If you see a whole thing - it seems that it's always beautiful. Planets, lives... But up close a world's all dirt and rocks. And day to day, life's a hard job, you get tired, you lose the pattern. - Ursula K. LeGuin

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Meme For The Old year

As seen everywhere:

1. What did you do in 2008 that you’d never done before.

Sent my son to college.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

This year I tried a New Year's theme, but honestly that didn't seem to work too well. I have a few goals brewing and may post them later.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

b's friend from junior high had his first child, but they are neither physically nor emotionally close to me. One of my grad students had a little girl.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

My sensei and I miss him.

5. What countries did you visit?

None. I barely did any traveling this year.

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?

Tenure. I'll put my packet in this year but probably won't have the official answer until 2010.


7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

I'm actually horrible with remembering dates but August 20th will stay. That was the day we took Angel to college.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Getting through it.

9. What was your biggest failure?

I don't do failure.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

A touch of the crud early in the year and my normal migraines but no real illness. As for injury, I've had tendinitis in my shoulder for several months now.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Angel's education.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

b. He couldn't have been better.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

The Mormon Church

14. Where did most of your money go?

Angel's tuition

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Obama's election
Angel finishing the semester with a 3.4 GPA

16. What song will always remind you of 2008?

Walk Away - Ben Harper

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?

a) sadder
b) fatter
c) poorer

doesn't sound like a great year, does it?

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

exercising, camping/hiking

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

eating, spending money, missing Angel

20. How will you be spending Christmas?

b and I spent it alone, at home, eating, drinking and enjoying each other's company

21. Did you fall in love in 2008?

I fall deeper in love everyday

22. How many one-night stands?

Thankfully none

23. What was your favorite TV program?

I'm so bad with favorites. This year I've really enjoyed Battle Star Galactica, Grey's Anatomy, and downloading the first season of NYPD Blue

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I generally don't do hate but there are a few extra people I'd rather not spend time with

25. What was the best book you read?

Can't limit it to one. Here's what I've enjoyed:

War and Peace
In the Time of Butterflies (Julia Alvarez)
Rereading all of Octavia Butler's work

I'm currently reading Their Eyes Were Watching God and loving it.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Ben Harper
Jenny Lewis

27. What did you want and get?

For Angel to be happy at college and do well

28. What did you want and not get?

For Angel to come home

29. What was your favorite film of this year?

I saw way more movies and films (in the theater and downloads) than usual this year. Most were ok at best. Trouble the Waters was phenomenal. Foot Fist Way was about the worst movie I've seen in my life.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 43 this year. On my birthday I went to work, attended a few meetings, had a migraine, and went out to a lovely dinner with b and Angel.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

More Angel, less meetings

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?

outdoorsy academic?

33. What kept you sane?


34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?


35. What political issue stirred you the most?

Prop 8

36. Who did you miss?

Angel and Sensei

37. Who was the best new person you met?


38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.

Not all socks are equal. There are some exceptional ones out there and you shouldn't accept less.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

What are you changing?
Who do you think you're changing?
You can't change things, we're all stuck in our ways
It's like trying to clean the ocean
What do you think you can drain it?
Well it was poison and dry long before you came
-Jenny Lewis

Sunday, December 28, 2008

New Doors

The Scientiae Carnival this month is about one door closing and another opening (or vice versa). As my regular readers know, the big door that closed for me this year is active mothering. Active mothering is a phrase I termed for having a child in the home with you; a child you nurture and care for on a daily basis. That ended for me when Angel went away to college. I am now on inactive status. As with the military, inactive status can be stressful in its own right--you never know when you'll be needed and called to serve. Inactive status still feels, for me, less than.

I assumed that when this door closed a new one would open. I can't make it open (although I'd like to); I can't force the new door to be my research or a new relationship (although Pumpkin has been a big help). I honestly don't think I've really been ready for a new door. I think the closing of this door is a big task unto itself. I am just beginning to find a semblance of peace with my new life--as long as I don't think too hard about my old one. Hopefully with time and continued peace a new door will show itself. What it will be or where it will take me, I really haven't a clue.

Pop Culture

I have to start this post with a disclaimer. I am often way behind the times when it comes to pop culture and rarely, if ever, do I catch up. Keeping that in mind we can begin.

b and I were having dinner at our friends' home last week and the subject of the Twilight series came up. One of my friends, GnomeLady, had discovered and devoured them recently. GnomeLady is also a huge Harry Potter fan--books and movies I am aware of but I have never desired to imbibe. However I had only recently heard of the Twilight phenomenon (and wasn't really aware of the whole teenage aspect to be totally honest) and I love a good vampire story. Grades were also recently submitted and my holiday break loomed ahead of me, so I jumped at her offer to lend them to me. Unfortunately she had already loaned another friend the first book, so at the end of the night I went home with the remaining three.

Generally with this type of literature I expect to be engaged and entertained but also to put up with poor writing and sentimentalism. I think of these books the same way b's thinks of McDonald's--every once in a while you get a craving and while its good going down afterwards you don't feel quite right. I would say that my expectations were pretty well met with the first book I read, New Moon. It was the story of a heartbroken adolescent girl. There was a lot of yearning for something that will never come again and physical pain to mark the overwhelming emptiness that her life now holds. Frankly with all my feelings over Angel's move to college these past few months, it was fairly cathartic.

However with the next book, Eclipse, the tone changed considerably. Now her beloved was back in the picture but he was controlling and emotionally abusive. I have no idea if this is how the romance is portrayed in the first book and movie, but I found myself growing more and more disturbed as I read it. There was another love interest character who was also abusive--emotionally and physically. What exactly is going on here? The girl's true love is technically her age (having become a vampire as an adolescent) but in reality has lived for over 80 years. Given the maturity and knowledge he's gained in that time, the relationship is reminiscent of a May-December romance. Add to that his supernatural ability and the power imbalance is off the charts.

The novel hit home because I've lived it (well sans vampire part). My first husband was 18 years my senior and a person with considerable power and authority in my life at that time. While not supernatural, he was exceptionally strong, tough, and emotionally manipulative. I was a teenager when we first started dating and not much older than many of my students are now when we married. Much of the relationship portrayed in the novel reminds me of those early years--how my behaviors and thoughts were manipulated and controlled to serve his purposes. It was not pretty and not healthy--even though I was convinced I was making my own choices and knew what I was doing. Of course, over time I matured. I learned where I began and he ended--mostly through raising Angel--and our relationship changed and stretched until it finally broke.

I was so taken back by the positive portrayal of this relationship in a book geared for adolescent girls that I started searching the web for critiques. Now I realize this phenomenon is already old and so what I found was written months ago. It seems that the accusation of an abusive relationship surfaced and caused many a blogosphere battle. Perhaps most disturbing were the point-by-point rebuttal by fans, as they sound so similar to what women in abusive relationships say.

So I wonder, what am I missing? I read a number of feminist blogs, news clippings and magazines. Even given my general lack of interest with pop culture, why did it take me so long to find out about this? Why did I need to search to find the feminist response? Am I really that out of the loop or have we so internalized the dominance as romance narrative that even people like my friend, a self-proclaimed feminist, don't see it? Or worse yet, are turned on by it?

Saturday, December 27, 2008


So today is my first blogaversary. In retrospect December 27th seems an odd day to start a blog but I guess it makes sense for an academic. My life rotates around an academic calendar and it is during the in-between times that I tend to reconnect with my other sides.

It some ways it is hard to believe it has only been a year. Much has happened in that year and somehow I've grown accustomed to an open chronicle of my life. Although I hate "highlight" shows on TV, I'm going to try a month-by-month teaser recap. Below are the titles and a few lines from some important posts:

December 27, 2007 -- My first post ever

Where to start? I suppose an introduction is in order. Something along the lines of "Welcome to my blog?" I've never been one for elaborate greetings or farewells. I'm the type of person who prefers to slip quietly into a room rather than make an entrance. A smile and nod of acknowledgment are more my style than a boisterous "Hello, how are you?"
January 25, 2008--My first comment ever (from the amazing Dr. Bad Ass - thank you so much for starting me off!)

Protecting Time
What with the new year and new semester, there has been a lot of talk in the blogworld about schedules. People have been busy creating schedules and figuring how to keep research or writing time sacred. I came up with my own variation on a workable schedule and I've been trying to stick to it.
February 7, 2008--This is the first time I really wrote about what it feels like to teach and made personal connections for myself between my academic life and my martial arts life.

Why I Teach...Tai Chi
So there have been a number of posts in the academic blogging world on why people teach what it is they do teach. Reading these posts and their resulting comments, I can't help but spend some time thinking about why I teach at all and why I teach what it is I do teach. Profgrrrrl has a particularly interesting one up today that covers a lot of my feelings on why I teach (or rather why I enjoy teaching) my academic classes. I don't feel the need to add much more to that subject here but would rather discuss why I teach tai chi, which provides nothing for my career and brings me no money whatsoever.
March 12, 2008--My first photo essay post, where I outline my pizza-making process

Pizza...Or How I Spend Spring Break
I love to bake (much more than I love to cook) and baking bread is probably my favorite. Since it's Spring Break this week I figured I had time for "Make Your Own Pizza" night. The name is a misnomer as I do most of the making. B assembles at the end and Boy prefers me to do everything.
April 16, 2008--The importance of this one speaks for itself
Last night I found out that my Sensei has passed on. He had just turned 70. He suffered a stroke right before I moved down here. The last time I saw him he was in the hospital and I was pretty sure it was our final visit.
May 9, 2008--The beginning of my on-going bad-pet-owner-neighbor saga (quick update--two of the kittens from this litter are now pregnant)

Our next door neighbor has lots of cats and one small dog. It seems she doesn't spay her female cats and they have frequent litters. At the moment she has two litters just 3 weeks apart. The moms are very protective, as you would imagine, and they appear to be co-parenting.
June 15, 2008--One of my few posts devoted to the wonderfulness of b

Father's Day
It's Father's Day. b will be spending most of it driving Boy to a far away airport so he can go visit his (biological) Dad up north. Seems wrong, don't it? b never gets a Father's Day with Boy and, since both of our fathers have passed, the day pretty much goes unnoticed in our household. So I decided today warranted a post on fathers in general and on b as a father in particular.

July 4, 2008--This post continues to get more hits than anything else I've ever written

Random Learning
Yesterday I went to a seminar with a friend at a local organization. I thought the seminar was going to be about this, which looked very cool and interesting. However the three speakers addressed related but different topics. All of the speakers were from India (at least originally). Two of them discussed their work with Indian women (and sometimes girls). One of them was an artist who does art workshops with women and children as a means of empowerment. Her art, print work, is based on the ritual art of kolam.
August 20, 2008-The day that will live in infamy

We're Off
to the Land of College.

Wish me luck.
September 12, 2008--My teaching philosophy, of sorts

Creating Critics
The semester is still kicking my a$$ but my undergraduate class appears to be going well. They've been writing some great journal posts, talking up in class and today a colleague told me that one of them called me "terrific." So that felt pretty good.
October 6, 2008--Pumpkin makes her debut

Hate Me If You Will...
...but I just not a huge fan of children. Don't get me wrong, I don't lure them into my candy-covered home and stuff them into ovens. In fact there are quite a few out there in the world that I'm fond of, especially the ones in my family. What I mean is I don't go ga-ga over babies and I don't immediately get down on my knees to play with toddlers. I don't try and engage every child I meet in conversation and I don't think they're all cute...not even the babies (I mean most babies are but there are a few butt-ugly ones in this world).
November 1, 2008--Still hurting

Empty Nesting

Angel has always done things in his own time. If he wasn't ready to go it was murder trying to get him out of the house but if it was someplace he wanted to go--he was out the door like a jack rabbit.
So that was my first year blogging, folks. I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Celebrating Christmas

Given this was the first time in 19 years I've celebrated Christmas without Angel, it really wasn't as strange or even depressing as I had anticipated. b and I combined many of our old traditions with a few new ones.

For the first time ever I had presents wrapped and under the tree by December 23rd. I even had his stocking stuffed. So on Christmas Eve I really didn't have a lot to do, other than prepare the cinnamon buns. This is no small feat as it takes about 10 hours total....and then they sit overnight. b had to work during the day but after he came home we went out on a dressed up date--which is rare for us--to SouthLite's fanciest restaurant (new tradition). We sat in the bar, drinking cocktails, eating appetizers, and talking. Then we went home to watch It's A Wonderful Life (old tradition). It was a perfect date.

Christmas morning we got to sleep in a bit (new tradition) and then opened stockings in bed (old tradition). When we got up we unwrapped our presents under the tree while drinking champagne (old tradition).

Without Angel, Pupzilla got a few extra presents. A new bed, a squeaky penguin, a rubber pull toy, and the biggest bone ever.

The Brute got stoned off catnip.

b did a perfect job with stockings and presents this year and I have enough recreational reading material to get me through the break.

After presents it was time for the cinnamon buns (old tradition).

Then we snuggled in bed watching one of b's presents. When we woke up we went for a run (old tradition) and the day was beautiful (over 60 degrees and sunny....have I mentioned how much I enjoy Christmas in the south?). b made some yummy eggs and we toasted up the bread I made the other day for brunch. Then we decided to go to the movies (new tradition). The theater was far more crowded than we expected. We saw this. I enjoyed myself immensely.

With all this activity, Christmas dinner was much later than normal, but b cooked us up a huge surf and turf spread: homemade crab cakes, pan fried scallops, twice-baked potatoes, sauteed asparagus, and fillet mignon (for him). I couldn't quite finish and we were so stuffed we never got to the hot cocoa.

I did check my email a few times during the day, in hopes of word from Angel but no such luck. Pumpkin called to wish us a happy holiday and this morning my sister, Jo, called and we gabbed it up for over 2 hours. Then finally, after brunch, I got a quick call from Angel. Overall, far more sweet then bitter.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

My Weekend

I haven't really done lists here at Dirt and Rocks. IRL I'm a big list maker but they are always To Do lists. However I feel the need to document what I've done this weekend in list form. Here it goes:
  • Worked out at the dojo with b
  • Went to god-awful show
  • Dropped in on Pumpkin's party
  • Food shopping
  • Finished Christmas shopping for humans
  • Baked coffee cake for friends
  • Visited Pumpkin as she was bored and immobile
  • Visited with friends; saw their new house; played with a puppy
  • Walked Pupzilla twice
  • Ran 2 miles (yeah I know, wimpy, but I'm working my way back up)
  • Baked bread
  • Baked small loaves of banana bread for b to give to his superiors
  • Cooked Avgolemono soup (well my version - I use onions instead of celery and broad egg noodles instead of orzo)
  • More food shopping (for everything I forgot the first time)
  • Finished the analysis I need for tomorrow morning's meeting
  • Wrote an email to my Department Head explaining my position on a potential spousal hire in the middle of a budget crisis
  • Ate a yummy dinner of grilled cheese sandwiches (with home-baked bread) and Avgolemono soup
  • Drank a Guinness (well several but not all in the same day)
  • Blogged
Why do they call it our days off?

Tomorrow will only be a half day of work for me. It is b's last day off (he worked all weekend) before Christmas and there are still errands to be done. We have yet more food shopping to do (going to specialty supermarket for Christmas dinner fixins') and then we need to buy presents for the pets (shhh, don't tell but Pupzilla is getting a new bed this year).

Also I'm obviously in the middle of a baking frenzy. I still have cinnamon buns to bake for Christmas morning (it's actually an all day affair I do every Christmas Eve) but then after Christmas I want to try sourdough bread again and I want to bake a chicken pot pie.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Holiday Festivities

We've been knee-deep in holiday cheer at the House of Dirt and Rocks, not the least of which is caused by my on-going baking extravaganza. Today's treat was Sunday Morning Deluxe Coffeecake, which we brought over to our friends' new house for dinner and good times. They were dog-sitting the cutest puppy I've seen in a long time. He looked remarkably like the dog I had, loved, and lost when I was 9 years old. b was smitten by him as well.

Yesterday we went to see this. Pumpkin had gotten tickets but was not feeling well (she's recently had minor surgery and was hosting a party that night) so she asked b and I to take the tickets. Now b is a big Dickens fan and reads the book every year. In fact, as I may have mentioned, our holiday season starts with reading the first chapter around the fire on Thanksgiving while sipping cocoa. We also watch our favorite movie versions each year (we love this one because it is the one we were both raised on; however this version is incredibly well-done and the most authentic to the book; and then we like this one because its very funny). So we were pretty psyched to see it live.

Contrary to the article, it was a far cry from "as close to the to the novel as possible." And the comment that "it incorporates music but isn't exactly a musical" also a big fat lie. It was a musical. And who makes a musical out of a ghost story...with dancing dolls? It was like Dickens had wandered into the Nutcracker. It was, in short, horrible. It was almost bad enough to be campy but not quite. I will agree with the article's last comment on rural audiences enjoying it--because ours certainly did--but the thought that this is the closest they get to theater is down-right scary.

Afterwards we stopped by Pumpkin's party and met many of her friends. She is quite the charming hostess, even on crutches.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Our Story Continues

Now that grading is a thing of the past (whew!) I thought I'd update you on the various goings-on at the House of Dirt and Rocks.

When last we left our story, b and I had come back from a brief visit with Angel for his birthday and bought our Christmas tree. The following Saturday we received an email from Angel stating his semester was over and he had a few days before his trip to Costa Rica and he thought he'd spend them with us. Now you may remember that his last trip home ended in a car accident (everyone safe) that totaled his car. Not having found another yet, he needed one of us to drive down and retrieve him.

We had already made plans with my adopted daughter (she really needs a name...let's call her Pumpkin) for the evening. b was going to cook a lobster dinner for her (she had never eaten lobster before). I was making cupcakes (chocolate with peanut butter frosting--not very holiday like but b requested them) and we would trim the tree.

b drove the 3+ hour round trip to bring Angel home while I made the cupcakes. Angel and Pumpkin finally met, b made an amazing lobster (and steak for the red meat eaters) dinner and a good time was had by all. Pumpkin braved her way through the lobster but is definitely not a fan.

Tree-trimming was fun.

Pupzilla played the role of reindeer.

Cupcakes were a hit.

I've spent the last few days hanging out with Angel. He's a bit more relaxed than the last trip and more like himself...but not completely.

Or rather he is himself but that self is a bit different from the boy I knew. I'm trying to adjust to the man he's become and figure out our relationship in this new phase.

b had to work today so it was up to me to drive Angel back to school. He leaves for Costa Rica tomorrow morning. I'm very excited for him but was not ready to give him up. I guess I never will be.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Much has been going on here in the House of Dirt and Rocks--not the least of which been grading. But as of now I am officially done. Here's the tally.


Grading 30 literature review papers
Grading 30 essay exams
Grading 33 final exams w/ essay
Grading 2 independent study reports
Entering all of the above grades into various computer programs.

I'm happy to put this semester to bed but must quickly start prepping for next semester.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I Guess I Don't Get Out Enough

As seen at Seeking Solace's:

1. Started my own blog

2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than I can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sung a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched lightening at sea
14. Taught myself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown my own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitchhiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught myself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied - this doesn't take much for me
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing - barely
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had my portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma.
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check - more times than I care to remember
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy - Teddy is still on my dresser
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten caviar - luckily I don't like it
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square - many times, once even for New Years Eve
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job .
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had my picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox - 3 days before my first wedding
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous - Tom Berenger
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Ridden an elephant

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

RBOC: End of Semester Edition

  • Others may be in grading jail but I go straight to grading hell.
  • I am currently grading 30 final papers but will have over 60 essay exams to grade by the end of the week.
  • Today was a full-day faculty retreat (who holds retreats at the end of the semester???? Before grading is over????).
  • The retreat was held in SouthLite's nicest hotel but no breakfast was served and coffee was scarce.
  • Tomorrow we have a half-day retreat follow-up....at school....no coffee or lunch.
  • Friday I have a full-day committee retreat.
  • My affiliated department is trying to hire a faculty member before the semester ends. This week there are two presentations and a vote.
  • Saturday b won a very special award at work. He was nominated and picked by his colleagues. He received a very nice watch and will be going to one of our favorite cities out west in the summer. I'm planning on tagging along.
  • Saturday was also Angel's birthday. He turned 19. We visited him at college, took him out to dinner and then met his frat family at a semi-formal event.
  • I miss him.
  • Tonight we bought our tree. This coming Saturday we'll be trimming it....bittersweet.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Dr Seuss: Ideological Role Model

I recently realized that Dr. Seuss has guided both mine and b's lives in complimentary but very different ways. At a tender young age b was strongly influenced by this. In fact on one of our early dates we were browsing in Barnes & Noble and he read it to me and then wept.
"I speak for the trees. Let them grow. Let them grow.
But nobody listens too much, don't you know."
It is no real surprise then that b is an environmentalist.

The Seuss story that got me was this one, as it aptly displays the insanity of racism and prejudice with an added bonus of poking fun at capitalism. And all these years later, social justice and equality are still my burning issues. I love the trees and I'm 100% behind the green movement, but ultimately it is people who do it for me. My other favorite Seuss as a youngin' was Horton Hears A Who, cause
"a person is a person, no matter how small."
Which Dr. Seuss story speaks to you and why?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

My View

Over the Thanksgiving holiday Angel took a stroll down memory lane with his dad. They went up to our old neighborhood, where Angel spent a good portion of his early life. It is the area he thinks of as home.

As would be expected, he found everything to be much smaller than he remembered. However during the excursion they ran into our old landlord. It seems our landlord took over our apartment after it was vacated and spruced it up quite a bit. It is now his pied-a-terre/study. He was kind enough to bring them up and give them a tour.

Angel had his camera with him and took a few pictures. He shared several with me. It was strange seeing my old home looking like a completely new home.

I loved that apartment. We moved there when Angel was 18 months. Prior to that we lived in a decent-sized (for ReallyBigCity) one-bedroom apartment in a neighborhood that many described as funky and eclectic but did nothing for me.* Our apartment was on the first floor in the back and looked out only at alleys and other buildings.

By the time Angel was walking (10 months) it was clear the apartment could not contain all three of us--at least not if we wanted to remain sane. So I started apartment hunting. I was working full-time and had just gone back to school part-time. I got no help in the search from my ex. I did get a lot of help from my sister Jo, as I was looking in her neighborhood. She had recently given birth to my nephew and so we pushed strollers through empty apartments for about 6 months.

And then I found my view:

The apartment had several other features that I adored as much as the view, including a truly funky neighborhood that was convenient to Jo.

We lived there together until Angel was nine and I realized I could no longer deny the marriage was over. Unfortunately my ex did not share my feelings and the break-up was difficult. He could not afford the apartment on his own and I could. It was a 2-bedroom apartment and Angel's only real home so it seemed obvious that I would stay and he would go. Except he refused to go. After 6 months I finally moved out.

He stayed a few more years, renting out Angel's old room to make ends meet, until he found his new love and now wife and moved in to her apartment (also with a view). Angel was sad to see the apartment go but I had long put it behind me.

Yet now, seeing these pictures, I miss it.

*The great thing about that neighborhood was that Sensei lived right across the street. How that came to be is an interesting story for another time.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

"Jet Airliner" - Music Meme

As seen over at Dr. Curmudgeon's

A little music meme to fill the time. As always, it comes with rules:

Put your iTunes or MP3 player on shuffle
  1. For each question, press the next button to get your answer
  3. Tag 10 friends who might enjoy doing the game as well as the person you got the note from.
So tagging 10 people is way too much work for a silly music meme filler. So we'll break that rule. Play along if you like.

"Feeling Good" - Nina Simone

"Teach Me Tonight" - Dinah Washington

"Stubborn Kind of Fellow" - Marvin Gaye

"Send The Marines" - Tom Lehrer

"Hesitation Blues " Roy Bookbinder & Jorma Kaukonen

"Johnny B. Goode" - Jonny Lang

"Witchcraft" - Marvin Gaye

WHAT IS 2+2?
"Our House" - Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

"O Holy Night" - Tracy Chapman

"Bang Bang (my baby shot me)" - Sonny & Cher

"Black Boys" - Hair Soundtrack

"This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)" - Natalie Cole

"Sunshine on My Shoulder" - John Denver

"Truth Is" - Fantasia Barrino

"Matrimony" - Gilbert O'Sullivan

"The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game" - The Marvelettes

"Will It Go Round In Circles" - Billy Preston

"The Joint Is Jumpin'" - Fats Waller

"Vincent" - deb talan

"Walk On By" - Dionne Warwick

"Burn One Down" - Ben Harper

"I'm The Only One" - Melissa Etheridge

"She's So Cold" - Rolling Stones

"In Your Eyes" - Ben Harper

"That Old Black Magic" - The Rat Pack

"Maybellene" - Chuck Berry

"I'm So Tired" - The Beatles

"Jet Airliner" - Steve Miller Band


She had been thinking, and the thought came back like the turntable coming round, that it was hard, or anyway she found it hard, to realize that what you did was usually just done once. Once and for all. That doing something wasn't just a kind of practice for something that would keep happening, but was what would happen, was what happened. You didn't get to practice.
-Ursula K. Le Guin
I stumbled across this paragraph a few weeks ago. As I've mentioned, I'm re-reading my way through my Le Guin collection. This was in a book of short stories and it struck me because it sums up a lot of how I've been feeling about motherhood lately.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Getting Published

I did a little project about 3 years ago. It was an opportunity to try something on a very small scale that I found interesting. It was also an opportunity to provide a very meaningful learning experience for a few high school students. I was at an in-between time with my research and there was little cost to me, other than my time. It was fun and I enjoyed it.

This pilot project asked an interesting question but, given the size and circumstances of the project, the methodology was not the strongest. I started writing it up thinking I would publish it but then I got busy re-locating to SouthLite and it sat in my back burner pile. Early this year I dug it out, polished it as best I could and sent it to what I thought was a very appropriate journal. I was quite surprised to get my first (and only) acceptance pending minor revisions on the first round.

The revisions really were quite minor and I sent the paper back in as per the editor's instructions at the beginning of the summer. I was then really surprised to get an email last month stating the revision had been reviewed and rejected. It seems the journal had changed editors in between the two reviews.

It has taken a few weeks for the new editor and I to connect but we spoke right before the holidays. I was happy that she admitted my paper was not the only one to be in this situation and that it was due, in part, to her inexperience at the position. However I was not happy to learn that once it has been rejected it cannot be reversed. I really don't know much about the magic laws of journal publishing but on this she was clear.

So now I need to resubmit it as a new article, with a new title and take into consideration some of the suggestions made in the second round of reviews (and they were mostly reasonable, justified and doable). It will get special attention of some sort that hopefully will result in an acceptance and not a third round of revisions. It sounds as if nothing can be promised but all attempts will be made to rectify the situation.

I don't mind doing the revisions, as I said I agree with most of them and they will make for a stronger paper. In fact, they were what I was expecting on the first round (although not the flat out rejection). I just hate reopening a paper that I had considered to be done.

My Science Is Hot....*

...and yummy.

Pumpkin bread for tomorrow's event

Being a behavioral scientist I study people. I also happen to conduct community-based research and the communities I work with are most likely to be female. If you hope to be successful conducting research with communities of women you are going to have to feed them. This means I am often baking (and cooking) for (and with) my participants.

Much of my research is participatory, which means my communities help shape my projects. Together we come up with all sorts of interesting and sexy ideas. Last spring we did Spa Day.

How hot of a science project is that?

*written in response to Dr. Isis' December Scientiae theme "My Science is Hotter than Dr. Isis's Naughty Monkeys Because"