14 December 2011

homage to christmas past.

I’m dreaming of a #dingleballChristmas
Just like the ones we’ve had before
With the craft beers flowin’
And siblings plottin’
To ride their bikes out to the bars

I’m dreaming of a #dingleballChristmas
Just like the ones we’ve had before
With the Christmas movies playin'
And I keep waitin’
For Sarah to make her yummy scones

I’m dreaming of a #dingleballChristmas
Just like the ones we’ve had before
Where the fire’s cozy
And the cousins nosy
I love it when they randomly stop by

I’m dreaming of a #dingleballChristmas
Just like the ones we’ve had before
With the nieces dancing
And the mutt a’snugglin
There really is no place like home

I’m dreaming of a #dingleballChristmas
With every tweet I try to write
May your days be silly and light
And may all your dingleballs delight

19 November 2011

the anxious life.

image via Friends of Type

The past couple of months have been an unexpected journey. At the beginning of the school year, I went to the doctor with a series of complaints that, as it turns out, fit a particular medical profile commonly manifest in graduate students. I had to be told by my doctor that, unmanaged, my anxiety was hurting my body.

I've lived with anxiety for a long time. It's taken a lot of different forms over the years. I've dealt with it in a variety of ways. Pared down my schedule. Made incredibly detailed lists. Took months off from work. Learned to embrace being a flake. Slogged through periods of sleeplessness with the hope that it wouldn't be a permanent state. Took up reading literature before bed. Exercised. Online shopped. Kept a journal. I was surprised when my doctor intervened because I had developed so many strategies for living in this state of high strung euphoria-- with its attendant crashes-- that I had forgotten it was something I was actually living with.

I had managed to avoid medication for a long time. Every doctor or therapist that I had encountered had spoken of medication as something to be avoided at all costs. I am grateful that when the prescription was finally thrust into my hand with the promise that I didn't have to keep living like this that I had the courage to accept it. I have spent enough time reading dooce.com over the years to know that there is hope, truly, when we accept treatment. Heather Armstrong's work has touched my life in a deep and important way-- we need to write these narratives so that the stigma of medication can be replaced with people getting what they need when they need it. 

My anxiety has not gone away. There are moments when it strong arms its way into my rich and beautiful life without permission. There are instances when it robs me of my peace and tranquility and capacity to work. It takes me to low places. 

But it is not my whole life. 

There is something sacred that comes from the naming of this pain and my struggle against it. I have put off this post for a long time because it felt so intense and daunting, sharing a part of my soul that I am in the habit of hiding. I am reminded of this passage from bell hooks about the promise of healing that that comes from naming:

"Holding my hands, standing body to body, she allowed me to share emphatically the warmth of that healing. She wanted me to bear witness, to hear again both the naming of her pain and the power that emerged when she felt the hurt go away."
-bell hooks, Teaching to Transgress

I live with anxiety, and it is making me powerful.

30 October 2011

feed the balance of the people.

I was teaching Voices of Protest this week, and like my students, I was startled by the familiarity of speeches delivered 75 years ago. 

‎"How many men ever went to a barbecue and would let one man take off the table what's intended for 9/10th of the people to eat? The only way to be able to feed the balance of the people is to make that man come back and bring back some of that grub that he ain't got no business with!" - Huey Long

This infographic is worth meditating on as well. 

25 October 2011


I seem be having one of those "cry during Hallmark commercials" kind of weeks. I am sure this will culminate in a very messy viewing of either The Notebook, Steel Magnolias, or Beaches.

Which is why I want to share these two great moments I had reading the internet lately. I don't usually think about romance because I am such a pragmatist, and maybe a little emotionally closed off, and most obviously, singggllle, but this stuff is making me verklempt.

From my beloved Sunday Routine:
"The evening, after a movie, is a short evening because the next day is a school day, so we try to go to bed not too late. I like to go to bed 10, 10:30. My wife likes to go much later to bed, so we have to compromise. If she has to do some work, I wait for her, reading or doing e-mails. We don’t like to go to bed separately, so that one of us already sleeps and the other comes later. It’s not beautiful."
From xkcd:


18 October 2011

blog interrupted.

I'm not so good about updating my blog these days. 
I'm working two jobs, one of which involves a two hour commute each way.
I'm reading a lot about prisons.

I knew you'd understand.

26 August 2011

never confuse substance with symbolism.

I don't agree with the notion of King as the singular representative of the civil rights movement any more than I agree with the notion of West as the singular (and self-appointed) representative of all black or poor people everwhere, but this I can get on board with. Memorials should not be equated with absolution, pretending public memory, or the delusion of a complete and successful civil rights movement:

"King’s response to our crisis can be put in one word: revolution. A revolution in our priorities, a re-evaluation of our values, a reinvigoration of our public life and a fundamental transformation of our way of thinking and living that promotes a transfer of power from oligarchs and plutocrats to everyday people and ordinary citizens.
In concrete terms, this means support for progressive politicians..., extensive community and media organizing; civil disobedience; and life and death confrontations with the powers that be. Like King, we need to put on our cemetery clothes and be coffin-ready for the next great democratic battle."

22 August 2011


I spent the last week at a national training institute for a prison education exchange program called Inside-Out. It is difficult to sum up my time with that group and what I learned, but there was a moment that was illustrative of where our hearts were after learning a great deal about how to facilitate courses in a prison setting.

Saturday we made our second trip to the prison. We went on Wednesday. It was an intense day-- there is nothing like waiting for two hours because the prison is on lockdown. Nothing like realizing that you are beyond the walls-- walls that our government built to keep these people in, to keep people like me out. Nothing like seeing the desperate hunger for knowledge and the many ways that knowledge liberates. Nothing like coming to know changed hearts that want change in the world. We met lifers and men who had three or six years left on their sentences. Men who give their 40 cents to 2 dollar an hour wages to scholarship programs for the children of other incarcerated men. Men who will be forever be defined by the worst thing they ever did. Men who came into the prison as children and will probably die there.

So when we had made our way along the winding country roads to the prison, our hearts were heavy. We had learned a lot in our training and we were coming to the prison to learn yet more from the men who were training us inside. When our car turned the corner, the first thing I noticed was the fog. The prison silhouette loomed large. And then I looked a little closer- and I saw people dancing.

In one of the cars, some women had fallen asleep on the drive out. The other women in the car turned up the music really loud to wake them up. The doors flew open and they began to dance. With each car in the caravan rolling in, people spilled out and joined this parking lot soiree. I did too.

our cheesy, unlikely anthem

The rules that govern prison parking lots are restrictive- you are told where to park, no pictures or videos, you come in as few cars as possible. You can't have maps laying out when you go in. As we danced, I could see a guard stepping out of the tower to watch, backlit by sun and fog. A truck with a correctional officer in it circled the parking lot. It dawned on me that this was very, very subversive. It was the most radical thing I had ever been a part of.

But in spite of the surveillance, and maybe because of it, we danced for the whole song. We danced because we know we are free. We danced because we needed strength to go into that milieu to do our best work. We danced because the kind of people that want to teach in prison are the kind of people who dance in parking lots. We danced because we believe we can make walls come down.

We were grateful that we didn't get in trouble for our dance party. Our program is fragile and we know that. The guards were genuinely amused and we haven't heard of any blowback.

We went into the prison that day knowing that we had just experienced something that had defined us as a group, something that we would return to as we spread out to fill our different missions across the United States and Canada. What we do is sobering and hard work, and I came away with a greater appreciation that my heart and my spirit will always need to be in the right place for me to do the work effectively. We had a beautiful day in the prison as we communed with intelligent people who believe in the power of our program. It was hard to say goodbye because it is hard knowing that human beings are kept in cells. It is hard knowing, really knowing, that you are free and others are not.

We did not dance when we left.

13 August 2011

summer reading list.

Last summer my extra-curricular reading list was relatively straight forward: I read Updike's Rabbit tetrology, an experience that was beautiful and worthwhile and easy to get sentimental over in contrast to my vigorous schedule of watching The Wire and trying to crack the scholarship on moderate Republicans, which I thought I wanted to do m dissertation on (oh how things change!). This year, following the disaster of my comps and the trauma of such gluttonous and deliberate reading, I just started loving on books again and let my list emerge organically.

Here's what it became:
Bossypants by Tina Fey
The first book I read this summer, I think the weekend when I should have been preparing for my oral exams. It was anti-climactic but a nice way to transition from crazy town into summer sloth.

Ten Little Indians by Sherman Alexie
This was actually for work. I knew I wanted to discuss Alexie in my Race and Ethnicity class because he is from Washington. Also short stories are my favorite type of literature. These stories were amazingly satisfying. I think this was the only piece of literature that I started and finished while I was in Washington, which is a little bit disconcerting considering how long I was there.

Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth
Pulled this one off my roommate's shelf. I seem to remember my brother reading it in college. This is geeky, but it was made more interesting to me by both the introduction to Jewish culture that has characterized my 2 years and Philly and reading Canuto's The Ungovernable City last summer, because who doesn't love John Lindsay

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
An interesting compliment to the identity issues of the Roth book. I cried at the end, the sadness of the main character was just so deep. A quick and worthy read selected because I had really enjoyed Ten Little Indians and this book won the National Book Award.

Wifey by Judy Blume
I read this book after reading Rich Juzwiak's post "You should read Wifey". The writing is hilarious and Blume's story invoked for me, a female narrated Updike story of suburban discontent. This book was funnier after reading Portnoy's Complaint because now my summer reading list has this weird comic New Jersey thread running through it.

I Don't Care About Your Band by Julie Klausner
Thanks again to my roommate, I now diligently listen to Julie Klausner's How Was Your Week podcast. I love Klausner's sense of humor, but I was kind of terrified that I would hate this book, as dating memoirs or commentaries sometimes promote really, really fucked up ideas about relationships that I always take more seriously than those that emerge from mid-century male writers or things that I say at happy hour after a couple of beers (double standard!). But Klausner dances gracefully through the minefield of possible terrible things that could be said, and the book winds up being this really wonderful gift from a cool older sister who is all about being real and takes the ridiculous of one's 20s in stride. I'm rambling here, but of all the books I've read this summer, I will probably buy a few copies of this book to give as gifts because I think it is wonderful and I want to be like Julie Klausner when I grow up. As a memoir, it is much better than Bossypants.

In progress:
Operation Shylock: A Confession by Philip Roth
I have been slowly, slowly inching through this one. It's postmodern! It takes a lot of focus. I have read several other books since I started it. Another one from my roommate's shelf.

Fear of Flying by Erica Jong
As I mentioned in my post yesterday, this is a classic that I was kind of embarrassed about neglecting. I felt like I had to read it after reading Wifey and I am really glad I did. Again, with Portnoy and Wifey, it's as much about Northeastern Jewish culture as it is about sex and relationships and inner life. It is a magnificent primary source from the 1970s. Taking into account everything I've read this summer, Isadora Wing might be my favorite character so far.

What are you reading this summer?

12 August 2011

really raring to go.

Today is delicious. The weather in Philly is absolutely perfect- sunny, 84 degrees. gentle breezes, no humidity. Earlier I found myself power-grading and reading in Rittenhouse Square, drunk on sunshine and iced coffee. It made me happy to realize that at 26 I am still doing the thing I prized most during the summers of my youth-- reading outside. To be able to do that in the middle of a Friday afternoon is bliss. It is exactly what I want my life to be.

I'm reading Erica Jong's classic Fear of Flying (because why haven't I read it already?). There are so many poignant and pithy passages, but this one sums up how I feel today:
"...I'm really happy with my work for the moment and I don't want any more fulfillment just now. It took me years to learn to sit at my desk for more than two minutes at a time, to put up with the solitude and the terror of failure, and the godawful silence and the white paper. And now that I can take it... now that I can finally do it... I'm really raring to go. I don't want anything to interfere right now. Jesus Christ! It took me so long to get to this point."

Jesus Christ! It took me so long to get to this point.

09 August 2011

the last poets.

In spite of my best efforts to stay focused while I read this book about hip-hop, I can't help myself. Totally waylaid by The Last Poets.

Up through the years we've continued this fight
our liberty to attain
And though we have faced insurmountable odds
yet the will to resist remains

What is freedom? related to what?

08 August 2011

working from home.

How to Work From Home from dooce on Vimeo.

I was kind of amused watching this video from Dooce about how to work from home. I have a friend who claims that "working from home" is the best euphemism for masturbation ever invented. While I can neither confirm or deny this claim, anybody that does self-initiated work and makes their own schedule can appreciate the meaning of what he said: it's hard the resist the pull of doing other things. Take for example, my day today:

10:30am: Reluctantly get out of bed. My neighbor's dogs barked all night. For real. The whole entire night. It was unsurprising to me that when I finally fell asleep, I had really violent dreams. I am unhappy to be awake.

10:35am-11:30am: Call SPCA on neighbors. Spend too long cooking breakfast (scrambled eggs with a bacon and tomato sandwich) and reading the internet.

11:30am: Realize this has been going on too long. 

Noon: Finally shower. Commence deep conditioning of hair. Resume reading of internet. Respond to student emails cheerfully; send angry emails to everyone else. I was still mad about being awake.

1:05pm: Realize that I never actually rinsed my hair out and that the shower cap is starting to steam. Rinse.

1:10pm: Attempt laundry. This endeavor meant washing my shocking pink shorts for the first time, which meant that I turned a number of my whites pink. This day is stupid.

1:30pm: Sit down with a book. Read at five minute intervals so I can get up to check for a response to my angry email. Watch Chloe' videos with my roommate.

Eat. Dance. Eat.

3:30pm: Realizing that not enough has been accomplished, decide to go to the coffee shop to work. Swap out enormous working from home shirt for coffee shop-appropriate shirt and make cut-off shorts three inches shorter, because what am I, Mormon? Also, it turns out wearing fat clothes from four years ago is way warmer than regular clothes. Eat a popsicle because I am still angry about being awake.

4:00pm-5:30pm: Read at coffee shop. Most productive period of the day until I realized that I could redeem the whole day entirely by going to the taco truck.

5:45pm: Taunt roommate with prospect of taco truck as he's leaving for swim practice.

6:15pm: Bike repairs lite.

6:45pm- 8:30pm: Actually leave for taco truck. Back to school shopping at Target. More popsicles.

So I recognize that this day was only possible because it's summer, my students have a shit-ton of work to turn in that I'm going to have to grade this week but not now, and because I didn't technically have something that had to be done (Spanish study remains on the calendar). But think of what I could have accomplished if I HAD SET A SCHEDULE.

24 July 2011


When I was in the Young Women's program, my favorite value was integrity. Looking back on my time in YW, I probably liked integrity best because it was so straight forward: do what you know is right. It went hand in hand with my other favorite pair of values, choice and accountability. When confronted with a choice that has consequences, do the right thing. Make choices you can live with, choices that are true to who you are. Mormons don't have a corner on these values, but they are really good at teaching them.

When confronted with a question of integrity-- amidst the troubled rush of doing the right thing-- the song "I Walk By Faith" popped into my head as I rode my bike home. For the last couple of weeks, I've been singing the line "by doing what I know is right, I show integrity" like a mantra. It helped me get my self esteem back when I was being hard on myself about getting into a situation where I had to confront my integrity in such an intense way.

Oslo has been on my mind. I have cherished the hours I spent at Vigeland Sculpture Park in 2005- there is a connectedness and solidity in the way he portrays relationships that I still find poignant and worth aspiring to.

I've been reading Parker Palmer's The Courage To Teach. It's on the reading list for a program I will be going to training for next month. Just the act of participation in the program is, for me, an expression of integrity-- I want to put my values about social justice into action as an educator. Given my recent meditations on integrity, I was moved by Palmer's discussion of the value. He writes:
"...Identity is a moving intersection of the inner and outer forces that make me who I am, converging in the irreducible mystery of being human.
By integrity I mean whatever wholeness I am able to find within that nexus as its vectors form and re-form the pattern of my life. Integrity requires that I discern what is integral to my selfhood, what fits and what does not-- and that I choose life-giving ways of relating to the forces that converge within me: Do I welcome them or fear them, embrace them or reject them, move with them or against them? By choosing integrity, I become more whole, but wholeness does not mean perfection. It means becoming more real by acknowledging the whole of who I am." (13)
Palmer enriches my definition in several ways. Just as my identity is constantly changing, so too is my sense of what is right for me and my life. Integrity means living in a state of consciousness that leads to authenticity.

Palmer later adds:
"Gandhi called his life 'experiments with truth,' and experimenting in the complex field of forces that bear on our lives is how we learn more about our integrity. We learn experimentally that we thrive on some connections and not with others, that we enhance our integrity by choosing relationships that give us life and violate it by assenting to those that do not.
Experimentation is risky. We rarely know in advance what will give us life and what will sap life away. But if we want to deepen our understanding of our own integrity, experiment we must-- and then be willing to make choices as we view the experimental results." (16)
This spoke to my heart. My integrity will not be perfect all the time because there is a certain degree to which I have to test the waters-- it sometimes takes time to get a sense of what the right course is. I think it's notable that Palmer is not talking about integrity as a way to achieve happiness, but as a means of gaining the perspective and the power to be a conscious and aware teacher, to achieve fulfillment in ones vocation. What's life-giving is so much bigger than fleeting happiness or satisfaction; it is to discern what is vital-- both in what is essential and what will give my life the kind of momentum and energy that I want it to have.

20 July 2011

on remaining a member of a church in which you are no longer active.

When I bailed on Mormonism nearly four years ago (I practically have a college degree in being inactive), it was after a number of years of frustration and resentment. Suddenly and strangely liberated-- and by this, meaning that I no longer felt inclined to keep a certain balance on my savings account, should I need to finance a wedding on the fly-- I bought a Dutch bicycle and I started this blog. Leaving the church, getting the Old Dutch Treat, and this silly little blogchurch were all part of that funny, disorienting moment in my life.

new bike owner. the ride home was 100% terrifying.

The thing about my membership in the Church-- the LDS Church-- is that I'm kind of unwilling to give it up. Sure, I don't acknowledge priesthood authority as a force that governs my life, and we all know I have done my fair share of things that would probably disqualify me from membership-- but the fact of the matter is, even though I don't go and I don't intend to go back, my membership, ensured through my baptism, means a lot to me. I still regard Mormons as my tribe-- adopted, to be sure-- and I just don't feel the inclination to resign my membership, in spite of everything. It's like keeping your married name after a divorce-- you can't deny that you made that choice, and it changed you in powerful ways (that's mixing metaphors, because this whole post is a metaphor, but whatever). I still identify as Mormon-- albiet a lapsed one- because Christian, atheist, agnostic- those labels just don't seem to fit. It's who I am, I can't shake it.

Ok, this post isn't actually about my relationship to the Church. It's about my relationship to my Dutch bike. I bought it with the intention of coasting down hills at the U, to feel the wind on my face-- and I did. The bike was not a burden. I had a large living room to store it in, and even when it didn't shift right or it blew over in the wind- I was just so into it. The bike was the symbol of the freedom I felt, and I might have spent a lot of my rides thinking, "Look at me! Don't you see how free I am? ACKNOWLEDGE MY FREEDOM."

my first fall in Philly.

So what went wrong? You will recall that I moved into a second floor apartment with a very narrow staircase. And even though the ODT carried me through a very exciting transition my life-- from West to East, car-owner to full-time city cyclist-- I still had to drag that heavy-ass bike up the stairs every night. It felt good to ride, but it's a lot of bike. I was covered in bruises from our battles. And the more I rode it, the more I had to maintain it. Have you ever taken the wheel off of a Dutch bicycle? No? GOOD. What I'm saying is, I could never find a shop that didn't bitch about my bike when I brought it in, so the bike and I were forced to duke it out and this tended to make for weeks of the ODT sitting around half dismantled.
the "aggressively hauling shit" phase. note that I had, by that time, gone to war with my skirt guards.

When I moved last year, getting a place with first floor access was a big deal for me. But then, you know, we have had a world of trouble with our pesky storm door. And the bike is still huge and hard to take care of. The headlight, which hadn't worked in over a year, started popping off and kickstand lost its functionality. Things were getting ramshackle. And then I started my exams. Being exhausted and hauling thirty books a trip up and down the hill-- because my commute doubled and now included a hill-- it just stopped working. I resented the bike, I didn't enjoy riding it (except on the downhills) and when the chain popped off when I was running late for school last Spring, I didn't bother to fix it. I told myself I'd take the train to school and ride the Dahon in the neighborhood and fix the bike when there weren't so many other demands on my energies. I had worked really hard to make the bike work, and it just wasn't happening. 

oh, the weight. by then, my Basil basket had disintegrated too. 

Fast forward, two months later--I finally finished fixing the bike today (it probably needs an adjustment at some hater bike shop).

And then I went to the shop to pick up the bike I bought in Tacoma. The tiny, light bike that won't be a bother when I'm late for school. The bike that will be much easier to lock up. The bike that shops won't mind working on. The bike I can actually take out on long rides. The bike that actually fits my leg length. The Bike. The Guez.

I'm not selling the Old Dutch, but I think it's time to put it in the basement. Maybe not forever-- I will probably want those fenders in the winter-- but for now, there's just no sense in keeping it out. Is this a rejection of the Cycle Chic, slow bicycle ethos that got me into cycling? It feels like it, a little bit. Riding in a skirt isn't my first priority these days, and slow only fits my life some of the time. But putting the Old Dutch to pasture doesn't mean getting rid of it-- like my church membership, it remains a powerful symbol of choices I made and things I wanted for my life. It will be there when I want it.

I like to think that I can cast off the weight of the symbol of being free and just be free. So I'll keep worshipping at the Church of the Granny Bike, just not on it. 

First thing out of the shop, I took my bike for a zip along the river to my favorite spot. Note that Big Brother cable tied my old tires on for shipping, and that the seat is the perfect height because BB made a note when he packed it! He is too wonderful.

15 July 2011

great moments in tacoma cycling, part iv.

A roundup of some of my favorite bikey photos from my trip to Tacoma earlier in the summer. They represent a broad swath of unphoto-ed bike memories and bike friends and family in lovely Tacoma.

Bicycle dinner date with my beloved and generous hosts

My new bike- The Guez- piled high with eats from my favorite teriyaki place. We will be reunited next week and I can. not. wait!!

Only a small portion of the megabikepile that my posse of Tacoma Mob Riders leaves outside of bars. Of all of the things I do when I go home, riding with that crowd always leaves me with the greatest sense that Tacoma is a magical place for bike riding (so what if I sound like Prester John!).

This one's not from Tacoma, but our ill-fated effort to ride bikes in Tulsa was still notable and memorable. Our greatest consolation was that we later found bike people, which is of course the next best thing to riding bikes.

10 July 2011

DIY mayonnaise.

Last night I was wandering around the grocery store, trying to figure out what to eat. It's too hot to eat, but a girl can't subsist on a diet of beverages and frozen treats (iced coffee and mini ice cream sandwich for breakfast, Yuengling Lager and Otter Pops for dinner...).

So I got the makings of my standard macaroni salad, because it's cheap to make and cold and, with some chicken added, sticks to your bones while still functioning as light summer fare. So I got home and prepped all the ingredients and went to dress it and... I had no mayonnaise.

Enter The Essential New York Times Cook Book.  From 1981, a lighter, creamier mayonnaise. A mayonnaise that's got that certain something. A mayonnaise that doesn't require uncomfortable discussion about spoilage and expiration dates. A mayonnaise that makes exactly enough for dressing a pound of macaroni. This is A mayonnaise that changes lives. It took less than 5 minutes to make in my Kitchen Aid.


1 large egg yolk 
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard or other imported mustard
1 teaspoon cider vinegar or fresh lemon juice
1 cup peanut, vegetable, or olive oil

Place the yolk in a bowl and add salt and pepper to taste, the mustard, and vinegar. Beat vigourously for a second or two with whisk attachment. Start adding the oil gradually, beating continuously with the whisk (I did this on 10). Continue beating and adding the oil until all of it is used.

Makes about 1 cup

Macaroni Salad

1 lb macaroni
3-5 stalks celery, chopped
1-2 bell peppers
salt and pepper 
the homemade mayonnaise you just made
generous quantities of celery salt
poached chicken, shredded and salted

04 July 2011

living in america.

In honor of the holiday, some Fourth of July tunes:

Tomorrow I start teaching my first, very own class. For lecture, I'm providing the students with an overview of race and ethnicity in America. It's a little strange to be cataloguing four hundred years of injustice and conflict on a day that we supposedly celebrate our nation's independence and the magic of democracy. I mean, America is great, but the costs, the costs.

In the interest of being upbeat (block parties! fireworks! pie!), let us remember that the promises of section 1 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution are real, even if they are unfulfilled:
"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."


And because I'm a cheeseball, the finer interpretation of the official song of Summer 2011:

24 June 2011

all my children.

A circumstance I often find myself in is that of accounting for the major decisions of my adult life, or, more specifically, justifying why I don't have kids. This is most often to people who have kids, and to people who don't have kids and are also relieved not to have them yet, or ever. Because people who have kids (and zero contact with my career trajectory and higher education in general) haven't always held my achievements (which I am very vain about, in spite of their modesty) in equal esteem (and because baby showers and weddings present a particular kind of torment), I present them in terms they can understand:

My first child is 7 years old. Its name is Associates Degree. Boy did I do a lot of growing up with that first baby.

My second child is 5 years old.  Its name is Bachelors Degree. I really came to know who I was with that with that one, though I was still just a child myself. Like my first child, my second child was an easy baby.

Because I am pro-choice, my third pregnancy, A Demoralizing Job in Corporate America, was hastily aborted four years ago.

My third child is 2 years old. Its name is Masters Degree. I thought that one would kill me-- it had all kinds of complications. The doctor who helped me birth it seemed like a real jerk. In the end it came out fine, but let's be real, you can't expect that much from middle children and I totally get why some people choose just to have one child or none at all.

I'm pregnant with my fourth child. I'm hoping it's a PhD, but I'm not far enough along to find out yet. Like most people with four children, I will probably end up totally broke. I wish people would stop asking me when my due date is.

01 June 2011

church of the semi-custom touring bike.

A month or so ago, my brother's neighbor let him know that she had a bike she was looking to offload. She had bought the bike new, but couldn't ride it any more because she has started to shrink. The bike is now too big for her.

At about the same time, I went to war with the Old Dutch Treat. Riding it uphill when late for school and saddled with twenty books was not much of a treat. When my brother mentioned that he had dibbsed his neighbor's bike for me to test ride, I was game. I was ready. I wanted the bike as soon as I heard about it.

Coming home to Washington to buy a bike might seem obtuse, but the bike had a couple of things going for it. I've got a short inseam, and it's an unusually small bike and it's in fantastic shape. (Girl moment: It is also a sweet indigo color and has stars on it!!) It saved me a lot of leg work as far as bike shopping goes. The bike is living in my brother's garage, so he's helping me shine it up. So far BB has put on new brake levers, new handlebar tape (cork!), and swapped out the seat. New Philly-ready tires are on the way. And perhaps most enjoyably, I have a month to ride it around Tacoma with the nicest folks in deliciously mild weather. 

12 May 2011

comps mini-journal, the poetry of oral exams.


humble one(gifted with 

illimitable joy) 
bird sings love's every truth 

beyond all since and why 

asking no favor but 

(while down come blundering 
proud hugenesses of hate 

sometimes called world)to sing

Yesterday as I waited to start my oral exams, I cracked open the complete volume of e.e. cummings on my desk for a bit of peace and perspective. I came across this poem. It was resonant in the moment-- humility after months of overconfident preparation-- what a concept! 

Yet during my exams-- a messy and unpleasant event in which yours truly, ever capable, totally choked-- I thought about what it means to be 'humble one bird.' As I waited for my committee to reveal my fate, I felt a raw yearning- it hit me, how badly I really want to do this. I sat for close to forty minutes as my heart was laid low, 'asking no favor but to sing.' 

You can imagined my relief that I passed my exams.
But that moment of encountering poetry deepened my gratitude.

I watched these trees behind my house get cut down yesterday morning before I left for my exams. It made me sad that they were getting cut down when they had just come into bloom. The lot is nearly cleared and the house is nearly erased.

05 May 2011

comps mini-journal, day 14.

So today I got up and was kind of like this:

Then I worked for four hours, went to school, met with a student, and worked for three more hours when I got home.

And then I was done with my comps.

Ok, not totally-- my plan is to print them out and do a typo edit during the final tomorrow (what else do I do for 2 hours?!) But finishing tonight was perfect-- a friend let me know that he had roasted a chicken and wanted to share, and I was like, "just let me finish my comps!"

I respond well to food incentives. 

somebody needs her hair did...
 but isn't the Temple Owl just the cutest mascot ever? so proud!

I feel... good. There is a little or a lot of letting go with this kind of assignment-- I mean, there's just not time to make massive changes. It's a little or a lot anti-climactic, as I felt much of the process was. And when I try to formulate a defense for what I wrote, it's just like well, uh, I had to work with the questions. So whatever. There's a lot of so whatevering going on right now. But in a good way, right? I mean, two weeks, 36 pages, and 95 footnotes later, the exam period is basically over!

04 May 2011

comps mini-journal, day 13.

The awesome thing about this process is how my capacity for sleep seems to be expanding. And how it takes me forever to really wake up. This brain is feelin' tired.

Today I rocked the no makeup look. It adds authenticity to the persona of frazzled comps taker that I am trying to perfect. Today I finished an essay- all it needs is a title and an intro quote (or for me to delete the note about inserting an intro quote). The big US field came in at 12 pages with 40 footnotes. As a sign of how little writing I've done this semester-- I forgot what a time suck footnotes are. I spent half my day cleaning up the essay and making the footnotes tidy, and boy are they beautiful! Imagine the satisfaction you get from totally cleaning your house. That's how looking at these bad boys makes me feel.
my precious

My workspace inspires no such feelings. I've tried to stay on top of the books and the detritus, but like a busy toddler, I get a lot of pleasure from taking the books off the shelf and putting them on the floor.

Needless to say, I have a lot of housekeeping to do this weekend. When my exams are turned in.

This is not entirely accurate, as I will probably turn my exams in around 7 am on Friday. Or maybe around 10:30, after I give the final for my TA class. I am starting to plan on an all nighter. The formatting stuff has taken so long on the 2 American essays that I am not entirely sure how my day of Latin Americaness will go. There's slightly fewer footnotes, but that essay is a complete wreck. So I'm soldiering on. Will finish the dissertation field essay before bed tonight so I can hunker down and work the shit out of that essay tomorrow.

Compsjams with Polly Scattergood:

I can't wait to be done.

(this is for you, Kara :) )