24 November 2009


this year for the first time i'm entirely in charge of producing thanksgiving dinner.  i've been actively involved in making other thanksgiving dinners, but i've never planned and made the whole thing.  and it's kind of fun to sit down and plan a menu and figure out a schedule.  so here's what my thanksgiving will look like:

the menu:
  • roast turkey breast with lemon and thyme
  • mashed potatoes and gravy
  • oven-baked bread stuffing
  • sweet white corn
  • homemade (of course!) dinner rolls
  • pumpkin pie (need i really designate it as homemade? really?  anything but is simply inadequate)
the schedule:

  • buy challah, slice in half-inch slices and leave out over night to dry
  • make gravy.  since a turkey breast won't produce enough drippings to make gravy, i'm doing this step in advance using cooks illustrated's "all purpose gravy" recipe (which looks delicious)
  • make pie crust and filling and bake.  i may even dig out my mini fall leaf cookie cutters and decorate the pies
  • cut the dried slices of challah into half-inch cubes and leave out over night to dry out some more
  • brine the turkey (again using cooks illustrated's directions; i do love my cooks illustrated subscription)
  • mix up rolls and let dough double in size
  • peel potatoes and cover with water
  • punch down roll dough and put rolls on pan to rise again
  • prep turkey and get it into the oven
  • prep dressing and get it into the oven
  • boil and mash potatoes
  • re-heat gravy
  • bake rolls
  • boil corn
  • carve turkey
  • EAT!!!
can i just say that thanksgiving is one of the very best holidays?  yumminess! 

{p.s. let me know if you want any of the recipes i'm using.}


just a little light reading on questions of sex, gender, and culture:

  • on why "chick flicks" are not all that woman-friendly: "7 popular chick flicks that secretly hate women." (be forewarned of some profanity)
  • on the federal court challenge to prop. 8 and the broader related issues: "gay on trial." winning quote: "They [defenders of prop. 8 who oppose gay marriage] also argue that sexual orientation falls on a continuum and that sexuality is 'fluid,' a decidedly nontraditional view that has taken root in college queer-studies departments but not the sort of thing you'd ever hear from Focus on the Family's James Dobson."  i'd just love to see most conservatives who oppose gay marriage swallow that pill.
  • jessawhy's personal articles of faith, a beautiful piece: "my articles of faith."
  • on the romantic paternalism prevalent in the church and the desire to be taken seriously: "romantic paternalism."
  • on the dangers of the twilight saga (and a great example of why we should think just a little more carefully about the entertainment we consume): "ew moon: why twilight continues to hurt america."  winning quotes: "Young girls around the country are debating whether she should choose Edward or Jacob. Which abuse is better? He’s insanely jealous and stalks me or he can barely control his anger and may physically abuse me at any moment?" and " The messages behind Twilight? Be weak, let your man protect you. Be careful, don’t get him angry. If he hurts you, it’s your fault. Abuse is part of life. Accept it. If he really loves you, he’ll try not to hurt you but don’t be surprised if he does. You probably deserve it. You are nobody without your man, so don’t bother trying." is it any wonder that the author of the series is mormon?
  • and, to be balanced, an interesting feminist defense of the twilight saga, which asks some very important questions: "another feminist defense of 'twilight'."
  • and my hero for the week: the ten-year-old boy in arkansas refusing to stand and pledge allegiance because gay marriage is not legal, therefore the nation does not provide "liberty and justice for all." (no reading required, just a fast enough connection to stream video)
go forth, read, and comment.  i'd love to hear what you think.

22 November 2009


chocolate chaud.

3 cups whole milk
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
6 oz. dark chocolate (i use one that's 80% cocoa)

break chocolate into small pieces (i put mine in a baggie and beat it with my rolling pin--very therapeutic) bring milk, water, and sugar just to a boil and remove from heat.  whisk in chocolate until it is melted.  using an immersion blender, blend the chocolate for about a minute until it is frothy.  if you don't have an immersion blender, you can put the chocolate in a regular blender and blend it for a minute.  it's very yummy served with a toasted egg bread (challah or brioche, for example).  but it's best served as an accompaniment to decorating for christmas.  yummy!

21 November 2009


i may be just a little crazy.  why?  because i'm taking on projects when i should be doing nothing but reading.  but i stitch during church.  and i do need an occasional t.v. break.  so here are a few projects i'm planning on in the next month or two:

for my baby C:

head bands for my nieces:

for my sister J, in gold:

20 November 2009


i live in the wrong place.  you see, i love winter.  i love cozy sweaters and wearing socks.  i love long walks through falling snow.  i love waking up to a world freshly blanketed in snow--there's nothing like the silence of that moment.  i love hot drinks and crackling fires.  i love scarves and jackets and gloves.  there's really nothing about winter that i do not like.  yet i live in southern california.  and my sisters, who both hate the snow, live in utah and upstate new york.

this year i'll get my dose of winter when i travel east for christmas.  and i hope it comes with lots of snow, complete with a snowman and maybe even a snowball fight.  just four short weeks and i'll be there, in the land of winter.  yay!!

19 November 2009


today it's only wednesday.  and it's been a long, yucky wednesday.  so i'm going to go to bed and sleep.  but first i thought i'd show you what has me plugging along this week:

come sunday, i'll be hanging ornaments (including several disco balls) and stringing lights and playing the first christmas music of the season.  and that, my friends, makes it okay that i had a long, yucky wednesday.

18 November 2009


i've been sitting here thinking about what to write about.  but the problem is that i got irritated by a man who i *know* to be an ass (which means i really shouldn't let him irritate me), so instead of coming up with something to write about for today i've just been stewing.  

so i'm not writing tonight.  back to it tomorrow.

16 November 2009


in the last year, i've gained nearly thirty pounds.  i think that surprises people when i tell them.  because i'm tall and have a fairly well-proportioned figure, i carry the weight pretty well.  but it's still there.  and i can't wear most of my clothes.  i have exactly two pair of pants and three skirts that fit.  true, i can squeeze into a few other items, but not many.  and that is why i need to lose at least fifteen pounds (though i'd really like to lose all thirty).  because i simply cannot afford to buy a new wardrobe.

the only question is how.  i've never had to really think about losing weight before.  the only time i lost any significant amount, it just sort of happened when my lifestyle changed a bit.  this time, it's going to take some concerted effort.  so here's what i'm going to do:

  • slimfast for breakfast.  because a friend used it a few years ago and it worked for her.  so i'm willing to ignore the questionable taste and try it.
  • exercising at least three times a week.  i should really try to workout daily, but i know myself well enough to know that is highly unlikely.  i figure having a more realistic goal will not only make it more achievable, but also less likely to result in guilt, which usually triggers a defeatist attitude and the subsequent indulgence in sweets.  yeah.  i want to avoid that scenario.
  • in addition to working out, i'm going to try to walk more often.  i think the fact that i walked thirty minutes a day helped me lose the weight the last time.
  • cutting down on portion sizes.  i don't much buy into fad diets that stress cutting carbs or just sugar or purges or what have you.  but i do think that cutting portion sizes can go a long way.
  • cutting down on sugar intake.  i won't cut it altogether.  i like sweets.  and i'll occasionally eat them.  but no more snacking on candy bars from the college vending machine or making a side trip to get a cupcake.  
  • cutting down on fast food.  it's just too easy to run through a drive through to grab a quick bite to eat.  this will be easier since i'm relatively poor and fast food adds up quickly.  it's much cheaper to just buy the groceries and cook.  
so there you have it.  my plan.  hopefully it will produce results and i'll be able to wear my jeans again.  and all my cute skirts.  and hopefully the slimfast will become more palatable.  this morning i drank the "french vanilla" (in quotes because it tasted neither french nor vanilla) with a diet coke chaser.


in the introduction to the most recent edition of the feminine mystiquebetty friedan argues that women's progress will essentially halt until our society makes changes in men's gender roles.  i couldn't agree more.  but i'd like to focus my discussion of male gender roles on the possibility of women's happiness, just for a moment.

recently, mfranti over at feminist Mormon housewives called attention to a little article in the mormon times which begins by asserting that feminism tacitly implies "that in order for women to have worth they had to be just like men" and ends with the pithy statement that "it's interesting, important stuff, feminism, i'm just not sure why anybody ever believed it was the ticket to happiness."  let's start with these two lovely points and work from there.  first, i--a staunch (some would say flaming), long-time feminist--i have no desire to be "just like men."  i'm a woman, thank you very much.  and i'm perfectly happy being a woman, even if i engage in a little gender bending on occasion.  feminism has never claimed that women will only have worth if they're just like men, even if it has claimed for women the same rights men have.  perhaps this subtle distinction is lost on palmer.  and then there's the question of feminism and happiness.  i'm not sure anyone has ever claimed that feminism was a "ticket to happiness," either, though i'm sure most feminists would argue that feminism has very clearly allowed for more equal access to things that generate happiness.  but more on that in a moment.

aside from earning my scorn for its rather superficial and inaccurate treatment of feminism, palmer's article got me thinking about the question of having it all.  contemplating the question of why it is, after 40 years of feminism, women are reportedly unhappy, palmer proposes that said unhappiness "is a product of the crashing reality that, no matter what we may have heard, and despite all our options, we still can't have it all. No matter what we choose, it will inescapably come at the cost of something else."  now, i'm not going to argue with the fact that making choices involves cost.  if i choose to work full time, i clearly will not be with my (hypothetical) children full time and vice versa.  but i maintain that there is a way for women to have it all--including happiness.  and that's where men's gender roles come in.

i'll pause a moment for the head-scratching.


and to continue.  so what does women's happiness have to do with male gender roles?  everything.  in a recent article examining gender roles in the workplace in the american prospect, courtney martin argues that "we have to stop using 'work/life balance' as coded language for 'working-mom stress.' despite ample evidence that men are served by investing more time and energy outside the workplace and 'coming out' as fathers while in it, there are very few men who are taking on this issue in a substantive, political way."  according to martin (and i agree with her), questions of balancing the demands of work and the demands of life have too often been framed in terms of women's needs, which ignores that men, too, are human beings with lives outside of the workplace.  so long as we equate masculinity with earning capacity and the ability to provide (coughcough--i'm looking at you, mormons), we'll perpetuate a situation in which women (even working women) carry the burden of making the home function while men just fund it. (aside: i know this is changing because i've witnessed it; part of the change is simply generational; but part of the change also needs to be conscious and proactive on the part of both men and women.)

but this brings me to a point martin made in another recent piece in the american prospect: it's not enough for us to identify what men should not (and, if my experience is in any way indicative, do not) want to be.  we (and by "we" i mostly mean men) need to develop a positive image of what a progressive, enlightened, post-gender man is.  it's not enough to want to get rid of machismo and entitlement and patriarchy; we need to have some sense of what will take their place.

it's tempting to simply say that men should be free to be themselves.  but is that enough?  simple freedom?  is that what the feminist movement earned for women?  in some ways yes.  we're now free to educate ourselves and earn for ourselves and become what we want to be.  we're free to make the attempt at having it all, while accepting the costs that come with it.  perhaps the answer is that we need to open to men what has been traditionally available to women: nurturing, educating, caring for children; maintaining and designing and operating a peaceful, productive living environment; being the primary caregiver rather than the primary breadwinner.  these things need to be options for men--real options that don't come with social condemnation attached.

perhaps most importantly we need a society in which individuals make choices for themselves about what works best for themselves in their own individual circumstances.  if we can reach a place where both women AND men AS INDIVIDUALS are free of gender constraints, i have no doubt that we can have it all and happiness, too.  because, as martin points out, "neither heterosexuality nor fatherhood is a prerequisite for wanting a more flexible, healthy workplace. anyone who hopes to be a balanced person with relationships and passions outside of work has a stake"--specifically a stake in policy issues that allow for balancing all of the demands of life, not just those of work.

in my mind this will take two radical (radical, as in 'of roots' implying a return to roots) changes (especially radical for mormons): 1. the breakdown of traditional male gender roles; and 2. seeing people as individuals first rather than members of a couple.  perhaps i'll leave you there, with the intention of following up on number two another time.  thoughts?

14 November 2009


yesterday i buzzed my head again.  i was trying to wait until january so my sister could see my curls again when i go visit next month.  but i just couldn't handle the maintenance anymore.  and i didn't have the money for a real haircut.  so it was a set of clippers with a #2 comb, my friend C, her baby A on my lap, and her three-year-old E throwing a temper tantrum with periodic breaks for conversation.  she was a saint to take the time to do it for me.  and now i have my edgy, gender-bending cut back.  i wonder how long it will take for someone to call me sir...


let's talk weddings.  specifically let's talk wedding dresses.

i grew up fantasizing about wedding gowns.  my sister and i used to buy bridal magazines with some regularity.  we'd pour over them, dog-earing the dresses we liked, drooling over diamonds, dreaming of the day when we could deck ourselves out like the models in the magazines.  we weren't totally without a critical eye.  we frequently made fun of mermaid dresses and models who looked like they were sick to their stomachs.  but we generally bought into the bridal image: poufy, white, bead-bedecked froth accented with pearls and a diamond ring.

i went bridal gown shopping with my sister when she was engaged a little over ten years ago.  it was fun watching her try dresses on.  and i loved the dress she chose--simple a-line with a square neck and minimal pearl beading.  but even then i had started telling my mother that i didn't want a traditional wedding.  i had long since started making fun of the dresses i had fantasized about as a 13-year-old.  and when i saw first hand all of the planning that went into my sister's wedding--well, as much as i liked the finished product (and it was a lovely wedding), i started threatening to elope.

tonight as i was flipping channels, i ran across say yes to the dress on TLC.  and i got sucked in.  except what was once fantasy is now more like horror.  the fashionista in me still kind of enjoys seeing dresses.  i do watch the academy awards mostly for the pre-show red carpet, after all.  but so many wedding dresses are just style nightmares.  and the practical, feminist, non-traditionalist me with my taste for simplicity--well, i can't help but be horrified.  there's the prices--$5000 for a dress?  really?!  that's just nuts.  and that's the low end of the budget, if this particular show is to be believed.  and then there's the princess mentality.  heaven forbid the bride not have her perfect day.

i understand that weddings are a big deal in our culture.  i'm all for celebrating such an important occasion.  and i think people should celebrate in whatever way they feel is appropriate.  but i don't like traditional weddings.  i don't like the emphasis being on the party rather than on the commitment being made.  i don't like the tradition of the father giving the bride to her husband; it smacks of the past when women did not have a legal identity of their own.  i don't like the expense.  or the stress.  and i don't like tradition for the sake of tradition.

but you know what i like the least?  i really hate the way the fantasy dominated my youth.  to such an extent that the failure to accomplish the dream has created serious emotional and psychological blocks for me as an adult.  the assumption that i would grow up and marry was so deeply ingrained that i never doubted it as a child and young woman.  but i have not lived the fantasy.  and as it became more apparent that i would not have the fantasy, my self worth and confidence became proportionately less.  i hate that.  why should my sense of value be contingent on my being married?  to my having the fantasy? that's ridiculous.

so here's what i fantasize of now: i fantasize of a world in which everyone, female and male, is valued for her- and himself.  alone.  because they are unique and individual and have wonderful things to offer the world.  and if they are fortunate enough to find another individual whom they love, then we will celebrate that union.  because it is a beautiful thing for two people to love each other and commit for a lifetime.  but it is also a beautiful thing for one person to live a full, rewarding life.  and that should be celebrated, too.

12 November 2009


today i got down.  and that made it hard to work.  and i can't afford to have another day like that tomorrow.  so i'm going to make a list of good things and when i start to get down tomorrow, i'll come read it.  so in no particular order, here are a few things that make my life lovely:

  • little birds hopping happily in the bushes outside the window
  • good news about a friend's progress in a particularly tough class
  • talking to my sweet little niece  on the phone today
  • hearing another sweet little niece coo (this one's only 2 1/2 months old)
  • cool enough weather to justify wearing a cozy sweater when i went out tonight
  • my mama telling me she loves me
  • talking with the dean about the progress i'm making in my program
  • making plans for a visit to the beautiful huntington gardens 
  • dark, delicious sipping chocolate at my favorite cafe 
  • the smell of rain and fresh cut grass when i stepped out the door tonight
and these little things are enough to pick me up.  g'night.

11 November 2009


i've been thinking.  i need to find a better way to manage my bad habits.  because, you see, they tend to assert themselves in waves.  for instance, a while ago i committed to not drinking quite so much diet coke.  so i was good for a while.  then i had this party for which i, of course, bought diet coke, which left me with most of a flat of diet coke, which of course had to be consumed...you see where this is going?  and last week it culminated in consuming a 12-pack in just under 48 hours.  that's just a wee bit too much diet coke to be healthy.

i do the same thing with television.  i go days without watching, weeks with only an hour or two of viewtime, and then--BAM! it hits.  i spend hours in front of the television (which is how i've managed to watch most of season three and four of bones in the last week).

this is clearly not a good thing.  so i'm resolved: i will now indulge in my bad habits in small bits on a more regular basis.  because surely it's better to watch a little tv every few days than a lot of tv in just a few days or to drink a little diet coke in the space of a week or two than twelve cans in 48 hours.  this seems a positive resolution: just a bit of bad habit indulgence here and there.  you know--to save myself from myself.

some bad habits i'll occasionally indulge:

  • watching tv.  most likely bones.  or occasionally NCIS.  and, if i can keep myself awake long enough, the daily show and once in a while the colbert report.
  • drinking diet coke.  though this is one that my recent headaches have indicated i should try to weed out altogether.
  • eating chocolate.  clearly this is not going to stop altogether; that would just be dumb.  so i'll try to only eat really good chocolate.  and as i'm poor, this will likely only happen on the rare occasions i feel rich or someone else decides to give me really good chocolate.
  • laying in my bed awake for hours in the morning while doing nothing but listening to NPR.  i mean, NPR is certainly worth listening to, but surely it's better to do it while cleaning or cooking or getting ready for the day--something that's more productive than simply laying there.
i think that's a good list to get started on.  so here's to being bad more often in smaller doses.

{p.s. i know i missed yesterday for NaBloPoMo, but you'll have to forgive me as i actually did not have access to a computer; odd, i know, but true.  i think being disconnected on occasion is an acceptable reason not to post daily.}

09 November 2009


tonight i was very disturbed.  you see, i was innocently minding my own business, driving home from a doctor's appointment, when this story came on the radio.  all about a library that GOT RID OF ITS BOOKS.  excuse me!?  how can a library be a library without any books?  it makes no sense!

okay.  granted the library subscribed to a database with millions of digital books.  and it acquired some kindles students can check out.  but i'm very sorry to say digital books and digital book readers do not a library make.

now, don't get me wrong.  i recognize the value of digital resources.  i use them all the time in my own research.  i love searchable text databases.  i love having online access to full text articles.  but i also print up the articles or chapters that i find pertinent to my research.  why? because there's an enormous difference between reading material on a screen and reading it in print format.

it's true that most digital readers allow for annotation in some way or another, but from what i've heard it's cumbersome at best.  i've also been told that accessing footnotes on digital readers is difficult.  both of those tools--annotating a text and accessing that text's notes--are invaluable to academic reading and research.  and then there's the small detail of memory.  i frequently find things in a text because i remember that it was at the top of the left side of a page (or somesuch).  maybe i'm weird, but there's just something more memorable about  a physical text than a nondescript screen of text.

and all of that doesn't even touch the physical beauty of a book and of stacks of books.  there's something magical about a library that cannot be duplicated.  books have lives, beyond the life they contain in their text.  they represent the interests and tastes and loves of the people who owned them, the priorities and emphases of the institutions that acquired them.  when someone dies and leaves behind a library, some part of her continues to live.  when someone gives a book, he also give some little bit of himself.  how could we possibly imagine that a world without books, even one in which all of the same information was immediately searchable and accessible through digital means, would be a world in which we would want to live?

i love digital tools.  i use them all the time.  but i hope i never get to the point that i choose digital texts over my lovely, beautiful, wonderful books.

08 November 2009


tomorrow, november 9, is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the berlin wall.  i remember learning about it as a freshman in high school, recognizing its importance.  but i think the most powerful experience i had regarding the wall and what it represented was when i visited the imperial war museum in london.  outside, on the museum's peaceful grounds, i found a chunk of the wall with wide open eyes and an even wider open mouth shouting the words "change your life."

i spent hours alone at the imperial war museum, wandering exhibits that captured and explained the horrors of the great war and its successor, world war II.  i've always had a fascination with these two wars--with how the entire world could get caught up in such violence.  my visit to this particular museum was as much an act of homage to those who died and fought in the wars as it was an educational excursion for my own benefit.  because i had lived through the end of the cold war and the fall of the wall, this particular piece was especially powerful for me.

but what was the most powerful was the location of the museum.  you see, the imperial war museum is housed in what remains of the priory of st. mary of bethlehem, later known as bethlem royal hospital, more commonly known as bedlam.  first the priory and then bethlem royal hospital specialized in caring for the insane.  the juxtapositions of this site, its current focus on two of the most disastrous wars in history, its name's popular connotation of insanity itself, and the birthplace of jesus strike me as not only interesting, but apt.  i do not believe that christianity necessarily causes either insanity or war, but i do believe that the bastardization and misunderstanding of christianity is at the root of a great deal of both insanity and bloodshed.  and this museum, with its long and rich heritage, captures that unfortunate history of christianity's bastard children.

07 November 2009


so i have a problem.  just a slight dilemma.  you see, i'm in the middle of prepping for my phd exams.  and i'm getting more and more excited as i work.  but i have to pay my bills.  which means i have to teach.  which means i really should be grading the 225 paper and 75 journals (not to mention numerous homework assignments) i have recently collected.  but i just don't want to.  i want to read.  and research.  and write.  i don't want to grade.

but then there's the little problem of rent.  and food.  so i suppose i'll grade the damn papers.  wish me speedy grading.


i grew up reading.  i remember being six years old and bored, pestering my mother about what i could do.  she took me into the living room, pulled a bobbsey twins novel off the bookshelf, and suggested i read.  so i did.  and i never looked back.

the living room in our house was a treasure trove of books.  novels, poetry, short stories, encyclopedias, dictionaries, art books, books on how things worked, volumes of fiction for children.  you think of a kind of book, and you could probably find it in there.  i thought it was normal to have a full wall of books in a room, to have books in every room of the house.  i didn't realize that some people relegate the few books they have to the closet or only buy books as decorating pieces.  for me, books were a way of living lives i couldn't otherwise access.

and now--now i'm a bit of a book whore, to borrow a phrase from an old professor.  i love just about any kind of book.  fiction, non-fiction, poetry, prose, biographies, essays, history.  i love the feel of a book--the heft of its weight in my hand.  i love the smell of books that you only find in a space filled to the brim with texts.  and i love the look of books on a shelf; there was one particular aisle in the BYU library that i especially loved because most of the spines were red.

but most of all, i love losing myself in a book.  which makes my current task more pleasure than task, since it requires reading and reading and then reading some more (in preparation for my exams).  last week, it was a text about relationships between women, don quixote, and community.  this week, it is the origins of the novel and a novel in verse.  and next week will bring more.  this is a life i could get used to.

{photo by john }

05 November 2009


last spring, i yet again faced the decision of whether to remain in school.  i was on the tail end of a serious bout of depression, just starting to come out of it.  i was out of funding.  and i didn't know if i had it in me to continue the program.  so i took another quarter off to really focus on getting myself healthy again and to think carefully about how to move forward.  by june, i had decided to return to school.  but i was still hesitant about making contact with my committee members and really taking the steps necessary to move forward.  i started some reading, but that was about it.

well, this week i decided it was time to make this decision a reality.  so sunday night, i had the doctor and the dean give me a pep talk and then i went home and sent emails to all four of my committee members.  tonight i met with my advisor, and spent half an hour talking about the logic of my project and receiving advice about books to add or remove from my lists.  tomorrow i'll meet with another committee member about my lists.  and next week with committee member three.  i'm still waiting to hear back from my 4th committee member.

it feels good to be moving.  for the first time in a very long time, i'm truly excited about my reading.  i'm talking back to my books.  i'm making connections between them.  i feel invigorated and alive.  and that feels very good.

04 November 2009


i remember the day i proclaimed to my history class at BYU that i was a feminist.  i was 23 years old.  i had just done a group presentation about the women's rights movement.  i covered the question of abortion rights, since it would be incredibly ill-informed to explore the women's rights movement without talking about abortion rights and no one else was willing to do it.  i was alone in my proclamation.

the entire experience of that presentation was a little surreal.  it was a cold war history course.  one of the biggest assignments was to participate in a group presentation on the various civil rights movements of the 60s (and the moral majority movement of the 80s).  i naturally chose to cover the women's movement.  our presentation was to last 40 minutes.  we were supposed to make it multimedia, to dress our part, to decorate our classroom, etc.  so we did the following:
  • a video-taped sketch of a woman experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace
  • another video sketch of a protest for women's rights
  • each of us painted protest signs covering our aspect of the movement
  • in-depth research and oral presentation of our findings
we gathered on campus one saturday afternoon to film our sketches and make our decorations for our classroom.  doing my part, i painted a sign that read "it's my body! abortion on demand."  and then we proceeded to the cafeteria to stage our mock protest.  i innocently leaned my sign face out so i wouldn't get wet paint on the wall, not thinking at all about how people would react to seeing it.  we decided to move on to a quieter part of the student center so we wouldn't disturb the few people present.  we did so and began filming for our protest video, only to be interrupted by an irate woman who screamed at us about how she couldn't believe that we would do such a thing on BYU's campus, that she was going to send her children there and would not tolerate such sentiments which obviously went contrary to church teachings, that what we were doing was immoral and illegal and that she had called the police.  one of the members of my group quietly explained that we were simply doing a homework assignment, which sadly did little to placate this woman.  apparently she didn't fancy the idea of us even learning about protests for abortion rights any more than she fancied the idea of us actually protesting for them.  the police did come and we explained ourselves and then the police left.  the next week we were written up in the daily universe's infamous police beat.
after that experience, i realized i better really know my stuff about abortion before presenting the issue in class.  so i did my research--hours spent in the library and media center reading and watching documentaries.  i learned a lot doing my research; here's a sample of the more interesting points:
  • prior to legalization, botched abortions accounted for thousands of deaths per annum, comprising close to 50% of the maternal mortality rate;
  • abortion has a long history: the earliest recorded evidence of an abortion dated to something like 1500 b.c.e.
  • it was only in the 1880s that the catholic church came down hard against all abortion (prior to that it was generally acceptable for a catholic woman to abort a fetus in the first trimester and later term abortions were not deemed as serious as murder)
  • one of my roommate's mothers recalled one of her roommates being advised to attempt to induce a miscarriage by a doctor in the BYU health center
armed with this knowledge and other similar facts, i was fired up to make my case.  in class, i stood on the table, dressed like a hippy, with props at my feet--a bottle of bleach, a wire hanger, etc.--,which represented the methods of back-alley and self-induced abortions.  from that tabletop, i delivered a rally speech regarding the right to abortion, every bit as impassioned as the original protesters for the right.  you see, i had become so persuaded by the evidence i had gained that i had moved from being intellectually pro-choice to being adamantly pro-choice (a stance i maintain).
at the end of the hour, my group and i resumed our seats in the classroom and our professor took over.  he asked the class who among us would call ourselves feminists.  i was the only one to raise my hand.  i did so immediately, with no hesitation.  i remember being slightly shocked that i was the only one out of fifty students willing to claim "feminist" as a self-descriptor.
a few days later, another group presented on the moral majority.  their presentation naturally included a pro-life segment, since anti-abortion sentiment was a primary fueling force in the moral majority.  they ended their presentation by holding a press-conference where the rest of the class acted as the press.  armed with all of my stats about abortion and the horrible consequences of its illegality, i hammered the woman who had covered the pro-life movement.  relentlessly.  i called her out on her hypocrisy when it came to valuing the lives of unborn fetuses over the lives of very alive women, women who may have other children or family members dependent on them.  i threw statistics at her about the numbers of women who died annually, the lengthy history of abortion, and its dubious status as "murder."  i thoroughly enjoyed giving her hell.  and watching her squirm as she had no answers for my questions.  (i really shouldn't relish making other people squirm, but sometimes i do.)
it was an interesting class for many reasons, but i'll remember it for what i learned about the women's movement, abortion, and the culture of my church.  i was honestly surprised that not one other person in that room would identify as feminist.  i knew that feminism had something of a bad rap in the church, but i also felt very strongly that christ's gospel supported the objectives of feminism, as did many of the church's teachings.  it was hard for me to realize that i was so alone in my stance on women's issues in the church.
that realization remains a hard thing.  today i learned that BYU is closing its women's research institute at the end of the year.  and that makes me sad.  because it again underscores that my church and my culture do not value women's issues as fully as they claim to; that all of the rhetoric about women's equality and value is just that--rhetoric.  the realities don't really support the rhetoric.  mormon women remain second-class citizens and will for a long time, i'm afraid.
when the day comes that the majority of a history class at BYU identifies easily as feminist, or, even better, that the question doesn't even have to be asked because the affirmative answer is taken for granted--then i may believe that the church values women equally to men.  when we can talk openly of and pray to both of our heavenly parents--then i may believe that the church values women equally to men.  when my worthiness is not questioned because i believe in the radical equality of all of god's children--then i may believe that the church values women equally to men.  but right now i'm afraid i do not believe that the church values women equally to men.

if you'd like to voice your opinion about the closure of the women's research institute, there are some great suggestions at the exponent blog.

03 November 2009


a year ago we voted.  it was a day of celebration—celebration of the fading of america’s legacy of racism; celebration of a new, more hopeful chapter in american presidential history.  i watched obama and his family take the stage in chicago and teared up along with hundreds of thousands of other americans.  i teared up because there in front of me and millions of other americans was the evidence that what we have proclaimed for centuries was a little more true—all mankind was just a little more equal when america elected a young black man, the son of a mixed-race marriage which was not even legal in many states of the union when he was born.

i celebrated that night, but it was a bittersweet celebration.  while my presidential candidate had won, carrying his nation forward towards equality, my state voted against equality by passing prop. 8.  all night as i watched the presidential election results roll in, i kept tabs on the prop. 8 battle.  and all night, it kept a damper on my spirits.  i have no doubt that in fifty years, this nation will look back to the elections and laws regarding gay marriage and will see them as the shameful equal of laws and elections that denied african americans the right to vote and to receive an equal education and to marry where they loved.

tonight there’s a chance that this nation will start to move out of the shadow of anti-gay bigotry.  in maine, the electorate will decide whether to uphold the law passed by their duly elected representatives legalizing gay marriage.  and right now—right now they have upheld gay marriage 53% to 47%.  i can only hope that this slim majority will be as tenacious as the equally slim majority by which prop. 8 passed in california a year ago.  perhaps this small state will live up to its motto (dirigo) tonight and lead the nation another step towards equality.

02 November 2009


tonight a poem by one of my favorite poets, ted kooser.

Depression Glass

It seemed those rose-pink dishes
she kept for special company
were always cold, brought
down from the shelf in jingling stacks,
the plates like the panes of ice
she broke from the water bucket
winter mornings, the flaring cups
like tulips that opened too early
and got bitten by frost.  They chilled
the coffee no matter how quickly
you drank, while a heavy
everyday mug would have kept
a splash hot for the better
part of a conversation.  It was hard
to hold up your end of the gossip
with your coffee cold, but it was
a special occasion, just the same,
to sit at her kitchen table
and sip the bitter percolation
of the past week's rumors from cups
it had taken a year to collect
at the grocery, with one piece free
for each five pounds of flour.

i love this poem because it reminds me of my mama.  i grew up looking at her depression ware, which she inherited from her grandma.  it was so beautiful with its faceted surfaces and its warm rosy color.  and i love what it represents--the effort at refinement in spite of difficulty and poverty; the collection of beautiful pieces as part of providing for a family's needs.  i remember the surprise i felt when my mom explained that the pieces came sewn into the bags of flour purchased at the local grocer.  i couldn't imagine acquiring finery through such means.  maybe this is part of why i've always despised fine china. because in my family, the finest china was collected free with bags of flour.

someday i hope i have a piece or two of my great-grandma's depression ware to catch the light and gleam, beautifully reminding me of the simplicity and honesty of my roots.

01 November 2009


okay.  so that title is just about the ugliest sounding word imaginable, but it is what it is: the acronym for National Blog Posting Month, which i decided to participate in this year.  mostly because yesterday i actually looked at my post count for the last year and it's been rather dismal.  this is what happens when i get sucked into depression--i stop writing.  but i'm actually happy right now, so i don't have the depression excuse.  and there's a lot i've been wanting to write about.  so here i am.  committed to writing daily for at least a month.

so follow along if you'd like.  or participate on your own blog.  feel free to steal my logo on the right (my very first .pdf; i'm so proud) if you want a badge for your blog.

and that is all you get for today, because now i need to go and write some emails to my advisors.

31 October 2009


what i learned about romance from refrigerator poetry:

  • nothing happens to or is done by me, as there are no first person pronouns
  • in other words, everything romantic happens to someone else
  • everything happens in the past tense; no present or future loving, apparently
  • more happens to him or by his than to her or by hers (very little by hers, actually, since there is no 's' to make her into hers)
  • for some reason saber-toothed tigers are romantic
  • as are big dogs
  • and pirate ships
  • there are some truly disturbing images for female genitalia
  • and hilarious ones for male genitalia
  • most nouns are adjectively enhanced
  • most adjectives come coupled
  • he is much more active and aggressive than she
  • i'm too embarrassed of the naughty bits to display them on the fridge where my innocent taiwanese roommate would see them; they live in a little plastic box on top of the fridge
and now i know everything i need to know about romance.  too bad it won't happen to me (see items one and two, above).

10 October 2009


"i beg you . . . to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language.  don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them.  and the point is, to live everything.  live the questions now.  perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer." --rainer maria rilke, letters to a young poet 

i encountered this passage from rilke again yesterday, this time on a quotable magnet in barnes & noble.  and there, in the middle of busy, superficial fashion island, it spoke to me again.

i want to live this way, loving the unresolved questions of life, embracing them as bearers of knowledge and wisdom that living will bring.  there is so very much that is uncertain in this world.  far more than there is that is known and understood.  i want to coexist with the questions, rather than beat them out of existence with pompous certainty.  i want to wrestle with them, as jacob wrestles the angel--struggling all through the night and, even in the face of injury, demanding a blessing.  and the blessing?  a new name: israel, or 'one who has prevailed with god.'  i believe god lies not in the answers, but in the questions.  in living them fully and struggling with them honestly, rather than giving pat answers which gloss over the messiness of life and truth and god.  and i believe if we live honestly these questions, this messiness, we will live our way into answers, prevailing even with god.

07 October 2009


ever tried. ever failed. no matter. try again. fail again. fail better. --samuel beckett

i've been thinking about failure lately.  it's an interesting thing, failure, because its definition is slippery.  what does it mean to fail?  does it mean not to accomplish what you set out to accomplish?  does it mean to disappoint others by not accomplishing what they expected you to accomplish?  does it mean not hitting certain benchmarks of success on a prescribed timeline?

at different moments in my life, failure has meant each of those things.  i've nearly dropped out of grad school more times than i can count.  each time i felt disappointment in my own failure to achieve what i had planned to achieve.  but each time i also felt a wonderful sense of release and opportunity for a fresh start.  and i have been accutely aware of the ways in which i have failed to conform to the expectations of others, both in my family and in my church community.  but these failures don't feel like personal failures; they feel like explorations and discoveries, my true self emerging from beneath layers of prescription.

the most difficult version of failure i've had to deal with is the failure to achieve life goals on the timeline i've always been taught to accept.  i'm 34 and unmarried.  i have no children.  purchasing a house seems like a distant fantasy.  i'm still a student after 14 years of school, and will be for another three.  finding a job in my field seems an even more distant fantasy than owning a house.  and then there's the complication of being unsure i even want to accomplish those goals.  it's a constant struggle to remind myself that it's okay not to have achieved these benchmarks by age XX, that it's okay to be different from the prescribed norm i grew up with.  when i fail to remind myself of that, i begin to fail in other ways, too.  because dwelling on the fact that where i am in life constitutes failure according to some grand schema developed by someone else interferes with my ability to succeed in my pursuits, making failure all the more likely.  it's a self-fulfilling prophecy.  not only do i end up a failure according to the prescribed metanarrative, but also according to my own ideas of what it means to be happy and successful.

so i try.  i try to remember that i don't want to be married; rather i want to be married to the right person with whom i can have the kind of relationship i want.  i try to remember that there is still time to accomplish my goals and many avenues to them, not just one.  i try to remember that owning a home is not, in and of itself, a good thing; that sometimes there are alternative and more sustainable ways of living.  and mostly i try to remember that the only measuring stick that matters is my own conscience, not others' prescriptions.

02 October 2009


it's friday afternoon.  i've had a delicious mid-afternoon nap.  and now i've steeped myself a pot of my favorite rubyfruit tea.  my new apartment is clean and already feels like my home.  there's a picasso on one wall, a matisse on another, and a hopper on a third.  and now i'll settle down with my tea and my book and make progress on my work.  and life--life is very good.

and you?  how have you spent your friday afternoon?

17 September 2009


so this year, i'm on my own.  where school is concerned, that is.  i'm out of funding until i pass my exams (which i should have passed ages ago).  so i'm paying my own way this year.  which means i'm dependent on financial aid.  can't pay tuition without a loan.  and yesterday--yesterday i got this horrible message form the financial aid office telling me i wasn't eligible for financial aid due to insufficient academic progress.  mind you, this is one day after i put nearly $4,000 in tuition on my credit card, depending on my loan to come through to pay it off.

so i panicked.  for about 45 minutes.  just sat on my bed with thoughts of failure and not being able to finish my program whirling through my head.  it was miserable.

and then i snapped myself out of it and got to work.  prepped a brief lesson for my classes.  got to school to teach.  let my students out a bit early each hour so i could make phone calls while campus offices were open.  i made an appointment with the ombudsman to begin the appeals process.  i emailed a faculty mentor to get her advice.  i emailed the chair of graduate studies to alert him to the situation and ask if we could meet to discuss it.  i called the office that helped me procure a leave of absence last year to see if they could help advocate for me.  i did everything i could think of to set an appeal in motion and get my ducks in a row.

everything except talk to the financial aid office, that is.  because they never answered their phone, there was no voicemail option (even though their phone said there was) and no email option (even though their website said there was).  it was very frustrating.

so first thing this morning i went to campus to visit the financial aid office.  where i discovered there had been a clerical error.  their computer had not registered that i was on academic leave last year and so had disqualified me.  three minutes and it was fixed.  i should get my financial aid award tomorrow.

and i am proud of myself.  a year ago i would have had a massive panic attack had this happened.  and then just given up.  six months ago, i would have melted into a puddle of tears.  but yesterday i did what needed to be done.  calmly and rationally assessing the situation and finding alternatives.  it felt lovely.  it's so good, after years of depression, to feel like myself.  to be capable and productive.

so here i go.  back into the breach, prepping for exams which i will take in may or june.  and next year i will write two chapters of my dissertation, with a third during the summer, so that fall of 2011 i can go on the job market.  and june of 2012 will see me robed to receive my third degree.  just watch and see.

05 September 2009


so yesterday was my birthday.  and i cannot say how glad i am to put a close to the last year--to heartbreak and major depression and everything that comes with it.  i've been thinking back over the year and have to admit that i don't have many more answers now to the questions i was asking then, but i am much happier. and it is good to be happy.  so here are a few things that make me happy:

  • thai nakorn.  i just can't get enough.  and, happily, they have reopened their original location.
  • a day at disneyland with a friend.  for free!  
  • a birthday shopping spree at anthropologie.  that store is pure evil...
  • a beautiful new niece who i can't wait to meet at christmastime.
  • four rambunctious, mischievous nephews and an evening at chuck e. cheese's.
  • making progress on my school work.
  • seeing a copy of homer's iliad in the front seat of a slightly beat up full size pick-up.
  • wonderful food and conversation with friends--not only at our birthday dinner, but often.
  • a beautiful, cozy new scarf to take with me on my winter trip to new york.
  • my good friend george's happiness in her new relationship.
  • spending time with my beautiful little nieces, my little sister, and her wonderful husband.
  • evenings out with my siblings and their spouses and our parents.
in short, life has made me happy.  and that in spite of the fact that not everything is peachy keen.  and i like being happy.

19 July 2009


here's a recipe for a perfectly lovely summer evening:

  • picnicking in the lovely palm garden of the huntington library and gardens 
  • antipasto followed by stuffed grape leaves
  • an amazing salad of arugula, delicious heirloom tomatoes, full cream mozzarella cheese all drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper
  • munching on brownie, tart tatin, and fruit tart
  • music filtering through the trees
  • children dancing to the music 
  • sampling original recipe, made-with-cane-sugar dr. pepper---slightly fruitier and less carbonated than the typical stuff
  • wonderful conversation with doctor dean and doctor doctor
  • visiting the american art collection to see paintings by my favorite portraitist 
that, my friends, is just about the most perfect evening possible.

11 July 2009


tonight i needed comfort food.  it's been a busy week dogsitting.  then last night there was some unpleasantness, which i helped cause but which i did not seek.  and that unpleasantness disrupted my sleep, so i'm operating on three hours or so.  and my life is a bit of a mess.  and i don't know what i want to be when i grow up but i'm already grown up, so that's a bit of a problem.  and i have a massive headache that won't go away.

so i needed comfort food.  which is why i ended up at thai nakorn.  because thai nakorn is like a second home, where everyone says hello and i'm greeted with a hug and the air is full of rich delicious aromas and the food is always divine.  and it's the site of many wonderful conversations amongst friends.  so tonight when i needed a spot of peace and a bit of a haven, it was the first place that popped into mind.  and now, though my head still aches a bit, i feel better.

04 July 2009


yesterday, george and i made a pilgrimage to pasadena, which has become my southern california art mecca.  we went to visit ganesha at the pacific asia museum.  we started, appropriately, by enjoying delicious indian food for lunch.  the pacific asia museum is small and lovely, full of interesting asian artifacts.  the ganesha exhibit was primarily photographs of modern ganesha festivals and a video explaining the traditions surrounding ganesha.  the video was the highlight of the exhibit, as it captured the sheer energy and vibrancy of the festival.

after finishing up at the pacific asia museum, we moved on to the norton simon , which i think has one of the best permanent collections in southern california.  when we walked in, we each named the pieces we wanted to visit.  george wanted to pay homage to the norton simon's ganesha, since it was what first captured her interest in him, so we made a stop downstairs where the norton simon has a fantastic collection of asian art.

before heading downstairs, we stopped at my choices.  first up was an absolutely gorgeous 16th century adam and eve .  then a stop at my favorite matisse and my favorite picasso.  i've been wanting this picasso for my wall for ages, so i finally caved and bought the print, which hopefully i can have framed as a birthday present.

it was a lovely day spent with incredible works of art.  unfortunately we didn't leave early enough to make a stop at the huntington for a visit to their amazing art collection.  maybe next time.

15 May 2009


let's talk about a monumental waste of money : hiring an aerial advertising agency to tow a huge image of an aborted fetus with the words "ten week abortion" in circles over notre dame's campus because obama is delivering a speech at their graduation ceremony.  i understand the complaint.  obama has made decisions that are pro-choice.  notre dame is a catholic university.  the catholic church is opposed to abortion.  result: conflict.  i'm not saying there shouldn't be some discussion as a result of this situation.  i personally think it's a bit silly to reduce obama to his pro-choice stance when he's clearly a much more complex character.  i also think people should recognize that he takes a principled stance in favor of life--through education, medical care, support for single mothers, etc.

but flying an aerial anti-abortion ad over notre dame's campus every day for two weeks before graduation? that's nothing more than a self-centered attention grabber.  and using an image of an aborted fetus is as manipulative and exploitative as it comes.  if you're really opposed to abortion, dear aerial-ad-flyers, might i suggest you find a productive way of spending that money?  you could help support single mothers who choose to keep their babies.  or you could provide contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancies.  or you could support education programs meant to teach teens how to avoid pregnancy.  but i forget--that would contradict the basic hypocrisy of so much of the pro-life movement, the hypocrisy of declaring pro-life! pro-life! while simultaneously denying contraception and education.  the brilliance of humanity does astound.

09 May 2009


i just finished reading the omnivore’s dilemma, michael pollan’s “natural history of four meals.”  and i can recommend it wholeheartedly.  it’s a fascinating analysis of the human food chain—of where our food comes from, from its primary source of energy (sun generated calories, plant generated calories) to the methods used to raise and process it.  in his first section, he examines industrial agriculture including both corn monoculture and raising beef (two tightly intertwined operations, thanks to our human intervention with beef cattle’s natural diet [we feed them corn, as if it’s some kind of virtue to be “corn-fed” when in reality eating corn sickens and could kill cattle]).  the extent to which corn dominates industrial agriculture is astounding.  in true pollan fashion, he sets about telling the story of corn not only from the human perspective, but also from the corn’s perspective—as a plant which has successfully enticed humanity into advancing its interests (he makes a similar move in the botany of desire, in which he argues that plants use humans to their evolutionary advantage as much as humans do the same with plants).  

the second section is dedicated to two incarnations of “organic” agriculture, organic in quotes because, having read this section, i realize how tormented that term is.  having toured several organic agriculture operations, including a lettuce farm and a chicken farm, pollan concludes that “organic” agriculture is little different from industrial agriculture in technique, even if it does not rely on chemical in-puts.  his visit to the chicken farm in particular debunks the myths of “supermarket pastoral”—the almost-lyric images and narratives of content chickens and milk cows organic producers use to sell their goods.  who knew that free-range chickens often never step foot out of the hen house, where they live their eight-week lives in the company of thousands like them—just as they do in non-organic industrial chicken enterprises.  while pollan acknowledges the undeniable good of not relying on antibiotics, pesticides, and herbicides, he also reveals the unsustainable nature of “industrial organic” agriculture. 

the other “organic” enterprise he visits is polyface farm, in swoope, Virginia.  “organic” in quotes because the farm is much better described as sustainable, with organic being a by-product of its practices.  maybe even better than “sustainable,” is the word symbiotic.  polyface farm is, in pollan’s description, an intricately choreographed interaction between chickens, cattle, pigs, and—most importantly—grass.  joel salatin, the farm’s proprietor, describes himself as a grass farmer because it is the grass that gives life to all of the animals on his farm.  j(wh) used to tell me about polyface farm and it was interesting.  but there’s no description that can capture the magic of this place without reading about its nature in detail.  i never thought i’d put a farm on my list of must-see destinations, but polyface farm is on that list.  too bad the tours run $1000 (except for a once-a-month free tour, which is what i’ll try to hit sometime when i’m in Virginia).    

the final section of the book is dedicated to food pollan hunts and gathers himself.  his experience learning to hunt and to mushroom is both entertaining and informative.  and the people he encounters as he educates himself are fascinating.  but the magic of this section is in the “perfect meal” he serves at the end, with every dish built around something either he or one of his tutors gathered, hunted, and made. each section ends with pollan’s account of a meal that epitomizes the agriculture he explores—a mcdonald’s meal eaten in a car going sixty miles per hour; an industrial organic meal of chicken and vegetables, including “jet-setting” asparagus from south America (just one example of the hidden costs of “organic” farming); another organic chicken dinner, this time with a chicken and eggs (for a scrumptious-sounding chocolate soufflĂ©) from joel salatin’s polyface farm; and finally the perfect meal of wild pig, wild morels, homemade wine, fresh bread, and cherry galette.  aside from the mcdonald’s meal (which sounded terrible in more ways than one), all the meals sounded delicious.  

the thing that really sucked me into this book is pollan’s ability to reflect on the agricultural realities he discovers in ways that apply to our world at large.  for instance, in a critique of industrial monoculture which relies heavily on chemical inputs, pollan writes: “when we mistake what we can know for all there is to know, a healthy appreciation of one’s ignorance in the face of a mystery like soil fertility gives way to the hubris that we can treat nature as a machine” (148).  this insight, firmly rooted in pollan’s critique of monoculture and fertilizers, resounded with me on many more levels.  so often human beings mistake “what we can know” for “all there is to know” and, in so doing, set themselves up for incredible failures and pain.  pollan taps into the necessity of wonder—wonder at the magic of nature, at the beautifully symbiotic relationships between grass and animals on polyface farm, at the mysterious nature of mushrooms; but also wonder as a necessary ingredient in any human enterprise.  

aside from the magic of polyface farm, i think my favorite section of the book was pollan’s treatment of animal rights, vegetarianism, and carnivorism.  throughout the book, pollan insists on the importance of people understanding where their food comes from.  this theme gets special attention as pollan sets out to hunt his own meat.  in his critique of animal rights philosophers, pollan insists that they transfer human ideas of individualism onto what should rightly be thought of in terms of a community or species.  he points out that, while killing an individual pig might go against that pig’s interests (it does, after all, end the pig’s life), it does not go against the pig’s species’s interests, so long as the killing is done in a sustainable fashion.  in fact, according to pollan, to hunt and gather and consume actually serves the interests of species as they exist in a relationship of “mutualism or symbiosis between species" (320).  

according to pollan, “ancient man regarded animals much more as a modern ecologist would than an animal philosopher—as a species, that is, rather than a collection of individuals.  in the ancient view ‘they were mortal and immortal. . . . an animal’s blood flowed like human blood, but its species was undying and each lion was Lion, each ox was Ox’” (323).  pollan continues to insist that species have as strong interests as individual animals, asking “is the individual animal the proper focus of our moral concern when we are trying to save an endangered species or restore a habitat?” (323).  i would add to pollan’s concern, insisting that we must ask the same question when discussing human interests.  not that an individual human’s rights and interests do not exist and should not be considered; but rather that we must balance individual rights and interests with community rights and interests—something we too often fail to do.  and, similar to ancient man’s view of animals, i think we should see each individual human as Human.  because if we would, we would hesitate to do violence against others.  

all of which going-on is my way of saying ‘read pollan’s book.’  because it’s fascinating and informative.  and because it will make you think. though i should warn you--it may also make you never want to buy eggs from the supermarket again.

05 May 2009

resolve (reprise)

i have a problem.  a consumption problem.  i'm a consumer.  and i'm not proud of it.  not that there's anything inherently wrong with buying things or using things.  i consume books, which i think is a good thing (for instance).  but i certainly buy more than i need.  i do shop sales. and i do resist outrageously expensive items.  but if i'm going to buy three moderately priced shirts instead of one expensive one, what's the point?

the fact is that i've paid off my credit cards (yay me!) and i want to keep it that way.  and then there's the little detail about being under-employed at the moment (even more under-employed than i have been the last six years), which means i really don't have much discretionary income.  so, in the spirit of last year's resolution, i'm resolved.  again.  as follows:

resolution the first: do not buy clothing i do not need.  i'm allowed to buy an item of clothing if: 1. i inexplicably ruin something that i use all the time (the chances of this are slim, as i can't remember the last time i ruined something); or 2. i lose weight and nothing fits (again, the chances of this are slim; plus i have all my old skinny clothes i could start wearing again); or 3. (more likely) i gain weight and nothing fits.  which leads me to a side resolution: i'll start exercising, if only to maintain my current size to minimize my potential need for new clothes.  but that resolution is for another post.

resolution the second: do not buy books i do not need.  this is trickier.  because, really--books are like food and water.  here's my guidelines: 1. i can buy a book i need to read for my lists; or 2. i can buy audio books to listen to in the car.  if there's no imminent possibility of reading a book, i do not buy it.  no matter how fascinating it looks.  instead, i add it to the nifty list of books to read on my phone and wait for some point in the future (which increases the odds it will be in paperback instead of hardback).

resolution the third: do not buy shoes.  period.  no. more. shoes.  the fact is that i really did an admirable job of not buying shoes per last year's resolution (shoes i bought in that year: one pair of sandals i actually needed; one pair of dance shoes i actually needed; and one frivolous pair of royal blue tennis shoes i did not need, but i was on vacation so i excused myself).  but once the resolution ended--well, let's just say that i reverted and bought shoes.  so no shoes.  the only permissible exception is tennis shoes (assuming i actually do start exercising and my current pair wears out).

resolution the fourth: remove credit cards from wallet.  cause if they're not in my wallet, i can't use them. i have them for emergencies and that's the only time i'll use them.  with one exception: if i need to buy something online (see aforementioned exceptions), i can use a credit card.

resolution the fifth: find new forms of recreation.  because currently i shop as a pastime.  mostly browsing bookstores, because let's face it--browsing bookstores is fun.  but i sometimes do other kinds of shopping for fun, too.  like target.  target is simply wonderful for browsing.  but it's time to find other forms of entertainment.  free forms of entertainment (if you have suggestions, i'm all ears).

so there you have it--my new resolutions.  here's to making this set as successful as the last set.