After standing at the bus for about five minutes, with the bus's imminent arrival, I realized that I didn't have my Study Circle folder with me for tonight's meeting. I did quick calculations about the time investment in walking back up to my place right there and then and missing this bus, as opposed to running back via the bus over lunch. I decided on the then and there, and saw the bus pulling up just as I got back up the hill to my townhouse.
Instead of waiting another half hour for the next city bus, I drove over to the Avent Ferry Food Lion park and ride, and took a Wolfline bus. I was amused by the four students sitting around me—one to my right and two to my left—who pretty much slept the entire ride in.
The guy two to the left of me was leaned over such that his head was resting on one of the steel bars attached to his seat. The girl immediately to my left was slumped over a little, and her head kept bobbing. At one point, going around a corner, she nearly fell onto me. The guy to my right managed to hold onto a poster bent in half—but not creased—that he'd obviously made for some class, and which presumably, at least tangentially, related to Agriculture Awareness Week.
Due to the way it was bent, I could only see the first two words of the first line of the title of the poster and the first word of the second line:
and I could see a picture glued in the upper left corner, which was of two pigs with a caption underneath it that said, "Swine." I had the following thoughts about the entire scene:
- These kids really need to get more sleep.
- It's interesting that his fingers stay clamped holding onto that poster even while he sleeps.
- Ah yes, NC State does have its roots as an agricultural school.
- Judging by the construction quality alone, that poster could have been made by a seventh grader.
I had one meeting today. It was with Don and Bill, on the topic of moving ISO information out of Essentials and into the Drupal OIT website. It was quick and productive—the way meetings should be.
I attended an 90-minute orientation to Second Life, in anticipation of its use for a virtual conference going on this week, a couple of sessions of which I hope to attend. It was great to have a tourguide to enable the learning process. I ventured into Second Life in 2007, and after about an hour or an hour-and-a-half of fumbling around and getting frustrated, I'd left never to return—until today.
We had the second meeting of our Race Study Circles tonight, which began with the sharing of a "cultural item" from each of us. Nancy shared a scarf that consisted of traditional Middle Eastern (Pakistani, I believe she said and am embarrassed to not remember exactly), and Katie shared a picture of her wedding in which her mother-in-law was dressed in traditional Korean garb. Geez, this is the problem with waiting too long to catch up your blog—I can't remember what Meagan shared, but it was a story, because she forgot to bring in an item. Carrie (one of the facilitators) shared about growing up in a house of 10 siblings, in which they were not allowed to fight, and Joy (the other facilitator) shared about a couple of her family members going on their honeymoon with them. I shared a picture of a Portuguese clamboil.
We were also supposed to say: 1) why we chose the items, 2) what it says about our background and who we are today, and 3) what the things we brought had in common, as well as how they were different. We didn't do a very good job at items 2 and 3. Well, Carrie did a good job with item 2, noting how with such a "rule" in their home, she didn't really learn how to stick up for herself or "fight" when life situations called for such an action.
Next we played a "Move Forward, Move Back game," which was tied to privilege. We had a checkerboard, and lined up little figures representing each of us across the middle of the board. Joy then made statements like, "If you are going to inherit money or land eventually, then move one step forward." "If you've ever been denied access to anything based on the color of your skin, take one step back." This was a very visual way of thinking about "white privilege." At the end of the "game," the three white people's tokens were distinctly more forward from the Middle Eastern person's, the Asian person's, and the African American person's. In fact, the African American one was so far back that it was off the board at least five squares.
The next thing we did was brainstorm about the definitions of the words: race, racism, prejudice, stereotype, bigot, institutional racism, and discrimination. This was a frustrating, yet interesting exercise, as we were all over the place with their meanings and several times it was hard to determine what distinguished one from another. After that, we were given the definitions of them from Webster's 9th edition (I believe it was). Let's just say that we were not impressed with them.
Next we did a frustrating activity, which was to look at 9 viewpoints on the problem of racism, pick the one(s) that we agreed with and talk a little bit about why. Then, the confusion set it. We were supposed to pick on that we didn't agree with, but argue for it. It was your typical double-negative confusion factor.
Our final activity was discussing an article called, "White Privilege in the U.S."
At about a half-hour into the study circle, my phone vibrated, and I saw that it was from my sister. As I clicked it off, I thought, "Please don't let it be the call that says, 'You have an hour to get here to say your goodbyes.'" I checked it as soon as we were done, and it was just a status update from my sister—that everything was status quo with dad.
I walked across campus to Mitch's and joined Salon II, already in progress. As I walked up to the table, I said, "Myra's engaged??? Oh, that's so last meeting, sorry." Off and running!
Tonight's official agenda included:
- New Business
- People who do not have pictures of their FACE on FACEbook.
- Grammar Day—how did you celebrate?
- John and Sarah's ridiculous STC experiences
- Anna's feelings of withdrawal without her camera
- Why "clearing brush" sounds more industrious and manly than "gardening"
- Old Business
- Follow-up on thug gluvs
- Follow-up on multiple 6 word stories: love, autobiography, and inauguration
In addition to covering all of the new business items, John introduced two items—a little about his study circles (at the request of Etta), and a Water-Savvy Toilets discussion, which concluded with the profoundly intellectual entelechy: "You cannot unflush half."
As chaotic and delightfully dizzying wit—sometimes of brevity, sometimes of not—dictates, our discussions and digressions took us dutifully through the twilight.
We had a delicious and bawdy discussion about fetishes, including defining terms (e.g., fetish, fetishism, erotic fetishism (a.k.a. does it make you moist or is it the impetus of a vertical bar)) so that the terms would vibrate—Did I say vibrate? I meant resonate— similarly and deeply within each of us. By the time it was all said and done, my one fetish paled against the ribald and pornerastic lists of the ladies.
I loved Brad's sharing of his older daughter's response to his question (I'm paraphrasing), "So, how is it, getting a little older, becoming a teenager?"
"Life sucks," she replied.
Surprised, because he really is a great parent and makes a concerted effort to spend quality time with both his daughters—and time that he thought they were really enjoying together—he said, "But you have a mother and father who love you very much."
To which she deadpanned, "Well, I've always had that."
I can't begin to document all of the ground we covered, so I'll just say this about Salon II: "We laughed. We cried [okay, that's hyperbole]. It became a part of us."
Mes amis, d'ajouter vos propres pensées s'il vous plaît.