I Guess I Need a Barbed Wire Fence

Every once in a while you read a comment about how men have to have sex or they will die, die, die and, if we don’t let them fuck us whenever they want, regardless of our desire for them, it serves us right if they kill us and you think, “Wow, damn, is it really such a hard concept to get that my body doesn’t belong to you, that you can’t just open it up and crawl into it whenever you want?

I, too, have wanted to have sex with someone so much it felt like I would die if I didn’t get to.  I may have, in fact, in a moment of weakness, begged someone or another to have sex with me or I would die.  I’ve been turned down (I know!  Who would turn me down?  Have you seen my tits?) and did not, in fact, actually die.

Nor, I must say, did I feel like shooting the folks who turned me down.

I for sure never thought “You have a penis and I need a penis and, if you don’t let me use yours, I will beat you down.”  And I honestly don’t get that mindset when it comes to some men and their desire for my sex organs.

It seems weird to me that people would think “I have a right to your body when I want.”  You’d think that such a thought popping into their head would be embarrassing, like the way you might momentarily picture yourself running over the person in the crosswalk in front of you.  That it would take you aback and make you wonder if you’re being possessed by something evil.

And you’d like to comfort yourself with the thought that such attitudes are anomalies, held by folks who don’t have a lot of power and who don’t set policy.  Certainly, there’s no one with any real power over me who believes that my body is available for the taking and that I don’t really have the right to say what happens to it.

Via Rachel:

“Rape, ladies and gentlemen, is not today what rape was. Rape, when I was learning these things, was the violation of a chaste woman, against her will, by some party not her spouse. Today it’s simply, ‘Let’s don’t go forward with this act.’ ”–Democratic State Senator Henry

I’d love to see the surrounding context for that quote, because, like Rachel, I think it sounds as if he’s saying that, back in the good ole days, you could do what you wanted to any woman who wasn’t a virgin or married.

Just to be on the safe side, I will for sure be wrapping myself in barbed wire, so that folks are clear about not trespassing.

African American Lives 2

I forgot that they were starting Skip Gates’s next round of African American Lives until I was half-way through Criminal Minds last night, so I missed some stuff.

But, damn, I love this series.

If you aren’t watching it (because it’s public television, and who thinks to watch public television?), the basic premise is that Gates takes twelve African-Americans and he and his team trace their lineage as far back as they can find and then tell those stories to the folks.

The really nice part about having Gates involved, I think, is two-fold.  One is that, because he’s done this for his own family, his empathy for the emotions this kind of discovery brings up is just exactly right.  He really gets the power inherent in hearing the names and lives of your people.  The other thing is that he is excellent at putting things in context, in taking these individual lives and explaining the broader circumstances of history that they were caught up in.

It seems like a lot of the participants feel kind of cheated, that they can’t believe that no one in their family ever told them about the relative that fought in the Civil War or about the vast amount of land their families used to own.  But I also think that Gates does a careful and kind job of explaining why so many folks turned their backs on their lives and didn’t ever talk about it.

I think I told you this story, about a guy who used to work down at MTSU when I first moved to town and his job was, in part, to go around cataloging all the old slave buildings still standing, take pictures of them, measure them, try to preserve as much information about them as he could before they crumbled.

He found some stuff you almost couldn’t believe.  He found, for instance, a doctor and a lawyer over near Memphis who were working to refurbish all of the buildings on their family’s plantation and they were staying in one of the slave cabins while they worked.  One black, one white, who were family and who wanted to turn the family land into a place where the whole family could visit their dead relatives and have holiday meals and get married and be a family together, on equal footing.

Or the two ancient men just south of Nashville, one white and living in the big house his family had always lived in and one black and living in the slave cabin (later sharecropper shack) his family had always lived in and the white guy thought the black guy was his best friend.  And the black guy told the researcher that he was, as his duty to his family, staying on the property to make sure that the white guy never married, never had kids, so that, when he died, it would be the end of the people who had done such evil to his people.  He was there to make sure that line would cease.

Or, more to my point above, the guy who called the researcher up and asked him if he, by chance, knew of a certain plantation and whether a woman by a certain name had ever been enslaved there.  And the researcher said that he was very familiar with the plantation and could easily get access to the records to see if the woman was a slave there.  Then the guy asked the researcher if he flew into Nashville, if the researcher would take him to that plantation.  The researcher said that he might have to pretend he was another scholar, because the researcher wasn’t sure the white family would agree to letting a descendant of their slaves on their property, but yes, he would take him down there.

So, there they are, the researcher, the man, his wife, and their four year old son, standing among the slave buildings, which have been, like the rest of the farm, kept in pretty good repair and the researcher is explaining what all the buildings are like and what they’re used for, because he’s uncomfortable about what he’s found.

But finally, he takes them to a cabin and he says, “I did find a slave by the name of [whatever her name was].  This cabin belonged to her and her sister.  It seems, from what I can tell, looking at the records, that she and her sister were kept here in this cabin where they were pretty constantly pregnant.  It seemed to be one of the main sources of income for the plantation, the breeding and selling of your ancestors.”

And the guy said, “So, it’s true.  That’s always been the family story.”

And the researcher is uncomfortable so he turns to the wife and they start talking about the stone walls that the slaves put up all over Middle Tennessee and they talk for a while until the wife notices that the husband is just standing there, tears rolling down his face, touching the doorframe of the building.

She goes over to him and says, “If this is too much for you, we can go.”

And he says, looking at the researcher, “I don’t have anything from my people to tell me that they were real.  Nothing handed down.  I didn’t even know for sure that that was really her name.  But this building right here.  This was where she lived, where she really lived.  I can put my hand where she put her hand.”

That’s some powerful stuff, right there, America.  To feel that the people you came from were as real as you are, to be able to put your hands where they put their hands.

I love that Gates gives that to folks.

To me, that’s the best kind of story-telling a person can do–to tell you a true story about yourself that makes you and your loved ones seem more real.

My Dad, Part Whatever

I talked to my dad last night, who was on his way out the door to help with the Ash Wednesday service.  His predicament, as predicted, has turned into a giant battle over whether he should have the surgery at Carle or at Loyola.

Of course my aunt wants him at Loyola with her people.  My dad, however, doesn’t want to seem rude to his doctors.  I’m leaning towards Carle for two reasons, one selfish and one not.  The not selfish reason is that I think it will be easier on my mom to have my dad close to their house and my aunt has this idea that my dad could just stay with my grandma once he gets out of the hospital.

Let me repeat that.  My aunt (my mom’s sister, who has, presumably known my grandma her whole life, since my grandma gave birth to her, and who has known my dad since 1968) thinks that my dad could just stay with my grandma once he gets out of the hospital.

Dear readers, that’s not recovery, that’s a sit-com.

In fact, I have to admit to you that I almost encouraged it, just so I could live-blog it.


It occurs to me that it may not be immediately obvious why my dad staying with my grandma would be so hilariously wrong.

Let’s travel back in time to the last Thanksgiving we all had together where my dad sat in the kitchen and bitched about my grandma and my grandma sat in the front room and bitched about my dad and my mom and I stood in the bathroom trying not to laugh loud enough for either of them to hear us.

Grandma’s Complaints About Dad

  • Bossy
  • Makes every conversation about him
  • Complains about everything
  • Is mean
  • Doesn’t appreciate my mom

Dad’s Complaints about Grandma

  • Bossy
  • Makes every conversation about her
  • Complains about everything
  • Is mean
  • Doesn’t appreciate my mom

Mom’s Complaint about the State of the Universe

  • “I don’t know how it took me thirty years to see it, but I have married my mom.”


The selfish reason I don’t want the surgery at Loyola is that, because one of my hobbies is peeing, it takes me six hours to get from here to Champaign and eight and a half to get from here to Chicago.

He’d like me to come up for the surgery and come up once he gets out of the hospital to stay with him while my mom is at work.

If I have to make two round trips to Illinois in two weeks, I’d rather be looking at twenty-four hours in the car and not thirty four.

Plus, if they do it up at Loyola, it will be later than if they do it at Carle and I just want him to get this shit done and be on the road to recovery.

The Butcher’s Bride Price Just Went Up

So, yeah, I’m stumbling around this morning all forelorn that there’s no Diet Dr Pepper in the house and, though I could make it the rest of the day without one, I really, really need one in the morning.

And I come downstairs and make myself a bowl of cereal and open the fridge to grab my milk and there…

there on the bottom shelf where it should be…

Two twelve packs of Diet Dr Pepper.

It makes a girl feel loved to find that her brother has, without asking, recognized her lack of Diet Dr Pepper and rectified it.

Straight ladies (and soon enough gay men*), things like this are what makes what I charge for the privilege of marrying my brother so steep.


*Or, hell, gay men, if you can talk him into it and get him to Boston, let’s not bother with waiting for the rest of the country to come around.