Home again, home again...

...and with naught but a single pic and single wedding entry to account for another three great weeks in the Other Homeland - damn, but I'm a lazy sod.

A brief summation (with details to follow later, plus plenty of crappy pics, as usual): The flight to New Zealand was terrific. Having the whole family in one place at the same time was...novel. The bach in Rotorua was outstanding (high points: the spa, the orange kitty and the waaay overexuberant black dawg that came to visit). Rosie agreed with her older siblings that Rotovegas is, in fact, Satan's Asshole (but I still love it). Our brief visit to Huka Falls was blessed by the first sunny day we've seen in the last two visits. Palmerston North is still Palmerston North, and really, shouldn't somebody *do* something about that? What I thought was a killer hangover turned out to be the flu, and yes it *was* very special to share that bout of fever, chills, nasty coughing and body aches with my entire family. The wedding was lovely despite the fact that several of us were trying valiantly to yack up a lung, and even though the bride's dear mither was so laryngytic the wedding reading she attempted sounded as if it was being recited by a wildly pubescent 13 year old boy.

The bach at Foxton Beach was a much needed chill space after the first week's various catastrophes. Napier is still beautiful, and our motel room in Taupo had the most stunning views of  the lake and of Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu (oodles of crappy pics to follow, you betcha! *wink*) Watching folks jump from the Skytower is still a buzz, and the last day before one leaves to go home is still kinda sad.

I have no idea what my work schedule is for the next several weeks, and I haven't been able to contact anybody to find out, but I'd lay a Kiwi buck or two on the likelihood that I'm scheduled to work tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday. My voice is still somewhere in New Zealand. So's my heart, but that's nothing new, eh? :)

(Oh and Sander - if you're reading this - unique and fabulous pics of Lake Tekapo waiting in the wings. I'd hazard a guess that they're nothing like any you've ever seen, and no, that's not due to my thumb being squarely in the shot...:)

Miles to go before we sleep, pt. 2

Okay, so another anecdote and then hopefully, onwards to the point in all this blathering, assuming there is one, and you will humour me by assuming just that, won't you?

Was talking with my youngest last week, passing on a conversation she had with an online course proctor (the proctor's day job is teaching in a local high school). He was relating a really embarrassing and upsetting incident he'd been involved in recently, involving a Vietnamese student, who came to school with a band of strangely regular discoloration/bruising in a diagonal line from one shoulder to the opposite hip. About as wide a belt strap.

As soon as the description was out of my daughter's mouth, I winced. Knew where this was going. Knew why it shouldn't have gone there. Knew why it would anyway.

Teachers are obligated, under state law, to report suspected incidents of child abuse. I'm not clear on how much training they receive in assessing (in the sense that a nurse or doctor would assess) signs and symptoms of abuse, particularly when the indicators are physical. I'm also not entirely clear on how much what we very adorably refer to as "cultural competence" training budding educators receive while in college. I can tell you that even with some of both - if you're white, and you aren't careful - and by careful, I mean, if you don't take a lot of other things into consideration, including the ethnicity/ethnic norms of the child's culture - there's a good chance you will be doing a great deal more harm than good.

So the teacher - thinking he was doing the right thing - the mandated thing - blew the whistle. Child protective services were contacted; the student's family was summoned to the school for a discussion about the student's suspicious bruising. The family's youngest daughter cried the entire time, thinking her parents were going to be taken away from her.

All of which could have been avoided, had the teacher known, or thought, to ask his student, "Have you been sick recently?"

Now, I don't mean to bag on the teacher - clearly, he *thought* he was doing the right thing. And it's noteworthy that, all up the chain of command that incidents like this travel before CPS are involved - nobody else asked the pivotal question either.

Nor am I trying to imply I'm any better. I only avoided a similar situation while in nursing school because, thankfully, somebody a little higher up the food chain pointed out that my conclusion ("This kid's been abused!") didn't take a number of valid (and in retrospect, pretty fucking obvious) factors into consideration.

Unfortunately, in this particular case, an ethnic family was put through entirely unnecessary pain, fear, and humiliation because The System, once again, failed to notice that a. it might have called it wrong to begin with, and b. talking directly to the folks involved - and respecting their explanations - might have solved the issue quickly, relatively painlessly, and in a way that didn't leave everybody feeling like shit.

Which brings me to the reason for these past two posts: the recent crucial dialogue between white feminists and feminists of colour in the feminist blogosphere. (Note: you'll have to look elsewhere to find this described as a "blowup" or a "war" or a "conflagration" or what have you. I get tired of women reacting strongly to a difficult subject being slapped with every breathless overblown adjective under the sun. You'll also have to look elsewhere for linkage - shouldn't be too hard, it's even made Metafilter - because my kneejerk reaction is that even roiling, untidy feminist space is still worth protecting from the eyes of the rubberneckers and opportunists who've already managed to find it and, predictably, put their miserable "HAW HAW, STOOPID FEMINISTS!!111!" two-cents in.)

At the heart of the issue is a critique that a white feminist, in writing an article regarding immigration as a feminist issue (bear in mind that, for all intents and purposes in the States, the current definition of "immigration issues" refers almost unfailingly to Mexican immigrants) failed to cite sources; specifically, failed to cite sources from within the community of colour. Points were made that those sources are abundant, have existed for some time, and are familiar to the article's author, so it seemed somewhat unusual that they hadn't been mentioned. For example, some of the content was close enough to analysis previously published by a feminist woman of colour, and fellow blogger, that it raised legitimate questions of appropriation.

Aggravating the situation was the white feminist's response to the initial critique, which was defensive and dismissive. Aggravating *that* is the fact that this is not the first time the feminist in question had been down this road with the community of colour.

The outcome, at least as of this moment? Well...a lot of silence. Many of the feminists of colour involved have "disappeared" themselves (doubtless as the most visual protest possible that they, once again, have been made to feel invisible, unvalued, and not respected). Some of the white feminists have as well.

I may be one of the few feminists on the periphery of this that doesn't see that as necessarily a bad thing, or the End of Feminism As We Know It. (Although perhaps it will require a redefining of terms - again, not necessarily a bad thing.) My guess is that the women of colour bloggers most impacted by this situation will regroup together - away from white eyes - tend to themselves and each other, and brainstorm a whole shitload of great ideas to take their activism and voices forward in a way that's meaningful and useful to them. I'll miss them like crazy. And thank them and love them and wish them every good thing, wherever they go, whatever they do. And hope there's a path in the future that will allow us to meet again, even if briefly, share a laugh, a glass of wine, and war story or two.

I imagine something similar is going on the white feminist community too. Hopefully, a related period of self-analysis. Some reshifting of frameworks. Some examination of the issues raised and how whitefolk can often be, just on principle, a clueless, major pain in the ass. And whatever other scab-picking that needs to occur to allow us to someday meet up with our sisters of colour in love, understanding and solidarity.

In closing, I'd like to leave you with a couple of acknowledgments:

1. I'd like to thank Deborah at In a Strange Land and The Hand Mirror for (however inadvertantly) kicking my ass into gear to write this post: "I've been a bit slow on the posting front lately..." I can well relate.
2. I've mentioned in earlier posts (and multiple annoying emails to my expat kid) that I've been reconsidering the focus of my blog for some time; one of the multitude of Great Ideas (heh, at least in my deluded mind) has been some sort of regular feature on feminist issues. With this latest event in the Stateside feminist world, I'd like to offer this excellent article for your consideration.

Miles to go before we sleep. (Pt. 1)

So I thought I'd start this post off with a few anecdotes from my own sorry ass life, by way of explanation for what comes towards the end, and it's likely this will turn into a series of posts, one analogy at a time. Have noooo idea how successful this will be, but a dag has got to try, yes?

I came to teh Internets relatively late in life - a little over 10 years ago. Actually, I was completely computer illiterate up till that point, and proudly so. (Earlier on, when I was young teen, and the Second Wave of feminism was sweeping over Amurrica, my darling and very well-intentioned mom told me: "You *need* to take typing courses! Because if you can type, you can get a good paying job - don't wind up stuck doing the kind of work I've had to in life. Don't wind up stuck in my situation" - namely, being a blue-collar, older female in a horrifically abusive situation whose choices are limited by the fact that you can't provide for your children on your own. Mom had already given up six children from her prior horrible marriage to child welfare services - and the fact that she had "dumped" her kids and was a "bad mom" was a subject never discussed other than when my dad had a few too many at the local bar.) I didn't disrespect my mom's viewpoint, exactly, but ohhh, I thought myself ever so much cleverer than she had been - and what is it about us as young women, exactly, feminist-identified though we may be, that makes us cleave the idea that we'll escape the chains of patriarchy through some outstanding and unique intelligence our mothers never had?

I took typing classes (for the most part, we were steered much against our will into them as young high school aged women; seriously, what the heck else were we going to do as we whiled away the the time till Mr. Right came along and impregnated us?) - but I consciously self-sabotaged every single one. I was damned if I was going to end up chained to a keyboard for the rest of my life, regurgitating the bidness postulations of some fat middle aged white guy for $6 an hour (even if that was nearly three times the minimum wage when I graduated from high school). I was going to write, all right, but it would be long hand, in pen, on a yellow legal pad, just like Gore Vidal; and it was going to be generated on the Left Bank in Paris, where I'd rage and fume in an exquisite expat style about the stupidity of the world with my illegitimate daughter playing with the cigarette butts of indignation at my feet. (Neither the illegitimacy or the daughter portion of this fantasy should be underestimated - hell yes, I was going to have babies, hellloooo, duh!  - but it's not like I needed a man to be more than a sperm donor for this enterprise; and anyway, with my overwhelmingly feminist bent, could I help but give birth to girl child first? I think not, people).

Well. Life didn't quite pan out that way. About a year and a half after nursing those sentiments, I met The Redhead, and despite all my subversive inclinations, was aware within a hour of our meeting that this would be not only the guy I'd have the !!11!! Radical Feminist Babies!!111!11 with, but the guy I'd likely mate with for life. And I did have the much longed for daughter, who turned out to be exactly the child I was hoping for. :) Much as I'd still, occasionally, like to pitch the hubby off a bridge in a fit of irritation (the most current impulse occuring 30 second ago) - I haven't. Not because he isn't an unaware, insensitive, dork-intensive fuck at times - because he is - but because he's also an incredibly loyal, faithful, supportive, loving fuck at times. And he really is.

But back to the typing, because as much as The Redhead would love to for this to be all about him - it isn't, whiteboy. I stood my ground about the keyboard thang for many, many years past the point where my less hardcore sistren succumbed. Well into my late 30's, I not only avoided the IBM Selectric - I had no idea that technology had progressed past the IBM Selectric to this creature called, firstly,  a "word processor," and a bit later, a "computer." So, what changed my feminist lifeway?

Fucking chemistry, people. Turned out, when I enrolled in my first uni level course in chemistry, working towards my degree in nursing, that I *loved* the shit. I loved it so much, I wanted to pursue it further - but to do so, I had to learn something of a program unbeknownst to me, called "Excel." Que es esto? I had no idea, but I knew that to move forward, I needed to learn it.

Thence ensued a several year diversion into the world of computerology, thought obviously, that was not my intention. Initially, wanting to merely be computer savvy enough to get to the next level of the science of my choice, I found myself deeply sucked into How Computers Function in General, and eventually, the madness of the World Wide Web. I applied for and got a job at the uni computer lab, reckoning (rightly, I think) that if I really wanted to understand this ones-n-zeroes garbage, I needed to be thrown into it whole hog, eight hours a day, even if I made a total ass of myself in the process. Certainly, the teenaged students who were my peers at the computer lab thought me sad and worthy of derision - at least, until I unleashed the Middle Aged Dragon Lady on them, and not surprisingly, they scurried off after one or two ill-advised remarks. And I worked double time to catch up to the knowledge that came so easily to them.

One point of glaring ignorance/innocence that stands out in my mind during this, though, is when my young colleagues explained chat rooms to me. Their understanding of this phenomenon was, in retrospect, very pointed and specific - whereas mine was unreasonably sunny and optimistic. Tell me more of this chatting thang, Young Grasshoppah. The peoples of the world may converse with each other about any number of things? But this can only lead to Greater Awareness Everywhere around the globe! It will be a watershed in human understanding!

Fucking dolt. I actually believed this.

(More to come later.)

(no subject)

In Which Your Humble Blogstress Contemplates the Nature of Insanity, its Divers Manifestations, and Then Laffs Herself Into a Stupor: Objects on teh Internets may appear more abandoned than they are - such as this blog. Haven't forgotten about it - no, rly - just trying to readjust my aging bod to a very strange work schedule, in which the person doing the scheduling seems to be of the opinion that working 3 nights on, 1 night off, and then 4 nights on, is perfectly do-able (although it must be noted: he never schedules himself in such a manner). I realized a few weeks back that I've been playing Russian roulette with my body rhythms for about 5 years now - went from working PM shifts to day shift, to night shift, back to day shift, and finally back to night shift. No wonder I'm hearing voices in my head. No, I mean *more* voices, people.

: I've been rethinking/reconceptualizing for a bit, and have a few ideas I'll be implementing over the next several months, one of which will be a change in venue. Yes, I'll be waving buh-bye to LJ, but then for a gal of my years, a lot of times I feel like I'm crashing a junior high school slumber party, posting here at all. So this can only be a good change, yes?

Workwise: it's been another eventful month, with acts of lunacy near and far, some of which are at least partially explicable. A Few Very Special Moments From The Trenches:

The Perils of Not Being John
: between you and me, I don't feel we non-Johns contemplate this state of consciousness enough, really. We just muddle on with our lives as Debras or Bobs or Yans or Esperanzas or Tanias or whathaveyou, until we are forced by the universe to confront our non-John inadequacies. Some of us do this voluntarily, as an exercise in self-awareness, as I'm sure is the case with the vast majority of my stalwart readership of 4. That's just how you roll, and I respect you for it, even if it was precipitated in some part by drinking the bong water. (Oh yes, you do. Your boyfriend told me. Don't even lie, Bob.)

In my case, however, the revelation of non-John imperfection had to be thrust upon me by a 92 year old patient with a history of dementia, a longing for her son (yes - John), and a much finer set of reflexes than one might normally attribute to a grandma-type lady. She called repeatedly from her hospital bed for him, poor thing. I went to the bedside and leaned down to offer a bit of soothing.

In a matter of seconds, she was twisting my stethescope against my throat with her left hand, while swinging the call light at my head with her right. (Hospital call lights are constructed of some person-made substance harder than either diamonds or Michelle Malkin's heart, and the thought of having Grandma go upside my head with one was a tetch alarming.) Luckily, my poised, yet professional screams for help brought a stampede of nursing support - and a night with no blunt head trauma is a good night, all in all.

Pirates of the West Wing: had a series of very engrossing conversations with another elder patient (a gent this time) who shared his surprisingly detailed plans for defending us all against an imminent onslaught of pirates. Who were apparently in cahoots with the Sioux (as they so often are), when they were not conspiring with ze Germans. Frankly, I don't believe our hospital security staff has given this matter the attention it deserves - so thank goodness *somebody* was paying attention!

Patient Gem O' the Evening:

Nurses aide: Whatcha watching on TV?
Patient: I'm watching the Food Network. This guy's making all sorts of desserts.
Nurses aide: Yeah? Is the program any good?
Patient: Oh gawd yes. It's like...porn for diabetics.

In Travel Newz: airline tickets for the next Totally Excellent Aotearoa Adventure have been procured. We fly out of SFO 27 October and return from Aux 20 November of this year. On prior visits, I've only had to worry about the logistics for two people; this time it's four, and it's blowing my mind a little bit (and the exchange rate ain't what it used to be, either). Even so, I got that little buzz when the confirmation email from Air New Zealand arrived...might have to sell the cats on eBay, sleep in ditches, eat out of dumpsters and hitchhike from Aux to Palmy to make it all happen, but at least we're going, and I'm as excited as ever about that. :)

In TV Newz: Deaaaaaath! TNT is airing a "Lord of the Rings" marathon today. Hell yeah! Also, Invercargill native Mark Simmons is more than holding his own on Bravo TV's "reality" show "Top Chef." (As a devoted viewer of this dawg of a program for the past three seasons, gotta tell you that he's one of maybe two contestants this season that hasn't resorting to behaving like a total asshat. However, next week's previews show him frolicking around in a bubble bath with the biggest asshat of the season- oh noeees, Mark! Don't let our low American ways corrupt you, little Kiwi dude! And roll those pants back down, fella. Manpris can be done, but only by a select few males, and you are not one of 'em...)

In New Music (To Me) Newz: haven't posted anything musical in a while, so I thought I'd share some love for Marina Heredia, whom I first became aware of via a great French-made documentary called "Dawn in Granada." It profiles the lives of a family of flamenco performers in Spain, particularly the relationships between two fathers (one a flamenco dancer, the other a flamenco singer) passing down the tradition to their daughters. A bit more information about the doco can be found at Link TV; meanwhile, here's Marina performing at the Flamenco Pa Tos Festival, 2007:

Got home just in time...

...to enjoy the intellectually uplifting phenomenon that is morning chat TV. I think my cerebral cortex just ran away from home, hurling accusations of domestic abuse in its wake.

However, one news bunny mentioned
Electoral Compass, so I thought I'd share it with y'all - find out where you stand in relation to US presidential candidates on the issues! This was how it all shook out for me:

Sitting on the doorstep of a house I can't afford...

...I can see you there. (Check your fly, bud. White Front's open, if you know I *mean,* and I think you *do.* ;)

(Point of reference for non-northern Californians: White Front  - however much it sounds like some secretive Aryan paramilitary enterprise based out of someplace like, I dunno, Turlock? - was a low-end department store, something along the lines of Walmart, that existed in California back when I was in my early teens. "White Front's open!" was standard code in my junior high school to warn the zipper-impaired and/or oblivious to a potentially embarrassing clothing faux pas. It is quality minutiae such as this, and like pearls of wisdom, that keep my stalwart readership of 3 4 5 6 9 10 4 riveted to their monitors. Either that or you, like me, have no fucking life whatsoever. If the latter is the case - try running around with your fly unzipped. Well, you have to start *somewhere,* people!)

So: yes! Here we are, after a month of near non-blogging and do I feel like a shit about that? I do. Many and divers things of awesomely awesome, uh, awesomeness have transpired since the end of January, not least of which were the birthdays of my Totally! Kiwi! Kidz! (again, happy birthday to Siobhan and belated birthday wishes to my most excellent-nearly-son-in-law, Damon). It was also the month in which my darling son turned 22 (happy belated birthday, Sean!), my baby sister turned 44 (ohhh, fuck, that hurts! One's "baby sister" closing in on the downhill slope to the big 5-0? That's how you know you're really getting old, folks).

It's also been a month of rather startling ch-ch-ch-changes, once again, the overall funk factor of the universe being a constant and so forth. Rather somewhat abruptly, I changed job roles once again (it was my choice) back to floor nursing. It's been a real challenge getting reacclimated to that environment, and scary as shit as well. But as time goes on, I find myself increasingly glad that circumstances lead me back - one of the things I'd missed very much about working a desk job is that human touch that comes of, well...ministering directly to another human being in need. It's still an amazing thing, to be able to provide a wee bit of comfort or reassurance to a scared, sick person at 2am, when the family's gone home for the night and they're left staring at the ceiling in a darkened room, wondering what the hell is going to happen to them in the next 24 hours. And my welcome back was so much warmer than I'd ever anticipated that I was truly humbled. It's easy to forget, when you're tired and burned out, how entirely excellent your coworkers can be. I'm grateful to be working with such an amazing group of nurses. :)

And then there's that pesky politics thang
: jaysus, the Amurrican presidential race has only been officially out of the gate since the beginning of January, but it already feels like it's been going on for. Fucking. EVAR!!!111! Does it not? (Hey, if you're an overseas reader and heartily sick of the whole thing already - imagine what it feels like for yr. obedient servant here...) On reflection, p'raps what I'm really weary of is a. the media punditry, and b. the steadfast retardedness of the candidates' supporters. It's become so seriously demoralizing on so many levels, it's difficult to elucidate them all - but these are some sentiments I'd like to bitchslap right out of existence at the moment:

1. Obama supporters are mindless Stepford voters who don't care about the issues - and if Obama gains the nomination, I'm taking my toys and going home. (Although in theory, at least, I acknowledge another Republican president would be deadly for the US - my gal Hillz needs to win in order for me to participate like an adult in the political process.)

2. Clinton supporters are mindless lackeys of the dysfunctional status quo that got us into the mess we're in now, and if she gains the nomination, I'm taking my toys and going home. (Although in theory, at least, I acknowledge another Republican president would be deadly for the US - the Big O needs to win in order for me to participate like an adult in the political process.)

3. Pretty much anything issuing from the vacuous gob of Chris Matthews.

...and thanks for letting me spew. :) As of March 5 2008 at 0105am Amurrican time, the Hillz and the Big O are pert near neck and neck for the nomination, whilst Repuglican John McCain is the nominee presumptive for his party. The Dems will have one shortly; we just have to angst and tear each other to shreds for a certain amount of time first. It's a tradition, you see. :-P

In other news: The youngest got a bee up her butt today to get out and about, especially since the weather has turned so uncharacteristically agreeable. So we took a 2 hour driving tour of the local countryside, the coast and back into town again. Ms. Almighty Thing was not of a temperament to stop and bare her toes to either sand or sea, the heathen, so my opportunities to inflict another round of crappy pics on my long-suffering readership was severely limited - but I did manage to pull off the road at tiny store in Bodega Bay to snap this quick shot. Hope your lives are equally sunny and tranquil, and if not - are at the very minimum, less annoying than Amurrican politics...:)