Sunday, November 26, 2006

Always learning

Today (and yesterday evening too) I learned what the inside of a PC looks like, what it's parts are, what they do, and how they fit together. As a long-standing Mac laptop user (the computer of parts that do not really come apart), this is a bit deal for me. Really, it was pretty good. It wasn't so scary, and I enjoyed it. And, more than that, I'm proud of myself for learning something new.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


This isn't technically my Thanksgiving, but I didn't write on mine, so I'm going to borrowing the US holiday. Also, I have a few posts to make up - yesterday just didn't happen because of travel and getting ready for travel, and the day before didn't happen because of packing and exhaustion which caused me to collapse into bed and fall asleep well before I planned. But no matter.

It's been a long few weeks and, after my first long night of good sleep in a long while, there's a lot that I feel thankful for (even above and beyond the aforementioned long night of good sleep.)

I'm thankful I have someone wonderful in my life who loves me (and sometimes tolerates me) and makes me laugh and takes care of me and understands me. I'm thankful I have a generous, loving family who are always there when I need them. I'm thankful I have great friends who support and listen to me and help me out as much as they possibly can, and I'm grateful that I can do the same for them. I'm thankful that I've chosen a job that I enjoy, despite some of the hiccups, and that I really get to do what I've always wanted to do with my life. I'm thankful that my needs are met - I have a nice apartment that's (relatively) warm, food in my fridge, a cosy bed to sleep in, easy public transit, and everything else I need to be healthy and happy. Most of all, I'm grateful that I'm healthy and happy, probably due in no small part to all of these other things.

I hope everyone out there has at least something that they are thankful for this Thanksgiving, and that at least something in their world is going right.

Monday, November 20, 2006

A little bit away

T-minus two days...

...and boy could I use it.

It's Monday, and it's already been a long week. My students have a paper tomorrow, and a bunch of them met with me today, or emailed me today, barely started their essays, or asking questions that they should know the answer to, or asking for extensions that they should have asked for a week ago. My patience, which was already wearing thin, is now at such a longtime low that I turned off my email at around two today and intend to leave it off at least until tomorrow morning. This late is just too late, and they should have been in touch with me earlier.

In addition, I need to work. I'm giving a lecture tomorrow, and although I'm well prepared, I like to review my notes and fuss with them before I give the talk. A lot. It makes me feel more comfortable, and I need some uninterrupted time for this in prder to give the best possible lecture.

Really, I'm a perfectionist. I fuss. I do powerpoint. I arrange and rearrange. I replace images with ones with better resolutions. I find more relevant images. I switch slides around and change wordings. In a way, I take pleasure in it. I really like my work to be good, and I like for it to make sense, flow logically, and look as good as possible. And I'm willing to put a fair amount of effort into this (and, just to be fair, I do spend at least an equal amount of time on research and planning, so that the content is good as well, and makes sense and flows in at least a somewhat logical order.)

But, I've been working hard on this. And public speaking still makes my knees shake (literally, sometimes, which is why I like having a podium in front of me to secure myself behind, and to hold onto if need be.) And I've spent some insane amount of hours (like...8...or 10...or something) on meeting with and composing emails to students. And I have a huge pile of marking coming my way. So yeah, I'm looking forward to getting away, even if away isn't completely away from everything that's going on right now. 'Cause even a little bit away is looking pretty damn sweet right now.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

I need a project

I feel like I need a project. A big one. (Because apparently comps and a dissertation just aren't enough.) I want something to do.

I was rereading parts of fiftyRx3 today, and I love the idea of having a big meaninful, long project to work on. I briefly considered adopting a project similar to Danyelle's - trying to ensure that 50 per cent of her wardrobe is stylish but sustainable, so either reduced, reused, or recycled - but I didn't think it would work so well. Most of wardrobe is recycled (easily 80 per cent, right now), and I'm not so very stylish, so that might not work so well.

I just want something continual to do that is interesting and meaningful to me, and not really related to school directly, but to some of my wider interests. A few ideas I've been playing with are:

- buying nothing new
- creating one knitting or sewing project a month for a charity
- creating an art project once a week just for me, as an exercise in creativity

Honestly, getting started is also a bit of a challenge because I know how bad I can be, especially when school gets busy, at sticking to projects. I always have the best of intentions, but keeping at stuff just doesn't always work so well, and it's hard to get started when I know it's something that might well get left by the wayside.

But, I think this time that it might just be important for me to try, to start, to at least get something going. And, maybe from that point, I'll find something that really works for me.

[Insert pithy/clever final line here.]

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Random photos of the day

I'm tired and not feeling so great, and I was looking through some of my photos today, and I picked out a few that I really like to share today.

A ceiling light that I really liked the look of.

A fallout shelter sign - it always strikes me as so odd, and yet so relevant, when I see shocking.

The light over the dining table in the cottage. I've played so many games at night by the light of this fixture, and I really love it, both for the way it looks and the associations that I have with it.

I love the way that the light falls through these curtains (also in the cottage, but in the sunporch at the back.)

Friday, November 17, 2006

Pre-weekend wrap up

I had a long and really frustrating week (as is often the case), and I feel like I need to sit down and think about what I've accomplished this week so that I don't keep feeling so down. Sometimes in all the hustle and bustle of life I just forget how much I've actually done. Even if there's more that I was supposed to do, or wanted to do, seeing it all in a list is really helpful to me, I find.

So, this week I:

- met with upwards of 20 students about their upcoming papers
- fielded over 50 detailed and long-ish emails about the same
- graded one final student essay
- read a few chapters of comps books
- got about 75% of next week's class lecture on post-colonialism finished
- handled all of the work and academic emails that I was supposed to (something that I tend to put off)
- changed plane tickets so that I can stay a bit longer for horribly-relevant-to-dissertation symposium in early December
- cooked most of my own food
- had long and rather productive lunch time chat with a good friend
- started an easy crochet project for when I'm curled up in bed
- filed numerous big piles of academic papers into filing cabinet (which also helped to clear off the floor)
- started in on not-so-top-secret Christmas gift

So, really, although there are things yet to do, I feel pretty good about this week, and I appreciate the opportunity to focus in on what I've been doing well, instead of what I didn't do so well at. And, there's always tomorrow, or next week, or even next month, which is comforting.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Projects yet to come

I picked up this yarn awhile ago (significantly on sale), and I have yet to decide what to do with it.

The bright red, pink, and aqua are all Suss cotton, while the darker red is, as I recall, merino. It's nice stuff, but thus far I've only decided the dark red will be a scarf for my dad (which is the purpose that I bought it for.)

I have a problem with craft stuff, though. I have a lot of materials. Actually, I have a lot of really nice materials - a bit of decent yarn, some nice vintage and other fabric, lots of lovely buttons, and all sorts of other bits and pieces. The trouble is, I'm loathe to use a lot of it. I have a hard time decided what to do with my stuff. This is, in part, because I have so many options, chosing just one project for some materials that I love can be really difficult. And, on top of that, I tend to feel that I may want the materials for something else later - a better project that would be just perfect.

Really, I know having this stuff should be about using and enjoying it, but I sometimes feel like I'm always searching for the perfect project which never comes and would probably not be absolutely perfect anyway. I think this is something that I need to get over, and just use my stuff (in part, because the collection of stuff that I have around here really needs to shrink and be used.)

I think I need to go cut into something now...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

T-minus seven days

...'til vacation...

I'm taking a week and a half for visiting and to go to a very dissertation-related conference at which I hope to network my little heart out.

In terms of the visiting, I get to see my funny, smart, wonderful boyfriend for a week and a bit, and we have a bunch of stuff that we want to do. There will be good food and tv and movies and walks and baths and hopefully some trips out and, most importantly, lots of cuddling and canoodling (isn't canoodling an awesome word?)

For the conference, I get to meet and hang out with a who's who of my field. I'm looking forward to hearing some great speakers and panels, and to having some time to network. I've been hoping to make some good connections for awhile now, and I'm hoping this will be the opportunity I need. The scholars in my field are limited at my current University, and the more outside contacts I can get the better off I am. But, really, I'm just excited about the whole prospect of getting away to a great guy and a great conference. The travelling itself will be rather rushed and probably not such a great thing, but I can deal with that. 'Cause even lousy travel can lead to a really great trip.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Where I wish I were right now

If I could be anywhere right now, it would probably be at the family cottage. It's likely very cold this year (no insulation), and very grey, and I'm sure in practice it wouldn't be so very lovely. But, today, I'm dreaming (especially of sun.)

The farm across the road:

The cows down the road:

Heading down the road:

(I seriously love the sky in this last picture.)

Oddly enough, for being taken on a point and shoot camera in a moving car, these photos didn't turn out too badly, which pleases me greatly.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


Well, I missed yesterday. I suppose I should have expected that I wouldn't be perfect at this but, really, I'm not that upset about it. I had a migraine, and something stomach-flu-ish, and anything having to do with the computer was really not going to happen past a certain point.

On the up side, my stomach is feeling much more settled, and I'm making myself something yummy for dinner:

In the read enamelled pot at the back are rice noodles, in the stainless steel skillet are a bunch of veggies and pad thai sauce, and in the small black cast iron pan are shrimp, which will be followed shortly by a scrambled egg. Toss it all together and you have pad thai, from the lovely cook book Hot Sour Salty Sweet.

Also hovering around are some of my favourite Le Creuset pots, which are lovely to cook in, and an inheritance from mom. My kitchen, while not always perfectly clean, does produce a lot of good food, and I love having good equipment to work with - it really makes a difference.

And now, to eat.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Fridge Friday

Thanks again to Kate for this post. She's asked (or suggested, at least) that people post photos of their fridge. And so, I have done so.

My fridge:

More than anything else, what you see here is an attempt at healthy eating. Organic jam, applesauce, natural PB, and a lot of fruits, veggies, low fat milk, and whole grain bread. Lots of leftovers make their way in too, which are handy for my busy days (it's leftovers that are under that upturned plate in the bottom - in the interest of environmental concern, I upsended a plate over my bown instead of using plastic wrap.) Generally, there are a lot of staples in here, since I usually cook from scratch. It's not all perfect, but I think I do okay for myself on a fairly regular basis. And, what you can't see in this photo is the bottom crisper, which is full of fruits and veggies (and, honestly, probably a little bit of mold at this point, too.)

And here's it's door:

And here we have mostly things that I use to make other things - sauces and condiments and some tofu, oh my.

There are also a few things missing that aren't in there right now that I usually have on hand. This week, I seem to be missing yogurt, V8, an extra jug of water, and a big loaf of bakery multigrain bread.

(As a side note, it seems that the fridge is the only thing in my apartment that is well-lighted enough to take pictures of. I guess I'll be moving lights around soon to see if I can get some more photos.)

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Working hard or hardly working?

One of the big issues I find I have with school is that there's always a lot to do, and yet there are definitely days where I don't have enough interest to really get any work done. Part of that is that right now my work is preparation for my comprehensive exams - a big exam based on 80 or so texts - which basically entails a lot of reading and notetaking (and sitting.)

It's certainly nice to have so much to read, and not to be expected to do a lot more than read. But, on the days where I'm supposed to be reading, sometimes it just doesn't click. Sometimes I'm a little too tired, and the books are a little too boring, and I tend to wander or doze a bit. Sometimes I feel so much pressure to retain what's going on in the texts that all I can think about is trying to remember it, which makes it really hard to retain it (funny how that works!)

Studying at home can also be a bit of an issue. While being at home is somewhat of a luxury, it can also be difficult when I have to work and I'm surrounded by distractions such as books, music, mess (closely related to cleaning), food, and bed. There are always other things I could be getting done, and if I'm not totally into work, then getting to it instead of Everything Else isn't always the easiest thing in the world. These are all the "hardly working" days.

All of that sounds rather like a rant. But, today, everything clicked. Today, I was "working hard." I got a lot of work done, no problem. I sat down and read multiple chapters and finished off a few books I've been working on for awhile, and started making notes for another.

I feel so much better.

I've been stressing and sweating over how little I've been doing, since teaching's been pretty hectic this month. But all it takes is one good work day to help me feel like I'm back on track and to settle down a bit more about the whole thing. And, thankfully, once I've started to settle down I wind up getting more work done overall. I'm sure I'll slip up again, and start stressing, but the more I learn about how I work, the better this all gets. And really, I'm pretty sure this is education in and of itself.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Or, the art of eating.

When I was younger, all through high school I worked for a Danish bakery and deli. We did some catering, and one of the things that I most dreaded and most enjoyed was when we'd get order for Danish open faced sandwiches, which look rather like this.

They're a complete pain in the ass to make. They're fussy and, because everything on them is on display, even the ingredients need to be perfect - no slapping a second piece of bread on the top to make it all look okay. There are many different kinds, all of which are usually ordered at once (usually as a sandwisch tray for a buffet or some other serve-yourself function), and the logistics of getting all the ingredients prepped and all of them assembled is, in short, a logistical nighmare. There's breaded fish with mayonaise, parsley, and lemon on white break. There's egg with mayonase on white bread. There's liver pate with bacon, tomato, fried onion, parsley, and cucumber on buttered Danish rye bread (possibly the densest, heviest bread on the face of the planet.) There's roast beef (also on buttered Danish rye) with remoulade, cucumber, parsley. And there's more. All of the bread has the crusts cut off. All of it is buttered. All of the toppings and garnishes aren't just laid on, but are cut and twisted and balanced and arranged just so, so you can see all of the bits. And all of these sandwiches need to be put together on the same day, with all of the ingredients prepared and arranged on the same day as they're to be picked up. Again, it's a total pain to make and, I assume, also somewhat of a pain to eat since they fall apart so easily.

But, the fact of the matter is that they're lovely. They're delicate and layered with a lovely collection of flavours. They take time to eat, and make you contemplate what you're eating and how you're eating it. At least, I think they do - perhaps I'm just not so used to eating them.

She's making a list...

Every year, my mother asks for ideas for Christmas gifts that I would like. Every year, I have fewer and fewer ideas to offer her. Between my fairly comfortable and well-appointed little apartment, my love of thrift stores, and my need to curb my consumption and get rid of a bunch of stuff, I actually don't want that much. Music is downloaded, books come from (and are returned to the library), and most of the things that I buy I make or acquire second-hand - basically, my needs are met increasinly in ways that mean that I can (hopefully) cut down on how much I buy.

In a way, the requests are also limited by her. She refuses to buy my textbooks, although now that I'm working on comprehensive exam prep, I'd love to get some of the books that I need. She also won't buy me really practical things like socks, even when I specifically ask for them. In some cases, unless I give her the specific make and model number of something, she gives me a giftcard and sends me out to get it myself (and that's how my crock pot came to be last year.) In some ways, it's a nice gesture. Although she wants to get me things that I'll use, she also wants to take the time and effort to get me things that I wouldn't really buy for myself, which I think is a caring and lovely thing to do (and such a mom thing!)

In any case, I really don't have much in the way of ideas this year. I have some books that I'm interested in, and the odd DVD or CD on the list. But, this year, I'm considering just asking for a donation to charity. I don't need anything, and other people do, and I'm liking the idea of helping other people to have a better Christmas - toys for children who don't have any, food for people who need a warm meal, general means of making the world a little bit better for people, if possible. I don't know how this idea will go over, but I think it sounds like a great Christmas present, and one that's not just good for me.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Back to reading

I read a lot. I read for classes. I read for my comprehensive exams. I read for my tutorials. I read essays and exams and articles enough to last me for the rest of my life. Really, I don't mind. I like to read. I like to curl up on my couch and work my way through theory. I like to sit at my desk and read articles. I like to learn. I like theory.

But, with all of this reading, I don't get much reading done for pleasure. By the end of the day, by the time schoolwork and research and marking and class prep is done, I don't feel like I have a lot of time to read just for me. I tend to pile into bed with my TV and shows that I don't even really like all that much.

In an effort to get back some pleasure reading, I'm trying something new. No more Leno or Letterman at night. Instead, I'm going to try to tuck myself into bed early(ier) every night, snuggle under the covers (I love me some covers) and read before I go to sleep. I find, once I have the TV on, that I don't like to turn it off, even if I'm not really watching, so I stay up later both because it's on and because it's less relaxing than warm light, heavy covers, soft pillows, and a good book. I'm hoping that, out of this effor to read, I'll be motivated to find more time for pleasure reading in general - as a morning treat, or an afternoon break, or when I just need a bit of time to unwind.

And, in the spirit of getting myself to read, I think I'm going to start tracking here the books that I'm working my way through, and especially the ones that I really love. I'd love to share some of the books that I love with other people, and hope that you enjoy them as much as I do.

First on the list: "The Secret Book of Grazia dei Rossi."

Monday, November 06, 2006

No pictures, but much thrifting

I went thrifting today. I had lots of do, but I was feeling pretty bad physically (to the point where I felt that marking feeling the way I was feeling wouldn't be entirely fair to my students, especially in terms of my ability to concentrate on what they were saying.) And so, I decided that getting out for a bit and takingsome time to do something that I enjoy would help me more than sitting around and worrying about the work that I wasn't doing. So I got up, put on a comfy seater, grabbed some music, and caught the bus to the local thrift store.

I like thrifting (to use the improper yet still-great verb form of the word) for a variety of reasons. I like that it's cheap, and that I can get a whole pile of stuff for less than the cost of a t-shirt in most stores. I like that it reuses things that might not otherwise be used again. I like that it removes some of the guilt, for me at least, of supporting big stores with questionable labour practise. I like that most of the stuff has lasted well enough to be there, and that it will likely last a little longer. I also like that if it doesn't, because of the price it's not such a big loss. I like that there aren't outfits all laid out for you, so you think about what you're putting together and can put it together in new and interesting ways. And I love that there are all manner of neat, interesting and, for me, especially vintage clothes that are all unique and usually pretty reasonably priced.

Today, I didn't pick up that much. A copy of Madeline, the children's book (I love children's books, and have a growing collection.) A great long white shirt that I want to modify to fit a little better. A great small vintage platter, to go with my other vintage housewares. And, best of all, an adjustable dressmaker's dummy, for a whole $10. I have 2 already, but this is in the best shape of all three. Right now, it's in my bedroom, since I've always wanted to have one there.

Unfortunately, I don't have any photos yet. Photos are proving to be difficult, especially since my apartment faces north with a balcony over the windows, so there is very, very rarely enough natural light in here to take a non-flash photo that looks even remotely good. I'm working on lighting, but figuring out a combo of natural and artificial lighting might take a while. If anyone has any tips on reasonable photo-taking with a pretty basic digital camera, I'd be more than happy to hear it.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Slipping off to sleep

It's 9 pm, and I'm ready for bed. Well, actiually, I was ready for bed at 5:30 tonight, but dinner seemed like a good thing to have, even if it was just reheated leftovers from last night. It seems like I've spent most of today in bed, either working or sleeping. I'm tired, and feeling pretty lousy, but glad to be snuggled in warm and toasty and comfy.

The normal quantity and quality of drivel should resume shortly. For now, I sleep.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

From frying to food security

I cooked a lovely dinner tonight in my new skillet (thanks, mom!) * Since dinner took awhile, as I was cooking I got to thinking about how I feel about food and eating as I was cutting and chopping and mixing and stirring and frying. I have an odd relationship with food, not in terms of any sort of disorder or negative associations, but to the extent that I feel grateful for it. I appreciate my food every single time I walk into my kitchen, and have a huge sense of gratitude that there is food there that I can eat and that I don't have to worry about where my next meal is coming from. It's a blessing, I know, and not one that I take lightly or fail to recognize on at leats a semi-daily basis. Maybe this way of thinking is not just me, but it's not something that I've never really heard...well...anyone speak about all that much, and it would interest me to know if anyone else feels this way.

In any case, food security is a huge interest of mine, both from an academic point of view and just from the fact that I feel that everyone has a basic right to food. Not that I think people shouldn't have to work for it, or just expect it to magically appear. But, I believe that everyone has a right to healthy, affordable food, and that we should work to ensure that right. I've worked at foodbanks. I've seen hungry people. I've seen grateful people. I've seen people so hungry that they could barely wait to leave the site before they eat, and it's torn my heart out every time. I hear so many stories from friends of mine who work in food banks that make my heart feel like it's crunching up until I start to get teary. It bothers me that the cycle of hunger is so dificult to get out of. Proper nutrition is the basis of so many things in life, including life itself, that I sometimes just don't understand why it isn't the basis of more social programs, more attention, more concern.

To be fair, I know there is a good deal of concern out there - there are agencies and people working as hard as they can to make a difference. I was in the grocery store the other day, and they're running their annual campaign called, "Toonies for Tummies" which is designed to deal with child hunger. (For those of you who are American, Canadians have a two-dollar coin called a Toonie.) There were a number of people ahead of me in line, and every single one, when asked, refused to give $2.00. I'm sure not everyone can afford to give, especially if they're having a hard time feeding themselves or their families, but the lack of donations out of all of those people really bothered me (not to mention the rudeness that two of them showed when they were asked.)

Maybe they donate money in the privacy of their homes, or volunteer every week at a food bank or soup kitchen. Maybe they know hunger intimately, painfully, in themsleves or on the faces of their family and would give if they could. Maybe, after living with my mother (who annually puts together a lot of food for the local food bank, and always includes some cookies or chocolate or nice tea because she firmly believes that everyone should have a treat every now and again) I just expect more of the average person. I can't pretend to know why people don't seem to give, and I really wouldn't condemn anyone for not giving if they had their own reasons not to. But I guess I want to fix the world and especially the things that bother me most, and I want there to be more people with me on this and making a gesture. And I try to recognize that my occasional frustration with other people may just be my frustration with myself for not being able to do as much as I'd like.

For now, I give when and what I can, in both time and money. For the most part, that works for me. And every single day when I walk into my kitchen, I remember what food means to me, how much I appreciate having it there, and how good my life really is.

* I actually took a photo of tonight's dinner, which was a lovely healthy pad thai from Hot Sour Salty Sweet, but because of the dark and the camera flash, it turned out...well...badly. Someday I'll figure out how to take good photos...really I will.

Friday, November 03, 2006

(No longer so) blah

Despite my intentions to create a lovely picture-laden post for today, the more the day progresses the less likely that is to happen. It's cold and grey, and I can't take a photo to save my life. Also, I'm sick and completely hunkered into bed.

12 hours later...

I've decided to reconsider this post, and the general whiney-ness of it, 12 hours after I originally wrote and published it. Apparently publishing a post while feeling lousy can, in my world at least, be akin to those scary drunken 3 am phone calls that you sometimes hear about people making that lead to nothing but regret (has anyone ever actually made one of those calls themselves? I don't do drunk, but there are definitely some phone calls in my past that weren't made at the best of times and certainly didn't go anywhere as well as I'd planned.) At least the Internets are merciful in the fact that they allow for editing.

So, instead of continuing to focus on the yucky, I'm going to focus on the positive from my day. I finished some marking, which is a very good thing, and I dealt with some emails that needed attention. I talked to my boyfriend (three times), which is lovely and funny and leaves me feeling generally pretty great. I got up and danced in my living room to (good) bad music and had a fabulous time. I packed up another bag of stuff to donate to charity, leaving my apartment a little cleaner and me feeling both lighter and a bit like I was contributing to something. I read in bed and enjoyed myself immensely. I did my dishes and cleaned my kitchen and made my home feel a little more lovely and comfy for me.

This list seems a little boring, typed up like this on a computer screen. But, it's amazing what a difference it can make to write out the positive instead of the negative in terms of changing my perspective on a day that, originally, felt not so good and is now feeling pretty terrific.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

My first meme

I've never done a meme before. And so, while this might normally be a bit of a cop-out, and probably not something I would normally do (I'd ratherv write than answer a bunch of questions), I'm happy to be completing my first meme as a part of NaBloPoMo.

1. Flip to page 18, paragraph 4 in the book closest to you right now, what does it say?

I opened Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping, and there are only two paragraphs on page 18. So...that doesn't work so well, now does it?

2. If you stretch out your left arm - as far as possible, what are you touching?

My second nightstand. If I curve my fingers a bit, I can feel my knitting (Lamb's Pride worsted, for a Christmas gift - details to follow in a later post.)

3. What's the last program you watched on tv?

Law and Order: SVU. I don't have cable, and my powered antenna only gives me about 5 1/2 channels, yet somehow I get law and order ten times a week, two times every weeknight. I'll take what I can get.

4. Without looking, guess what time it is.

10:30 (only off by 4 minutes - yay!)

5. Except the computer, what can you hear right now?

The TV in the background, and a neighbour playing music. I can also hear the engine of the bus that picks up outside my apartment and is idling out there right now.

6. When was the last time you were outside and what did you do?

I walked to the grocery store tonight to pick up some veggies and take a break from marking. It was chilly and was windy, and it started to snow while I was outside. While it's good to get out, it's nice to come home and cook and nest afterwards.

7. What are you wearing?

Some pink cotton dress pants, a brown wool sweater, the standard undergarments, my watch, and some gold-ish earrings.

8. Did you dream last night? If you did, what about?

I did (and have for the last few nights.) Trouble is, I can't seem to remember what any of those dreams are. I wake up every morning feeling tired and discombobulated and out of sorts, but for the life of me I can't remember exactly what I dreamed. This is especially disconcerting because I usually remember my dreams in vivid detail.

9. When was the last time you laughed?

Tonight, while talking on the phone with my boyfriend. He makes me laugh a lot and often - just one thing that I love about him.

10. What's on the walls, in the room you're in right now?

A mirror, some lights, and a new painting/print done by the aforementioned boyfriend.

11. Have you seen anything strange lately?

Yes. I live in a city of strange things and people. The mullets alone are strange and frightening.

12. What do you think about this meme?

It's okay - it's given me day two content for this blog, which is a good thing. And, for my first meme, I like the variety of content.

13. What's the last film you saw?

I went to see Little Miss Sunshine in the theatre (first theatre movie in a few years). It was hysterical. Dark, dark, dark, but funny as hell.

14. If you became a multimillionaire, what would you do with the money?

Set aside enough for my degree. Maybe get a little house or something, Invest a bunch. Give some to family and friends. Give a lot to charity.

15. Tell us something about yourself that most people don't know.

I can't stand that feeling when a jagged edge of toenail or rough skin catches on nylons when I'm putting them on or off. Just thinking about it creeps me out and leaves me feeling like I want to gag.

16. If you could change ONE THING in this world, without regarding politics or bad guilt - what would it be?

Poverty - would absolutely make poverty go away. It's the cause of so many issues, and so much heartache.

17. Do you like dancing?

Goodness, yes! In addition to many years of dance classes, I love just getting out and moving. Sometimes, when the floor is clear, I just dance around my apartment for fun. And boy, is it ever fun.

18. George Bush?

Do I like, him? Goodness, no! Except for entertainment, that is. Then he's a scream.

19. What do you want your children’s names to be, girl/boy?

I have no idea. There are a bunch of names that I like, and a bunch that I hate. I have a pretty ordinary and common name, so those that are a bit (just a bit!) off the beaten track seem to be rather attractive to me.

20. Would you ever consider living abroad?

Sure thing, although it would probably depend on the country and the reasons for the move.

21. What do you want God to tell you, when you come to heaven?

I'm going to heaven? Sweet! Other than that, I have no idea what I'd like to hear there. Deep question, though.

22. Who should do this meme?

Anyone who wants to. I'm certainly not going to force anyone (if for no other reason than I think that I have all of one or two readers at this point.)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

For me? You shouldn't have!

I was on my way to teach today and was walking downstairs and out of our building with another grad student friend who teaches at the same time as me, just down the hall. We came to the bottom of the stairs, and resting on the bottom was a red binder. Walking by it, my Fellow Grad Student (FGS) pointed and said, "Look - a free binder."

I was thinking about this after, and it's something that I do too. When I see something lying around now - whether it be a pen, notebook, or umbrella - I don't think "Oh look - someone forgot that" as much as I think, "Oh good - someone left a _________ for me."

This seems to be an odd mentality. I'm certainly not one to steal and I don't usually take stuff that's left behind (unless it's something really small, like a pen), but it seems to be the way I think about things when I'm not actually thinking about things. And, for that matter, I don't seem to be the only one who's thinking this way.

There's certainly an acknowledged tendency in grad school to appreciate things that are free. Free food is in especially high regard, and some of my friends and I have been known to invade biology pizza parties (we're not in biology but, granted, that was by invite from a prof and the bio department is also in our building.) Even if they're old discards from profs, free books are also a hit. We adore free printing, free paper, and free office supplies. Free transportation is bliss. Free entertainment is lovely where we can get it.

By and large, the love of things that are cheap or, better yet, free is something that I'm familiar with. It's a necessity on a grad student salary a lot of the time, and it's frequently acknowledged and even encouraged. Most grad students I know love all that is free. I have friends who are profs and now making decent salaries who love paid faculty meals to this day simply because they are free. But the idea that everything is there for us (so long as it's forgotten or just lying around) is kind of a scary way of viewing the world, and not something that I really want to cultivate over the next two or three years of this degree, especially when I don't know why it's so pronounced. I'm generally not one to feel particularly entitled, especially just to stuff. While I don't know if this is really something that can be "dealt with" in any concrete sense, it is a way of viewing the world that I think I'd like to be aware of and try to change. Although free is certainly a good thing, it's not everything.

Daily Ethnography

I thought perhaps I'd try to explain the reasons for this blog title. Although it's not all of what I do now, I was trained as an anthropologist, and I still use ethnography as a large portion of my research. As a research approach, I find ethnography hugely interesting - accounting for a culture, a way of life, a cultural practise in almost any group of people in any site involved in any practice feels so open and free and like such a great way of understanding the world a little bit as a time.

I wanted to think about my life in the same way. I wanted to think about different facets of who I am and why, and especially how they fit together in my world. I wanted to detail and maybe even understand some of these things that I might otherwise not even notice, let alone think about. I wanted to notice and appreciate all of these things independently and in some kind of overarching version of me.

This is an ethnography of me. It won't necessarily be daily in terms of how I post, but it will be daily in terms of what I think and talk about here. This probably means it will be somewhat eclectic, and likely somewhat jumpy. And, this is, at first glance, a small post, but I expect there will be lots more to say.But I'm looking forward to, as with so many things in life, figuring it out as I go.

Monday, October 30, 2006


Thanks to the lovely Kate I've learned about National Blog Posting Month. I've never been much of a journaler or blogger or, really, much of one for writing anything on a regular basis. But I'd like to be writing a bit if not actually blogging on a somewhat regular basis, and I'm hoping that by signing up to post every. single. day. I might actually do something with this space. No promises, but the act of signing up for something might be the kick start that I want for this.

Starting (and stopping...and starting...)

Why is it so hard to know where to start things? Or, to end them and figure out where to start, or how to start over again? I have lots of things I want to write about, and yet the task of writing an introduction to this space seems difficult if not overwhelming. So many interests, so many things to say, and yet so little comes out sometimes.

I've started writing this numerous times over, literally, the course of months as I thought about what to say, and how to say it, and when and how. But, it strikes me that maybe this is a process that can't be mapped right now. And, more than that, maybe it's not worth mapping, or maybe something is lost in the planning. And so I'm going to write. And maybe sometimes I'll delete too. But getting to wherever I'm going is half the fun, I think, and so here goes nothing.