Wednesday, July 24, 2013

(Alleged) sexual assault on the CofC campus

There's been a world of shit happening at the place where I work.  I have to be careful what I say--so let me say there has been an alleged world of shit.  I'm finally (finally finally finally!) part of the conversation about all of this:

CofC finally takes sexual assault allegations seriously (my latest column in the City Paper)

I have a couple of other articles I hope come out fairly soon.  I'll keep you posted.

Let me say that not everybody will agree with me, but I'm proud of the College of Charleston on this issue.  As the title of my column suggests, this year they approached this issue with the seriousness and attentiveness that it deserves.

The City Paper folks wanted to be sure they didn't publish anything that would get them sued, so they toned down some of my outrage.  For instance, in 1994 the provost suggested in a written document to the alleged abuser that he be "more aware of the need to avoid situations and activities which, though apparently innocent and well-intended, may furnish the factual foundation upon which serious allegations of misconduct may be erected."

I then went on to suggest that the activities this faculty member allegedly engaged in were hard to frame as "innocent and well-intended."  Am I allowed to say this on my blog?  Uncertain--I guess we'll find out.  If I get sued, at least it'll be a good story, right?  A story I can potentially tell in my Gender and Violence classes years from now.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Update from Flea Central (and also a story about our day)

Maybelle and I spent the night in our house last night.  We've been in and around the house for big chunks of the day today.  How many new flea bites do we have?


The Terminix guy came over yesterday evening.  He sprayed the inside and the outside of the house.  I am following all his instructions (mainly vacuuming every day--which so far means today--which I've done), and I'm planning to do what another friend said and have them come back in three weeks, just to be sure.

So that is the very happy news from this household. Thank you to blog readers here and on Facebook who loaded us up with excellent suggestions and lots of support.

And now on to the news about our day (heads up:  there's not much actual news--mostly pictures).

We spent the morning with Meg, Olive, Dino, and Luca.  Olive, as you may remember, was one of Maybelle's first nanny-share companions, waaaaay back in the day.

Rachel, Olive, and Maybelle
Here they are, back in 2010.  Good lord, those girls are adorable!  Look at Maybelle's chunky little round face!  And Olive's adult expression!  And Rachel Reinke, one of the world's best nannies, and now rocking on getting her Ph.D. in Women's Studies.

Speaking of rocking on, here are Maybelle and Olive today:

Dance party in Meg's car
We are in Meg's car, and we're listening to Run DMC's "It's Like That."  Let me tell you, that's truly a fine dance song.  All four of us were dancing in the car.  I'm dancing right now listening to it.  I suspect the lyrics aren't that great, but I'm choosing not to listen to them.*

A bit later in the day Maybelle and I went to the Children's Museum, because we hadn't been there in a long time.  Here she is in the castle, dressed as...well...I'm not sure what, but someone who wears purple velvet capes:

As our hours at the Children's Museum went on, she and I both got exhausted.  Like, exhausted.  Here she is on the firetruck, which is one of her very favorite things there, but she was so worn out she wouldn't lift her head to pose for the cell phone:

At the end of the day, around the time Maybelle's exhibiting this exhaustion, I stopped being a fully competent mother.  Maybelle peed on herself shortly after I took this picture (I had taken her to the bathroom twenty minutes earlier, so it was an extra pee), but because we were outside and she was already drenched from the water room, I didn't do anything about it.  Then I only gave her the tiniest bit of protest when she essentially drank from a puddle, and I ultimately said, "What the hell--rain can't hurt."

I then said, "Maybelle, let's go home," and she agreed.

A bit of food, Oklahoma-watching, bouncing on the bed, and a bath wound down the day.  Now she's soundly asleep, and I'm about to watch some Parks and Recreation (hello, Amy Poehler, I love you!).

And I sit happily on the couch, nary a flea on my body.

*Okay, I just listened to the lyrics.  They're not offensive!  They're social justice-y.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Fleas! Fleas! Fleas!

There's a flea situation around Maybelle's and my house that I know you're all very interested in.  Here's the recent story:  Maybelle has had tiny little bites around her waistline.  I've had them on my ankles, feet, and up my legs.  And fairly regularly we feel a little something, look down, and there's a flea.

It's become a major problem, so here's what I've done in the last few days:

  • I put flea traps under the couch and bed 24 hours ago.  The one under the couch now has 10 fleas in it.  The one under the bed has 9. 
  • This morning, when I'd been up for 40 minutes, and I'd picked five fleas off my legs and two off Maybelle.  Fortunately, they were all very small, which suggests that maybe the older generation did, in fact, get killed off, and these are new generation fleas. 
  • I've vacuumed the fuck out of the house every day for the last week, now using the effective vacuum cleaner a friend gave me (seeing me both itchy and enraged can inspire generosity). 
  • I've bleached every bare floor. 
  • I've washed the sheets a million times and dried them excessively long, to kill everybody who lives on them. 
  • I've washed the bed skirt and dried it in similarly intense heat. 
  • I've used the clearly ineffective but highly toxic poison from Home Depot on most surfaces of the house they said were important--many, many times.  
  • I've taken the "cover" off the "futon" (please note the scare quotes) and washed it.  I am now very strongly considering hauling the "futon" out to the sidewalk and letting someone else adopt the fleas living in it.  
  • I've gotten rid of the rug in the living room.  
  • George Jones has become an outdoor cat. 
  • I've started spraying Off on Maybelle when she comes home from camp. 
  • I bought a non-toxic flea spray that is supposed to kill fleas instantly, and I've now sprayed it on every surface:  couch, upholstered chairs, bed sheets and comforter.  It's made of eucalyptis and some other essential oils, so it smells good (and is probably completely pleasant for fleas).
I haven't had the courage to examine Maybelle's hair, because every morning I've found fleas there, and that breaks my heart. Terminix comes tomorrow. I'm going to tell them to go past the point of killing the fleas and make the entire house such an incredibly toxic place that no one smaller than 45 pounds can live here.  I'll see if they can poison the entire yard, too.  If Terminix doesn't work, I'm throwing away the futon, the mattress, and every other soft object in the house.

And then Maybelle and I are going to move in with Uncle Trey. The end.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Go home, said the man in the moon, go home.

Go home, said the man in the moon, go home.
Go home, said the man in the moon, go home.
Because it's getting sort of late
And I'll soon turn out my light.
Go home, said the man in the moon, go home.
--John Denver, "On the Road"

We're back in Charleston.  It was a late trip, due to some family factors that were challenging but are ultimately just fine (let's just say that this is the second time in my life that a man I'm close to has gotten the flesh-eating bacteria, which is treatable if you flood the body with high doses of very, very strong antibiotics).

Maybelle continued to be a great traveler on this trip.  In the time that we were in Cookeville, Trey, Olivia, and I discovered that our rental monstrosity had a DVD player in it, so after we'd been on the road for about five hours, when Maybelle was starting to get a little restless, we popped Mary Poppins in the player.

DVD player in the car:  clearly a truly bad idea.  Leads to neglectful parenting.  Cuts off meaningful opportunities for parent-child connection (like an hour of "gimme five!  Right on!").  And yet...soooooo easy!  Maybelle was happy, and Trey and I were in the front seat getting to talk about Big Life Issues.

Then Trey looked in the rearview mirror.  His face changed to an expression of horror.  "Oh, my," he said.

Oh. My. Lord.
Here she is.  Several of you have already seen this picture on Facebook and Twitter, but Trey and I agree that this picture significantly downplays the mess that was in the backseat.  Multiply this picture by three times as much yogurt, and you've got a clearer sense of what we were both seeing.  Maybelle had apparently dropped her spoon, but rather than fuss at me to get it for her, she discovered that she could eat her yogurt with her hands.  And she did--two yogurts.

Then she discovered that yogurt feels great when it's smeared on the carseat, on her arms, her legs, and the window.  She discovered that blueberries from the yogurt could be shoved in between the two seats.  That blobs of yogurt can be put into cupholders.

I did the best I could using wet wipes to get clumps of yogurt up, but truly cleaning up was hopeless.  So we let the yogurt dry on her body while she watched movies, and while it got darker and later.

Fortunately, children are fully washable, so I gave her a quick shower when we got home (did I mention it was 11?  PM?), then she and I both went to bed, unpacking nothing, snuggling together in exhaustion. This morning Trey and I managed to clean the rental car quite effectively.

"Go home!" Maybelle cried out happily when we got to the house, and again this morning when she woke up and realized where she was.  "Go home!  Mama and Maybelle."  We had an excellent trip to Cookeville (and Nashville), and we are both very happy to be home.  Sort of ideal.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Hanging out in Cookeville

Time in Cookeville, TN--my hometown, where my parents live in the house built by my great-grandfather--is action-packed.  And by that I mean, Maybelle and I are in a house full of my family members.  You might think that I'd be relaxing and blogging all day, but my time looks a little more like this:
Maybelle and all her girls
Maybelle with Lela, her four girls, and Dora
  • In the mornings, Maybelle enjoys leisure time with Lela and the girls, so mom and I get to hang out in the kitchen, drinking coffee and talking.  We are free-range conversationalists, which means that when we're together, and we both have coffee in our system, there's really no telling what's going to come up.  We've talked about selling my house and finding other places to live.  We've talked about Christmas gifts, about the similarities between Unity and the Unitarian church, about best ways of preventing constipation, about various kinds of childhood history--hers and mine--and about incredibly sweet things friends have said to me lately (bringing my mom to tears at least twice).
  • In the evenings, my dad, Trey, and Olivia join the mix, which leads to a great deal of teasing, spread around liberally.  Anyone who's on his or her phone too much?  Teased.  Anyone who does a high-five and inspires Maybelle to go into her "gimme five, right on!" regimen?  Teased (and scolded).  Anyone who has blue toenails?  Teased.
  • And that leads to the next point:  we had pedicures yesterday!  Mmm, a pedicure is sooooo pleasant.  They exfoliate your feet and legs.  They rub delicious lotion on you from the knees down.  They get the chisel out and scrape all the callouses off your heels (they got a special implement out for me--I'm not kidding--because I have inherited my dad's feet).  And then they paint your toenails.  Here we are!
Look who has the Chaco tan.  I look so outdoorsy!  And I'm not.  AT ALL.
  • It's also very tempting, when you have this group together, to take ridiculous photos, and we've done a fairly good job of this.  For example:
Right on!
  • And my personal talent is disgusting dad and Trey.  This actually shouldn't count as a talent, because it's so easy.  They are disgusted by the mildest things.  Topics I talk freely about in my classes make them both cringe, and make my dad threaten to leave the table.  For instance, did you know they now sell super plus tampons?  Not just super, but super plus. This is a great thing!  But talk about that with dad and Trey at the table and the cries of, "That's it!  I'm leaving!" begin.
Ah, Cookeville.  Mom and I are making granola this morning.  Maybelle is probably finding some secret place in the house to pee.  My dad isn't at work (which means there's been a fair amount of teasing this morning).  All's right with the world!