Friday, June 30, 2006

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Bathroom reading? BATHROOM reading?!?

Yesterday was the second day of the material culture course I'm teaching during the first summer session. The day went well, I thought. We talked about corsets, hats with dead birds on them, and African-American women's church hats, with tangents into stiletto heels and push-up bras. Lots of good discussion, and some laughter, as is appropriate when talking about push-up bras and hats with dead birds on them.

After I dismissed the class, a student who had missed the first meeting came up to tell me he was glad he was taking the class because it was "cool."

"I'm glad you're enjoying it already," I replied.

"Yeah, I love this stuff," he said. "I love knowing random bits of stuff. It's like, you know, bathroom reading. I love those bathroom readers."


Child development

Playgroup update:

Well, so much for playgroup. Lucas fell asleep in my arms shortly before we were to leave. I planned to let him sleep for an hour or so (his usual morning nap duration) and then catch the second hour of playgroup.

Except then I lay down next to him and the two of us slept for almost two hours. Oops.

Oh well. 'Tis for the best, since he had a weepy eye yesterday, and the LAST thing I need is to be known as That Trashy Mom Whose Kid Gave Everyone An Eye Infection.

In other news:

Mr. Trillwing and I actually had a date last night--Thai food and Superman. Fun!

Lucas discovered his penis during his bath a couple days ago and wouldn't let go of it. Mr. Trillwing feigned tears: "He is my son!"

This morning Lucas is trying to figure out how to open the closures on his diaper. He's big into snaps, buttons, zippers, and drawstrings, so I guess it's inevitable that soon he'll figure out the Velcro-like attachments and be running around nekkid. Yay.

In other diaper news, I noticed that the size 5 diapers are getting a bit small on him. I don't recall seeing size 6 diapers, so I checked online, and sure enough, it appears many brands don't carry size 6. Really, I didn't expect to be checking out pull-ups at 10 months.

The little guy has a paper addiction. We can't keep him out of the paper recycling bin. He tears off little pieces and chews them like gum until Mama throws herself across the room to sweep her finger through his mouth.

Lucas has learned not only to pull his daddy's DVDs off the shelf, but how to take the boxed sets apart. Right now he's playing with Kojak, Columbo, and All in the Family. Quality viewing for babies!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

House envy: rambling and rumbling

So. . . I don't consider myself to be particularly materialistic. I mean, I have stuff. Lots of stuff. But none of it is of particularly high quality because hey, I'm a grad student, and because I'm not about brand names or top-of-the-line products loaded with features (OK, except for Apple. I love me those Macintosh computers). I wish I could live more simply--with less stuff--but honestly, most of my personal stuff right now is dissertation- and school-related: books, papers, shelves, desk, etc.

Our living room has an old, broken-down couch and two, er, well-worn chairs, as well as the "kitchen" table and the hardware trappings of Mr. Trillwing's multimedia funhouse. It's not pretty.

Accordingly, we don't have people over much. Grad students, yes. That we can manage. People who understand the madness, the sacrifices, and the teeny-tiny paychecks behind the squalor.

But I'm starting to go to more and more playgroups, and the assumption is that if one goes to playgroup, one hosts playgroup every once in awhile.

And I have yet to see a playgroup held in an apartment complex, let alone in a house that isn't, um, perfect. We're talking new hardwood floors, built-in bookcases, granite countertops, etc.

It's enough to make a trillwing reconsider her life's path. Instead of having (ahem) $XX,XXX in debt, might I have made a down payment on a house in that same amount? If I had done so five, six years ago, it would have qualified as a nice down payment. Today, even if that debt had absolute value signs embracing it (remember those from algebra class?), it still wouldn't be enough for a down payment.

These moms' houses are $500,000, $700,000 homes. So I know these people are carrying a lot of debt, too. But they also seem comfortable and happy in their homes, able to have guests over and entertain.

I'd be embarrassed to host these new mothers at my place: the carpet stains I can never seem to conquer, the ever-present floating dog hair, the stacked plastic tubs of dissertation archive materials, the scratched kitchen cupboards probably last refinished in the 1980s, the boring white heavily textured walls. It's depressing, really, even if it is my current home and if I've had a lot of good times here.

I'd host a playgroup in the park, but it's too damn hot these days.

I think I've mentioned before that my parents bought their home in 1968 for $28,000. It's three blocks from the beach, three bedrooms, big yard, lots of nice wood floors and moldings. At the time they bought it, $28,000 was about 3x their combined schoolteaching income. Today the home is worth about $1.5 million.

(Mr. Trillwing's salary + my salary) x 3 = not enough for even a down payment on a home like that, let alone one in the dusty hothouse of the Big Tomato (aka Sactown, Sacto) or its sprawling suburbs. And there's no way--absolutely no way--we could afford to buy real estate in this pleasant, if scorching, little town where we currently reside.

Don't get me wrong: I don't feel sorry for myself. Not at all. But I'm wondering how I'm going to negotiate this brave new world of mommy networking without a "real" home base.

And I'm wondering, too, if accepting an academic life means I'm stuck on the sad little rental track for a long, long time.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Conversation with Lucas

Me: Son, you can't be both nocturnal and diurnal.

Lucas: Nya-nya-nya-nya-nya!

My Age of Aquarius

I can't remember on whose blog I saw the Environics 3SC survey, but here are my results:

Surprise! I have an inner angry, sarcastic hippie.


Incidence in Population

* Proportion of Canadian population: 5 per cent
* Proportion of Gen Xers: 14 per cent

Other Demographics

* Mostly mirror the general population

Fundamental Motivations

Social Justice and Experience-seeking

Key Values

* Adaptability
* Concern for the less fortunate
* Concern for the environment
* Respect for education
* Contempt for traditional authorities
* Hedonism

Words to Live By

* There is no being, only becoming
* Everything changed in Seattle
* No justice, no peace


* Singer Sarah McLachlan
* Author Naomi Klein
* Singer/activist Jello Biafra
* Rap-metal group Rage Against the Machine
* Author/activist John Zerzan
* Actress Sarah Michelle Gellar
* Dead Prez

Money Orientation

Making it: I'd never do work I didn't believe in.

Spending it: When I must consume at all, I consume with conscience.

Saving it: I'm not saving much now, but when I do I'll call the shots.

Stealing it: No, thanks.

Giving it away: Environmental and social causes.

Because there's a blog for EVERYTHING

Hitler Cats!

(as seen at Buzz Marketing with Blogs)

Monday, June 26, 2006

A few books I've been meaning to plug:

Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell: absolutely delightful, especially if you have an abiding interest in the weirdness of U.S. history.

Building Suburbia by Dolores Hayden: a fascinating history of the evolution of suburbs. A nice companion piece to The Lawn by Virginia Jenkins.

The Academic Kitchen by Maresi Nerad: on the academic domestic sciences and women students being admitted to Berkeley.

Disappearing Acts by Joyce K. Fletcher: a study of women design engineers and organizational culture, with a focus on relational practice and emotional intelligence. Sounds dry, I know, but it's an interesting read, especially if you're into women and science & technology.

The Science Education of American Girls by Kim Tolley: Did you know science was once considered a more proper course of study for young women than for young men? As LeVar Burton's minions would say, "you'll just have to take my word until you read the book yourself."

What the hey?

We lose Tabitha Teaches and Not Worth the Fuss in the same week?

I'll miss Betty's and Tabitha's insights. If you women are actually blogging elsewhere now, kindly drop me a line.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Crying it out: All together now. . .

Don't know who's more worn out these days: Lucas or me.

Oh hell, it's me, hands down. Who are we kidding?

Mr. Trillwing is treating himself to a concert tonight. There's nothing like standing in the 5 p.m. 106-degree sun in an outdoor concert venue. Needless to say, I stayed home. I'm not much of a concertgoer nor a standing-in-the-heat type.

But that means, of course, that I'm home with the babe. Since Lucas was especially active today and since his naps were a bit shorter than usual, I assumed he would be heading to bed early.


Here's the deal: He made motions toward sleep at 8 p.m., so I put him in his crib, and he slept for about 20 minutes. Since then (it's now 10:40 p.m.), we've had quite the adventure. I tried letting him cry scream it blood-curdlingly out for about an hour, occasionally going in to pat him on the back. I gave him half a bottle of formula after the first 40 minutes because I was worried his little throat was getting raw. He cried while he drank because I didn't take him out of his crib. I turned on a nightlight for him and some music and hung out near his crib while he screamed. I'm pretty sure I suffered some hearing loss.

I threw in the Ferber towel around 10:15, cuddling with him in bed for a few minutes before I realized he was wide awake from all the shrieking. At 10:30 I took him for a walk with the dog, carrying him in my arms while he nursed a bottle. (Tangent: There were people out jogging at 10:30 because it's the coolest part of the day. Crazy!) Now he's reclining in my lap, gurgling, gripping his empty bottle by the nipple, and alternately waving the bottle in lazy circles and knocking it against my hands, his feet, and his head. It's a good life. . .for him.

I'm feeling increasingly trapped, mostly by the heat, but also by the childcare situation--and by a combination of the two, since strapping Lucas into a hot carseat in a broiling car, and then putting him in a stroller that's been baking in the trunk all day once we reach our destination, is not appealing. I'm trying to get out to playgroups, but I start teaching again on Monday, and my three-day-a-week teaching schedule will limit my time.

I'm also feeling a lot of dissertation stress. Fantastic Adviser and I put together a new schedule for completion, a very realistic one I think, but the whole revision process is still really stressful. Academic job announcements are coming out now, and I know I need to finish the diss before applying for any positions. My committee is demanding, and most days I think that's a good thing. Some days it's harder to accept the high standards to which I'm being held when I suspect other students have not been required by their committees to turn in the same caliber of work.

So: baby stress + dissertation stress + heat + lack of time & will to exercise = depression. I'm withdrawing into my own shell and I don't want to talk to anyone--even the usual people--about it, except my good friend Breena, who's just so full of positive, relaxed, take-life-as-it-comes energy that I can't help but feel cheered. My apologies to those of you whose e-mail and phone calls I haven't returned; I'm taking some me-time this month and next.

Meanwhile, there are people out there with real problems, and I guess it's good I still recognize that. I recently learned that someone for whom Mr. Trillwing and I have a great deal of affection has been going through some tough times these past few months, but I didn't notice because our interactions have been intermittent and it's always me, me, me! (You know who you are. Yes, you, the cute and usually self-assured one from Wisconsin. If you're reading this, sorry 'bout my totally failing to catch on earlier. Let's get together for Jamba Juice, if you're up for it. My e-mail address is over there in the right sidebar.)

Oh, a bit of good news: my "little" (she's 6 feet tall) sister got engaged yesterday. Yay! We're all thrilled for her and her engineer. Like Mr. Trillwing and I, they got engaged in downtown Hometown. We were engaged in a skyline restaurant; her engineer popped the question atop a Ferris wheel. I think it's a sign that things will go well for them.

She told me this joke the other day (it's a jibe at her ex):

Q: An engineer and an artist are in a restaurant. What does the artist say to the engineer?
A: "Would you like fries with that?"

Here's to happier times ahead, Sis.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Random linky fun

First off, I finally finished setting up my Blogrolling account. If you have a lot of time on your hands, go ahead and check out my updated blogroll. Oy!

If I had more room on my bathroom counter, I'd definitely add this:

Alternatively, maybe I'll redecorate my living room around it.

One weird theme for a three-year-old's birthday party.

Cool casts of ants' nests--really, take a look. Also: Nifty trails from Argentine ants.

This has to be one of the coolest things I have ever seen. Be sure to watch the video.

Pop v. soda map , via Coudal Partners.

Cuteness: tiger and piglets, via Neatorama.

Volcano plume as seen from space

Manhattan in cartographic perspective

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Revision nausea (and a BONUS rant about cultural studies)

Ugh. Every time I'm feeling inspired about actually finishing the damn dissertation, I make the mistake of sitting down to revise a chapter. That's when the nausea hits.

Tonight it's Chapter 4, as I've once again put off the deadly Chapter 2. The revision for Chapter 4 involves a complete reframing of the chapter because, as Fantastic Adviser wrote, "It's overly narrative and at times jumps from one interesting tidbit to another without a clear mandate."

So, basically, Chapter 4 is a 35-page blog entry. Wheeeeee!

I've come to the conclusion that through the process of earning a Ph.D. in cultural studies, I've lost--and had to regain--the facility for interpretation that served me so well as an English major and MA student.

A bit of history: My undergrad English department actively discouraged work in (what I think of as) high theory, saving deconstruction and psychoanalysis and such for a junior seminar that was completely optional and which I eschewed in favor of taking more creative writing seminars. I thus arrived underprepared for my MA program in English/Creative Writing, which required me to take some seminars in lit with Ph.D. lit students. In that environment, I observed that one must take a piece of literature, run it through some theoretical filter, and call the resulting hamburger meat a seminar paper. It wasn't for me.

So I started an American Studies Ph.D. program in the middle of nowhere, and I really liked its methods and, yes, even its theories, but romance drew me back to California after a year. I sought an American Studies program in California, and--this cracks me up in hindsight--I figured cultural studies would be an expanded form of American Studies.

Instead, cultural studies as it's practiced here seems to be all about critique of whatever text is at hand. There's very little interpretation going on--rather just more applications of Theories of Righteous Indignation to texts that themselves are critiques of other texts. The intertextuality, really, is mind-boggling, and one longs, after a couple years of this stuff, for essays on material culture. (Of course, there is fun to be had; I recall watching Alien v. Predator with some cultural studies buddies and having an enlightening conversation about race, gender, and colonialism following the movie.)

Anyhoo, now that I'm writing a dissertation about SPECIFIC people in SPECIFIC institutions, I find I've had to learn all the necessary (historical) research methods and interpretive skills the hard way, through trial and a helluva lot of error. And in so doing, I've come full circle, back to the kind of textual interpretation I undertook in my undergraduate days: I'm bringing my personal experiences (as person-in-the-world and as reader, rather than as scholarly critic) to these women's letters and publications. Fantastic Adviser is keeping me honest throughout this process, questioning my logic and even challenging me when I draw on Donna Haraway's work twice in the same chapter. ("Is that really necessary?" she asked. In response to my invocation of Foucault: "Oh, Trillwing. Don't do this.")

My point is this: I wonder if my process of writing this dissertation wouldn't have been easier if I had just skipped all those seminars in cultural studies and gender theory. What if I had just trusted my skill as a close reader of texts, as someone who's pretty damn good at understanding the intersections of individual lives with American cultural phenomena? What if my mind hadn't been cluttered with standpoint theory and situated knowledge and mobile subjectivities?

I'm not condemning cultural studies, or even cultural studies as it's practiced at my institution. But I do wonder whether my own journey through the dissertation might have been more enjoyable if I had followed the paths of a discipline rather than an interdiscipline.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Revisions: a gripe

Ugh. Dissertation revisions are difficult, aren't they? I'm looking at Chapter 4, and in 32 pages the only positive thing Fantastic Adviser has written is the tiny word "interesting" on page 22.

And then there's Chapter 2, AKA the revise-and-resubmit article. The reviewers of the article were really hung up (rightfully, I think) on my use of standpoint epistemology, which makes me want to just dump the standpoint theory altogether. But no! 'tis not possible since the reviewers specifically asked for the standpoint to become more central. So tonight is all about re-reading stuff I haven't read in almost five years and catching up on a little bit of newer theory.

And have I mentioned I really, really dislike reading this kind of theory, as it tends to be unanchored to any specific situations or people? I mean, really, what's the point of that?

Sunday, June 18, 2006


I've written before about my ambivalence about and difficulty with breastfeeding. And so you can imagine the problems I have with the new breastfeeding guilt ads that everyone is talking about.

Others have written about the issue far more articulately than I ever could. I particularly enjoyed Phantom Scribbler's post "Breast is best. . .but guilt is better." Phantom occasionally takes a break from her insightful (and often hilarious) mommymamablogging to produce some truly thoughtful social critique. If you haven't read her posts on the South Dakota abortion legislation of some months back, check them out.

Academic entrepreneurs

You can check out my latest blogging of substance over at BlogHer.

Live blogging: Crying it out - mama's first time (with BONUS occasional self-praise and gratitude)

I'm no fan of Dr. Ferber; I'm much more of a Dr. Sears, attachment-parenting mama. We've never scheduled Lucas's naps or established a firm bedtime because it's not my style and because Dr. Wonderful said she feels that babies who are sleep-trained become rigid as little kids.

However, Lucas is now 9.5 months old and is still waking four to six times each night. He's also going through separation anxiety, which means he's even more reluctant than usual to sleep in his crib. And while I have no qualms about bringing him into bed with us, Mr. Trillwing can't sleep if Lucas is in the bed because the little guy flails quite a bit. And when Mama or Dada is sleep-deprived, nobody has a good day, I assure you.

So. . . I'm making a trial run right now at a little bit of crying it out, something Mr. Trillwing has done in my absence but which I have never tried because it makes me feel guilty. We're at minute #6 now, and I'm just about to cave. The little guy just tugs on my heartstrings, but I know he's really tired and after being a full-time mommy for three days (Mr. Trillwing had LOTS of work to do, I had family in town to entertain, and it was the end of the quarter, so I was happy to take some time off), I'm ready for some quiet alone time to get some work done.

Minute #8: Screaming is slowing down a bit. I've set myself a goal of 10 minutes of crying without picking him up. God, I feel like a bad mama.

But you know what? He spent at least six hours on my lap today, and the rest napping next to me, playing on the floor in my office, etc. Mr. Trillwing took over for about 20 minutes so I could run and get some lunch.

Lucas is quieting down, I think.

Minute #9: Screaming resumes. It's now a fussy, rather than an angry, crying. Oh wait. . . There was an angry shriek if I've ever heard one. I should really set myself up for some audioblogging.

The problem with the wailing-to-sleep method, I think, is that Lucas gets himself so worked up that he can't sleep. His throat has got to be sore, too, and the little guy won't drink water.

Minute #11: Still crying intermittently. I'm tempted to nurse him, but he nursed half an hour ago, so I know he's not really thirsty. And besides, I want him to learn to fall asleep without the boob, especially since today he BIT me, once on the shoulder and once on the nipple. The second time he smiled. Weaning may be on the horizon for the boy.

Minute #12. My will is breaking, but I already have so much time invested in this attempt. Must. . .hold. . .out.

Minute #14: He's still going strong. Blogging is helping to render the crying into background noise.

Minute #15: Do the neighbors think us cruel? I'm guessing it's a bit early for them to complain about noise--it's about 9 p.m.--but who knows?

Minute #16: Squeaks and squeals, shrieks and screams. At least there's some variation now.

Minute #18: Wet coughing, pause, coughing, pause, shriek, pause, shrieeeeeeeek.

Minute #19: Silence for 30 seconds. That's the longest pause yet.

Have I been a bad mama for the last 20 minutes? Yes. Have I been a damn good mama for the past 9.5 months? Yes to that, too.

[Insert your own alternating self-flagellation and rationalization here.]

Minute #20: I can't believe I've gone 20 minutes. It doesn't get any easier as time goes by, I assure you. This mama's heartstrings are strung tightly.

Minute #21: Shrieks and, I kid you not, brief panting. Followed by 45 seconds of silence.

Minute #22: BIG scream. Pause. Another big scream. Fussiness of righteous indignation at having such a bad, bad mama. Pause. Squeak. Sniffle. Squeak. Pause.

Minute #23: Begins with silence. Intermittent shrieks.

Have I mentioned the dog is not pleased with this experiment? He's perched uneasily on his doggy bed next to my desk.

Minute #24: Shrieks. Maybe I won't get any work done tonight. Dammit.

Anyway, I've been meaning to blog about this maternal triptych I have in my head, a painting of three Californian women I know.

Triptych Panel #1: a good friend from high school who has been trying to conceive for years and who recently upped the ante with a round of fertility drugs.

Minute #26: Mr. Trillwing wakes up and asks if I need some help. I was hoping Mr. T, who was sleeping in the bedroom, wouldn't be awoken by little Mr. L, who was screaming in Mr. T's office. (My apologies, Sweetie.)

Triptych Panel #2: another friend recently found out, at eight weeks gestation, that the fetus isn't viable. She's waiting to miscarry.

Minute #28: Lucas is asleep.

Triptych Panel #3: a distant cousin who underwent extensive fertility treatments abroad (she's a citizen of Country-With-Socialized-Medicine who immigrated here with her husband several years ago and who hopes, I think, to become a permanent resident or citizen of the U.S.) is due this week to give birth via C-section to twins who weigh at least six pounds each.

Thus despite all the screaming of the past half hour, I'm grateful, so grateful, that conception and motherhood came to me so easily. I wish all my friends and family could be so fortunate.

So: Good fertility vibes to all. May all your babies sleep without tears through the night.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Decisions, decisions. . .

Grade final exams or take Lucas to the park and play with the new camera?

Sunday, June 11, 2006


1. Friday was good: Chapter 3 revisions are coming along nicely. And then Chapter 2 revisions hit me like a ton of impossible bricks. Bleah.

Picked up my regalia for commencement, which is on Thursday. I look pretty damn good in that hood, if I may say so myself. Now if I could only finish earning it. . .

2. Saturday: After the original host cancelled because her husband was sick, I took over a potluck for local parents with August/September babies. Since we live in squalor, I hosted at a local park. It went pretty well after Mr. Trillwing and I overcame our initial fear that no one would show up and, worse, that the adjacent Party of Really Cool Young Parents Who Nevertheless Listen to Dave Matthews would then witness our failure.

The babies (5 or 6 of them) crawled around and over one another. It's always nice to see Lucas socializing, even if it is while another child is chewing on his ear.

3. Today: Meant to work, really, I did. But Luke was in manic mode (pulling himself to standing now, and then onto our laps on the couch, and even crawling on his knees, for god's sake), and Mr. Trillwing was assembling three newspapers, so I mommied pretty much all day. Whew! And after Lucas went to sleep tonight at 8:30, I toyed a bit with my new digital SLR (, baby, plus a $100 rebate!) and did a bit of tidying up.

So: no energy left for the dissertation. How the hell am I going to get this thing done with a soon-to-be TODDLER?

Bonus admission: In a very misguided attempt to get Lucas to sleep, I let him cuddle in my lap and I used my recently discovered Noggin On Demand to cue up Sesame Street for Lucas's first-ever viewing of the show. Oh. My. God. Lucas was pretty damn blasé about the animated shorts and playing children bits, but if there were Muppets on the screen, he was fixated. Fixated or shrieking and bouncing for joy. He especially liked Telly. (Elmo, thank god, held no charm.) And when REM came on and sang "Happy Furry Monsters Feeling Glad," Lucas actually turned around, looked at me, dropped his shoulders, and raised his little eyebrows as if to say, "Why have you been holding out on me?"

Best quiz ever


Which Princess Bride Character are You?

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Emotionally exhausted

I shouldn't be blogging now--much work to do--but I need to clear my mind a bit before I can accomplish anything school-related.

A few days ago, I delved into my copy of Getting Things Done, a book that had been sitting on my shelf for waaaaay too long (maybe 6-8 months?). Ends up it's a nifty little system, and I have indeed already started to get some long-delayed stuff done, and accomplished as well some of the stuff on which I'd usually procrastinate. (I will not be joining the GTD cultists, though, thankyouverymuch. No time for that, and too much on my plate already.)

Now that I've cleared my mind of all its clutter by writing out a huge long to-do list as well as some long-term goals, I find I have time to think about other, maybe much more important stuff. And now I feel pretty damn vulnerable because there are all kinds of feelings rushing in to fill the space.

Things from this afternoon that exacerbated my emotional exhaustion:

1. Lucas having a total meltdown in the car when I couldn't do much about it.

2. Immediately upon his quieting down (I managed to pull a bottle of water from the diaper bag, reach back, and put it into his hands without killing us both), I tuned into a replay of this week's Prairie Home Companion at the beginning of a very sad song. I can't find the name of it right now, but it's about the loss of family members who were important in one's childhood--mother, uncles, and aunts--and how much the singer misses their presence, their voices, and their touch.

I'm not yet at the stage of my life where I have to face cascading deaths, but the song saddened me significantly for the future, both for my own losses and for when Lucas will lose me.

3. I started reading The Girls Who Went Away, a new book about women who became pregnant between the end of WWII and the Roe v. Wade decision and who were pressured to give up their children for adoption. I made it through two chapters and realized I just couldn't read any more of it because it made me too damn sad. It's a beautiful book, really, but so sad.

4. I watched tonight's episode of Big Love. As much as I know there are parts of it that should offend my feminist sensibilities (like, oh, the polygamy), I've become attached to the show's characters and can't wait to see each week's stories unfold. (I'll be a bit cryptic here, but it might spoil things for you if you haven't seen this week's episode, so in that case don't read on.) Tonight's thing with Barb made me profoundly sad. It's as if she's being punished for accepting the help of other women, for not going it completely alone as a mother.

And as a mother, I know we all need the extra help. (Would I allow other women to marry into my family? Hell no. But her situation touches a chord with me.)

5. I finished reading, for the second time, The Devil in the White City, another wonderful book. But the last 50 or so pages of the book, with the progressive defacement and eventual destruction of the Columbian Exposition's dream cityscape, the White City, got to me. Add to that the conclusion's speculations about the number of serial killer H. H. Holmes's (mostly young, independent female) victims, and the book ended for me on a real low note, something I didn't need today.

As you might have surmised about my time travel post of a few days ago, I've been thinking a lot about the Columbian Exposition, since it's what I'm covering in my class right now. I'm about to compose a long blog post for my students on a lecture I promised but didn't deliver, one about women's participation in the fair. I have huge, thick folders of documents I photocopied from numerous archives and libraries when I was a grad student fellow at the Smithsonian, and while the sheer bulk of these documents are daunting, I'm hoping that I'll lose my sadness in the history.

(BTW, if you aren't familiar with the 1893 Columbian Exposition, I heartily recommend checking out The Book of the Fair, which is available online here. Also, you definitely should read The Devil in the White City, a work of creative nonfiction by Erik Larson. Some historians aren't thrilled with the liberties Larson takes, but it's a good read nonetheless.)

All right--back to work. Thanks for listening.

Saturday, June 03, 2006


It is taking ALL of my reserve not to run to Target with the birthday money my parents gave me to purchase a Singer sewing machine. Why? Because Stupid Sock Creatures arrived in the mail today.

That is all.

Serial monogamy meme

As seen at terminaldegree.

Congratulations! You are Katherine Parr.

Katherine Parr spent nearly her whole life married to crotchety old men: Henry was the THIRD old fart she was forced to marry. Is it any wonder she turned to books and religion to occupy her time?

Katherine wasn't just smart, she was a tiny bit uppity, too: she almost got herself thrown in jail for arguing with His Royal Fatness about some theological issues. After Henry croaked, Katherine dropped the prim and proper act and married Thomas Seymour, a handsome, dashing pirate kind of guy who was also as dumb as a post.

Which goes to show you that even bookworms know how to get it on.

Which of Henry VIII's wives are you?

Friday, June 02, 2006

Happy birthday

. . .to me.

I'm 31. My students must think I'm ancient.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Time travel

New meme, anyone?

You have a time machine. Where/when would you go under each of the following circumstances?

For leisure or entertainment:

1893 World's Fair in Chicago, baby. Columbian Exposition, here I come! (Yes, I am a freak.)

To change history:

(This one's hard!) Try to keep the atomic/nuclear bomb genie from being let out of the bottle. Or try to lure a clearer majority of Gore voters to the Florida polls in the 2000 election.

To meet someone and hang out with him or her for an entire day:

Probably my grandmother as a young woman. I think she'd dig the time travel thing. But it would also be neat to travel to the future to chat with Lucas as an older man.

To be mischevious:

Go meet Mr. Trillwing in his late 20s. Don't know what I'd do, but it would definitely be mischevious.

To witness a particular event:

San Francisco earthquake, 1906. I'm kind of drawn to disasters.