domingo, septiembre 30, 2007

Throwing up my Immortal Soul

Well, that's what if felt like, anyway. Yesterday a stomach virus hit me like a Mack truck, in L*'s words. And she should know, having been awakened by the sounds of my retching. We are praying that--though it is no doubt a highly contagious virus--L* was not infected.

Students turned in projects and quizzes this week, which is no doubt how I got myself infected. (Another reason for online education, right there!) Of course, my brilliant decision to give blood nine days ago probably had a depressing effect on my immune system: in other words, my body was holding out a welcome sign to all viruses passing by.

L* took very good care of me, rushing out to the grocery store, plying me with pedialyte and saltines, and warning me away from other things I considered ingesting. She also had the best medication in her stash, which worked (and knocked me out) so that by last night I was feeling more myself again. I took a bath, put on clean pyjamas, brushed my teeth, washed my hair. you know, the things that make me feel like a person. I listened to tapes by Pema Chodrön and Clarissa Pinkola Estes, to soothe my restless mind.

L*, by the way, spent the day working on her manda. Earlier this year she revised an article she'd previously submitted to the International Journal of Psychoanalysis. She rebuilt the altar, promising a manda to la Virgen when her article was accepted.

For her manda, L is creating a mosaic of La Virgen. It's coming along beautifully and fully absorbs L*'s attention, so she is able to set aside worries like sick girlfriends and work for classes. So much so that she is going to a cafe this afternoon to work on her classes, where she will not be distracted by la Virgen's siren song.

The International Journal of Psychoanalysis

L*'s article "Primal Scenes of Miscegenation" will soon be appearing in the International Journal of Psychoanalysis.

Go L*!
Go L*!

Yeah, baby!

domingo, septiembre 23, 2007

Second Annual "Suck it up, Princess" posting...

It's already three o'clock and most of my day has been spent in hole-punching, printing, and putting in a binder.

Yes, it's annual review time again. The university has a new system for putting together the file (aka the box) and this year it's definitely binders. I'll have a lot more printing to do later: Many of the lecture notes that I put in last year were formatted in landscape, rather than portrait, because I was using a file box, rather than a binder.

And absolutely no sheet protectors. Because someone somewhere in the RTP process feels that a sheet protector is an accusation that s/he will be sloshing a latte all over my precious document. In fact, sheet protectors are designed to protect my dossier from me sloshing red wine all over it. Too bad for me. Because you know L* has that system of using a sheet protector as a mini-file, with course syllabus, handouts, etc. But such is not allowed.

I did, however, shamelessly copy L*'s cover-sheets for the binder, inserting the logo for my own university in place of the one for hers, and using Times New Roman in place of her fabulous font. I'm very conservative when it comes to fonts.

At OSU the rating system was 1-5 with 5 being excellent. Here it's 1-5 with 1 being excellent. I hope they read all my copious footnotes explaining this. If not, well, maybe they'll generously read this to indicate that I really sucked at teaching when I started, but have since shown tremendous improvement.

So, hole-punching. Not a big deal, right? Until you're going through the (literally!) hundreds of student evaluations from Women's Studies 101, wherein students complain that the films were boring and made them fall asleep; criticize me for reading from my lecture notes (after they whined and whined till I put said lecture notes online, so that they could then say "she's just reading the lecture notes."; that course material was obscene and/or inappropriate; that as white heterosexual males they felt completely alienated--if not traumatized--by the experience; that some some of the texts "were absolute crap: I couldn't believe they were in a college class"; that I should have included more material on gays and lesbians (big homophobe that I am).

Sigh. The good news, of course is that a) I did my time on Maple Drive and b) I don't ever have to deal with those particular students again. California students are a whole 'nother story. Not to romanticize them, --and btw right now I have a couple of guys who snicker and make me want to throw them out on their ear(s)--but the issues are largely different issues. California students NEVER write "before I took this class I never knew about people of color." They will, of course, take pride in declaring themselves "color-blind" and dismiss the significance of history, especially in relation to race, class, and gender. "Why can't we all just get along?"

So far I've got almost all of TEACHING in the first binder. That just leaves PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT and SERVICE (binders 2 and 3).

It's still not pretty like L*'s is, but it's a start.

miércoles, septiembre 19, 2007

I'm a mentor!

Okay so I just started, but I'm so excited!

It took me forever to get approved, all because I was dragging my feet on the TB test. Though I did have one done over a month ago, only to find that they'd made a mistake scheduling me and I would have to go to urgent care over the weekend to have someone read it. In San Francisco...

Needless to say, the second part never happened. And after weeks of trying to get an appointment, I finally instead broke down and went to the night-time Berkeley free clinic to get one done.

My loquera says it was prob'ly a good experience for me.

I felt like an uptight bourgeoise, and also a little like my grandma lupe who used to clutch her purse all the time.

I also felt like I was stealing from the poor people who don't have private insurance.

And I felt like a mess for not having my act more together.

But fast forward. I have been matched! I am a mentor.

If you know of any novels to catch the attention of girls (age 14) who love science and math but hate English and History, I'd love to hear about them.

(or non fiction)

lunes, septiembre 17, 2007

Letting Go of Resentments, or, When the Past tries to Haunt You

Note: I've gone back and edited this piece to remove some of the nastier bits...

You know, I'm all about letting go of resentments. I was recently making a list of resentments I have and was surprised to find so many were dropping of the list. That's so far away now, I don't really cherish any ill-feelings towards that person. Maybe I don't cherish any positive feelings for them, or want them in my life in any way shape or form, but I don't put energy into wishing them ill, or for that matter, thinking about them at all.

Until reminders of their presence is forced upon me.

A good friend of mine called to let me know she'd run into my 'ex. Now, of the three (?) people who might have some claim to the title "ex," three of them are white and two of them are male. I know someone once told me they'd met "your ex-boyfriend," and that made me mad too, just that one of those guys might be claiming to be my ex-boyfriend. My preferred term is "transition guy."

You can tell already that I'm a handful, can't you?

So back to this woman. She told my friend that "she and I were married for four years" but that now Ktrion "hates me." My friend, who knows me well and also has no reason to see me angry or hateful was understandably puzzled by this comment.

But all my letting go of resentments aside, I have to admit that I am irked to find that this white woman is claiming her ex-status with me as a way of giving her "i'm a white woman but with good politics" spiel some kind of credibility.

Also, I am irked that this person claims we were "married" for four years. Since she did not act as such at the time. I'm just saying, there's a contradiction there.

Granted, there was a ceremony. One I refer to now as "my delayed Quinceañera." All Chicana dykes need some kind of coming-out, coming-of-age ceremony. And somehow being an adult woman is usually tied to either childbirth or marriage. And, okay, I wanted my family to acknowledge and support me in my queerness.

She also expressed having "worried" about me after hearing that I was in Columbus, Ohio. You know, worried, in that way that white women worry about women of color. Again, this is a person who had shown a distinct lack of interest in my emotional well-being, during the historical period in which she was in a position to affect same. And such a statement certainly did not acknowledge me as a strong, a fierce woman of color,... with, by the way, a partner who loves and supports me and cares about my physical and mental well-being, talks with me after a hard day so that I know I'm not all alone against the craziness

The few years I spent with that person some fifteen years ago or so, by no means hold up to any kind of comparison to my relationship with L*, which has created poetry, survived two dissertations, three cross-country moves, one marathon, several homes, two cats, health, illness, family deaths, the traumas of academe and the joy of true partnership with a mature, loving, giving, smart-as-nails partner. (yes, partnership with a partner. i said that.)

L* taught me that trust can be grown, that love isn't a battlefield, that a relationship can foster creativity and growth, and change. And many many more things. Y'all KNOW I love me some L*.

I don't want my life tainted by resentments. I have so much to be thankful for. So many wonderful people in my life. So lucky to be here. With L*.


So Tongue-2-Tongue was weekend before last. I had a really good time: The conference was pretty upfront about it's own shortcomings, about how it couldn't do all it wanted to.

What I liked about it: all the tranzboiz; the conversations about gender identity, genderqueer, and tranz identities it provoked, even among folks who've known each other for years and years; the performances; Laura Aguilar's portrait of Retter from the Latina Lesbian series; seeing Alma Lopez's paintings in person; seeing Persephone after 10 (?) years, all fabulous and in charge: Discussion and mobilization around Victoria Arrellano; the OTHER after-party at Casa YoMo, including screening and discussion of Laura Aguilar's video; the vegetarian Chinese restaurant in Monterey Park; L*'s interjection about Queer Nation as part of our genealogy; seeing L* and Alice Hom together; talks with L* in the car afterward, sharing impressions & ideas.

What I didn't like: the smokers; the women who hijacked workshops and strategy sessions to make it "all about ME!" (whether this was sheer diva-locity or just plain crazy ranting); thinking there was going to be a BdP performance and then finding out no; not getting to hear from more activists in the queer African American communities; running out of time and energy at the last session.

sábado, septiembre 15, 2007

In between editing

We got news this week that an anthology for which we wrote an article now has a publisher interested. That's the good news. The bad news (of course) is that we have to get down to it and do all those edits we've been putting off.

If you've heard us brag about how much fun it is to write together, about how easy it is, about how we feel like our self-worth isn't necessarily determined by these printed words....well, we've had a little backsliding. Ideas that seemed great a month ago now seem like they're on crack. Some of our quotations have become garbled (though copy-editing, et cetera) so that they no longer make any kind of sense and we have to go back to the sources to see what they're actually saying.

We worked on it for three or four hours last night. Were hoping to get it finished. But didn't.

Google docs is no longer working for us: it messes with our formatting in MSWord, doesn't let us insert new footnotes, and doesn't let us use comments. Damn! It worked so well there for a while.

Now we're back to emailing the drafts back and forth. L* is on right now, beefing up the article with some important sources that didn't make it into the last draft. When she's unable to copy and paste from .pdf files, she dictates to me and I type it up and email it back to her.

Should we cite from Borderlands first edition (black)? When we were working on the article, we were using the page numbers for the second edition (yellow), but that meant the in-text citation is: (Anzaldúa 1999). And that doesn't adequately represent the chronology. Plus, now Aunt Lute has come out with a third edition (red)...

lunes, septiembre 03, 2007

Herstorian and Gadfly Yolanda Retter

We heard last week of the passing of Yolanda Vargas Retter. It was a tremendous shock.

Yolanda Retter, 59; lesbian scholar and author of 'Queers in Space'

Yolanda Retter, an activist, archivist and scholar who devoted the last four decades to raising the visibility of lesbians and minorities and preserving their history, died Aug. 18 at her home in Van Nuys after a brief illness. She was 59.

Widely respected in the Los Angeles lesbian community despite her abrasive style and radical stances, Retter called herself a "gadfly on the body politic" who took on many roles in her drive to achieve social justice for overlooked groups, particularly lesbians of color.

She was a pivotal advocate for lesbians during the early years of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, the country's first social service agency to exclusively serve gays. She helped organize lesbian history repositories at USC, UCLA and in West Hollywood. For the last four years, she was the librarian and archivist for the UCLA Chicano
Studies Resource Center, where she was instrumental in expanding holdings related to Latinas as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Calling herself a "herstorian," she created the Lesbian History Project website, which was once rated by Lycos as one of its most popular sites. It is off-line, but friends of Retter expect to relaunch it within a few weeks.

LA Times Obit, continued.