One shoe off

January 22, 2009

Welcome back, your dreams were your ticket out …

Filed under: Uncategorized — Liz @ 9:41 pm
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At this very moment I’m in a Holiday Inn Express in Joliet. Tomorrow morning I pull back into Chicago, almost a year later than I had originally planned. In less than 2 weeks it’s back to school with me. This is a veritable treasure trove of wootness. The only un-woot: Judy dog is back in Oklahoma, which is very, very, very sad. She just stared at me with her big brown eyes this morning when I was leaving. It was just not feasible to bring her up here right now, plus she and my grandma are incredibly attached, so it’s probably for the best that she stay there for right now. Grandma could use the company. It’s good for her, and I think Judy would be distressed being separated from her.

In other news … in the past couple of days I’ve gotten very nice, supportive notes from extended family members who’ve learned about my gayness via various online social networking sites. I never imagined a time when my extended family knew about my sexuality, mostly because I’m not terribly close to my extended family … not for any sinister reason, just because growing up overseas I never saw them that often. But also because that side of the family is lousy with Baptistesque preachertypes.

But anyway, it was nice. Being back in Illinois was also nice. Dad and I dined at Outback (gag) and they offered us free samples of beer. When does THAT happen in Oklahoma?

January 20, 2009

“Praise Song for the Day”

The title comes from Elizabeth Alexander’s inaugral poem. You can find the transcript here.

What to say about today ….

Last night I walked in the Muskogee Ministerial Alliance annual MLK march, which culminated in a service at a local African American church. It was an enormous God-Party, because King deserves no less, but also because of the momentousness of the holiday falling on inauguration eve. I bought three over-priced Obama buttons from a teenage girl raising money for the local NAACP youth group. One moment that crystalizes it for me happened in the opening minutes. We sang a praise chorus that I’d sung before at my parents’ church, but had always dismissed as another kind of lame “Yay Jesus” song. But listen:
“Lord you are good and your mercy endureth forever!
Lord you are good and your mercy endureth forever!”

You Are Good – Israel & New Breed

I can’t even express the impact of singing these words on that night, the night before this day, and for the first time realizing a fraction of what they meant to the sisters and brothers standing next to me. It’s one thing to read those words from Scripture for the thousandth time, it’s another to sing them on the night before the culmination of a promise of God to an oppressed people.

Am I waxing too poetic, too dewy-eyed, glossing over the racism that still endures, that will continue to endure, in our culture. Perhaps. Am I spiritualizing? Undoubtedly. I’ve tended more towards that lately. I blame it on Shane Claiborne, whom I started reading after Obama got elected, when I decided that it might possibly be possible to change the world. So actually, I blame it on Obama.

Now, about Rick Warren. I’m no great fan of Rick, but I’ve known of him for years, and he used to pal around with my uncles at youth retreats. My grandma remembers him sitting at their kitchen table eating Oreos. I’ve admired his stand against poverty, racism, global warming and AIDS, even as I’ve been hurt by his homophobic rhetoric. The fact is though, if you’re looking at it from the outside, you don’t realize that Warren is quite moderate by current evangelical standards. If you were to imagine a spectrum of evangelical folks, from conservative to liberal, Rick Warren is quite a bit to the left of the likes of Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, and only slightly to the right of people like Tony Campolo and Jim Wallis. I see in people like Warren a bridge that can bring evangelicals away from asshole Christianity and towards a more Jesus-like faith. Is he wrong about a lot of things? Yes, I believe so. But perhaps this reaching across lines, this breaking down of categories (Conservative Christians: “All Christians must be Republicans! Democrats are evil! Democrats hate God!” Progressive Christians: “All Evangeicals are Republicans! Keep them away from us!”) can be transformative not only for those of us on the left, but also for Warren and others like him, evangelicals who realize (and there have always been evangelicals who realized this) that following Jesus is not about a political agenda, but about compassion and justice. So, yes, to sum up, I’m not a big Warren fan, but I’m not all bent out of shape about Obama choosing him.

Enough with the defense o’Warren. Here’s a link to Bishop Gene Robinson’s invocation from the concert yesterday.

And here’s a link to an article that highlights one of the things that makes Obama most awesome: his bookishness.

November 29, 2008


Filed under: Uncategorized — Liz @ 3:02 pm
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Here I am! Officially a woman of leisure! All that remains is to file my claim and buckle down to the task fo determining what comes next. I’ve all but decided that Chicago is my next destination … back to CTS to finish my M.Div. I’ve been a bit Jonah-like. Time to go back and face the music. I know, that makes it sound like my MDiv studies were a bad thing. To the contrary, at my most focused, I absolutely adored being at CTS and all the reading and talking and writing and soul-searching that entailed. And I’m anxious to get back to it, and get it all finished, and get on to the next thing. I know this is all kind of jumbled and incoherent and not very exciting and stuff. I have a hard time talking about seminary, because talking about seminary means talking about that whole “vocation” thing. And the word “vocation” makes me uncomfortable. Have I mentioned this before? It may not be totally clear, since I used to be in the employment business, what I mean by “vocation,” so I’ll try to clarify. I’m not just talking “job” or “career.” It is, instead, true to its Latin roots, a reference to a “call.”  The more Bible-inclined among you will understand that without further explanation, probably. Those not so inclined, it’s sort of like this — your vocation is that which you feel ‘called’ to do, that work towards which you are constantly pulled. Via Mind on Fire, here’s the Oxford English Dictionary’s first definition of “vocation”

The action on the part of God of calling a person to exercise some special function, especially of a spiritual nature, or to fill a certain position; divine influence or guidance towards a definite (esp. religious) career; the fact of being so called or directed towards a special work in life; natural tendency to, or fitness for, such work.

Why does “vocation” present such an issue? Here’s why: most everythign that happened in my life from the time I was an infant up through college was framed in terms of “call.” When I was about 3, my parents told me that God had “called” them to leave the States and move us all to South America. Stories about my grandfather revolved mostly around his various “calls” to pack up his family and transport them across the country — multiple times — to pastor churches in Illinois, in Alaska, in Colorado, in California … Throughout high school and college (both at religious schools), I was enjoined to listen to God’s call about everything … what I did with my life, where I went to school, who I dated. It seemed to me that no one could speak of any kind of decision EXCEPT in terms of “call,” whether it was God who was telling them to do something, or just their own common sense or own desire. This is why “vocation” is troubling. Am I really following a “voice,” or do I simply have no other way of talking about the direction my life’s journey takes? As a result, I’ve kind of rebelled against “vocation” talk, not wanting to cheapen it, and not wanting to attribute to the Divine decisions that were just me deciding to do something. Plus it seemed (and seems, still) that I can see through so many people’s “vocations,” and see that the reason they’re doing something isn’t because of some “vocare” but because they’re trying to make up for something, or they’re trying to flee from something (or from themselves), or they’re trying to “sanctify” a decision that they know is either purely selfish or a really, really bad decision (most — not all! — “God told me to marry her/him” decisions I’ve seen fall under this category). Because people with real-life divine calls to do something don’t make a big speech about how God told them to do this. They just do it and get on with it. They don’t care if you know why they’re doing it. They’re not answering to you, anyway. Which is SO not where I was going with this post, but I can’t help but think that’ll preach …

October 12, 2008

101 Things in 1,001 Days … jr.

Filed under: blogging,life,Uncategorized — Liz @ 11:59 pm
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I’ve been contemplating drinking the 101 things in 1,001 days Kool-Aid, but I admit I’m a little intimidated. Not just by the sheer size of it, but also the idea of planning things two and a half years in advance … If there’s anything this past year-ish has taught me, it’s that I have NO idea whatsoever what’s going to happen in the intermediate future.

But in random Blog-reading this Sunday evening, in my pyjamas (which is really, the best kind of blog reading — Sunday night in your jammies), I came across the 20 things in 30 days. THIS I can handle. 30 days is just about the time frame I can work with right now. It’s a chunk I can handle.  I also notice a big need to work on my schtuffss right now. A BIG big need.

So here we go, 20 things in 30 days.
The rules:
1. Goal-setting is always hard for me, so I’m going to buckle down and do what all those people who do this kind of thing for a living tell you to do: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. Timely is of course built-in by virtue of the 30-day framework.
2. They don’t have to be things to “accomplish” (although they can be); they can be things to do throughout the period.
3. It’s o.k. if I don’t hit 100%. Just clarifying that for myself, cus I tend to like to hit 100% or not even try. See, I told you I had schtuffss.
4. Directly or indirectly the Things need to address or relate to the schtuffs I’ve identified.

Day 1 begins 12:00 a.m. Oct. 13. Day 30 ends 11:59 p.m. Nov. 11. (Incidentally, the day after my half-birthday.

20 Things in 30 Days

  1. Wake up early on Mondays and Wednesdays to swim.
  2. Go back to yoga on Tuesdays.
  3. 8 hours a night. No excuses.
  4. Only read one book at a time. Yesterday, I said to Dad, as I sat on the couch with my head in my hands, “I’ve gotten myself into this morass of books I’m reading and I don’t know how to get out. I’m reading 4 right now.” Dad said, “Well don’t start another one. And just pick one up and read it until you’re done. And then do that with the next one. THAT’S how you get out of your ‘morass.'” I got the feeling he was half-mocking me …
  5. Go to three events and not whine that there’s no one to go with me.
  6. (private)
  7. Two blog posts a week.
  8. Journal for at least 10 minutes every day.
  9. Not go to the church that makes me angry, even though it makes my parents happy.
  10. Answer “I haven’t decided yet” instead of “I don’t know” when people ask me what I’m going to do after my job goes away.
  11. Fill out the application for the SIT TESOL certificate program in Oaxaca. Even if I decide in the end that I DON’T want to do it, I can still apply.
  12. (private)
  13. Go camping with my dog.
  14. Paint my bedroom.
  15. Take my lunch to work 85% of the time.
  16. Call my friend who used to work at my office and catch up with her. And give her the thing I got her in Guatemala.
  17. Ride my bike to work every Friday.
  18. Teach the Judy dog a new trick.
  19. Write down my dreams again.
  20. Create and follow evening and morning routines that ease me into and out of the day with some kind of movement, alone time, reflection and self-caring.

Anyone else have 20 things they want to do in 30 days? Care to join me? Can you think in terms of time:to-dos? Anyone currently doing 101 things in 1001 days? How’s it going?

October 8, 2008

Universal Design stuffs …

Filed under: Uncategorized — Liz @ 8:42 pm

Via  Temple University’s Disability Studies blog, this Washington post article (free registration required) about Gallaudet University‘s new development, which has been big news in disability circles here lately, because it will be “mixed” development — mixed not in the traditional real estate state, but in that it will be specifically created for use both by the Deaf and hearing communities. The article makes much of the whole “insular community opening up to the outside world” aspect, but being the geek that I am I’m most excited about the design aspects. Universal design is a mental hobby of mine (in that it’s something I like to read about and think about and geek out about). Gallaudet’s architectural and aesthetic vision includes elements like these:

Sidewalks wide enough to accommodate pedestrians using sign language. Rounded corners and strategically placed reflective glass so people who cannot hear can see who’s coming and who’s behind them. Glass elevators so passengers can communicate with outsiders in case of emergency.


“It’s a way of designing buildings that support and express deaf cognitive and social sensibilities,” Bauman said. “It means lots of spaces that encourage people to come together as a community and be free of barriers to visual communication.”

The university has tested the aesthetic on campus with the construction of a $32 million language and communication center, which features a glass elevator and rooms spacious enough to allow students to sit in large circles and converse.

The aesthetic also could mean avoiding wall patterns that are distracting or colors that blend too easily with skin tones and make reading sign language more difficult.

For the Sixth Street project, it will probably mean a preference for ramped walkways, as opposed to stairs, which can be difficult to navigate while conversing in sign language. “You have to stop and look at the steps, and it interrupts the conversation,” Bauman said.

The Temple U. blog post concludes that this kind of attention to design — which benefits not just the Deaf community it had in mind, but a whole host of diverse communities — “[is] not about ‘special accommodations,’ it’s about considering, from the start of any project, our preconceptions about who belongs where.”

If you are as big of a nerd as I am, here’s a list of Universal Design principles from North Carolina State’s Center for Universal Design.

Related to universal design and accessibility (specifically communications accessibility), consider this post from Emily on the inaccessibility of NPR.

She writes:

Some people would argue that the Deaf community as a whole would not be interested in the option of hearing news.

And I do agree that I love things like Sign News or online news outlets that are given in ASL as they are available.

But I would also argue that there is no difference between the extremes of educated and not-educated Deaf as educated and not-educated Hearing. I wonder how one could judge that a culture is not interested in the option, when the option has never been offered.

Besides, if there is anything the Deaf community – especially in America – has fought for consistently from the beginning – is the right to have the same options as hearing people, and then choose for themselves whether they are interested or not.

So my first battle of the day, because fighting battles is what I do, was to send one more email to NPR requesting easier and better access to transcripts for the Deaf community.

What would universally accessible media be? Are we moving closer to universally accessible media? Can we apply universal design principals to the media that we have, or do we need to start all over with something new? Thoughts?

(In case you’re too lazy to click the universal design link above, but you still want to play, here’s the definition I’m working from: [courtesy of the Institute for Human Centered Design] Universal Design is a framework for the design of places, things, information, communication and policy to be usable by the widest range of people operating in the widest range of situations without special or separate design.)

October 3, 2008

Poetry will save us. Really.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Liz @ 5:43 pm

I’ve had the awfullest time posting this … first I accidentally posted as a “page” rather than a “post,” then I copy-pasted it into a post, published it and then promptly (unintentionally) deleted the post. This was all last night. And then I finally just gave up and went to bed. So here it is again, in all its glory …

Two new poems by Sherman Alexie (whom you should adore as I do, if you don’t already) on (Via Bookslut. Another thing you should adore.)

While we’re on the subject of Alexie, he did a guest stint for Savage Love back at the beginning of September. (To be honest, I think that one came from Bookslut as well.)

September 30, 2008

Also, Banned Books Week

Filed under: Uncategorized — Liz @ 9:58 pm
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Please, please take The Guardian’s Banned Books Week Quiz. (via Bookslut)

I scored 6 out of 13. It called me ignorant and asked if I planned to vote for Sarah Palin.

Ch-ch-ch-changes …

Filed under: Uncategorized — Liz @ 9:41 pm
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Guatemala was awesome-gorgeous-awesome. I should have stayed … you’ll learn why in a minute.


Young Maya girls at the Xetonox school

Young Maya girls at the Xetonox school


We darted all about, met some amazing women, got to see some of my favorite people (Hi Mirian! Hi Mirna! Hi Sarah!) and have some good mother-daughter bonding shit. I remembered why I liked working for MayaWorks so much, and regretted, just a little, that I ever left.

I got back to work last Monday and learned that, in their infinite wisdom, the Oklahoma Employent Security Commission had decided to end my program (and … thus … my job). And I understand … we do good work, but it’s hard work to quantify, and it’s hard to get money for things you can’t quantify, these days, and OESC is the red-headed stepchild agency in a seriously cash-strapped state government. No hard feelings at all, OESC does a decent job at what it does, plus I’m going to make sure the staff at my office is trained enough by the time I leave that our clients with disabilities don’t even notice I’m not there. That’s the hope, anyway. Program officially ends Nov. 30.

So I’m faced with making decisions much earlier than I had planned. And the decisions are not nearly as easy to make as I thought they would be.

So, those of you who know me are probably assuming that, to listen to me gripe about how homesick I am and how much I hate being away from Chicago, you’d think I’d for sure use this opportunity to move back to the third most-awesome place in the world … use this two month deadline I have and buckle down looking for jobs and move back, get back into school and finish my M.Div. and go back to being more me … because I feel like I’m less me living in Muskogee. (Of course, we won’t take up the question of whether it’s geography that causes that … Or the thing that Jerry once said to me “You’re always you, no matter what” when I excused some bad behavior by saying “I haven’t been myself”)

And yet I’m sorely tempted to stick around Oklahoma for a little longer. Why?

  1. Grandma’s still here, still old, still a huge drain on my parents’ (mostly my mom’s) time and energy. I’d feel very bad about bowing out on the pitching in, plus I kind of want to get as much time as possible whilst I still can.
  2. Just as I find out about this job going away, I find out about two new really exciting opportunities. Both would be something I’d enjoy. Both would be the opportunity to do something innovative. They’re jobs I wouldn’t have much of a shot at in Chicago, because, frankly, the market there is saturated with a gajillion smart, idealistic young professionals looking to work for exciting, innovative nonprofits. It can’t be helped … when you have that many schools churning out thousands upon thousands of MSWs every year … And that’s not to say that Oklahoma doesn’t have those smart, idealistic young professionals, but at least I’m not competing against seventeen thousand of them. In other words, the relatively smaller candidate pool here in Oklahoma works to my advantage.
  3. The economy scares me. Seriously, seriously. 

So, we’ve covered two options. Chicago. Oklahoma. There are more? Sí, pues.<br><br>First off, I just found out via MySpace that Kimya Dawson is starting a community choir in Olympia, Washington. So that puts that in the running … relocating to the northwest so I can sing in Kimya’s choir.

Alternately, I could pull a Marta … I found a four-week TESOL certification course in Oaxaca. I could head there in January and then get a job somewhere … Mexico, Costa Rica, wherever, and knock about overseas for awhile, fill my passport up, feel myself again (because being overseas also feels much more me … even more me than being in Chicago).

So yes, forced into a life change. Grr. Granted, it could be worse. Yes, I’m getting laid off and yes I have to look for a new job … but good grief! I work at the employment office! I look for jobs all day long anyway!

Coming soon, btw, how Google is going to find my next job for me. Well, sort of. Mostly I’m just proud of my kickass iGoogle job-seeking home base extraordinaire.

(Friends and lovers: Cross-posted to MySpace, too, with more colorful language and an extended second part about some pathetic personal issues. For those of you who care. More Guatemala photos also on my MySpace and Facebook pages.)

August 13, 2008

Ending poverty with 2 Benjamins.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Liz @ 8:00 am
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Her story: her husband was released from a psychiatric crisis facility in Texas, angry, violent and  more than just a little off balance. She steered clear, but then she got a call from her daughter. He was looking to kill her. So she ran in her Yukon, one of her brother’s best friends coming along as her “bodyguard,” and her miniature schnauzer.

April 5, 2008

I’m back again…

Filed under: blogging,disability,life,work,writing — Liz @ 12:09 am
Tags: , , , ,

This time to stay, maybe?

Seriously, I don’t think I have blog staying power. I wish I did. It’s something I’d like to have. Seriously. So to keep you occupied whilst I try to generate new content, I’ll bring over some stuff (Like two posts, ‘cus that’s all I’ve got) from another blog project I tried to start … and then fizzled out on.

So after the new posts, I’ll be back with thoughts on disability issues, the deep dark secrets of working for the employment office, practical thoughts on the stuff I work on: disability and employment, and probably some pictures of my dog.

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