Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Option 8

I think I've officially become a bad person in this process. Ah material excess! Ah humanity!

Option 7

Sounds like Option 6 might be the winner, but a couple more just to make sure....

Option 6

Don't think that I'm blind to the indulgent absurdity that this has become....

Option 5

bit more feminine, but also perhaps a bit too silly

Option 4

perhaps not so good for my rather wide foot.

maternal intervention

8:31: phone rings

me: hi mom.
mom: hi. is this a bad time?
me: no. it's fine.
mom: i couldn't post a comment on your blog because i couldn't figure it out.
me: huh?
mom: something about a profile.
me: okay, i'll try to fix that (i think i fixed it)

mom: i wanted to write that all of the options so far are hideous.
me: hmmm.
mom: you're doing your dress a disservice with all these militaristic options.
me: hmm.

Rethinking the options. More to come....

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

option 3

Option 3 is a return to the gladiator. I'm liking the ankle strap, but definitely feeling a tiny bit unsure about the heel. J and I would be eye-to-eye with this pair.

option 2

Oh option 2, you are so comfortable. If only you were a touch more bridal. But does that even matter when you feel so good? No possibility of blisters. No fear of falling. But might you be just a touch more comfortable at someone else's nuptials? I want you, but I fear you're just not right.


...please no niceties this week. I want honesty....

option 1

Option one is the modest heeled gladiator lace-up. It's sort of fun--J has been mocking me endlessly for beginning to use the word "fun" as it relates to fashion--if a little baggie in the ankle. They're comfortable and sorta, kinda bridal, I think. But the fit issue in the ankle may be a problem. J claims that they hide one of my best parts, my ankles. But what does he know about podiatric fashion?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

accepting monkeys

Two days, one baby quilt. The biggest hurdle was the monkeys. I would never choose a monkey print on my own, but I knew that my dear college friend had decorated her nursery in green and brown and had registered for a fair number of monkey motif items (I will save my thoughts on baby registries for another post), so on Friday night I broke down and bought the monkey fabric. I got through the quilt thinking of the monkeys as a variation on polka dots. Okay, maybe they grew on me some. It is backed with flannel which I hope will be cozy for baby!


words really can't do them justice---or rather, words do them too much justice:

you can see the structural challenges i face. judge for yourself.

feet week

dogs. piggies. flippers. floppers. Anyway you slice it, my feet are not pretty. One time I was with a friend’s sister who was talking about how ugly her feet were—“I mean they’re just nasty, gnarled things”—and I casually mentioned that they probably couldn’t complete with mine. It was a bit of false modesty. I knew the drill: the lady complains about her feet, I casually slip off my socks and wham! The competition is over. My feet are like fleshy blocks—short, wide, with toes overlapping, and nail-beds little more than half the normal size. I come by them honestly—my mom’s are little better and my sister’s extend half a mile before eventuating in toes the length fingers. I didn’t help my poor genes by spending half a life of ski racing in boots two sizes too small, not mention a persistent proclivity for standing on my tiptoes to gain half an inch. I regularly have three blisters, an ingrown toenail, and a healthy start to a corn.

And so now, as I contemplate wedding shoes, I face any number of dilemmas. I want to be comfortable (really, really, really comfortable), I don’t want to peer over the head of J (no three-inch heels for me), I want to be able to dance, and the shoes need to be gold to work with my unusual color dress. So I’ve decided to dedicate this week to what I’m calling “The great shoe off.” You will see here a different shoe each day (if all arrive on time) and then on Friday, you just need to tell me which will work the best. I’ll take your advice, really I will. So if you’re game, just tell me what you think in the comments below.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Burning blush

I’m not easily embarrassed. I’m even less easily offended. You can call me names or insult my mother and I won’t bat an eye. Go ahead, try it. I dare you. But actually, wait, this isn’t about not being offended. This is about not being embarrassed. I mean listen, I have been embarrassed, like the time Tina Poulos pantsed me at a dance in 7th grade. I was embarrassed then, as my pegged jeans lay in a pile around my ankles and my baggy cotton underwear billowed for all to see. Mortifying. I was also embarrassed, horribly embarrassed, when in a moment of truly extraordinary weirdness I not only spotted a bottle of Viagra on a grad school professor’s desk but then—and I shudder in horror to recall it now—asked him why he had a bottle of Viagra on his desk. That was really one of the lowest moments of my adult life, though I have taken consolation in the reaction of a good friend: “I mean hell, he’s the one who should be embarrassed.” Right. Right, if only that could make it not have happened in the first place. In any case, in all my lack of embarrassment, I’ve always wondered what it would feel like to blush. I’m fascinated by moments when emotion bursts out of your body—like when panic makes your heart race or palms sweat.

Anyway, today I blushed. It was a deep, full-cheeked blush, the kind you can feel because all the blood races to your visage and it just seems to pool there. It came during a particularly raucous class, a day when I gave them sugar (cookies!) and then told them that there would be no work of unmasking any of our authors as ineffective assimilationists or villainous bourgeois reformers (a recurring theme this semester). I told them that we were going to talk about “feelings,” “understanding,” “solace,” “suffering,” “sympathy.” This was all well and good until I started talking about my own feelings—which I used to do in class with ease—and then WHAM! the blush started to come on and I couldn’t remember what in the world I was saying. Everything got all tangled and it wasn’t scary like panic, but it was totally unfamiliar. It was embarrassment. They all laughed and told me not to be embarrassed, that they actually liked to know my feelings. They said it made me human. I laughed, as if I come off as inhuman or inhumane. Maybe I just come off as nuts.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

this and that

Spring finally arrived in Philadelphia. I sat in Fitler Square for two hours yesterday morning "grading papers." I wasn't really grading papers. I was feeling spring. I was remembering just what it feels like when the sun soaks into my closed eyes, when I can feel that perfect warmth. I had great plans to take care of a thousand things this weekend, but the sun had another agenda for me. I had to be in its presence. I had to sit with my eyes closed and just breathe. So instead of grading 17 papers, I graded 7.

But I did manage to tackle a few stubborn items: taxes, census (I love the census, its numbers and its collecting seem to suspend us in time), hemming a Liberty of London for Target shift dress (perfect for work if not in the dreamy tana lawn),

making whole wheat spinach and mushroom calzones (another bit Moosewood perfection),

helping a friend get her backyard garden set up (reminding me that I think I really would be happy with a bit more manual labor in my life), running a half a dozen miles. Though I should have been running outside along the river in the sun, I'll admit that I was pounding the treadmill so that I could do a little of this:

So now it's Sunday night and I have a stack of papers left to grade, a book to prepare for class tomorrow, and a critical essay to work through. I probably should have done all of these things yesterday, but that just wouldn't be my style. Besides, the rain and the cold will surely return tomorrow and then I'll have no choice but to hibernate once again.

Monday, March 15, 2010

a thousand words

Why does this always happen? Reading piles up, work gets frantic, and the first thing that goes is this here little blog. The sad thing is that I have so little to show for my absence: a three-quarters finished sweater, another frogged project, a couple batches of bunny loaf (mmm, bunny loaf), two articles sent out (and the attendant horror of soon-to-arrive rejections), a post-doc meeting on the west coast, wedding invitations selected, and a lot of missing, missing J. My oh my, I guess I should make lists more often of the things I’m apparently not doing.

Perhaps I should be taking more pictures of these things. If I had taken pictures of these things they would look like this: a mound of linden wool looking like the perfect little cardigan for a one-armed lady (damn those double-pointed needles), a delicately winded—and winded again—skein of variegated goodness that is patiently awaiting take three of the baby surprise sweater (damn those directions), a heap—a veritable hill—of grated carrots baked to cheesy goodness with enough thyme and basil for good measure (thank goodness for Moosewood), a combined 15,582 words sent out to two journals that will likely be unimpressed, but will have to wade through my sentences nonetheless (damned editorial board, damned academics, damned words); three long—really long—days of talking about digital humanities, failing budgets, print-on-demand vs. traditional publishing, three long days listening and listening some more (damned life); perfectly tasteful and delightfully botanical cards that may not be letter-pressed, but they look nearly as nice (thanks goodness for friends who come to town and insist on action); and then, well, just moping. Sad moping, nothing very picturesque about that one (damned life, damned academics).

But there’s one good thing, one really good thing: clean sheets. It’s all about the small pleasures these days, and actually, this here bed is a bit more than a small pleasure. It’s a queen-sized pleasure.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


I am bad at many, many things. I'm horrible at foreign languages. I'm pretty lousy at completing projects in a timely manner. I'm no good at getting bread to rise. I construct flimsy arguments that are easily poked through with holes. I can't seem to figure out the breathing in swimming. I almost never listen to phone messages (perhaps a sin rather than a failure). I'm late returning emails. The list could go on endlessly.

But I'm usually pretty good at one thing: reading my students. I know when they're confused. I can sense when they're engaged. I see it when they're on the verge of discovery. I know when to slow down and try another avenue. But this semester, well, not so much. My students, 17 young and diverse women, are completely and totally inscrutable to me. Don't get me wrong, there are moments that seem electric and I know everything is working--like during a particularly exciting conversation about Margaret Fuller's obsession with the Romans--but there are far more moments when I haven't a clue. They stonewall me every third class, and when two of them giggle on the far side of the table, I fear that they're laughing at just how stupid my question really was. A few are totally silent and several talk voluminously, without seeming to pause for breaths.

When I'm really, truly honest with myself I know that they've actually done nothing to suggest that they don't like the class. When my paranoia mounted to such a degree that I needed something to give (I used guilt as my pedagogical tool of choice), they blurted something out about loving me. But I didn't believe them, at least not for more than an hour. I can't seem to figure all this out. Even when I doubt everything about myself, when I feel nothing but dread at my chosen path, teaching has always been the thing that I could do really well. It was a place of affirmation. But something seems amiss; something has shifted and not in a good way.

I think it's about being at this particular college. It's not unlike my own alma mater, a place where I learned to value teaching genius. And I remember well what I -- and my pals -- revered: the wit, the erudition, the brilliance of a mind in front of a class. I didn't value a decentered classroom. I didn't long for student discussion. I wanted to be wowed by a brain on fire. And I wasn't often disappointed. I carry the weight of these expectations into my current teaching, even as I know how pedagogically foolish, how utterly unproductive to real learning, these techniques often are. But still.

I'm rarely a brain on fire. Mostly, I'm just a slightly anxious and often blunted teacher trying to motivated engaged discussion. Even when it happens, when everyone talks and everyone actually seems to listen, I don't leave feeling fantastic. I leave wishing I had proclaimed the truths of the universe.