Tuesday, September 30, 2008

where I'm writing this week

I'm shifting back to my bimonthly schedule for the Children's Lit Book Group over at LiteraryMama. Though there are plenty of books to write about, my non-sabbatical year this year is keeping me hopping (or, more precisely, grading) in the moments when I might otherwise be writing a column. So look for that one next month.

In the meantime, I'm still writing every week, on Tuesdays, for the Mama, PhD blog at Inside Higher Ed. I'm enjoying the community of readers over there, so why not click over and join us?

[cross-posted at the other blog]

Sunday, September 28, 2008

All good things...

...come to those who wait. And after fifteen years in Richmond, my favorite grocery store has finally arrived! I found out during dinner this evening and made it out there before they closed, coming home with a good haul: wine, bagels, veggie "meatballs", cereal, milk, artichoke hearts, and chocolate. There was more, too, but we didn't go overboard--as I often have when visiting the one in Northern VA--because I knew we could go back next week. What luxury!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Telling our stories

One of my favorite feminist teachings is the oft-repeated mantra that the personal is the political. This doesn't, of course, mean that George W. Bush offers us advice for daily living (whew!) but that the power structures outside our homes don't necessarily stop at the doorway. We don't like to remember that, always--sometimes we want our decisions to feel free, open, disconnected from political realities. But they rarely are. This week in the Mama, PhD blog over at Inside Higher Ed I tell a little more of my story of balancing academe and family. Like all such stories, it's both idiosyncratic and representative, personal and --possibly-- political. Let me know what you think.

But don't stop there. In Capital-P politics, as you already know, there's a lot going on right now. Literary Mama columnists Ericka Lutz (Red Diaper Dharma) and Shari MacDonald Strong (The Maternal is Political) have terrific columns up now about the election, both telling different, but important, stories.

Two more columns at Literary Mama tell stories that don't feel political at all, stories of farewell. But Rebecca Kaminsky (Down Will Come Baby) and Vicki Forman (Special Needs Mama) know well how their stories of love and care are connected up with larger concerns--of how we treat women's particular health care needs, how we care for disabled children, how our families form part of a larger community of love and care.

The first time I ever wanted to take a political action was when, six months pregnant with my first child, I went to a meeting about doing clinic defense. Heavy with a chosen and deeply-loved child, I knew in my bones, my joints, my aching muscles, just how important it was for all mothers to have that same choice, to know their children were chosen as well. Organizers wiser than I dissuaded me, realizing that my condition would be a distraction, a potentially dangerous one. I've mostly stayed behind the scenes since then, hoping that my words and example in the classroom would be seen as the political statement I knew them to be.

This year I've been a little more mobilized--in July I walked a precinct with my newly-registered-to-vote daughter, and we signed up new voters together in the summer heat. She's spending part of her gap year doing more of that, registering voters and phonebanking and trying to be a part of something bigger than she is. Yesterday she finished working on a voter guide for a local progressive organization, and I saw the pride in her eyes as she told me of sending it off and getting it approved. "People will use my work to help them decide how to vote!" Seeing her and other young people get excited about this election is one of the things that gives me hope for the future--as does this new project, YA for Obama (check out Judy Blume! check out John Green!).

Listen to the stories around you--tell your own--you'll make a difference.

(cross-posted at the other blog)

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Claudia at FreshHell not only gave me an award, she tagged me for a meme! I haven't done one in a while, so here goes... I am to tell you six unspectacular things about me.

1. I am becoming one of those women who wears comfortable shoes. I love cute shoes (I spent far too much of the late 70s/early 80s in Candies--like these--which probably tells you more about me than I want it to) but my feet no longer do. In the summer I can get by with various kinds of sandals that don't scrunch me in too much, but winter shoes are particularly difficult. So I'm especially happy that I found these and something sort of like these (but, I think, cuter) today, on sale.

2. To my great surprise, I am enjoying a 7 am fitness class I'm taking twice a week.

3. I spend way more time playing WordTwist than I should. (Word games on facebook are somehow more addictive than any other kind. Why is that?)

4. When I was younger (yes, back in those Candies days) I sometimes imagined myself in a backup band. I never wanted to be the lead singer, but I'd have loved to stand behind the band and sing "doo-wop." Or something. I still think it would be fun.

5. I read too fast and therefore don't retain what I read very well. The advantage here is that I'm rarely bored when I reread a novel. I can also claim to have read many, many, books, as I have turned all the pages in them quickly and, for a brief moment, known what was on the pages. The disadvantages, especially for someone who teaches literature, are obvious.

6. I will eat granola for breakfast every day, as long as it's the granola I've made and there's some kind of fruit to put on it. (It's too easy to make granola--check out Caroline's recipe here, which is an adaptation of the same Nigella recipe that I also adapt, somewhat differently. She no longer uses the applesauce, but I do, for example--however, I skip the dried fruit and slice up a peach or a banana on my own bowlful.)

I'm supposed to tag folks, but really, just do it if you want. Six things. Not spectacular. Go.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Award Ceremony!

The wonderful Claudia over at Fresh Hell has bestowed upon me the coveted Arte y pico award, which comes with this lovely statuette. Don't you love it? As far as I can tell, the award is for being, um, awesome--or, to put it more formally, remarkable "in terms of creativity, design, interesting material, and general contributions to the blogger community." Thanks, Claudia!

Now, I need to bestow it on five more bloggers, preferably ones who haven't received it before. So here goes:

Writing as Jo(e) is always beautifully written. Jo(e) tells great stories (check out the one about how her kids amused themselves the other night), shares glorious pictures, and has a tradition of naked pictures on her blog. She's a parent, an academic, a vegan, and a dreamer, and a fabulous blogger.

I read Caroline's two blogs every day (or as often as she posts), and not just because she's my sister. In Food for Thought she tells family stories, talks about movies, and occasionally posts recipes; on Learning to Eat (where she co-blogs with Lisa Harper) she blogs exclusively about food and family culture (trust me, the two blogs are really different!).

Becca at Not Quite Sure is my go-to source for celebrity gossip, political rants, feminist thought, and lots of other things. She doesn't post pictures, but she will blog about chocolate cake, J. Lo, the Red Sox, and Sarah Palin all in the same week. (OK, no chocolate cake lately, but trust me, the chocolate cake posts are fine, fine work.)

I also read Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect every day--she's my colleague and my friend, and she's also a terrific writer who has her ear to the ground for everything children's literature and education related. She gives me things to post about (thanks, Tricia!), and things to think about, all the time.

So there you go--five very different blogs, all worth adding to your feed reader. Winners, now it's your turn to give five more awards!

(A special honorary mention has to go to my dad's blog, which is infrequently updated but always thought-provoking. Gardening, Episcopal history, and Beowulf!)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

what I'm thinking about

When I'm teaching, everything revolves around the books I'm immersed in, and the books start speaking to my present reality. Right now I'm moving on from Frankenstein to Wuthering Heights in one class, and from Alice in Wonderland to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in the other two. And somehow Frankenstein made it into my Mama, PhD blog entry over at Inside Higher Ed today.

In other news, I'm working at home today while I wait for the Verizon installers. The question of the day is, will I finish my grading before they arrive?

(cross-posted at the other blog)

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Reading List

Not much time to post today, but lots of links:

I'm sure there's more, but that will have to do for now.

(cross-posted at the other blog)

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Getting in shape

I'm a confirmed couch potato. As a child I would rather sit than stand, read than run--and that really hasn't changed over the years. Nonetheless I admit that I feel better when I get some exercise, so I've actually signed up for an early-morning fitness class to go along with my two- or three-times-a-week tae kwon do classes. Strength, conditioning, flexibility, self-defense--I'm working on them all now, and it feels good.

But I'm still not quite in shape for teaching, it turns out, and that's what I'm blogging about today at Inside Higher Ed. Note entirely gratuitous Sarah Palin reference...

Monday, September 01, 2008

here's what I think

about Palin and pregnancy and all the rest. Becca and Rebecca Traister have pretty much said it all for me. I have to admit, the early rumors about Trig Palin being Bristol Palin's son, not Sarah Palin's, got me going. They seemed to reveal such hypocrisy in the family-values right, such a failure of abstinence-only education, such an anxiety about "what people will think." And I was also inclined to agree with Dawn that, if Trig really is (Sarah) Palin's, her traveling while in labor--leaking amniotic fluid--showed at the very best poor judgment and at the worst, well, something much worse.

Mostly, I have nothing but sympathy for Bristol Palin. She's a teenager with a difficult family situation, no matter how you slice it, and she's only going to spend more time in the public eye in the next four months, not less. It's not her fault her mother's ambitious and John McCain wanted someone with no track record on his ticket.

(And while the rest of the country is rejoicing that Gustav appears to be less powerful than early reports had indicated, I imagine the Republicans are actually a little dismayed that they're still in the news...)