Saturday, June 30, 2007

What Came From Mexico

A little background. The kids, well mostly Piper now, watch a lot of "The Land Before Time" DVDs. The main character is a dinosaur named Little Foot who is being raised by his grandparents. The kids love to play Little Foot and have H be the Grandpa. The other day H asked Umberto if he liked the Grandpa, and Umberto said kind of sad "I don't have a grandpa." We were horrified of course as he has two, H's dad and my dad. We showed him pictures, and remembered the time H's dad came to visit.
Then the next day the package from Mexico arrived. It mostly contained books for H but there was a brown envelope. H wasn't home but I had to see what was inside. There were two place mat's from my father-in-law's pizza place, some magnets, and best yet, pictures. Pictures of H's dad making pizzas. The kids were thrilled! Their grandpa owned a pizza place! We've told them this but I guess actually seeing the pictures was proof. Camille carried around the bottom pictures saying proudly "This is MY grandpa!" They're all excited about going to Mexico next summer so that they can see their GRANDPA make pizza.
Their grandpa is the handsome man in the background with the red apron.

Taking a Break

It's my weekly cleaning day. Yay for me. I've gotten two weeks of clothes taken care of, and about three days worth of dishes. Now I need a break so I'll write a random, rambling post....

It's funny how in our family we all go on these cravings together. It seems like it's rather sponteaneous but I suppose it's because we see each other eating something. This week it's been eggs. I put a tomatoe, ricotta, basil omlet on the menu for the week so I knew I was craving eggs. When I came home on Wednesday, H told me the girls had eaten eggs for lunch and dinner. They're kind of obessed with eggs anyway...well at least with things hatching out of eggs. They do lots of pretending to hatch games. Then H started eating eggs for dinner. The last two nights I made egg sandwiches with english muffins, Laughing Cow cheese, scrambled organic eggs, and Morning Star Breakfast patties with green leaf salad. So good...I'm making pizza tonight but what I really want are eggs....

So yes pizza tonight. I've got mushrooms going bad. This means I have to make dough which feels like a hell of a lot of work right now. Once I start it will be okay. I'm also going to make a chocolate cake from scratch.

In other mundane news: I lost another pound this week making my total loss 3 bls. in two weeks. My mom gave me a book by a psycho analyst about emotional eating. It's a bit amusing after having read Freud all semester but it's actually pretty on target for me. He asks at one point if you've even been close to a goal weight and then sabotaged yourself. This is totally what I did after losing 44lbs. He said it's because you've changed your eating habits but you haven't changed your emotional response to things. You get scared when you get smaller because you don't know how you'll deal with a crisis if you don't have food or you fat to hide behind. Wow. This is so me. My fat has been a protective covering for many years, and there is no doubt that food is my drug of choice. I'm curious to see what else he'll have to say. I feel a little eh about devling into this through a book though. I guess there's a part of me that is scared about what will come up, and I wonder if I can handle it. I think that I've dealt with the worst of it but you never know I guess. But now I know this time around with WW that there is a lot of emtional baggage that has to be dealt with as I lose the actual pounds. But for now I am eating a hundred times better...lots of fruits and veggies. I'm also exercising for at least a 1/2 hour a day (usually 45 min. a day). I feel good.

This is why grownups aren't supposed to play with dolls. I did this while we were the Rollins show on DVD. I blame it on Rollins....

But really these dolls are scary. They came with this treehouse toy we got Camille. All I could think of when I looked at them last night were the Mormon Fundamentalist I'm reading about. Creepy.

Friday, June 29, 2007


A friend recommended some art I should check out on hair.

Here's some links:

The first is performance artist Mona Hatoum who uses her own hair in some of her exhibits.

This work in many mirrors what I was saying in the post about threads. In particular the loose ends...

An interesting article on Hatoum's art.

An interesting BBC interview.

In addition to Hatoum, my friend mentioned Cecilia Vicuna. Her work is also amazing.

And a bit of a poem:

The myth for us

just plain words and

and then words

as I percieve them

they are time
simply time
and sound
writtenand sound

What did you do at Jesus Camp?

H and I finally saw Jesus Camp the other night. I normally avoid these kind of documentaries. I'm a religious studies major so you would think I'd be interested. And I am interested, it's more that I find something in them that reminds me too much of religious studies as a whole. It seems often that in our attempt at academic empathy or understand, we too often excuse or even embrace extreme religious behavior. I know that it's a reaction to colonization. I know that all too often it's been about the West imposing it's own liberal values onto other cultures and religion, etc, etc. But after I watch something like Jesus Camp, I often think (and I know this is sort of blasphemous in liberal/postcolonial circles) "But maybe not all Western liberal values are bad, and we should encourage people to accept them." That's my secret confession to you all. And flame me at will. I probably need it. But let me explain...

For those who have not heard of the film, the director follows a group of three kids to a Jesus Camp in South Dakota lead by Pentecostal "Pastor Becky." The kids are all homeschooled (one mom tells her son "Isn't it amazing how science proves nothing?"). The kids walk around giving tracts to adults (at one point this annoyingly self-righteous child walks up to a group of older African-American men and asks them "If you were to die right now where would you go?" They answer "Heaven." She pushes "Are you sure?" "Yes," they answer obviously annoyed. She leaves them and says to her friend "I think they're Muslim."), they speak in tongues, lay "slain in the spirit," dance in war makeup (not kidding). It's all pretty horrifying (minus the wonderful scene at the end where they meet Ted Haggard who preaches against homosexuality). The children are called "promise breakers," "hypocrites," and "sinners." At the end of these sermons, they stand at the front sobbing. Some confess to disbelief and that they know they'll go to hell for such a lack of faith. They are preached to about politics. At one point the adults bring out a cut out of George Bush. It is set up against the background of a huge American flag. And then the kids lay hands on the cutout and pray for Bush. They have a speaker come to them to preach against abortion. He puts red tape over several kids' mouths, I suppose to represent the fetuses? The kids parrot words that are frighteningly echo those of the adults in the movie. The adults express admiration for how extremist Muslims indoctrinated their children so young. And Pastor Becky tells a radio show host that more churches should practice indoctrination.

Now I'll be honest that my gut level reaction is repulsion and fear that these scary people are out there. And I know they're a minority but it's an 80 million person minority. I feel sick for these kids who not really being taught but indoctrinated. And I know it's not just religious extremists who indoctrinated. I have a few friends who do this with atheism and their kids. I guess it's that H and I try so hard to impose our own biases etc onto the kids. We're always clear that beliefs are ours not the whole worlds, etc. And I am not so naive as to think that our kids do think many of the same things we do but we do encourage them to not just accept what we say. It's annoying to have their constant questioning but I think in the end important towards developing free thought.

And I grew up in a Pentecostal church. I went to a Jesus Camp when I was young. And I know that first, this stuff does scare the hell out of you. I still wake up late and worry that I'm wrong and I'll burn in hell. I don't know if you ever escape that fear. Second, I also know that you get caught up in the atmosphere of these places, and you tend parrot what's going around you. You likely will go home, and be "on fire for the Lord" for a few days, maybe even weeks, but then it settles down and life returns to normal. Third, we did a lot more at Jesus Camp than just get indoctrinated. We coupled up, and snuck around night to hold hands and kiss. Fourth, people are not for the most empty vessels waiting to be filled. Imagines from the media, all too often fall upon the trope of brainwashing to explain extremest religions, and really people are often capable of thinking other thoughts. They often are not able to maintain such total extremist beliefs for long periods of time. This has all been academically documented (see David Chidester's Suicide and Salvation about Jonestown).

But still...these kids are dressing up in war makeup and calling themselves warriors for God. And that's my fifth point about Jesus Camp. As kids we reveled in that feeling of chosenness. We felt special, close to God, chosen to lead his people to heaven. There is something heady about feeling you are chosen by God. It's a powerful feeling that separates you from others. If you further this by keeping your kids out of school, going to church five days a week, and constantly repeating it, then you get kids who are going to end up believing this...wanting to believe it. They think they're persecuted, that the world is turning against them, and they are definitely apocalyptic. I read this again and again in the memoirs I just read about Mormon Fundamentalist cults. These women fall back again and again on this idea they were special, and they never fully let go of that idea.

David Byrne (of Talking Heads) has a great blog. His latest entry is about modern liberal belief coming into conflict with traditional closed of beliefs. He quotes scholar, Jonathan Haidt concerning this. It's an interesting conversation, and this man basically contends that those who live in large metropolitan areas are forced into a more individual concept of morality while those living in closed communities preserve a more traditional attitude towards purity. I have a lot of issues about this and I do need to Haidt more to make a fuller critique (which I will) but for now I think it is true that Westerners do tend to push their liberal agenda. And there are many scholars who point to this ethnocentrism (Said, Mahmood ). I get this. And I see how it's problematic. Iraq is a prime example of the messiness of this stance. But and this is a big But can this be an excuse for ignorance about others? For abuses on human bodies? For oppression both physically and emotionally? And let me be clear that it's not just Non Western (whatever the hell that might be) that perpetuates these kind of conservative abuses. There are many many groups both religious and nonreligious in the US that engage in abusive behaviors. And my major dilemma as a scholar, and as someone who is interested in religious violence is how does one approach this topic. Can we approach with an understanding that does not necessarily endorse such behavior? Is there room in religious studies as a discipline for a critique of religious practices? Is my own liberal bias preventing me from understanding other forms of agency (something Mahmood argues eloquently)?

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Boring Life Post and Maybe Some Whine

Wow I managed to not really write anything for two days. I've been reading though. I'm just tired. Exhausted. I've quit all sleeping aids, and it's been a rough few nights. I read until I just can't keep my eyes open, sleep, and then wake up two hours later. I lay awake for a couple more hours, and then fall asleep again. This doesn't make for a thinking Ginger. This means, that despite having a hundred things I want to write about, I am unable to really lay anyting out in an intelligent way. Why can't I sleep? I have three fucking kids. One would think I'd fall into bed exhausted.

So I crawled into work on Wednesday. And photocopied until my mind turned to putty. Photocopying is a horrible job. You have to pay just enough attention not to be able to think on anything else. And when you do books, you can't even read as you have to flip pages every few seconds. But it is kind of cool how you can reduce and enlarge print. I thought a lot about transformation....especially of human bodies. We have a whole industry that transforms people: makes them smaller and larger. Plastic surgeons as there's a poem for somebody...or a scary scifi story.

I did have a good time. Professors wandered in and out. There was lots of talking and laughing. Everyone seems more relaxed and casual in the summer. Had a fun conversation with old advisor S, and another professor about trailers, and why tornadoes might be attracted to trailer parks. I love J, the administrative assistant. She's funny and cool. We tore apart the photocopier and grumbled about how the guy who was supposed to be doing it would be getting paid more. Then after work, I had a reading group where I drank too much wine, and said some dumb things about Deleuze. I was tired in my defense, and frankly, a bit bored with the direction the conversation went. But the end did provide some good insights, and I'll write about them..maybe tomorrow.

But really I was just so happy to have some hours away from the kids. I feel kind of bad about that...but it's the truth. And I was way more patience and happy with them when I came home. It's like we just needed a break from each other or something. So I realized I need to start weaning myself away from these Suburban moms (at least some of them). They make me feel bad about something that I think is ok. It's not like I want to be away from my kids for 80 hours as week but you know a few hours a's good for us all.

Today I hung at the pool. It was hot. I was stupid and didn't put on sunscreen (I KNOW Ros!). I got burnt. Not bad but my face and back are a bit red. Piper almost drowned. She refused to wear her life jacket and kept walking over the edge of the pool, or off the steps. Umberto swam around and tormented both girls into screams. I chatted with two of our neighbors who were stereotypical Jersey girls. They were really nice and funny. And they thought my kids were cute.

Also I finished both memoirs. I have sticky notes with pages to remember when I can afford to buy them. Now I need to finish Life and Words. Then I need to take some notes. All by Sunday. I can do this.

Tomorrow: Umberto has a pottery thing with his homeschooling group. I'll drop him off and go bake on the playground with the girls. Lucky me. Then my mom (Oh thank the sweet heavens) is taking Umberto for (hopefully) a few days.

Yes, my life. Exciting. I know.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Piper the Swinging Fool

Hot Southern Summer Days

While talking to my mom on the phone the other day, she mentioned that my cousin was in Maine with her five kids. Her husband is stationed on sub (he's in the Navy) and she was lonely. Plus my mom told me she couldn't bring the kids out because it was too hot, and they were driving her nuts inside the house. I had to laugh a little bit because we were out at the park from 1-4 that day. It made realize how much I have gotten use to the summer's here. I actually went outside at the end of June for three hours. That wouldn't have happened a couple of years ago.

Here's some photos from our park day:

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

I is an Order-Word

She began to see her self as only a collection of threads. They spilled out from her body, flowed out and down to end up as a tangled mess on the floor. She sat down, and began the tedious process of carefully seperating the threads, one by one. They were overlapped often forming impossible knots. Deep down she knew she should give up. She should just leave the threads on the floor messed up and untidy. But they would trail behind as she walked, and, worst, people would step on them. So she persisted in attempting to create order.

Sometime, around midnight, she got out the scissors. The impossible knots she cut away. The threads were shorter but less complicated. She gathered the rest of the threads and wove them into a picture. It was a basic picture as she was inadept at weaving. But it was finally a picture of herself. She carefully tucked the tapestry into her body.

On the days when she could see fuzzy edges around her mirror image, she drew out the taspestry. There were always new pieces of thread hanging from the bottom, the top, the sides. Sometimes the older threads unraveled. She would once again sit on the floor, and began to weave. The urge to use the scissors increased with each reweaving. She hated to admit it but she often cut even when there was no knots.

Monday, June 25, 2007

An Interesting Debate...

I heard this on The World while excersing this evening. If you follow the link, go down to the section titled "Internet Domain Name Debate."

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Cooking Lessons

The kids love to cook but it takes an exercise of patience to engage in this activity. Inevitably, we create a mess along with cookies, brownies, cakes. It had been a long while since we cooked so when Umberto asked to make cookies, I had to say yes. After all it's an opportunity to learn about math and chemistry as well as following directions. So here's some pictures from our cookie making fun on Friday.

Camille and Umberto measuring out apple butter. This takes forever I might add but it's a good way to learn fractions.

Stirring the wet ingredients. This is a job I don't mind handing off to those who have more energy.

The final product. They were very tasty. We added mini chocolate chips which definitely adds to these cookies. They balance off the spicy flavor of the cardamom. Yum. The kids inhaled them so my plan to freeze them was thwarted. And as a note Piper normally does help but she was taking a much needed nap.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

A Poem for Piper Blue

"Dirty unknown child playing outside my door,
I don't ask you if you bring me a message from symbols.
You amuse me because I've never seen you before,
And if you could be clean you'd of course be another child,
One who wouldn't even come here.
Play in the dirt, play!
I appreciate your presence with just my eyes.
To see a thing always for the first time is better than to know it,
Because to know is like never having seen for the first time,
And to never have seen for the first time is to have only heard.

This child is dirty in a way that's different from other dirty children.
Go on, play! Picking up a stone that fits in your hand,
You know it fits in your hand.
What philosophy can arrive at a great certainty?
None. And none can come play outside my door."

Fernando Pessoa

A Failure of....

When I was 20, I moved to Rochester, New York to be with someone I loved (that is another story for another time). I was lonely there. I stayed with my aunt who left a couple of months after I arrived. Initially I stayed in her apartment but that didn't work out. My lover found me a room in a house with one of his friends. The friend, a Chinese exchange student, and I lived in a little three bedroom house across from the library. By exploring I found two essential things for life: a library and a cafe. Eventually hanging out daily at the cafe paid off and I meet some people.

At this point, I was trying to be goth. I didn't really have a name for it. I just liked vampires. Of course I also did the punk scene, and went to a lot of clubs so I could mosh. Basically I was a confused rural kid trying to hang with "city" kids. They accepted me into their little group. I think because I was darker than they were, and because I was in a very alternative scene (again another story...). But beneath it all, they looked down on me. I remember it all came to a head when a bunch of them (they all went to Rochester University, English majors) were discussing Hemingway's Old Man and the Sea. I had read the book as a teen, and tried to join the conversation. They ignored me. When I complained about it to the lover. He said "Well what do you except you sound like a hick. You can't pronounce anything and you have a horrible accent." This was the first time I felt failed by language (or did I fail language?).

Back in Maine, I tried college again. This time I determined to finish. I started off as a Special Education major but changed to English the first day of classes. It went well at first. Mostly the accents resembled mine (but I was working on eradicating mine). The professor seemed interested in what I had to say about the books. He took me under his wing. Then I wrote my first essay. He refused to grade it, and asked me to rewrite it. When we meet to discuss it, he suggested I take English comp again. Language again...this time it was my writing. Shortly after he told me this I received the notice that my application for the creative writing program had been rejected.

Eventually, I erased most of my accent. I had enough for people to find it "charming." At university, I earned a reputation for being smart, and began to hang with the small group of "intellectuals" on our campus. My writing, both fiction and nonfiction, won awards. I felt I had overcome my failure with languages. I didn't control language but rather language and I had a relationship. It was a wonderful relationship. When I read D. H. Lawrence, I felt like I was making love. The escape books afforded me developed into something deeper, more intense. It was hard for the humans in my life to compete with words.

Jump forward to now. After all this work to be respected, I dropped out of the academy to teach in public schools for three years. I developed a different relationship with language. I taught kids who definitely did not speak the "king's English." And I watched the pain, frustration, and anger which rose when people commented on Ebonics or ghetto language, and I knew how they felt. You grow up talking a certain way. It is a part of your identity. You family speaks this language. And the outside world groups you based on that language, that accent. Changing that, erasing that, takes away a bit of who you are. You become a half person. You speak two languages. I talked one way with my friends and another with my family.

I taught long enough to redevelop the insecurity which plagued me as an early undergraduate. Now fully insecure again, I go to graduate school. I stumble a bit in the beginning but catch on. I feel confident again. My professors praise me. All is well. Then I apply for a teaching assistantship. There ends up being a conflict. They don't tell us who has been awarded. They act as if the candidates are awful. This does nothing to help my confidence. A professor, whom I like, tells me kindly that there is concern over my application because I mispronounce words. This, she tells, me is problematic because the students at UNCC need someone who is a good verbal example. And if I end up in a good Ph.D program, the undergrads will have no respect for me. I end up with the TA but I feel devastated.

What fails here? Is it me failing language? Is it language failing me? What happens to those who don't use language properly? And there is definitely a proper use. No matter what theories we want to pull out. The world demands that you speak in a certain way. And when you don't there are consequences. I sure this has nothing to do with language really. It has to do with culture and society. With class systems. With prejudices. With ways the system keeps people down. But for me, who is in love with language, it involves a break down. It's the little betrayals that a lover inflicts. And I am not sure who perpetrates the betrayal in this love story.


I Can Also Make Conjectures

I can also make conjectures.
There is in each thing an animating essence.
In plants it's a tiny nymph that exists on the outside.
In animals it's a remote inner being.
In man it's the soul that lives with him and is him.
In the gods it has the same size
And fills the same space as the body
And is the same thing as the body.
For this reason it is said that the gods never die.
For this reason the gods do not have body and soul
But just body, and they are perfect.
The body is their soul,
And they have consciousness in their divne flesh.

Fernando Pessoa


Be forewarned that these pictures look like we attended a snake handling church albeit with nonpoisonious snakes. But while we saw the snakes in a church it was not part of a religious worship service. The Presytebarins frown on that sort of thing. My friend is doing a "Fun Fridays" series of classes where the kids do, well, fun things on Fridays. This week a guy who removes snakes from people's homes came in with some of their catches.

Umberto's reaction to the very large rat snake.

A California king sanke. He was too mean to get taken out. I guess he bites...a lot.


Umberto and Camille petting a Burmese Python.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Thank you Deleuze

"I always depend upon a molecular assemblage of enunciation that is not given in my conscious mind, any more than it depends soley on my apparent soical determinations, which combine many heterogeneous regimes of signs. Speaking in tongues. To write is perhaps to bring this assemblage of the unconscious to the light of day, to select the whispering voices, to gather the tribes and secret idioms from which I extract something I call my Self. I is an order-word." From A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, Deleuze and Guattari, 84.

And yes, this means that I am going to keep blogging. I think that all this blogging is important in my life right now. I am struggling not only in my thesis but in my own life towards this notion of what creates an I. So for those who like to read my blog, you can offer up a candle and an order-word of thanks to Deleuze.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Did I Ever Tell You...

That I have an addictive people don't get addicted to it (in fact it seems to repulse most people) but I get addicted to things rather easily. This is quite problematic with things like food that one needs to live (hence the fact that I'm a side note they're finally acknowledging that binge eating is indeed an eating disorder and yes I qualify). But I realized today when I checked my computer like eight hundred times that I've transferred my previous addiction to various yahoo groups to blogs (and H just pointed out that I'm eating less now that I'm bloging).

Earlier today I decided to quit blogging for a week to clear my head. So when I pop in tonight I see that I have something like 15 hits from all over the freakin' place. Do I actually have a public? How bizarre...and of course I HAD to post on Ernesto's blog (I'm not stalking him honest..I married...well I guess married people can stalk but I'mm not really, I just LOVE his freakin' blog, and writing about what he's writing I said addicted...). So now what do I do? Do I go cold turkey and say adios? Do I wean myself off with only checking once a day? Will I disappoint anyone with my silence or is that my HUGE ego talking?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Speaking of Movies

A happy memory to balance the misery...

When I was six, my dad had a habit of wandering in and out of our lives. We live in a white apartment house next to the Veteran's Park. It was a nice central location. I could ride my bike to Coburn Park or ride in the opposite direction to Pete Debe's corner store. He had the best selection of penny candy. If he was working, and not his skinny brother, we would always get extra candy. Sometimes I'd dare myself to ride my bike across the walking bridge. I had to be feeling really brave to do that though as the bridge scared the hell out of me. It towered over the Kennebec River right beneath the dam. The currents were swift, and even the calm areas were filled with whirlpools. I had nightmares about falling down into the water and dying. But the best part of that apartment was that my Uncle Jimmy lived with his wife downstairs from us.

Uncle Jimmy was the best. He was young and very cool in my five year old eyes. He smoked cigarettes and drank Budwiser. He had long hair and he wore a leather head band around his head. He let me listen to "American Pie" over and over again. He had an enormous dog named Smokey who used to let me ride him around their living room. Uncle Jimmy used to let me hang out with his friends and him. They'd listen to rock on the radio, and I'd roll their cigarettes using Uncle Jimmy's cigarette rolling machine or I'd color in my aunt's numerous coloring books with her sharp unbroken Crayolas. If I was really lucky I'd get to spend the night. Jimmy would order a pizza from Al's Pizza and buy me a Pepsi.

One night I was hanging around, hoping that Uncle Jimmy would let me stay the night when he announced "Let's go to the movies." I didn't think he meant me but I hoped deep inside that he did. I had never been to the movie theater to see a movie. A couple of times my parents brought us to the Drive In but we could only watch the opening cartoon, and then we had to lie down on the blankets in the back. My parents usually made out during the whole movie which was pretty disgusting to watch so we ended up actually sleeping. My uncle looked at me and yelled "Well what are you waiting? Go tell your mom." I ran upstairs my heart thudding, hoping she'd be in a good mood and say yes. She was and she even helped me change into a dress.I walked hand in hand with my uncle and my aunt to the local theater. It was a beautiful old building called the Strand Theater. Originally the theater featured operas and musicals but now it held one ratty old screen. There were these oil paintings of trees along the walls that slanted down towards the screen. The chairs were narrow and uncomfortable but covered in red velvet. Ornate ivy and flowers covered the dark wood walls. Two heavy red curtains framed the screen.

Jimmy bought popcorn, Jr. Mints, and cokes for everyone. We settled into seats near the front with our treats. The lights dimmed, and my heart began to pound from excitement. First there were the silly advertisements with dancing sodas and candy bars. My uncle whispered to me that these ads hypnotised you into wanting buy stuff. And then came the opening notes, accompanied with by the famous white words scrolling off into space. Star Wars. I was entranced. It was the most amazing thing I had ever seen. For months afterwards, I made my mom put my hair in to Princess Leia buns. My uncle even bought me a light saber. It was hard rigid plastic and glowed in the dark. I had a little girl crush on Luke (when I was older I realized Hans Solo was the man to want). I can still remember smelling the popcorn, and holding my uncle's hand during the scary parts. I think he was as excited by this movie as I. One the way home, he made starship sounds, and we'd break into light saber fights with tree branches.

It was Star Wars that not only interested me to a future love, Sci-Fi, but showed me that there imaginary worlds that could life me from my all too often miserable life. It was Star Wars that lead to a rich fantasy life that would eventually lead to a ravenous hunger for books.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


A friend's misfortune with the rain lead to some thoughts on scars. Scars tell stories. Or they offer the road to a story. I have never once taken, or allowed anyone to take a picture of the above scars. They're on my thighs. Second and third degree burns from when I was seven. My mother made fish chowder for my grandfather as my grandmother was away somewhere. It must have been a special occasion as she rarely had the money to buy the ingredients for the chowder. I know she saved some for us. The rest she put into a plastic bowl for my dad to drive over to my grandparents. I begged to go, and my dad actually said yes. I waited in his truck so excited while he carried out the bowl. He placed the bowl in my lap and the cover poped off. The chowder which simmered all day spilled all over my legs. I remember the pain to this day but I can not ever put into words. It was the scream that came from me which tells that story. And my dad wouldn't move as I just screamed and screamed clawing at my dad trying to get out to my mom. She came running out, and carried me into the house. She put in the tub and when she took my jeans, my skin peeled off in layers into the water. My dad kept repeating "It's not that bad" and refused to call an ambulance (because of money). My mom wrapped me in a wet sheet, and drove me twenty miles to the hosptial. I stayed for two and a half weeks, enduring the worst pain in my life.

After I refused to get skin grafts because my Pentecostal family convinved me that God would heal my burns. God didn't heal me.

My dad never visited me in the hosptial.

The nurses yelled at me for screaming too much.

My grandmother brought me green grapes and a Happy Meal for my first meal of soild foods.

My dad left our family shortly after this. He was seeing a woman who had two daughters. One of the daughters had cancer. He visisted her in the hopstial.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Sunday, June 17, 2007

What Ginger and Co. Eat

My friend MTP wrote a great post on food. Inspired by a link I sent featuring a slideshow showing what people from around the world eat in an average week. It was very illuminating. Costs were way down for people who ate simple foods: vegetables, grains, etc while the costs sky rocketed for those who bought mostly processed foods. In addition, it was sobering to see how little some people have to eat compared to what those in Post-industrial countries eat. It made me realize that we have a way to go in our goals of simple earth friendly eating.

Now I love food. Food gives me great pleasure. It is also my drug of choice, and I have a hard time controlling what I eat. Thus one could say my relationship with food is ambiguous. I attempted this summer to not think about dieting, watching food intake etc, and gained a lot of weight. In fact, I hit the mark when my knees start hurting, my back aches, and I have heartburn every night. This is always a pretty clear sign that something drastic has to happen. So for me, WW is a way to be able to enjoy my food but to also control my addiction. And I have to be able to eat good food. I just love food too much to be willing to compromise good taste.

How we eat: we're mostly vegetarians. H and I will both eat meat if we're eating out. And sometimes I have to grill chicken at the pool. But we never buy red meat or pork. When I buy chicken it's always organic. H does eat turkey breasts on his sandwiches. I can't afford organic but we do by the Oscar Meyer natural which has minimum processing. In addition, we eat a variety of grains: quinoa, barley, couscous, whole wheat pasta, brown, basmati, and wild rice, millet, and bulgur. I love pilafs and cold salads in the summer. We also eat a lot of beans, and I try to get in tempeh once a week (I can't stomach tofu and no I don't think there's a recipe you have that will make me stomach it). We only eat whole grain breads and when it's on sale I stock up on Rudi's organic. We buy tons of fruit. I'd say half our grocery bill is fruit. The kids drink soy milk, and I don't drink milk period. We buy some cheese (not organic). I eat organic yogurt. We also buy free range, organic eggs. I'm trying to cut out my sugar (thankfully I've never been able to take the taste of apasthme), and I have succeeded in not drinking soda (haven't drank soda in three years).

Processed: I'd say we're pretty minimal but not as good as we'd like to be. Horacio does eat cereal (organic and natural). We can't seem to wean the kids off Honey Nut Cheerios. I love Kashi bars but again I can read all the ingredients. The worst thing for me is sweets. I love the low cal. pudding cups and the 100 cal. packs of cookies but I only allow myself one package of those a week. I gave up WW ice cream treats because the ingredient list scared the hell out of me. We buy Bryer's or Edy's Light ice cream now, and everyone gets 1/2 cup after supper. The worst thing is that I have gotten into the habit of letting the kids a, get candy way too often when we go out, and b, let them pick out one "treat" such as graham crackers, Goldfish, or pretzels. I don't feel bad about the pretzels but I do think we should lay off the other things. They like the oatmeal cookies I make just as much but that involves cooking...more on that later. Oh, and I can get them chicken nuggets. I know, I know horrible. Maybe I can start to make those as well. I'd also like to buy more organic and more local grown fruit and vegetables. However, the price for organic is very high here--often three times as much as for non organic. And local grown....okay some of it is that I'm lazy. I'd have to drive three kids at least 20 minutes away, and then deal with them in a crowded market. Argh.

All in all I think we do pretty good. I spend anywhere between 100-150 a week feeding a family of five. I know this is significantly less than most of our friends who have families. I cook pretty much every night. We don't theme it but I love to experiment so we do Indian, Chinese, Mexican, etc. We always have big bowls of soups in the fridge and the freezer. The kids eat pretty good but could be better about trying new stuff. But they snack mostly on fruit, love broccoli, and salad. I guess I can't complain:) We also use only olive oil, and pure canola oil. And we kind of follow Dr. Weil's recommendations for healing eating.

MTP has inspired me though. I think Ill try to bake more (I can't make my bread raise so bread is out of the question). And we may try to roast a turkey breast for sandwiches. I'll let you know how it goes:)

I'll post a picture of what we bought on Tuesday.

Faces of Love

All on a Saturday Night...

Saturday, June 16, 2007


She was enjoyed attention from other men. It made her feel sexy and desirable. She was not an easy person to love due to this need. In fact, she expected this same adoration from her husband. His compliments were never enough. She craved constant comfirmation of her attractiveness to him. And when they went out, she watched, desperate for other men to notice her. When they would leave a public place, she would intergate him: Did anyone look at her? Was that young man staring at her ass? Did you see the way that other guy stared at her tits?

He doubted her ability to be faithful. It was not that she didn't love him enough to be faithful but rather that she didn't love herself enough to be faithful. He anticipated the time it would happen. In his mind, he played out various sernaios--trying them on. He wasn't sure what reaction fit him best. He knew she would want an outrageous fit of jealously but that if he left her she would be devasted. Just as she been devasted when various other men left her due to unfaithfulness. And she wouldnt' lie. He knew that. She would need for him to know. Need him to possess her, to claim her as his. Her desire for this kind of self-affirming drama was exhausting. Her desire consumed him.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Rain, Rain Go Away

Reading England posts made me long for some gray, and someone, something must have heard those longings. We've had lovely storms for the last four days. They roll in during the early afternoon, and boom their way through Charlotte until five or six. Instead of a steam bath, they're leaving behind cool, and the smell of cut grass. It is nice to walk outside and feel the breeze against one's bare arm. If H wasn't going to hang with M tonight, I'd definitely take a night walk.

The only downside of these storms is the rain that traps. Today I was trapped in the RS office at the university. I finished my work (photocopying some interesting looking Freud articles), and was all read to go when the sky just fall apart. I know it's a cliche but it really did look like someone was dumping buckets of water down from the clouds. I had to go the library to get a book that come in on interlibrary loan. I didn't want to walk through the buckets of rain. I waited. I talked to J, the administrative assistant, about children's books (she's taking a class in children's literature). I waited some more. S, my ex-advisor came in, and we talked about movies and music (he likes punk and used to be in a punk band...he's very cool). I waited some more. I talked to another professor and S about what was worst being reborn as a cockroach or a dog. The rain was still coming down in not buckets but sheets. My new advisor A came in. We chatted a bit about meeting for my paper (yes I'm putting it off). Finally I gave up, and RAN to the library, got my book, and RAN back to my car. I wasn't too wet. Now I'm home. Sleepy, waiting for H to bring my kids back to me, and making Sloppy Joe's with fake hamburger.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Children's Books, Comics, and Other Graphic Delights

Ernesto's blog spawned yet more blog worthy thoughts. I've been thinking a bit about graphic novels lately--likely due to rereading the Sandman series. I read a lot of comics and graphic novels back when I was in my early 20s. In fact I was the only girl in Skowhegan who had her own file at the comic book store. The clerk used to call me the "Anti-Ginger." And it wasn't just "girly" comics. I was really into the Dark Knight series from DC, and I still love watching Batman with Umberto. When I got into academia, I sort of let that go along with my extensive reading of Sci-Fi and vampire novels. But now I'm starting to go back to these things.

When talking to my former advisor, S, I mentioned that I really wanted to start pursuing cultural studies in religion. We talked a bit about how cultural studies in religion is either done, a) poorly or b) condescendingly. Yet these artifacts are so vital to the religious identities of so many Americans (I do American religion so pardon the centrist here...I don't want to assume too much about other cultures). Yet these people and the things they use are regarded with disdain. They're not "real" religion, whatever that may be.

I enjoy reading Ernesto's posts on comics because I love how serious he takes this stuff. He gives the intellectual reading it deserves. And I particularly like his take on graphic novels vs. film. There is a dignity to graphic novels and comics that people who are not into them miss. The balance between image and word is a delicate balance that when done well creates something that is extremely graceful. It is a push to anticipate what the reader might have in mind as they read. This strikes me a risky maneuver. You will always alienate some while fully capturing other's visions. It reminds me of the debates that surface when casting for a movie based on a novel begins. I'm think of Interview with A Vampire when Anne Rice had a fit about the casting of Tom Cruise as Lestat. I remember myself being so outraged when I heard, and then totally changing my mind when I saw him in the role. He perfectly capture Lestat for me. It was a moment so magical and mystical that I still remember it years later. It was if a story character become reality.

While reading Ernesto's post on teamwork between writer and artist, I though immediately of children's illustrated books. There is a school of people who really think that children should not be exposed. They argue that books without pictures push children into using their imagination. John Holt, who for the most part I agree with, is one such educator. Now I always found this bogus, and I realized today it's because of my love for comics. I've always appreciated the relationship between the word and the picture. And never found that this dampened my imagination. In fact, my earliest stories where comics without words (I was six and unable to write). Now as I read to my children, I watch how the illustrations capture their imaginations. And the illustrations are so beautiful and often fun. I mean, how can one not love a book with pictures of big hairy monsters called Thelonius Monster's Sky-High Fly Pie? And then The Sound of Colors which has some of the most lovely, haunting images I've ever seen actually moved us to some sniffles. And it's not just either medium: words or pictures. They work together to hammer home beauty, ugliness, humor, seriousness, life itself.

And what's so neat is that Umberto loves comics. He's totally into the Star Wars comics (and I'm embarrassed to say this as I'm sure it makes us look like horrible parents but H has read Hellboy to Umberto. I had to put my foot down on Sandman which Umberto is fascinated by). He collects them already, and they're among his favorite things to look at and listen to. In fact, I think it was Umberto's burgeoning interest that got H and I both back into reading comics. Already my children are learning to appreciate this delicate relationship between image and word, or maybe we're all coming to an understanding that maybe there is not distinction between them.

At the Pool

We've gotten into the habit of spending our mornings at the pool. Sure it's a little cold but the pool is deserted and it gets the energy out before the heat sets in.