April 2006 Archives
I'm straight, but as long as I've known that there were people in the world different than me, I've ben supportive. My mother did an excellent job of teaching me that people were equal, and should be treated that way, regardless of who they are. I like to think of it as a moral education without the mythology of religion. As a result, among other things, I've tried to be a friend to the queer community.
But of course, I will probably never know what it is like to truly live as part of that community. Sure, I've been called names like fag or homo--in pretty nasty ways--but it's just not the same. Being silent yesterday was an interesting experience. It was one of the most isolating thing I've done in a long time. I was constantly on the margin of groups because I couldn't communicate. People would ask me if I was feeling well, then take the card I gave, tell me that's great, and find someone more interesting to talk to. I was more on the fringe of the world than I have been in a very long time, if ever.
People's reactions were interesting. They seemed to think that just because I couldn't speak, I didn't want them to speak to me. I had a couple people say something along the lines of, "I'll shut up now." One friend of mine actually started to write a note back to me on the little pad I carried around. The effect on others was quite interesting.
There's something to be said for how this relates to people who are unable to hear or speak for other reasons, too. For those with disabilities that keep them on the fringe of any group, mainly because people don't want to take the time and effort of communicating, it's something they live with every day, not just as a statement. Perhaps in my case people avoided me more because they knew it was short-lived, but these were also friends of mine already.
Finally, it shaped my thought during the time. When you cut out your speech, you think different. I was more serious, more contemplative, and more reflective. I discovered how little daily speech is truly necessary, and I was able to focus on those things I wish I could have said that were truly necessary. I can understand why silence is encouraged by some religious orders.
Even if not in the service of a movement or any greater good, I would recommend the experience.
Please understand my reasons for not speaking today. I am participating in the Day of Silence, a national youth movement protesting the silence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their allies. My deliberate silence echoes that silence, which is caused by harassment, prejudice, and discrimination. I believe that ending the silence is the first step toward fighting these injustices. Think about the voices you are not hearing today.
What are you going to do to end the silence?
I promised some photos of the blasted wasteland that is Laramie when it snows. Not that I don't like it (it really is a scenic place), but I would prefer it to be warm right now.
These photos were taken from a window in our law library. Yes, I am aware of my lack of life. FYI, the roof on the dome is naturally brown.
It's almost finals time, and you know what that means:
You know it's going to be a great week when the first phrase you speak out loud on a Monday morning, after looking out your window, is, "Holy Crap!" Getting up is hard enough without knowing you should leave early to get anywhere because the roads are so bad. And I don't exaggerate: I live out on the edge of town, and it can get pretty ugly. I'll have a picture later.
It's particularly hard when I was up until 1am getting our client files ready for Civil Pretrial Practice. It wasn't bad or hard, but it did take a while.
I like that class. It's only a 2-credit class (most classes here are 3 credits), but it is very challenging. We have to get firms together and handle two cases from client interview up to trial. We treat the cases as in real life, with filing deadlines, drafting pleadings, discovery, everything. I don't kid myself that it is really that much like real life, but it's clear that the professor who teaches it makes every effort to give us as realistic an experience as possible. We have to use our local federal district court rules, use their forms, write letters requesting complaint filing to the actual clerk of court, etc. It's nice because while I have a preference for criminal work, the civil work that I would like to do is in a courtroom, perhaps in litigation.
I would highly recommend classes like this, particularly at our school. This semester, the class was taught by a highly experienced adjunct who is actively practicing in litigation. She also is the state's Bar Counsel. That's the best kind of situation for these kinds of classes: someone who can say, "For example, in the deposition I took last week . . . ."
It's a lot of work, but it's well worth it.
I have one more week of classes before finals, then it's a new job. I'm having a hard time getting stressed out about my exams this semester, which is probably bad, but I've been keeping up with classes all semester. That makes it more difficult to feel overwhelmed. I do need to get cracking on my outlines, but there's time for that. I figure once I get that done, I'll be able to go about my business with an outline in my hand, just reading it.
I did take some time off today to engage in a little support. Today was the annual Wyo. AIDS Walk. As I do every year, I got some donations and walked. Of course, tonight is also Drag Queen Bingo, which is really the best entertainment ever. Mere words cannot describe the amount of fun this is. My stomach will hurt tomorrow from laughing so hard for so long. If you ever get a chance to go, take it. You won't be sorry.
I've been cooking things from scratch more lately, too. I've already mentioned using my mixer a bit more, but I'm also finding that homemade pasta is super easy and quick to make, and it's really damn good. I think it might be as cheap or cheaper than commercial pasta, and the taste beats it hands-down. Plus I can customize by adding things to the pasta dough. Yummy. I got another (cheapo) coffee grinder to grind spices extremely fine. I even found a pasta roller and ordered it for half the MSRP.
I heart Froogle.
One of the first things I see in my inbox when I wake up in the morning is the USA Today cover story about the "immigration backlash." In case the particular photo has changed when you click the link, here is the one that was there when I saw it.
First off, these people are way to fanatic for my taste. Second, don't call someone stupid in your protest sign unless you know the difference between the plural and the possessive. Stupid.
An interesting topic occurred to me today as I was on my daily 7-mile run. (Yes, that was totally a gratuitous 'look what I can do' reference.) It occurred to me to consider how I use registers of language differently than other law students. I then developed a hypothesis about why.
You see, I have a tendency to be overly formal in most situations, particularly concerning authority figures. As an example, one of my professors was on the board of directors of the non-profit for which I worked prior to law school. I called her by her first name. Once law school started and she taught a couple of my classes, I found myself incapable of calling her anything but Professor B___. It's rather odd when you think about it. She's not the only one, either. I have some good relationships with professors, and it is difficult for me to be particularly informal.
Why? I think it has to do with my history and background. My family, at least initially, has never been terribly prosperous in the traditional sort of way. My grandfather never graduated high school, although he was a small business owner (he owned an auto body shop--a fact I've always been rather proud of). My mother didn't have a college degree. I think she tried to teach me the classic values that can bring success. For example, respect your superiors, do what you need to for you job to excel, work hard, that sort of thing.
While I saw her put some of these values into action (such as hard work), she didn't have jobs that really put her into the professional world to the extent that I find myself today. Thus, I find that I must navigate having been taught these ideas in the abstract, but without much personal exposure. To some degree, I must learn the details on my own. A perfect example is the question of when you may be familiar with a superior, and in what contexts.
To the language professional, these changes in formality are called registers. A lot of discussion centers around what to do when a person grew up not knowing how to apply the formal registers of language. That is something I understand. My problem is that I'm not experienced enough in the fine tuning: when may you move from a strictly formal register into something less so? My mother taught me respect and formality extremely well.
To be sure, I'd rather err on the side of too much formality. I'll pick up the rest as I go, but I think the ways we are taught to use language are fascinating, and the cultural aspects doubly so.
I wouldn't normally post so quickly on the heels of my last one, but this is one of the funnier things I've ever seen.
And yes, the title is a direct quote.
I hope this is as good as my last attempt at this post, which my computer ate.
This weekend, I didn't do as much work as I should have, and I had more fun than I should have. To begin with, I actually cooked meals for myself. I love to cook, but it's hard to do it on my schedule.
I'm discovering the joy of my KitchenAid Model 3B Stand Mixer. I really love it. I used it to make tortillas this weekend, and now I'm making more (the first batch didn't turn out quite the way I wanted). I've also been drooling over the new models. Therein lies the dilemma. The new ones look awesome, but it's hard to top the one I have, which is over 50 years old. The 3B was only made from 1944-1953.
Of course, the other thing that really stops me is the price. I don't do things small. I usually try to have the best of its kind, regardless of what it is. In the mixer department, that means many hundreds of dollars. Particularly if the attachments are thrown in, which they must be.
For now, it looks like I'll keep using my trusty 3B. Maybe I'll find some vintage attachments in garage sales or on eBay.
One of the great things about not being religious is that I have more time for other things. I don't have to go anywhere today because of the holiday. If my moot court team had actually won the semi-final on Thursday, I would have all weekend to devote to working on the last round. As it is, I'm pretty sure my friend and I are just going to hang out and have dinner. Still, the point is that we would have plenty of time.
Easter is a funny holiday anyway. You spend the day before coloring eggs, and then this giant, sadistic mutant rabbit steals them and hides them. When I was a kid, the Easter Bunny terrified me. I seem to remember that my mother had to get the saber-toothed beast to sneak up behind me for the picture. That's why I'm so well-adjusted now.
Then, of course, there are all the religious bits. I really don't know much about that. I've read the Bible a few times, but I've learned that has little to do with religion. Easter is apparently the anniversary of this guy coming back from the dead. Everybody gathers at the tomb, anxiously waiting as he makes his way up to the surface. Then, if he sees his shadow, we know that we'll have six more weeks of spring!
Or is that different holiday?
Before I get to today's Catblogging, I'd like to mention a weird thing I have just observed.
Travis and I were just sitting here at our weekly coffee spot, peacefully minding our own business, when chaos ensued. All of a sudden, somewhere between 20-30 police cars--city police, highway patrol, local sheriff, you name it--go tearing down 3rd street, one of the two main thoroughfares in our little village. About half were unmarked, but they were all running sirens and lights.
I don't know what's going on, but it's big. I'll have to check the local paper tomorrow and see if anything appears there. We've been speculating that it might be a major drug bust (though sirens seem silly in that situation), a hostage situation (though that seems like to many cops for that), or maybe a bank robbery on the other side of town.
Either way, Laramie seems to have been depopulated of law enforcement officers for the time being. I strongly encourage you not to commit any crimes while the police are distracted. I'm just sayin'.
Now: kittens! The first two show them at about a week or so. The third photo shows their mom on the left, and another formerly outdoor cat on the right.
Have a great weekend!
It is pretty clear that I have been a bit behind on blogging this semester. I'm not the type to apologize for not blogging, I think that's really silly. Nevertheless, I would like to blog a little more; it only takes a few minutes. I wouldn't ruminate over this publicly except that I know I have a better chance of following through with any resolutions I make publicly. I'm announcing that I will from this day forth blog a minimum of four days a week, not counting Friday Catblogging.
I've been running very short on time this semester (see above), but I still have managed to get back to exercising fairly regularly again. I'm trying to run an hour a day, and I can tell it's working. I feel in better shape than ever before.
As a matter of fact, I was a bit time-crunched today. I had an hour and a half between my class and knit club, and I wanted to run during that time. By the time I got to the gym, I knew I would be late if I ran for a full hour, so I decided to just run six miles. I've been running faster, anyway.
Well, I managed to run six miles in 49.5 minutes. That's about 7.27 miles per hour, or eight and a quarter minute mile. I think this is one of my better times. I've mentioned before that the ten-minute-mark is the big one for me, so to be able to go so much faster is really great for me.
Maybe it's the shoes.
* Sorry, I'm a big Fight Club fan.
Today was the annual Take Back the Night march on the University of Wyoming campus. I go every year. In fact, I've organized four of them in partnership with other groups. It's always a time to reflect on exactly what I want to accomplish.
For those who don't know, I worked in the anti-violence field for several years before law school. I've talked with many survivors of sexual abuse, both in my personal and professional lives. I've talked with women and with men. Some have been kids, some have been far older than I. One consistent theme was that almost all of them felt like people didn't listen to them. Their family often accused them of doing something to bring on the rape, or their male friends went off the handle in a fit of testosterone poisoning.
Where does that leave this person who needs help? Where can she get support? It's a difficult question, and I think the answer lies in the fact that she should be able to get support from family and friends, the very ones that make her feel like the criminal. These are the people who should be really listening.
From a man's perspective--and I am a man, despite some occasional confusion--rape is devastating. Men aren't taught how to handle these disclosures, and of all women who tell about rape, half the people who hear that initial disclosure are men. We need to learn to truly listen, and not just when a friend or relative tells us she has been raped. That's the big one, but we need to learn how to do it on a daily basis. For example, learn what the women in your lives do to avoid male violence. I guarantee that every woman does something. It can be as obvious as carrying pepper spray, or as subtle as making sure she always parks near a light in a parking lot.
But it's not enough to know that she does these things, you also have to understand why. The bottom line is that women live their lives under the constant shadow of violence from men. Oh, this doesn't mean that every woman is constantly in fear in all circumstances, but it does mean that her life changes in a thousand ways that men don't know about. It's a circumstance of life that shapes her life in a way that men can barely begin to understand.
But we must. The bottom line is that women are afraid of me on dark streets, walking across campus, and following her out to the parking lot. They must consider before accepting a ride home from the bar with someone they don't know well--and knowing someone well is not really protection. It is repulsive that women who see me on the street, who don't know who I am are afraid of me. And they have a reason to be. Not because of who I am, but because of who I represent. Because of what other men have done to other women, and there's a pretty good chance they've done it to that particular woman, too.
I hope that if you are a man reading this, it repulses you, too. I hope that you read this, and it at the very least makes you think about all those things that we as men take for granted. I want you to think about all the ways women's lives are different than ours, and for no good reason. Perhaps I'm being overoptimistic, but I would like to think that some might even make a committment to do something concrete, something more to create change.
And for the women, I want you to know that there are allies out there. Sadly, there's no real way to tell who we are, but we are out there. Many take responsibility, that is the responsibility to make the world what we would like to see for our sisters, mothers, lovers, wives, and daughters.