Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Happy Holidays!

Okay, I have officially:
  • eaten too much
  • been subjected to in/out-law stress and joy
  • played my niece's new music on the piano
  • engaged in a night of drunken singing with the out-laws and their in-law families
  • not done any damn work
  • enjoyed myself
  • rested
  • seen a movie (the feel-good tear-jerker, "We are Marshall") and plan to see at least one other
  • visited with friends

It is the perfect holiday experience!

That said, the work is looming large and may get a little attention tomorrow and Friday. Gotta give in sooner or later.

I have been reading Obama's latest book, "The Audacity of Hope," which is not earth-shattering, but could be quite thoughtful and reflective in places. It actually is a little boring in places, too, but he usually gets out of it with a story. I like the way he talks about the policymaking process. I may assign the politics chapter to students...

I will write more about it later. Gotta go to see "The Good Shepard..."

Saturday, December 16, 2006

A lighter post in the daylight

Saw a car on the road with my favorite new (to me) bumper sticker:

My family values
critical thinking

Also found a great greeting card with an old Rita Mae Brown quote:

"As a woman, I find it very embarrassing to be in a meeting and realize I'm the only one in the room with balls."

I am sending it to almost every academic woman I know. Not much of a holiday sentiment, but I LOVE it. ;-)

Hope you are enjoying your weekend!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Reflections of a Jersey Girl

Well, it is official. The legislature in New Jersey has passed a law establishing civil unions for same-sex couples. The governor has said that he will approve it. This is a step up from the domestic partnerships they had had in place prior to this, but it is not as good as marriage.

I have to say that I am disappointed. In my perspective, the legislature punked out...I expected more from my blue home state. I had even told my family that if same-sex marriage was approved, I would coerce my gf into having a civil ceremony there. In fact, I am surprised, given my mother's instantaneous (and rather heated) commitment to do whatever she could to advocate for marriage, that legislators chose civil unions instead. (Really, she was very excited about the possibility of seeing me "married," even though we had a big public commitment ceremony years ago.)

My current job has us in a state with one of those lovely Super-DOMAs--a state constitutional amendment that seems to rule out any possible way to guarantee rights and responsibilities between same-sex partners. It allows no marriage, no civil unions, no recognition of any contracts or other arrangements that afford the "rights and incidents of marriage" to people like us. No one has defined these rights and incidents, of course, and challenges are certainly waiting in the wings. To further add to the allure of my locale, my public university offers no partner benefits, despite its stated commitment to nondiscrimination based on sexual orientation. Rumor is that the new Provost might be willing to work on this last issue, but there is little proof of that so far. I think it will take some organizing on campus to make that happen--and I can't get into that until I get tenure.

I am bothered by all of these legal issues, as I uproot my partner from location to location as I pursue my academic/administrative career. When we arrived in our current state, my partner had no health insurance for 5 months of independent consulting and the first year of her nonprofit job, and then we financed it ourselves for the next 6-7 months. It is only recently that she has health insurance paid for by her agency. How can I ask her to follow me around from place to place, disrupting her career and lifestyle, and not even offer her basic health insurance through my employer?? And yet I don't want to have that requirement when choosing schools--many great places, especially the big public state schools with which I am most comfortable and familiar, don't offer partner benefits.

These questions were compounded when I was trying to get pregnant. Would we be in a state where she could do a second-parent adoption? Could I even get the healthcare I needed for insemination, and then fertility treatment? Would she get to be included in that process? Would the medical staff honor her role as co-mother and partner in the hospital? Would educators honor her role in the public schools?

Marriage seems like it would solve some messy dilemmas in our lives. It is not a panacea. As anyone working for civil rights knows, changing laws does not change hearts and minds. But it does give you the legal basis you need to fight for your rights as you work to change hearts and minds. And it provides the legal protections that you count on in everyday life.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

End of semester joy (sorta)

Back when I used to identify as a straight girl--well, not really identify, but at least live as one--back in undergrad, I had a ritual at the end of the semester. I would go home to see the 'rents, watch their HBO (a luxury unknown to undergrads at the time), and read trashy women's magazines (loved the Cosmo quizzes).

Life has changed a little as I have aged, come out, and gotten partnered, the PhD, and the professional job... but I still have the same urge to kick back and chill out over break. My papers are graded (all but one who got an extension), the end-of-semester grades are figured and ready to enter, and all I want to do is catch some holiday movie fare and watch old episodes of "The Closer." Over the last several years, I went with family and friends to see the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It doesn't get any better than that for escapist semester-break fare.

And yet... this year, as with every year as a professor and now administrator, there is so much work to be done. I have several chapters/articles that need attention--one with a deadline, and I know I should use this time to work. And I have administrative tasks I am ignoring on a back burner where they may be scalding in the pan...

And I deeply resent it. I miss the feeling of "nothing to do." (As you can probably understand, the gf--who works in the real 12-month world--has little patience with this frustration.)

Sometimes, I pretend that I still can recapture that feeling, but something (my Outlook task list, a panicked phone call or email from a staff member, a stack of student requests for grad school recommendations on my desk) reminds me, as my mother said on days where I was bored, that there is **always** something to do. During the year, if I actually ignore these tasks too long, guilt starts to set in. When that happens, I try to do the basics (read: student recommendations) and the activities with deadlines (read: the chapter) and see if inspiration hits for the others.

But at the end of the semester, in early December and late-April, I just rebel. F*ck the expectations, requirements, requests, suggestions, and desires of others... I just wanna kick back, watch some bad TV, re-read Harry Potter, and get my groove on.

How about you?