viernes, septiembre 30, 2005

And the fog rolls in…

Holy Mother of God, I feel like I’m in a horror flick!

All of a sudden this opaque fog starts rolling through campus like the riot police! It’s whiting everything out. I know there’s a building just across the way.

What’s taking over the campus? Is it dangerous?

Will I be able to resist for the final 15 minutes until payday, or will i succumb to the evil fog?

BART people 3

She was wearing a t-shirt that said,

        Yes, We’re the Blind leading the Blind

and she had a seeing eye dog

jueves, septiembre 29, 2005

Listening to the body

That vertical feeling

This morning there's an odd feeling in my back. To the left of my spine, I'm very aware of muscles running up and down. I know this feeling has been there other mornings in the past weeks.

I'll take a naproxen and forget about it for the rest of the day. but tomorrow morning I'll think about it again.

It's the computer. and the bag with one strap.

I should be getting my new computer "any day now" so I won't have to keep toting the same one back and forth. I'll be able to carry a 2 ounce flashdrive instead of a 5 pound computer. Mind you, I'll still have the books, the papers, and all that other stuff.

L* has already identified the answer, with regards to her own situation.

We need backpacks (on both shoulders) to balance the weight for all that schlepping.

(Ideally, I'll end up with a monitor somewhere, so I can have large print and not stoop to look at the screen)

It's too bad, because i've been lusting after these beautiful designer laptop bags that look like purses, and clearly if I get one it won't help the situation.

Right now it's a vertical feeling. Unchecked, it will be pain.

lunes, septiembre 26, 2005

Life ain't nothing but a habit

This has been my mantra for the last couple of months. Came to me when I was out walking and thinking. (Which is not to say I didn't hear it somewhere else--I could have and then it only made sense out on this walk)

Life ain't nothing but a habit

For me, I'm trying to build the habit of walking, the habit of exercise. because that's the only way it works for me, and I'm most successful at building the habit if it makes sense to me. So, walking up to Dimond to return my library books makes sense. Walking to BART makes sense. driving to the gym or driving to Lake Merritt to walk around the lake--not so much.

What I do in the morning is a habit, and usually that's email my friends and family. And I'm moving that to journal writing--not, I hope, a the expense of corresponding with friends and family--just moving it around some, so that instead of feeling like I "goofed off" in the morning, I feel like I'm building my writing habit.

Flossing is a habit, and there's a whole economy based on the idea that flossing is "too hard" "too inconvenient." Taking notes is a habit, and so is leaving things to the last minute. I think a lot of times for me, "habit" has meant "bad habit". But now I realize that Life aint' nothing but a habit.

Writing creatively and software environments

About a month back I got a "getting to know you" email from a couple of friends (to which i failed to respond for several weeks) and one of the questions was

Do You Keep a Journal?

At the time, my answer was NO, but I also realized that I do a lot of personal writing in email to friends. So I've been extracting some of that out into a journal of sorts and this blog.

I had been thinking for a while that I need to write every day, to develop the HABIT of writing.

So lately I've been using MacJournal, which is a great way to journal and then if you want to post it to your blog, it's a snap. I had tried a couple of other programs...

Current, I think is powerful but clunky--you have to learn all the new terms and conventions. Which for me meant sometimes I lost stuff and other times I had to save it in more than one place, which was inconvenient enough to make it NOT a habit. Something about the blog posting was also weird: i think maybe it was like queuing mail rather than sending it--and the time lag would make me crazy enough that I would keep trying and then end up with double-posts. I might still use Current for comments on student work, but it's not really clicking for me creatively.

What I was looking for was software to help get me writing and thinking. I mean, obviously, I could just use Word, but I wasn't doing that, was I? So then I was thinking, maybe Word is too associated with work for me, and I needed to create a different space for personal/fun/creative writing.

(I did write my play in Word, but I was in a dramatically different physical space. I would immediately print it out, then take the print out and read it aloud and make edits on the sheets, and then go back to the computer. A very different rhythm of writing than my writing for work.)

Tinderbox is very fun and cool for a different kind of thinking: more like an Idea Roundup (rodeo style). I've used it for plotting out future research (book projects, article ideas) but I still don't think I'm really using it to its potential.

MacJournal is totally Mac--like using Mail or iTunes. And since, as I said, most of my thoughtful writing has been going into email, it's been kind of an obvious solution. And it posts to Blogger with the click of a button. (Now, if I could just hack the Taco tool, so it would give me inspiration from relevant sources--not Homer Simpson and Shakespeare--then I would be in heaven)

Moodle is the new teaching software I'm learning. I've used WebCT and D2L and learned just a teeny bit of Blackboard. SFSU is switching over from Blackboard to Moodle--

(which they insist on using under their own brand-name, iLearn, for no real rational reason. Just typical university-corporate branding, like when OSU branded their D2L system as "Carmen.")

--Moodle is not at all like Mac software, but it does have great pedagogy driving it, so it does create lots of possibilities. For some reason, I'm hesitant to use the forums to their full potential--I think because in my mind, I'm still equating them with 1990s listservs.

Okay that's more than enough on that subject! Let me get back to Gardens in the Dunes, because I'm on the first Sister Salt and Big Candy chapter, and those are my favorites :)

protest and props

We went to the anti-war rally on Saturday.
There were lots and lots of older people (with their canes, walking poles, leg braces)
and some really vibrant youth. I think we need to listen more to the latter:

MOVE, Bush
Get out the way!
Get out the way, Bush!
Get out the way!

Women in Black was f*cking fierce!
They had a couple of silent installations
around the route and at the end:
puppet theatre: black robes and enormous masks weeping.
it was pretty powerful

really hard to find images of Women in Black--here are some archives
which show the power and beauty of the masks & puppets:

this page of pics has one with Women in Black

domingo, septiembre 25, 2005

students, honesty, poetry

have i mentioned how fierce my students are?

i was just reading the latest on the class blog, and the courage and honesty particular students bring to this space truly awes me. someone will sit almost silent in class and i'll think there's a wall, and then they'll write it out in this different space and i'm just taken aback.

I'm also reading June Jordan's Poetry for the People, which makes me wanna jump up and start a workshop next semester.

L* said something to me the other day. She had earlier shared Aurora Levins Morales's fierce poems "Statistics" and "Resurrection." And I said "I wish I could write good poems."

[Obviously I was pms-ing and this was a shameless ploy for attention]

and L* said that I do write good poems, but that sometimes I stop when I get them down. and ALM clearly makes her poems her full-time job.

And that's what I need, or as June Jordan says (on p 63)

        Once the poem is out,
        you have to worry the lines

Sometimes i just wanted to be patted on the head and told what a good girl i am which is fine for a moment (and sometimes a blog), but not for a poem.

viernes, septiembre 23, 2005

el fin

Way too much going on right now.

L* said "I feel like it's the end, but rather than being excited about it, I see how much people are going to suffer"

DC is going to be "playing" martial law this weekend, which just happens to be the weekend of the big anti-war rally. Bush is in Colorado Springs: the belly of the beast

Machafemme is back, which is cool.

Aurora Levins Morales wrote a great Hurricane poem: she read her work on KPFA. "Statistics" If you'd like to teach her poem, contact her regarding an appropriate donation.

jueves, septiembre 22, 2005

Digital housecleaning

In case it looks like I have two different personas, and you fear I'm cracking up, it's just that I'm trying to separate my university stuff from my personal stuff. So that if my students end up at this blog, it's because they're determined to do so, and not because they took a wrong turn at the class blog.

Random Blogger Question

the following is the random question that came up for blogger on my profile, but my answer was too long for the profile

Random Question: The children are waiting! Please tell them the story about the bald frog with the wig:

Fortunately, the bald frog lived in Oakland. He was able to hippity hop up Fruitvale avenue to the Dimond district, where there are no fewer than four shops where they sell wigs, hair for weaving, and many other necessary products. The bald frog was very excited because he would be able to find a wig that made him look glamorous. At first, he tried the blonde wigs, so he could look like Tina Turner in the early days. But after spending all day trying on wigs, he decided instead to buy a ladies' African print head wrap, and he held his head regally as he hopped on.

Teaching with your mouth shut

(Teaching with your mouth shut is a book by Donald L. Finkel)

Thinking back over your whole life, what were the two or three most significant learning experiences you ever had? That is, list the moments (or events) in which you discovered something of lasting significance in your life.

Okay well the first part of this is easy: the one I talk about the most is Lorna Dee Cervantes' poetry reading at CU Boulder. In her poems she spoke a language that was familiar to me but devalued in the academy. I mean, obviously it was valued in a way, because here she was in the academy, but in my whole education--eighteen years at that point--I had never heard that language before in a classroom.

It's important for me to say that at that point I was not a high-identity Chicana :) I called myself Mexican, I was monolingual English, I liked reading Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer. I liked being the heroine in the book I was reading.

I was always confused about which generation I belong to--my mother was born in the LA, my grandmother and great grandmother immigrated in 1920 when the latter was about twenty and the former about seven, my great great grandmother immigrated when she was about 36 in 1912--and that's the *easy* side :)

Okay, that takes me to another big learning moment, which was when I was TA-ing for Bettina Aptheker and she had the students stand up and recite a maternal genealogy: I am Catriona, daughter of Eleanor, granddaughter of Guadalupe, great-granddaughter of Catalina, great-great granddaughter of Bernadette; I am Catriona, granddaughter of Libradita, great-granddaughter of Juanita. Now a big part of what I learned was in my verbalizing this, but another big part was hearing all the students doing this: It was like a big prayer, It started out strong (I Am) but with each successive generation, the voices were fewer. It was a lesson in what we didn't know and why. It was a feeling of both pride and failure. Each of us was proud of her heritage. Each of us was ashamed at how incomplete our knowledge of that heritage was, and how she had not noticed its absence.

Okay, final one. I learned that I was competitive, and ashamed of losing. This I learned through racewalking. I don't like to exercise. I don't like to sweat. but put me in a race with people walking fast and I'll sweat and push to get towards the front, to identify one person up ahead who i want to catch. in races that were primarily runners, where there would be 50 runners and 3 or 4 walkers, by definition I was going to be the back-of-the-pack. except there was no pack. I was all alone, and I felt a big degree of shame about walking--racing--by myself. but there was that heavy set man walking heel-toe, and if I could just pass him, then it would be a big deal.

1. Did it take place in a classroom?
2. Did it take place in a school?
3. Was a professional teacher involved in making the learning experience happen?
4. Was someone like a teacher (coach, director) involved in making the experience happen?
5. What did she do to help you learn?
6. What was instrumental in bringing about the learning?

My answers are a bit different than what Donald Finkel was leading toward, just because I have spent a truly amazing number of days in the classroom. :) But still, in none of those three learning situations was I the student in a class. The poetry reading I just went to, because I liked poetry, even though I wasn't sure exactly what that meant. I didn't learn content from Lorna Dee--it was experiential--I was weeping in that room.

miércoles, septiembre 21, 2005

a haiku on bad pms day

only 7 steps
between bed and coffee pot
still, i hit a wall

my digital body - a girltalk poem

if i digitized my body i could
open it in my best software
move individual hair follicles
from where i don't want them
to where i do

i could sculpt
a rita hayworth hairline

a butch king,
i could move the curls on my ass
to my chin and boast a bushy beard

i could move the stiff black ones
from my chin
and make my brows even more dramatic

or, finally
sweep up all the follicles--
fierce and healthy
dark and thick
from my arms, legs, belly, chin
temples, feet, nape and back
--concentrate them, shape them
wear a hair bikini year-round

martes, septiembre 20, 2005

happy to be here

my grad students ROCK
one of them (one of the bi-girls at NACCS)
told me about a queer latina film: pura lengua

L* is preparing for classes, which start on friday.

I know i'm pms-ing cuz i got snippy with my undergrads
yesterday when they said one aspect of a film was dumb
"if you're not being entertained, maybe you're not getting it"
don't think i said that right. what i meant was, not everything
is designed as entertainment, so instead of saying 'that's dumb,'
maybe you should work a little harder to understand what's going on."

they're good eggs, overall.
but i need to work on the snippy.
snippy is not a good note to end on

Re: People on BART
Machafemme says it's okay to stare, as long as you say "Hi!"

I had a shuttle dream last night, where someone was calling someone else to say *I* was talking shit!

yesterday was butt-cold, prob'ly 60 or 58 degrees :)
I was dying. wish i had a blanket in my office.
or a shawl or a family quilt.
silly silliness.

jueves, septiembre 15, 2005

BART people 2

I was on the wrong train. I take the Daly City train to work, but I was on an SFO train. I'm not sure
if it goes to Daly City, because they always tell you to transfer at Balboa park.

So I did.

As the train rushed off without me, the wind it created stirred up my crocheting and also the hair of a lady next to me. Something about the way she grabbed her hair caught my attention. Her hair was shiny like a dolls hair.

And she's prob'ly six feet tall.

Yes, I'm pretty sure she's M2F, and I smile with happiness, looking her way.

I just keep smiling.

Then I start to worry my attention will get her the wrong kind of attention, and so start trying to not look at her.

what a weirdo i am.'

miércoles, septiembre 14, 2005

Tarantula dream

mxi was a kitten again.

On the way home, we saw a grey and white kitten spread out in the road: it might have been hit by a car, or it might have been sleeping. (there was no blood or anything)

We were parking our car in the garage so we could run out and check if the kitten it was mxi.

But when we opened the car door, we realized that mxi was inside the car with us.
and she was fine.

Then L* came home from the pet store with this little bamboo cage that looked like a little handbag.

Inside was a furry tarantula.

L* had bought the tarantula to amuse mxi.

Of course mxi was going crazy trying to get to the tarantula.
but then the bamboo sticks sagged like they were just strips of suede
and had gave no support.

mxi got the tarantula, and then i had to rescue it from her
and put her out of the way, and then the tarantula was hiding behind a fold of carpet.

miércoles, septiembre 07, 2005

opera and ...

I was reading (and teaching) David Henry Hwang's M. Butterfly this week
and so listened to Maria Callas singing Puccini's Madama Butterfly.

First of all, the play is FABULOUS, and I was totally seeing BD Wong and
John Lithgow playing it in my mind's eye. And Hwang started out wanting to
write an opera, but went with a play so he wouldn't have to collaborate

THEN i watched the movie. fuchi!
turned it into a trans-tragedy. John Lone was cute but no BD Wong
Jermy irons was way too butch for how the role was written

PLUS they still never showed Song's pensi.

We talked a lot about penises today.

None of the the little queerlings had ever even heard of Robert Mapplethorpe,
(I asked them to raise their hands if they had but nobody did)
which made discussion of Kobena Mercer's article Reading Racial Fetishism
a little slow.

When we got to Richard Fung's Looking for my Penis
I tried a different tack and asked how many people
have seen gay porn.
Everybody in the class raises their hands.
"FINALLY!" I declare

lunes, septiembre 05, 2005

Casualties from Katrina

Casualties from Katrina
should be added to the US bodycount
in Iraq.

The people and equipment
to evacuate the poor before the storm
are in Iraq.

The people and equipment
to rescue the trapped, the dying
are in Iraq.

FEMA's budget is in Iraq.

(truly, though, it's in the pockets
of the companies that sell at inflated
prices to our government and who will
gain sweetheart deals
to rebuild Orleans)

Some people don't want to leave New Orleans,
they know that such rebuilding
obliterates every trace of the Real,
in its place, a Vegas-style Belaggio

How is this "protecting the family"
These pieces of papers posted
with names of missing daughters, mothers, siblings

How is this "homeland security"
when home is underwater

Why are shoe-shopping and golf
the preferred activities
of our celebrity president
and secretary of state?

Bring on Fidel's hundred doctors

What terms will be coined to describe the deaths
that came not from the storm itself
but from the abandonment
the neglect
the poverty?
Collateral damage?

How many nursing homes of the poor dead
will be uncovered
of injustice
race and class in america