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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Teaching shape

I haven't taught a class since the Summer of 2005. I semi-taught a class last summer and another this fall, but both were cancelled before I could get going.

So today I taught for the first time (for real) in almost two years. While I was InterimDirectorofWhatever, my Dean didn't want me to teach. Now that I am AssociateProfessorandDirectorofWhatever, I have to teach. I can't get tenure otherwise. I didn't want to teach for my return engagement in WhateverProgram, despite my being in charge of it, because the courses are especially challenging to teach. So I graciously (well, I quibbled over the number of students that could enroll) accepted a chance to teach in my PreviousDepartment. It wasn't my Department really. They never let me all the way in the door. I was a (dum dum) lecturer. No status. No job security. The same four classes over and over again. Still, when the chair of PreviousDepartment called and offered me one of those very four classes, I said, "yes."

So, today I went to teach it. Truth be told, I prefer to teach three days a week for 50 minutes. It's easier to be cute for 50 minutes. Here I am teaching twice a week for 75 minutes. Those extra 25 minutes are a killer.

It's a course on gender. I did my usual ice breaker of having everyone say "breast" and "penis" out loud so that they won't be nervous later when we talk about menstruation and genital mutilation. Sounds uplifting doesn't it?

It's a fun class, though, some of the tougher topics aside. I'll be fine. But today I didn't feel so fine. My jokes felt flat; my syllabus overview felt mean. Because it's a prime-time class, there were seven people who wanted to add and stood around the perimeter. Ah, the joys of state education.

I need to re-establish my comfort-level in the classroom. Self-deprecation, wit (such as I have it), and deep breathing will all help. Maybe I should do some shout-outs of "breast" too.

Or maybe not.

Monday, January 22, 2007

L Word Confession

Ok, here's the deal. Scout and I had never watched The L Word before this season.

Scout doesn't so much like the lesbian cinema/tv thing. I'm always trying to convince her to go to the new lesbian movie because "this one is supposed to be good." Don't get her started about the various ones we've gone to. She doesn't like them. Name one. We've seen it. She hated it. seemed safer and she's much more indulgent. She watched Buffy with me during the Willow/Tara greatness and indulges my Elizabeth Mitchell fixation which dates back to the Kerry Weaver coming out storyline on er. Lost is back soon. Sigh. I love me some Elizabeth Mitchell. Anyway, I'll go low on tv. I watch South of Nowhere on The N. Yep, The N--that's Nickelodeon's teen channel. Mmmm Hmmm.

Why not The L Word then? I can't explain it, really. We've always been HBO people and just got Showtime recently. We were earlier Netflix adopters and I could have queued it up. There are Showtime preview weekends. There are ways. For three seasons, no L Word for us. This despite the fact that scout works to promote the Gay Agenda™. We've had opportunities. Hell, we live in Southern California. We could be living the show if we wanted. (Not). When is that damn radio show on KCRW anyway? I listen to that station a lot.

So this season we have Showtime and we've been watching. I have to say that we are enjoying how badly written it is more than anything else. (No offense to big fans).

Here's what's pleased me the most, though...

We were watching last week and I said, "Alice is the hottest." (Scout is particularly anti-Shane, so I figured Alice was an ok preference to state). Scout said, "that's Liesha Hailey and she's actually a lesbian." I was so proud of myself. Spot the gay girl in the cast and think she's hot. How many points do I get? Wait, have I lost them all before I said something for never having watched the show before? Or for loving a woman who hates lesbian movies and tv? Ah well, we've got this week's episode on the tifaux. Scout, I'm sure, can hardly wait.

Saturday, January 20, 2007


I'm back from a little trip. I went away for a couple of days to relax. All by myself. It was weird but good and I might write more about it.

I can offer the following advice--midweek, midwinter, mid-coast. You can't go wrong. I didn't relax this much. I've never relaxed this much. But the seals know where to go to hang out. Fo'shizzle'seal.

Midweek, midwinter, mid-coast. Repeat as needed.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


We have a really nice plumber. He's handsome and chipper and after installing a toilet for us admired its beauty. I like a person who gets the aesthetics of what they do.

Saturday we went to the grocery store and afterwards Honey cleaned out some suspicious food from the fridge. Some of the suspicious food was pasta. I merrily disposed of it by slamming it down the disposal and whirring the disposal around. On the second whir, gross water began to back up into the sink.

Honey and I both had flashbacks to the apartment we lived in before we bought our house. It had a really problematic disposal and we often had to get the building manager to come deal with it. Our landlord liked to quote some municipal/state/federal code that said that he only was responsible for getting water INTO the apartment and we were responsible for getting it OUT. In other words, he wanted us to deal with the crappy disposal he didn't want to fix.

Well, now we knew we were responsible for all directions of flow. We plunged. There were old straws in the sink. Who put them there? Can't say. Not us. We removed the trap. Got water all over the world. The sink stayed stopped up. Saturday of a holiday weekend.

With hope in my heart, I called the plumber yesterday, hoping he might not observe federal/state/municipal holidays. He called back this morning.

We've been eating cereal and frozen food that can be microwaved. We've been rinsing dishes in the half bath where we keep the cats' litter box.

Turns out that you shouldn't put pasta or other starchy foods down the disposal. At least according to the internet. And since everything on the internet is true...

I'm in plumber zone. He was going to come by 10. Then he called and said he couldn't. I went to work. Now, I'm meeting him at 2:30. It will all be worth it. Functioning kitchen sinks are good good.

I'm going out-of-town tomorrow and Honey has a tendency to eat cereal for dinner when I'm gone. A non-functioning sink will insure that she does that and only that. So, I'm going to meet the handsome plumber and pay him a lot of money to fix our problem. They say there are those who have more money than sense. Now where did I put my checkbook?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

News from the other side of the pond

The British government is debating whether or not human/rabbit hybrid stem cells are ok to create. I guess you use a rabbit embryo and create a stem cell from it with human cells. Folks are a little worried about the implications. Babies with big rabbit ears being the obvious place to start worrying.

The Chester zoo in Northwest England has a female Komodo dragon named Flora who laid fertile eggs just before the first of the year. Here's the thing about Flora. She's a virgin. And they checked and she's the sole parent of the eggs. It's not the first time it's happened in England, either. Sungai, of the London zoo, had babies all by herself last April. Sister dragons are doing it for themselves, I guess.

That's Flora.

In other news out of England, if you're feeling low and bleak, I would not recommend you go to Children of Men. It doesn't matter if you have good Mexican food before you go to see it. It will still be bleak and depressing. It's a good movie, just not an uplifting one. Someone in Children of Men should have talked to those two Komodos or to the rabbit people. The "no babies" premise/problem would have been shot all to hell.

On this side of the world, 12 baseball writers didn't vote for Tony Gwynn to go into the Hall of Fame. Um, why? What about T.G. makes him anything other than a HOFer?

I like the Hall of Fame announcements because it always makes me feel like baseball is coming.

Speaking of sports and the U.K. Posh Beckham is coming to L.A. to play soccer err football err soccer for the Galaxy. It may now be time to move to San Francisco.

In a positive move, the first female Beefeater to guard the Tower of London will start in July. She doesn't have her uniform yet, but when she does, she'll look like a woman wearing this:

So, to outline this for you:

Rabbit babies
Virgin dragon babies
Bleak movie--no babies

Follow all that?


Friday, January 05, 2007

Croc tragedy

As my faithful readers know (all two of you), I heart me some Crocs™. I have navy and black Caymans. Here are Caymans:

I also have the ur-Crocs. Butter Beach:

Can you not tell the difference? Beach are wider than Cayman. Learn something new every day don't you?

It's winter here in Southern California. While the weather is weak and mild compared to many parts of these here United States (not to mention our friendly neighbors to the north), it's still cold. You shouldn't wear shoes with holes cold, at least. So I asked for the Crocs without the holes for Christmas. They're called Endeavors. I bought a pair in bright blue (and the wrong size like a total dork) on the way home from Las Vegas. I got a pair in khaki (in the right size) for Christmas.
For those of you not yet hip to the Croc phenomenon (and you know who you are), let me tell you that Crocs are comfortable right off the bat, but get better with age as the rubber shapes to your foot. I put on the Endeavors. I walked my parents' dog in the Endeavors. I sat around the house in the Endeavors. I did this without socks for the most part. Crocs and socks are not a look I like.'s the tragedy...

Without the breathe holes...

Endeavor Crocs are not fun for feet. Little foot saunas. Actually, my size 11 shoes are big foot saunas.

I feel betrayed. Let down. Deep chasms of disappointment. I pictured myself teaching in Crocs next semester. I pictured year-round wear. I pictured wrong. Really wrong.

So, Croc converts and Croc resisters alike...go with Beach or Cayman. You'll thank me later. Gifts aren't necessary, but I do have my eye on Sage Beach. As soon as I sell the Endeavors on ebay...

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Hey look, it's my navel!

When I bend down, I see my navel. It's not all that exciting, but I am in one of those moods. This morning I listened to several folks I work with discussing making more appealing and attractive adult diapers. The idea seemed to really appeal to them. They discussed it at length. I, from the safety of my office, was a little horrified. While I'm all for embracing my age and station in life, I don't need to look forward to incontinence.

The diaper discussion produced a sense of nostalgia. I don't know why. So this afternoon I was googling people. Some were old friends, some were newer, some were people I was just curious about. Then I remembered my navel. I've always maintained that I'm not googleable. I decided to persist in paging through the result for my name (first and last, no middle in quotes). I appear first on page 4 and again on page 7, both for a recent article I wrote in an online academic journal. Page 4 was my bio from the 'contributors" page and Page 7 was the article itself.

The depth of my gazing was, well, deep. I paged through many, many pages. Hockey stats and Revolutionary war letters, lawyers, photographers. I might have gone to Yale or Cornell or Harvard or Lander (wherever that is). Oh, and my gravestone might be found in any number of states across the continent or indeed in England or Australia (mine is a very WASPy name). I could be a psychic or a "zoo parent."

After page 20 or so I despaired. Sure, my middle initial, name, research interests, where I actually went to school, etc. will all get you "me" more directly. Using my middle initial revealed that someone who shares my name is a child molester. On the upside, using my middle name helped me discover that a university library (besides the place I got my degree) ordered my dissertation and has is sitting on their library shelves. Bless their hearts. I may go visit it. Still and all not finding me for page after page was disturbing.

I occur again on Page 75 for a project I worked on in graduate school and then again (alarming quickly, it seemed at the time) on Page 78 for an online 'zine I contributed to some years ago. On Page 79 a course I helped develop is mentioned. A book review I did last year pops up on Page 82. I must be a 70s and 80s kind of gal. Google stopped on Page 84. I was going to go to Page 100.

I was weirdly grateful to not find myself in the Google image search. The Google image search disturbed me in its pictures of people with my name and not my face staring back at me. Best to look navel-ward.

So, blog-friends...

How googleable are you?

Do you google yourself?


How googleable do you want to be?

Monday, January 01, 2007

Wrong Way

"I have an upgrade for you!"

The man at the Hertz counter and I had been having a pleasant conversation about California and Nevada. We were especially bonding over the pit of despair that is traffic in, to, and from Las Vegas on busy weekends. I had visions, I must admit, during the moments after he said that word--"upgrade." I thought Lincolns. Certainly something from the Prestige collection. Or maybe the Fun Collection. A PT Cruiser? A Mustang? Anyway, we weren't driving whatever it was much. Really it was a glorified airport transportation, escape my parents' house vehicle.

"Oh?" I said hopefully.

"I have a Taurus with Hertz NeverLost®"

A Taurus? Really? How is that an upgrade? They stopped making them for goodness sakes. Sure, it's what I reserved. Still.

NeverLost® turns out to be Hertz's proprietary GPS navigation system. I turned it on and programmed my parents' address in it. The NeverLost® Lady® (NL®L® hereafter) began to speak in those tones. You know the tones. The ones where whatever you do seems deeply stupid and whatever she tells you seems right and just.

She didn't like that we did a detour to Chik-Fil-A. I was stressed as it was approaching midnight and the change from Saturday to Sunday. Chik-Fil-A is not open on Sunday and I suspect that they close at midnight precisely. I did get my sandwich and small Diet Coke. Crushed ice is reason enough to seek out the Fil-A's of Chik. That and the sandwich is served simply with a pickle. Tasty thy name is Chik.

Once we extracted ourselves from the pre-midnight, pre-Christmas-Eve rush at C-F-A, we headed to my parents' house. The NL®L® was worried we'd exit first on I-20 and then later on the Carter Center Parkway. When we did get off where she wanted us to, I expected affirmation and didn't get it. Her next set of directions were ones that I defied. I expected her to sigh, but instead she just said (with a hint of reproach?) "recalculating." As we approached the left turn into my folks' neighborhood, she said, "take a right followed by an immediate U-turn." Um, I'm pretty sure that's simpler if you go with "left." Plus the right/u-turn move would slam you right into a large park where all the gates are closed at night.
Again (after the left) the reproachful, "recalculating." As I turned around in the driveway, she announced, "you are approaching your destination" and then, as I parked, "you have arrived."

I kept announcing to Honey that "Christmas starts now" as if by saying it out loud, I could make it so.

Sure, the evidence was there. Carols, church services, stockings, gifts. Also, the usual tension about whether we should go out to a movie. It wasn't a bad day, really. I "bingoed" in Scrabble for the first time ever with "lustier."

One gift we were offered was one of the four Owl Wallet Lights my Dad had ordered after seeing them on teevee one night. This thing has a magnifier and a small l.e.d.

You can see small things in the dark with the OWL, should your NeverLost® fail you.

When we headed home, the NL®L® took us faithfully back to the Hertz at the airport. She only recalculated once when I once again defied her advice to get on Peachtree St. (the main one, there are many others). One thing folks who know Atlanta at all know is that Peachtree is best avoided unless your destination is actually on it. The NL®L® is clearly not from Atlanta.

I am from there. When I think about our Christmas trip, I think it was a little like the NL®L®'s advice to take a right turn followed by a U-turn. It's what we did, really, to come home. Turned right to Atlanta then U'd it back to L.A. She was right after all.