27 April 2008


if you know me in real life or if you've read this blog for a while, you'll know that grad school has been something of a rollercoaster for me. i've decided to drop out of the program at least four times in the last five years. i've taken time off twice. i surprised the program administrator by actually returning after taking time off. i usually doubt my ability to do what needs to be done so i can finish the degree. and i've experienced far more depression in the last five years than ever before in my life.

the experience has not been wonderful. so why do i keep coming back? that's a legitimate question and one i've not always been able to answer myself. i've often joked that i must be masochistic on some level. but when i'm not in the throes of depression, when i'm thinking relatively clearly, i know that i keep coming back because i love it. i love getting excited about teaching. i love the literature, which is magical. and most of all i love teaching. i can't imagine anything else i'd rather do than teach university. so i'm back. and i intend to finish.

the problem is that having been on that rollercoaster--especially the twists and turns that took me out of the program--i've lost much of my focus. and i've developed bad habits. i'm trying to get myself focused and working more diligently. one tool i've decided to use in that effort is a new blog where i'll track my work, record notes on my reading, and identify goals to be met and tasks to be accomplished. you can read more about how i envision that blog working there. and i'd love any contributions you'd like to make to my effort to keep moving towards my goal.

25 April 2008


being with j(wh) makes me feel like this:
can you blame me for wanting to be with him every minute i can?


so today i left campus intending to go to barnes & noble, curl up in one of their cushy chairs with my ipod and a cup of tea and my book, and read for a few hours. but as i walked across the bridge from the parking lot to the bookstore, i noticed that the new DSW shoe store had opened right next door to B&N. now if you know me, you know i have a thing for shoes. and that's putting it mildly. so naturally i had to wander into DSW and check out the offerings. and when i saw a pair of rocket dog flats with an orangy red and turquoise blue print (brooke you will love these shoes), i naturally had to try them on. and when i spent twenty minutes walking around the store in them and they proved to be comfortable and i loved their funky print even more--well, i naturally had to buy them. {on a side note: i did resist the gorgeous peep-toe winter white pumps in a distressed patent leather with a wide strap across the top of my arch with a funky big buckle and three-inch stacked heels; damn they were hard to leave behind!}

so buy them i did. and then i felt guilty. because i'm supposed to be paying off my credit cards and trying to do a better job of living within my means. i'm not supposed to be indulging my love of shoes.

i didn't return them. i brought them home with me. and when i got home and looked at all the delicious shoes in my closet (and there are a lot of lovely shoes in my closet), i decided that i needed to be better. so i'm resolved:

resolution the first: i'll not buy any new shoes for a year. the only exception is if a legitimate need arises (like i magically start exercising and my tennis shoes are worn out and hurt my feet; this is unlikely to happen because 1. i don't exercise, except dancing; and 2. i got a new pair of tennis shoes last fall; i can conceive of wearing out my dancing shoes and i'm allowed to replace those if necessary).

resolution the second: in order to actually realize resolution the first, i'm not going to go into a shoe store or a shoe department unless i'm with someone else who needs to look at shoes (then i can help them spend their money on scrumptious shoes, which is almost as much fun as spending my own money on shoes).

resolution the third: although all of my shoes are wonderful, the reality is that there are some i simply don't wear any longer. mostly because my tastes have changed. it's time to purge shoes and let someone who can actually use them have them. if you wear a size ten, let me know if you want to take a look before i send them off to good will.

i'll report periodically so you know if i've slipped up. but i swear i'm not going to. no shoes for me for a whole year.

16 April 2008


another reason j(wh) is so wonderful: he makes me put my hands in my hair.

a bit of explanation: when i was an undergrad, i would get myself into long, provocative conversations with friends. and as i got more and more excited by the ideas we were talking about, i'd run my hands through my hair, giving myself a lovely puffy halo of hair. during the last several years, one of the effects of depression has been losing my interest in ideas. i've very rarely found myself impassioned by a discussion with friends. and i've mourned that loss of intellectual excitement. i can't remember the last time i got excited enough to muss my own hair (i'm a little obsessive about it not being fluffed up--i hate fluffy hair).

well, a couple of weeks ago as j(wh) and i were reading the botany of desire together, stopping occasionally to follow tangential trains of thought generated by the book, i found myself with my fingers buried in my hair, excited about ideas. and while that was the first time i noticed my old habit of messing with my hair when discussing fascinating ideas, j(wh) has always lured me into long, interesting conversations. it was sitting in a parking garage for three hours talking about various and sundry things at the end of our first date that made me know i wanted to go out with him again.

and that is one of many reasons he's so wonderful.

09 April 2008


last week, i looked in my closet and i thought to myself, 'i'm sick of looking at a closet full of clothes i can't wear.' over the course of the last two years, i've slowly gained 20 pounds. my being nearly six feet tall makes it hard for others to notice my weight gain. but when i pull a dress over my head and shoulders and then it sticks at my hips or i can't get a skirt up over my hips--well, it's noticeable to me.

my body doesn't bother me. i don't think i'm fat. most of my aspirations regarding my body have to do with being in better shape. more endurance (for all those long nights of dancing). more strength. not finding myself short of breath. being ready for a long bike ride or a backpacking trip. but looking at a closet full of clothes that i can't wear has a way of re-focusing my body-image on weight rather than on health. so i decided it was time for a purge.

i was (mostly) ruthless. always in the past when i've purged my closet, i've kept items that i haven't worn (for whatever reason) recently but that i still love. this time if it didn't fit, it was out. into storage. when the season for whatever item it is rolls around again, i'll try it on again. and if it doesn't fit, it goes to charity. even if it's something i simply love.

i took over 50 items out of my wardrobe. yes, i know. that's a lot, especially given how much is still in my closet. i'm a bit of a pack-rat. and, because i'm a bit fastidious about caring for my clothes, i keep them (and my shoes) forever (the oldest item i got rid of was 13 years old). it's only when i realize that an item has simply slipped out of favor that i get rid of it. but this time it was about fit, not favor. and it felt wonderful to purge.and yes. i am slightly OCD. why do you ask?

07 April 2008


the makings of a perfect evening:

a walk in the park, holding j(wh)'s hand, contemplating waterfowl, and luxuriating in the beauty of a spring evening.

random errand running which results in buying cheap gas (relatively speaking, of course) and superyummy soft peanutbutter cookies from costco, of which i promptly ate two. because i get cranky when i'm hungry.

wandering through the fullerton market, perusing vendor stalls, inspecting produce and fresh flowers, conversing with strangers, and laughing at little dogs in sweaters.

chatting with a produce vendor about dancing.

eating delicious roasted sweet white corn slathered in butter and sprinkled with garlic pepper salt.

sampling garlic basil hummus and whole wheat pita bread.

discovering vegetable ivory jewelry, made from the tagua nut grown on palms in the south american rainforest. so beautiful. i indulged and bought myself a funky yellow pendant.

dancing to the music of the blues band playing live.

going back past the dancing vendor's produce stand to buy a bag of strawberries and another of snow peas, which he sold us for $1 each since he was packing up for the night.

feasting on hummus, pita, snow peas, and strawberries while reading michael pollan's the botany of desire (a must read; so fascinating) out loud.

sharing it all with j(wh).

04 April 2008


if you know me, you may know that i have a little problem--a small addiction, you might even say. to outrage. and this week i seem to have found more than a handful of sources. so i thought i'd share them, just to get it off my chest.

the very thought of a mother taking her eight-year-old daughter for not only an eyebrow wax but also a bikini wax had the outrage mounting instantly. a bikini wax?!! what exactly was to be removed from the pubic area of an eight-year-old?! i wanted nothing more than to sit these women down and smack them, demanding that they wake up and let their poor daughters grow up seeing the beauty of their bodies as they are. and i realized again how very lucky i was in my parents' attitudes about beauty.

speaking of artificially achieving the ideal, i was horrified to discover that there's such a thing as a 'G-shot' to enhance the G-spot (if you're sensitive about treating genitalia casually, don't read that one). really!? i mean, i'm all for women enjoying sex. but the idea of trying to augment something like the G-spot strikes me as more about imposing ideals from outside than truly enjoying one's body.

and then there's this little gem from the london leader of the british national party (admittedly a far right, all white party which looks to me like it's racist, sexist, and extreme nationalist. but still):

Rape is simply sex (I am talking about 'husband-rape' here, for those who deliberately seek to misunderstand me). Women enjoy sex, so this type of 'rape' cannot be such a terrible physical ordeal. To suggest that rape, when conducted without violence, is a serious crime is like suggesting that force feeding a woman chocolate cake is a heinous offence. A woman would be more inconvenienced by having her handbag snatched.

another candidate for a sound smacking.

these were moments of outrage that, although genuine, were not very personal. i mean, i care deeply about each of those issues--the immense potential for psychological harm our society's beauty myths hold; women's sexuality not being an object to be manipulated, but rather being a source of natural pleasure; and rape being taken seriously, whether it's the kind of violent encounter we most often imagine or the much more common acquaintance rape this politician makes light of. but while i care deeply, this was the kind of almost-pleasurable outrage that comes with conviction of one's moral superiority. it's a distant kind of outrage.

my most recent moment of outrage was much more personal. this afternoon i logged into google reader (something you should all use if you read blogs as obsessively as i do), and found fmhLisa's post about being young and mormon and pregnant. and what i felt was less outrage and more sorrow. and i know that such stories should be taken with a grain of salt. but still it made my heart hurt that a girl could ever be so outcast at a moment when she needs to be loved. and that there could be policies in place (even the more benign one quoted from the church handbook in comment 22) that mandate this kind of treatment. i know the realities of the church are much more complex than could be captured in one anecdote or in quoting a policy. but i recognize the truth in the anecdote and the potential for serious harm in the policy and i want to weep.

but to end on a lighter note: i was taken in so completely by the IRS policy of sending some rebates in the form of goods instead of money to ensure people didn't 'waste' their rebate by paying bills instead of shopping, that my outrage didn't let me remember the date. until the host of marketplace reminded me. at which point i had to laugh at myself. a healthy reminder that my outrage is often fed by my own gullibility coupled with my obsession with pet issues (i hate that our government encourages spending rather than fiscal responsibility as a means to deal with our current economic problems).

02 April 2008


a couple weeks ago at atomic, i overheard a friend commenting about her upcoming 80s birthday party and didn't think much of it until j(wh) mentioned we'd been invited. so it sat on a backburner in my mind as i graded papers and put up with back pain (yuck!) until the night before the party when, again chatting with friends at atomic, it came out that they were all dressing up for the 80s party. K mentioned molly ringwald, which got the wheels turning in my head. i've been told more than once that i look like her, so i thought it would be fun to play that up. here's what my molly-focused brain cooked up:

a green straw hat which i bought about 12 years ago and which i still have kicking around my wardrobe.

to which i added some bright pink and white silk flowers and a pale green ribbon i picked up for $5 at joann's.

bright pink and purple double-disk earrings found amidst the retro accessories target's selling these days.

my little brother's white, long-sleeved dress shirt, which is (of course) way too big for me.

a bright pink, wide elastic belt, also kicking around my wardrobe for the last however many years.

a green cotton double skirt with big bucket pockets and eyelet on the underskirt.

incredibly bright pink fishnet stockings i found on clearance in portland, oregon about three years ago.

clear plastic shoes i found on a sales rack at t.j. maxx and picked up just for a purpose like this.

and let me tell you--add up those elements, and you'll channel molly ringwald circa pretty in pink perfectly. take a look for yourself:

so i threw together my hat, donned my duds, applied my face (a truly special occasion--i actually wore make-up), and headed off to a local japanese market where i was meeting j(wh) for a bite to eat before heading to his place and from there the party. i naturally got a few looks on the way in. all the effort was worth it when i caught sight of j(wh) and our friend T. j(wh) was expecting me dressed up, but he was still surprised. and T--T didn't even recognize me.

after a dash up the freeway and j(wh) cleaning up, we headed off to the party where our friends greeted me with laughter and praise for the outfit. and i thought that was it. the party was tons of fun. great food. L (birthday girl) and a few friends dancing ballroom to some classic 80s tunes. lots of dancing (not the best idea in the clear vinyl + fishnets combo), including a soul train line. but i thought the fun of seeing each other in costume was the sole purpose for dressing up.

much to my surprise there was a contest. and to my even bigger surprise, the prize was two tickets to the police (and elvis costello) concert in may. so i was excited to be one of the three finalists called to the stage, but a bit apprehensive when it was audience choice who would win. but i was having fun that night and decided, what the hell--may as well ham it up. so when the emcee asked for applause for 'molly,' i pulled the pose in that picture and blew the audience a kiss. and when it was narrowed down to our friend F (who came dressed as flavor flav, complete with an enormous clock hanging around his neck) and me, i kissed him on the cheek. and blew more kisses to the audience before L and her two friends picked me as the winner.

so much fun! it's been ages since i had such a good time at a party. well, maybe not ages, but at least since new year's. i shouldn't be surprised. life's been much more fun with j(wh) at my side. can you see why?