Archive for February, 2006

Diarrhea and Boundaries

So, picture this.

You are a returning college student, non-traditional because you are older than 20, and this is your first semester back. You are late to class on the day of your first test in a few years. It’s a PE class so really it’s a joke. Why is exercise good? Name three positive healthy habits. True or False: Binge drinking is good for you.

You are slightly late but not obnoxiously late. Not unreasonably late. Just late enough to walk a bit faster and mutter under your breath. So, you reach the classroom, walking a bit faster and muttering under your breath and you find that everyone is seated and the materials have been distributed. No sweat.

You take a seat in the back of the room and start digging around the mess you call a backpack for a pen, get organized. As you are contemplating whether black ink or blue would be most suitable to the task your professor, we’ll call her Dr. Gray, walks up to you and leans in to whisper. You think you are in trouble because here you are, a non-traditional college student, walking a bit faster and muttering under your breath late to your first exam in years.

But no. Instead, Dr. Gray asks you to come sit up front. You think, wow, I remember seeing that sitting at the front of the room with the dunce cap was no longer a pedagogically acceptable strategy. But instead of a dunce cap you are faced with a revelation you never really wanted. You are drawn into the worst kind of intimacy with Dr. Gray, a woman whose first name you don’t even know. She tells you in a whisper that she has diarrhea and that she wants you to sit up front and complete your test there while you watch the group, because she might have to go to the bathroom. You try to keep the look of disbelief off your face as you sit and complete your test. You are done early. You ask, should I stay or should I go now…

and are told you’d better stay cause she’s not sure she’ll make it. She does the clenched butt, speedwalking diarrhea treck several times as you sit there wondering why. Your classmates sit there wondering why.

Fortunately this did not happen to me. If it had, my social graces would have possibly gone to shit (so to speak). I don’t do well with strangers’ discussions of bodily functions and I tend to be crass. When this story was told to me, a group of teachers were sitting around and we were puzzled at Dr. Gray’s choice. So, we took an informal poll of people and asked, what would YOU do if you had to give a test but had a bad case of diarrhea.

Some people said they would call a colleague and ask them to proctor for them and would stay at home on a friendly toilet.
Others said they would step out if needed, and might even ask a student to sit up front (although that is a debatable point because it is simultaneously privileging and alienating one student and it is saying that you don’t trust their academic integrity, which you might not, but you don’t usually want to make it that obvious!). No one though, would disclose to a student they barely know that they have the shits. Others still would cancel the quiz and call in sick. Some would send a friend out for imodium. Or call their department and find someone to cover. Not a single person thought of just announcing their bowel problems.

Now, before I get accused of being prudish, I am not. I have worked with children and with disabled adults. I have wiped asses small and large. No issue with that. I am nowhere near squeamish about body issues. I am squeamish about boundaries though. I am in no way a traditional teacher who requires students call her Professor or Ms. or any other title (I love it when people like to be called by titles they don’t possess but that’s a story for another blog). Ironically Dr. Gray is traditional. I’m not formal, I’m not authoritarian and I’m pretty laid back in my relationship with students. But. It seems to me there are places one need not go. Diarrhea is one of them.

The next question is, if you were in the student’s position, what would you do?? Is there any way to refuse?
I think maybe I’d cover my face with my shirt and scream
“SHIT GERMS!!!!!! GERMS! GERMS!” and run out of the classroom. Hmmmmm… or maybe I’d just sit up there with a wtf expression on my face.


I Heart Grad School

So, this weekend? I like? wrote? like? A lot!?

I am now in a printing frenzy and I realized I’ve netted 4.5 papers this past weekend. The .5 is in draft stage. One more is on the way tomorrow. Plus I’ve graded about 120 papers, and I’ve read probably about 400 pages. And tried *cough* to clean a bit. And sleep. Tried to sleep.

So that leaves one more paper to write for this week. Then a weekend and I can write 4 or 5 more papers. Wow!

No wonder I don’t have a life! LMAO!

My fun for the week is even nerdy! LOL I’ll be driving my mom to the airport and taking pictures of graffiti in the optimistic hope that my paper be accepted and I can incorporate them into my presentation. Think I’ll stop for an overpriced coctail in Old San Juan so I’ll feel more bohemian and less like a nerd!


Repeat after me: I will not burn out! I will NOT burn out!!

Chairs gettin’ down!

I’m posting this because

A. it is hysterical
B. I might get more hits this way (wait that might not be good…)
C. Perhaps this might encourage one of you slags who run into me in the hallways or the bar or messenger and say “hey! Cool blog!” to take a minute and post a comment! LOL

I saw this on another wordpress blog but didn’t get a chance to get the blogger’s name 😦 sorry dude but it was hysterical!!!

In the meanwhile, make sure the kids are asleep, settle into your comfiest chair *snicker*, point and click

Into the 30’s

Well, this is it. The final countdown to thirty has begun. I’m celebrating next Saturday with a bonfire and drum circle on the beach (Steps beach in Rincón at sunset, come on down!) While I am tremendously grateful for the flash of inspiration it took to come up with a suitable, yet low anxiety, activity I’m still feeling it.

I hate my birthday. There. it’s out.

I hated it when I was 6 and my birthday party consisted of a bunch of drunken adults getting into fights and third cousins twice removed who were all too cool to play with me. If you are Latin@ you will understand that and please, don’t do it to your kids! LOL

I hated it when I was 9 and my mom nearly had to be hospitalized because she had a manic cleaning fit and mixed clorox with god knows what else and ended up vomiting and gasping for breath. And two people came.

I hated it when I was a teenager and missed out having a quinceañero.

I hated it when I celebrated my 20th birthday party in a bar in NYC and the woman I was in love with came with her new girlfriend. Although my friends did smoosh a cream pie in my face (I had requested it) and that was cool.

I hated it when I was 23 and wondering what the fuck was going on with my life and paying for false friends to get drunk even if it meant I wouldn’t eat that month.

I hated my birthday when my mom forgot about it, when lovers have ‘celebrated’ without giving me even a card, when the ground has been shifting under my feet.

I hate the anxiety, wondering if people are going to show up, and of course if someone can’t make it it must mean they don’t like me. 😛

And here I am, approaching 30 at a breakneck pace.

It seems like 30 seems to be programmed into the genes with a list of things to do that should have been accomplished. I should have:

at the very least finished an MA, not to mention a PhD
published a few books
have a kid or five
not have debt (Ha! hahahaha!)
be organized and sophisticated and saavy and thin
or at the very least
not leave my dirty laundry on the floor in the area vaguely surrounding the hamper.
I should own shit by now:
houses, cars, boats, cottages in the country, stocks, bonds SOMETHING!

And, while I recognize these lists as a product of consumerist culture, as impositions on women to make us feel inadequate and pressure us into filling way too many roles in superwoman fashion, nonetheless it bugs me.

And it bothers me that it bugs me.

So, I’m going to have a nice bonfire, with drumming and dancing and too much drinking on the beach which is probably where I feel happiest on this earth.

I will celebrate with whomever is able to make it and not make it into the friendship test of the year. (But you’d better have a damn good excuse for not going! LOL)

I’m going to try and celebrate where I am, who I am and all the amazing stuff I’ve done and been through and survived. I will celebrate all the people whose lives have touched mine and whose lives I have touched. I will drink to chosen families and to uncertainty and fear. The fear of being human, of being alive and being a dreamer.

And to many more years to figure it all out and get the perspective to say that the thirties were the best years of my life.

Although I don’t know that anything can beat being four.

So, if you are coming and want to give me a gift (which is by no means required) consider crayons, finger paint or super hero pajamas! Yes, Sponge Bob counts as a superhero!

Poetry and condoms?

The poem for the day, but I don’t think I want to keep this one in my pocket:

The Pope’s Penis
Sharon Olds

It hangs deep in his robes, a delicate
clapper at the center of a bell.
It moves when he moves, a ghostly fish in a
halo of silver sweaweed, the hair
swaying in the dark and the heat — and at night
while his eyes sleep, it stands up
in praise of God.

I’m not sure about this as a poem (although I do like the last two lines) but the subject matter is certainly, err… provocative? No. Not quite. Interesting? Noooooo. Unusual. That’ll do. I don’t often think about the papal penis so this was my paradigm buster for the day.

Howling at the moon

I’m absolutely lusting for sleep! If I had time to sleep I’d have wet dreams about it.
I’d dream about Diamanda Galas singing Satisfaction with the Stones.
I’d dream grades which would materialize onto student papers and insightful commentary which would guide them on their path of critical enlightenment.

I would dream of sleeping and in between astral naps I would dream of polka dot pedicures and fishnet stockings and my missing leather skirt (honestly, how does one lose a skirt? that’s a rhetorical question) and pinstripes and lace.

I would dream of cosmic cartwheels and public stonings in academia. Instead of our monthly department meeting we will be crucifying two members of the literature committee, one from writing and, if we have time a linguist or two. Please remember to bring nails and the activities committee will be distributing hammers on site. Stonings of media and communications people and ESL will be held next meeting, in case of rain we will be in the student center. By the coffee machine. Bring your own stone.

I would dream of hallucinations, and ashes and purple striped dragons that wagged scaly tails at me. And waterproof mascara that leaves luscious stripes on pillowcases.
And pet zebras that eat dandelion puffs. Which don’t grow in PR. So I’d import them. In my dreams of course.

And I’d dream “Stormy Weather” smoky blues at the top of my lungs in my sleep.

And I’d dream of cuddle parties. And pajamas with barbed wire patterns. And washable tattoos.

What would you dream?

It’s only Rock and Roll

After years of hearing N’s Stones stories, letter writing campaigns, and fabulous Keithmases, I actually saw the stones this Saturday. A group of us went on a van and hit a pre-party at El Meson de la Roosevelt. It never ceases to amaze me how expensive it is to drink in San Juan! One beer $3.25! I can get beer for 50 cents in Mayagüez. Not to mention a water bottle for $2.75.

So, anyway, we took the train in to the concert and waited in line to get in. I was interviewed by god knows whom for god knows what show and was asked if there was a reason for my outfit. I was wearing jeans, a black shirt, a long tiger striped tunic and a kangol hat. I didn’t think my outfit was that noteworthy but apparently it was. So, I said the reason was Rock and Roll baybeee! LOL and that I was paying homage to Keith Richards. Then some beer bellied dude (seriously beer bellied) got pulled out of the crowd and gave a drunken interview, at which point we ducked away to get back into the line to go into the Choliseo. [[[update: I was told by my students that I was on Anda P’al Cará! Autographs will be available for a modest fee.]]]

My purse got poked by a stick by security (to make sure I wasn’t smuggling in a… poisonous snake maybe???) I could have carried a whole soundboard in and they wouldn’t have noticed or said boo. Mag presented a challenge: a woman, with no purse, a male security guard who won’t frisk her… hmmmmm… she could have had the videocamera. Well shit!

We made it in, got our belaying ropes together and climbed to the top of the Choliseo. Holy shit we were high. After sufficient deep breaths to keep my vertigo at bay we settled in to wait and chatted with our neighbors. They were on their cell phones trying to see if their friend could spot them. We were on Ronnie’s side of the stage and really (I mean REALLY) fucking high.

Juan Luis Guerra y 440 rocked. I didn’t expect his performance to be much of anything but, aside from needing sheet music (sheet music to play 5 songs! seriously!) they were great. I’m not a huge fan but it was really good, including a more rock and roll type song he played on an electric guitar in addition to standards: “ojala que llueva café,” “la bilirrubina” the new Christian song I don’t know the title to and something else :P. The sound system sucked and something was wrong with the lighting and the screens. But, the crowd was pretty pumped. Then they took way too long to do way too little before the Stones played. Some ambitious souls started the wave and that was amusing for two minutes but then it was all waiting. We could see back stage because we were right on the side. It looked like the lighting issues were part of the hold up but then it was all a matter of waiting.

Then FINALLY a cool video on the screens and the Stones came out while the stadium ROARED.

Now, I’m not much of a big concert person, in fact I can’t remember the last big concert I went to. I love music but I like small venues and I can’t usually afford to go to big shows (shit I couldn’t afford to go to this show, who am I kidding!?). Oooh yeah, the last big concert I went to was some country music dude whose name I had to keep asking cause I’d never heard of him and lo and behold, I still don’t remember the pendejo’s name. I went with a group of mentally retarded and developmentally disabled adults for work so I didn’t pay for the tickets nor did I have to pay attention to the music.

Anyway, it was really trippy seeing the stones come out. They’re real! Woooooah! I’m told I laughed outloud. It’s a different dynamic watching a show with that big of a budget and that many people in the crowd. We had this groupthink going on and it was just BIG.

It was really trippy watching Mick dance and move. I kept feeling like I’d been sucked into a vortex and was somehow transported to Rock n Roll Circus days. He moves the same, same gestures, same energy. Amazing!

Which leads me to one of my gripes. I’m not a stones Fan. I like them but I would never claim the status of Fan. Nonetheless, I sure am fed up with all the coverage on them focusing on the fact that they are “old.” We wouldn’t be so fucking excited over the 63 year old guy were playing the violins in the NY Philharmonic orchestra. I think they have merits other than the fact that they are all over 50, which these days isn’t that old anyway. They haven’t even hit retirement age!

And the irony of ironies: Medicare y Mucho Mas (Health Insurance) has an ad showing Mick and Keith laughing with the caption “Para sentirse así de bien, hay que cuidarse bien.” If I get a hold of a scanner I will post the image as well. Well, if cuidarse bien, means cigarettes and heroin and booze, then no problem. Medical whiskey is the new trend.

The show seemed slow to warm up, the transitions seemed choppy and it seemed to take a few songs for them to get their groove on. I didn’t know Lisa was with them and was extremely puzzled when I heard female back up vocals on “It’s only rock and roll” but there was no female in sight: I had the binoculars I looked! But, then I saw her on the next song and all was well.

People in my section of the crowd were yelling out request for satisfaction.

They played my favorite “Sympathy for the Devil” which was also just weird. Watching them live after seeing so many taped performances was extremely disconcerting. I spent the whole show in a state of pleasant dejá vu.

The B stage was less impressive from where we were sitting. I’m sure it was exciting if they were slowly being rolled towards ME but from where we were at it wasn’t that great. I think the view of the ropes and cables and the guys heaving to move the stage also may have ruined the effect. But, whatever.

I got to see Mick’s butt cleavage: during one of his outfit changes he whipped his shirt off backstage and my side of the stadium got the view. Yeah baby! Take that you people in the front rows. I saw Mick’s butt! I gotta say, the man still got it going on! There’s just something sexy about him, his body language, his voice, his je ne sais quoi. And the butt cleavage! LOL

We actually left sacrilegiously early before the end of the encore because, as I mentioned vertigo is an issue and we were so high that I wanted to get out before the crowd left.

The show was good and I was surprised at how many people around me knew the words to songs other than Satisfaction, and I was in a Puerto Ricans only section (ie the cheaper ones). I was terrified for the young guys slam dancing against the railing who were apparently wanting to FLY down to the stage. We saw our friend on the floor dancing and waving her tongue around which was cool too, kind of a metaconcert experience.

Unfortunately, the entire group but for one or two pooped out after the show. I wasn’t the one or two. I was seriously exhausted and slept pretty much the whole way back to Mayagüez, except for when I was on DJ duty.

And I’ve been hearing the stones in my sleep since!

The poem in my pocket

“why some people be mad at me sometimes”

they ask me to remember
but they want me to remember
their memories
and i keep on remembering

Lucille Clifton
Poetry is a site of resistance. It is a site of social change.
This is the poem in my pocket today. Don’t make me whip it out!

If music be the food of love, play on.
– Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

I was working on research on Hip Hop and Reggaetón when I came across an article from The Nation titled “Disco Inferno.” The blurb: Blasting Western music at detainees is a widely accepted ‘torture lite’ technique. What does that mean?” The article exposes the practice of using sensory overstimulation as torture, specifically using American music. Bayoumi argues that, “With torture music, our culture is no longer primarily a means of individual expression or an avenue to social criticism. Instead, it is an actual weapon, one that represents and projects American military might.[. . . .]Torture music is the crudest kind of cultural imperialism, grimly ironic in a war that is putatively about spreading “universal” American values” (33). He goes on to expose public responses to the practice of torture music was “not indignation but amusement,” including compilations of favorite “interro-tunes” and tongue in cheek comments about Christina Aguilera (33).

The use of Western music as torture device has its roots in the use of noise as a form of psychological torture, which would not leave marks and yet would be psychologically crippling to the tortured. Noise would be played at high volumes—particularly effective were crying babies, glass breaking, and of course, sounds of warfare. But of course, we must “make the pie higher” (Mr. George Bush) and incorporate good ole American music into the practice of dehumanization.

Reading this article made me cringe. The thought of being imprisoned and have strobe lights in my face and blasting music non stop makes me want to curl up into fetal position. I’m sure my brain would just explode! I am extremely sensitive to music. I can hear discordance (intentional or not) from miles away and I have nearly perfect pitch. I will walk out of concert halls (or rehearsals) if anyone/instrument is off key because it grates on my nerves.

I am not a professional musician but I have performed to entertain audiences before and the thought of anyone appropriating a recording I am on to torture makes my blood boil. Why aren’t Springsteen and Aguilera and Spears suing the pentagon? If musicians have come together as a class before to fight against hunger in Ethiopia (USA for Africa with “We are the World” which has its own imperialist issues but I won’t go there), against drunk driving (RADD), against AIDS, and even, albeit smaller scale, against the war and against Mr. Bush. I realize there is a lot to protest against these days, trust me, I realize it, but with music were being used to destroy the human spirit, I can’t help but feel that artists might actually have some power to at least bring this to the public’s attention and raise some serious ethical (and legal) questions. What frightens me most is that The Public might not care.

I also wonder about the uses of these techniques, not as torture but as social control: prisons in the states still use techniques such as sensory deprivation, sleep deprivation, and climate control as ways to “control” prisoners. Retail jobs use it as employee control! My partner worked at a convenience store for a while (I think it was a month actually) and one of the things that drove her crazy was the music track, which featured muzak and commercials in a neverending loop. It was inescapable and it didn’t vary. The monotony of it would set her teeth on edge. This is the case in many retail establishments.

So we buy Mozart and Beethoven for babies tapes but we make each other work with repetitive obnoxious music (for not much money usually) and we accept the use of music as torture—Bayoumi cites Barney used as torture. While parents or caretakers of preschoolers will recognize the infuriating qualities of the big purple dude, the thought of the same music that makes little kids dance and giggle in preschool being used to torture innocent human beings makes my stomach turn.

Call me an idealist but I see no moral or ethical justification for torture ANY KIND, and much less for the use of music as torture. What’s next? Reading poetry to people over loudspeakers?


Bayoumi, Moustafa. “Disco Inferno” The Nation Dec 26 2005. 33-35.

Why I don’t write Magical Realism…

I am fully bilingual but there are things you can only tell in Spanish, so my apologies to the non-hispanoparlantes…

Me levanté en la mañana malhumorada por el mero hecho de que es temprano en la mañana y estoy despierta. Me levanto y pienso, ¡puñeta! como es mi costumbre si es antes de las 9 (bueno en verdad las 10). Me preparo para mi día (13 horas en Mayagüez) y empaco mi comida para el almuerzo. Cuando abro la gaveta. . . .

No, todavía no, primero te tengo que contar que vivo en 10 cuerdas en el monte. Tengo que informarte que vivo en un primer piso y que las ventanas de mi sala/cocina no tienen escrines. Sigue leyendo, esta es la parte realista. Al lado de mi terreno acaban de cortar todos los árboles para vender solares y todos los animales están encabronaos por haber perdido sus hogares y por la maldita peste a diesel que nos tienes loc@s a tod@s. Bueno, ahora sí.

Abro la gaveta para buscar un envase pa’ mi chayote relleno bien Martha Stewart, lo saco del frizer y abro mi gaveta y mirándome sin parpadeo real o metafórico me mira una cabrona rata. No un lindo ratoncito con ojos inocentes, una cabrona rata con ojos rojos y malévolos. Aquí te lo digo tranquila, sin rusheo, pero te confieso que grité como puta fingiendo orgasmo. Y como puta que ve guardia venir salí corriendo de la puta cocina con el segundo ¡puñeta! del día. It’s too early for this shit. Abro paréntesis para aclarar algunas de mis mejores amigas han sido putas. Muy bien. P’al carajo el container. Llevo mi comida en una fabulosa bolsa ziploc. Traigo a los gatos, hablo con el perro, pateo la gaveta par de veces con sucesivos ¡puñeta!s.

Con café en mano me monto en el carro y Mag se prepara a guiar mientras yo intento metabolizar la cafeína. De repente se oye un bullicio en la carretera. La vecina está vociferando y el vecino de arriba, borrachón desde los 11 años (ahora tiene sus 50 y pico) quien duerme debajo de un palo de mangó en un catre sale corriendo cuesta arriba con una caja de cartón como escudo y unos alambres como espada gritando, “cierra el portón, cierra el portón.”

Pues bien. Cerramos el portón. Y subimos la cuesta donde está Rafi, el vecino, esperando para advertirnos con expresión intensa y sincera que tengamos cuidado con la vaca que anda suelta y que está (matando niños y violando mujeres??) atravesándose frente a los carros. Que pasemos lento. Que llamó al municipio y no sé que mas. Con visiones de toros rabiosos nos alejamos poco a poco.

Gracias Rafi, nos vemos.

Al subir la próxima lomita vemos al monstruo, precedido por una serie de plastas humeantes de mierda. El monstruo, una vaca blanca con ojos tristes y manchas negras, boba, mansa y cagona. Amenaza con la cola mientras rumina y en el retrovisor vemos al quijote en la alzada con su escudo de cartón.

Miro mi reloj y seguimos. Voy tarde para una clase de lingüística la cual no quiero tomar a una hora a la cual no quiero estar despierta. Según contemplo mi suerte, entre dormida y despierta pero de cualquier manera aborrecía, siento que se detiene el carro. Miro al frente y veo una manada de patos, bueno 4 patos. Caminan su caminar remendando con calma, sin prisa, sin estrés, sin entender que voy tarde. ¡Puñeta! Cuando al fin se mueven y podemos pasar, me miran mal. Pasado mi flashback de La Patografía pienso que un poco de whiskey en mi café no vendría muy mal.

Llego al fin y al cabo a mi clase de lingüística donde me siento a tomar café, mirar a un gringo mover la quijada mientras yo escribo en mi libreta algunos versos imaginarios. Entre dormida y despierta miro al pasillo y veo un escudo de cartón bajar flotando desde el piso de arriba.

Pues sí.