Posts by Gina Barreca
August 15, 2010, 11:20 PM ET
I have a couple of friends who are from wildly different
backgrounds, who live in wholly different circumstances, and who
nevertheless have a great deal in common.
If we’re really being honest here (and why not?) sometimes what they have in common makes me envious while it simultaneously brings me heartache.
What they have in common is the belief that, if they buy the right book, find the right past life, discover the right weight-loss program, employ the right combination of aromas, dress in the right colors, eat the right fruit, sleep the right number of hours—in addition to lighting the correct candles, watching the best movies, shenging the right fui, chanting the best mantra, consuming the highest fiber, eating the most fat, eating the least fat, pressing the right pressure points, and breathing the proper way—everything in their lives, from child care to pay grade to dress size,...
August 9, 2010, 03:00 PM ET
We’re filing in and the ladies and gentleman are looking at everybody. They’re asking us if these are our own shoes, and where we came from, and if we were brought up in a religion and who our people were. They’re checking our teeth, they’re looking at our skin to see if we have diseases. They’re looking at us like we’re geese going up the ramp to have our necks cut off, but they’re also trying to look at us in a way that makes us seem like people. It’s a cross between the two. They’re making me feel important by asking me these questions, but they’re also making me feel inhuman because I don’t know why and nobody will really explain it to me.
In front of me, there’s a girl who looks like she couldn’t be more than 15 and her teeth are all broken and one eye looks like it’s shut. She’s a poor thing. She’s skinny, but she still has color in her face. This is someone else that they can...Read More
August 5, 2010, 04:00 PM ET
I’d never gone to a killer’s Facebook page before but on Tuesday, when Omar Thornton fatally shot eight people, wounded two others, and then turned the gun on himself at a beverage distribution company about 15 minutes from my house, I decided to look him up.
I’d been following the story all day on local broadcasts, having heard about it first from a friend in the Midwest. He’d heard the story break as soon as it happened and left a message on our home answering machine. It was one of those weird moments, somebody leaving a voice mail saying, in effect, “There’s been a big workplace shooting near you. Is everybody you know OK?” He knew that the odds were that we’d not be directly involved with anyone in this tragedy, but he wanted to check in. He wanted to talk about it. And so did I.
Why did I go to Omar Thornton’s Facebook page? To see if I could, for one thing. To be honest, I was ...Read More
August 2, 2010, 12:26 AM ET
Having spent several hours this weekend talking in person, on the phone, or via email with friends about the reasons we have not accomplished what we meant to accomplish—no, what we were absolutely certain we would have accomplished by the beginning of August—I decided it might be useful to collect these truly excellent reasons in one place and “share” them.
(Now, for those of you who don’t know me well, one of these old friends pointed out that it was imperative for me to explain the degree to which I loathe the word “share.” He thinks it's pathological. True, in polite conversation, I refer to it as the “s” word and refuse to use it. And, yes, I also announce at the beginning of my classes that the one thing we will never do during the semester is “share” our ideas. We might articulate, exchange, discuss, explain, support, undermine, illustrate, delight in, or rip to shreds ideas, but...Read More
July 29, 2010, 07:00 PM ET
Please can we start a group called "What Would Emily Say?" I mean, Emily Bronte's birthday is July 30th and heartsick lovers everywhere need to celebrate—or at least consult.
Members of WWES already exist, even if they don't have an official name or offer official T-shirts (yet). This was proven to me by the fact that I was asked to complete a series of questions concerning love and romance in Wuthering Heights for a popular online dating site. With an eye towards making my comments revelant to what are somtimes called "singles" in today's world, I accepted the challenge because it was too funny to pass up.
Here, in celebration and in lieu of balloons (I don't think Emily Bronte would have been a balloon type, frankly) is my opening statement for newly-minted "WWES?" fans:
1. What's up with the whole class issue deal? The issue of class distinctions is an important one...Read More
July 26, 2010, 11:37 AM ET
Have you ever had the academic version of "empty nest syndrome," which I’ll cleverly call “empty office syndrome” since I don’t have a better name for it?
Have you ever experienced a profound sense of loss when a graduate student does exactly what a graduate student is meant to do, is trained to do, and is expected to do—which is to leave?
Have you ever had a graduate student who worked so closely with you that she or he became a real friend and a virtual member of the family, thereby causing you to feel bereaved even when you’re celebrating her or his deserved and welcome new faculty position at another institution?
I’m experiencing empty-office syndrome right now, which is the very reason I don’t have a better name for it: Karen isn’t here to help me figure out how to sound smarter than I actually am. Along with teaching, writing, editing, publishing, playing softball, and having ...Read More
July 20, 2010, 02:06 PM ET
Some times its two easy too make Fun of peoples, especially when those peoples are Sara Palin, whom was once govner in Canada and thereby weren’t tawt English, which is also the reason her daughter is engaged to a baby-daddy named after pants and shopping a realty show for the cabal television.
Communicatering gets trippy when words get in the way.
(Actually, “communicatering” would be a great term for “speaking while cooking for others.”)
Hey, I’ve always given the Palin family the doubting benefit. I always thought perhaps Bristol mistook “absinthe” for “abstinence” and never gave creedence to those who said she mistook “yes” for “no.”
A nice girl like that, as shy and modest as her conservative mom, would never betray her family’s deep-seated values, right? Got to Celebrate THAT!
If you’ve been on the beach, in the library, or in your basement with a mattress pad over your...Read More
July 17, 2010, 02:15 PM ET
Everybody has an opinion when the Vatican makes pronouncements concerning sex and gender.
Everybody who is a Catholic, was a Catholic, is in love with a Catholic, is married to a Catholic (not necessarily a sub-set of the previous category), was taught by Catholics, was taught to hate Catholics, or who now reviles Mel Gibson—meaning pretty much everybody in the world—wants to comment when the Vatican says, as it said a couple of days ago, that the ordination of female priests deserves pretty much the same punishment as sexual molestation of children and the disabled.
If you haven’t been following this story, you’ll think I’m exaggerating, but I’m not.
Here’s what the Vatican's internal prosecutor, Msgr. Charles J. Scicluna, said from the news conference in Rome, when asked to explain why ordination of women was included alongside of rulings concerning sexual exploitation of children a...Read More
July 13, 2010, 12:31 AM ET
I’m not a fan of sports, games, or recreation.
That, apparently, puts me at odds with a whole lot of folks who are making the genuinely Big Money decisions on campuses across the country, according to a recent story in The New York Times:
There are a few things, of course, that I wouldn’t use as the subject of my jest.
(But hey, can “jesting” be a recreational activity? Oh, please, let's do it. That might well be one recreational activity I could support. Imagine great outfits, absolutely amazing dance numbers in accompaniment to the playoffs/jestoffs, and just how smart the winners would have to be—wouldn't it be great? It might be the kind of thing you'd hope to find at a university.)
OK, allow me to collect myself, and go back and say that even while I don't like the idea that money is pouring into recreation as opposed to academic programs, I wouldn't be making fun—say—of...Read More
July 9, 2010, 09:00 AM ET
I never had the dream where you stand in front of a class naked, although I have dreamt that I’ve taught class in a slip and in a nightgown. Neither of these dreams counted as nightmares, however, because both the slip and the nightgown were very flattering and, while rather sexy, were in no way less appropriate than what my adorable students wore to their proms.
But I do have a recurring nightmare about teaching. I had a version of it the other night.
The teaching nightmare goes something like this: I’m going to be late to class. The class I’m supposed to teach is being held in another building, and the weather is terrible—just rotten. Sleet, wind, rain, snow, inches of mud, and I think I’m supposed to ride a bicycle across campus. The campus doesn’t resemble UConn, where I’ve taught for the last 23 years, by the way, but instead looks either like Dartmouth, where I was an...Read More