All about me

That’s the problem with going too long without posting.  You forget your password, and then you forget the password for the e-mail account you created for the blog, and then you can’t log in, and then it doesn’t matter if you have anything to say or not, because you can’t say it.  You don’t want to give up this little teeny foothold you’ve established, so you struggle to remember and finally come up with it.  You vow not to go eleven months again without posting!


If you’re like me, you’re not the most organized person in the world. This leads to what I like to call the “joy of discovery,” when you finally clean up a desk or a bookshelf or a table and find something you didn’t know you’d lost. It’s the same feeling I had yesterday driving in to work on an uncannily clear SoCal morning. Every detail of the mountains was sharp and clear, and I could see mountains fifty miles away that I see maybe a couple of times a year. Wow, what this place must have looked like before people and pollution moved in…

I’ve learned something about myself over the past year. I don’t talk much (which I already knew, because it goes a long way to explaining why I have so many talkative friends), but I never realized that it could be a professional detriment. I’m OK with asking questions, but I have a hard time volunteering information to start conversations. And I’m sure that must come across as dull and uninteresting in job interviews. Also, how am I supposed to network and get to know people at conferences if I can’t open my mouth? I just feel a lot of the time like I don’t have anything to say, anything to contribute. But that needs to change.

Which was one of the motivations for starting this blog in the first place. It also gets me to write a little bit every day, which is good, but more to the point, it should force me to frickin’ say something every day. I grew up in a family where we discussed our observations, our impressions, our descriptions–but rarely our opinions. As a result, I never got much practice in formulating an argument, something that has dogged me throughout my years of paper and article writing. So, now in Round 2 of the blog, here’s to finding something to say!

Yeah, so it’s a couple of weeks late. It’s not a resolution to stop procrastinating, so it doesn’t matter. Or, better late than never. Right?

Anyway, the resolution is to write for at least fifteen minutes a day here on this blog. I’ve already been able to use a post as fodder for an academic conversation, and I’ve just started writing here, so I figure if I do commit to searching out interesting stories and research to post about, I’ll have more to talk about IRL. The problem is, though, I don’t have a whole lot of colleagues to talk to IRL, which is one of the reasons why I’m currently in the Midwest doing the interview thing and not having the time to write any posts.

I generally make New Year’s resolutions three times a year. Once, at the actual beginning of the calendar, generally has to do with lifestyle kinds of things like exercising more, eating better, calling my friends and family more, etc., etc. I might actually stick with that second one in that I’ve been feeling for years that I should give up pop (yes, I’m from the Midwest; no, it’s not soda, it’s pop, darn it!) for purposes of reducing my sugar and caloric intake. But I’ve never cared about it enough. Now, having read that women who drink cola three times a week have a noticeable loss in bone density because of the carbonic acid in the cola, I’m thinking, “Bye bye Pepsi, it’s been nice knowing you…”

The second resolution comes at Lent, when I give up something like candy or pop or ice cream for 40 days, thinking it will change my eating habits enough that I’ll stay off it forever. Never happens. But one of the accomplishments I’m most proud of in my life is foregoing ice cream for Lent during the year in high school that I was working at Baskin-Robbins. Those little pink spoons are awfully hard to resist, and I am not exactly Ms. Willpower, so I’m still impressed I made it through.

Finally, I make a set of resolutions when the school year starts, since for all but seven years of my life, that’s been the real start of the year for me, not the calendar. Those are generally more associated with organization, dedicating time to writing and reading, etc., etc. None of these resolutions last any longer than the others; I’m more successful at Lent because of the spiritual motivation, but also because it’s a limited time period. The end is in sight, even when I’m just starting out. Trying to permanently change one’s behavior, however, is a different matter.

And…fifteen minutes are up!

This is as good a way to introduce myself as any, I suppose; borrowed from professorial confessions:
1. What did you do in 2006 that you’d never done before?
Traveled Down Under, watched some of my students graduate, climbed this bridge, saw the Chicago River turned green for St. Patrick’s Day.
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
No, so I once again resolved to stay in better touch with my friends and to be more conscientious.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
No, but one of my best friends from college is scheduled to this year.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
5. What countries did you visit?
Australia and New Zealand.
6. What would you like to have in 2007 that you lacked in 2006?

More willpower to do work rather than read blogs. Hmm, maybe that doesn’t jive so well with starting my own…
7. What dates from 2006 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Nothing I can think of.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Getting a couple of articles accepted to fairly major journals after multiple submissions and edits.
9. What was your biggest failure?
Getting shot down by the NSF twice.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nothing serious.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
The quilt frame that will hopefully enable me to take some of the tops I have finished and turn them into actual quilts…one of these days…
12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
The wonderful women geographers I know who have brought me into their network and made me feel like I have the potential for leadership positions.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
George W. Bush.
14. Where did most of your money go?
Rent and fabric. Well, definitely the former, though my husband would argue for the latter as well.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Sydney, and some of the gifts I got my friends for Christmas.
16. What song will always remind you of 2006?
“Bad Day.” Blech.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?
Sadder, thinner (marginally), richer.
18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Calling my far-flung friends, researching, quilting.
19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Surfing the web, buying fabric and patterns.
20. How will you be spending Christmas?
Spent it alone with my husband, doing not much of anything.
21. Did you fall in love in 2006?
Not with anyone new!
22. How many one-night stands?
Er, none.
23. What was your favorite TV program?
24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Some of my husband’s colleagues for treating him poorly.
25. What was the best book you read?
Assassination Vacation, as long as audiobooks count as “reading.”
26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
The Rough Guide to Music series. Awesome stuff.
27. What did you want and get?
A couple of seasons of the X-Files on DVD.
28. What did you want and not get?
An NSF grant.
29. What was your favorite film of this year?
Did I even go to the movies this year? Hmm, maybe “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.”
30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 31, but since it was way back at the beginning of the year, I have no idea what I did.
31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Weighing less at the end of it.
32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2006?
Probably not as sophisticated as I thought it was.
33. What kept you sane?
They Might Be Giants.
34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
The young man who played Cedric Diggory in GoF. Yum.
35. What political issue stirred you the most?
The election.
36. Who did you miss?
My parents. Since I left college, they’ve moved east and I’ve moved west, and it’s strange to only see them a couple of times a year.
37. Who was the best new person you met?
My students, as a group. I finally started teaching mostly majors instead of intro classes, and I really love the students.
38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2006.
Leave plenty of room in front of you in case the doofus driving ahead of you decides to come to a complete stop on a freeway exit ramp.
39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
I’m on an island at a busy intersection
I can’t go forward, I can’t turn back
Can’t see the future
It’s getting away from me
I just watch the tail lights glowing

(U2, “One Step Closer”)