Monday, December 30, 2002

2:12 PM

The good thing about having whiplash is that you have every excuse in the world to sit around the house and read. The bad thing about having whiplash is that you really can't rally your mental forces enough to make reading possible.

My head feels okay, actually, no pain at all, but I'm still having a little difficulty coming up with words at the ends of my sentences. Luckily, there's no one around to talk to today. Mostly I just feel like I got hit...not too surprising, since I did. Well, the hit wasn't the problem, it was hitting the ice and bouncing that was the problem. My neck should loosen up in a couple days, though. No serious damage done, I could probably skate again tomorrow if I really wanted to do so.

Sunday, December 29, 2002

A sporting weekend.

Drove up to Indy yesterday to see the Tennessee v. Notre Dame game at the Fieldhouse. Fantastic seats, third row just off the head of Tennessee's bench. We could hear every word Pat Summitt and her coaching staff said (or yelled, as the case may be). I love to watch her coach, love to watch her work with her staff. Whiplash threatened as I tried to watch both the coach and the players on the court simultaneously.

Tennessee won pretty decisively, but they didn't look all that polished. Still early in the season, I guess. But man, they've got talent on the floor. They have a freshman out of Syracuse, Indiana that is going to be really, really good. I totally bought one of her pass fakes--I was on the train, waiting to leave, I so bought it--and then she puts it in the hoop.

At one point, I turned to Catherine and said, "I made eye contact with Pat Summitt!" (she was really looking back to talk to the people to the right of us), and Catherine responded, "Well, I made eye contact with Kara Lawson!"
Kara Lawson looks like a brick wall on television, but in person, she's really quite small, only 5'-8" and not at all stocky or solid.

So, that was cool.

Then we spent the afternoon in a sports bar, watching IU lose to Temple. Ah...the travesty. Why didn't Coverdale take that last shot? I think the whole team needs to go visit a sports psychologist.

After that, we drove to the Pepsi Coliseum to watch the Indianapolis Ice play the Shreveport Mudbugs (apparently mudbugs are crawdads). It was a pretty good game, but I had a pounding headache by the time it was over. It is beyond me why every pause in the game must be filled in with blaring music. This happens at every professional sporting event, why? Do the teams think the crowd is going to lose interest in the game and go home during timeouts, or what?

But...two live sporting events and one afternoon in a sports bar makes for a pretty good Saturday.

Slept in this morning, then went to a stick-and-puck session at the Frank, which turned out to be a pick-up hockey game instead. Ah. But this isn't the right journal for that entry.

Friday, December 27, 2002

The imprint from the book I finished yesterday:

I grabbed Henrietta Buckmaster's Deep River off a shelf in the Main Library in as random a manner as possible. I walked through the stacks, stuck my arm up, and pulled down the first book my fingertips dragged across. I do this a lot. Usually I end up reading a page or two of whatever book it is that I picked, then return it to the stacks w/out ever finishing it. This one, though, I checked out and carried around in my car for six months, reading it over lunch every day.

As is obvious from the imprint, Buckmaster published her book during WWII. It was pretty popular when it first arrived at IU--it circulated in Oct. 1945, twice in Dec. 1945, again in Dec. 1946, and then again in Oct. 1947. A faculty member checked it out then, and returned it on Sept. 11 of some unknown year. It had to be 1952 or earlier, though, because it circulated again Jul. 1953. It went out to faculty again, and was returned Feb. 1958. And there it sat, never to circulate again until I pulled it off the shelf.

And this is what I don't understand--how could such a book sit there, unnoticed for 40-something years? I don't understand exactly how Deep River didn't make it into the canon of American literature. Who has even heard of Henrietta Buckmaster? I never had. If you *have* heard of her, it's probably because of her biography of Harriet Tubman, or her book Let My People Go, about the Underground Railroad. It isn't because of Deep River, and that's a damn shame.

It took me awhile to really get into the book, Buckmaster is of the school of writing that believes in capturing actual language w/her writing, and it can be rough going, trying to stumble through her attempts at recording Georgia "mountain" speech. Actually, her entire writing style is different than anything I've read before, so I couldn't just drift off and let my eyes do the reading, I had to keep paying attention with my mind, too. I wasn't sure it was going to be worth the effort, but it was.

A basic summary: it's an abolitionist's novel, written almost a century after Harriet Beecher Stowe published Uncle Tom's Cabin. The book is divided into the two parts, the first focusing on Savanna, the daughter of a plantation owner who marries an abolition-minded mountain man; and the second focusing on her husband, Simon, who leaves the mountains to study law so he can destroy the institution of slavery. The book is set right before the outbreak of the War Between the States. Simon and Savanna have recently married, and between them, they need to decide where their loyalties fall: to each other, to their families, to their neighbors, to the State of Georgia, and/or to the Union.

It is indeed a novel, even though it follows the lives of real people and events as well as any history book, and I think Buckmaster's particular talent shows in her ability to make it feel like a 19th. rather than 20th c. novel. It's obviously of this century, she couldn't write about the events the way she did if she was writing while they were current, but she manages to completely capture the turmoil and political terror of the times. It's too bad it couldn't have been written a hundred years earlier, I think it would have made a better abolitionist argument than Uncle Tom's Cabin.

I didn't even notice this was a "war book" until C. pointed it out the imprint a few days ago. One of my goals in the next few days is to see if I can find some book reviews from when Deep River first came out. Was it controversial? I don't know anything about Buckmaster--I deliberately didn't look her up after I started reading the book, because I wanted to judge it for myself, not let someone else tell me how to think. I have since discovered that she received an Ohioana fiction award and a Guggenheim Fellowship for it, but what did everyone else think? Because if this would have been an abolitionist novel in 1845, it was very plainly a Civil Rights novel in 1945. The threads of Enlightenment philosophy that run through the book are astounding, and although its couched in terms of the Civil War, the declarative statement is really: we are failures as humans as long as we continue to let oppression exist unopposed. It's a book intended to grab white people by the front of their shirts and make them see what they've been doing without thinking all their lives. It's an argument for the abolition of oppression not just of black men, but of women--all women--as well.

What impresses me most, I guess, is that the book was published at all. I understand why it was wartime book, it was unapologetically pro-Union and pro-North, but I'm guessing that the publication censors must have just skimmed the text before saying, "Yeah, pro-U.S., good." They must have missed the whole bit about that guy Marx, who had some good things to say about workers and how they should see the benefit of their labors and how the poor white men of the South would do good to take Marx's lessons to heart and think about what a revolution would get them. I can't imagine the U.S. government at any time taking kindly to teaching black men about Marx, and all I can guess is that they had no idea what the real intention of the book was--to call for a rising up in Buckmaster's own day and age. I also can't believe they missed the obvious oratory on breaking the law--we're morally and ethically obligated to go against the law of the United States if that law violates a larger law (which in this case, was styled as both Biblical law and a more Enlightenment-informed Natural Law).

I don't know, it's a very complex book. A lot of the abolitionist arguments made at the outset are made in relation to the lives of poor white trash: how plantation owners, through their use of slave labor, are manipulating the economic structure of the South to their favor at the expense of the poor Georgia crackers. A lot of the rallying cries in the first half of the book involve getting the poor white dirt farmer to recognize how slavery is ruining his life. Then half way through the book, the argument starts to change to one intent on humanizing black slaves. Simon the lawyer moves away from fighting against slavery to better the lives of his white constituents toward fighting it because he believes in the humanity of slaves and their right to live a safe and dignified and prosperous life.

There's a courtroom scene in the second half of the book, where Simon has to defend not only a slave who has been falsely accused of raping a white woman (who happens to be poor white trash), but also defend an abolitionist who passed Bible scriptures encouraging freedom to the same slave. It's not as accessible as what Harper Lee provides in To Kill A Mockingbird, but it's such a good part of the book. Simon finds he can defend the slave, Harry, more easily than the abolitionist, because the slave is property, and property is money, and no court will take away a plantation owner's property without evidence. So Simon is faced w/a dilemma--he can save Harry by arguing that he is valuable property, an argument he hates, but will spare the Harry's life. Or, he can argue for Harry's intrinsic value as a human being, and sentence him to death. Either way, he finds he has to deal with the institution of "sacred white womanhood," what he can and cannot say about a (white) woman, and more importantly, what he can and cannot say about a *poor* white woman.

As it turns out, he can't adequately defend the abolitionist, because he's of no value to anyone financially, no one cares about him except that he stop trying to steal slaves away.

What makes me angry in the end is I had to read a lot of stupid stuff in high school...oh...Faulkner springs to mind....Hemingway...writers that say *nothing* to me, and here is this great book rotting away on the library shelves. It's a fantastic look back at the all the chaos before the Civil War, but it's also an excellent distillation of this moment before the Civil Rights movement explodes in the United States. I really don't think I'm giving Buckmaster too much credit by saying she was encouraging a Civil Rights rebellion, I think she knew exactly what kind of statement she was making, and it's too bad it was ignored, forgotten and abandoned. Maybe it would have been too challenging for me in high school, but then again, maybe I wouldn't have hated 10th grade English so much if I would have gotten to read something outside the canon of the Great White Male Against the World.

10:54 PM

Feeling good about yourself? Go shopping for new clothes, and that will put an end to it.

Thursday, December 26, 2002


Tuesday, December 24, 2002

Oh my....the snow, the snow. We're supposed to get up to a foot, and although I'm usually skeptical about such predictions, this time I think I believe it.
3:27 PM

Three other notable photos (taken neither by Catherine nor by me):

This picture just cracks me up. On the back, Catherine has written "Catherine goes nuts! May 1987." She's freaking out over getting her M.A. thesis done, and well she should freak out, because it was about three times as long as mine, so it must have taken her forever. Notice the article in the foreground and the calendar on the wall--both Thomas Moran.

Catherine panicking over her thesis, May 1987

For some reason, this photo of me and my roommate Mary in Pavlosk was in the same box as Catherine's photos. This is the first summer I was in Russia (it was still the Soviet Union back then). The notable thing about this photo, though, isn't the location, but rather the absolute lack of flesh on my bones. I'm twenty years old, weigh probably 118, and feel fatter than I had ever felt in my life.

I only went to Leningrad that summer because I was kicked off a paleontology team for being too fat. I had spent the spring raising money and volunteering as part of a student group that was going to spend the summer in Montana on a dinosaur dig. I had taken the classes, earned my money, done my time, and was ready to go. But the professor in charge thought I couldn't hack it, I wasn't in good enough shape. I pointed out to him that I was on UW's Tae Kwon Do (competitive) team, and that I cycled 20 miles a day, more on weekends, but he said he would only let me go if I could prove my dedication by losing 10 pounds.

Well, I tried, and I failed. And looking at this picture, I think, "No freaking wonder I couldn't lose any weight. Where would I have lost it from?" Stepan used to just berate me about my efforts to lose weight, and now I see why.

(An interesting side note: this prof. was the first person who ever mistook me for a boy. I turned in some papers to him before class one day, and during class, he asked if the young man who had given him the papers would come back and see him because he had neglected to write down his name. Yeah, that was me, that young man.)

The ironic thing is: I probably lost the ten pounds while I was in Russia. This picture was taken shortly before I became deathly--and I mean deathly--ill with bronchitis. I probably lost a lot more than ten pounds by the time I was over it, and I didn't have that kind of weight to lose. But when I got home, everyone thought I looked great. Freaks!

Susan Roehr and Mary Lassiter, Pavlosk, Summer 1988

And finally, this photo was in the same box. Here I am with my brother at Long Bay in Skagway, Alaska. It's 1976, and the notable thing about this picture is that my brother's hair is a lot longer than mine!

Tim and Susan, Skagway, 1976

3:20 PM

We were looking for a video, but came across a box of miscellaneous photos, so we stopped and spent an hour or so with old pictures last night.

Before I met Catherine, she was a photographer. A really, really good photographer. As part of our move across the country, we sold off her enlarger, her developing trays, etc. We've talked about building her a darkroom, but it has never seemed very practical. But looking through some of her old photographs last night, I decided that the darkroom idea has to be realized. If I move my weight bench, I could put up a partition wall and she could have a little area under the stairs. Catherine points out a partition wall isn't necessary, a temporary wall of storage bins is good enough, and would protect her equipment from any errant hockey pucks. The washer and dryer used to be in the basement, so it wouldn't be very difficult to get her some running water.

So, this will be my project for the new year: putting together some place for Catherine to develop photos, and replacing all her equipment.

Here are a few photos that I found last night that I really liked. Unfortunately, I have a low-end scanner, so I'm not doing them justice.

Devil's Elbow, Oregon

Trees, San Francisco

Gummi Bears

Monday, December 23, 2002

Hmmm....Christmas. I should write about Christmas while I'm in a good mood. Christmas is a holiday that never stands on its own, it tends to drag past Christmases home with it. Thanksgiving runs a close second when it comes to holidays weighed down with emotional baggage, but I think Christmas always crosses the line first. We're almost forced to sit down and contemplate the "meaning" of Christmas in our lives, and that usually leads to a consideration of holidays past and their role in getting us to today's state of celebration and/or desperation.

I, unfortunately, have a very good memory. What this means is that before I can arrive at a place of contentment (which is where have been spending a large amount of my time the past few days), I have to remember and then deliberately forget everything that I usually associate with Christmas. Then I can move forward and get down to the business of enjoying myself.

It's a tedious ritual, and one day I'll figure out how to put an end to it. In the meantime, before I can reach a more peaceful spot, I have to drive around in my car and let myself remember how much it hurt to get a box of dirt (and cornstalks!) from my brother for Christmas one year. I have to consider that long, dark Christmas break when I was thirteen when I tried to kill myself (word--it actually hurts to slash your wrists, why didn't anyone tell me that before I tried? Geez.). And I get to relive the long December nights of my freshman year in college when all I did was stay awake all night long worrying about how much my parents seemed to hate each other, wondering if my dad really was going to divorce my mom or if that was just something you say when you're yelling at your spouse, and how much was I going to like having to decide which parent to visit over holidays if they lived in different houses?

Every year, I work my way through the past to my freshman year, which seems to be some sort of watershed. From that year on, Christmas seemed to get better instead of worse. I think at some point the concept of "personal agency" really took hold, and I started holding myself responsible for the way I spent the holidays. I could enjoy myself or not, and the choice my mine to make. And, of course, it goes without saying that choosing to spend the past ten Christmases with Catherine was an excellent decision.

Anyway, remembering my way forward from some of those bleak childhood Christmases takes less time and energy w/each passing year. Things that used to be painful are now mostly just stories I tell my friends to make them laugh. And that brings me to the real point of this entry. I think all (emotionally healthy) glbt persons at some point make a decision to surround themselves w/people who make them happy, who respect and care for them, and who help make life that much more pleasant. I'm lucky in that my biological family eventually came around to a more civilized way of behaving, but I'm even luckier that I managed to build my own family of good friends. It's an interesting process, learning to care about other people and letting other people care about you, and what I think most right now, is that I kind of like Christmas, because even if it come burdened with the past, it also gives me a chance to stop and look around in the present. That way I can recognize everyone I hold close to my heart, and just let myself enjoy their presence in the spirit of the holiday.

3:36 PM

Once again, I've conclusively proven that rollerblading and ice-skating are two completely different sports. You'd think the skill set would transfer between the two, but it doesn't. And ten seconds into today's activities, I remembered exactly how it was that I broke my elbow the first time. I am just not a good rollerblader. I totally do not get the stopping concept, I instinctively tried a hockey stop and almost broke my ankle. I know I should be using that little stopping thing behind my right heel, but it seems to me to be an invitation to the emergency room every time I consider it.

Well, the good news, I'm better than I was before I quit rollerblading (after said broken elbow three years ago), but I don't think I'll be playing inline hockey anytime soon. Maybe it would be easier if I got rockered skates. I think, though, Catherine would divorce me if I started buying inline hockey equipment along with ice hockey equipment. We'd be in the poorhouse by the end of next month.

I'd love to be that sporty chick who can play anything, do anything, but I think I may be smart enough to recognize my limitations on this one.

What I really wish is that someone would e-mail me and tell me what to write in Shawn's Christmas card. It's the first card I should have sent, yet it will be the last one that actually goes out. Everytime I pick up a pen, my mind goes blank. I want her to know I'm thinking about her, but my god, what am I supposed to say?

There's very little in the world I wouldn't talk to Shawn about--there's very little we haven't talked about at some point in the past--but I can hardly think of a word to write to her these days. I can't bring myself to call because I just hang on the line in silence, trying not to make my grief her problem.

So, even if you're a complete stranger, have a heart and drop me a line and tell me what to write, because I am absolutely without words at this point.

9:56 PM

Never in my life did I think I would hear Dorothy Allison quoted in a church sermon, much less hear her identified as "an author and lesbian feminist" in front of a religious congregation.

I feel like I've been taking a crash course in theology. Religion--our new hobby! We went to church *twice* today, once for Sunday services and once for a winter solstice concert. It may be that hell is freezing over somewhere.

We actually hung out for a few minutes after church and talked with some people. It completely stressed me out, talking to strangers. We met an older couple, Gerta and Edward, they are new to Bloomington (but longtime Unitarians), and we talked with them for awhile. Catherine pointed out to me last week that if nothing else, the whole church experience is good for us because where else would we interact with people of such different ages? We're never around kids, and never around old people, and now we've spent four Sundays with both.

The Rev. Breeden's sermon was excellent, actually. I teared up twice at church today, once during the children's story, and then at the end of the sermon, an unheard of event. I never cry in public. I never even cry in front of Catherine if I can help it. Anyway, I felt like sitting there listening improved my life a little bit today, even if I didn't agree with the entire text of the service. Gerta had some strong opinions on it as well, especially on the part about loving people who seem unlovable, or at least not letting unlovable people take away our option to love. She was pretty old, and she was wearing a pin that was a combination pink triangle and Star of David (we think her son is gay), and she said, "When you get to be a certain age, you just want to talk back during the sermon. There are people in the world who can't be loved, who are truly evil. There is nothing to love about them, and I shouldn't be asked to love them." And I guess I have to agree. You can't really stand there talking to a person of a certain age w/some sort of European accent wearing a Star of David and expect them to concede to the idea that everyone in the world should be loved.

Anyway, I don't believe love can be de-personalized to such an extent that you can apply it to the entire world. Love to me is pretty much a one-on-one emotion, and grows out of personal interaction. I can respect humanity in general, have compassion, empathy, sympathy, and a variety of other emotions toward the world at large, but I can't love you unless I've established a direct, personal relationship with you. The things I feel for all humankind--that everyone should be entitled to live a life free of fear, hunger and (preventable) disease, for instance--don't really fall under the heading "love," in my mind.

Anyway, I'm too tired to write a dissertation on love at the moment. Today I: slept in, went to church, went out for coffee, did some grading, went to a concert, went to the gym, drove around and looked at Christmas lights, went out to dinner, and addressed at least three Christmas cards. No wonder my head hurts.

Sunday, December 22, 2002

What do I miss about graduate school? Nothing! Okay, that's not true. The one thing I really miss from the old days is the graduate reading group Todd and I sort of organized. All the participants were history grad students, but all from different fields: I was 19th c. British imperialism/colonialism, Todd was 20th c. American intellectual, Pat was Tokugawa period, Loyd Tokugawa? I can't remember. Something Japanese. Kristen was medieval Italy. Jeff was 20th c. Environmental/Native American. Every other week, someone would recommend an article, and we'd get together and discuss it over beer and pizza. It was great, because we got to read across several disciplines--anthropology, philosophy, gender studies--and different subsets of history.

That's the only thing I miss: A cohort interested in reading and talking about what we read. I undervalued it when I had it, I bitched and moaned about all the work involved in making it happen, but as it turns out, it was the only memorable part of the whole never-ending academic experience.

Since quitting grad school, I've slowly been weeding my bookshelves of books associated with my discipline(s). About once a year I dig a little deeper and add a few more into the stack to take to the used bookstore. I have almost no British history books left at this point. I've gotten rid of a large chunk of my art history books, and even some architecture books. I'm still holding on to a few philosophy books--Foucault, Kierkegaard, Said, Sartre--even though the longer I'm out of school the less ability I have to comprehend any of them. I don't know, maybe they're just there to remind that once upon a time my brain actually functioned on a reasonably high level, unlike now.

Anyway, tonight I very firmly closed the door on going back to grad school. I decided to get rid of not only The Return of Martin Guerre, but also The Epic of Gilgamesh. Two classics of world history, and I'm finally ditching them. That's a pretty good signal to myself that I never expect to teach History 101 ever again.

8:58 PM

Before anyone else sends me an article suggesting I'm not the best husband in the world, I would like everyone to know that instead of settling into my recliner to watch the NCAA volleyball championships today, as a husband should on a Saturday afternoon, I took myself into the bathroom and gave it a good cleaning. I scrubbed the tub, the sink, the toilet, the floor, everything. I missed two volleyball games in the process, but hey, at least I'm pulling my weight. Happy now, tocaya? :)

Blah...Stanford lost, anyway. And then we got to watch our men's basketball ball coach totally melt down on national television, taking what might have turned out to be a tied game going into over time and turning it into a definite loss by 7 points. I hope his mother calls him tonight and chews his butt good.

Our women won, though, beating South Florida. Not a snappy win, but a win just the same, so I'll take it. Cyndi Valentin is going to be a fantastic player, if she ever learns how to stop messing with her shorts while she's on the floor.

I'm going to rest and relax for the next few days and see if it helps me feel any better. I know I haven't been getting enough sleep or eating enough protein. I almost hit the floor tiles again today when I was at the used book store, and all I can think is maybe it's a low blood sugar thing, or maybe I'm anemic and just need to pump up my blood. I'll just say, the floor at Caveat Emptor isn't all that clean, and I don't want to have to sit down on it to keep from fainting again anytime soon.

Friday, December 20, 2002

Feeling a little steadier today. I almost fainted twice yesterday afternoon. Add that to the two times I had to put my head on my desk on Wednesday to keep from fainting and/or vomiting, and that makes for a very annoying couple of days.

My goal today: plot the final drawings for 934 W. 6th St., and plot the draft set for 902 W. 7th St. That should take a few hours. I told my students yesterday that I plan for three hours for every set of working drawings I plot, and they told me I was nuts, but then they tried to plot out their drawings in an hour yesterday and discovere it wasn't possible.

I've got a ton of correcting to do, but I'm not even going to think about it until Sunday. Grades aren't due until Dec. 26, so I can slack for a couple of days.

Thursday, December 19, 2002

Just got a Christmas card from my cousins Sean, Meaghan and Torin. Enclosed was a list of "three of life's lessons learned this year that [they] would like to share with those we love":

Torin: "Baseball doesn't hurt nearly as badly when you try to catch with your eyes open."

Sean: "The walls may appear solid, but people can still hear what you say about them when they're outside of your cubicle."

Meaghan: "Grandma REALLY DOES have a good reason for telling us not to play on the stairs."

Lessons to live by.

7:08 PM

Well, that totally sucked. I really hate instructors who write up these finals that are ten times harder than the stuff you've been doing as homework. I worked up to the last second, and I still didn't get it done, and let's face it, I'm the best student in the class by far.
11:06 AM

The thing that gets me about Trent Lott is that he doesn't even understand how facile the remark "I am not a racist" is.

You can't magically become "not a racist" just by saying it is so, or by wishing it is so. To become even *sort of* not a racist takes a lot of work. You have to think, read, listen, talk, ask, work and work hard. You have to be willing to educate yourself and others, but also to let other people educate you. You have to be willing to listen to yourself and catch yourself and find out that you're far from perfect even though you've been working hard. You have to be willing to change. No matter how much progress you make, there's a lot more that needs to happen to make you a little closer to being "not a racist." It takes constant vigilance, and even then, you'll find yourself thinking or saying something you just wish you hadn't. Every day you have to start over, and start over willingly, or it doesn't get you anywhere.

Every single one of us lives within a social framework riven through with racism, and every day we need to reassess it and see what can be done about it. Who influences what we think? How do we pass on that influence? What's the television telling us, the radio, the magazine at the doctor's office? What kind of jokes do we tell our friends? Do we laugh even though we know we really shouldn't ought to? Do we notice who makes us nervous in an elevator and why? Do we notice who we make eye contact with on the street and who we pretend not to see?

That Trent Lott even expects me to believe that he isn't a racist shows me what an idiot he is even more clearly than his remarks in praise of Dixiecrat politics. He obviously slept through all the courses requiring any sort of critical thinking in college, and he should probably lose his position in Congress just because he's an intellectual embarrassment.

Sunday, December 08, 2002

Dave's e-mail totally cracked me up. Flamadiddle!
After church this morning, I got my hair cut. Came home, corrected papers, went for a run. Came home, took a shower, got dressed. Glanced in the mirror while I was brushing my teeth.

And there, looking back at me, was some boy named Jimmy. I tried to photograph him, but he disappeared every time I picked up my digital camera.

Friday, December 06, 2002

I really hate to disagree with Aaron McGruder about anything. His voice is so important, and he's usually so right on that I wonder if I'm not the one having the brain freeze on those rare occasions when I think he's on the wrong tack.

A couple of weeks ago he ran a series that started off with harshing on Winona Ryder, suggesting that the reason she got off with a slap on the wrist was because she was white. I wish I could find a copy of it online, but anyway, I'm down with that one. The whole week was funny. But in one of the later strips in the series McGruder suggested--I'm paraphrasing--that Eminem was more popular than other rappers because he was white, and I found myself thinking, " Eminem is popular *despite* the fact that he's white."

To begin with, I think any white rapper is damned from the outset thanks to Vanilla Ice. I wonder how many times Eminem heard, "Ah, he's just another Ice, Ice Baby." White rappers aren't cool, they're dorky. White people don't want to hear other white people rap.

What I really think, however, is that when you say Eminem is palatable because he's white, you really leave out a lot of the story. Over the past couple months I've been doing a lot of thinking about white privilege because it's not actually all that visible in the lives of my students. I know if one of my students was up against a student of color for a job here in southern Indiana, and they had equal education and qualifications, the white kid would get the job. That seems clear. But the thing is, I don't think these kids will ever be in the position to experience the privileges of their race. They're never even going to be offered an interview, much less a job. Watching them, I have to wonder which plays a larger role in their lives: race or class?

I am teaching a large group of young men, essentially disenfranchised, essentially powerless. They all live with their parents, they have jobs stocking grocery shelves, they all have payments they can't afford to make for their pickup trucks. One of my students missed class the other day because he was home watching his sister's baby--he still lives at home, his sister lives at home. I'm sure none of my students have ever voted or will ever vote. I'm not even certain they registered for the selective service, although surely someone chased them down and made them do it.

I guess the point is, I often wonder if they will ever have the chance to be "rewarded" for their race, if they will ever pull themselves out of their present circumstances far enough to even have the possibility for profiting from their white male-ness. I have a student who can't read. Or, if he can read, it's at a very low level. Unless some miracle happens, he is going to live out the rest of his days out in the county, sitting in front of the television, feeling angry and ripped off and not even know why. He probably doesn't even know he's supposed to be privileged, he just know life sucks and he can't get a job.

Okay, back to the point about Eminem--all of my young, male students like him, they were completely psyched to go see Eight-Mile when it opened, and they're always trying to watch his videos and stuff online. And I've been listening to them talk about the movie and the music, and it just strikes me that they identify with the image that Eminem projects--an angry, disillusioned, white boy who grew up in a single-wide trailer in the wrong part of town, whose family sucked and always will suck, and who only managed to save himself from repeating his family history because he rapped his way out of Detroit.

It's all an act, I think, but Eminem has a fantastic talent for expressing anger. In his "Cleaning out My Closet" single, there are a couple of lines addressed to his mother, ("Wasn't it the reason you made that CD for me, Ma? So you could try to justify the way you treated me, Ma?"), and it is absolutely stunning how much bitterness he manages to squeeze into the one-syllable word, "Ma." And I'm watching my students watch him, and I compare the way I listen to an Eminem song and the way they listen to the same song, and I suddenly wish our school had metal detectors at the front gate.

West coast/East coast rappers say nothing to a poor boy from out in the county who is being promised everything via DirectTV but can't seem to actually get his hands on it in real life. Eminem, on the other hand, knows all about it. So, I guess I think that, yes, Eminem's success is because he's white, but not in the way that Aaron McGruder was suggesting.

Okay, it sounds like I want my student to all grow up and realize that they can live the good life because they're one step ahead because they're white and they should take advantage of it. But I'm not. I'm just a little confused as to how great a role class plays in the formulation of a power hierarchy. When does race overtake class and offer power? When does class erode race and disintegrate power?

What I really think, though, is just that I want my students to start doing their homework so I can quit worrying about them being unable to get a job so they can feed their kids and put a decent roof over their heads.

Saturday, November 30, 2002

Oh, and Catherine also bought me a pair of earrings. Actually, exchanged. The pair she gave me for our anniversary had defective posts, so we took them back and got a similar pair, except with wire instead of posts. Look at me, I'm a girl!

Did a little Christmas shopping, had dinner and then went out for coffee. When we came out of the Bakehouse, the lights were all on around the square, and it was snowing.

I fell in love all over again this evening, for like the millionth time this week.

6:37 PM

My new wedding ring:

This is my third ring. We started out with sterling silver rings, etched with a floral pattern. I liked them a lot, but when we decided to "officially" get married, we figured we'd better exchange rings. So, we upgraded to something more like a wedding band: silver bands w/matching inlay patterns (lapis lazuli on my hand, malachite on Catherine's). Neither of us are comfortable with the idea of spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on something like a ring, so they weren't the most expensive things on the market, but we liked them. Catherine's now looks like it was left on the train tracks, though, I'm not sure how it got so beat up. Mine still looks pretty good (probably because I forget to wear it half the time), but it's too big. We can't revert back to the first rings we exchanged, because they're too small, and Catherine wears the one I originally had on her right hand. Hers sits in the jewelry box, doing nothing, going nowhere.

So, supposedly we got new rings for our tenth anniversary, but that was a month ago, and we just got around to picking some out today. I'm a little embarrassed because they didn't cost very much (and when I say "not very much," I mean NOT VERY MUCH), but as the woman behind the counter said, it's what you like, not what you spend. We're both happy, and that's what really matters. This is the most *feminine* piece of jewelry I've ever owned, but I think it's pretty, so that's okay.

Catherine's has a garnet, and is quite different from mine. She doesn't want me to put it on the web because her hand is all scratched up. But this picture will show everyone why:

6:13 PM

too cold too cold too cold

Friday, November 29, 2002

The Good Body. Mr. Gaston's book has been kicking around the floor of my office for a few weeks now. I don't know what to do with it. Keep it because it's--sort of--about hockey? Take it the used bookstore and trade it for something else? Use it to start a new stack of books to send to California? I'm not quite sure where it fits in.

It's not a fantastic read. In fact, I drifted through the last twenty pages in a "who cares?" sort of fashion. By far the best part of the narrative are the "fake" bits: the main character is writing a novel, and the passages that are supposed to represent his work are priceless. They're also the truest part of the book in strictly hockey-related terms.

The main character of the book is Bobby Bonaduce, a slightly successful enforcer (he's only slightly successful at his work because he never makes it out of the minors). He's forced out of hockey by his own body--he is diagnosed with MS and can no longer play professionally. This leads him to apply to graduate school (he cheats to get in, and I find that part of the book hard to believe, because there's no way a bunch of creative writing profs. have never read Ploughshares). He gets accepted, and tries to put his life back together, mostly by trying to reconcile w/his estranged wife and son.

The story isn't all that compelling. What is interesting is watching a man become more and more confused by his body. It no longer performs, it no longer functions. Everyone around him assumes he's a lush because he's slowly disintegrating into a slurring, sloppy pile of flesh, but he doesn't see their accusations because he's too caught up in trying to make everything work out.

I haven't quite figured out why this book is still in my possession or still on my mind. Maybe because lately I've been feeling a real push-pull going on with my own body.

The feminist me, the recovered bulimic me, the most of me, couldn't care less what my body looks like. I don't own a full-length mirror, or a scale. When I do start worrying about my weight, it's always just a diversion, a coping mechanism to keep me from stressing out about something much more important. Catherine likes my body the way it is, and that's good enough for me.

The athlete me, the smaller but apparently more stubborn part of me, is horrified by my body. It caught a glimpse of itself in the hotel mirror last night, and instantly thought, "No wonder you never get any ice time, you're so out of shape." The athlete wants to be fitter, leaner, trimmer, a triad of impossible goals right now.

I guess I more or less like looking female. Okay, yes, I weigh more than I should according to the BMI charts. But if I lose that weight, who will I look like? Not me. I already can't recognize myself in the mirror. I'll look like some guy, and Catherine didn't marry some guy, she married some girl. All I need to do is increase the workouts, decrease the caloric intake, and my body will change. And the athlete in me will be very pleased. But the most of me will not be very happy at all.

Bobby Bonaduce and I have a lot in common as it turns out. Aesthetics aside, we both spend a lot of time worrying about how our bodies (refuse to) function instead of how they look. If I could change one thing about my body, and only one thing, it would be to replace some of the broken parts with parts that work. I wouldn't change my weight, or my height, or the color of my constantly thinning hair, or even my chest size (although breast reduction surgery is soooo tantalizing). No, I'd whack out a joint or two and put in new ones. I'd slice out a couple of ligaments and replace them. Get rid of the problem vertebra. Replace the ulna in my right arm. Hell, replace the entire arm and hand, what could it hurt? And if I was getting new body parts, I'd commission a new reproductive system, one that didn't cripple me on a regular basis. Could I improve my eyesight and fix my hearing? Cool.

It's distressing to watch your body fail. It's not supposed to do that, at least not yet. So, I can relate to Mr. Bonaduce's confusion and frustration. And maybe that's why the book is still sitting on the floor next to my desk. That, and I keep meaning to type out the first passage of Bondauce's hockey novel:

"Oscar Devries, immigrant baby, was given his first pair of skates at age four weeks. Outside their sod hovel the prairie winter wind howled like a she-devil as Father laced Baby Oscar's skates tight. So tight that blood began beading up at the lace-holes. But little Oscar didn't cry. He cried only when they removed the skates and he kept crying until they laced them back on, tighter. They taped popsicle sticks on for shin pads and stuffed his little rig into a thimble. Helmet? No helmet, Oscar thrashed his head until they gave up trying to put one on him, he wouldn't be a fancylad. And fuck the mouthguard too: he already had no teeth. They noticed he had come into the world with several facial scars.

Oscar's first game he played naked, save for his bleeding skates. His foul temper kept him warm and red and his skin unfrozen. He went goalless but, using his adult-size stick, he sent six players to the Winnipeg Regional Hospital."

Well...maybe you had to be there.

9:13 PM

Tonight we had to decide whether to go to the town festival of lights (turning on the lights around the square) or go to a volleyball game. Those are the kinds of decisions I like to have in my life.

The lights were pretty as we drove through downtown on our way home from the game.

8:04 PM

Wow. That was exhausting. There might be more chaotic versions of Thanksgiving available for consumption, but I doubt it. Put a dozen adults, a newborn baby, an active three year old child, and an 9-week old kitten in the same small house, and you've pretty much got a combustible recipe.

It's kind of nice spending the day with someone else's family. You don't have to take their dysfunctionality personally because they're not your relatives. It also became very clear this year that we could behave however we wanted to--apparently being liked is not a prerequisite to being invited for dinner. Thankfully, not mine.

Northern Indiana is hella cold--such a bitter landscape. Real Willa Cather territory, and so different from where we live. The winds just slices across the flatness and into your flesh. By way of contrast, witness me sitting here cooling down, all sweaty from running in tights and a long-sleeve t-shirt when I probably should have worn shorts.

Thursday, November 28, 2002

Mmm...yesterday was a good day. The kind of day you'd like to remember.

Catherine got off work early, so we just hung out together all afternoon. Went out for coffee and dessert, then spent a couple of hours at Borders. And yes, I had to go back to the grocery store to get corn starch since I got the wrong kind of pie filling.

Lazy evening at home reading, watching basketball, drinking champagne, and playing with the cats. I think S. was right the first time--Luna is starting to grow on me.

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

I was right. I'm on my way to the grocery store RIGHT NOW.
4:07 PM

  • Grocery store
  • Petsmart
  • Library
  • Try key at 902
  • Pick up sketches
  • Get yourself a cup of coffee
  • Gym?
  • Check:

    • Oil
    • Washer fluid
    • Antifreeze

  • Pack lock de-icer
  • Empty back seat, trunk
  • Haircut
  • Buy card for C.
  • Find letter to David
  • Post office (David, SLG)
  • Cash machine

8:08 AM

C: You know I love you, don't you?
S: Yeah.
C: So I can stop telling you?
S: Yeah.! You tricked me!

My wife amuses me.

She sent a list with me to the grocery store this morning. Some things on it were very detailed. For instance, she didn't just write down "oatmeal," she wrote down the namebrand and the flavor, as if I hadn't noticed what kind of oatmeal she's eaten every morning for the past two years.

But then I get to the part where she wants me to buy stuff to make a pie, and it says "pie filling." Give me some help here! I'm standing in the canned fruit aisle looking at all the variations of cherries, blueberries, blackberries, etc., and I have no freaking idea which ones could go in a pie. And she writes down "whipping cream." Can I get a small carton? Do I need two? Should it be heavy whipping cream? I have no idea.

So, she got her oatmeal, and she got some pie filling and whipping cream, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to be making another trip to the store this evening to correct my mistakes.

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Tuesday, November 26, 2002
Of course, no traditional holiday festivities can compete with the fun of filling up Sean's tennis ball/soda-can cannon with ants and setting off the lighter fluid to see what happens.
11:45 PM

This one is for Catherine.

Thanksgiving was the best holiday when I was kid. We usually got the first snow of the year on Thanksgiving in Tonasket (except that year we got the first snow on Halloween), so even if it wasn't already a holiday, the day always seemed marked as something special. I'm sure my parents didn't always like the snow, especially when we had to drive to Grandma's for dinner, but it always gave us something fun to do outside the house. One of the best things we did (and this is why cousins are important--you can get away with more if your cousin is involved because your parents won't punish them like they might punish you) was build a giant--a super giant--snow man right in the middle of the driveway so no one could get their cars out after dinner. It was all ratty looking because the larger we made the snow balls, the heavier they were, and the deeper they crushed into the snow cover, so by the end, they were picking up all the orchard leaves off the ground as well as the snow and dirt.

Okay, a few of the snowball fights went awry, but generally, we all got along together. Cousins are a thousand times better than siblings, if you ask me. I'd rather eat at the kids' table with them than the adult table with any one else. Especially with Sean, wouldn't you say? It's hard to fight when Sean is around. But I like(d) all my cousins, and hey, they were all sober in those days.

Also good about Thanksgiving: we usually got fed twice. Thanksgiving Day was usually at home, then we'd do the real dinner on Saturday, usually at Rosella's, but sometimes at our house or Grandma's. That meant two turkey dinners in the space of three days. Well, I shouldn't say, but no one liked it when it was at Grandma's because her cooking wasn't so good. That's kind of funny because she taught Aunt Rosie and my mom how to cook, and they both cook just fine (and in an identical fashion), so I'm not sure how that horse went down the wrong trail. Now my feminist sensibilities are all offended: Hey, that means the women in the family had to cook two full dinners (and do the dishes afterward!), but I didn't care back then. I just wanted to eat and play.

So, there you go. Not every moment of my childhood was totally traumatic. Doesn't that make you feel better?

11:40 A<

As I was locking up the labs last night, the one student who always stays until the very last minute stopped me and told me there was something he forgot to write down on his student evaluation. I must have looked a little bleak, because he instantly said, "No, it's good! It's a good thing!" He said he appreciated the way I grade and my grading scale. I wasn't sure what he meant, but he went on to say, "I know a lot of people complain, but I like the way you grade. If I get an A from you, I know I deserved it. You don't just hand them out like a lot of teachers do." So, that made me feel a little better (but I wish he had written it on the evaluation to balance out all those complaints about how I grade too hard). The funny things is, as we continued to talk, I heard myself justifying myself over and over, explaining why I grade so hard. How stupid is that? He says he likes it, and I still end up trying to defend myself. Dork.

I have 5 students in one class and 7 in another who haven't shown up in the last ten weeks, but they also haven't dropped the course. I'm going to be handing out a lot of Fs this semester.

Monday, November 25, 2002

This Letter to the Editor, from my hometown paper, just cracked me up. I shouldn't make fun of people, but who the hell is Jesus THE Christ? and what was he doing sleeping around with Mary Magdalene?

Dear Gary:

I knew there would come a time what with the modern Internet and what we have been taught for the past 2000 years about belief in Jesus THE Christ on examples of art and beauty as we have come to accept it.

There is now a "modern" presentation making the rounds of e-mail entitled "PENCIL SKETCHES by Linda, Jesus laughing," that depicts several drawings of Jesus THE Christ in the accompaniment of little kids and two women, accompanied by some kind of pressing measure where people should rejoice and praise Jesus. This is all well and good, but those "pencil sketches" are identical to the sketches found in the Glastonbury Abbey Museum in Glastonbury Abbey in England that date back to 1061 A.D.

These older sketches depict the sons and daughters of Jesus that He fathered with Mary Magdalene and Martha, his wives; one of these sons, Josephus, is in the bloodline of the ancient King David of old and modern day British Princes Harry and William.

People copying and forwarding these "sketches by Linda" as opposed to what is on presentation in the above referenced museum, are doing true Christianity no good, even though their hearts may be in the right place. It is unfortunate that our Lord Jesus has been made and portrayed into something less than He was to represent us by this plagiarism.


Don Thomson - Member
American Academy of Religion
Moses Lake, Washington
7:55 PM

Lately I've become really interested in public bathroom fixtures. Well, that sounds crazy, even I can tell that. But really, it's interesting to note how they do/do not function. I first noticed this at the rink. In the past three years, the rink managers have gone through no fewer than 6 types of paper towel dispensers--punctuated by long passages of time without paper towel dispensers, meaning the roll of paper towels sits on the sink counter and gets wet. And I wondered: is it difficult to find a model of towel dispenser that will hold up to continued used by rink rats? Apparently so, because the towel dispenser is always jammed or broken. We are now back to the utilitarian white-metal-box-with-a-crank-handle model, featured in grade schools everywhere.

Now, here in our brand new building at Ivy Tech, we are on our third permutation of paper towel dispenser in one restroom and fourth permutation in the other restroom. Paper towel dispensers must not be very hardy. Also, this morning I noticed they're also trying a type of nozzle for the soap dispensers. The first model definitely didn't work--the dispenser closest to the door has been broken since day two.

Stay tuned for more breaking news in the world of public bathroom fixtures.

1:16 PM

However, as everybody knows, "the next time I get depressed" will be tomorrow, so it's not like I will have forgotten about the librarian by then.

I would like to thank the person who invented honey mustard. Maybe not as useful as rumble strips and Dremels, but pretty damn good, anyway.

11:41 AM

The next time I get depressed, someone should remind me about people like the librarian of the Bucyrus High School. That may cheer me up.

Sunday, November 24, 2002

Do you want the good news or the bad news first? Bad news first, get it out of the way?

The bad news is: my wife married a fucking idiot. I don't know what in the hell ever possessed her to give me a second look. She should have ran away as quickly as she could the moment she met me.

The good news: the $270 mistake I made in my checkbook in *September* works out in our favor. I won't have to sell a kidney after all to feed us on Thanksgiving. Even more important, that drum set can gather dust in my office for another month.

Why the fuck can't I balance a check book? I am SO CAREFUL. I write everything down, I save all my receipts, I save all my debit and ATM slips. I use MSMoney to reconcile my account faithfully every month when my bank statement arrives. Yet still, I screw it up EVERY SINGLE MONTH. Catherine *never* balances her checkbook, and to the best of my knowledge, has never been overdrawn. How fair it that?


This exam is closed book, closed note. No outside resources are allowed. Anyone caught cheating will be automatically expelled from Susan's life.

Multiple Choice (5 points each).

1. Susan is:

a) Angry
b) Hurt
c) Disappointed
d) Surprised
e) All of the above

2. Susan should have:

a) Known better
b) Not cared one way or the other
c) Learned her lesson last time
d) Both a) and c)

True or False (2 points each).

3. ___ Susan is over-reacting.

4. ___ Susan is tired of pretending she doesn't care.

5. ___ Susan is accustomed to lying to protect herself.

Essay (20 points).

In your own words, outline a solution to Susan's dilemma. Be specific! A complete answer will cite relevant examples to support your argument.

Extra Credit (6 points).

List three good reasons why Susan should care about any of this at all.

Thursday, November 21, 2002

I know K. and A. are being trained to go kill people in foreign lands. But you know what? They're polite, they take notes in class, and they turn their work in on time. If I have to give a kid access to heavy artillery to cultivate those traits, so be it.
11:52 AM

Catherine found a piece of mica in her shoe this morning. Last night, we discovered the bedding around our pillows was covered with flecks of mica.

Jack and Luna fought all morning while I was trying to sleep. Luna has finally discovered the back porch and tries to get out there all the time, which means Jack can't ever get away from her. But he keeps trying, by escaping out the back door to the porch, and out into the yard. I spend half my time at home trying to keep the two separated, and this morning I ended up yelling at both of them, sending them both cowering into corners, which is not good. I ended up late to class because I spent 5 minutes trying to escape out the door without catching the feet of one or both monsters in the doorway as they both tried to dash outside.

I would like to make it very clear that when I say "no more pets," I mean NO MORE PETS. And I don't mean no more pets "for now," I mean no more pets EVER.

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

This morning as I was walking through the kitchen, I saw a piece of onion peel on the floor. I figured Catherine had dropped it last night whilst chopping onions and didn't pick it up. That would be really unusual for her, but quite typical of me, evidenced by the fact that I still didn't pick it up this morning.

When I saw it again this evening, it struck me as a kind of odd color for onion, so I picked it up. It was a piece of mica from our rock/mineral collection--apparently Luna picked it up from the shelf when she was playing there and brought it into the kitchen.

Yesterday, Catherine took a sea shell out of her mouth.

7:12 PM

I must be feeling better about life in general:

  1. I looked in the mirror this afternoon and thought to myself, "You know, you're not hideously ugly," which counts as an astoundingly positive thought in my book.
  2. I actually updated my main web page (even if it was just a reading list)
  3. I actually updated the fee structure on my architecture page (after neglecting to do so for two months)
  4. I spent forty-five minutes practicing my snap shot and backhand shot in the basement this evening--forty-five minutes give or take the twenty I spent pretending my hockey stick was a bass guitar

That's enough for now.

7:09 PM

I like my Flinstone vitamins so much that sometimes I take an extra one at night for dessert.
1:04 PM

What happens to people who can't pass an introductory class at a tech college? I mean....really, I worry about them. Three students got up in the middle of class yesterday and went to the registrar to drop because I confirmed w/them that the were currently failing. And I'm sitting here correcting a very easy exam, and so far only one person is passing. What kind of future will these people have? If you can't pass a course at a lower-tier college, what can you do? I'm afraid some of the students I come across won't even be able to hold down a job in the fast food industry. Then what will they do? What role will they fill in society?

Once or twice a week, the same student comes to our office to talk to T. about her schoolwork. I can't help but overhear, and after every session, I remark to T. how glad I am I'm not teaching her class, because that one student would drive me to suicide. She has no ability to function in the world. Her social skills are minimal, her critical thinking skills are (still) non-existence, her hygiene is poor, her financial situation is terrible, and she has nothing to fall back on. Yet, she's not going to make it here. She's not going to pass her classes. Where will she go? I really want to know.

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

People are nice.

I sent an e-mail to a complete stranger asking for a favor, and she's doing it for me. Nice world we live in, huh?

6:15 PM

Technical problems aside, I'm pleased.

I'm also pleased with the answer from my captain. It's reassuring to find out I'm not the only one struggling w/the team. I got some positive feedback, but more importantly, she's stepping up and trying to work out some team issues (not just my own personal issues) and I appreciate that. I wasn't very good at that when I was a captain.

So, it might get worse for the team before it gets better, but at least I know I wasn't imagining things, and that someone else is going to help me out instead of just letting me quit the team.

5:38 PM

Well, one major technical problem. But I'll be damned if I can figure out how to fix it.


7:49 PM

Because I was not rostered for the game Saturday afternoon (I take evil pleasure in knowing my team lost), we spent Saturday at the Bands of America Grand Nationals Championship at the Hoosierdome. Much better than playing hockey, as it turns out. I even managed to pick the winning band (Lassiter High School, Marietta, GA). Marching band is one of those events I can watch w/out ever regretting that I didn't pursue it further when I was younger. Sure, when I was really young, I wanted to be in the drum & bugle corps. like my brother, but then I discovered that marching band sucks. Never even joined the Husky Marching Band.

Anyway, the competition was fantastic. A surprising number of Indiana bands (and Lawrence Central came in 2nd with its "Spring" routine). Well, it's not something that can be described in text, it's all visual and aural and surprisingly interesting. Nothing like the Marching Hundred kind of marching band. And once again I'm prompted to say: American critics suck! Blast! was brilliant, and this weekend just solidified my position on that statement.

Thursday, November 14, 2002

Well, talking to Beth the past couple of weeks has helped. Of course, since my e-mail is freaking down again, I can't write and tell her what happened last night. I'm not going to make any decisions until I find out if she's coming back in January. If she's not, I'm not. Called The Frank this morning and put my name on the adult league waiting list, and the woman sounded like I would definitely have a team in the next couple weeks. That may be enough for me right now.

My dad will be really disappointed. *Really* disappointed, and that just kills me. But I can't keep doing this every two or three days. One of these days I'm going be so upset after practice I'm going to wreck the car somewhere between Indy and Bloomington, and I'm not going to be able to tell afterward if it was accidental or intentional. And that's just stupid, because it's just a game. A stupid, stupid game.

But I hate to disappoint my dad.

11:16 AM

Last night, at 8:30, a student was assaulted and robbed outside Catherine's building. Two men wearing ski masks and carrying knives grabbed the student from behind as he was heading toward class. They beat him up some, and cut him a little.

It seems like you should be able to go to class without worrying about getting jumped.

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

The most effective way to learn Spanish:

1. Oversleep, thus assuring you are pressed for time when you pack up the digital camera to take to work.
2. Forget to do your Descriptive Geometry, so the three hours you have to work on the BRI specifications shrinks to two while you do the assignment that's due today.
3. Forget the keys to the house, cutting the two hours to an hour and a half because you have to run home and grab the keys from your desk.
4. Neglect to look at anything else in your possession, until you are standing in the middle of a cold empty house with a digital camera in your hand.
5. Now is a good time notice that you packed the Spanish language camera manual instead of the English one.
6. Spend ten minutes trying to track down the reason for the flashing red light.
7. Congratulate yourself on expanding your Spanish vocabulary as you manage to eliminate said flashing red light.

For the record, today I learned that the flashing red light is a Simbolo de "Fecha no ajustada." Of course, the Fecha menu, found on page 22, "permite ajustar la fecha y la hora." Everyone will be glad to know that my digital photos now have the proper time/date stamp on them.

3:04 PM

So, not so much of an over-reaction after all.

This morning's paper reports that a woman was assaulted on the rail-to-trail on Sunday evening while she was out jogging. On the "safe" part of the trail, too, the part that runs by houses and relatively public. I guess that puts an end to my solitary runs there for awhile. I probably shouldn't be running by myself at Thomson Park, either, but I can't spend the rest of my life worrying about getting attacked every time I go out.

In the meantime, I guess I can drive across town and run on the Y's trail, although it also goes through the woods. I could run at Bryan Park, but that's *so* public I'll never do it.

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Wow, my parents are high tech. I took that picture of Luna about 10 minutes ago, e-mailed it my parents about three minutes ago, and my dad has already printed out a copy of it on photo paper for my mom. Now *that's* progress.
7:50 PM

Can I change my mind about my future career?

Well, the internship will still happen, I have an appt. with one of the principals at T/B/P on Monday. I think I will try to put O/M/S off, just in case. That feels a little inconsiderate, but I don't know what else to do.

What I am really stressed over is the project manual (manuals! plural!) for BRI. Whyyyyyyyyyyyyy didn't I say no? I am totally not qualified for this work. Totally. Totally.

On the plus side, I can write off the digital camera I just bought, because it's going to be put to use documenting the BRI houses. I ended up with a Nikon Coolpix because of the price, it was on sale. I almost didn't buy it because one of the reviews I read said it would appeal to "feminine sensibilities." Forget that. I'm all about value.

So far I've taken exactly two pictures, one of Jack's spine (he won't turn around) and one of Luna (that looks pretty good). I'm waiting for the battery to recharge. Tomorrow morning is to be spent photographing every inch of the BRI house on W. 6th.

7:48 PM

I am optimistically cautious about my future career.

Looks like the internship is on for next semester. I haven't firmed it up yet. Kirk thinks I should work for T/B/P, so I'm waiting for one of the principals to get back to me to say yes or no. It doesn't matter so much, though, because an associate at O/M/S has already told me they have an internship available, I just need to send them the parameters. So, I'll give T/B/P until tomorrow to get back to me, and if I don't hear from them, I'll move forward with O/M/S.

T/B/P would be better, they're a smaller, local firm, and do a wide variety of projects, so I'd probably get a lot of good training. On the other hand, O/M/S is larger and has an office in Indy, and I'd probably have a better chance w/future placements if I went there.

Anyway, 8-10 hours a week, in exchange for having my student loans deferred. Works for me.

Monday, November 11, 2002

Yeah, and no one sent me a "Happy One Year Without Coke Anniversary" present, either. What's up with that?
8:35 PM
6:09 PM

Test: Advanced CAD, solid modeling

Desc. Geo. 11a,f,h due

AdCAD - Assgn. 9, Lab 4 due
Quiz Arch. Des. c. 31, 32,33
Lecture c. 34

Quiz Const. Mat.- Insulation/Windows/Doors
--Assgn. 6 due
Lecture Straw, rammed earth const.

Lecture c. 35

AutoCAD - Isometric Drawing
Lecture c. 26

Test: Desc. Geo.
AutoCAD - Obtaining Info

Quiz Arch Des. c. 34,35,36
Lecture c. 11

Friday, November 08, 2002

La luna nueva continues to wreak havoc in our household. Had one last go around over her yesterday, and it should serve as a reminder to me: I am not the only person in the world, I am not the most important person in the world, and I need to stop making everyone around me miserable just because I feel sorry for myself.

I was so tired and headachy on Thursday, I just couldn't stand the kitten. It kept doing kitten things--running up the leg of my longjohns, trying to get in my dinner plate, chewing on my papers, making Jack angry, etc., and my temper kept getting shorter and shorter. Every time Jack hissed, I hissed, too. And Catherine was frantically trying to keep it away from me, w/no luck. We were both practically in tears by the time I shut myself in the bedroom.

But I got some sleep, and although my headache persists, I felt a lot better when I got up on Friday. Jack and Luna seemed to be getting along--more or less--and I spent a lot of time just playing and petting Jack so he would remember that he's my favorite boy. Luna slept a lot, which enhances her cuteness. I like her a lot better when she's not moving.

Checked my e-mail just before I went to practice, and there was a note from C. saying that she'd called the kitten place and told them we need to return Luna because it wasn't working out, Jack was too stressed by her (which is shorthand for "Susan is too stressed by her.")

But that's not what I wanted. I didn't mean for Catherine to give Luna back. I was just tired, I just had a headache, I was just too damn self-involved to see how my bad mood was having an impact on everyone around me. And I called Catherine at work to tell her that she couldn't take the kitten away now, it would be too much like losing yet another pet.

I had just been watching Luna sleep and thinking how much she looked like the black kitten I had when I was a baby who died when she was sleeping (my mom told me I handled it too much and that's why it probably died), and hoping I wasn't jinxed and that this one wasn't going to die on me.

Anyway, I called C. and told her no, you can't give away the kitten, I would feel really, really bad, and then I had to go and start crying of all stupid things. C. kept saying, "I was just trying to make it better for you, and now I've made it worse," so I cried some more. How can a kitten fuck up my life so badly? Ah...more importantly, how can *I* fuck up my life so badly?

So, I spent the evening beating the hell out of a hockey puck because I made Catherine feel like she had to get rid of her kitten to make me happy, and Catherine spent the evening at home feeling bad that she hadn't asked me first before trying to give the kitten back.

The woman who gave the kitten to us probably thinks we're crazy: We want it, no we don't, yes we do, no we don't, yes we do!

So, anyway, here we still have a kitten. This morning was the first vet appt. for the Lunatic, and she didn't really enjoy it. They trimmed her claws for some reason (we didn't ask them to do it) and we heard her screaming the entire time. Mad kitty. And while we were sitting there waiting for the vet to come in, I realized it was the room where we took Lucy that one Sunday that I thought she was dying. At which point I was suddenly crying because I missed Lucy all over again and why do I have to be here at all?

And yes, I got queasy when the vet opened Luna's mouth and forced her to take worm meds, and I had to walk away when the vet was giving her the shots. And I can't help thinking: "I don't want to do this all over again, I can't do this all over again. I'm not ready, I don't want a kitten, I don't want to be here."

But here she sits, watching me type, half sleepy, half alert, and she's very cute, and she's here to stay. La Luna, the new ruling force in our household.

2:47 PM


Thursday, November 07, 2002

Reality check. Sometimes I forget I'm teaching students that live in a whole 'nother world than the one I inhabit.

From thirty paces, I checked the two women off in my mind as lesbians. At 25 paces, I thought, "No, not lesbians, just very hard, straight women." At ten paces, I could listen to their conversation. One of the woman was saying to the other, "Jail isn't nothing. Being in jail didn't scare me *at all*. Jail's nothing."

Nursing students? Office adminstration students? I don't know.

I have one student that I really like, but we having nothing in common. I don't know if we could sustain a conversation outside of the school environment. She's got three kids, a boyfriend who can't seem to watch the kids while she's doing her homework, inadequate HUD housing ("critters" run into her house through the 1" gap under the front door, the breeze coming through her poorly insulated window casings can move papers), no education, and she calls me "Sweetie." One by one, the borderline students have been dropping out. The woman who told me the first day of school she just wanted to get an education in case something happened to her husband some day is gone. The kind of Goth girl from the Chicagoland area is gone. Nameless boys in baseball caps? Gone. I desperately want this student that I like to make it.

But what the hell does "make it" mean? What do I want her to have? Better housing, that's a given, but what else? Should she aspire to be like me, an over-educated, middle class, culturally bland, middle-aged, underpaid, depressed, self-indulgent, gender-confused, white girl? I want her to stick with it, but I can't quite decide what I think that's going to get her in the end.

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

Clearly, I am insane. I really, really need to learn how to say NO. I meant to say no, I really did, but I just can't ever do it. So, I just agreed to produce specification manuals and renovation drawings for the three houses BRI has been working on. I guess I should be flattered they asked me to do it, it means they like the work I've already done for them, but Steve would like them in four weeks. I did have enough sense to not promise to meet his deadline. I mentioned January 1 might be more reasonable, but even that seems like it may kill me, so why did I say yes?

I said yes because he offered me $1750.00 per manual. That's a lot of $$$$. That's more than I take home for a month of full-time teaching. I'll have to cough up some of it for taxes, but if I'm smart and don't let them pay me until January, I can wait awhile on that.

Still, I'm a complete idiot, because I don't even know how to write a spec manual. That in and of itself is truly terrible, because I'm teaching a class on the subject this semester. I don't know why I didn't just say no.

I really want a Coke, but today marks my one year anniversary of No Coke, so I guess I shouldn't end my abstinence streak on such a remarkable day.

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

One of my students surfed the web the entire time I was lecturing in my afternoon class today. At one point I looked over and saw him running something through Google. A little later, I glanced over and thought, "Huh, that page has the same color scheme as my architectural consulting page."

When I was done talking and asked if anyone had any questions, he raised his hand and said, "Yeah, is it true you speak five other languages?" It *was* my architectural consulting page he was looking at, he was sitting there looking at my CV. I felt compelled to explain--with the entire class listening--that being able to read, write, and translate wasn't the same as fluency, but yes, I spoke Russian w/out problems, and did fairly okay w/German and French. And I joked, saying really, I spoke Korean like a grade schooler, more or less.

"Yeah, I read an article you wrote on Korean unification," he said. It turns out he spent the entire class period running my name through Google instead of listening to me explain about polylines. Well, his loss, he won't be able to do this week's homework.

The real problem? I came home and ran my full name through Google, and it's mostly okay, but the fifth hit brings up [erasure].

Damn you, Google.

7:14 PM

Overheard in our living room last night:

"I'm not exactly sure when it happened, but my life has completely jumped the shark."
"Oh, it's just temporary. Luckily, you're not a sitcom so you can't get cancelled."

And in other self-involved news, I find it totally disturbing that my life is a U2 song. Totally, fucking disturbing.