Shooting for Ostrich

D-med’s May 5th post reminded me that I, too, owe some more facts. Rad of The Cohabiting Closet fame gave us the Sugar Doll award, and we must deliver.

6. I lived in Kyoto & Osaka, Japan, for a year and a half after undergrad. Because I worked while I was there for the McDonald’s of English schools, my work schedule was intense. But there was still time for a little travelling, some language learning, and a LOT of karaoke (god, I enjoy the karaoke box).

7. I have two younger brothers, one of whom is only 13 months younger than me (proof, if we still need it, that breastfeeding is NOT birth control). When we were little, our grandfather introduced us to wrestling, which we watched on TV with him on Saturday mornings. We subsequently spent a LOT of time trying to develop our skills in this forum. Sometimes Grandpa would check our biceps. He’d squeeze our flexed arms and proclaim them “Chickadee’s kneecaps.”

The Chickadee: A bird with tiny, but potentially wiry knees

And we’d say “No, no, Grandpa! Feel again! Bluejay’s kneecap!”

The Bluejay: Good knees

Almost 30 years later, I continue to use the bird-knee system. For example, there’s a good chance my upper arm strength continues in the Bluejay/Chickadee range. Perhaps someday, however, if I ever manage to commit to a workout schedule that includes actual strength training, I’ll make it to Ostrich or Emu.

Ostrich: Yeah, this is exactly what I’m shooting for.

OK, I admit I wrote Emu so I could show you this tiny guy.


8. My dog, a.k.a. Fuzzy Roommate, got me through grad school and the years since. He and I have lived in 5 different apartments together. He helped me study for comprehensive exams (and as a result, he is awesome at Canadian poetry and can think circles around Fredric Jameson), and he’s listened carefully to more than one practice job talk. He also parties like a grad student and continues to be VERY alert into the wee hours of the night, but is useless until at least 11am.

9. A-Dubs-Hubs and I have been together for a decade and a bit, but we’ve lived in the same city for – maybe – 4 of those years. We lived together briefly while I did my MA and he did his medical residency. Then I moved away to start my PhD, and he followed when his residency was done. Then I moved, again, to take up a Postdoc, and he followed a year-and-a-half later. Now we both live here. Together. Holy shite!

10. March was absolute crap not only for the usual term-related reasons, but also because I interviewed at my current institution, then watched 3 other candidates interview for the same position. But last week, I negotiated my contract. So I guess the florist shop will have to wait. I love and hate academia.


Whew. Ok, D-Med: which bloggettes can we ask to dish some of their own dirt?

There. Are. Four. Lights.

I forgot that I owe you all four more facts about me.Rad at The Cohabitating Closet gave us the Sugar Doll Award and I have been lax in divulgingtenfactsabout myself.Here are the last four:

7. I enjoy Star Trek unabashedly (not the classic series*).I am a little bit in love with Jean-Luc Picard and all of my students know this about me because I use Star Trek in my teaching (“Darmok” from TNG to teach metaphor, allusion and/or narrative in Intro Lit).Given I am a medievalist (and so perceived, obviously mistakenly, as dorky), publicly enjoying Star Trek does not exactly up my “cool” factor, but I have decided that this is part of my charm.

* I did my undergrad at the same university as William Shatner (not at the same time) and the student centre is called, counter to university edict, the Shatner Centre or, familiarly, Shatner. I believe its sanctioned name honours someone who actually gave money to the school, but students summarily ignore this.I love how the students have claimed their space on campus in this way.

8. In my early teens I was a professional ballet student.I believe this has given me the unique ability to withstand uncomfortable shoes for longer periods of time than is humanly decent and it has schooled me in the effective use of moleskin and lambswool (both Already Pretty and Orchids in Buttonholes have expertly covered shoe comfort just this week.OiB is continuing this week with shoe care—I’m overly excited about this. She has beautiful shoes.).

9. I was born in Australia and emigrated to Canada when I was 2. When I was 11, my Dad (who was British) and I became Canadian citizens together.We went out for lunch after the ceremony (an extravagance) and the waitress gave us free cake even though it wasn’t our birthday.This is one of my best memories.When I was a waitress I gave out as much free dessert as I could get away with.

10. Two of my favourite movies are Howard Hawks’s His Girl Friday (ellenitza recently posted about this fabulous, fastest-talking film) and Martin Scorsese’s After Hours.I like to watch them one after the other on a rainy afternoon while I ignore my work.These movies make me want to be an ace reporter in an erstwhile Chicago and an artist in an erstwhile New York City, respectively.

Here’s an unrelated picture of my cats, just because.

But enough about you …

I am in the thick of marking and preparing my exam (and the exam review for those happy few who bother to come to the last week of classes) so I need (desperately) the distraction of the internet. Who knew that writing for a blog would be a legitimate (because it is writing, right?) distraction?
Here are two more things about me:
5. This is what I looked like when I interviewed for the job I have now.
In fact, it was worse because the latent bruise that was developing underneath my left eye had surfaced just for the occasion. I was shopping in the Fashionable City nearby the Industrial/University Town where I did my grad work for two suits for my two-day campus visit (if you go on the market, be serious about it and buy a suit; DO NOT wait until three days before your interview) when I tripped on my way up a set of stairs and smashed the bridge of my nose onto the riser of a concrete step. Immediately my right eye swelled shut. I bought a bottle of water, pressed its coldness gingerly to my nose and took the bus back to Industrial/University Town, weeping the entire way; no one sat beside me. When I told my mother about it she helpfully pointed out that I could have smashed my teeth. True, but cold comfort at the time.
I think, however, that having a broken face may have helped me because it made me more “me” at the interview. I was never going to be the polished, be-suited prof that I thought I should be for a campus visit (I am not that now) so I think I was able to let go of the fantasy and be honest about my own shortcomings. I am lucky that this department seems to have recognised that. Either that or the other candidates had worse injuries.
Obviously I’m not suggesting that you give yourself a black eye for the interview, but I am suggesting that you should be as much you as you can be at the interview. I was not dressed as myself at this interview, except for the bashed in face, and it was the bashed in face, I think, that may have given me an edge because it reminded me of who I was: a clumsy newbie who is terrified by the interview process but willing to bring it anyway because she believes she has something that she can bring. That, or the other candidates were too expensive/blew it worse than I did.
6. I love this picture of me. And there are maybe two pictures of myself in the world that I love.

Jacket: Jackpot
Scarf: Oasis
T-shirt: Garage (has sparkly writing on it)
Skirt: from Joy
Tights: have had them since high school
Shoes: Dune
Purse: Roots
It is the picture on my faculty web profile at the university and, if I can use it for a book jacket (dream!), I will. AW took it when she visited me while I was living in London. I still own all of the components of this outfit, except for the orange blazer. It was velvet and I wore it a lot as a blazer and as outerwear, and it started to bald and shabbify, so it did not make the cut to come home in the two suitcase allowance I had when I moved back to North America after a year in the UK. I have never found another like it.
What I especially love about this photo is my new colleague’s assessment of it. She is putting together her own faculty web page and she remarked that she didn’t have a photo that was as quintessentially her as this is quintessentially me. She doesn’t know me well, and I don’t know her well, but I love that she has identified something about me that I also see in this photo. And that AW, to her credit, was able to capture.
Do you have a (secret) book jacket photo (already)? Is it normal to know the photo better than the book?

Why, I am the very pinke of curtesie

Well, I’m back from the brink, though not yet in the pink. Here are two more things about me:
3. I live in the upstairs flat of a pink house. While it is a lovely, lovely apartment, I think that the brilliant pink of the house, painted by my landlords who live downstairs, sold me on it. I knew that living in a pink house in this new city where I didn’t know anyone would bring me some cheer in the lonely damp that can pervade this place at times. And it does.
4. At this moment, I have pink hair. For reasons that I will not go into on this forum, I have had a trying time of late which culminated last week in a very long and unpleasant confrontation with professional arguers. For better or worse, it is over now. As a result I am feeling somewhat rebellious and so I did this:
I love it. I do query the professional read on this, however. I think a lot about what I wear in the classroom (hence the blog) and I find that I strive to balance the professional (and professorial) with personal style. That said, I do not work in a law office, nor is my department especially conservative (though some department members do fall on the conservative side, style-wise), so I think I can get away with this with few raised eyebrows (though there will definitely be a few raised eyebrows). The thing is, we all work hard to offer fresh and interesting work in our fields; indeed, especially as young scholars we are hired based on our potential for the new eyes we can cast on the artefacts we study. In my classroom, I also work hard to find new ways to reach students who are increasingly resistant to traditional teaching methods, and I am encouraged to do so. With this in mind then, why shouldn’t my personal style reflect something original and extraordinary, if that is what is valued in my work? That said, I don’t think I would ever dye my hair pink for a job interview and I’m glad that I don’t have a meeting with the Dean on my schedule within the next two weeks (it’s semi-permanent and will wash out eventually). But I also think that I am lucky to find myself in a department where the concept of academic freedom seems to be extended to our personal style as well (cf. Casual Sockless) and I do not think that this will be frowned upon. If I did, despite how much I am feeling like a recalcitrant teen, I never would have dyed my fringe pink.
Since tomorrow is the debut, I am planning on conservative dress. I’ll let you know how it plays out.

Ten Facts About Me, Part I

As DM notes below, the always style-y Rad in Brooklyn of The Cohabiting Closet passed us the “Fabulous Sugar Doll Blogger Award.” For this award, we have to share ten things about ourselves, then pass the award to ten more bloggers. Like DM, I’m breaking down my response. Unlike DM, I’m doing it all in two posts. And so we begin (though as a side note, I have to tell you I had a harder time coming up with these than I expected – why is that, do you think?):

1. I have a hard time thinking of myself outside of my job, in part because my teaching schedule this term has required that I put most other parts of my life on hold, and in part because I’ve spent so much time trying to be an academic that it’s come to define who and what I am. This scares me for many of the reasons you’re probably already thinking. But it also scares me because my current position is precarious.

2. While I appreciate cats – I kind of love how they scold & avoid us, but also occasionally tolerate us and thus make us feel special – I’m really a dog person. Fortunately, my fuzzy roommate (I do NOT think of my dog as my child. It just creeps me out – maybe because I fear & avoid parenthood of any form) is dog-shaped, but cat-like in attitude. Except that he’s more overtly controlling: for example, he cracks down on (read: barks at) running in the house, violence on television, and loud laughter. I’m trying to learn the ways of The Dog Whisperer, but I cannot bring myself to stamp out entirely this cracking down on random things. Probably by now you want to see a picture, and I’m more than happy to oblige. This is Fuzzy Roommate in his Dog of The North gear:

And here he is – with my niece – in warmer times:

(In this pic, he’s cracking down on wave noises under the dock.)

3. Like DM, I’m also a vegetarian. Or, more specifically, a pescatarian (a vegetarian who eats fish). I recognize that fish are animals, too, but I, too, worry about my crumbling spine. Also like DM, this is a political choice that reflects my horror over factory farming and fast food production, preparation, and labour practices. I started down this road after reading and then teaching Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation. I re-committed myself after reading Ruth Ozeki’s My Year of Meats.
But I seriously miss and crave bacon. Especially maple-smoked bacon. This makes me want to pound my neighbour, who seems to have this delectable dish EVERY SATURDAY MORNING.

4. I identify as straight, but I often develop huge crushes on women. This makes my male partner nervous, but it shouldn’t because I’m committed to our relationship. (As a point of interest, he used to be more homophobic and thus less anxious about my sexual and romantic interest in women.) Identifying as straight in spite of my occasional interest in women is a political choice, of course. A choice that reflects my distaste for identification processes – processes that were especially prevalent, I think, in the graduate student communities I’ve been a part of in the past – that enable effectively straight people to identify as bisexual. This identification process, I think, too often appropriates and mobilizes queer and lesbian politics to “queer” the centre, thus further marginalizing already marginalized populations.

Does that make sense? I don’t mean to suggest that bisexuality doesn’t exist; only that persons like myself who are involved in long-term monogamous relationships with persons of the opposite (or another) sex/gender need to recognize that while our lives (and relationships) may be non-normative in many ways, we “seem” normative. As such, our relationships grant us access to certain forms of cultural power that are harder for actual bisexual, lesbian, gay, and queer persons to access.

Jeez. I told you I have a hard time not being an academic. I can’t even just say “I like men and women, but I’m currently married to a man.” (Or can I?)

5. This is getting long, so I’ll try to wrap things up quickly. I like yoga, and I do it every Saturday morning (in a group class) with an instructor who is awesome and on whom I used to crush. But the crush has worn off, so I don’t injure myself quite so often by trying too hard to impress him with my (largely non-existent) skills.

And I only like the kind of yoga that’s fast as I’m uncomfortable and easily annoyed by classes that require me to breath in one nostril and out the other. Or that involve someone saying things like “let your heart shine forward,” or “open your inner eye.” So, I do ashtanga. And sometimes vinyasa.

Because my job involves a lot of intellectual work, I enjoy yoga in part because it reminds me that I have a body, and in part because it cuts my chiropractic bills significantly.

Hmm. That’s all for now. But maybe five things is enough, no? I went on a bit. . . What do you think?

Oh, and one more thing: Let’s all garner LOTS of good will for Dorky Medievalist this Friday. She’s got big things going on.

Ten Facts about Me, in Five Easy Pieces

The stylish Rad in Brooklyn at The Cohabitating Closet has generously shared “The Fabulous Sugar Doll Blogger Award” with us. I feel like Sally Field. For all of the flack she has taken for that effusiveness on the podium, I get it. It’s heartwarming to know that more than two people read what I write. And I write for a living, with an audience statistically estimated at less than two people. So I’m going there.

You like us, you really, really like us!
For this award, I am invited to share Ten Facts About Me and to share the award with an additional ten bloggers who enrich my life. I’m going to dip my toe in the disclosure waters and draw this out, in five easy posts. This is the first.
1. I am a vegetarian. Who eats wild fish because I worry that my spine will crumble if I only eat grilled cheese sandwiches for the rest of my life, which I could easily do. It’s a political choice, though my issue is with ghoulish farming and slaughtering practices that I do not think are necessary. If I could find traceable meat, I would murder a cheeseburger.

2. I make my own cat food. I spend a lot of time grinding up raw organ and muscle meat for the fur treasures. This seems antithetical to Fact #1, but Yelly Kitty and The Vampire Cat are obligatory carnivores and I am obliged to feed and water them.

This is Yelly Kitty, sleeping.

This is The Vampire Cat, digesting.

This is the pair of them, heart-shaped.