Sunday, September 30, 2007

Signs of Fall

Berries by the Captial Bldg. Providence 9/2007

Willow's Halloween Hat, 9/2007

Squash & a fat pumpkin at the Barden Family Orchard, 9/2007

Happy October.

Being a Mets Fan.

"The greatest end-of-the-season collapse in the history of major league baseball." (-either Keith Hernandez or Ron Darling after today's game)

I'm not disappointed in the Mets this year. It's dirtier than that. I feel like I've been teased. Disappointment is what you feel when you lose a game. Or when you don't do as well on a test as you thought you had. Or when you receive a crinkly bubble shirt for your birthday. I feel teased. I don't mean being called names on the playground. I mean, your friends says they'll come to your party, but they never show. Or someone says "I baked you a cake" and then they eat the whole thing with no explanation.

This year I further committed to the Mets and to baseball. I spent the summer watching Ken Burns' documentary Baseball and I cried when I got to Jackie Robinson's death. Reyes solidified his spot as my favorite player last year and this year Moises fought second. I even got over Milledge's immature slip-ups and was proud of Glavin as he was honored for his 300th win. Once again, I let myself believe and get excited and hope. And then I watched the "greatest collapse" in baseball's history.
Damn you Mets. You're such a dirty tease!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Thoughts on Gender-Identity

This week I heard a story about an undergrad whose teacher (let's call said teacher T., for short) could not determine whether one of her students was male or female. The mystery student was taken to be a male in the first week of class, but was later seen with jewelry and maybe make-up. T. wondered, 'What if I referred to the student incorrectly with the wrong gender-pronouns?,' and feared that a mistake would have hurt or embarrassed the student (possibly in front of his/her peers). Even listening to the pitch of the student's voice offered no assurance, so T (behind closed doors) had the dept. secretary look up the student's sex as it is listed in the university's database. The final, absolute verdict, female. Ahhhhh. Anxiety subsides.

I was rather amused by the purported exchange in the dept. secretary's office...the 'um, I have this student...and um...,how do I say this...' but I was most interested in the heightened anxiety that can arise in the face of this gender-ambiguity. I know the teacher didn't care whether the student was male or female, but the student could be horrified by a mix-up. More importantly, gender-identity is such a fundamental frame of reference & way in which we order other humans, we are unsettled when we cannot successfully complete this ordering. On the one hand, this makes us a bit close-minded and resistant to what should be absolutely acceptable--that someone not visibly demarcate themselves as one sex or another through any obvious gender-signals. [[An aside: I've been a bit sloppy here with the terms 'sex' and 'gender,' but intentionally so. Sex refers to one's swim-suit parts, among other like-things, while gender is something more in flux. Gender is a collection of traits/behavior/identifiers socially framed as falling on the femininity-masculinity spectrum, at least in our society. And, we expect the two (sex & gender) to map on to each other, thus the DSM's 'gender identity disorder' and 'gender dysphoria' as including those uncomfortable with the gender role of their sex. (Elsewhere societies have a third gender & other variations). Sex is also socially-constructed, in a sense, deemed socially significant and so cannot be thought of as entirely biological/natural, but that's another discussion.]]

On the other hand, T.'s anxiety surrounding gender-ambiguity is very sensible. The English language is saturated with gendered language and our non-gendered pronoun "one" cannot be used to reference a specific person, only an abstract person (which, I might add, is useless in a classroom, if we want to reference "his" or "her" last point without constantly citing the student's proper name). Obstacles abound where we resist the basic-ness of demarcation by gender.

Here's another silly language problem: To be precise, what the teacher needed to know was the student's sex-identity (not gender-identity as feminine or masculine). But saying "sex-identity" is awkward. Even further, isn't it odd that "sex," the only word we really use to refer to biological identifiers is the exact technical term we use for the activity of gettin' jiggy with it? What a collapse! The English language is so damn unimaginative, or, I should say, we are so unimaginative for not standardizing a different word for one of the two. Lame-ohs!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

You May Already Be a Wiener

Jason & Theresa stopped by a yard sale & bought these stamps for me. Very cool presents! This is my first creation with the new stamps: a welcome tag for the door.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Barden Family Orchard

Apple (and one small pumpkin)-picking in N. Scituate, RI. The weather was perfect. But what the frick am I going to do with all these apples?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Hasselblad Part II

The old Hasselblad camera that was recently lent to me, if you remember, takes amazing photos (previous post). I was so excited to use it after the first set came back. So I took a roll on my birthday, a roll during my parent's visit, and a roll of our grape harvest in the back yard. Week after week I excitedly rushed off to the camera store to drop off and pick up the film (the film is sent off for processing, since it's uses 120 film), and each time I returned empty handed. Grrrrrrrr. Devastation.

Clearly I was loading the film incorrectly. The guy at the camera store even loaded a roll for me and that came back blank. And for four weeks, these blank rolls of negatives were floating around the house, mocking my presumptuousness about taking great photos.
Finally, a roll comes back with 4 photos on it--two were unsalvagable (a blurred shot & one cut off at the top). While it wasn't the 8-12 shots like it should have been, and they're a little fuzzy, I am thrilled. Yippee!! Progress!!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Fall Blows In

I love Fall. But doesn't it seem like the shortest of all of the seasons? Maybe Rhode Island's Fall will feel longer, since I haven't been surrounded by this many trees since I lived in Ohio. I'm most affected by the smell of fall (smell is supposedly the strongest memory trigger of all of our senses). Every year, the smell of fall reminds me of my sophomore year of college at Wittenberg University. Sophomore year was big for me. I was depressed and had decided to transfer out, but the smell of fall triggers nostalgia for me. I lived in Myers Hall on Wittenberg's campus, planted atop a huge hill overlooking the rest of campus. The dorm even had a rumored ghost-horse. The building was once a military hospital, wherein a fatally wounded captain had his horse brought upstairs to his deathbed but that had to be killed once the captain died, since horses can't walk down stairs.

My first year, I lived on that 5th floor, but never heard the horse running the long hallway at night. Mid-year I moved down to a single at the end of the second floor (my people-skills were rough) and for my second year, I lived just to the right of the front steps, in the second floor quad (even thought my people-skills still needed work). I spent many nights sitting on the front steps looking down across campus, often with good friends who helped me through that very difficult year. I don't even think they realized they were taking care of me that year.

Literally, the smell of fall is the smell of leaves dying. I don't find this morbid, but instead, see it as a parallel to the fact that the moments or days in our life are constantly passing away. We don't get them back. And once a year, when the leaves give us a send off with that cool fall smell, we get contemplative. Seems perfectly and naturally appropriate to me.

So I'm hoping to spend some time outside this fall -- to enjoy my favorite season, even if its usually a mini-season. Maybe apple-picking?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Rainbow Libraries

Very cool: An independent bookstore in SanFran where the workers rearranged all of the books in the store by the color of their covers -- in rainbow order. Apparently it has inspired a whole schlew of people to do the same at home (photo group on Flickr). Because I have nothing else that I should be doing instead...I should totally do this to my own library.

Willow's Second Kill

Finished 2 more pages in the new funkified artsy style. It's so odd to look back at Chris & I from 2001 -- his first visit to St. Louis. I can't imagine what he was thinking (I wouldn't have dated me back then. Of course, it worked out, since I'm so awesome now).

Last night, Willow, a.k.a. willow-kitty, or budda-kitty, extinguished her first Rhode Island rodent, her second kill ever. I'm so proud of her.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Why I don't need an IPhone

Last night I had my first close encounter with an IPhone. Because of the way that it called to my soul, I thought that today I would (seriously) consider the reasons why my partner should not buy me one for Christmas. Seriously. Because I'm afraid that he will and I already have so many techy toys. So, today's entry is for him.

The Top 5 Reasons why AmyLeigh should *not* get an IPhone:

#5. She's spoiled enough as it is. What happened to the "simple living" approach that she wanted to adopt after January's Global Outreach work? Are you going to let her be like Paris Hilton, who (post-jail time) wanted to "be a good example" for the young girls who watch her every move, but hasn't changed squat? Don't let that be Amy's destiny. Simple living, baby, let's bring it back.

#4. How sexy would it be if Amy's eyes were bloodshot & buggy on a regular basis?

#3. You know how clutzy she is. When Amy drops her new phone (you know she will), and it shatters into a heap on the floor, how are you going to console her? How are you going to call her the next day? How are you going to raise the moo-la to get her a new one?

#2. Money Issues. You are not Richy McRich Pants. Any extra cash we have laying around should go toward trips to PR to see our new niece (Expected Release: December 2007).

#1. Finally (and most importantly), an IPhone will add to the techy distractions she uses to avoid working on her dissertation. After getting this far, if she doesn't finish this degree, she will have wasted an inordinate amount of time & (her parents) money. And given her tendencies, you must know that she will be crazy-miserable. It could get really really bad. And therapy is expensive!

Friday, September 14, 2007


My closest friend (name omitted for the sake of her reputation)......
is a celebrity gossip addict.

I tend not to get into the details of hollywood scandals, except for when Drew is caught making out with someone other than Zach Braff (wtf?) or when I put money down on the fact that Janet did *not* flash her nipple ring, since I was there watching it and somehow I totally missed it. But I did go online and watch Paris Hilton's confession that she is a changed woman on her Larry King interview and Britney's performance at the Video Music Awards.
So I dabble. And it's probably her fault (see picture above).

On to the important issues: Britney wasn't quite up to snuff in her performance, I agree. A little sluggish, alright, that's true. EW compared her to a zombie, the Wash. Post said she was "out-of-shape". Shit I wish I looked like she does in that bikini. Rumors about her "glassy eyed" face being drug related have popped up here and there and the NYT, called the whole damn thing "awful." I love it. The New York Post, however, unsurprisingly said the following: "Spears was stuffed into a spangled bra and hot pants and jiggled like Jell-O as she sleepwalked through the song. She didn't seem to care that she danced like she had a pantload, that her lips weren't synched with the song, and that the tune isn't all that great." (cue New York Post readers to affectionately smile at their beloved rag).

Jell-O? Would anyone have used the term Jell-O to refer to Beyonce (who ain't no skinny mini), if she had looked draggy on stage? Last month, Forbes, in their business section, reported that Hollywood's Sexiest Celebrities are curvy. I don't know if that's true or not, and I guess it doesn't really matter, since we gasp at Angelina's disintegrating body while at the same time shield our eyes from unintentional muffin tops. All I know is that today, for Britney's sake and in protest of the Jell-O comment, I'm not going to the gym.

Any thoughts on this gripping & important topic? Post a comment for pete's sake! Shoutouts to Mediterranean sea salt & chipotle peppers.
Sat. Morning Late Edition: My mailman just came by to bring me this. He just lost his Xmas giftcard.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Up To

Today I give you what I've been "up to."
(an idea from
Not Martha).

admiring: These
Urchin Bowls.
Porcelain votive holders by Heather Knight Ceramics @ Element Clay Studio on Etsy.

...and this Flocked Hobo bag.
Cutest velvet patterned bag from the Amy-you're-too-old-to-shop-at-that-store, Alloy.

amused by: The new Lasagna Pan at Baker's Edge.

All because one should not have to eat slumpy slidey lasagna.

annoyed by: the fact that I can't get the pictures on this blog to behave themselves and stay to the left. To the left, to the left...

Monday, September 10, 2007

Grape Jelly

Yesterday, I helped harvest grapes. The vines overhanging the backyard pattio were covered in ripe grapes and our new friends (& landlords) invited us to pluck grapes until our knucles bled. We filled a laundry basket's worth of grapes!

As expected, shennanigans ensued.

Enzo missed Chris...who was inside the house working on a paper.

Grapes were boiled and the jars were sterilized. Tomorrow, when the jars cool, the juice should turn to jelly. Sounds suspiciously magical to me.

The evening ended with the company of our neighbors (Les, the moviestar/minister, and his wife Obeata), a delicious Italian meal and home-made apple pie and sangria. De-lishhh.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Weddings Past

It's important to get a running start at the "back to work" attitude. Sometimes it's even good to warm up. And then there's just plain old "I don't feel like working today," which is when I play with this:
My little side art-hobby is currently undergoing a transformation. I've always scrapped chronologically and in 8 1/2 x 11 albums. My friend Kristen once put a scrapbook where she grouped photos together based on how she felt about them. I thought she was insane and the Detective Monk inside of me screamed, "things must have an order!" I've always used lots of photos per page (so to get through the year), coordinated the colors of the paper, lettering, matting, etc., used subject-related stickers as accents, and aimed for visual symmetry on every page.

But I've more recently witnessed scrapbooking created as an artistic endeavor (as opposed to merely a crafty hobby) and have been inspired to break away from my old way of doing things. In reading Kristina Contes' blog, I found that pages can truly be aesthetically beautiful. From there I became obsessed with the gorgeous pages inspired by Hambly products and bought the August paper kit "Hollywood" (my first kit) through the Red Velvet Kit Club, to help me break some old habits. Here are the results so far:

Lisa Bayley's wedding (Oct. 2001).

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Back to Work

Today I'm back to work. I've been needing to get back to work for a while now. Working on a dissertation is real pain in the ass and I don't plan to ever do anything like this again. And, really, conquering the monster is the only thing holding me back from getting out on the luxurious philosophy professor job market where I will be fought over by many universities and ultimately snatched up by the perfect little department that will let me teach whichever classes I please and everyone will rejoice and there will be music and singing and sesame-crusted shrimp on the barbie.