Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Okay, I know my blog editing is messing up my own RSS feeds right now, but I can't tell if other people are receiving my four year olds posts every ten seconds. If so, I'm sorry. I'll be out of the country in just a few days, and you all can take a break from my chaos for a few months.
Shot hoops for about an hour today, then spent the balance of the afternoon reading Katie Hnida's Still Kicking: My Dramatic Journey As the First Woman to Play Division One College Football. I haven't read many sports books since going back to grad school, and this will probably be it for the year. It only took a couple of hours to read, but I think the content will linger with me for awhile. I know a lot of people questioned both her kicking ability and her honesty when left Colorado, but I have to say--Katie's story rings true for me. I suspect any girl/woman who has ever played on a boys'/mens' sports team will recognize at least part of her experience.

Playing on a boys' team in junior high was embarrassing (I'll never forgive the coach for making a big deal out of the chest block drill); playing on a boys' team in high school was mostly humiliating (crying in front of my teammates when I blew out the ligaments in my right ankle isn't one of my favorite memories); and playing in a mens' league my first two years of colleage was traumatic (even before one of my teammates knocked me out cold with a soccer ball, my first concussion). In theory, there were two other women on the team, but they were apparently smarter than I was and left well before season's end. I don't know...I remember being struck mute from finding mens' hands in inappropriate places, being called inappropriate names, being constantly derided or patronized. I was literally unable to open my mouth when Anka asked me what was wrong after practice. I stopped talking to her completely, because how could I tell her about the things my teammates were saying and doing? God, I hated that team and everyone on it.

Anyway, how much worse was Katie's story? If I still feel like vomiting twenty years after relatively mild harassment, what must she be going through? I think my own blog is a testament to the power of sport to drive a person to do incredibly stupid and dumb things--play even when concussed, play with a broken bone, play even though you know you're moving one step closer to permanent disability. So, I understand what kept her coming back to game. I was willing to sacrifice my mental and physical health for recreational sports; imagine if I'd had real talent, if I had been good enough at anything to play Div I. Well, Katie Hnida's stronger than I ever was--I stopped playing soccer by my twentieth birthday, and she kept working to make football happen, even after being raped by a teammate. I'm just sad that she had to work so hard, and that Div I football protects its abusive behaviors so well. Hasn't anyone in athletics learned anything since I was a freshman 20+ years ago? Apparently not.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Yesterday, we went for a hike out at Cedar Bluffs (if you follow that link--look at the rather radical topography). Once upon a time (before we knew the Nature Conservancy rules, I swear), we were strong and agile enough to climb straight up the bluff. Hard to believe, but it's true. Our first trip to the bluffs was spurred by our desire to find the Corbeau letterbox (in its original location). We've been back a couple of times just because. Yesterday, we took the trail around the foot of the bluff, and that was challenging enough. A lot of scrambling over slippery rocks--a stupid thing to do the week before you're scheduled to leave for India, I'd say. Still, it was fun, even though I spent 3/4 of the time saying "You remember when I wasn't such a wuss?" We saw a baby Copperhead snake taking in the sun on one of the rocks.

Carburetion Day 2007

Friday, May 25, 2007

Yesterday, a black ant bit my face. Also, I bought an MP3 player.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Our trip to Fort Wayne last weekend reminded me that I'm generally in favor of people named Beth. Well, really, any variation on Elizabeth is probably fine--I'm not sure I've ever met a Beth, Liz, Lizzie, Eliza, Bess or Izzie that I haven't liked.

Ray is four, and as charming as he ever was. Maggie is eleven months, and the cutest cute thing I've ever seen. Much like my experience with Dana's kids, I kept expecting a fight to break out between the two kids all weekend, but Ray seems to really like having a sister. Whenever she cried, he jumped up and tried to make her laugh, instead of clubbing her on the head, which is what I thought brothers were supposed to do in that situation.

Really nice to see Beth for a few days--we missed the last two Thanksgivings in Valparaiso (my fault), so it's been two years since we've talked in person. That's okay, because whenever we get together, it's like we're just picking up a conversation from the day before. Maybe it's because we spent so many hours in the car together going back and forth to hockey practice, but I forget to be quiet and awkward when we're together.

We had a nice visit to the Lincoln Museum--I really recommend it, and it has a nice "conservators' area" for the kids to play in. We also went to the botanical gardens to see the butterflies. No sporting events, but we totally need to go back in the winter for a hockey game, or maybe to watch some baseball if they get the new stadium built. I like a town that has lots of sports opportunities. Beth just got a tenure-track job at St. Francis, a Division II school that apparently has an awesome football team. Lucky woman.
We take running water for granted. Even though I went to junior high and high school with several people who had neither running water nor electricity on their properties, I have come to expect running water wherever I am in the U.S. Especially in my own house. It's not until you don't have it that you realize how convenient it is to turn on a faucet and not have to wonder if you're ever going to get anything out of it.

It's not like we've been living totally without water, but we lost 1/2 of our water pressure overnight about eight years ago after the City did some work on the water main in front of our house. A couple of months ago, our front yard got hit by lightning, and at that point, we lost what little pressure we had until then. The hot water still worked because it was being slowly accumulated overnight in the water heater, but we had no cold water in the kitchen, and the water in the bathroom was just a weak stream.

All this is to say that over the past two days we've had our house entirely re-plumbed. I hadn't realized how deprived we'd been until I turned on the kitchen faucet yesterday and WATER CAME OUT OF THE SPOUT. How did the plumber make that happen? We have water in our kitchen sink AND our bathroom sink AND even in our toilet. Do you realize it's not supposed to take 10 minutes for the tank to fill, or 30 minutes to fill the washing machine? For the past eight years, we've been wasting all this time waiting, waiting, waiting on water, and it turns out a couple of thousand bucks and a good plumber could have fixed it for us in 48 hours.
Well, I was going to write out a long post about a few of the misassumptions in this blog entry. For instance, Kinsey may have developed a personal fascination with sex by the end of his career, but it hardly motivated his original choice of research topics. Anyone who has spent time with his gall wasp collection would probably back me up on this. When someone says "it makes sense," that usually means "well, I have no evidence, but I will infer based on my own experience." Based on my own experience, I can say that I do the research that I do not because it's personally fascinating, but because it's convenient and reasonably not boring. That's all.

Anyway, there was some other stuff I wanted to comment on, but in the end, what I've decided to say is this:

My wife is not matronly. If you can't recognize a hot, lesbian chick when you see one, well, that's your problem. Please use the proper adjective next time.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

A long, long time ago, I lived in Los Angeles. A lifetime ago. Barely remember it. One thing I do remember, however, was scraping together enough money to eat at the California Pizza Kitchen in the Wells Fargo Center downtown. Back then, I wasn't a vegetarian, and I was all about the barbeque chicken pizza. I think I only managed to save up enough money twice to eat there, but I remember how great the pizza was. That may have been the only thing I was sad to leave behind when I left. Well, and the museums, but that's about it. Anyway, I'm here to tell you--that cardboard garbage California Pizza Kitchen is selling in the frozen food aisle isn't worth whatever spare change I could scrape together. This is twice now that I have succumbed to the temptation of the shiny yellow box, and both times, I have had a completely dismal meal. So, knock it off, CPK. Next time, I might as well just spend 99 cents on the storebrand cardboard frozen pizza.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Well. Do you think I'll come back in five years and read that last post and remember exactly what it was that had me so embittered? I'm not going to enlighten anyone, but I will say as a future memory prompt: today I drove some friends to the airport in Chicago, and while I was glad to do it (and really, I was, I don't know how they would have managed six pieces of luggage, a baby, a stroller, a dog in a carrier, two laptops, a diaper bag and a purse on the bus), I had to give up something else to do it. Obviously, giving up that something else made for an angry and disappointed Susan yesterday. It was worth giving up, seeing Ayse, Olivier and Sinan off today, but it didn't seem like it last night. And maybe it won't seem like it later, but in the meantime, I'll take it as a good trade off.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

I feel like I should type some sort of wrap up post, maybe something demonstrating either a) giving up everything you value in life to earn a Ph.D. is well worth it; or b) there is no point in giving up everything you value in life to earn a Ph.D. because it will never be worth it. There's probably a middle ground between those two points, but I haven't been able to find it. It's like the manic-depressive version of graduate school: "Everything's great! Everything sucks! Everything's great! Everything sucks!"

One thing I know for sure: agreeing to a 3-hour one-way commute so your wife can keep her job is in no way a good idea. In the last month, I have driven not hundreds, but thousands, of miles trying to keep everything in balance: home, work, school, professional obligations, personal obligations, friendships, family, etc. I have done a horrible, horrible job of balancing things this past year. I had less academic stress this year, but the personal stress levels skyrocketed. I think I became more integrated socially in my Illinois home, which made it hard to leave behind everytime I needed to go back to Indiana. It was much easier to just pack up and leave last year when I didn't have any friends in Urbana-Champaign. Now, I feel like I have two homes pulling at me all the time, and I can never be in the right place at the right time. And that's without even considering the large magnet pull of family from the west coast.

I desperately want to live in only one place, or god, if I have to commute, can't it take place all in one time zone? Because I'm really, really tired of not knowing what time it is. Have you ever spent two years not knowing what time it is, two years during which it is fairly essential to show up on time to class, meetings and lunch dates?, this reads mostly as an elaboration of point "b" as stated above.

Academically? Things are fine. Completed papers weren't as polished as I would have wished, and I know I didn't perform very well on my final exam (although I only needed a 75% to get a 96% in the class, so I can't really care about that too much). My final presentation in my Rajput Architecture class was actually quite awesome, too bad the paper didn't live up to its promise. Doesn't matter, it's over, can't change it now. Well, yes, I can, and I will, because it will make a very nice article, two drafts from now.

I have to write one conference paper over the summer, that's not too worrisome, but I need to go to Ujjain before I can write it. I also have a rather more serious paper to write before October 20, and I'd like to get some of that out of the way this summer. I want a preliminary draft (advisor's eyes only) of my dissertation proposal written by August 18. Also, I'd like a preliminary bibliography for both my major and minor field exams completed by the same date. Oh, yeah, I'm also supposed to pass Advanced Hindi this summer. I need to go to Varanasi. I need to go to Ujjain. I need to go to Delhi. It would be nice if I could stop in Mathura. I'd like to go back to Agra. I'd like to go to Bikaner and Udaipur. I've only got ten weeks, and yeah, there's that whole go-to-class-every-day-and-do-your-homework thing that I also have to do.

So, that's the semester wrap up. At home in Illinois until Thursday a.m., drive home to Indiana Thursday p.m., in Ft. Wayne Friday and Saturday, drive home to Indiana on Sunday. Try to relax for four days. Up to the Speedway for Carb Day on Friday, over to Illinois on Saturday, drive home to Indiana on Sunday. Try to relax for a few days. See some friends? Do I have any left in Indiana?

I only have one more thing to buy before I go to India (an inflatable pillow), but at some point, I should think more seriously about packing. My visa came back FIVE DAYS AFTER I MAILED IT TO CHICAGO. That must be some sort of bureaucratic record. Not that I'm complaining.

Oh, yeah. I bought a telescope with some of the prize money. I ordered it on Friday, it was supposed to arrive this coming Wednesday, then I got a notice saying it was backordered. Oh, yeah? Then how come your stupid website said there were still 2 in stock? Last time I order anything from you people, let me tell you. So, maybe, or maybe not, I will have a new telescope to use for a few days before I leave for India. Catherine has permission to use it while I'm gone.

Friday, May 11, 2007

done done
done done done done done done done done done done done done done done donedonedonedonedonedonedonedonedonedonedonedonedonedonedone


But done.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

I would just to draw everyone's attention to the last section of this news article. $*#*! monkeys.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

I'll just try and capture a few random thoughts before I go underground for the rest of the semester.

I'm exhausted, having arisen at 4:00 a.m. to give me enough time to get back to Illinois for the last meeting of my postcolonial queer seminar. I've been at home "taking care" of the cats since Catherine has been in out of town. Our tenth wedding anniversary was last Thursday, but our plans to get together and celebrate over the weekend were thwarted by a death in the family. We're not scheduled to see each other again until May 7. I'm not even sure I remember what she looks like. But, hopefully, we should have a full month (almost, anyway) together before I leave for India.

Speaking of, I spent a huge amount of time yesterday filling out visa paperwork, etc. I haven't really started thinking about the trip, but abruptly realized that I need to take care of all the formalities or I may not ever get out the door. Note to self: turn in fellowship acceptance tomorrow. As I told Beth, I'm pretty much not packing before I go. If I forget anything, well, there's always Big Shopper.

Anyway, I've got one more paper to write, one more project to complete, about 20 more exams to grade, final grades to calculate, and then one last teaching meeting. Then I'm taking a few days off before trying to organize my research for the summer. Paper writing went pretty well this semester (so far). The paper I turned into today (all 47 pages of it, but that includes illustrations) is probably the first draft of my first dissertation chapter. The paper I turned in a few weeks ago isn't nearly as developed, but is probably going to work into my second dissertation chapter. The paper I'm going to turn in on Friday is related to my dissertation, but probably won't lead directly into the third chapter. Still, it's been useful. Chapter four first draft will be written this summer, and presented at a conference in October. Chapter five...don't know. It would be a better idea to take my exams and actually defend my dissertation proposal before doing this, but this is what happens when your advisor is out of the country for a year. I'm going to have an incredibly well-developed proposal, that's all I can say. Three of my committee members have been reading all of this stuff I'm writing, so I'm hoping they will red flag anything they think won't work in the long run. I've got a good research agenda worked out for the summer, so I think things are going as well as they could be doing at this point.

Really, compared to fall and spring semesters last year, everything has been going pretty well. I haven't been to the counseling center even once, although I admit that's mostly because of lack of time in which to have a nervous breakdown. It looks like I forgot to mention below that one of my papers was well-received on campus (look now because I'm sure the web page will change soon). I found out last night that a second paper was well-received in the Department of Landscape Architecture, but I don't have a fancy link for that. I figure I'm getting paid about $50 an hour in prize money to do work I would have been doing, anyway. That's good incentive to keep writing. That, and the fellowship money I was already getting, I guess.

Okay, I'm completely exhausted, it's been a long week. Catch you on the flip-flop.