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

Friday, February 26, 2010


Amanda wants us to write about continuity this month. I think of continuity as the intersection of time and stillness. Sameness can't exist without time.

To be continuous is to endure.
To be continuous is to hold on.

My science is all about continuity. I study daily life. I study the routines, habits and even relationships that we take for granted; that become the background for our stories about ourselves.

It can be difficult to capture daily life. When you tell a story, what are the parts you edit for brevity? What are the details you don't think to include? What are the pieces that you assume? Who are the people so familiar that you don't bother to describe them?

When we tell the story of our lives we create continuity. In fact, we recreate the continuity of our lives daily; making connections between events to make an unwavering whole; a single line. We narrate our continuous story to ourselves.

It is life's traumas and peaks that disrupt our story line. For these transitions we make allowances. We tell the story of us before and us after but still we search for the continuity between the two selves. Most people assume I want to hear about the breakpoints; the sections where trajectories changed. They can't imagine being interested in sameness.

My science is about continuity but it is also about change.

It is difficult to change behavior. As a species, we tend to do what we have done before. When we make change it often becomes temporary and we fall back to what we know; to what fits our story of ourselves; to what is unquestioned. Understanding the meaning of our daily sameness and then exploring where it does and doesn't work, are small steps we can take in an effort to create lasting change.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

RBOC: Late Night Edition

  • I am home alone this evening and will actually be alone until Sunday night. b is at a recertification workshop that involves camping in the cold and snowy mountains.
  • b was very depressed when he left today.
  • My grant did NOT go out. It is delayed until the next deadline in June. There was a lot of drama around the delay. It was not pretty or fun but I think things are good now.
  • Because of the drama I missed my tai chi class on Tuesday. Because of a migraine I didn't go to the gym on Wednesday. Because I totally messed up the time I missed my favorite yoga class today.
  • I have a very exciting day coming up on Saturday: a three-hour tai chi broadsword workshop and then a blues concert with a bunch of friends from work.
  • Tomorrow is our anniversary: 7 years married and 11 years together (we got married on the anniversary of our first date).
  • We'll celebrate next weekend.
  • I am waiting for a young woman to give birth. Her due date was this past Sunday. I'm excited for her and for another opportunity to be a doula but I'm going to be bummed if it happens on Saturday.
  • I made myself a delicious dinner (salmon, rice & beans, sauteed asparagus & salad) this evening. I love cooking for myself.
  • I have a ton of work, junk tv, and a pile of books to amuse myself with from now until Sunday.
****UPDATED: I wrote this post last night only to be woken up at 4:30 this morning by my mom-to-be. She delivered in 5 hours. Mom & baby are doing fine. I'm already back home and my Saturday plans are on!****

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

An Evening With Angel

Sunday b and I drove an hour and a half each way to have dinner with Angel. This, it seems, is what you do when your child grows up, leaves home and doesn't want to come back. We picked him up, saw his dorm room, and met his roommate for the first time (ok, we did see last year's dorm room and meet last year's roommate on day one but this year is a totally different matter).

He took us to a local hangout and I helped him do his taxes. In true Angel fashion, he had forgotten to bring one of his W2s so we didn't get too far. b sat quietly as Angel and I re-enacted all our years of evening homework sessions. The next event was for Angel to interview b about his job. This was part of an assignment for his "World of Work" class. I tried to sit quietly but felt the need to throw my two cents in on a question or two.

Finally it was time for dinner, where conversation included Angel's plans for moving off campus. He has teamed up with a good friend and his brother and they've been looking at local apartments for rent. For some reason the brother needs to make this move by April so Angel will be moving out of the dorms before the semester is completely over. There was some discussion on how this will save us money in the long run, but I am doubtful.

I am strangely excited by the thought of him living off campus. When I moved out of my mother's home it was directly into an apartment of my own (with my then-boyfriend, eventual ex-husband). I learned and grew so much from that experience and I don't think that would have happened if I had been in a dorm room. For Angel I think 2 years in the dorm has been a good in-between step but I feel he is ready for more independence.

I thought it would bother me (and maybe it still will) since it is another strong step away from us but I can't really imagine him living here again. He has been saying all year that he was not moving back home for the summer and I am relieved. As much as I love seeing him, having him live here for a few months would be really disruptive.

As we were talking about his plans, I asked what furniture he'd need. He said he was taking his bed and dresser. I realized that, according to this new timeline, he'd need to do that in about 6 weeks. On the way home b and I started making plans to move into his bedroom/our study and turn our room into a much nicer and more efficient study. I'm excited about the idea and getting it done will be my spring break project.

I think I have turned a corner.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


Every class becomes a small community. Although community is important in all classes I find it particularly important in ongoing classes. The way the community is developed and maintained provides information to incoming students on whether this is the correct class for them.

For most of my life I belonged to a martial arts community where we taught karate, tai chi, and weapons. Most of the students took all three types of classes so the community "feel" wasn't too distinct between them. However the community changed over time. We started out a very "young" dojo. Many of us were in our teens and early twenties. We did a lot of tournaments and were competitive with one another. The community was developed as a family. We were "dojo brothers and sisters." Many of us were actually related (such as me and my sister) and others met and dated and even married through the class. As we aged, so did the new students we attracted. We became less competitive with each other and less concerned with tournaments.

Throughout there was an in-crowd and an out-crowd. I, by virtue of my status (dating and then married to the Sensei) and my rank, was always part of the in-crowd. Out-crowds tended to be transitory. I am not naturally outgoing or social and can't say I did all that much to make new students feel welcome except when teaching them one-on-one. I hope I didn't do anything to make them feel unwelcome but it is quite possible.

Since moving to SouthLite I've joined/tried several ongoing classes. I've tried two karate classes, one I stayed for almost 3 years (b is still there currently but I am not) and the other only for a few months. The dojo where I stayed also had a "family-like" feel as most of the instructors had been studying together for many years. Students come from a range of backgrounds and ages, but karate tends to attract the younger crowd. In fact we would frequently have small children in class and/or mother-daughter students. It took me a long time to feel accepted there but I realized I would never be truly "inside" because I did not come up through the ranks in that style, no less that dojo. Coming up through the ranks is very important in karate. It is a hierarchical system and who you train with matters. This insider/outsider status was not the reason I stopped attending but it didn't help.

More recently I've been taking classes through my new gym. I've tried several yoga classes and one instructor is my favorite. I try to make her class every week. She has many regulars and I've seen several of the regulars in other yoga classes as well. I'm not the type to go up and introduce myself, especially when doing anything physical. Even in my original dojo I was pretty aloof while working out and tended to socialize before and after the class. The yoga regulars are not inviting. They chit-chat before and after class but there is a definite sense of distance between class members. I wonder if it is the nature of yoga, which seems a very solitary practice, or this particular gym? I've even seen people in the class who I know from my university and yet we barely exchange pleasantries.

I've also started taking a tai chi class. I love tai chi and have truly missed it over the years. I'm very happy with the instructor, who teaches at several gyms throughout my city. At my gym we have a very regular group showing up 2-3 times a week. Most are senior citizens. There is a strong sense of community and it is actively upheld. Newbies are welcomed and introduced before the class even begins. There is not a lot of chit chat allowed during class, but when people can get away with it, they ask me detailed questions and are really interested in the answers. They greet and engage each other when in the gym for other reasons. Today two different people told me how glad they are that I've joined the class. Is it the nature of tai chi, which is generally a relaxed and non-competitive art? Does it come from the instructor? (This seems unlikely as he is a very nice man when you speak with him but, like me, gives off true introvert vibes.) Or is it that senior citizens come from a time when being cordial was the norm?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Reason #569...

...why I love my husband.

Sometimes when I'm at work and he's not he sends me emails. I got this earlier in the week in the midst of my grant frenzy. The subject heading was:

We are both thinking of you

Things I'm Not Doing...

...because I'm submitting a grant.
  • Reviewing 3 dissertation proposals
  • Providing feedback on a dissertation draft
  • Reviewing a manuscript
  • Providing feedback on students' draft papers
  • Conducting peer observations
  • Completing an IRB proposal
  • Writing comp questions for 2 students
  • Reviewing TA portfolios for a teaching award
  • Writing 3 papers
  • Analyzing data
  • Cleaning my house
  • Going to the gym every day
  • Cooking
  • Blogging

Friday, February 12, 2010

RBOC: Writing a Grant Edition

  • More great feedback from our grant consultant guru has resulted in me trying to get this grant out in a week.
  • Have been reading more than writing and while I love reading, I feel stagnated when I don't write.
  • I've been taking yoga and tai chi classes. Loving both but am feeling itchy without a more cardio workout.
  • The weather, general bad timing, and heating problems have kept me from the steam room all week.
  • Bought myself clothes today that actually fit. Although my size hasn't changed dramatically all of my old clothes were bought for my pre-40s body.
  • Pumpkin landed a great new job as a graduate assistant. She'll be making more than she ever has and learning cool new things!
  • Pumpkin is also in The Vagina Monologues this weekend but the show is cancelled tonight due to snow.
  • Snow is falling right now and I'm trying to stay warm and cozy.
  • Hair is cut and colored.

Friday, February 5, 2010

On The Nightstand or Adventures in Reading For Pleasure

Things have gotten a little out of hand. I've been purchasing books like a crazy woman. Granted the majority of them have been from secondhand bookstores and so I haven't spent all Angel's tuition money (yet) on my reading material but I am definitely in over my head. I have quite a bit of work-related reading to do this semester yet I can't stop buying non-work related books.

Currently I am working my way through three volumes of short stories. I finally got hold of Jane Yolen's Sister Emily's Lightship And Other Stories. I'm only two stories in but that is because I am savoring them. I just finished Snow in Summer, which is her retelling of Snow White. As I've mentioned before, I love me some fairy tales.

I'm also still working my way through Angel's Christmas gift: The Dragon Book. The stories are not your usual dragonfare but rather using dragons as analogies for bigger issues. So far all of the stories have been well-written and engrossing. Finally I've started reading Wally Lamb and the Women of York Correctional Institution's Couldn't Keep It To Myself. These are stories written by imprisoned women as part of a writing workshop he has been conducting at York Correctional Institution for several years. Truly fascinating and poignant work.

In addition to slowly making my way through the above, I've also now have the following sitting on my nightstand:
Alas there is still more filling my poor little nightstand, as I had a rather large stack of books that were awaiting my time and pleasure before I bought all of the above. In addition I've recently discovered Seth Godin's blog. I just purchased Lynchpin but am letting b have a go at it while I'm starting in on Tribes.

It is hard to say which of my addictions I love more: books or coffee. Luckily I don't have to choose but instead can enjoy them together.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Things I've Learned (Or Remembered) At The Gym

  • Yoga Level 2 classes are a lot harder than Yoga Level 1-2 classes.
  • A good teacher makes all the difference.
  • If you exercise all the time your body hurts all the time. If you don't exercise at all your body hurts all the time. One hurt feels good; the other hurt feels old.
  • If I work out around people my age or older I feel a lot better about my body (sorry to admit that one but very true).
  • I hate television news.
  • People following an aerobics class look silly, especially if you can't hear the music. It is best not to watch (or to think of being watched if you participate).
  • Treadmills are more boring than elliptical machines (I have no idea why, but also very true).