Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Big "D"

Today I attended New Faculty Orientation. This was a good thing as I was previously quite disoriented. I kept walking into walls and everything. Now I am fully oriented to my surroundings.

Having been through different versions of these events at two institutions in my short career, I have concluded that they exist more for the symbolism of welcoming faculty rather than providing any actual information. Everything really important and useful that you will need to know (how to make copies, where to order books, how much you can penalize students for absenteeism, where the men’s room is located, etc.) come from your department (most likely your department’s clerical and administrative staff).

Universities are usually much too large to create an orientation that would be as beneficial to a chemist as it would be for a historian. Our research needs are quite distinct. Indeed, I remember sitting through a very long session at my old Texas institution’s orientation entitled “How To Obtain Permits for an Off Shore Drilling Facility.” While I am sure the two new petroleum engineering professors were riveted, I found it a bit boring. Fortunately my new university has more sense than to even try such foolishness.

As I sat through today’s sessions, though, several things occurred to me. The first is that undergraduates seem a lot younger than I remember them. The college invited in two students to give their perspective on teaching. How long have I been out of the classroom? I felt ancient. Actually, all the junior faculty also seemed really young to me. I am not old (a mere 33), but life in Texas really aged me.

The other main thought that I had centered on the way “diversity” got so much play from the various speakers. Don’t get me wrong – I am not knocking the use of the term exactly. Indeed, I applaud my new institution for fighting to maintain diversity even as enemies of the university seek to dismantle the little diversity that exists.

Still, “diversity” has become accepted as a convenient short hand for something that does not get much real discussion. If you ask almost any university administrator in the nation about their long-term goals for the students and faculty of their institution, they will likely include “increasing diversity” somewhere between “Becoming Number One in U.S. News and World Report” and “Ending the Great Urinal Cake Shortage.”

Universities aren’t the only place where the ambiguous “diversity” gets props, either. I hear many people express a desire to live (or actually do live) in an urban city like Boston, New York, Los Angeles, etc because they “want to be near diversity.” Those who live in small towns likewise complain about the lack of diversity in their locale. By “diversity,” I always assumed that they mean a wider variety of racial backgrounds and (sometimes) more queer people. They don’t often specify what they actually do mean.

The reality of the nation is not at all reflective of all this “celebration of diversity.” The United States, as I have mentioned previously, is more segregated today than it was twenty years ago. What are the most segregated areas? Urban centers, like my dear Boston.

Moreover, individuals, especially whites, are not likely to have serious friendships or relationships with people outside of their own racial group. So, while people want to live near the “diversity,” they seemingly don’t want that diversity in their house. To be honest, I am deeply suspicious of anybody who has never had a meaningful friendship outside of their own racial group (regardless of which group they identity with themselves).

For both universities and people’s individual lives, I think diversity is irreplaceable. Modern universities need the experience and intellectual inquiry that comes from multiple perspectives to function. As an individual human, the greater the number of people that you meet and with whom you can engage, the better off you will be.

Diversity, though, can be an allusive thing to determine. Tomorrow, for instance, I am hosting a cocktail party. By some measures, the guest list is quite diverse. People of white heritage, Latinos, people of Jewish ancestry, and African Americans will be represented. There will be citizens of the U.S. and citizens of several other nations.

By other measures, though, the guest list is quite homogenous (emphasis on the “homo”). We are all queer, have attained the highest level of formal education possible, and live comfortable middle-class lives. Depending on perspective, this same group is both diverse and insular.

It therefore makes me nervous when the term “diversity” becomes untethered from any type of intellectual grounding. It, instead, implies a hollow sense of universality and shared understanding (that I don’t think really exists). We “all know” what diversity means, but I am not sure that we actually agree.

For some, living in urban areas that are deemed appropriately diverse has become an acknowledged sign of an individual’s status and even a certain type of wealth. Yet, that same uncritical approach to diversity also ignores the material poverty that often hinders non-white “diversity” in this nation. Racial diversity, in that case, implies access to different types of restaurants with zesty spices, but not meaningful relationships.

Living near “queer diversity,” likewise, implies new trendy clubs and snappy fashion quips. It ignores, though, the real violence that occurs against queer people in our cities daily.

If universities are serious about diversity, than we need to reframe the way that we talk about it. Most universities provide little institutional support despite their aspirations for a more diverse campus. In Texas, for instance, both the University of Texas and Texas A&M University, the state’s two flagship institutions, failed to even come close to reflecting the state’s non-white majority population. The few people of color who joined the faculty and the few students who attended those universities, moreover, were often isolated. The existing administration seemed unwilling or unable to change the climate on either of those campuses.

Universities should aspire to reflect the reality of the nation’s population in both their student bodies and faculty. Rather than “celebrating" it, diversity should be the state of affairs.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Mind Over Matter

I have returned from my first official function of the new academic year. It signals that classes resume in only another week.

I am actually eager for classes to start to give me a change. For many reasons, a malaise has settled upon my little cottage over the past few days.

Giving your emotions names in other languages always makes them seem a bit more interesting, don’t you think? Malaise sounds more regal, for instance, than the colloquial English “down in the dumps.” Using words in other languages implies that your feelings are profound enough to transcend linguistic barriers.

Then again, malaise also makes me think of Jimmy Carter (who, for the record, never actually used the word in the "malaise" speech). This makes me think of the gross Reagan presidency and they way that he told Americans it was okay to hate again. This just adds to the malaise.

There is something about the last days of summer that always seem kind of sad. It is the in-between time of summer and autumn. All of the trees and plants seem exhausted after giving their all. Yet, they are not quite ready to explode into the oranges and reds that mark their descent into winter sleep.

School children look unusually somber upon the realization that the good times have come to an end (Parents, on the other hand, look quite cheerful). University students start pouring into the town and I am confronted by countless tearful scenes of parents saying goodbye to their children (which is bitter sweet).

This time of year always also makes me miss New Mexico. It has been soooo long since I have lived there during the fall, but it was my favorite time of year. The god-forsaken heat will usually start to break. Then the air is filled with the aromas of various supermarkets roasting the green chile harvest. I am quite nostalgic about New Mexico.

Sigh – Then again, GayProf is nostalgic about everything. I yearn for the bygone times of this morning’s coffee. That was great and will never be again. . .

Or maybe my mood is a little out whack because I finally dragged my lazy carcass to a new gym. It took me a while to decide on a new fitness location in Midwestern Funky Town. After surveying a variety of sources, I determined that I would go private to avoid running into students at the university facilities. Sometimes it’s good to have a clear divide between work and private life.

Going back to the gym, though, reminds me of my love/hate relationship with the whole thing. Clearly, given the amount that I talk (and blog) about hating the gym, it is not one of my favorite activities. Yet, given the amount of time I spend there, clearly I must get something out of it.

I figure that it is a constant battle between mind and body. Or I have split personality. Whatever. Either way, this is pretty much how I imagine it going:

    Mind: Ugh – I need to be sure that I don’t balloon up to five hundred pounds.

    Body: Wouldn’t you rather rest and relax?

    Mind: No, we need to keep up the hard work. My goals at the gym are modest. I just want to stay fuckable.

    Body: Ugh – That joke again? Aren’t you tired of it? And didn’t you steal it from some other gay writer anyway?

    Mind: Probably. Now, lift!

    Body: You know – I could easily process a pint of ice cream instead.

    Mind: Yeah – Process it straight into fat.

    Body: It will be a cold winter. You'll want that fat come January.

    Mind: January will be even colder if I am not fuckable.

    Body: Yeah – Need I remind you of the singular gay bar in town? Your choices for warmth are either let me get fat or buy a space heater.

    Mind: There’s always Decaying Midwestern Urban Center.

    Body: Aren’t you supposed to be working on the Never Ending Project of Doom?

    Mind: Quiet, you.

    Body: You should be sitting at the computer right now. Not making me lift this shit.

    Mind: Lifting that shit is supposed to relieve the stress about the Never Ending Project of Doom.

    Body: Who told you that fairy tale?

    Mind: It’s all about you releasing endorphins.

    Body: Oh.My.God. You are going to exhaust me to the point where I am forced to drug myself to ease the pain???

    Mind: It’s healthy.

    Body: It’s sick. Let’s fry up some sopapillas instead!

    Mind: Hey – Didn’t you used to be able to life ten pounds more than this just last month?

    Body: Didn’t you used to read three books a week in grad school?

    Mind: Touché.

    Body: This new ab machine always gives me a wedgie. You suck for bringing us here.

    Mind: I thought a key benefit of boxer briefs was the avoidance of the wedgies.

    Body. Yeah, there’s a real worthy inner dialog to be having. Wedgies suck – Let’s cruise by Dairy Queen, pretend like it’s somebody’s birthday, and buy an ice cream cake.

    Mind: If you work through this set, maybe I will.

    Body: You lie. Why do you lie??

    Mind: At least we had a month off from the gym. It should make everything seem new and interesting again.

    Body: Or old and still heavy. Wouldn’t you rather be having a Cape Cod right now?

    Mind: Yes – Damn it! When will I find a gym with a bar?

    Body: There's vodka in the freezer at home . . .

    Mind: This will add years to my life.

    Body: Years spent toiling.

    Mind: You’ll thank me when we are eighty.

    Body: Eighty??? That’s, like, forever from now. You plan to live that long??? No way, man. I am blowing out our heart at age 55.

    Mind: Eighty won't feel old if we keep exercising. Our quality of life will be great.

    Body: Look, man, out of the two of us, it's not going to be me who gives out first anyway.

    Mind: What do you mean?

    Body: I am not the one having imaginary conversations between two parts of himself. I am not sayin’, I am just sayin’.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Since Somebody Asked. . .

Most of us bloggers keep an eye on the number of people who visit our particular plot on the internet. When I first started the blog, I remember that I slavishly checked the statcounter every few minutes to see who was reading the blog. At some point, though, I just relaxed about it.

Still, I check in at least daily to see the numbers and the referrals. As many of us know, Google searches provide the most unexpected links to our blogs.

Over the past several months, I have been keeping track of questions posed to Google that brought new readers to CoG. Since I imagine most were disappointed with what they actually found on this blog, I will try to dutifully answer those questions right now. After all, I consider CoG a public service. I am a giver like that.

All of these are real questions that people typed into Google only to end up here:

Why are homos against Christianity?

    Well, just taking a stab in the dark, I would say some of our resentment might come from Christians referring to us as “homos.” Or maybe we find it nauseating that holier-than-thou “Christians” refuse to allow us access to religious sites, even for funerals.

    Still, it’s too simplistic to say that all queer folk oppose Christianity. Likewise, not all hetero Christians are hate mongers.

    Many queer people turn to the religious beliefs of their childhood for spiritual comfort. Others just love the costume changes, incense, and theatricality that comes with organized religion. It’s the same reason that so many gay men join the navy. Well, that and all the hot man-on-man sex.

How to cure a bewitched penis?

    Probably it involves twitching your nose.

Was Jackie Kennedy really Isis reincarnated?

    Oh.My.God. What a fantastic theory! Both Isis and Jackie Kennedy were associated with the pursuit of wisdom and knowledge. They both knew how to rock a fabulous buckle and accessorize for success. They both fashioned their husband’s penis out of gold. Oh, wait – I am not sure that Isis did that last one.

    Does that make JFK into Osiris? Were they brother and sister (eeeeeeeeeeeeeew! (Though this would also explain the inscrutable House of Yes)).

    Perhaps, though, when Jackie was still a Bouvier, she participated in an archaeological dig where she discovered an ancient amulet. With that amulet she controlled the powers of the animals and the elements. She could soar as the falcon soars, run with the speed of gazelles and command the elements of sky and earth.

    Then again, if she were really a god personified, I am going to guess that she might have stopped all the death that surrounded her. Or, at the very least, kept the tabloid photographers at bay.

Did Princess Leia have sex with Jabba the Hut during her enslavement?

    Um – Well – I – Um – That is just nasty. Stay away from my blog.

Is having a baby too bourgeois?

    No – But ignoring the long-term societal and environmental consequences of such a decision is irresponsible in my book (regardless of your relationship to the means of production). Let’s not talk about the nation’s “children” as if they will be five years old forever. Those children grow up to be the super consumers of the earth’s resources that are causing havoc with the world.

    If you must have a biological child, the best option for our earth is to delay having a baby until later in your life and then limit the number to one. Really, the planet does not need more humans (no matter how valuable you imagine your personal DNA).

    The really, really best option, though, is to adopt. There are many children who already exist in the world who are homeless and need a loving parent. I have immeasurable respect for people (queer or straight) who chose this option over having biological children. In contrast, I lose respect for people who have tons and tons of biological children out of complete selfishness.

Why do men like short shorts?

    Probably men like short shorts because they are short.

    I don’t think that it is because men participate in a vast conspiracy to bring the cotton industry to its knees. Nope – They just want to check your bod.

    At first I thought that question was about hetero men. Then I realized, we gay boys like men in short shorts, too. We all want to read the writing on the label before we buy.

How to get gravitas?

    I am guessing Katie Couric asked Google this question in a desperate ploy to save her CBS gig.

    Katie, don’t fret. You can be just like me, a god of gravitas, in five easy steps:

      1. Allow the world’s many problems to weigh heavily on your mind at all time.

      2. No longer watch movies and television for entertainment. Instead, they must always be scrutinized for their statements about race, gender, and sexuality.

      3. Buy clothing made of all natural fibers. Actually, this really doesn’t have anything to do with gravitas, but it’s good advice anyway.

      4. Lead a personal life filled with disappointment and heartbreak (I am guessing you are way ahead on this one).

      5. Grow a goatee (You, in particular, will get triple gravitas points for this one).

    How will you know if you have succeeded? It will come at the time when you start wondering if your garbage men judge you because all of your recyclables are wine bottles. When you come home to an intervention hosted by those same garbage men, you will know that you have gone too far.

Do Bostonians like Texans?

    No. No, they don’t. Why? Well, the majority of Bostonian voters are against the death penalty (much like the EU), support (though fail to enforce) civil rights, believe health care is a human right, respect diversity, and believe gay people are, well, human. In short, they are exactly the opposite of the majority of Texan voters. Bostonians also bristle at overt displays of religiosity. I felt so at home in Boston . . . **sigh**.

Is Anderson Cooper/Mika/Jodi Foster/ Ron Stoppable/Sean Hayes gay?

    If you have to ask the question . . .

Am I still straight if I get turned on by watching gay porn?

    Well, I always think that straight porn is a bit queer myself anyway. Why do straight men depend so heavily on seeing another man ejaculate for their erotic enjoyment?

    If, though, you are watching gay porn exclusively, I would say that this doesn't necessarily mean that you are gay. It does, however, mean that you sure as hell aren't straight. But, hey, now that you know, this opens up a whole new world. If you like seeing it on the big screen, you will love having it at home!

Can you get a vaginal infection from spray tanning?

    Why are you tanning your vagina? Are you worried that your vagina doesn’t look like it spends enough quality time frolicking at the beach?

    I have never had a vagina, but, if I did, I would probably avoid dousing it with harsh chemicals. It goes without saying that any man-made substance that you introduce to the vaginal area could potentially have serious side effects (that includes semen).

Where can I find pretty lesbians in the Rio Grande Valley?

    It surprises me that you are finding this a challenge. Some of the most beautiful people I have ever seen resided in the Rio Grande Valley. Okay, I only had eyes for the men. Still, I am sure that women live there too. Some of them must be lesbians.

    Overall, I would say pretty is as pretty does. What have you done to make yourself pretty today?

Did James Dean have crabs?

    From what I understand, James Dean practiced very poor personal hygiene. Combine that with his sexually adventurous personality and I would be willing to bet that he did have crabs (at least once).

    Still, there is no historical evidence of such things to my knowledge. And, let’s be honest, you still would have done him anyway.

How can I perk up my nipples?

    Ice – and lots of it.

Is GayProf physically attractive in real life?

    I am, except when I am not.

    Since I started stalking him, I realized that I look a tad like a human incarnation of Dr. Strange. Or maybe it’s just because we both wear the same long flowing red cape and control the mysteries of the universe through cryptic incantations. Whatever.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Advice Nobody Needs

I have more or less settled into Midwestern Funky Town. My cottage is now presentable to the public. The boxes that needed to be unpacked have been unpacked. The remainder are stacked in the guest room, which is currently closed on the GayProf house tour.

Of course, the cottage seems a bit empty. Though I had the perfect amount of furniture for my Boston studio, a whole house (even a relatively small one) requires a bit more. Yet, I am really resistant about buying more stuff. I fear that I will be like a goldfish and simply keep expanding until I fill my current living space. Though unlikely, I subconsciously (or perhaps consciously) want to be ready to move back to a metro studio at a moment’s notice.

In the meantime, I am slowly learning the way things work in MFT. This weekend, I ventured out to the only gay bar (Yeah, we are all surprised that there is only one). While it was nice (everything in MFT is unusual in its niceness), I came to the conclusion that I will need to explore nearby Decaying Midwestern Urban Center for a wider queer community.

Then there is always Toronto, a mere four or five hours away. All of that, though, will have to wait until I finally finish the Never Ending Research Project of Doom.

Being settled, though, brings about the specter of the coming semester. This will be the first time that I have taught in over a year and half.

I actually enjoy teaching, which is good. It is a vital part of my job. Still, if I won the lotto, all you would see is an empty podium with pile of grade sheets for the students to fill in themselves and a brochure for San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Since that hasn't happened, I have been revising my syllabi and thinking about teaching. A couple weeks ago, Tenured Radical published her tips for new teachers. Given that most of this blog is a form of plagiarism, I figured that I would do likewise. Even if you aren’t a professor, it can give you a window into the whole career.

1. Students are not going to remember 90 percent of what you tell them five years from now. Sure, there will be a couple in your classes who find the topic so engrossing that they will keep studious notes. As a professor, you will affect their lives forever and be one of the most important people who shaped their adult thinking.

If you are lucky, that is maybe one student per semester. The majority of your students are just there to earn some credit hours and do what is required of them.

Don’t feel frustrated. I know that I was the same with many of my undergraduate classes. A few professors that I had still influence the way that I think today. When I look at my undergraduate transcript, however, there are other courses listed that I have no memory of ever attending. I couldn’t tell you if the professor was a man or woman, much less any of the content (Did I really take a class entitled “Nonverbal Communication?” Huh – I wonder what that involved . . .)

If you have a big point to make with your course, repeat it over and over again. It increases your odds that something will stick in that ten percent that they will actually retain.

2. You will give students wrong information at some point in your teaching career. Maybe you will muddle the date of Queen Isabella’s arrival at Granada or forget what the U.S. Constitution said about noble titles. At some point, though, you are going to say the wrong thing. None of us are perfect. Well, okay, GayProf is perfect. So, I should say none of you people are perfect.

Hey, don’t sweat it. During the next class session, just correct yourself. Far from sacrificing your authority, students like to know that their professors are [sort of] human. Besides, a couple little errors here and there don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Why? See Number One.

3. Teaching is a political act. Be honest with yourself and your students. By political act, I don’t mean that David Horowitz is actually right and we are all trying to secretly turn our students into ultra liberals. We don’t have that power. Why? See Number One.

On the other hand, we are approaching the topic with a certain perspective and asking students to engage with us. We disrupt the status quo just by presenting new knowledge. We also have the authority to ask students to try out different ideas or concepts.

All we can do, though, is ask. It’s up to them to decide what to do with the material that we present to them.

I have known several professors who think that their goal in teaching is to “trick” students into accepting either a left or a right political position. They create elaborate schemes and pretend to take an ambiguous position on important issues as some sort of twisted Socratic method. Fuck that shit.

Students aren’t lab rats and they aren’t there to take part in professors’ mind games. Be honest and candid with your students. They are smart enough to make up their own minds. Even if they aren’t smart enough, they will still make up their minds anyway, so you might as well keep your own ethics intact.

If you are a gay professor, say so. If you are lefty, say so. If you are a feminist, say so. If you are a right-wing Nazi, say so. Does it influence or change the material that you are presenting? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Regardless, it does a world of good for everybody to be open about their perspectives. Universities are supposed to be the place for an honest exchange of ideas.

The best teaching comes in the form of conversation. It’s really hard, though, to talk with somebody who keeps lying about what they really think.

4. Learn to accept that you are going to have students that you like more than others. Don’t get me wrong. Your goal in the classroom is not to create a cult of personality around yourself with a few chosen followers. That is why you have a blog.

In any class, though, there is going to be a small number of students who are just a bit more engaged and a bit more interested in the topic. They will make you happy teaching, so don’t feel guilty if you find yourself a little more interested in grading their papers than the other students. These might be the couple of students where Number One does not apply (but probably not).

5. Learn to accept that you are going to have students who you just don’t like at all. Maybe they show up late all the time. Maybe they turn in their assignments having done them in crayon. Maybe you just don’t like their shoes. I don’t know. Whatever the case, there are going to be a few students who rub you the wrong way.

During those times, it’s important to take a zen approach. Like a medical doctor healing an ornery patient, so also you must remember that your goal is to educate (not befriend). Take them as they present themselves and remain professional. Strive for fairness. It’s never worth fighting with a student. Remember Number One.

6. Learn to accept that you are going to find a few students physically attractive. Oh, yeah – GayProf isn’t afraid to say it. If you are teaching at most universities, you are dealing with a population of young people between 18 and 21. Anybody who tells you that they don’t find somebody in that group attractive is a liar. Our society values youth and beauty. You are not the exception. Get over it. It doesn’t make you lecherous or evil. It makes you normal – Well, as normal as any professor really is.

Of course, it goes without saying that you never, ever act on such an observation. That would make you lecherous and evil. You will not only lose your job, but also probably give your student another reason not to trust. Besides, long after the affair is over, Number One will still apply to that student.

7. Teaching won’t get you tenure. Sorry, kiddies, teaching isn’t the name of the game at universities or even “teaching” colleges. Only one thing gets you tenure: research. The quantity and quality of that research will vary depending on your university, but they are always going to want it.

As young, idealistic professors, our temptation is to be the best professors we can be. Plus, teaching is much, much easier than research. These two things often result in us slavishly devoting all of our time to our students. It’s a struggle to realize that you can be a pretty darn good teacher and not spend all of your time focused on it.

Yeah, yeah – Tenure and Promotion committees will spend five (Maybe even ten!) minutes paying lip service to teaching. If you regularly burn your students with cigarettes, it might even cost you tenure. Nobody, though, is going to be promoted based on being a stellar teacher. Likewise, if you have a complete research package, nobody is going to be denied tenure based on a so-so teaching record. That’s just reality.

So, when senior colleagues come to talk to you about the importance of teaching (and they are probably the ones who barely got tenure based on their thin research record), be polite. Know the score, though. Teaching.Doesn’t.Get.You.Tenure. Budget your time with that knowledge.

Look at it from the perspective of the universities. Published research will last forever. They can go to a library and hold it in their little hands. More importantly, they can see the name of your university published on the byline. In contrast, what will your students remember? See Number One.

8. Teaching will always be there. No matter how fantastic we are as scholars, we are almost always going to return to the classroom. It is what pays our bills. So, I don’t understand people who don’t seek out research opportunities (or even turn down those presented to them) because they can't bare the thought of being away from the classroom for a semester.

Some people have asked, “But, GayProf, haven’t you missed your students? Don’t you need that regular engagement?” Sure, I have missed students. You know, though, I have some pretty smart friends with whom I can talk. Besides, teaching will always be there. New students will always be enrolled. Any young professor has potentially thirty years worth of classroom time. If I can take time to do research, I am taking it. I will also actively seek out opportunities, like fellowships. Why? See Number Seven.

9. Grading sucks. I remember the first class that I taught, I found the notion of grading exciting. It seemed like an adventure to really find out how each student came to terms with Chicano history. That wore off with a quickness.

The engaged students’ papers are fun to read. After you finish grading both of them, though, you are often left with a pile of poorly typed essays that were written within the past twenty-four hours. If the students’ didn’t enjoy writing them, you can bet that you aren’t going to enjoy reading them (This is also why coming up with creative assignments is really important. You and they will be happier if you ask them to engage both sides of their brain from time to time).

One of my former colleagues had a theory that our entire salaries were based exclusively on the act of grading. Pretty much everything else we would do for free.

After spending hours reading, correcting, and commenting on those papers (because you are an ethical professor, after all), you will feel kinda depressed. Reviewing Number One only makes this feeling worse.

10. Remember to enjoy teaching. Sure, this list sounds a bit cynical. In truth, though, teaching is a great deal of fun. You have the opportunity to talk with a whole group of people about the thing that you have devoted your professional life doing. For those three hours each week, you get to encourage students to think about their world in new ways. You also get to learn from their perspectives. Some of your students will even be smarter than you (Smartness, to my mind, is not measured by the amount of knowledge one has (You will always know more (I hope)). Instead, smartness is measured by one’s ability to think creatively. Let me tell you, I have had some students who were a whole hell of a lot smarter than me.

Personally, I think of teaching as being as close to hosting a late-night talk show as I will ever get. Enjoy the opportunities – Seek out the challenges – Don’t neglect your research. Teaching.Doesn't.Get.You.Tenure. (It was worth repeating).

Remember, though, don’t take yourself too seriously in the classroom. In the end, it’s all about Number One.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Na, Na, Na -- Hey, Hey, Goodbye

Blogs are aflutter with news that Karl Rove will resign effective August 31. Rove has been credited as the political puppet master behind the Bush administration. I, though, tend to think of him as a talking political toilet.

At some point in his young life, Rove came to the realization that he was just too damn nasty looking to ever try to run for public office himself. As a result, he decided to be the creepy guy behind the scenes.

We all might remember some of Rove’s handiwork: using homophobia to mobilize poor whites to vote against their own interests in 2000 and 2004; being a major stock holder in Enron; accusing “Liberals” of wanting to offer “therapy” to the attackers in 9/11; accusing Ann Richards of only hiring lesbians (What’s wrong with that???); and, of course, reducing every issue from any intellectual debate down to a cult of personality around Bushie. After all of that, Rove will soon be moving back to Texas. Thank the goddess that I am no longer there.

Rove told reporters that he is leaving the White House to “spend more time” with his family. We all know, though, that answer is just political jargon. The real reason for Rove’s departure is probably one of the following:

    *Has secretly joined a traveling freak show circus under the stage name, “Repulsey, the Ugliest Human to Ever Walk the Planet.”

    *Needed to meet with administration officials at Southern Methodist University to ensure that the new George Bush Library would only stock the finest of Crayola© crayons.

    *Realized that a lot of his hateful behavior resulted from feelings of inadequacy about never obtaining a college degree.

    *He became overly distraught when that Skywalker punk killed his favorite pet Rancor monster.

    *Rove wanted to be the first Bush administration official to flee the country and take up residence in Paraguay to avoid prosecution. After all, he didn't want all the best lands to be taken.

    *Needed to clear his schedule to make more time for his afternoon spanking by Condi Rice.

    *Thought that it would be useful to tour the country and find out just how much gay people really hate him.

    *Plans to take $750,000 and hide in a hole in the cellar of a farmhouse to avoid capture by U.S. authorities.

    *He was just a step away from the EPA declaring his office and personal space toxic and potentially carcinogenic zones.

    *He had tickets for the opening night of Springtime for Hitler.

    *Needed to get out of Washington, DC before Dick Cheney shot him in the face.

    *Plans to devote more time stealing candy from babies.

    *Realized that raping the nation just wasn’t as much fun the twentieth time around.

    *Couldn’t face Clarence Thomas to explain why he had lost Thomas’s DVD of Long Dong Silver’s Electric Blue 3.

    *Was recently recalled by Mattel because it turns out that he was made with defective parts in a China sweatshop.

    *Was visited in the middle of the night by three ghosts: The ghost of CIA-Leak past, the ghost of Iraq present, and the ghost of prison future.

    *Heard a rumor that Washington, D.C. was going to be out of lard and couldn’t imagine eating anything not slathered in it.

    *Needed more time for his hobby of collecting Nazi memorabilia.

    *It turned out that he was really just as dumb as George W. Bush after all.

    *Had already arranged with the devil to turn the U.S. South into hell, which explains the current temperatures in that part of the nation.

    *He discovered that Bridget McCain, John McCain’s adopted daughter from Bangladesh, is now strong enough to kick his ass.

    *After so many hours in daylight, he needed to return to his secret lair where he can feed for the next hundred years.

    *Mary Cheney filled a paternity suit against him and claims that he fathered her baby.

    *Figures he is a shoo-in for the role of supervillian Chang Tzu in the upcoming Wonder Woman movie.

    *Saw his reflection in the mirror and realized that not even he could stomach looking at himself.

    – Or –

    *Realized he had no reflection at all.

    *His family held an intervention in which they told him that the world would be a much better place if he locked himself in a 8' by 8' room and never spoke or talked to anybody ever again.

    *Didn’t want people to know that the magical spell that made him appear [almost] human would wear off at midnight September 1, thus changing him back into a Visayan warty pig.

    *Heard that Texas wasn’t executing nearly enough people and decided that he would take charge himself.

    *Wanted to come up with new ways that he could make his son (now a student at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas) feel ashamed of his paternity.

    *He needs to skip town before Congress finally grows a set and forces him to testify about his many misdeeds.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Nobody Wins if Everybody Loses

After having dinner at Neighbor Girl’s (a.k.a. VUBOQ’s Superfantasic Cuz (I thought it makes more sense for her to be defined by her relationship to me for this blog)) house the other evening, I came home to watch Logo’s Forum for the Democratic Presidential Candidates. Up until this point, I have largely avoided coverage of the candidates because I think that it is too damn early to be spending this amount of time and attention on them. The news, instead, could be covering the misdeeds and illegal activities of our current administration. My feeling was that we should only start listening to other people who want to be in the White House when the current occupant is in jail.

Given that the Logo forum was a historic moment when presidential candidates would address a nation-wide GLBT audience, I decided it was necessary to tune into it. At the very least, I figured that I might be asked questions about it when I start teaching the history of sexuality again in the fall.

My fellow Americans, our nation’s leaders are a feeble crew. None of the candidates surprised me with their answers. Well, at least none of them surprised me in a positive way. We will deal with the train wreck that was Bill Richardson in a moment.

My dismay came in the following days when the media and others authoritatively declared a “winner” for the evening (alternately between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton). What did they say that actually supported the queer community? How did a position of “I won’t actively harass you and I sometimes think that you are almost human” become a “win” for the queer community? To my mind, nobody won that forum – and queers really lost.

Here, in a nut shell, was the message that each candidate delivered to the queer community and my assessment:

    Barack Obama: I am not afraid to talk about gay people even when I am not at a gay-specific event! I also understand the pain of the gay community because I am black, which is like being gay, but really totally different. That's why I don't really support equal rights for you queers.

Even when discussing homophobia within the black community, Obama still seemed to imagine queers as mostly outsiders. Further, Obama treated queer folk as if they had just now started fighting for civil rights rather than acknowledging the half century (and more!) of fights that have transpired. At one point, it seemed like he wanted to give lessons to the queer community about how to pursue social justice. We should not be made to feel like we should apologize for comparisons to other civil rights movements. Queer folk have been involved in all the major civil rights movements of the past century. We are not the politically naïve ones, Barack.

    John Edwards: Don’t worry, I am really comfortable around gay people, especially when they are writing checks for my campaign. Also, let me say that I made a mistake when I said that I opposed same-sex marriage on religious grounds. Religion has no role in government. Now I am opposed to same-sex marriage for no apparent reason at all.

All I wondered is why Elizabeth Edwards isn’t running for president instead of him.

    Dennis J. Kucinich: I bring you peace and love.

I always want to support Kucinich based on the issues, but why must he always make himself look crazy? This time he seemed to be a doing a parody of Mr. Burns after his life extension treatments:

    Mike Gravel: I can’t believe queer people are dumb enough to support Clinton or Obama. Actual quote: “They’re playing it safe. They’re not going to lose any votes about not supporting gay marriage. It’s costing us votes because I do support it. I don’t care. I don’t want those votes.”

Gravel delivered perhaps the most honest appraisal of the entire evening. After discussing the fact that he was not originally going to be a guest despite his vocal support for queer issues, he wondered aloud about why the queer community was busy falling over themselves for people like Clinton and Obama when they offer only meek support for queer rights. It is likely, however, that nobody will really remember him anyway (or they will confuse him with that other Alaska guy who said the internet was a bunch of tubes).

    Bill Richardson: I have done things for gay people in New Mexico and will do what I think is possible for them in the White House (which isn’t much). I understand the pain of the gay community because I am Latino, which is like being gay, but totally different. Sexuality is a choice. . . Or maybe it’s not. How should I know? I am no “scientist.”

It has been a long time since I have actually cringed because of a political figure talking on t.v. It hurt all the more to come from Bill – In truth, he has been a pretty good governor of my beloved New Mexico. He also really does have the most experience of all the candidates out there. So, why did he look so inept? It might have been nice if he at least put up the pretense of having thought about GLBT issues before stepping on the stage.

Until that debacle, Richardson had been my choice. He was Latino. He was Congressional Representative and Governor of New Mexico. He seemed good on the gays. That was a horrible disillusionment. Now I am back to my GayProf in ‘08 platform.

    Hillary Clinton: I will say almost anything at this moment to get your vote and money, except actually pledge to fight for real equality. Hey – the best that I can do is try to prevent you people from being shoved into a concentration camp. You whiny little bitches should be glad that I don’t support that. Now, if you will excuse me, Joe Solomonese and I are going to get back into bed together. He is my poodle, don’t you know?

Clinton was just sleazy.

I firmly believe in voting based on reality. When the presidential election rolls around in 2008 and we are facing a horrid right-wing candidate (and all the players on the field are horrid), it is a strong bet that I will support the Democratic candidate. Right now, though, messing with a left third party for the presidency is short sighted and gives the advantage to individuals like George W. Bush.

At this stage, however, it is not time for queer people to make those concessions. I understand why Clinton and Obama are taking the positions that they are taking. For them, it is about calculating their best chance to win. They figure the gays will support them anyway, so why bother having a principled position on equality?

That simply isn’t good enough. To my mind, the queer community is still so bowled over that anybody famous bothers to mention our names that we consider that more important than fighting for our actual rights. Queer people are bombarded by messages that we have no value and are causing more problems for the nation than we are worth. It’s no wonder then that some people will latch onto the first person who says, “Hey, I don’t totally hate you (even if I vomit a little when I think about what you do in the bedroom).”

What became clear from the forum is that the Democratic candidates want queer votes and really, really want queer money, but are not interested in pursuing a campaign that actually acknowledges our rights as citizens. We don’t have to be grateful for the measly crumbs offered to us by people like Clinton and Obama. Nor do we have to tolerate their lack of knowledge about history (not “our” history as queer people, but the actual history of the United States). Just because the notion of queer rights is new to them doesn’t mean it’s new to the world.

First of all, queer people were critically important to both the African American and Latino civil rights movements. It’s only historical amnesia that has prevented people from discussing this more often.

Likewise, the fight for queer rights has not just benefited queer people. It goes without saying, for instance, that queer activists have been critical to the AIDS crisis. Heterosexuals who are affected by this disease owe a lot to gay men for demanding research and money to fight it.

Even less discussed, though, are the real ways that queer activism has changed ideas about sexuality and gender in this nation. Queer activists have started with the assumption that sexuality is a vitally important part of all humans' daily lives. They fought against the notion of singular “normal” sex life in favor of the freedom for all adults to pursue their own unique desires.

I do not, therefore, accept any presidential candidate who claims that my basic rights must be traded because the majority of Americans aren’t ready to grant them to me. I don’t give a fuck about offending “majoritarian sensibilities.” The majority has always resisted recognizing the rights of minorities in this nation.

Electing somebody who is willing to trade our rights because the majority of Americans don’t think we deserve any maintains the homophobia (and racism and sexism) that defines modern U.S. society. If we don’t respect our own rights enough to call Clinton, Obama, and the whole crew homophobic and hollow, then we have lost regardless of who enters the White House in 2009.

Having Democratic Candidates appear on gay television to talk at us for an hour is not a win. Having Democratic Candidates listen to us for an hour would have been.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Because Nobody Asked

After an absurd level of paperwork and forms, I finally succeeded in changing my car's registration and my license from Texas. Gee, it only took me four hours of standing in line.

I am still in low-key mode after the move. This is time where I am learning how Midwestern Funky Town works. Many people have complained about the streets being confusing in MFT, but after Boston it seems downright straightforward. Plus, I have determined that I could (if needed) basically walk everywhere in MFT.

Most importantly, though, I found that my local market sells TaB by the case. I have not actually seen the case o’ TaB before moving to MFT. Usually I always had to buy it in six-packs. To be honest, I figured the FDA wanted to limit the amount of toxins yummy goodness that any single individual could purchase.

With all the plugging I do for the product on this blog, you would think that Coca Cola would hook me up with some TaB swag. Maybe some of those “hour-glass” tumblers? Or they could just pay for my chemo for TaB-related cancer.

Since I am still on low-key mode, I am going to refrain again from a more lengthy entry. Instead, I’ll answer a question meme that I found at UnCool.

    1. What Do You Say Most When You’re Trying Not To Swear?

    Fuck (I am not good at censoring myself).

    2. Do You Own An iPod?

    Yes, though it is getting old. It was one of the first “minis.” I couldn't even contemplate the gym without one.

    3. Which Person(s) In Your Top Friends Do You Talk To The Most?

    Um – I am not sure that I organize my friends into a hierarchy that would suggest a select “Top.” Does this mean that others have people whom they consider “Loser Friends?”

    Whatever the case, right now I probably talk with one of my sisters most often.

    4. What Time Is Your Alarm Clock Set To?

    It goes off at eight o’clock. As you can tell, going back to teaching in the fall is going to be tough for me.

    5. Do You Want To Fall In Love?

    Yes, of course. Do people actually answer “No?” What do they say? “No, man – I want my life to be an emotional void. That’s cool with me.”

    In terms of falling in love, though, I would like to have more sense about it than my previous ventures. No cowards -- No liars -- No zombies.

    6. Do You Wear Flip-Flops When It’s Cold?

    I never wear Flip-Flops – ever. Indeed, I would probably go barefoot first.

    7. Would You Rather Take The Picture Or Be In The Picture?

    I would like to take the picture with my super archaic 35mm SLR camera. Why go digital when, in just three short weeks, you can have prints from actual film?

    Still, I also like pictures of myself. Mostly, though, I want editorial control over all the pictures of me that exist in the world.

    8. What Was The Last Movie You Watched?

    Probably that was Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. It has been a very Harry Potter summer for GayProf.

    As an aside, Daniel Radcliff certainly turned into quite the looker. Just in time for him to be legal, too!

    9. Do Any Of Your Friends Have Children?


    10. Has Anyone Ever Called You Lazy?

    My father always called me lazy when I was growing up.

    11. Do You Ever Take Medication To Help You Fall Asleep?

    I do when I really need sleep and am too stressed out to fall asleep. Most of the time, though, I avoid over-the-counter sleep aides. They leave me feeling really groggy the next day (and Tylenol PM seems to dehydrate me for whatever reason).

    12. What CD Is Currently In Your CD Player?

    Scissor Sisters’ self-titled debut album.

    13. Do You Prefer Regular Or Chocolate Milk?

    I only use milk in cereal or for cooking. Most times I buy 2%.

    14. Has Anyone Told You A Secret This Week?

    Nope. Do you have one to share?

    15. When Was The Last Time You Had Starbucks?

    Hmmm – It has been sometime. I almost always make my coffee in the morning at my house. When I was in Texas last month, I think that I stopped by a Starbucks for a Mocha.

    16. Can You Whistle?

    Sure, I know how to whistle. You just put your lips together and blow.

    17. Do You Have A Trampoline In Your Back Yard?

    Who wrote this meme? Clearly not the gays.

    No -- I avoid eyesores in my garden. Trampolines only belong in sex dungeons.

    18. Do You Think People Talk About You Behind Your Back?

    Only the tabloids.

    19. Did You Watch Cartoons As A Child?

    Oh, goddess, yes! I was recently really excited to find the almost totally forgotten 1980s Zorro cartoon on DVD.

    20. What Movie Do You Know Every Line To?

    It’s been a bit of time, but I could probably mouth all the words to Star Trek II, III, IV, and VI ("Ship -- Out of danger?"). The same with Star Wars IV and V .

    21. What Is The Last Thing You Purchased?

    A parking permit for my new job ($500! They are mighty proud of their parking spaces at Big Midwestern University.)

    22. Is There Anything Wrong With Girls Kissing Girls?

    How could something so right be wrong? Indeed, I think that there should be more same-sex kissing across the nation.

    23. Do You Own Any Band T-Shirts?

    No, but I do own a Mr. Clean t-shirt.

    24. What Is Your Favorite Salad Dressing?

    Though it means losing blog readers, I really like Ranch. Most often, though, I just eat salad dry (to avoid extra calories and fat).

    25. Is anyone in love with you?

    Not to my knowledge.

    26. Do You Do Your Own Dishes?

    Despite my Dish Mania, doing dishes is my least favorite chore. Everything goes in the dishwasher. EVERYTHING.

    27. Ever Cry In Public?

    I can’t think of the last time that this occurred. I cry very rarely overall. Still, if I need to cry, being in public wouldn’t stop me.

    28. Do You Like Anyone?

    Just in general? Or like – like? Or like as in "tolerate"? Is this a question about being a misanthrope? I am confused.

    29. Are You Currently Wanting Any Piercings Or Tattoo?

    I go back and forth on the tattoo thing. If I were to get one, I know what and where. Still, it all just seems too permanent for me.

    Piercings are a turn-off for me (not a judging thing – they just don’t turn my personal crank). Since you have to dress like what you want to sleep with, I have no plans for piercing.

    30. Who Was The Last Person To Make You Mad?

    My movers.

    31. Would You Ever Date Anyone Covered In Tattoos?

    What are the images in the tattoos?

    32. What Did You Do Before This?

    I was working on the never ending research project of doom. Then I answered a couple of e-mails.

    33. When Was The Last Time You Slept On The Floor?

    That would have been last Saturday before my furniture arrived (See #30).

    34. How Many Hours Of Sleep Do You Need To Function?

    After careful self-evaluation, I truly need eight hours. If given the opportunity, I will take more. When I have less, though, I will not quite process information right. If I go for two or more days with less than eight hours, it is almost guaranteed that I will get a cold.

    35. Do You Eat Breakfast Daily?

    Mom always said it was the most important meal of the day.

    36. Are Your Days Full And Fast Paced?

    They are full, but not fast paced at the moment.

    37. What are you doing right now?

    I am taking a shortcut to write a blog entry.

    38. Do you use sarcasm?

    Only as a pedagogical tool.

    39. Have You Ever Been In A Fight?

    Yes, but not since middle school.

    40. Are You Picky About Spelling And Grammar?

    No. I can’t spell to save my life. When I grade my students’ papers, I do make many comments on grammar, but it does not affect their grades. I am more concerned about content and the quality of their thinking (but to make that thinking clear often requires good grammar).

    41. Have You Ever Been To Six Flags?

    No, and I have no plans. Didn't some poor girl just lose her legs on a Six Flags roller coaster?

    42. Have You Ever Gotten Beat up?

    Yes, but not since middle school (see #39).

    43. Do You Get Along Better With The Same Sex Or The Opposite?

    I don’t think there is a clear divide. As long as they worship me, I really don’t care about their gender.

    44. Do you like mustard?

    Yes - Dijon, in particular.

    45. Do You Sleep On Your Side, Stomach, Or Back?

    I sleep on my side or stomach. Before falling asleep, though, I toss and turn a lot. It takes me a good hour before I fall asleep. Perhaps I should rethink #11.

    46. Do You Watch The News?

    Yes, on occasion I watch the news, but most of the network news is crap today. I depend more on the internet and the New York Times (when I have the time to read it).

    47. How Did You Get Three Of Your Scars?

    Have I stumbled into the movie Jaws? I am not sure that I even have three scars. There is one on my forehead from the previously discussed childhood hairstyling accident. The only other one that I know about is a minor scar on my penis (It’s true!), but that, my friends, is a tragic tale for a different day.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Starting Over. . . Again

Rain finally came to Midwestern Funky Town. Since moving here last week, it has been ungodly hot. It was more Midwestern Melting Town than Midwestern Funky Town. Let me tell you, I didn’t move to a place where the state flower is an icicle just so that I could spend my days sweating.

If I am talking about the weather, that also means that not much is really happening in my life. Sure, I am super busy. Boxes are being unpacked, organizing is being done, and work on the never-ending-research-project of doom is proceeding. None of that, though, makes particularly scintillating blog reading. It’s not as if I am going to discover a hunky naked man in one of those boxes. Nor is it likely that we would then have hot, hot monkey sex upon that discovery. After all, I have all my hunky naked men shipped via UPS.

So, given that I don’t have enough energy/ambition to create a coherent post, I will cobble together an entry from several thoughts that I have had over the past week:

    *Starting over seems like a slow process. One also has to get acclimated, clean, connect utilities, and update all those online profiles. These things take even more time when there is only one of you in the move. After all, there are certain contents in a household that remain the same whether there are one, two, or four individuals in the unit. Everybody needs cookware. Everybody needs towels, etc. When there is only one of you, it takes that much longer to unpack all of that crap.

    *Starting over also requires a lot of emotional energy. No matter the circumstances, there is something viscerally unsettling about suddenly living in a new place. Still, if Jesus has the power to rise up from the dead and take to the sky, then so do I.

    *In all of my unpacking, I have concluded that I own way too many books and way too many dishes. At least I can justify the former (somewhat) by the fact that I am a professor. The latter, though, is seriously out of control. I am volunteering myself to the American Psychological Association as a case study to update the DSM with a new diagnosis of "Dish Mania." Why – WHY – do I need four sets of dishes? Three of those sets are seventy years old – the other forty years old. Why? Why? Why?

    Do I seriously think that Fergie and her posse are going to drop by at any moment and will require massive catering? And, let’s be honest, if Fergie and her posse did drop by, I would use paper plates. This whole dish thing is out of hand. I need help.

    *Unpacking those dishes was slowed by placing shelf-liner in all of my new cabinets. To be honest, I have never really seen the purpose of shelf-liner. Before she left, though, my sister and I went shopping for household items needed in a new place. When I informed her that I didn’t really plan to line my shelves, she looked horrified. As a result, I dutifully bought several rolls of the stuff. Seriously, though, why do I need this? Does it protect the dishes from the shelves? Does it protect the shelves from the dishes? Why is there such an antagonistic relationship between the two that they need a neutral zone of paper?

    *Beyond unpacking, watching ancient t.v. shows, and starring blindly at a text that needs revising, I have also poked around the town a bit. Yesterday, I went out to search for a birthday gift for my other sister (Yes, there is another). She is a Leo (which fits her perfectly).

    I decided that the funky downtown of Midwestern Funky Town would be an ideal place to find a funky gift.While wandering around, I discovered that every shop, regardless of its actual contents, was a “gallery.” If there was a 7-11, it would have been renamed the “Big Gulp and Slurpee© Gallery.”

    It seems to me if you are selling a vinyl LP that has been melted into a chip and dip bowl, you have forfeited your option of claiming “gallery” status. Don't get me wrong. I understand the quaint appeal of the item, but it's not really a "gallery piece."

    Trust me, they weren’t selling this item with a sense of Andy-Warhol irony either. Midwestern Funky Town is not that funky – yet.

    *I am in a major hurry to get the Texas license plates off of my car. I don’t want anybody in Midwestern Funky Town mistaking my unfortunate tags with an endorsement of that state’s atrocious politics.

    *When I get those new plates (Monday – probably), I want the traditional blue plates of my new state. I hate all of these novelty plates that every state keeps issuing. What is with pasting lighthouses, sunsets, or boats all over vehicle tags? It’s a means of identification not an ad for freshness.

    Yeah, I know a lot of these plates represent a minor donation to some worthy cause. This leads to its own absurdities, though. Like the idiot who drives a giant pickup truck but has the nerve to buy a “wildlife” plate. Clearly he reasons that forking over an extra ten bucks a year is going to undo the eco-damage of his four-miles-per gallon gas milage. It’s a little like Dick Cheney suddenly sporting a peace button on his lapel. Sure, the message is great, but it’s a little hollow when it’s resting on somebody slightly to the right of Kaiser Wilhelm.

    *Meeting my new colleagues at Big Midwestern University certainly contrasts with my first weeks in Texas those many years ago. It’s great to have so many people interested in the history of race, gender, and sexuality all in one place. They seem happy to have added me to the faculty and have really gone out of their way to make me feel welcome.

    I can’t say that this will last my entire time in MFT, but it sure is different than my Texas institution already. During my first week in Texas, in contrast, several senior colleagues came by my office to inform me that a) They didn’t want to hire anybody in Latino studies but were overruled by higher ups b) they didn’t think that Latino Studies was a legitimate historical discipline (too regional, don’t you know?) c) they really, really didn’t think that sexuality studies was a legitimate field of inquiry (too “trendy”) and d) they hoped that I didn’t take any of that personally, but thought I “should know.” Still.Not.Over.It.

    *Before leaving Boston, I finished reading the latest Harry Potter book. There are some things to say about it, but I will wait to write about it until it is out of date no longer topical won’t be a source of spoilers for those who haven’t finished. What I can say is that it was an adequate book that answered most of the questions raised by the other books. Overall, though, it took a bit of the magic out of the series for me (especially the dreadful last chapter). I suppose, though, she didn’t write it for me.

    *Moving still sucks.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Which Life Is He On?

I am now officially a resident of Midwestern Funky Town. I really hope that I am content to spend the rest of my days in my new little cottage, because the thought of moving again makes me want to take my own life.

Granted, this move was not nearly as traumatic as the move from Texas to Boston. For starters, my sister came to accompany me on the trip. Also, paying people to move your crap saves on a lot of backache.

Movers, I found, come with their own hassles. GayProf is not somebody who loses his temper easily. True, true, I can get mighty angry. Usually, though, I am more of a “slow-burn” type of guy. Indeed, I couldn’t even think of the last time that I yelled at anybody. My best guess is that it was Liar Ex (Who Should Have Been Yelled at Much More Because of All the Lies that He Told) a couple years ago.

Imagine my surprise when, at nine in the morning, I found myself in a yelling match with my “moving team leader” over the third delay in delivery. Actually, it wasn’t so much the delay that set me over the edge. In truth, the actual delivery time from Boston to MFT was pretty swift. Rather, I lost my shit after their latest delay when the team leader tried to claim that he had originally promised his new [late] time in the first place and was, therefore, not at all late (Somehow forgetting our previously missed appointments and the promise (PROMISE) that they would be there at this new time. I can deal with being late, but I can’t deal with a denial of a promise. Plus, moving just stretches me beyond my normal zen limits.

In short, I probably followed very few of Tenured Radical’s Patented Tips for a Healthy and Successful Move©. Why do we never learn from those who have the experience?

Now that I am in MFT, I have not had many opportunities to avail myself of its funkiness. On her last night in town, my sister and I ate at the local Ethiopian restaurant. Beyond that, my life has been devoted to unpacking and pensively waiting for my internet connection. No matter how many times I twitch my nose, the boxes don’t open themselves in order to allow all of my belongings to escape into their respective cupboards and shelves. Maybe I just need the right incantation... Untill then, I am just unwrapping. It’s like Christmas – Only there aren’t any surprises and I already owned everything. Maybe Uncle Arthur will pop up in my oven to break the monotony. . .

Many of you have inquired about Cat. Alas, if his master dislikes moving, Cat loathes it with every fiber in his tiny little being. He probably also despised his master for having misplaced the kitty tranquilizers.

We had not left Boston when the distinct smell of Cat scat made the car rotten (Dr. Seuss has nothing on me!). Well, I can at least count my blessings that he didn’t shit on me as he did last time.

Despite that inauspicious start, he settled down considerably by the second day. Indeed, he became so quiet during the second day that I began to wonder if he had suffered a heart attack and died somewhere along the journey.

What does one do if their pet dies on the road? Do you try to find a kitty crematorium and have them mail you the remains? Do you pack the body in dry ice? Do you stop at the next historic marker and make a hasty grave? These options all seemed like a fairly ignoble end for poor Cat.

Finally, when we crossed through yet another toll booth, Cat roused himself enough to register his ongoing complaint about his predicament. It was a relief to know that he had not yet shuffled off this mortal coil.

Now that we are in the new digs, Cat seems to be having a ball. After a year in a studio apartment, he seems almost drunk to run across the house (Yes, it as pictured in the previous post).

With all of my worry about Cat, I began to consider if, indeed, I have become "CrazyCatProf.” I go back and forth on this. In the end, I decided that I would let the readers of CoG decide. Here, ladies and gentleman of the jury, is the evidence:

    CrazyCatProf: I have made special trips to the grocery store just because Cat was out of snacks. He wasn’t out of FOOD, just snacks.

    Not CrazyCatProf: Once Cat does ascend to the great scratching post in the sky, I have no intention of replacing him with another cat. Don’t get me wrong – I love Cat and hope he has a long life. I am not keeping a death watch on him. It’s just that, once he is gone, I think that I will have accomplished all that can be fulfilled with feline ownership. In the future, I will adopt another dog (but probably only after I retire).

    CrazyCatProf: I know the exact type of ball that Cat will play with and which types of balls/toys bore him.

    Not CrazyCatProf: I rarely toss that ball around with him. I expect Cat to be self-entertaining.

    CrazyCatProf: I keep a statue of St. Francis around that I consider his.

    NotCrazyCatProf: I also happen to think it is a cool statue and would own it anyway.

    CrazyCatProf: When I travel, I have much angst about Cat’s safety and comfort.

    Not CrazyCatProf: Though he has a name, I rarely use it. He is most often referred to as “Cat.” For example, “Get out of my way, Cat.”

    CrazyCatProf: Though my own meager belongings are quite trashed at this point, I left behind Cat’s scratching post so that I could buy him a new one. Indeed, it is the only piece of “furniture” that was left behind so that it could replaced with a better one.

    Not CrazyCatProf: Though the sitting part is clearly too small for Cat, I opted for a new scratching post that was 75 percent off at the local pet store. They had the exact one that he had before, but that was full price. Given it is just some carpet and twine stapled to a bunch of plywood, I will always go for the bargain.

    CrazyCatProf: I was relieved that Cat didn’t seem to mind the much smaller seating section on his new post (Though he does look a bit squashed).

    Not CrazyCatProf: I consider scratching posts an investment to keep my furniture from being destroyed by a bored Cat.

    Not CrazyCatProf: If Cat is sleeping on a piece of furniture that I want to use, I will wake him up and toss him off (I have seen other people make other arrangements for themselves rather than disturb their sleeping animals).

    CrazyCatProf: I am not impressed when dates try to ingratiated themselves with me by paying attention to my cat. It just annoys us both. Tell me: What cat, anywhere on this planet, enjoys a stranger picking them up and getting in their face? None.

    Not CrazyCatProf: I have no trouble locking cat in another room for hours if I have a date (with food and water). Indeed, Cat knows not to whine or meow under such circumstances because I will not let him out (Consistency is the key!).

    Not CrazyCatProf: I consider forcing any animal to wear little sweaters and outfits inhumane. Even this one:

    Not CrazyCatProf: I have considered shaving my Cat to avoid having to deal with his fur everywhere.

    CrazyCatProf: I would consider letting somebody else adopt Cat a betrayal of the trust he placed in me.

    Not CrazyCatProf: I know that Cat does not really have human notions of "trust."

    CrazyCatProf: Cat clearly prefers my company over all other humans on the planet.

    Not CrazyCatProf: Given my many experiences with Cat shitting on everything, he will no longer have the pillow insert for his carrier ever again. From now on, Cat only travels in or on things that can be easily hosed down and disinfected. Screw his comfort.

    CrazyCatProf: I have just devoted a blog entry to my Cat.