Thursday, December 19, 2002

Almost every woman I know between puberty and menopause has at least one reproductive organ that plays Savoir Faire to her Klondike Kat, Biff to her Calvin, and Harvey Bains to her Diana Trent. Me, I've got my left ovary. Though I navigated treacherous parts of the health care system to salvage it and have it restored to near-mint condition after an uncalled-for outburst five years ago, it's been expressing further unhappiness with our relationship for the past four months. I know; it could be a lot worse. The tumor antigen test results and the ultrasound were mostly reassuring (the problem isn't acting like anything malignant or otherwise dangerous anyway), but I'm thoroughly fed up with having intermittent pains in my side. Since it's aggravated by stress and by long hours on my feet, it took a lot of the joy out of my last semester of teaching and made those last few months of dissertation edits especially, shall we say, piquant. It looks like further repairs will have to be scheduled for late January or early February. Yup, I'm tired of this. After all, my drug of choice has always been caffeine, not naproxen. Isn't there any way that one can call a truce with one's own obstreperous gonad?

Stress levels also went up in the bookstore today, when I came across Patrick Buchanan's "The Death of the West", displayed prominently in time for folks to snap it up, in the spirit of love and siblinghood, as Christmas gifts for their nearests and dearests. Hmmm, what did you mean by "immigrant invasions", Pat? Did you mean my four grandparents? I can't say I like your imagery much. Or am I missing some subtlety here? Oh, you didn't mean this to apply to white European immigrants at all. I'm supposed to find this reassuring, no doubt.

But there's this nagging feeling remaining, Pat; something doesn't fit. I'm not going to harp on the fact that there were people, who were NOT white Europeans, on this continent for tens of thousands of years before your ancestors and mine landed here and put their feet up firmly on someone else's furniture. I'm not going to spend much time on the subject of my family members -- wonderful children and adults alike -- who have ancestry from places other than Europe. But I gather from your instructions that I'm supposed to be distressed that my friends, students, and neighbors whose families came from various places in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and Latin America are making contributions here in the U.S. to fields like medicine, natural sciences, social sciences, law, education, the arts, and business. I'm not supposed to notice that in one of my recent workplaces, three colleagues -- a Muslim born in Pakistan, and a Hindu and a Christian both born in India -- worked together as friends and partners on research projects with no worries about how difficult it might have been for them to collaborate had they remained in their birthplaces. You know what, Pat? I can't shake off the conviction that all of these folks are better Americans than you are. After all, unlike you, they're contributing their considerable intellects and their efforts to society -- our society -- in positive ways, instead of wasting their time on brainless acts of petty race-baiting. Why don't you take some notes? You could learn something from them.

(That's enough of Pat. My ovary, and my brain, deserve some stress relief now.)