Wednesday, December 27, 2006
An End and a Beginning
And, overall, I've enjoyed it.
But, I'm no longer a law student, and haven't been for some time. And as my life is feeling simultaneously more complicated and more boring now, I feel like I'm starting a new chapter in my life. And a new chapter deserves a new blog.
So, I'm ending my time with Obsessive Law Student. But, you can find new postings, musings, and life updates at a new blog: Selah Breath. What's a Selah Breath? Visit the site and find out!
Thanks for 2+ years.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
Okay, now for a serious post for those of you who recognize that cartoons are not an appropriate reference cite. I get that the anonymous poster was suggesting that the word "nigga" is not the same as the N-word. First, let me put to rest this rather ignorant position. I'm going to refer to something you won't find on youtube. It's called the dictionary, which actually records slang, even though my mother hates admitting that. There are four definitions for the N-word:
a. a black person
b. a member of any dark-skinned people.
2. Slang: Extremely Disparaging and Offensive. a person of any race or origin regarded as contemptible, inferior, ignorant, etc.
3. a victim of prejudice similar to that suffered by blacks; a person who is economically,
politically, or socially dienfranchised.
There is one definition for the word "nigga:"
n : (ethnic slur) offensive name for a Black person; "only a Black can call another Black a
nigga" [syn: nigger, spade, coon, jigaboo, nigra]
There is also one recognized acronym for "nigga," which comes from Tupac Shakur: Never Ignorant Getting Goals Accomplished.
And while I applaud Tupac's attempt at reclaiming the word, it wasn't a successful attempt as most rap songs that use the word "nigga" don't do so in a positive, affirmational light.
The fact is "nigga" is the same as the N-word. There is no difference and to suggest there is demonstrates the ignorance of the one making that attempt. Therefore, using either is completely unacceptable, unless it's done in the context I've used it in this post: an intellectual (or attempted intellectual) discussion of the meaning and significance of the word. It is not appropriate to use either word in a discussion of technology or in rap songs or in a comedy show.
I get that people either want to reclaim the N-word or they want to pretend that there's a way in which to use the word that doesn't equate with racism. I went to a high school where the accepted "wisdom" was that black people could say the word "nigga" because it was different from N-word used traditionally by racists and they were "reclaiming" the word. But, when I ased, in adolescent innocence, if I could use the word since I wasn't a racist and no one would think I was a racist, I was told no. It was - and remains - unacceptable for any white person to use the word. But, in my opinion, if one is really attempting to reclaim the word, it should be freely available for use by all who agree with the reclaiming group's position. All who sympathize with the misuse of this word should be allowed to assist in its reclaiming. But, we're not. It remains unacceptable for white people to use any form of the N word. This indicates to me that there really isn't a reclaiming of the word. Perhaps the most successful reclaiming of a word in modern history has been that of the homosexual movement reclaiming the word "gay." It is acceptable - generally - for heterosexuals to use the term "gay" when referring to a homosexual friend. I recognize that there is a level of context that is important to this - if my roommate's boyfriend ever used the term "gay," I would probably argue that he should use the term "homosexual" because to him anything less than complete heterosexual rejection of homosexuality is a sin, but generally, I've never been accused of being homophobic when using the term "gay." So, the fact that "nigga" is still reserved only for black people indicates that there is no reclaiming of the word or that attempts to reclaim the word have been extremely unsuccessful.
And I understand that some people want to believe that perhaps if they're "down" enough, they can use the word and not be a racist. They want to believe that if they are black, or have enough black friends, or have a personal definition that differs from the accepted definition, that they can use the N word, in either of its forms. A man I am very close to often uses the N-word because he says that when he was growing up, the N word didn't mean black people, it meant any ignorant, unintelligent person. Apparently, he lived in a cave during the 1950s when the rest of the United States recognized that the N word was associated with black people. But, he has a "personal definition" that he thinks makes it acceptable to use the N word. Of course, since he only ever uses it behind closed doors and in the presence of white people, I don't think he actually believes in his own definition. As for those who are "down" enough to use the word, I've never met someone who is really "down" and who uses that word. I have met those with token "black friends" who think they're down enough to use the word. But the people I know with more than one black friend that they actually talk to on a regular basis and include in their regular lives, never use the N word.
There has been, in my experience, only one other type of person who uses the word: a closet racists who likes to pretend he's not one. I have a friend, T, that I call my "by the grace of God friend," because it is only by the grace of God that I haven't beat the shit out of him. And this is one of the reasons: T finds it acceptable to use derogatory terms about groups of people so long as no one from that group is around. He thinks that no one else should ever be offended. So, one day while playing board games at my house, T first said something about "faggots." I stopped him and explained that the word is not an acceptable one in my house. He then "jokingly" asked if a number of even more derogatory terms were acceptable. I told him that if he continued, I would have no problem kicking him out of my house. After an appropriately uncomfortable silence, I explained that if I did kick him out of my house, it would be he who should apologize to the rest in the house who had their fun ruined by his ignorance. He let it drop and after another appropriate length of silence, I invited a continuation of the game. Later in the evening, T said something along the lines of, "You're probably one of those people who thinks white people shouldn't ever use the N word." He, of course, said the entire word (something I'll discuss in a minute). I explained that that was correct. And he said something along the lines that no one should have been offended because none of us were gay or black. Riiiight. I forgot that things that are offensive are only so if someone with that characteristic - or perhaps in T's view "deficiency" - were present.
I was disgusted. And concerned about how I would handle things in the future if such an incident occured again. And this brings me to my final thought on the subject, which is an answer to the comment Lily left on Blonde's regarding why we don't repeat the word. It's not that I think the N word is a linguistic Voldemort. I don't fear the N word or that someone reading this post might believe I'm racist. I don't use the N word because it has not been successfully reclaimed and therefore I don't want to continbute to the desensitizing of society to the word. The N word is one of the dirtiest in history because of its historical use. We should never forget what that word used to be used for or how harmful it was not only to individual psyches but to the country. It is one of the few words to which I actually have a physical reaction. I want people to have that reaction. I want them to be so disgusted by the word because of the innate association it carries that they never wish to utter the word again. I want that because it means that we remember what it meant in history, what it was used to promote, and what it was used to destroy. It means that the civil rights movement and the efforts of those who want to vilify the word have worked and that those who find racism even slightly acceptable - behind closed doors and in the company of those they feel are like them - have lost.
I don't want the N word to become a part of vocabulary regularly repeated under the auspices of repition. It should remain a dirty word - just as the thoughts that triggered its general use in society should be considered dirty.
So, thanks again for the, um, englightening, cartoon that attempts to make "nigga" a completely acceptable term. It's not. And I won't accept its general, non-intelligent, use in my comments.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
I hate men.
Monday, November 27, 2006
Sadie, you deserved better...
But, even as I would cheer for her, my roommate and my roommate's boyfriend would both say that Sadie deserved better than what Lorenzo had to offer. And even if I didn't want to agree, in my heart, I wanted her to get the ring and then realize how much more she was worth than what Lorenzo was offering. And it's not that I didn't learn to like Lorenzo, either, but man - Sadie was something else.
So, now that Jennifer got the ring and Sadie did not, I have to say: Sadie, you deserve better, sweetheart. Go out and find a guy who will have similar values as you and who really will cherish everything about you. You deserve it!
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Drug dealers and cops and prostitutes and more drug dealers . . .
Me: "I remember one day when we were playing Drug Dealers and Cops and we snuck up to Eddie's --"RF1 and RF3 raised their hands and simultaneously informed me
Random Friend (interrupting): Wait, what did you just say?
Me: We snuck up to Eddie's?
RF2: No, not that part. Back up - what did you play?
Me (confused): Drug dealers and Cops?
RF3: What the hell is Drug Dealers and Cops?
Me: What do you mean? It's like Cops and Robbers but with drug dealers instead of robbers. You put powdered sugar in ziplock bags for cocaine and --
RF1: No f***ing way.
Me (incredulously): Seriously, don't tell me you still played Cops and Robbers? Who the hell plays that anymore?
that "everyone" played Cops and Robbers while RF2, who was from the
country, said that she used to play Cowboys and Indians.
Me: No f***ing way.More than once, whenever elementary school games would come up in conversation, I would be shocked by the fact that no one else had ever played Drug Dealers and Cops. And since no one had played drug dealers and cops, I was pretty sure that no one had played Prostitute or Stripper, so I skipped out on those discussions -- and on the ones that involved me french kissing when I was six and learning the words "vagina" and "penis" in kindergarten from my then-best friend. And because I'm a nerd who has an air of innocence, I always received skeptical looks when I explained that my high school boyfriend turned out to be a drug dealer with multiple felony convictions who jump bail last year, costing his family their home. Or that Eddie, my second-grade crush and constant drug dealer teammate, also enjoyed a nice little rap sheet.
But, that was my childhood and, for the most part, I loved it and believed it was normal. I had honestly forgotten how good it felt to be around those with similar childhoods; to reminisce with people who grew up down the street, playing on the cop team with my brother. Until last night.
It was the end of the night and I'm at the bar with one of the Heathers and her husband calling her an abbreviated version of name. Her hubby asked if he could start calling her that. "Nope," she replied with a shake of the head before explaining that that name was reserved for me. When pushed for a better explanation, she simply replied, "It's all about Roger," referring to the street we grew up on together. [Roger is not actually the name of our street, but I'm not telling you what it was.] This led into a long discussion of the good times held on Roger, including drug Dealers and Cops and Prostitutes and Strippers. 1L Guy Friend, my super fun date for the evening, stood by in amazement. "I just played Mario Brothers."
I actually found the entire affair refreshing, even as the two nights of dancing and drinking festivities were slightly exhausting. This was way, way better than high school. Everyone expected that the old high school cliques would re-emerge at some point in the evening; and while people did eat dinner at tables with the same people they sat with in the cafeteria, that was the only time when I felt like things were even remotely like high school. I spent some time at the bar with a baseball player that I may not have even had two conversations with in high school, talking about our classmate who is now a prominent drummer with a band in N.Y. (he's cut albums with Macy Gray and the Fugees and I'm about to download his stuff from itunes). The baseball player complained that some of his friends didn't come because they thought the evening would turn into a big "pissing match" before admitting to R, an M&A banker living in Manhattan, and me, the only licensed lawyer in our class [that I know of; there were two lawyer-spouses], that he had been laid off. There were no snobbish replies or haughty airs exchanged. Instead, we agreed it sucked, exchanged our own work horror stories, and talked about the fact that, obviously, this was not a reflection on him as a person. He was super cool and we just drank beers (okay, I went with the apple martini and then the carmel apple martini and a few sex on the beaches for good measure, but same difference) and talked about our lives and how cool everyone turned out to be.
This was better than high school.
And since we could openly drink in public, the night was, of course, more fun. I did shots of southern comfort and amareto with R, J, T and S. Bought D and J beers. When I ordered my carmel apple martini, I offered to get J something. When he said he would have whatever I was having, I had to explain that I was totally willing to do that, but I was ordering a really girly drink. He switched to a Miller Light. Of course. G, K, L and I did beers.
It was also just nice to be around people who thought like me and who had the same social upbringing I did. I swapped bad break-up stories with my former minister's son, a Christian who recently left a long-term on-again-off-again relationship because she was too conservative for his background. I noted that I had refused dates with a number of "Christian" guys who used derogatory terms for gays, Muslims, or poor people, or who, without being so blatant in their racism, expressed thoughts that made me think I wouldn't want to bring them home to my very racially diverse high school reunion. The banker and I talked about how important our careers were to us but also about how we longed for the time when we would settle down and start families. We just knew it would be a little longer than many of our classmates.
And because I think people should hear the good things that people think about them but too often fail to say, I took a second to pull J aside and tell him that all the girls had a crush on him in high school. He said I was the third girl to tell him this and it would have been a lot nicer to know all that in high school. I said I understood - having lost out on taking my senior-year crush to prom because I didn't know all the facts - but that I still thought he should know.
It was a bizarre night, sometimes a little overwhelming in its surrealism, but other times simply beautiful.
Oh - and I lasted almost the entire evening before someone brought up my little escapades from the other night. On the way to the hotel lobby, I told 1L Guy Friend that if he draws sympathic looks from others in the room, it's because they're all assuming he's my boyfriend and feeling sorry for him because they think I cheated on him the night before. And sure enough, about an hour before I finally left - and about an hour after we closed down the dance floor and one of the bars - J asked if my "boyfriend" was of a specific ethnicity. I said that he was but that he was not my boyfriend. Both J and R respond, "Ooooh. He's not your boyfriend?" Nope. And with a wink and a smile R says, "Oh, that's good because I kept thinking that's not the guy you were hooking up with last night . . .."
No, I'm not that girl.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
slaying the high school dragons
I wrote earlier this year about my upcoming ten year high school reunion. Well, this is the big weekend. Last night was the pre-party at a local bar and tonight is the main event at a hotel reception area. Now, I think I can say with some certainty that if you ended up in law school, you probably weren't the coolest kid in your high school, unless you went to some prep school where everyone goes on to be lawyers, doctors or accountants, in which case you probably were the coolest kid in your class, but that's not exactly saying a lot. And I didn't go to prep school. If I lived a mile to the east, I'd have gone to an inner city school district; as is, I went to an "inner-ring urban school" or some other random term the state has made up to identify schools that aren't as bad off as inner-city schools but that have a lot of the same problems, like dysfunctional families, "food insecurity," drugs, etc. So, yeah, wanting to be a lawyer wasn't a "cool" thing. Wanting to be a basketball player or a football player was cool.
So, that rather long introduction to tell you what you probably already knew: I wasn't cool in high school. I was friends with some of the "cool" kids, but their "coolness" never rubbed off and after high school, we went our separate ways. And over the years, if fate or other stories forced me to recall any period of time from fifth through twelfth grades, I would eventually have to cringe over some stupid incident (our public school students went to school together starting in fifth grade). And this tendancy to cringe at the stupid things my younger self did led to a great deal of anxiety about this weekend. Well, that and the fact that almost every girl in my graduating class have names that look something like Susie (May) Jones*, and mine is still just Obsessive Law Student with no parenthesis.
I walked in to be greeted by our Heathers. No, they weren't all mean - they just all have the same name (which isn't Heather, but wouldn't that have been awesome?). After a few minutes of hug-hugs and cheek-kisses, I ordered a shot of tequila with a sex on the beach for a chaser. The only single Heather and I agreed that while we were all about the drinking, we didn't want to become that girl who makes an ass out of herself after not seeing anyone for ten years. But four more tequila shots, 2 shots of whiskey, two sex on beaches, two apple martinis, and a shot of something sweet but strong, and I became that girl.
Oh yeah, and somewhere along the way, I also made out with a guy by the bathrooms. Thankfully, I didn't actually make an ass out of myself and the guy I made out with is actually a cool guy that I enjoyed talking with before I was trashed, so I'm not having one of those "I did what with who?!?!?!" moments. And he wasn't the captain of the football team or anything, so it wasn't some stupid Romey & Michelle stereotype nightmare. And he's an army officer who almost died in Afghanistan, so as I tell Baby Sis whenever I do something stupid while visiting a Navy base, it was kind of a patriotic duty thing. And everyone likes him as a genuinely nice and cute person, so I got the Heathers' approval, and they then tried to make him come to tonight's activities even though he didn't graduate with our class (his sister did) and I already have a date for tonight.
And while I became that girl briefly, I feel like I faced the demons of high school and came out generally unscathed. I reconnected with people who are much nicer now than they were in high school. I had one of the "better" jobs. And I was even given girl-look-approval, which is always awesome, because let's face it - the guys are going to think anyone showing any amount of cleavage looks great, the girls are more discriminating: you actually have to look good to get genuine compliments from women. So, overall, a good night.
*I probably don't need to disclaim this, but I'm drunk so I will anyhow: I don't know anyone named Susie May Jones and if there is someone named Susie May Jones or Susie (May) Jones, she did not go to my high school.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Thank you Veterans!
And if you still want to do more, when you're at breakfast, lunch or dinner this weekend, make sure to stop by and say hi and thank you to the man sitting a few tables over and wearing the hat of his former ship or medals over his civilian clothes. Or stop the guy on the street or in the CVS and just let him know you remember his service and appreciate it.
Of if you see a guy in his marine jacket or his Navy cap standing behind you in Starbucks, pick up the cost of his coffee for him. He spent time serving thiscountry, the least we can do is buy him a Starbucks.
Now, I can't do a Veterans Day post without sending out a few specific thank yous to some of the veterans in my life:
My grandfather was a purple heart veteran who was shot while serving in the Pacific. While I never understood him and rarely got along with him, I can't help but say a silent thank you to heaven with the hope he hears it.
Doc Baldwin, an older gentleman from church, more or less adopted my brother and me when we attended new member meetings together. He was an army medic in World War II and had decided to write his memoir so that members of my generation would better understand his generations' sacrifices. I loved listening to him talk about the war and his experiences and what it means to be a veteran. He would inquire about my days at school, my dreams of helping others, and encourage me to shoot for the stars. He was also a prolific traveller and loved that I was heading to Japan, as did his wife, who I think regretted the fact that such options were widely available to young women in her day. Doc died a few years back while spending the winter in Florida. I didn't get to attend his funeral, but every now and then I feel his spirit inside me. I recall something he said or did or just the way he treated my brother and me. Thanks Doc. I miss you.
Reco. He's a veteran now and yet he's still serving. He's served three times in Iraq. He's back for a fourth tour right now. His care package is currently sitting in my bedroom, packed with candies and razors and a magazine or two. It makes me sad just to look at it. But, I know he's doing something he is proud of and I'm proud of him, too. Thank you Reco for serving us still.
And Jay. How could I not think of Jay, who left to serve in Iraq not so long after we broke up. Two tours later, he's home for now. And today I thank him again for serving us.
And now, for the one I can't do without crying. Baby Sis. I don't know how it came to be that she's old enough to be a veteran. In my mind, she's still my Baby Sis. The one whose clothes I steal after she's stolen mine. The one who takes an hour to get ready before going out to the bar. The one I was so used to protecting (when I wasn't the one picking on her) that I can't believe she's in charge of protecting us. But after her last six-month deployment, she was invited to join the VFW. And now she's someone in the Gulf, a veteran still serving.
Baby Sis, I love you. I miss you. I'm proud of you. And today I honor you. Thank you Baby Sis for serving us. Now keep yourself safe. And no more of that crazy stuff you sent me pictures of.