Wednesday, April 23, 2008


I finished the quarter, went to New Orleans, sewed a frock coat and a petticoat, and started this quarter. Thesis is due in T minus two weeks, and I'll be figuring out My Future in that time too. Oh man. Oh also, I guess I'm presenting my research on Saturday? Yikes. Remind me why I signed up for that, someone...?

I have to plant a pumpkin! Earth Day tradition (except belated this year), started so many years ago.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


John Kass' rant against Spitzer's "dragging Silda like some prop to be shamed" is a little on the misguided side. Of course I feel awful for her. Of course she's following in the footsteps of other political wives standing by their men. Of course she didn't have to do it . Kass has Spitzer "drag," "parade," and "trot out" his wife -- completely forgetting that Silda has two feet of her own. I have no idea why she went along with it, why she was up there. I can't pretend to understand; I can only have the deepest sympathy and utmost respect for whatever decision has made or will make. But the fact is, there's nothing political for her to gain - he's toast, she was never interested in campaigning, as far as I know. No one in the world would blame her if she weren't next to him for the cameras. The combination of those two may make her appearance hard to understand, but it was her own choice. To imply otherwise (indeed, to use all sorts of demeaning, passive verbs) is to assume that she is not a reasonable, thinking entity. Of course, no one knows what goes on behind closed doors - and if he asked her, that was a huge request and a huge compliance. If he didn't ask her, that was arguably an even huger move on her part and we have no place to comment.

We also have no place to read philosophical drama into the minutest of details: "At one point in the news conference, Mrs. Spitzer looked toward the ceiling to the back of the room -- and it seemed she saw infinity, perhaps remembering in a flash, all the little betrayals of a life together, some of them quite loud and fantastic, some silent and unspoken." Leave the lady alone. If you don't have anything supportive to say, don't say anything at all.

everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes

So a friend of mine the other day said online that since it was so nice out she was going to talk to campus for "fresh air and gd." Turns out she meant DG, but I really like "fresh air and God" as a reason to be outside. For anything.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

You're at my school!

Seeing the children out of context is one of the best things ever. They're going to be playing in the quads today! It's so exciting to see them. Except they tend not to believe that I go to school there. I'm not sure how to convince them ("Uh.. yes I do! See that building over there? That's Pick! It's for international studies! And there's Cobb, over there, I've had Spanish classes inside! What don't you believe?!").

Monday, March 10, 2008

Some finals inspiration

Brought to you by my thesis seminar professor, Dr. David Gallo:

"So, you're all doing a great job. Just keep going... and you'll be done."


So I was all excited to write about Garfield Minus Garfield, the greatest thing this side of awesome. It takes Garfield out of all the strips so all you see are bizarre, depressingly hilarious frames of Jon Arbuckle and sometimes lasagna. They are objectively wonderful. But someone else who decided to show this off noted that one of them "reminds me of an inside joke, and is probably only funny to me and a handful of my co-workers." Really, Steve? Really? In addition to being outlandishly immature, referencing inside jokes to other people is downright mean. (PS, The strip is independently funny. I understand you didn't think I would appreciate it outside of your group of friends who find it funny because of some other backstory, but believe it or not, I thought it was funny of its own accord.) I know I'm overly sensitive to things that involve exclusion, but bringing up inside jokes to people who wouldn't know them is one of the rudest, most condescending things you can do in a friendly conversation. Slash blog post.

Anyway, GMG is life-changingly phenomenal, and the New Pornographers' "Challengers" video is the greatest thing this side of the Sony bouncy balls commercial.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Okay fine I admit it

Despite whatever deep and profound reasoning my first post may claim as my reasoning for restarting this blog, I admit that it is only still around because of a desire to write something other than my thesis.

But here's something interesting - when given a choice to play with (or be, or take home, etc) a Black versus a White doll, both Black and White preschool children chose the Black doll. Then there was a huge intervention with the researchers reading stories that were really positive towards Blacks, they rewarded children who chose Black dolls, they had them recite favorable things about Blacks, and then the majority chose Black dolls (Powell-Hopson and Hopson, 1988)! Hope for the race relations of the world, at our fingertips! Now to figure out how to either adapt that for the adult population among us or to just raise everyone like that, and we'll be set.

I realized something the other day - I've been playing with children for eight. Years. Holy schlamola.


Half of the work for my thesis is waiting. Waiting for consent forms, waiting for surveys back, waiting for these articles to load. I'm wa-a-a-aiting on you, yyoooouuu-u-u...

The second!

Ahhhh I miss everyone and everything!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Ask me how much I hate research.

Anyone else so over winter? Sigh, anyway. More snow, which is crazy. But yesterday, it did a magical thing - snow just materialized. I don't know how it happened. I was waiting for a bus and out of nowhere snow just happened - it wasn't so much falling as it was blowing and swirling - some of the hugest, prettiest flakes ever. And, of course, it stopped as suddenly as it started.

Okay guys. Time to start working on this here B.A. I mean, I have been - as far as starting the lit review, subjects, methods, and problems with the study - but it needs fleshing out. I can't wait to not be researching anymore. I can't wait for that so much, I split an infinitive. That's right. As much as I love my boss and coworkers, I hate hate hate hate hate research. The only redeeming part about my lab is that it has direct potential implications for, say, police officer training. But other than that, it's like the way sports announcers say things like, "This left-handed catcher has the most right-handed throws to second base of anyone in the last five and a half years..." Either that, or something like, DID YOU KNOW THAT WHEN YOU'RE PRIMED WITH "OLD" YOU WILL BE MORE LIKELY TO THINK OF OLD PEOPLE! WHOA. Memory research is supposedly reasonable because of its meaning for eyewitness testimony. But what's going to come of the research? Juries instructed to disregard certain testimony? What are you going to do to help the witnesses? Juries don't listen to instructions anyway. They can't. You can't unring a bell, and you can't unhear something emotionally powerful. And research on economic trust, and cycles of interaction (just because Starkey Duncan was a great old man, wrote the book on interaction, and died the quarter after I took his class doesn't mean I have a different appreciation for the work), and ohhh language development. They don't mean much at all. At least, I can't see any practicality for them.

In discussion on Wednesday I got into a bizarre debate with a classmate about the necessity for motherese. I said that since motherese is inherently defined as the different way that adults address children, it will differ among cultures, but the simple fact that there's a difference is significant. And since it's universal according to this definition, it is necessary. He said it wasn't because he learned French without being motheresed. I think that was his argument. The discussion then descended into why we speak motherese to dogs, especially cute dogs, and interestingly, why we speak motherese to plants. See?! Vaguely, abstractly interesting, but it makes no fact in this life more or less probable. The jury's still out on whether I made a new friend or not. Sigh. Okay. Thesis time. Six more weeks-ish of working on it. I hope.

ps, Addicted to the Juno soundtrack.
pps, Sonnet 34 defines my life.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The First of Proabably Many Posts on Leaving

So I still feel like I haven't been doing anything all quarter. It was my first time with three classes, there wasn't a play, two of these classes were directly for my thesis (one met once a week for half the allotted time, and for the other, my adviser and I kind of never felt like meeting), and the third I'm taking pass/fail. Laziest student ever award? And now that MT is over, I'm doing almost nothing with my life except playing with my cat and thinking about how much I'm going to miss this place. Woohoo, preemptive mourning! I should really learn how to fix that one of these years. It is no fun. Especially when you miss people and things before they're gone, or before you're gone as the case may be, months or years before it's time to go. Losing touch, or I guess just the idea of losing touch, is so overwhelmingly sad. I know college friends are nothing like high school friends, but I only actively keep in touch with one high school friend. I might see some others here and there, but that group is long broken up. And that just kills me. And it's not even just friends, it's the campus. Someone who graduated told me the other day that he was walking through campus and just missed it so much. He told me not to graduate. Sigh. And my several workplaces, I've been at one for a year, the other for two! Those kids and I are tight! Man, you guys. Leaving is the worst. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it -- every, every minute? (Wilder).

Today the children colored another slew of pictures for me. And we chatted about Dora and the fire alarm and red hair. Oh and yesterday, as I was coming from workplace #2, I saw them running around the quad! They had come to my school! I sprinted over and pretty much barreled through them. There was much screaming. It was mudlicious and puddle-wonderful. You guys, the sun makes everything better.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Humanity and humanness

I'm listening to the best conversation ever right now. I'm sitting in the C-Shop next to a table of four fairly large senior guys, and they've been talking about free bagel and coffee day, then they moved on to which core classes they took and liked and didn't like. Now they're talking about how great Wiis are, and how you can actually work up a sweat doing the tennis one for a while. They're not awkward or nerdy in any way. They're delightful. They're funny. I've wanted to jump into their conversation a hundred times by now. It makes me want to write this response paper even less than I already do.

Man, you guys. Killing a puppy for fun < awesome. I know it's tearing up the blogosphere and Gawker is horrified at how horrified other people are (and then very apologetic for being so horrified), but honestly. Even though it would have died on impact. Even though animals are tortured all the time. Even though lots of people are being killed right now. It has cleft my heart in twain. You know what else cleaves my heart in twain? Zoos. I'm so conflicted. Adorable. Confined. Cared for. Unnatural. These are the kinds of things that consume me. "If I ran the zoo, I'd let all the animals go." That's Suess. That's taken wildly out of context, but that's Suess. I read both If I Ran the Zoo and Horton Hatches the Egg this morning, and I'm more in love than ever. An elephant is faithful, one hundred percent! People say that the greatest gift of being a native English speaker is having the key to Shakespeare. I'm convinced that having the key to Suess is at least as great of a gift.

ps, Sorry this is the most non-sequitur post ever. Sometimes I can write decently, you guys. Sometimes I even use transitions and logical arguments!

Monday, March 3, 2008


So it occurred to me last year while crying and shuddering at the horror that is Pierrot Lunaire that Schoenberg is not unlike cummings. After formally studying it (by "formally studying" I mean "taking Music Civ which featured"), I have a vague appreciation for atonal in the context of the broad overall history of Western music. And that is a huge step for me. The first time I saw/heard it, I curled up in my seat in the closest to a fetal position as I could manage and tried to repress it right there on the spot. But then sometime later, I realized that this must be how Austin, the most classic of classic-loving men, feels about 'avant-garde' or free-verse poetry such as cummings. Whom I love. A lot. And when Austin told me of the pain of his soul upon reading cummings, I almost took personal offense. But now, although in completely different media, I see what he's saying. And I'm sorry, Austin. For not understanding, and then for titling this crazy thing the verbal equivalent of music which has no key or tonal center, and in which all notes are equally possible.

Atonal music is like socialism. It sounds like a cool idea, equality and all, but then when it actually happens, it's more awful than you could have imagined. Man, if I just inadvertently compared cummings to socialism, I'd be really really upset with myself. But in defense of anyone who likes cummings or Schoenberg, or classical for that matter, I learned last year that it's impossible to explain why you like something. You can only give objective facts about it as attempts at reasons, but there's no way to say why something (anything! or anyone!) is wonderful. Here's to you, Plato!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Seven very profound thoughts.

  1. So the Gospels get all upset at people who ask some questions or don’t really believe it when they’re first told, “Yeah, you see that guy over there? He’s the Son of Man!” But really, what’s the difference between those people and me? How are you supposed to automatically say, “I agree!” ?
  2. How do you choose when to give? Given (ha) that you can’t give to everyone and every cause, all the time, how do you not feel guilty when you refuse beggars but somewhere you know that in your heart you give your time and money to other people and causes? You can’t give it all… right? Then how would you have the energy to…keep giving?
  3. I hate when people you’re only friends with in classes friend you on Facebook, because probably, your classroom dynamic isn’t going to change, now you’ll just have that awkward feeling that you should now be acting closer to real friends but you’re just school friends. Should you say hi every day now? Bye? Ach.
  4. By Memorial Day, I will have a job. I will have an apartment. I will have been a perfectly legal adult for four months. So why do I still feel an obligation to ask permission?
  5. Sometimes, all I want to do with my life is buy dresses. And go to music festivals. And dance.
  6. When, if ever, is it okay to leave a Facebook group about grieving? It’s okay (and in fact encouraged, and normal) to stop grieving after a while, but it seems less okay to leave a group about someone who died. Why is that?
  7. W! A-S-H! I-N-G! T-O-N, baby! D.C.!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Really little profundity

Parent: Both my kids told me yesterday that they didn't want to grow up.
Miss Pam: Oh?!
Parent: Yeah, well, actually, my daughter said that she didn't want to die. She said, 'Daddy, I don't want to die. It's too much fun being alive.'
Miss Pam: How old is she?!
Parent: She'll be three in about a month.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Really little insecurities

Okay, guys. This made me so sad today. There's a darling, always happy, beautiful little girl where I work. At the beginning of the year, she cut her hair into a peter pan, pixie-ish cut, and today she decided to explain to me why.

"You know why I got my hair cut like this, Miss Pam?"
"No, why?"
"It's because I thought it would make me look like a boy, and then [boy's name] would play with me. He won't play with me, even though I like him."
"You wanted to look like a boy?"
"Yeah, I won't buy or wear pink or purple any more either."
"But you wear dresses sometimes..."
"Oh, I'll get rid of those."
"But I like you just the way you are."
"I don't like the way I am."

And she bounced away.

The girl is five! Years old! And that just about broke my heart. My first thought was those Dateline specials where transgendered people say that they knew they were in the wrong body since they were, like, toddlers. I think what killed me is that she wanted to be this boy’s friend so much. And he’s a ringleader, so his opinion is important, apparently so important that she cut off all her hair and plans on acquiring a new wardrobe.

I just didn’t know what to tell her to explain that she didn’t need anyone else’s approval. And so young! Kids aren’t supposed to get mean until middle school! I couldn’t tell if these things were in fact more externally than internally driven (they seemed to be), but I don't think I've ever been more at a loss for words with these kids before. She wanted to change herself! At an age where she's not supposed to even consider that as an option!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

What do humans do, the way horses live to run?

Even though I couldn't appreciate Martha Beck's Expecting Adam for all her self-pitying or thousands of references to Harvard, she's got a good point. Once in answer to 'why are we here,' I said, "We are here to hug and purr and laugh and play with the people and animals we love!"

Which might hold some water.

Something else that rationalizes my rant against academia is that, for many people, humans learn, the way horses live to run, and that's something I have to accept. I want to help people do their thing; therefore, I have to be supportive of all the things (to an extent?) that fall under what humans do, the way horses live to run.

Monday, February 18, 2008

This blog was restarted because of weighty concerns.

I’m so worried about this. I think about blogs and blogging all the time, but I’m not convinced it’s for me. I had a blog for like three days last year (the first post was the following: “Every day, I think to myself, self, you should start a blog, but then I realize, self, you have nothing interesting to say”), and I was too worried to keep it up then too. And I write to myself all the time, and, well, you should do one thing every day that scares you.

Okay, I know everyone does the first post about being really concerned slash some vague promise about updating. I did the first but I’m not going to do the second.

I had an academic crisis last year that I thought was over. Who am I kidding, it’s not even close. The first time was in the middle of Shakespeare II: Tragedies and Romances. Out of the clear blue sky, I couldn’t understand, let alone, respect anyone who spent his entire life on evaluating the differences between the Folio and the Quarto versions of King Lear, let alone that blend of the two that everyone reads in high school. Which is bizarre, because literature is in my blood. My grandmother taught high school English for thirty-five years. My brother is a Great Books major. I won the Senior English Department Award of my class of over six hundred. At the time, I was designing costumes and makeup for A Midsummer Night’s Dream. And suddenly, the whole thing made me want to throw up – I questioned ever interest I ever had in poetry or fiction. Or non-fiction, for that matter. Whom does it help? Whose life does it make easier? Whom does it feed? All I could think was, what good is any of this? I stopped going to class, but then when I came back, I couldn’t pay attention to the lecture and wrote pages and pages about the disgust I had for it. Eventually I came to some sort of tentative, somewhat unstable “the world needs all kinds of people, and literature is a branch of the arts, expressing humanity and providing comfort and an outlet to all.”

And it came roaring back today in a language development class. So, not in the context of literature but research. I mean, it’s been roaring back for quite some time now, especially after working with autistic kids this summer. So many of the conclusions research makes are so profoundly useless. Like, an unreasonable percentage of conclusions. I’ve had conversations that temporarily reassure me the vast and far-reaching benefits of research, but today was the second time in class I’ve seen videos of Genie, the girl psycholinguists made famous. She was kept in a closet on a toilet for the first thirteen years of her life, her parents slid food through the door, her father barked at her. That’s it. Thirteen years. Psychologists love it because you can’t intentionally deprive someone of language and see what happens, for the sake of knowledge. But you can find abused kids like Genie and see how they do! And the video is of psychologists trying to teach her language, and Genie can of course hardly form words, let alone string them into something coherent. That’s fine, that’s therapy; it’s clear she wants to learn words. Like the first time, my eyes fill with tears. But as it ended, my professor, still smiling, commented on how interesting it was that she could communicate about events that happened in her past before she knew any language. And again, my eyes filled with tears. Why is that comment, that use of Genie, okay?

I realize over and over that the only thing I can conceivably do with my life is work with people. To make them feel better. About life.