Saturday, December 31, 2011

a new years resolution

when i was a small kiddo learning to write, my parents and teachers were slightly concerned with my "work"; i was left-handed, so i was at a disadvantage, because watching others to mimic writing posed a problem. also, my teachers would tell the class to tilt our paper a particular way, and then start at the opposite side of the paper as our writing-hand. while im sure my teachers gave me individualized instruction, it was clear i was still trying to write the same way as the other kids in my class. The result was writing that would start on the right side, and loop back around, as space ran out, as the picture below demonstrates (its hard to describe so just look at the picture).

as you can see, i started writing "nickel" at the right side of the page,  ran out of room, and then just wrote "el" in the open space. KID GENIUS CHILD PRODIGY. (the black marker was my teacher's writing, as IF MY PICTURE DIDNT MAKE IT CLEAR WHAT I WAS WRITING, whatabee).

what is more, my handwriting was terrible (i like to blame it on being a lefty, as well). in 4th grade (mind you, by now i had figured out how to write left to right) i remember practically crying when i received a UN, unsatisfactory, for my handwriting grade. after years of penmanship woes i finally took it upon myself to have nice handwriting. i would lay on the floor in my bedroom, pop in a mix tape of my favorite songs, recorded from the radio onto cassette, and spend hours writing my name, my friends' names, states, days of the week etc. with markers and pens. i had found a scrapbooking-type magazine that had cool handwriting throughout it, and worked on replicating that. eventually, like after years, my handwriting improved, and now i think i write quite fancy! 

i tell you this story about a now antiquated skill (penmanship), because i feel it demonstrates something i have come to notice about myself... while i think i am a successful person, and someone who has excelled at a few things in my life, i would never, EVER, describe myself as a "natural" at anything. ive always had to work really hard, and often over time, to do things just at par. for example, in high school and college i played volleyball, and had a really great jump serve! but what i dont think a lot of people know, is that multiple times a week my dad would take me down to the school gym (lucky for me, he had keys) and while he worked in his office i would jump serve for hours against the wall in the gym. also, in high school, i was a pretty good point guard on the basketball team. but this was because when i would go on runs around the neighborhood, i would dribble my basketball the whole time, alternating hands.

i know we all have things we practice at--athletic, academic, even epicurean--but as we get older (or at least me) i have stopped taking to practicing things. i think by now i had assumed things, like my job, would just come natural to me; but thats not the case.

my mom and dad are excellent examples of adults who continue to practice at what they love, and improve all the time. my dad still wakes up early to stretch, and rides his stationary bike before bed--every day. my mother still does puzzle games, and takes on new sewing techniques, to stay sharp. and she is!

i guess as a kid i associated adulthood with being lazy. ha! but as it turns out, you still have to practice writing, to write well. a paraphrased quote from playwright tennessee williams sums up what it took me several paragraphs to say: i became a writer by writing everyday.

this is to say that he didnt write because he was good at it--he was good at it because he wrote--all the time. and as a result we have A Street Car Named Desire, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and Glass Menagerie.

for the last year i have been resting on my laurels, as they say; i havent been practicing much or working hard at really anything... well, its been a relaxing year, but ive decided to kick it back into high gear. and this is my new years resolution.

happy 2012! may it be the best year, yet.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

merry christmas

while i enjoy christmas, and the nice long break from work, christmas is more fun when youre a kid. christmases for me are some of the best memories, and i dug up a few old pics of me with my presents, and the tree as a happy kid.  MERRY CHRISTMAS!
6 years old. i wished for a cherry merry muffin doll on a star every night for a month. and i got her! ha
4 years old. i got lots of barbie furniture that the old lady down the street used to make. it seems weird now, but when i was a kid i would love to go to her house and admire the small couches and beds. now, as an adult, i am glad i do not make mini furniture. 
3 years old. santa is clearly trying to choke me.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

merry christmas (music)

THIS WAS TOOOO GOOD (from snl last saturday with jimmy fallon). I WISH THIS CHRISTMAS CD REALLY EXISTED.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

soccer cat

its 2am on a monday night/tuesday morning, so naturally i am training my soccer cat.

Friday, December 9, 2011

change is a comin'


I STILL havent received any calls re: job applications. i am not sure if i should be totally bummed out, yet, though. the only real hints i have about the job market right now are (1) this terrifying and dumb blog moderated by other phds that attempts to update other phds on the status of open positions. so far, from the blog, there is only one job i applied for (william & mary) that is moving forward with interviews. so according to this (as i said, obnoxious) blog, most of the places i have applied to have not yet made calls. the second hint is (2) occidental college is hiring a comparative politics professor (not my field) and are moving forward. so either they are totally on their game (which i think they are, given the incomparable professor heldman), or the obnoxious blog has bad information.

that being said, i have applied to a couple more places, so i am adding these cities to my LIST OF POSSIBLE NEW HOMES FOR THE 2012/2013 SCHOOL YEAR!

Chicago, IL
brrrrrr. but i love this town, and some of the people in it. plus KANYE WEST YA'LL
Boise, ID

home! lol

Pomona, CA

Schenectady, NY

i suppose i could live in a town i cant pronounce...

so my contract with occidental college is up at the end of this school year. ive really enjoyed my time there, but alas, all good things must come to an end. thussss, i am applying for jobs at different schools, and am getting kind of excited at the prospect of moving somewhere new (if someone hires me). here are some of the places i may be living in 2013!! i thought i would post a picture for each of my potential new homes!

Laguna Nigel, CA

oh please oh please, God!

Salt Lake City, UT
old friend!

 Santa Cruz, CA

 Merced, CA
lol, so desolate!

Claremont, CA


Annadale on Hudson, NY
so east coasty.

 Providence, RI
near some water is sort of a must have for me.

 San Antonio, TX

Towson, MD


ill keep you updated... unless i get no jobs, and end up moving home to idaho (mom and dad would LOOOVE that, not)... STAY TUNED!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

tis the season to be sexist

tonight, ive seen three sexist commercials and ive only been watching tv (comedy central) for an hour. and they weren't even AXE commercials, where we've come to expect over the top sexism. when its over the top i feel like its less harmful. More on that in a bit.  here are two of the sexist commercials ive seen, tonight. the first is a commercial for AM/PM. It begins with 2 big guys making hot dogs, who are soon upstaged by a small weak lil guy because the wimpy guy makes a 5-patty burger. This burger is the more masculine creation and the wimpy guy exits saying to the seemingly tough guys "thanks for playing, ladies".

The next commercial I saw tonight is essentially the same commercial. But instead of selling food it's selling a video game. The man selling the game is demonstrating the game to a crowd of memorized men, and yells "speak up lil' ladies!"

Both commercials are targeting male audiences, and persuading men to buy their product by threatening their masculinity. While I don't think most men will consciously see these ads and run out to eat a 5 patty "inferno" burger to uphold their machismo, I think subtleties like the ones on display in these ads are important.

I've long been a student of studying gender inequalities and have recognized not only the negative portrayals of women in society, but the unfair portrayals of men, and an unrealistic expectation to uphold preconceived notions of what it means to be "a man." while there are a number of adjectives that I could use to describe what it means to be a man, the most dangerous to women is "not a woman." by subordinating females, through associations of the feminine with weakness, these notions of masculinity hurt both sexes.

While watching tv tonight I couldn't help but recall an educational movie i watched as an undergrad in a gender and politics course, called "tough guise." this really good but now dated film highlighted how the "media system" perpetuated unrealistic norms for men, and a culture of inevitable violence.

the overarching premise of "tough guise" was that the media, in video games, movies, and commercials, construct violent masculinity as the norm, and any deviation from super macho is weakness.

if you want to watch this film, Tough Guise, its here:

While I'm not suggesting that playstation is inherently evil, I do think that an increasing number of casual references to what is female as weakness is alarming. It's something I'd expect from AXE but not from rando AM/PM ads (this is not to say AM/PM are virtuosos of equality of course but I think you know what I'm getting at).

On the other side of the same coin are the ads that portray married men as whipped and dumb. For example, the yogurt ad below suggests not only is the wife the boss, but the man lacks any independence to even go out and buy his own dessert. In other words, as soon as men give in to women, they've lost all sense of autonomy. there are SO many of these ads on tv right now (here's another one I am sure you've seen).

In sum, popular, and casual portrayals of men in commercials hurt men (with unrealistic expectations of masculinity) and hurt women (by portraying the subordination as the feminine as necessary to uphold masculinity). What a sorry cycle.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Blustery day

This week Pasadena and the greater Los Angeles area was hit by one heck of an angry wind storm. I know there are far more serious natural disasters out there, but to survey the damage that was caused by mere wind the morning after the storm was something to behold. I believe Pasadena saw some of the worst winds. Old towne Pasadena was especially messed up. Here are a few pictures I snapped. Most of these were taken about two blocks from my house at Green and De Lacey. Enormous trees were uprooted. The debris is still all over despite a pretty concerted effort by the gov to clean up the mess. In case this is a sign of the end of days, I just want to say I hope kittens go to heaven.