Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Who Said It Was Bliss?

My ignorance, that is. This old post accused people of judging others based on their experiences. After a recent look at the feminist corner of the blogosphere, I realize I did the same thing. Here in my insulated, comfortable, racially harmonious little world, I really did/do believe that feminists of all backgrounds, generally speaking, were working to build this vastly inclusive sisterhood where we'd bury our old hatchets and stand on common ground. I downplayed the significance of the exclusion and silencing of (or was that simply a refusal to hear?) women of color, intimating that it was a thing of the past. I derided the complaint that white feminists and feminists of color have widely different issues, concerns, and styles. We've moved past that, right?

And then I looked. At Nubian and brownfemipower who've had markedly different experiences (than mine as portrayed in the abovementioned post). At Twisty, who started a related conversation on her board. At lots of other blogs where women of color expressed discontent with all those things I thought were past. I was ignorant. I am ignorant.

But if you know anything about me, you know that I am vainly, smugly proud of my intellect. I'm going to educate myself. I'm listening. I'm learning.

And I'm thanking Nubian and numerous other bloggers for rattling my comfortable little cage.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Rolling Right Along

I finally stopped being lazy and added the blogrolling stuff to my template (I signed up back in December or January). Still no tags yet, despite the patient tutelage of Soror Rageyone. And, of course, I'm still too lazy to figure out how to get my real life buddy, Quinn, back on top.

Oh, well, you're still number one in my heart, girl!

Monday, March 27, 2006

Not so good...

Not so good for a dissertating young woman:
31.25 %

My weblog owns 31.25 % of me.
Does your weblog own you?

Of Color...

Nubian has a great, debate-inducing post on the term "people of color." Personally, I like the term, but honestly, I've never thought much about it. Some of Nubian's readers object, feel that it excludes white people (which makes them defensive or absolves them of repsonsibility to be part of the solution to issues that revolve around race/ethnicity/color), casts white people as "colorless" or "raceless," or normalizes a racial binary of white/of color. I am most sympathetic to that last point, but using the term "people of color" did not/does not create that binary--it exists anyway, whether we reference it or not. The solidarity implied in "people of color," that sense, on some level, of a shared experience is valuable.

But I don't discuss this nearly as well as Nubian and I haven't thought it out clearly. Please read her post.

Marriage is for White People...

Or so notes an article in yesterday's WaPo. That's not the author's position, but that of a 12-year old black boy. A particularly interesting excerpt from Ms. Jones's provocatively titled piece:
Among African Americans, the desire for marriage seems to have a different trajectory for women and men. My observation is that black women in their twenties and early thirties want to marry and commit at a time when black men their age are more likely to enjoy playing the field. As the woman realizes that a good marriage may not be as possible or sustainable as she would like, her focus turns to having a baby, or possibly improving her job status, perhaps by returning to school or investing more energy in her career.

As men mature, and begin to recognize the benefits of having a roost and roots (and to feel the consequences of their risky bachelor behavior), they are more willing to marry and settle down. By this time, however, many of their female peers are satisfied with the lives they have constructed and are less likely to settle for marriage to a man who doesn't bring much to the table. Indeed, he may bring too much to the table: children and their mothers from previous relationships, limited earning power, and the fallout from years of drug use, poor health care, sexual promiscuity. In other words, for the circumspect black woman, marriage may not be a business deal that offers sufficient return on investment.
Before I comment, I will be careful, as did Ms. Jones, and say, "in my observation." I will note that, all men and women are not the same, that there are guys out there who are ready and willing to make the sacrifices and compromises to commit and share their lives and there are women who have no interest in ever marrying. But, I must say, in a feeble and worried-about-censure voice, that my observations are much like the author's. After two really hard relationships and lots of effort, tears, and anger, I'm pretty much resigned to the fact that I'm never getting married. I mean, I am a Black woman over 30 who just can't deal with the things I did in my 20s. To be fair, I'm set in my own ways and usually think I know right, or at least, best, so I come with my own flaws.

But most of the guys I've met are just not ready. Many of them feel they don't have to be--hell, if I put my foot down there are other women who so badly want a man, they'll ignore the infidelities, the lack of effort, the bruising to their self-esteem, just to have one. Ms. Jones comments on that, too:
Most single black women over the age of 30 whom I know would not mind getting married, but acknowledge that the kind of man and the quality of marriage they would like to have may not be likely, and they are not desperate enough to simply accept any situation just to have a man. A number of my married friends complain that taking care of their husbands feels like having an additional child to raise.
I hear that last observation a lot, in the form of "Girl, I have two kids," or "He can't do a damn thing without my helping."

Within my own circle, this discontent with marriage has produced a strange effect: my female family and friends are inordinately concerned with preserving the sanctity of my singlehood. Just Saturday, J told me, "Girl, leave those papers at the courthouse and that man at the altar." My sister and T immediately gave her high fives. They all emphasize how well I will do on my own with the PhD, how lucky I am to have waited. My ever-practical sister says that I should get a companion and nothing more. My own mother, who has been married almost 40 years, urges that I should have another child to keep the kid from being an only child, but seems to have forgotten my lack of a mate. I think I have become their hope, in a sense, for a "good" marriage. They are unwilling for me to enter or stay in a relationship in which I would have to deal with selfishness, infidelity, lack of ambition, or any other significant flaw. The irony is that many of them have dealt with these things and stayed. Or maybe it's not so ironic. They want, desperately, wholeheartedly, better for me.

Ms. Jones's article tries to end on a bright note, by pointing out that while the decline in marriage among African American women may be brought about by negative factors (e.g. a lack of willing, ready-to-work-at-it partners), it may continue because of more positive ones (our accomplishments and self-sufficiency make us unwilling to accept a less than fulfilling relationship). And I am the first to admit that marriage is not some grand cure-all that will fix everything that plagues our communities. It comes in too many forms--including abusive ones--to be the answer to everything for everyone. Additionally, not all women and men seek this arrangement.

Still, the article made me a bit sad.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

There's no place like... beloved computer desk. I made it back safely. See you soon.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

On Research

So I'm sitting in a library in Magnolia, AR looking through some state documents. None have proven to be that one groundbreaking document that will elevate my dissertation to superstar status. They aren't particularly interesting. But being here reminds me why I chose this field in the first place--sometimes, I really love the research. More specifically, I love the search. For example, I really don't know what I'm looking for here (don't tell my advisor) but I love the looking, the discovering. Is it strange that I find this... fun?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Local Drugstore

While sitting in the nail shop shortly before this prolonged trip, I picked up a "women's" magazine. Amidst all the tips, tricks, and techniques, there was a suggestion that women find forgotten treasures-beauty products, novelties, gifts, etc-at drugstores. Yesterday, my dad sent me to fill one of his prescriptions, so I decided to explore my old-school hometown drugstore. I found funky furniture, pier-1 inspired rattan items, playing cards, keychains that held sand from my tiny town, beautiful picture frames and a box that contained Colgate shaving soap.

I stared at that little red and white box marked $1.20 for a long time. I stared and I remembered my stooped shouldered grandfather, Payne.

Now Payne was not a man concerned with physical appearances. He routinely wore mismatched socks and shoes. He misbuttoned his shirts and jackets and safety-pinned any wardrobe malfunction. He pushed around a decades old lawnmower, because, well into his 70s, he still "cut yards." I used to sink down in my seat on the school bus when I was a little kid and groan my embarrassment.

But on shaving, Payne was a stickler. He had one of those old brushes that you use to put the lather on and he shaved himself with a straight razor while we watched and talked him through it. He talked back, but I never saw him cut himself. I still remember the rhytmic scrape-scrape-scrape of his shaving.

What I also remember is how much he loved us. See, there was always tension between my mom and her mom. My grandmother made no bones about the fact that my uncle and his kids were her favorites. I didn't care much when I wasn't around her, but the way she discounted my mother's efforts routinely pissed my sister and me off. But, we bit our tongues, largely because of Payne. He adored my mom and loved all seven of the grandkids. When we needed money, he'd pull out this old weather beaten wallet and issue it silently. When we were late for curfew, he'd wait up and quietly unlock the screen door. When I was in the throes of teenaged angst, he'd tell me these stories about his sister--who bore an amazing resemblance to me as he told it--to help ease me through.

He was a good man, a strong man, and he loved my grandmother despite the fact that she cussed and hollered and fussed and often told him, "Payne, these are my children!" A spiteful statement, because Payne was not our biological grandfather. But, instead of taking her to task, he'd sigh, shake his head, and say, "You wrong, girl. You know you wrong." And he kept loving us all the same.

The last time I saw Payne, in a Rehabilitation hospital, he was tired and suffering from cancer. He missed my grandmother terribly. Still, he managed to smile at me and pat my cheek, one of the few times he'd ever been physically affectionate. He told me, "Take care of yourself, Sugar." I told him I loved him and he nodded once. I realize now that in the 20-something years I had him, he never once said the words. But never have I ever been so sure someone felt them.

So, of course, Elle, being sentimental, weeping Elle, bought the soap. My dad found it in his bag and said, "I told you I had razors and shaving cream." I had to tell him that I didn't buy it to use it.

At least, not in any practical way.

I Know Y'all Miss Me...

...but I'm still not back in the Lone Star State. Decided to spend an extra week between LA and AR. I get to interview a worker's advocate whose been involved in the industry I'm studying for over 20 years. I get to write sans two little boys. And guess what? I've actually put my nose to the grindstone and turned out some pretty good stuff. My mom still works, my dad fishes a lot, so I spend hours alone with nothing but a spiral notebook, my binders, notecards, and a few books. The result? I've done more in 2 days than in all February.

The downside, of course, is that I miss my TX family. And the advisor sent me an e-mail that began with ELLE, WHERE ARE YOU? She seems a little peeved that I've missed some pretrty important people sorta in my field who were visiting the area. I had my sister e-mail her until I could get to a computer. And then I sent an approriately contrite e-mail--in which I mentioned my near-nervous breakdown of February and rebounding quite amazingly to produce this wonderful chapter. I hope she replies soon. I hate feeling that I've let her down.

But, best friend Louisiana who has some influential contacts has procured a really nice laptop for me to use while I'm here. So maybe, I can keep in touch more. Or maybe I'll keep going without computer and keep getting my grind on.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Lord Have Mercy

When I tell y'all I'm from the country... trust! The most exciting thing has been my goddaughter's unexpected run in her pre-school pageant. J decided last minute and we've raised $500 today alone. T's son is running for "king," too, so we've sold two sets of plate lunches, hotdogs, raffle tickets, etc. As conceited as we are, we're determined that they both win--I even bought Belle a blue dress to match T's son's baby blue suit. Pageant is tomorrow. I've been pursing my lips and blowing kisses as I solicit donations--all my feminist sensibilities leave when it comes to the children.

Gotta realize Elle loves the kids!

Well, off to make that money!

(You all know, of course, that I've written approximately one dissertation related paragraph?)

Thursday, March 09, 2006

It's So Hard...

but still, I shall say goodbye! Off to Louisiana until the 20th, so blogging will be light to none!

Have a good week. Wish me luck on the dissertation chapter. I have to bust my ass over the next ten days.


Elle, A(lways)B(ehind)D(ammit!)

Why the Word also Means "Failure, Flop"

Ever a day late and thousands of dollars short, I wanted to drop a quick bomb before I start getting ready for the oft-delayed-but-much-anticipated lunch with Best Friend Texas.

Bill Napoli is a perverted idiot.

There now, that felt good.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

A Hard Act to Follow

Oh My God, this rambles...
Last night, best friend Louisiana called. She was crying so hard, I could barely understand her. This in itself is alarming--best friend LA does not cry often. Not for herself, anyway. She cries for her friends but treats her own problems with this brusque, brisk, get-over it attitude. So, I was scared but managed to make soothing noises until she could talk.

Her mom, who has diabetes, suffered a stroke, and had a dangerous blockage to a major artery, has Level/Stage Four cirrhosis of the liver. They have to go Monday to talk to her doctor. And best friend is worried that the prognosis will be unbearably dismal, that her mom will be given some sort of "time limit," in her words. "I just can't go. I just can't hear that," she sobbed over and over. To which all the inept, insufficient Elle could say was "You can go. You know how strong you are. She'll need you. I'll be home, too."

What could I say? This woman is my rock. We have been best friends since I was four and she was five. We're the two oldest and possibly tightest members of our pentagon--my group of Louisiana friends that includes her, my sister, my cousin T, my cousin J, and me. She has the most amazing knack for telling me how it is--whether I want to hear it or not--and still making me feel like I'm something special. Last year, when I began crying uncontrollably at the rehearsal for my parent's 35th wedding anniversary luau, she grabbed my face and said "What is it? You know I'm going to fix it for you." This year, when I started sleeping in my closet (because I needed the darkness), turning off the ringers on my phones, and readied myself to wallow in misery, she kept calling, kept fussing, kept loving. When I wailed, "What's wrong with me?" she snapped back, "Nothing, he's an insecure idiot." When I cried, "I'm never going toget this degree, never going to write this thing," she said, "Shut up and stop being lazy."

You see, she has spent almost 27 years saying the right thing at the right time to me. She has spent 27 years helping me fight my battles and "fixing" things for me. She's the type who can assure me in one breath that we're classy, smart, and above petty squabbles and in the next, threaten to handily kick the ass of anyone who even looks at me wrong. She is counselor, advocate, reality check, and friend rolled in one great package. In all these years, we've had two major arguments, many small disagreements, and lots of attitude. But always, always there's the bond, the love, the sisterhood--possible in part because she knows all my neuroses and loves me anyway.

And I am worried. In a general sense, because T's father (my uncle) died of complications from diabetes in 2002. J's father died 2 weeks ago. My own father seems to be having a lot of bad days now that the dialysis has begun. All of them are/were in their 50s. 50s! So I am worried in a large sense that health care and information for black people really is substandard and when we do get the info, we disregard it. J's father (and mine) continued to smoke. T's father refused to take his hypertension and diabetes meds which led to stroke and blindness and his spending his 40s in a nursing home. And even though we see this, live this, despair of this--the smallest member of the pentagon is J at a size 14. Not that large necessarily means unhealthy, but we are a mostly sedentary bunch. We get together and eat and go to movies and eat and talk and eat and plan outings and events and eat. I have no illusions we will ever be size 2s or even 8s--the four of us who are kin have large mamas, aunts, grandmothers, cousins, etc--but I do want us to be healthier.

But what I am worried about most immediately is that I will fail best friend LA in this hour of need. I do not have the words she has. I am the queen of sympathetic silences, handholding, and backrubbing. I don't think I've ever "fixed" one thing for her. Because she's so self-confident, I've never had to reassure her of her worth. The more I think about it, I'm scared she's going to evaluate this friendship one day and worry that one of us is giving more--I'm infinitely more needy than she is. But there are three things that I do for her, three things that may serve me well at this time. I make her laugh. And I love to hear her laugh while she chokes out, "Oh my God, Elle, you are going straight to hell for that." I listen and I hear her, even when I don't agree. And, I'm her "crying place," where she comes in those rare moments that it all gets to her. Like last night. Like I fear Monday will be.

Three little things that I'm hoping will be enough.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

I'm Waiting...

For the usual things you guys know about--for my prince to come, spring break, the dissertation to write itself, and these extra pounds to magically disappear (though I have lost 13 lbs since January 27, thank you very much). But what I'm waiting on most is for people to get angry.

I mean, all the people I expect to be mad are. Quinn is. Angry Black Bitch stays that way. Bitch, PhD is peeved. Twisty Faster is in a lovely uproar. My best friend is caught somewhere between mad and profoundly sad. My sister has pronounced it a damned shame. These people I expect to be upset. I am familiar with their beliefs and politics on the subject.

But when does everyone else get mad that legislators are deciding that they have a right, based on their religious and/or misogynistic beliefs to control all women's reproductive systems? I get the e-mails from NARAL, see the coverage of South Dakota's "law" on the web, get the disgruntled calls from my friends. Again, all this is expected. What I'm waiting on is Ms. and Mr. Average America to stand up and say, "This goes too far. I'm tired of the conservative hypocrisy of claiming to want smaller government and less interference in our lives while agitating for control over people's bedrooms. I'm tired of them claiming to care about life of the 'unborn' but cutting and denigrating every social service they fear will help the already born. I'm tired of them insisting that every woman who has an abortion will be traumatized and psychologically damaged at some point. And I'm tired of them pretending that this is about protection when we all know this about punishing alleged sexual promiscuity and promoting the band-aid cure of heterosexual-marriage-and-nuclear-family for any problem that ails us."

Why isn't this happening, people? I do not believe the majority of Americans are anti-choice. Hell, I believe many in that camp are only anti-choice when it comes to other people's daughters, wives, nieces, etc. How far will they have to go before people are alarmed? Would we be more irate if they were threatening birth control--cuz they are you know? Would it be more offensive if they were telling us who to sleep with and when and under what circumstances to do so--cuz, yep, that's implied too. Would we be bothered a bit more if we knew that the only women they value are good Christians who "save" themselves for marriage--and that's a nice paraphrase.

So what is it going to take? What's going to make people realize that women's freedom is in jeopardy? When will we acknowledge that paying lip service to equality while doing everything to undermine it is wrong? When will people call the anti-choicers on their bluff.

Twisty, I'm with you on this one. I sooooo Blame the Patriarchy.

Told You So

Didn't I say that it would be March and I'd be scurrying on the next chapter and the blog would still be pink?


Anyway, I just sent the incomplete chapter to my brilliant dissertater group. There is hope--their feedback from chapter 1 sent that thing from 12 stumpy pages to 30+ in a smaller font. I always like to turn in first drafts that are around 25 pages. Don't ask me why I get stuck on page numbers, I just do.

But, let me make a point. One of the silliest things I've ever done is stay isolated for so long while working on this degree. My advisor finally talked me into approaching my group (I knew all of them; they'd all been wonderful to me, but I was just so shy and so melodramatic--part of me wanted to feel alone in my suffering). They let me in :-) and, with their help, suggestions, and criticism, I've written more in a few months than I did the first three years of my program. I've also opened up to them more than I ever have to any therapist. And, you know what, highly-touted individualism aside...

Sometimes, it feels good to belong.

Why Quinn is THE Brain

So glad my girl said what I was thinking about South Dakota. Check her out.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Back to South Dakota

S.D. Governor Signs Abortion Ban Into Law

What else can I say right now?

That Thing We Take for Granted...

Yesterday, while idly flipping through blogs, I happened upon one called "and I wasted all that birth control" which chronicles one couples journey through infertility, loss of children, and worried excitement over a current pregnancy. From there, I read some other blogs with similar themes. Then, this morning, I read over at Quinn's that she had had an infertility diagnosis. The result--I feel like something on the bottom of a really old shoe. Not because I have a child when so many people who want one don't, but because I am so cavalier and complain-y about it.

You see, I never thought about getting pregnant, except how to prevent it. When we conceived the kid, I was haphazardly taking the pill--I figured I'd been on them so long I didn't really have to take them at the same time everyday--and daddy-of-the-kid swears he didn't remove the condom--something he'd done twice before in our then-year-long relationship, so who knows. Anyway, I was a super-regular every-28-day sort of girl, so when I was late, I knew immediately what was wrong (or right, I suppose). I didn't do much gnashing of teeth and wailing--I was in love, I already had a BA and was well into the MA program, my family would be supportive, and the best friend (I have two, btw) Louisiana edition proclaimed herself godmother from day one.

So I stumbled into motherhood with little drama. Except that made up in my own mind--I just knew my kid was going to have every birth defect I read about--and Elle being Elle, I read lots. Eventually, my godmother sat me down after my newborn's PKU stick (which I freaked over) and told me to get a grip. With the help of friends and family, I did. Truth be told, I had it wonderfully easy. My baby had a sweet temperament--very little crying. He wasn't ill often. He smiled a lot. My sister and cousin T got up with him in the middle of the night more than I did. Both sets of grandparents would babysit at a moment's notice. My mom, who still worked nights, provided child care for him while I TA'ed and went to school. When I began teaching, my mom's best friend took over the child care for the unbelievable sum of $30 per week. When we moved so I could work on the PhD, daddy-of-the-kid took on most of the hands-on-parenting.

And still I complained. I didn't like holding bottles and giving baths. I hated lugging around the carrier and car seat. Training took forever and then he was a bed wetter. He doesn't sit perfectly still for the few hours a day I have with him now. He asks a lot of questions, talks non-stop. His grades--4 Bs and 1 C+ last report card--and standardized tests--on which he scores just a little above average--show that he probably will have markedly different interests than his academia-loving mom (shallow as that is, it has been painfully hard for me). My point is that I complain about everything then mumble a little "God, thank you for my child," each night as if that is adequate enough for this wonderful gift that I was given.

And I think of who I do the complaining to. Quinn--though I didn't know about her diagnosis--who has to listen to me over lunch saying things like "Ugh, I don't want anymore," and "Why would anyone have more than two." Both best friends who did silly things like wait to get married/have stable committed relationships and have good jobs before they entered motherhood. So, they were in there late 20s and neither got pregnant on the first few tries. Knowing this, I still said to best friend Texas edition one day, "I'm glad we're older. Hopefully our fertility is declining." She gave me a rare, censorious look.

What reading through those blogs showed me is that, while I love my kid, I don't appreciate him. I don't appreciate being a mother. I don't appreciate the ease of my "unplanned" pregnancy. I give lip service to appreciating my support network, but I take it for granted. When I was 24, I would've had so much attitude if my parents had refused to babysit. The kid's father, to whom I can barely speak civil words, maintains a steady presence. And, this weekend, when I go home, I will barely see the kid because he is so loved and so missed that he'll spend almost each night of spring break at someone else's home. Someones who appreciate this beautiful, cheerful, talkative gift I have.

Poor, clueless Elle.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Sometimes... wait all week for Saturday, and it turns out to be Monday in disguise. :-(

Friday, March 03, 2006


On one of the questions below, I said I'd take the weekend off. But I forgot about Nelly. Lord, who needs time off!! :-)


Borrowed this from What An African Woman Thinks. Has anyone else noticed how much I love the ellipsis?
Black and White or Colour; how do you prefer your movies?
Color. Nothing at all sentimental about me.

What is the one single subject that bores you to near-death? Academically? Science. In the world? Trying to understand science/technology etc. My eyes start to roll towards the back of my head when people try to explain things to me and I get confused reading technical stuff. So if it's not something I can play with and figure out with a minimum of help, it's not for me.

MP3s, CDs, Tapes or Records: what is your favorite medium for prerecorded music? CDs. I hear about MP3s, Ipods and Nano-whatevers through a thick veil. I'm frightened of new stuff (and yes, I realize none of the above are new--just new to me) until best friend explains it all. I still use the 3.5 disks to save all my dissertation work--best friend was horrified, but my computer gives me problems when I try to save to CD-RWs. Honestly!

You are handed one first class trip plane ticket to anywhere in the world and ten million dollars cash. All of this is yours provided that you leave and not tell anyone where you are going … Ever. This includes family, friends, everyone. Would you take the money and ticket and run?
For 10 million dollars? Hell no. Not even for 10 billion dollars would I leave my family and friends for life. I'm way, way too attached. Now for a few months or a year, if my kid was grown, then, maybe. But I'd obsess that someone was going to die or get ill or get married or whatever while I was gone, so I'd forfeit, I'm sure.

Seriously, what do you consider the world’s most pressing issue now? Poverty and related issues like disease, famine, war, and ignorance. A close second--organized religion.

How would you rectify the world’s most pressing issue? I have no idea. I have some ideas about poverty in the U.S. which is absolutely ridiculous-- I think poor American should be an oxymoron. But in other countries that are just poverty-stricken on a grand scale, I'm clueless. Which is no excuse for my inertia.

You are given the chance to go back and change one thing in your life; what would that be?
Just One? I would have gone to see my grandmothers immediately when they called for me. I was too "busy" with my life, thought I had time. They both died shortly afterwards. Part of me will never make peace with the fact that I did that twice.
And I have to say, if it weren't for my kid, I would change the fact that his father and I threw our friendship away to pursue something else that worked out soooo horribly. :-(

You are given the chance to go back and change one event in world history, what would that be?
Imperialism. Which means there's be no Elle and no U.S., but imperialism/colonialism/domination and subjugation have wreaked havoc on the world's people. Of course, that's not one event. The assassination of Lincoln. Then the confederates may not have gotten off so easily and reclaimed power between 1877 and 1900. Southern blacks may have actually gotten a chance to participate fully in society.

A night at the opera, or a night at the Grand Ole’ Opry – Which do you choose?
Grand Ol' Opry. Since I'm a southerner, there's a chance I might at least understand the words there!

What is the one great unsolved crime of all time you’d like to solve?
I'd like to know who killed Tupac and Biggie. I don't necessarily believe the police don't know, but I'd like for everyone to know. Especially their moms.

One famous author can come to dinner with you. Who would that be, and what would you serve for the meal?
Jacqueline Jones. She set a pretty high standard for what I eventually hope to do (don't worry, ABD friends, I no longer think the dissertation is going to be groundbreaking). I don't know what I'd serve--probably have something catered. I'm old school in the sense that I take my cooking seriously and if you don't clean your plate, I'm slightly offended (ask my sister). So rather that get my feelings hurt, I'd call some nice restaurant up--once I knew what she liked.

You discover that John Lennon was right, that there is no hell below us, and above us there is only sky — what’s the first thing you might do to celebrate this fact?
OK, in the spirit of the question, I'll set my fire-and-brimstone indoctrination aside and think. Hmm. Invite Morris Chestnut, Henry Simmons, Boris Kodjoe, LL, and TI over on successive nights. I'd take the weekend off :-) Ooh, I'd also do something publicly humiliating to this person who has been bugging/harrassing/taunting me for almost a year now.

Ok, I tag Quinn, Rageyone, Mon, and Ginviren. Nubian, my other blogfriend, is out of town for happy reasons!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Blogging Differently

Really, when I started this, I had in mind the words of my best friend who envisioned me as an all-around political-commentator-stick-it-to-the-man-while-still-being-a-concerned-mother sort of writer.
Okay, I envisioned that, too.
Now, at three months old, I have to come clean about some things. The goal of this is to make me a better blogger, in the image that best friend and I first envisioned.

1) I'm not as political as I'd like to be--though I do know the five freedoms, sheesh! I don't watch the news reguarly, I hate newspapers because I hate clutter, and my TV stays off until 6 pm. My nerves can't take the noise. Thus, I will rarely have "this just in" posts. I promise to stay relatively current, however.
2) Last year, I found out I wouldn't be able to write my dissertation in my spare time while proceeding with my "real" life. I actually have to sit down and work on the thing and (here's the part that almost killed me) I have to do revisions! Elle, the queen of turning in first-drafts-as-final-drafts with little more than spell-and-grammar check! Though I love blogging and love reading other people's blogs even more, I have to unplug the dsl modem and give it to my sister for long stretches of time as a reminder of my writing priorities.
3) I don't know everything--that's a big concession. I don't even know how I feel about everything. For example, because I taught public school for 3+ years and subbed after that, I tend to be a bit **swallows a gasp** conservative on some education issues. I have yet to mae peace with that in my mind given my stance on so many other issues. I think the blog is incomplete because I don't write on views that I have that seem discordant. Maybe I'll blog on education soon and you'll see.
4) I'm lazy as hell. Good, insightful writing takes time, effort, and, in my case, tears (though not often). I read other blogs, particularly AngryBlackBitch and am blown away by what is said and how succinctly and effectively it is said. Later, I console myself. Not sure when later comes.

But just when I'm feeling my guiltiest, I realize something else. I don't want this to be solely a political blog. I almost wrote an entry the other day about my funny experience in a MAC store--but stopped because I wondered how it would affect my image. But I've decided that I need to be honest. Yes, I am a damned good student who spends too much time in the library. Yes, I identify myself proudly as a feminist. But I am also someone who spends way too much money on clothes and cosmetics, who sometimes questions her skills at mothering, who doesn't always live up to the goals of feminism. I am a horrible friend sometimes because I just shut myself away. I cuss so much that we had to start a gallon-sized pickle jar for my change. And I wonder if the women I study, who so earnestly want their stories told, don't deserve a better narrator.
So there I am. Maybe my blog can reflect that, the real multi-dimensional Elle. I'll write about my views on education and why I shop too much and this horrible dinosaur book my son brought home.
In the end, hopefully, the blog will be like me: good and bad, flawed but fortunate enough to be loved by many.

For Annika...

Because I am incredibly lazy and because this story touches my heart, I present a plea stolen verbatim from Quinn's blog. Annika Tiede is a five-year-old in need of a third liver transplant, the result of a rare ailment. Her family is raising money because (in my own simplistic terms) their health insurance has already paid everything it's gonna pay this year.

Some you have probably already heard about Annika here or here or maybe here. Either way, know ye that there is need, and we can help. How many times have we started a sentence with "the great thing about the internet is..."? Well, here's a great thing the internet is doing. Blogging communities are getting together to provide donations and other assistance to a family in need. Of course, you can donate. But there are more ways to help. Do you want to buy a crafty gift for someone special? Do you make crafty gifts for special someones? Then check out the raffle. Or you can make a virtual casserole for Annika's family. And let's hope there will always be cake.

I'm going to see if I can get one of her links in my sidebar. I'm also going to hug my kid, who's greatest problem is remembering to regroup when he's doing subtraction.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

A Cyber Twin

A few days ago, while using technorati to find out who was linked to me in this wide, wonderful blogosphere :-p, I found a blog called Random Thoughts owned by one ginviren. She describes herself as "a quiet person who is also opinionated." I could do nothing except smile when I read that--she described Elle in a nutshell. I know it's hard to believe, but I really am shy. Really. As in awkwardly so. That's why this blog is so helpful.

Anyway, welcome, ginviren. Glad to know there's someone here in Texas that's a bit like me.
Revelations and ruminations from one southern sistorian...