I was cleaning out my room just now. It was prompted by my failure to find my new camera charger, which led to my failure to ignore/postpone the fact/thought that my room is just one months old Dominos box in the closet away from my DC Den of Depression. Then, writing, even if to myself, made me feel better; I’m hoping that by starting to write again to myself again, I will feel better now, too.
Where did I leave off? I’d moved into the apartment I’m in now. I was deeply unhappy then, and I supposed I still am, but not as badly or as constantly (I think). I’m a little better at my job—no, I’m much better at my job now. Not great, but better. I’m still in an unhappy, unsatisfying, stale and stagnant relationship with this city and my job, and I can’t figure out if I am unable or unwilling to end it. Maybe it’s both, but with more inability than unwillingness.
I still have an awful habit of forgetting about food I put in the fridge. This is because of my sporadic grocery shopping habits. I need to change this, if not for me, then absolutely for my roommates.
So basically, everything is almost the same. This definitely needs to change.
is very different from going away for school. Getting scared and sad.
The more you know
The theme for my 2B class this week is “food.” There was a silly short “food quiz” in the book that we did as a warmer, and during which my older, very Russian Russian student adamantly claimed that strawberries aren’t fruits.
"Yes, they are," the rest of the class said, after they’d whipped their heads around to gawk in unison.
"No. They are berries," Russian Student insisted.
"But berries are fruits—"
"No. Strawberries are berries."
"OK, well, I think most people consider them to be berries," I interjected. "So what are some yellow fruits?"
A student said bananas, because of course.
"No," said Russian Student. "Bananas are not fruit."
"They are grass."
At this point my class gently exploded. “But they grow on trees!” “They have seeds!”
"They’re grass! And watermelons are berries!"
"Where are you from?" a Korean students asked suspiciously.
When I’d taught this unit to a different 2B class before, a Japanese students insisted to me—quietly and privately—that pumpkins were melons because his electronic dictionary said so. He accepted the fact that my google search confirmed that they were in fact squashes. But today’s moment threw me into a minor existential crisis of sorts. One the one hand, everyone knows that bananas, strawberries, and watermelons are fruits. DUH. Everyone knows that! On the other hand, 600 years ago, everyone know that the earth was round and everything revolved around it. DUH! Everyone knew that!
So, I did a little intensive research. Here is what I found, and what I asked my co-teacher to relay to our class tomorrow:
1. Scientifically speaking, strawberries are not exactly fruits, but they are definitely not berries. They are “false fruits” or “accessory fruits” because the seeds of the flower are on the outside, and the strawberry does not grow from the seeds. Strawberries are engorged parts of the flower.
2. Berries are fruits.
3. The actual banana (i.e. the long yellow thing we eat) is technically a berry, but it is also still a fruit. The PLANT from which the fruit grows is technically not a tree, but an herb (not grass).
4. Watermelons are technically berries, and also fruits, because berries are fruits.
5. (Not part of our argument, but just interesting related tidbits) Other “true berries” include avocados, grapes, persimmons, tomatoes, and very possibly peppers.
I wasn’t wrong. Phew. All is right with the world again.
If I look up “carrot” in the dictionary, most people will acknowledge I do not know all there is to know about carrots and if I truly want to understand carrots, I should probably pick up a horticultural text book. We know that legal and medical terms are going to be, at best, simplistically represented and know we need to find a lawyer or a doctor if we want to know more. Anyone deciding to base their argument on, say, a philosophical concept or term using the dictionary is going to be laughed at at best, or automatically lose whatever argument they’re trying to make at least.
Yet the minute we move into a social justice framework, the ultimate authority changes. We don’t need lived experience, we don’t need experts who have examined centuries of social disparities and discrimination, we don’t need societal context. We don’t need sociology or history – no, we have THE DICTIONARY! That ultimate tome of oracular insight, the last word on any debate!
It’s patently ridiculous and you can see that by applying it to any other field of knowledge. But the privileged will continually trot out simplistic, twitter-style dictionary definitions as if they are the last word and the ultimate authority. No-one would drag out the dictionary to debate science with a scientist. But they’re more than willing to trot out a dictionary definition of racism over any sociological analysis. A dictionary is not the ultimate authority - they’re a rough guide for you to discover the simple meaning of words you’ve never heard before – not an ultimate definition of what the word means and all its contexts.
Sparky at Womanist Musings. YES! (via flowerskss)
(Source: womanist-musings.com, via stfuconservatives)
What America Needs Now: Clinton/Booker 2016
Fuck this election. We’re looking toward the future. Clinton/Booker 2016. Hillary for prez; she holds it down on a global level. Cory Booker for veep; he’ll save your grandma from a burning house and then invite you over to chill, while quoting Frederick Douglass. America needs this now more than ever: Something amazing to look forward to. Look at that image by the incomparable Jim Cooke. Don’t you feel better already? Clinton/Booker 2016. Pass it on.
I came to the fully naked, cold, complete realization today that I am not good at my job. The other teachers around me are moving as far forward as one possibly can in this godawful circus, whereas I am stagnant, maybe even going backwards. I’m coming to terms with the fact that I need to quit at the end of November, even if I don’t have anything else to do or anywhere else to go (which I most likely won’t). I also need to figure out how to end this relationship with Boston. I basically need to figure out how to make my life a little less terrible.