Archive for January, 2007

Optika 2: A Symposium on Visual Narration

Optika 2: A Symposium on Visual Narration
Friday morning I’ll be giving my paper Open Door to a Kiss: Psychoanalysis, Surrealism and Sexuality in Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound.

 I love this film!  I’ll be talking about all of the above 😉 and showing some clips to convince you of how sexy Dr. Constance Petersen is.  But I’ll make it sound more academic and less voyeuristic.


Old (Job) Stress

One reason I ended up moving to the island and going back to school was The Job.

I had my Dream Job and my nightmare rolled into one. I was a parent educator so I worked with littles prenatal through age 11. Basically I had several curriculae I worked from and I would visit families in their homes to teach parents how to help their children learn. I got to play with toys and draw pictures and teach and bounce babies on my knee. It was great. I would also do development evals, work with child abuse and neglect prevention and reintegration and general parenting troubleshooting. I loved this job. My clients were awesome. I met some super cool kids, made a pretty significant impact in a lot of little lives, from child abuse situations to upper crust homes I was privileged to be a part of many families on a weekly basis.

The downside? The office. So, the job sounds like I should have been happily wearing my granola sandals and taking breaks to hug the tree outside the building. In actuality this was the most conservative group of people I’ve met in the helping profession, particularly dealing with child abuse and neglect. They were judgmental and mean about clients: both parents and kids. They were racist and homophobic. They deliberately encouraged backstabbing and gossip. The two progressive women in the organization left and it was turning into a very scary place.

Just to illustrate my point, I was given an official written reprimand for emailing my coworkers regarding auditions for The Vagina Monologues at the women’s center because it was offensive language. In a social service organization. So I can work with women who have been raped and with little girls who have been molested but if I use the word vagina… I’m obscene?!

The only reason I didn’t quit sooner was because I just loved the clients. I still keep in touch with some of them and I wish I could have made the job work but they were happy to see me leave and we all knew it. I never fit in there, which is probably a good thing!

So, why am I thinking about this wonderful/awful job? Because I had to call them to get a letter stating I’d worked there and what I did so I can get out of paying a student loan (YEAH!).

Just thinking about calling there made my stomach tie up in knots. My whole body was tense and I could barely make myself do it. I finally did call, was treated like shit (duh!) and still don’t know if the letter got sent. Now I’m dreading having to call again but mostly rejoicing that I had the good sense and courage to get the hell out of there while I could! I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything but I am glad I spared myself the ongoing stress!

Anyone wanna pretend to be me and call them for me??? 😛

Dulce Silencio

I wrote this for a writer’s challenge on another site. The theme was Peppermint and this is what happened when I started writing… it’s short now but it’s kindof haunting me, there might be more to tell. In the meanwhile:

Dulce Silencio

My grandmother smelled like a grandmother: like maja soap, like thick dry powder coquettishly caked on, like hairspray holding her hair in an old lady wave, and like peppermint. My mom smelled like juicy fruit and cigarettes but my abuela was always peppermint and polvo.

My abuela liked to spoil us grandkids. She’d make us arroz con leche that always made me gag so I’d slip it onto my greedy cousin’s plate. She made forbidden café con leche that we drank with our pinkies in the air, with plenty of cookies and giggles. She let us eat guayabas off the tree in the yard till our tummies ached and we flopped down under the tree, staring at the clouds. And in her big black purse you always found Chiclets in their cheery yellow box. She would count out two pieces and place them in greedy little chubby hands.

We would suck the peppermint coating off and compare pallid squares. We’d crunch down on them and try to nab more. We’d see who could chew the longest before the stale gray lump was discarded. My cousin would swallow her gum but I never could.

When candy was scarce these sweet little squares were quite a treat. And later, when we had quarters we hoarded or pilfered for trips to the colmado to get junk, the little chiclets were quaint reminders of when we were REALLY little. We’d never turn chiclets down, that’s for sure.

Graduations, parties, dinners, visits to her house where I’d stick to plastic covered furniture and listen to AM talk radio with her: the years can be measured in yellow boxes of gum shared.

As the years passed and we changed, silly reminders of childhood kept the connection. Talking to abuela had become a perilous affair.

I periodically got fits of intense guilt for not visiting more often, not calling more, and I would steel myself and drive the hour and half to her house. Any discussion of success was subject to comparisons with my cousin who was taller, thinner, faster, prettier, but never smarter.

Stick to the weather my mom would say through a haze of menthol smoke. Keeps you out of trouble.

Weather, the flowers, the news. No politics. No relationships. No controversy. No liberation. No dreams.

Abuela met my lover. Abuela ignored my lover. My lover shrugged it off. I seethed.

Abuela raved about my cousin’s boyfriends. When did I say I was going to get married. “No abuela, that’s just not for me.” Skirting around the edges of Out until inevitably my picture in the paper made me bold, made me reckless, made me broach the subject avoided for years.
I wait till we’re sitting, I pop squares of gum in my mouth out of habit.
“Abuela you know I’m gay right.”
Abuela sits up straighter in her ugly floral housedress.
“De eso no se habla” We don’t talk about that.

I bite down and let the happy taste of peppermint fill my mouth making the silence easier to swallow.


I got my scores in the mail (dated December 27th!)

Verbal score: 640
Percentile below: 91 ~insert evil nerd laughter~

Quantitative score: 470
Percentile below: 21 ~insert certified math dumbass tshirt~

Analytical writing score: 6/6
Percentile below: 96 ~booyeah~

I rock! When I’m not being asked to calculate the area of the shaded portion of the figure. Bah! 😛

Back to my regularly scheduled procrastination.

In case you were wondering

Thanks to the creative support of a friend I’ve found the title for my dissertation:

Deoedipalizing the postapocalyptic: rising oceans of love/tsunamis of polyamorous desire and postgaian cuddles in the Middle Ages

😉 N’est pas?

On a saner note (just barely):

I finally finished sending off my Ph.D applications last night, except for the one due in Feb which I will continue to procrastinate about. I am a nervous wreck about this shit and I am currently wishing I had applied in secret and not told a soul because what if I don’t get in, or what if I don’t get the fellowship/assistantships/financial aid packages I need to be able to do this? Or what if I don’t like the school colors after all and decide I’d rather not partake of an education that will not support my delicate aesthetic sensibilities? What then hunh?

I will thankfully be too busy finishing my thesis to angst much more.
Thesis updates coming soon (have to keep busy with this procrastination thing!)

Concrete Abstractions

This morning I got up early and went to the beach for a walk and to take some pictures. Usually going to the beach is a relaxing and energizing experience for me. Today I was distracted by all the fucking apartment complexes, bed and breakfasts, vacation homes and other monuments to the capitalist/colonialist/consumerist monster.

Beachfront property in Puerto Rico used to belong to Puerto Ricans. In fact, a lot of the poorest communities on the island were on beachfront property because fishing villages were there. Now, I dare you to find me a dozen local people who can afford to buy an acre. Okay, 1/2 an acre.

I am sick and tired of concrete.

On the island we say that you can’t eat concrete and that someday people will wake up and realize that.
But, as much as I love to eat, I couldn’t give a crap about eating the gray crap. After all, chicken nuggets grow in concrete boxes (from a merger of cardboard, styrofoam, tvp and salt) and ketchup grows in plastic so we’re set right. No, I’m not worried about eating concrete, I’m worried about loving it…

You can’t grab a handful of concrete and let it run through your fingers like water, soil or sand.

You can’t smell concrete and taste in the scent something living and vital.

You can’t squeeze it in your hand and feel the heartbeat of the earth, the subtle shift of energy.

You can’t grow anything in concrete.

You can’t celebrate the changes in concrete.

The beach where I used to go to gather seashells is now bordered by the litter of excess and greed and money. Cows used to graze in that pasture. And frankly, I prefer the smell of cowshit and salt to the smell of souless concrete boxes. I think I’ll stay away from this beach for a while. I’ll enjoy the pictures and the memories and go elsewhere.

Tres Palmas Morning

50 Book Challenge

I’ve joined the 50BookChallenge community at Livejournal which is pretty cool. I had used that account for the class I taught last semester but I like some of their communities so I’m sticking around there but keeping my blog here.

I wonder about setting a number of books as a goal though. At what point does it become more about HOW MUCH you are reading than about WHAT you are reading…

I already read 2-3 books per week so for me it’s fun to see what other folks are reading. It’s also cool to keep track of my own print consumption and be forced to write intelligently about what I read, even if it’s what I consider fluff.

I should join a 50 Films Challenge forum too so I can be well-rounded.

pendleton sunset


More images

Snow at the Six Ranch

Six Ranch, Enterprise OR

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