Thursday, September 6, 2012

Morning After Reflections

 I always knew that Bill Clinton was problematic. With his welfare reform and Three Strikes law, I could hardly say he was the best friend a black girl could have. But I still loved him. In spite of his philandering ways (which I've come to expect of powerful men anyway), I still loved him.  He was an intelligent, down-to-earth Southern man who could play a mean saxophone. He chose to love a woman who was just as intelligent and ambitious as he was.  And he had so much swagger. How could I not love him?

Then in 2008, the Democratic Primary happened, and I fell out of love.  The way they ran Hilary's campaign--with the not-so-veiled racist attacks on Obama's character among other actions--was disappointing and heartbreaking. I know Bill was fighting for that intelligent and ambitious woman he chose, and that fact deserves a measure of respect, but they could've fought differently.  And even after Obama was chosen and won, clearly, there was still bad blood that reared up in Bill's discourse from time to time which reminded me of my initial heartbreak.

But last night at the Democratic National Convention. . . . It was like when you run into an old boyfriend on the street and he's looking really good and he says he's missed you. For the life of you, you can't remember why y'all had to break up in the first place.  So you accept his invitation for drinks and after.  And the next morning, you know you won't get back together, but it was really good to see him again.

Bill's speech was amazing!  It was substantive, it was clear, it was witty, it was forceful where it needed to be.  It laid it out plain for regular folk.  He did the darned thang!

Last night wasn't enough to make me fall back in love, but it sure was good to see him again.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Popping my head in

So, truthfully, I thought we might be finished here at Everything Over Rice. I wasn't sure if anyone even noticed that we had faded into the carpet. Perhaps we had run out of things to say, and besides, several blogs that I love had come to the end of their roads lately.

But I had a thought today (!) and had a real urge to blog about it.

I was looking at a website about alternate careers for PhDs, and I followed links to several other blogs about how to leave academia, how much the academy sucks, how many other things you can do with yourself. I read the site because it's thoughtful and smart and creative. However. As I've mentioned, I get into jags when I feel like a fool for being in the academy. I start to think that I must be as pitiful as everyone keeps saying. That I really am being paid like a ditch digger and that I hate all manner of committees, students, professors, and administrators. And that the holy grail is never coming to me--well, okay that's probably true. But, what if your particular holy grail isn't exactly what hoity-toity ivory tower folks somewhere decided? What if my entire professional goal is not to be the big enormous star weilding a fiery torch of all things intellectual? What if you don't exactly feel tricked by the system? What if you don't think it's evil and soul-sucking?

So that's the thing. I don't hate it. I'm (logically) concerned that a tenure track job won't ever be available to me unless I move, which is unlikely, and maybe not even then. And that's why I check out these blogs and websites about working outside of academia. If I'm being honest, though, I don't know if TT is the only professional thing that will make me happy and satisfied. The work itself--the teaching and the students and the research--I'm pretty cool with that. And I have most of that even without the TT.

The other reason that I stay in this field is that, while I could probably find other kinds of work, I don't know that I'd want to actually do other kinds of work. I mean, every thought of sitting at office desks with stacks of files makes me quesy. There's also my sense that the perspectives of those who see the academy as the third circle of hell hone in on issues that I just don't believe are absent from corporate or other arenas. My husband is frequently stressed by office politics that seem more intense and at least as illogical as the ones in university hallways. I see how people are mired in work that absolutely must be done right now, lest they trigger the apocalypse. How they are working on laptops all night or arguing in meetings or staying late at the office. And for what?

There's my dirty secret: I like it.

So, I'm going to try to avoid getting bogged down in the blogosphere of "academia sucks" just as I'm trying to avoid googling people I know to see how fabulous they are. Both make me feel like I'm failing.

And, besides, I have syllabi to write. The semester's starting soon.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Just Thinking

There's a new book coming out in June that will include journal entries and letters from President Obama's ex-girlfriends.  These two women were in relationships with him in college and soon after.

Whether the thoughts are good or bad on the part of the women, it is disturbing to think one's romantic life can be open to the public to this degree.  Although most of my young adult relationships ended amicably, I would hate for those guys' journal entries about us to go public. Some moments should be just yours and the (ex-)beloved's.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Not suspicious

I wanted to share this perspective from NPR on the horrendous Trayvon Martin killing. It is one of many salient, reflective, and sorrowful commentaries by a wonderful writer.

And because it apparently needs to be said: My son is beautiful and funny and bright and brown. And NOT SUSPICIOUS.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Linking Love

Just wanted to share a thoughtful piece from Racialious. It's worth a read:

We are not invisible: Five African Women Respond to the Kony 2012 Campaign

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A New Thing?

You might remember this post from last year, in which I lamented my yearly cycle into sadness about my career. So, I'm feeling kind of sad again. While other people, I presume, are thinking of the interviews they will have, or the ones they had at MLA, of what they will do next year, I am reminded that I am only hoping for a future. I had a substantive conversation with someone today about what it means to be in academia--not just the paltry number of positions available, but also the frustrations of teaching and research. I came to a new realization of how I might be able to think of the skills I've spent umpteen years building. There actually might be other things I can do with myself. There might be jobs that I can't even name or don't even know about. There might be positions that, even now, I could apply for that I automatically assume that I can't do because I'm such a peon. It didn't help that I walked in the door at home and The Hubby bombarded me with two unexpected opportunities he has to move higher on his ladder; I felt a little deflated because I'm pitifully grappling with my imaginary chances to make a career move and here he is with concrete avenues to pursue.

But here's the thing: It's scary. I really like most of the parts of my job. I love running my own little corner of the world called my classroom. I love (about 75% of the time) the relationships with my students. I love, love, love the freedom of the summers and the flexibility to switch things up on a daily, weekly, semesterly basis. I love having the chance to talk about ideas that totally rock my world. I would like to be paid more and I'd like some sense that I don't have to beg for crumbs.

So, if I step into some other world, will I have to actually work 9-5? That seems nightmarish. Will I sit in an office all day? Also nightmarish. Will I have to work with a bunch of adults who get on my nerves? Will I even be able to do it? Will I want to, or will I be bored? Will I miss too much time with my children and run screaming back to the academy (where I will probably be thoroughly ignored)?

I'm a rules following kind of girl, so the whole idea that I can just up and do something else is nuts! But what if I could actually pull it off . . . .

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Day of Love

It's Valentine's Day.

I'm stuffy and runny and coughing and sneezing.

I'm really sad about Whitney Houston and can hardly wrap my head around her death enough to actually believe it. Today I saw a clip of her singing "Guide Me Thou Great Jehovah" which she sang when she was 11. I cried. She's gone, isn't she?

I really want to eat the chocolate covered strawberries that I got for The Hubby. I'm resisting.

It's cold.

But I'm still grateful for all the love in my life. :)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Whose Story is it Anyway?

I'm sure that most have have by now heard of the White House intern who had an affair with the President. No, that that intern. Mimi Alford, the intern who had an affair with John F. Kennedy when she was 19 years old. I've seen a number of interviews in the last few days because people are treating this story as if it is blowing the lid off of Camelot. Of course, I thought that ship had sailed a long time ago.

What interests and concerns me, though, is the side-eye approach coming from some people discussing the story. What had seemed to me to be a hint of cynicism became a full-bodied implication in Barbara Walters interview with Alford on "The View" this week. The women on the panel had already discussed the story on Hot Topics and asked why she was telling this story now. During the interview, Walters said no less than three times that "this book is going to make you a lot of money." She said it before the interview began, again after she (or someone) asked if Alford had thought of Caroline Kennedy when she wrote the book, and at least one other time later in the interview. Each time, just below the surface, I heard an accusation of exploitation.

I thought Alford showed dignity and respect in the face of a subtle effort to shame her. When Whoopi asked why she chose this moment to write the book, she answered that keeping this secret had set up a pattern in her life of silencing and secretiveness, that she felt as if she simply did what was expected of her in that moment with the President, and that this lack of agency, especially for young women, was not a good thing.

Most important for me, though, was the suggestion that she did not have the right to tell this story. That writing this book, with lots of detail no less, was an affront to Caroline Kennedy and her children and so much time had passed anyway that she should just let it go. While Alford does not say that this was an assault and acknowledges her own desire and complicity, she is also clear that this is her story that she's telling. It's not the President's story. If anyone is concerned for other people's children and family, some of that concern should go to Alford's family and that part of her that was hidden from them for years. Even if all she wanted to do was make some money from a passing encounter with a famous man, she can do that--for better or or worse. If he didn't want the story told, he should not have relied on cultural pressure to silence women for forty years. Keeping the secret doesn't erase the fact of what actually transpired. Having an affair is not cool, even if you're 19 and a virgin. But you can tell people if you want to.

There's probably something to be said here as well about the parallel conversations going on now about contraception and all of the other ways that women's bodies are up for discussion. I can't even go there now, though.

Let's just agree not to poo-poo women, okay?

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tuesday Tidbits

  • Maybe I change my mind about being on "The View". I just thought about what I'd look like when I hear nerve-grating assertions that kill my brain cells. As my students keep telling me, my face immediately tells whatever I'm thinking when people talk to me. Can you imagine? Of course, "The View" can still call me for a guest spot.
  • I just saw a teaser for "Jeopardy" that set up the game as a sports event. What if we really did have that much fanfare for an intellectual exercise?
  • In the continuing saga of television in our house, we recently watched the episode of "Little House on the Prairie" when Charles loses a bunch of money because something happens with the bank. They had planned to pay off a charge account at the Olsen's store, wanting both to release themselves from debt and to give the finger to Harriet Olsen and her self-righteous elitism. When Nellie mimics her mother's stinky attitude (saying that Charles stinks from working with the horses) Laura repeats her father: "Hard-working people only smell bad to people who have nothing else to do but stick their noses in the air."
  • Know what else I love, love, love? After Laura repeats her father's sentiment, she says, "And Nellie Olsen, every time you stick your nose in the air around me, it's gonna get punched!" That girl has spunk!
  • And one more thing: where is this appreciation for the dignity of work--all kinds of work--now? I hear words like "work ethic" being thrown around a lot, but it too often sounds like Harriet Olsen is saying them.
  • Okay, one more: I'm watching the episode when Laura and Mary first go to school (don't look at the time stamp--the children are in school, so I'm . . . previewing it for them) and Nellie snidely calls them "country girls" aloud in class. Ms. Beadle gives her a sharp look but doesn't say anything. I had a flashback of when a boy told me, loudly and in front of everyone, to "go back to Africa"; the teacher in that class also didn't do much more than give him a look.
  • The Baby Boy told his father a secret last night that he didn't want to share with me. I was so pleased that I was able to get him to tell me, too, although it took about 20 minutes of gentle prodding about how secrets are not good and he could always tell mommy anything and I wanted to know all about what he's thinking. He started and stopped several times, then finally whispered in my ear that all of the children thought the teacher's new hairstyle was really, really pretty; he thought so, too. I felt all fuzzy that he trusted me with his secret crush on his teacher.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Linking Love--Heartbreaking and Necessary

A minister at a church I used to attend always said that he didn't want the church to spend time and energy doing things that other local people were already doing well. In that spirit, I want to call a little more attention to this beautifully written and powerful post over at Racialicious about rape culture. It just breaks my heart, but it has to be said. It reminds me, again, to be vigilant about the way I raise my son. And makes me wonder what in the world my female students must be experiencing.

I'm going to go find some happy reading on the internet now . . .

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Getting Religion

So, I heard a report this morning that Jay-Z has had a come-to-Jesus moment about the "B-word"; since having his newborn daughter, he's decided that he should stop calling women b--ch in his music. I'm going to go ahead and assume that he's not going to use the word in his conversation either (although I could still use some convincing on this point). Isn't that nice?

Of course, the news reporter asked, "If he's not using the b-word, what is he going to call his wife?" It was, of course, a joking play on Beyonce's name, but I thought it was actually an appropriate comment. If he loves his wife, why in the world did it not occur to him to stop calling women b--ch before now? Isn't she somebody's daughter? Couldn't he see womanhood in his wife and conclude that using that word was a bad idea? He says he won't allow anyone to disrespect his precious daughter. Lovely. 'Cause all those other women? They're not anybody's daughter. That's why it's okay to call them out of their names. Right?

I started to think, well, maybe he's getting older and maturing. That's happened to other rappers. Age brings a clarity that was missing before. But then, I thought, "Isn't he, like, old?" Well, old for a rapper. Even accounting for boys' alleged lag in maturity, he should have gotten it together by now.

Then, I started to think, well, everyone is changed in fundamental ways by having a child. They see the world through new ideas. They take fewer chances. They pay more attention. But then, I thought, "Don't you just write a book about your life?" Didn't that process offer some opportunity for self-reflection? And have you been deaf for the last twenty years? Thoughtful, bright, culturally aware people have been making the case for hip-hop to censor itself, especially with regard to its sexism and misogyny. Even accounting for new-parent epiphanies, he should have engaged this debate before.

In short, I'm not impressed by this epiphany. I think it's as silly as naming your child after your favorite color.

Monday, January 16, 2012

King Day

The Babydoll this morning: "The Baby Boy just broke his toy on Dr. Luther King Day." I've been trying to encourage non-violence all morning, but I'm not sure they're getting it. :)

Thank you Martin and Coretta!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A Few Random Things

  • In my quest to have my children watch quality television, I have successfully hooked them into "Little House on the Prairie." We stumbled on the movie that began the series, and it is freaking fascinating. It's filled with danger (wolves and snow and fire!) and joy (a peppermint stick for Christmas!) and mystery (will Jack the dog find them after crossing the river?). We watched half last night and the children asked to watch the rest as soon as they woke this morning. And the bonus is that they see the thousands of chores that the Laura and her sisters have to do and it makes their chores pale in comparison. Yay!
  • I'm also surprised at how unlikeable both Charles and Caroline are. They are much more gruff than in the series and Caroline's disdain for Native Americans is not nice, to say the least.
  • It only now occurs to me that this story happens at the same historical moment as the play Flyin' West about black female homesteaders. Both are about the government's "opening" of Kansas to anyone who could survive settling it.
  • I've also roped the children into falling in entertainment love with "The Cosby Show" and they can't get enough. And my son is in love with Clair; she "looks pretty" he says.
  • During one single commercial break during the "Little House" movie there were three ads about weight loss. What in the world?