this video via my Linguistics professor, Cynthia Bernstein.

pretty awesome- we speak the same language.

See this TED Talk too- amazing.

It’s Ray Bradbury Week

August 29, 2010

90 years of awesome

Hey, RachelDoesStuff, you’re killing me.

Ok, Bust Magazine, I thought you were totally selling out, but hey- this is pretty good. Thanks Emilie Branch in Feminizzle for finally shedding some light about how the word va-jay-jay entered the pop vernacular.

Don’t usually do this, but this is a str8 cut & paste:

Cosmo Hates Jessica Alba

Posted by: Emilie Branch in Feminizzle on Aug 24, 2010

No, not really—she’s a typical fixture in Cosmopolitan Magazine, and generally represents what the magazine stands for (like shopping, and being sexy). However, that didn’t stop the editors from writing the phrase “Untamed Va-jay-jays” around the area where her actual vagina should be. It’s definitely eye-catching if not because it’s offensive yet cutesy than because it’s visually so white and bold.

The “va-jay-jay” got its origin on a 2007 episode of “Grey’s Anatomy”(a medical drama) and was than picked up by Oprah. She adopted it into her lexicon, using it so often that gossip television started to make fun of it; there’s even a youtube va-jay-jay remix with over 24,000 hits.  It was then featured on a 2008 cover of Cosmo featuring Rhianna, in which it was used to describe “your lovely lady parts”. In spite of this, the term “va-jay-jay” hasn’t made such an unapologetic appearance in the media for a while. Cue untamed Jess Alba.

The va-jay-jay story is about the new trends in pubic hair, ranging from the au natural to the vajazzled (rhinestones adorn the pubic triangle, like underwear that won’t come off). Jennifer Love Hewitt is a staunch vajazzler, and talked about it on “Lopez Tonight”; look at the shock and dismay on George Lopez’s face when she tells him she’s currently “vajazzled”. George Lopez looks a bit the way I did when I saw the mag on the newsstand and than realized what was going on inside its pages—but I think my mouth was a bit more agape the whole time.

Worse than the shock over this issue, are the questions. For instance, why aren’t American women viewed as mature enough to handle the word vagina? Would a men’s magazine ever refer to the penis as a pe-nay-nay (under a photo of George Clooney)? Are people generally offended by the word vagina, and what does that mean for women? Are we still supposed to mask our sex and be embarrassed of it? Why do women feel the need to vajazzle, and why is female pubic hair a matter of public discourse? Hmph!

Sorry, if that was all a bit too Liberal Arts school, but I figured these issues could be comfortably aired on BUST. Let us know what you think, so we can get to the bottom of the va-jay-jay debate.


August 26, 2010

gay man running

showing some belly

showing some shoulder

he was a little older

about 50 in a gated community

His shirt looked like this:

Tolerated and participated in by Dean Richard Ranta, his assistant dean/dance instructor, Vice Chancellor Karen Weddle-West and University President Shirley Raines and her staff—
dateWed, Aug 25, 2010 at 10:59 AM
subjectSandra Sarkela
hide details 10:59 AM (18 minutes ago)

Assistant to President Raines,

Thank you for forwarding this message.

Dear President Raines,

I hope you are enjoying the fresh new beginning of the school year.

I had another meeting with Dr. Sarkela yesterday, after she refused to discuss my contract matters with me via email. Luckily Dr. Gray Matthews was present during this 2.5 hour meeting. I feel most of this meeting was Dr. Sarkela using a tone of voice with me that was not professional.

It was very interesting to hear her rhetoric and interpretation of her staff members’ emails telling me information that I could not find in the student handbook or department webpage.  I would be more than happy to provide you any emails I have exchanged with members of the Communication Department here.

Please allow me to tell you the context in which Dr. Sarkela spoke of my immigrant mother who risked our lives to bring me to the US after escaping Communist rule in Vietnam so I could get an education.

I told Dr. Sarkela that my mother urged me to get help outside of the department because I kept hitting a brick wall when speaking to different members of the department who would tell me things in writing such as: if I didn’t take a certain class, I would not pass my comprehensive exams— and then another staff member told me in writing that I shouldn’t take this certain class that co-incided with a stand alone section of 2381 that was just assigned to me in addition to teaching two other lab sections, in order to “fulfill my contract”.

Upon this, Dr. Sarkela remarked, “Maybe your mother should come to school then.”. I told her that I respect my mother’s wishes to find out more about my work and school schedule because my mother went through untold obstacles for me to be here today.

Dr. Sarkela then delivered a story about how when she was 23 years old, she had to teach Vietnam veterans how to speak again. I’m not really sure what this has to do with me and my Vietnamese mother.

We are very shocked someone who is currently heading a Communication department, teaches women’s communication and women’s studies would make a comment about and to another grown woman this way. There were other things that came out of Dr. Sarkela’s mouth that were quite surprising also.

I feel completely disrespected by certain members of this department, while conversely I’ve been able to clearly communicate with and enjoy spending time with people like Dr. Marina Levina and Professor Steven J. Ross.

Another example of the surprising responses from the department administration is: I emailed a couple simple questions during business hours last week, I got an email back from the graduate coordinator saying she “needed downtime”. I also came by for a meeting with this person, confirmed by the department adminstrative assistant, and no one was there and no one responded after I left a phone messsage.

Dr. Sarkela also told me to not speak with other students during yesterday’s meeting as well***. I find this a bit disconcerting, as this is a democratic society where I should be able to speak with whomever I want.

Dr. Sarkela very strongly urged me to withdraw from the program yesterday completely after I moved my whole life from California to study at and add diversity to your institution.  I have a few emails telling Dr. Sarkela I wanted to go over my contract with her for clarification and that I was more than happy to fulfill my 20 hours of work and to teach according to accreditation standards.  I was expected to teach without being given a textbook for the classes to even look at first.

I expected to be welcomed to U of M, but instead I have been treated disrespectfully as a human being and yelled at by my interim chair in a tone not befitting– and why? because I sought help from outside a department that was not assisting me properly and was trying to get me to do different things at the same time.

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Sandra J Sarkela (ssarkela) <>
Date: Wed, Aug 25, 2010 at 8:13 AM
Subject: RE: Thank you for the meeting today
To: xxxxxx
Dear xxx,
By way of clarification, I spoke of your mother with the utmost respect and mentioned her only after your repeated comments that you felt “pressured” by her questions.  I look forward to hearing from you.
Dr. Sarkela
From: xxxxxx
Sent: Tuesday, August 24, 2010 10:40 PM
To: Sandra J Sarkela (ssarkela)
Subject: Thank you for the meeting today
Dr. Sarkela-

Thank you for including Dr. Matthews today. With his addition, I feel communication was vastly more productive.

Next time we speak, I would appreciate it if you didn’t say things to me like the ones you did today with Dr. Matthews present:

How old are you?

How old are you?

Maybe your mother should come to school.

I would not like to be addressed this way again. I would prefer you never refer to my mother this way.

I would never repeatedly ask you how old you are.

I will write you my decision Thursday via email.

Thank you,


After the student would not withdraw, Sandra Sarkela signed a “Termination Form” in retaliation that was received by The Graduate School and Human Resources- maliciously trying to get rid of ethnic female student and damage student’s reputation after student said she wanted to stay to fulfill her contract properly.

This news came late on Friday, August 27, the day before classes began. The email said student no longer had any income (no more assistantship at all) and now owed The University of Memphis full out of state tuition. This was written by Dr. Amanda Young.

Dean Richard Ranta would not investigate, stating he heard “a very different side of the story” from Sarkela and crew.

No responses from Moira Logan, Assistant Dean, aka dancer who couldn’t make for more than a year in New York City (her words).

Vice Provost Karen Weddle West also wrote in email to intimidate student.

The Legal Department of The University of Memphis then made move to reinstate.

September 10, 2010 meeting with Sheri Lipman and Dr. David, aka Gray, Matthews. Matthews- representing Dept. of Rhetoric/Comm again tried to get student to withdraw stating “Why would you want to stay in a place that makes you so uncomfortable. It’s a really small department- you’d have trouble finding enough people to be on your committee.” to which student responded she had great relationships with other professors who did not participate in malicious termination attempt.

Student is survivor of 9/11.

Sarkela had student teaching 3 classes, more than other students teach. Sarkela said there was a teaching waiver because student had never taught before. It turns out students have to request and sign a waiver. Student never did this-

8/26/2010 Student emails Sandra Sarkela to bring up discrimination, plea for advisement. Sarkela denies advisement.***

8/27/2010 Day before classes- Amanda Young emails student that she is “terminated”, has no income and if she wants to stay in her classes, she now owes the university 20,000.00 + (out of state tuition).

8/30/2010- 9/1/2010– The Department of Rhetoric & Communication Studies places “termination form” in student’s graduate school file and student’s employee file. 2 stamps show receipt by both offices: Career Sabotage. Student has flawless records in school and employment.

Students asks for help from Vice Provost Karen Weddle West who was aware of termination, being copied in 8/27/10 termination email. Weddle-West taunts student via email.

Student asks for help from Dean Richard Ranta, Assistant Dean Moira Logan. No help is offered. Ranta emails only that he heard “a very different side of the story”.

Student is then “reinstated”, to only be intimidated, humiliated, mentally tortured:

9/10/2010 Student is forced to meet with Sheryl (Sheri) Lipman, head counsel for University of Memphis and Vice Chair Gray Matthews.  Lipman refused to let student record meeting. Things said: Why would you want to go to school somewhere you’re so uncomfortable? This department is too small, there won’t be enough people who want to be on your advisery board. Lipman admits in email what was said.

9/13/2010 Witness testimony offers the story that Sandra Sarkela used tax payer dollar and class time to deliver tirade to her husband who was physically present in the class.

9/17/2010 Sandra Sarkela makes unfavorable comments to another female student. Student drops out of Sarkela’s class, also contacts Vice Provost. Vice Provost talks Caucasian female student out of dropping out of the program entirely by saying she doesn’t have to perform her assistantship and the university will still pay for her classes.


9/23/2010 Professor of media class asks class “Is it ok for someone to put up a blog with lies about the University of Memphis and get away with it?” while looking at student complainant.

9/23/2010 University lawyer, Sheri Lipman, and Affirmative Action Compliance Officer, Michelle Banks, enforce retaliatory plan of Dr. Amanda Young, writing to force student to working in a room with an attendant, shared by the public that prohibits water with a large, plastic, red placard reading NO WATER with broken air conditioning.

Lipman, Banks and Young ignore incident report where female student hyperventilated, pulled muscles moving large boxes of books- did not report incident to HR or fill out form in retaliation.

Michelle Banks emails student : you get paid for doing no work.

President’s assistant also emails to order student to work in room with no water, under surveillance (as to deter protected actions) for 20 hours per week.

Meanwhile, other graduate assistants are allowed to have coffee and tea mugs and drinks where they work.

10/6/2010 Student turns in 20 page document of work 2 days early. Sandra Sarkela emails back attacking email.

Student informs Lipman, Banks and Young via email that she talked to OSHA about workplace conditions.***

10/8/2010 Lipman emails and calls student a plagarist because Lipman and Young missed the sources listed in the document* (more attempted Career Sabotage. Student has unblemished academic record), and emails to tell student she had done work all wrong because she put the value of used books, and orders student to put publisher’s value of books (new). Misrepresenting university assets? Lipman’s email orders student to remove photos of books and change numbers.

On Mon, Oct 11, 2010 at 9:40 AM, Sheryl H Lipman (slipman) <> wrote:


I understand that you believe you are being asked to do something illegal by noting the new price for the books that you are working with.  Please know that these values are not being used for any illegal purpose, including any tax purpose.  In fact, as a tax exempt organization, I’m not sure how these values of the books could be used in any improper way.

You must stick to your work schedule and correct the document using Dr. Young’s extensive feedback.

Thank you, and have a good week.


from xxxxxx
to “Sheryl H Lipman (slipman)” <>
date Mon, Oct 11, 2010 at 9:59 AM
subject Re: valuing of books
hide details 9:59 AM (15 minutes ago)
Then why not put the actual values?

from Sheryl H Lipman (slipman) <>
to xxxxxx
date Mon, Oct 11, 2010 at 10:06 AM
subject RE: valuing of books
hide details 10:06 AM (4 minutes ago)

I don’t know, but the reason doesn’t matter.  That’s what you’ve been asked to do, and that is the same process being followed by others who are doing similar projects.

Sheri Lipman

University Counsel

201 Administration Building

Memphis, TN 38152

Phone: 901 678-5496

Fax:     901 678-3489

[see Pepperdine article: Constant Critic, Two Headed Snake, Conqueror]

Work is not academic. It is cataloging book summaries and how much used books are “worth”.

No one from department will answer student’s email.

Continuation of women all bullying one woman.

Pepperdine Article on Workplace Bullies

Workplace Bullying- the Namies

Lautenberg of New Jersey introduces bill to end bullying at colleges and universities, workplace

U of M receives ARRA Recovery Fund money for “diversity/affirmative action”.**


Because of the 11th Amendment, state schools often get away with a lot with their “immunity”:

Abusive Coach at University of Memphis

African Americans denied Tenure after applying 3 times, Other EEOC cases- University of Memphis- “Minority Hiring a Scam”

University of Memphis’ Anti-Gay Gym Policy

Side note: City of Memphis not proceeding with policy against gay discrimination


Two gunmen in two months. NO texts to students

September- 2 rounds, sharpened daggers

October – 2 rounds

Football player gunned down on campus, family files Wrongful Death suit against U of M

CTScan Academia

August 25, 2010

More adventures of a detour from big city life:

I entered a program of higher learning partly due to the fact that my program seemed to have a large population of women in the faculty and with students.  I was encouraged by this. I brought plants and a book for these women I was to meet who were to guide me on my journey of the mind.

It turns out my dealing with four female instructors/staff members turned out to be not what I expected. Keep in mind these four have never really left the ivory towers.

Contrast this to my classmate S.L. and I who are both in our early thirties and spent our twenties getting out there and living life. S.L. has been experiencing  similar problems in the department. She’s a funky gal with tattoos and short hair who doesn’t shop at Anne Taylor or Talbots. I, too, have short hair and I do not dress remarkably femininely. People in Memphis like to stare at two short haired gals dining together in s restaurant at night.  S.L.’s mom wants to put in a call to the department.

My first lady advisor pressured me to sign up for classes she’s teaching. I asked for clarification on having  to take 9 “required classes”. Even when I agreed to take her class for fall, she still wouldn’t meet me for further advisement or clear me to register during the course of the last month.  Classes begin this week and I still don’t have a complete schedule.

I had never heard of these requirements when I applied and couldn’t find evidence of them on the program’s web page or in any student handbooks.

The second woman told me in an email that if I didn’t sign up as they said, I would not pass my comprehensive exams (that happen at the end of 45 all but dissertation credits). She said to not listen to the other students who did pass theirs and never took them. When I asked for help from this woman via email at 3:30 on a Friday afternoon, not expecting a response right away, I got one. It said, “I need some downtime.”

This second woman told us a story during orientation about how she forgot to send in one student’s paperwork to the dean’s office and this student was almost not permitted to graduate on time due to the department’s error. This same second woman during orientation said that in her job she had to sink or swim and that she was “getting a little wet”. In the next sentence she said things had to be done “quickie”, then changed that to quickly after she thought about it for a second.

Now for the third woman. This woman wrote me an email a few days before classes were to start to tell me that I would be now teaching three classes. This email is entitled “changes to your contract work”.  I was expected to teach these classes despite the fact that faculty text books were not available for them and still are not.  I told this third woman that the first two wanted me to take a class that conflicted with this new teaching schedule- since these things were to occur during the same time slots. She said I’d better not take this class so I could “fulfill my contract”.  The department is short staffed and would need to clone me in order for me to do what these three women have decided I need to do in order not fail my comps and not be in breach of contract.

Keep in mind this department is the Communication Department.

I went to see the interim chair of this department. She told me I’d better get over it and teach these classes, despite my contract saying I needed 18 graduate hours that I don’t have in order to teach, as layed out by the regional accreditation board.

I asked for help from outside of the department. Upon being told to help me, this interim chair made me come back to her office for two hours of being yelled at.  When I came to this meeting, I shut the door behind me. The interim chair told me to leave it open as faculty and students walked around outside. Her new office is next to the department’s admin assistants and staff mailboxes.

This session with the interim chair included asking me repeatedly how old I am and comments like : if you mother’s so anxious about your schedule, your mother should come to school. When I said I respect my mother’s wishes because I owe her a lot and what she had to go through to bring me here from Vietnam for a better life, this interim chair said when she was 23 years old, she had to teach Vietnam vets how to speak again. I’m not sure what she was getting at here.

To round things up, the interim chair also told me to not talk to any students or ask for outside help again- that I was to only talk to her.

Very interesting. Who knew that someone who got a grant for a project called ‘We the People’ was into information control. Does this remind you of other forms of government that are not democratic?

This fourth woman then strongly encouraged me to withdraw from the program, after knowing that I spent a great deal of effort and money to move my entire life from cross country to go to school.

In a newbie academic’s estimation, it appears that women in this department aren’t really into helping younger women. In the mental Olympics, everyone wants the gold. It would seem like there are the academic Tanya Hardings out there. Why one cannot just glide with the wind in their hair and fresh thoughts on their mind still remains a mystery here in Memphis town.

Note: Beginning to see why universities are also called institutions. Lots of mental stuff goes on at this institution.

To all you academic Tanya Hardings, yes- everyone does want to sparkle, but sometimes being ice queen isn’t the best title.

Guess what? I’m staying and due to the intervention of someone called a Vice Chair, I’m getting reassigned to do work other than teach three classes my first semester. Never mind, the vice chair joined in on the bullying and forgot about the new job assignment. Turned into a wrongful termination, then reinstatement + extra discrimination and bullying so I leave “voluntarily”.

Forthcoming fiction: The Bitches of East Memphis, scarier than The Witches of Eastwick

Being a fan of Jim Jarmusch movies, I somehow got the romantic notion it would be “neat” to live in Memphis, Tennessee, ala his film ‘Mystery Train’. Memphis, home of good bbq, Elvis, Americana, what’s not to like, right?

Well- bugs: loud cicadas, mosquitos (unless you live in the rich zip codes that get sprayed – with no blood suckers even if there’s a huge swamp in the middle of your hood- ie. Chickasaw Gardens), fleas, bed bugs. Since Memphis is 99.9% super Christian, ala the Babble Belt, I think it’s best if they found out the plagues are upon them- lice (fleas/bed bugs), frogs (keep seeing them everywhere)- now I just need to borrow some of that red food coloring from the red velvet cakes to put in the river and we’re all set…

Did I mention there are bible verses running on the red digital display at the gas station? at the dry cleaners?

Did I mention that East Buntyn, the neighborhood is named after a slave trader who was upset that he lost The Civil War? and there’s a statue of Nathan Forrest, who helped start the KKK in the park over here in Memphis? Did I mention that public money goes to rich white people parks and public schools while the inner city kids get no grass and really bad schools?

The other reason I came here is because I got a full ride for a PhD program in Rhetoric & Communication at The University of Memphis. Here I am a week before school starts, having never taught during my master’s, and they want me to teach 3 sections of 25 kids each. They also want me to teach the stand alone class during a time slot in which they are trying to force me to take a particular class that no one wants to take. Therefore, there is a communication problem in this Communication department.

Three people from the same family from said university wrote a book that costs 90.00 each. The book is required for a class that is required of every single undergraduate that goes to said university.  Said university offers 40 sections of said required class per semester. PhD students are required to teach these sections. Start doing some math. “Non-profit” academia is not what I thought it would be.

The only consolation has been hiding out in a huge apartment with huge windows, after a narrow escape from renting a house where the landlord made racial comments, insulted my mother’s health problems and wouldn’t compensate for the mold, lead paint, and vermin that were our roommates. Don’t worry, we shelled out for a lawyer.

Being a Tarheel, I thought, how different could Western Tennessee be? Well, it’s very different from Eastern Tennessee (Nashville & Knoxville)- where people make fun of their counterparts next to the Mississippi.

So, kids, think twice before you watch indie movies and think it’s ok to live in certain parts of the South.

The train screams like a cat being fried alive and honks like a half dead goose loudly from anywhere in this small town, no matter what neighborhood you can afford.

Memphis makes you feel all ooey-gooey, not in a good way.

Met a man on Beale Street- he said, “Where ya from?”.

I says, “LA.”.

He says, “Lower Alabama?”.

I shoulda gone to NO-LA. People understand me there.