Archive for May, 2006

Luxurious intangibles

I was talking with a dear friend of mine recently about how we’d never be rich. I watch the shows on tv, I see the ads in the magazines and I’m horrified. The word luxury is thrown around for all kinds of crap I don’t need.

Luxury to me is a hot bubble bath with candles and good music.
Luxury is a laughing with good friends.
Luxury is being able to feed people who need food. It’s having enough to share or the ability to go without. Luxury is being able to help others.

I’m not saying I don’t have my materialistic indulgences, far from it. If you want to watch me blow a paycheck just drop me in a bookstore and let me loose.

I like nice things but there’s a limit. There’s things that are just immoral to me. To spend more on a pair of shoes than an average low income family spends on rent is obscene. To spend $1500 on snap on teeth shaped like a celebrity’s smile so I can pretend to be Halle–as if!– is just not okay. I watched a show the other day (I don’t even know what it was called because I could only bear to see a few minutes) where a family was spending $37,000 on an entertainment center set up. I can’t even understand that. I can’t understand hummer limos, I can’t understand how people can live with themselves knowing that they are wearing enough money to feed a family with small children for a few months. I can’t understand it.

Instead of buying all the crap they tell me is luxury I chose to define it my way. Luxury is hugging my puppy. It’s swimming in the ocean when the sun is making golden trails on the water. It’s a cup of tea and a good book on a stormy day, it’s standing in the presence of beauty, of the sacred, of love. It’s freshly laundered sheets and hours to make love on them, it’s fresh mangoes and fresh sprigs of lavender and a poem that makes me cry. It’s a cold glass of champagne or fresh chocolate.

To define luxury as expensive things that I must possess would make me someone I’m not. It would make me less human. It would make me less compassionate. It would make me disconnected from the world around me. I don’t think I could live with myself if I had thousands of dolars of Things. I’ll never be rich because I don’t care enough about money, I care more about people, and justice and peace and luxurious intangibles.

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Finals are Over!!!!

and I survived, if only barely.

I’m the decider

I’m the Decider”
by Roddy McCorley
Tue Apr 18, 2006

I’m the decider.
I pick and I choose.
I pick among whats.
And choose among whos.

And as I decide
Each particular day
The things I decide on
All turn out that way.

I decided on Freedom
For all of Iraq.
And now that we have it,
I’m not looking back.

I decided on tax cuts
That just help the wealthy.
And Medicare changes
That aren’t really healthy.

And parklands and wetlands
Who needs all that stuff?
I decided that none
Would be more than enough!

I decided that schools
All in all are the best
The less that they teach
And the more that they test.

I decided those wages
You need to get by
Are much better spent
On some CEO guy.

I decided your Wade
Which was versing your Roe
Is terribly awful
And just has to go.

I decided that levees
Are not really needed.
Now when hurricanes come
They can come unimpeded.

That old Constitution?
Well, I have decided
As”just goddam paper”
It should be derided.

I’ve decided gay marriage
Is icky and weird.
Above all other things,
It’s the one to be feared.

And Cheney and Rummy
And Condi all know
That I’m the Decider –
They tell me it’s so.

I’m the Decider
So watch what you say
Or I may just decide
To whisk you away.

Or I’ll tap your phones.
Your e-mail I’ll read.
`cause I’m the Decider –
Like Jesus decreed.

Yes, I’m the Decider
The finest alive
And I’m nuking Iran.
Now watch this drive!

Mother’s Day

I am not going to rant about how commercialized mother’s day (and every other holiday with the possible exception of National Panic Day) has become or how it was essentially created with commercial interests in mind. I’m not even going to go into my feminist schpiel about motherhood and maternity as essentializing discourses.

I’d like instead to contemplate mothers. With all the pressure to be the perfect mother, it’s nice to have a day to celebrate the effort that mothers make to do the best they can with what they have.

I think it’s also important to recognize mothers who may not have children: the women who have lost their children, who have had miscarriages, who have been unable to conceive or adopt. And also those who mother friends, who mentor, who mother pets, and nieces and nephews and neighbors and entire communities.

I remember a church service I attended a few years ago where there were flowers for moms, but not just biological moms. We gave flowers to each other recognizing that together we make community, that I may mother a woman 20 years my senior, that I may cherish another person’s child, that mothering should not be reduced to a biological function but is the presence of spirit, a sharing and loving presence.

I know I’ve had many mothers at many points in my own life and I know I have mothered many others and been blessed in so doing.

We sang to a mothering God (yes, this was a Christian service, no, gender does not matter) and celebrated each other.

I may not have children yet but I celebrate mother’s day all the same. Think Hallmark will catch on?

Busy semester

I am in the process of putting together my portfolio. I was putting in my conferences, presentations etc for the semester and I realized exactly why I feel like it has been an exhausting semester:

Conferences, Workshops and Professional Development
Spring 2006

Caribbean Chapter of the College English Association
Spring 2006 Conference: Secrets and Lies
Site Executive: Coordinated facilities and facilitated one panel.

English Department Colloquium
March 3rd, 2006
Gave talk entitled “Living la media Loca: Latin@s and Representation”

Primer Coloquio Nacional ¿Del Otro La’o? Perspectivas sobre sexualidades diversas
28 and 29th of March
Facilitated Panel: “Si contamos, ¿cuenta?”
Presented performance piece “¡Cuidado con los baños: hay lesbianas ahí!” as part of panel “Recuerdos del porvenir: memorias, testimonios y acentos con futuro”

¿Islas que se repiten o se reciclan? Prácticas críticas de los Estudios Culturales Caribeños
April 18th and 19th
Attended conference

Estación Literaria “The Scribbling of Women”
April 20th, 2006
Read poetry at event sponsored by Pastiche

“What do Prosodic Systems of Atlantic Creoles tell us?”
Dr. Herbert Devonish, UWI
Attended presentation

“Análisis Cualitativo: Programa Atlas.ti”
Dr. Valdes Pizzini
Attended workshop

Submissions accepted for:
• Pastiche Literary Magazine
• Puerto Rican Studies Association conference Fall 2006
• Federación Latinoamericana de Facultades de Comunicación Social conference Fall 2006

Currently revising articles for publication in The Master of Mastery: Essays on the Films of Alfred Hitchcock, Edited by Dr. Nick Haydock.

All this plus taking four classes and teaching two writing classes. Dang! I’m glad it’s over!!!!

Fibromyalgia Awareness Day

Go figure, I’d forgotten about it 😛
Yes, I have Fibromyalgia, yes it’s a real disease, yes it sucks, yes it is especially obnoxious around finals time.
The following is a letter to the media from the founder of the Fibrohugs website:

Dear Editor,

Friday, May 12, is Fibromyalgia Awareness Day. The theme this year is
very appropriate: “But You Don’t Look Sick” — The Invisible Pain of
Fibromyalgia.

Unfortunately, that is what so many of us hear… that we don’t look
sick, we are told to learn to live with it, we are overly emotional, or
that aches and pains are just part of growing old… try telling that to
a twelve year old that has just been diagnosed after months of being
told it was all in his head! Until you walk in our shoes, feel our pain,
and the pain of our families as they try to understand and comfort us,
you will never fully understand what we live with every day.

The Awareness Day is to promote education and to inform the many people
who may have symptoms that have not been diagnosed, that they need to
gather information and see that they are seeing the right doctor to help
them. It is also to make the public aware that this disease does
exist, and that we and our families exist in a world unknown to many others.

Fibromyalgia syndrome is not easily diagnosed, and compounded with
chronic fatigue syndrome, migraine headaches, TMJ, carpal tunnel, you have
a person who has pain that affects the muscles, ligaments, and tendons
all over their body, with known “trigger points”, where the pain may be
the most intense. Most of us have sleep disorders, numbness and
tingling in our hands and feet, and have trouble concentrating (often
referred to as fibro-fog) or have short-term memory loss, and experience
severe pain that “travels” to other parts of the body, and it is very often
adversely affected by weather conditions, sleep patterns, activity
levels, and stress.

It is very important that anyone that has fibromyalgia stay
active–walk, swim, exercise, and stretch the muscles, ligaments, and tendons
involved. We have to get plenty of “restorative” sleep, and avoid
stressful situations… we haven’t found a way to control the weather yet…
it’s going to rain somewhere every day. I walk about two miles every
day, and stay active out of necessity… I have to work extra jobs, even
though I am “retired” from the state.

Since first diagnosed, I made a vow to myself that I may have
fibromyalgia, but fibromyalgia will never have me. It has helped me cope, and
has given me the incentive to keep on being a responsible, productive
parent, wife, daughter, friend, and worker. Please remember that just
because I have been able to do this, that I am lucky…not everyone is.
Too many of us suffer unbearable pain that is disabling and
misunderstood.

Each person is an individual, and each of us with fibromyalgia can
probably tell you a different story about how we developed it (mine came
from traumatic stress), others will say that theirs may have come from an
accident, an operation, physical or mental stress, or they simply
developed it over time…. there is really no definitive cause, and there’s
no cure. Simply put, Fibromyalgia won’t kill you, but you will die
with it.

An estimated ten million people in the United States have been
diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. It doesn’t favor anyone… it affects men, women,
and children of all ages and races. We live every day, hoping for a
cure, praying our families can cope with having to help us if we need
them. If you know someone who has this disease, please try to understand
they need your support, that you are trying to understand, and most
importantly, let them know that you care.

Ken Euteneier

For more information you can visit http://www.fibrohugs.com

Exuberance

Yesterday my campus was not a lively place. It was a place of too few hours of sleep, of last minute cramming, of deadlines stretched beyond their breaking point, of overwhelming stress.

I was walking to a department meeting, which is in itself not a cheery event. I was watching the somber mood of students, and out of nowhere, down a grassy hill came bouncing a young boy, 11 maybe 12. He was just bouncing and running for no reason. It’s called PLAYING. The word exuberance popped into my mind, tinged with a hint of nostalgia as in “What an exuberant little boy… I wish I were exuberant.” Instead I trudged to my meeting and then 3 hours later crawled out.

After my meeting I was catching up with some friends (not particularly exuberant ones, burnt out might be more accurate) and another friend walked by on his evening rounds with his little girl (oops big girl she’s ONE now!) in the stroller. We chatted for a bit with the baby with the wise eyes and the yummy bottle and they went on their way. When they came by a second time we saw her perk up to look at the birds that were hopping around on the grass. Her whole face lit up at the cool birds. My other friend was telling me about her grandson and how if it was him the birds would have fled. He doesn’t think birds should be on the ground walking. They are birds. They should fly. Duh! When they ask him what sound birds make, he flaps his arms. Exuberantly.

I wonder if exuberance is the domain of the young and the drunk only?

Maybe I am just exuberantly exhausted.

Mango Ginger Shrimp

Because a few of you have asked I'll actually publicly post the secret recipe. I don't measure when I cook so if you need more specific quantity info let me know and I'll try to oblige.

  • Shrimp (duh! although it's delicious with chicken also)
  • Fresh ginger (MUST BE FRESH!)
  • A few fresh oranges
  • 1-2 Lemon or key lime
  • 4-5 mangoes (I'm talking about the small ones, if you have the big mama jamma mangoes then 1 or 2 will suffice) sliced
  • soy sauce
  • 1 head garlic squished (technical culinary term)
  • green onions
  • fresh broccoli
  • 1-2 red peppers
  • 1/2 an onion (sliced thin)
  • sesame oil
  • Red pepper flakes

You want to prepare the juicey stuff first.  Squeeze a few oranges and one or two limes in a container, add some soy sauce (if you pin me down to quantities I'd say about 3-4 tbsp).  Add red pepper flakes to taste.  Then you can set that aside.

Now, in the sesame oil you want to stir up the garlic, ginger, onions and shrimp till it is cooked through.  It smells delcious already!

Then add the juicy part and let it simmer for a while.  It smells even better now.

Add the mangoes and let it simmer a bit more.

Then, finally add green onions, broccoli (I usually steam it lightly before adding it), and red pepper.  If you're not drooling by now something is seriously wrong with you!

And, you're done! 

I like to garnish with fresh cilantrillo and some additional mango and a sprinkle of cayenne.  It's delicious and a beautiful dish (if I get the pics from Agnes I'll post them here), low calorie and quite easy to prepare. 

Buen provecho!

Shrimp!

Thesis defense

I sat in on my friend Joe's thesis defense and it was quite interesting. I'd heard about what he was doing in informal conversations but it was really interesting to hear him actually present it. 

His Master's Thesis was on Shakespeare's Tetralogy which he examined from a New Historicist perspective.  He focused on the coexistence of chivalric and Machiavellian themes in the presentation of Hal and Bollingbrook and how the plays cannot be 'reduced' to represent only a the latter view but rather show a sort of shift and coexistence: that the moments of Machiavellian behavior took place within a chivalric order and were presentations of possibilities.  The chivalric order, if I understoon correctly, is seen as the underpining ideology.

I'm being terribly reductionistic here and because I've not read the plays in a long time I'm not capturing the nuances of his proposal but he did a great job of breaking it down and justifying his position.  It was a very interesting and I thought effective proposal for reading the texts.

He's working on a few revisions and then he's done. WTG man!

Hopefully he'll comment (or sue me for libel) if I've misrepresented his work–which given my sleep patterns these last two weeks is entirely possible.

Poem in my pocket

This is where I'm at today.  From Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass, #83

I sit and look out upon all the sorrows of the world, and upon all oppression and shame;

 
I hear secret convulsive sobs from young men, at anguish with themselves, remorseful after deeds done;  
I see, in low life, the mother misused by her children, dying, neglected, gaunt, desperate;  
I see the wife misused by her husband—I see the treacherous seducer of young women;  
I mark the ranklings of jealousy and unrequited love, attempted to be hid—I see these sights on the earth;          5
I see the workings of battle, pestilence, tyranny—I see martyrs and prisoners;  
I observe a famine at sea—I observe the sailors casting lots who shall be kill’d, to preserve the lives of the rest;  
I observe the slights and degradations cast by arrogant persons upon laborers, the poor, and upon negroes, and the like;  
All these—All the meanness and agony without end, I sitting, look out upon,  
See, hear, and am silent.

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