the students pretend to be monkeys. The blogger/mother had a big problem with it and said so. At the time, I pondered the situation and thought that I would probably say something to the teacher, too. After all, she probably didn't even know that it might be problematic for black children to act like a monkey. Strike that. She probably didn't consider it. Know it she should, especially in this day of Tea Parties and Presidential ape pictures. One of the commenters asked if the teacher should also prevent overweight children from acting like elephants or hippos. Um, yes. Teaching children shouldn't make you as naive as one. Reading her post got my pressure up a little. I'd have to say something to this teacher, I thought.

And then I visit our new classroom and guess which "mascot" the teacher has chosen for her class this year? No, seriously. Monkeys. Clearly, she was doing an alliteration thing with her name, which begins with an M. Still, I just stared at the surplus of monkeys hanging around (ha!) and shook my head. Am I going to have be the belligerent black mama right off the bat? Is that what the teacher is going to think if I say something? Do I say something to my child to offset this? I don't know, and The Hubby thinks that this is not a battle worth fighting. That we'll have others and should cool it until they arise. But then I think, if I were the teacher and choose the black panthers as my classroom theme, calling the students black panthers, would a white parent bring it to my attention?

I've decided not to make it a big issue right now. I mean, I can't very well demand that this woman take down all her lovely apes after she spent who knows how much time preparing her classroom. Wait--can I? No, no, I can't. But I will bring it up during the parent/teacher conference or some other one-on-one. I hope this isn't the beginning of something crazy.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Cool and sexy--That's us

So, perhaps the universe wants to force me to watch BET.
Malcolm Jamal Warner and Tracee Ellis Ross (both of whom I heart) are starring in a new series. And get this--he play an English professor. I think he will make us look like a cool breed. And maybe sexy. But then, aren't English professors already cool and sexy? Yay!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Hair It Is

So, I'm working on this hair thing. I've tried twist outs, wash and gos, and last night I tried a Curlformers set. That last one didn't work out so well. It's frizzy and poking in every direction. I've never worn it this short, so it's hard to change my mind about what's pretty and feminine. I mean, for my whole life, long and soft and shiny and flowing and straight have gone hand in hand with what's beautiful. What I'm working with now is short and tight and coily. And while I talked a good game about Naomi Wolf's beauty myth and bell hooks' oppositional gaze, when I looked in the mirror, I just wanted wavy fairy tale hair. It is taking some serious mental and emotional shifts in my own concept of beauty. Some days I feel like a little boy. Others I feel like a sassy, hip chic from the 70s (which is clearly the decade where I belong!) It's also not just that I have to change the way I think about how I look. I also have had to reject many of the things I thought I knew about black hair. Grease, for instance. What little brown girl hasn't taken her seat on the floor between her mother's feet, having her scalp oiled? Or sat in the kitchen, holding her ear, trying hard to believe that "it's just the grease melting," that she wasn't actually being set on fire? Only now does it make sense that that hair is essentially being fried like a piece of catfish. But I'm glad that I'm taking this journey.
Even if my own hair days are up and down, it's forced me to learn enough to do a better job with The Babydoll's hair. I've gotten pretty good at braiding it, and it's much better moisturized than it used to be. And when we saw "Imagine That" last summer, she immediately wanted to wear twists like the beautiful girl in the film. So I YouTubed it and learned how. It was a transformative moment for a brown girl. When she looked in the mirror, she saw herself in a whole new way. But, clearly, we'll have to keep evolving.
Not long ago, she was harping about this style that she wanted. She said that when she saw it on TV again, she would show me. I'm thinking that it would be a picture of a girl who looks like her. But, oh on. It was freaking, fracking Barbie. And not just Barbie; it was Barbie with stick-straight, Beyonce's wind machine, platinum blond hair. The Barbie in the picture above.
Now, what am I supposed to do with that?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

In the words of Michael Jackson . . .

"If you don't want a baby; don't have a baby."

So, I hear that a male birth control pill is nearly complete. This could be revolutionary. Could this shift the responsibility out of the sole hands of women? If men can prevent unintentional pregnancies--and without having to sacrifice their own pleasure--will they?

I think of how profound it must have been for women to finally be able to control their own fertility, privately and relatively easily. Although it changed sex for women, I'm going to go ahead and assert that men don't need to be released from sexual repression. But many men, I think, need to be released from the idea that they have no control about when and how they make a baby, that they have to rely on the honesty and careful consideration of a woman. Of course, this hasn't actually been true for years and years (hello, condoms!) But if men can make that decision on their own, it strikes one more excuse for"I didn't plan this! I didn't want this! I don't want to pay for this!" Will that be enough to have men to agree not to make babies they don't want? Wouldn't that be revolutionary? When people parent (or don't) children who they don't want and can't afford, bad things happen. If there is one more way to interrupt that cycle, couldn't that change everything?

Will it?

Friday, July 22, 2011

And on a similar note

After my recent television watching weirdness, I've been totally mesmerized (anew) by "The Waltons"--now that's good TV. What a different image and public narrative about poverty and "work ethic" and family and community and compassion and even race (recently watched the episode when Pa defends the wrongly convicted black man). Good stuff.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I watch too much TV . . .

Is anyone watching "Dance Moms" on Lifetime???? OMG! What the heck?! I can hardly even describe the atrocious attitude of this dance "teacher". I've heard coaches, including dance teachers, yell at students. I've heard them push. I've heard Lydia Grant: "You want fame? Well fame costs . . . ." But the owner of this studio has more than once (I'm only on episode two) implied/stated that she feels like she is raising these children. And yet, she seems to have zero respect for the actual parents. She was annoyed because one of the moms tried to take her daughter, who'd been up since 6am and hadn't completed her homework yet, home before 9pm. After watching a teary scene in the parking lot, she said, "I don't know what all that was out there," but you need to get to tap class. Any input from the mothers ("the costume is too skimpy!" "the dance is too sexy!) is met with a "like it or screw yourself" response. Her goal, clearly, is to get them to Broadway. Whether or not they are whole or healthy or normal when (IF) they get there seem off the table. It's disturbing. The mothers seem to struggle with the weirdness of this strange world, but they also often speak in the plural when they talk about performances. I don't understand what the goal is for them. To have their daughters simply become great dancers? to have lucrative careers? to win competitions? I don't get why parents would do this much and spend this much money and time for a child who is nine years old. And, I think that there's something wrong with people who need to be famous. It's hard to watch. Maybe I won't anymore. Okay, I probably will. But it will be uncomfortable.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

New Things

So, I'm at a turning point in my hair transition. I finally took out the kinky twists, so that now the only thing on my head is the hair that grows out of it, unchanged. I washed and conditioned it, then looked in the mirror.

It was jarring, this knotted/knotting puff with no definition.

I went to the stylist who has been helping me transition and she put in two strand twists. But . . . they are small and tight and close to my head. I'm having a hard time with it. I think I'm going to take them down and try a couple of the styles that I keep seeing on the (many) hair blogs that I've been lurking around for months. So, wish me good hair days. Please.

On a semi-related note, I'm two classes into swim lessons. Having my hair exist without the chemicals makes getting in the pool easier and I'm excited, if nervous. It's kind of hard to make my body do these unfamiliar tasks, just like it's proving difficult to fully make this paradigm shift about my hair. Two important observations: perhaps "dead man's float" isn't the best choice for teaching beginning swimmers--hello!; the teacher told me in the first class that I, like she, have a dense body type that makes it harder to float. Where was this information when I was a child, thinking that something was deficient and weird about my body that kept me from being able to swim?! And one more thing: I know I'm not supposed to swallow the pool water, but it happens. What I want to know is why I can taste it in the back of my throat all flippin' day?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Even I know that

So, I'm confused. Justin Beiber (pause for applause) was on "The View" discussing his Twitter habits. About 10 times, he said something like, "when I twitter . . ." or "he sent out a twitter" and I thought, "Hmmm." Isn't "tweet" the correct terminology? I mean, I know that I'm old, but I try to keep up. Well, actually my students mock me when I get it wrong. As in, when I indignantly asked a student sitting right beside me and pressing buttons, "Are you TWITTERING????!!!!" She practically fell out of her chair laughing and the rest of the class joined her. "Professor." Laugh. Eyeroll. "It's tweeting, not twittering. OMG." More laughter.

So, there, Beiber. Get with it, man!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

What I'm Watching

I'm sitting here watching Bill Maher's show from last week and wondering how in the world it is that TWO women are named Melissa Harris + hyphen. This woman looks a lot like her, I'm thinking. I was really astonished. (It's like the time when I was working the drive through at McDonald's and collected a customer's money. The person at the second window was busy, so I ran over to fill the order and handed it out to the guy. He looked at me with his eyes stretched wide, asking, "Do you know that the girl at the first window looks JUST like you? Are you twins????") Obviously, I lost track of her for a moment. Clearly, she's gotten married, changed her name, and moved to Tulane. I should pay better attention.

Also been watching "Sister Wives" and what the heck, state of Utah? Hearing them talk about police splitting of the family seems totally nuts to me. I still don't really get it. I understand that the father can be arrested, but how can they force them to move apart and not see each other? Do they enact some kind of restraining order preventing them from calling each other? How can they tell them who can live together? Or who can have contact? That's sooo wrong. I'm horrified for them.

Finally, I'm totally addicted to "Cold Case" which isn't even on the air anymore. Thank goodness for the DVR! This is a brilliant premise for a show and I love it. I also have a hair crush on Tracie Thoms.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Remix

The Babydoll recently took her very first plane trip. The Hubby was with her, but I feel sad that I missed one of her "firsts". She loved the ride itself, saying that the "bumpy parts" were her favorite.

She called me to sing Bruno Mars' "Just the Way You Are" which has mysteriously (since I'm not so into pop music) become an absolute favorite song of hers. But here's where I get over myself: She added "Mommy" at the end of each chorus line, as in "You're Amazing just the way you are, Mommy!"

This kind of perfect sweetness almost makes up for the fact that this song also made me explain the word "sexy" to her.

She's so beautiful. And I tell her every day . . . .

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Goodbye, Oprah

So, just when I was getting bored with the Oprah festival of celebrity, they pull out all the students she's inspired and helped, and I'm thinking,


1) I've watched Oprah for years; why am I not in the audience, people?


2) Has anyone heard that being on Oprah is on my life list??? Guess it's not going to happen now. I really thought it would happen. I'm sad.


3) I should have finished that letter I started during my first year of college, explaining why she should give me a scholarship so that I wouldn't keep racking up student loans; I'm paying those loans now, even as I save for my children's college fund.


4) I'm a little disturbed that they started playing the black church shouting music as Aretha Franklin was singing to Oprah. Is this a final admission the people actually worship her?


5) Sigh. Just . . . sigh.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Linking

I wanted to comment on this Common nonsense--which is all the more riDONculous because Common's name used to be Common Sense. But as usual, Jon Stewart says it far better I could, so check out this link.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Mother's Day

What I planned to do this Mother's Day: Take a bubble bath and polish off The Help while eating lots of things that totally violate my low sugar headache-eliminating plan.

What I actually did this Mother's Day: Waited about a hundred hours for dinner with every person in the universe and her mama, ordered a thousand pounds of food, ate about three bites, passed out in the car along with children (thankfuly, The Hubby was driving!) then came home and did laundry. And ate one thing that totally violated my low sugar headache-eliminating plan. And I'm not complaining. ;)

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Some Things Off My Chest (Not hair!)

I'm going to have to bullet point this, since I'm supposed to be grading, but man, I'm going to implode if I don't rant. So here goes:


  • I'm watching the documentary about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. I'm horrified. It highlights two important truths: the lives of women were clearly expendable (evidenced by the acquittal of the owners) and anybody who thinks that we should just rely on capitalism to protect the interest of anyone except business owners clearly thinks that it wasn't so bad to be trapped on the 9th floor of a building where workers were denied union protections and stuffed into overcrowded rooms with no sprinklers and few exits.


  • That brings me to The Donald. I can hardly breathe because his EGO is taking up all the air. Seriously, dude? Let's start with "the blacks." As I might have mentioned before, I know lots of black folk. Perhaps with the exception of the people on Trump's show, I can't think of any who think he's great. Especially after that bassackward comment. News flash: people who use the phrase "the blacks" are no friends of the Negroes. And as for your "thoughts" on my President: I spit on your "thoughts". That's all I have to say about that. Wait, no. I also call BS on your academic "concerns"--there are enough smart and talented people of color that nobody has to pick the duds as so-called affirmative action babies. Nevertheless, can black folk finally have the right to be awesomely above average or perfectly average, just like white folk? Seriously. The people who are placing him at the top of polls must be the same people who are obsessed with the royal wedding. (Thanks GEW for giving me a nudge!--I'd love to hear what you think I'd say!)


  • Okay, fine. Kate Middleton's dress was gorgeous. She looked like a full grown woman in love. A wedding gets me every time!


Okay. Now maybe I don't have to take this out on these research papers.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Thoughts not quite related to Easter


  • Okay, fine. I'm about half way through The Help and, well, it's getting better. I'm kind of, almost interested. Oh, and I've found some African American women who do actually like it. Some people might think that this means I was wrong, but it doesn't, okay?

  • It's near the semester's end and the sentence "I just want to talk to you about my grade" rings through the hallway outside the department office doors.

  • Again, who are the people who are seriously interested in the royal wedding? I think journalists are insisting that Americans want to know so that they can take a trip themselves.

  • Trying again to relay the resurrection story to my children. I thought it would be more and more difficult as they grew older and understood more, but they absorb it and are less freaked out by it than I thought. That makes me happy.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Fifteen Random Things Meme

So, here's my response to Inktopia's meme. I'm supposed to tell fifteen random things about me. Here goes:

1. I want television to be my scholarly niche.

2. I've never kept a plant alive for more than six months or so.

3. It would make me really happy if my house were organized like a kindergarten class room.

4. I don't like to have the food on my plate touching.

5. I also generally don't eat the last bite or two of a dish. It's usually mushy and undesireable by the end of the meal.

6. I really, really wish I were a native speaker of another language.

7. When I was a little girl, I tried Pepsi and milk, just like Laverne from "Laverne and Shirley"; it actually wasn't bad.

8. I don't like wine all that much, but I think wine glasses are so pretty.

9. I think biscuits and molasses are divine.

10. Flowy skirts are one of my favorite things to wear.

11. I thought Pinky Tuskadaro (which I have probably misspelled) was the coolest name ever.

12. One day, I want to pack a bag, go to the airport, and pick a destination.

13. Should I have a third baby?! (I know that's not a fact, but it's on my mind)

14. I'm in the process of trying to change my diet to see if I can control these dadblasted migraines. Last month I eliminated pork and beef completely. This month I'm reducing sugar. It's the hardest. Haven't yet decided what I'll change next month.

15. I want a house with a porch.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Too annoyed for words

As you might have been able to tell, I am too annoyed for words. So I'm just going to link another blogger's link. Over at Professor Like Substance, there's a succinct post and an awesome link to "The Daily Show" highlighting the ridiculousness of political bull stinky. I wish I could remember which show I was watching--I'm too irritated to go check the DVR--but some ultraconservative, um, person, actually argued that the reason not to fund Planned Parenthood was not because the money went to pay for abortions. No, he argued that when money goes to the non-abortion services, the other money is free to fund abortions. What kind of jacked up ideology is this? "I don't want my money to pay for something I don't believe in AND I want to stop other people's money from paying for it, too." Who is this freaking controlling? Why does that make any sense? We are talking about a legal, medical issue here. That's not even to mention that this link of "thinking" suggests that having women die from cervical cancer from lack of screenings is preferable to having any women access abortions. So, should I be asking how can I prevent other people's money from buying guns? I just--I mean . . . arrrgggghhh!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Help Me!

I'm trying, again, to read The Help. I started it a while ago, then put it down because it was getting on my nerves. I've picked it up again, but I'm struggling. Seriously. I know I should be keeping up with what's happening in the world of contemporary literature. Maybe I will have occasion to teach this book at some point in my life. But I'm struggling. Seriously. The first problem is the way dialogue is presented. Despite the "pitch perfect voices" promised by the book jacket, I keep wondering if this writer has ever actually talked to anyone in the actual Southern region. Of America. More than that, have any of those people been black? I mean, I've met and talked to a few (!) black folk in my life. I've listened to myself speak. I've talked to my grandparents. They've been black their whole lives. None of those people use the be verb the way it's written here. It's random and weird. And, while many people--all people--in the South run their words together, nobody I know says, "I'm on" when they mean "I'm going to." You know what it sounds like in my ear? "I'mma" or I'm gon" or I'm gonna" but never "I'm on." I have to translate for myself every time I read it. This dialogue issue is what made me put the book down in the first place. But now I have another problem. A white character is relaying her observations of the maid's home. She describes modest decor, then notices that the only picture there is of some white child who used to be in the care of the domestic. Really? Again, I have to check this against my own observations. As a very young child, I was cared for by an older woman who had been a domestic. In fact, I think she still worked for the family on occasion during that time. I was in her house nearly every day. You know how many pictures I saw of herself, her husband, family members, church friends, and, heck, pictures of me?! Lots. You know how many I saw of the family she worked for? None. And she's not the only woman I know who worked as a domestic at some point in her life, but the story is the same. They didn't come home with somebody else's children on their minds. You know why? Because she was not in love with those people. They were not her family. I mean, how many pictures of your boss do you have in your house? It seems to me that this book is going in the direction of big ole, wide-hipped mammies (which is how nearly every black woman is described) who just love them some rosy-cheeked white chillun mo' than life itself, and just hope they'll be lucky enough to get hooked up to some good white folk. My eyebrow is raised. I remember reading To Kill a Mockingbird when I was in elementary school and just falling in love with the language and characters. Scout was such a spitfire, and I liked to imagine myself that way. I immediately recognized Calpurnia, especially in the scene when Scout goes to church with her. I could practically place myself right in that scene. But in this novel, I don't know who these people are. Perhaps the author does, since she's being sued. I didn't grow up in the 1950s, but things move slowly down here, so it hasn't changed so much that I don't even recognize the people. Sheesh! I pride myself on being Southern, but this book is making me itch. *I'm not sure why my paragraph breaks won't show up, but I haven't been able to fix it. Sorry!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

So Over It

Things about which I do not give a crap: 1) Charlie Sheen--I'm not fascinated. I'm really just thinking, "Sit down somewhere and hush up." He might as well be dancing around naked with bird poop on his head for all the dignity he's showing. 2) The royal wedding. I love a wedding. Seriously. But I don't know these people. They are not friends of mine, and their displays of excess are not interesting to me. Also, I don't know these people! Are Will and Kate going to be all captivated and hopping a plane over here when I have my totally fabulous 25th anniversary vow renewal ceremony in 15 years? Doubtful. 3) Justin Beiber. Or, as The Babydoll says, Justin Beaver. I just never got into star worship, so I don't get it. Michael Jackson was the closest I ever came to it, and come on--JB might be the bee's knees, but is he MJ? I know I'm not the right demographic, but what is it that makes him such a phenomenon? I don't get it. Post Script: I'm adding a number 4: Christians who claim that the 1950s were some utopian moment of virtue in America. I was fishing around, looking into parenting books suggested by a woman I used to know in high school. I was directed to a number of similar books. At first they seemed intersting and useful, but then I saw that they see the entire world as enemy territory, full of evil feminists and sex-crazed liberals who have ruined the clean living morality of yesterday. But all I can wonder is whether they are talking about the "Christians" who were holding signs and screaming at Ruby Bridges or the ones who thought that God hates women who have jobs. It's making me think of some very un-Christlike words.

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Perfect Skip Day

Today was the first day when it was really warm outside. It was a perfectly beautiful spring-is-coming kind of day. It was a little chilly in the morning, then warmed up to bordering-on-hot heat with the kind of breeze that the South is begging for in July. It was the kind of day, I told my students, that I would give myself permission to skip my afternoon classes when I was in college because it was just too pretty out to even think about sitting inside a classroom. I tried to get us out early today, but we still ended up using almost the entire class session. I was inside all day, with classes piled on each other, but I could tell that it was warm out because I kept seeing students with skimpier and skimpier outfits. Their toes were peeking out of sandals and the skirt hems seemed to get progressively shorter as the day wore on. They guys were wearing their coolest sunglasses and showing, ahem, appreciation, for the skin that finally escaped sweaters and boots. I knew my children would be eager to get outside, and I couldn't wait to pick them up. It was a good day.

But I will need a pedicure before I break out the sandals . . . .

Monday, March 7, 2011

An Epiphany

I had a revelation this morning: I don't think I'm going to use intravenous drugs.

Once again, the nurse at the doctor's office had a heck of a time trying to draw blood from me. They try one arm, then the other, then back to the other arm. Then they try my hands (which hurts like heck!) and then they sigh. Today, the nurse had to put the blood pressure cuff on in order to access the vein.

I'm pretty sure drug use would be too much trouble.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Nekkid

"Mommy?" she said timidly. "I saw that picture of the lady."

"Oh?" I said, continuing with some mundane task. "What picture?"

"That one with the lady." She gestured vaguely to her chest. "When she was doing this." She put one hand behind her head in a pin-up girl-ish pose.

"A lady? She was standing like that?" Forget the mundane task. Now I'm paying full attention.

"Yeah. It was a lady." Her hand is in her chest area again. "But she was lying down. Like this." She showed me the pose again.

"Hmmm. And what was she wearing?"

"Nothing."

"Oh." Let's see . . . I don't often fancy naked pin-up girls; my son is three years old, and, while he might very well be interested in naked ladies, having been an avid connoisseur of breast milk, isn't likely to have found any in his Lightening McQueen coloring books. That leaves Daddy, now doesn't it? Has this *%#@! taken leave of his mind?! What is going on?! "Um. Wear did you see this picture again?"

"In your bathroom. What was she doing?"

"In my bathroom? Are you sure?"

"Yes. She didn't have a shirt on. It was a pink paper."

"Ooooooohhhhh." Just like that, Daddy's life is spared. "That's a card from the doctor. It helps ladies by showing them how to check for lumps or bumps so they don't get sick. It's from the doctor. That's all." It was a breast self-check card. Oh my.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Don't Mess With the Hair

There seems to be a lot going on with Black women's hair this week.

First, there is Justin Bieber and his lack of education about indiscriminate touching. He reaches out to touch Esperanza Spaulding's hair during an interview with her. This is a bad move. As I am continuing my own hair evolution (I'm rocking kinky twists now) I can attest that most Black women I know--and actually, some Latina women I know as well--do not appreciate when white people, especially men, touch our hair. That goes double when they don't even ask. It feels like petting. A dog. I often wonder why the thought even arises. Is it because my hair's just so "weird" or what? What will touching it tell you?

Then there was Iyanla Vanzant's return to "The Oprah Winfrey Show" after her abrupt departure 11 years ago. One of the most intriguing revelations to me was that Barbara Walter's folks immediately demanded a change to Iylana's ethnic hair styles (and her clothes) when they produced Iyanla's show. "It's too harsh for TV" they told her. Of course, it had not been too harsh for the months and months when Iyanla was turning into a star on Oprah's show. So she let them straighten it in order to curl it. Even Iyanla admitted that this was a foolish move.

Then there's this weirdness about Beyonce Knowles, who is being accused again of lightening up. I can't attest to its validity, but it's disturbing.

I'm not sure I even have a comment about all of this, but I think it's all worth a second thought.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

It Happens Every Year

It seems to come in cycles. First, I realize that job postings will soon be released. So I search them. Then realize that people are interviewing. I hope for one. Then I realize that other people are planning for the next year. I wonder if I should, too. It all feels so uncertain.

It's easy to get caught up in the joy of teaching and planning and pretend that I'm fixed in the office I love, working with the students who challenge me, thinking of the possibilities for the future. But the truth is that it's all very temporary. I'm temporary.

So, now I'm reading So What Are You Going to Do With That? Again. I'd love to just to keep doing what I'm doing, where I'm doing it. But with some stability and, you know, some remote possibility of tenure. Ever.

And I guess I'm going to add "Have an unexpected, exciting career" to my life list. I hear the circus is coming to town. Maybe that will be the ticket . . . .

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Why We Can't Just "Let Boys Be Boys"

By happenstance, I read this post about a woman's college experience with sexual assault. Then, the very next blog post I read was this one from Confessions of a Community College Dean, about sports and raising a thoughtful boy. Together, they make an important statement about gender conditioning and parenting. In case we ever forget, the stakes are high. Oh, boy.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Keeping It Real



I started this post to briefly comment on the tone of political rhetoric in light of the Arizona shootings, but I was watching The View the other day, and as usual, they were saying things (or omitting things) that got on my nerves, so I'm going to discuss them both.


First, Sherri told Elisabeth that every situation is not all black and white and Whoopi made the joke that it is at their table. Then Barbara said not to her because she doesn't see color; that was the way she was raised. I know she thinks that is good, but to me, it is not. It is, at best, a cop out and at worst, racist. As a cop out, it doesn't require you to make any distinctions among people when people are filled with distinctions and nuance. It's like when schools have zero tolerance policies and they don't have to think through the differences in a student bringing a plastic knife to school and a machete.


It can be racist in that it allows one to assume everyone is like them, that they want to be like them. (Because, if we're honest, we relate to people from our own frame of reference first and foremost.) It denies their culture, their history, and their experience.


I can't speak for every racial and ethnic minority or every black person, for that matter, but I want you to see me as black. I am a black woman and I am proud of it; I love being black. Being a black woman affects the way I experience the world. I don't see anything wrong with it and I don't see anything wrong with people recognizing my race. It becomes problematic when you think (consciously or unconsciously) that being black somehow makes me less than or when you begin to assume certain negative things about me just because of my race (or my gender).


Switching gears:


There's so much discussion now about the tone of political rhetoric and whose to blame for the tragedy in Arizona. It seems the politically correct thing to say is that no one is to blame but the shooter and that there's vitriolic talk on both sides of the political aisle. Maybe, but it seems to me that some people are trying to have their cake and eat it, too. I will use as an example Sarah Palin because the focus has been on her, but she is not the only one who does this. Rappers, actors, etc. do it, too. Whenever something negative happens and fingers are pointed at popular points of influence, everyone is quick to assert their blamelessness. They had no influence over that emotionally or mentally disturbed person. But in times of positivity and financial opportunity, then they are glad to have influence.


Sarah Palin gives speeches, writes books, and garners high ratings on television. She has been called a king maker because of her influence in getting people elected to office. How in the world can she abdicate her influence now? I don't believe she intended for that disturbed man in Arizona to kill people, but she put her words out there and she has to understand that ill people are going to take them how they take them. She cannot claim that her words do not add to the violent tone of political debate now when that's part of how she makes her bread and butter.

Rappers and rockers are similar. They make money influencing people; if their words and music had no power, no one would buy it. So, when that power extends itself in a way that is unfavorable, it is disingenuous for them to say, "I have no power. I have no influence." Because that's not true and they don't really want it to be true or they would be out of business.


Just keep it real, folks.


Monday, January 17, 2011

MLK, Jr. Day

Hard discussions today as the children and I are reading (the Candy Cane Press) books about Coretta and Martin. Questions about equal rights, assassination, guns, race, and why people are so mean. But we will have these discussions, at 3, at 5, at 10, at 16 and beyond. Because if we don't, they won't have discussions about peace and justice and culture and ethical living.

Thank you, King family!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Sweet Read

So I started reading The Help. But I put it down because The Babydoll and I are reading Whoopi Goldberg's Sugar Plum Ballerinas together. She reads one page, then I read one page. I don't how long it's going to take us to get through it, but I'm loving it. It's actually a book by a celebrity that I'm not ashamed to say that I'm reading! Yay!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Use Your Words

So I'm working on my syllabi and assignments (well, not right now--right now I'm avoiding work and writing this post). I'm always excited about the narrative assignment. It is often the best writing from students and the most interesting. But sometimes it's hard to read because they disclose so many personal and painful stories that, eventually, I just felt like I couldn't handle it anymore. I want to solicit happier stories this time around, and I'm trying to figure out how to do that without literally saying, "Don't make me cry and freak me out, people!"

I also thought that maybe I would write my own response to the assignment so that they will have an example of what I want since I won't have a student example for this new assignment. I thought of a story that happened recently:

Not long after we moved into our new house, The Hubby was moving around boxes and exploring the nooks and crannies. He found a note from the original owners--yep! the family who lived here close to twenty years ago. It was a note from the mother to her daughter. It was a short expression on a cutesy sticky note. She wanted this young girl to know that her mother thought she was bright and loving--and loved. She told her that she was growing into a wonderful young woman (we figure the daughter must have been about ten or twelve years old) and that she (the mother) was having a fabulous time raising her.

I was crying as I thought about what that would have meant to a little girl. Actually, I'm crying right now as I'm writing this . . . . What a sweet gesture. It doesn't just express love. It's a seed of confidence and strength in a world that constantly tells girls that we're not enough, or too much, or wrong in some fundamental way. Who could this girl be, with a concrete reminder that in her home she was safe and valuable? Who could my daughter be, also raised in this house?

When we had our house blessing, I thought of the moments of joy and sadness and laughter that must have filled this home in the last decades. I imagined that the words of the blessing--peace, joy, comfort, safety--went out into each room and took root. This family wasn't the only one that lived here before we moved in; but I saw us as part of the history of this house. The house was in great condition and had clearly been well taken care of. I remember hoping that the people who lived here were also well taken care of.

What a beautiful example of the power of language! I really wish we could find these people and give that note to this girl, now a grown woman. And I wish we could see who she turned into.