Monthly Archives: November 2005

Urgent: Courts May Take New Direction!

I was trying to think of some Fox News-esque type headline. 🙂

To some people (a.k.a. Sujal), many people support or poo-poo a potential justice based on one issue — abortion. I disagree. The right to choose is a civil liberty, a symptom of the ills that still plague women’s status in society. Yes, even our modern American society. The issue is about social class, gender equality, separation of church and state, and “parents’ rights” — which as far as I’m concerned, if right-to-lifers want to follow their line of logic that life begins at conception, then they should be calling it Grandparents’ rights — because parents’ right would be the rights of the pregnant teen (or tween) daughter and the father of the unborn. So in essence, parents’ rights are still the rights of the pregnant young woman.

At the point that a girl is pregnant, parents should have already begun to impress upon their daughter the importance of sound decisions. This is also a reason I am in favor of sex ed in schools. None of this is new, of course. We’ve heard the arguments for both sides for a long time now. It makes me sad that this is still an issue. It makes me sad that people don’t see the word “bitch” as the epithet it is. These thoughts tie into my post-shower musings from today.

I had this funny jump of thoughts this AM that began with thinking about boy bands because of this link that Sujal showed me. One thought lead to another, and I had this memory that made me very sad. I believe I was in 9th grade, sitting in front of “Ray” in homeroom. Ray and I shared no classes, so I didn’t know him very well, but I liked him in terms of being a homeroom pal. My memory of him is that he was not wildly interested in school. He was in a clique (if I recall correctly) that we at my HS called the freaks — though freak was not as insulting as it is in regular speech (though being called a freak can rarely be construed as a positive thing.) Other terms for the group: heads (short for potheads), stoners, metalheads, etc. Really, there was this strain of classist divide going on there. My clique was the punk crowd, which was on the same side of the class divide as the freaks. Nonetheless, Ray, the freak, and I were homeroom pals. We also chatted with “Nicole”, who sat nearby. Nicole was also a freak, and as most freaker chicks, she was a “known slut.” I remember one day Ray, teasing I’m sure, put his hand on my back and caressed me. Being the prim and proper, naive girl that I was (i.e. good catholic), I turned around and said to Ray, “Don’t do that! Maybe SHE (pointing to Nicole) likes it, but I don’t!” So this morning, looking in the mirror, I uncovered that ugly wrinkle in my past.

How did Nicole end up being the target when she wasn’t even involved? I misplaced my blame and anger on an innocent girl. Why? She was an easier target. I also clearly recall “Michelle” who was also a “known slut.” She was in my gym class, and the other kids were really nasty to her, challenging her to fights, calling her a slut, etc. Being on the same side of the class divide, Michelle and I hung together during gym. She was one of the most soft-spoken, kind people I’d met in high school. How did she become a target for harassment by being labeled a slut?

I don’t believe that there is such a thing as a slut; there is only objectification and anger that is easily placed on women (often by other women). If I have a daughter, I am going to teach her that there is no such thing as a slut, to not judge people by a “reputation” like that. I’m going to teach her to recognize double standards, and that should she get called such a thing to try to recognize it is misplaced aggression. If I have a son, I will teach him these same lessons, though he cannot be called a slut and have it carry the same stab.

How does this tie in to the supreme court discussing an abortion law? I do not understand why there are still sluts in our society. I do not understand why people believe it is their role to control the behaviors and decisions of girls and women more than boys and men. Damn! This law is coming from New Hampshire — the Live Free or Die state. I read this article in the New York Times this afternoon. Here’s a snippet from the article:

In asking the justices to restore her state’s law, which was passed in 2003 but has never taken effect, Ms. Ayotte was sharply questioned by Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Anthony M. Kennedy and David H. Souter after she asserted that another state law would guard a doctor from legal action, and that in any event the state attorney general’s office would lay down a policy shielding physicians in such cases.

Justice Souter challenged Ms. Ayotte’s assertion that a doctor who performed an emergency abortion would be “constitutionally protected” from prosecution or civil liability. “What do you mean when you say it would be constitutionally protected?” asked Justice Souter, who is from New Hampshire.

Justice Breyer seemed skeptical about her statement that another state law would protect a doctor in an emergency situation. “How do we know that’s the law?” Justice Breyer asked. He said “people of good faith on both sides” might disagree on whether the other law conferred such protection.

If it is not clearly worded in the law, prosecuters will be able to try to prosecute doctors acting in an emergency. It will also cause doctors to have to make tough decisions, where they may want to abort because of imminent danger, but the imminent danger may be debatable. They may fear that another expert may say that the mother would have been fine to carry to term.

What troubles me more is this excerpt:

But Jennifer Dalven, a lawyer for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, which challenged the law, said that even a minor delay can be disastrous. “As the nation’s leading medical authorities have explained, delaying appropriate care for even a very short period can be catastrophic and puts the teen at risk of liver damage, kidney damage, stroke and infertility,” she said.

Ms. Dalven met with some skepticism when she said that the provision for a judge’s order can be a dangerous obstacle. “Once a minor arrives in the emergency room, it is too late for her to go to court,” she said.

Justice Antonin Scalia wondered what would happen if the state created “a special office, open 24 hours a day” to field just such emergencies: ” ‘This is the abortion judge.’ It takes 30 seconds to place a phone call.”

So Scalia has this brilliant idea to have an on-call judge. How will the judge be appointed? Now there’s a disaster of bias waiting to happen.

Instead, why don’t we stop treating pregancy as a punishment for premarital sex. The parental values of “might makes right” is actually quite juvenile. Teens and tweens need sincere input (driving input) into the major decisions that will affect their lives and bodies. Parental consent laws like this are for protecting those parents that are overprotective. Clearly, if a child wants an abortion without her parents knowing, there is a reason for that.

Most of us probably know girls who had abortions, particularly who really could not tell their parents without having had awful results. I recall a chat I had with two of my catholic relatives several years ago, and both disagree with abortions in general, yet they both agreed that a friend they had needed the protection of being able to make that choice without having to tell her parents. Her parents would have done something drastic. Ugh, and socioeconomic class is so deeply tied in as well, so no, I do not at all think that rejecting a potential justice based on his or her past rulings around the right to chose is a single issue at all. Not at all. I have no interest in hanging my rights on the coat-rack and grabbing my apron as I head into the kitchen. None at all.

Poetry in CT

Recently I went to a poetry reading in Middletown, CT at The Buttonwood Tree with my co-worker, Jeff. It was a reading of area educators (k-12, college, and artists in the schools). Because there is a ton of bad poetry out there, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was very impressed! Not all of it was amazing, but it was mainly very good poetry. In part I wanted to go because Jeff was reading from his new book: Rumor of Cortez. Jeffrey Levine, featured on Poetry Daily, runs a small literary press out of Dorset, VT (near my beloved Bennington), called Tupelo Press. His other book of poetry is Mortal Everlasting.

Another poet I liked was Ravi Shankar. He also has as online journal, Drunken Boat. And then I also really liked Richard Deming’s poems. He had a particularly great style of delivery. It wasn’t anything fancy or off the wall, just very genuine. I met him and his wife, great couple, and they also run a press: Phylum Press.

All in all, it was a good evening, with the obvious downfall of the location’s name. Now, the Buttonwood Tree is a great venue. It’s a cozy space and it has a literary feel to it, but anyone who knows me will know that I will probably avoid the place like the plague. (Side note: Sujal has been telling me for a while to put my poems online, and it just seems wrong for me to “publish” them myslef, but in this case, I am going to post one of them.) For those who don’t know me so well, this poem should give you pretty good insight into why I cannot tolerate the name:

Buttons

Why is it that people just don’t get it?
How can they casually drop that word?
You’ll be having a perfectly nice dinner
And ka-TAC-al,
The word drops
Just like the sound of it hitting the table—
The evil object, the evil word, the evil sound of the word:
Button.

Oh why can’t people understand how vile they are?
First to look at;
Some are white or a smoky translucent
Plastic
With the four sneering holes
And they have that round unsightly ridge
Like the lip of a plate—
Ugh—how awful!
They may be blue, brown, pink, or yellow,
Small, large, ridiculously enormous.
Sometimes they are supposedly practical,
Sometimes decorative;
Even worse, people make crafts—
Using buttons.

Oh and to touch them
Their general small flatness,
The cloth covered or pearl-like ones aren’t as bad,
But then you have to deal with that word:
Pearl.

Sometimes they are difficult to work,
Or they become loose,
Fall off,
Need replacing.
How high maintenance can clothing get?
Sometimes there are too damn many,
Or they open
Or don’t open.
Sometimes they try to be pretty,
But they never are.

Then there’s the word;
Look at it.
It’s garish,
Just an ink stain on the page.
But the sound of the word—
A burst of noxious air
Evoking an image of a rounded Caliban,
A deformity of words.
Who could possibly love a—
A—
I can’t even say it—
Button?

Yes, of course I am able
To live in a world where other people
Wear those deplorable hooligans.
But as for me,
I will only stoop to wear them
On rare and lamentable occasions.
Buttons!

Other than the awful name, I’d really like the place, but I’m going to have to chalk it up to another CT oddity, sort of like the driving here.

The Haircut

Last weekend, Sujal and I went to a haircutting ceremony. Yes, many of you westerner friends of mine are saying to yourselves, a haircut? Yes indeed. In Sujal’s family there is a special ceremony for boys. A baby boy’s hair is not cut for the first several years of his life. Then when it is time, there is a big event that happens. Everyone comes together to witness the hair cutting, which is both a celebratory and religious event. Sujal had this done when he turned 5. His parents have a very adorable picture of him with his newly shaved head and he’s wearing a little hat and has a garland of flowers around his neck. It’s very cute. This hair cutting was for Sujal’s cousin’s boy, Avi. In Avi’s family, the ceremony happens at age three, but our son, should we have one, will have his at age five.

I tried to look up some information on this event, and it seems that the traditions vary between families greatly. This I learned from many of Sujal’s relatives. Some family, Jain and Hindu alike, don’t do it at all. Here’s what I found on the web, though I do not know how good any of this info is: defining Mundan and Munjan.

I really enjoyed the experience, and I was happy to be invited. The big thrill for me was not only to watch Avi get his hair cut but it was mainly to meet Sujal’s entire family, most of whom I had not yet met. Everyone was very warm and welcoming, something I think we all worry about when meeting the extended in-law family. I got to wear my first Indian outfit, and if I had a picture, I’d post it, but we didn’t bring a camera. We were blessed by some relatives, teased by others, and warmly congratulated on our engagement by all. I really enjoyed chatting with many of Sujal’s cousins, and I met his cousin who lives in Austin, TX, so we will have to visit her next time we stay with my sister. It was a very good day.

Wedding Page Updates

Take a look at our updated wedding page (to the right). I still need to do a bit more updating, but everything is now hyperlinked for easy use.

Look! My site got a face lift.

As you can tell by my gorgeous new layout, I’ve made a few changes. Or I guess more accurately, Sujal made a few changes, under my direction, of course. 😉 We figured the photo in the banner had to be of someplace in Connecticut, and this was taken at a West Hartford celebration. Is there are better place? So what do you think?

West Hartford Elections

I am not as well informed as I would like or ought to be about local and state politics, so as I mentioned before, I subscribed to the West Hartford News particularly so I could learn about the candidates up for local election. Sadly there have been no articles. The only helpful info was a listing of the times that the debates would be aired on local access TV. Unfortunately, I’ve been working a ton lately and haven’t been able to watch TV, particularly the nights when the debates aired. Actually I wanted to GO to the debates, but had no clue where or when they were. I tried googling around to no avail. What I did find is it seems like Beth Bye is very qualified in that she has a lot of experience working in education. But here’s a scary thing — when you google West Hartford Beth Bye this blog comes up on the first page. Why aren’t there news sources for local politics? Can anyone tell me some more information on the various candidates other than the glassy mailings I get? Comment away!

Look! It’s Fievel.

So it turns out the flic An American Tail was right all along, according to this CNN report.

Somewhere out there beneath the pale moonlight, someone’s thinking of me, somewhere out there out where dreams come true.

Wallace and Grommit

Sujal has been asking me to write a review of Wallace and Gromit since we went to see it about 3 weeks ago. Well, here it is. The film, yes film, was decent. I liked it in that it was Wallace and Gromit-ilicious — Gromit, the poor, mute dog that always goes through so much bologna for his friend Wallace. In this film, he has a beloved watermelon. He’s such a hapless pup. that Gromit. And I love when he knits. Truly, the claymation is great. The detail of it is unlike any other claymation I’ve seen, and I’m a connoisseur from the days of Davey and Goliath, christian claymation at its best. Truly, the expressions on Gromit’s face alone are worth seeing the movie. Wallace is also well claymated. And we all love Wallaces proclamations of “CHEEEEEEESE, Gromit, CHEEEEEESE!” Oddly enough, as Sujal had been badgering me for days to write this review, I was annoyed that he ate all of the cheese, and when I said, “I can’t believe you ate all of the CHEEEEEESE”, I had to end it with, “Gromit.” Thus reminding me once again to write this, which I promptly forgot. What madew the film merely decent instead of being amazing is the fact that it was trying to be a bit too filmish, if you will. One of the things I love about Wallace and Gromit is its ability to just be what it is, cleverly innocent. In one of the original episodes, A Grand Day Out, Wallace and Gromit are out of cheese so they go to the moon, because everyone knows it is made out of cheese. This film, Were-Rabbit, gets a tad too action-flicky toward the end, complete with fiery explosion. Don’t get me wrong, it is still pretty innocent, but it loses a touch of it by trying to add too much “suspense”. If I wanted to see a suspense film, I wouldn’t see claymation. Here is another link to “A Grand Day Out”. Overall, I did enjoy the film, and I just get so excited by the music!!

Here are some additional links:
Official Site
BBC Report — who better to cover British claymation
NY Times review
Fire article
Guardian article on fire

Wedding Update

We have a date and a place! It will be on July 29, 2006 at the Bar Harbor Inn. We are very excited. It’s nice to finally at least know a place and date.

Patricia Williams

So I’m having my senior class read Ironweed by William Kennedy, and it is a really good book. I wish I could say I felt the same about all of the books in the curriculum, but alas, I cannot. I’m trying to introduce literary criticism to the students, and I have been giving them definitions. once in awhile, I give them critical essays. I remembered Patricia Williams’ book The Alchemy of Race and Rights. This book left quite an impression on me when I read it in grad school, and one of the specific characteristic I love about Williams is her tenacity in seeing the world in shades of grey. I thought about the book in conjunction with Ironweed, because I remembered some of her anecdotes about people’s reactions to the homeless. I decided I’d have my students read that section, because discussion broke out into, “I won’t give money to the homeless because they’ll just drink it.” While I can understand why the students who espoused those views believed them, I’d like for them to see the perspective of a larger view of homelessness as a systemic problem. Hopefully an interesting discussion will ensue. The school where I teach tends to be pretty liberal, yet I think I have a generally right of center class.