Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Gotta Move On. . .

I have arrived for a brief layover in Midwestern Funky Town. It is how I remember it: Midwestern and funky. For those who are tracking GayProf’s journeys across the nation, you will know that I am just here to deposit my car before returning to Boston for the final move (*sob* to leaving Boston).

Moving still sucks. Right now I am having arcane banking issues. Who knew, for instance, that check cards had daily limits that were much less than your actual account balance? Nobody told me this! Or, if they did tell me, clearly they weren’t attractive enough for me to bother listening to them. We’ve been through this before, people. Important financial rules and regulations should only be delivered to GayProf by muscular, brown-eyed men (preferably from Southern Spain).

While I am complaining, let me also mention that while in Texas I wore some new shoes that totally trashed my feet. I now have quarter-inch-deep slashes on both of my ankles. Even though I obtained another pair of shoes (basically canvas slippers) days ago, my wounds are still bleeding. Given how painful they are, I can only assume that many of my faithful readers are spontaneously developing sympathy sores on their own ankles. It must surely be a version of gay stigmata. Wounds for fashion are, after all, the most holy.

My oozing sores aside, driving through the center of the nation reminded me of things that I had not thought about in quite some time. It’s surprisingly easy when you live in the greater Boston area to forget about what is actually happening in the nation west of Worcester. Actually, it’s surprisingly easy to forget that there is a nation west of Worcester.

Of course, I am kidding. Nobody thinks about Worcester.

On the long drive, however, I had plenty of contact with the South and Midwest. These encounters are good “reality checks” for me. For instance, many of my friends and I have constantly chatted about Bush’s approval rating. It is one of the lowest (soon to be the lowest) that any president has ever had. Yet, he still has the support of around 30 percent of the nation. “Who?” we always ask, “Who are these people that compose the 30 percent?” Texas provided the answer.

No sooner had I literally set foot on my former campus when I saw a student wearing a “Texans for Bush” t-shirt. No, he did not wear it with irony nor was he attempting a naughty double-entendre. It turns out that Bush still has quite a lot of support in Eastern Texas. People there will even choose their garments to demonstrate their love for the man despite his tanking the economy, hiding in a bunker on September 11, trashing the environment, starting wars, screwing-over the veterans of those wars, and using the Constitution as a Depends undergarment.

Of course, it’s easy to criticize Texas. It’s fun, too. All the same, this type of extreme conservatism isn’t just limited to the Lone Star State. Illinois surprised me with the number of right-wing road signs that dotted the highway.

The Land of Lincoln, unlike Texas, is a state that I actually like. For starters, it has my favorite city in the United States: Chicago. Boston is darn close to toppling Chicago, but the MBTA needs to start building more subway track for that to happen. I don’t mean zombie green-line track, either. I mean real subway track that is actually sub.

Annnnyway, because Illinois has Chicago as well as its own MFT in the form of Champaign/Urbana, I always thought of it as a nice blue zone. So, I was a little taken aback by the unending religious bill boards. You know the types that I mean. They usually say things like, “Gay Marriage Makes Baby Jesus Cry” or “Jesus Eats Satisfying Snickers Bars” or whatever it is that ultra-Conservatives believe that people want to read on the highway.

More than those messages, though, I was not expecting a barrage of roadside gun propaganda. The most memorable of these attempts was a series of signs that said, “A hooligan would think twice if he knew that his teacher was packing. Guns save lives.” Wow – Somebody at the Ministry of Truth deserves a bonus for that one. Not such “Ignorance is Strength” have they come up with such amazing double speak.

This whole idea of arming teachers really strikes me as bizarre. Some pro-gun loonies always propose these ideas after the nation has a mass shooting. Apparently they think that every school should resemble the O.K. Corral.

These gun folk are also usually pretty inconsistent. They often claim to want the Constitution to be interpreted “literally,” except when it comes to the gun question. They all tend to ignore the “well regulated Militia “ bit of the Second Amendment. I wonder how hard it would be pry the guns out of ultra-conservatives cold hands if ownership meant a tour of duty in Iraq.

Their solution instead is always to hand out more guns. Let me tell you, as somebody who works in a classroom, the solution isn’t to give firearms to teachers and professors. We would be too tempted to use them.

Students who submitted papers two days late would just be asking to be grazed. Taking classes “Pass/Fail” would require Kevlar body armor. Grade grubbers would have to ask themselves if they were feeling lucky before coming to office hours.

Arming professors would also make academic conferences much more entertaining, if not also more deadly. Who would need a quip to retort a tough question about your research when you have a Magnum? For my part, it would sure solve the problem of trying to convince conservative historians that Latino Studies is actually a real academic field.

Maybe that is the best way to convince conservatives of the need for gun control after all. If the nation's lefty historians start looking like their own army, suddenly legislation restricting the sale of fire arms won’t seem nearly so extreme.


vuboq said...

Oddly enough, I was thinking about the 2nd Amendment yesterday. Blame DC's interesting attempt to have their gun ban restored. Anyway, I started thinking about the interpretation of the word "arms." Why do we always think "arms" = "guns?"

Don't I have a Consitutional Right to maintain my own nuclear arsenal? Seems that nukes are "arms" too, right?

I hope so because I can't wait to rain down some nuclear hellfire on RCN. Bastards.

Oh, and hope you are having fun in MFT. *sunshine and kisses*

Anonymous said...

Can TAs be armed too? It would make my upcoming defence *so* much easier...

Also, say good-bye to the first-day jitters of teaching once I knew I actually had some authority behind my presence.

I'm so totally asking the union about guns.

dykewife said...

honey, if professors were armed, you'd probably be dead by multiple gunshot wounds made by multiple guns. you like yanking chains too much :)

though i like the mental image of the meetings.

we were talking about that in class yesterday, well, capital punishment and one classmate said that she didn't mind the concept of murderers being put to death but it worried her about the ones who might not be guilty. so i said that if there wasn't dna evidence, ohter forensic evidence, an uncoerced confession and video and audio recordings of the crime, then they could just wing 'em.

yeah, scary.

dykewife said...

oh, and the "right to bear arms" thing. apparetly the constitution was written during hot weather by their worst speller. it should read "the right to bare arms."

Anonymous said...

Are you *ever* going to tell us where MFT is? I can totally see you in either Ann Arbor or Bloomington. Better still would be Muncie, because of 1.) You're a Muncie girl? and 2.) Ball State. Hee! Yes, I'm 12.

Anonymous said...

I walked just a little too far in cute sandals feet ache in sympathy (though my gashes are across the tops of my feet, not on my ankles...still count for gay stigmata?)

It's a good thing they didn't give you a gun in Texas. Hopefully MFT will be kinder. :)

Elizabeth McClung said...

I am sorry about your moving and banking and footwear blues. When I first went to the UK, the whole "your cheque doesn't clear for 10 days" thing got me in BIG trouble (I assumed they used electronic instead of minion information services).

East Texas - in the late 80's/early 90's East Texas was synonymous for "you are going to die" - is it still the same. And this was from living in LA gang territory. It was, "My God, you are a black/gay/literary male/female and you are going to East Texas?" The number of people I knew who had been beaten or some horrid thing happen in high school in LA was astounding. It was the old west, with a sort of Texas/Klan edge. Has this radically changed?

Marius said...

Wounds for fashion are, after all, the most holy

Amen! Yes, I once had a pair of shoes that inflicted the type of pain you described. They were fabulous!

When I lived in Western New York, I met a few people who were quite conservative in every possible way--and they were pro-gun. These people are everywhere.

Anonymous said...

You know, last time I barely made the deadline for my assignment, I turned in a picture of Wonderwoman as well (p.s.ed 'picture of Wonderwoman is not part of the assignment'). I figured that this would get me out of it alive.

Doug said...

I visited Wuh-stuh once.

I may never eat a Snickers again if you truly saw a JESSS billboard.

Like they'll ever give guns to teachers. Hell, teachers can't even spank students anymore. What would parents say if little Johnny came home with a gunshot wound?

Anonymous said...

I understand and empathize about those heel-digging-new-shoes. It's such a slap in the face, new shoes bringing pain.
My father is a middle school teacher and if he had a gun, it would be bad. He'd wipe his students out and shove his class list down a memory hole.

tornwordo said...

Those are sobering roadside sights. Yikes. Hope your feet heal swiftly.

Anonymous said...

ugh....bad time to be in MFT, during the extreme annoyance of Art Fair.

Anonymous said...

"Wounds for fashion are, afterall, the most holy..."

I saw a blurb on TV a few months ago about a plastic surgeon in NYC who specializes in narrowing women's feet so they can elegantly fit into those slender, high heeled Manolos.

Two words. Peppermint footcream. Oh, and preferably a hot, muscled, Latino man to massage it in.

Earl Cootie said...

Last time I was in Texas, it was the flags that creeped me out. Everywhere, on every building, in front of every home, flying from or decal-ed to every SUV. And on the clothes. Everyone. Red white and blue. Everyday.

r said...

I've not seen the pro-gun signs, and I'd get nervous if I did.

What is it about owning a gun? How does that make anyone safer?

Particularly me. Sheesh, if I took a gun to school, I'd probably shoot a finger off trying to remove the safety.

However, everyone would probably have their pencil out on time.

pacalaga said...

So, if the billboards are pro-gun, does it make them more or less likely to be shot up by drunken, packing teenagers in redneck America? And would they get the irony? Cuz I'd totally buy a shot-up pro-gun billboard on eBay, for my front yard.
I can see that Jesus would eat Snickers. It's gotta be better than locusts.
Jesus Saves! He fakes, passes to Noah, and.... GOAL!

Clio Bluestocking said...

I feel your pain.

I recently drove to Nebraska and back, and never since escorting for Planned Parenthood have I been assaulted with so many anti-choice signs and bumper stickers. Damn.

In 1996, I, a white girl, drover through East Texas up to Little Rock with two black men and a dark skinned Asian. One of the black men had long dreadlocks. I was so naive that I did not realize that total strangers could get so worked up about our presence together wherever we stopped.

Ain't rural America grand? May your new town be so much better!(How could it be worse?)

Anonymous said...

Ah, I noticed something different over the past few days, an aura perhaps, of your presence in our fair state.

Anonymous said...

However, as I see this comment posted, please don't encourage those of our state to carry more guns. What do you want us to be, like TEXAS or something?

P.S. I'd post my Simpsons avatar, complete with Smithers' hair in a distinguished shade of grey, but I can't figure out how. I still struggle with the f*ing codes to post messages. And WTF is this the sanscrit font I have to decipher?

MOTHER! Endora! Uncle Arthur?


Roger Owen Green said...

Most people take the Constitution as a sometimes thing. That's why so many people, even Dem members of Congress, are willing to allow the Prez to be a monarch, rather than reigning in his power through an impeachment procedure, which I advocate, especially since seeing Bill Moyers last Friday.

Alan Williams said...

Whoa, so MFT is Chambana? Wow, you really will be close. We should do lunch once we're both moved. :-)

As for those billboards: If you're talking about the "Guns Save Lives" Burma-Shave style signs, I laugh at them every time I'm driving on that stretch of I-74.

I grew up near Peoria. If you ever need geography help, look me up. :-)

GayProf said...

VUBOQ: You laugh, but I think that you would find more than one NRA member who would support a Toys-for-Nukes program.

Olaf: TAs could have their own guns, but would probably be expected to clean and oil the prof's gun as well.

DykeWife: To be honest, I am amazed that I lived through my time in Texas without somebody taking a shot at me. . .

Jon: Only my hairdresser knows for sure...

Sarah: As long as you suffer your shoe-wounds in my name, they are holy.

Elizabeth: East Texas, to my mind, is riddled with hate. There are many good people there trying to fight it, but they are far outnumbered.

Marius: Western New York? See? This is why Worcester is the cut-off point.

LisaLogic: In addition to Wonder Woman, you will find that your prof will accept cash.

Doug: Those parents wouldn't say anything if they didn't want a taste of teacher's hot lead themselves.

Phil: The really sad thing about the shoes was that I bought them because of their alleged comfort-properties rather than style.

Torn: My feet are still healing. Pray for me.

Alan: Actually, I was chastised by a Texan friend for complaining about the extreme hassle of Art Fair (which was an extreme hassle -- I couldn't even reach campus). She pointed out, though, that my previous job was in a locale that had no such hassle and it seemed very grim. ¡Viva la Art Fair!

Cooper: I will take foot massages from a hot man of any ethnic background, but it seems like mint cream would burn my open wounds.

Earl: I have been places in Texas where the state flag was flying higher than the U.S. flag. Now, I am not a flag nut (Burn it as a political statement if you desire), but I always thought that was illegal. I also question the "Texas Pledge of Allegiance."

Rebekah: Not only would they have their pencils out, but they would always be the appropriate #2 pencils as well.

Pacalaga: It's a little known fact about GayProf, but he attended school under the watchful eye of Touchdown Jesus.

Clio: I actually think East Texas is getting worse...

Marlan: You might have also noticed the extreme cursing I had while trying to navigate the highway construction in our new state. I am pretty sure it reverberated for hundreds of miles.

Alan W.: Champaign/Urbana was in the running for being my MFT, but didn't quite make the cut.

Unknown said...

Aww, I was hoping Chambana was your Midwestern funky town (but I suspect Madison).

Anonymous said...

(here via Ragnell)

I found out the hard way that a pair of my dress shoes cuts my ankles, when there was no way to go back and get others to change into either. I found that there are some thick skin-like translucent waterproof bandages which Johnson & Johnson makes which helped a lot and didn't keep ripping them open. They also protect against rubbing and blisters - I hardly ever wear those shoes now, but when I have to, I slap a air of those bandaids on first and no more cuts.

Zundian said...

I too was hoping Chambana was MFT, ah well.

My check card has never had a limit, and I use the thing so much it's been replaced once a year on average, usually because the magnetic strip is wearing off (long after the signature strip has been completely worn off, and the hologram starts coming off.).

Anyway, the reason I'm even posting is that I wanted to point out how over the top the roadway signs are. They're formatted like the old Burma Shave signs, and contain some horrendous logic and rhyming.

Chambana (especially Urbana) may be blue-ish, but the surrounding farm area is bright, bright red, which accounts for the sigs.

Artistic Soul said...

lol - the idea of professors carrying guns is super funny. Having been through IL several times before and having had a SO from there, I can attest it's just about as back woods as Texas.

Earnest English said...

Love you and your blog. Just needed to say it yet again.

Alan Williams said...

MFT isn't Chambana? Drat, and here I was thinking I'd have a kindred spirit nearby (well, besides my boyfriend)....