Peanut butter--good news/bad news.

So the good news is that eating peanut butter in youth can help keep away breast disease. The bad news is: You're already an adult. Too late. The good news is: So it's too late--who cares? It kept away *benign* breast disease only. No effect on malignant breast disease. Bad news: Having dense fibrocystic breasts can make you more likely to develop breast cancer. And it's hard to read fibrocystic breasts in the mammo machine. Those of us with dense breast/s harbor secrets..



Breast cancer treatment: a progression

This
is what a year of treatment looks like--just in time for Breast Cancer Month. We are so lucky, we get a month with 31 whole days. We are ahead of the Ovarian Cancerites with their measly 30 days of September. Remember: If you wear a pink ribbon, you keep cancer away. And you will never die.


The danger of not getting BRCA testing

You might think that doctors would recommend BRCA testing to their breast cancer patients who are likely to carry a BRCA mutation.
Well, they do--at least some of the docs do. But barely more than half of doctors urged such patients to get the genetic test. And if the high risk patients
wait, it can cost them...years. Find out
more from the Forward.
 

Chicagoans--film premiere

BRCA BRCA BRCA, we hear all about it. Once upon a time the genetic mutation wasn't named. Here's the story.

WHAT:     Chicago premiere of Decoding Annie Parker, a film starring Helen Hunt Samantha Morton, Bradley Whitfield, and Rashida Jones (view the trailer here)

WHEN:    Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 7 PM

WHERE:    Muvico Theater, 9701 Bryn Mawr Avenue, Rosemont, IL

WHO: This special film premiere event will also feature appearances by the director Steven Bernstein and the real life Annie Parker. A panel discussion will follow the screening.

TICKETS:    Available at http://dapchicago.eventbrite.com/


Decoding Annie Parker tells the true story of two remarkable women, Dr. Mary-Claire King and Annie Parker, each touched by hereditary breast cancer in her own way: Ms. Parker battles the disease and Dr. King’s genetic research leads to the discovery of the BRCA1 breast cancer gene.

Dr. King’s discovery changed the way many in the medical community approached breast cancer and provided solace to families who, generation after generation, lost their mothers, wives and daughter to the disease. Compared with people in the general population, individuals with a BRCA mutation and those with a strong family history of breast and ovarian cancers face many challenges, such as much higher likelihood of being diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer, being diagnosed at a younger age, developing cancer more quickly and in more aggressive forms, and having a 50% chance of passing on a BRCA mutation to a child

Proceeds benefit Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered (FORCE), the only non-profit organization devoted to helping those affected by hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC).

You don't have to have breast cancer....

..to learn to row. Recovery (from breast cancer) on Water is offering a morning of free lessons on the Chicago River August. 10.  Register HERE

Free offer--hand-made broadside

Cleaning my office--anybody want a broadside, hand-set type, one page with excerpt from Fakers by Paul Maliszewski on one half and my Cancer Bitch on the other? I have several.
 This broadside has nothing to do with ships. See here .

Coffee--something good that is not bad

The NYT aka Cancer Times tells us that coffee is good: for staving off dementia *and* breast cancer recurrence.


NYC area: Want to be interviewed?

Help a Reporter Out offers this (below). Note that you'll need to get to NYC on your own.


Summary: Mom Breast Cancer Survivors (in their 40s to 60s) and Their Daughters (in their 20s or 30s)


Name: Bethany Kandel SHAPE Magazine
Category: General

Email: query-34e3@helpareporter.net (This means: Email Bethany at that address.)

Media Outlet: SHAPE Magazine

Deadline: 7:00 PM EST - 14 June


Query:

I am looking for several pairs of moms and daughters in the
tri-state area for a story about breast cancer. The mom needs to
be a breast cancer survivor (in her 40s to 60s); the daughter
should not have breast cancer but is concerned about it, due to
her mom's history. Daughters need to be in their 20's or 30's.
We are looking for stories about how each daughter deals with
her mother's diagnosis and what she has done as a result; i.e.
Does she have a special diet to stay healthy and try to avoid
getting the disease? Follow a specific exercise routine? Give up
smoking? Breast feed her babies because this is supposed to
lower risk? Get genetic testing? Earlier mammograms? etc.)
Please note: Both mom and daughter must be able to come to NYC
for a photo shoot the first or second week in July
(date to be
chosen shortly and it will be on your own dime -sorry!). Your
story and photos will be in a major health and fitness magazine.
Please send me your ages, brief outline of your story and if you
are available to be in New York then. Thank you kindly!

Video essay on Pre-vivors

Here is a video essay by Cathy Beres that reacts to Angelina's public surgery and statements:
http://vimeo.com/68074277

Tuscaloosa Diary, continued

My penultimate night in T-town, as it's called. And this pops up on my Facebook wall, courtesy of Jongy Lipschutz from high school: link to gen-u-wine rebel yells!

The Food (for Thought) Truck

I dreamed last night that I had the idea of a creative-writing-mobile. We (whoever we were) were going to sell beginners bags for $10, containing Bird by Bird, lit mags, office supplies and advice. We could also have visiting writers sleep in it, if necessary, and it would be our mobile office. Again--I'm not sure what entity I was a part of. We may have had something to do with classes at Links Hall. I was thinking, too, how great it would be to drive the car to Seattle for AWP, making stops along the way, selling bags and books and having readings and classes.

my photo, Doo-Nanny, Seale, AL

Bring on the Bs!

It's probably a good idea to take B-12, B-6 and folic acid to protect yourself from Alzheimer's, according to the New Scientist and other publications. Studies suggest that the vitamins can help. And as the Jewish lady said, It couldn't hoit.
 from theadplan.com

Apres Angela Jolie

1. It's great that she went public.
2. It's great that people are talking about breast cancer and surgery and the gene mutations. Though I cringed when I heard someone interviewed on NPR who talked about mammograms and other preventive measures. The mammogram does not prevent breast cancer! Think of it as a dental  X-ray: It tells you what's under there, but doesn't fill cavities.
3. It is scary to think of  lopping them off. She did not discuss the possibility of not having reconstruction.
4. To read about a woman's detailed experience of the prophylactic double mastectomy, see: Goodbye to Boobs.
5. If Jolie didn't have health insurance, she would be up a creek.

Without the proverbial paddle.

Upanishads

[Moon Rooster by Barry Wilson]


This afternoon at the gas station ($3.21/gal. in Tuscaloosa) I suddenly had a notion of Large Self and Small, Mean Self. Meant figuratively, of course, and thought of the prayer or poem in fellow Jewish Texan Dean Ornish's book, Eat More, Weigh Less. I went looking for the words of the Upanishads.

Thinking of how it should be impossible to have a divided self, divided desires, because each of us is just one person, but of course we all have divisible parts. The puzzle of it though.

And so I thought of the Larger Self that connects with all things and knows what should be done, and the Smaller Self that looks only at the moment, immediate gratification. Another way of talking about Id and Ego. (Freud's translator was afraid that people would call it the Yid.)



Mundane. The Larger Self knows you should clean your house because it will make you feel more at peace. Small Self is a mess-maker.

Purt' near full moon tonight. Full moon and eclipse tomorrow in the Eastern Hemisphere.


Liberated from the grip of egoism, like the moon (after the eclipse), full, ever blissful, self-luminous, one attains one’s essence. – Adhyatma Upanishad

Marijuana for breast cancer?

The study was published in late 2012 but Cancer Bitch just found out about it. Read here about how marijuana might help.

****
See how healthy her breasts look:

Back to Cancer or "cancer"

I saw one or two episodes of The Big C. Now we're told that there will be one fast final season coming up--four one-hour shows. Zap2it reports: How does it end? "The final scene of the series will be very nostalgic for viewers of the show," (producer) Bicks teased. "I think it's a visually stunning moment and a very happy moment too." Co-star Gabourey Sidibe concurred without giving much away. "It was done so smartly. And really, really beautiful. It's more like a graduation than anything."
***

Does that mean she "dies" the way Thelma and Louise died (turning into cartoon figures who drove off the cliff and we know, from Roadrunner that cartoon characters have a million lives), in a way that told us it was just a movie, folks? Does that mean that she slowly and beautifully fades away like a Victorian heroine? Nothing messy or smelly or harsh or anguished about it?
Does she donate her organs?Who will be the commercial sponsor?
In any case, she'll never top Oscar Wilde on his deathbed: My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or other of us has got to go.
Goethe: Mehr Licht! More light! Opfen up die Vindow shutters!

                                            Alas, Ophelia; I did not know you well enough!

When Laura Linney throws off that mortal coil as Cathy-with-Cancer, you can bet that the coil will be beautiful.


The public weal & public destruction


Friday night I dreamed of N, a long-ago beau-of-the-moment. In the dream he was in a first-year class I was teaching, 22 students, huge room, bad acoustics, no one paying attention and I hadn't finished grading papers from the week before. In real life, N is a big deal in Washington. He has 17 thousand tweeter followers. That is how we measure importance. I have eight or nine followers but hardly tweet. He was a brilliant 19-year-old, he could talk about the world and wanted to talk about it. He had an ideology, same as mine, so of course I respected it. He is no longer broadly insouciant. At least the tweets going out to his 17 thousand followers are not. They toe the line. They inform. They celebrate information without including analysis by an ideologue, of any stripe.
He has Gone Places.
His tweets are from his Public Self.
I knew him before he had much of one.



Saturday morning J, a very bright friend from the 1980s, was suddenly on MSNBC, being sincere and emphatic and patriotic and not insouciant, as he too once was. Resilience is an overused word but it's the right word, he said. I was in Alabama anonymously watching J on TV and looking at a picture of N online and reading his mainstream gung-ho tweets. I was in Selma arriving late at gatherings and collecting people's stories. No one in the public sphere listening to me. Me taking and saving the words of others, fuzzily, on my phone and in my notebook, the same kind of black and white marbled cardboard that I used for my first book of poems, written in second grade,  never published. I did not know I was brilliant. I wasn't. I was smart. Bright. I am collecting stories and hearing people tell me about hearing  god's voice, hearing what must be done, people knowing and healing without a license. Everyone down here speaking of signs, of flashes, of decisions and knowing, corroboration. A woman I will call A leads others poetically but harshly, in the dark, to replicate the Middle Passage, to replicate the worst that can be done, deracination, families torn asunder, de-personalization, and for what? Not for empathy only, to learn what it was like, to re-enact the slave capture and voyage, but to learn what evil feels like, the exact scar of it, damage of it, that unites with the wounds we all have. A told me that a white man resembling Archie Bunker came to her tour and afterward he said he had been friends with two black boys when the three of them worked in a restaurant in college or high school. The cook who was white didn't like the cross-racial friendship and to divide them he said: Here's a steak plate and two chicken plates, you (Archie Bunker), you decide who eats what. I was thinking he would cut the steak in thirds and the chicken in half. But he did not. He came upon the age-old solution of rhyming: Eenie meenie miney mo, he started, and proud of himself because at the end of the impartiality his friend was rewarded the steak. The two were flabbergasted. Do you know what you said? Yes, eenie meenie miney mo, I let the old rhyme decide, not the racist man who was trying to divide and conquer. But do you know what you said? Say it and he did and he heard himself, ... catch a n---- by the toe. And as an adult during debriefing after the tour and the entry into the light he recounted this and cried.

Leon Blum, premier of France who was hated, for being a liberal and a Jew, said that when he and his brother wanted to split an apple their mother would have one son cut the fruit and the other choose which half to eat.

The healer, A, said she one day was crying on the bus, in Chicago, coming home from the doctor who said she would not be able to have children and a big black man, she did say black, she is black too, he sat next to her, his big bummy unwashed self and told her she would have a child. He touched her shoulder. This was a good thirty years ago, at least 36, because that is the age of her daughter.

In high school the drama students were not singing Jacques Brel with enough depth and force in the rehearsal and the teacher, she of a dozen toes and often-sandals, and six-foot height, she told us to scatter in the auditorium, even the technical crew members such as myself, to close our eyes and imagine that everyone we loved had left us. We were alone, everyone was gone from our lives, we were nothing in nothingness, sadness filling our emptiness, we sat heads curled inward imagining, and there was silence then sniffles perhaps sobs and empty time passing until she gave us the cue, did she play the music? she began and we began, eyes open, walking toward one another, joining hands on the stage (we were friends anyway or friendly, some more than others, there were rumors there had been an orgy one weekend, no one would tell me exactly what they'd done) that Saturday or Sunday afternoon in the auditorium when the school was closed, but I was here for this as we came together on stage with no audience but ourselves watching and listening to ourselves, me knowing well the paint cans and brushes and wood frames and canvas rolls in the wings and little rooms tucked away backstage, we came together, we began singing, If we only have love. The translation of Flemish singer Jacques Brel from the French. If we only have love we can heal those in pain. And the something desert earth will grow green again. The drama teacher led us to the depths and out again then to repair, healing, for the sake of art. To deepen the artistry of teenagers, some of whom became stars of regional theater and others not.  But like the song that came out years later about the high school drama teacher who instructed students in their imagining--I felt nothing.


During that season of Jacques Brel a senior boy named Y sang Brel's Port of Amsterdam, about rough sailors and whores, a dark European song, in the middle of a pep rally. I don't think anyone laughed.




If the French hated Leon Blum so much, how was he elected? He was hated too in a privileged concentration camp because he was so jolly. Mendes-France I think was his cell mate.



The damaged men the two damaged men, brothers, one shot, the other in the hospital found hiding in a boat that was going no where. They're called suspects now and then but most of the time accepted as the guilty parties,accepted these were the bombers the ones who planned and carried out the bombing. To blow up and kill people watching and running in the marathon. Marathon, which means fennel in Greek. From the time a messenger ran to or from Marathon to Athens with the news that the people of the town, the warriors, had defeated the Persians. So there is war and death and rivalry behind Marathon. The people who set off the bombs in Boston did not hate runners or marathons but they wanted to show that they were powerful enough to break apart the marathon, to bring death and dismemberment, to break open the skin, bleeding everywhere, damage, to inflict harm. To inflict pain. To take away. To remove. To surprise. This is the big surprise. The power of surprise, they were the kings of it, they knew more than anyone else that day, (the suspects) the power they had, to ruin. To make names for themselves by the damage. They could disrupt, interrupt, detour everyone's focus. Everyone paying attention to times to distance to speed, comparing, then counting time was not important. To go on record or break a record, they destroyed the importance of goals, they could make the primary secondary. The could infiltrate the public holiday the international day of running, the happiness, make us feel suddenly how naive it was to think of besting one's best,  they could turn pride into blood, render the precision of calibrations unimportant. They destroyed hearts and lungs and flesh and bone. Murdered. Maimed. Releasing chaos, flames and ash, piercing metal, unleashing their own private Armageddon  just where they wanted to. Their names not on water writ, as the poet lamented. Their names everywhere. Circling the globe.

Happy Birthday, WPA!

Now, more than ever--we need a new Works Progress Administration, with a new Works Progress Administration included. Here's a recent piece on the WPA and Keynes. The WPA hired artists as well as infrastructure workers. 

 Good for the people, good for the cities. And ruralties.
 Ever been to Timberline Lodge?



Cancer got him--but truly it was a battle

Those of us at Cancer Bitch Central do not like reading about someone's battle with cancer. But in the case of Roger Ebert, it's apt. Cancer kept snapping at him and trying to break him and stop him but he kept moving, writing and not hiding. Finally he did stop, just as he was about to enter hospice. I didn't read his online journal very much, but a friend of mine did and was touched and amazed by it.

Truly he deserves to rest in peace.

Katy to Princetonian: Pipe down!

A great response from sister ROWer to the letter to Princeton women.
Patton should also read the Feminine Mystique.

Because everyone wants the Princeton man.




King Cotton

The astounding notion that the slavery system was a capitalistic system! I mean, did anyone ever doubt that? The slaveowners owned the means of production. It took a war for the means of production to own itself, at least in theory. But aside from that obviousness, this piece on King Cotton is worth reading. Maybe the dominant thought was that slavery was pre-capitalistic = feudalism. Well I for one think that feudalism was/is capitalism at its most raw.

                              Slave buyers in the Caribbean, from the above NYT opinion piece


***
An argument/short discussion with X yesterday, me, in favor of Liberation Theology (how we got to that I don't remember), he against, saying it was Marxist social justice forced upon the population by the government. I always thought the associated comunidades de base or base communities, conscious-raising groups to discuss church teachings on the poor and their own lives, came from the church. Maybe the system was encouraged by left-wing governments.But I see Liberation Theology as a way of learning you can seize some power, you don't have to wait to inherit the earth.  Here is an attack on Liberation Theology--criticizing it for dismissing Church notions of heaven, but it's worth reading. Yes, the reason I'm in favor of it is because it imagines there is no heaven. So that it is Marxist. And something Jews can work with. Because though we have notions of heaven, and there are stories of circles of heaven, and hell, and the afterlife, there is no one teaching that all branches of Judaism accept about the afterlife. Emphasis is on the world as it is. According to Reform Judaism, the afterlife is not so important. The Orthodox would not agree. And different sects of Hasidic Orthodoxy would probably have different things to say about this. I've been told by an Orthodox rabbi that I wasn't Jewish because I didn't believe that God had created the Torah before any of the events in it happened.
X and I agreed to disagree about Liberation Theology and turned to other things.

Tuscaloosa Diary--5

Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia
 

Jim Crow? Jim Crowe? James Crow? Jim Doe? James Crowe?






The school newspaper ran a column with these words "at the hands of Jim Crowe," and Cancer Bitch decided to step in.
See what she said.


Back to cancer for a moment



Beware, fellow cancer bitches, if your hair has grown back a different color or texture after chemo, you might have to bare your chest to prove you had breast cancer.

That's what happened in Kansas City when a  survivor went to Walmart to return a gift book without a receipt and the clerk asked for a photo i.d. She told them she'd had breast cancer surgery and chemo, and that her hair was different when it grew back. Don't believe me? she asked. Wanna see my scar? So she showed them.

And you thought you wouldn't have to bare your breast until Mardis Gras.

Yahoo News, however legit or non-legit it is--has the story, with the right amount of sarcasm.

[photo by Eudora Welty; yes, that Eudora Welty!

Tuscaloosa Diary-4

Stop the presses! The New York Times has confirmed the death of civil rights pioneer James Hood, more than three days after it was reported in the Tuscaloosa News, followed by stories by the AP and other major news media. I guess the Times was waiting on the confirmation from his daughter. Checking with the funeral home would have been too iffy, I guess.
Photo: Hood forgiving George Wallace, 1996



Tuscaloosa Diary -3

Why is it, that as of 11:57am on Saturday, the New York Times still doesn't have a James Hood's news obit online or story on his death? The local paper  reported it 23 hours ago. Maybe the Times is waiting to confirm his existence.Oh, but it has been in Classifieds for a while, thanks to the AP.
Or am I missing something?
In photo: Hood and Vivian Malone, who were infamously stopped at the schoolhouse door at Bama by the notorious racist Gov. George Wallace, nearly 50 years ago. About four hours later they succeeded in enrolling, flanked by Deputy Atty. General Nicholas Katzenbach
Update: Still can't find a news obit in the NYT at 10:02 pm. I'm getting obsessed with this. Need to get back to work.

Tuscaloosa Diary 2

Today I learned that A entity bought B entity to make it more white. But then I was in B and I said, I heard that you're owned by A, and a staff person said, A bought our building and we have to move out in two years. Hmm. So what does that mean?
When L was here we were walking around near downtown and there was a parky area with brown grass and the plaque said it was commemorating black businesses that used to be there. So the question is: Wouldn't it have been better to have helped the black biz stay in biz?
Yesterday I went to an office-supply store (I thought) to pick up printer cartridges I'd ordered on the phone. I couldn't find it. I called and I was two buildings away. It was downtown with a white awning and office furniture in the front window. Inside it was like Noah's ark--one representative of each office supply. (I exaggerate.) No price tags. It was sad. I imagined they rearrange the merchandise like a balding man recombs his hair, trying to cover the empty spots.
 I was also informed that the only black people who can join the X Club are university professors. Doesn't the NAACP check out things like this? It wouldn't be a big priority--it's much more important to find out if realtors (and I refuse to give them a capital R, like they demand) are discriminating.
As for the capital R, I guess I should refer to them as realty agents. Those two words are still safe from capitalization.
***
I moved in to my new apartment, where I'll live the rest of the semester. Two strong MFA females helped me. One lifted the big suitcase horizontally in front of her and went up the one flight. It is true what they say--many hands make light work. It is an apartment usually rented for the weekend by fans, so that it is decorated to welcome fans. It's in a 100-year-old house and has two tiled non-working fire places, high ceilings, (gray painted) wooden floors, and (white painted) molding. The color scheme is Crimson Tide--gray walls, red walls, red and black window sashes, gray ceilings, red ceilings, big red As (not for Anarchy, I don't think) painted here and there.It is very cute. A special bottle of Coca-Cola with a picture of Bear Bryant on the label, placed on top of a kitchen cabinet. Red pillows, red place mats, red bath mat, red bedsheets, red oven mitts, red dish cloths, red blankets, and red (and white, and gray) towels.
Luckily I like red. And luckily I'm a Winter
***
Want your own coke bottle? Order it here. And I live on Paul W. Bryant Drive.

Tuscaloosa Diary 1


I am trying to interrogate myself about this smugness, this Yankee intellectual artiste atheist lefty smugness. They pronounce "swim" in two syllables. Sway-em. They say yes ma'am, and I can't figure out the politeness hierarchy of who says it to whom. (Starbucks barristas in the student union telling me that 50 Shades is a really good book, yes ma'am. One of them had to look up some words while reading it. I didn't ask which ones: for sexual acts?) Why did I email a few people the other day: There's a prayer meeting in the coffee house. It's actually sweet, though, isn't it, that they're praying? The Jew superiority that they believe in Christ, we've been raised with the notion that Jesus was a prophet, perhaps, but not a supernatural deity. It didn't climb, it didn't fly--translation of a Yiddish expression referring to Jesus as inanimate to throw the goyim off even more. So what am I thinking? This is alien, they are praying in public, it's funny because it's incongruous, it's going on among the cappuccinos, I like cappuccinos and everyone else who likes espresso drinks has to be sophisticated like me--it's funny because they are ignorant, they don't know that there's no lord. He don't exist. Is that it? I don't think so. I think I'm defensive when it comes to blatant Christianity. My dander up, my game face on, because they want to convert us. You have to watch out for them because they will ring your doorbell, they will ply you with pamphlets, they will preach into your ear. There are a lot of them, they get points for converting us, you can't trust them on Israel because they support it because the existence of Israel means we're closer to the end of times. (I had an atheist student who was writing about Armageddon and was thinking of calling up churches and asking them what their religion thought about the end of the world. She ended up not doing it. I thought it was a bad idea. But it might have been a great idea. She might have gotten great quotes and more understanding.)

I had the students read Stephen Bloom explaining Iowa to the mainstream cognoscenti. They didn't like his attitude. They didn't like all the mistakes he made, either. This week they read what I called another academic fish out of water: Phillip Lopate's Houston Hide & Seek, where he tells you in the first paragraph that he thought it would be boorish to look down on Houston. He wanted to like it. He didn't come there for the bagels, after all. The writers who criticized Iowa City because it was hard to get a New York Times on time there. I remember in Evanston if you didn't subscribe you would go to the little convenience store and buy one that you'd reserved. Maybe you couldn't subscribe, only through the store/dealer. Both of these writers, I told them, Lopate and Bloom, are secular Jews from the coasts. Bloom mentions his struggle to get students to replace Merry Christmas with Happy Holidays. He doesn't say why. I assume it's so he'll feel included. No, it's because he wants them to realize that not everyone is Christian. Deep down, is it fear of annihilation? Our form of making lebensraum? Make way for the Jews, make way for the Jews. We exist. Do not disappear us. With freedom of religion we do not have to be Marranos.http://www.jewishhistory.org/the-marranos/ The amusement and horror in the Workshop in Iowa when someone recounted an Iowan at an auction using Jew as a verb. Part of the continuum that includes stories of people in the South/small towns/older days who said, You're a Jew? Where are your horns?

God is a verb. Title of a book?

 J, whose father brought the family to Atlanta from New York in the 1960s, who practiced labor law and maybe was a civil rights lawyer, too, J said that one time a friend was at her house and said, Who's Jim Crow? Is he a relative of yours? That is not funny. Or maybe it's horror again, combined with a snort at the ignorance, a snort that says, That sure explains a lot.

 At the Y, tonight's Zumba class--five black women, three or four white women, a Latina and her daughter, white teacher. I did not feel racial tension. I read somewhere, maybe it's a commonplace, that in the South the races are more used to one another, have a history of closeness. Some of that closeness was criminal, but still it existed. All of that closeness came from the criminal act of buying another human being. The first task of the newly-formed University of Alabama was buying a human being. His name was Ben and his job was to prepare the ground for buildings. Who we are superior to: rednecks who drink and drive and hunt, people who have tchochkes that are not ironic. People who root for college sports teams. But mostly just Southerners who do. The Northerners root as part of a well-balanced diet of activities. People who buy a certain car for status.  People whose taste I do not approve of. Am I so devoid of self that I have to condemn anyone who's different? Am a snob? Would I be walking around Harvard Square with my eyebrows arched they way they are here? The answer is no. I've been to Harvard Square. I approve of Harvard. Though I could probably make fun of it.

*** The YMCA in Tuscaloosa, I said before I got here, really believes in the C. This was based on its web site. Some people I said this to didn't realize that C stood for Christian. On the TV screen today yesterday at the Y, in between shows, was the quote from Isaiah that seems to be its trademark. Crossfit, I said also before I left Chicago, is really Cross fit. Why is that funny? Because the Y feels as if it should be a public organization akin to a park district, and these people (whoever they are) are violating the separation of church and state--they are naughty, doing bad? But the Y is not a governmental body. I still don't understand why governments do put up Christmas trees and set up creches, but that's another story. I'm against the giant menorahs, too, on public plazas. Celebrate the season.

M, who is in her eighties, remembers that her parents were wary of letting her go to the Y in Chicago for a dance--they were afraid the Cs would try to convert her. Make her a C, too. While the Y in Chicago had a shirt made that echoed the sentiment of Rabbi Hillel: If not now, when? I don't think the Y staff was thinking of Hillel when they ordered the shirts..