Monday, July 30, 2007

Daycare drama--advice, please

Facts:
  • We love our current daycare provider, "Serena." She runs a very small (~6 kids/day, w/one assistant), preschool daycare. She takes kids from near newborn to 5 years old, but the kids we see there are mostly around age 2 or younger.
  • Serena is amazing. I can't emphasize this enough. Said a coworker who sent his kids to her daycare: "If the house were on fire, Serena would meditate for a minute, then devise a fun game to get all the children out of the house without them even noticing the fire." Probably true, minus the moment of meditation. She is downright serene.
  • She's not cheap: we pay $850/month for 3 days/week, which is a sizable chunk of my paycheck.
  • Serena's daycare is a 15-minute drive from our home.
  • Dr. Wonderful and Fantastic Mentor both have their kids at "Hippie Nursery School" and rave about it.
  • Hippie Nursery School is a 5-minute walk from our home.
  • Hippie Nursery School is $650/month for 5 days/week.
  • Hippie Nursery School has ~20/kids at a time.
  • Hippie Nursery School only takes kids age 2 and older.
  • Lucas turns 2 in one month.
  • We have been accepted to Hippie Nursery School; I have the forms filled out on my desk.
Today I told Serena that for financial reasons and the proximity of Hippie Nursery School, we'd be moving Lucas there when he turned 2.

Serena was, to put it mildly, crushed. About on the verge of tears, and this was in front of a new-to-the-school parent. She was holding Lucas on her lap and clutched him tightly, saying quietly, "No, no, no, no, no." "Do not take him away," she pleaded. "We will work something out. Do not take him away. He is the best one."

She called later today to talk to Mr. Trillwing and me about the situation and told us that at age 2, her rate for full-time kids goes down to $720/month and $525/month if Lucas is enrolled for only three days. So basically if we keep Lucas there, we'll be getting the same high quality care for $325 cheaper a month than we are now. Crazy, eh?

During this call, she also mentioned that Lucas is her favorite child. (Does she say that to all the parents? I sense not.)

More things you should know:
  • Serena is not only a licensed daycare provider, but also a credentialed teacher. She's very bright, and has a Master's degree in economics. She's been teaching preschoolers for 22 years. I'd guess she's in her 50s.
  • Serena is from India and is, I believe, Hindu; the assistant I see most frequently is from Nepal, and is a very recent (9 months) immigrant. Serena has another assistant who's not usually there when I drop off or pick up Lucas who is Muslim (she wears a headscarf). I really like the multiculturalism and multiracial atmosphere. This is reflected in the kids enrolled at the school as well.
  • Lucas adores Serena. He used her name before he regularly said "Mama." He's making terrific progress there.
  • From what I've seen at Hippie Nursery School, most of the kids are white (with a sprinkling of mixed-race Asian and Latino--Dr. Wonderful's and Fantastic Mentor's kids). I believe all the teachers at Hippie Nursery School are white.
  • Aside from campus, our town is, for California, quite white and wealthy. I value the diversity of Serena's daycare and want Lucas to find such diversity completely normal--which it is in my hometown and in Nearby City.
  • Ideally, we would have Lucas in daycare for full days MWF and mornings TR.
  • Because of traffic on Fridays, the total amount of time we spend driving to and from Serena's every week is about 5.5 hours. We wouldn't drive at all to Hippie Nursery School.
  • I ran into Fantastic Mentor today. She sent both her daughters to Hippie Nursery School at age 2, and she said she felt they didn't really have "enough hands on deck" to give 2-year-old boys all the attention they need.
My head tells me to send Lucas to Hippie Nursery School. It's closer, less expensive for the schedule we'd like him to be on, and highly recommended. It doesn't have a highly academic curriculum; the emphasis is on play and on social and emotional development. Plus we'd be able to forge closer (and much desired) connections with Dr. Wonderful and Fantastic Mentor.

My heart tells me to stay with Serena. She's making good progress with him, and Lucas adores her. But the drive is a bit crazy--we couldn't live farther from her and still be in the same town--and the cost is an issue relative to Hippie Nursery School. I'm not exactly clear what her academic program is, but I recall her talking about having the kids reading and writing before kindergarten. I don't want to be a pushy, competitive, obsessive parent, but if she can maintain the confidence and curiosity Lucas currently has and have him prepared for kindergarten, I would nominate her for canonization in several faiths.

My gut says to stay with Serena for at least another 6 months to a year. I'm not sure if we'd get accepted as easily at Hippie Nursery School at that point as we did this time, especially if we turn them down now.

Mr. Trillwing and I need to go back and take another look at Hippie Nursery School, and we're scheduled to have a sit-down with Serena on Wednesday afternoon.

Those of you with kids, or who teach the little ones: What has been your experience with 2-year-olds? How did you decide upon when to send the kids to preschool, and how did you evaluate the schools you considered?

Again, many thanks in advance for your advice.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

More on Citizendium

Mike Johnson from the Citizendium project has opened a dialogue about women and Citizendium on the Citizendium blog. Please go read his post and continue the discussion over there. I've already added one comment.

I'm concerned that Mike saw my original post as "snarky" and full of name-calling. Diid anyone else read it as such? That's not the tone I meant to take.

Thanks for participating in this conversation with me!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Citizendium: Where are the women?

(cross-posted at BlogHer)

I know, I know. . . It's a question that gets asked way too frequently when we're talking about technology, but where the hell are the women in the Citizendium project?

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Chances are you saw mention of the Wikipedia "expert" spin-off around the time it announced its pilot, and then you didn't hear much else. And, like me, you probably promptly forgot about the project.

This weekend my interest in the project's status was renewed when I stumbled across a mention of Citizendium at Ragesoss 2.02, where Sage Ross reports:

I've been keeping my eye on Citizendium, watching as the edit rate dwindles and the policy discussion about licensing stagnates. I hoped that Citizendium would help establish the legitimacy of experts contributing to the work of open content, and that it develop a mutually beneficial relationship with Wikipedia.

Unfortunately, it seems like Citizendium has missed its chance, and is slowly fading out.


(Sage's fuller analysis of the current status of Citizendium may be found here on Wikipedia. She also points us to a podcast that discusses Wikipedia's possible future place, if any, in the academy.)

And so I've been thinking quite a bit about wikis, the intellectual endeavor as represented in U.S. higher education, the distributed and partial nature of knowledge, and what it means to be a public intellectual--as well as how all of these subjects intersect with women's lives.

You can imagine, therefore, that this is going to be a long post.

Mixed feelings about encyclopedia, online or off

As an academic, I have mixed feelings about creating an encyclopedia on a wiki. On the one hand, I'm thrilled that people are finally realizing that knowledge is distributed--that is, it's constructed by multiple people; it doesn't just spring from the mind of a genius. I like employing collaboratively edited projects in the classroom because they reinforce this idea within students.

On the other hand, my students rarely understand the academy's insistence on "legitimate" academic sources--that is, sources that have passed some kind of critical muster, usually peer review by a panel of experts. Nor do my students understand that encyclopedia articles, are, by their very nature, inappropriate sources for academic papers because they omit more than they include. And what they omit is usually the messy, important stuff.

Many academics felt Citizendium held some promise. As a sort of peer-reviewed form of Wikipedia, it would provide a launching point for our students' research projects, a general but authoritative overview of subjects and academic subfields. Such a project, therefore, would require the focused and sustained participation of academics themselves, for academics tend to trust only other academics because they play by the same professional rules. (For Citizendium's own description of the project, see its "About" page.)

In doing research for this post, I can across very few women who have joined the conversation about Citizendium. The debate over its appropriateness is dominated by men. Even more importantly, in skimming the histories of Citizendium's articles, I saw very few contributions by women editors and writers.

What I did find

To better understand the Citizendium project, you should read founder Larry Sanger's essay "Who Says We Know: On the New Politics of Knowledge." Here's an excerpt:
The most massive encyclopedia in history—well, the most massive thing often called an encyclopedia—is Wikipedia. But Wikipedia has no special role for experts in its content production system. So, can it be relied upon to get mainstream expert opinion right?

Wikipedia's defenders are capable of arguing at great length that expert involvement is not necessary. They are entirely committed to what I call dabblerism, by which I mean the view that no one should have any special role or authority in a content creation system simply on account of their expertise. I apologize for the neologism, but there is no word meaning precisely this view. I did not want to use "amateurism," since that word is opposed to "professionalism," and the view I want to discuss attacks not the privileges of professionals, per se, but of experts. The issue here is not whether people should make money from their work, but whether their special knowledge should give them some special authority. To the latter, dabblerism says no.

Wikipedia's defenders have a great many arguments for dabblerism: non-experts can create great things; the "wisdom of crowds" makes deference to experts unnecessary; studies appear to confirm this in the case of Wikipedia; there is no prima facie reason to give experts any special role; it is only fair to judge people by what they do, and not by their credentials; and making a role for experts will actually ruin the collaborative process.

Not one of these arguments is any good.


Sanger's primary concern seems to be about the reliability of any project that is built through open editing in which anyone and everyone holds equal authority. Citizendium, he claims, will privilege expertise by putting in place a system for recognizing experts. The one official respondent to the essay who is a woman, Gloria Orrigi, claims that the crux of the dilemma is really the contributors' reputations:
An efficient knowledge system like Wikipedia inevitably will grow by generating a variety of evaluative tools: that its how culture grows, how traditions are created. What is a cultural tradition? A labelling systems of insiders and outsiders, of who stays on and who is lost in the magma of the past. The good news is that in the Web era this inevitable evaluation is made through new, collective tools that challenge the received views and develop and improve an innovative and democratic way of selection of knowledge. But there's no escape from the creation of a "canonical"—even if tentative and rapidly evolving—corpus of knowledge.


Over at Many 2 Many, Clay Shirky questions Sanger's faith in experts:
Sanger’s published opinions seem based on three beliefs:

1. Experts are a special category of people, who can be readily recognized within their domains of expertise.
2. A process of open creation in which experts are deferred to as of right will be superior to one in which they are given no special treatment.
3. Once experts are identified, that deference will mainly be a product of moral suasion, and the only place authority will need to intrude are edge cases.

All three beliefs are false.

There are a number of structural issues with Citizendium, many related to the question of motivation on the part of the putative editors; these will probably prove quickly fatal. More interesting to me, though, is is the worldview behind Sanger’s attitude towards expertise, and why it is a bad fit for this kind of work. Reading the Citizendium manifesto, two things jump out: his faith in experts as a robust and largely context-free category of people, and his belief that authority can exist largely free of expensive enforcement. Sanger wants to believe that expertise can survive just fine outside institutional frameworks, and that Wikipedia is the anomaly. It can’t, and it isn’t.


Concerns about women's interests

Orrigi's comment about the human nature to exclude some people and favor others in any cultural project highlights my own concern. Across time and cultures, women have been deemed, sometimes subtly and frequently explicitly, to be less reliable sources of information. Today in the U.S., women are more populous than men in undergraduate education, but they are yet to be as well represented in graduate programs in the sciences as are men.

In a system where people with Ph.D.s may be favored over those without, and where the accuracy of scientific information is a priority (Sanger cites several scientific examples in his essay, and the major scientific journal Nature published an oft-cited report on the accuracy of scientific information on Wikipedia), it's likely that women's participation in the project may not be as valued or welcomed. After all, as Shirky points out, these experts come to Citizendium from institutional contexts, and their institutions haven't always been friendly to women's interests.

I'm hoping this is an unrealized fear, but history tells me events will probably play out in favor of men's claims of knowledge over women's claims, whether they be those of women writing for Citizendium or women written about in Citizendium. Already Anna Haynes has undertaken a brief comparison and critique of Citizendium's page on respected geneticist Barbara McClintock. She concludes that Citizendium's editors have, in subtle ways, toned down reports of the vitriol aimed at McClintock from the male scientists of her era. (For one snippet of this conversation, see this page from the article's history, with the editor's comment on a description of McClintock's critics: "Harsh skepticism? Are we sure about this?")

There is also the concern that, in adopting the very traditional, rules-bound divisions of the academy--its various disciplines--Citizendium further squeezes out women and people of color, whose concerns have been inadequately represented by most disciplines. (Hence the need for women's studies, Chicana/o studies, African American studies, queer studies, and the like.)

Kali Tal explains her difficulties with Citizendium, race, and gender:
I wrote to colleagues and friends about CZ and invited them to participate -- and especially appealed to African Americanist and feminist scholars, since that is my own area of expertise. I asked, in my announcements, what Wikipedia might have looked like if there were significant participation from black or women scholars from its inception. I assumed -- wrongly -- that Ethnic studies and Women's studies scholars would be welcome at CZ. I was gravely disappointed. We are not welcome, and our disciplines are not welcome. We may participate only if we are willing to subsume our work under the headings of other, "more traditional" disciplines. CZ as conceived of and enforced by Sanger is a strongly conservative endeavor, and adamantly opposed to progressive scholarship.


Sanger apparently responded privately to Tal's characterization of Citizendium; Tal rebuts him here.

Where do we go from here?

Citizendium may, in theory, be a worthwhile endeavor, but in practice it's flawed. (See Liz Losh's thoughts on the subject.) I'm worried about its reproduction of the categories of knowledge of the academy without questioning them. And those categories--in the forms of disciplines and departments and professional societies--traditionally have not strongly welcomed women's participation.

Unfortunately, much critique of Citizendium degenerates into name-calling. See this post and, more importantly, its comments for a prime example of this phenomenon. I wish internet denizens could have civil discussions about such interesting projects.

What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Light blogging

Many apologies for the lack of posts recently. I'm working on a longer thought-piece (thought-post?) on photography and miniaturization; hopefully I'll finish it before this weekend. In the meantime, I encourage you to enjoy the awesomeness that is my son:


Interlude: Mamablogging

I just wanted to say that I am completely, unabashedly, head-over-heels in love with this little man:



That is all.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Please help: Student-centered and -initiated learning vs. students' grade anxieties

So. . . I'm heavily involved with an institute on teaching and technology this week. This afternoon I participated in an interesting discussion that was inspired by a brief reading on how to make learning truly student-centered.

I've always been a big adherent of student-centered learning, but I've frequently hit a wall: when I try to have my students take responsibility for their learning by, for example, giving them a fairly open-ended project that calls on them to reflect not only on content but on process--my students get very anxious.

Why? Because the students admitted to this university have been acculturated to value grades above all else. The overwhelming majority were admitted based largely on their standardized test scores and grades. So that becomes their end goal in every class: a good grade. Students here are famous for asking exactly what they need to do to get an A on a project.

Such an attitude, you can imagine, stifles student creativity and learning in most cases. It means grading process as much as the finished product, which means significantly more work for the instructor.

So I ask you, oh wise and faithful readers: how does one encourage, inspire, assess, and reward truly student-centered learning in a culture where students seem to value grades over the learning experience?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Hither and yon

For those of you interested in museums and/or social networking, this past weekend I posted--count 'em--five posts on the subject of museums and social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, LinkedIn, and Twitter. The first in the series can be found here. As a bonus, the posts contain vintage coffee maker ads because I was using a metaphor 'n' shit.

Also of note: an excellent article by one of my former professors, Jacki Thompson Rand: "Why I Can't Visit the National Museum of the American Indian: Reflections of an accidental privileged insider, 1989-1994." Go read it!

I rock. Dr. Brazen Hussy says so.


Dr. Brazen Hussy has bestowed upon me a Rockin' Girl Blogger award. This is what she had to say about moi:
She's got blogging dedication that I can't even begin to understand. Hell, she even got a job offer because of one of her blogs! And she often writes long, well-thought out posts on interesting topics that I admire very much.

Thank you, Dr. Hussy!

And now I shall return the favor by picking out five bloghers whom I feel rock. Now, since I am a contributing editor over at BlogHer, you might know that I follow the feeds of 650, ahem, a lot of blogs. So 'tis very hard to pick just five. I could easily make a list of 100 (and perhaps sometime I will). (And just for the record, I totally would have included What the Hell is Wrong with You? if Dr. BH hadn't nominated me herself.)

1. Phantom Scribbler: Phantom rocks for so many reasons. Her generosity, her candor, her writing that's hilarious and thought-provoking by turns--and sometimes both at the same time.

2. Liz Losh of virtualpolitik: However many readers virtualpolitik has, it's too few. Liz brings the sexy back to rhetoric. I don't know how she finds the time to write so many meaningful posts on visual and textual cultures.

3. Geeky Mom, Ph.D.: Laura always writes thoughtfully and articulately--yet with passion--about issues I care about. As a bonus, she writes at a second blog as well: ETC @ BMC.

4. Queen of West Procrastination: Because Maryanne is funny. Very funny. And since she's still a grad student, she helps me remember what it was all about. And for that I am grateful.

5. Nina Simon of Museum 2.0: Nina is a relative newcomer to the blogosphere, but I love her posts about how museums can use web 2.0 concepts online and in exhibition halls, on the screen and off.

Keep up the good work, everyone. You all (all my readers) rock!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Hot

It was a record-breaking 108 degrees yesterday in the city 15 minutes down the road.

Here, it was only 104. Yay for us.

A friend of mine returned from a ten-day trip out of state to find his house a balmy 98 degrees. After two hours of AC, it was a pleasant 94.

And it had to be about 100 degrees at the fireworks show on Wednesday night--even though it was at 9:30 p.m.

This is my favorite and least favorite time of year here. I love that the town empties out and gets a very small-town feel, but I hate the heat. (May I remind you that at about this time last year, our AC went out? And the university decided not to cool "non-essential" buildings--meaning the (largely humanities) classroom and office buildings, while the sciences basked in 65-degree glory? And that I'm switching jobs and will soon be housed in one such building? I am hoping for less heat-related drama this year.)

On the plus side, the local buses are free because it's a spare-the-air day. If you think I'm going to be a loyal bicycle commuter in this heat, you have another think coming. . .

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Mr. Trillwing, Literary Scholar

Mr. Trillwing isn't all that excited about reading to Lucas. He'd rather leave that task to me until Lucas and he can have conversations about the books they share. Last night, however, I applied some parental peer pressure ("Come on, all the cool dads are doing it") and persuaded him to read Lucas a book.

It required, however, several false starts, as Mr. Trillwing kept skipping words, and I, like a good 5-year-old, kept correcting him because the omissions were throwing off the meter of the verse. Eventually, the whole exercise devolved into giggles as I kept apologizing to Lucas for his father's semiliteracy.

Mr. Trillwing protested: "It's just that this book is like Atlas Shrugged, you know? It gets easier to read after the first half."

The book in question?


Yeah, just like Ayn Rand, Honey.

Independence Day

Today in the U.S. we celebrate Independence Day, the day our founders (men and women, though it was the men who scripted the document because god forbid there be women in the room when they're talking about liberation) signed the Declaration of Independence.

It's hard, in these scary global times and under this particular presidential administration, to be a patriot in the United States, especially if one is well-read and well-informed--which far too few Americans are. But for the particular freedoms (eroded as they recently have been) granted to us with the Bill of Rights appended to the Constitution, I am grateful (and particularly for those granting us freedom of speech, assembly, and religion*). By being born when and where and to whom I was, I truly won, as Warren Buffett has called it, "the ovarian lottery."

And so today, while I could (so very) easily pen a tirade against the current administration and rant about the myriad injustices within the country today, I'm going to just say thank you to the founding mothers and fathers and to all those who have fought (mostly in unarmed conflicts, I might add, in our civil rights and suffrage movements) for our freedoms, and share this little story, which some Americans may have heard but which I'm guessing is largely unknown to my international readers. It's one of my favorites.

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were co-conspirators in the American Revolution against Britain, but beginning with the election of 1796, when Adams defeated Jefferson for the presidency by three electoral votes, and throughout the Jefferson presidency that began in 1800 (when Jefferson defeated Adams), their differences of vision for the new republic turned them into political enemies. A dozen years later, however, they reconciled and became friends, albeit ones with some geographical distance between them—Jefferson lived in Virginia and Adams in Massachusetts.

On July 4, 1826, the nation was celebrating the 50th anniversary of its declaration of independence. Both Jefferson and Adams (who was 7 years Jefferson's senior yet who had during their contentious years vowed to outlive Jefferson) lay on their deathbeds. Unbeknownst to Adams, Jefferson expired first. When Adams died later that afternoon, his last words were "Jefferson still lives."


For that--for the fact that Jefferson's doctrines upholding the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness survive--I am grateful.



* and I am especially grateful this has been interpreted as freedom from religion as well, especially considering the ascendancy in the past 20 years in this country of a particular brand of Christian who would deny us those freedoms at the very same time as they claim we are denying them their right to worship as they please.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Manic

All my life, I've been prone to tackling too many projects at a time. I'm in a particularly project-manic stage right now. There's so much possibility, and so many things I enjoy doing, and for once I'm actually optimistic about my own future.

But I'm painting (a crazy brilliantly colored quail), revising my dissertation, blogging hither and yon, reading several books at once, mothering, transitioning from one career position to another, researching a couple of different topics, gardening, and more. And there's an old novel I'd like to revisit writing. But there's never enough time, and I can't seem to focus on just one thing at once.

Plus I'd like to have another baby in the next couple of years. Is that crazy? I suspect it is.

"Slash" and braided careers in academia, or how I learned to embrace career chaos

(cross-posted at BlogHer)

No, I'm not talking about that kind of slash. Instead, I'm referring to Marci Alboher's concept of each person having multiple careers simultaneously--for example, a piano teacher/shoe designer or a pet store owner/lawyer.

In academia, the slash is integral to the job. Most institutions grant tenure and merit increases based on research, teaching, and service to the institution and community. What that means is your average faculty member at a research university needs to be a scholar/writer/researcher/professor/adviser/dissertation chair/committee member. At a small liberal arts college, it might look more like professor/study abroad adviser/ad hoc academic technologist/accreditation committee member.

We're told again and again to find a balance among our responsibilities, to not get so involved in teaching (if we're at a research university) that we become too busy to publish, publish, publish. We're warned not to let our institutional service obligations get in the way of our service to our students.

And yet many of us, I suspect, see these obligations not as "slashes," but as all responsibilities that lie within the spectrum of job duties of a faculty member. Perhaps our outlook is more akin to Penelope Trunk's concept of the braided career. It's only when we choose--or are forced to--leave our teaching and research positions in higher education that we find ourselves contemplating our skill sets and slashes, the different sections that make up our vocational braids.

As the humanities job market for tenure track positions becomes ever more competitive, more and more of us are being called upon to reevaluate our career options. When you feel you have been called to a life of teaching and research, it's hard to sit down and list your transferable skills, but I did just this after two unsuccessful years on the academic job market.

My skills were writing, research, and teaching (duh), but also new media/web 2.0 technologies, informal (e.g. museum) education, and even illustration (I drew a comic strip for my undergraduate newspaper). My interests were museums, creative writing, publishing, and, well, just about anything but chemistry, physics, and real estate.

So I started a blog where I share my thoughts about museums. And seeing that adjunct teaching was never going to pay my bills, I gave up teaching in favor of work as an academic technologist--basically, I teach faculty how to improve their teaching through the judicious use of technology.

I was thrilled to be finally making what seemed to me to be a reasonable salary. Also, after years of worrying about grading, writing, publishing, course planning and evaluation, and more, I was relieved that I would only have one thing to focus on: training faculty. Yay!

And yet several times a week, my old slashes would creep to the front of my mind. Browsing the web, I'd stumble across an excellent topic for a journal article, or I'd think of something that needed to be added to my dissertation as I revise it for publication, or some book I'd like to teach in a future course. I'd get distracted by news of an upcoming museum exhibit or conference. I'd become lost in planning an event for our campus's teaching resources center, in recruiting faculty as speakers for a session on race, class, and gender in the classroom.

Teaching, it ends up, is a big slash for me. Writing and research are two others. And so I find myself in the midst of such activities, and inevitably new opportunities (jobs!) arise. So I find myself switching positions again, this time to teach faculty and grad students how to teach (with or without technology). Last week alone I was offered three different jobs, all related to my various interests, all of them with teaching and humanities at their core. (I was recruited for one of them--teaching museum studies--by someone who reads my museums blog.)

My husband and my family think I'm a little bit addled, that it's not in my best interest to be cobbling together a series of short-term and simultaneous jobs and calling it a "career." But like many academics, I'm perpetually curious about new areas of inquiry, and so I consider myself fortunate to be working for a university system large enough where I can move around a bit and experiment with different fields--but all under the same health insurance and retirement plans.

It helps to know that I'm not alone. What Now?, Breena Ronan, Articulate Dad, and YelloCello, among others, have for the past year or more been reflecting on what it means to have an academic skill set but not teach undergraduates and grad students. Reading their blogs has been fascinating because I can watch, day by day, as they try to synthesize their academic loyalties, intellectual passions, and family responsibilities.

So to my fellow academics (and to anyone who finds herself in a similar situation), I say: Keep up the good fight. Embrace your slashes. Braid away. The whole process of negotiating intellectual and career identity is (finally!) beginning to make sense to me--and it's a terrific adventure.