Monday, February 26, 2007

generation gap, pt 1

There really is a gulf separating those of us who live in my vague Generational X-ish sphere and Boomers like my dad, and the chasm between us seems virtually impassable. But I suspect this impassability has more to do with the comfort of familiar nostalgic narratives than anything real.

On the phone with my dad Sunday morning while he waited in Nebraska for a flight to get him back to California after a series of snow delays, our conversation turned to my sister and her husband calling my father for more babysitting duties.

Shorter Dad, the Boomer: Young folks today with families are shirking their responsibilities and have too much free time.

Shorter Ding, the Gen X-er: Young families/single people today have totally different (and in crucial ways, more demanding) responsibilities than the ones you guys had back in the 70s. Life is different now so don’t expect solutions to be the same as back in the day.

And this is where the dangerous power of nostalgia comes in. I love and esteem my dad in a huge way, but there are some crucial gaps in his memory. Gone is the fact that he and mom didn’t have an extended network of family around them – there were no cousins, aunts or uncles to take up any family slack (which isn’t usually the norm), so he and mom going it alone was a matter of necessity rather than choice; gone is the fact that mom was a secretary and he was a civil servant, so their professional obligations were very different than the ones my sister, brother in law and I have; gone is the fact that the cost of living/raising a family was considerably lower then than now; gone is the memory that my sister and I, through our elementary and junior high lives, had babysitters to watch us after school until our parents came home from work, though it’s somewhat comforting to think that mom and dad provided every moment of care themselves; also gone is the uncomfortable fact that, at the height of his pastorate, my father spent 90% of his time away from the home and family.

(Also forgotten: the bulk of their parenting advice came from our hardened, cranky, arid as Texas, Depression era Baptist pastor whose relationship with his own offspring was, shall we say, less than ideal.)

Nostalgia, however, paints a golden patina over all of these potholes of memory until the surface looks smooth and glossy. Instead of highlighting how he and mom operated in a parenting context that reflected their social and economic context, their childrearing is a simple story of two parents stalwartly facing the music and going it alone because, naturally, that’s what parents do.

But perhaps my sister and I are guilty of the same kind of nostalgia, too. Perhaps, in our mind's eye, we have a comfortable idea of what grandparents are: accessible, doting on the grandchildren, service-oriented. But that's not who my father is at all. Like others of his generation, he has a very fixed outside life from family. There's a strong feeling of "I put in my time and now it's Me time." Who can argue with that? What right do we have to impose on what little time he has left? (heh.) The grandparents now aren't the grandparents of whenever: they get depressed, restless, horny, impatient and, frankly, don't want to relive the years of raising kids.

My father teaches, goes on conferences, counsels, and preaches. (Sometimes he even goes out on a date.) And he deliberately bought a car that won't fit a child's car seat, let alone two. Deep down, the single childless woman in me respects his independence, applauding and encouraging it.

So if we are more similar than we think, why can't our generations keep nostalgia from clouding our perceptions of one another?

(next: take this job and shove it!)

Friday, February 23, 2007

back from springfield...other thoughts

i'm thinking about...

my old city. well, my old metropolitan area in southern california, anyway. it seems like some folks there don't like the way their neighborhood is changing: Some in Chino Hills nervous about ethnic shift exemplified by Asian supermarket [h/t from angry asian man]

i love how, if you study how (mostly white) communities deal with increasing numbers of non-white peoples, the discourse of protest hinges on 'community standards,' a handy code for racism and bigotry.

(it's basically the NIMBY argument: 'they can live like that around their own kind, but not in my back yard!')

it reminds me of a book i finished: There Goes the Neighborhood, a study of 4 chicago neighborhoods undergoing racial/ethnic demographic changes, how they either maintained their racial composition or changed and the strategies they used in 'fighting' the change. it's fascinating. in the study on the anonymous southside white neighborhood shows how inhabitants use the language of 'neighborhood standards' to justify keeping their community all white. it's a really interesting look at how ingrained, generational racism (not simply bigotry) affect quotidian details like, oh, where a person lives.

(it also explains why, 9 years ago, i probably stopped dating a guy who lived in one of those south side chicago ethnic neighborhoods. there were issues, the biggest being the fact i was the first brown girl to be introduced to his friends and family EVER.)
thoughts of the anti-asian sentiment in chino hills (no one finds it funny that 'chino' in spanish means 'chinese'?) also lead me to think of how we respond to racial or ethnic changes - but from the other direction.

for instance, when a brown neighborhood sees signs that it's getting less brown and more white it's funny that our discourse isn't about 'maintaining community standards' but a reverse narrative of imperialism. (for instance, imagine the story of 'settlement' told from the vantage point of native peoples.)

isn't that what gentrification really is - urban imperialism? a markedly capitalist, consumerist population running out of resources sees how other populations/geographies aren't exploiting capitalism as much as they can, so it moves to annex and control the population in order to benefit and spread itself.

i read the arguments in favor of manifest destiny and can't help but see similarities in chicago's language in favor of 'community renewal' on the southside and its heavy investment in development in places like hyde park, lawndale, pilsen.

of course this also puts me in a weird position since participating in this kind of urban imperialism is part of my job (but without displacing original populations, somehow.)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

things i'm thinking about

i'm thinking about...

gay people...
this article in the sunday style section about gay PDA really brings home (to me, at least) how much still needs to be done on behalf of gay rights. yeah, it's easy for me, sitting on my hetero-normative ass, to be saying this, but really. there's something glaringly wrong when people are AFRAID to hold hands or kiss each other on the street because they're AFRAID of getting their asses kicked, or being told to leave a restaurant.

you think civil unions are 'going too far'? sweetie, they don't go far enough. see what laws are in play in your state here.

(just check out this professional athlete who says he 'hates' gay people and doesn't think it should exist. period. or even the outcry about the snickers campaign - which i thought was actually funny because it totally demonstrated how based in hysteria the notion, and image, of straight 'masculinity' really is.)

DOMA and domestic violence...
so you know about all the Defense of Marriage Acts being enacted in states across the country. on the surface it seems a silly, yet totally anti-gay issue. (meaning, you assume it's only really important to gay folks.) but now we see some unintended consequences of state legislated homophobia: it provides protection for domestic violence abusers. ohio's supreme courst has heard a case that argues domestic violence laws don't apply to the abuser because he and the women he 'allegedly' abused were unmarried and, under ohio's DOMA, their relationship has no legal standing.

and you know what happened? the ohio supreme court agreed with him. (and once i find the source for this, i'll post the link; it came up on a conference call i was on last week at work. and if i heard the update wrong, i'll post that, too. but the point remains the same: though there are those who support these 'defense of marriage' bills as protecting, the result of them is decidedly immoral.)

sometimes it seems like the interests of gay and straight people are far afield of one another but they're really not. like it or not, what affects one of us truly affects all of us.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

valentine's day. is it over yet?

things have been sort of light here and that's because things have been so heavy at work; since i can't really write in detail about work without jeopardizing that work, then it means that i don't have a lot to write about.

but that doesn't mean that a lot isn't going on.

for instance, the very excellent people at Alas have been on a really great streak (must read them more regularly), writing about race, free speech, the kerfuffle involving the Catholic League and the blogger Amanda and there's one particular post i'd like to draw attention to: the one about rape and men 'getting it.' it links to an excerpt from tim beneke's book Men On Rape and it's so worthwhile reading i heartily encourage folks to go there.

(april is sexual assault awareness month, so be prepared. i'm gonna write about it.)

after reading the excerpt, i was struck by a disconnect beneke's subjects showed. there's an academic acknowledgment that rape is bad but there's also the very real emotional/psychological urge to act on that desire to rape, though they guys may not define what they want to do as rape.

it's interesting, this gap in logic. or, perhaps, this isn't a gap at all. to them, it makes complete sense.

which just reinforces a growing suspicion in my mind that straight men and women are utterly foreign to one another and perhaps men should live on an island somewhere to dress in skins and spear fish.

[jeebus. i just read about this asinine thing - Take Back the Date - over at feministing.
when are these people just going to face it? the 50's are dead. they're gone. done.
seriously, i can't wait until all these people who 'remember' what things were like back then and keep wanting things to 'return' to them to just shuffle off this mortal coil.]

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

approaching cliche


It's like I'm a manitee. I'm so incredibly bloated right now I actually look pregnant. (And the empire-waisted blouse I'm wearing ain't helping.)

It feels good, though, to let the belly out. Just stand there and let it all go. ahhh...
Who cares that Valentine's Day is tomorrow and I'm sitting here with my belly pooching out? Feels good. Watch the snow fall and let your belly hang out.

I'm so signing up for Weight Watchers Online...

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

um, why can't i see my blog?

good thing i'm gonna be in springfield tomorrow or this'd upset me.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Posing as a Family, Sex Offenders Stun a Town - New York Times

proving that more sexual assault education and training needs to happen in law enforcement, here's a stunner quote from an investigator:

“With boys it is a really tough deal,” said Lt. Van Gillock of the Police Department in El Reno, Okla., where Mr. Rodreick is believed to have posed as a 12-year-old to ingratiate himself with boys at church. “If they did it voluntarily, they have the stigma of homosexuality, and if it is forced, well, boys are supposed to be tough and the things the boys have on them gives them an embarrassment factor.”

riight. because getting raped is so much easier for girls.

a really good discussion: what are the risks of being anti-racist?

i really have to point out, again, the discussion over here, at Alas, a blog.

in the comment thread there is a fascinating sub-topic of what one risks when they decide to be anti-racist. i'd like to pose that here, in the face of the somewhat deafening silence from a larger white society when things like the Clemson ghetto party happens. (while also acknowledging the equally deafening silence from black folks when jesse jackson says totally problematic things like Hymietown.)

as a white person, what risk do you run when you decide to take an anti-racist stance - whether in the office when a coworker wants to know how many blacks it takes to screw in a lightbulb or in your family when someone complains about all the black people moving into the neighborhood?
as a person of color, what risk do you run when you decide to call someone out on their racism or bigotry? what risk do you run when it's another person of color you're calling out?

as nice progressives, what actual risks have we taken to be the nice progressives we think we are?

cuz if we aren't taking any risks, we aren't doing shit.

Thursday, February 01, 2007