Monday, November 19, 2007

Don't believe everything that you read

The following entry is a creative writing meme generated by my friend Marc. You select characteristics based on your date of birth and write a journal entry using those characteristics. For instance, based on my birthday, my persona is named Lurleen, she's living in the middle east and a love affair plays some major role in her life. If you want to try the meme for yourself (it's a great creative writing exercise) check out the details in Marc's journal.

Sorry that I haven't written in a while, but I've had to move again. I really liked the little town I was living in but Omar got wind of where I was, so I packed up my stuff and took off again.

I suppose that I shouldn't feel too sorry for myself. I can just hear my mama's voice saying, "Lurleen, you can't move half-way around the world to be with some man you met on that damn computer." In 52 years I've never been able to do anything right in that woman's eyes. Lucky for me, she doesn't even know how to turn on a computer, so she'll never read this. Lord knows, if she did, I'd never hear the end of it.

Thank y'all for all the kind words and I appreciate the prayers too.  It's not all bad, Qatar is a beautiful country; although it's kind of small, about the size of Connecticut, sort of limits your places to hide. Pretty much everybody here has jobs and you don't have to pay any income tax! I'm working for a nice family, teaching the mother and her two daughters how to speak English. LOL, in yesterday's lesson I taught them the many uses of "y'all."

I've gone over and over it in my mind, thinking what I could have done differently. I did that whole guided communication thing with Omar on I thought that we had gotten to know each other pretty well. Of course, just because a man says that he loves you, doesn't mean that he does. Hmm, I think I've got a potential country song lyric in there somewhere.

Maybe I should have realized that he was serious about wanting children. I definitely should have done a better job of hiding my American drivers license. All that fuss just because I was a few years older than what I said on my profile. I look good for my age and I've been told by lots of folks that I don't look a day over 30. Why would a 60 year old man want to raise a passel of children any way?

I've been here 14 months and at least I've made a few friends. My heart is still broken; I really loved that man. Friends tell me that he's still a bit upset with me for lying about my age, so I guess I won't be calling him on the phone any time soon.

If you are reading this and you know my mama, please don't tell her anything. The last thing I need is her calling me up and screaming, "I told you so" in my ear.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

There is something new under the sun

An old friend from my days as a teacher, has begun a blog. We both left the public high school where we taught in the same year, but we've maintained a sort of communication over the years via e-mails and a listserv of which we both were members. I seem to recall that he actually started the listserv to engender discussion about government, politics. etc. But I am digressing, I set out to introduce you to my friend's blog. He is one of the most interesting and thoughtful people that I know, and he writes quite well. I promise that you will find it worth your time to check out his blog, just click here to visit him. He calls himself the Self Sufficient Steward and you'll inderstand why if you check out his blog.

I also recommend another friend's blog that I have encouraged you to check out in the past. Marc is a Renaissance man; he works in a variety of creative modes including poetry and cyberart. He has recently created visual collages or pastiches that take works of art by established Masters--Botticelli, Da Vinci, Picasso, Sargent and others--and fashions them into new works of art by adding and/or removing visual elements that give the work a new perspective.  He has dubbed these intriguing images, Hy-Art (a merger of hybrid and art). It's difficult to fully explain what he does in words; you simply must visit his journal to see for yourself.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Dog Chases Tail

I don't care whether or not Duane Dog Chapman is taken off the air. In case you have missed the buzz, Dog the Bounty Hunter ordered his son to give up his African-American girlfriend or leave the family business. The reason Dog was concerned about Monique (the son's girlfriend) is because Dog and other family members like to be free to toss about the n-word and didn't think that Monique would understand that it was just the way that they talked, no offense intended. The discussion took place in a conversation with his son via cell phone. The son apparently recorded the conversation and sold the tape to the National Enquirer. Oops! Now, A&E has suspended Dog's televison show and rumor is that he may be fired. If you haven't heard the tape, you haven't missed anything. However, If you want to hear it for yourself, unedited, click here. I warn you, it's graphic.


I don't watch his show because I have no interest in it. If you have ever visited my journal before, you know that I am not above watching reality shows; it’s just that a bounty hunter chasing folks doesn’t garner my attention. What I do find interesting is how many people are concerned that Chapman is the wronged party in this nonsense. I have a bad habit of reading message boards and they are filled with righteous indignation that (1) Dog’s privacy has been violated, and (2) there was a government conspiracy to discredit him. I know; it sounds bizarre, but I can’t make this stuff up.


There is also some reasonable skepticism regarding the initial source of the story, the National Enquirer. Normally I don't put any faith in any story that I read in the Enquirer. However, Chapman has acknowledged that it's his voice on the tape and he is busy falling all over himself apologizing for what he said. I don't know about you, but if there was some tape that purported to be me making racial slurs, and I didn't say those things, my first line of defense would be that the tape is a fake.


However, what I find most fascinating is the defense of Chapman's repeated use of the n-word. Although I've never watched a single episode of his show, I think that it is safe to assume that Chapman doesn't use the n-word on his television show. His argument with his son against his son's black girlfriend is that they use the n-word a lot and that she may turn this information over to the media. According to Chapman, he doesn't intend it as a racial slur or an insult but he and other family members just spout the word on a regular basis. My question is, if Chapman can tape his weekly show without the use of the n-word, why can't he refrain from its use in his everyday conversation? Does he have some form of Tourette's syndrome that causes him to say the n-word on all occasions that he is not on television?


Chapman chooses to use the n-word when it suits him to do so. He knows that it is offensive, that's why he wanted his son to dump his girlfriend. He didn't want the public that watches his show, puts money in his pocket, clothes on his back, and food on his table, to know that he regularly chooses to use a racial slur. Evidently, it never crossed his mind that another solution, other than ordering his adult son to end his relationship with Monique, was to stop using the damn word.


I have no pity for this man. He has had more than his 15 minutes of fame. A&E isn't considering dropping his show to punish him for what he said. The network is considering dropping his show because rather than being an asset, i.e. a moneymaking enterprise, his stupid words have made him a financial liability.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Sky Isn't Falling but Chicken Little Is Living Over at

I was visiting a few journals earlier today when I ran across an excerpt from an online publication with which I was not familiar, the After checking out the publication further, I recognized why it wasn’t on my reading list. I find it to be sanctimonious, bigoted, and prone to embellishing fact with fiction. Following is the excerpt that caught my eye:

"Mom and Dad as well as husband and wife effectively have been banned from California schools under a bill signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who with his signature also ordered public schools to allow boys to use girls restrooms and locker rooms, and vice versa, if they choose."


There are a few facts that I find important regarding this topic. The California state legislator passed an anti-discrimination bill and Gov. Schwarzenegger signed the bill into law. The law does not ban the use of the terms “Mom and Dad” or “Husband and Wife.” The law, Senate Bill 777, essentially forbids discrimination based on a list of characteristics. In application, it will likely require that if such terms as mom and dad etc. are used that there must be other inclusive terms used as well so as not to discriminate against public school students based on familial status. SB 777 isn’t entirely new. It expands on existing anti-discrimination law in California that provides equal rights and opportunities to all persons in public schools in the state regardless of their disability, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, or any other characteristic contained in the definition of hate crimes set forth in that section of the state penal code. SB 777 expands the prohibitions to include the denial of equal rights and opportunities to anyone based on gender or sexual orientation. Seems like common sense and fairness to me, unless you think that it is okay to discriminate against people based on gender or sexual orientation. (Please don’t get waylaid by misguided notions that sexual orientation includes pedophilia or other deviations from consensual interactions between adults. The whole notion is a scare tactic meant to detract from the very real denial of human rights to members of this society based on gender identity or sexual orientation.)


The law is directed at engendering a positive and healthy school environment for all children, including those who do not have a family that consists of a mom and a dad. This does not only apply to children who have parents that are gay. Some children have only one parent in the household. Given the high divorce rate among heterosexual couples and the reconfiguration of families that may ensue, many children have a mom, dad, step mom and step dad. Some children live with grandparents or aunts and uncles who serve as the primary caretakers. Imagine what it feels like to be a five year old and every story that the teacher reads in class, every poster on the wall, every song that you sing, makes you feel as if you don't belong or fit in because you don't live in a traditional family structure consisting of a "mom and a dad."


In addition to sexual orientation, the new law also addresses gender discrimination issues. Gender is a topic that is rarely considered by those of us who have never experienced a sense of not belonging in our own bodies. I don’t pretend to be an expert, but from what I read, “gender identity” refers to a person’s sense of self as male or female. Some individuals are born with a gender identity that does not match with their anatomical sex characteristics. I confess that I have tried without much success to imagine how it is to feel like one gender and have the physical characteristics of the other. On a purely empathetic level, I do understand that this causes emotional pain and confusion that is only further compounded by the rejection and judgment imposed upon such individuals by the larger society and often by family members as well. Adolescence is difficult enough without this added twist on identity.


Which brings me around to the “sky is falling” hype espoused by about bathroom use. SB 777 does not eradicate the use of gender identification of public restrooms; bathroom doors will continue to have some identification as male and female on them. The law simply allows individuals whose gender is at odds with their physical characteristics to use the restroom that identifies with their gender identity. That is, if you think of yourself as female and are externally exhibiting female dress etc. although you were born a biological male, you may use the female restroom or vice versa, a biological female whose gender identity is male may use a male restroom. Most individuals with Gender Identity Disorder dress and behave according to gender identity not anatomical sex characteristics.


There are a few other things to think about before jumping on the sky is falling bandwagon and woe unto family values express train. Gender Identity Disorder (aka Gender Dysphoria) is considered by the American Psychiatric Association to be a disorder and not a mental illness  or disease. An individual's sexual orientation is just that, an orientation, not a choice. If it were a choice, we should all be able to recall when we made that choice. I don’t recall choosing to be heterosexual or gay, do you?