Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thank you, Rosabeth Moss Kanter

Thank you, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, for your incredibly insightful insight.

Asked on Politico: "Recognizing that we don't know who perpetrated the terrorism in Mumbai, what are its possible implications for the U.S. and for counter-terrorism generally? Are we vigilant? Are we prepared?", Ms. Kanter answered:

"Just as 911 deepened a recession already underway in 2001 and brought air travel to a standstill, this will further shut down or slow down international travel and development of business opportunities that create jobs. Plus, the Jewish hostage murders will harden attitudes on the right in Israel. "

Italics, BTW, are entirely mine.

I may scream. But you know, she's right. Right-wing Israelis were probably developing a more relaxed attitude about international terror attacks until this happened. And NOW, their attitudes are going to harden all over the place, and, um, this will have terrible ramifications somehow, I'm sure.

It's like putting down a giant terror attack in front of an ant. The ant will wave its antennae, and dither, and then carefully make its way around the giant terror attack and return once again to its sugarcube. Bashing Israel is the sugarcube. The sugarcube is the POINT. The huge exploding thing is just in the way. Must go around it.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Little Cranky

I managed to apply to an MFT program, but if I get in, I still think I will have to wait until next fall to get started.

My current job, even if I managed to offload the after-school session will not allow me to get to classes on time unless I a. learn to drive and b. get a hold of a car...

So maybe fall.

I'm trying to be mature here.


Friday, November 28, 2008

Lo Tov

Fighting is still going on in Mumbai, although Haaretz says that Indian forces say they now have control of the Taj Hotel.

They've found the bodies of Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg in the Chabad Center, along with three others. Apparently, Rabbi Holtzberg's last words over the phone before he was cut off were "Lo tov." Hard to imagine how better to put it.

This is not simply a terrorist attack. This is esentially a military assault on a major city. Fighting has lasted for at least forty-eight hours now. This has killed at least twice as many people as the London attacks in 2005. Am I imagining things, or is the press response incredibly muted? Maybe there will be more after we know more. I hope so. I'm afraid that this will not attract attention because it's India, not Europe. Worse, I'm afraid we're getting blase about this.

Lo tov. Lo tov.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving and Mumbai

We had a lovely evening at Niamh's--good food, good company, cute six-year-old running around, and all.

Now I'm on the computer trying to figure out what's happening at the Chabad Center in Mumbai. Is it just me, or is the press coverage of all this incredibly muted?

Monday, November 17, 2008

I am so sick of this

Apparently, according to Michelle Malkin, and some other similarly self-righteous buffoons, violent gay mobs have been driving Christians out of the Castro. The gay folks tell it a little differerently.

Folks should be ashamed of themselves for behaving badly, and giving these martyr wannabes a thrill.

But I'm gonna be real blunt. This group of Christians--and God knows I use the term loosely here--were not walking down the street minding their own business when this went down. These were people there to actively harass and hassle--forgive me--MINISTER TO--the gay folks of the Castro district. Technically speaking, they have the right to do this. Morally speaking, it's contemptible. They went to hassle the gays, and this time they got some hassle back. Maybe this will teach them caution, if not kindness.

I am GODDAMN sick of soi-disant Christian groups thinking the Castro is some kind of playground for them to practice casting out demons in. The groups that used to come to stay in the city from out of state during Halloween and pray from their effing hotel rooms. The people who come in from out of town for Pride, or even, God help us, the AIDS Walk to preach and scream from the sidelines. You have no demons in your own towns, people? The Lord couldn't find any work for you closer to home?

You know what REAL Christians and people of all faiths do in the Castro? They tend the sick, and help the poor pay their bills. They volunteer to teach a child to read and do multiplication. They start a community garden. They help women get breast exams. They do not invade a community already raw with disappointment and offer to help straighten them out. Some of the best Christians I have ever met spent the first horrible wave of the AIDS epidemic holding the hands of the dying in the Castro. They blessed the world with their presence. They never went looking for a fight.

Tell me. Would Christ be there, or would he be with the group of self-satisfied bozos preaching conversion to straightness--or as they tell it, just hanging out in a strange neighborhood on the sidewalk singing "Amazing Grace" to sinners?

I have heard too many times from too many chuckling fools what would happen to those folks from the Castro in some other neighborhoods in this great nation. I've known too many people caught out gay in the wrong neighborhood, not preaching, just trying to slide through. Do NOT, Michelle and company, DARE come crying to me about this. If you wanna come be a Christian in the Castro, there are a lot of volunteer jobs, and some lovely churches with active faith communities. If you want to be a hateful fool, stay online and spew your venom at Michelle's website. This is the kind of narrishkeit that's only gone on so long because gay folks are some of the most patient, tolerant people on the face of God's earth. One day they slipped.

Go cast out your own damn demons, and then come back to my hometown to poke sticks through the bars. The surge of homophobia raging through the right-wing web in the wake of Prop 8 passing has left me with no patience at all for this kind of whiny wannabe-victimhood.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Looking For The Next Step

"When God closes a door, she sometimes leaves a window open," they say.

Of course, this leads us to the ever-timely questions, "Why is the Creator of heaven and earth trying to trap me in this building anyway? Is this some kind of fire drill? Why do we always have to do the door/window thing on days when I wear pantyhose, and a straight-fitting skirt? Is my underwear showing?"

This is, I suspect, one of the reasons all those great philosopher-types, Philo and the Rambam and them, were so harsh about the idea of anthropomorphizing the Almighty. When you think too hard about these bits of cross-stitch sampler theology, some real questions arise that you probably shouldn't be asking.

No, the Balabusta is not having a crisis of faith. She is just having another crisis of career. (This is normal, in fact practically routine. As I implied above, Herself and I have been playing this door-window game for years.)

This is my career arc:

All I have ever wanted to be is a writer. And I have been a writer all my life. I write. Quite a lot. I have a couple of mostly-done novels, and I have published some articles and a short story. I have even gotten paid a little for some of this. But it does not pay the bills, at least not yet.

When I was in high school, I thought I wanted to be a college professor.

In college, I got totally confused, and had no IDEA what I wanted to be.

Then I thought I wanted to be a rabbi. So I went to rabbinic school after college. For a year. It was extremely expensive, and very very stressful. Not the academic part. Look, I'll explain rabbinic school some other time.

So I came back to the Bay Area. And decided to work for the Jewish community. And become a great Jewish feminist writer. And possibly also a non-profit director.

This did not work so well. Like crime, working for the Jewish community does not pay. Also, I could not get hired most of the time.

So I started taking jobs doing things in corporate offices. This did not pay much, but it did sort of pay. It was also boring as hell. And I was not good at it, except for being a receptionist. I am one hell of a good receptionist. But that's another story.

So at some point I decided to become a high school teacher. I went back to school for my teaching credential. I got my teaching credential. I LOVED getting my teaching credential. I was a kick-ass grad student. Then I finished the program and had to get a job.

Apparently I am a better grad student than a teacher. I got hired. I got fired. I got hired. I got fired. I got hired. I got fired. (My parents have detailed explanations about why these firings do not reflect on my teaching skills. I'm just going to leave it be.) And I got hired again. I like my current school. I hope they are not going to fire me, because my nerves won't take much more of this.

I'm also not so sure I want to be a high school teacher. I like kids. I like educators.

I just don't like spending all this time in the classroom, controlling the kids, babbling about literature and grammar. It's not quite...IT.

So I'm in the process of applying to do an MFT.

It occurred to me today that if I continue in the counseling/therapy track, this might actually be a way to pull some of my major interests--adolescents, being a grad student, yiddishkeit, all that.

Maybe I could do a Ph.D. Maybe I could get a degree in Jewish studies. (Tried that once, applied to an MA course. Was rejected on the grounds that after a year of rabbinic school they didn't think I had the equivalent of a year of college Hebrew. That was a truly interesting conversation.) Maybe I could put it all together, have a therapy practice, and teach at USF, and write books about Jewish life. You think?

I'm really looking for that window right now.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

We're having a heat wave

In mid-November. Feels like summer. Yech.

In better news, I've been skating around the kitchen floor barefooted on a wet terrycloth hand towel, and the floor looks better, and I feel cooler.

Yesterday, the beloved husband managed to knock a small bottle of Tabasco sauce down the kitchen sink drain while the garbage disposal was on. The bottle was shattered, and the disposal stopped working. The BH attempted to get the pieces out, but because he has big wide hands he had little luck, and also started to get cut up by the glass. Then I came home from work--and the first words he uttered as he came bounding toward me were "I love your little hands!"

I retrieved the rest of the glass, and suffered no injury except for one little nick. The disposal is now disposing of garbage. Yay us.

The BH and I are now trying hard to put all of our dishes in the dishwasher as soon as we use them, and run it nightly. We have done well this week, so rather than trying to get all the dishes we used in a week done over the weekend, he is sleeping and I am blogging--much more Shabbosdik than we usually get around here. I used some of the frantic dishwashing time today to tidy up the rest of the kitchen, and, as I said, glide around on the floor.

This is happy, but also frustrating, since I invariably remember that the Woman I Want To Be would not even THINK about keeping her kitchen presentable, it would just happen naturally.

The Woman I Want To Be would also not have worked herself into a position where she has to teach The Scarlet Letter in three weeks. And she would not have felt like a dimwit when her supervisor dropped in to watch her teach on Friday.

Thank God the kids were fairly well behaved. We discussed "The Cask of Amontillado". My progress report grades are due Monday. Oh. Aaaargh.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Weekly Dozen--Same-sex Marriage Edition

1. OK people, let's get real. There are not enough black voters in California to blame Prop 8's passage on. I only wish, since black voters in California are Californians, voting their convictions, as opposed to, say, OUT OF STATE GROUPS WITH MONEY AND AN let us PLEASE not buy the ancient race-wedge-driving crud when it comes around one more time. This is not the fault of the black Californians. This is just the fault of the Californians. AND THE OUT OF STATE GROUPS WITH MONEY AND AN AGENDA.

2. OK people, let's get real. California is not on fire, although to read Michelle Malkin's site, you might believe it so. I live right here in the dark blue rainbow-lit heart of the San Francisco Bay Area, and basically, people are grumpy. Not a single car has been set alight, nor have protesters taken over the El Cerrito City Hall. I would know. It's a couple blocks away from us.


4. Must contact Mirele and Keyle and see if the renewal of vows is still on.

5. The uncle of one of my students managed to marry his young man on Monday the 3rd, a day before the vote. Religious ceremony and family gathering to follow--but they got the license.

6. Another student's uncle was going to get married to HIS young man--she was excited because she got to wear heels and have her hair done professionally (and do a scripture reading, but that's less important to a fourteen-year-old girl). No word there--she isn't in my class, and I can't remember which kid it was.

7. What has 52% of California voters got against caterers?

8. Florists?

9. String quartets?

10. This will happen, you know, and sooner, rather than later.

11. Because this is who Americans are, we believe in freedom, you know, to marry whom you love, and say what you like, and believe in one god or twenty as you please.

12. Oh, and Chava is getting married again! To a man, so this doesn't entirely tie in, but a wedding is a wedding. Unfortunately, I've realized that THIS wedding is taking place on Rosh Hashanah. Dang.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

For the Sake of the Children

To The People Responsible for Proposition 8 and Accompanying Propaganda,

Yes, I get it. It's not about bigotry, it's all about the children. The children should not be told that gay marriage is normal. The children should not be exposed to things like that. God forbid the children should know that their teacher is married to another lady.

All this is reminding me of the time Mike Tyson bit Evander Holyfield's ear off. Tyson was losing a boxing match, you see, and in desperation he bit his opponent's ear, hard enough to remove a largish section of it. Even in the world of boxing, this attracted some attention, but Iron Mike had an excuse. He was, he explained, overcome at the thought of his children having to see him lose. He had to do something.

"Yeah?" retorted Holyfield. "What about my kids? Their dad has an ear that looks like a damn doberman's!"

What,you may ask, does this weird little story have to do with same-sex marriage? Just this. Your kids are like Tyson's children. Tyson's kids may have to find out that their dad is not invincible, although God knows, they should not be watching any of his fights unless they are old enough to know that already. Your kids may have to find out that not all families are like theirs, and not all people are the same. They may find out that your values are not universal, and you may have to teach them that those values are still good. Your children, and Tyson's children, are going through a hard but universal experience--realizing that not everyone thinks and acts like you and your family, and your experience is not the only important one.

There are other children who are like Holyfield's children. These are the children with same-sex parents, gay siblings, gay grandparents, gay family friends. These are the children who are themselves going to be gay, who may already realize that they are different in some vague way from most of their classmates. These are the kids who have to watch their parents cry, who are told that their family is not all right because it is different. These are the kids who will have to survive the taunting in a society that goes on believing that two men or two women together can't make a family, can't make a marriage. These are the kids going to schools where you will endlessly lobby to make sure that nothing positive is ever said about gay people. These are the kids whose present and future families are literally having chunks taken out of them by your bigotry.

One last story, this one not a sports parable: A family friend sent out an e-mail during the campaign. She and her wife, parents of Rowan and Rivky had the delightful experience of having to explain to their older child, that it was possible that the law was going to be changed so that two mommies or two daddies couldn't be married.

Rowan thought about that, and came back with a question. "If you aren't married anymore," she asked her mothers, "who will me and Rivky live with?"

You see, in a seven-year-old's world, if two parents aren't married anymore, it means they've gotten a divorce, and they don't live together anymore. There's no room in a seven-year-old's brain for loving each other, and wanting to be together forever, but not being able to get married.

Why should there be room in anyone's mind for such a concept? Will it really help your kids if Rowan is told that her family is second class, and her parents' love is a threat to the innocence of your kids?

Yeah. Right.

The Quadrennial Dozen

1. Oh thank God. It's over.

2. Best moment of the evening: Howard University. Middle-aged administrator, too choked with emotion to speak. Young schmuck in horn-rims talking about the importance of Obama's win to his future career as an African-American politician. Remaining thousand or so students in the shot jumping up and down like pogo sticks screaming "O-Ba-Ma! O-Ba-Ma!" over and over.

3. Oh, God, it should have been Hillary, why did it have to go to a man? A YOUNG man?

4. My freshmen are called on for special intentions for prayer today: "That Mr. Obama and his whole family be safe," says one girl.

5. What am I going to do now that it's over? What will I do with all my free time that I've been spending on the computer checking polls?

6. I am disgusted with some of the LGFers. Most of them are fine, but a couple have expressed an intention to cut their charitable spending because they expect their taxes to go up. Feh.

7. McCain's speech was well-done and graceful.

8. Thank God, we can all take a break from Sarah Palin. She may be back. I'll deal with that when it happens.

9. I was expecting more of a drawn-out evening. What's up with announcing by eight?

10. Wow--the elderly Jews of Florida came through! Thank God 1oo grandchildren made the schlep!

11. I have a vision of next spring, when Michelle Obama's chief of staff comes in with a worried look.

"Ma'am, you remember Malia was saying that she couldn't sleep, and a scary man in her dreams was telling her to invade Iran?

"Of course."

"I think we may have found the problem."

"Really?" (Michelle follows the young woman to an area in the Residence. Workers are removing drywall. Michelle leans forward, stares in confusion as a pair of wingtips attempt to scuttle up into the remaining wall.) "What on earth is that?" Michelle demands.

"Dick Cheney, ma'am. He's in the walls. We think he must have mistaken Malia's bedroom from the president's. Don't worry, I have a team coming to fumigate this afternoon..."

12. Oh, thank God. It's over.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Scientists Shocked!

Apparently, big women have sex, and enjoy it.

Suggestion to scientists: look at work by the Dutch Masters. Have dinner, and some wine. Go home. Make love to your wife. Repeat as necessary. Come back to work when you feel better.