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You're Still Here??

Amazingly, though I haven't posted to this silly thing in YEARS, here it sits. Waiting. Well, for anyone who's still reading I've got a blog over at http://www.darkfoolsupergenius.com/

Head on over and see what I've been up to for the last, um, decade or so.
So no shit, today I got compared to a pedophile, a thief, and an adulterer. Interestingly it was couched in the "loving" language of a Christian. I suppose preaching what they thought was tolerance. Basically the argument was in reply to a JCPenny's ad campaign that has a gay couple in it.
The person had replied that he didn't like it because he didn't like to see sinful behavior being so publicly displayed. When someone scoffed that it was a fairly bigoted thing to say he actually had the balls to respond, "I'm surprised you're actually playing the Bigot card on this. It's a WAY overused simplification. I know just as many "bigots" against religion as there are against homosexuality. How often are gays labeled Bigots, though? Yeah, homosexuals are born with those tendencies. But, the pedophile is also born with his tendencies."
He went on to blubber about how thiefs and adulterers are following natural drives too, but we don't plaster them all over bilboards. I coulda slugged him. "You compare me to a thief, an adulterer, and a rapist and then claim that you're the one being persecuted when I have the audacity to object? Are you fucking serious?"
This is the third time in less than a week that some Churchian has called me a bigot because I was unwilling to agree with them that I'm a disgusting pervert. Or at the very least that they have the right to sing from the rooftops how I'm bad for America and that I should pay them to do it. And what has prompted this revived hatred for all things homo? What has allowed people to hide bigotry behind 'freedom'? What has fired the cauldron of religious fundamentalism to cause this fulminate of suppressed sectarianism to bubble to the surface? A jackass restaurant magnate decided to open his big mouth.

Chick-fil-A is a chain of national fried chicken eateries that were in Wichita, then weren't, and are now back. They used to be in the Towne West Mall, in fact they had a booth right across from where my mother worked for SouthWestern Bell's phone store. She's hated them for years because they made the women wear short-shorts and make lemonade in a special press in such a way that the girls were forced to bend over and shake their asses at anyone who happened to pass by. Sexist pigs is all that ever came to mom's mind when she heard the name Chick-fil-A.
But now the president of the company, during an interview some weeks ago, admitted that they donate thousands to groups like Focus on the Family, Exodus International, and a handful of other organizations that fight against gays, science, whatever is progressive. Holy shitstorm Batman! Lines were drawn almost immediately, both literally and figuratively. Facebook was overrun with hate/support, the mayor of Boston issued a statement telling the company they weren't welcome on Freedom Mile (which for anyone like me, passionate about Native history, is so rich with irony as to be almost impossible to comprehend). Most damning of all Jim Henson Company released a statement that they wouldn't do business with Chick-fil-A ever again forever never until they see the error of their ways. I think the Bernstein Bears even got involved at one point for some reason.

One of my friends decided to try to pick a fight with me on FB by posting several articles about how the queers need to sit down and shaddup because the protest was stupid and boycotts never work anyway and who cares about gay rights . . . What seemed to be most important to both the authors of those articles was that not eating there would cost the company money, and in a recession that's just mean. Interestingly both of the articles were terrible not for proposition but for the argument they offered. I said so, I also said that I'd hate to be the one in a room full of Russians saying "Hey, Stalin created jobs!" My friend told me I was being offensive.
He then tried to pick a fight with other friends, ones his wife had offended four years ago after their daughter had died by going on and on about how they were still celebrating her birthday and how she didn't like that. I don't know what they had to do with the discussion, but by that point I didn't care. I warned the friends that he was lashing out and had tried to get them involved. Little did I know how deep this would go. Friends I've had for years were posting joke photos of doctored McDonald's signs which said "We support Chick-fil-A, just try to boycott us". The level of menace met only with the disgust I felt.
I've known about Chick-fil-A for years, many of my political/activist connected friends have. I don't know why this is a watershed. I suppose most really important events in history start as something fairly innocuous. For a lot of people it has become a rallying cry. And like I've said, this is now the third time in a week I've been called a bigot for not letting a bigot pontificate on how I'm a disgusting pervert.

One of the better responses I've seen was, "I think it was Clements who said, 'History doesn't repeat itself; it rhymes.' To have a problem over the lifestyle of someone you've never met, and to reject them for a behavior that has nothing whatsoever to do with you, is bigotry, pure and simple."

Do I think, in the grand scheme of things, Chick-fil-A matters? Not really. I think gas guzzling SUVs, that do nothing more than increase our dependency on OPEC and fund Middle Eastern Islamic fundamentalist regimes that hang gays publicly, matter. I think fish-tank sized bowls of pasta, being served for pennies in the form of Raman Noodles that are almost exclusively extruded corn syrup and wheat gluten, that have made the US basically Monsanto's back yard and deleted the local grower from the market, matter. I think rates of childhood obesity that would make ancient Rome blush, and college educations that require mortgaging your house to pay, matter. Chick-fil-A is a blip. But for showing me people who were possibly toxic over time to my mental health, it was a handy blip none the less.

Yesterday a bunch of jackasses lined up in front of Chick-fil-As across the country to support their "beliefs" and it looked exactly like those photographs of people lining up to scream at the black students that were being escorted into schools. 30 years from now my god-son will look at those pictures and think "my god how far we've come". And that alone might just be worth the abuse.
The last week has seen it pointed out to me in very stark contrast that I am not the 22 year old my brain occasionally wants to pretend I still am. It's fitting that this should happen during what, for my tribal ceremonial calendar, is the new year. The time of throwing out the old and welcoming the new and the purging of that which is no longer useful.

1) Sitting in the back office, getting harassed by two female employees about use of slang terms and finally one of them offering, "You're just not that cool are you?" To which I replied with very little hesitation, "I haven't needed to be cool since before you were born, I don't feel the need to go back to it now."

2) Confronting the teenage brain's only questioning the things they want to question: Getting told off about my use of the word 'Indian' when referring to myself because they "told us in school that's not right". Replying "I'll be sure to let me know if I get offended."
The reply offered to that was, "Well I'm part *Native American* and I'm not going to say it because I'm offended."
Not wishing to miss the opportunity I asked "Which tribe?"
"Iroquois." She said matter-of-factly.
"That's like saying 'I'm from Canada', the Iroquois is 6 different Nations. Which Tribe? Seneca, Onidaga?"
"Well . . . I . . . Don't know. But I know it was Iroquois."
"Ahh," I finished, "So I can tell you what neighborhood I'm from, and you can only tell me what Country, but I'm the one who's missing information?"

All that I needed was a cane to shake.

3) I was introduced to my boss' wife during an employee open house (I'm still getting used to the idea that my boss is within about two years of my age). Some friends from high school were also invited. Wife and I feel a vague sense of having met before, but it's fleeting and one of their daughters takes off so we don't get to flesh out where/when, so we both assume it's a time when she's visited the museum while I was working.
About half an hour later, standing with the friends, one of them recognizes previously mentioned wife as a former co-counselor from a Girl Scout camp that has been closed for several years and that I once visited during an open house. Turns out everybody knows each other and the reason we felt vaguely familiar is that I met her almost 10 years ago and she'd heard stories about me.

The best for last -
4) Standing at the customer counter with a friend we sang the first few lines of the song "What I got" from the band Sublime (a song by the way that was on regular rotation for two years while I was in high school and which anyone my age can sing at least part of without thinking). We got to the first round of the chorus and stopped, at which point one of the three teenage employees sitting behind the counter asked, "Did you guys just come up with that or is that from a show you did?"

And just to clarify, my hip's been giving me fits for about the last two days. Like I didn't already get the message. If I lived traditionally, I'd be considered middle aged. I don't mind being an elder, I just wish I felt a little more prepared for it. I've got some work to do at not defaulting to seeking approval from the people around me. This is definitely shoving me in that direction more forcefully. Seems my development is progressing faster than I expected.
A few days ago in Colorado, at the premier of the latest Batman movie, some kid took some modified AKs and about 6000 rounds of ammo and killed a dozen people. He injured another 50some and became the latest in a string of mass killings that have been getting rather popular these days. In fact, it's become common enough that there's a song which was released not too long ago and is still in the charts (to the point that I heard it on one of the pop stations this afternoon) whose chorus is "All the little kids with the pumped up kicks better run, better run, faster than my bullets".*
Not surprisingly this has again brought up the issue of gun control and violent media. Interestingly I've also seen a few Facebook posts regarding prayer in school and what happens when we substitute Science for God in those damn liberal commie colleges (the shooter was in a University of Colorado Neurology Master's Program until about a month ago), and even one that suggested that it argues for nationalized health care because then he could have had that mental problem of his seen to before he went and killed people.
There's also been the general faff about the media and its willingness to feed on the misery of others and the sensationalism of local tragedies. All of which seems to me to miss the point of what actually happened. I've put some pithy remarks on FB, I've deleted some friends for being absurdly militant when it's completely unwarranted, but I'm as surprised at my own reaction as I was at anything anyone else said. And I feel the need to flesh out a few thoughts:

1) National health care and prayer are red herrings. He was a university student, they offer free counseling. Even if they didn't and the state did he would have had to go voluntarily and obviously he felt there were more appropriate ways to vent his stress than to talk about it. And the prayer thing is pretty much in the same vein. If he wasn't telling a person about it, telling God about it is doubtful to have done much different.

2) The gun control issue is shallow. There's a common pic going around FB right now that shows Gene Wilder as "Willy Wonka in Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory" with various captions that mock one group or another. It's been popular for a few months and it generally says something like "Tell me again about how your racist statement isn't racist because you have black friends" or some other example of an oxymoronic premise. But the big one currently making the rounds is "Tell me again about how gun control stops criminals".
The implication being that with all the restrictions on gun ownership that we currently have this still happened. I'm somewhat ashamed to admit it, but I'm kinda proud of myself that I've managed to make more than one person delete posts of that kind by simply replying, "Colorado is a conceal carry state. Tell me again about how an armed populace and lax gun laws make a safer society."

3) What no one is talking about, and what I think would be a much more interesting topic (and what I don't think I would have even speculated if I wasn't getting a second degree in Social Science) is: what does this say about how fucked up our society's view on masculine responses to stress is that we're not remotely surprised that some guy who washed out of an intensive Master's program went on a shooting spree? I wonder what the responses would have been if it had been a woman. Would they be using words like "snapped"? It reminds me of Dr Lawless' repeated references to societies that expect extreme levels of uniformity and what that does to individual psyches, drawing on his work in the Philippines. It's so common there that they have a word for it: amok. A word which in English generally means "to go crazy" but in Java means "to fly into a murderous rage".

4) Building on point 3: what does it say of our society, that a second aspect of this event that is not even being touched on (except of course for people to say that he was in a really hard program in school) is the insidiousness of competition based education. Where one is not working to better one's self (after all, it's called a Doctorate of Philosophy, not a Doctorate of Superiority) but to best one's peers. I have found a total of 1 article in the last three days that even mentioned that he was in the first year of the program, and the end of that year is when they have to give an extensive oral presentation which determines whether they're even allowed to continue to the second year. He dropped out a month ago remember. It seems to me there's a huge issue that's being ignored there.

5) There is much to be said about the attempted media feeding frenzy that almost immediately ensued. Yahoo! News and CNBC's homepage were showing three and four versions of the same story from various angles, and I'd heard about the whole thing on the radio because the music was interrupted by the DJ discussing it during the "Top 20 Countdown". And yet, being someone who tracks social trends I was actually heartened by what happened next.
A journalistic backlash happened that had The Onion running a satirical story which gave a Timeline of Crisis that purported to have a minute to minute schedule of the next four weeks of news coverage and who would be interviewed and what they would say. The Guardian in the UK ran a story on its front page about how quickly the cynicism would overtake the grief and people would start screaming at each other and past each other. But even though both criticisms were valid, and demonstrated that at least some people thought that anything other than leaving these poor people alone was just wrong, neither of their predictions came to pass. In fact what did happen was I went to Yahoo! News twice that day, once in the morning before work and once after I got home that afternoon.
There was one story in particular that I found offensive which was a profile on a kid who'd been killed on his birthday (the premier ticket had been his birthday present). The story was headed by a photograph of his father and mother, obviously taken just after they had been informed that their son was dead. The father's face was contorted in what looked like some sort of scream and it was clear that this was the lowest point of their lives. Yahoo!'s news stories are based on hits, the more people who click on them, the closer they are to the #1 story. By the time I got home, the #1 story was about an Olympic swimmer from four years ago and what a dick he was. The story with the picture of the parents wasn't even on the list.
This tells me that people looked at that photo, and rather than clicking on it in their droves they saw it for what it was and moved right along. Collectively, we saw a picture of a man at the single worst point of his existence, and we said "Nope, I want no part of this." Way to restore my faith in humanity America.

*For those of you reading this after it's no longer true, "kicks" refers to shoes, so the line translates to "You better hope your pretty shoes help you outrun my gunfire".
Cat is now in a cage. Here's how it works:

Broke leg, got tranquilized, got over tranquilized, kidneys took a nap, kidneys woke up, digestive system shut down, digestive system kicked back into gear by force-feeding, all the while wrapping on leg has to be taped daily because she's trying to rip it off.

So all that happened, and finally she goes in for her three week check up, the x-ray shows practically no healing. I suppose it's not surprising since right in the middle of the healing process she basically didn't eat for four days. But it means she'll be wrapped up for three more weeks. She is NOT happy. But, she's eating on her own and limping around the house like a champ. We start calling her Peggy (get it??).

Go back in for another x-ray, STILL no healing. Doc says we either put her in a cage to limit her movement to near nothing or she may have to amputate. Goodie. So now she's in a cage and we're carrying her back and forth between the front room to eat, and the back to sleep. In the back room she screams like she's dying. So we put her in the front room permanently and it's like she's holding court. In the mean time, vet consults with a kitty bone specialist who says there's actually some evidence of bone knitting in the last x-ray. So there's a vague chance that she'll one day have a working leg again. We get that news on the same day that the cat, not kidding, soaks her leg wrap in her water dish and pulls it off. And she is SO over not being allowed to run around the house.
All good things must come to an end. Which is a aphorism I've never liked, I prefer the less depressing "change is inevitable". I'm sure some would see me as a pessimist in that I also like the more poetic but also more somber "This too shall pass", which I've heard quite often as the fake Brooklyn Jewish inflected "Could be worse. . ."

I suppose the most emotionally neutral version of the idea I've ever heard is the basic mathematical statement that gets used for ironic purposes in Fight Club, "On a long enough timeline, everyone's life expectancy falls to zero." Or Godwin's Law that the longer an online conversation, the more likely someone will be compared to Hitler.
All of this is a very longwinded way of saying the high I've been on from getting my Anthro degree, getting a job I love, getting promoted, possibly finishing my second degree in the next semester, and generally having a grand few months, took a serious blow. My last half of the week totally fucking sucked and I was in the worst place mentally to deal with it. So what a shock, I'm writing an LJ post about it. Drama queen to the end . . .

Friday work went fairly well, though I find myself somewhat uncomfortable lately as my down times mean my sense of time screws up and I was almost 20 minutes late that morning. I've been as much as half an hour late to work several days running. Thankfully my boss hasn't ridden my ass about it but it's still annoying.
So I clock out later than I thought I would, which was already a problem because I needed to get to City Hall to correct PrideFest's parade permit. As I'm about to walk out the door one of my employees asks me to deal with a customer complaint regarding a coupon that our local library is offering kids for reading a certain number of books. Unlike when I was a kid and the "Book-It" program was going (where kids were given a free pizza from Pizza Hut for reading, a program which educator Alfie Kohn pointed out "creates fat kids who hate reading") the reward now is academic rather than caloric. Read some books, get a free trip to a museum, that's a program I can support!
Anyway, the coupon is for August, but mom and dad were at the front counter saying they wanted it NOW. I explained a few times that I can't take a coupon for a program that hasn't even started. They got louder, their kid was doing his best to merge with the wall. It was so mean. I wasn't even mad at the parents for being obnoxious with me, I was mad because they were so shitty with their kid. What a great way to cheapen what he'd accomplished.
Dad at one point even said "Okay, forget the coupon, you should just give me a discount because I'm here and I haven't left yet." Not kidding. I'm sure the kid felt great when he heard that, if he was even still paying attention. Were it me I'd already be fantasizing about burning the place to the ground just to make a distraction so I could run away.

I go from that to City Hall to correct the time on our Parade Permit, riding my bike no less, in 104 degree heat. I had previously been told all that was necessary was to come in with the permit and they'd put the new info into the computer. I get there and the two women behind the window were in no mood to be helpful. After I repeated three times that I needed to correct the permit they finally told me that I needed to write request for correction. By the way, this was not a form I could fill out, it was a letter I submit to the city commission. So I had to ride my bike to the library, type the letter, and get back all in 45 minutes so I could get the paperwork filed before they closed for the weekend.

I did it damn it, with 10 minutes to spare. Unfortunately it meant that I was running late for a Pride planning meeting which I'd previously said I might be late for. No shit, in one minute I got two phone calls and a text message asking where the hell I was. When I got to the office I got yelled at for being late. That's day one.

So Saturday I'm drumming at one of the two big yearly Pow-Wows in Wichita. This one is called the American Indian Festival and it's at Century II, a big ass downtown convention center. Lotsa people, three drums (which is certainly not huge by my standards, but big locally), crap loads of dancers. Okay, good, I can de-stress from the week and especially from yesterday.
What the fuck do I know? First, the guy I'm sitting next to is someone who sings with us when he can, and normally he's an okay guy if a bit socially/religiously conservative. I'm used to that when I'm around tribals that aren't Two-Spirits, but he's got the Jesus and sometimes he can get a little carried away with talking about how much he's got the Jesus. This was one of those times. I kept trying to make the conversation more academic rather than strictly how great having the Jesus is, but he swung it back around several times and it just kept getting more uncomfortable for me.
Second, the three sons of the keeper of our drum were as follows, Oldest was bitching about how bad we sounded, Middle was going on and on about how much better the other Northern drum sounded because they were singing "good" songs, and Youngest is 14 so totally uninterested in having to sit in one place for a long time. He and his friend were being just plain irritating.
Third, this area favors Southern drum style, so the few songs they were willing to give us were being split between two Northern groups, which meant we sang (if I remember correctly) four songs in four hours. Of course that was only for the first session. Second session of the day we sang two songs for three hours. The singular saving grace is that the other Northern group was just having fun and at one point they came over and sang with us. Unfortunately Husband was irritated and had gone outside, so I went with him to make sure he was okay and by the time we came back in our now augmented group was already half way through the song. But still, I took what I could get.

Day two of Pow-wow, third day of suck. I get there and there's no drum. Not only is there no drum, there's not even members of my group where the drum should be. Not only is there no members of my group where the drum should be, there are no members of my drum anywhere in the area. After about 10 minutes of searching, which is impressive considering how few places there were to hide, I finally found some of my people and it turned out Husband never showed up, Middle had blown out his voice that morning, and everybody else just decided to not set up. No phone call, no text, just showed up to empty air where I expected to see my drum group. I said, "Hi" to a few people and walked the three miles home. I then sat in my apartment with the phone off and played a video game where you set fire to people for profit for about four hours.

The last frustration held over from that BS being that not only didn't Husband show up, he wasn't even answering his phone. I couldn't get a hold of him until Monday afternoon.

But wait, there's more. Starting in high school, my first internet access system was Prodigy, following that we had Compuserv and we ended up, as so many did, with AOL. We eventually had to cancel AOL because they were still charging by the hour and I was online so much that it was becoming far too expensive. Since AOL was my only email, my tenuous connection to The Net was gone. But I wanted to be cool so I set up an email on the new awesomeness that was the all-free email offered by Yahoo!.
I have now had my Yahoo! email for over 14 years. For the first time ever in the history of that email, on Wednesday of this last week, it wouldn't let me log in. My password was fine, but it said I was attempting from an "unknown device" and that I had to answer my security questions. I found out later that this was because the email addresses of over half a million users were posted on the internet last week and so Yahoo! was on lock down.
Somehow, the security question that I set up in 2000, meaning 12 years ago, was replaced supposedly in July of 2009 with the statement "These questions are stupid". Maybe you've noticed, that's not a question. Meaning what the hell is the answer? I have no idea. So I got to play with Yahoo!'s completely useless Online "Help" FAQ for nearly a full day because after 6 attempts at trying to guess what the answer was I was locked out of my email completely.
I finally found a secondary email that I set up so long ago it was deactivated, but was listed as my emergency recovery address. I reactivated it, and even managed to get the password of my original email changed only for it to ask me the security question again with the new password. By Friday I was able to find an email address for customer service. I messaged them with "I have my password, open my fucking email" (I was kinda pissed by now, but then by this point I'd been locked out of my email for two full days). 36 hours later I got an auto-responder telling me I needed to change my password. If I'd only thought of that!
After another day of searching, I found a customer service phone number. For anyone who doesn't know, Yahoo! and SBC Global teamed up some time back. Great, I'm an SBC customer. I'm paying these people, they have to help me. So I thought.
I get to the call tree, it asks if I'm an SBC customer. Why yes I am, it gives me an actual person. He passes me on to another person, who is completely useless. No shit, he tells me that not only can he not do anything, but he doesn't even know why I called him. I explain it's the number they give. He tells me that's not his problem.
"I mean," he said with a fairly shitty tone, "I can't help you with a Ford either but I don't hear you mad at me for that."
He tried to take me around that loop a few more times: it wasn't his fault the phone number was wrong, he can't help me. I asked him if he knew what a logic loop looked like. He finally asked if there was "anything else he could help me with," to which I replied "You haven't helped me yet, how can you help me further?"
I was actually surprised at my ability to reason given I was so pissed by now I could barely talk. "So what you're saying is they're giving a false number for customer service? You realize right now you're accusing Yahoo! of misrepresentation? This illegal behavior on the part of Yahoo! should be reported immediately."
He sputtered at that. "Oh, I'll make sure it gets reported." He said.
"Oh, let's do it together. In fact, why don't you send me to someone who can take care of this right now, since they might not take you seriously? It not being your problem and all." Suddenly I was getting transferred to someone who could help me, it was amazing.
So then I talked to Bob. Bob was amazingly helpful. Bob was so helpful in fact that I asked for his employee ID so that when I email SBC Global about how completely un-helpful the first guy was I am going to use Bob as an example of how their people SHOULD be trained to behave. Bob not only gave me a different number for customer service from the toll free number that Yahoo! gives, but he dialed it for me and stayed on the line to make sure I got through. He even called me back when he got disconnected. Holy shit Bob was a breath of fresh air.

So I talk to Yahoo! and I speak with "Charles". It is obvious from Charles's accent that his name is actually Akiem, but who the fuck cares at this point? "Charles" and I spend, not kidding, 45 minutes getting my shit cleared up. He tries to ask me the security question, "These questions are stupid" again. I explain that's not a question so how the hell am I supposed to know the answer? He re-activates the original security question that actually had an answer that I actually knew. Then he wanted me to confirm at least two emails from two weeks ago today that were sent from that address (like I can fucking remember, I hardly ever send from that address) but after knowing two subjects and two addresses from different emails he finally confirmed that I was probably the account holder.
So he tells me he's reset everything, the 12 hour lock-out from the last time I couldn't log in is still active so I can't get in until tomorrow, but he'll be sure to send an email to my emergency address confirming all of this. About an hour and a half later I log in to the emergency email to be greeted by the message "Subject: Termination of Account" and a memo that tells me that, at my request, my email has been deactivated and will be purged from their system in the next 90 days, they're sorry I'm leaving.

This is just my last week.

Singing, dancing, and taking copious notes

I get a text from the Interpreter the other day. She's giving me some playful grief about getting into Gaullidet University's Deaf Culture Master Program, which is combination of ASL linguistics, Deaf cultural Anthro, and communication in just the right way to make my heart flutter. Unfortunately it would be at the only Liberal Arts University for the Deaf in the Western hemisphere. Yeah, that'll be cheap . . .
Anyway, while we're musing about how much I would love the shit out of the chance to do such a thing, she mentions that she's going to hang out with the foremost expert on plains Indian sign who just happens to live in KS. She also happens to be AR Cherokee and speechifies on traditional lifeways from time to time as well. Turns out they've briefly discussed me and I need to email her because next year she's doing field work for her Thesis and she'll need field workers to go to Montana and live with some trad natives and record them for linguistic work.

Holy shit I want to do this. I even talked to Husband about how I might be gone for three weeks in the mountains of MT and he was good with it. It's a bunch of Northerners, and it's Plains sign, which is their trade language much like Mobilian down SE and so not actually my people, but damn it would be interesting as fuck. And it's so freakin' much in my bailiwick. In fact, I want this so much that I'm focusing on not pushing so hard that I push it away. Which means I now have to be careful to not push in the other direction too hard either. Yeah, I'm that interested I'm actually anxious about it.

The bend rounded . . . ish

Yep, totally bombed my Sociology of Aging class. I was doing well by the midterm, I was carrying a B for the class, but the last two tests were a D- and a C- and the essay that I ended up putting off until the last possible minute (literally, it was due by noon on the last Thursday of finals week and I was running down the hall of the building to make it to the office on time) got, I believe, a 25%. Which essentially means I got credit for turning it in.
It's unfortunate, and I can try to excuse it by saying that I couldn't figure out the citation method and that I was having a rough week what with my truck dying, the cat having to go back to the vet again, starting a new job, being in the middle of a week long panic attack, accidentally running over my bike and having to replace my back tire ($140, leaving me completely broke), and me having not taken a Sociology class in five years and totally forgetting the style. But the simple fact is, I phoned it in, I knew what the assignment was since the middle of the semester, I could have been doing it the whole time and just putting the finishing touches on it. I didn't do the work, I didn't do the research, and I'm sure it shows, I didn't even do the last assignment of handing in a notebook with news stories on aging. The professor sent out an email saying we can pick our papers up at the main office with the grades on them, but I just can't bring myself to go and get it.
And there was one truly nail-biting moment when the professor for my Gender classes had us submit both final papers using SafeAssign, which is this online system for preventing plagiarism. Unfortunately she didn't unlock the submission system until the day the paper was due and I'd already emailed her my files. By the time I'd gone to the university website I was locked out. So I emailed her again to tell her I couldn't get in and she unlocked it for me again. Unfortunately I couldn't get my laptop to upload. Thinking it was a connection problem I dropped it trying to get closer to the wireless transmitter. Sure as shit, my harddrive crashed and I didn't have any copies of my papers. Thankfully I still had the email I'd sent her with the attachments those days before, so I still got it in. But now I've got a dead laptop and I'm having to use my several years old eeePC that has been updating non-stop since the moment I plugged it in.
Of course, this means all my copies of my old college papers, my Pride files, my livejournal record, it's all locked in there somewhere, maybe. Hopefully it can be recovered, but who the fuck knows. As the capper to my hellish week it was about right. It also means I'm going to have to wait in limbo for at least another two weeks and my first real pay check to come in from the new job before I can even think about being able to afford doing anything to it anyway.
Having said all that, both my Gender Studies classes ended with an A, so my over all GPA is still 2.9, now I'm faced with the decision of taking Aging and Public Policy again and trying to do better, or just not giving a shit. I dunno, there's only really one Women's Studies course being offered for fall that I can take for credit, so it would certainly get me the 3 hours I'd need to keep the 6 hours that prevents my loans from getting called for another semester. . .

I've been working at Exploration Place for two weeks now and I lourve it! So far I've learned how to do just about everything on the floor, I got to be a guard for the Star Wars Exhibit (which means I was protecting a Wookie and C3PO from all would be adversaries), and I've put my hat in the ring for a potential Asst Mgr position. I have all of the qualifications and they definitely need the position filled, so fingers crossed. It would mean I'd be much easier to blame when shit hits the fan, but I'd actually be doing something vaguely related to my degrees. Wouldn't that be amazing? Now all I gotta do is get my ASL up to snuff.

Speaking of ASL, my tutor and interpreter friend are moving, soon. They've been wanting to get the fuck out of Wichita since they went on a trip to DC a few months ago (truly it was before that, but the trip really clenched it). So that makes now three friends who've gone on a week long tour and come back with a moving van in less than 6 months. I feel like I'm being told something . . .
I believe they're headed to one of the N KS college towns, I know Tutor's been offered a coaching position at KSD. And Interpreter is being told that she has a lot of private interpreting available so away they go. On the other hand, they'll be up by the foremost expert on Plains Indian sign so I will definitely be planning some road trips.

Husband's father is getting up there in years, and the farm is starting to drift into disuse. Since they don't use anti-biotics on their cattle, and they don't use animal byproduct in their feed, I've been arguing for a while now that the best thing to do would be to start marketing more effectively as organic and get the herd back to something respectable. That way when dad's finally completely unable to maintain the place still has value. Husband's all for it, but it's gonna take some WORK.
The barn's dying, the herd's down to bare minimum, there's some extra buildings on the property that just need to go, and there's extra land in another town that's being completely neglected and would be perfect for growing hay for winter IF it gets planted. But all of this is predicated on both of us being able to devote a lot of free time to cleaning the place up. And I have never in my life wanted to be Farmer Bill.
On the one hand, fixing the fences, getting rid of their part-time farm hand who's a total waste of skin, getting some free-range chicken coops, and generally making a business of the place would be pretty damn lucrative. On the other hand, it's working a fucking farm, there's a metric shit ton of hard freakin' slog just to get it into fighting shape.

The cat had to go back in to the vet's for fluids. Seems kidney failure tends to cause animals to stop eating, even after their kidneys are functioning again. So she's been starving herself. We are currently force feeding her with a wide syringe and soupified catfood. It smells awful, but she's finally not wrestling us to the ground to get it done and she's even eating a little on her own. Gads I'm ready for her to get that cast off, at least it'll be one less thing on her plate. I'm sure it's stressing the shit out of her and really not helping.

I'm back on my bike for everything. The truck's electrical died yet again. It does amaze me that the one thing that usually *doesn't* go on old trucks is the one thing that goes wrong on this one. Not the head gasket, not the handling or the automatic transmission, the freakin' electrical. And it's not even the ignition, it's just that the battery isn't charging from the alternator.
In any case exercise, counter-intuitively, tends to cause apatite to go down. But it also causes mood to stabilize in bi-polars. Both of those seem to be happening. Plus my legs are already stronger and my knees aren't hurting as much. My back on the other hand is fucking killing me. Though I suspect that's as much to do with the four days I just spent hunched over a laptop typing up my three 10 page final papers.
I'm also sure it doesn't help that the only shoes I have that meet the clothing restrictions at work are from when I worked at the Hyatt so the pads are totally shot. Hopefully I'll soon have enough money to buy new ones. Until then I have to stretch every morning and try to make sure I only sleep on my back.
Drummed for the School's Out PowWow two weeks ago. My drum was host, so I was a little more in on Ops this time around than I have been in the past. Man did I not want to know just how many personality conflicts go in to making a successful PowWow. I remember reading in "Indian Givers: How Native Americans Invented The Modern World" words to the effect of PowWows being a hold over from the less organized, slightly more egalitarian tribal power structures of most US tribes. The tribes with highly organized power structures not withstanding, it is true that many of the tribes were more concerned with clan than with chief. And so it was at the PowWow. I can see how it could have been much improved, but most of those improvements revolve around a more clarified schedule and a better speaker system for the Caller. Other than that, the chaos that it was behind the scenes doesn't seem to have really been a problem overall.
And it was really well attended. There were tons of kids, we got some good songs in, and we got to sing a song gifted to us by one of the warrior elders who then gave us two whistles (which means they walk by and blow a whistle or fan us with feathers to tell us to keep playing). Two whistles means instead of the normal four times through that we sing the song, we ended up with six/seven. Suddenly a three minute song becomes a five minute song and by the end none of us had any voices left. It was awesome. I am so glad I quit (KLASP) I can start going to Two-Spirit gatherings and PowWows again. I've really missed it, more than I think I realized.

The Messianic Jewish wedding I was Matron of Honor for was . . . Interesting. The ceremony itself was a good deal more somber than I would ever want for myself, but that said they did have two moments of dancing/singing that broke up some of the monotony. And it was nice to see that tribal traditions really are hard to kill. Darn our 'primitive' ancestors, they knew how to throw a party and no matter how staid we try to make our 'modern' versions our brains fight the hell out of it.
It was pretty tedious at times and just when you think it can't get any worse . . . There I stood, in a full tux, next to a huppa, listening to a friend of mine dedicate herself to another friend of mine, and rabbi is droning on about the meaning of the huppa, and quoting some Bible passages, and talking *at length* about how wives should be subject to their husbands as Jesus was subject to God and about the four stages of a courtship (1 - meeting, 2 - sharing wine, 3 - marriage, 4 - celebration) . . . And suddenly we're breaking a wine glass! How fucking random is that? I'm telling ya, the primate brain will out.
There was some interpersonal drama to be had, as there always is with an important ceremony and several strong personalities. This one was supposed to help put the whole thing on but ended up bowing out of a lot of the work, that one wasn't supposed to be involved much at all but ended up having to make up a great deal of the slack, this one was just supposed to play a few songs but ended up having to DJ the whole fucking thing on very short notice, that one an older entitled woman running around barking orders that in some cases directly contradicted not only what we'd discussed during the rehearsal (holy shit, that's a story) but even what'd we'd re-discussed only a few minutes earlier that day. There was the photographer who was taking "casual" photos for nearly half an hour longer than need be so we didn't finish until about five minutes before the ceremony was supposed to start, and so on and so on.
Of course, there were high points, the groom had just published a book about playing a D&D style game involving army men and the bride's favorite kids book is "Winny The Pooh" so their car ended up with army men holding a Pooh captive on the hood in the way of Gulliver's Travels. And there were army men battling it out on the seat of the Head Table, so at least we of not-the-happy-couple kept our spirits up through the tribulation. And I got to meet some cool friends of the groom that I hadn't before. They're geeks, but they're fun geeks.

Speaking of the rehearsal, holy shit that's a story. First, we have everybody there, I mean the groomsmen, the bride's maids, the ushers, the wives and children of the ushers, the people doing the freakin' guestbook, everybody. We start with food, which is a little behind schedule but it was fresh baked lasagna so a little delay is forgivable. Then we get to the sanctuary, and proceed to go through the entire ceremony. The whole fucking thing. They even recited the vows, twice. It wasn't a rehearsal, it was the damn wedding.
Anyone who has done a tech rehearsal in theatre knows that everybody who has a particular place to stand or sit is given that particular place, you then map out the basic moves and crosses and transitions, and you're done. If someone doesn't move for an entire scene then they find their mark and maybe they sit there and maybe they stand but they're certainly not expected to be particularly engaged in what's going on. It's not their scene. Oh no, all the bride's maids and all the grooms men had to stand there, in position (including having our hands crossed in front of us just like we would during the ceremony). The. Whole. Time. It was a four hour rehearsal.
I hope my friends got what they wanted, but I don't think I share anything of their desires. Still, I got some good experience and I'm glad I was able to help them move toward a new life. On the other hand I don't plan on being part of a wedding, apart from my own, as anything other than a guest ever again.
That same day my man went to another wedding, also primarily Jewish in ceremony, also friends of the both of us, and he went in traditional native reg. Fun for him because he went "slick" which means his legs were only covered with a loincloth and shin covers. Apparently the parents of the couple actually asked if he was wearing underwear. So he made even more of an impression than he would have if he'd just walked in with his 5 inch teal mohawk. I love it when he does shit like that. Our big wedding is going to fucking rock. With as many weddings as I've either directly or tangentially been involved with at this point I have a pretty good idea of how to make it one hell of a party. Ya know, like it should be.
As with the previous entry these are notes I left for myself on my phone that now need to be deleted to make room:

The end of last month saw me attending another Deaf Night Out. My signing seems to have progressed more to my satisfaction as I seem to be receiving significantly fewer blank stares then only some few months ago. That said my deaf tutor did point out that my knowledge and vocabulary has odd gaps and perhaps the best thing to do would be to start over completely in order to focus in on what it is I don't know and need to work on. For example, I've been signing "shit" somewhat incorrectly and I was actually saying "assistant". Yeah, the more I learn the more I know how odd I must have sounded not very long ago.
Of course this conversation took place within the wider context of a bunch of half-drunk deafies at a Kereoke bar. Read that sentence once or twice and see if it stops being funny. No shit, you haven't seen entertainment until you've seen a host steadily turning the music up louder because the deaf people aren't really reacting, only to see the signed conversations being "damn this music sucks" and the like.
Truth be told I'd never truly thought about how much discordant music must be annoying to the deaf. A steady beat is easier to filter, but with kereoke it's vocal dependent, and that's much less predictable. Thus, the deaf were finding it incredibly irritating. So I learned that factoid. Then one of their own sang YMCA by the Village People. I wish I was kidding.
Unfortunately it was still a bar, and as the alcohol content got higher, the entertainment value of the crowd faded. At one point there was a line at the women's bathroom and some drunk fat guy started yelling that he'd be happy to "help out" to the women standing in line. Yeah, I left shortly after that.

Speaking of men being pigs, I went on Facebook for the first time in weeks not too long ago and the Feminist Soccer Mom had posted an article about how the pilot program in Florida that was urine testing everybody on welfare ended up costing more than it saved and didn't really catch anybody. The debate on her post was already in full swing and it was amazing to see a few people posting about how the policy needed to be kept because anyone abusing the system needs to get caught. After only a few questions by me it turned out that both of the people arguing most loudly about how it's their tax dollars they should get to put conditions on it, ended up both having lived on the system. One was former military (talk about living for free) and the other had a son with disabilities that was on Social Security.
The funny thing was, they were talking past each other. The military one was a guy, and his last argument was against a "single woman with 5 kids who weighs 300 lbs". I said at the time that I couldn't believe he went there with it. Immediately following his absurdly sexist post was the woman with the kid on SSI complained that I was just another naive bleeding-heart. She was none too happy when I made the point that military guy was talking about *her* and then asked when was she going to submit her piss-cup. She literally and figuratively bowed out with a perfunctory "thanks for the discussion" almost immediately. But military guy kept going. Specifically, he continued to refer to this fat woman with kids.
And it occurred to me, he was just like that dude at the bar for Deaf Night Out. Granted he wasn't trying to make women waiting to urinate strictly *sexual*, but by referring to that 300 lb single woman he was literally sexualizing a urine test. It disturbs me how easily he was able to do so and have a woman on that same series of posts have no problem with it.

Speaking of urinanalysis, I got the job at Exploration Place and I am glad I'm there. It's cool as shit. But more on that later.

I have new glasses. I got light-reactive lenses but they're not the plastic ones that were $150, they're the glass ones that were cheaper. The technology is older, but the lenses are also heavier. Oh my aching nose! I hope I get used to them because I've already noticed I don't squint nearly as much in the sun.

I didn't realize how depressed/anxious I've been rounding the bend into finals. I don't know why I'm so worked up, I've already got my Anthro degree, and my Gender Studies degree is pretty much in the bag (I've done just fine in the two classes this semester, and I only have 6 hours left after this), all I'm really fucking up is my Sociology minor and that's just one class which I could easily take again next semester.
But damn it if I didn't put myself under a fuck load of pressure none the less. I don't think it helped that I was also starting a new job and quitting a shitty old job at the same time. Today clinched it, I had waited until the last possible minute to do a notebook of news stories and the printer on the computer refused to print. I was already running late for an exam in that same class, so I just missed out on the assignment completely in favor of not being late to the test. So there's no chance of getting an A or even a B in the course. Suddenly I feel more relieved than I have in weeks. And I was getting to the point that I was flying into rages at the drop of a hat. It was definitely not good.
Again, that could also be because I now have a couple of days of the new job under my belt and I really like it. But why I was so freaked out about that one Sociology class has me a little troubled. I should not be getting this stressed out about one class. I definitely need to finish school while I still have any of my sanity in tact.