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

Thursday, December 30, 2010

RBOC: Moving Day

  • We are all moved in.  
  • My Once and Future Department Head showed up to help us move.  We ran into him the night before at a restaurant and jokingly asked him to help and he did.  
  • Tomorrow I clean the old house and unpack here as much as possible.  
  • I also need to drive Angel to the airport and pick up something yummy for New Year's Eve. 
  • We found a new bar near the new house that has Guinness on tap. 
  • Pictures of the new house will eventually follow.  
  • We are very happy and it is already feeling like home. 
  • The animals are taking a little bit longer to get comfortable.  Smudge hasn't come off the top shelf of a closet; The Brute is constantly investigating; and Pupzilla is having a few "digestive issues."

Monday, December 27, 2010


Today is my three-year blogaversary.  It is hard to believe I've been at this for 3 years but it is a fact. The week between Christmas and New Years is usually a time of rest for me and I often start new projects to keep me occupied.  I started the blog not sure if it would survive the new year but it seems it has twice over.

I don't get a rest week this year because we are moving on the 29th.  Today the tree was undone and the decorations packed.  Most of my books are packed and about half of my clothes.  The kitchen is still completely unpacked.

Books are probably my most plentiful possession.  I purged as many as I could and traded them in at the local used bookstore.  I now have a $32 credit awaiting me.  However I also just got an iPad (through a grant at work--not Santa) and have discovered free ebooks.  I can get just about any classic for free and have been rereading my way through Jane Austin (started with Emma; am almost done with Mansfield Park; Sense & Sensibility is on deck).  I think I might reread Henry James next.  I'm enjoying the iPad experience.  It is different from flesh-and-blood books and definitely doesn't take their place but is definitely I nice addition to my reading pleasure.

In the comments, Ruth said it seemed like I wasn't going crazy with this move and I'm not.  b, Angel and I are all minimalists so packing is usually not a big hassle.  This time around, with Angel already moved out, I am realizing how much more of a minimalist b is than I.  He probably has 1 box to my 2. The other reason I'm not crazy is because I'm still a New Yorker at heart.  I was raised to move.  In NYC you are always looking for a better apartment.  I believe the longest I've lived anywhere is 6 years.

In other news, Angel was supposed to fly up to see his father today but because of the blizzard the airports were all closed.  They didn't officially cancel his flight until about an hour before we were going to head to the airport.  By that time they were so backed up the earliest flight they could offer him was Friday afternoon (that would be New Year's Eve).  He is not at all happy with this situation.  Many of his friends up in that area for the week and he was looking forward to getting away from parents and hanging out with people his own age.  However his bad news is our gain. We get 4 more days with him and he'll be around to help with the move!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

RBOC: All That's Left Is The Baking Edition

  • It's been a busy week.  Next week will be twice as busy but for the next two days it is nothing but holiday cheer.  
  • Presents have been wrapped (well except for Pupzilla's); the tree trimmed; menus planned; and the house is stocked with food and drink.  
  • Angel has been home for the past two days and will be with us until Monday.  
  • I've been doing double-duty at the gym this week: once with b and then again with Angel.  
  • Today I took a tai chi class and a yoga class.  I feel very mellow.
  • Pumpkin and BB came over last night to celebrate with us.  I made them chicken marsala and raspberry buttermilk cake.  They are off to Minnesota tomorrow morning to spend Christmas with Pumpkin's grandmother.
  • Tomorrow I will spend most of the day making cinnamon buns for Christmas morning.  It is a long process but totally worth it.  I only make them once a year so they are a very special event. 
  • I am waiting for b to come home from a late shift.  Once he is home the festivities can begin.

Hope you all have a wonderful holiday, if in fact this weekend brings a holiday that you celebrate.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Life Lists

Saw this over at Minor Revisions and thought it would be fun to play along.

Bold things you've done. Italicize things you absolutely need to do. (My version at the bottom)

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink (Have no intention of doing this. I don't think I'm particularly cheap but this is not my style)
02. Swam with dolphins 
03. Climbed a mountain
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said “I love you” and meant it (I do this on a daily basis)
09. Hugged a tree
10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise (Several times, in my younger days)
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game (I'm not sure what is meant by huge here. But I have no desire)
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars (I've camped quite a bit but always inside a tent. Not sure if that counts)
20. Changed a baby’s diaper (A lot, but a long time ago)
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne (Not my favorite kind of drunk)
24. Given more than you can afford to charity (If charity begins at home, then yes, but otherwise this is not likely to happen)
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment (I'm not really the giggling type)
27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger 
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can (Its called a kiai--also childbirth)
32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse
34. Ridden a roller coaster (I LOVE roller coasters)
35. Hit a home run (Again, never going to happen. Am not a team sports fan--playing or watching)
36. Danced like a fool and didn’t care who was looking (This is generally how I dance, when I dance)
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment (Most of the time)
39. Had two hard drives for your computer 
40. Visited all 50 states
41. Taken care of someone who was drunk
42. Had amazing friends (Still do)
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched whales
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe
47. Taken a road-trip (Whenever I can and preferably with b)
48. Gone rock climbing (Indoors twice--hated it both times)
49. Taken a midnight walk on the beach
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love (luckily no)
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your CDs
57. Pretended to be a superhero (I was the stretchy guy in the Fantastic Four when we were kids)
58. Sung karaoke
59. Lounged around in bed all day (Does being sick count?)
60. Played touch football
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain
65. Gone to a drive-in theatre
66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken 
69. Toured ancient sites
70. Taken a martial arts class (Taken many--taught quite a few)
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married (Twice)
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced (Once--never again)
76. Gone without food for 5 days (Used to do 3-day fasts. Have no desire to do a five day)
77. Made cookies from scratch (Frequently)
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted a river
82. Been on a television news program as an “expert”
83. Gotten flowers for no reason (From my ex once when I was leaving him and several times from b)
84. Performed on stage
85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark
88. Kissed on the first date (Of course)
89. Gone to Thailand 
90. Bought a house (Once. Hope to make it twice)
91. Been in a combat zone
92. Buried one/both of your parents (My dad)
93. Been on a cruise ship (So not me)
94. Spoken more than one language fluently (I'm linguistically challeged)
95. Performed in Rocky Horror
96. Raised children (Raised child)
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
98. Passed out cold (More times than I care to admit)
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over (SouthLite)
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking with the windows open (It is the only place I sing.)
103. Had plastic surgery (Hope never to do this)
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived
105. Wrote articles for a large publication (Plenty of times)
106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Touched a stingray (In an aquarium)
110. Broken someone’s heart (The ex. It was NOT fun)
111. Helped an animal give birth (Well I don't know how much help I was but I was a doula for my cat)
112. Won money on a TV game show
113. Broken a bone (Several)
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol (Oh how I've wanted to do this)
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse (Ridden several, fell off one)
119. Had major surgery
120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for 30 hours in a 48 hour period
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. States
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days (Used to take week long canoe trips with ex and my sister)
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi (as often as I can)
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about (Do faculty meetings count?)
130. Gone back to school (Took a short break to have Angel so I think that counts as going back)
131. Parasailed
132. Touched a cockroach (Touched, captured, killed)
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes (yum!)
134. Read The Iliad and The Odyssey
135. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read (Many)
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
137. Skipped all your school reunions (Haven't really been invited to any)
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream (Every day)
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146. Dyed your hair (Does highlighting count?)
147. Been a DJ
148. Shaved your head
149. Caused a car accident
150. Saved someone’s life

The Score

Things I've done: 47 (But I think I cheated on several)
Things I want to do: 8 (Mostly travel & outdoor-related)

16 Things NOT on the List That I've Done (In no particular order)

  1. Owned a pet rat (well several rats)
  2. Helped a woman give birth (well several women)
  3. Got a black belt
  4. Got a doctorate
  5. Financed a college education for myself (actually still paying that off)
  6. Financed a college education for my son (actually still doing that)
  7. Participated in a sweat lodge ceremony
  8. Broke wooden boards with my bare hands (and feet)
  9. Hunted for worms in the rain
  10. Learned to drive stick
  11. Begged for money on the street (when I didn't really need it and feel pretty awful about it now)
  12. Rode the subway on my own when I was 10
  13. Broke someone else's bone(s) (in tournament and class--both by accident)
  14. Was the "other woman" (again, feel bad about that one now)
  15. Drove on the "wrong" side of the street in South Africa (and almost caused an accident)
  16. Had to issue a DNR for someone I loved
5 Things I Want to Do That Are NOT on the List
  1. Become a grandmother
  2. Publish a book
  3. Love the same man until the day I die
  4. Own a tortoise as a pet
  5. Live debt-free

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

RBOC: The Semester Is Over But I'm Still Working Edition

  • I have had two (count 'em 2!) students come into my office to tell me they are pregnant this week.  It is interesting to be at an age where my child is out of the house and a new pregnancy is almost an impossibility and to be mentoring women who are just embarking on this journey.  One of them is graduating in early May and due at the end of May.  She has asked me to be her doula.  I was honored and, of course, said yes.  The other is a doctoral student halfway through our program.  It will be a challenge but she will manage just fine.
  • I am on a search committee for two (count 'em 2!) Assistant Professor positions that is on a fast track because we are worried about a hiring freeze.  We have a plethora of outstanding candidates, have been working hard, and still have much work ahead of us.
  • I am the doctoral coordinator and on the doctoral admissions team.  We have a healthy number of excellent applicants and much work ahead of us.
  • Tonight I coordinated a faculty/student end-of-the-semester soiree at my favorite watering hole.  It went quite well.
  • Grades are all in except for one wayward student.  I took a student on as an independent study to help her out and she has yet to turn in her final paper.  
  • I have two other independent study students that I already had to give incompletes, which means they will extend into my spring semester.
  • We officially launched one of my new projects last night with 4 interviews completed.  I am very excited.  I have a great team of students and high hopes for this project.
  • Did I mention that b and I are moving?  Yes, with all the house problems that occurred a few weeks ago, I pushed forward on a listing that seemed perfect for us.  Consequently we will be moving at the end of the month.  We are currently purging and packing.  Pictures of the new digs will follow shortly. 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Get Out Of Your ManBox

I throughly enjoyed this today.

Winning Awards

Both Seeking Solace and post-doc have selected me for the Versatile Blogger Award.  I am thrilled and honored as I have been reading and loving their blogs since I first started this whole blogging business.

As part of the award, I need to list seven things about me.

  1. As a child I loved to climb.  I also loved small spaces.  I spent a lot of time cramming myself into the top shelves of the closets in our house.
  2. As an adult I've tried rock-climbing in a gym twice.  Both times I was filled with an irrational fear the minute I got off the ground.
  3. I hate to shop and prefer to do it, when I have to, online.  When I do go shopping in a store I make very quick decisions.
  4. I could drink coffee (decaffeinated these days) all day long.  Coffee and writing go hand-in-hand for me.
  5. I write and rewrite my To Do list constantly.
  6. The furthest I have traveled has been to South Africa.
  7. If I could live anywhere, it would be the Oregon coast.  

The second part of the award is to give it away to 7 other deserving bloggers.  This is the hard part, as I follow so many deserving blogs.  In no particular order they are:

  1. giddings
  2. Dr. Four Eyes
  3. jo(e)
  4. MFA Mama
  5. anastasia
  6. Ianqui
  7. Maggie May

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


I realized I don't like my doctor.

I've had a minor health concern that has required me to visit my doctor on several occasions in the past few months.  I was never particularly crazy about her but these visits have made me realize that I really don't like her.

As far as I can tell she's a fine doctor.  She has all the credentials she needs; has yet to steer me wrong; always answers my questions; and is generally quite pleasant.  It is not her doctoring skills that turn me off but rather her demeanor.

The multiple visits have made me realized how much of her interactions with me are set patterns. She enters the room with a specific tone of voice (very chummy, as if we're close friends) and exchanges a pleasantry.  Each visit I get a very weak and limp handshake.  (FYI, I'm someone who greatly respects personal space--I won't touch you if you don't want to be touched--but if you offer me a body part I go all the way.  I don't do the half handshake or the fake hug or the air kiss). Her tone then quickly switches to concerned. She slowly and calmly explains what the day's visit is about and what she will be doing.  Everything is couched in positive and rather vague terms, so I won't worry.  (I'm not a worrier).  During the main event there is generic idle chit-chat that, I believe, is intended to distract me.  Afterwards I am always praised for how 'well' I did or what an easy patient I am.  Usually there is a cursory visit in her office, where the same concerned tone and slow cadence is used to discuss our next steps.  

This same formulaic routine occurs with all of the staff in her office.  The only variation is between syrupy-sweet and bored.

This is eerily similar to my experience purchasing coffee.  The baristas are instructed to offer up their names while taking your order.  They simultaneously engage in routine small talk while trying to sell you the latest product.  Occasionally you can find an establishment (or a specific barista) that breaks out of the mold and interacts as a real person.

What does the future hold when we are reconceptualizing most professions as service delivery (something that is certainly happening in higher education) and convincing ourselves that excellent service consists of platitudes and insincerity?  What are younger (and future) generations learning when they are provided only with shellacked surfaces?

I've long felt that insincerity is a huge drawback in the classroom.  I believe my effectiveness as a teacher begins and ends with my ability to be real and stay in the moment with my students.  This may be too much to expect from my barista or grocery bagger, but my physician?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Late-Breaking News

  • For the first time in over 4 years we are a 2-car family again.
  • We are going on Day 2 of no heat in our little home.
  • We have an appointment to view a new rental on Wednesday

Stay tuned for more....

Thursday, December 2, 2010

RBOC: End of the Semester is Here Edition

  • I taught my last two classes today.  All I've been doing for the last two weeks is listening to presentations but it is still nice to know that I don't have to be in a classroom again for over a month.
  • One of my undergrads gave me a hug today after she handed in her final exam.  They've been a great group and I'm going to miss them. 
  • I do have grading to do but I assign my heaviest stuff mid-semester so it really won't be that bad.
  • I thought life would get easier now that coursework has slowed down but, alas, that is not the case.  I'm on a search committee for 3 open positions and there are a lot of applicants (and most of them are really good).
  • We have also moved our deadline for doctoral applications up to December 1st.  I am happy to say that this has resulted in a much larger number of viable candidates.  However I think it also means we have to pick quick and woo the good ones into the program.  My work is cut out for me. 
  • I have also taken on another doula client.  I know I swore to take some time off but this young mother-to-be (and grandmom-to-be) are right up my alley.  I met with them the other day and was smitten.
  • Did I mention that I have two new research projects starting up next semester?  I'm training one student research team tomorrow afternoon and the other doesn't even have a team yet (although I did manage to submit the IRB application today).
  • The spring semester is going to be messy.  I give you all permission to call hooey when I'm complaining in a few months.  It is all my own fault. 
  • Now that Thanksgiving is over, b is allowed to play Christmas music.  He has already starting shopping (I haven't even come up with a list yet) and we'll be doing some decorating this weekend.
  • My last doula client is going to be in a local production of A Christmas Carol (our favorite) and has given us free tickets.  We are very excited.
  • There's something going around the blogosphere called #Reverb10.  At least three bloggers I follow are playing along.  Sounds like fun but I really can't commit to daily blogging right now. 
  • The first prompt was to pick one word that captured 2010 for you and one that captures your hope for 2011.  I hate these types of prompts.  I'm not a one word kind of person.  I rarely have favorites.  I need at least a list of 15 for just about any question.
  • Today's prompt was what keeps you from writing.  Honestly, nothing keeps me from writing. I love to write.  Nonwriting work sometimes keeps me from writing but much of it is stuff that will eventually fuel writing.  
  • Reading and writing, in some form or another, is what I do on a daily basis.  This is why, no matter how much office politics, service assignments or even students can annoy me, I never want to be doing anything other than what I do.