Thursday, March 31, 2005

Comments Least Likely To Improve Student Evaluations

But most likely to relieve tension after reading student garbage:

Grade: D (This is a gift.)

As Heard on MPR

Last night while driving I heard about this blog on MPR.

P(orn)eg(g)nancy or Happy Belated Easter

This via HFRM#1 is worth a look.

How I Annoy Myself: Part I

So, last night BioMom and I took the next step in our fertility journey.

The group course on Mind-Body Spirituality/Fertility.

Yes. We have become two of those people. The people that attend self-help groups.

Last night was one of three nights in which the "husbands" are invited to attend over the course of the course (of course).

It was actually pretty cool and what became clear is that the course will focus on ways to relax, meditate, etc. which can be nothing but good, right?

Anyway, during the part where we sat in a circle and went around introducing ourselves, saying what is unique about ourselves, and our goals, I annoyed the hell out of myself.

So, I have this terrible habit of babbling incoherently when I am nervous.

It was all planned out in my head: the loving introduction of me and BioMom, the witty something-special that links to something husband X across the room said, the cherished goal that reveals my soft-inner-partner-supporting self.

You get the picture.

But what came out was utter self-prioritizing, incomprehensible, babble that turned out to be, IMHO, completely impertinent in hindsight.

When it came to his turn, WannabeProgenetor#1 across the room said something to the effect of:

Two years ago I would never have predicted how much I now know about the female reproductive system!

This, of course, generated huge laughs. Laughs like those out-of-proportion canned laughs on Everybody Loves Raymond (which, by the way IS NOT FUNNY). And a GINORMOUS snort from BioMom which only egged me on. I can top that!! I thought. I can make her laugh more!


So it gets to me. . . And at the moment at which I am supposed to speak, my internal double-skim-latte-no-whip spills all over the blueprint-for-comic-relief in my brain and I have nothing to reference.

The problem? I shoot from the hip (innacurately I might add):

Hi. I'm [Blogauthor] and this is my partner [BioMom].

No pause whatsoever.

Like WannabeProgenetor#1, I too, find myself knowing more about the female body than I ever did before.


But that's not enough for me and I can't even pause until people stop laughing so that people aren't even hearing me at this point. Even if they WANTED to listen.

You know those people that ask "When will you know that she's pregnant?"?. Duh. "When she does or does not get her period.". . . Well, I was one of those people.

Again, no pause in sight.

But I can tell you that I do now know when I am ovulating!

Then. THEN. Because I can't stop talking. . . I go on to say that we have a FYO, that I blog about her, and that they. . . The. People. In. The. FERTILITY. Self. Help. Group. Many of whom, as it turns out, have been struggling for YEARS with fertility, lost friends and family, feel lost, feel alone, feel afraid, full-of-grief, and like a total freaks from the land of misfit toys. . . :

Can expect to be included in MY BLOG!?!

Yes. I actually said that.

BioMom rushes in with a strong -- nearly violent -- ANONYMOUSLY!

What the EFF is my problem?

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

How To Annoy Me

Send me an email with only the word "Thanks" on it.

J.H.C. I HATE that. Especially if the server is slow.

What the eff?

The individual voted most likely to do this in my life is someone I should be grateful to have the opportunity to be around. To be in the presence of her genius. Someone so smart, influential, and interesting in my field that I should not only be SAVING those stupid "Thanks" emails but sending "Thanks" emails BACK just for thanking me.

She is a Famous Feminist Economist with whom I am currently editing a special issue of the journal, practically founded by her (and a few other now FFE's).

I know, you're saying: How many could there be? and How hard could it be to become an FFE. Whine about Title IX a bit in the New York Times or something and shouldn't that qualify?

I'll let you know when it happens for me.

But, for now, for the record, I did, honestly, one day find myself a) in a boat that was b) powered by a man standing on its hind end while c) drinking cheap champagne with d) said FFE.


What's the problem? You ask.

Instead of feeling grateful, I, more often than not, feel profoundly annoyed. Said FFE, is unmeasurably interesting. She and her family fled the oncoming Nazi onslaught in the former Czechoslovakia before WWII when she was little; she went to the famous Chicago school of economics and studied with MILTON FRIEDMAN!! and this is just the tip of the iceberg of her extraordinary life. But at the same time she, literally, never tires of telling me, someone, ANYONE within EARSHOT about it. . . And not just the interesting stuff. And. . . Not just in person.

So, while I receive a barrage of emails with the only word "Thanks" in the body (I mean, Christ. "Thanks" isn't worth the wait of the email to open even with a HIGHSPEED ISP). I ALSO receive the daily minutiae. Every. Single. Detail. And it would even be more tolerable if it was a friend-to-friend email. Believe me. I can tolerate-enjoy even-the minutiae from my pals. Minutiae is GREAT from pals. Its gossip. Its details. Its the bits and pieces of LIFE. But this!?! THIS is Let me explain my daily tripe to you in excruiciating details so that you recognize why it took me 36, rather than 24 hours to respond to your last email. Oh, also, and to remind you that I'm famous and all the famous people I interact with regularly.

Maybe I'm overreacting.

Maybe I'm jealous.

Maybe its just that it is impersonal.

Maybe its that I feel like ANY ear, rather than THE ear.


Monday, March 28, 2005

Dinner Conversation

Me: Wow. You're certainly being a Contrary Mary today!

FYO: NO!!!

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Lez's 1950's-Style Mother-Drive-By

O.k. Here's a great Mother Drive By via Cousin's Mom "Lez":

My oldest sister had to take her 6 month old twin girls to the doctor. Another sister went along to help, because they had to go on public transportation and carry the babies in their arms. When they were coming home, totally exhausted from carrying these heavy babies, there was a 2 or 3 block walk from the bus stop to her home. As they were struggling along, loaded down with all the accoutrements that go with any trip outside the home with a baby, a big white Cadillac squealed to a halt on the busy street beside them. They both thought, Oh how nice. Someone is going to offer us a ride home! But NO! The woman reached across, rolled down the window of her air-conditioned car and screeched out "Get those babies' eyes out of the
sun!!" She roared off, leaving them in a cloud of dust!!

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Match Dot Com

Cousin and Number 2 are here!!!!!!

We're reverting back to our explorer days when we first started enjoying the internet and all of its chat-room glory.

We're making up fake names and checking out all of the *ahem* possibilities.

So far, her number2 ("lulu") will surely be getting many winks from various suitors.

BioMom, the FYO, and Number2 are tucked into their beds with care and we're down here downing our second bottle of wine and, well, enjoying technology!

It all started with Dooce's revalation of her so-called Lanced Cyst, and then we went on an exploration of HFRM's Size 15s, then, on to our mutual friend who is obviously gay but doesn't really want to admit it yet "dates" married men on the side's advertisement (for men, by the way).

We'll be posting about our weekend of debauchery tomorrow (from the Bryant Lake Bowl).

Until then.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Ibuh Subbuh Scribebuh Forbuh Thebuh Articlesbuh

This via Wonkette is another installment of humor at the expense of the Bush twins.

I'm still laughing about Tina Fey and Amy Poehle's Saturday Night Live imitation of the Bush twins after the inauguration.

In an attempt to avoid potential eavesdropping, they launch into Twinspeak, or adding a "buh" at the end of of every syllable.

At one point Will Forte enters the room in his Bush impersonation and claims to not be able to understand the two.

It was hilarious!

It Must Be Getting Close to the Last Drop/Add Date

. . . because I am starting to get emails like the email I have attached below. Why is it that students believe that effort should automatically translate into a higher grade? If effort translated into a higher salary I'd be . . . Well, I guess I wouldn't be putting forth much effort. . .

After getting my last paper I was wondering if it is even possible for me to pass the class. I received a D\F on the first paper, an F on the second, a 92 on the mid term, and whatever our group got for our lesson. I put in a large amount of effort on the last paper, and for me to only get an F I don't feel is fair. I just felt that a D might have been fair. I was wondering if there was anyway for me to make that a D. If I could fix the mistakes, go over the notes with you anything to get that D. I will rewrite the whole paper, just anything to bring it up from an F to a D. You told me that I should look at my priorities, and I have, but you need to understand that if I want to go to school I need to work as much as I do! But, I did cut back on my hours at work, and my Finance 370 course which was 4 days a week till 5:30, is now over, so I can come in to see you and at least go to the writing lab now! I had 5 tests that day in a row, it wasn't the greatest week of my life, plus this paper, not an excuse just a bad week!

I need to pass this class this semester, and I have never dropped a class. I am asking if there was still anyway to pass, and if I could bring that F to a D! I understand that you cant give out freebies, but I need just a little help, I hope that you somewhat understand.

please email me back before Friday so I know if I need to drop. I am done with work at three on Wednesday if I can come and talk to you about this, I hope that this wasn't a ridiculous email!

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Dad's In The Car!

I felt like Ellen Degeneres in If These Walls Could Talk 2 yesterday carrying the dry-ice tank labled "body fluids!!" to the car.

The nurse wished us off with a friendly Take care of the fellas!

We drove carefully home, more aware than ever of the precariousness of driving in a major metropolitan area, with heightened concerns over possible car accidents. Of course, the bodily fluid is less than an ounce, but talk about priceless!

Keep your fingers crossed for us!

Monday, March 21, 2005

Brady Bunch as Metaphor

I find myself lately making metaphorical references to the Brady Bunch to get my points across.

The show, despite not having seen it in nearly a decade (why can I literally turn the television on at any time of day or night and see Rachel Green, but not Marsha Brady?) is infiltrating my conscience.
For example, when discussing the logistical arrangements of a possible new child (no -- we don't have any news) I reference the FYO's inevitable desire for her very own "Greg-Brady-Room" with the bead-door, on a separate floor of the house.

Oh, and of course, there's the regular exclamation of "Oh! My Nose!" and "Mom always told us: Don't play ball in the house!"

Recently though, I've found myself singing that Davey Jones song "Girl" in an over-the-top British accent to BioMom and the FYO in the car. Its from the episode "Getting Davey Jones"
Third Season, 1971-72, number 63. Original airdate: December 10, 1971, Directed by Oscar Rudolph. Written by Phil Leslie and Al Schwartz

If you don't recall, its the episode where Marcia, president of the Davy Jones fan club at school, rashly promises to get him to appear at the prom when she doesn't even know how to get in touch with him. Davey Jones eventually shows up and sings the song "Girl" (which, incidently, I can't find on any actual Monkees album, other than what seems to be a summer tour album where he sings the song apparently on request and actually references Marsha at the beginning) to Marsha. Afterwards, he
kisses her cheek, launching her into a dreamy spin where she refuses to wash ever again.

The FYO, however, complains that my version is "too short" because, of course, I don't know all the words.

You should hear the FYO try to imitate my horrible British accent.


The song:
Look what you've done to me.
And my whole world.
You've brought the sun to me.
With your smile.
Ya did it girl.
I'm telling you, girl.
Something unknown to me.
Makes you what you are.
And what you are
Is all
That I want for me.
And its good
To feel that way girl!
Thank you, GIRL!
For makin' the night times nicer, GIRL!
For makin' the good times brighter, GIRL!
For makin' a bettah world for me!
I'm telling you, girl.
Something unknown to me
Makes you what you are
And what you are,
Is all
that I want for me!
And its good
To feel
That way, girl.
Thank you GIRL!
For makin' the night times nicer, GIRL
For makin' the good times brighter GIRL
For makin' a bettah world for me!

Thank you GIRL!
For makin' the winter warmer GIRL
for makin' the music softer, GIRL!
For makin' a bettah world for me!
Thank you Giiiiiirl!!

Friday, March 18, 2005

The Better to BLANK You With, My Dear

So, HFRM#1 is out on the dating scene, nearly a year after her breakup with a friend of mine [note, friend, if you're reading this, you have been warned that it may not be material suitable to your eyes].

As all of the topical books will tell you, its rough out there for a thirty-something on the scene.

Recently, however, she's been seeing someone slightly more regularly, but it has been defined (mutually) as "casual dating."

This term is highly confusing to me.

Although BioMom and I didn't do the U-Haul thing, I don't think we EVER dated in a CASUAL way. So, I regularly query HFRM#1 for a translation and an update.

Today's lunch over sushi was the recent installment.

So, I'm getting a little concerned.

About what.

About *ahem* his preferences.

What do you mean, 'preferences'? Is he gay?

No. . . I wish. . . I could deal with gay. . . I'm concerned he might have a foot fetish.

Wha? Licking. . . Sucking. . .

Interrupting: NOOOO! No. No. NO! Nothing like that.

Then what? I mean, a little foot rub would be great!

Sure. A foot rub IS great. This is NOT a little foot rub. There seems to be a bit of a focus on the foot.

FOTF? Okay. Back it up. Explain. Put this in context. . . You're sitting and watching t.v. and he starts rubbing your foot? You're out to dinner and he reaches down and pulls your foot between his legs? That's called SEXY, my friend!


Okay. You're making out and he reaches for your foot first?

Well, yes and no.


No. . . Its just that there is a lot of attention centered on my feet. . . He's all "You have small feet!" And I'm all "you have big feet! . . . Size 15, right?"

Turns out he is listed on Match.Com and actually put in his foot size into his description:

"Just bought some ice skates for my size 15's ..."

If THAT is not an advertisement, I don't know what is!

I feel like I'm little red riding hood and he's the big bad wolf: What big FEET you have, Grandma!!!

Anyway. . . He rubs them. Likes my socks. . . Reaches for the top of my socks. And I wear tall socks, you know? ITS COLD!. . . He removes my socks. . .

Maybe its just "How naked can I get her?" not an actual bona fide FOOT FETISH!

Teasing: So, Dr. Big likes the fe-et! He's heading SO-HOUTH!Skipping the equator and heading to the Antarctic!

That would be sad. That would be really sad. It'd be over if he had a foot fetish. I hate feet. I hate my own feet! I hate having my socks off. Hell. I hate SOCKS!! . . . Not shoes though. Love shoes. Shoes cover feet. Like rock-paper-scissors for feet.

Yeah. That WOULD be sad.

Yeah. Ending it before I had the chance verify the size 15s!

Thursday, March 17, 2005

You Can Be Whatever You Want To Be

As feminist parents of a girl, you find yourself telling her that when she grows up, she can be wahtever she wants to be as though it is some sort of mantra.

This is more than a little ridic on more than one level, not the least of which is that neither BioMom's nor my parents used that mantra and we both turned out alright.

In fact, I remember the following interaction with Dear-Old-Dad when I was about the FYO's age:

Wanna know what I want to be when I grow up?



You're not smart enough for that, [blog author]!


Obviously I've still got a bit of "mad-at-dad syndrome" with which to deal.

Anyway, I say this mantra to the FYO knowing that its not quite true. Let's face it, the FYO is not going to be a professional ballet dancer (those of you that know her can vouch for that). But she will also never be what she announced she wanted to be the other day while having lunch at Chapati.

After observing two beautiful women walk in with lovely Sari's the FYO says:

I want to be an Indian when I grow up.

BioMom: Well, you can't really BECOME an Indian. You are BORN that way.

Me: You could MARRY an Indian!

My suggestion was myopic. I was hungry and all-things-curry smelled good. Oh, and that pudding: Kheer. I WANTED that pudding. . . . Then I thought better of it, remembering two relevant facts:

1. My cousin (daughter #1 of "Lez", not the famed "Cousin" of this blog who is daughter #2 of Lez) married a Greek and now LIVES in Greece. The last time I saw her and her three kids was in 1997.

2. This post by Dooce:

This month you have also figured out how to open things, things that aren't supposed to be opened, things with LOCKS HOLDING THEM SHUT. You know the unlock code on the babysitter's cell phone and once called her Peruvian boyfriend, Chimmy. Chimmy Chimmy Cocoa Puffs has taken hold of your heart somehow because you will say things for that boy that you won't say for anyone else, things like, "Uh, oh," and "Wow wow wow," and "Taco." Here's the thing, kid: if you fall in love with some boy from another country and he takes you away to that other country where I won't ever get to see you or my grandchildren then you can just consider yourself grounded until you're 80, or at least until you fall in love with someone nearby who has a lot of money.

So no. You can't become OR marry an Indian. Unless, of course, he lives in the greater metropolitan area.

And is rich.

And has a good sense of humor.

Oh yeah. . . And is a good cook.

The Velveteen Rabitt

O.k. so thanks to Disurbonce for the book suggestion. I went to the library and found the edition with which I was familiar and read it to the FYO with great anticipation.

It was a little late in the day (8 p.m.) and we were snuggled in with some milk and a cookie.

I was reading away, hoping that she could tolerate the long-on-words/short-on-pictures story.

We got to the part where they were going to burn the shabby, well-loved rabitt after the boy's bout with scarlet fever when I hear a few sniffles coming from the FYO laying on my chest.

Are you okay?

Its so SAD!

Don't worry. It'll get better!

Turns out she was totally paying attention and promptly reported about the possibilities of REALNESS to BioMom this morning!

6-Month Forecast Looks Rosy

From Your Five-Year-Old: Sunny and Serene by Louise Bates Ames,and Frances L. Ilg (okay, the language and some of the content is really sexist, but its great stuff and the pictures remind me of when I was growing up as these books were written in the '70s):

What can you as a parent expect of you Five-year-old boy or girl? It is a pleasure to tell you that with most Five-year-olds, some very good times are ahead. Five wants to be good, means to be good, and more often than not succeeds in being good.

Perhaps most delightful of all his characteristics is that he enjoys life so much and looks so consistently on the sunny side. "Today is my lucky day," he will tell you as he jumps out of bed in the morning. Or, enthusiastically, "Today I'm going to do all the good things and none of the bad things."

Even his language is on the positive side: "Sure!" "All right!" "Fine!" "Lovely," "Wonderful" are among his favorite words, and "I just love ____" is a constant refrain.

The key toa ll this goodness may be that for a few months at least, Mother is the center of the child's world. He not only wants to please her, he wants to be near her. Wants to talk with her, play with her, help her with her housework, follow her around the house. Many Fives would actually rather stay in the house with Mother than go out to play with their friends.

. . .

Five, by nature, is quieter, more pulled in, closer to home. He not only prefers to stay ithin prescribed boundaries but feels most comfortable wtih the tried and true. The time that interests him is now; the place he likes beset, here.

Unlike the child of some other ages, Five often shows a remarkable ability to protect himself from overstimulation.

Five is usually not a worrier. . . He likes life the way it is, satisfied with himself, and adores his parents.

Now for the following six months: the other shoe drops.

So here you are, sailing along, happy as a lark. Your little son or daughter for almost six unbelievable months may have been good as gold. . . . Thus it can be more than a little disconcerting when all of a sudden things aren't so rosy any more. That little angel who responded oh, so easily, with "Yes, I will," now is quite likely to say "No, I won't.". . . Quite possibly, no more than the beginnings of Six-year-oldness, a time that often brings trouble into the calmest households.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Warmonger Becomes Credit Allocator?

I'm glad I don't live in Bangladesh or Bulgaria. . . From the Washington Post:

Bush Recommends Wolfowitz to Head World Bank

I don't know which is worse, this or John Bolton for the position of UN Ambassador.

A Word Of Advice

There is NOT a more boring first four words of a paper than:

"My essay focuses on . . . "

J.H.C. That makes me want to stop reading.

Not to mention that essays can't exactly focus.

I Can't Stop Thinking About It

Maybe its just because I am grading.


And bored with it all. I have more papers to do than I have done and I want to be doing ANYTHING BUT GRADING. Laudry? OKAY!!! HFRM#1 needs help dropping her car off at Subaru and then wants to go to REI to spend our dividends? OKAY!!!

Anyway, BioMom and I watched Kissing Jessica Stein the other night and I can't stop thinking about it.

I don't know what the glbt police say about the movie--I am irresponsibly un-critical about movies. I just go. I just eat popcorn and enjoy.

The main character was sexist and homophobic? What? I didn't notice.

My critical skills are wasted on student papers and ridiculous economic theories.

Anyway, Kissing Jessica Stein is so friggin sexy. The two leads were also the writers, Jennifer Westfeldt and Heather Juergensen. Together, they are smart, fun and sexy. The writing is smart and imho, realistic.

For me, its been like finishing a book that you don't want to end. What happens next? How did they resolve a, b, and c? PLEASE DON'T LEAVE ME!!! I'LL MISS YOU WHEN YOU'RE GONE!

Anyway, see it if you haven't. Comment if you have. Am I missing something or is this just a fantastic movie?

Student Envy

Emails to and from one particularly confident and fun-radiating student who reminds me of a guy with whom I studied during grad school. In my next life, I want to be his girlfriend:

Him: Here it final masterpiece....enjoy the hell out of your break. I'll drink a Molson Canadian, or a Labatts Blue for you...adios.

Me: i'm already just having a blast looking over your eco308 exam. thriller.

Him: feel free to email me a test score or two if you're feeling the urge.

Me: eco308: 20 points above the mean.

Him: Cool. Thanks. Just arrived in Toronto today. Jamie and I took the train from Montreal this afternoon. Montreal was amazingly integrated. I wasn't used to all the French..forgot to brush up b4 I went. Hope you're gettin ur sheeot done and enjoying yourself at least a little.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The Dilemma

a) rule: no tv on a school day
b) FYO home with fever (on school day)
c) there exists much work to be done
d) despite fever, FYO needs attention and stuff to do.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Her Ears Were Watching God

Yesterday morning we went to mass at the uber-liberal ghetto Catholic church that we've decided to attend. (See previous posts on the decision about school/church choice).

I grew up Catholic, so there is something familiar, comforting even, about the ritual of it all.

At the start of lent, BioMom told me that one Sunday was the last sunday we could use the "A" word before Easter.

I love that shit!

And BioMom sings in this groovy Easter vigil where the church is lit completely with candles and everyone packs into the little place.

But yesterday I was not so inspired.

The priest (obviously gay) was discussing the story of Jesus' friend Lazarus. I literally have forgotten everything I learned on those Wednesday night CCD classes. In retrospect, as I spent my time thumbing through what I perceived as the poor, repressed catholic school girl-who-had-to-wear-the-same-ugly-dress-to-school-every- day's desk, my parents had a handy sitter during which they could go out for a little drinky-poo without paying a fee!

Anyway, I'm listening to this story* thinking What the hell? I DON'T BELIEVE A WORD OF THIS!!! Am I SUPPOSED to believe this? Or is this a story to get me to think about something else? What is the purpose of this? Is this worth my time? Am I here just for BioMom and the FYO? What good does this do the FYO anyway?

And on and on.

The FYO was busy playing with some cool magnet dress-up dolls she got for her birthday and munching on a cheeze stick when out of nowhere she whispers:


So, if I believe then I won't die?

Is it true? Is it true, Mom?

Oh, God. I think. Is this all going to turn her into a THUMPER??? How do I explain THIS? Death. Afterlife. Reincarnation. Heaven. Shit. Shit. Look away. Pretend you didn't hear. Shit.
BioMom responds. Um. Well. Yes. But. . .

She scrambles.

Being a defense attorney, BioMom is an expert at only answering the question that has been asked. No more. No less.

As an aside, you can imagine, being *married* to someone like this has its pros and cons. We sometimes divide hairs over legal versus ethical lines. Is a lie of omission really a lie? Is it ethical to send the FYO to school knowing that she had a fever a mere 8 hours ago, but seems fine now because both of us have to be at a meeting in 10 minutes? Was it really o.k. that you bargained down the number of miles over the speed-limit that you were going with the judge because 9 miles over won't increase your insurance premium whereas 11 miles over would?

BioMom thinks: How do I explain that Great Grandma and Great Grandpa died?

But the FYO went on playing.


Lazarus (Gk. Lazaros, a contraction of Eleazaros--see II Mach., vi, 18--meaning in Hebrew "God hath helped"), the name of two persons in the N.T.; a character in one of Christ's parables, and the brother of Martha and Mary of Bethania.


(1) The Story

The dramatic story of the rich man and the beggar (only in Luke, xvi, 19-31) is set forth by Christ in two striking scenes:

* Their Condition Here: The rich man was clothed in purple and byssus (D.V. fine linen), and spent each day in gay carousing. The beggar had been cast helpless at the rich man's gate, and lay there all covered with sores; he yearned for the crumbs that fell from the rich man's table, but received none, and was left to the dogs.
* Their Condition Hereafter: The early banquet is over; the heavenly banquet is begun. Lazarus partakes of the banquet in a place of honour (cf. John, xiii, 23). He reclines his head on Abraham's bosom. The rich man is now the outcast. He yearns for a drop of water. Lazarus is not allowed to leave the heavenly banquet and tend to the outcast.

(2) The Meaning

Catholic exegetes now commonly accept the story as a parable. It is also legendary that the sores of Lazarus were leprous. The purpose of the parable is to teach us the evil result of the unwise neglect of one's opportunities. Lazarus was rewarded, not because he was poor, but for his virtuous acceptance of poverty; the rich man was punished, not because he was rich, but for vicious neglect of the opportunities given him by his wealth.

This personage was the brother of Martha and Mary of Bethania; all three were beloved friends of Jesus (John, xi, 5). At the request of the two sisters Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead (John, xi, 41-44). Soon thereafter, the Saturday before Palm Sunday, Lazarus took part in the banquet which Simon the Leper gave to Jesus in Bethania (Matt., xxvi, 6-16; Mark, xiv, 3-11; John, xii, 1-11). Many of the Jews believed in Jesus because of Lazarus, whom the chief priests now sought to put to death. The Gospels tell us no more of Lazarus (see ST. LAZARUS OF BETHANY).

Friday, March 11, 2005

Birthday Song Dialogue

Subtitle: Why the FYO will need therapy to deal with all of the controlling women in her life

Scene: videotape of the FYO sitting in front of Grandma's store-bought chocolate cake with five burning crayola-look-a-like candles.

Grandma: Are you ready for the singing?

FYO, barely audible: uh huh.

All: Audible deep breath. . . Happy birthday to you. . .
FYO: Gets a VERY serious look on her face.

All: Happy birtday TO YOU.

FYO: Abruptly brings up pointer finger toward one of the candles. Closer. . . Closer.

BioMom, during the downbeat of the song: DON'T TOUCH!

FYO, rushing to explain herself, still during the downbeat of the song: I was just. .

All: Happy birthday . . .

Grandma: Look up here at the camera!

FYO, looking up: All smiles and singing, now, with the group to herself.

All: Dear [FYO]. Happy birthday to you!


BioMom: Can you blow 'em out?

FYO, collecting herself and preparing to blow: Blows, but none go out.

Grandma: Harder!


FYO: Blows again, but this time only 4/5 go out.

Grandma: Whoa! ONE MORE!

Sexism: Swedish Style?

Or is it just Aksel Hatfield v. Bjorn McCoy?

Check out this article from a student.

OSLO (March 10) Swedish home furnishings giant IKEA is guilty of sex discrimination by showing only men putting together furniture in its instruction manuals, Norway's prime minister says.

IKEA's response? They're trying not to offend Muslim women.

BioMom and I could have recently been found putting together several IKEA items purchased for a cheap office makover. What we noticed about the manual was not that the non-lingual eunuch character was non-female, but his uncanny ability to communicate through a wide variety of clear expressions!

Esperanto. Swedish-style.


He/she seems to say as the bookshelf, not properly placed on a flat surface, topples over onto him.

All smiles pointing to one regular and one phillips scredriver means:

I'm so happy I have all the right tools needed for this job!

And a squiggle mouth while looking at the directions coupled with a question mark bubble leads the eunuch to a phone connected directly to IKEA for help!

BioMom and I imagined this call.

Um hi. We're having trouble putting together our EFFEKTIV cabinet.


Our EFFEKTIV cabinet. We need some help putting it together. Maybe there are some pieces missing?

Let me transfer you to the exchange department. CLICK!

Swedish music in background.

Woman with Indian accent: Exchanges!

Hi. Um. We're having trouble putting together our EFFECKTIV cupboard.

Do you have your receipt?

No. We don't want to exchange the item. We just want to put it together. We think we've stripped the screws.

Woman to a co-worker: We've got another perve on the line! CLICK!


Hello, Welcome to IKEA!

Hi. I just got cut off and am calling to get help putting together one of your furniture items.

Which item?

The EFFEKTIVE cabinet.

We don't stock that anymore.

But I just bought it last week.

I'm sorry, we can't help you. CLICK!

In any case, sexism was not our problem.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Disproportionate Karmic Justice?

It's midterm time!

Yeah, O.k., I'm that mean professor that gives a big exam on the day before Spring Break.

Its not that I'm trying to be particularly malicious, its just that its week 7, the middle of the term, and if I had given them the exam last week well, what would we even do this week?

Anyway, I can't stand the mundanity of policing cheaters. They're adults. And, hell, what can I do if they cheat anyway? My english professor friend at George Mason got into this huge lawsuit because she caught someone cheating, reported it, and then it turned into this huge he said/she said bullshit that I'm just not up for.

So my strategy is this:

At the start of an exam I announce that its their choice, but that cheating will invoke huge karmic reverberations. Not an eye-for-an-eye sort of reverberation but a DISPROPORTIONATE reverberation that will make the simple life they know now into a living hell.

What's the karmic justice?

If they cheat on this exam, then I predict that their current or future partners will cheat on them!

They all react loudly to this in horror:


Okay, okay I say. Maybe that won't happen. Maybe you'll cheat and then later just trip on a curb or something. But, you NEVER KNOW.

One student, earlier today, in resonse to this asked if I'd feel guilty if anyone of them got into a car accident over spring break.

At least I'd know who was cheating!

In any case, drive carefully please.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The Mother Drive-By

Via Dooce and Making Light I was lead to Chez Miscarriage's discussion of The Mother Drive-By:

As I read through your voluminous tomes, my eyes riveted to the screen, I began to notice a pattern. A theme, if you will. A leitmotif, which was this: apparently, other mothers frequently say crappy things to you about your mothering. (Chez Miscarriage, Feb 20, 2005).

According to Making Light, Chez Miscarriage had recieved "127 comments plus hundreds of e-mails" on just her initial post.

Are there any of my readers who have experienced the Mother Drive-By? Do lesbian mothers experience unique Mother Drive-By's?

BioMom and I get Mother Drive-By's from fellow lesbian parents regularly. Recently BioMom was taking the FYO to a skating party. I was out of town and the only one who knew the location of the skates so, after tearing the house apart, they decided to go anyway (to the FYO's utter chagrin). The get to the park and fellow lesbian parent shrieks:

You don't have skates for that girl?

As if we would somehow be abusive parents because we have not yet acquainted her to the merits of skating thereby ruining all possibilities for an olympic gold.

An Email Interaction With A Student

O.k. so out of generosity, I offer to review student papers prior to the deadline. Until this semester, only one or two students would take me up on the offer. This semester, however, I've got an arse-load of students who are taking advantage of it, and one, particularly bad writer is attempting to get me to look at more than one draft.

Here is a recent email interaction with him in chronological order:

Email 1: I followed your instructions, and I think that this paper is HUGE LEAPS, ahead of my last paper. I hope that you have time to look over this!! Thanks again!!

Portion of my response: *note that there is a difference between "there" and "their" you absolutely have to have this figured out before you move on into the world.

Email 2: We cleaned up the littlest grammatical errors, and we still cant find out where you see that I don't get the THEIR and THERE....I know what they mean, and we looked all night to find the ones that you were talking about, and maybe we just couldn't see them, but we even did the search text to find all of the THEIR and THEREs. So if you know where these are please point them out!! I hope that with all the cutting and pasting that you think that is at least going in a better direction the one I sent you the other day. I REALLY hope that you have the time to look at this copy for me. I really need to know if this is getting better, and I thank you because with work and class I have no other way to get a professionals opinion.....

My second response: Here is at least one sentence, that took me all of 30 seconds to find that uses the word wrong:

"I wanted to eliminate the females that worked much less then there counterparts, and made under $10,000, just to see what this total might look at."

Email 3: Otherwise was the paper getting better though??


Tuesday, March 08, 2005

A New Protagonist!

Introducing the FYO!*

Happy Birthday FYO!


Friday, March 04, 2005


We just booked a ticket for Cousin and her #2 to come and visit over Easter!!!

Purposeful Conception

A while ago I got slammed by a commenter for not very eloquently discussing the notion that parents actually consider both the physical and social consequences of procreation. In the context of this blog, I was considering the degree to which lesbians are purposeful in conceiving (that's not to say that other couples are not or don't have to be purposeful, just that lesbians, by definition, are purposeful about procreation) and in that purposefulness, must consider the fact that their kids will face some degree of discrimination by the fact that their parents are gay.

Speaking of purposeful creations, check out the following story:

Copyright 2002 The Washington Post
The Washington Post

March 31, 2002 Sunday
Final Edition


LENGTH: 8647 words

HEADLINE: A World of Their Own;
In the eyes of his parents, if Gauvin Hughes McCullough turns out to be deaf, that will be just perfect

BYLINE: Liza Mundy


As her baby begins to emerge after a day of labor, Sharon Duchesneau has a question for the midwife who is attending the birth. Asking it is not the easiest thing, just now. Sharon is deaf, and communicates using American Sign Language, and the combination of intense pain and the position she has sought to ease it -- kneeling, resting her weight on her hands -- makes signing somewhat hard. Even so, Sharon manages to sign something to Risa Shaw, a hearing friend who is present to interpret for the birth, which is taking place in a softly lit bedroom of Sharon's North Bethesda home.

"Sharon wants to know what color hair you see," Risa says to the midwife.

The midwife cannot tell because the baby is not - quite - visible. He bulges outward during contractions, then recedes when the contraction fades. But now comes another contraction and a scream from Sharon, and the midwife and her assistant call for Sharon to keep pushing but to keep it steady and controlled. They are accustomed to using their voices as a way of guiding women through this last excruciating phase; since Sharon can't hear them, all they can hope is that she doesn't close her eyes.

"Push through the pain!" shouts the midwife.

"Little bit!" shouts her assistant, as Risa frantically signs.

And suddenly the baby is out. One minute the baby wasn't here and now the baby is, hair brown, eyes blue, face gray with waxy vernix, body pulsing with life and vigor. A boy. "Is he okay?" signs Sharon, and the answer, to all appearances, is a resounding yes. There are the toes, the toenails, the fingers, the hands, the eyes, the eyelashes, the exquisite little-old-man's face, contorted in classic newborn outrage. The midwife lays the baby on Sharon and he bleats and hiccups and nuzzles her skin, the instinct to breast-feed strong.

"Did he cry?" signs Sharon, and the women say no, he cried remarkably little.

"His face looks smushed," Sharon signs, regarding him tenderly.

"It'll straighten out," says the midwife.

Presently the midwife takes the baby and performs the Apgar, the standard test of a newborn's condition, from which he emerges with an impressive score of nine out of a possible 10. "He's very calm," she notes as she weighs him (6 pounds 5 ounces), then lays him out to measure head and chest and length. She bicycles his legs to check the flexibility of his hips; examines his testicles to make sure they are descended; feels his vertebrae for gaps.

All in all, she pronounces the baby splendid. "Look how strong he is!" she says, pulling him gently up from the bed by his arms. Which means that it is, finally, possible to relax and savor his arrival. Everyone takes turns holding
him: Sharon; her longtime partner, Candace McCullough, who is also deaf, and will be the boy's adoptive mother; their good friend Jan DeLap, also deaf; Risa Shaw and another hearing friend, Juniper Sussman. Candy and Sharon's

5-year-old daughter, Jehanne, is brought in to admire him, but she is fast asleep and comically refuses to awaken, even when laid on the bed and prodded. Amid the oohing and aahing someone puts a cap on the baby; somebody else swaddles him in a blanket; somebody else brings a plate of turkey and stuffing for Sharon, who hasn't eaten on a day that's dedicated to feasting. Conceived by artificial insemination 38 weeks ago, this boy, Gauvin Hughes McCullough, has arrived two weeks ahead of schedule, on Thanksgiving Day.

"A turkey baby," signs Sharon, who is lying back against a bank of pillows, her dark thick hair spread against the light gray pillowcases.

"A turkey baster baby," jokes Candy, lying next to her.

"A perfect baby," says the midwife.

"A perfect baby," says the midwife's assistant.

But there is perfect and there is perfect. There is no way to know, yet, whether Gauvin Hughes McCullough is perfect in the specific way that Sharon and Candy would like him to be. Until he is old enough, two or three months from now, for a sophisticated audiology test, the women cannot be sure whether Gauvin is -- as they hope -- deaf.

Several months before his birth, Sharon and Candy -- both stylish and independent women in their mid-thirties, both college graduates, both holders of graduate degrees from Gallaudet University, both professionals in the mental health field -- sat in their kitchen trying to envision life if their son turned out not to be deaf. It was something they had a hard time getting their minds around. When they were looking for a donor to inseminate Sharon, one thing they knew was that they wanted a deaf donor. So they contacted a local sperm bank and asked whether the bank would provide one. The sperm bank said no; congenital deafness is precisely the sort of condition that, in the world of commercial reproductive technology, gets a would-be donor eliminated.

So Sharon and Candy asked a deaf friend to be the donor, and he agreed.

Though they have gone to all this trouble, Candy and Sharon take issue with the suggestion that they are "trying" to have a deaf baby. To put it this way, they worry, implies that they will not love their son if he can hear. And, they insist, they will. As Sharon puts it: "A hearing baby would be a blessing. A deaf baby would be a special blessing."

As Candy puts it: "I would say that we wanted to increase our chances of having a baby who is deaf."

It may seem a shocking undertaking: two parents trying to screen in a quality, deafness, at a time when many parents are using genetic testing to screen out as many disorders as science will permit. Down syndrome, cystic fibrosis, early-

onset Alzheimer's -- every day, it seems, there's news of yet another disorder that can be detected before birth and eliminated by abortion, manipulation of the embryo or, in the case of in vitro fertilization, destruction of an embryo. Though most deafness cannot be identified or treated in this way, it seems safe to say that when or if it can, many parents would seek to eliminate a disability that affects one out of 1,000 Americans.

As for actively trying to build a deaf baby: "I think all of us recognize that deaf children can have perfectly wonderful lives," says R. Alta Charo, a professor of law and bioethics at the University of Wisconsin. "The question is whether the parents have violated the sacred duty of parenthood, which is to maximize to some reasonable degree the advantages available to their children. I 'm loath to say it, but I think it's a shame to set limits on a child's potential."

In the deaf community, however, the arrival of a deaf baby has never evoked the feelings that it does among the hearing. To be sure, there are many deaf parents who feel their children will have an easier life if they are born hearing. "I know that my parents were disappointed that I was deaf, along with my brother, and I know I felt, just for a fleeting second, bad that my children were deaf," says Nancy Rarus, a staff member at the National Association of the Deaf. Emphasizing that she is speaking personally and not on behalf of the association, she adds, "I'm a social animal, and it's very difficult for me to talk to my neighbors. I wish I could walk up to somebody and ask for information. I've had a lot of arguments in the deaf community about that. People talk about, 'The sky's the limit,' but being deaf prevents you from getting there. You don't have as many choices."

"I can't understand," she says, "why anybody would want to bring a disabled child into the world."

Then again, Rarus points out, "there are many, many deaf people who specifically want deaf kids." This is true particularly now, particularly in Washington, home to Gallaudet, the world's only liberal arts university for the deaf, and the lively deaf intelligentsia it has nurtured. Since the 1980s, many members of the deaf community have been galvanized by the idea that deafness is not a medical disability, but a cultural identity. They call themselves Deaf, with a capital D, a community whose defining and unifying quality is American Sign Language (ASL), a fluent, sophisticated language that enables deaf people to communicate fully, essentially liberating them -- when they are among signers
-- from one of the most disabling aspects of being deaf.

Sharon and Candy share the fundamental view of this Deaf camp; they see deafness as an identity, not a medical affliction that needs to be fixed. Their effort -- to have a baby who belongs to what they see as their minority group -- is a natural outcome of the pride and self-acceptance the Deaf movement has brought to so many. It also would seem to put them at odds with the direction of reproductive technology in general, striving as it does, for a more perfect normalcy.

But the interesting thing is -- if one accepts their worldview, that a deaf baby could be desirable to some parents -- Sharon and Candy are squarely part of a broader trend in artificial reproduction. Because, at the same time that many would-be parents are screening out qualities they don't want, many are also selecting for qualities they do want. And in many cases, the aim is to produce not so much a superior baby as a specific baby. A white baby. A black baby. A boy. A girl. Or a baby that's been even more minutely imagined. Would-be parents can go on many fertility clinic Web sites and type in preferences for a sperm donor's weight, height, eye color, race, ancestry, complexion, hair color, even hair texture.

"In most cases," says Sean Tipton, spokesman for the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, "what the couples are interested in is someone who physically looks like them." In this sense Candy and Sharon are like many parents, hoping for a child who will be in their own image.

And yet, while deafness may be a culture, in this country it is also an official disability, recognized under the Americans With Disabilities Act. What about the obligation of parents to see that their child has a better life than they did?

Then again, what does a better life mean? Does it mean choosing a hearing donor so your baby, unlike you, might grow up hearing?

Does it mean giving birth to a deaf child, and raising it in a better environment than the one you experienced?

What if you believe you can be a better parent to a deaf child than to a hearing one?

"It would be nice to have a deaf child who is the same as us. I think that would be a wonderful experience. You know, if we can have that chance, why not take it?"

This is Sharon, seven months pregnant, dressed in black pants and a stretchy black shirt, sitting at their kitchen table on a sunny fall afternoon, Candy beside her. Jehanne, their daughter, who is also deaf, and was conceived with the same donor they've used this time, is at school. The family has been doing a lot of nesting in anticipation of the baby's arrival. The kitchen has been renovated, the back yard landscaped. Soon the women plan to rig a system in which the lights in the house will blink one rhythm if the TTY -- the telephonic device that deaf people type into -- is ringing; another rhythm when the front doorbell rings; another for the side door. They already have a light in the bedroom that will go on when the baby cries.

In one way, it's hard for Sharon and Candy to articulate why they want to increase their chances of having a deaf child. Because they don't view deafness as a disability, they don't see themselves as bringing a disabled child into the world. Rather, they see themselves as bringing a different sort of normal child into the world. Why not bring a deaf child into the world? What, exactly, is the problem? In their minds, they are no different from parents who try to have a girl. After all, girls can be discriminated against. Same with deaf people. Sharon and Candy have faced obstacles, but they've survived. More than that, they've prevailed to become productive, self-supporting professionals. "Some people look at it like, 'Oh my gosh, you shouldn't have a child who has a disability,' " signs Candy. "But, you know, black people have harder lives. Why shouldn't parents be able to go ahead and pick a black donor if that's what they want? They should have that option. They can feel related to that culture, bonded with that culture."

The words "bond" and "culture" say a lot; in effect, Sharon and Candy are a little like immigrant parents who, with a huge and dominant and somewhat alien culture just outside their door, want to ensure that their children will share their heritage, their culture, their life experience. If they are deaf and have a hearing child, that child will move in a world where the women cannot fully follow. For this reason they believe they can be better parents to a deaf child, if being a better parent means being better able to talk to your child, understand your child's emotions, guide your child's development, pay attention to your child's friendships. "If we have a hearing child and he visits a hearing friend, we'll be like, 'Who is the family?' " says Candy. "In the deaf community, if you don't know a family, you ask around. You get references. But with hearing families, we would have no idea."

They understand that hearing people may find this hard to accept. It would be odd, they agree, if a hearing parent preferred to have a deaf child. And if they themselves -- valuing sight -- were to have a blind child, well then, Candy acknowledges, they would probably try to have it fixed, if they could, like hearing parents who attempt to restore their child's hearing with cochlear implants. "I want to be the same as my child," says Candy. "I want the baby to enjoy what we enjoy."

Which is not to say that they aren't open to a hearing child. A hearing child would make life rich and interesting. It's just hard, before the fact, to know what it would be like. "He'd be the only hearing member of the family," Sharon points out, laughing. "Other than the cats."

"Did you weigh yourself?"


"Did you weigh yourself?"

"Yes," says Sharon. It's a few weeks before the baby's birth, and Sharon has taken the Metro to Alexandria for a prenatal checkup. Wearing a long black skirt and loose maroon blouse, she has checked in at the BirthCare & Women's Health center and has been ushered into an examining room, where she now shifts, bulky, in her seat.

"How are you feeling?" the midwife asks.

"Tired today," says Sharon. Often, Sharon brings her hearing friend Risa Shaw to interpret at checkups, but today she's relying on her own ability to speak and read lips. Reading lips is something Sharon does remarkably well. She developed the skill on her own. Growing up, she was also enrolled in speech therapy, where a progression of therapists fitted her with hearing aids, shouted into her ear, sent her home to practice talking in front of a mirror because her "a" was too nasal, and generally instilled in her, she says now, a sense of constant failure. On one level, the therapy worked: When she speaks, she does so with fluency and precision.

But even the following small exchange shows what an inexact science lip-reading is. "This is our first visit?" the midwife says, looking at her chart.

"What?" Sharon replies, peering to follow the movement of her tongue and teeth and lips.

"This . . . is . . . my . . . first . . . visit . . . with . . . you," says the midwife, speaking more slowly.

"Oh," says Sharon, who has seen other midwives on previous visits. "Yes."

"Let's see -- we are at 36 weeks, huh? So today we need to do an internal exam and also do the culture for beta strep. You're having a home birth, right? So do you have the oxygen?"


"The oxygen?"


The midwife gestures to indicate an oxygen tank, one of the supplies they need to have on hand at home.


This gives some sense of what life has been like for Sharon, who was raised in what's known as the oralist tradition. Which is to say, she was raised to function in the hearing world as best she could, without exposure to sign language or to other deaf people, except her mother. Like her mother, Sharon was born with some residual hearing but experienced hearing loss to the point where, at 8 or so, she was severely deaf. Her father, Thomas, a professor of economics at the University of Maine, can hear, and so can her younger sister, Anne. In this family Sharon was referred to as "hearing impaired" or "hard of hearing," rather than "deaf." She attended public school in Bangor; there was a special classroom for deaf kids, and Sharon stayed as far away from it as possible.

"I find it very hard to say now," says Sharon. "Sometimes my speech therapist would want me to meet the other deaf children, and it was an embarrassment. I didn't want to be identified with them. I didn't want my friends to look at me as if I was different."

Those friendships were relatively easy when she was young, riding bikes and running around, but became much harder in adolescence, where so much of friendship is conducted verbally, in groups, which are impossible to lip-read. She got by. "I played field hockey, I did layout for the yearbook, it looked like I did fine, but inside I always felt there was something wrong with me. I remember someone would ask what kind of music I liked, and I didn't know what the cool answer would be. I used to make my sister write down the words to the most popular songs."

She grew up feeling that her sister was normal and that she was flawed, a feeling, she says, exacerbated by her father, who pushed her to speak. She knows he meant well, and Sharon functioned so ably, it's easy to see why his expectations for her were high. But those standards filled her with a desire to meet them and a chronic sense of falling short. "Once when I was 11 or 12, my family went to a restaurant to eat, and I wanted to have milk to drink, and I was trying to tell the waitress and she couldn't understand me. I think I tried maybe two or three times, and she kept looking at me like I was speaking Chinese. I looked at my father like: 'Help me out here.' And he was: 'Go ahead. Say it again.' "

Another time, she says, her father told her that if she ever had children, she should check with a geneticist to assess the risk that her baby, like her, would be deaf. "I felt put down, like it would be bad if my child was deaf, or it was a negative thing to bring a deaf child into the world," she says. "I took it personally."

And high school, compared with what came later, was easy. Having done well academically, Sharon enrolled at the University of Virginia. She tries to convey the numbing isolation of that experience; of being at a huge college full of strangers; being from out of state; being deaf; straining to catch names; feeling at sea in dorms or at parties; sitting at the front of big classes, tape-recording the lecture and then taking the tape to a special office to be typed, then returning, alone, to her room with a 30- or 40-page transcript. For a hearing person, perhaps the best analogy would be to imagine yourself in a foreign country where you understand the language only slightly; where comprehension will not get better no matter how hard you try. "I got," she says, "very tired of that."

She gravitated to a major in medical ethics, and in that department she met a professor who urged her to learn sign and meet some deaf people. Sharon resisted; he persisted, pointing out that if she learned sign, she could interview deaf people as part of her research. So she relented, went to Gallaudet for a summer of sign lessons, and realized that her professor's argument had been a ploy. "The first day I got there, I knew that it wasn't about taking it for school. It was for myself," she says. She returned to U-Va., graduated, got an internship in the bioethics department at the National Institutes of Health. But her heart and mind were in continuing her sign lessons and becoming part of the deaf community. The writer Oliver Sacks, in his book about deafness, Seeing Voices, has described American Sign Language, for deaf people encountering it for the first time, as coming home.

"It was the best time," she says. "There were so many wonderful things about it. About deaf people, about signing. People understood me. I didn't have to explain myself. I didn't have to fake it. It was a positive thing to be deaf at Gallaudet."

"That summer," she continues, beginning to weep, "really changed my life, my hopes and my dreams and my future. It changed everything."

"Before that," she says, "I couldn't think about the future. I felt so lost."

Some of this lostness had to do with her sexual identity. She had never dated men much, and at Gallaudet she became increasingly aware of herself as a lesbian. A fellow student recognized this, took her out to some bars, helped her come out. She went on to pursue a master's in the Gallaudet counseling department; it was during that period that she met Candy, a slender, vivacious woman with a taste for leather jackets and hip, flared trousers. At the time, Candy drove a Honda Prelude with a sound system that had -- deaf people experience music through vibrations -- really hot woofers.

Unlike Sharon, Candy had been brought up signing, the child of deaf parents, but that doesn't mean her upbringing was easier. Neither of her parents finished high school. Her father was a printer, the classic deaf profession; historically, to be deaf often meant to be relegated to industrial work -- factories and print shops being among the few places where it is an advantage not to hear. They lived in northern California, where for a while she was put in a special deaf classroom in an inner-city Oakland school, where signing was not permitted in class. Candy was so bright she worked through the entire third-grade math textbook in a weekend, but she felt the expectations of her were very low (some kids with deafness are also born with other disorders, so the range of abilities in a deaf classroom is very broad). She transferred to a special school for deaf kids, but -- finding that easy, too -- transferred again to a hearing high school, where she attended classes with an interpreter. But an interpreter can't help a high schooler make friends. No teenage conversation can survive the intrusion of third-party interpretation, and Candy, unlike Sharon, was not able to speak for herself. Profoundly deaf from birth, she had no residual hearing to help her figure out how a voice should sound. Even with speech therapy, she'd learned early on that hearing people could not understand her when she spoke. "So," she says now, "I stopped talking."

At lunch the interpreter would take a break, and Candy, unable to talk to anyone, would go to the library and do her homework. On weekends, she studied or worked at the library shelving books.

"I was the perfect student," she says, so from high school she went to the University of California at Berkeley. Like Sharon, she found college grindingly lonely. Her first year she met Ella Mae Lentz, a deaf poet who composes in ASL. Lentz suggested Candy transfer to Gallaudet. Like Sharon, Candy felt a deaf school would be academically inferior. But, Lentz pointed out, a crucial part of college is having friends. Candy had already come out as a lesbian; her mother was upset, so it occurred to Candy that 3,000 miles away might be a good place to be. So she transferred, and like Sharon, has never looked back. The women, who have been together for nearly 10 years, moved in with each other, then bought a house with their close friend Jan DeLap. At some point Sharon spoke of a dream she'd once had but dismissed: to have children. She assumed they couldn 't, not because they were deaf but because they were lesbians.

It is not Candy's nature to dismiss dreams. " 'Can't' isn't in my vocabulary, " she says. So they found a donor, a friend of Candy's who comes from five generations of deafness. In Sharon's family there are four generations on her mother's side. Once she was pregnant, a genetic counselor predicted that based on these family histories, there was a 50-50 chance her child would be deaf. Heads for a deaf child, tails for hearing.

The very first time -- with Jehanne -- the coin came up heads.

Candy usually signs with both hands, using facial expressions as well as signs. This is all part of ASL, a physical language that encompasses the whole body, from fingers to arms to eyebrows, and is noisy, too: There is lots of clapping and slapping in ASL, and in a really great conversation, it's always possible to knock your own eyeglasses off.

When she drives, though, Candy also signs one-handed, keeping the other hand on the wheel. Chatting with Sharon, she maneuvers her Volvo through Bethesda traffic and onto I-270, making her way north toward Frederick, home to the Maryland School for the Deaf. State residential schools have played a huge role in the development of America's deaf community. Historically, deaf children often left their homes as young as 5 and grew up in dorms with other deaf kids. This sometimes isolated them from their families but helped to create an intense sense of fellowship among the deaf population, a group that, though geographically spread out, is essentially a tribe, a small town, a family itself.

Now that people are more mobile, families with deaf children often relocate near a residential school for the deaf, where the young children are more likely to be day students. Jehanne is one; today she's waiting for them in a low corridor inside the elementary school building at MSD, petite, elfin, dimpled, with tousled brown hair and light brown, almost amber eyes. Essentially, the baby Sharon is carrying represents a second effort that they're making because the first was so successful. (Candy tried to have their second child, but a year of efforts didn't take.) At her own infant audiology test, Jehanne was diagnosed as profoundly deaf. In their baby book, under the section marked "first hearing test," Candy wrote, happily, "Oct. 11, 1996 -- no response at 95 decibels -- DEAF!"

This afternoon, Jehanne greets her mothers and begins immediately to sign. She has been signed to since birth and, unlike her mothers, has been educated from the start in sign. At 5 she is beginning to read English quite well; when they're riding in the car, she'll notice funny shop names, like Food Lion and Four Eyes. But she is also fluent in ASL, more fluent even than Sharon.

The women have arrived to visit Jehanne's kindergarten classroom, which in most ways is similar to that of any other Maryland public school; the kids are using flashcards to learn about opposites, conducting experiments to explore concepts like wet and dry, light and heavy. The classes are small, and teachers are mostly deaf, which is something new; years ago, even at MSD, deaf people weren't permitted to teach the young kids, because it was believed that sign would interfere with their learning to read. Now that's all changed. Sign is used to teach them reading. They learn science in sign; they sign while doing puzzles, or gluing and pasting, or coloring, or working in the computer lab.

There is a speech therapy class, but it's optional, and a far cry from the ones that Sharon and Candy remember, where laborious hours were spent blowing on feathers to see the difference between a "b" and a "p." In general, Sharon and Candy have tried not to make what they see as the mistakes their own parents did. Sharon, for example, resents having been made to wear hearing aids and denied the opportunity to learn sign, while Candy -- who really wanted to try a hearing aid when she was little -- was told by her father than she couldn't because it would be expensive and pointless, anyway. Trying to chart a middle course, they let Jehanne decide for herself whether she wanted to try a hearing aid; she did, one summer when attending camp at Gallaudet. It was hot pink. She wore it about a week.

Similarly, they left it up to her whether to take speech therapy; since she is much more profoundly deaf than Sharon, it is unlikely that she will ever have speech as clear as Sharon's. But she wanted to take the class; when they asked why, she told them that it was fun.

Now they understand why. When Jehanne and another friend are pulled out for speech class on this day, they make their way down the hall to a classroom where the children enact a mock Thanksgiving dinner. The teacher passes out plastic turkey and mashed potatoes and bread; as they pretend to eat, enjoying the role-playing, the teacher signs and speaks.

"Now we're going to do what with our napkins?" she says as the two girls look up at her. "Put it in our l-l-l-l-l-ap." She exaggerates the sound, so they can see how an "l" is made. The girls learn speech by watching her and then trying to imitate the tongue and lip movements they see. At such a young age, the sounds that emerge are vague and tentative.

"Now we need a knife," she says, and Jehanne makes a sound like "nuh."



"Would you like some water?"

Jehanne makes a good-faith effort to say "yes, please," pursing her lips and wiggling her tongue to come out with a "pl."

Candy and Sharon watch intently, concerned not about Jehanne's speech but about the teacher's style of signing. At one point she tells Jehanne to lay out her napkin, but because the sign isn't the classic ASL sign, Jehanne looks at her blankly. "Oh well," says Sharon later. "It's good for her to know that not everybody is a fluent signer." They inspect the computer lab, chatting with the school webmaster, whom they know; he and his wife are the parents of one of Jehanne's classmates. For Sharon and Candy, one of the great advantages of having a deaf child is that it gives them a built-in social life. Like most parents, they socialize a lot with the parents of their children's friends, and at MSD, many of the parents are deaf. They also see the school as one way to ensure that Jehanne doesn't endure the loneliness and isolation that they did. By raising her among deaf children, they feel she's getting a much stronger start in life.

And they are every bit as ambitious for Jehanne as any parent would be for a child. Afterward, the women talk to the principal, who is also deaf. They tell her they are happy with the school, with a few caveats: They wish she had a little more self-directed time; they wish the weekly written reports were more detailed. Jehanne, who is clearly an outstanding student, is also just a tiny bit klutzy, no big deal, but even so they'd like to hear some details from the gym teacher. Her last report, for gym, was checked "needs improvement." "Needs improvement? What does that tell me?" signs Candy. "We've taken her to dance class, soccer; we swim each week, she does yoga! What more do you want us to do? " Laughing, Sharon and Candy talk about the fact that Jehanne is one of those kids who haven't figured out how to swing; she's still trying to get the pumping motion. It's an interesting moment. To most parents, hearing would seem a much more important ability, in the grand scheme of things, than pumping. But that's not how Candy and Sharon see it.

"She's a sweetheart," says the principal soothingly. "She's a role model. She 's in with such a nice group of friends." The principal has known most of these kids almost since the day they were born. At MSD, deaf infants qualify for a weekly morning class. When they are 2, they go to preschool. Their education -- with small classrooms, extra teachers, transportation -- is free, paid for with public funds.

So advantageous is MSD, in fact, that one of the things Candy and Sharon think about is how much more a hearing child would cost. If the baby is hearing, they'll have to pay for day care. For preschool. Even, if they find they don't agree with the teaching philosophy of the public schools, for private school. "It's awful to think that, but it'll be more expensive!" Sharon acknowledges.

But -- while deaf children do receive some financial advantages -- they point out that deaf children give back, in ways that are complex and impossible to predict. Take Candy and Sharon themselves: Both work at home as counselors, seeing deaf clients and, often, hearing family members. Not only do they provide the deaf with clear, accessible mental health care; Sharon also finds that hearing patients sometimes open up more for a therapist who is not herself "perfect." And hearing parents of deaf children are often "relieved to come and see a deaf therapist," Sharon finds. "They're like, 'Oh, you went to college! Oh, that means my children can do that!' They're afraid the child will be on the street selling pencils."

So sure, Jehanne's education may cost the public more. But deaf children, Sharon argues, make a society more diverse, and diversity makes a society more humane. Plenty of individuals and groups receive public support, and if you start saying which costs are legitimate and which aren't, well, they believe, it 's a slippery slope.

"Do you think this baby's hearing?" Candy asks Sharon, afterward, when they are having lunch in downtown Frederick.

"I don't know," says Sharon. "I can say that I hope the baby's deaf, but to say I feel it's deaf, no." They are talking about an old saying in the deaf
community: If the mother walks into a place with loud music, and the baby moves, the baby is hearing. "If you base it on that, I do think it's deaf," says Sharon.

"I just say to myself that the baby's deaf," Candy says. "I talk as if the baby's deaf. If the baby's hearing, I'll be shocked."

"You better be prepared," Sharon tells her. "With Jehanne, I prepared myself. It could happen." Thinking about it, she speculates: "A hearing child would force us to get out and find out what's out there for hearing children. Maybe that would be nice."

Candy looks at her, amazed.

"It's not that it's my preference," says Sharon. "But I'm trying to think of something positive."

Exactly two weeks after his birth, Gauvin (pronounced Go-VAHN, as in French) is sleeping in a Moses basket, luminous and pink and tiny. He continues to sleep, undisturbed, when Jan DeLap turns on the disposal and Candy loudly grates cheese with the salad shooter. But when Sharon begins to set the table, opening cupboards and clattering plates, he shifts, clenches his fists and stretches. Jehanne pretends to test his hearing, making a noise like buh-buh-buh, and he writhes a little. When she is relaxed and around people she loves -- as now -- Jehanne makes noises all the time, a low, constant, happy humming.

The more relaxed a deaf household is, the noisier it is. Around hearing people, deaf people are careful to control the sounds they make, but when they 're alone they can let go. When Sharon wants Candy, she calls her by stomping the floor. When the cats get on the table, Jan lets out a hair-raising whoop. It doesn't always work. One of the cats, they believe, is hard of hearing. The veterinarian disagrees. "He thought we were projecting," Sharon says.

Dinner tonight is burritos. Gauvin, who is turning out to be a very easy baby, is still sleeping, so they can eat uninterrupted and chat with Jehanne. In school, Jehanne's class is reading The Very Busy Spider, which involves animals saying "baaa" and "neigh" and "meow," sounds that none of the kids has heard. And so today, Jehanne tells them, they learned about animal sounds.

"What does a duck say?" asks Candy.

"Oink, oink," signs Jehanne.

"No!" signs Candy, amused. "Quack! Quack!"

"What does a rooster say?" she asks. Jehanne is stumped, and so, for a minute, is everybody else. "Oh yeah!" somebody remembers. "Cock-a-doodle-doo!"

After dinner, it's story time. The house is full of books. Downstairs are shelf after shelf of novels, nonfiction and clinical textbooks, even a shelf dedicated to the English language, everything from diction-aries of English usage to the Pocket Dictionary of American Slang. They are constantly buying books for Jehanne; tonight they're reading Elizabite: Adventures of a Carnivorous Plant and Blueberries for Sal.

Candy is tonight's designated reader. She signs the stories in ASL, sometimes with both hands, sometimes with one and using the other to point to the words. Candy is such a beautiful, vivid signer that the stories seem to possess her, and she them. Hands fluttering, face mobile and focused on Jehanne, Candy is Little Sal's mother putting berries in her tin pail, plink plank plunk; she is Mother Bear, separated from her cub; she is both of the babies, Little Sal and Little Bear, looking for their moms. Jehanne watches, rapt; Jan watches, rapt; Sharon, who is now breast-feeding Gauvin on a couch in the living room, watches, rapt. A deep contentment falls over the household. "And the bear went over and she heard the rumbling of Little Bear in the bushes, and she knew that it was her baby, and they went down the mountain, eating berries and storing them up for winter!" Candy finishes.

After Jehanne goes to bed, they take out an inking kit to record Gauvin's footprint in his baby book. Like most second babies, Gauvin doesn't have the extensive archives that his older sibling does. His baby book is still somewhat sparse, whereas Jehanne's is crammed full of tiny writing. Under "baby's first words," Candy noted that at about 11 months -- the time most babies would say their first word -- Jehanne signed "fan." Soon came "swing," and "more," and "light."

In the section where the parents are to write their aspirations for the baby, Candy wrote: "Jehanne can plan her own future. Seeing her happy is all that is important to us."

It is an open question, however, to what extent Jehanne can plan her own future. Candy and Sharon say that it will be okay with them if she goes to Gallaudet, but okay, too, if she wants to go to a hearing college. Though it would be harder for her to participate, say, in student government or athletics or dorm life, they think otherwise she would manage. And after that? The opportunities, they believe, are unlimited. Recently, though, Jehanne and Sharon were talking about astronauts, and Jehanne asked whether a deaf person can be an astronaut. Sharon was obliged to tell her no. Astronauts, she explained, need to communicate by radio. "That's not nice!" Jehanne said. "It's not nice that deaf people can't be astronauts!" Sharon told her maybe someday astronauts will be able to use video.

But with the exception of that -- and, probably, of the classic childhood ambition, president -- they do feel that Jehanne can be what she wants. She has electronic communications to help her;

e-mail has made a huge difference to deaf people. She'll have what they feel is the solid foundation of an education anchored by sign. They think she'll have what they never had: strong self-esteem, a powerful belief in herself. She'll have the considerable legal protection of the Americans With Disabilities Act, which forbids employment discrimination.

Not that the ADA can solve everything. Candy, who is in the final stages of getting her doctorate in psychology, needs to do a yearlong internship at a hospital or other workplace. She plans to counsel both deaf and hearing patients; plans, in short, to be a psychologist like any other. This means two things. It means an interpreter will need to be hired. It also means she is competing mostly with hearing applicants. When she sends off her resume, there is no indication she is deaf; at Gallaudet, most of the students in her graduate program are hearing people who plan to work with the deaf. But if she gets an interview, she has to e-mail the prospective employer, to discuss her need for an interpreter.

"If I go and they aren't interested," she says, "how do I know why? It's hard sometimes to know whether discrimination is taking place, or not."

"Some deaf people think it's a hard life," reflects Candy, whose grandfather wanted to be a pilot but was prevented by deafness. "But some people think the world is open."

"Did you ever want to be a policeman?" she asks Jan, whose father was a cop. Jan, who is 60, had a deaf mother but a hearing father, so she grew up around hearing relatives, and from them was exposed to music. When she was 7, she saw a movie about an opera singer. "I told my friends that I wanted to be an opera singer," Jan recalls. "My cousin was like, 'You can't be an opera singer. You're deaf!' I think that at that point I thought, 'I'm deaf now but maybe I can be hearing later.' "

"I remember wanting to be a lawyer," says Candy. "And then my teacher said that a deaf person can't do it. And later it wasn't my area of interest."

Now, Jan mentions, there are quite a few deaf lawyers. They have a friend who is one. In the courtroom she makes use of something called real-time captioning. There are technical advances every day. But technology doesn't help a deaf person who is standing next to a hearing person who can't sign. It will never completely bridge what is, still, an enormous gap. Jehanne has a neighbor she plays with, a hearing girl she's known almost since birth. The mothers agree that as they get older, it's getting harder and harder for the girls to communicate, and they get together less and less.

"What I wonder," Jan says at one point, "is whether they'll eliminate the deaf gene. Maybe they'll be able to pluck out the deaf gene. Maybe there will be no more deaf people."

They sit contemplating this. It isn't out of the question. Members of another disabled group were taken by surprise when the gene that causes their condition was discovered: Now, a child with achondroplasia, or disproportionately short arms and legs -- also known as dwarfism -- can be identified in utero. And, if the parents don't want a child with dwarfism, the fetus can be aborted. The community of "little people," which has its own association, its own Web site, a strong tradition in Hollywood, and a powerful fellowship, has been left contemplating its children destroyed, its numbers dwindling, its existing members consigned to a narrowing life of freakishness and isolation. Such a fate could -- it's possible -- befall the deaf. The situation illustrates how in this country, at this cultural moment, disabled people are exposed to two powerful but contradictory messages. One says: You are beautiful. You are empowered. The other says: You are deficient. You may be snuffed out.

"Maybe there will be no more deaf children," Jan says.

"Except," says Candy, "for those of us who choose to make more deaf children. "

As the weeks go by, Gauvin starts staying awake more. His eyes, blue and wide, start tracking more; he watches his mothers, and Jehanne, with an intensity that they believe is characteristic of deaf children. They sign to him in deaf "motherese"; like a hearing mother speaking in a high-pitched, singsong voice, they sign slowly, with exaggerated gestures. In mid-December they take him to Gallaudet for a show. In the auditorium there are people signing across the room, people signing from the floor to people in the balcony.

In this group Gauvin is admired like a crown prince. Friends, colleagues and former classmates come to peek inside the sling in which Sharon is carrying him, and, inevitably, to inquire whether he is deaf. "How many of you are deaf?" asks the emcee, and Jan -- half-joking, half-

serious -- motions to Sharon to raise Gauvin's hand.

There are many more admirers: In December the sperm donor comes for a visit, as he does about twice a year. Then, after Christmas, Sharon's father, Thomas, arrives. Sharon's mother died of breast cancer not long after Sharon graduated from U-Va., so he is here with the woman who is now his companion, Caroline Dane. Both of them are hearing. Also visiting are Candy's mother, Diana, who is deaf; Sharon's sister, Anne, who is hearing; Anne's boyfriend, Paul, who is hearing. That means there are four hearing people in the house and five deaf people. Plus Gauvin, whatever team he ends up on. Jehanne moves from one group to another, but usually gravitates toward people who are signing, because she has no way, save by gesturing, to communicate with her hearing relatives.

Sharon is the pivot point, the only one who can translate, which is exhausting for her. She has to keep lip-reading and talking and signing, almost simultaneously. When an interpreter arrives to interpret for this article, the entire group -- all 10 of them -- crowds into the living room and sits, talking intently, for two hours.

It is the first time they have been able to fully express themselves to one another, the first time Sharon has ever had someone to interpret a conversation with her own family. The first time she didn't have to strain to understand what her father said, or her sister. Much of it is funny and fond: It turns out that Thomas, cleaning out his attic, recently found some of the song lyrics that Anne transcribed for Sharon, back when both were girls. "You saved those?" says Sharon. "Why?" Then Anne remembers how she would interpret for Sharon on the phone.

"I remember when that boy asked you to the prom," says Anne, who is six years younger than Sharon, her hair lighter brown, her face illuminated by the same quizzical expressions, the same seriousness, the same faintly Gallic beauty.

"You interpreted that?" Sharon says, laughing.

"Yes!" says Anne, who also remembers that whenever Sharon didn't want to go out with a boy, Anne was the one who had to tell him.

"Do you remember that time we were having an argument, and I called you 'deaf '?" Anne says. "You weren't happy. A lot has changed."

Together, the sisters try to excavate some of their mother's history, find out why she never signed: Both Sharon and her mother struggled to lip-read each other, mother and daughter divided rather than united by deafness, their common bond. Eventually Sharon confronts her father with what she sees as the central mistake her parents made in her upbringing. "I can look back now," she signs, "and say that things would have been different if I had learned to sign, or been exposed to deaf culture. Growing up, if I got 60 percent of a conversation, I felt like that was good. Some of those behaviors are still with me. In groups of signers, they may be signing really fast and even if I'm not getting it all I'm like, 'This is good enough.' I still don't like asking people to repeat. I'm just used to not getting everything."

Later, sitting with her father, she asks, "Did you feel bad when I said that I wished it had been different when I was growing up?"

"No," says her father, a solid, deliberative man with glasses who has brought Jehanne a University of Maine sweat shirt. "We all think about that. We all feel that way about our parents."

In trying to know how to think about Sharon and Candy's endeavor, there are any number of opinions a person might have. Any number of abstract ideas a person might work through in, say, an ethics course. Are the women being selfish? Are they inflicting too much hardship on the child? How does one think of them compared with, say, a mother who has multiple embryos implanted in the course of fertility treatments, knowing that this raises the likelihood of multiple births and, with it, birth defects in some or all of the babies? Morally, how much difficulty can a parent impose on a child in order to satisfy the desire to have a child, or to have a certain kind of child?

A person can think about this, and think about it, but eventually will run up against the living, breathing fact of the child herself. How much difficulty have Sharon and Candy imposed on Jehanne? They haven't deafened her. They've given life to her. They've enabled her to exist. If they had used a hearing donor, they would have had a different child. That child would exist, but this one wouldn't. Jehanne can only exist as what she is: Jehanne, bright, funny, loving, loved, deaf.

And now what about Gauvin, who, at 3 months, already resembles his sister? He has the same elfin face shape, the same deep dimples when he smiles. On his head is a light fuzz of hair; bulkier now, alert and cheery, he's wearing gray overalls and groovy red leather sneakers. The question that will be answered this February afternoon, at Children's National Medical Center, is whether Gauvin, like Jehanne, is deaf. Whether the coin has landed on the same side twice.

By now, Gauvin has had an initial hearing screening, which he failed. They considered this good news, but not conclusive. From there he was referred to this one, which is more sophisticated. The preliminaries take awhile. Sharon lays Gauvin in a crib and a technician applies conductive paste at points around his head, then attaches electrodes to the paste. He needs to be asleep for the test, in which microphones will be placed in his ears and a clicking noise sent through the wires. Through the electrodes, a machine will monitor the brain response. If the waves are flat, there is no hearing. He stirs and cries, so Sharon breast-feeds him, wires dangling from his head, until he falls asleep. The technician slips the microphone in his ear, turns on the clicking noise -- up and up, louder and louder -- and the two women look at the computer screen.

Even at 95 decibels, a sound so loud that for hearing people it's literally painful, the line for the left ear is flat. But there is a marked difference in the right. For softer sounds the line is flat, but at 75 decibels there is a distinct wave. The technician goes to fetch the doctor, and the mothers contemplate their sleeping son, who, it appears, might be neither deaf nor hearing but somewhere in between.

The doctor, Ira Weiss, bustles in; he is a white-haired, stocky man, jovial and accustomed to all sorts of parents, hearing and deaf, happy and sobbing.

The technician points to the wave and suggests that perhaps it represents some noise that Gauvin himself was making. "No," says the doctor, "I think it's not just noise." Sharon looks up at Candy and lets out a little breath. The doctor disappears to get a printout of the results, then returns, reading it. Gauvin, he says, "has a profound hearing loss in his left ear and at least a severe hearing loss in his right ear."

"It does appear," he adds, "that his right ear has some residual hearing. There might be some usable hearing at this time. Given the mother's history, it will probably get worse over time. If you want to take advantage of it, you should take advantage of it now. Right now it's an ear that could be aided, to give him a head start on spoken English. Obviously, he's going to be a fluent signer."

At this stage, Weiss says later, a hearing parent would probably try a hearing aid, in the hope that with it, that right ear could hear something. Anything. A word, here and there. A loud vowel. Maybe just enough residual sound to help him lip-read. Maybe just enough to tell him when to turn his head to watch someone's lips. Hearing parents would do anything -- anything -- to nudge a child into the hearing world. Anything -- anything -- to make that child like them.

For a similar reason, Sharon and Candy make the opposite choice. If he wants a hearing aid later, they'll let him have a hearing aid later. They won't put one on him now. After all, they point out, Sharon's hearing loss as a child occurred at below 40 decibels, which meant that under certain conditions she could make out voices, unaided. Gauvin's, already, is far more severe than hers. Bundling Gauvin up against the cold, they make their way down the corridor, and into the car, and home, where they will tell Jehanne, and Jan, and friends, and family, a sizable group, really, that wants to know. He is not as profoundly deaf as Jehanne, but he is quite deaf. Deaf enough.

Liza Mundy is a Magazine staff writer. She will be fielding questions

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Would You Jump Off A Bridge if Your Friend Was Doing It?

The other day 4of4 was over playing with the FYO.

I was working and BioMom was relaxing a bit and we were taking advantage of them off together playing. Not paying attention to what should have been a deafening silence.

When we got around to rounding them up for the next event of the day, they were curiously behind a closed door and unwilling to come out.

When we finally negotiated the door open, we found that they had been creating a very liquid concoction that consisted mainly of cat food and which was now all over their clothes and had seeped through the guest-room quilt, sheets, and mattress.

(exasperated) What happened here?

(panicked) It was 4of4's idea!!!!

You've made a huge mess! Do you think it was a good idea? Why didn't you do it in the bathroom or something?

No but it was 4of4's idea!!!

What if 4of4 jumped off a bridge, would you follow her?

But that's different! That's dangerous!!!

She definitely had a point. The only potentially dangerous consequence from their actions was dirty laundry and since she doesn't do the laundry, well . . .

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Students for Academic Freedom?

The article from BioMom reminds me of this organization pointed out to me by a colleague (who happens to be a big lefty, but that's beside the point.

Check out the complaint from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

I am a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison taking a political science course entitled, "The Politics of Human Rights". From day one I decided to keep an open mind and give my professor, clearly far to the left, a chance to be fair. I received the syllabus and reading list and saw how we would soon have a series of lectures on US torture and Abu Ghraib. In addition, the class has periodically received emails from the professor telling us to read certain New York Times Op-Ed pieces all criticizing the Bush administration's record on human rights, policy toward Iran, and its stance on ignoring genocide. I am a very outspoken individual by nature and our class is designed to be partly lecture (40 min) and partly discussion (35 min) of a so-called "open and free" nature. . . . When he lectured on genocide, I asked him if he believed (in his expert, not personal opinion) that Saddam Hussein was genocidal. He asked offended by the question and refused to answer it. I asked him why, with his credentials, that he would answer such a decision, particularly in light of the mass graves seen by our fighting men/women in Iraq. He told me that my question was "off-topic" and "inappropriate" to the discussion.

I can just imagine the class discussion:

The professor wants to talk about the torture crimes that occurred at Abu Ghraib and a student says

"But what about Saddam Husain? You can't say that its not a good thing that we got rid of him!!"

The professor tries to politely steer the discussion back to, say, the topic and the student gets pissed and walks away thinking that the professor is a liberal freak-show who is not open to any other beliefs.


I'd like to see the student evaluation from THAT kid.

Bitch.Ph.D. rants about being evaluated by children in this post which brings up a million issues that I will hopefully get to in later posts. But one that relates to the Students For Academic Freedom is that we are getting evaluated by kids who on average a) do not understand what it means to be educated, b) do not understand pedagogy, c) are not practiced in organizing their thoughts and separating out issues and (again, on average) d) do not WANT to become more educated/change/grow etc.

In summary, those evaluating us are resisting the very project they are evaluating.

Talk about bias.