Monday, April 30, 2007


Bow down to the champion of labor history, DOCTOR ELLE, PHD!!!!

She's gonna have to change her blog title now...


Make it through the week Monday (on Monday, even!)

My boucle blanket, discussed earlier here, is finally finished. Ahhh....

I've now turned my attention to a cotton sun-hat pattern.


Thursday, April 26, 2007

Giving Up

For my awesome class full of awesomeness, I'm assigning a chapter from my dissertation. Wait, I should say that I'm assigning a pared-down version of a chapter from my dissertation. I am in the process of de-dissertationing it and cutting it from roughly 45 pages to something a little less unweildy. I'm not enjoying the task.

Here's what's been going through my mind. I'm giving up research. This is not necessarily a permanent thing, and it's not to say that I won't retrace my steps and make an attempt at some point to renew work on the diss and seek publication, or even apply for University positions at some point. In fact, I have tentatively decided to submit said chapter to a journal. So I've still got a toe over the line.

But if the last few months have taught me anything, they have taught me that my true interest (and my true talent?) lies in teaching. I'm expressing creativity through the development of new classes and new lessons. I'm still writing, but in smaller forms (encyclopedia articles, possibly a scholarly article, definitely bloggy junk). And I think I'm ok with that.

In the fall, I start my full-time job at a CC. I'm looking forward to exploring new settings and teaching new classes. It's been 5 months since I defended my dissertation. I feel no burning desire to revisit it. Is that really giving up, or am I simply writing a new chapter? (One that wasn't in the proposal I gave my advisor, incidentally.) Is that giving up? And if it is, is that ok?

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Make it through the week Monday (on Wednesday)

Since we all need something to make us smile (and since Law Mummy's got the meme), I present you with what makes me smile today:

Spouse got me my very own iPod for the job and the commute. Yay!


Monday, April 23, 2007

ClearBlue My Ass!

I have one of those ClearBlue Easy Fertility Monitors tucked away in the back of my bathroom drawer, gathering dust. But this brought a flood of terrific memories. Thanks, non-Washington Julie.


Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Theme of the Week

Is Mobutu Sese Seko.

I don't know precisely how this happened, but three times in the past ten days or so, the former president of Zaire and all-around baddie has entered my thoughts.

In keeping with some previous exploration of "Sports in History," I borrowed When We Were Kings from the library. It's a documentary about the historical fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. Now, I hate boxing. But I'm moderately fascinated by Ali and, to a lesser extent, Foreman. And since it takes place in Kinshasa, Zaire, Mobutu plays a role as well. Sort of as "dark, foreshadowing figure of evil" in the background.

Since Spouse and DQ were going out of town for a week, I also picked up a novel at the library to occupy my evenings. I chose The Poisonwood Bible because I'd been meaning to read it for some time and because Slacktivist mentioned it. I knew it was about missionaries in Africa. I didn't realize it was in the Congo, circa 1960. Mobutu, therefore, shows up again.

I'm beginning to think about teaching World History, which is a highly likely scenario for the fall term. So yesterday, I got out my World Civ. textbook and started flipping through the more recent materials, grounding myself a bit. I turned to a chapter on decolonization in Asia and Africa. Guess what? Mobutu.

These things happen in threes. At least, I really hope he doesn't pop up someplace else!

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Go Turtles???

Yep, I said it, even though I promised never to. Go Turtles! Stephanie Colburtle, to be exact. I'm cheering her on in the Great Turtle Race, which is tracking giant leatherback turtles from Costa Rica to the Galapagos Islands. She is, of course, named in honor of Stephen Colbert.

As of 4/18 at 12:59pm Pacific, she is in first place. I'm sure she will make us proud. Go Stephanie!


Sunday, April 15, 2007

This Just In

I accepted the job.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

So, can I be fired from the job I'm quitting?

This term's class is going well. We are discussing all manner of sexy things about gender and the nineteenth century. We discussed female relationships and the challenges of marriage and sexuality, and one of my students asked me: "Can you be gay?"

It took all the restraint I possess not to reply, "Not now, but maybe if I had worked harder at it in college..."

Reminder not to use "you" sentences when referring to historical actors. It's catching.

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Bonding with the Wild Boy

Quinn: What would you like to eat?
WB: Hummus!!!

I have succeeded as a parent.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Well, how did I get here?

I may have not mentioned to anybody that I had a job interview leading up to this offer. And that's probably because I was feeling particular cynical and depressed about the whole job thing when the call came in for the interview. In fact, I got the call not half an hour after I was rejected from another job. Such is life.


So College calls me up and says they want to interview me. I would have a talk with the hiring committee. I should prepare a 15 minute teaching demonstration. Topic to be determined. They get back to me the next day saying that the topic is of my own choosing. (Does that make it harder somehow? It raises expectations, but at least you can play to your strengths.)

I choose a topic related to World War I, since my obsession remains unabated. I selected some very fun propaganda posters to get the "kids" to play along. I chose, however, not to dwell on the sex side of things. Figuring that might not play well in Peoria, or in the small town where the college is located.

Yes, the college is not in my hometown. It is a substantial drive away. Enough that that has become the major focus on my decision-making process. Would I be able to handle a long commute? (Granted, it is a beautiful commute...) Would I be willing to relocate, say, halfway between this job and Spouse's job? Would the environmental impact make my guilt overpowering? (Related: would I buy a Prius?) Those questions continue to plague me.

So I prepare my materials and make the drive to the college. I get a little lost on the way, but eventually, I arrive. The committee is not quite ready for me. I wait.

The committee, I should note, is twelve people. TWELVE! And they fire questions at me for almost an hour. Yet I believe that I'm handling it with aplomb. I get the dreaded, "What is your biggest weakness?" question, and while I still haven't come up with an answer I'm happy with, I muddle through it.

After the interview, they guide me to an available classroom where I can set up my slideshow. I give the teaching demonstration to everyone from the committee PLUS a few more people. It goes very well. They are engaged. They compliment me and one requests a copy of the ppt file.

Now I think I'm done. But wait! There's more! The Dean of Something-or-other takes me back to the main building, where he says I'll be meeting with the college president. Eek! Nice guy, history buff. So that goes well. But let me just tell you, I was NOT prepared for that.

Then I get the campus tour. Then I get the talk from the benefits lady. This was shaping up to be more like a University-level campus visit and less like a CC interview. I am duly impressed with their attention to detail and their willingness to expend some energy to make me feel taken care of.

We part on good terms. They said they would contact me in a few weeks. It didn't take that long.

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Friday, April 06, 2007

The Good Day

Yesterday, I did some random chores and made some phone calls. The weather was beautiful and I had a major outstanding chore on my to-do list. Head down to campus and finalize my reserve readings for the term. Plus, an interlibrary loan came in. So I drove down to campus, picked up the book, and walked out of the library. Outside the main building, there are a row of adirondack chairs. I sat down and basked in the springtime glory as I read the book.

At one point, I remember taking a deep breath and realizing that I was actively happy. Not just not sad. But happy.

I finished my work by mid-afternoon and came home. As I sorted through the mail, I got a phone call. A job offer. Full-time. Tenure-track. They were very impressed with my energy and want me to help shape their department and curriculum. Wow. We are in negotiations. It is not the perfect solution, but it is a very attractive offer. We'll see.

After I let that sink in for a moment, I went back to sorting the mail, which included my course evaluations from last term. Beautiful. I am loved.

What a good day!

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007


At the prompting of my lovely commenters, we stopped by the library and picked up a copy of the Disney version of Mulan. Being in a super-mom mood, I made the evening into an elaborate "Chinese Culture Night," complete with a flip through some books for pictures of the Great Wall, a talk about when Mommy used to live in Hong Kong, how to count to ten in Cantonese, finding China on the globe, watching the movie, and rounded out with take-out food from the Happy Lucky Panda Garden.

We had our Chinese Feast and watched the movie. DQ LOVED IT! And I did, too, actually. While I originally feared it would be too violent or scary, she never seemed bothered or frightened. And I think she picked up on the themes about how girls and boys can do the same things, and that expectation of what girls should do aren't always in tune with what girls want or need.

On a related note, another friend tipped me off that Disney is finally introducing their first black princess.

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

"If it weren't for my horse...

I never would have spent that year in college." Lewis Black described this phrase as the dumbest thing he'd ever heard. I was recently at Lewis Black's favorite health club, the International House of Pancakes, when I heard a conversation that proves that eavesdropping may be rude, but it can be truly mind-numbingly entertaining.

The couple at the booth behind me were discussing -- nay, debating -- the movie, Back to the Future. The woman was trying to argue that time travel was inherently dangerous because it was messing with the future and altering people's lives, a la Marty making his parents not fall in love and thus jeopardizing his own existence. Ok so far. But then she makes the comment that she has to be careful in 2007 because every little move she makes in her own time may be changing the future lives of people in 2030. Her companion says, "But the future hasn't happened yet."

"Not to us, but to them it has." Huh? Now I started listening in earnest.

I'm reminded of a professor of mine who had a student write a paper about how Thomas Paine's Common Sense influenced Anne Hutchinson. The prof called said student into her office to say why she found this argument incorrect. Mostly dealing with the fact that Anne Hutchinson was preaching in the 1630s and Thomas Paine was writing in the 1770s. The student continued to argue, "But I think he did influence her."

Prof: "But she dies before he is born."
Student: "That doesn't mean he couldn't influence her."
Prof: "Yes, it does."
Student: "I disagree."
Prof: "Well, if you can't accept linear time, I can't help you with this assignment."

Back to the couple at the IHOP. After going on the debate and the woman continuing to maintain that her actions could be altering forever a future that has already occurred, the man brings up Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. "So what if Bill and Ted hadn't passed their history test?"

"Yeah, but Bill and Ted's wasn't a serious film."



It's French, bitch!

I'm currently reading a book on the history of the modern Olympic games. The author is talking about Pierre de Coubertin, who was one of the founding members of the IOC. Everytime I encounter his name, my mind calls him "Colbert-tin." I'll bet he could arch his eyebrow like nobody's business.

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