Monday, February 28, 2005

Identifying Anonymous

This blog world. It's so bloggy.

I jump around and read all these different blogs, and find some and think, oh, that looks interesting, I'll have to come back. But I don't bookmark it. And I don't link it because I haven't read that much of it and I don't know that I'll really enjoy for days or weeks on end. Some blogs I read all the time and haven't linked to them (yet). Don't know why about that either. All these things are probably aspects of this ejournal world that many people identify with. Let's see if you can identify with this one:

In my wanderings I have come across the blog of someone I know. Not well, mind you. But I know this person. And even though this person seems to have "come out" as a blog writer to some members of the community we have in common, I gather (from the blog!) it was in a smallish way. I feel funny reading the "secrets" of this person. By the same token, flip side, I wouldn't feel funny about said person reading all my "secrets" here. And since I found this blog in a random way, it feels different than those blogs of acquaintances of mine have that I was explicitly told about...

And then I did that thing: scanned the blog for any reference to me. Or Partner. Why on earth do I think there'd be a reference to me? And didn't I just say in a post or so ago that I wasn't that "self-absorbed." Jaysis. Proved myself wrong on that one. If there was ever a self absorbing task, it was to search an acquaintance's blog for references to yourself. And then feel blue when there was nothing. (Just so you don't think I am that crazy, there is a real reason I thought I might have a mention in this blog.)

So now what? I don't know whether to mention I've found the blog or not?

I am being ridiculous about this one. I know it.

This is like ars poetica, but instead it's ars bloggadia: "A blog should be palpable and mute..."

Friday, February 25, 2005

In the General "Life Is Good" Category

No, wait. LIFE, my friends, is freaking amazing.

If you want to feel good, you should go and read this story.

And then you should fall weeping for the glory of love in the world.

I am so happy. Poetry happens, what?

How does this happen? This emotion for two women I have never met in real life and their work to create a family? What an odd world, this blog world.

Congratulations, Nat. You got two cool mamas.

Rock On, Poetry!

I've refrained from posting poems or lyrics or such on this site because I quickly divined that that WannaBeMom's blog would turn into a quote-o-matic. But there are so many good poems out there. One my favorite classes I have taught was Introduction to Poetry. I did pretty much all contemporary poets. Many of the students who enrolled in the class were terrified of poetry. I have this same experience when I teach Creative Writing. It's because the poetry we were taught in high school was excruciatingly boring to us at that time in our lives. (Okay, I totally should have qualified that statement; of course it was interesting to at least one student every five years.) If we had been given the contemporary stuff, poems we could have identified with more, then poetry might have seemed so awful. And then once you have an appreciation for the genre, it's much easier to ease into the classic stuff. It becomes more palatable. (All this being said, you can guess I was the once-in-five-years geek student and liked [but didn't love] classic stuff.)

When devising my curriculum for the Intro to Poetry course, I had one friend who derided me for not teaching the classical stuff. Her criticism crawled under my skin, and as I was handing out syllabi, and watching the faces of my students, I wondered if I was letting my students down -- was I being an irresponsible teacher? Well, I have the answer now and it's a resouding "Hell, no!" I still see some of these students are poetry readings. I think that equals success. Not only that, but their writing! Oh, their writing...

When I give my students some of these contemporary poems by living poets, they are floored. They realize how alive the whole genre is. They stop writing down the center of the page, rhyming in cat-in-the-hat style, and quit giving me bad Hallmark syrupy verse.

I was really lucky in high school. I was also a very bad student. It was so bleeding boring to me. I would sit in Biology or Chemistry or Math (notice a trend?) with a book on my lap. Reading. Never what was assigned. I could have been a very good autodidact, which is probably why I succeeded in college (after one very disastrous party year.) To make a long story short, there was that one teacher who understood I was a writer. She was the first one to show me "live" poets. I fell hard for them. Now I still write the poetry; I am published and have won a prize or two. I can't stand how much I adore crafting the line, thinking of the right word, reading the poem aloud.... Wow.

And when I read a great poem by someone else-- I get shivers. Sometimes I cry mid-poem. I even do this when teaching. My students keep a "goose-pimple" watch: those in the front rows call out to the back-wall residers my physical reactions.

All this and I still won't tell people, "I'm a poet." Doesn't it sound ridiculous? Affected almost. Or like a high school student. I tell people I am a writer, and this is true also. I do write fiction. Essays. Dissertations. But in my soul, it's all poetry, baby!

So, here's what I thought, once a week I'll have a guest poem. Of course this raises all sorts of copyright hackles with me-- but whatever-- I'm doing it anyway. If you're the poet, and you see your poem posted here, you can sue me, but you might instead feel flattered that someone is in love with your work, enough to want other people to know it. Think twice, oh-litigious ones!

Comment on the poems I post, please! I want to know if you like them too. (And these poems will never ever be my own work-- I am not quite that self-absorbed.) By limiting myself to once a week, hopefully the poems won't take over the blog.

And since you've stayed with me for this long, I'll only give an excerpt today, a perfect hopeful excerpt on day when it's snowing yet again in this cold cold state:

If we were as eloquent,
If what we say could spread the good news the way that dogwood does,
Its votive candles
phosphorous and articulate in the green haze
Of spring, surely something would hear us.

--Charles Wright

and now the problem becomes apparent-- my space in this stupid format is limited, and sometimes you aren't going to be able to see the line breaks the way they were intended. Arg. Line breaks are important! I don't know enough about html to fix this, but we'll see what I can do--

Thursday, February 24, 2005

I Kid You Not

After floating around the blogosphere, prompted by the comments on Waiting for Nat, I found myself at the Reverend Mommy's home. There she had a meme. I have avoided meme's up until now, but had to do this. It's the Book 123 Meme. It requires you to find the nearest book. I have one book on my desk right now. (I know, not good for someone who is trying to finish her dissertation. I should be drowning in books.)

Here's what you do:

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.
5. Don't search around and look for the 'coolest' book you can find. Do what's actually next to you.

My sentence?

"This document should be written out of love and conscientious choice-- not just to prevent a possible legal dispute."

This sentence is from the preamble to a potential "Sample Known Donor Contract." The book? The Essential Guide to Lesbian Conception, Pregnancy, and Birth.

Could my world get any odder right now? I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Post-Its, Windex, and Closets

Oh, God. I'm doing it. Actually cleaning the office. It's such a thankless task. In about one day, no one will be able to tell what I've done in here. Just like the bathroom, except it won't quite have the same shine and luster. Euch. Mark this down as one of my least favorite tasks, along with getting gas. I hate getting gas.

Still, odd things get unearthed in here. Like this little post it note here. It's my writing, no doubt about that. It says, "Names and Beets. (maybe pokeberries)." What is this about?? No recollection spring to mind.

And while I hesitate to relate this, there are pine needles on the desk. It makes me sound like a more slatterny woman that I am. But how did those needles get up here? Our Christmas tree was down and swept away very early January. Our Christmas tree was downstairs. The office, upstairs. I have cleaned this office between then and now.

Okay, while I am at it-- Partner does not read this blog, as much I exhort her to "go read the blog!' she doesn't do it. It's just not in her purview of things to do-- read voyeuristically about other peoples lives (or her own as the case may be). So, let me kvetch here for a moment: WHY, oh WHY, can she not put her dirty clothes into the hamper? Why do they have to be strewn about, albeit on her side of the closet? We have a chair in the closet (yes, it's big), and I can't even sit on the chair for all those clothes piled there!

Damn. I am making us both sound like pigs. We aren't really. The house is usually very tidy. I do laundry regularly. I am, what my family in Ireland called, "house proud."

But still. Pokeberries.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005


In my classes this semester, we're interrogating the term "American" and rather systematically trying to figure out what it means to be an American. Okay, I'd like to think we are doing it systematically, but in reality it isn't happening that way at all. That's really the besides the point of this blog entry.

My 8:00 class today was, well, poetic. Beautiful. And gentle. One thing that I find helps my students is if I can get them to personally engage with the material. There will always be some students that find the particular course readings/selections interesting, but there are others that need more prodding. For the past two weeks, we've been reading some short stories, poetry, and first person essays by children of immigrants and trying to talk about what it means to "assimilate" or "Americanize." There has been fruitful discussion. It's been wonderful in a discursive way. But I have gotten the feeling that the subjects we have raised in class were put down as soon as my students' collective shoes touched the threshold of the classroom door.

Today, four students read a poem by an immigrant outloud in their native languages. We had Arabic, Romanian, Spanish, and Polish. I had tears in my eyes when my first student, an Iraqi immigrant, read her translation. And always always I have been lulled by the sounds of Romanian. My Spanish student read the poem with serious emotion, and the young woman from Poland-- wow. The other students also felt the beauty and spontaneously applauded after each student-- not just polite clapping, you know-- real appreciation was shown.

Among the subjects touched upon was how they felt when hearing the poem in this alternate language, one they couldn't understand, and my students, bless them, were so strikingly honest about their emotions. Finally, one student who has been pressing the English language issue, said, "I feel like I got a good lesson in how hard it might be for an immigrant. I think I'll be more understanding in the future." All on his own. Outloud. In front of everyone.

And finally, I felt that academic discipline merge with empathy.
On the sixth week of the term.
And now, I love them.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Why I Hate My Cats

Do you see the leaves on this wonderful Valentine bunch of tulips? Why must the cats munch on every flower I bring into the house? Last night, I was thinking of how in my pre-cat life, I would put bunches of flowers on side tables and night stands. Now, this invites disaster. A cat will chew on said bouquet, and perhaps while contentedly eating my flowers, another cat will think "oh, that looks good," and jump up on table with cat number one, whereupon a nice little fracas will ensue. There go the flowers. As a result of the brouhaha, water is everywhere, perhaps pooled on the leather couch, ruining it of course, and the flowers consequently die because, of course, no one is home when this happens. When I return the domicile, the crime is evident by the stamen and petals strewn through the house. Cat puke nearby, because, of course, the flowers make any kitty's stomach really ill. And forget wild flower concoctions-- I learned this the hard way-- because wild flowers are the most enticing to any canny cat, who will usually have more than the usual amount of kitty vomit after eating them, and invariably the puss will puke on the palest carpet in the home.

Thus the reason I keep my store bought bouquets on the kitchen counter, and even though the cats are "not allowed" on the counter, everyone knows you cannot control a cat.

Hence my sad, sad tulips.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Right NOW

If you come here before 4:00, go here and listen live to the top 100 love songs as defined by Entertainment Weekly. It made the drive home so much fun. I was singing the whole way. I am so sad I am too old for American Idol-- I am a closet star.

Drizzle On, Monday

I am waiting so anxiously not only the conception of a bambino, but also the day when I can make my commute to work in fine weather. I have had the crappiest of crappy commutes all term. It seems like every morning, there's a new obstacle. This morning: freezing rain. But you know what? I made it. I live about an hour away from work, but here I am in my little office. Subsequently, I have gotten at least three emails from students who have told me that "the roads are a sheet of ice." Am I wrong to feel so irrate about this? The roads are not a sheet of ice. They are totally traversable, especially for those students who are in my 10:40 class. If almost the entire 8:00 class can make, the 10:40ers should be there. It's only getting warmer, and it ain't raining any more kids. I have low tolerance for bad excuses.

How is that I am becoming a curmudgeon?

I am so hating winter right now. I could die for an open window with a warm breeze.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

For the Love of God, a Good Book, Please!!

Update on last book: Breaking Her Fall

Not so good. It started out very strong, and compelling. A father gets a phone call from another parent saying, "You may want to find your daughter because my own daughter just left a party and your own child just went down on a parade of boys." The father, Tucker, goes to said party, gets into an altercation with one of the boys there, Jed, whereupon Jed falls and loses an eye. This all happens outside DC in 1998. Get the implications? But the author started to meander too much, and lost track of what was the compelling story. Disappointing.

Now I need a good book. Any suggestions? Because it's February in Michigan, and the winter is starting to seem horribly long and cold about now, and books are what get me through.

I've got The Sun to tide me over, but I need some help.

Monday, February 07, 2005

La Bouderie: Or the Sulks Come Home to Roost

*NB*: The title of my post is lifted directly from today's French Word of the Day.

We've been dogsitting at my parents for the weekend, and I must admit it has been really wonderful. I get to see a lot of friends who live in this area, and have felt enornmously popular because of it. I only live forty-five minutes away from them now, but when you were a barfly like I was, it's good to relive a little those "glory" days. You know you were in a bar often when you go in to said bar three years later and people are still hail-and-well-met, as if you just saw them yesterday. What a great, wonderful weekend.

As I blogged, Saturday was a rugby day (also the title of a, surprise, raunchy rugby song, so click on the link at your own risk), but Friday night we went out to dinner with some good friends of ours. [deleted] We have been really desperate for the first attempt at conception in March, for Partner's next cycle. She's gotten the clean bill of health, so what's the hold up!? Bring on the sperm!

Our midwife called the local fertility clinic, and when Partner talked to the midwife, she told us the clinic had not yet dealt with directed donation for a lesbian couple, but felt they might be ready to start doing this. We live in a very liberal town, and a little bit of guessing on anyone's part would place us fairly quickly. My father calls it the "liberal armpit" of the United States, and since we don't live in California, and you can't guess Berkeley... and you can see I live in the midwest... well, I think it's obvious. Marijuana possession is noncriminal (or civil)infraction that carries a mere $25 fine and medicinal marijuana was made legal in the last election. I tell you this to highlight the liberal nature of our homeplace. But when Partner herself called the fertility clinic, they told her, "No, we don't feel comfortable with that yet." Smoke all the pot you want, but if you are a lesbian couple who wants to have a baby with some good friend's sperm, NO WAY! Fuckers. So, now what?

There's a cryogenic place in my hometown, where my parents still live, and where we have been dogsitting. We did a drive-by on Sunday, and after a considerable amount of Internet research, it appears they will do directed donation. Good news! Bad news-- they will only release sperm to a doctor's office, so we have to make sure our doctor/midwife will release the sperm to us. What a pain, eh? We also found out that until Patner is pregnant, visits to the midwife are not covered by our expensive insurance policy, so we think I'll find the traditional ob/gyn (since I've had soooo many good experiences there) and hopefully that doctor can do the sperm transfer (either literally or not).

Partner calls said cryogenic bank today, and here's where my bouderie comes in: It's a law in our state that all donated sperm must be held for six months before being released. Apparently this is not uncommon, and it's specifically meant to address concerns about HIV/AIDS. "Roll with the punches, WannaBeMom,"I tell myself, "roll with it,"but this is bloody frustrating. Partner's worries are inflating: she already has concerns about increasedpregnancy risks since she is thirty-six. The wait means she'll be thirty-seven when giving birth. This was noted by moaning"thirty-seven is soooo old" at me on the phone this afternoon. As I see it, we have two options, with a possible three:

  1. Use an anonymous donor from the California Cyrobank. We could get that sperm right away. We could try for the next ovulation cycle-- no problem! Downside-- we don't "know" that donor personally, something that has seemed important and safe to us both.
  2. Wait this stupid six months.
  3. And finally, bypass all banks entirely. This might be awkward, but perhaps an option.

Right now, we're totally inclined to go with option two, and while we might not heed any advice and/or commentary from the blog-quarter, I would, for one, be happy to hear it.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Rugby Days

A harkening to earlier years today...

It's Six Nations time of year, which means a lot of beer at early hours of the day. It's unusual that I am home by now, because in my former days, I'd be out until the pub closed, nevermind I'd been in the pub since about 9:30. In the morning. As was the case today. Scotland lost. Alas, to France, and les pauvre Scots were robbed. But WALES WON!!! Against ENGLAND, and it was all in all a great day. Of course, when the English win, they all piss off out the pub, but if they had won, it would have still been packed. The Smithwicks was smooth, perhaps too much so, and now my biggest decision is deciding whether or not to watch Ireland beat the pants of Italy tomorrow.

I love rugby.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Blogging for Buster

You may have been paying attention on other blogs, particularly over here, about the Buster saga. Well, in a small, but important, update, it only gets worse.

I feel, once again, so silenced, so marginalized, by this action. And only one day after I decided I should indeed take write my own letters and make my own phone calls. Sigh.

I am on a network of lesbian moms, and a woman on this list forwarded the response she got back from her local PBS affiliate. The station director noted that while they received many phone calls and emails from people thanking them for not showing the episode, there was only one email and one phone call protesting that they were not showing the now infamous Buster cartoon.

Get out your pens, ladies and gentlemen. Please.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

The First Step Is Admitting You Have a Problem

I did it. It's almost as if I couldn't help it. But I watched. And although I have many thoughts about GWB's little talk last night, I am going to try and "distill" them, something I often encourage my students to do, but rather often fail at myself.

On Social Security: As being a rather dyed-in-the-wool Democrat, I chaff at GWB's suggestions and his invoking of FDR, Clinton, and Moynihan in terms of his nefarious little scheme . Just to get his logic straight, we need to reform the system, because by "2027, the government will somehow have to come up with an extra $200 billion to keep the system afloat." Direct quote, my friends. The implication is of course, that's a lot of money to ask the government for-- and we have a limited amount of time to prepare for such a shortfall, so we better start planning now. This is reasonable (if true), and I can appreciate planning for the long term. Yet in the exact same address, our esteemed president informed the Congress and the nation that he'd be asking "Congress for $350 million to support Palestinian political, economic, and security reforms." Both massive amounts of money. And what about all the money that the bucks already out the door for (what I consider) an illegal war in Iraq? About $3.9 billion a month. Along with supplemental spending for federal years 2003, 2004, and 2005 to the tune of about 178.2 billion dollars. So, we've already spent just about what need to "save" social security.

Do people know how to listen to entire speech anymore and compare points made at different times in the address? Or actual reality? No. I don't think so.

Another example: I almost turned off the State of Union when Bush said he'd protect marriage from "activist judges." Ahem... the very act of interpreting law, which is what judges are called to do, is activism in and of itself. Otherwise, judges are merely stooges. Review your civics textbooks, people.

Yet, "because one of the deepest values of our country is compassion, we must never turn away from any citizen who feels isolated from the opportunities of America." Um, excuse me? I don't know that I even have to expound further on this point-- hopefully the its mere presence on this blog by a lesbian woman, who is hoping to have a family in the near future, highlights its utter lunacy. Compassion? Please.

I could go on and on and on-- but I fear I am whipping myself up into a frenzy.

Who was GWB continually winking at on the Democratic side of the house? And does he have the most chapped lips in the world-- how many times could he lick his lips? I would be very dried out if I licked my own lips that much. And I got serious goose pimples every time Cheney looked into the camera, as if he could see this little lesbian curled up in her pj's. It was like he was thinking, "I'm gonna get you, you little pinko liberal, and destroy all others like you." Eugh. Creepy. I admit I had some serious tears when the Norwood family was shown. I can't even begin to comprehend how dreadful it would be to lose a child like that. And I also had a tear for Safia Taleb al Suhail. I cherish my right to vote, and I am sure that her recent participation in the Iraqi election was powerful. The way her hand was shaking as she held up the peace sign-- I was touched.

I failed to watch the Democratic response; I'd had enough. I took my antidote of the King of Queens in syndication. (I think that Kevin James is a real cutie. I never understand when people say that couple is mismatched, because I think he's totally adorable.) I didn't have any nightmares, but instead there were hopeful dreams of lame ducks.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

State of the WannaBeMom

Here's the thing, in list format:

  1. I am a total political animal/geek. Last term I taught a class on the election and it was easily one of the best classes I have ever taught.
  2. I can't stand GWB. I make no bones about this.
  3. On the one hand, it will kill to me not watch the State of the Union address. If I don't watch it, for approximately forty minutes starting at nine pm, I will be constantly wondering what inane thing GWB is saying.
  4. On the other hand, it will kill me to watch it. If I watch it, for forty minutes, starting at nine pm, I will be rolling my eyes at the applause from the floor, and constantly thinking I should have put the DVD of The L Word on. I haven't seen any of The L Word yet and I am sick of being outside this particular lesbian loop.

Oh, what to do, what to do.... ??

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Oh-la-la, c'est magnifique!

This morning's finished book: L'Affaire. If you haven't read Diane Johnson, I'd recommend her. Some books I have found more memorable than others, and I can't say that I've read all her work (yet). I find an author I like and usually devour everything that he/she has written. So far, I've eaten four of Johnson's books and this one, coupled with Le Divorce make up my two favorites . I only liked Le Mariage, and Persian Nights was, oh, alright but not as highly recommended. Don't even talk to me about the film version of Le Divorce-- so frigging disappointing, as film versions usually are. Really what Johnson is doing in this series of books (let's call them the "le" series) is recreating the novel of manners in the tradition of Austen, and also the comedy of manners a la Moliere. And don't forget some clear debt to Henry James. How could they be bad! You could buzz through this book and read it for the story, which is engaging in and of itself, but you could also buzz through and appreciate some of the philosophical/moral dilemmas in which she places her characters. I adore her descriptions of English, French, and American personalities.

Now I need something new to read. I haven't ever blogged about my voracious reading habits, but it's what I like to do best in the world. A good vacation for me equals about a book a day, but if I can get a book and half a day, I feel even better. I am trying to curtail a little bit lately with more work on my dissertation, but I can't exist without a book. You know, like Descartes, cogito ergo sum, well I am more like "I read therefore I am." (Sorry, I'm no Latin scholar so I couldn't translate that.)

I hate when people whine, "I don't have time to read." What-evah! One always has time to read. I read when someone else is watching television, or talking on the phone, or doing something else I probably feel that I don't have time for. I read at stopped red lights, while walking, waiting in the grocery store line. A prerequisite for any type of purse or bag I am going to buy is that it will hold at least one book. Preferably two. There is no pleasure in the world like a good book, and I don't say that lightly as I feel I am quite the bacchanal. Or gourmand. Wait. Both-- I can both; they certainly aren't mutually exclusive, but a book beats any great dinner, wine, party, maybe not sex, but a good book is probably more constant. Get it? I heart reading.

The pressure is on the next poor book since L'Affaire was so wonderful. I have a book I picked up at Costco called Breaking Her Fall -- we'll see. I'll let you know how it was.