Wednesday, March 01, 2017

A rare day

I don't want to be silenced by a system that prevents me from being a true scholar.Today is a rare day, I get to teach about my dissertation subject. One of the three authors, who knows when I'm going to do that again?

That's why it's bittersweet, nice and at the same time heartbreaking.

Today I thought I want to write a book about this author, and I don't care whether I'm not supposed to, but I will try.

I want to do it to defy a system that prevents me from being a true scholar and sees me as less. I want to make mine the slogan nevertheless, against all odds, she persisted.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Ethnic Cleansing, or "Make America *White* Again"

The days following the election, I was extremely upset and spent every waking minute interacting with equally stressed out friends on social media and reading a select few news stories and analyses (while avoiding most media contact, even listening to NPR, like the plague).

It didn't help my mood that my generally calm and collected "geeky scientist" husband was beside himself. I think I've never seen him so distressed and angry in our 26 years together! And the worst part is that as election week went on he became progressively more distraught (he couldn't even get much sleep). I was relieved that after a couple of weeks, the negativity wore off slowly (while I continued to be distressed). Now, over three months later he -- the optimist who most criticizes my "realistic pessimist" outlook on life -- is very pessimistic.

What K was most upset about soon after the election is something that still worries him exceedingly: It is the fact that this so-called-president (henceforth I'll call "it" #45) had and still has the support of millions of people and because of that, there is no way to stop #45. Unless an overwhelming majority turns against #45 it will be hard for anything to be done to remove "it" from power (at least that's what my husband thinks).

The second thing that K kept saying is that #45 and his cronies figured out a way to prevent the seemingly inevitable "statistical takeover" that was going to take place because Hispanics and other current "minority" groups were slowly turning into a majority. K said to me on the Thursday after the election that if #45 really did remove millions of Hispanics and other brown skinned immigrants from the country he would succeed in making it "whiter" and, possibly, make the conservative movement stronger.

In the "lull" that followed the election, K stopped talking about this anti-immigrant/ anti-brown people stance that bothered him, but now that we've seen that #45 is really serious about his pursuit of what can be described as a new kind of "ethnic cleansing" we are upset again. If he succeeds in this and many other changes he wants to put in place, the country will change dramatically.

And now there's talk of spending tons of money on defense and cutting many other programs -- including the tiny budget for various art and humanities initiatives, I'm sure. I mentioned war in my post from a week ago (it seems that Tuesday is the day I blog now) ;-P and war is so terrible and deadly -- but very lucrative to a few people.

I don't know how we're going to survive #45. He is poised to cause so much harm (and already has). I can hardly think of anything else -- I wish I could blog about more light-hearted topics... but I'm having a hard time to do that right now.

OK, I'll just say that I watched most of the Victoria Masterpiece Theater marathon this past Sunday and now I'm hooked and have a new winter "pleasure" to replace Downtown Abbey. I stayed up well past midnight last night just reading about Victoria and Albert and other related things. So fascinating!! And historic! I want to be motivated to read more history so I can enjoy more my future visits to Europe. Especially to Germany and it's castles. I LOOOOOOOOOVE Germany! (well, maybe it's a DNA thing, I'm pretty much 50% German).

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The (Relative) Calm Before the Storm is Practically Over/ people like us

I'm bracing myself, I really am. Just waiting for the next horror to unfold and make me anxious and upset.

I meant to post this yesterday, when the new policies on immigration weren't out yet and I could have written that the calm was almost, but not yet, over. Sigh... this new  "regime" of #45 is relentlessly upsetting (I was going to create a new and unfortunate #45 label for the blog, but I already have "Unprecedented times," so I'll keep that instead). 

The worst part about all of this is the utter despair that it's not a far fetched possibility that there will be EIGHT LONG YEARS of this nightmare. And by then it may be too late to reverse the damage done to the country (whose democracy and prominent position in the world may be very well be destroyed), to the environment, to the lives of countless people who will be hurt by the immigration laws and the healthcare act's demise. People will die. And, there may be war, an even worse prospect.

War...

Sigh...

Why would anyone want to go to war? This horrible man Bannon, which SNL displays as death personified, wants to do just that. Some people profit from wars, other people actually enjoy inflicting suffering on others they disagree with. (Shudder)

How will this country be in four or eight years? How will the world be?

By the way it's going, it seems that in this country truth and facts won't matter, racial and gender tensions will become worse and horrible, the rich will be richer still and the poor more destitute. What else?

The past two weeks have given me some small, but much needed respite, but I wish I could have hope! :-( There is no hope. Even my optimist husband is gloomy, upset and discouraged. He refuses to watch SNL because he doesn't think it's funny. He watches Steven Colbert, Trevor Noah, and Seth Meyers instead.

I read those new memes on facebook, the one about the "I will not work with him" to do this and that and this long list of horrible setbacks which you're supposed to cut and paste and add your name to the end; or the one about the country "being great again" because everyone is mobilized, getting informed, calling their representatives, etc. and I just feel worse and worse.

There are news and calls to protest events and countless appeals for signing this or that petition show up, and I am truly thankful that nearly everyone I'm friends with on FB feels that same way. And then these horrible articles are published about how we're isolating ourselves and only interacting with like-minded people and not trying to understand the other side.

How can we understand the other side, though? HOW?? I'm truly afraid to talk to most people in my church for fear that we have next to nothing in common except for our religious denomination/faith. I cringe to think that one of my son's teachers (soon to be homeroom teacher for 8th grade in September, my older son's teacher in both 7th and 8th grade) went to the inauguration. I don't want to talk to him about any of these things. How can I? It's too personal for me, being an immigrant and all... I don't feel like I can talk to anyone without breaking down into sobs and making them really uncomfortable. But maybe I should? I probably wouldn't cry, I would just sound so angry and upset I'd be incoherent and unable to formulate good arguments. I just can't bring myself to talk about politics with anyone. Sigh...

people like you and me

Last, but not least, a few quick words about the three families from Aleppo we are sponsoring. I have met one of them, the young man in his early 20s who came with his parents and whose apartment we helped rent. He came to church twice and sat with our family. The day I met him, it was hard, very hard, not to cry. I quietly followed him and my husband to our seat, almost biting my lip, crying inwardly. Just thinking about the other two family and their 7 children makes me want to sit down and cry and cry at the outrageous thought of not helping such families, such people.

Such a handsome young man. Dark hair, black rimmed glasses, shy and quiet, doesn't speak much English. His family is Yazidi, BTW, that's why he came to visit our church, the other families are Muslim.

I got some snippets of news from our friend who lives in their same town and has visited often the two families and taken them to the doctor/hospital, etc. (the 2 year old girl of the youngest couple was having lots of trouble with her legs, I don't know if there was a diagnosis yet). The older couple who has four children, twin boy and girl (14), two boys (11 or 12 and 9) probably had their application for refugee status granted because the middle boy has autism. After they'd left Aleppo to Turkey 4 years ago the children had never been able to go to school. The autistic boy had actually never been to school. After all their paperwork and immunizations got straightened out, they went to school and the boy with autism loved it. So much so that the next day he got up and got dressed on his own and was next to the door waiting for the bus.

If that doesn't make you want to cry, I don't know what will.

Then, two weeks ago my friend posted that one of the twins and the boy with autism had gotten hearing aids and had been able to hear their mother's voice clearly for the first time. The fathers are working and our pastor helped them buy a car so they can drive to work. The 20+ year old young man doesn't like it here because it's very rural and there's nothing going on -- social life is intense in Middle Eastern countries. I hope that after they get work and apply for their residency they can move to a place that will suit them better.

One of the things I hated the first day that young man came to church, about 12 days after their arrival and 7 days after the travel ban was issued was how several people kept telling him: "You came just in time! You're so lucky!" Why did they need to point that out? Sigh...

Maybe I'll get to meet the other families this coming weekend. I'll let you know more about it when I can. And soon the next storm will start, that will impact the lives of many more people like them -- like us. :-(

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Thanks to my kid I know more Grammy music!

Of course I like Adele or Beyonce on my own, but thanks to him I also know and have listened to music from Lukas Graham, John Legend, and Sia regularly when he plays it in the car or around the house. And since last year I started checking out the Grammy music & watching the show (I'd never really done it before). I think it's fun to be more in tune to the music that has been popular in the past year and it's much easier to do that when you have a teenager in the house. ;-P

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Blogging in 2017...

... is lonely and discouraging.

But blogging is one of "my favorite things!!!" :-(

BTW the label/song-nod, is wrong because I have A LOT of favorite things, really, not a few by any stretch of the imaginations... shall I list?
... traveling!! (planning trips, being out and about)
... my sons & my family
... colors! (greens and aqua and rainbow colors, rainbow things, rainbow anything!)
... clothes and shoes and cute things
... music
... cooking for people! (my "drug of choice," remember?)

yeah... and much more.

Back to blogging in 2017, though... sigh... it's frustrating to say the least. I made so many friends through blogging! It literally changed my life (I'd like to a post from 2006 -- ELEVEN years ago! -- but why? I know how to find it, nobody will read)

And now... all that I can do to keep up with these dear and thoughtful friends I made is to hang out in STUPID Facebook! :-( And since I hardly ever post there, those friends, who no longer read my blogs or any blogs (I'd like to hope, 'cause it's very sad to think they still read other people's but just got tired of mine or something, it hurts my feelings, not to mention my self-esteem which is already pretty bad!) don't know what's going on with me much.

I blog for myself though, the same way that I still keep journals -- a daily one, writing a few lines about each day (generally once a week on Saturdays) and sometimes on another one I can write more. I re-read my journals regularly and I also re-read old blog posts quite often. It is a wonderful way to keep track of one's life -- and also the lives of my sons to a lesser degree (given that I've never blogged much about them, as I wrote on this lovely post from 2013).

So, yeah... I'm glad Jamie is still around (and sent me this most beautiful, absolutely GORGEOUS shawl I have yet to blog about) as well as What Now? Thank you SO MUCH to both of you for still reading and commenting!

I love to blog and I'll keep on doing. I just don't know if I can trust Google not to delete Blogger. I need to back up this blog somewhere safe and I hope Google will let us know ahead of time if it decides to shut this free service (for which I am very thankful) down.

I want to give an update on the refugees, since What Now? asked, but it will have to be another post. I should be grading now, but I'm blogging, obviously. Classic procrastination tool!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Best Class Ever or...

... sheer torture? Because it could be "the last" for a long, long while... who knows how long. :-(

I'm teaching a lit class because "the person above me"* is on leave this semester. But that person just emailed me last Friday to take away the only 3000 level class I teach so we can offer three beginner level classes next semester and try to grow the program. It's good to grow the program, but... sigh... it feels like my losing ground here.

* the no-longer-that-new hire, who is younger than me, has less experience, and is not from my country (a white dude from California, a most typical American academic).

There is a flicker of hope after all the angst of last year (which I was never able to blog about in a straightforward manner for various reasons). [WHOA, there are 126 posts with the "Working in the Margins" label? Wow, I write a lot about this depressing subject, don't I? Only "Academic Life," "Job search" {mostly my  husband's various ones}, and "Family Travels" {yay! winner!} have more posts!] Maybe, just maybe, some of us lecturers will be granted non-tenure track academic ranking/titles. I'm not counting on it and, if my "demotion" to basic level classes is any indication, things aren't really going well for me in this department.

I will try to be hopeful, though, as best as I can. And in the mean time, enjoy every minute of my amazing class. Six bright and motivated girls, readings and films I feel very comfortable teaching. I think it'll be awesome. YAY!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Doing a small thing/ Despair/ What can we do?

this promises to be long, and rambling, and... but... I have to write tonight, I just do, so please bear with me if you're so inclined. (written on Wednesday night 1/25)
 
I just created two new labels now: RESIST! (can't have exclamation marks on labels) and Unprecedented Times, to go with my older and vaguely feminist "Political and Personal" label.

You know... I have a pretty charmed life, perfect really. Apart from the tough mega commute, some tensions at work, and my heart's desire to be a "real academic" somehow, I need to recognize that I have a really good job when so many people bad ones or none at all. [meta-blogging comment:] I also feel sad that I lost the precious community I had with/through this blog for several years and now I thirstily follow people's updates on facebook (which I hate with a passion) because I miss reading their blogs so much! (sigh... I will never get over this, NEVER. It's an ongoing frustration that I enjoy sharing here, but people who used to read and care about what I have to say don't anymore. Except for Jamie! Thank you so much, my friend!

Anyway... other than that (and some other issues that have more to do with my "fragmented" life), everything is good. Lovely family, husband, kids, extended family.

But I cannot be happy just for myself, and my family. I feel the need to protect the environment, to fight for social justice, to stand up for those who are oppressed, to listen with compassion to people who are different from me, to humbly recognize my privilege (even though I am also part of several minority groups), and do my part to make the world a better place. A place with more equality, less poverty and disenfranchisement, more acceptance and understanding and less racial strife and sexual discrimination (among many other things).

I am having a really really hard time living in this country now. Where millions of people are just APATHETIC because doing nothing, ignoring politics, not voting has no serious consequences for their privileged little lives (or so they think!). Instead of being upset at those who voted, I am upset at those who didn't because they didn't CARE. Because they think politics is corrupt and useless or because they were upset with the choices at hand. I am really angry at those people.

Sigh...

I am getting bitter and bitterer each moment I spend reading what my outraged friends are posting to facebook. So many bizarre things happening all at once. It's been CRAZY since last Friday -- it's hard to take it all in and not despair.

There is one small thing that is making me feel a teeny, tiny bit better right now. It's really small, but it's something.

I mentioned briefly that the network of "house churches" we are involved with sponsored three Syrian refugee families this past December (and it's giving them ongoing support). A couple of weeks ago we decided to stretch ourselves to the limit and sponsor one more family who arrived yesterday. My husband and I were co-signers on their lease.

It's a really small thing, but it's something.

I cannot think that refugees will not be coming anymore, that hard working people (whose jobs NO ONE ELSE WANTS!) will probably be sent back to their countries -- maybe with their American citizen kids (who knows?), and, perhaps saddest of all, thinking of all the people, children, elderly, who will die without health insurance.

I have to keep myself from thinking about any of these things lest I burst into tears multiple times a day.

What can we do?

Friday, January 20, 2017

. . .

I don't know how to title this.

i don't feel like capitalizing anything... as if small letters could convey better how scared and sad i feel inside. more like disconsolate. expecting the worse.

why are there lots of people who keep reassuring everyone that this is no big deal?

this is not normal, it hasn't happened before. such an unprepared, sick man who picked questionable people to help him dismantle everything...

i've never really checked the news, but now i do even less. i may have to stop listening to npr. is npr even going to survive? or any other humanities and arts initiatives that depend on government funding?

sigh...

government in this country is about to change forever. i saw a headline saying that there will be permanent changes in civil rights laws...

the rich will get even richer and polute even more

those who most need help with their health and their kids' education won't have it

. . .

In the meantime, our small network of "house churches" has just signed up to sponsor a THIRD family of refugees from Syria who arrive in 4 days. The first two arrived before the holidays and we were so busy with grading that we couldn't help at all :-( though we donated furniture, money, raised money and donations from my husband's department.

The families, both from Aleppo, if I'm not mistaken: a young couple (she in early 20s, him 30) with three small children (3, 2 and not even 1). A middle aged couple with four kids, twin boy and girl aged 14, autistic boy aged 12 and 9 year old boy -- they had been in Turkey for two, three years and the children had never been allowed to go to school.

The new family is an older couple (50s-60s) and a son in his 20s.

Refugees are being hurriedly brought into the country by agencies before it's too late, before the door closes. I will concentrate in helping the refugees (I haven't met them yet, actually), I will refuse to let this bring me down.

Resist, we need to resist.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

First Meal of the Day:

5 pm.

:-(

It was a wonderful day of teaching!

P.S. Blogging on my phone again. [Trying to!] One. Word. At. A. Time. Literatlly
(Except this note I cut & pasted)


ETA -- and cutting and pasting from Notes on the iPhone doesn't work (different color text, see below):

P.S. Blogging on my phone again. One. Word. At. A. Time. Literally. 
(Except this note I cut & pasted)

First day and...

... of course I forgot to take my medication!

I guess I'll have some coffee instead!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Last Day

Tomorrow I go back to work, so I'm spending a few extra minutes in my cozy bed this morning, even though I already had to drop off my youngest son at school. 

It's raining out there and I wish that maybe I could sleep a bit more, but I already took my medication (hoping I can sleep earlier tonight -- it still makes me more alert at night than I'd like (and I'm already a night owl -- that's my biggest worry if my son were to take medication, he'd never sleep!). I will just read in bed to prepare for my classes, I'm really excited for the opportunity to teach literature once more -- I'm making a HUGE effort to try to look at a "glass half-full" here instead of being my regular negative self. I promise you I am. Sigh...

Ok, more later, before I relapse!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

My Gorgeous Baby Brother's Birthday!

WOW, I can't believe it's been seven years since I last blogged about my "baby brother's" birthday (he's only 2.5 years younger than me, I don't think I should call him baby brother, but, oh well... I will!). This is actually the third time in 12 years I blog about this, the first time was nine years ago.

So, let's do the math, I guess he turned 43 today... we're both getting old (duh! as my oldest son would say). I congratulated him on Facebook (where he doesn't list is b-day BTW) and thanked him for giving me the gift of the most gorgeous nephew and niece in the world. Totally true! (especially the niece)
I don't know if I should be sharing this last photo (that my husband took back in 1995), but my bro will never see this, so I guess it's ok! ;-)

Firsts in 2016

First graduation (our boys never had kindergarten graduation).

First son in high school and working (though his wages go straight to pay the school).

First death of a close family member.

First time we took the boys to Rio de Janeiro (and Iguazu Falls/Cataratas do Iguaçu).

My first three year contract (sigh...) and raise (not associated with teaching more classes).

K got tenure (I think that's not a first because I'm pretty sure there will never be a second. Sigh...)

First suit purchased for Kelvin (plus a tuxedo for music groups & a few formal jackets -- lots of money spent on this boy last year!).

Oh, first time each boy has his own bedroom (more expenses ;-P)! 

We got L (younger son) his first phone for his 12th birthday (like we did with Kelvin), but he never uses it or carries it around, so it was kind of a useless thing to do. We did get to use the phone in Brazil (did we? can't remember, at least we could have if we needed it) and I'm sure he'll use it on his first trip along this coming April.

If I remember more firsts for 2016, I'll edit the post and list them. Gotta share this before the year is too "old"! (in this process I'm editing a few other "Firsts" label posts, you'll see those if you get a feed that also gets recently edited posts, I suppose).

All of the clothes

Today I'm washing and line-drying all of the clothes. Seriously. Sheets from the beds (that will go right back on) and even all stinky snow sports clothes. The clothesline is full right now, but many clothes are nearly dry so I can swap them out by wet ones when the next wash is done.

Obviously I'm just so happy!!

I wrote this at 10:30 am when I had already hung three loads and the fourth was washing. A lot has already dried now and I have put back the sheets in my bed and my older son's as well as put all his clothes in his room.

And now, since it's still fairly early and these "microplush" sheets dry fast, I'm washing a fifth load (or is it sixth? I can't keep track today!) with a king set of sheets and some other things. I'll add some photos in a few minutes. :-)

Here they are (3:14):