Remodeling a house is a good metaphor for life. Things like counter height, the swing of the cabinet doors, the give in the drawers, and the angles of the sink all feel physically different. I yank, pull, push, and place, and I’m constantly banging into things or missing. It is all better in both looks and functionality, but it just doesn’t fit yet. Plus, it’s still not finished and I haven’t unpacked. Each time I put something on the counter, it feels different. The barest fraction of an inch has that much impact on the experience of motion in the kitchen. I’ve gone from tileRead More →

On June 10, 2011 I put my beautiful cat “down.” I have spent the week reflecting on this experience, revisiting my grief, marking the year and its tumult. I associate her with a part of my life that is now gone; she is the bearer of much meaning, and she is so much more than just that. If I cordon off all that she represents in the narrative of my life, our shared history, which I couldn’t possibly do, and if I focus only on our relationship in its purest simplicity, I see a different picture. I am reminded of Haraway’s When Species Meet. IRead More →

As part of growing up dysfunctionally, I never learned how to cook. This is tragic because I was “reared” by two excellent Southern cooks, my grandmother and my aunt. I have sensory kitchen flashbacks of food and cooking moments that leave me physically and emotionally hungry. Despite finding recipes that might recreate lost knowledge, my skill level keeps me from making any effort – at least right now. I can’t make decent dough. Yet. I’m learning to cook. I’m slowly collecting internet recipes, exploring, experimenting. It’s quite fun. I’m not a foodie. I don’t want to be a foodie. The most “foodie” thing I’ve doneRead More →

I am a house-pochondriac. As someone newly divorced, my financial status is diminished. Refinanced the house means I am the sole mortgage owner. That’s ulcer-inducing. I already have the bad habit of self-diagnosing my health. Google helps me diagnose symptoms and declare terminal illness on a regular basis. Now I’m doing that to my home too. Even though I don’t like my house, I asked for it in the settlement. Initially we intended to put it on the market, so it was fully vetted by inspectors. Also, since we lived here for many years, I know its history intimately. The house’s problems are cosmetic. SinceRead More →

Making class notes available ahead of time to students can solve a lot of challenges for teachers and students alike. Teaching at a community college often means working with students who need help learning notetaking and other  “college ready” skills. Also, today’s students often come to class without reading beforehand, and with little skill in listening to lectures. This means that active learning, which relies on applying concepts, can be difficult, and teaching often defaults to a “sage on the stage” model just to cover enough material to get through an activity. The strategy of giving out notes ahead of time can compensate for theseRead More →

Today, I had the joy of witnessing BRCC’s commencement ceremony. I had more fun at today’s ceremony than at most any other I’ve attended. There have been some momentous ones, where I’ve hooded advisees, watched favorite cohorts graduate, or even graduated myself, but this one was particularly joyous. Today, I got to sit on the stage and watch the students as they shook hands with the Chancellor, pose for the photographer, and clutch their diploma folder. The ceremonies at USF were impersonal, even with students I taught. Today the sheer aura of success radiated off the students’ faces. You can see that aura from theRead More →

I am trying to hack my related post plugin to work only on my blog and not all the other pages. It requires learning about WordPress hooks and conditional tags. This means learning about the is_home tag. The idea of is_home as conditional is quite worrisome in our current political and economic landscape, and in the context of my new mortgage, my intended renovations,  my newly adopted rescue cats.  I provide their “Forever Home” in animal rescue lingo. That’s a weighty responsibility. I consider it positive that I still have toothpaste in the tube I hacked open.

“Make it Do” is better than recycling, International Buy Nothing Day, and homemade Christmas presents all put together. Our daily infrastructure makes it so hard to recycle. It’s better not to buy in the first place. The Baton Rouge Recycling Office has an excellent link to the Center for a New American Dream. The Center promotes anti-consumption, with loads of resources about cutting down on trash. The actual link about “reducing junk mail” is buried on the site. Someone at the Recycling Office is very clever. The Center’s clear anti-capitalism message will turn folks away and their junk mail will continue to clog Baton Rouge’sRead More →

Usually, when I pass the self-storage places in the strip malls as I drive to work, I ignore them. They are part of the mundane aspects of daily life that blend in with the roadside trivia like payday loan shops Payless shoes, the Mall, and Office Depot, McDonalds, the gas station. None of these things stand out until I need them or they disrupt me. Selective perception, and all. Lately, I’ve observed the large amount of self-storage places. I started tracking them during a trip to New York City, where they seemed out of place because the city has no strip malls. Since space isRead More →

I bought several Jack Bilander etchings. Bilander was an artist in Chelsea, my neighborhood growing up in New York City. Lately I’ve had this urge to go there. I’ve built up an obsession, really, to return to my Grandmother’s apartment, to be in her space, to see the cheap 1960s parquet floors of Penn South, smell the esoteric scent of Jewish working class intelligentsia, and view a wall full of images still strikingly memorable forty years later. When I found a suite of Bilander’s pictures on Picasa, I sighed audibly, repeatedly, at how many of them summoned a vivid memory. So indelible and powerful. SomethingRead More →