Saturday, December 11, 2010

I was a Women's Studies major...

While reorganizing some things on my bookshelf today, I came across a paper with the following written on it:

"Is heterosexual marriage a patriarchal institution inconsistent with the recognition of women as persons?"

"Re-imagining families as groups of adults who have responsibility for a child regardless of sexual relationships."


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Old news? Perhaps.

Ok, this series is almost two months old now, but I still think it's worth considering:

@Slate on feminism

I posted the link on my FB page and the following discussion ensued with a college classmate:

A: "I was having just this debate yesterday at lunch. What do you think?"

Me: "About Sarah Palin & others adopting the label? On that I am conflicted. I do believe that it's a big enough tent that feminists don't have to all believe the same thing. On the other hand, it is different to acknowledge that you have benefi...ted from feminism and to think that there is still work to be done. I know that SP benefited from feminism, but I'm not sure she thinks there is still work to be done to dismantle patriarchy, promote equality for all, build a society where a range of choices are celebrated and available/acceptable for both women and men. (At least that's not what I hear coming out of her mouth.) My feminism is so tied to social justice issues (cycle of poverty, educational inequality, reproductive rights/choices, health care, social services, gay rights, marriage equality, etc. and the responsibility we all hold for one another) that it's hard for me to consider SP a feminist, since we clearly do not agree on these issues. I don't think I can consider SP a feminist until the work is done, society has been changed, until the things I believe in are not considered cutting edge/progressive. Then we can be slower about change. (Though I sense that by that time, if that ever happens, feminism will have found some new drums to beat.) If she wants to adopt the label, that's fine, but I don't have to agree with that adoption."

A: "My friend was arguing that, especially to women who are in communities where it isn't even yet acceptable to be a working mother, Sarah Palin complicates the traditional idea of womanhood to such an extent that she can be understood as a fe...minist. But I can't make that move. Like you, I think you have to not simply be an example of equality but actually promote a system that is just and non-patriarchal in order to "count" as a feminist. And while I don't believe there is any sort of litmus test (as you said, the tent can be quite large), I don't think that you can actively campaign against programs and policies that would make the world a better place for women and get to call yourself a feminist. And the fact that she bases her participation on her status as a mother is also problematic to me. I mean, that's the whole idea of republican motherhood (in the classical sense, not the contemporary idea of republican v. democrat): you get to participate in politics through raising children. While Palin's version goes a bit beyond Rousseau's because she thinks that women can directly participate in politics, it is still on the basis of being a mother. Isn't part of the point of feminism that women are not ONLY mothers? I was at a talk with Gloria Steinem on Friday and she said, when confronted with a question about Palin: "it's a testament to the success of the feminist movement that our enemies feel they have to dress up like us in order to succeed" (or something to that effect). I can appreciate that to a certain sector of society, Sarah Palin has made the idea of a powerful woman somehow palatable, but I think she's watered down feminism to such an extent that it has little or no meaning left if we can use it to apply to her and her grizzlies. Maybe you're right: if we had already accomplished all of the goals of the women's movement, we could talk about considering Palin a feminist, but I think she actually turns back the clock on many of the very programs that benefitted her. There are definitely Republican women who would count as feminists (and good role models) for me, but Palin just isn't one of them."

Me: "I like what Gloria said, that's clever. And I totally hear you on the connection to republican motherhood, a concept so heavily emphasized with my AP US History students. I also struggle, quite frankly, with Palin's stand on abortion. Again..., there are and can be feminists who are pro-life, but I am bothered by the fact that she has stated in public that she struggled with whether to continue her pregnancy when she found out her son would have Downs Syndrome. I don't have a problem with the struggle or with her decision. I have a problem with the fact that she apparently feels that her outcome should be everyone's outcome. Palin thought about it and decided what is best for her and her family. Why should I not have the same right? The abortion debate also always seems to be at odds with the Republican platform in general: 'Less government regulation! (Unless it has to do with queers or abortion. Then, more is better.)'"

A: "Do you think you can be completely pro-life and a feminist? I can see being a feminist and being against abortion for yourself or thinking it is wrong, or thinking that in a perfect world there would be no need for abortion, etc. But as so...on as you make that choice for someone else, I don't see how you can still see yourself as a feminist. So maybe I do think there is a litmus test! Anyway, it's a tough discussion because I really do see the need for diverse role models, and conservative women should have every right to see their views represented. And more women in power has to be a good thing. But why then try to co-opt the label of feminist? Just admit you're not one and leave those of us who are to fight our own fight."

I think "they" adopt the label with the hope of co-opting the term and thereby making it mean nothing. Great convo.

Friday, November 19, 2010


Bill Gates is sometimes a tool. Article on what he thinks is the answer to the money problem: step increases and increased pay for teachers with masters degrees.

"The only way out, he says, is by rethinking the way the nation’s $500 billion annual expenditures on public schools is allocated. About $50 billion pays for seniority-based annual salary increases for teachers, he says. The nation spends an additional $9 billion annually to pay salary increases to teachers with master’s degrees, he says."

(from here)

Here's the thing, though. I was required by No Child Left Behind to get that masters degree, to prove that I am "highly qualified." I took out loans to complete that degree, $36,000 by the time it was done, for tuition and living expenses while attending a state university. Most jobs, if you have advanced schooling, that translates to a higher salary. Don't teachers deserve that too, especially in light of the fact that it's a job requirement?

Friday, October 29, 2010

"On Punctuation"

not for me the dogma of the period
preaching order and a sure conclusion
and no not for me the prissy
formality or tight-lipped fence
of the colon and as for the semi-
colon call it what it is
a period slumming
with the commas
a poser at the bar
feigning liberation with one hand
tightening the leash with the other
oh give me the headlong run-on
fragment dangling its feet
over the edge give me the sly
comma with its come-hither
wave teasing all the characters
on either side give me ellipses
not just a gang of periods
a trail of possibilities
or give me the sweet interrupting dash
the running leaping joining dash all the voices
gleeing out over one another
oh if I must
give me the YIPPEE
of the exclamation point
give me give me the curling
cupping curve mounting the period
with voluptuous uncertainty
Elizabeth Austen, from The Girl Who Goes Alone. Seattle: Floating Bridge Press, 2010.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Kids & Bullying & the "It Gets Better" Project

As a middle-schooler, I was bullied. This is not a unique experience. As a high school student, one of my best friends came out to me and also told me that he was thinking about killing himself. I don't quite remember what happened next, but I know that I told my mom, who presumably told someone else. Thankfully, my friend did not kill himself. He is alive and well and leading an interesting, varied, fulfilling life in New York City.

Now I am a teacher. Ever since my first year of teaching, when I was an intern, my students have come to me when they were feeling threatened. Maybe it's because I'm still awkward enough that they can see the shadow of the bullied girl inside. Maybe it's because I will not let them say derogatory things to one another or make comments like "That's so gay."

K was a junior. She IM'ed me in a panic. Someone had been calling her house, accusing her of checking out other girls at the Homecoming Dance (which she had attended, ironically, with her boyfriend). K had dated girls in the past, with little to no reaction from her peers, so she was stunned and hurt and very upset by this new reaction. She called me on the phone, crying, but begged me not to tell anyone else about it. I told her I wasn't sure I could do that and ended up relaying the information to a guidance counselor at the school. This school was one that took the safety of its students very seriously, especially with this incident coming less than 1 year after a student killed himself. They put some pieces together and decided that there was a larger pattern of generalized bullying going on at the school. They called an all-school assembly, after which the issue was discussed in our advisory groups.

This is where things get interesting, to me, in dealing with the issue of bullying. Yes, it's important to reach out to the bullied and make them feel better, and yes, we have to convey to the bullies that their behavior is unacceptable, but there is a larger group out there: the bystanders. Those who do not get involved, who do not say anything for fear of being sucked into being bullied themselves.

My juniors got together after the assembly and started to generally bitch and moan about the topic. "Like what am I supposed to do?" In what was not my finest moment as a teacher, and full of the memory of being picked on in middle school, I snapped back at them.

"I get it, but you don't have to be their best friend. All you have to do is provide a little cover. You know exactly who those kids are that are being bullied, let's not pretend otherwise. All you have to do is be friendly -- would it kill you to say hi to them in the hallway? Sit next to them in class or in the lunchroom? You two are on the football team. You really think someone's going to come mess with you for being friends with a target? You have to say something when someone is getting picked on and I know it's hard, but it's also easy. 'Knock it off. Don't say that. Lay off.'"

If you want to live in the kind of community where you don't have to worry about being picked on, you also have to make the kids responsible for keeping other kids from being picked on. The bystanders have to step up and we have to help them do it. We must all be responsible for one another.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Teaching & Learning

I wonder if by making the kids read this article, you could change their study habits and improve their grades? Hmm. (from the NYT)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The End of Summer

It's Labor Day weekend, the unofficial end of the summer. Of course, there are still a few weeks until the equinox, but we're definitely on the slow slide into cool weather and shorter days. Summer weather is done -- no more 90 degrees days, I think. Last night, the temperature dropped into the 50s, which made for some nice sleeping weather. (Sleeping weather, though not actual sleeping, unfortunately.)

Have been spending spare time knitting -- lots of baby hats, since I know at least 6 people who are pregnant. Also spending time pulling together a new version of my philosophy of education statement and some actual good, solid cover letters, ones that say what I want to say about education and teaching. The 2009 job search was such a wild, desperate adventure; I would prefer not to do it that way ever again.

What questions do you ask (can you ask) to find out if the administration/supervision situation is good or nutty ahead of time? This is the next sort of thing to figure out. Now that I've had really good supervision, I would like to continue that. I've been spoiled, in a way.

Monday, August 30, 2010


Reminds me of the first time I got ma'am-ed:
After moving to southern Maryland, I was in the classroom and one of my 10th graders said something borderline rude. I gave him the hairy eyeball and a warning that he had crossed the line. He answered back, "Yes, ma'am." It seriously took me a minute or two to figure out if he was messing around. Having come from New England, I had never been "ma'am-ed" before. It continued to drive me nuts for a while, like not being allowed to open my own door if I got there first, but eventually, it wore me down. Now I just resent it because I still want to be a "miss," which is an age thing, not a politeness thing.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Friday, August 6, 2010


It's been a while, huh? Much like some friends who are recommitting to the blogging, I shall try, I shall try. Latest accomplishments?
- A few good dates. Though said dates ended in the classic, "You're great, but...", I still had fun. :)
- Sewing to fix some clothing issues. Bought a skirt a few months ago which is now too large in the waist, thanks to losing some weight from running. On the advice of friends, I made two button holes in the waistband & threaded through a piece of 5/8" double-faced satin ribbon. Ta da! Drawstring & skirt that fits better.
- Bought a different skirt last week, which promptly had an issue with one of the side seams. Now, however, it's also fixed. Whipstitch, dude.
- Scheduled an audition for a local choral group. Yes, I'm a choral snob (thanks to my high school & college choral conductors for that one), but I'm also ready for the fun and companionship of singing again.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Emily Dickinson

I took a class on Emily Dickinson in college, one of the best classes I took. We met at her house (!) in Amherst, MA. I learned a ton and having access to her house & the Evergreens next door was an excellent side-effect.

ED seems to be pretty popular these days, with a few articles published in the NYT recently:
- "My Hero, the Outlaw of Amherst"
- "The Poet as Gardener and Tigerlily"
- a slideshow on the ED garden exhibition: "Emily Dickinson's Garden"

Getting pretty excited to head back to my very own campus for my 10-year college reunion. So many lovely people will be there!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Still Running...

Though I have not posted about anything recently, I have still been keeping up with the pursuits of knitting, running, and working. :) Perhaps working is not so much a pursuit as a necessity.

Nonetheless, after two or three weeks stuck on Week 4 of the Couch-to-5K training program, I was getting frustrated. No results = no good. I decided to take a big rewind after the time change and begin again. This was one super-excellent idea!

I have been running again for about 5 weeks and finished Week 5, Day 2 today. That's two 8-min runs, for anyone who is keeping track. The mileage is steadily increasing and so is the total time running. Whoo!

/self-congratulatory post :P

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Way the World Works

I find, more and more, that I am disappointed with the way the world works. I am sad for a friend today; it does not seem fair that she has lost her dad suddenly and so close to the birth of her first child, his first grandchild. And all of this is in addition to her having lost her mom (also suddenly) when she was in college. WTF, universe?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Ya Think?

Article in the NYT on women in science and math fields, including professorships -- a brief, unexplored sentence: "In dozens of conversations with women scientists and technology executives from the United States, Europe and Asia, a pattern emerged: Many attended single-sex schools and a significant number had scientist parents." (Emphasis added.)

Ya think? See: women's colleges.

From MHC's website:
  • From 1966 to 2004, according to the NSF’s Survey of Earned Doctorates, Mount Holyoke graduated more women than any other liberal arts college who went on to get U.S. doctorates in the physical and life sciences (356 and 109, respectively). This puts Mount Holyoke in the top 2 percent of all colleges and universities--even major research universities with at least double the enrollment and faculty.
  • Among all colleges and universities, Mount Holyoke ranks eighth (tied with Stanford and Wellesley) in the number of graduates who earned U.S. doctorates in physics from 1966 to 2004; ninth in chemistry; and sixteenth in biology.
Why thanks, NYT. Could you explore that one a little more next time, please? That's probably more significant than all of your goings on about "biological clock" this and "stereotypes" that.

Friday, March 5, 2010


- NPR story on obsolete jobs
- NPR story on a gay documentary from 1978

Friday, February 19, 2010

Insert Clever Title Here

Though sidetracked temporarily by the epic snowfall in the DC area, I have continued the running training program. I even dragged myself out of bed to run on Thursday before work. Week 3, day 2 tomorrow.

Two bits of commercial-related commentary:
1. Mazda is advertising some sort of car as "wicked fun." Go New England slang!
2. TLC is advertising a show called "Four Weddings," which looks awful from the perspective of women picking at each other and also in supporting the wedding-industrial complex. Outside of that, the title of the show just makes me want to add "and a Funeral" every time it gets repeated.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Eye Roll

Article in the NYT about the politics of the social studies topic review in Texas. Why I hate this: Texas put out a set of standards for the entire state on a given subject. Those standards are then used for a state list of acceptable textbooks. All school districts in the state must choose from the list. Texas and California are the largest states which do this. Textbook publishers want to be on their list, so that they get bought in these large school districts. Textbook publishers tailor their books so that they get on the Texas and California lists. Practically every school district in the country, therefore, uses books that are published for the benefit of Texas and California, and they drive the entire nation's curriculum.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Other Blogs

In this case, it's all about the commentary on "The Sound of Music" at the end... particularly the part about Liesl...

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Actually Trying New Things...

On March 18 of last year, I wrote that I wanted to try the Couch to 5K program. I did not.

This year, inspired by the various physical accomplishments of friends Beth (who trained for and ran an entire marathon) and Katie (who trained for a breast cancer 3-Day, though she was rained out of much of her actual walk), I have actually started it.

This past week, I walked/ran on Monday, Thursday, and today. Monday, I finished about 1/3 of the intervals, Thursday finished 1/2, and today finished an entire week 1 session! I feel incredibly proud of myself so far. Some of the women who I work with are runners and they are encouraging and are going to sign up with me for a 5K in May, as soon as we figure out which one.

On to week 2!

In other news, I present to you three odd stories from NPR from the week:
- Why we make the wrong choice: an overloaded brain
- Finding a picture of Phineas Gage, a man who had a railroad spike driven through his skull in 1848 and lived to tell the tale, albeit with a different personality
- The formula for perfect parallel parking: apparently it's all about the math (shocker)

Happy happy birthday this week to a few of my favorite people.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


I feel a little like my friend Jen when I post recipes, but I'm not trying to steal her thunder. Just explaining what I did with my weekend. Yesterday, I made crumpets and today, I made quiche.

2 c. warm water
2 c. flour
1 T. or packet dry yeast
1 t. salt

Mixing and Rising:
Pour the water in a mixing bowl. Blend in 1 c. of the flour and the yeast. Allow this mixture to grow and develop for 10-15 min before you add the balance of the flour and the salt.

Mix the batter thoroughly, cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap, and let rise for 1 to 2 hours.

After the batter has doubled in size, stir it down and let it rest for 5 min while you heat your griddle.

(In England and certain places in America, you can buy rings to cook crumpets in, but we can approximate them by using tuna-sized cans with the tops and bottoms cut out. Clean them thoroughly and grease with butter. You can also buy the rings from various specialty places online. I got mine through the King Arthur Flour website.)

Lightly grease and then heat your griddle over medium-low heat. Place as many rings on it as you have room for. Fill each ring with about 1/4 inch of batter (about 1/4 cup in my rings, which are 3.75 inches in diameter). The batter should be thin enough so that holes develop.

Cook until the batter is beginning to dry on top and brown on the bottom, about 6-7 min. Remove the rings, flip the crumpets, and finish cooking. This will take 1-2 min.

I like to toast mine and add Nutella. Yum!

Basic Formula of Ingredients:
1 pie crust, prebaked for extra crispness, but not necessary
3 to 4 eggs
3 T. flour
1 to 1.5 c. liquid (milk, evaporated milk, buttermilk, yogurt, sour cream, cream, etc.)
1.5 to 2 c. cooked, chopped veggies and/or meat
1.5 c. grated cheese (anything goes)

Prep the custard:
Combine the eggs, flour, and liquid. Pour some on the bottom of your crust to seal it and keep the juices from soaking in. Strew the pie shell with veggies, meat, etc. and then sprinkle and cheese over all. Pour the remainder of the custard over the whole thing and bake for 35 to 40 min at 375 degrees.

Today, I used leeks & feta cheese. Tasty!

Sunday, January 17, 2010


One of the best parts about my job is the weekend. That's because I don't do work on the weekend. It's pretty glorious. I gave up summer, but in return, I got evenings and weekends. I'm still getting used to it, I admit, which sometimes leaves me at loose ends. But I'm getting better at it. :)

This weekend? All MHC, all the time. I saw 6 MHC alums in less than 24 hours, in 3 different social situations: a party to celebrate the adoption of a classmate's child, coffee this morning, then brunch today. I'm counting down to Reunion, excited about the fun that will be had by my classmates who can make it. Those who aren't able to come will miss lots of fun, but I know that they'll be there in spirit. Need to figure out how to get more stuff online so that lots of people can participate virtually.

Much love for "North by Northwest" -- a true mid-century movie. Google would have cleared up the whole "mistaken identity" conceit quickly & that fun on the train? Never would have happened. Also digging "Ocean's 13" tonight. It's been a while since I saw that movie in the theater.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Haiti and all the rest of it

Haiti. Oy. I read Mountains Beyond Mountains last year. Poor Haiti, in so many many ways. And now this earthquake. The quacks all came out to play. I won't be mentioning the name of one of those quacks, as he doesn't need any more publicity than he already gets, but I do love the fact that the Minneapolis Star-Tribune has published a letter written by "the Devil" back to him. You should read it.

I've been thinking this week about what happens when people can't get their shit together, how people deal with major (and minor) events, how to be brave. More on that later, maybe.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Lost in the Shuffle

Thinking today about what happens when things get lost in the shuffle, proverbial or actual. How information can get missed and become either tragic or funny when the truth comes out later.

A friend of mine somehow missed the fact that my brothers are twins. How? I have no idea. As another friend put it, "Um, that's the thing to know about your brothers." I guess when your friends haven't actually met your siblings in person, it would be difficult to miss. On the other hand, I feel like I always talk about them as a unit. Perhaps that's just how it seems to me, since clearly it was a fact that was missed. How did this missed piece of information come out? I showed him a picture of the two of them from M's wedding this summer. His response? "Wow, they look... a lot alike!." "Um, because they're twins?" "No, really?!?"

That's just one example, of the funny variety. We'll see if I can come up with a tragic example, though I'm sure I've posted about one before.

On another note, I'll be happy when my birthday's over in 43 days.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Add Another

Add another date to the things that I'm looking forward to this year: the family reunion in July. It's our 4th annual and it, like the others, promises to be fun. There's food and beer and loud people and pictures and card games. Bring it on.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Actually the New Year

Happy actual new year now. I did not get the quarter, but it's probably better that my uncle did anyway. He could use it more, I'm thinking.

Things to look forward to this year? My 10-year college reunion. That's going to be one fun weekend.

I was talking with a friend earlier this week about traditions that my family has for the holidays. Here's one of my favorites, a card game that we call "Boofoo." (Note: spelling is not guaranteed. The rest of the world calls this game "Oh Hell" or something else entirely...) We have been playing this game after every large family meal ever since I can remember. There is score-keeping, trick-taking, trash-talking, and no one plays nicely. What I mean by that is that no one's going to let you win just because we're related or you married into the family. Dad used to keep score (and win too, but that had more to do with his phenomenal memory) and now my brother tends to do so. Some of my best family memories are wrapped up in these games, laughing and being rowdy around the dining room table.