No longer the drifting
and falling of wind
your songs have changed,
they have become
thin willow whispers
that take us by the ankle
and tangle us up
with red mesa stone,
that keep us turned
to the round sky,
that follow us down
to Winslow, to Sherman,
to Oakland, to all the spokes
that have left earth’s middle.
You have engraved yourself
with holy signs, encased yourself
in pumice, hammered on my bones
til you could no longer hear
the howl of the missions
slipping screams through your silence,
dropping dreams from your wings.

Is this why
you made me
sing and weep
for you? Like butterflies made
to grow another way
this woman is chiseled
on the face of your world.
The badger-claw of her father
shows slightly in the stone
burrowed from her sight
facing west from home.

~wendy rose



May 25, 2006

how do you make those big decisions? what factors do you take into consideration, and which do you throw out? how big a risk is too big? what are you willing to settle for?

what i do now, i love. i enjoy being a scientist. i enjoy working out problems, being at the bench doing experiments, and thinking of new and better ways to analyze data. and i would be perfectly content to do this for the rest of my life. (as long as i could make just a wee bit more money doing it.)

which is a big thing and saying a lot, since many many folks who get their phd working at the bench then either leave science altogether or get a job not being at the bench (i.e. professors/PIs). but this thing also means that there really aren’t all that many jobs being at the bench for someone with their PhD. not to mention the fact that i fear in not too long a time much of the science done in this country will be done in another, far cheaper, one.

but there is this other thing that i dream of doing. and it scares me because it is a HUGE risk. in many ways. changes and being risky are not things that i’m good at. things that i’ve taught myself to lean away from because of who i am, where i come from, how i grew up. it is safer to be safe.

it would mean making decisions without seeing the final outcome. without seeing how it will turn out. whether it will all come together, whether it will all be alright. whether i’ll be able to do it, or not. without having a backup plan. these are all things i’ve never done before.

i don’t have to make this decision today. but soon, i will. and it is easy enough to cast the line. harder to know what to do if i get a bite.

here’s a great headline:

rape as a tool of war… Congo“.

um, yeah, right. in congo. how about in the world, right now, everywhere, here in the good ol’ US of A, every day. every two minutes.

according to the article:

…said Dr. Denis Mukwege Mukengere, the lone physician at the hospital. “It’s a kind of barbarity that only savages are capable of.”

He added that “these perpetrators cannot be human beings.”

well, at least we are agreed on that. the thing i don’t like about this article is that it specifically posits the problem as “over there”. as a tactic of war, rather than an every day life existence for women everywhere. if it is a tactic of war, then we are all at war all the time.

aren’t women kind of soldiers when as soon as we step out the door of our home (and unfortunately, many are not safe even in their homes) we keep our eyes and ears open and on alert for the enemy, for any sign of unsafety? when we think tactically of the best route home at night, keep to the light posts, change to the other side of the road if we see a potential enemy heading our way? when we feel we often need escorts, and defensive training because there is no green zone anyway, for any of us?

and of course, the saddest part of this article comes from what one of the women who have been attacked says:

“I wish they’d killed me right there with my husband,” she said, “What use am I now? Why did those animals leave me to suffer like this?”

the tragic consequences of living in a society that teaches that it is the victim of assault who must be ashamed, who is made to feel that it is her who is damaged now, who sees life as not worth living because of her “impurity”. rather than that of her attacker.

i mean, if we’re talking about a war on terror, how much more terrible can you get?

“how i got that name”

Oh, how I love the resoluteness
of that first person singular
followed by that stalwart indicative
of “be,” without the uncertain i-n-g
of “becoming.” Of course,
the name had been changed
somewhere between Angel Island and the sea,
when my father the person
in the late 1950s
obsessed with a bombshell blonde
transliterated “Mei Ling” to “Marilyn.”
And nobody dared question
his initial impulse – for we all know
lust drove men to greatness,
not goodness, not decency.
And there I was, a wayward pink baby,
named after some tragic white woman
swollen with gin and Nembutal

My mother couldn’t pronounce the “r.”
She dubbed me “Numba one female offshoot”
for brevity: henceforth, she will live and die
in sublime ignorance, flanked
by loving children and the “kitchen deity.”
While my father dithers,
a tomcat in Hong Kong trash-
a gambler, a petty thug,
who bought a chain of chopsuey joints
in Piss River, Oregon,
with bootlegged Gucci cash.
Nobody dared question his integrity given
his nice, devout daughters
and his bright, industrious sons
as if filial piety were the standard
by which all earthly men were measured.

Oh, how trustworthy our daughters,
how thrifty our sons!
How we’ve managed to fool the experts
in education, statistics and demography-
We’re not very creative but not adverse to rote-learning.
Indeed, they can use us.
But the “Model Minority” is a tease.
We know you are watching now,
so we refuse to give you any!
Oh, bamboo shoots, bamboo shoots!
The further west we go, we’ll hit east;
the deeper down we dig, we’ll find China.
History has turned its stomach
on a black polluted beach-
where life doesn’t hinge
on that red, red wheelbarrow,
but whether or not our new lover
in the final episode of “Santa Barbara”
will lean over a scented candle
and call us a “bitch.”
Oh God, where have we gone wrong?
We have no inner resources!

Then, one redolent spring morning
the great Patriarch Chin
peered down from his kiosk in heaven
and saw that his descendants were ugly.
One had a squarish head and a nose without a bridge.
Another’s profile-long and knobbed as a gourd.
A third, the sad, brutish one
may never, never marry.
And I, his least favorite-
“not quite boiled, not quite cooked,”
a plump pomfret simmering in my juices-
too listless to fight for my people’s destiny.
“To kill without resistance is not slaughter”
says the proverb. So, I wait for imminent death.
The fact that this death is also metaphorical
is testament to my lethargy.

So here lies Marilyn Mei Ling Chin,
married once, twice to so-and-so, a Lee and a Wong,
granddaughter of Jack “the patriarch”
and the brooding Suilin Fong,
daughter of the virtuous Yuet Kuen Wong
and G.G. Chin the infamous,
sister of a dozen, cousin of a million,
survived by everybody and forgotten by all.
She was neither black nor white,
neither cherished nor vanquished,
just another squatter in her own bamboo grove
minding her poetry-
when one day heaven was unmerciful,
and a chasm opened where she stood.
Like the jowls of a might white whale,
or the jaws of a metaphysical Godzilla,
it swallowed her whole.
she did not flinch nor writhe,
nor fret about the afterlife,
but stayed! Solid as wood, happily
a little gnawed, tattered, mesmerized
by all that was lavished upon her
and all that was taken away!

~marilyn chin

cultural stereotypes

May 16, 2006

ahhh, the age old question: why do girls lose interest in math and science?

apparently one person to blame: your mother. according to education secretary margaret spellings:

Spellings said mothers can inadvertently send signals to their daughters that math skills are not important. Educators must change the culture so it is not acceptable for women to brag about not being able to balance their checkbooks, she said.

first of all, i have never heard anyone brag that they could not balance their checkbook. admit, yes. confess, yes. brag? no. but whatever.

we all know the real reason girls give up on science and math:

stereotypes that girls are not good at math or science.

now, i want to ammend this statement a bit. it’s not that “girls” are not good at math and science: it’s that girls who are attractive to men are not good at math and science.

we’ve seen the t-shirts.

girls are taught from the time they are very young that one of the most important things in life is to eventually get married to a man. to do this they must be attractive in very stereotypical ways: deferring, not aggressive, and dependent. this seems to be tied in to being the opposite of excelling in math and science. if you have to give up one for the other, it doesn’t surprise me which one most girls choose.

the red wheelbarrow

May 15, 2006

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

~william carlos williams

here is a copy of the chain email i received this morning.

Please read very important *Girls must read*

A friend stopped at a pay-at-the-pump gas station to get gas. Once she filled her gas tank and after paying at the pump and starting to leave, the voice of the attendant inside came over the speaker. He told her that something happened with her card and that she needed to come inside to pay. The lady was confused because the transaction showed complete and approved. She relayed that to him and was getting ready to leave but the attendant, once again, urged her to come in to pay or there’d be trouble. She proceeded to go inside and started arguing with the attendant about his threat. He told her to calm down and listen carefully:

He said that while she was pumping gas, a guy slipped into the back seat of her car on the other side and the attendant had already called the police.

She became frightened and looked out in time to see her car door open and the guy slip out. The report is that the new gang initiation thing is to bring back a woman and/or her car. One way they are doing this is crawling under women’s cars while they’re pumping gas or at grocery stores in the nighttime. The other way is slipping into unattended cars and kidnapping the women.

Please pass this on to other women, young and old alike. Be extra careful going to and from your car at night. If at all possible, don’t go alone!
This is real!!

The message:

1. ALWAYS lock your car doors, even if you’re gone for just a second!

2. Check underneath your car when approaching it for reentry, and check in the back before getting in.

3. Always be aware of your surroundings and of other individuals in your general vicinity, particularly at night!

Send this to everyone so your friends can take precaution.


this, just so you know, is NOT the first time i have received this email.

and, boy, does it piss me off.

first of all, it’s the same old tripe about how Girls: you need to be more careful; Girls: you need to do this, or not do that, or check this, or be more aware.

in sum: girls, it’s your responsibility to not get raped. and if you do get raped (cuz, chances are you will), it’s basically your fault for not being more careful.

and i LOVE the last sentence: and guys–your only responsibility is to tell gals you know all about how they should be frightened basically ALL the time, but especially if they are out by themselves at NIGHT (god forbid women be without a male escort!).

how about instead of this we send a chain email around to boys saying, in effect:

Boys: do not rape women. do not sexually assault women. if a woman leaves a car door unlocked, do not think this means she wants you to come home with her and rape her. if she gets drunk at a party, do not think this means she wants you to rape her. she does not want you to rape her.

it is YOUR responsibility to prevent rape. it is YOUR responsibility to NOT RAPE.

and girls… tell any boys you know, not to rape women.


moms are underpaid

May 4, 2006

who doesn’t agree with that sentiment? even if they aren’t sure there is anything that can or should be done about it, i think we all know “moms” (i.e. stay at home parents) work HARD.

a new study says they’d be making over $130,000 a year. nice.

“It’s good to acknowledge the job that’s being done, and that it’s not that these women are settling for ‘just a mom,”‘ said Bill Coleman, senior vice president of compensation at “They are actually doing an awful lot.”

only saying, yeah, you deserve to be paid, isn’t really the acknowledgement most “moms” would probably prefer.

the question is, who’s going to pony up the cash? or a better question, why aren’t mothers on welfare “earning” what the government is “giving them”?

(and where did that pony expression come from?)

yankees vs. red sox

May 4, 2006

you’ve got to decide this early. and you have to go with your gut.

if you’re from CT, as i originally am, you’re probably more likely to support the yankees.

but i could have told you that.

the pResident can’t speak spanish all that well, according to his press secretary, so it’s absurd to suggest that he sung the national anthem in spanish during the inauguration.

yeah, well, he can’t speak english all that well either, but he certainly seems to memorize his lines well enough to give speeches.