"Things that interfere with writing well: Earning a living, especially by teaching."

-William H. Gass

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

run dnc

After suffering through the dull parade of people throwing their bodies around in the air for little trinkets and the chance to hear their national anthem one more god damned time, we finally got to the best show of the summer. Bill Clinton's teary-eyed "God I love her." Dennis Kucinich's insane arm-waving shouts to "wake up America." The apparent love child of Chris Farley and George W. Bush, Governor Schweitzer of Montana, delivering an SNL-worthy performance. Ted Kennedy passing the torch. The beloved crowds of protestors all over the city. There is no event I more enjoy watching on television...actually, I'll rephrase. There is nothing I more enjoy watching on television, event or otherwise, than the Democratic National Convention. Normally, if I am in front of the boob tube I can stand about five minutes, ten if it's a Seinfeld rerun, and I'm up out of the seat looking for something else to do. I find the thing terrifically boring. However, the giant blue circus that is the DNC held my attention for nearly seven hours straight yesterday.

It's basically the nerd's Kentucky Derby:

Thanks to CSPAN I got to watch the whole thing uninterrupted and without any of those pesky news channel morons blathering on about strategy, wardrobe choices, and who knows what else. So I got to the see the B-listers like Cecile Richards (my hero), the Congressional Black Caucus, the Women of the Senate, and my forever favorite B-lister Dennis Kucinich.

The B-listers are my favorites because with a lesser spotlight you get more personality, and they tend to really let it all hang out. Kucinich of course does this all the time, regardless of the position he's in, which is why I love him so much. But, sadly, the awesomeness ended there this year. Cecile Richards was what every Planned Parenthood executive is: poised, spotless, strong but careful. The Congressional Black Caucus didn't mention race. (In fact, nobody has mentioned race at all. They've mentioned gender about 67,000 times, though. Hillary's introductory montage was all about women's rights...Michelle Obama's speech commemorated women's suffrage (she did mention it, remember, right in the middle of her suzie homemaker speech that everyone but me seemed to love.))
This brings me to the women of the Senate. I am frickin' pissed off at you ladies!!!! The touchiest issue they brought up was equal pay for equal work. And they should bring it up, what with this 77 cents on the man's dollar bullshit. And they brought out the lady the Supreme Court told she was paid less and would just have to deal with it. Fine, fine, fine.

But where oh where, I ask you, was the discussion about reproductive rights?! Remember those, the ones that are in grave danger as we speak? They just left it all to Cecile Richards. Women of the Senate, shame on you all.

So in case you happen to be speaking at the dnc tonight, let me break it down for you.

Stuff you CAN talk about:
The Economy
The War
Equal Pay for Equal Work
Health Care

Stuff you CAN'T talk about:
Reproductive rights

So don't fuck it up, because we wouldn't want anyone getting uncomfortable.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Crap! Is it August?!

Besides being a reminder that I’m one of the several hundred thousand Bostonians about to move on good ole September 1st, the arrival of August is always moderately depressing. One begins to reevaluate one’s summer. There have been exactly zero trips to the beach, days off, picnics, one nasty tan line from a day of biking but otherwise still Scottishly pale… And of course every new month delivers the sinking, cold realization that I have criminally neglected my blog yet again.

I’ll go ahead and sum up all that I missed in…

Top Five Things I Totally Meant to Blog About Last Month


My Summer Thus Far

#5 PROOF that my asshole coworker actually is an asshole

Oh most desired gift at last you’ve arrived. For the entirety of my employment I have known that this woman (referred to in previous blogs as Jabba the Hut) is an asshole. Like the worst kind of asshole, she manages somehow to evade what should be a companywide intervention based on the universal consensus that she is so egregiously awful that it is a violation of state safety regulations to force other employees to work anywhere near her. Rather, she manages to win the favor of certain administrators who, uh, clearly find their asses and elbows indistinguishable from one another.

What she does is the following:

We’re in community meeting, a weekly gathering of all students and staff wherein all may make announcements to the entire school and student leadership may put various things to a vote and blah blah blah. At this particular meeting one student, who had not attended the graduation ceremony, was receiving an award that came with a small scholarship. She was sitting with her case manager (our school has counselors assigned to each student) and both ladies were jokingly grabbing the scholarship check back and forth from one another during the rest of the meeting. Jabba the Hut notices this playful act and bellows, to a roomful of people who HADN’T necessarily noticed what was going on, “Whoops! Hang on to that check, you gotta watch these Puerto Ricans every second!”

Pause. Digest.

Now, if a student had yelled some racially charged statement like that in the middle of a meeting, I would stop everything and process the statement with everyone. I am constantly doing the work of getting the students to reflect on their own racialized statements and beliefs so that, someday, we might be in a place where those kinds of statements aren’t even thought, let alone screamed at the top of one’s lungs.

But what was I to do when a staff member did it?

Apparently I was to drop the dry erase marker I had in my hand, and say, “I can’t believe you just said that.”

Everyone tittered awkwardly and things moved right along. How the hell are we going to get the kids to start reevaluating their beliefs about race if the teachers make these kinds of statements?!

Silver lining: now everyone knows she’s an asshole.

#4 Culture Clash: Bikes v. Cars

I’ll admit right away that I used to loathe bikers. Those idiots weaving in and out of lanes wearing pants three sizes too small and flipping everyone off. But now having seen Boston drivers from behind the handle bars, I would flip everyone off too if I wasn’t so scared of riding without holding on… Car drivers’ sense of superiority and imagined entitlement to the entire road is at worst dangerous and at best really fucking irritating.

I had a run-in with just such a gas guzzling enemy of the planet mid-July while on a leisurely bike ride through Watertown. I don’t know how many of my several thousand dedicated readers are familiar with Watertown, but it’s a pretty mellow place with many residential areas. My boyfriend and I were taking a left off one residential street onto another, waiting in the middle of the road for oncoming cars to pass, just as a motor vehicle would have done. The car behind us begins laying on horn, yelling, “Get out of the road!”

This poor soul thought that only cars had the right to use the roads that all we taxpayers pay for. As I often do, I responded to potential conflict with grace and respect for another point of view…


I screamed a string of obscenities in the direction of the speeding car as it headed toward a red light one hundred feet away. My better half responded the way a person as level headed as I never would, and chased after the car. The following interaction ensued:

My better half (MBH): Hey you really didn’t need to yell at us

Patty Petroleum (chewing French fries): Get out of the road

MBH: You get out of the road; I have just as much right to be on it as you do

PP: You have the sidewalk

MBH: Sidewalks indicate their purpose in their name and bikes aren’t allowed on the sidewalks anyway

PP: Whatever

MBH: So it’s okay for you to scream at people, but it’s not okay for me to-

Light turns green. Petroleum Patty wields her enormous arm to form a familiar gesture with its sausage fingers and yells the following brilliant statement out the window:

PP: GET A CAR!!!!!

Well we hadn’t thought of that! Thanks, Patty Petroleum! I mean, it’s really hard to eat all my meals out of a Styrofoam box while riding my bike! I could just GET A CAR! It’s been such a drag being able to park right next to my destination rather than patronize my friendly neighborhood garage three blocks away! I should buy a CAR! I really hate fitting into the same jeans I’ve worn since my early twenties, I need to gain weight so I can rationalize buying new clothes. I’ll get a CAR!

….of course, I do own a car. But I’m nice about it. Eat me, Petroleum Patty!!!


Oh boy is this one priceless. We are in a staff meeting, headed by our boss who is African American. Jabba the Hut is taking the notes, and says…

“How do you spell your name again?”

Our boss, who has worked with us for three months now, replies.

Jabba says, “Oh that must be one of those made up black names.”

I’m just going to leave that hanging…but trust that it did not make it into the meeting minutes.

#2 Dante’s Sixth Circle of Hell

Otherwise known as the Boston Children’s Museum. A cesspool of diapers, whining, snotty sleeves, untied shoelaces, frantic parents, disobedient little persons darting around with no regard for passers by. When I face my ultimate comeuppance, it will be there I am sent.

During summer school we take the students on field trips every Friday. Since most of our students have children themselves, we take one trip on which students may bring their families. The amount of hatred I harbor for this annual event cannot be properly expressed in words. See, a group of teenagers gathered together, regardless of whether they are playing the role of parent or student, behaves like a group of teenagers. So when you combine a group of teenagers with a group of sub-3 year olds plus cell phones plus all the social pressures and conflicts and norms of school you get:

“Oh hell no she won’t. I am not playin’ with that ho- ”

“Don’t say ho in front of my kid.”

“Why hasn’t he met his momma?”

“Bitch I am not PLAYING with you.”

“Baby get out of the ROAD get out of the fucking road get the fuck out of the road.”

“Yo your baby is mad cute!”

“I’m at school. I don’t know a museum. I told you don’t be chirpin’ me at school….hello? Motherfucker I KNOW you didn’t hang up on me.”

“Hello? Did you just-”


“Where the bathrooms at?!”

“Where’d Miss Kelly go?”

Miss Kelly went straight to the museum shop, where she sat and read a book for the entire day.*

*Conscience alert: If I were a different blogger, I might have talked about observing my students in their roles as parents and how a palpable sense of community made the chaperons smile as the students encouraged their kids to play together. And I might have also mentioned the moments of unguarded, unselfconscious curiosity and wonder while they learned with their kids at various exhibits…but we can’t have that messing up my reputation.

#1 Unprotected Sex

Second only to the Children’s Museum as a reaffirmation of my decision to barricade these baby tubes with two coils of steel, this delightful endeavor is ill-advised for most of you poor saps but gee golly if it isn’t making fine and dandy my vacationless summer vacation. High five!