Clusterfuck at The University of Notre Dame

Tuesday, 28 February 2006

I had a brief chance to check out my old uni­ver­sity news­pa­per dur­ing a break in the di­rect­ing over the week­end. I jumped right to the Viewpoint sec­tion to see if the same old was still the same old. And it is. I read a let­ter from two of my fa­vorite pro­fes­sors that frankly and suc­cintly il­lu­mi­nates the cen­tral prob­lem at ND: a stu­dent so­cial life re­tarded by a re­ac­tionary in­sti­tu­tion wield­ing an ob­so­lete moral­ity.

Most of the peo­ple who ask me about Notre Dame seem sur­prised to hear that I hated it there. The only thing that kept me from trans­fer­ring to an­other school where I could have re­ceived an equiv­a­lently ex­cel­lent ed­u­ca­tion was the fenc­ing team. My main rea­son for want­ing to leave was the im­ma­ture and un­con­struc­tive so­cial life led by the stu­dents. The pit­falls of binge drink­ing have been dis­cussed to death, in­clud­ing the spec­tre of date rapel; but the causes of binge drink­ing it­self are rarely touched upon. I’d like to of­fer my own sup­po­si­tions on this mat­ter.

I was amazed at the sheer num­ber of Domers who had spent their en­tire lives en­scon­ced within the Catholic school sys­tem. Even more amaz­ing to a coun­try boy like me was the fact that many of these same Domers has spent their en­tire lives en­scon­ced in sin­gle-sex Catholic schools. Twelve years of seg­re­ga­tion and in­doc­tri­na­tion in sex­ual re­pres­sion by sex­u­ally re­pressed priests and nuns. I’m not ad­vo­cat­ing free love, here. Everyone is al­lowed to be as sex­u­ally re­pressed as they want to be; but I see an ob­vi­ous bias and fun­da­men­tal dis­con­nect with al­low­ing the celi­bate to tell us how and when we should pork. It should be no sur­prise then, that when young men and women who have had lit­tle to no un­cod­i­fied in­ter­ac­tion with the op­po­site sex and a life­time of sex­ual re­pres­sion fi­nally come into every­day con­tact with each other that they have no knowl­edge of healthy mech­a­nisms with which to com­port them­selves.

Enter the hookup cy­cle. The main rea­son my col­lege so­cial life sucked. The week­end hits and every­one gets shit­faced and hooks up and pre­tends noth­ing hap­pened come Monday. Girls who have had 12+ years of nun-warn­ings about pro­tect­ing their vir­gin­ity have a cou­ple very bad first week­ends their fresh­man year when Boys who have had 12+ years of priest-ad­mo­ni­tions fi­nally let their pent up sex­ual en­ergy go wild. Social life at ND re­minded me more of Connersville Junior High School than one of the top 25 Universities in the na­tion.

And now the new President of the University, Fr. Tim Jenkins, prob­a­bly as a re­sult of his Bishop’s di­rec­tives, is fur­ther­ing and broad­en­ing the scope of sex­ual re­pres­sion on cam­pus.

Of all things there are for a priest to get his panties in a twist about, The Vagina Monologues of all things, should be low on the list. For a brief time in col­lege I dated a strip­per. Who at­tended the University of Notre Dame. Who was smart as yeah. Who par­tic­i­pated in a packed house [in DeBartolo 101] per­for­mance of The Vagina Monologues. I was a mem­ber of the cam­pus Knights of Columbus at the time, and the Grand Knight tried to or­ga­nize a pray­ing of the rosary out­side of the room dur­ing the per­for­mance. I ran into one of my an­thro pro­fes­sors, Fr. Gaffney on the way to the mono­logues and dis­cov­ered that he was go­ing to the per­for­mance as well. The Grand Knight saw us com­ing and as­sumed we were there for the rosary. Woops. As a play I think the Vagina Monologues is crap, but its use­ful­ness in em­pow­er­ing both women and men in an ex­am­i­na­tion of the net­work of re­la­tions be­tween sex and gen­der roles is ex­tremely im­por­tant. Especially in a re­pres­sive en­vi­ron­ment like Notre Dame.

Similarly, the University’s pantytwist about a GLBT Film Festival is just as stu­pid. For a bunch of [seem­ingly] pow­er­ful celi­bate old men, wig­ging out over a movie or two is ridicu­lous. Yet all I have to do is think back to other things that have been wigged out about at ND [The Last Temptation of Christ, that penis video at the stu­dent film fest, the VM every god­damn year, oth­ers I’m sure I’ve re­pressed by now] and I re­al­ize that the more things stay the same, the more they suck.

If the University aims to teach holis­tic and catholic val­ues, it needs to stop fo­cus­ing on the worldly in­ter­pre­ta­tions of Catholic doc­trine, the im­per­fect hu­man in­ter­pre­ta­tions of God’s love for us, and re­al­ize that ap­pre­cia­tive in­quiry and di­a­logue can do more to fos­ter Christ-like liv­ing than os­tracism and close-minded tra­di­tion. I’m still work­ing my way through a rec­on­cil­i­a­tion be­tween the good that the Church does and the harm it has done to me in terms of my own de­vel­op­ment, my own re­la­tion­ships and my own un­der­stand­ing of the im­por­tance of sex in my life. These are all per­sonal choices, and while the Church has every right to provide its own guid­ance it shouldn’t re­strict the ex­pres­sion of dis­sent­ing opin­ions. The University al­ways hears the rustle of money over rea­soned at­tempts at di­a­logue, so un­til the stu­dents and fac­ulty of the University take or­ga­nized ac­tion on their own, or fig­ure out a way to make ND’s poli­cies hurt its pock­et­book I ex­pect few things will change. I do know that when­ever I have chil­dren, I’ll en­cour­age them to at­tend a University that will provide them with an open and wel­com­ing en­vi­ron­ment in which to ed­u­cate them­selves both men­tally and so­cially. If ND keeps on as it has been keep­ing on, it def­i­nitely won’t be on the list.


Monday, 27 February 2006

     — thanks to Joseph Campbell

“Through me; the way to the woe­ful city;“1

a hero
with a thou­sand faces;2
a story you
al­ways wanted to hear.

We con­tinue
though we know we con­tinue

A des­o­la­tion of hope.
That is the story. 

and I say: This
must be
a prophetic life–

Why else cry to the de­serted places?
Why seek wis­dom on moun­tains?

2 The Hero With A Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell

I think this one is go­ing to re­main in pieces; ap­pro­pri­ate I sup­pose. The main ideas are there, but I think the tone is wrong and that is why I can’t get them to bind. Any sug­ges­tions?

Email Blacklist Spam Madness

If you’ve sent an email in the past three days to my email ac­count on this do­main you need to send it again. The black­list on my web­mail isn’t the most in­tel­li­gent and spam­mers are ever de­vi­ous, so when I ran my black­list over the 70+ emails I had wait­ing for me this morn­ing all 100 or so of my emails were sum­mar­ily deleted and purged. This is be­cause one of the email ad­dresses on the black­list ended with an @, and the black­list then de­cides to delete mail from any do­main af­ter the @. Argh. Mr. Rijks, I know you sent me mail, [hola!] so please send it again, if you please. Please. That goes for the rest of you too.

Notre Dame Invitational Day 2

Men's EpeeDay 2 was the team event, which went much faster than the in­di­vid­ual stuff. I was dressed slightly warmer and with more com­fort­able shoes and was this time com­pli­mented on both my cor­duroy blazer [2 sizes too small, for that ill-fit­ting euro-chic] and my shoes. There was a lit­tle bit of fuss from the Northwestern coaches on a cou­ple of my calls dur­ing a bout, but I got it all straight­ened out, al­though I don’t think the NW coaches were com­pletely sat­is­fied. Then I hauled ass back home and passed out at around 9pm. 

Directing Dogs

Saturday, 25 February 2006

ND Fencing InvitationalAfter 10 hours on my feet di­rect­ing épée fencers of all shapes, sizes and lev­els of at­trac­tive­ness, my knees are small no­vas of pain. It is fas­ci­nat­ing how much nicer fencers are when you’re a di­rec­tor. Especially the fe­males. Today I was com­pli­mented on my scarf [mom-knit­ted!], my style [what!?], my pro­nun­ci­a­tion of Dumas [al­though I ini­tially mis­pro­nounce Slutz due to a miss­ing um­laut], and my glasses [wtf?]. That’s not in­clud­ing all the smoky looks and shy smiles as well. Fencer girls…

I prob­a­bly just had some­thing on my face the whole time.

I ran into so many old fencers from my time on the team, it was great to visit with them and trade old war sto­ries. The last rem­nants of peo­ple that I knew are grad­u­at­ing this year. I’m al­ready long for­got­ten. Glory is fleet­ing. [Even though I didn’t provide much of it.]

Tomorrow is the team com­pe­ti­tion, which goes a bit faster and won’t provide me with as many temp­ta­tions to let flirt­ing with a pretty red­head from IU or a raven-haired blue-eyed ND fencer in­flu­ence my de­ci­sions. Like I’d ever let that hap­pen.


Friday, 24 February 2006

This week­end I’m go­ing to be di­rect­ing at the Notre Dame Fencing Invitational. It’s an easy way to make a cou­ple hun­dred dol­lars and an ex­cuse to eat at CJ’s. I’m do­ing some se­ri­ous brush­ing up on my USFA rules, since I’ve not ac­tu­ally fenced since I’ve grad­u­ated. [I can’t be­lieve it.] The Invite is two long long days of fenc­ing, start­ing at 8 and usu­ally end­ing 8 or more hours later, so I’ll def­i­nitely earn my cash. Since I’m leav­ing af­ter work to­day, I had to ac­com­plish all the nor­mal stuff I do on the week­end last night. So I did my laun­dry, got my car ser­viced, et cetera. But the Lube Stop broke the valve stem in one of my tires, so I ended up hav­ing to put on the donut in the sleet­ing rain and drive to NTB in Lakewood for a re­place­ment stem. The guy that fixed my car goes to the Greek Orthodox Church in Tremont, and an­other guy who was there wait­ing has a daugh­ter around my age that lives there.

I’m go­ing to send a com­plaint to Lube Stop, and maybe next time I’ll get a free oil change. The whole af­fair killed about two hours of my time. Tremont West gave me a call be­cause they’d like to send me to a lead­er­ship con­fer­ence in Nashville in May that is spon­sored by Neighbor Works. I stopped in to check out their new of­fices and ex­plained that I’d like to go, but since my sta­tus in the Cleveland is now un­sta­ble that they should con­tinue ask­ing peo­ple, but to keep me in mind and that I’d keep them up­dated.

I fi­nally made it back to my apart­ment at about 7:45 and was able to shove some clothes in my overnight pack and snarf some left­over veg­etable stew be­fore I had to meet up with Des and Steve at the Lit to dis­cuss the lo­gis­tics of in­stalling we­b­cams in tac­ti­cal spots in Tremont. Busiest Thursday I’ve had in a long time, I didn’t even have a chance to think about run­ning.

we wrote love po­ems

Thursday, 23 February 2006

we wrote love po­ems
be­fore pomo.

now, all must

not just
          your body
un­der mine
but also,
           a hand;
          un­der the