Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Making a Joyful Noise

The above pic is from the Gay Pride Parade I went to with my church's peace and justice group (the t-shirt reads: "We are here to recruit you.") I had never been to a pride parade before, and I was struck by two things:

1. How much it felt like being in church: joyful singing (check) hands raised in thanksgiving (check).

2. The response we got from parade revelers as we handed out postcards about the church. People seemed surprised, and then excited to see us out there. Christians do not always have the best reptuation for inclusiveness, especially when it comes to sexual orientation. So, I was pleased when a young man stopped me and said, "Thank you for doing this!" That was the highlight of my day.

The other highlight: Flashing peace signs at the anti-gay protestors who yelled to us that we should be ashamed of ourselves. For only the second or third time in my life, I felt like I was really, truly doing God's work.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Pics from Pride

Went to the Chicago Gay Pride Parade today with a group from church. Lots of fun, but I'm exhausted. I may even have had heat stroke.

More pics here.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Live Performance

In recent years, I've become a huge fan of live musical performances. A transporting live performance with incredible energy is like medicine: you actually feel physically better for having experienced it.

So, I thought linking to a live performance by Michael Jackson (from the 1987 Bad Tour) was a good way to honor the legend's passing. I can't really add to what's already been said about MJ and his impact on the worlds of music and popular culture. His music was an integral part of my childhood, as it was for millions over the past 40 years. It's tragic that his life ended as it did, and I pray he's at peace now, and my heart also goes out to his family.

Here he is doing "Beat It" from the Thriller album.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

I Think I'm in Love

Her name is Leymah Gbowee, and she was instrumental in helping to end the decade-long civil war in Liberia. I first heard of her through Bill Moyers. She appeared on his show last week and talked about the documentary film Pray The Devil Back to Hell, which chronicles the peace movement she and other women in Liberia formed.

I can't put into words how amazing this woman is. So, watch her two-part interview with Lynn Sher: part one and part two. Also interviewed is filmmaker Abigail Disney, who made the documentary.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Unpopular Opinion of the Day

A part of me feels bad for Mark Sanford - a very small part, to be sure, but it's there, nonetheless. I will be roundly booed for this, but hear me out.

For those not paying attention, Mark Sanford is the governor of South Carolina. He is in his second term. He is a Republican. He has been AWOL from his job for the last week. According to his remarks at a press conference today, he spent those seven days "crying in Argentina" on the shoulder of the woman he's been having an affair with for the past year.

My first thought is: ho-hum, another politician cheated." Cuz really, we shouldn't be THAT surprised. We shouldn't even be surprised when it's Republicans. They talk a good game about being the party of family values, but, hey, they're human and capable of fucking up, just like the rest of us. It's just that they're usually the last to figure this out.

There's also the fact that Sanford abandoned his job for a week, not even telling his staff where he was. (Well, that's not entirely true. He lied that he was hiking the Appalachian Trail to take his mind off the battle over Federal stimulus funds. You cannot make this shit up). I mean, I can't leave my job for one day without telling my boss I'm not going to be there. This dude is gone for a whole week, and still expects to keep his job (he resigned from his role as head of the Republican Governor's Association).

But I digress. Here's why I feel bad for Mark Sanford. In addition to being the latest in a long line of pols hoist by his own self-righteous petard (hi Sen. Ensign), his whole life is on display for all to see. The State, a South Carolina newspaper has published some of the email exchanges he had with his lover. After skimming one, and feeling like a Peeping Tom, I got to thinking about the way we as a society deal with sex and sexuality. We make it this big bugaboo that's hidden away in a closet (no pun intended, really!) and then Mark Sanfords or Eliot Spitzers bring it out into the open and suddenly, we're shocked shocked that this kind of thing is happening. It then becomes easy to act like these things are ONLY the province of guys like Sanford, and we don't have to examine anything about ourselves. Convenient.

Now, I'm no Sanford fan, nor am I condoning or excusing his actions. IMO, the worst thing he did was leave the state he was elected to serve unattended for seven days. That's irresponsible and that is the reason he should resign.

But man, oh man, am I tired of people acting like ZOMG! Men have affairs! Powerful men have affairs! OMG! OMG! This shit hasn't been news since biblical times. Just once, I'd like it if we in this country could approach matters of sexuality - and while we're at it, human frailty - with something resembling maturity.

Steelworks & Heat

The first two pictures are of a sculpture called Steelworks, which sits outside the Nature Museum on the corner of Fullerton and North Cannon Drive. The second pic is a reminder of how jacked the weather can be here in Chi-town. Barely hitting 70 degrees last week, now we're in the middle of a heat wave. Even though I have no AC in my apartment, I am so not complaining.

Things That Make You Go Hmmm...

I realize that the title of this post may be lost on those who didn't go to high school before the year 2000, but I couldn't think of another one. For I just stumbled onto this post from the On the Whole health blog that sounds a warning about the increasing entanglement with health journalists and pharmaceutical companies.

HealthNewsReview.org publisher Gary Schwitzer has expressed concerns that the drug company Pfizer is funding National Press Foundation fellowships on cancer issues and that the Society of Professional Journalists is orchestrating a tour of Eli Lilly corporate headquarters including a "professional development session on the reporting of mental health issues" and a "networking reception with Lilly's leaders."

Lilly makes the psychiatric drugs Cymbalta, Prozac and Zyprexa. Pfizer's website indicates it makes several medications for treatment of cancer.
Conflict of interest doesn't even begin to cover it. This reminds me of the incestuous relationship between Wall Street and the Fed (*cough* Henry Paulson *cough*).

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

We Now Have 3 Seasons



Construction Season.

Apparently, there's no in-between.

But I am so not complaining that summer is here - rabid humidity and all. It took long enough to get here-lol.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Going Green

The sculpture below is called "Going Green," and, unfortunately, the name of its creator escapes me now. It's part of an outdoor sculpture initiative called Lakeshore Sculpture Exhibit, which is happening courtesy of the City of Chicago. Oddly enough, I can't find any website for it. A quick Google search for "lakeshore sculpture exhibit" yielded no results. I did find the city's public art site, but even that makes no mention of it. Hmmmm.....

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Misogyny Never Gets Old Does It?

Just ask the good folks at Bacardi, who came up with this gem of an ad campaign aimed at women. The premise? If you want to look good, take an ugly girlfriend of yours out with you - for a shopping spree, to a club, etc.

So. Much. Hate.

As always, the good folks at Shapely Prose - this time it's Sweet Machine - do a stately smackdown of this revolting campaign.

Seeing stuff like this is so disheartening when you're: a) trying to be positive about your body, and b) trying to spread the word about body positivity for all women. But it just makes me angry enough to keep trying. Because I am so sick. and. tired. of being told that my only value as a human being is how much I weigh, or how big my breasts are, or my ability to attract a man. For fuck's sake! My Creator put me on earth to do more than that.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Actual *Summer* Weather

This is what summer weather looks like. I'd almost forgotten.

More random Chicago sculpture - Tin Man on the corner of Lincoln & Armitage.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Chicago's Not Supposed to Have Monsoons

Well not to my knowledge, anyway. And yet, we have been enduring our own rainy season, coupled with cold temperatures better suited to Spring (not that we had spring this year, but that's another post).

I looked up monsoons on Wikipedia and saw the pic below. I'd swear we saw clouds just like this just before the skies opened up an hour ago.

Oh well, at least it's supposed to get to 80 degrees today (this I'll believe when I actually feel it). According to local weather sage Tom Skilling, summer arrives big time next week, with temperatures in the 80s and 90s and humidity. I don't have AC in my apartment, but I won't be complaining. Summer has already taken too damned long to get here.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Online Giants to Congress: We Can Regulate Ourselves

Me: Jigga WHAT?!?!

From today's New York Times' Media Decoder blog.

Congress today summoned executives from Facebook, Google, and Yahoo to inquire about how they are tracking consumers for advertising purposes. The hearing signals an increasing interest on Washington’s part into what online companies are doing with all the data they have on their customers.

It’s a joint hearing between two House subcommittees, one on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection, and the other on Communications, Technology, and the Internet.

On one side are the privacy advocates, who see this online monitoring as intrusive. “We are being digitally shadowed online,” Jeffrey Chester, the executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, said in prepared remarks at the hearing. “Our travels through the digital media are being monitored, and digital dossiers on us are being created—and even bought and sold.”

On the other side, the industry argues that any privacy regulation would be a huge blow to commerce. Online advertising revenues dropped 5 percent in the first quarter of 2009, the sharpest decline to date, according to a recent Interactive Advertising Bureau report. (One of the stated goals of the bureau, a trade group whose members include AOL, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and most major online media sites, is to “fend off adverse legislation and regulation”).

The industry groups are arguing for self-regulation.
Whoa! BRAKES ON! Industry self-regulation? Why does this sound familiar? I'm pretty sure the last big go-round of an industry regulating itself was an epic fail. I'm also fairly certain that said alleged self-regulation resulted in the financial crisis we are all enduring and paying for.

So the Congressional response to Facebook, Google, AOL, Microsoft, et. al's self-regulation schtick should be HELL TO THE NO.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Seven Sunny Days in June

Have we even had that many? Sorry, this weather is driving me batty.

Enough about that. I'm still in a quandary about which album is my guiltiest pleasure. Sleeping on it last night didn't help, nor did pondering it today. I guess this is what happens to your brain when you're done with school.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Guilty Pleasures

Per Wikipedia:

A guilty pleasure is something one considers pleasurable despite feeling guilt for enjoying it. Often, the "guilt" involved is simply fear of others discovering one's lowbrow or otherwise embarrassing tastes, rather than actual moral guilt. Fashion, music, and food can be examples of guilty pleasures.
Recently, someone asked me to think of a "guilty pleasure" album I own. I had to give this subject a lot of thought because I gave up feeling guilty about what music I liked back in 11th grade. I'd spent too much time prior to that trying to fit my musical tastes into some arbitrary standard for what a young black woman should listen to.

In any event, after poring over my music collection, I came up with these titles:

Born to Do It by Craig David

Songs About Jane by Maroon 5

A Funk Odyssey by Jamiroquai (What? You thought I'd make a music-related list and not include Jamiroquai? Pshaw!)

Choosing one is proving difficult. Technically, the Craig David album is probably the most egregious one, especially since I saw the guy live. But Maroon 5's is more recent and therefore, fresher in people's minds, no? Funk Odyssey is probably the album I can write most about since I've been listening to it a lot recently; but will anybody outside hardcore fans know what the heck I'm talking about-lol. There's also the fact that I don't really feel guilty about owning any of these.

Ah well. Time to sleep on it.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Random Chicago Sculptures

Said farewell to the fam today. I miss them already. It was so nice having them here with me the last few days. We really had a great time and didn't get on each others' nerves too much.

I took today off just to calm myself down. It's been a whirlwind 4 or 5 days, so I needed time to decompress. I took a 3-hour nap, which I haven't done since before Spring quarter started. Also wen out for a bit and took some pictures of sculptures around the city. For some reason, I'm noticing how many odd-looking sculptures this city has. I've decided to capture as many as I can. Here are three I took today.

Outside Rush University Medical Center

The famous Chicago Picasso (yes, we have our own!)

Another odd one I noticed on Clark Street (near Lincoln Ave.) It's a bit blurry because I took it from the bus.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


What a day it's been. Despite some angst caused by getting lost on the way to East Jabip (also known as the Allstate Arena) for the ceremony, I finally graduated. The pic above was taken before I left for the ceremony. We're not allowed to keep the graduation "regalia." In fact, after the ceremony, we literally strip off the cap, gown and sash to return them.

My family - my dear, sweet family - are such troopers. They endured getting detoured for 20 minutes, having to park in the Target lot (and walking from the lot to the arena), and, of course, sitting through the 2 1/2 hour ceremony. God Bless them. I am so very lucky to have them in life.

Truthfully, the ceremony wasn't as long as it could have been. Don't get me wrong: it was long. My one friend brought a book to keep himself occupied.

But I was glad I did it. It was great seeing my friends, those who were in the trenches with me the past two years, all the wonderful people who let me bitch about this class or that professor. THANK YOU!

I've been so used to having classes and homework, I actually don't know what to do with myself now that it's over. Well, that's not exactly true: I'm going to love doing exactly nada next weekend - no library, reading for my own pleasure, not someone else's.

But seriously, having been consumed by school the last two years, it's like, who am I if I'm not a student?

Ah yes, someone who has to pay off student loan debt.

More pics here.

I Can't Believe This Day Has Finally Arrived

(Note to uptight profs: I used passive voice in that subject line. Deal with it!)

Graduation day is here! YAY! And it's actually SUNNY (thank you, Mother Nature). What a difference it makes when the sun actually shines. DOUBLE YAY! It feels like it's going to be a looooong day, but I'm totally ok with that, because I've worked hard for this one.

I've been really pleased to have my family here with me the whole weekend. I've missed them a lot. I couldn't have done this without them!

Will post pictures later if I'm not too tired.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Sick of the Rain

It's June, right? So why am I wearing jackets and layers (albeit light ones). And what is up with all the damned rain? I better not hear one word about drought whenever it finally warms up. The Des Plaines River has been in danger of flooding for like 3 months. ARGH! I love Chicago, but the weather? Can go piss up a rope.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

25 Random Things About Me

Since I didn't get a chance to do it on Facebook.

1. I find travel guidebooks tyrannical.
2. I have never understood American football.
3. I hate winter.
4. I have no TV or cable, but still manage to watch a lot of TV.
5. I like to read odd news stories.
6. Joan Didion’s sentences make me happy.
7. I will always be a soap opera fan at heart.
8. I love to get new notebooks and journals.
9. Radiohead will always own my heart.
10. I can spend only an hour/hour and half in a museum.
11. I still think cheese is one of God’s greatest gifts to mankind.
12. I love to buy new notebooks and journals.
13. If there is one atom of cold to be felt in a room, it will invariably find me.
14. I have allegiance to only one sports team: the NY Yankees.
15. I don’t know what I’m doing once I graduate and I’m surprisingly upbeat about that.
16. I’m in love with Lake Michigan.
17. I can go months without eating ice cream, before a craving hits; then, once I indulge, I go another few months without it.
18. Ditto on chocolate
19. Laughing is my favorite activity.
20. As a Libra, I have a hard time hiding my emotions. This means if I’m pissed at you, you’re gonna know about it.
21. I’m addicted to buying shoes and handbags.
22. Tennis is my favorite sport to watch, but I’m loath to try playing it.
23. I’m one of those people who really need sunshine to be happy.
24. I’ve been obsessed with the music of Jamiroquai for the past 5 months and it shows no signs of ebbing.
25. I don’t know how to swim or ride a bike

In More Cute Picture News

How adorable are these two?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Few Days Late

But congratulations to Roger Federer for winning the 2009 French Open and completing a career grand slam. Still, this remains my favorite recent picture from the world of tennis.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Jamiroquai Song Obsession of the Month: Shoot the Moon

Here's hoping they put this crackin' tune on their next album.

Everyone Has a Right To Self Esteem

Of course, the people at Shapely Prose make this strong argument so much better than I could.

Monday, June 8, 2009

I Am Officially Done

The last final exam is over. I am done with grad school. It's not real to me yet. I think it will become real when the first student loan bill shows up.

I knew when I started this program, these 2 years would fly by; but it's still hard to believe how quickly they did. I couldn't have done it without the support of: Erica, Janis, Carmel, Brook, Jenna, Jenny, Arynne, Megan, Maylene, Terrence, Stephen, Gwen, JoAnn, Elizabeth, Arminda, and many other people whose names my brain is sadly too fried to remember at the moment (do please forgive me if you are one of those people).

Thank you all. When I am more coherent I will write some more.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Library = A Subway Car at Rush Hour

I could barely get a seat today! Damn, DePaul has some overachieving students :P. There was definitely a feeling of desperation in the air. The library is open 24 hours a day every day till the end of finals on Friday. Mercifully, today was my last day there.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

I Have Been Close To Tears A Lot Lately

I think it's because everything is so pent up - so much stress about school and uncertainty about what happens after. Yesterday, while at the student center buying dinner, I saw one of the university's chorus groups singing (I was drawn by the dulcet tones of Britney Spears' toxic). They were taking such joy in their singing, I was almost overcome with tears. Seriously, it came out of nowhere. I reminded myself that a) I was standing in the student center and b) they were singing freakin' "Toxic!"

Today, I spent another day in the library. I swear, sometimes it feels like this last weekend of studying is going to end me. I feel depressed and ugly and insecure about everything. I just want school to be over. These are the longest 3 days of my damned life.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


When I officially graduate, I want to dance to this song.


Today, I went to the release party/reading for our university's literary journal, Threshold. I didn't have any pieces in it, but I did participate as a reader. I helped read some of the fiction submissions that got picked for publication. Never done that before, so that was an interesting experience.

Anyway, listening to people read their pieces, I realize how many talented writers are in my program. I'm lucky to have actually worked with some of them. Hopefully I absorbed some inspiration from them.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

One Down, One To Go

That's right, folks! I am officially done with one of my classes in this, my final quarter of grad school. I still have a final to complete (and a paper to hand in before the final....GRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!) But at least I can see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Am watching old Star Trek episodes. Damn, that show was cheesy goodness!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Why Don't I Trust Myself?

This isn't really apropos of anything going on in my life right now, but the other day, I realized that I really need to start trusting myself, specifically my own instincts more. For some reason, I was thinking about times when I've gone against my instincts and allowed myself to be convinced of things - whether it was believing a certain thing, or taking an action. It was usually friends trying to boost my self-esteem or get me to take a risk. This isn't about blaming my friends. They're a loving, well-meaning lot, nor am I feeling like blaming myself. Blame's a bad word here (Trust me, I can justifiably blame myself for plenty of other shit).

The message from my instincts is always the same "This doesn't feel right!" So why don't I listen to them? They're right 99.99% of the time, but I don't trust them. Seems illogical (Egads! now I am quoting Mr. Spock). I never trust myself to heed them. I always assume other people know what's best for me. no one knows me better than I do - except my Creator. It's time to start trusting myself.