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i have been thinking a lot about babies lately. and kids. and not in the way one might imagine. these thoughts are giving me icky feelings. and pee-inducing nightmares.

it all started when i had a dream about t-bone being preggers. i mean, sweet, right? turns out, not so sweet. i think he was just a vehicle for my own messed up ideas about what pregnancy would be like. read: f*ckin’ scary as shit. all he did was whine. and he wasn’t sexy pregnant either. sorry, dude. but pregnancy doesn’t become you. next it was the proliferance (is that even a word? methinks, no) of babies in my life. i mean babies are cute. darling even. but i can’t EVER imagine being responsible for one. like. EVER. and then there is the fact that they never go away. as my mother always tells me (and something that i have internalized as a threat): “once a mother, always a mother.”

this also could have something to do with two other factors. 1) someone recently called me “unconventional” and after i almost punched them i realized that it was meant as a compliment; and 2) i am going on the job market. the “unconventional” nature of my life means that not only have i been living like an undergrad since 1997 but i have possibly also been thinking, acting, and being generally irresponsible like one since around then too. also, how is it possible to work and have children? i know women do it. but i am convinced that they are magical. like unicorns. and leprechauns. or magical the way matthew mcconaughey having a career is magical. and we all know how i feel about him.

i had a recent debate with a friend about whether or not it is “okay” for employers to punish their female employees based on non-performance at work due to family commitments. i mean, obviously, it is not but it seemed to me like we we speaking within the confines of popular discourse that still, let me stress: STILL encourages women to think of working as a choice. as though we would all be happier – oh, and have better adjusted children – if we just stayed home. as though that “choice” doesn’t also exist in a land of fairy tales and privilege that not only doesn’t exist but doesn’t take into account women’s RIGHT to work, be ambitious, successful, f*cking fabulous, and the like. choice is a tricky word when it comes to women. and everybody seems to be all about “giving” women the choice between this and that. between attractive options like double shifts of work meaning work, then kids and home, and triple shifts, such as work, kids, home, and care of extended family and/or child-like spouse. i mean come on people! choice is a fantasy created by those who don’t have to choose. who can live in the comfort and safety of knowing that their “role” doesn’t involve housework, child-rearing, and caring for elderly relatives. whew. jacks is on ranty roll kids. watch out.

i guess this sums up my perspective on children. i guess i think that being unconventional can’t work with little ones. because then you are mother. and with an academic career looming, that is a scary prospect.

however, if one can have an unconventional egalitarian marriage, perhaps there is hope for procreation. cause we could all use little jacks’s running around, no?

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in the infamous words of marx: “in bourgeois society capital is independent and has individuality, while the living person is dependent and has no individuality.” we live then, according to marx, in a deindividuated world of capital gain, dependence [on the “man?”], and bourgeois comfort that medi[c]ates the masses. similarly, in the infamous words of my friend B.: “jacks, you might be a little bougie.” though he said it in the sweetest way, and in relation to his own more overt bougieness (take that!), it got me thinking – is jacks bougie? thus, this is a little meditation on “bougieness,” that is, the comfort that comes with excess, the attempts to “deviduate” ourselves, and an explanation for why the website stuff white people like is so friggin’ popular. despite the quote from marx, this post is not meant to be serious. for reals.

when i entered grad school, i realized – despite knowing it intellectually – that my colleagues were perhaps in a different “class.” had different backgrounds. basically they were oozing coin. not a problem i have ever been faced with. i am part of those endless canadian “middle” classes, which extend from the upper-lower to the higher-middle and everything in between. i looked around after my first year and realized i was playing on a different field. was in a different realm. of financial fluidity. however, like most “white” kids in the small towns, hamlets, and suburbs of canada, i was raised a little bougie. to be more refined. to value travel. fine food. delicious wine. i was groomed to be significantly upwardly mobile. a path not paved for all.

being “bougie,” in my own estimation, and perhaps my friend B.’s, has more to do with the nuances of life than the overt display of pretentious pettiness. it is about preferring this brand to that. knowing which restaurant is the best in the city for this kind of food. knowing how to order and consume wee little plates of flamboyantly fractured food in a place you can barely afford but believe, truly believe, you deserve to frequent. if you believe/feel/have done these things, you’re bougie dude. face it.

but don’t fret. a lot of us white folk are like this. we pretend to discern. we describe. we debate. we deliberate. we think we are entitled to opinions. to options. to being individuals. but this individuality comes with a price. it takes cash. capital. we haven’t separated the meaning of personhood – of this presupposed right to individuality – from capital as it appears in marx’s formulation. we have merely embraced it. made it our own. become bougie.

stuff white people like recognizes this. it takes all white people’s demarcations of insignificance and lays it bare. makes it meaningful in its expose of its profound meaningless. white people need stuff to make them significant. and often that means buying stuff to have stuff. to create meaning. consuming to be something. everybody’s gotta have a thing. and white folk want a lotta things. we haven’t shifting the discourse of meaning-making around being and having. we have merely tried to be more through having without doing too much. we exist in entitlement. which is hilarious. and why stuff white people like is now a book. a cult classic. a pop(ular) sensation.

entitlement is a tricky thing. it is ugly in its overt state. and it spills out on all sides. consistently getting farther from its originary point. the quest for stuff. entitlement – while born out of a mommy and daddy get me everything attitude – quickly morphs into something more insidious. and more banal. the misrecognition of others. and their worth. being bougie is funny. but only when we recognize that everyone’s right to be is equal. and to stop stealing each others’ seats on the free shuttle in stanley park.

so there.

i love to teach. as exhausting and challenging as it is – i can’t friggin’ help myself. i find it lovely and delicious. splendorific even. i am just wrapping up an intensive three-week course where i get to teach my passion – i get to teach students about gender. there is something beautiful about teaching people something different about something so intimate. something that is seemingly so “natural.” eyes widen. hearts and experiences open. teaching is transformative. and that’s why i can’t get enough.

i have long joked that the children of teachers cannot escape the call of educating. it is akin to being called by god, called up from the minor leagues, possessed by that which you cannot help yourself from doing. and i have been thinking lately about why teaching is my calling. i think it has something to do with the fact that it combines all of my interrelated spastic properties. teaching is a performance – which i love. teaching is (can be) transgressive. and ultimately, teaching can transform the lives of individuals by generally making the world more livable. i don’t know if my particular brand of teaching does any/all of these things. but teaching is beautiful and the effects of its affects may never be measured.

think of that teacher that you had that you loved. you love them because they did something to you. viscerally. they changed the way you think. they gave you information that could never, ever be taken from you. they gave you a sense of self that was real. tangible. they called on and accepted your very being. some might have changed your worldview, others might have crushed it. but all this transforms one’s very being. it alters opportunities. knowledge engages the soul. that is why the harbingers of said knowledge are so intimate a memory. so decidedly important.

i complain. i struggle to do my best in this short span that challenges me as the instructor as well as my students. i worry. i try to engage even those students who looked bored or who don’t invite a change of perspective. i don’t relish marking papers and assigning a value to work that my students have laboured over. i don’t see myself as a specter of future import in the lives of students that share three intense weeks in a hot classroom learning that their bodies, themselves, could be different. and perhaps that through that difference, oppression could be lessened. but i have learned something about myself that is perhaps more profound than what i could hope to teach. i have learned that i am a teacher. no matter how spastic.

teaching is really an extension of who (how) i am. it has meant over the past year that teaching has made me confront myself. my wants. desires. needs. teaching has transformed me through the circulation of knowledges about power, selves, and pasts. being a teacher isn’t what defines me. but it is an integral piece of who i believe i am. and a passion that even the greatest fear cannot eradicate.

[whoa. holy deepness.]

so the summer is rapidly passing me by. there were house guests. there were cat emergencies (five hundred dollars and a kitty enema later, we find out bianca was just constipated). there was/is teaching a three-week intensive course that no tenured prof would touch with leprous fingers. such is the life of jacks. and strangely, she has nothing significant to say. that is why she/i? – who talks about themselves in the third person? seriously – will give you one of my random posts that mean nothing and simply waste your precious, precious youth/old age/time spent with love ones who actually give something back. here goes…

  • so i ridiculously love teaching. and not just any teaching but the kind of teaching where you get to forward your own personal and political agenda that is ingeniously hidden in the fancy schmance thing called a syllabus. i routinely go off about something and then announce to my students that i will indeed get off my soapbox only to return to it once the next question is asked. drunk with power you ask? power! i say. let me tell you something about power!…
  • i have recently noticed that everyone in canada now says “thanks so much” instead of a simple thank you. i have two bones to pick about this – first, canadians are infinitely too nice; and second, i coined that phrase and i want proper recognition for it every time anyone uses it as in, “thanks so much, copyrighted 1993 by jacks.” that is not too much to ask, is it?
  • i don’t think i have successfully had a tan since i moved to vancouver four years ago. my pasty skin glows and i feel shame exposing (imposing?) the white brilliance of my legs on the unsuspecting masses. should jacks fake and bake? jacks thinks yes. thank god i don’t own shorts. an for everyone who does own shorts, one question: why?
  • big brother has begun again and i fear i that am not properly addicted to this season. is it because everyone in the house is unlovable? jacks says yes again.
  • i think i might have hermity traits because teaching forces me out of the house everyday, whereas when i am not teaching, i sit alone, all day, writing my dissertation. shockingly, i long for those days of loneliness and desperation for human contact. oh, where have you gone?
  • things that have changed since moving to vancouver (the four year reflection redux remix):
  1. i now look forward to camping instead of thinking it was some kind of punishment for not flossing regularly (there is a connection there – i leave it to you to find it)
  2. i regularly tell my students how privileged they are and i throw around the term elitism in my classes like it is a term of endearment
  3. summer consists of equal parts rain and weather that can’t decide if it wants to simply be hot and humid or to burn the province down
  4. i have morphed into a microbrewed beer fan (also known as a “beer douche”)
  5. too much tofu finds its way into my food. too much i say!
  6. i have recently discovered that i like soy milk and green tea. like, together. in a latte. what is happening to me?
  7. i miss seeing my niece and nephew grow up. i am disembodied aunt jacks over the phone. i fear that they do not know or fully appreciate the fabulousness of aunt jacks. one day dammit. they will.
  8. i love wearing dresses
  9. i am a fan of the out-of-doors
  10. i love living in a place that people visit and that when they visit they don’t mind sleeping on our living room floor on cat hair filled mattress just be in van…and near us, of course

that’s it. jacks out. (but loves and misses her one reader – yup! you! – tremendously).