Why, Hello!

So, after the Yahoo Password Breach I decided to check in with my ole blogging pal Annie Em to see how she was doing. I haven’t checked in for over a year, so she’s not doing too much. But, despite that, she received over 100 emails, tons of comments (some that are not even spam) and new followers!  It seems she has also had her identify hijacked: someone using Annie Em’s email is posting comments on education blogs.


I probably should just delete Annie Em, but I have such a fondness for her (no, not enough to return, yet). And others do, too: some of my most favorite posts are visited almost daily (you can see them below, including the one in which I diss Twitter–so purely ironic since I am such an active presence there as my real self these days).

Since so many of my favorite bloggers have switched to FB or Twitter, or, gasp!, have started blogging as themselves, I’m not so inclined to bring Annie Em back to life. Besides, just writing this quick piece reminds me how much time/energy/ogida/self I invested into some of these posts (only some, admittedly; others were pure raw and unedited outpourings).

But, truly, thanks for visiting. Visit my blogroll: many of those bloggers no longer blog either, but their oldies are fabulous goodies!

That Damned   “Maiden” Name Thing
Who Knew?
A Real   [Community] College Professor
In Which   Annie Makes Mom Cry
On Teaching   an Online Introduction to Fiction Class: Where are the Funny Short Stories?
Dear Annie   Em
Light and   Uplifting Fiction Recommendations Needed (Sigh)
Introduction   to Women Writers
Running   Skirts?
Summer Fun   for Educators

On Hiatus

Clearly, not a lot blogging going on here these days for various, uninteresting reasons, so uninteresting, and sad, that I do not wish to blog about them.

Please feel free to visit those on my blogroll who continue to blog regularly.

Women, Wikipedia and Flat Tires

A recent New York Times article reports that only 15% of contributors to Wikipedia are women.  As a result, entries on “The Sopranos” or “The Simpsons” are in-depth analyses, while those on “friendship bracelets” and “Sex and the City” are a meagre few paragraphs.

Where’s Camille Paglia when you need her? She writes several possibly ground-breaking essays on Madonna in the 1980s and she is still vilified for her dilettantism (among other flaws, I know).  And now there is the call for more women writers beafing up those important entries on Jimmy Choo shoes and the  Tantric sex episode. The goal is to have 25% of Wikipedia entries written by women by 2015. 

Despite my wee sarcasm, I recognize the need for at least some alarm that women are not participating in one of the most widely read publications on the Internet. Why aren’t we? Do we prefer to give away our writing talents in other forums, such as blogs?  Is the gender gap the same for those other encyclopedias that actually pay a nominal, quite nominal, stipend, and praise us with an actual byline? 

I’m almost motivated to develop/originate a few of those Wikipedia entries myself.  I checked out Louisa May Alcott’s entry, and while it is filled with good links, references, footnotes, etc., it’s rather brief for a woman who has had three  biographies written about her in the last few years. (Her contemporary, Mark Twain, has an entry that is more than double the length.)  If, as the New York Times article suggests, this is true of many of the entries on women, topics of interest to most women, women’s issues generally, then it’s a notable, if also somewhat amusing, problem.

Not unlike the problem a young colleague had last night. She’s a brilliant psychology professor, in her early 30s, athletic, outgoing, and independent. But when she got a flat tire last night, who did she call?  Another colleague/friend, who threw a coat on over her pjs and tried to figure out how to change a tire (undoubtedly Googling instructions), but then gave up in frustration (and, admittedly, lack of a flashlight).

And who did she call? My husband, who, infused with male pride that came upon him despite himself, immediately got off the couch at 8pm, wine glass still half filled, whipped on his shoes, grabbed a flashlight, with extra batteries, and rushed to the young damsels’ aid.  Thirty minutes later, he was back on the couch, and the young psychologist texted on Facebook the following confession: “Nothing like a flat tire to take away all that sense of female independence.”

This is a woman who teaches both the Violence and Aggression class and the course on Positive Psychology, so she has a wonderful sense of irony.

FYI: I stayed home, finished my wine, and read blogs on the Internet while hubby was changing my colleague’s tire. You see, I would have called AAA, a service I can now easily afford, which also affords me that sense of female independence.

I rejoined hubby on the sofa when he returned and we both noted the odd connection between the Wikipedia stats and the Feminist Psychologist’s Flat Tire Plight. A woman needs to revise the How to Change a Flat Tire entry, stat!

Added 2/7/11: WikiProject Women’s History is one response to the gender imbalance at Wikipedia! Read all about it at Cliotropic’s place.



My life as a Sagittarius is no longer. I am now, alas, an Ophiuchus.

I went to bed thinking I was driven, stubborn, good natured, not entirely reliable, passionate, adventurous,  dedicated to learning, fiery, honest to the point of bluntness, and that  my sign was  the fabulously strong, masculine this:

And I woke up learning that I am poetical, wise, a seeker of fame, a beloved of authority and fathers, a builder, one whom others envy, who likes to wear—plaid?–and  my sign is a weird this:

Yes, there are certain overlapping qualities between the two signs, seems those born between Nov 29 and Jan 20 in general are potentially brilliant and self absorbed leaders, but “wears plaid”? Really?

It’s disconcerting.

Especially since I was going to lean on that “unreliable” Sagittarius trait as an excuse for the lazy blogging.  It seems, my fellow bloggers, I’ve been kidnapped by the Tweeters.

Past, Present and Future Memoirists

The recent bloggy “death” of Bitch, Ph.D.

The ongoing bloggy silences from a variety of other bloggers, including your’s truly.

Perhaps blogging is not unlike those little pink books with the fake locks, and a variety of other lined spiral notebooks,  that I’ve stored in plastic bins: most are half empty, started religiously right after Christmas or on January 1st, filled with lovingly detailed scenes of each lived day, or emotional outbursts that stem from the less visible but even more volatile inner world.  The entries become less detailed by April, and much less frequent by early June, only to die off as soon as the weather enticed the vitamin-D deprived me outside, away from florescent-lit navel gazing toward more sun-baked kinetic pursuits.

The dying of an individual’s blog may not follow the seasons as much, though I suspect for academics, fall is such a dramatic change from summer that blogs become just another thing on the to do list rather than a source of release and pleasure.

But like keepers of those lock-less diaries, I suspect all bloggers will return to blogging, or something like it, again and again. And though I know nothing truly ever goes away once it’s on the Internet, I hope all bloggers archive their blogs in some format that will be accessible in 2040.  I’m looking forward to those retrospective memoirs of bloggings-past.

The new Facebook feature I read about this morning seems particularly relevant since I suspect that the appeal of the instant response from hundreds of friends to our hastily posted status updates is more immediately rewarding than the infrequent comments to a thoughtfully developed blog posting: exporting our Facebook profiles.  It looks like there have been outside “apps” of sorts that have allowed you to store your Facebook pages on your hard drive, but now FB itself seems to be making it easier for everyone to do.  No longer must we allow that nagging worry that we’ll lose all those photos, those likes and dislikes, those status updates. [And there are at least 10 ways to archive one’s Tweets.]

I’m teaching the Introduction to the Memoir course this term and while the focus is on reading memoirs as a genre, we also do some autobiographical exercises, such as strategies for choosing a focus  for a memoir, or strategies for presenting such a past experience.  Many of my students have chosen to write a brief memoir as their final project (interestingly, only one has chosen to blog–the rest are writing traditional retrospective descriptions of a period in their past—almost all focused on the early teen years, not surprisingly) so the exercises are also designed to help them as they draft. 

Next week, I’ll remind them about this export feature in Facebook: for the future memoirist, reading our own status updates 30 years from now will be quite the minefield of information. [And by then, the 10th edition of the MLA Handbook will have a chapter devoted to citing such artifacts.]

Cousin It Doesn’t Live Here

Cousin It. That’s the number one search that brings people to my blog.

They must be quite disappointed.

Clearly, with juggling the course prep and grading, and two conference presentations, the Task Force, and the Assessment workshop I’m leading, and reading a slew of novels as part of our community read selection process, blogging is on hold.

But I’m still reading my blogroll, so thank you for keeping up with the writing, writing that continues to entertain, sustain and teach me.

But on a quick note: I’ve been asked by the Administration to attend a conference in a few weeks, one that will require me to miss a week of classes (and you may recall that I’m on the quarter system, so a week out of a 10 week term).  Missing a week is truly a pain when teaching three classes, especially when the course was constructed without missing that week.  I hemmed and hawed a bit, but finally found some subs for one session of the composition classes, created an e-assignment for the other session of all my classes, and said yes.

Am I unduly conscientious about this, but does anyone else think it odd that the administrators were surprised at my reluctance to miss a week of classes? And would I have hesitated if it were, say, a literature conference in a sunny locale I love rather than a task force conference in a state and a town that holds little interest to me?

Call for Blogs

This fall, I’ll be teaching an Introduction to Autobiography course, a course I pushed through curriculum last year after we did a year-long survey of students to find out classes might interest them.  Our thought was to add spice to our standard survey and introduction to literature offerings to take advantage of the increase in enrollment (and, not incidentally, get back the many students who were using Art History and Communication courses to fulfill their general education Humanities’ requirement). 

[In case you’re interested, the most requested course idea was The Bible as Literature, but the one faculty member in our department willing and able to teach such a course, put it off another year, understandably,  after a few over the top fundamentalist students acted out on campus last year (remember my colleague’s student who would bring a cross and rosary beads to class, praying with them as s/he lectured?) ]

So, autobiography.  It’s been a challenge creating this 10-week course for non-majors, since there is so much I want to do, but I don’t want to terrify them–I want them to enjoy the immersion in this contradictory genre. 

Here’s what I have planned, and yes, it’s ambitious:  After an initial discussion of exactly what autobiography IS, we’ll start with an historical overview and an introduction to some of the theoretical debates and different modes of the genre. Students will read excerpts from several historical autobiographies, two full-length childhood-centered contemporary memoirs, a graphic memoir (Persepolis and excerpts from Maus and Fun Home), and about a dozen excerpts from other contemporary memoirs on subjects ranging from addiction to religion (I know, a risk).  We’ll also spend time on other modes of autobiography such as audio/video, diaries and letters, and blogs. [One final project choice is, indeed, for students to keep a blog all term.]

Here’s where I hope you all come in.  I need me some blogs. Yes, I read dozens of blogs each week, all neatly alphabetized in my Google Reader, but they are all, you know, about academics.  I know that Roxie’s typist is having her students read her own blog for her course this fall on blogging (which I can’t wait to read about), but no, I won’t be offering up this particular blog for their reading pleasure. Besides, I want them to discover blogs that are personal (so not just politics or celebrity gossip) but also of interest to them.

Have any ideas for blogs that are autobiographical in nature and that might appeal to our non-traditional students, ages 16-65? Is there an index of sorts I could direct students to? Please let me know in the comments.

Kindle Update: My new chocolate Kindle cover has a paperback book inside it now since it looked so sad, so lonely.  Estimated delivery of the new Kindle itself  is now mid-late September.

Chocolate Kindle Cover

It’s beautiful: I received it yesterday, and it’s simply beautiful.

Of course, my actual KINDLE hasn’t arrived yet, but the cover, it’s beautiful.

And tonight I saw a Kindle commercial on tv.  Ha. Funny, right?  I’m in some sort of virtual LINE for a Kindle, a wait list, with no clear shipping date in sight (unless I believe the website’s vague mid-September). 

In more technology-updating news, I’m waiting, patiently, for the new Ipod ITouch that is due out this September according to the rumor mill (and historical trends). I was at an Apple store today and the sale’s geeks all put on their innocent faces and said, What new Ipod Itouch? I know nothing about that! 

Oh, you young men working for Apple: What liars thou art!

Meanwhile, no Kindle, no Touch. I’m in a new-technology desert.

I want a margarita and I want it now: anything, to quench my thirst.  There must be an app for that?

It’s STILL Summer, Damn It!

I’m well into my second decade teaching on the quarter system, yet it still feels like I’m living in a parallel universe, one where I’m constantly thinking “Can they hear me now?” since I can see and hear what appears to be the Main Universe, but they don’t quite remember that my universe exists.

So every April  I watch in horror as colleagues on the Main Universe start their countdowns till summer vacations, while I’ve just about started spring quarter. And every August I watch with a bizarre mix of glee and anxiety as those very same colleagues bemoan the end of summer and stress over the start of classes.

These so-called friends ask me, “How WAS your summer?” and I answer, with increasing grumpiness, “It’s STILL summer, damn it! And it’s fabulous. Thanks for asking.”

Despite the vagaries of the academic calendar, it is not the end of summer. August is still summer in the northern hemisphere. And on this parallel universe where I live, classes don’t begin until late September.

But, hey, you all over there, your anxiety is totally contagious! I have one syllabus with assignments completed, and another syllabus completed but no assignments designed yet, and forgetabout the construction of the Blackboard part of the course!  I’ve already started updating my Outlook calendar with office hour/class/meeting times, and e-mailing colleagues about a project due in October. Basically,  I’m a workaholic wreck, despite having over 3 weeks before I need to have stuff done!

Luckily, Roxie’s World rescued me from my spiraling despair with a reminder, (and despite my diligence to yoga this summer, I needed a reminder),  to breathe, and see the world through “beginner’s eyes”–in the positive sense of awe and freshness.

So thank you, Roxie. And thank you bloggers who have vowed to stay positive the last few weeks. You know who you are.

And thank you, Google Searchers, who continue to amuse me by stumbling onto this blog by searching for “Cousin It” or “peeing in a running skirt” or “Sex Lies and Videotapes and Feminism”—though I’m sorry, but you’re not going to find much on any of those topics, especially since the blog has obviously de-evolved over the summer from an Academic Blog to a Blog About Nothing.

Thank you nearby destination resort for having over 30 miles of paved bike trails in a beautiful setting on which I have been testing my new bike since it is still SUMMER.

Thanks, too, for all of those groups that put on fun SUMMER festivals, seemingly every weekend, that allow me to nibble on new foods (Korean bbq is delish) and sample new beers (fyi: name your beer something funny and that’s part of the pleasure).

And thank you Artists Rep for putting on one of my favorite Eugene O’Neill plays in a city only a few hundred miles from here, where I shall soon travel, since it is still SUMMER, to dine on urban delights, shop in stores that cater to women over 12 and under 90, and spend hours in the biggest, most beautiful bookstore in the world (where I intend to spend money despite putting myself on the interminable wait list for a Kindle).

To those on the Main Universe: have a good first week of classes, don’t forget to wear your beginner’s eyes glasses–since you obviously no longer need sunscreen, and enjoy the late-but-still-summer evenings.