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

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Bit More on Conversational Styles

At some point early in our marriage I realized that b's family, my in-laws, had a very different conversational style than what I grew up with. In trying to explain this to b I used the analogy of food. His family is all cocktails and hor d'oeuvres. The conversation flits from topic to topic and person to person with the primary motive being to entertain and be witty. He agreed but replied that conversation in my family is the main course--usually large and difficult to digest. This is quite true, my family will dive into a topic and chew it to pieces. Our primary motive is to (over)analyze and be intelligent. It helped me realize why I had such difficulty "fitting in" at his family gatherings. Every time I found a topic I could sink my teeth into it was gone and they were three topics ahead. It didn't offer any solutions but sometimes framing the problem is the best you're going to get.

Album Cover

As seen over at Dr. Bad Ass

Make Your O
wn Album Cover

1. Click on this link. The title of the page is the name of your band.
2. Click on this link. The last four words of the final quotation on the page are the title of your album.
3. Click on this link. The third picture is your album cover.
4. Add your band name and title to the picture.

Story Telling

Last night I spoke to 2ndSister about 3rdSister. 3rdSister is going through a BAAAAD time and when I say BAAAD time I mean the type of situation that takes you years and years to extract yourself from, even longer to recover from, and leaves permanent damage. We've all been seeing this coming for a long time and 3rdSister is finally ready to see it herself. But that's not really what I want to post about.

My talk with 2ndSister, as she conveyed the latest information and progress--if you can call it that--lasted 2 1/2 hours. Now that's not really all that unusual for us and these conversations used to occur on a fairly regular basis. However since I've moved away (1stSister, 2ndSister, and 3rdSister all live about an hour from each other in a place we like to call "UpNorth") my contact with all three sisters has dropped considerably.

After our lengthy discussion, in a move that can only be described as denial, I spent a lot of time thinking about how 2ndSister (and all of us really) talks. 2ndSister tells stories. Really she tells stories within stories within stories. A conversation with her with her can involve as many characters and subplots as a Tolstoy novel. She is also the Queen of foreshadowing. My own conversational storytelling gets mired down in details. I have a researcher's need for pinpoint accuracy, which can kill a good story.

My research for the past two years has focused on listening to women's lives and I've come to realize that some of us talk in stories and others do not. But no one, and I mean no one, rivals 2ndSister. I had the opportunity of transcribing an interview she did and was able to see, on the page, what I've experienced my whole life. My sister talks in novels. So last night I talked a novel with my sister. Unfortunately it was a tragedy.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Dog Meme

As seen over at Lady Scientist and Wayfarer Scientista:

5 Random Facts from Pupzilla

1. I have two siblings, Boy and The Brute. Boy is my favorite. Sometimes I get jealous when The Brute gets lovins'. We also have a cat but I don't like her very much.
2. I have 9 nipples and once nursed two beanie babies and a slipper.
3. I am currently on a diet and not enjoying it one bit.
4. My favorite spot is on my couch but during thunderstorms I sleep in Mom and Dad's room.
5. My ears are naturally floppy and for some reason this brings great joy to Mom and Dad. They talk about them a lot and sometimes play with them.

Friday, January 25, 2008

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.

My schedule has me teaching Mon & Wed afternoons and Tuesday evenings. I've delegated Tues & Thurs mornings to research/writing (done mostly at home). I've delegated all day Fridays to research/writing & the occasional class prep (preferably at home). Wed mornings are meetings (service-related only).

This schedule gives me Mon morning and late afternoon and Tues, Wed & Thurs afternoons, to schedule other meetings (service/student/project-related) as well as prep, grade, and do various assorted tasks that pile up during the week. I think that's a reasonable amount of time to leave open. Of course they are not permanently open. They get filled as I get requests for meetings and if you want to be on my calendar I generally need a week or two's notice. Again, I think this is reasonable.

The difficulty comes when large groups need to coordinate their calendars for a meeting. In the past, when it would became apparent that the meeting could not take place within a week or two without someone caving, I would cave and give up my research/writing/at home time. The semester has been in swing for two weeks and I have not caved. What has happened instead? No meeting. I'm thinking this new approach is beneficial in more ways than one.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

It's not that I Mind Serving on Committees...

but why does one 2-hr meeting generate 6-8 private meetings to discuss the outcomes--or lack thereof--of the meeting and the behavior of the committee members? This is especially problematic when the private meetings undo the few things the original meeting actually managed to accomplish.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Class Meme

I saw this at Reassigned Time and really liked it. Besides I've never done a meme before. Here it goes:

1. Father went to college -no but finished HS
2. Father finished college - see above
3. Mother went to college - yes -- twice: once before and once after 4 children
4. Mother finished college - yes and almost received a doctorate
5. Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor - no
6. Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers. - i'm not sure but probably the same
7. Had more than 50 books in your childhood home. -Definitely
8. Had more than 500 books in your childhood home. - Definitely
9. Were read children's books by a parent - Constantly
10. Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18 - A month or two of guitar is all I remember. Do lessons at fresh air camp count?
11. Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18 - Joined a dojo at 16, but I found that on my own and it was free.
12. The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed -A disturbing amount of people say I sound like Rosie O'Donnell. No one has ever said I dress like her however
13. Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18 - No. Wish I never had one and don't have one now.
14. Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs - No. Not a dime. And I'm still payin'
15. Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs - Now I'm laughing
16. Went to a private high school - No. College was the first private school I went to -- hence the still payin'
17. Went to summer camp -see fresh air comment above. Mom said it was cheaper to send us for the month then to feed us.
19. Family vacations involved staying at hotels - Once -- at Atlantic City before they "fixed it up."
20. Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18 - No.
21. Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them - I bought my first car at 39, it was 10 years old - now it's 14
22. There was original art in your house when you were a child - Uh, no.
23. You and your family lived in a single-family house - First 7 years in a two-family home my grandmother owned, than apartments
24. Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home - my mother has never owned her own home, currently she hops from location to location
25. You had your own room as a child - 4 girls, 2 bedrooms -- you do the math.
27. Participated in a SAT/ACT prep course - No.
28. Had your own TV in your room in high school - No.
29. Owned a mutual fund or IRA in high school or college - No.
30. Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16 - First flight was honeymoon of first marriage
31. Went on a cruise with your family - have never been on a cruise and not looking to change that stat.
32. Went on more than one cruise with your family - see above.
33. Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up - Lots. Mom loves a good museum
34. You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family - there were no heating bills -- heat was included in the rent.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Have you ever...

taken a shower with a.b.s.o.l.u.t.e.l.y no conditioner in the house at all?

on top of that...guests are due in 45 minutes.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Off And Running

So the new semester has officially begun here in SCBT and we're off to an excellent start. My teaching schedule this semester is MW day and T night. This means that by the end of the day Wednesday (as in right now), I am done for the week. Wednesday is also meeting day and today was the first departmental meeting of the season. We meet as a department two times a month and the other weeks we have various committee meetings scheduled.

Today we tackled next year's teaching schedule. I'm curious how much input you all get in deciding on the courses you teach? Having never been in a teaching environment before it is all new to me. Last year what I figured out was that all decisions were made in private with the Department Head [DH] and there was a lot of "what do you want to teach?" as opposed to "here's what you will be teaching." While this is very nice it does make for shortages in some key courses. So today we tried to tackle it as a [somewhat large] group. All core courses, across all programs, were projected and we negotiated who should teach what. Keep in mind we always fall way short of covering our minimum number of courses - due to buy-out and administrative duties - but we were trying to get the core courses taught by full-time faculty and not farm it out to adjuncts.

I think we did a fairly decent job. Everyone behaved and took responsibility. Not everyone was happy but no one seemed particularly upset. We fell way short of meeting our need but there seems no way out of this other than raising the required number of courses taught for each faculty, which to some extent we did in a recent meeting when we decided that no one could buy out of teaching altogether. The discussion also brought up some critical issues that are occurring in one of the programs and I think it became evident that what happens in one program affects us all.

So, as it stands now, I will be teaching the same two master's level courses I've been teaching since I got there (and love) as well as picking up an additional undergraduate course (teaching one section in the Fall and another in the Spring) that is exactly in my area of expertise and research. It also looks like my schedule will allow me to go to the dojo two nights a week instead of one, so I'm a pretty happy camper.

I have much more to say on the start of my classes this term but that will need to wait for another post. The only bad news today is that my Ipod has just up and died.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


So New Year Themes have been going around—thanks to profgrrl-and I’m late to the party. I’ve been trying to figure out exactly what my theme is-means and getting stuck. I thought it would be “transitioning” because I’m being forced into a major role transition this year. This is the year Boy goes off to college and my daily mothering activities will cease. [Note: We actually thought he was going off last year but he chose to defer. His life at home post-high school has already decreased many of my daily mothering activities but it will still be a huge transition not to have him around.]

But the truth is my life has been about transition for the past two years, if not longer, having made the largest physical move in my life and the largest move in my career by coming to this town and this job. I wanted the theme to be transition because I wanted to acknowledge to myself that this mothering transition is a process and to give myself the space and time to make it as well as to be bitchy or pouty when need be.

But it feels too narrow to be a New Year’s Theme. Instead I’ve chosen “Claiming.” I remember visiting my mother some 9 years ago when I was about to make another huge transition (out of my 17 year old marriage) and she told me I needed to “claim my power” and that this was something most women struggle with and that she was struggling with at 60. I think I want to spend this year claiming the new roles I do have and the power I have to affect change for myself, my loved ones, my students, my department, my research, etc.

Since I’ve been here I’ve felt like the “newbie” in my department, in my dojo, in my city. For me, being a “newbie” means I don’t have the same rights to speak up, take charge, be heard, etc as people who have history in a place. I’ve always resented people joining my spaces with the “let me tell you what I know” attitude. I’ve been taught you need to empty your cup when you embark on a new endeavor so you can take in the knowledge that is presented to you. This works well for me…to a point. I think I’ve reached that point.

I’ve felt like a “newbie” in my research since getting my doctorate (almost 6 years ago now) even though I’ve been heavily engaged in research for 18 years. Part of my transition to this job was to allow me to transition to a new research agenda and to explore new methodologies. I have done that and now I think I need to work on claiming this new agenda and viewing it as an important contribution to the field. I suppose I need to claim my role as the mother of an independent Boy but that I’ll be struggling with for some time to come.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Lookin' Good

I have finally gotten a haircut...and a good one at that. I think it's been at least 9 months since my last cut and that one really wasn't very good. I've been to three salons since I moved here (we're in the middle of year 2) and couldn't find anyone that fit. I gave up even thinking about it halfway through last semester. I don't think I have particularly difficult hair nor do I like complicated cuts. Actually my hair is straighter-than-straight, which I guess can be difficult.

I even went with highlights...it's been almost 3 years since my hair had color.

It's difficult to find a new hair person. I'm incredibly long-term monogamous in every relationship, even hair dressers, so I've been careful not to bond until I liked the results. And when you spend several hours in a chair I think you should like the person with their fingers in your hair. I knew I liked this woman--we'll call her Miss C--when I realized I was actually initiating conversation. It usually takes a few "first dates" before I'm taking an active role in the discussion.

So the year is off to a good start. What I haven't managed to do yet is to find my way into the office. That will probably have to happen tomorrow.