Sunday, August 31, 2008

Hurricane Gustav--How to Help

BFP and Sylvia have done a wonderful job of linking to ways to help/who can use your help urgently. Kevin has them, and more, rounded up here.

Also, I've had an e-mail and a comment asking about my family. My immediate family lives a few miles south of Arkansas, so should be physically safe. I do have an aunt in Iota whose daughter lives in New Orleans and whose son attends UL-Lafayette, and two other cousins, one an undergrad, one a law student, at Southern in Baton Rouge. I'll be calling shortly, but as far as I know, we're all safe and sound. Thank you so much for asking.

Friday, August 29, 2008


Today, on the 3rd anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's Louisiana landfall, my friend, Coti, found out that she is to be one of the 3000 National Guard troops mobilized by Governor Bobby Jindal. She leaves for south Louisiana tomorrow. Please keep her, as well as Alex--whom I know will be worried--in your thoughts.


Well, isn't that all nice? John McCain knows some women are feeling disaffected and betrayed by the Democratic Party and its perceived treatment of Senator Hillary Clinton, so he's gone out and chosen a woman as his running mate.

I have no doubt this was, in part, an effort to appeal to the aforementioned women, many of whom were supporters of Senator Clinton. And his choice to appeal to them was...

A strongly anti-choice (the anti-choice crew is giddy already if that article is any indication), anti-gay rights, perhaps ethically challenged, of-less-experience-than-Barack-Obama (and Barack is woefully unprepared, remember?), apparently popular (which makes Obama mock-worthy) woman.

But... at least she's a woman, right?

Essentialism at its finest.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


My friend Kendra sent me the image below last weekend via multimedia message. I opened it in the middle of the aisle of the grocery store. Imagine people's chagrin as they had to navigate around a grown-ass woman speaking in babytalk to a cellphone.

Auntie's smooshie mooshie Deucie turned 4 months old a week or so ago.

Things Seen Five

I wrote a variety of comments about this and then deleted each one.

I guess, all I wanted to say is, is this really necessary?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

South Texas Civil Rights Project (continued)

Via Noemi (see here also)

The South Texas Civil Rights Project is a non-profit public interest organization which provides free legal services to those in the Valley's low-income community whose civil rights have been violated. A major part of the Project's work is helping abused immigrant women.

The project will soon host an online auction to raise funds. Please check it out.

Actually, if at all possible, do more than just check it out!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Worthy Cause

Hi there! Elle has limited net access over the next day or so, but wanted me to post this for her. Take a look.

Dear Elle,

Thank you for your wonderful blogs, they span so many important issues with great insight. I'm e-mailing you about the project Women for Women International submitted to the American Express Members Project to support women and children survivors of war. We would love for you to help us spread the word and raise more support by featuring this project in your blog. Here's a brief description:

Friends, help Women for Women International with your vote for our Members Project "Help Women and Children Survivors of War Rebuild". With your support it could share in $2.5 million in funding from American Express. We need to get into the Top 25 projects by September 1 so please nominate this project for potential funding, go to Help Women and Children Survivors of War Rebuild.

Please click the link to the project and click Nominate. If you do not have an American Express website login, just click “Guest Member” provide a little information and you can then Nominate and vote.

Please show your support with a Click and Share this with as many friends as possible. We need at least 500 more votes in the next week to be in the running.

Thank you so much for your time, and please let me know if this is something you'd be interested in or if you have any questions at all.

Best regards,

Holly Zhao

Monday, August 25, 2008


That's how a new Sealy Posturepedic ad introduces a woman who's married to an older rich man.

And then there's the one about the heiress. Not only does she get more than six hours of sleep, she's heiress to a potato-chip fortune--she's better off than you because of evuhl junk food!!!!

There's one about a guy, too, to cut back on fussage from women like me, but he's not a golddigger or a junk food heiress.

The gist of the commercials is that these idle rich people get to sleep as much as they want, while unlucky stiffs like us have to deal with an average of six hours. But these commercials say so much more, though "Golddigger" requires no elaboration, I suppose.

Everyone in the commercials is white. They live off the wealth of industrious white men--we know this because they are referred to as "golddigger," "daddy's little girl," and "trust-fund baby... always on daddy's couch." Now, white husband/daddy is nowhere (aside from one portrait) to be seen in these commercials--he's off making the money.

So, Sealy Posturepedic, you fail. Rather than appealing to a heterogeneous working class in some novel way, you're recycling and reinforcing stereotypes of the working white man who supports unworthy, unambitious leeches. Way to turn welfare stereotypes on their heads!! **snort**

P.S. Just so you know, Sealy, historically, it's not white women's choice to stay at home that bothers most Americans. Hell, it's practically expected of them. To get your desired results, choose a black woman as golddigger next time--your commercial might run at the Republican National Convention.

Umm, Who, Exactly, Told You This Was a Good Idea?

Don't worry; I'm through talking about Obama-Biden for now.

"This" is using not-so-shredded-checks for packing material.

Can someone explain identity theft to the WHH Ranch Company?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Notes between Friends

Excerpts from a conversation between mrs. o and me on the phone this afternoon.

"mrs. o, what is he doing?"

"elle, i don't know. Joe Biden?"

"Girl, you know what I remember about him? 'Clean and articulate' and trying to discredit Anita Hill."

"Exactly. I'm trying to find out what the hell else he stands for."

"Did he even consider women like Sebelius?"

"Where is all the damned change? Another old white man?"

"I can't believe it."

"He's too smart for all this shit going on."

"I don't know. I'm trying to see the plan..."

Which is to say...

...I know flattery will get you everywhere, but "articulate and bright and clean?"

Have some standards, man.

Joe Biden?!?!

Oh, Barack.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Survival Topics for the Uninsured

Copied with permission from Cure This. This is Part 1 and contains Topics 1-6 (of 10).
Topic #1: Stuff happens. Think ahead.
Find the time to learn about the medical, social, and monetary resources available in your area in case you have a major medical disaster. I discovered how difficult it can be to find help and information in a hurry. If you can, build up an emergency fund. It's easy to put off, but this sort of planning is as important to your family's welfare as any other crisis preparedness.

Moving has special challenges in this regard. When relocating, consider support systems and resources the same way you consider crime and cost of living. If you don't do this ahead of time, you should do this right after you arrive at your new place. Find and make appointments with new doctors ASAP, even if you have to pay for the visits. You need to establish relationships with them. Line up reliable baby-sitters. Look for ways to build strong ties to your new community. This might include investigating public programs, which vary drastically from state to state. Make new friends quickly by joining a church, club, or PTA. Don't count on friends from work. Unfortunately, those associations can dry up overnight if you lose your job.

This might all sound obvious, but I know from experience that the pressures and pleasures of a new city, new schools, and new jobs leave little time for anything else. If you are unprepared and disaster strikes, you may have to decide - like I did - if it would be best to stay put or to head back to your hometown.

Topic # 2: Meet Hill-Burton

Familiarize yourself with the Hill-Burton Act, a federal program started in 1946. With Hill-Burton, hospitals receive federal loans and grants in exchange for providing a certain amount of free care to needy individuals. I found out that not all hospitals participate in the Hill-Burton Act. Each hospital seems to have its own rules within the federal guidelines for eligibility, benefits, applications, and decision notifications.

For example, my husband's hospital paid 100% of the cost of care for qualified persons, and rendered their decision before admission or treatment. My hospital provides a percentage of the cost for qualified persons on a sliding scale, but does not make a decision until after an admission or procedure has been completed. Both of those facilities will also consider Hill-Burton funds for out-patient care and insurance co-payments, but apparently not all do.

Also, at some hospitals, it's far better to try for assistance earlier in the year before funds run out, while others may dole out free care monthly or quarterly. It pays to ask. If your admission is urgent, you might call other hospitals where your physician is on staff to check on the availability of funds. If it's not an emergency, you might be able to postpone it until the next disbursement period.

Topic #3: Pay Less for Prescriptions

Ask doctors if they have drug samples, especially for new prescriptions. It is awful to buy a month's worth of an expensive drug only to find it doesn't work or you can't tolerate it. Often, my doctors prescribe my meds based on what they know they get samples of regularly.

Look into pharmaceutical manufacturers' patient assistance programs. You can try the widely-advertised Partnership for Prescription Assistance website. However, my experience has been that PPARX underestimates a person's eligibility. Also, not all drug makers participate in PPARX. I have had much greater success going directly to the website of each individual company. You might have to search hard for the link to the patient assistance program or you might need to call. Not every maker has a program and programs vary wildly in requirements and benefits. You'll often find coupons instead of or in addition to assistance programs. Programs all require your doctors to fill out forms regularly. Ask your doctor to forgo some or all of the fees for this service.

(Pennsylvania has two programs called PACE and PACENET. These helpful programs benefit older residents, but your state may have similar ones. Although the age requirements presume you are eligible for Medicare, what's special about them is that they supplement or replace Part D for low income individuals. This might be helpful for future reference.)

As I have never actually used any of these options, I'll just mention them. Consider alternative medicine. It may be better and/or less expensive. However, this is a subject about which I know nothing. Mail order prescriptions are widely available via the Internet and could be worth exploring. I am aware that many people acquire their prescriptions by traveling to or ordering from Canada and Mexico. I wish I could comment on the quality of those drugs and the legality of this option.

Nowadays, Wal-Mart, Sam's Club, Target, and numerous grocery chains such as Krogers, Giant, Food Lion, and Safeway offer $4 prescriptions for generic drugs and other great deals. There may be other stores with similar bargains. Some of these companies have their $4 lists posted online. Ask your doctor to prescribe from these lists if possible. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if they have or know of any coupons for the medications you have been prescribed. Request generics where available.

Beyond that, prescription prices differ significantly from store to store and from week to week. With a monthly cost of $1200 to $1800, I could never afford to get a full month's worth of prescriptions all at once for my husband. Pharmacists are generally willing to fill partial prescriptions, by be aware that you may pay dearly for this.

For example, one of my husband's drugs was $350 for a month's worth, $250 for two week's worth, and $150 for one week's worth. Sometimes, I could only afford one or two pills before payday. Every single week, I called every single local drugstore and got prices for every single drug my husband took. I always had to go to at least three pharmacies to get the best overall price. Some pharmacists were nice about this and others weren't. Eventually, the owner of one small pharmacy said he would match the lowest price being given anywhere else. I still had to make the calls, but I sure did save time and gas money.

Topic #4: Save on OTC Drugs

There isn't much new I can tell you about OTC drugs. Shop sales, use coupons, look for stores that double coupons, buy in bulk and share with others, and try store brands. If you have prescription coverage, ask your doctor to write a script for OTC drugs whenever possible.

Topic #5: More-Affordable Medical Devices

Check with friends and family. Of course, try want ads, CraigsList, and FreeCycle. That's where I have seen $100 hospital-style bedside tables for $5 and free non-motorized wheelchairs. Put up ads at the supermarket. Contact the hospitals, churches, and local organizations. Watch for estate sales. Look for places that sell used durable medical equipment. You can sometimes rent this kind of equipment, but that is often the most expensive route in the long run. Ask at the doctor's office, at work, and at even your child's school. Most makers offer at least one of their glucometers at no cost. Just be sure to check the price of the testing strips before you order one. They vary widely.

Where I live, it is against the law and it carries a stiff fine to put used syringes and lancets in with the regular trash. My trash collection company charges a fortune to take them away. I discovered that the local hospital has a program to collect these items. They must be in safe containers, like coffee cans with lids, and be clearly marked with the person's name and phone number. It must also be noted on the containers that they hold hazardous medical waste.

We bought my mother's stair lift gently used for $2000 (including installation) at a company that sells them. After she died, we sold it there for the same price (including removal) minus a small commission. The one she had would have been about $6000 new. I got my husband's hospital bed for only $25 through a lead from the local veteran's center. A family member found us a free wheelchair through a former co-worker of hers. After my husband died, I called the school nurse. She happened to know of a child who was in desperate need of a hospital bed and wheelchair. I donated those to him. Various organizations like the Lions offer assistance with glasses and hearing aids. LensCrafters has a campaign during which they provide eye exams and new glasses to the needy at no charge.

Topic #6: If you think you're dealing with serious and/or long-term illness

Start a journal immediately and keep it with you. Record emergency phone numbers; names of doctors and hospitals; symptoms and diagnoses; allergies; treatments, doctor visits, and hospitalizations (dates, locations, outcome); prescriptions (names, doses, dates filled, efficacy, side effects, interactions, warnings, prices at different sources); phone calls (contacts, dates, reasons, outcome, follow-up); "significant events" like accidents, strokes, heart attacks, seizures, 911 calls (dates, treatments, where treated, outcome); programs (contacts, application date, outcome, follow-up); notes and anything else pertinent. Keep copies of medical reports and aid applications. You will refer to this journal over and over again.

I condensed the emergency and medical information into a spreadsheet and kept a copy in my purse, my husband's wallet, and on my refrigerator. Doctors, ER staff, and EMTs were thrilled when I was able to present this and I know it expedited my husband's treatment. Now I utilize the Vial of Life. This is a large pill container with a rolled-up paper inside listing all pertinent information. It comes with a bright sticker to affix to your front door that notifies emergency personnel where to find it. It also has Velcro on the outside so you can stick it anywhere. Some people keep it in their refrigerator. I have three, which is not uncommon - one in my purse, one in my glove box, and one on the outside of my fridge. I got mine free at the front desk of my hospital. There are several other similar products available.

Begin saving every medical-related invoice, cancelled check, and receipt in an organized manner, including for OTC drugs and parking/gas or bus/taxi fares for doctor/hospital visits. This may become vital when applying for programs, declaring bankruptcy, doing your taxes, and other circumstances. For example, my son was given better terms on his student loans because of our situation. Some students receive additional grants or tuition reduction. To get this benefit, though, I had to submit copies of everything I listed above to the financial aid department of his university - in a very large box.

Apply for Social Security Disability right away if it seems that the patient will not be able to return to work. Even the Social Security Office recommends this because there is a six-month waiting period for benefits once you have been determined to be disabled. You can always withdraw your application if things improve.

Cut back as much as possible on your expenses. Even with a great deal of help, without insurance, you will probably accumulate massive debt. You are likely to miss work or even lose your job. Use the money you save to pre-pay utilities and your mortgage (be careful - check with your mortgage company about the way to do this that is most advantageous to you), to build up your pantry, and to cover medical needs. Be aware that if you simply bank your savings that it may hurt you when you apply for help.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

One Way or Another...

...I'm getting this doggone water!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Vote for Alexandria

So my lovely Alexandria of The Road to Alexandria is a finalist in the Black Weblog Awards for Best Teen Blog. She blogs about being a young, black lesbian in the rural South, her life as a student, religion, and the ups and downs of her relationships with her mom, her girlfriend, and other family members.

Check her out and VOTE!!!!!!!

U.S. Representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones

I know there has been some confusion, but I just saw this:
A Cleveland Clinic official says Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones of Ohio has died.

Clinic spokeswoman Eileen Sheil says Tubbs Jones died at 6:12 p.m. Wednesday after suffering a brain hemorrhage caused by an aneurysm that burst and left her with limited brain function.

Rest In Peace, Soror.

The South Texas Civil Rights Project

Via Noemi. Please read and help if you can.
The South Texas Civil Rights Project is a non-profit public interest
organization which provides free legal services to those in the
Valley's low-income community whose civil rights have been violated.
Over thirty years ago the South Texas Civil Rights Project (STCRP) was
formed to offer free education, advocacy, and legal services for
low-income and under-served persons of the Valley. The Project makes
one of its priorities assistance to survivors of domestic violence by
helping them qualify for protection under the Violence Against Women
Act. We also work with other organizations and individuals to help
raise awareness of the laws pertaining to persons with disabilities.
We recently worked with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid in filing a petition
in federal court, seeking answers to the Border Patrol's announcement
that they would conduct immigration ID checks in the event of a
hurricane in the Rio Grande Valley. We also work with several
organizations that are opposed to building the wall along the
Mexico/U.S border.

We are pleased to announce our 3rd annual Noche de Fiesta -
Celebrating Commitment to the Community on Wednesday September 3,
2008, at the McAllen Chamber of Commerce. This event celebrates and
honors individuals striving for human rights in our community.
Proceeds from the evening will enable us to continue providing
advocacy in a variety of areas and free legal assistance to low-income
Valley residents. This event celebrates and honors individuals
striving for human rights in our community. Proceeds from the evening
will enable us to continue providing free legal assistance to
low-income Valley residents and continue our advocacy for racial,
social, and economic justice. One very successful aspect of these
evenings has been our raffle and silent auction.

Please consider donating to our raffle or silent auction and support
the very important work that we do. All donations will be
acknowledged in the evening's program booklet. In previous years,
donations came in the forms of gift certificates, art pieces, books,
zines/magazines, furniture. Monetary donations are always welcome.

The South Texas Civil Rights Project cannot afford to do this work
without your support. Thanks to community support, we have helped many
people achieve a quality of life in the community that would not
otherwise have been possible. Your support will allow us to continue
to protect civil rights and will be greatly appreciated by the people
we assist.

For further information, get in touch with Noemi Martinez, legal
assitant, at or Corinna Spencer-Scheurich, Equal
Justice Works Attorney at Both can be reached at


Noemi Martinez

happy birthday

Trying to type from the cell mid-new faculty orientation. hope it works.

happy birthday to my sister and brother, born on the same day, 12 years apart.

which only heighhtened my middle child, "where do i belong?!?!" angst.

The Problem Is...

Hey, all. My cousin Trin is looking for suggestions. Her story/first post is below.

My husband and I recently took the responsibility of caring for my 12-year-old niece (his sister’s child) because she was having problems with her step-father. With a new husband—who resented her daughter—and a new baby, my sister-in-law’s attention to her daughter was a lot less than it had been. To use one example, when my niece arrived, all her clothes were too small. We immediately went clothes-shopping, then went again later, for school clothes. I let her pick and choose what she wanted with some restraints, of course. I want her to feel safe in the knowledge that necessities like clothing, food, shelter, and more importantly for what she’s been through, attention and love, will always be supplied abundantly.

The Problem is….I admit we were very lenient and indulgent at first and handled her with kid gloves. I think she’s beginning to take that indulgence for granted. We bought her a cell phone, talked about using it responsibly, and reached an agreement about usage. The bill revealed there were 1047 texts on her line alone. When I take the phone as punishment, there’s the old ‘smack the lips’ and ‘roll the eyes’ crap I have to deal with. My first instinct was to ground her until December!!! But I refrained, because I knew that was my temper and because I feel that she has been tormented enough.

That is only one example. Suffice it to say, we’re at a point where she actually had the nerve to laugh when I fussed at her about being disobedient!! OOOOOOHHH!! I am so frustrated!! My BFF told me I need to just put my foot down her before I develop hard feelings for her. I don’t want to have these feelings because that would make me just like her stepdad, whom I despise for many, many reasons.

I admit that I may have not started out as Ms. Super-disciplinarian, but I’m determined to make changes before this goes any further but…

The Problem is… my husband is not much help to me on the discipline issues. He still thinks of her as his “little shy niece’ who is still 4 or 5 years old. This is a problem for discipline reasons and because he’s blind to the fact that she’s about to reach puberty.

I don’t know how to tell him that she is already thinking about having sex and was caught talking about letting boys ‘feel her up.’ She actually told an 18-year-old cuz of mine that as soon as we left her alone, she was having “boy company.” I want him to OPEN HIS EYES and help me set some limits. The problem is not that she’s curious about sex, but that I don’t think she’s ready to discuss it fully let alone HAVE it. Then there’s the fact that she talks about it in terms of being passive—letting someone feel her up—and being sneaky—a surefire set up for trouble, in my opinion.

The Problem is… I think she has gotten the impression from other kids in the family that my reputation is not to discipline the kids. Honestly, I fuss and that’s about it. Usually, that’s enough. My six-year-old son knows when I’m serious. The other kids will ‘try me’ but I f I start fussing too much, most of them will at least stop their shenanigans for a minute.

My sister’s kids are the world’s worst about not taking me seriously. My niece, Taia, was actually the accomplice in the incident when they both laughed when I fussed at them. I can deal with Taia by refusing to let her come over as often as she once did if she can’t follow my rules. I don’t feel badly about that because my sister doesn’t really want her kids disciplined by anyone else and our mom backs her up. They’ll discount what I say in front of the kids—another serious problem—but again, I can simply refuse to babysit her children.

But how do I set more consistent rules and consequences for this child who lives with me, whom I love dearly, but who is starting to work my nerves?

Monday, August 18, 2008

I Can't Even Work Myself Up Anymore

Conversation between me and the Kid.



"I just went basket-stairs-skateboarding."

I can figure out what this is because he has a blue laundry basket in his arms and, well, we have stairs.


"Uh-huh. It's fun."

I stare at him for a few minutes.



"Don't break my basket."

"Mama, I won't. And I'll tell you if I break a bone."

"You better get some duct tape and towels cuz I'm sleepy."

I just heard him scream, "Crashing and burning!"

My niece is alarmed.

I am not.

Perceived Desperation

If your town has an imbalanced sex ratio--more men than women--Mayor John Molony has a solution:
May I suggest if there are five blokes to every girl, we should find out where there are beauty-disadvantaged women and ask them to proceed to Mount Isa.
And he said it all polite-like, with "ugly" even cloaked in nice terms!

Because "beauty-disadvantaged" women will take whatever, whomever, whenever. They have no right to be discerning, to have preferences, to seek someone whom they might actually like.

And they'll even be happy about it!
''Quite often you will see walking down the street a lass who is not so attractive with a wide smile on her face,'' [Molony] continued. ''Whether it is recollection of something previous or anticipation for the next evening, there is a degree of happiness.''
Grateful, she is, for having been saved from a fate worse than death--HAVING NO MAN--which is surely what her "disadvantaged" state would have led to.

In a patriarchal, heterosexist world, when there's a sex imbalance, guys just can't lose. If they are outnumbered, they are supposed to have the luxury of being extremely choosy or enjoying multiple partners. If they ounumber women, well, they might have to "settle" for an ugly girl, but they gain her undying gratitude and thus, hopefully, servitude.

Because an ugly chick, Molony apparently believes, has few prospects, and will likely do annything to keep her man.

The women of Mount Isa (in Australia) weren't too keen on Molony's suggestion.
The quotes, published Saturday in the Townsville Bulletin, sparked outrage among the town's female population, led to furious online debates and drew criticism from the local chamber of commerce.
Poor Mayor Molony is feeling "twisted and warped" and "shredded."

And I loved this quip women make:
''We've got a saying up here that the odds are good, but the goods are odd,'' 27-year-old Anna Warrick told The Brisbane Times.
And H/T to Trin who sent me the link to CNN's page.

Wow, They Really Can't Win

I never expect to say that too often about thin, rich, beautiful women, but in one area, at least, they're damned if they do and damned if they don't.

I'm talking about post-pregnancy weight loss.

Now we all know the way it works. Celebrity moms already lose hotness points for being pregnant, though part of the sex goddess status is reclaimable if teh guys should so deign to name them a member of the "sexy swollen ankles club," apparently. People anxiously await any change in their figures, then speculate about whether or not they are in danger of becoming "too fat" during pregnancy--the fact that Gillian Anderson decided to wait until after she has her baby to work out merited a number of posts and articles. And my God, just google "Milla Jovovich pregnancy" to see how obsessed people were with the fact that she gained 70 lbs!!!

Within about five minutes postpartum, they are scrutinized for any sign of "pregnancy/baby" stomach. When no such flaw is found, media outlets ooh and ahh over how they got their bodies "back." I mean the article linked quotes Jada Pinkett Smith:
Matrix mama Jada Pinkett Smith admits that celebrities are masters of illusion who get a lot of help from nannies, personal chefs, trainers, cleaning services, the works. "All moms struggle. Celebrities just know how to conceal it," says Pinkett Smith, who has two children with husband Will Smith and is stepmom to his first son. "While motherhood is a beautiful thing, it's traumatic to the body and the mind. I had some really down days after my kids were born. I thought I would never recover, even though I had a lot of help." Emphasis mine
Then goes right on to outline how you, yes you, can achieve these amazing results at home.

But now, the same media that praise the "willpower" needed to lose forty pounds in two weeks are pursuing a new angle. Some headlines:Celebrity mamas fuel post-baby body blues: Stars who are bikini-ready right after birth inspire fury in many new moms
"Pregorexia" Inspired By Thin Celebs?
Moms-To-Be, Obsessing Over Weight, Diet, Exercise So Much They Put Baby's Health In Some Jeopardy
Pregorexia is an oh-so-cute-and-appropriate play on the word anorexia, so I don't think I need to define it. The gist of the news coverage? Moms who "under eat" or "over exercise" are "thinspired" by Nicole Kidman, Nicole Richie, Angelina Jolie, and other celebrities who regain their pre-baby physiques in a short amount of time.

I'd like to suggest that perhaps it's not the fact that these women seem to get "back in shape" so quickly that's the problem, but the media coverage (and adulation) of it, the way it has become an expectation, and cultural messages about the horrors of being fat that long precede the obsessive coverage of celebrity moms postpartum.

Don't worry--the same media that are spreading the pregorexia warnings should be instrumental in helping them blow over. In its coverage of the article about the pregorexia threat, AOL gushes,
Stars like Angelina Jolie and Nicole Kidman have managed to stay fabulously thin while pregnant and seemed to pop back into their pre-baby physique days after giving birth.
And according to Salon, it's not pregorexics but "Growing numbers of obese and overweight women, and mothers who gain more weight during pregnancy than is recommended" who are the real problem. You know... same ol' fatties.

Letting go of the "you can never be too thin" motto is impossible.

Ooh, You Going to Hell!!!

We're getting ready for bed. My niece just said, "I gotta read my scripture before I lie down."

Now, she's a regular churchgoer and all, but a nightly scripture? That ain't her style.

So, I look up to gauge her mood, see if something is weighing on her heart or something and...

...she's clutching her bible.

Caramel Flava, edited by Zane.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Join/Organize Protests at YOUR local I.C.E. Offices

via BFP




In DETROIT: Joins us in front of the I.C.E. Office At East Jefferson Ave
& Mount Elliot at 4:00PM

It is imperative that we send a message to I.C.E., President Bush and the upcoming Democratic Party Convention that there must be AN IMMEDIATE MORATORIUM ON ALL RAIDS, DEPORTATIONS, INCARCERATIONS AND SEPARATION OF FAMILIES.

On the defensive after congressional hearings that raked I.C.E. over the coals for the cruel, abusive and “Gestapo like” raids in IOWA, I.C.E. responded with a so-called “humanitarian” way to deport half a million people – AND THEIR U.S. CITIZEN FAMILIES!..

I.C.E. announced that it has OVER 100 TEAMS of agents working full time to seek out and arrest these 500,000 people who, even accord ing to I.C.E., have done nothing wrong except come to this country, accepted employment from U.S. companies, pay taxes and support their families.

Already we have witnessed I.C.E. agents waiting outside of schools and day care centers to track down parents. I.C.E. has enlisted police in some states to set up road blocks as people come to church on Sunday. I.C.E. agents are coming into our neighborhoods in the dead of night and knocking on our doors, terrorizing our children.


On Friday, August 22nd, we call on all organizations and concerned individuals, but especially LATINAS, to organize protests in front of your local I.C.E. office at 4 p.m. (at your local time) to demand an immediate moratorium

on raids, deportations, incarcerations and separations of families until comprehensive immigration reform is finally agreed on in the next Congress

Ask your delegates and especially members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to stand with you on Friday, August 22nd, in front of I.C.E.

We call on Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama to make clear their commitment to our community by joining in this call for an immediate moratorium on the convention floor!


Latinos Unidos de Michigan

Hypatia (818) 427- 4223 Rosendo (313) 580 - 5474 Ignacio (313) 587- 9285

Pro-Immigration Awareness Movement
Evelyn (313) 258 - 24 86

Friday, August 15, 2008

While Typing My Syllabus...

...I realize I have two versions of the primary document reader for one of my classes. One has more documents than the other. Not sure which one is going to come with their bundle. Aargh!

...My son is standing behind me reading. "You're an assistant professor?" he asks.


"Who do you help?"

...One of the monographs is not in the box I packed which means its on my dresser in Louisiana. Getting my parents to mail more than an envelope is like pulling teeth. Bookstore, here I come, sigh.

...Haven't had breakfast or lunch and my niece keeps trying to feed me because I haven't eaten anything today. She eats at regular intervals--she's diabetic--and I know I drive her crazy.

...I'm loving Quinn and T even more for their help.

...I'm turning over and over in my head a lunch invitation from some other WoC faculty--I'm both appreciative and nervous.

...I'm realizing I need to buy parking decal because I have orientation coming up!!!

OK, back to work. I'm procrastinating on writing the course descriptions--I hate those as much as the "objective" on resumes.

Things Heard 1

In the bathroom at a bookstore.

Woman One: You know since we've been living together, I've been using a lot of tissue. We used like four rolls this weekend.
Woman Two: That is a lot.
Woman One: He asked me, "Could you please stop using fifty square feet of tissue every day?" I told him I can't help it if I want to make sure my na na is clean and dry!

They exit the stalls and stand at the sink.

Woman One: I'm thinking about majoring in ecology.
Woman Two: Why?
Woman One: I've been hearing there's a lot of money in that and you can do all sorts of stuff.
Woman Two: Like what? I mean, what do you become with an ecology degree?
Woman One: (pauses, gets an attitudinal inflection in her voice) You become an ecologist, what else?

Hair Woes

I did something shocking last weekend.

I bought shampoo and conditioner.

Why is this significant? Because I've been taught to not wash my relaxed hair at home, so I never really have shampoo and conditioner.

One of my stylists used to have a sign up warning customers against being "kitchenticians." Another used to complain of clients who attempted something at home, then came crying to her to fix it.

Given my indoctrination into the "Water, Mine Enemy" school of thought, I never wanted to risk garnering the wrath of my stylists or dealing with relaxed hair that doesn't bounce back from home washings.

But I just moved here and I sweated a lot during said move. I haven't found a stylist, but I can't take another minute of my "sour" hair.

It occured to me, not for the first time, that it is a mad, mad world in which we live that women can be convinced that they lack the skills or knowledge to deal with something as simple and personal as our own hair.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

think of it as the opportunity of a lifetime

Renee reports that Madonna is preparing to adopt another Malawian child, this time against the wishes of her grandmother.

I don't have much to add to what Renee said (or what Nezua said). I understand that there are millions of children who need homes, but there is just something unsettling about white people going into Africa and Asia and choosing children. Good intent aside, I just can't get past the history of colonialism, privilege (money & white skin > family & cultural ties), and all the "civilization" arguments.

Renee's post included this sentence:
Don't think of it as stealing foreign adoption, think of it as the opportunity of a lifetime
It reminded me of a conversation with my friend, Fran. I love her dearly, but she is very much on the "U.S. is superior to all else, especially Africa" kick. We used to argue all the time--she could excuse slavery, could deal with white supremacy, she was just glad "we" weren't in Africa.

Of course, pointing out to her that "we" would not have been if millions of people had not been brutalized, did not help.

So, we went to an art exhibit in Houston that featured works showing life in different African countries. Life, not the ever present images of death and destruction.* She did express surprise that there were people living in Africa.

But then she said, "I'm still glad our ancestors got on that boat."

So, the middle passage was the opportunity of a lifetime.

I have not broached the conversation since then.
*I do not mean to downplay the importance of bringing attention to war and disease (especially AIDS) in Africa, but that I think images of those are used to portray Africa, Africans, and the Diaspora as "less"--civilized, developed, human--with no regard for historical or contemporary context.

Things Seen 4

Sometimes, when I'm in pure procrastination mode, I get to clicking the "next blog" button on the blogger navigation bar. Last night, I ran across this on a blog post about "funny ads."

So, I did a little research and found this ad listed on the Ads of the World site that features "the best and most interesting creative work worldwide."

Yes, indeed.

Somewhere, I'm sure, someone had a good intention. But the execution of said intention leaves MUCH to be desired. Here is the logic behind the ad:
Men in Czech Republic consume the most beer in all of the Europe. Unfortunately, the beer changes many of them into aggressors upon arriving home. In order to stop this domestic alco-violence, we redesigned the trademark beer mugs of our client Bernard brewery to preventatively warn its beer drinkers to not lose control over their drinking.
Because the one thing that will stop a drunken abuser is having already had his fist pressed to a woman's face all night.

This feels like a ready made excuse to me--"Honey, you know how I get when I drink. That's not the real me." People always search for ways to rationalize and justify men who are assumed to be "good" except for that little abusive streak.

I don't think beer "changes" you. I know there are people who are exceptionally mean when they drink, and I know alcohol can exacerbate a situation, but abusers don't need validation for one of their most common ways of shifting responsibility for their actions.

Besides, I think the post on which I found the ad says a lot--I get the creepy feeling lots of people would find this mug funny, a sort of kitschy/novelty item, a "ha-ha, you get to punch that bitch over and over!"

Something else I thought about upon seeing the picture? Her bland, semi-smile does little to communicate how devastating someone's fist to the middle of your face can be.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


My kids (10-year-old son, 19-year-old niece) are watching the horrific Bring It On: In It to Win It movie on ABC Family.

It has the nerve to be a Westside Story rip-off.

Complete with Jets and Sharks.

God help me, I'm kinda hoping for a tragic end to all this p(r)eppiness.

Update: Lord, have mercy there are dance scenes. There was a rumble!

Update 2: Can the black girl have any more attitude? Can she leave some for the rest of us sistas? Who rolls their neck that hard?!

Oh, No, the Na-Na!

I've been thinking about my relationship with certain parts of my body. Started with worries over my hair and went from there. Somewhere along this as-yet-unfinished continuum, I began to think about how my vagina* has become this thing that's a part of me, but not. I think it's because, for my whole life, it has been defined as a problem area.

The primary descriptions I got for my vagina as a child were 1) It needs constant tending and 2) It gets you into trouble. When I first began hearing people say that the vaginal area was delicate, I was amazed. My mother and grandmothers taught us that the goal of vaginal cleaning was to erase any scent and to prevent it from coming back for as long as possible. I can't tell you how offensive vaginal odors were deemed; I can tell you that we would've been in trouble had we ignored the extensive hygiene routine. We were taught that our vaginas were smelly and could cause great embarrassment.

So, we did not treat our genitalia delicately. We repeatedly scrubbed with gold Dial until it passed a finger test. My grandmother added brown lysol to our bath water, my mom added bleach. I grew up seeing douches and Norforms in our medicine cabinet and linen closet. We marvelled at the cleanliness of my mom's cousn who mixed a little bleach in her douche. When we were a litle older, my mom suggested we wash with vinegar, which created an even more intensive routine--lather up with the Dial a couple of times, rinse, wash with vinegar, rinse, lather with Dial again to remove vinegar scent. We took two full baths a day and sometimes washed our vaginas in between.

And then there were the dreaded periods. Menstrual blood was nasty, funky, and mandated even more washing. I have a friend whose stepfather required that she and her mom bleach the tub after they bathed when they were menstruating. For us, period days were three bath days--before school, after school, at night, with plenty complaining about how we hated our periods and our vaginas in between.

By the time I was 17, I was douching, spraying FDS, and constantly bathing. I'd also learned to be wary of my vagina because it was a source of trouble in a sexual sense. I was never taught pleasant things about sex, only that my vagina was a pathway for STIs and for pregnancy. To say that I had a complex about sex is an understatement. I entered my 20s worried that I was going to be "punished" with an incurable STI because I was having sex. Oh, I would've never acknowledged that--I knew that was an ignorant, offensive, untrue deduction, but there it was. That didn't just come from my Baptist background--there's only so many times you can go to a public health unit with nurses whose primary concern is stopping you from having sex. Being told to use condoms so "He doesn't shoot you up a load of AIDS"** and repeatedly seeing the pictures of sexual organs with various bumps, sores, and swellings are pretty efficient scare tactics.

Couple the vagina = road-to-trouble with the vagina = smelly training and you get the makings of a sexual dysfunction--how can you enjoy sex when you're sure death lingers around the corner or you don't want your partner to perform oral sex because their nose will be "right there" or you can't have it spontaneously because you don't have sex except straight from the shower? And the "sex bath" is even more intensive than the regular one.

So my life consisted of fear-imposed bouts of celibacy, constant check-ups and testing, and unhealthy cleaning practices.

And then, for my mental and physical well-being, I had to stop. Stop most of the incessant cleaning because my body was rebelling. Stop the fear, because I learned enough and grew enough to reject the "STI = horrible punishment for bad girl."

But I still haven't accepted my vagina as a delicate-but-strong, precious part of me. I haven't fully given up my hygiene routine. I am, at best, ambivalent about sex because I hate worrying about whether or not everything is "just right."

I'm angry, because none of the guys I know were ever given these kinds of lessons about their genitalia. I'm angry because I've been taught to despise such a "womanly" part of myself. And I'm angry at myself because, while I realize this is yet another way women are shamed and taught to feel deficient, I just can't let it all go.
*I am using "vagina" as an all-encompassing term.
**Yes, a nurse really told my 19-year-old self that. I will never forget that

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Struggling To Meet the Standards...

I have been a teacher for the past eight years and I have come to one of many conclusions-It is a very thankless job. I put in ten to twelve hour days that involve dealing with my students in one aspect or another. Much of my time is spent trying to get them to realize the importance of education, getting them involved in extracurricular activities and then riding them like horses to keep their grades up to stay involved, trying to keep them from getting arrested or abused, both physically and mentally, or just watching them stretched out in my living room studying or getting help with homework because my house is a safe place. I do all of these things because I love my students regardless of their skin color, socio economic background, religion, sexual orientation or any other obstacles that many human beings use as barriers to keep from forming relationsips with each other. I also realize that barriers are more permeable than in larger areas-I know/grew up with my students' parents, am often kin to them, go to church with them, and everyone knows where I live or what my phone number is.

During my eight years as a teacher here in Smalltown, USA I have attended many professional development workshops and conferences where improving school scores is always at the top of the list. They give these grandiose ideas they have sat in their expensive offices and dreamed up in their world, which by the way usually does not reflect my student's world, and tell me that if I do exactly what they say, my school's scores will shoot up and all will be hunky dory at smalltown high school. I listen and try my damnedest to accompish all of the things the "SUITS" tell me and yet although my school's scores have improved every year it has not been enough for the higer ups in Baton Rouge.

Friday we were informed we had become a school of choice. This means parents of our students can now send their children to two other local schools deemed more academically suitable. We missed our score by three tenths of a point. A school score includes your test scores, attendance, dropout rate, and how many certified teachers there are at your school. For each student that drops out you receive a zero for that students-we had eight students 9th-11th grade to drop out. We also have a problem with attendance. I am constanly amazed at the excuses parents give us when their children miss school. I have heard everything from "she had a hangover", "he doesn't like to get up in the rain", and one of my favories, "he/she needed a break from school." The parish I teach in is POOR! 82% of my students are the FIRST in their families(mothers, fathers, siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins included) to graduate high school. Out of 66 parishes we rank 61 in pay. So attracting highly qualified and certified teachers is a job in itslef. What we usually get are teachers who get hired in our parish, get certified throught the parish, and then leave to go to another higher paying parish.

I say all of this to say I AM SO UPSET, TIRED, DISGUSTED, and SAD because it seems as if no matter how hard I and others like myself who teach at smalltown high school work it is NEVER ENOUGH. I correspond classes with high risk studets through LSU in an attempt to get them out of school so that they do not dropout. I take them on college visits, senior trips, and do job shadowing with them, so that they can see how much the world has to offer them if they are willing to work hard for it. So I work hard for them and as I sit here writing this post I am crying because with all of the work I put in year after year striving to get my students into colleges,(because of course we have no high school counselor- so this is another task I do for free)I feel useless and defeated and sad because the state has decided that my school is not up to their standards which means the work I do is not good enough.

Above, I mentioned that the world of the department of education officials/curriculum planners is not that of my students. Let me give you a glimpse--we are a school for which there is rarely enough. When we run out of the most basic supplies--like bulletin board paper--we are told there is no money for more, but we are still expected to "make do." To finish my example, bulletin boards are required, whether the school provides paper or not. And reimbursements? Please!

Parental involvement is next to nil--not because parents don't care, but because they work jobs like poultry processing and are worn out when they get home. If I am honest, teacher morale is not what it could be, either. It's hard to face a class of 33 sixth graders in one room. It's hard to teach active fourth graders in a tiny, temporary building that is not well lit or particularly roomy. It's hard to meet the needs of 20+ kindergartners who all want attention urgently but there is no regular aide. Student morale is low as well, as many are tired and don't see the point. My kids are often expected to cook, clean up, take care of younger siblings, and supplement parents' income. School is not a priority.

As I get ready to start another school year on August 18th, I will wipe the tears from my face, and pray that this year be the year we meet our standards the state of Louisiana has set for us. There will be less money from the state and we will be expected to work miracle after miracle to see that little Johnny/Jane has that extra quarter or dollar needed for breakfast and lunch so they will not be hungry-because it is hard to concentrate on what is being taught when your stomach is growling--to help students with their FAFSA's, provide them with paper and pencil, and, in so many cases, to love them. I will pray for the strength and guidance I need to keep traveling down this road of hope that continues to be just out of my reach.

Friday, August 08, 2008

We're Here...

Well, the big move is just about complete. My family and friends have me pretty much settled in--furniture in the right places, pictures on the wall. It's settled enough that I just finished cooking a late dinner.

mrs. o and I were longing for the internet and we finally got it all straightened and hooked up. I didn't bring a chair for my computer desk, so we're kneeling in front of it. She's on the desktop and I'm on the laptop. As we shift from knee to knee, I'm realizing we're not young anymore. Really, I'm waiting for her to get up and pull me with her.

Regular blogging will resume at some point--probably as soon as I get a chair.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Things Seen 3

The gods of the Lone Star State are apparently still miffed that I left so abruptly last year. In February, I got caught in an unexpected snowstorm in north Texas. Yesterday, trying to fly into Houston--on a plane about the size of my bathroom, approximately--we got diverted because of the rain and sat on the Beaumont tarmac for 2.5 hours. Couldn't get off the plane or anything because apparently the word "airport" in Beaumont means "fueling station only." I was supposed to reach my final destination a little after seven. Got here after midnight.

But I'm alive and well. Just changed my return flight through Houston to an earlier one, but might be stuck again because of storms. Wish me well.

Now, back to the picture. While waiting in the puddle-jumping crop duster in Beaumont, I noticed that shirt on one of my fellow entrapees. The top, which you probably can read, says "Hooters Guide to Good Hunting." The words are wrapped lovingly around the curvalicious body of a barely-clothed brunette. Her full breasts seem poised to escape the questionable restraint of her mini-Hooters tube top. She, herself, is all a-straddle a deer.

And the hunting guide, emblazoned below the form of naughty-white-girl-rides-big-buck?

"Find one with a big rack and mount it."

Sunday, August 03, 2008

In a Minute!

My son is at the point where he doesn't want to have to go anywhere with me (says I take too long in stores) but he wants to keep up with me. So, when I'm out, he'll call me a million times asking where I am and then, "Mama, when you coming back?"

After a while, I get frustrated and just answer, "In a minute!!!!"

Anyway, I'm flying out today to canvass things before the big move. I'll be back in a minute!!!!

In the meantime, my co-bloggers might drop some knowledge. They're all busy mommies with crazy jobs, so be patient. And just in case you don't know, here's a partial list of what we like:

Kim blogs about motherhood, politics, and keeps me up on the blogosphere.

mrs. o talks about education, politics, and the celebrity world.

And my cousin Trin, WHO KEEPS PROMISING TO START POSTING (no pressure, darling :-), is the newshound. I get most of my news from blogs, so if not for her I'd have no idea what (else) was going on in the world. Almost every news story I post needs to hat tip her.

Mm-kay. See y'all in a minute!

Friday, August 01, 2008

Judge Removed from Jena Six Cases

From the AP:
The judge overseeing the criminal cases for the remaining Jena Six defendants was removed against his will Friday for making questionable remarks about the teenagers.

Judge J.P. Mauffray Jr. had acknowledged calling the teens "trouble makers" and "a violent bunch" but insisted he could be impartial. Defense attorneys disagreed and asked that he be removed.
He can't really be that blind to the irony, can he?

Oh, then no surprise:
District Attorney Reed Walters said he may appeal the decision.

"Whatever ultimately happens concerning the judge, this does not mean these cases go away," he said. "It will just take longer to get them to trial. However, I may seek to have the decision overturned."
Cuz ain't nobody telling us how to run things here!


H/T Professor Tracey
Revelations and ruminations from one southern sistorian...