R.A.D. Blogger

I'm a professor with a joint position in rhet/comp and women's studies. I work at a large mid-western U in a pretty small town, which seems to welcome a. students and b. people with kids (pwk); I am neither. I research eugenics and policy making; most days I think about the book I need to write about said topic, some days I actually write about it. I live with Z (a "feminist 4th grade teacher"), Spike, and Bodhi. I think too much about breathing, decorating, cooking, and living elsewhere.


Back to the old stompin' gounds

This past weekend I went back to C-bus for a visit-- well really there was a more focused task at hand: I was helping my good friend JP prepare his wardrobe for the MLA song and dance. Yes, as JP has said before, I am his own personal Queer(ish)-Eye-for-the-Straight(ish)-Guy. I think we chose some hip, yet professional clothing with contrasting funky color with more traditional pieces-- my fav though are the shoes, his shoes kick-ass.

While I was in C-bus, JP kindly drove me an hour north of the city to meet my brother M and my niece and nephew. We chose Mansfield, Ohio for two reasons: The Living Bible Wax Museum (Ohio's only wax museum) and "Carousel Magic"-- really between Columbus and Cleveland, there is not much to choose from especially when trying to also entertain a two year old and a five year old. The wax museum was a particular treat and I am sad that photos were not allowed. I stole the image above from their website. The museum has purchased several wax models--some of famous people such as Elizabeth Taylor, Don Knots, and Cher-- and then has placed them in several life-sized "scenes" at various stations. The voice of god, or of the narrator, tells the stories at each station. When we arrived at the Living Bible Wax Museum we were presented with three tour options: the old Testament, the new Testament, and martyrs. JP and I personally wanted to take the martyrs tour but we all feared that it would unnecessarily frighten the kids so we chose the old Testament assuming that it would have more peaceful stories but apparently I am misremembering my bible stories. (Incidentally, I was raised Catholic so I really know very little about the bible, I know a lot more about saints, martyrs, the virgin Mary, confessionals, and christ reincarnated into a tasteless wafer that sticks to the roof of the mouth). The tour began in the dark and then light began flashing to represent the voice of god. At this point my two-year-old nephew jumped in my arms and literally dug his fingers into my flesh out of fear-- so much for not scaring the kids. I cannot even remember which story the above photo is from, I just know that for some reason the two women were fighting over the baby that is being held by its leg. After an hour of obscure bible stories (including of course, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah), we emerged into the light of the museum gift shop where my niece ran around identifying the various gaudy items she thought were "so beautiful." We were greeted by an old woman wearing a turban who tried to convert us-- especially JP who we assume assumed that he was gay-- and me who she assumed was the mother of the children and so she begged that I read them the bible every night. There was a lot of hand grabbing and praying for us. We escaped unscathed and went on to have lunch in a Greek diner and then took the kids for a ride on the carousel.

The other highlight of my trip was sharing so many great meals with old friends. We ate fancy Indian, real Chinese, and a lovely home-cooked meal prepared by AM at the new decked out '60s pad that she and WBM have recently purchased. Lots of wine and many Manhattans were had.

As souvenirs of my trip I brought Z back a Jeni's Ice Creams "the Dairy Heir" tee shirt and a boat load of her ice cream. Really I brought back nine pints: salted caramel, Queen City cayenne, cocoa zin, Thai chili, Ohio squash with pecan praline, pumpkin five spice, Maker's Mark pecan praline, buttered brioche with apricot preserves, and mango with cardamom and pistachios! They packed it on dry ice so that I could travel a long distance with it. Now I am torn, do I share my stash with people here peaking their addiction in hopes of splitting a mass order (Jeni's actually ships, but it ain't cheap)? OR do I simply savor each pint one bite at a time (rumor has it that Jeni special orders her cream so that it is like 18% milk fat-- so tasty, so rich, so decadent-- one bite a day should be plenty).

Tonight Z and I broke into the Ohio Squash, we savored two small scoops slowly... the sweetness came from the butternut squash not sugar and the praline was pleasantly salty and earthy at the same time. A cold morsel of heaven.



ok, ok, I am back....

I have to thank Annie Winfield for the exigency to post. I have been a bad blogger and totally away from the blog world for, gulp, about a month now. I realize this is very poor blogging etiquette. Why have I not blogged, hmmmm.... I am actually not sure. But I have not even read other people's blogs, also poor etiquette. I have been delightfully busy with two job searches and random committee work; WS is transitioning from a program to a department, which has meant a lot of jumping through hoops to make sure we have the proper records of things like, who our chair is/should be and a lot of rewriting/checking by-laws. I never expected that so much of my time in faculty meetings would be debating the subtle language of by-laws. But at least WS has a good rhetorician to help them along the way-- ha! I have emerged myself in research too trying to meet a self-imposed deadline---which is looming!

Here is what I have been thinking about along those lines: I am working on my chapter on the rhetoric of policy-making and during lunch with D yesterday, where she reminded me of my fondness for the research of the pair J.K Gibson-Graham (who incidentally have a new book out called A Postcapitialist Politics that has a chapter on emotions and capitalism), I realized that a lot of my book is about kairos. I should know this by now especially since my Cs paper for 2007 is in fact about kairos and contemporary welfare policy-- well really about kairos and the circulation of images. Reading Robert Asen's book Visions of Poverty I am reminded that, for example, "Seeing is more than the perception of objects with the eyes" (5) and that (and Asen quotes Elaine Scarry here) "the way we act toward 'others' is shaped by how we imagine them" (6) so that "[i]magining entails individual and collective effort" which is "intrinsic to social orders" (6). One of the things I point out in my book is that in late-twentieth century welfare policy there is a strange return to images-- an not actual images but more well, implied or even enthymematic images as Asen ultimately suggests, of what it means to be deserving/undeserving of welfare aid-- that at once reflect similar anxieties displayed in early twentieth-century hygiene and welfare movements most of which were supported by eugenicist research. Yet, as Hassian Marouf suggests, eugenicist discourses, like any discourse really, shifts and changes over time so that there maybe traces of an earlier time but that the time period were they reiterate creates new meaning. I think this is why D's suggestion that I look again at Gibson-Graham (as was suggested to her) is important. As Gibson-Graham make clear economic structures (or capitalism as they suggest) is not monolithic but rather it also shifts and changes-- as well as our "attachments" to it or the things that shore-up, support its structures. And these "images" that implicitly appear in welfare policy (and explicitly in World Bank policies/programs as my other chapters explore) are connected to extreme economic shifts at the end of the 20th century and in many ways are about the anxieties of these economic shifts for the middle class in particular. I know that there are various buzzes out there about structures of feeling and capitalism and to be honest I am somewhat reluctant to go there because I only think this is a small part of my project but hmmm.... Perhaps a task I must take on, ugh? Or maybe I need to just hunker down and write, right? Ok now I need my exigence to move from paper to screen..... ? Or do I read on...?



Good news comes in threes?

I am a believer that good news comes in threes-- or at least it should come in threes!
  • Good news 1: This past week I have learned that I was accepted to the Cs2007 in NYC. I am presenting on eugenicist rhetorics in contemporary welfare policy making. In doing so I hope to layout my rhetorical methodology for analyzing the policy-making process.
  • Good news 2: I also found out just yesterday that I had an article accepted into a transnational feminism journal (a special issue on gender, globalization, and disability). The unfortunate side of that is that the journal had just decided to adopt APA as its citation format. APA, humph! I have not used APA since I was an undergrad. I am not exactly looking forward to learning (or converting) to a new style. But in that paranoia kind of way, I am please that I can check off "publishing in women's and gender studies journals" from my tenure contract list.
  • Good news 3: hmmmm.... if it comes in threes what will be next? Acceptance of the essay I wrote with D? Offer of a job on a coast-- or at least not so smack in the middle of the country? A brilliant scholar applying for our r/c position? A brilliant scholar applying for the women's and gender studies search? OR [fill in the blank here].



An After thought....

Ok so I tend to obsessively plan things. I am a fan of the list and I carry around a little leather-bound book with that to-do list (among lists of books and articles to look up, people to contact, random thoughts about research, recipes to try, etc, etc, etc.). And so, as I was completing my Sunday ritual of reflecting on the week and creating the new week's to-do list (which was in fact spurred on by my earlier post (see below)), I flipped back to my semester to-do list (yes, I have multiple sorts of to-do lists) and I was somewhat happy to realize that really I am only two-and-a-half tasks behind my imposed semester research schedule/timeline. Not too bad! I have now decided that perhaps I do not have writer's block (ok yeah, well I do have "writer's anxiety" that is for sure) and instead I am luxuriating in a period of incubation. My thoughts simply need time to develop lungs, fingers, and a voice before they get put down on paper (or screen).


Writer's block

I have been away from my blog and well quite frankly away from almost anything that would require me to write except for the occasional email. During a downward facing dog yesterday, while I was concentrating on "settling into the resting juncture" of my breathing in my hopes of calmness, I realize-- ohmigosh, I have writer's block. As I stepped into a lung twist I thought, hmmmm.... why? Despite my hiatus from writing I have been actively surveying several of blogs noting, for example, how to read/research/write when doing interdisciplinary work and the joy of beginning. And yet, my fingers feel uncomfortably clumsy on the keyboard and I begin to panic when I think-- crap, a book, I gotta write this book, come on really it is just revising a first draft, a first big draft that needs about 1/3 more written. Of course then I think, just breathe....

But I am beginning to think my block is larger than the ticking tenure clock or the simple pressure of publishing. What I have realized is that to some extent I am, well, not super intellectually stimulated these days; a feeling that I am not sure I have ever had before. Perhaps it is new professor blues? Last year, my first year, I never quite felt intellectually bored, just overwhelmed. Now that I know how to use the copy machine, who to go to be quickly reimbursed for travel, who to email/call for a quick bite to eat on campus, etc. etc. I am now left to sit with where I am-- and I am not good at sitting still. The fact is, the more busy I am, the more productive I tend to be. And not only in my scholarship but in other parts of my life; for example, exercise is not a chore but a well-deserved break, yoga class is just that: a place where I learn something new about how to be, cooking is an expression of creativity, film going is stimulating yet brainless. I had a long chat with my English chair recently and I expressed to her that I really wanted to be more involved in the department-- especially since we are doing a search in rhetcomp and having this split appointment makes it easy for faculty to forget that I am a full-fledged member of each department-- but yet I came away with that feeling that my job as a junior faculty is simply to produce scholarship for tenure and get decent teaching evals. And I do appreciate this protection but I am afraid it just feeds the vicious cycle of research isolation and a lack of production for me. I think that some of my writer's block comes from feeling like I am writing in a bubble completely disconnected from the vast members of the greater r/c community and coming from a grad program where I pretty much only socialized with rhetcomp-ers (and the occasionally rhetcomp-friendly) this strange for me. Sure, I spent a lot of this week conversing with TCQ through my pen and "writer's notebook" (as Z has come to call it; his 4th graders also keep a "writers notebook," very first year comp-y)-- we had a lovely conversation about the rhetoric of policy making. But as a rhetorician, when I return to the key board, I sometimes find it hard to imagine my audience. Ok, so yeah, I know my project spans the field of rhetoric, women's studies, cultural studies, disability studies, and even prof/tech writing but WHO is that really? And why, oh why, did I decide to bring so many areas together... maybe this why I am blocked?!

In hopes of moving forward: note to self this week's goals--

  1. Reread Advice for New Faculty Members, especially the pages on beginning (which btw, consists of breathing exes adapted from Donna Farhi breathing techniques);
  2. Send emails to grant reviewers;
  3. Rewrite grant (for an audience I do *know,* one member's research applies darwinism to lit crit-- this is difficult given that I am exploring the problematic reiteration of eugenicist discourses in late 20th US-based and internationally-based policies);
  4. Write a page of my book, yes just a page and it does not have to be a good one-- one page is better than no new pages.



Illicit scone

This past weekend, Z and I traveled to Pittsburgh to visit my father, his wife, and my brother and his family. Given that it would have taken a good 14 hours to drive my father kindly purchased tickets for us so that we could enjoy more time visiting than driving. However, in addition to TSA regulations (especially the no water on the plane rule) travel these days is not so simple. For us it means driving two hours to the nearest non-regional airport and if our flight is early-- as it was for this trip-- it also means staying over night. On this particular evening, we arranged to have dinner in the city the night before our flight with Jen1, Jen2, and Jen3 as well as L and their significant others. We ate and were filled (note important foreshadowing) at a lovely Asian-fusion restaurant-- I had a variety of dumpling and then a Chinese curry dish made with duck, yum-- and afterward we shared pitchers of beer at a nearby pub. Z and I left somewhat early in the evening since we had to catch our flight at 6AM.

After a restless and near sleepless night for me, we rolled out of bed at 4:30 AM to be at the airport at 5:00 so that we would make our flight at 6:00. When we arrived at the airport there were a few kiosks selling coffee and other morning sundries but they all had significantly long lines AND I knew I would not have enough time to chug a hot cup of coffee before passing security and there were no coffee kiosks after the security gates. So Z and I stumbled on the plane without our usual coffee jolt assuming that the airline swill would get us through to our layover in Detroit.

We arrived slightly late in Detroit and in my fuzzy-headedness (and now in a state of near starvation--those of you who know me well know how cranky I get when I do not eat on a regular basis) I kinda forgot that we had left our home central time zone and we were now in a time zone an hour later. So Z and I took our time getting to our next gate, admiring the mostly empty airport, riding the train from one gate to the other deciding where in the airport we might have dinner on the way home (note: The Mediterranean Grill in DTW serves up a mean lentil soup, fabulous hummus, and fresh pita), getting coffee and a little snack. In the midst of all this I realized--oh crap!--we're in a new time zone and our flight is scheduled to leave in less than 15 minutes. We bolted to our gate just in time and of course we were made to dump our coffee before the attendant took our tickets. As we walked the walkway maze, Z was still holding his scone-- after all, a scone is a solid not a liquid. As we walked through the plane's door, the steward whose nametag read "Paul" said to Z, something like "Ah, I see you have a scone." Which Z responded in the affirmative? Paul then said, "boy I would like to see that scone" to which Z and I chuckled nervously-- we were not sure if he was kidding or serious until Paul said, "no really, I need to see that scone." At this point, we both looked at each other and I think we both thought, hmmm.... What are our traveling rights? Why does he have to inspect our scone? Do we really have to give him our scone? Is this a new TSA rule? In the meantime, Paul grabbed the scone out of Z's hand mumbled something about TSA rules regarding food and dumped our beloved scone in the trash--in the airplane (now if said scone were atomic, why dump it in the trash that will fly with the plane?!). Now bewildered, insufficiently caffeinated, and hungry Z and I made it past rows of people happy chewing on their granola bars, muffins, cookies, and bagels (was there something about scones we did not know?) to our seats where we immediately began looking in the seat pockets for the flight magazine to see if the TSA rules were listed someplace, which they were not. So Z decided to ask another flight attendant for a copy of the rules but she said they did not have them on the plane (which seems strange and makes it clearer how malleable the rules are in fact). Sensing our displeasure and seeing Paul's interception of our scone, in consolation she provided us with $2 trail mix for free-- no coffee but we got nuts.



In celebration of one of my most prized mid-western purchases (the other is a deep freezer):

Crock-pot Haikus

Raw veggie meat mix
Arrive home to cooking smells
A dinner for me

Fear house burning down
Unattended it cooks hours!
Alas dinner is ready

Easy leftovers
A tasty grab and go lunch
Midday sustenance



All the cool kids are doing it....

Blogging! Yes, indeed it does appear that at least all the "cool" rhet/comp folks have started doing it quite well-- we are rhetoricians after all and writing is our forte.

I thought I would spend a moment in this first post to outline why I have chosen to blog:
1. I hope that blogging might become a productive form of procrastination making me actively write about my research;
2. Besides Z. and a few others around here, I rarely have a chance to share my observations about living in a small town (which is somewhat of a new experience for me)-- some are good, some are bad, some are ironic, some just are, some are simply perplexing. For example, there is a store called about half way between here and one of the nearest large cities, they claim to sell flooring and yet their symbol, which looms large outside the store, looks to me like a KKK hood...hmmmmm;
3. Since I have been actively reading other people's blogs (and not really commenting, ahem) I thought I should perhaps at least add to the conversation in some way;
4. I got rid of cable television;
5. Writing about my life may actually convince me that it is indeed more exciting than I originally thought;
6. Maybe for the first time in my life I can be "cool" too...