today


In today’s world, where it can seem like there’s nothing left but doubt and cynicism, it’s nice to see something that really is . . . happy.

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And frankly, there something completely awesome about that. Sometimes you just want to see a happy ending. And the dress: So lovely!

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There are certain professors you have in college, especially in grad school, that forever alter the way you approach learning. They are the ones you tell stories about, the ones who weren’t just in the classroom to lecture, but to teach you about education itself and what it means to be a student. Bob Coleman-Senghor was one of those professors.

I believe it is a remarkable thing to be able to combine a fierce passion and a high standard of education with kindness – often I’ve found there are nice teachers who are easy, and strict teachers who are less than friendly. But Bob had a unique way of combining intellect and experience with humor and approachability.

Yet this is not to say that he was not a hard teacher to have; I’ve seen students break down under his questioning as he refused to accept anything other than what he considered best and most-clear answer the student could give. In my third semester as a grad student I took his Magical Realism class, and I recall asking him how I should approach one of the assigned papers. As soon as I finished asking the question he replied with something like “You’re a grad student, why are you asking me this?” – or in other words, figure it out yourself. While at the time I felt a little confused and annoyed by this, I realize now what he was telling me; that at a certain point you have to do your own legwork, otherwise you will never develop your own methods and ways of thinking.

In this manner Bob was controversial at times; there are students who loved him and others who were upset by his teaching style. Having only taken one graduate course from him I can’t give any all-encompassing review of his teaching style, but I can say that I’ve always had a soft spot for those teachers that students find difficult, because they often force me to confront my own intellect and bias. It was clear when Bob liked something you said, and clear when he didn’t, but there was always opportunity to change his opinion. As there is with the best educators.

Bob always took the time to greet me in the hallways, to ask me about how my thesis was going, or just to give a friendly smile. As time passes I will miss seeing this kind and unpretentious man on campus, and  my heart goes out to his family, especially his young children. He has been active in my community from his time as a 60s equal rights advocate to today as the mayor of Cotati, and has been an educator for 35 years. I can only hope there will be more people like him in the future.

 

A liberal education is at the heart of a civil society, and at the heart of a liberal education is the act of teaching.
A. Bartlett Giamatti

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Prepare for some schadenfreude.

Do you often feel that life’s annoyances come at you like holidays, grouped together in an intensive manner to cause the greatest distress?

If you don’t, maybe I need to come live with you.

So let me paint you a picture:

My cat has fleas.

She lives indoors.

HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN?

Sigh.

As I proceeded to purchase $52 of flea spray and shampoo, it occurred to me that if raising children is anything like raising cats, I may not be cut out for it.

And as I vacuumed every surface in the house, using attachments to get in every corner, I gathered the rugs and pillows to take to the washing machine.

And as I put a load of rugs into said machine, it died.

Unexpectedly.

Mysteriously.

Tragically.

Apparently even though you can wash small rugs in a machine for 3 years, it can suddenly decide it likes you no longer, and will quit like a stripper dancing for a guy who forgot his wallet.

And to add insult to injury, I don’t even own the machine, so now Grandma calls out a repairman. I ask my dad if I should pay for the $150-ish repair and he replies that it’s ok, she thinks I’m broke anyway.

Well that’s nice.

So now I have a pile of wet rugs, about 5 loads of unwashed laundry that will very likely have to be taken to the Laundromat, and a slightly bruised ego.

And tonight I get to – wait for it – give the cat a bath.

Did I also mention my thesis revisions are due in three days?

Admit it: so you wish you were me right now.

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I’m going to get a bit personal today folks, because, well it’s Valentines Day, and I CAN.

Yesterday the boyfriend (M) and I were heading over to a friend’s house for a Sunday barbecue. While sitting in the passenger seat examining myself in the flip-down mirror, the ever familiar thought that 99% of women frequently have (damn you Giseles) popped into my head: Ugh.

And of course, being a woman I often wonder if the thoughts I have about myself are all in my head, if the breakout I see under the makeup is actually visible, if the frizz on the back of my head is a hallucaintion.  This prompts me to ask M, “Do I look gross?”

– Now, let’s be honest, if a man has any semblance of a brain he will answer “Of course not!” quickly – but not too quickly, lest he appear false and lying. And this M did; he replied “No, you look good!” And then he paused and said, in a well-natured tone, “You complete me.”

He said it with a smile, almost in the way you might say something silly and exaggerated, like “you are the most spectacular quarterback in the world!” (me to him on that one), but there was something behind the laugh that made me think that there might be a grain of truth there.

And let me also say I had, not five minutes ago, declared that he “was the most annoying man on the planet.” But in this  moment in the car, I had the feeling that maybe it was true, not in the cloying-and-annoying-co-dependent-relationship way, but in an actual partnership sort of way. The I’ve-hitched-my-wagon-to-yours-because-I-want-to kind of way.

So maybe Valentine’s Day is an excuse for companies to sell massive amounts of candy, flowers, and the like, but before you dismiss the whole day, think that maybe, behind all that commercialism, there is genuine thought or emotion. That maybe when you’re buying candy for your significant other because society “forces you,” you choose their favorite kind.

And even if the thought ends up being from you to yourself, to quote Martha Stewart, “Its’ a good thing.”

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Well folks, grad school is almost over. Completed first draft of thesis over the break, and I’m down to the wire. Paperwork filed.

Is this the end?

Will I go back?

Do I need a 12-step program to wean me off school?

Maybe.

 

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Did I just tag “graduation?” Shit. YES I DID.

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I heard the bells on Christmas Day.
Their old familiar carols play.
And wild and sweet the words repeat.
Of peace on earth goodwill to men.
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

 

 

 

 

 

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The Supreme Court has ruled that they cannot have a nativity scene in Washington, D.C. This wasn’t for any religious reasons. They couldn’t find three wise men and a virgin.
~Jay Leno
 
Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful. 
~Norman Vincent Peale

 

 

One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day.  Don’t clean it up too quickly.  ~Andy Rooney

 

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Roses are reddish
Violets are bluish
If it weren’t for Christmas
We’d all be Jewish.
~Benny Hill

 

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The worst gift is a fruitcake.  There is only one fruitcake in the entire world, and people keep sending it to each other.  ~Johnny Carson

 

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And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so?  It came without ribbons.  It came without tags.  It came without packages, boxes or bags.  And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore.  Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before.  What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store.  What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.  ~Dr Seuss

 

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Happy Holidays!

New blog-look, what do we think?

It’s not a new year yet, but I feel the need for a change. And since I can’t bring myself to change my actual life, changing something is a small consolation.

The truth is, I’m unsure of what to do with my life. Or rather, there are several possibilities of what that might be, but they remain only possibilities. About 3 years ago right before choosing a grad school I found myself in a period of uncertainty, and I’m going to just say it: it leaves much to be desired. Literally.

I know it’s completely clique in this day and age to ask for something as simple and leading as a sign, but…. sometimes it’s all I can think of.

 

Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard

  Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;

Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear’d,

  Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:

Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave 

  Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;

    Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,

Though winning near the goal—yet, do not grieve;

    She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss

 

It reminds me of this Keats poem; is it better to remain in a frozen state, stuck right before the moment of fulfillment, when everything is possible, nothing denied? I wonder.

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