Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Rainy Day Blues

Well, thank first to all of you who wrote such nice things to my last post.

I am trying very very hard to just not feel very discouraged right now. I know some of it is just the mood I'm in today so I'm trying to not let it get me down. Thank god for exadvisor who really has become my cheerleader through all of this. I'm sorry I ever doubted him. And yes, I do KNOW that my new advisor would not be busting her already busy ass to do all this editing for me if she didn't think I could do it.

BUT...I still just feel like I'm not cut out for this. There is always that nagging self-doubt that eats at me. And no matter how much I am affirmed in my work, I still hear that horrible voice telling "You're not good enough. You're not smart enough." This voice makes writing an essay in which you're trying to sell yourself very, very hard. I know that deep down inside I have to believe in myself in order to write this thing. And I have to get that feeling of love quick because I need to hammer out a new draft by the end of this weekend.

And, I also keep telling myself that I have back up plans. This is not the only thing I am able to do. H and I have both decided that we'll apply this year, and then next but after that it will be looking towards something else. As long I'm teaching...that's what's important to me. I have to be in a classroom.

Weekly News Flash

Weeellll not really a flash, more like a twirp in the universe, a blink. I don't really think of myself as that special.

I am now on revision, I think, four of the thesis proposal. I had a sort of breakthrough yesterday so I am hoping, strongly, that this is the last one. I've always noticed that when I work on something through many drafts, I have five or six drafts that are shitty and then there is one last big push that totally transforms the paper. I'm at that push...the baby is about to be born (Interesting note: I had no clue I was using a birth metaphor as I wrote the first part of that sentence).

Still working on statement of puporse of well. Sigh. That one got really shredded again. I'm struggling to not feel like a total idiot. Advisor seemed a bit harsh this time around. But exadvisor is constantly sending me little assurances. So this week, I will hash out yet another draft.

I am supposed to be studying for the GRE. Note the supposed to be. Where I'm finding I'm going to find the time will be interesting. Yeah, I know, get off the blog and study.

Other than that things are good. I'm starting to tenatively outline my thesis. Got a couple of much needed books in the mail. I need to have all my reading done by the ending of this month. And then I really need to be writing at least a couple of

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Friday, October 19, 2007

Horacio the Brave

Horacio was nervous but unlike me he did it.

Note the look of terror....


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Super Silo Slide

Pumpkins Galore

Today we went pumpkin picking. It's one of the few things I feel like we "have" to do each year. There is nothing like picking your own pumpkin from a patch as opposed to the bix box outside of the grocery store. Of course everytime we go, I'm reminded of picking apples in Maine. That was something we did nearly every year when I was little. The whole extended family went, and we'd spend hours walking through the orchards, eating apples of the trees, and riding in horse drawn wagons. There are no nearby apple orchards here, and the ones in the mountains don't have any apples due to the drought.

But at least we get to do pumpkins. The farm we go to is pretty neat with a few animals, a tractor ride out to the patch, and they have these huge silo slides (which I will not go down).

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Life at My House

1. First draft of statement of purpose has been torn apart. I will now attempt to finish a new draft by Friday. Likely that will be torn apart as well but I can already tell it will be better. So all good.

2. Thesis proposal is almost done. I am back to being way excited about my thesis. I finished my third reading of the memoir. Now I have her documentary to watch! Can't wait. I have almost all my secondary reading done. Hopefully, I will be done all reading by the end of this month. This means I can churn out hopefully 60 pages by early Dec., edited those in the middle of January, and have the last 40 out by mid Jan. This would give a month to do all final editting and formating. Me stressed? Nah....

3. No pictures of my hair. I officially hate it. I wear it up all the time which looks cute but is a pain in the ass. Defeats the whole purpose of having bangs which was to not have to wear said hair up.

4. Umberto, listening to Morrissey the other night says, "This sounds like a guitar that got caught up in a tornado." Camille is in love with Morrissey and says "He's cute!" And would like him to be her boyfriend.

5. My house is trashed. It looks like a torando swepth through.

6. I really really miss reading fiction but have being lulling myself to sleep with thesis reading and Foucault.

7. Foucault is right. Reading about masturbation is boring.

8. Had an awesome time at my prof's house the other night. He was relaxed and cool. Horacio and he ended up poring over CDs for half the night.

9. Did I mention stress?

10. Umberto is doing great with his schoolwork, and I'm even having fun. All good there...

Monday, October 15, 2007

Work In Progress

"The examination combines the techniques of an observing hierarchy and those of a normalizing judgement. It is a normalizing gaze, a surveillance that makes it possible to qualify, to classify and to punish. It establishes over individuals a visibility through which one differentiates them and judges them. That is why, in all the mechanisms of discipline, the examination is highly ritualized. In it are combined the ceremony of power and the form of the experiment, the deployment of force and the establishment of truth. At the heart of the procedures of discipline, it manifests the subjection of those who are perceived as objects and the objectification of those who are subjected. The superimposition of the power relations and knowledge relations assumes in the examination all its visible brilliance"(185).


The examination, a central feature of Foucault's Discipline and Punish, is the mechanism through which we become individualized, categorized and judged. It is the technique that places us, as individuals within a community. In the examination the gaze becomes joined with a particular kind of knowledge. Knowledge finds itself embedded in this procedure as the eye of the knower observes, makes notes, and then places. The examination gives the observer be it doctor, prison warden, teacher, priest, pastor, knowledge. This knowledge, in turn, allows a person to be known, and once known to be subjected. The examination is a fundamental technique in creating docile bodies.

    When one comes under examination there is no hiding. The whole individual becomes exposed be in the measure of their intelligence or their health. The examination is a through rendering of the body. In every area of our lives, through every stage, the examination is there to tell us (and our observers) where we need to place our bodies. At birth, the APAR tests performed by both doctor and delivery nurse rates our body against a normalized standard. The infant body is scored, recorded and judged as either normal or abnormal. If abnormal, a battery of tests pinpoints that abnormality (even within abnormality there are standards). For a child to enter school, there are more tests. Is the child ready? Can they read? Will they socially function within a classroom? These tests are often extensive involving a teacher observing and questioning the young child. The results will determine which kind of classroom a child belongs. If abnormal, again tests will follow to determine what techniques will be needed to fix the child's abnormality. And so on as we grow older from the SAT to the GRE, to observations from employers. Our lives become encoded through examination. We know our places by how we perform.

    All these examinations involved formalized settings, ritualistic procedures that begin and end. Pick your pencil up, hold your pencil over the paper, began, end. In order to take the tests one must be documented with proof of their identity. Rules must be laid out to begin. In order to judge fairly all must be made equal in order to individualized. We must all start in the waiting room of the GRE with our proof of our existence. We must all began with the same equipment, the same room, the same chair, the same computers.

    The examination crosses institutions. As seen above, both the medical and education field employ this technique in a highly formalized manner. They test and record, leaving a permanent record of our normalcy or the abnormal traits that must be furthered examined. Religion, like these other institutions, also makes use of the examination. In fact, this examination one might argue (as Foucault later does) that the examination originates in the confessional where the priest must vigorously examine the penitent. In the FDLS church, this examination comes from all quarters. Not only does the file leader of the group observe, question, and seek out the dark places of the soul but the whole community engages in this observing, filing away the actions, words, and thoughts of each other. The dark cellars were one couple goes to make love is exposed by another wife with the pulling of a cord. She makes in that moment of discovery, a judgment based on the observation, the examination in her mind of what is acceptable. Through constant scrutiny, these individuals become their own examiners. All thoughts, actions, and desires become subjected to the normalizing standard set forth by the group.

This is what is so insidious about the examination. It begins with the observing of the knower. There is someone, something, someones, somethings, that have to know. This knowledge/power relation enables them to place other individuals. They subject bodies into categories they create and refine. Knowledge brings about a proliferation of new categories, new ways of placing human bodies. It holds them to certain places. But what happens is that these bodies start to know their places. They become their own examiners. They learn to govern their bodies according to the norms created by this power/knowledge. The examination becomes an individual touch stone which one goes to examine themselves. The ritual of examination becomes one in which the figure of power becomes embodied within the individual.



Thursday, October 11, 2007

Just Some Photos

Umberto managed to get the girls together to pose for a picture...and one of Camille just wild.

The Human Body

Umberto has been practicing drawing people that are not stick figures. We did these body trace outs a couple of weeks ago.

Shaved and Shorned


I would say that in the West, sexuality is not generally something about which people are silent and that must be kept a secret; it is something one has to confess." Foucault

Would I really push the limits of exposure? Would I dare to confess in a photo my sexuality in such a public space?

And for the record, we're not....


One thing that always perplexed her were the sudden silences of new friends. Why did they come into your life just to disappear? The usual excuses surfaced: busy, new significant other, stress from work, etc. But she couldn't help feeling it was her. She wondered if she came onto too strong which lead to a momentary transformation of her behaviour. She practiced being cold and distance but she couldn't really pull it off for long. Her passion and inensity surfaced, and envitably the people would vanish.

But sometimes it hurt more than at other times. She believed in soul mates with an emphasis on the pluarl. She thought that we were meant to be with certain people not just as lovers but as friends, and those numbers were not narrowed to one. Rather she felt, felt deeply, that in our lives we encounter many people who fit our souls, feed our hearts, and often our bodies. When she meet someone she felt this way for, it felt like another piece to the hollowness in her chest was filled. When of these people disappeared, it was like they wrenched out not only their piece but several other pieces as well.

A Day in the Life

Of Ginger, grad. student, mother to three, and messy housekeeper. Yeah life is feeling a tad bit much lately.

Today's To Do List:

work with Umberto on letters

do wax paper leaves

roast pumpkin seeds

do math with Umberto

make pumpkin cookies

write a paragraph on my concepts of class

study for GRE

start Foucault paper

finish two books


It's intimadating to just look at but I keep reminding myself I thrive under pressure. And honestly I do. I finished my statement of purpose, read two books over the weekend, and nearly completed two applications. Oh we narrowed down where we are applying....Florida State, Chapell Hill, and SUNY Buffalo for H and Syracuse for me (we'd live in Rochester which is right between the two).

And that last one is scaring me a bit. There is a part of me that would just love to be in the North again. I would be able to visit my family in Maine a lot more. I would be able to be cold (have I mentioned it's still in the 90s here?) But Rochester is filled with demons. It's filled with Joseph. And that scares me. I mean, the chances of me running into him are nill. He lives in Niagara Falls but this is where we were together. It was a big thing for me to agree to apply to Syracuse and then agree to live in Rochester.

If anyone is bored, and would like to read a SOP let me know. I could use the feedback.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Whose Memories Are These Anyway?

We possess all our memories but not the faculty of recalling them [...] What then is a memory which we do not recall? Or indeed let us go further. We do not recall oru memories of the last thirty years; but we are wholly steeped in them; why then stop short at thirty years, why not extend this previous life back to before our birth? If I do not know a whole section of the memories that are behind me, if they are invisible to me, if I do not have the faculty of calling them to me, how do I know whether in that mass which is unknown to me there may not be some that extend back much further than my human existence? If I can have in me and round me so many memories which I do not remember, this oblivion (a de facto oblivion, at least, since I have not the faculty of seeing anything) may extend over a life which I have lived in the body of another man, even on another planet. The being that I shall be after death has no more reason to remember the man I have been since my birth than the latter to remember what I was before it.

The title is my memory failing...a call back to H's blog.

Who writes these stories of the past? Who writes your stories of the past?

Monday, October 08, 2007


Yes, it's Monday, and I should be on campus sitting in my office waiting for eager undergrads to partake of my wisdom but alas, it's fall break, and those eager undergrads don't exisit.

I stayed up much too late last night watching "The Lives of Others" which is an amazing movie. It was very stark, and very sad but also hopeful and poingnot. It showed how art can transform someone, speak to them in such a way that is shatters their live. The movie also showed how alike we really are. I wish I was better at movie reviews but I'm not so...just rent it on DVD. You won't regret it.

Lastly, in the spirit of colloboration, and because I honestly don't think I would have been able to get my thesis together if it hadn't been for this blog, I'm posting just the thesis portion of my opening paragraph. It is long so don't feel obligated to read. I'd love feedback of course so if you please lay it on.

"This work deals with questions of what love means, and how a particular religious group can shape a person’s very emotions. Religious groups deal in particular emotional rhetoric that not only signals how one should respond but literally inscribes members’ bodies and psyches with these emotional codes. Through this kind of control, religious emotions can be used as a cultural politics.[1] The discourse of the FDLS church is a discourse that shapes the identity of each member. Palmer’s memories of sermons, lectures from her mother, step-mother and father all demonstrate how emotions become a vehicle through which her identity is created. In addition, this paper will show that this emotional discourse is a form of power that subjects Palmer. It is this very subjecting power that creates her as an individual. Due to this subjection/formation, a certain ambiguity arises as Palmer attempts, in the narrative format, to come to understand show she became as well as reconciling that past person with the person she has become. In addition, I will demonstrate how the author uses the narrative structure to work thru subjection, trauma, and abuse in ways that enable her to make sense of the present self. In any autobiography the narrator can only tell the story by looking upon her own story as somehow outside herself. The act of telling creates a distance but only to a certain extent for the subject is always in the not a stable self. The self is always in the process in becoming.
[1] Sarah Ahmed cites as one of her aims “I want to reflect on the processes whereby ‘being emotional’ comes to be seen as a characteristic of some bodies and not others, in the first place. In order to do this, we need to consider how emotions operate to ‘make’ and ‘shape’ bodies as forms of action, which also involve orientating towards others.” Sarah Amed, The Cultural Politics of Emotions, New York: Routledge, 2004, 4. This argument presents a framework for the aforementioned argument concerning how the FDLS shapes Palmer’s emotional discourse."

Saturday, October 06, 2007


Yesterday was apparently a day to resolve various dilemnas in my (our) life (lives). H brought up yet again "Maybe we should apply for Ph.D programs this year...just a couple." I responded, admitly in a very nasty manner, and then left for a reading group. But driving down to NoDa, I did take some time to think about what he was saying. I realized that he was really freaking about losing our momentum, and that he likely didn't want to teach in the public school systems (not something I really wanted to do either). And I also realized that some of my relief at not applying was arising from my amibiguity concering what I studied.

Soo...flash forward to after the reading group. I'm feel pretty decent because a, I held my own, and b, I stood by the ideas that I thought were worth standing by. Hard as it may be to believe, I often back down in the face of professors' disagreement. I defended blogging as a potential revolutionary action, and kind of got my stick in about how academics don't really seem to change anything, etc, etc. Mostly I was just floored about how pompouse people can be, and how too often there is no willingness to listen. It upset me that this one prof who is a bit quiet kept getting overridden by two louder memebers. I am loud and I talk a lot but I really do try to remember that there are other people who have thigns to say. It just struck me as not only rude but self-important. couple this with some very simplistic views of revolutionary potential, and I defitnely reached my disgusted quota for the day.

But it was after the reading gropu while talking to one particular professor alone that things fell into place. First, this guy is very cool, not pompous, very intelligent, etc. He retired this year (a shame as I never got to take a class with him). He's from the Chicago school, and studied under Long, and other various famous religion scholars. Second, he's a religious man himself (very liberal, etc, etc.). I told him about how I often felt guilty about leaving my teaching job because I felt like I was doing something there. He said "Well you know I could argue that you will do just as much good teaching at the college level as teh high school level espically depending on where you teach at." And then we talked about dealing with egos, etc. And I told him all about my religion dilemna. He didnt' give me any advice but told me about his own experience. Grew up Catholic, left it as a teen, began to study religion, was without religion for ten years, adn then became a Quaker. He said to me before he left "You have to do what makes you feel whole."

On the way back, I realized he was right. I was allowing too many influences to tell me what whole was. Being an academic is not something that comes naturally to me. My family certainly does not have any acedemics in it. I will be the first person on either side to hold a Ph.D. I don't have any models for how this life is lived except for the professors I meet. But I was so busy focusing on the egos that I forgot to look around for others. There are role models in my department. Role models who live this life in a way I find acceptable. And I also knew that H and I had to apply for at least a couple Ph.D programs this year. If we don't get in, we have a plan B but we love this life, and why make ourselves unhappy for even a year?

So resolutions made? apply to at least two programs...meaning GREs in the next two weeks, statement of purposes by Tuesday (we have a long weekend), and applications filled out by next weekened. Now we do love to work under pressure....

And I'm going to practice religion the way I need to. I have yet to figure out the community issue. I may try the UU which has a coven in it or I might try to put together my own group.

And I also will likely be spending a bit less time here. But I'll pop my head up I promise.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Going Back to What I Read To Not Unread

Sometimes I pull down old books, books that meant so much to me in the dim history of the past. Often this is disappoint. But sometimes, I pull the book down, and I turn to wear the pages are turned down, or to where a tiny piece of paper marks the spot. And I am blown away, moved, my heart beats faster, and I am carried away....again.

Terra Incognita
There are vast realms of consciousness still undreamed of
vast ranges of experience, like the humming of unseen harps,
we know nothing of, within us.
Oh when man has escaped from the barbed-wire entanglement
of his own ideas adn his own mechanical devices
there is a marvellous rich world of conact and sheer fluid beauty
and fearless face-to-face awareness of now-naked life
and me, and you, and other men and women
and grapes, and ghouls, and ghosts and green moonlight
and ruddy-orange limbs stirring the limbo
of the unknown air, and eyes so soft
softer than the space between the stars,
and all things, and nothing, and being and not-being
alternatley palpitant,
when at last we escape the barbed-wire enclosure
of Know Thyself, knowing that we can never know,
we can but touch, and wonder, and ponder, and make our effort
and dangle in a last fastidious fine delight
as teh fuchsia does, dangling her reckless drop
of purple after so much putting forth
and slow mounting marvel of a little tree.

D. H. Lawerence


When she was alone, she missed the small things. A touch. The feel of his hand on her back. The almost absent kisses on her head. His leg touching hers as she slept. His breath. Slow and even as he escaped her in dreams. The way it felt hot on her neck. She missed the way he tossed in the middle of the night as she lay reading. Really it was the comfort of having him there. Of knowing that even the isolation of insomnia he was a presence that she could reach out and touch. She often thought at those moments that it could really be anyone who laid there sleeping. It was just the point of having another body in her bed.

During they day his absence weighed less. She enjoyed the lonely days of reading, and writing her papers. The interruptions of a class, a cigarette with the other smokers in the quad, grabbing some coffee in the snack bar, quick chats with various people she knew, were all she needed for human contact during the day. Not having his brooding concern over whether she was his soul mate, his complaints about how much time she spent reading, about her distance from him, about her plans for grad. school, was a relief. She loved making a small supper of pasta and some salad, sitting down to eat in the comfy chair with a book, all alone. Being able to go to parties, to bars with friends, even grabbing a quick meal without worrying about his irritation that she was not spending time with him was another small pleasure. She felt free during the day.

But at night, when she climbed into bed alone, was when the burden returned. For a few days, he had continued to stay in the apartment, sleeping with her. It was unbearable. She cried every night, feeling him so close yet across a chasm that she couldn't not reach. Finally she made him leave. And too often when it was time for bed, she often wandered if it would have been preferable to have him there even at such a distance. She put off going to bed now. She lingered over the rituals: washing her face, brushing her teeth, and then her hair. She invented new things to do: facial creams, plucking unwanted hairs. But eventually, there was no postponing the cold bed. She would have to curl up on the huge expanse, a bed bought for the two of them.

These times brought the loneliness down in unbearable waves. At first, she cried a great deal but eventually she just lay there letting the pain hit her. She felt like there was a great yawning chasm opened up inside her that swallowed, and then magnified the pain back to her. She knew that it was not the actual losing of him that made this pain so great. It was being a lone, yet again. And knowing that with his leaving, another chance, maybe the last chance, at normalcy was gone. He was the kind of guy you married, bought a house with and then had a couple of kids. And there was a part of her that longed for that kind of life. But she also knew that she would never be satisfied with that kind of life. And what she mourned was the loss of that desire.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


In my dream last night, a man, a wiseman, a shaman, I think, came to me and said "It is only when you have love that you will achieve wisdom."

Mystical elements keep cropping up in my life.

While jogging in Baltimore over Labor Day weekend, I found myself skipping around Orthodox Jews. My friend lives in a primarily Orthodox neighborhood. And as I jogged, I found myself envying them. It was not that I wanted to become an Orthodox Jew. No, I wanted the community with all it's good and bad. And it wasn't just community in general that I longed for, I have that...rather it was a religious community. I wanted to worship with someone. It was a strange longing, and I took it and moved on...both figuratively and literally.

But later that evening, I ended up in conversation with one of Ros's friends about religion. We had a very intimate chat about our religious experiences, etc, and about religious community. I realized that for all my protestings of atheism that I'm not truly an atheist, and that I do want to be part of a religious community. Again, i just sort of thought these things, and left it at that.

Forward to my independent study conference calls....the student who is doing this with me, is a Neopagan. And we start talking about religion. I used to be a NeoPagan, and I loved it. But I'm not really sure if that's a community I could ever be in again. We talk a great deal about this, and while a part of me feels silly it feels really good to talk about gods/goddess/magic again. I realize that there is still a part of me that really feels deeply about these things. But there is also a part of me, the academic part who studies religion, that feels vaguely silly and ridiculous. And all of these parts are having a hard time articulating what I really believe.

And top it off with the dreams. The insomnia has gone away, and I am now sleeping deeply with these vivid dreams that stay with me all day. Some are disturbing my equilibrium with life while others seem to be trying to tell me something. More importantly, I am dreaming about Ishtar again. This has lead to some strange actions that again leave me feeling slightly embarrassed. The other day as I"m cleaning up the study in preparation for my sister in law's visit, I find myself tearing down the display of Guadalupe stuff I have up, and thinking about how I need to make a shrine to Ishtar instead.

There is a part of me that wishes I could embrace this stuff like I did when I was nineteen. Sometimes I wish I could unread. And then again there is a part of me that can not imagine ever living without that critical eye. But for now, I am starting to wonder if I can reconcile this mystical side with the intellectual side.

In fact, my whole feelings for academia seem to be quite divided. I love theory. I love reading Foucault and Deleuze and thinking/talking/writing about their ideas. On the other hand, the writing that is coming from them is least more creative than my academic writing. As I'm writing all the boring academic stuff, I long to be writing about other things....about love, and about sex all with their ideas tumbling around in my head. I feel vaguely unsatisified with the academic world, and a bit angry at it as well.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Weekend Edition

Biggest news...I am done the rough draft of my thesis proposal. It's short but I think concise, and outlines clearly what I'm doing. It's a huge relief to just be done. Which means that there was little fiction writing over the weekend but the ideas are still in my mind waiting to be put down. I don't know when I'll have a chance writing the proposal made me realize just how much reading I have to do.

In other mundane news, it was a beautiful weekend here in NC. Not as suffocatingly hot as it has been. There was a beautiful breeze. And yes the sun. We actually are in desperate need of rain as our trip to the park revealed. "The Beautiful Valley," one of our favorite places to bring the kids was all dried up. We saw too many dead fish and the smell was pretty awful. Even the nasty pond that centers the park is getting smaller, and that contains lots of wildlife: fish, snakes, turtles, and frogs.

Here's some pictures we took, and if you're bored here's a few more.