Friday, February 29, 2008

Googled phrase "Validity of Racial Classifications"

... came up with some stuff (I'd have listed this as a "current obsession", but it was going to get long).

I figure, nothing is new under the sun, right? Somewhere, someone else has been thinking about this.

- A report from North Carolina Public Health entitled "Self-Reported versus Published Data on Racial Classification in North Carolina Birth Records", dated February 2004, by Paul Buescher, Ziya Gizlice and Kathleen Jones-Vessey.

ABSTRACT
Objectives: To compare race as reported by the mother on North Carolina birth certificates with the data on race in the officially reported statistics.

Methods: Text entries of race by the mother, collected through the electronic birth registration system, are described as well as the coding rules whereby these entries are converted to standard racial categories for the reporting of birth statistics.

Results: Out of nearly 118,000 live births in North Carolina, mothers reported more than 600 different versions of race on the birth certificates. These entries are collapsed into ten standard racial categories according to federal coding rules. Approximately two-thirds of mothers of Hispanic ethnicity report their race with a label that can be categorized as “Other” race, but nearly all of these births are re-coded to “White” for the official birth statistics. (**See note at the bottom of this post)

Conclusions: This study shows that, given the opportunity to report their own race, North Carolinians describe their race with a wide variety of terms and concepts. In contrast, health statistics are usually reported using a few standardized racial categories defined by federal policy.

Interesting quote right in the introduction of the 7-page paper:

Published health data give the impression that racial categories are distinct and well-defined. However, there is a growing consensus in the scientific community that distinct human races do not exist.1 But because of the historical social stratification role of race, particularly in the United States, categorization of people by race continues."
1. Kaplan JB, Bennett T. Use of race and ethnicity in biomedical publication. JAMA 2003; 289:2709-2716.

Some other quotes:

Ultimately, “people are who they say they are. This requires a recognition that such definitions change over time, and that they may not correspond to any of the set of choices that researchers have fixed in advance.”

And

“Race” in the mind of an individual may be quite different from fixed statistical categories determined by governmental agencies. Some people do not understand the concept of race, and others do not want to be categorized by race. A broadly defined racial group is at best a crude marker for particular health problems, and certainly not a risk factor or cause. Racial discrimination, however, may account for part of the observed differences between racial groups in some health indicators.

You can read the paper here. It was actually an easy read.

- A similar study and report was done in California.

- A short article entitled Racial Profiling In American Healthcare, by Mandy Willingham, published in 2003, discusses whether racial classifications are valid. On the one hand, while "...the June 2000 Humane Genome Project report seemingly denounced the medical validity of race with the indisputable conclusion that 99.9% of all homo sapiens share the same genetic material..." certain ethnicities are certainly more prone to certain disease than others, or react to medications differently.

- An article entitled "DNA Validity and Capability in Ethnic Identification" published April/May 2001.

**Little Historical footnote. The government has taken it upon itself to change "racial" designations at another point in history (passage taken from the Monacan Nation website):

"Virginia passed its Racial Integrity Law in 1924, which prohibited intermarriage between those considered white and those having any mixture of colored blood more than one-sixteenth. This law was to have a disastrous effect on the Monacan people and resulted in many of their records being changed by state officials without their knowledge. Many Monacans left the state during this time, because they were no longer permitted to marry freely or to register as Indian in any official capacity. Indian children were at this time attending a first-to-seventh-grade school at Bear Mountain, and some were known to walk five miles each way to reach the school.

During this period, Monacans began challenging the official classifications of their race by state officials and census takers. The debate continued through 1942, when several Monacans led a legal challenge to the state's actions, and Dr. Walter Plecker, who headed the state Bureau of Vital Statistics, was forced to admit that he had no scientific evidence ascertaining the Monacans' race. In 1943, Monacans challenged the local draft board successfully resolving their incorrect racial classification for the World War II draft."

Thursday, February 28, 2008

A TF "Positive" For Once

and in the interest of "Fair Reporting" I have to tell, since I spend a great deal of time ranting about the crazy bastard.

The Sun's birthday is Sunday. He'll be NINE. Shit. I have a nine-year-old. He's starting to get "whispies" at the corner of his lips... his father is a hairy dude and uh, his mom ain't exactly smooth either. Thank God he was born a boy or I'd be "scarsht" (to quote TinyOne) for him. As it is, he's already not too happy abut the "whispies" and tells me he's going to shave. Poor baby. He's gonna be shaving an awful lot.

Anyway... his father wanted a written list. This time I had the freakin' brilliant idea to scan the list and email it. From the Sun's email address. So that TF couldn't "reply" back with some bullshit. He'd have to go out of his way.

As previously noted, my child is obsessed with Naruto, so in addition to some action figures, he wants some Naruto games for his DS or the Playstation.

TF sent me a text tonight: "I''m looking at Naruto games and they r all Teen rated. Are you buying these games for him?"

And I wrote back that no, actually I'm not, and that consequently, the Sun only has one game. That one is rated E10+, and that the Sun and I had discussed the fact that I was going to let him slide on that one since he's closer to 10 than to being a teenager.

Surprise surprise, he texted back "Then I won't [buy them] either". I texted him back "Thank you".

Later he texted me that he bought the Sun a Shuffle (so Professor, we'll have to come up with something else).

But that was the most pleasant exchange we've had in quite awhile.

The Video Game Issue has come up in court, cuz he wanted to be able to play networked games with the Sun, and I downright refused. Don't get me wrong, he plays games. Whenever and where ever he can. He's obsessed... no doubt he gets that gene from his mama but it's scary. But I was NOT going to let my kid sit there for hours playing networked games... cuz yeah he'd play with his dad, but he'd be playing with anyone he could find.

And TV... the Professor blogged about kids watching TV (made me laugh, but I agree completely). I have to say... I keep the poor kid running so he doesn't have much time for TV, but it could easily be all he did, if I didn't...

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

You Know What? You Can't "Check A Box", Either

... my "white" friend. You really can't. Because by doing so, you're also buying into the whole race thing. If you too, really want to bridge chasms, get past this Divide, try to understand why we separate ourselves this way, you've got to do a little digging, too.

This was sort of gnawing around the corners of my mind over the past few days... I think it started with blogger Jacqui who noted her German-Dominican ancestry and her fair skin. And that people assume she's white. And by others in my life, both real and online who have said "well, I'm non-nondescript, generic White." But it wasn't really bothering me until it suddenly exploded in my head full-blown, as I stepped out of the Puerto Rican loncheria across the street from my Sun's violin lesson where I'd gone to get a cup of coffee (they make the best damn coffee in the neighborhood, because they use Bustelo and serve it with half-and-half when I ask).

Technically, you can't just check the "white" box. Like mine, your ancestors may have been here for generations. The Mayflower, even. But they came from somewhere other than here. They may have come from Germany, or Italy, or Alsace-Lorraine or Scotland or Ireland. Maybe Spain, or Portugal. And maybe you've forgotten, and maybe it wasn't important to remember because your great-grands and great-great-grands felt that they were entitled to be here.

The difference between your European ancestors, and my African ones, is simply "choice". Predominantly, your European ancestors, as well as mine, chose to come to this land. Most--if not all, of my African ones, including the one brought over by a missionary I'm quite sure had no say in the matter. My Native ancestors and yours, well they were here from the beginning. And even if you go through your whole family tree and discover not one Native (which, truly, I doubt) or one African (improbable but not impossible), you will find that they came over here from somewhere.

My Latina friend, the one who was adopted by a "white" woman, has an adopted family tree that goes all the way back to England in the 16-and 1700's, back across the water. Her mother's family came from somewhere. And I seem to recall that she may even found out that some of them were actually Jewish, before they became Christian.

Bob, Mr. Kip's longtime friend who I met when Mr. Kip made his Great Journey, considered himself "white." He certainly looked what is considered to be "white" with his clear blue eyes and thinning white hair. But when we got to talking, he told me about his Iroquois grandmother. Who couldn't marry his German grandfather because of Ohio's miscegenation laws. And about his father's Irish family, where he got his name.

And then there's Bliss Broyard, who discovered as her father lay dying that he was in fact, a (very very) light-skinned "black". She's added video to her site, in which she gives a very brief synopsis of how he managed to cross the divide. I had a damn good chuckle as she relays the story of her mother's concern over the possibility of having a brown baby, and how the pastor she went to told her that the baby wouldn't be any darker than the darker one of the two of them.

(Hmmm. That doesn't explain my father's mother... called "Negrita" by her fair-skinned hazel-eyed Puerto Rican father, her own mother bearing very little resemblance to what is considered "black". In horse-breeding language they would call her a "throwback." But I digress.)

But the point I'm making is... maybe you too, have forgotten who you are. And maybe you ought to find out.

It was undoubtedly easier for your forbears to shed their old heritage and ancestry for a new life in America. Maybe it was better for them to just be "American" rather than a convict shipped over from England, or someone who wanted to freely practice a new belief system (or an old one), or a woman who wanted to be strong and live freely and not have to live her life by strict Victorian or Edwardian standards. The only reason they were able to do so, without having to own the baggage that came with them from where ever it was they came from, was because their skin wasn't "stained." There was no "mark of Cain"... not a visible one, anyway.

And it was only the circumstances of the times... the fact that so much was going on at the time, and new discoveries of land and trade routes, and wars raging in far away lands like Africa, and potato famines and poverty and plague and the discovery that a good life could be created somewhere else... it was circumstance that set the tone for what happened next. But that doesn't excuse you from owning who you are.

And this particular post isn't about blame or who-did-what-to-who, or the horrors of it all, and I'm not going in to that part. I think the horrors of it all affected all of us, whether we were the victims or the perpetrators, in much the same way an abusive relationship is bad for all involved, particularly the children. It's the children who suffer the most. Hell, maybe we could all benefit from therapy.

But anyway, what I am saying is that if I reject the notion of "Black" and the definition of what is "Black", then by rights I have to object to the notion of "White." I most certainly will accept "American," I have no problem with it at all. I don't even have a problem accepting that "American" means "it doesn't really matter where my people came from... I may even have forgotten. But I was born here, my parents were born here, my grandparents were too. And maybe even the grands and great-grands."

Except brown folk aren't allowed to forget... we can't forget. Most of us are reminded every day that we are "black"... and not necessarily by "white" people, either. For so long we were told that we had no history, that our history couldn't be traced. But at the same time we weren't allowed to belong "here". And then after awhile we came to believe that and a whole bunch of us still don't believe we belong "here". I probably wouldn't have felt I belonged here if I hadn't had the experience of knowing that I don't belong anywhere else. So we need to remember, so that we too, have the luxury of forgetting everything but the fact that we are American.

Eh, in the long run I know none of this REALLY matters... nor will it change anything.

But the technicality of it pisses me off...

But if you get around to it, give the idea some thought...

Not One To "Leave Well Enough Alone"...

I've been thinking about the responses I got to my "I Hate Black History Month" post, but I've been trying to be productive about my fate. You know, look for a job or something. Which I've been doing. And of course (continually) trying to figure out my obsession (cuz yeah, I admitted right from jump it was an obsession) with Nene and really what to expect from it. I obsess about being obsessed.

But actually, what I obsess about is answers to things. I always have. Some people think my questioning is an annoying habit. When I was in grammar school in Jamaica, I got in trouble with the teacher and was called a "chatterbox", because I was always questioning. Her reasoning. Her methods. Why I had to do what she said. I got slapped in the palm with a ruler once, because of it. I was incensed. I told her I would tell my mother. She laughed at me. Can't remember her name, but I'll never forget her; she was tall and thin and a dark chocolate brown, and wore a bun on the top of her head. I was four.

I got in trouble when I worked at MTV, looked upon as a troublemaker, because I was always encouraging the sales support staff to ask why we were routinely abused.

I had an IT manager when I worked at BET, who when I pressed him to explain his asinine reasoning as to why the computers in my office had virtually no hardrives but were connected to a network in Washington D.C that was constantly down so we were forever sitting around with our thumbs up our asses, asked me "MUST you always ask so many questions?" He said it with annoyance. "Yes!" I said. I was amazed he thought questions were a bad thing.

When I worked at A&E, I asked the IT guys to explain to me why I couldn't email documents or transfer files across the network, when we were supposedly connected. This was way back in the early days of networking, and it was a little more complicated than it is now. Because of me, they figured it out. To shut me up, they offered me a position in the IT department. That way I could figure out the answers my own damn self.

I got fired once because I questioned my manager (well, actually I told him I thought it was dumb) on why he wanted me and my co-worker to both work from 8a-5p, instead of the 10a-6p I had been working while my co-worker worked from 7a-4P. Especially since we had offices in California, and this meant that someone was in the office until at least 3P California time.

People have pretty much stopped sending me those Urban Legend emails... you know the ones that scream "THIS VIRUS WILL ERASE SECTOR ZERO ON YOUR COMPUTER!!!!" because I'll go look it up on Snopes, and then I'll hit "reply all" and embarrass you with what I've found. I often sign those emails "Your friendly neighborhood myth debunker" when I'm feeling particularly obnoxious.

Google is my favorite search engine, and I probably use it 20 or 30 times a day.

I question. I may not like your answer, but I want one. I want to hear it. I want to know how you think. I may not even like your question... but chances are pretty good if you ask me a question, eventually I will answer you because I am compelled to. But in researching my answer, I'll ask many more questions.

And then there are the voices... and the Fat Lady said to me once (as did the Professor, I think) that I should just tell them to shut the hell up... but the thing about them is that they are always questioning. Questioning God, myself, the things I believe in, what I think I know. The things I'm obsessed about. I must obsess because the voices compel me to question. Sometimes, it's not so good for the mental health. But sometimes, I get interesting answers.

What has this got to do with how I started this post?

Natalie's question: "And I think both sides have a point, but how you breach the chasm?"

I've been thinking about that for the past few days, asking questions. I remember being about seven years old, in Jamaica. I know it was before I was 8, because 8 is when we got evicted from the house on Montgomery Avenue, and I'm pretty sure it was earlier rather than later, because when we first moved into the house, the Professor and I shared the front bedroom. Then later, the parents moved us into the center bedroom, and the parents took the back room cuz it had a small bathroom in it. And I distinctly remember sitting in the front bedroom... asking God why the world was so mean. I'm pretty sure that I had read about a pretty horrific fire (I read really well by the time I was 7, and could read the newspaper) that was related to some political violence in Jamaica. I remember that the paper reported that people, children, were forced back into the fire and not allowed to come out. I remember thinking what an awful awful thing... how could something like that happen?

I remember thinking that the only way the world could right itself after a tragedy like that, would be if God himself stopped time, and righted all the pieces. Like a child stops a game, re-sets all the pieces, and starts the game again. But at the same time, I remember at some point realizing that given enough time, the game would go awry again. Because I figured out very early in my life, that human beings are self-destructive:

John Connor: We're not gonna make it, are we? People, I mean.
The Terminator: It's in your nature to destroy yourselves.

John Connor: Yeah. Major drag, huh?
- Terminator 2: Judgement Day

So what do we do? How do we right wrongs? End wars, poverty, hunger, disease, fight racism? Can we ever?

In all honesty, I don't ever think there will be "world peace." If we eradicated racism it would rear it's head in another way... it's in our nature to destroy ourselves. Destroy each other. What we don't realize until it's too late is that by destroying someone else, we destroy ourselves.

From the time I was about 8, until I was 25 or so, I read the Old Testament every Saturday. I'm not sure when I stopped (and I constantly remind myself it's really something I ought to do again). People tend to look at the Bible with various preconceived notions based on their religious bias, but if you read the Bible as a study on human interaction, and interaction between a Higher Power and a human, one thing becomes abundantly clear... we have been the same since recorded history. We have the same needs, the same impulses, the same emotions and reactions to each other that we have always had. There is perfection in this, if you think about it. We were created in our entirety... we are what we are and we haven't changed much. Despite what the Evolutionists would have you believe. (And yes, I have questioned my belief in God... just in case you were wondering. I question why I'm an "Old Testament kind of chick", instead of a New Testament. But my answers have satisfied me...)

But at the same time, we repeat ourselves, and if we don't, as individuals, actively try NOT to repeat ourselves, we will repeat mistakes that have been made millions of times for hundreds of thousands of years. We are creatures of habit. But this is why I love history--looking back at people's lives from the distance of time. I didn't always love history, especially when taught by dry-ass history teachers (yeah, Rich, I had a "Mr. Scott", too--several, in fact) ... but I think my love of history began with reading the Old Testament. And asking questions...

Why would Cain kill Abel, his brother? How could Noah have that much faith? What would it be like to be stuck in a grey and rainy world with your family and a bunch of animals? Where is the ark? Did it really happen? Why did Moses get so mad seeing a slave abused--mad enough to kill? How freaked out was he to see a bush in flames but not burn? Why would his sister Miriam and his brother Aaron be so willing to help him and not think he was crazy? Was he scared, Moses, confronting Pharaoh... someone he most probably knew? Was he discouraged when the Pharaoh's magicians could duplicate what God made him do? Did it make him question his own faith in God?

Reading the Bible every Saturday for years and years I read about love, and faith, and jealousy... and racism. The Egyptians threatened by the growth and expansion of the Children of Israel, systematically broke them down so that between the time of Joseph (of the Coat of Many Colors Fame) and the time of Moses' birth, a mighty nation had been reduced to a nation of slaves. And in turn, once the Children of Israel broke free, they were promised a land of milk and honey... Canaan. But how did the Canaanites feel about being pushed out of their land? If you accept on faith that the Children of Israel were promised that land and had a right granted by God to take it over... um, where did that leave everyone else? How could you tell a Canaanite from one of the Children of Israel anyhow (assuming you didn't get to peek at the fact that they were uncircumcised)?

And why does this all sound depressingly familiar to current events???

Why is it that history repeats itself? Is still repeating itself? And how can you remain unjaded, unbiased, hold on to hope and faith knowing that history WILL repeat itself?

Maybe because out of tragedy and hopelessness, there will always be someone who is driven to right a wrong.... there will always be a Moses, a Solomon, a Jesus, a Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King. On the other hand, there are thousands and thousands of people who never do any of those things... never question anything or make a stand for anything. Who is the next one to make a stand? Is it you? Why couldn't it be you?

Who will be the next one to question? To seek answers? Push limits? What can you ask of yourself? What limits can you push yourself to? Where do you draw the line in yourself?

The only thing I can think of to bridge the gap, Natalie, is that you have to decide in your own heart to stand for something. You can't control what others do, you can only control yourself. Sometimes, if you're blessed with charisma or maybe Divine grace, you can persuade others to do the same. But most of us are just ordinary people living ordinary lives... but maybe if each person made a stand, made a commitment to living their life to the best of their ability, maybe it would change things, bridge chasms. If every day you get up, and make a decision to stand for something, and every day remind yourself to stick to that decision, and every day call yourself out if you fail to live up to what you've decided to stand for, maybe it will make a difference.

It's like there are certain things I won't do.
  • I won't use the word "nigger" (though I have no problem listening to JayZ cuz I like him... but I tell you I cringe every time I hear him use the word).
  • I will do my best to describe people in ways that don't automatically say they are a race (and that's very hard to do. VERY hard.)
  • I won't ever buy Uncle Ben's products or Aunt Jemima pancake mix or syrup because they still hearken back to a time when people of African descent were referred to as "mammies"and "uncles" and the early versions of Uncle Ben and Aunt Jemima were less than accurate.
  • I will do my best not to support Nestle, because they have unfairly and inaccurately promoted the use of infant formula in Third World countries, and actively discouraged women from breastfeeding in nations where it would benefit a baby to be breastfed, even when sanctioned by the World Health Organization. Among other things. And this is also hard to do, since Nestle is a HUGE company and owns a lot of other things like Stouffers and Lancome and Purina.
  • I won't ever again say someone isn't "really Black" (and I've said that before... in particular about Condi Rice. Now I just say she's evil but that's another post).
  • I will do my best to research emails and stories and rumors that pass my email box, before I pass them on. If I find out they are inaccurate, I will let people know.
  • I will continue to question, myself, my friends.
  • I will hold high expectations of myself.
  • I will refuse to feed into racism. I won't answer those stupid "what are you?" questions unless there's no way around it; I will love whoever I feel to, regardless of skintone.
  • I will continue to consider myself an American--a sum of my parts, no matter what the world thinks of me or thinks I am.
  • And I will raise my Sun to stand for something. To be dedicated and loyal and kind.

I know these things may never make a difference... but then again they might. I might make a difference, and every day I will live my life to the best of my ability. Maybe my small effort will help to bridge a chasm.

I know that idea is INCREDIBLY corny, and voiced a million times. Michael Jackson sang about "Starting with the man in the mirror" and then proceeded to change his face. I know it's almost a cliche to talk about living an upstanding life. I'm embarrassed to even write it... cuz I'm always the first to say I am one amazingly jaded beeatch. And I really do think people suck. But you never know... you have to hold on to hope somehow.

And Jacqui, if you know your own heart, the substance of yourself and who you are, what does it matter that people step back? YOU stand for you, for your American heritage, who you are. I get "called out" on a regular basis, and sometimes I get mad. But I hold on to what I know, what I've decided to stand for. Like the Professor, there are many "slights" that I don't immediately notice, especially when they are directed at me. I do more often now, though, because I have trained myself to pay attention. Not to racial injustices in particular, but injustice everywhere. I don't think it's my calling to address it or stop it... but it is certainly my calling to think about it, to question it. To wonder what compels people to do certain things... even when they KNOW it will hurt someone. And I resolve not to feed into it...


=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
so the the last part of all this is that my previous post was about the random interview with the Obama supporter who broke it down. But then of course I started thinking, particularly after a posted comment on another blog indicated he was a fake, suppose the guy was a fake? Planted?

So you know I had to go look up the kid. I don't think he was planted because the interviewer had three interviews that day and I encourage you to watch them all. You can view them here. And actually, when you look at him within the context of the other videos, Derrick Ashong is even more compelling. Even if he was a "plant." And it actually makes the interviewer look less "racist".

Then I found Derrick's music site Solfege (music's pretty good. Not my favorite genre, but some of the songs grow on you, Sweetremix in particular). He also blogs. And he's done some acting and some speaking.

Maybe he was a "plant"... he went to Harvard, where Obama went. But then again, Poppy went there too and he's not yet an Obama supporter.

But he's been outspoken for quite some time... and even if he was "picked" or "planted"... it seems that there has always been a light burning in him, that he decided early on to stand for something... and maybe that was his moment to make a stand. And he was ready for it. Would you be ready if something like that was to happen to you?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Couldn't Possibly Have Said it Better

My friend Mr. Davis passed me an email with some links... and rather than take the thunder away from the original blogger, I'm posting the links in their entirety.

No matter what side you're on in this political race... it's worth seeing.

"Video: Interviewer Picks The Wrong Obama Supporter to Try To Railroad"

And the young man in question then went on to post his own response:

"Video: Obama Supporter, Derrick, Responds to the Video and Explains Emotional View".

'Nuff said...

Monday, February 25, 2008

Quick Rant of The Day

(and quick cuz I'm trying to be productive... you know, applying for jobs and stuff like that.)

Racial Profiling
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
I always try to answer either "Other" or "Mixed" when I apply to things, because as I say, I know who the fuck I am and I claim it all.

But lately, I've noticed a disturbing and extremely annoying trend.

  • Black - Not Hispanic/Latino
  • Latino - Not Black/White
  • Native American/Native Hawaiian
  • White
  • Asian/Pacific Islander
If you check off "Black - Not Hispanic" you can't check off anything else.

If you check off Hispanic, you can't check off Black.

And on some job application sites, you can't advance to the next page of the application if you don't check off a fucking race!

Do you know how many people I know who are Black/Hispanic? In particular I think of people from the Dominican Republic, who while there are a bunch who look "traditionally" stereotypically light-skinned Hispanic, New York in particular boasts a large "Morena" population. You know, folks that look like me. (Which is why I get spoken to in Spanish all the time.) And many many many people who's mom is one thing and pops is another. My friend from High School (traditionally "Black" but a real red-toned brother) married a Cuban. What the fuck are his kids?

What the hell is my kid???

Fuckers.

Shit like that really pisses me off.

It ties into the post I intend to write later on... which is, we are who we claim to be. Unless some motherf*cker (ie, the Government) pigeonholes you into a race simply because of the way you look.

Which is always the way it's been. You know one thing that might help stop racism??? Stop MAKING people choose!

I asked my mother recently what it says on her birth certificate--mine doesn't say a race. Because on previous censuses, her family was designated "Mulatto". But at some point that changed, and they became "black". Which is really freakin' funny, since they got lighter in lighter in hue...

Had to add somethin'
In case you don't understand, the reason this pisses me off is because you CAN'T be "Other". You can't be "Mixed". So my kid in particular is going to have a problem...
So we went out Saturday, the Professor, OneHalf, LilacBlue, The Fat Lady and (hmm she's new to the group... lessee what can I call herAH! WhiteHorse, because she was born in the year of the White Horse which she said is one every 100 years or so) WhiteHorse, and myself.

A buncha moms let loose on the Big Apple. WOOOH! Lookout world!

Actually, the other moms don't get out much (not that I do, but I think I get out more than they do), so they did pretty well, under the circumstances.

We met first to eat at Planet Sushi--my new favorite place. I of course was late. Food was good. Professor's not too into sushi which I feel bad for. Cuz sushi rocks, if you ask me. And, it's good for you! The mom's brought me a cheesecake, which the waitstaff brought to me with a candle and song... Then the Professor and I convinced all the moms but OneHalf (she likes her hubby!) to go down to B'way-Houston to Gonzalez y Gonzalez. I haven't been there since spring, I think.

That place is ancient, by New York standards. It must have been there for 10 or 15 years. Maybe more. And before it was G&G, it was called Bar Lui, where the Professor and I and a friend (who's insane) would hang regularly. It was a beautiful place, and they served a blue martini-type drink. That I drank way too many of.

Anyway. The thing about G&G is that there are ALL types of people... all ages, all colors, shapes and size and combos thereof. And the food is pretty good Mexican/Latin, should you care to eat. But the music, the live bands, are slammin' (I wish my Treo had a better mic...). And unlike most other places in NY, you can walk in with nuthin' but a smile and your ID. In other words... no cover. But they getcha on the drinks. Another beautiful thing is that before the band comes on, they give a salsa dancing demo/lesson. Eh, I'm not that good at it. I got my little two-step I do that serves me just fine. If I get drunk enough I can throw in a "dutty wine" or two. But I tried.
video

There was a dude there who was pretty cool; he kept coming over to us to show us the steps. He was smoking weed (I could smell it--I'd know that smell anywhere), but wasn't drinking, which gave him a totally different vibe than most other men, who usually end up getting more and more "friendly" as the night goes on. But he was cool, and I actually enjoyed dancing with him cuz he was respectful and funny.

The Diva, now that she's 21 and can hang, showed up, but the Moms were starting to fade and were on their way out when she pranced in about 1A. The Professor's long-time girlfriend and sort of family-member by way of children-in-common was there too, and we hung out till about 2A.

The next day, Sunday, sucked pretty bad as far as MentalHealthDays go. But at least I wasn't hung over. Luckily, the Sun was with Shoefly so I could weep and mope unbothered for a while, then I sucked it up and went and got him.

I'm just freakin' overwhelmed. I don't even know where to start with anything. Nene called for no good reason, well, he wanted a letter but I'm annoyed at him, too. I overheard him being a whiny sniveling bitch-ass punk on the phone with babymamma the other day, and it annoyed the piss out of me. I hate that she manipulates him the way she does, but one thing I know for certain... when people are in that kind of situation nothing you can say can make them "see" it, till they see it. I should know. I went through it. So on one hand, I feel for him, but on the other hand I've no patience. And normally, I call him out on shit, and I think he called me expecting me to call him out ( I just walked out when I heard him -- no goodbyes or anything) but I wasn't in the mood. I got my own shit going on.

I need to figure out how to cut myself some slack... catch a break, or something.

The voices were especially unkind today. Sometimes they really go off on rants. I think that's why I have narcissistic tendencies, to compensate. Or maybe it's the other way around. Whatever. They can be mean and unrelenting.

But I'll survive. I have no choice...

I want to comment on some of the comments I got to my post the other day, but I don't have the energy at the moment, and besides it's way past my bedtime.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

I Hate Black History Month

I started this post with this title on the 2nd, but didn't get around to really figuring out how to put into words why exactly it is that I hate Black History Month.

Then I realized that the other day, the 21st, was the day that Malcolm X was killed. That seems a good a point as any to start. I've been working on this ever since.

I have always had a kinship for brother Malcolm. He was shot 3 days after I was born. My mother was still in the hospital with me, (in those days the hospitals didn't just kick a mother out right away) and the doctor who delivered me came in to tell her the news. Apparently, he'd felt this was a good thing; Malcolm X was a troublemaker.

My father attended the trial of the two men accused of the murder--he was supposed to write an article for the Saturday Evening Post, but after sitting at the trial every day, he became convinced that one of the men was not guilty, and was being railroaded. He ended up not writing the article; he couldn't say, was uncomfortable writing what he really thought.*

When we got home from the hospital, Bigbear and I, a neighbor came by to visit the baby me and remarked that I had "good" hair... Between that seemingly innocuous comment, the death of Malcolm X and the subsequent trial, my father decided to leave the country. Malcolm X's question rang in his ears :"Who taught you to hate the texture of your hair?" He decided he didn't want me to grow up knowing self-hatred, questioning who I was or where I fit in.


So we left.

We were out of the country for ten years. I grew up not really knowing what racism was. I knew what "caste" was. I knew that in Jamaica the fact that I was "light" compared to my sister was preferable, but the Professor had "good hair" (as I got older my hair ended up being more like Poppy's, and the Professor's was more like BigBear's Native ancestors), but since we were all in the same family, we tended to defy the caste system. The fact that very-light Bigbear was actually married to much-browner Poppy was something of a confusion in Jamaica, because at least back then, "light-skinned" Jamaicans sort of stuck together, marrying their own shade. But "caste" wasn't the same as racism, because everybody was still Jamaican. "Shade" was not the same thing as "race". You were only different if you were from "Foreign", like I was.

I'd had a much earlier experience with racism as a toddler in Paris, but at the time I didn't understand it. I wrote about it here, under the "September 7th" heading. And when we first came back to America in '77, we sat in a Chicago motel watching the racially-charged school-busing protests. But while it was disturbing to see, the protests weren't directed at me.

When we got to New York I experienced racism personally, ironically enough on another playground, this time in Central Park on the upper West Side of Manhattan. The Professor and I were standing on a wooden platform, along with a bunch of other kids, waiting for a tire swing. As the swing came toward us, the Professor got into position to grab the rope to catch it. She was little, and eager and accidentally jostled an older kid standing next to her. The older kid turned to her friend and said "that's the problem with Black people, they're always pushing" or something like that.

I remember being dumbstruck. Speechless. For one thing, the fact that the Professor was "black" had no bearing on the situation whatsoever. Secondly, she was so little. Much younger than the two kids in question. And then I realized we were probably the only "black" kids in the playground. I wanted to leave, but I also didn't want the Professor to know what had happened. I didn't want her feelings hurt. And I was mad. Mad because the comments weren't logical, yet they seemed to carry such weight to the kids speaking. Mad because my little sister was 9 and these kids were older, and mean. And... how could she be lumped in with a bunch of people when the speaker didn't know anything about her?

I remember thinking "wow. Poppy was right. There ARE people who don't like me because I'm brown!" He had always told us about racism, told us how he hadn't wanted us to grow up believing it, and that's why we left America.

But we were ALWAYS American, and proudly so. In Paris, I was American. And later, in Jamaica, brown as I was, I was never Jamaican. My "belly string" wasn't cut there, and so no matter how well I spoke Patois (and I was fluent, yunuh. No twang atall, atall. Mi speak so well mi mudda tell me mi nah fe speak patois inna de 'ouse. Mus ONGLE speak Amercan English! Cho!) I would never be Jamaican.

It was unbelievably ironic that here I was, "home" in my own country, and yet...

While we were in Jamaica, I learned a lot about Jamaican History. I learned the Jamaican National Motto "Out of Many, One People." I learned how Jamaicans celebrated that there were people from all over the world... most usually Chinese and East Indian, but also Pakistani, English, Syrian, American. But as long as they were born there, they were Jamaican.

Through Poppy, we also learned about American History, about the Africans who were brought over as slaves, about the Buffalo Soldiers, about the Indians. About Pearl Harbor and World War II, and how grandpa got a medal for helping integrate the Army. We learned about my other great-great grandfather, Marin, who spoke German and came from Alsace-Lorraine, and left his German wife and children for great-great grandma Josephine, the daughter of a confederate colonel and his slave. How Marin had given his daughter, my great-grandma and namesake, a medal he had won in a shooting match in Savannah. Poppy would show us the medal; it was written in German. We learned about our great-grandfather, the Puerto Rican, who rolled cigars and played guitar and went to jail for smashing all the glasses in an Irish bar in the Bronx, because the bartender smashed his glass after he drank out of it.

At the time, we didn't know too much about BigBear's family history, but we knew that great-grandpa was one of the first "Blacks" at Harvard. Even though he was also partially Indian.

We learned about Frederick Douglas; Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver. I read their autobiographies. I read "Huckleberry Finn" and had to write a book report about it. I tried to imagine what it must have been like for Huck to decide not to turn his friend, Nigger Jim, in to the slavecatchers. I wondered why that was even a struggle for him... afterall, Nigger Jim was better to him than Huck's own alcoholic and abusive father.

Then I came to America. And nothing that I knew was ever discussed during my Global History or Social Studies classes. There was barely any mention of slavery. We learned that slaves picked cotton and tried to run away and got beaten. There were very few pictures. We learned about George Washington, our first President, and about Lincoln, who freed the slaves. We spent lots and lots of time talking about the Depression. We learned about Dr. Martin Luther King. Only the "black" teachers--and among them, only the "cool" ones like Brother Lee the music teacher, ever talked about Malcolm.

As I got older, I became aware of "Black History Month" but I never learned anything really new. I had already learned about Jean Baptiste Point Du Sable, the founder of Chicago, or Benjamin Banneker who built a clock out of wood, having read about them in the pages of the Highlights Magazines that my grandmother sent to us, or in the books Poppy would bring home from the library once or twice a month while we still lived in Jamaica. There would be those lists of "great inventions by Black Americans" like the traffic signal, the machine that mass-produced shoes, and of course Dr.Carver's peanut experiments.

I suppose none of this really explains why I hate Black History Month. I think the thing is... you never really learn anything new. Advertisers, seeking to get their "Black" demographics to buy more Uncle Ben's rice or Colgate toothpaste or Tide laundry detergent sponsor special programs. There are lots of reproductions of Kente cloth, and portraits of upstanding but "safe" Americans of African descent like Martin Luther King, Shirley Chisholm, Paul Robeson, Mahalia Jackson. (My girl over at Swagger City posted a picture of a "Black History Month" display in a local Walgreens.) People talk about the struggle, about our strength as a people, the horrors of slavery. Henry Louis Gates programs about tracing black roots air on PBS, stopping short of explaining that there WAS love between the races. That often "race designation" was an arbitrary thing. He NEVER delves into the relationships between Africans and Indians, other than to remark that the Cherokee and Chickasaw held slaves, or the relationships between indentured Irish servants and Africans. There are lots and lots of pictures of stone-faced and stoic AfricanAmericans in Victorian dress. None of those pictures look like the pictures of my family. None of what I see, including Gates' very interesting programs, explains my family, explains me. All of what is presented talks about the differences between us, between us and "white" Americans. Instead of bringing us together.

And even worse, come March 1st, all is forgotten until next year.

To me, Black History month is polarizing. I mentioned "I hate Black History Month" to my Latina friend, and her response was "I know. Why do Black People get a month? It's not like there's a Latin History Month." And that wasn't my point. Besides, she was wrong... there is a Hispanic Heritage month from mid-Sept to mid-October). And there is Asian-Heritage Month (May), and Jewish Heritage Month (also May) and Native American and Indian Heritage Month (November), but somehow nobody knows about them. And when they find out, nobody seems to resent it.

My favorite comment about Black History Month is "We'd be racist if there was a White History Month". Which pisses me off to no end, because while there's a month set aside for Black History, every day is white history month. As a "minority," sitting in your history class, learning about whatever, it's all from the perspective of the people writing it. And most of the writers are of European descent--at least for the text books. "For the purposes of this class", my History of Graphic Design professor said to me at Pratt, "we won't talk about Africa, since we are referring to written history, to print. And that technology didn't exist in Africa during the Renaissance."

Besides, there are any number of holidays celebrating "white" or Euro-heritage... Presidents Day, for example. Or Columbus Day. Independence Day. Because while we celebrate the Independence of our great country from British Rule, the Constitution was written for white men by white men, since at the time those of us of African descent--many of which were slaves--were distinctly left out of the right to pursue life, liberty and happiness, being that they were considered 3/5ths of a human being. And Veterans Day, which began life as Armistice Day, celebrates white history... the history of white WWI vets. Those of African descent were not allowed to be active soldiers in that war. My own grandfather was shipped off to Europe to shovel horseshit for the cavalry, because "blacks" weren't allowed to be soldiers. Their history will not be celebrated.

I know that Black History Month is supposed to be a good thing. It's supposed to help those of us of African Descent answer the question, "Who are you?"



And yet... "Where are you from?" I'm asked regularly, sometimes after I've first been spoken to in Spanish, and have indicated I don't yet speak the language. "I'm from here. I'm American."
"Oh, but where were your parents from?" they persist.
"From here. They are American, too."
"But what's your ethnicity?" they insist.
"Well, I'm Native and African and Puerto Rican, German, Scottish and Irish."
"Oh, a mutt!" Sometimes. Or "Oh, you're Black." Or "I didn't know Black people had hair like that!"

I know who I am. I am American. I have dug far back in my history, currently as far back as 1817, and of all those folks I dug up, all those ancestors, exactly 3 were from other countries: the man Marin, born in Barcelona but grew up in Alsace. The Puerto Rican Garcia, from Ponce. The Haitian slave girl Ouidette. The rest were all born in this country. There are others I haven't found yet, Serah from Madagascar, and someone on my father's side who had come directly from Africa by missionaries. The Irishman who gave my father's family his last name... who lived with his "black" wife and had many children (8, I think). And of course the parents and grandparents who came from Africa, from Ireland, from Scotland. This history is mine, my every day, my life.

In my apartment, I've collected books, books on the "Black Experience" in America, on Native Americans, on Black Indians. And now books about Albania, so that the Sun can learn about his heritage.

I hate Black History month because I'm American. ALL of this country's history is my history; the good, the bad, the awful. I belong to the bigger picture... my ancestors walked in these woods and fished in clear streams. My ancestors knew the swamps. My ancestors toiled in fields, were bought and sold, and bought their own way out of slavery, ran for government office, worked on the railroads, pulled dray carts. They went to college and founded companies and fought against racism and unfair housing. They were gunsmiths and cigar rollers, businessmen and lawyers. Home makers and social workers, seamstresses and teachers. They are part of this country, part of me. I own them all. I claim them all. Whether they choose to claim me is irrelevant. I couldn't exist anywhere else but here. My Sun will claim them, too, as well as his Albanian ancestors. For me to only claim a portion... set aside the "black" portion to explain my existence, goes against everything I know about myself, about my family. I didn't grow up here; I wasn't taught that I was "different" from other Americans because I was "black". In the context of Europe, or Jamaica, I was American, and that's how I identify myself. I didn't grow up questioning where I fit in, because I knew I didn't fit in in Jamaica.... because I was American.

It's ironic that this year, this February has been an outstanding month in the history of this country. For the first time in the history of this country, a man of African descent is seeking the nomination for President, and actually has a shot. He can hold his own with the nastiest of jabs, can mesmerize crowds without pissing off too many people. In fact, so many people show up to his rallies that sometimes they haven't been able to get in to see him.

Some people welcome him, are anxious to see the history in this country change. Other people are not so welcoming. Some of them are "white". Some of them are not. People have various reactions... and while he has a shot at getting the nomination, and he has a chance at being President, whether he achieves this or not he has already changed the course of history. In my lifetime. For the first time in my adult, voting life, I'm proud of my country for being open-minded enough to see him as a viable candidate, and not just a "black man".

Some Americans of European descent don't want a Black president. They say it's because he's "inexperienced", but some of the anonymous comments I've seen posted in response to online news stories clearly indicate the issue is his color.

Some Americans of African descent don't want a Black president. Some claim they fear for his life. Some claim that if he fails as a man or as a president, his failure will further stain "black" people's reputation. Others feel he's not "black" enough, that he doesn't speak to "black" issues. Some of their posted comments clearly indicate the issue is his color.

This month, in February, I've been reading his first book. Like me, he didn't grow up here. Like me, he understands the difference between "caste" and racism. Like me, living in another country, he was always "American". Until he discovered he was also "black", and learned what that meant. He claims to have first discovered that it might not be desirable to be black when he was 9 or 10, and saw a picture in Life magazine of a black man who had damaged himself, trying to lighten his skin (Life magazine denies the article and photos exist. But in the old Ebony magazine that my mother appeared in in 1957, there are pages of ads for skin-whitening products. And these products exist and are used even today, and some of them cause serious damage. One place in particular is on Two-Five--and BigBear swears it's a money-laundering op since we never see customers in the joint--and professes to sell such a product).

"Who taught you to hate the color of your skin, to such extent that you will bleach, to look like the white man?"

We won't stop hating ourselves as people of African descent until we know our history. We have been stripped of our history, have been told our history was lost, unaccounted for, non-existent. But this isn't true. You cannot erase history. You can "lose it" for a time, but somebody somewhere knows something... you just have to start the process of learning where to look, learning who to ask. Learning what questions to ask and how to ask them. But I have found, when researching my own history, that when I stuck to the "black" section, I found nothing. When I expanded my outlook to not just look in the "black" section, I found amazing things.

Because my history is part of the larger picture, and I know that for all of us--no matter what color we are, this would hold true. If you're born here, you are American.

* Poppy wrote an article about his perspective. It is published here. If you are surfing in from a University site, something that ends in ".edu", you should be able to see it for free. If you're outside of a University domain, you'll probably have to buy it.

Friday, February 22, 2008

But Some Things I Do Like...

...like that feeling of being heard. You can't beat that. I'd written Nene a note saying he hurt my feelings. He asked me why... I told him when he had the time I'd explain it--that I wasn't being "shady" or manipulative, wasn't holding a grudge, it's just I thought it was better said than written. Plus, I don't think he reads that well. (Our schools are failing not just "black" kids. But I digress.)

So he called, and I told him, as simply and as to the point as I could, why. He knew I called him on it; he knew I was right.

And that was it. That's all it took. He told me he was sorry that he didn't feel exactly as I do (though he was careful to say that yes, there are feelings) and that he thought I deserved better than that. He asked if I knew what he was saying... I wasn't. What exactly ARE you saying? Waiting for that "I don't think we should see each other"... but it didn't come. I told him, honestly, I don't NEED for you to feel what I feel though that would certainly be nice, but what I NEED is honesty. As long as I don't feel blindsided, I'm good. I know there's all this time between us. I know that my time is limited... I look good now but that's not gonna last forever, but you, you'll always be sexy. (I'm getting good at this flattery thing.) I told him, yes, I hope I can change your mind... but if not... he interrupted with "then it's my loss, right?" "No," I said. "Then, I just don't change your mind. I know what I'm worth... I don't need that from you." He said something jokingly about how he's supposed to be the conceited one.

I told him I detected hesitation about staying over... was he comfortable? He said snottily "I fell asleep, didn't I?" Men make me laugh. I think us ladies have a tendency to put far more stock in things than we need to sometimes... even me, who understands men a little bit better thanks to my boy. Their needs are simple, and few. It's us that need a lot of stuff.

Yeah, I'm a fool for the boy. It is, Whatever-It-Is. Though I could do without the StopNGo.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

And Some Things I Don't Like...

like the fact that Nene is really young and sometimes just doesn't "get it". And I don't like being a TimePost, and I damn sure don't like StopNGo. And I swore, after watching a much-loved freind deal with the same type of bullshit, that I would never do it. But here I am. And I still haven't decided what the hell to do about it, particularly since my luck at finding MenMyAge WhoDon'tSuck is pretty bad. I suppose in context, Nene is a TimePost for me as well, though the difference is I could easily make it permanent. But whatever. I still think in the end it's gonna be me, the Cat (or A Cat) and a bottle of Corazon Anejo. And hopefully visits from my Sun and his Clan.

He's such a good kid. A while back, I had showed him a grainy, blurry picture of a ManMyAge who I thought might be promising. The Sun looked at him and said "He looks like my Dah" which made me stop and think. I suppose I should take it as a sign that the guy just disappeared after a few lengthy (on my part) emails. And because of the Sun's comment I didn't do a whole lot of pursuing. Truth be told Nene sort of stepped up his presence and what happens is when he does that I forget about looking. But anyway. Out of the blue tonight, on the way home from Karate, the Sun asked me what happened to the guy in the picture. What happened to the date. I said, well, it didn't pan out, I guess.
"Why not?"
"I Dunno," I said, "I guess I wasn't his type."

Later on at bedtime, after I'd kissed him goodnight and started walking out of his room, he said "Mom, I'm sure that if the man had gotten a good look at you, he would have taken you on the date."
"What?" I said, taken by surprise, and walking back into his room.
He blushed. "If he'd gotten to talk to you, I know he would have liked you. You're so beautiful".

Seriously, I guess I should be thankful of what I DO have. Who needs a man, when your kid says stuff like that? (But then I laugh to myself... it really IS in the chromosome, isn't it? That sweet-talk gene.)

The Sun is on Winter Break. He's doing exactly what he said he wanted to do; sleep late, play video games and hang out with the Moon. His idiotic father is barely talking to him. Why?

About 3 weeks ago, I was sitting in Karate waiting for the Sun to finish, and was checking mail on the Treo. I got an email from TF saying he wanted the Sun to come to Cali for the break, but he wasn't sure if he could get the whole week off. And wasn't sure he himself would come get the Sun; might have "a friend" bring him.

Aside from the fact that I bristled at the thought of "a friend" who I may not know, take my child clear across the country on a fucking airplane, all I said to the Sun was "Your father wants you to go to Cali over the break." The Sun shook his head "no", as he went in to change into street clothes. "You don't want to go?" I asked.
"No" he said.
"OK," I said shrugging.

I said nothing else about it, mainly because we were getting ready to leave/walking to the bus/getting home/etc. But I had many thoughts... how it may not be up to us. How I wasn't overly crazy about winter trips, how I KNEW TF would try to get him on my birthday, how I definitely wasn't crazy about someone else taking my kid to Cali. How I may have to tell the Sun he may have to really stick up for what he wanted, talk to the Law Guardian, etc.

As it turned out, TF called the Sun that night to say goodnight. I was taming The Beast for the night... we have to brush it and comb it and braid it at night, and have him sleep in a do-rag, cuz we'd never get out of the house for school if I had to fight with The Beast in the morning.

I heard the Sun say "Naaah" the way he does when he's sticking to his guns but trying to be nice about it, and "Stay home, sleep late, play video games, got to The Moon's". Uh-oh, I thought. This oughta be interesting. When he got off the phone I asked him was he talking to his dad about not going to Cali? He said yes. I told him, "I'm impressed. That was very brave. How did he take it?" "OK" he said. And couldn't be pushed for more.

That same night (though I didn't see it till the next day cuz God was looking out for me and had it to go the Junk Folder for some odd reason) I got The Email I knew would come:

When are you going to learn, STOP COACHING [THE SUN], I just got off the phone and you are doing his hair at 11:00pm. I have said since [The Sun] 3 years old that he should be in bed by 8:30pm and that's what he did when he stayed with me.Do I have to send you a book explaining what [The Sun]"s needs are as a child.As his mother you should know . As the SELFISH person you are, you put your personal issues ahead of [The Sun]'s needs. You have taught that him it's ok to lie, i have caught him in so many lies but what am i to do, i explain to him about his lies and not to do IT but that doesn't matter because you showed HOW to lie and to get your way AND THAT THERE ARE NO CONSEQUENCES You don't teach him how to train at the events that he is involved because he tells me 'HE DOESN'T HAVE TIME' but when i speak to him he tells me he's at [The Moon]'s house ALL DAY, like on January 15 (when he didn't go to school because the beginning of Sabbath but he went to karate )and the 21, the day of your Sabbath also. You cried religious reasons for me not to bring him back in the morning of the 21st( I returned him Sunday night),only to find out you sent him to [The Moon]'s house.also i found some e-mails from last year about my visitation with [The Sun] on Good Friday weekend and that you wanted [The Sun] that Friday night because of your Sabbath( Passover), that's what your lawyer wrote me. So when is it do you follow Passover in January or April ? Like mother teaching son. As for the week of Winter recess you AGAIN interfered with my visiting with [The Sun]. I told you of the situation and You again coached [The Sun] to say he doesn't want to visit me in California.That he want to go to [The Moon]'s, sleep in and hang out. An 8 year old !! What is wrong with you ???? Seriously i have to ask the court for you to get a psychologic exam! You don't want me to pick-up [The Sun] near your home( even when your sister is to drop him off or pick him up ), in a public place, but it's ok off [The Rock] BECAUSE ??????? You didn't want me near [The Sun]'s school?????????????You don't want for [The Sun] and i to play PlayStation online together ??????????????. and so much more !!!. I know you don't like me, I DON"T CARE BUT I AM A GOOD FATHER SO AGAIN "STOP COACHING HIM" !!!!!!

(Editor's Note: - Names have been changed to protect the innocent... but that's it. Everything else is all original.)

I saw it, didn't read it (till just now, actually--and laughed my ass off, especially at the request for a psychologic exam.... um, we already did that, dear... you're crazy and I have Narcissistic Tendencies) and just forwarded it off to Lawyer, particularly since TF felt righteous enough to cc the Law Guardian. I asked Lawyer... do I HAVE to comply with his trip, if he pushes the issue? I told her that The Sun already told his father he didn't want to go, and I swore I had nothing to do with it. Plus, we don't have a signed agreement. She wrote back that while it was true there was no signed agreement, I should probably go along with the visit to show that I'm cooperative and operating on Good Faith.

I trust her judgment and all.... but her stance pissed me off. I wrote back that I didn't even have a chance to take any position about the trip, even though I had objections, because TF had approached the Sun directly, and the kid told him--in his own words, what he wanted. I told her that if the court and the LG and all these other people who keep talking about "The Best Interest Of The Child" feels it's in the best interest of the child to send him across the country for a few days in the middle of winter when we're prone to bad weather, on a trip he doesn't want to go on because they think I coached him, I wasn't going to fight. Be my guest. Particularly when they had no problem believing him when he said he DID want to go. They'll have to answer to God, and to my kid, because I'm done. Beyond done. Feel free to set up a meeting with the LG, so she can convince the Kid herself that he had to go. I told her that the "newbies" on the scene are forgetting that there are/have been/still are some serious anger-management issues, and I'm having a hard time convincing the Sun he's going to be OK staying out there for his allotted TWO weeks in the summer. The Sun thinks a week is long enough.

Also, despite whatever objections I may have and may voice, once something becomes law or a "done deal", I have NEVER interfered with a visit. And I usually don't have too many objections, other than "tell me where you're staying, and give me two weeks heads up that you're coming."

But then I started thinking, and wrote her back to tell her that honestly, I think TF was just blowing smoke up everybody's ass, because he fucked up. And he knows he fucked up. Why?

He was so hellbent on fighting me for 1/21 that he forgot all about February. A smart man, a man who plans, would have said "Hmmm. I'm only coming up for two days. Maybe, hey, I KNOW!!! I'll come up in February, or make him come to Cali in February, and she'll HAVE to let him go because it's in the agreement! And then I'll have more time!" But TF is definitely not a man who plans. So... because he took the time in January, he didn't have the time or the money in February, and really, he was more pissed off at himself than he was at anyone else. But of course, all his life's ills are my fault.

So then the issue sort of died... there were no calls or appointments with the LG. I only got one other email from TF... an article on sleep deprivation in kids (and that's a whole other boring rant but the Sleep Issue goes WAY BACK) and no other emails from Lawyer. Though I'm quite sure that in May, when we go back to court, it'll come up to bite me in the ass.

For now, though, the Sun is doing exactly what he said he wanted to do. I make sure he calls his father every night. The other night I had to threaten him with no DS, and with the Senseis, in order to get him to call. I finally told him honestly and point blank that he needed to call his father because when he didn't call, he made it bad for me. I have enough shit going on without getting nasty emails from your father. He called. And TF has either not answered, or been on the phone less than 3 minutes.

Did you all zone out reading this? I'm sorry. I just needed to vent cuz it's been stewing for a minute.

That and the SERIOUS lack of funds, and various other recurring vents I'm tired of venting about. But the mood has been seriously black and the voices have not been kind.

Then, there's the Intermittent Visits, but despite the the stress of them, I have to say I enjoy the hell out of both The Diva and TinyOne though they are a serious energy drain. That TinyOne in particular.

I didn't drink on my birthday. But I will this weekend.

TEQUILA!

Monday, February 18, 2008

My Birthday

was sort of uneventful.

One the one hand I'm kind of happy about it because I really wasn't looking forward to this day; on the other hand maybe more fanfare would have made me feel better.

I think too, that I have resolved that on the next birthday of a friend, I will call, rather than email or text message.

Bigbear and the Professor (along with TinyOne and the Diva) took me downtown to buy me an iPod Nano; the new cute one that plays video. This is my first iPod, as techie as I am. The reason? Ever since music downloading got to be the "thing", graphic designers don't really get to design cool CD covers anymore. Matter of fact, in Best Buy I was dismayed to find that "albums" are now sold as a gift card. A freakin' gift card! You buy the card that contains a code, go to iTunes, plug in the code and download the album.

What the fuck happened to liner notes? Session notes? Pictures of the artists? Musician lists? Lyrics? Cool artwork? Gone, gone, gone.

So I had resisted iPods, and I hate iTunes because of the proprietary technology, but hell. I'm no stick in the mud. It does no good to protest because the world won't stop and say "Oh, what's your objection? You have a valid point... I should consider this." Nope, the world says "Well screw you! You'll get over it or you won't! Last one in is a rotten egg!" and takes off without you.

Then I get the iPod home and discover that it won't sync on my desktop, because my desktop is still running W2K. I hate XP. They changed it all around and put shit where it didn't need to go. Put all fancy icons and what not, and initial roll-outs didn't run better than W2K. And I need my desktop to work, so I stuck with W2K. I have a laptop that's XP, but it's going to be a freaking pain to sync with that thing. I knew I hated Macs.

But, it's a cute little gadget and I'll sync it with the laptop and be done with it.

Thank you, mommy. Thank you sister.

Another bright spot to the day is that I'm about halfway through Obama's book, which means it's a.) interesting and b.) an easy read. I used to read a lot as a kid but the older I get the less things hold my attention, so the fact that I'm already halfway through means I've been hooked.. I'm mulling over the book and the words as I read it... and I wonder if he still believes. I wonder if he's still young enough and inexperienced enough to still believe he can make a difference; that it's worth trying to make a difference. He did, when he wrote the book in '95. I've wondered about politicians before; how much of their souls do they have to sell to the devil in order to be a politician of any stature and recognition? If he does believe, and if he gets to be president, it could be a really interesting thing.

Other than that, my nose is still stuffy, consequently my face is fat and for some reason I feel extraordinarily fat. In the gut, which is a very uncomfortable feeling. I guess I didn't really need cake...

Happy freakin' 43rd birthday to me...

Stupid Quiz

Haven't done one of these in awhile....

I'm a Porsche 911!



You have a classic style, but you're up-to-date with the latest technology. You're ambitious, competitive, and you love to win. Performance, precision, and prestige - you're one of the elite,and you know it.


Take the Which Sports Car Are You? quiz.

A Dragon's Egg

I'm up cuz I can't breathe, dammit. My nose is SO congested despite several rounds of Sudafed.

I think I don't believe in the concept of The Soulmate. At least I don't, as in A One And Only SoulMate.

It's a question I've been wondering for a while, probably started wondering around the time I realized I've loved several people very deeply in my lifetime, though in the grand scheme of time I'm not at all old. But some of my girlfriends, even, I could easily consider a few of them "soulmates."

I think it's human nature to love more than once. Sometimes even at the same time. I think it's more a question of timing. If you find someone who is a soulmate, you could be with them for the span of your life if the timing is right... if you both live a similar span. If they leave before you, depending on how long you have left to live, you might live without loving someone else. But chances are pretty good that if you live long enough you'd find another soulmate. Like the Immortal in The Highlander movie series. The great sadness of his life was that he would outlive his love. But he would find another.

So my current theory is that love is like a dragon's egg. Or something that needs a catalyst; it can't exist in a vacuum all by itself. There needs to be something to spark it into flame. In the book Eragon, which the Sun and I started reading last year but have yet to finish, a dragon's egg could stay dormant for years until it came into the possession of the person destined to be it's rider. And then it would hatch. Until then, it could be passed around and cared for, maybe even loved, but none of those things could cause it to hatch until it was in the care of the person destined to ride it.

I thought about this weekend, cuz I had a visitor. In my StopNGo love life, I had a "Go" but now I think it's probably on a "Stop" again. It was a good "Go", pun intended. The thing is, I still think I'm a TimePost... just being used to mark the time, though I dunno. It was late when he got here, and he'd gotten a ride--directly to my door--from his "people" which oddly enough threw me for a loop. I'm used to the idea of being his secret, even though I pretty much figured somebody had to know. Guys are way bigger gossips than girls. And day had well broken before he left, which also threw me for a loop. But in between that I felt moments of his discomfort, his hesitation at crossing over the threshold into a new space of Whatever-This-Is.

There are markers in relationship--whatever the nature of that relationship--little things you notice as you navigate getting to know someone. Some of them... sitting in the bathroom while someone showers, staying past daybreak, letting someone cook for you, some of them are highly noticeable, and some of them pass without anyone noticing. But this Whatever-This-Is has been so StopNGo that I notice most of them. Or the lack of some of them. He won't let me feed him, an observation that fascinates me. The Moon wouldn't eat my food either, for the longest time preferring to wait for his "Mom's" but now he'll eat most of what I'll put in front of him. But Nene still won't, though he let me rub his back while he fell asleep.

He had committed to staying till daybreak, but I felt distinct second thoughts. One of the many things I love about him is that he never breaks his word once he gives it, so he stayed. And before I fell asleep I felt my little dragon jostle in its shell, but it didn't hatch. The tiny core of me is still unopened. Still waiting for the catalyst... but I'm still a fool for the boy.

Shoefly asked me later, when I revealed I'd had a visitor exactly what I thought... was he just a scratch? her tone implying I'd be silly to think anything else. That it can't go anywhere. And I told her bluntly "I like him. He'd never get this close to me if I didn't, but it is what it is. But I like him." And she didn't want to discuss it any further, though I could have talked for hours about all the reasons that I do.

Hangin' With The Big Dogs...

my little one was. And he hung tough.

I decided on Saturday morning against taking Cat to the Vet. Neighbor came downstairs to check... they have a serious love relationship those two, and she feels his pain as much as I do. She was willing to spot me the money for his care, cuz Lord knows I can't afford it. Reminds me I need to check into The Sun's Medicaid. Anyway.

Cat isn't drooling anymore, and his eyes are naughty and bright again, so I knew he wasn't in as much pain and the risk of infection seemed to have passed. Because I dread getting him to the vet and dealing with his hatred of being there, I decided to leave well enough alone.

But by this time it was too late to make the trek to Yonkers for the kids class, so I called the Senseis and arranged to meet them at the other branch of the dojo, which happens to be a lot closer to my house. And plus, Shihan teaches there on Saturdays. Added bonus. The Senseis said they would call ahead so the dojo knew we were coming. They also told us the class started at 2:30P. They would meet us there about 3P, after classes were ended at the Yonkers dojo.

The class actually started at 2P, and so was already in full swing when we got there. And, it was the teenager/adult class, only there were barely 3 teenagers. The rest of the class was men. And most of them were blackbelts.

My little man bowed in, found a spot and fell right in. He did 2oo jumping jacks. He must have done a hundred sit ups, the Shihan holding his legs. Whatever the big dogs did, he did. The Senseis are great, but Little Brother Sensei in particular tends to set a faster pace. Whereas Shihan's pace is a little slower, but steady as a ticking clock and my Sun kept up with every beat.

I was so proud. I was also the only chick in the joint, aside from a classmember's young daughter, and the young serious-faced Mexican woman who came to work out for an hour. I sat and read my book, Dreams from Father, a Story of Race and Inheritance, by Barack Obama (I have to write about that later; it's definitely worth reading). The class ended at 4, and the few teenagers bowed out and went home. The Sun came over for a water break and asked if he could stay. And he stayed until they broke again about 5P.

The Senseis teased him about not staying for Katas, but the Sun knows his limits. He was tired. But he hung with the big dogs, and kept up and he was proud as hell. His Senseis, who joined the class at about 3P, were very proud. The Sensei at the dojo asked if The Sun would be back next, and everyone told us it would be OK... even though we pay the Yonkers dojo.

I told the Sun I couldn't have done it--and I was telling the truth. I've a LONG way to go before I could keep up with the Big Dogs.

We went for pizza and then went home.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

BUSTED!

*sigh*.

So I'd made this alternate ego on MySpace, so I could send Nene more um, intimate messages. Nothing really crazy, but I know "people" tend to hang over his shoulder and read stuff while he's on MySpace.

He called me tonight... he was gonna come over but we decided he should visit on another evening since it was already late and I'd just gotten home. He wanted to verify that my alter ego was in fact me. "Well who else would it be?" I asked. He said he was suspicious it might be babymama trying to stalk him. I asked him if she'd given him grief for last weekend, he said she tried but he didn't seem to care much.

So then I said, yeah, it was me. I told him the reason. He said, well, "people" already figured out it was me. Took a look at my likes and dislikes and knew it was me.

SHIT!

Embarrassing. I mean it wasn't that big a deal, but I just find it highly entertaining that a.) "People" seem to know of my existence... I guess(?) that's a good thing. It would also explain why certain other people seemed friendlier than normal last weekend. I guess they figured it wasn't THEIR man I was after. And b.) I really wasn't trying to "disguise" myself but damn. Am I that see-through? Should I have been more undercover?

On the other hand, I'm tight with my "people" too, and my close "people" all know about Nene and who he is, so what the hell. As do a whole bunch of blogreaders I DON'T know.

Maybe I mean somethin' afterall...

Anyway. Not that I expected her to be here with me this weekend since TinyOne is with BabyDaddy this weekend, but um, I'm clearing my house out of ALL folk this weekend. Don't call me! Don't come over!

heh heh

Yeah so what. I'm a fool for the boy.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

My Cat Hurts...

no, really, you nasty bastard. My Cat. The big-eared freak Simba.

I hope I didn't do it. I routinely abuse him... he's a big fat stubborn Abyssinian, with a really annoying voice. They are very outgoing cats. I got him because I'm insanely allergic to cats, and supposedly the breed is the least allergenic.

WRONG!

I can't even pet my cat for long, without my eyes swelling up and my throat closing. When he was a baby, before the Sun was born, I used to bathe him regularly and take him for walks on a leash. He liked neither of those things, but it helped to keep the dander down and I could pet him. Now he has to rely on UpstairsNeighbor (who he adores) for his cuddling.

I was lonely... a single chick. I'd a had dog... a black female I'd named "Girlfriend" but she was neurotic. Then I got involved with TF, and between his psychosis and her chewing up all my shit, I thought I'd go mad, so I got rid of her (shoulda got rid of him but I guess I was lonely). She's another story I'll tell at another time, but a while later I decided I needed a steady companion and decided on a cat. I found several breeders, but one was living in Rochester, on her way to relocating to Denver, and was visiting her son in NY. She told me she'd bring the Cat with her--then 5 mths old. She told me he had a "defect"--a white patch on his chest, and made me promise that if I took him I would a.) never let him outside, b.) never breed him and c.) get him neutered. She also told me she'd give me a break on the price. Maybe she did... but he was still expensive... $550. I couldn't afford him (of course) so she let me pay in installments. His nickname became "$550 the Credit Kitty".

I went to her son's apartment somewhere on the upper west side, and I got there before her. She came in, and let the cat out of the carrying case. Now, most cats would have looked a little freaked out after a long ride on a plane and a train. Not this cat. He sauntered out of the case, poked around, went to potty in a box top filled with sand, drank some water, ate a little food and looked at me like "WELL!?"

He had the biggest damn ears I ever saw on a cat. I knew that any cat who could saunter around like he owned the joint was just the cat for me, so I took him home. I got him neutered. He's never been bred (poor thing). But in the summer he figures out how to go outside...

Funny thing... he never liked TF. TF had keys to my place and used to say that whenever he came in and I wasn't there, the cat would hide. I should have listened.

I got pregnant. Most of my pregnancy, it was pretty much me and the cat. TF and I fought a lot (not hitting fighting, just an awful lot of stressful yelling and lots of phone destroying and maybe a flung/broken sugar jar or two) and then we wouldn't speak for weeks so it was me and the cat and my big belly.

When the Sun came along, the poor Cat went into shock. I have pictures of him sitting near the Sun's little hammock with his ears back like "when is this little fucker gonna disappear????" but he never ever touched him. Never got in bed with him, never sucked all his air out like the old ladies like to tell you they do. But he did get a urinary blockage. And had to be rushed to a hospital. And had to eat very special prescription food for years and years or he'd block up. Very expensive food, I might add. He didn't like the fact that the vet squeezed his bladder. He never forgave him.

A few years ago he got blocked up again. As soon as I got him in a cab he started squawling. He remembered the vet's office and tried to get away. The vet touched him and he hissed. They sedated him, unblocked him, kept him overnight. The next day, early, the vet's office called me:
"Come get your cat. He's terrorizing the office".
"What? MY cat? He never even hissed at the baby!"

I got to the vet's office and heard such a squawling and hissing. Like a wild tiger. "That's your cat" they said. "I've never seen such a vicious cat before" said the vet. I couldn't believe it. Cat calmed down the minute he saw me. I brought him home. I kept him healthy, afraid of ever taking him to the vet again. He once beat the shit out of Romeo, the Professor's little ChiPom, who now belongs to Poppy. Beat him so bad the dog was trembling. But he was always gentle with the Sun. He's not warm and fuzzy, but he tolerates him. He leaves when TinyOne is here.

But something's wrong with his teeth. He hurts. I've lived with Cat for 10 years, and we know each other very well. He knows when I hurt or am sad. He'll put his front paws on my leg, and then reach up to pat my face. When I'm upset, he stays close. When I'm cranky, he stays away. He always tries to sleep in the bed with me. He waits until he thinks I'm asleep and then he sleeps at the foot. He jumps off the minute I wake up. Often, the only way I know he's been there is the enormous pile of hair on the bed, or the fact that I can't breathe. He's fatter than he should be, so I can hear him tap into my room, and stop at the bed. "Don't even THINK ABOUT it" I'll say, and he'll get up and tap over to the radiator.

So I know he hurts. I can feel his pain. It's awful. I hope I didn't do it... I pushed him away the other morning because he was yowling something fierce, pretending he was dying of starvation. He's not... in fact he's fat.

I think he tried to jump on my IKEA recycle bins. They have a slanted shape and if you were to land your heavy-ass cat-self on the front, they would surely tip over. Which they did... I came home and they were on the floor, but I had an old steam iron on top, which I need to throw away. I think he tipped over the bins and the iron fell or knocked him somehow, and his front tooth is loose and crooked. Yesterday he was crying something fierce. Not so much today, but he hurts. He's drooling and he hates that. He knows he's pretty.

I called the vet today. I wanted to bring him but can't before Saturday. He hasn't been there in awhile, so they didn't have a chart on him anymore. I told them, well... I'll need to sedate him before I bring him in. Trust me... you'll remember him when he comes in cuz he's gonna break fool. The vet assistant said she'd have the vet call me back. He never did. Fucker.

I'm feeding him canned food, to go easy on the teeth. I kind of hope it heals on it's own. But if it doesn't, callback or no, appointment or no, I'll take him in Saturday morning. Please send Cat some "get well" vibes....

Valentine's--Bah Humbug

It's early and I'm sitting here writing, to force myself not to crawl back in bed and hide from the world a while. Which is what I really want to do.

Today is valentines day. Over-hyped/consumerized/fake holiday it may be... but it would be nice to have one. I thought about sending Nene flowers but decided against it, mainly because I can't afford to, but mostly because while I do a lot of talking here about how I feel about him, to his face I mostly keep it under wraps. Except when he asks.

Also, it's 4 days away from my birthday, which is Monday. I'll be 43. I'm not really looking forward to it. I think I look damn good for a chick my age, and in this over-hyped/consumerized/fake society that's pretty useful. But inside things are changing, and I feel it.

Fucking unemployment sent me a letter saying they weren't going to give me benefits for those two weeks I didn't go to their "Profiling" meeting. I plan on appealing it. I can understand them not giving me benefits for the first week, because I did sort of blow off the appointment. The second time though, the Sun was vomiting every couple of hours, and there was no one who could come over. And, I called them to find out what to do.

To be fair... I didn't think it a big deal. I sent in paperwork online. And in truth... the "appointment" itself was a complete waste of time. It's just another example of the government making you jump through hoops.

But if you think unemployment is bad... you should try foodstamps or welfare. Which is why I refuse to do either. Besides, I don't think I qualify for either... my "income" is over their limits thanks to Child support. They don't care (Welfare/foodstamps) that my rent alone is $1200. The monthly income requirement for a family of two in New York, to qualify for foodstamps is $1,484. My "income" is twice that at this moment because of unemployment/child support... but as I said rent is $1200, Con Ed is $150 (I'm on a balanced monthly billing cycle.. I have two computers/two printers/several external drives which I USE and are part of the business of graphic design, plus, I have a washing machine. My bill would be lower in the winter, but I'd rather pay a steady amount all year, than pay much higher rates in the summer when we run the air conditioners), I need DSL/phone combo which is $70. In the past when things got tight I cut the cable (now we have satellite... the Sun would be devasated) and reduced my cellphone. But because of TF I maintain a cell for the Sun. And none of that includes food. Or the Sun's Karate classes/tournaments or violin. I live better than a lot of folk, so I can't complain. And the hole I'm in is of my own making. But shit... I paid into Unemployment and it pisses me off that I've got to fight for it.

I've thought about moving, thinking if I were closer to support I'd feel better. Out here, it's just me and ShoeFly. I'm so far away from everyone (or so they seem to think). I commute into the city everyday just about, and I'm used to it. But people bitch like crazy about having to come "all the way out there, *sigh*" so generally, I've stopped asking. The biggest beef about living out here is that you have to switch over to a bus when you get off the train, and the bus comes every 20 minutes, so it is kind of a pain. But I do it every day. But the plus to living where I do is that by New York standards, my apartment is HUGE. And now, cheap. I've got two bedrooms, an eat-in kitchen, a living room large enough to have all my equipment, a desk and a drawing table and STILL have a portion that looks like a living room, a decent sized bathroom (NYC bathrooms can literally be the size of a closet) but most importantly, a back deck. Large enough to hold a patio set, my old futon sofa, some flower pots and a barbecue grill. I would HATE to give all that up to pay the same rent (if I'm lucky) for a quarter of the space. Plus... the Sun refuses to even entertain the thought.

I don't have money to move anyway.

I should get a job. Or something. But right this second all I want to do is crawl back into bed. I think I'll go make some coffee.

But first I'll bitch some more.

Three years ago, when I was the VP of the Parents Association in the Sun's school, and the Fat Lady was Pres (which is how we got to be really tight) we came up with this idea to give a "grant" to the classroom teachers. There were various reasons... the school is in (well, is fast changing from, but still) East Harlem, a "poor" district. The NYC Dept of Education is cheap (in fact, they just ordered cutbacks in the budget), and we knew that the teachers needed things. Snacks... trips, equipment. We had offered to give them money for these things, but to keep track we asked them to submit a request. Some people asked for a lot... some people didn't and it wasn't necessarily for need... Some people are just better at asking for things than other people. So, we decided to come up with a "grant" to give teachers. I think we figured on $5 or $10 a kid, and then we came up with a number to give the Librarian, the art teacher, the music teacher. The first year, by the time we got everything settled, it just happened to fall on Valentine's Day. We didn't make a huge deal about it, just went around and gave out the gift cards.

Last year, we did it again, and Fat Lady had gone the extra mile of attaching a little chocolate. The teachers were thrilled. Apparently, some of the paraprofessionals weren't. Some of them seemed to feel they should have gotten something. I didn't really pay attention to the rumors because as far as I was concerned, the grant was to the class... which included the paras and whatever student teacher happens to be there.

This year, OneHalf is the President of the PA, poor thing. The Fat Lady has no position in the PA, and I took a "communications" role, but we both are there for our friend OneHalf so that she doesn't have to face idiots by herself. As Valentine's Day approached, the principal told OneHalf about the Paras grumbling, and OneHalf went to great lengths to prepare a letter explaining the original intent of the grant. And made sure to say that we supported ALL of the teaching staff.

On Wednesdays, the school has a "community meeting", and so in the hope of making everyone feel included, OneHalf and her VP agreed to give out the money (again in the form of gift cards) at the meeting, in front of the kids. I went in to be there. The presentation went off OK... no biggie... the VP had everyone cheer for all the staff. The teachers, the paras, the student teachers, and then the cards were given out to the teachers, mainly cuz they are head-decision-makers in the class. Cool, right?

Nope.

On the way up the stairs after Community meeting, with kids in tow, the PA, myself and Fat Lady overhear one Para in particular griping rather loudly that she was "embarrassed" to be called up there, when she didn't get anything. I answered her loudly, as did Fat Lady that it was to THE CLASS, not one person or staff member specifically. But she kept bitching. And long story short, when we got to the top of the stairs (4 flights) the loud discussion turned into a flat-out argument, with OneHalf breaking fool. For one, she was deeply hurt because she had put a lot of time and thought into making everyone feel included. For two, the para had no right to be so rude and for three... when you give someone money, how dare they bitch about it! Another para stepped in to try to be reasonable, and OneHalf was explaining how we came up with the formula, how we tried to enusre that everyone understood that the money was for the classroom and everyone in the classroom, but then the first para comes back and loudly tells the other para "You don't have to talk to them. We need to talk to [the principal]". I was amazed. Pissed off. I could see kids hovering, trying to see who was arguing and why and I sent them back to class. OneHalf went to find the Librarian to give her her giftcard, and then went to work.

Fat Lady and I stayed around, and about an hour later got called into a meeting with the principal, the para (who I had ratted out to the principal) and the Librarian, who turns out is the UFT leader for the school.

The principal... who has a REALLY annoying habit of talking to all people as if they are 9 or 10 (but for real... that's who she talks to all day) proceeded to lay into the para (who's had a chip on her shoulder for years... MoodmagicBarbie couldn't stand her when she was in her class). The para denied yelling... denied their were children present. But most importantly, she refused to concede or acknowledge that the grant was to the CLASSROOM. I finally laid out--again--how we came to give the money in the first place, that this was NOT "Staff Appreciation Day" when we actually give gifts to each staff member and cater a lunch, and that it wasn't directed to any one person. I told her traditionally, while there were one or two constant teams of Teacher/Paras, most of the paras could be put in any class, based on whether or not there was a kid in the class who needed a para. So we didn't want to address each para by name, but that didn't mean they weren't included. I told her personally, I was insulted that she would take the gift that way, and I asked her "aren't you part of the class?"
"Well no" she said snottily "I don't feel like I'm part of the class."
"Well, that sounds like a personal problem, " I said, "between you and the school, and something you should address. But it's not my problem... our gift was SPECIFICALLY 'to the class' and not directed at any one person".

She still refused to acknowledge anything, still refused to understand any other point of view but her own. Finally, the principal kicked us out of the meeting... but she stayed with librarian for some time, bitching. Poor librarian.

For most of yesterday I was "amped." I love a good fight, especially when I'm right. And the para is a little psycho... and I'm a pro at arguing with psychos, thanks to TF. The trick is to stay focused on the main point, repeating your position (they'll never concede to it, but it prevents them from "leading you down the garden path" into an endless argument). But it was draining.

And I was really mad... and got madder even, once I got home. I hate people who carry a chip on their shoulder and think they are entitled to something. Those are usually the very ones to say "That's not my job!" and refuse to go the extra mile for anyone or anything, unless it directly benefits them. Yet, they want to be acknowledged for every little thing they do. And they tend to bully their way through life, intimidating people to give them what they want. And sometimes they just need their asses kicked (figuratively speaking). I was glad to kick her ass yesterday. But it made me really tired...