Thursday, January 25, 2007

Bigot Fort Clinic?


“In a classic Hollywood move, "Grey's Anatomy" actor Isaiah Washington, in the midst of really bad P.R. after his repeated use of the term "faggot," has checked himself into some kind of treatment facility. In a statement he released yesterday, Washington said: "With the support of my family and friends, I have begun counseling. I regard this as a necessary step toward understanding why I did what I did and making sure it never happens again." Insiders say that ABC demanded that he enter a program "to examine why he would say such hateful words," but there's no word yet on just what type of facility Washington has gone into.”

Hmm… Maybe he went to Bigot Fort Clinic, as sister institution to the Betty Ford Clinic! Where Michael Richards went to get treated. And Sean Connery, in the 1980s, after he had that interview where he explained to Barbara Walters that sometimes women need to get smacked up, though not punched (there is a difference). They are healing people there, one bigot at a time…

Seriously, how do these people find the nerve to do The Whole Thing? Not just the slur, the whole slur-apology-rehab thing. I get the slur, the slur is your true nature. But the apology makes no sense. These people, they don’t subtle things, you know like “I don’t have problem with homosexuality per se, it’s just not for me”--they say faggot—twice in the same month. They don’t say “Some of my best friends are black”—they say nigger 4 times and then make a lynching reference. The slur is what it is. I mean why apologize for things like that? Or rather HOW? It’s ridiculous. How would the apology work? A slur is not a contingent insult like “fuck you”. A slur is the articulation of a position-- a long held, value position that you hold. A slur is not like arguing with someone and falling so low as to call them something foul. It’s not “the reason I divorced you is because you are fat.” The dude who said that to my co-worker could in fact apologize for that one. It’s conceivable that his explanation—which was that he was so mad he wanted to deliberately say something As Foul As Possible to hurt her—is true. We can all relate to the manipulative move where in the heat of the moment you dig really deep and low and throw some fucked up shit at someone. Not so for a slur like faggot or nigger.

Not to brag but I’m pretty righteous. I mean, I don’t do slurs. But I do say Bitch.
[Ok, I say nigga but I’m not entertaining that conversation right now]. I say Bitch a lot. I do. Someone should make me that t-shirt! I’ve been told when I am drinking I say it even more, so maybe Mel was onto something. Kidding! Even sober, I use it as a noun, an emphatic noun—a noun infused with texture. An especially special noun of endless possibilities. Sometimes women get offended—and say so, and I say that I am sorry that they don’t like the word. Granted I don’t have a revolutionary position about Bitch, you know, I got common sense. I’m not saying it at work. I’m not saying it’s a particularly popular word everywhere I go. I don't have to say it to someone if I know they hate to hear it, it's not like that. But I say it, I like it, I use and there would be no honesty in my apologizing for that. Whatever people want to conclude about my frame(s) of reference relative to theirs by my using that word is probably valid. What a novel idea—accountability for one’s usage of words… There is no question that once “Bitch” has come out of my mouth in regular conversation, in a sentence, that this has happened before. There is no question that I use it often. I can’t apologize for doing something I routinely do and mean it—cause everybody knows I’m gonna do it again. This is common fucking sense. So you say to me, well, then what can we do to heal? That’s stupid—we can’t heal from that shit. We can check bigots and make them feel ignorant. We can institute dire consequences to their usage of the slurs. Which is what needs to happen—we can make sure punishment happens. We can make sure our "collective" issues Reprimands of substance, like losing one’s job. Some bigots will take said punishment as a sign that they need to grow and learn shit and shut the fuck up until they have a clue. Others won’t take that at all. (Back to me, yeah, people have suggested, although generally they have mostly insinuated or said behind my back, that I could use some enlightenment vis a vis use of “bitch”; frankly, I don’t care).

The point is that as the swelling on Rodney King’s face suggested when he said that stupid line, we actually can’t all get along. Homophobes can’t get along with their gay coworkers. Racists can’t get along with their black audience members. Wife beaters can’t get along with their wives. My politically engaged anti-sexist feminist friends can’t get along with my using the word bitch left and right. The getting along here is way beside the point once the slur is out. The getting along requires that an innocent, targetted someone has to be put up to the undignified, self-loathing task of ACCEPTING your motherfucking apology. And I’ll be damned, bitch; I’ll be damned.

Immigration: Yall Are Still Funny!

So whenever you send in an official form to Immigration, they send you back a receit. It has number and it states that they’ve received your form and—usually—the overpriced, non-refundable fee you sent in to submit said form. Then it states what the next steps are.

I’ve received my receipt for submitting my N-400—the meta-form, the form to end all forms, the citizenship form. And it has this hilarious line:

“You will be notified of the date and place of your interview when you have been scheduled by the local USCIS office. You should expect to be notified within 540 days of this notice.”

540 days? Who the hell says 540 days? I pulled out my calculator and realized that is 1.4 years, but only if you count a year as 365 days. But you know there are weekends so it’s really like the kind of math that made so my SAT scores sucked. Anyway--two years? Or something. I think the conversation when they were composing this form went something like:

“Don’t say two years. Sounds like too much! Sounds like we take too damn long. That would depress them. Just tell ‘em… 540 days!”

And then somebody high-fived somebody for their tact.

Anyway, this means I had better start studying for my Naturalization Exam, god knows it’s just around the corner. I’ve downloaded my study tools on-line, include the index card format...

Sample Questions--the almost petty ones:
What are the colors of our flag (I like the pre-emptive use of the “our” here!)
How many stars are there on our flag—and what color are the stars?
How many stripes—what color are the stripes?
What is the 4th of July?
(a sample follow-up is “Independence from whom?”)
Who is the President of the United States today?

But then there’s the tough ones:
What do we call a change to the Constitution?
How many changes or amendments are there?
(note that if I didn’t know the first answer, they just gave it to me in this question!)

They also have various ways to get at a topic, presumably based on how big a dumbass you are (which I think is very considerate; let's be frank, not every wannabe citizen will be smart--one can't control for that):
What is the Legislative branch? OR
Who makes the laws? OR
What is Congress? OR
What are the duties of Congress?

AND A Nancy Pelosi question here:
Who becomes president should the president and vice-president die?

AND an Obama question here:
According to the Constitution, a person must meet certain requirements in order to be eligible to become President. Name these requirements.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Porn & Crocodiles & Porn

Apparently there IS justice in the world. so after all of this starvation and cosmetic cheating, here comes High Definition, making all the famous people freak out because rather than flatter them and hide their imperfections, HD makes everything—wrinkles, pimples, pores, bad plastic surgery, your age—more obvious than it would be to the naked eye. This is fascinatingly poetically just for many obvious reasons. It’s also yet another testament that we women pray at the altar of male chauvinism and general stupidity at our own peril: the starving and perfectionism is directly linked to a sexist world where men need perfect women to gawk at. We took that shit and ran with it way further than any man would have gone of course—we’ve actually “created” a man with an appetite for a skin and bones woman. Or did we? Maybe every dude just would like to get it on with an adolescent boy, just once, and well, Kate Bosworth and the like is pretty much like fucking an adolescent boy. But I digress. I mean that so we went and attempted these extremes for men. And now MEN, of course, gadget freaks that they are, need their HD. They need to see the proverbial stitching on the football! This most often quoted benefit of HD is particularly moronic, no? Who the fuck cares about the stitching on a ball anyway? It’s hardly the point. But technology, like everything, has to be a race. And in a male dominated dumbass world, every race has to me a massive race involving everybody. And it doesn’t matter what the end is as long as you get there first—so if we have HD for this, we have to have it for that and the other. Enter the Porno Industry. They are struggling now because HD is showing too much. The NY Times quotes some of the annoyed female porn starts who now have to put on even more tanning spray on their stretch marks, change positions to hide cellulite and even get plastic surgery to make the fake boobs less obviously fake—all because of HD. One such porno stars, the great Stormy Daniels herself, mentions that according to her, the worse thing is really razor burn. Razor burn! Can you imagine? ! Can you just like, NOT do the HD thing dudes? No? Wow. Razor burn it is then.

I wish I could have done a seamless segway from that topic to this but I can’t. I’ll just say it: my son wants to be the next Crocodile Hunter. Yes, Steve Irwin is my son’s first real idol. Problem is, my son got turned out to Steve too late and now Steve is dead. Though my son now religiously watches him on Animal Planet, last Sunday, on the occasion of the (highly anticipated, marked on every calendar in our house) world premiere of Steve Irwin’s LAST adventure, “Ocean’s Deadliest” my son had a sort of emotional meltdown. At first he could not really contain his excitement at finally seeing this show he had been waiting to see since November when they announced it. As he put it, he thought the show would be “cool, like in the middle of cool” but as it turned out the show was “on the very top of cool”. The child was so excited, he became emotional. And more emotional still when towards the end, while sad music played and “testimonial” type footage aired, he remembered his hero was in fact, no more. He then started to cry uncontrollably, saying “I miss him, but I miss him.” It got particularly sad when Steve, looking dead into the camera, at the end of the show, gave his “best advice for my fans out there”. My son has informed me that he will be the next Crocodile Hunter, not only to do conservation of wildlife but also to console all the people (like himself!) who are devastated that Steve Irwin is gone. All jokes aside, if anybody has a better superhero for a kid, present it. You can’t actually beat the Crocodile Hunter. And yeah, even though you’re 30, you too sort of “miss him.” Needless to say, we’re ordering tons of DVDs and his Wildlife Warrior arm bands as soon as possible!


I have a Wahl Body Massager. It’s code for vibrator. But it is truly a body massager as well, with different pieces you can use. I’ve lately had much more use for it as massager for my feet and neck than as sex toy. In this capacity, my son found it. He asked to have his own back massaged. I innocently allowed this. Now my son is obsessed with this device. So I made him forget about it and put him on no massager rule. Recently (way long after the massager controversy had ended, I thought), I came home after his dad babysat him and he told me, triumphant, “Papa let me use the massager.” His dad was gone at that point and after my son went to bed, I called him to a) inform him about the background to the massager story and b) share with him the hilarity of my son’s triumphant face during the confession. So thinking my son was asleep, I called and was all “dumbass, you let him use the vibrator?” Cut to a couple days later and while I am cooking 3 things at the same time, my son’s mumbling some shit that makes no sense to me about can he do something or other. Usually when that happens and you’re busy, what you do is you ignore them altogether. Well suddenly this child screams, CAN I USE YOUR EVIBERATOR?! Pause. Collect Yourself. What?

Your Eviberator, can I use it please please please?

My what?


What the hell is that?

The massager

(trying very HARD not to laugh) Then why are you calling it that?

You’re the one who called it an EVIBERATOR… when you were talking to Papa.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

A Morning At The Service

So my friends the penultimate chapter in my pursuit, not of Happiness (with an I, Will Smith, with an I, not a Y!) but of Citinzeness is completed as of this morning. I had to go get my fingerprints done by Immigration or as I like to call it, The Service. The new name for INS never caught on by the way. Who the hell is going to remember USCIS for United States Citizenship and Immigration Service, Homeland Security? INS made sense and was very close to IRS and part of the culture. USCIS just sounds like a college...

Last time they fingerprinted me was like a minute ago. Really what could I have done since then? And if you've never gone, you don't know, but this ain't your momma's fingerprinting. This is a state of the art FBI thing that involves a fat lady rooooooooooling each invidual finger of yours onto a glass pad, and waiting for the computer to tell her that the picture is okay. If there are interruptions in the picture, like cracks, she has to do it again. Sometimes the cracks are because you have dry skin, in which case, she has to give you lotion and look at you fucked up like you farted at her or something. Sometimes the lady is mean and really squeezes your finger hard when doing it or yells at you for no reason. The lady's job is really dumb right? So generally she also routinely has to act like YOU are dumb and like YOU don't know how to do this thing. So she'll say things like "no ma'am" "stop it, stop it, stop it", "move over here, (sigh), NO here, you're standing in the wrong place", etc.

This would all be well and good if I was actually DOING something-anything at all-but I'm not, bitch, you are the one holding my thumb and rolling it on your computerized glass pad cause that's your dumbass job that's pissing you off and I would have sympathized but turns out you're a bitch so fuck you. I say "the lady" generically because they truly are all the same lady. Pissed off and mean clones of each other. The lady made a face like there's bad milk in the fridge to say the usual, "What the-where IS IT that you're from again?!". I'm used to this one so I don't even care: "Cape Verde". "Whaaaaat?". "CAPE.VERDE. Like Cape Cob but Verde and in West Africa, under C in the scroll down menu there". "Oh, thanks. Never heard of it." Bitch you ain't never heard of a lot of things like knowing when to shut the fuck up and not make a stinky face when you don't know geography. Like it's my fault that I was not born in Ethiopia or South Africa, the only two African nations you know, courtesy of the Bible and Oprah respectively. Oh snap, that was racist!

Speaking of racist, let me tell you about the perversion of The Service.
This is always observed whenever you deal with them and it is the number one reason your ass wants to never deal with them again: the immigration service is populated exclusively by the biggest assholes in America. I mean people who refuse to say please and thank you. People who yell at adults. People who treat everyone as a mentally retarded person when 9 out of 10 times, they are the densest, dumbest motherfuckers in the room. People who talk like they have a hearing impediment combined with tourettes:

"Ma'am you're not not listening to me. Ma'am. Ma'am. Ma'am. No. No. No.Stop. No. No", is typically what they say to you while you are trying to explain something to them. That's never possible. You can't explain. You have to bring the right paperwork and that's it. If you don't have the shit in your hand you get the line above. Generally without eye contact. These people are truly foul and make you feel like an extra in the movie "Amistad" the moment, and I mean the moment you walk into the building. Today when I walked into the building, I mean literally the glass doors opened and I took one step and reached inside my pocket and the security yelled.

"Ma'am the line starts HERE."

"Uh, I just walked in and was just..."

"The line is HERE. Not THERE. HERE"

"...taking out my cell phone..."

"Ma'am, sign says NO CELL PHONES"

" turn it off. Why are you yelling?"



Silence you say? Why did you not curse him out? That's a stupid natural born citizen question to ask. These are the Feds. Not just the federales but the migra. You don't say shit to them. My asking why he was yelling was me not thinking clearly because I had no coffee. Usually you just think "yes massah" in your head and smile humbly when the abuse happens. If it merits that you cry, you cry. But you don't talk back to the Service. No, no, no. Because you lose an appointment and your ass is toast. You can't leave the country and you can't do shit until another appointment is set-up. So you take their shit. Which they know you will, which is why they do it.

The perversion thickens though. Because a) all of this 21st Century slave ship strife occurs under a neverending succession of photos of Bush and Cheney. Like yearbook pictures of these fools, everywhere. Grinning. In front of the flag. Dude, come on: is this Dante's Immigration Service? Must you torture us for your amusement? But the worse perversion is of course the fact that the asshole personnel is all "of color", and "foreign origin", usually who speak with the thickest accents and come from places where customer service as a concept is well, *not* a concept. Places like my homeland, for instance. This is perversion to the point of scary-brilliant. Because on the one hand, this racist circus is populated by non-whites, thus the immediate harshness and fuckedupedness is masked by being delivered by "your own" to you (an old, very familiar colonial administration model by the way, 200 yr old United States-you ain't doing shit to us we've all not seen before!).

But, on the other hand, this chorus of barely intelligible English coming out of the mouths of extremely rude and unhelpful immigrants really works well to enforce any racist customer's predisposed antipathy towards...well, immigrants and people with accents. It is a bonus that while these two rabbits are killed with one shot, a third rabbit gets it too, because we the immigrants truly develop a profound comtempt for those of us who work for immigration and partake in this fucking travesty. The whole time you're sitting there, putting up with abuse, watching people putting up with probably worse abuse, hearing insulting behavior, you just want to go up to one of the sistahs and the bwethas and say WHAT THE FUCK IS YOUR PROBLEM?! (And why do you already have papers and I don't bitch?!). But if you did that you know the Klansman who runs the Service and still wears the white sheet to work would come out of his back end office and... cancel your appointment for that day and send you back to the automated appointment system. And that would be fucked up.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Losing the Way, Touching the Ground

if you are an immigrant then you might know this feeling. when I go home to cape verde there is a moment where I wish (against reason) that I could throw up my arms around my island and hug it tight to my heart. usually that happens when the plane lands. it lands in this nook of the island, fully surrounded by mountains, where the airport is. it’s a corner that is drenched in the two-toned color scheme that defines the place for me: deep reddish clay, bare mountains and electric blue sky. it is like these two brown hands of land are joined, cupping the bluest air, waiting for me and my plane to come. short of hugging the entire island of sao vicente which is impossible, I just reach down and touch the ground. I don’t kiss it because that is what jean paul the second used to do and that would look weird, but I always want to—I always almost do. but even just the motion does the trick. the ground is always very hot, the energy from it to me, always palpable that way. there is also a smell—fresh sea smell I would call it. the whole thing is but 20 seconds but they matter so much these seconds of touching the ground. last night they said in the news that homesickness is a real disease. that it can be sometimes; times where it gets so bad that little kids can’t function, won’t eat, won’t sleep. I don’t know if that meant this only applied to children. in cape verdean there is a word for homesickness and longing, called sodade. it is the central motif of a great deal of our artistic expression; typical for an immigrant people from an island place. disease or not, existing in a foreign place is stressful particularly in times, like right now, where the bonds to that foreign place are seeming more and more tenuous. I am pretty sure this is not a real crisis but a predictable psychological response: I don’t think I’m truly desperately homesick and lost here. I just think I’m lost and thus self-suggested myself into homesickness. It is after all, a legitimate disease for people like me to suffer from and lately, as I continue to wake up in states of the utmost profound sadness, I keep looking for legitimating narratives, as a social worker might say. I thought I was done feeling self-conscious about what I feel. clearly not. I know that I can’t go home, firstly because it wouldn’t be a good move for my son. My son could not survive such a drastic change in his life right now and I could not shoulder helping him through yet another, in this case, super traumatic “adjustment.” and I couldn’t take him from his father, regardless of what challenges their relationship currently faces. but being here is not making any sense either and I don’t feel that I can continue much longer in my neither here nor there state. I did not envision a time I would not be anchored in my relationship with him writ large, if not my relationship conceived specifically. I am unable to let go simply because I am unable. I feel unequipped for being alone in the world, and I feel the world is very vast and very foreign and not my own right now. and before, right or wrong, I was part of something and I had a family and I was becoming part of this place but now, everything is slipping away. and I feel completely dislocated and out of references and markers for what the hell I am doing. everyone underestimates everything: they underestimate how much I am struggling, how sad I am, how often I cry, how long this’s been going on, what fundamental weight it all bears and how much I just want him back. how much I’d rather not have things be this way. how much in fact, I am only judging by degree of distress; how much I am concluding that if it feels this bad then it must not be for the better. I don’t make an effort to correct anybody’s underestimations either—here we go back to my sense that there are expectations and rules and parameters for what I can and cannot wish or want or do. the difference is that in the past I would harbor along with the shame for (still) wanting him back, a regret that I wasn’t in fact, this strong self-sufficient woman who would not, in fact want him back. in the past I would be the self-admitted loser. this time, not even. I don’t aspire to a sense of resolve or closure I don’t have. sure, I’d rather not be suffering, but that’s subtly different from my saying “I’d rather not want him back.” I just do. It is a fact. If it is a result of confusion, panic, lack of common sense, maturity, etc, I can’t know. I won’t know. I can only sit with my own feelings. still, he won’t even talk to me. I could take that to mean that this then, is settled, irrespective of what I want/wish for. and if it is, again, the question arises: what the hell it is that I am doing here, in my life, at this particular time, in this place? and the answer feels like it would be “nothing”. and if that’s the case then I should go home. part of it is because this turn of events makes no sense to me. part of it is because I would like to run away, of course, but moms can’t “run away”. but part of it is just because home is a place where at least you don’t have to have a reason to be in order to be; at home you are simply expected to be. and you belong, no matter what. and if you lose your way, you can also reach down and touch ground. you always know what you are doing when you’re home. and if you don’t, that’s fine: you could stay there until you figure it out.