Monday, March 31, 2008

Philadelphia, or part of it.

Philadelphia this weekend. T and I left on Friday night, after a brief cross-legged pow-wow to discuss our strategy for tackling the various obligations and expectations that lay before us. The dog was pumped and ready to go.

Three stops on the way up: 7-11 in Hanover county for gas (mood: sour). Wawa in Fredericksburg for food and oil (mood: sheepish). Parents' house in Fairfax to drop off the dog and sleep, briefly (mood: relaxed).

Dad took us to Union Station. Made a conscious decision not to freak out about the time (4:45 am) on our way into the city. Dad said we'd better hurry, usually my line. I adopted his standard laid-back demeanor. "I trust you," I said. And we made it, albeit by the skin of our teeth.

Train ride fast. Snacks in the food car. Sleep on T's shoulder for the two-hour trip. We arrived in Philly, greeted by crazies in the station as we sat and waited for his bro to pick us up.

Twenty-five minutes pass. Bro calls, wants us to meet him and S in South Philly. First chance to invoke the policy of joint agreement. We decide to meet them in Center City instead, on our way to Temple.

Breakfast: delicious. S and I made our way to Temple. T and M went to dig a hole in somebody's back yard.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

It hurts to read

I think the person who wrote this trash should be deported along with every illegal. Especially the ones in the article. I don't feel sorry for any of them. They are like roaches. And, they have the audacity to act like they belong here. I would stop every one of them and if they were here illegally I would incarcerate them. NOT give them a ticket back to Mexico. Maybe we should be fighting in Mexico instead of Iraq. We made a big mistake. It is time to correct it. (Nezram)

This, and the items that follow, are fairly standard comments for any article on the Washington Post that references Latinos and the issue of immigration. The User Names of the people posting them are in parenthesis. I just want people to see the kinds of horrific things that are being said every day about immigrants (Latino and other), and about my family's culture. It really does hurt to read.

It's why we have rules folks, to keep everyone behaving the same way...if you can't play by the rules, you can't play in the game. Penalty box for you! Friggin bleeding heart liberals are driving the country down - Oh poor enrique, he had to come across the river and hop a fence to get here. Well if he had followed the rules he could have come across and stayed dry, and not suffered scrapes on that there fence..... (
Isnt it amazing how these ILLEGAls writing on this forum claim they made our economy thrive.( It was doing fine before you crawled accross our borders)If you are such great workers why cant you go back and make your own countries economy thrive. You cant thats why, Go home and demenstrate in the streets, hold ralleys,fly your flag upside down under a US flag, demand all kinds of benifits you dont deserve. It is because you know what whould happen to your cowardly AZZes, So you come here where the bleeding heart liberals will protect you. Guess what the Tide is turning so keep on writting, you are just building up more resentment. I am all for LEGAL immigration and these people deserve all the benifits this country offers. ILLEGAS DESREVE NOTHING (MyWord)

I have to say when I read this article this morning I was so happy. Knowing these leeches are moving out just made me tingle all over. Mexican illegals have been a scourge on our society. Their filthy, smelly thieves. They don't work hard and tax our system and make everything more expensive for the rest of us. Adios NotAmigos! (Vinnieceskins)
Good! Good riddance!! All you drunken, flop-house-living, gang-banger, crime-infested, take-jobs-from-real-Americans, protest-under-the-mexican-flag-waving, hispanic illegals are not welcome here. Get out!!! (JoeyJoey)

If you are legal in this country then you should be with the americans who gave you that freedom, I do not care if the illegals hatched golden eggs, they have totally trashed every neighborhood they occupied, they are a disgusting uneducated culture, even people who are mentally challenged can learn to pick up after themselves and learn some manners, there is no excuse for their behavior, americans are tired of watching this, overcrowded houses, urinating in public, drunk in public, drinking and driving with no license, domestic violence, 12 cars parked on the front lawn, blasting music, prstitudes and pimps, gang members and drug dealers. This is our country and we fought all the wars to keep our freedom, not to be invaded by 20 million illiterate people, we, our children, are not safe with illegals walking around. If they are smart they will just go home, it is better than being held in a detention center. (HighwayBlueSoccer)

The words "Latino subculture" say it all. The Latinos don't and never did want to assimilate in our country. They don't want to learn the language, (I'm so tired of having the Spanish pushed on me from every venue from phone menus to food packaging that I could scream). (Hernova)

And yes, I realize that this makes up a small minority, and yes, I realize that most of these posters can't spell, and yes, I realize that I should probably just stop listening. And yes, thank God, there are plenty of people who don't share the above points of view.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I had this dream (A post for T)

In the dream, I was diagnosed with some kind of degenerative neurological disorder, something similar to MS or Parkinsons (I think). We learned that I would sporadically and increasingly lose my ability to control my movement. The dream disease progressed quickly, because in short time I was essentially unable to move, and you were helping me get around everywhere. I was like a doll whose arms and legs only move along one plane: I could lift my arms and rest them at my sides, but that was about it. Perhaps it goes without saying that I couldn't talk either.

You talked to me though. You basically continued to talk to me and treat me like the person I am now (in real life). It was as if our love was getting you through the ordeal of my illness, even though the strain was palpable in the dream.

There was a tinge of regret to the scene, a mournful quality. Thoughts of who we were when we were healthy and whole composed an unspoken conversation between us. Through our eyes and movements we sighed, "But that we could go back for just a little while, and appreciate our lives still more!"

I woke up feeling infinitely grateful for you, and everything you do for me, every day.

Monday, March 24, 2008


This spring brings with it a zeitgeist of restlessness and dissent that nicely compliments the choices facing T and I in the coming weeks and months. When I read the morning headlines and ponder the issues of the day, my reaction is visceral.

4,000 American soldiers have died, another gruesome milestone. The occasion is marked by the obligatory news stories and slide shows. Unlike the 3,000th (overshadowed by its New Years Day timing) or even the 1,000th death, this occasion stands out to me.

Looking back, this spring will bring with it the memory of renewed hope in American politics, after so many years (read: 7) of numbed disillusionment. And it will bring with it the memory of sad benchmarks, and $3.23 a gallon gas, and the brink of a new chapter whose future can scarcely be imagined.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


"Desafortunadamente" is a word that I have always had a hard time getting right. For a long time, I would cut out a syllable here or there, making it "desfortunadamente" or "desafortunamente". Truth be told, I'm only crossing my fingers and hoping I spelled it right here. But it's the first word that comes to mind for this post, and I don't have the heart to look it up to verify its correctness.

I just did something that I have been putting off for two months. I submitted my resignation to the BOD for the organization I've been working with for three years. My heart truly aches to think about it, in a way that I suspect has more to do with me than with anything I ever did as part of the Board. But for the last couple of months, my only contribution has been to read e-mail subject lines before quickly closing the browser and shifting my mind to other thoughts. The experience, while eye-opening, is not what I had hoped for.

For one, and perhaps the biggest issue, I did not stay in the community. Shortly after I was nominated, I began to realize that my time in town was likely drawing to a close. Shortly after I was elected, T and I made the decision to move. Shortly after the first training, we were relocated a state away. But for a year, I made it work, for two reasons: 1) I love and believe in the mission of the organization and 2) my friends who nominated me for the position did so because they believed I could make a positive difference.

Obviously, to step down brings self-criticism in the form of inverse logic: stepping down means abandoning the organization, abandoning my friends. But I can't let that logic continue unchallenged, which is what I was doing by avoiding this topic altogether. The fact is, I love the organization and my friends, and can probably be more free to participate in a way that is right for me now that I am no longer a part of the BOD. But I had to swallow my pride and admit to messing up, because I have effectively abandoned my post, before moving on.

So that's what I did. I sent an e-mail to explain (but not excuse) my absence and I hope that I don't get too criticized for it, as I am coming to see that's what paralyzes me the most. In the end, though, I think this was the best thing for everyone involved, and I feel somewhat relieved.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Experience Texas

I got this e-mail from Texas Admissions today:

The University of Texas School of Law, as one of the premier law schools in the nation, proudly celebrates the accomplishments, academic strengths, and diversity of our student body. As one of a select number of applicants admitted this year, we have organized a special day with you in mind, to not only introduce you to the Law School, faculty and students, but to answer those all important questions you may have while considering which law school to attend. Please save the date and join us Thursday and Friday, March 27 – 28, 2008, and Experience Texas first-hand.

Turns out, this means I'm in at Texas!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Oddly enough...

It turns out that the current owner of my family's former ranch in Purificación was kidnapped by thugs, along with four other people (including one child) and a relative of mine named Edgar. Edgar escaped and related the story to my great-aunt Beatica, who told my dad. Apparantly, they let everyone go except for the ranch owner. He will be sold to the guerrilla, who will hold him for ransom.

Strange, but true.

On another note, I was reminded this weekend why I don't drink hard liquor.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Could this be it?

This may be the last post I write before I know if I got into (any) law school.

I like to think it's because when I hit "Publish Post" I will get in my car and drive home to a table full of mail, all addressed to me and lovingly arranged by T so that it will be the first thing I spot when I open the door (after the dogs, of course). I have arranged with T to make the mailing of my acceptance/rejection letters a total surprise, by vacillating over the question of whether he should call me when he spots the first one. After first deciding he should, then that he shouldn't, and then that, on second thought, yes, he should, I finally came to the decision that he had to surprise me. Call, or don't call, but just keep it a surprise.

I am hoping to drag the giddy suspense out as long as possible.

The real reason this is probably the last post I write until I've heard something is because I am spending far too much time on to be bothered to generate any original thought. My mind is full of the sound of crunching numbers (blingblongblingblong) and images of scatterplots with my bright blue 3.47/165 dot somewhere to the upper right/lower left/smack in the middle of all the bright green "accepted" dots. In short, the waiting has swiftly and unexpectedly driven me mad.

I realized today that I don't think of myself as a 0L. That is "law school student"-speak for summer before 1L (first year). There is all sorts of advice out there for 0Ls, ranging from what type of job to take (your high school waitressing job), what to read (not Law School Confidential) and how to prepare for being a 1L (enjoy your freedom while you have it). It's weird, too, because it all seems geared toward people who 1) are just getting out of college and 2) have been waiting foooorever to go to law school. People who actually need to be reminded to relax! Ha!

The other funny thing is that a lot of people talk about "real work experience" (RWE) and how many schools consider that an advantage. Then they follow up that bit of wisdom with, "That's why I took a year off before going to law school. It was such an awakening!"

I can feel the condescension rising up in the back of my throat. Am I going to spend the next three years trying not to spit up all over my classmates?

But there I go again: classmates. As if I'm going back to school. I haven't even gotten a letter yet.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Change in tone

If I were to ask you to stop this instant and name how you feel, would you be able to put a name to that emotion? I rarely can. Sometimes I get the sensation that I am coasting through life without spending enough time on self-reflection. Actually, I spend very little time on self-reflection these days.

One of the good things to come out of living alone and removed from your friends and family is that you are left with little choice but to befriend yourself. I spent many evenings on Sedgefield Street scribbling unrefined cartoons that depicted my little insecurities (bad haircuts) and deepest fears (ending up alone), minor occassions for joy (delicious tacos) and profound experiences (the night the "migra" rumors came to El Centro). Some day I would like to pull those doodles together into a zine or something, just as a keepsake.

I wonder if you just grow distant from yourself as you become more involved in relationships, work, life. Or am I purposely distancing myself from whatever thoughts are running through my head?

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Grown up

Sometimes life sucks, and there's just nothing you can do about it. I feel sad and angry.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Misogyny for you and me

Last night, I had an interesting discussion with my friend J about the Charlotte Allen piece. Among the many things that define her, J is a woman and an artist. Her perspective was that the Allen piece espoused a point of view so absurd that it wasn't worth her taking offense. Fair enough, I tend to agree that there is little merit in arguing with a woman who would choose the recidivist route to gender norms of the 19th century.

Our primary disagreement was whether or not it was appropriate or acceptable for the Washington Post to publish Mrs. Allen's opinion piece as a co-headline in last Sunday's Outlook section. J argued that, as an artist, she sees merit in allowing blatantly offensive work to be displayed in order to facilitate dialogue on important topics. "In a sense that article has gotten us to sit here and have this conversation," she pointed out. "We are reaffirming our beliefs by talking about them right now."

I think J has a point. It's hard to argue that a piece of work should not be published because it is offensive. On the other hand, there are certain venues and institutions that shape our society in different ways. And I tend to think that the mainstream media is a good cultural thermometer for what constitutes the range of public opinion. While it may have been controversial, at one time, to show gay men getting married at a church on the front page of the paper, the concept is becoming normalized through media coverage. And this is a trend that can go both ways. If pieces like Mrs. Allen's become acceptable points of view for a national debate, aren't we moving toward a national conversation on gender that would have us debating old premises that have long been proved defunct (i.e. brain size of women having something to do with their intelligence)? In other words, I fear that the argument that women are the dumber half of the population could become, once again, a normal and acceptable argument in mainstream culture.


Here are two opinion pieces that I think really get to the heart of what J and I were talking about last night. First, a letter to the editor from a group of high school students who made an argument similar to J:

The recent outpouring of passionate responses to Charlotte Allen's article reveals one of the fundamental contradictions in contemporary democracy: People are free to say whatever they want, as long as they choose what is considered a legitimate topic of debate.

All too often, people hold views that they are unwilling to challenge, and responses to this article are a prime example. Instead of considering Allen's perspective and discussing its pros and cons, people left what she had to say behind them. Then they argued that she said something that no human must utter; to do so is to be a misogynist, after all.

The point of articles like Allen's is not to set in stone the truth about how the world works. The point is to get people thinking -- to challenge them to consider another perspective.

As humble high school English students, we argue that articles like this one should not be censored or dismissed. They should be actively encouraged and published. The mark of a truly tolerant and enlightened society is one that tolerates even those who are intolerant.


and 50 other Centerville High School seniors

And now a piece that makes a similar argument to my own:

Charlotte Allen's article represents a new low in sexism. The Washington Post's recent response to the outpouring of well-deserved outrage over the piece, however, might actually be more insulting to women than Allen's ill-researched, specious and insulting piece.

Would The Washington Post publish an op-ed titled "African Americans Aren't Very Bright," "Immigrants Aren't Very Bright" or "Jews Aren't Very Bright"? Of course not. Any sentient editorial team would recognize that as a blatant statement of bigotry and hatred. So why are women not given the same consideration? Why does The Post feel free to baldly insult more than 50 percent of the population -- who probably make up more than 50 percent of The Post's readership? Either you share Allen's opinions, or you don't value equality. For a publication that has publicly stated that it wants to attract more female readers, either option seems like a losing strategy.

As a recent contributor to Outlook, I am ashamed to be associated with a publication that deems such blatant bigotry acceptable or even amusing. But as the co-founder and editor of a magazine that works constantly to point out that sexism exists and even thrives in the mainstream media, I suppose I should thank you -- you've made my job that much easier. In the future, whenever people suggest that sexism and bias against women are things of the past, this article will be my Exhibit A in demonstrating not only that sexism is still alive and well, but also that supposedly objective papers of record are the quickest to disseminate it.


Bitch Magazine

I'll now post some other fun feedback from the Washington Post that I think is worth considering:

The fact that Charlotte Allen discounts such a swath of people is only a superficial -- if infuriating -- problem with her argument.

Allen holds up examples of male accomplishment (fine, men are smart, too) and odd science (do we really believe that there is a correlation between brain size and intelligence?) and then uses them as counterpoints to her bizarre definition of what it means to be a woman. Her article boils down to this: Women are different from men, and different means dumber.

With her argument, Allen casts her lot with the legions of xenophobia. She forgets that different doesn't equal bad. Different equals different. And we have names for people who, in other contexts, don't understand this. We call them racists, homophobes and anti-Semites.



I've figured it out. Clearly, an adolescent boy wrote Charlotte Allen's article for her. I can just hear their conversation:

"All you have to do is write whatever comes to your mind about girls. Remember, they're icky."

"And thousands of people will read it?"

"Yes. It's that simple."

"But what if I don't know what I'm talking about? I'm just 13!"

"I never know what I'm talking about, but that doesn't slow me down. Now get to work."

The entire article played to the absolute worst stereotypes of women. I doubt that ever entered Allen's field of vision, but clearly The Post should have known better. Next time you want a piece that bad, shoot an e-mail and I'll get cracking on one. I promise it will be less offensive, for half the price.


And one more:

The Washington Post should be embarrassed about its decision to publish the "Women vs. Women" feature that dominated the front page of the Outlook section last week. Under the pretext of analyzing women's voting patterns in the Democratic presidential primaries, the paper presented the case that women are stupid and emotional and can't be trusted to protect their own interests. All that was missing was a call to rescind our right to vote.

The possibility that voters could elect the first female president this year has unearthed a stream of latent hostility toward successful, smart, ambitious women. Obviously, we still have a long way to go when major newspapers see fit to run screeds arguing that women should just "relax" and not let it bother their silly little heads that they are "kind of dim." The next time someone asks me if we still need a feminist movement, I will point to this article.


President, National Organization for Women

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Call, or don't call.

Is it just me, or do weeks fly by frighteningly fast? I have noticed recently that the weeks don't feel so stretched out, and the five days from weekend to weekend no longer feel like the infinite desert they once did. But I haven't yet decided if this is a good thing or not.

On the one hand, it's great to not hate 4 or 5/7ths of my life. The thing about dreading the work week is that you waste a lot of time. Perhaps this is inevitable, but it's still kind of nice to be able to just. enjoy. it. I mean, the lazy Sunday afternoon of reading the paper over coffee and putting off chores; the exhausted collapse onto the living room couch after work and the ensuing catnap; impromptu hit or miss dinners and the conversation that flows (or does not) from the stove to the table; a stolen game of guitar hero. Yes, even the brisk morning walk to the corner, on a sunny day, can feel inspiring.

On the other hand, life flies by when the shit isn't hitting the fan, right? Which means that I shouldn't take this time for granted. Pretty soon it will be over. Not to be all morbid, but eventually the rejection and (hopefully) acceptance letters will be arriving in the mail. With those letters come decisions, and talks. Long talks and compromise. And change. Because even if we stay in Richmond, there will be change.

So maybe I should want these speedy little weeks to slow down. They are, after all, what I will remember about this time in my life.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Hungry for more

I am still fuming about that Charlotte Allen piece.
I am still fuming about the Washington Post. Washington Post editor John Pomfret sent an automatic e-mail to all the people who complained about their decision to run that sexist piece of junk (which I refuse to link again, but do scroll down if you haven't read it already). His defense of the decision was that he read her editorial as "tongue-in-cheek".

Well he must have been the only one. Because not even Mrs. Allen herself intended her piece to be interpreted as ironic or satirical. She said so herself in an on-line chat today (again, I refuse to link, but it's not hard to find). The on-line chat was the WaPo's way of placating its readership, I suppose. Giving us a chance to confront the author herself.

But I learned a few years back, when my school put on a performance of The Laramie Project, that there is no use in arguing with outright bigots whose views do not represent even a viable minority of the public. Though there is plenty to dispute about her perspective on her/my gender, my issue is not with Mrs. Allen.

It is with the Washington Post.

Ugh. Looking for links, I become overwhelmed by the response. I think I might faint. (Oh, wait. I did that already. It was at the City Diner. Must have been foreshadowing of my soon-to-surface appreciation for Barack Obama!)

Forget this. It's time to go eat with my boyfriend. Swoon!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Relax, women! Let's face it, we're just...kind of dim.

(or, Why I'm switching to the New York Times)

The following is a letter I wrote to the Ombudsman of the Washington Post in response to the Sunday Outlook piece by Charlotte Allen, "We Scream, We Swoon. How Dumb Can We Get?"

If there was ever any question as to whether sexism is alive and well in this country, please read the above-linked op-ed and then try to imagine someone making the same argument about black people or Catholics. (Hint: eugenics, anyone?) More importantly, try to imagine an editorial about black people being feebleminded on the front page of the Sunday Outlook section of a national newspaper.

The letter:


I have been a loyal WaPo reader since I was a child growing up in Fairfax, Virginia. I will continue to read the Washington Post. But I cannot in good conscience let the op-ed piece by Charlotte Allen go by unchallenged.

What disgusts me more than her point of view is the fact that such a highly esteemed newspaper would choose to validate it with so many column inches in the Sunday edition of its Outlook section. What's next - Fred Phelps' perspective on why Lawrence King is rotting in hell?

Congratulations for using a cheap trick to get the blogosphere chattering about your paper. I'm utterly disgusted. Come to think of it, maybe I will switch to the New York Times after all.

Juliette "Dim Woman" Gomez
Richmond, Virginia