Friday, June 30, 2017

Took me a second...

30 June 2017: "My grand re-debut to Mikey was like Simone Biles trying to ride a roller coaster after the park closed. Too little, too late." --Titus in the final episode of the latest season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

Took me a second to get it, but when I did, I burst out laughing. Now it's onto the latest season of Master of None, which I have been saving as a treat. Since I finished everything on my "May/June To-Do List" a week early, thank you very much, I think I have earned it. (Don't ask me why I waited until today to reward myself...)

Thursday, June 29, 2017


29 June 2017: "That night, he had lain down next to her, and in the dark had told her that this was love, if love there was—having the courage to abandon the present for a future that one could only imagine. He had assured her that her husband loved her." --Edwidge Danticat, "Seven"

Finally let myself listen to this episode of the New Yorker Fiction Podcast, Junot Diaz reading Danticat's story. I had read it before--back when I read The Dew Breaker for the first time--but it felt even more resonant today, hearing it again as the evil travel ban goes into effect and this video is making the rounds.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

"New Slang"

28 June 2017:

"And if you took to me like
A gull takes to the wind
I'd've jumped from my tree
And I'd've danced like the king of the eyesores
And the rest of our lives would've fared well" --The Shins, "New Slang"

Heard this one today after not hearing it in a while. Just digging how smart the lyrics are.

[Two song postings in a row...sorry...]

Tuesday, June 27, 2017


27 June 2017:

"Set me free, leave me be
I don't want to fall another moment into your gravity
Here I am, and I stand
So tall, just the way I'm supposed to be
But you're on to me and all over me" --Sara Bareilles, "Gravity"

A good day overall, but man, this song gets to me and makes me feel stuff. And Pandora seems to think that I need to hear it all the time, so I guess it can work for today's "listening" entry.

Monday, June 26, 2017

"What I Have"

26 June 2017:

"At lunchtime a woman famous for her ability
to praise the ineffable
                      says she can’t believe anyone returns
to where they came from.
            But of course they do. In fact
some do nothing else. & what is it they leave behind?
            Perhaps not the meaning of time,
but the time of meaning, & the fact that whatever
happens, tomorrow
                      will change it." --Seth Abramson, from "What I Have" (audio here)

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Isla's Baptism

25 June 2017: " Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." --Matthew 10: 29-31

Little Isla was baptized today and I had the honor of standing up as her godmother. This line from the Gospel reading stood out to me, especially in the context of the entire chapter, where Jesus sends the disciples out. He is telling them that their work will be hard and even dangerous, but that they will be okay, even if they lose their lives. Very powerful words and big, deep thoughts on the day I stood up and promised to help this child live a Christian life.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Desire Paths...

24 June 2017: "As the name suggests, desire paths are these unplanned paths that people really wanna take and they are shaped by repeated use." --Kurt Kohlstedt talking to Roman Mars on this episode of 99% Invisible.

I never knew these things had a name, so I was thrilled to hear that they do--and that it is such an awesome name. Stick around for the hosts' discussion ow what desire paths can teach us about design.

By the way, I blogged about a desire path way back in 2011.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Playing House is back!

23 June 2017: "Hotel spaghetti in a white blazer? This woman is fearless!" --Emma in the second episode of the new season of Playing House.

This show, which celebrates female friendships, is so great. More people need to watch it and appreciate its hilarious brilliance.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Keep talking about it...

22 June 2017: “I told him [my son], ‘Your uncle had a brain disease…and it killed him,” because I wanted to protect my five-year-old, but I also wanted to tell the truth…And I thought, ‘People need to talk about this,’ and I’ve been trying to talk about it in any venue I could find since.” –John Moe, in this episode of The Hilarious World of Depression, a discussion with Ana Marie Cox.

I've already blogged about this podcast before, but until this episode, I didn't realize that the host also lost a brother to addiction, mental illness, and suicide. It is (almost) always strangely comforting when hear someone else say these things, especially about the need to keep talking about it.

Bonus "listening" thing: the first segment of this episode of Nancy (though the second segment is fun and also worth listening to). In it, a classroom of third graders reach out to Gavin Grimm, sending him their love and support. It had me tearing up as I took my walk today, filled with hope for our future if these kids are even a bit representative of their generation.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Summer Grading: DONE!

21 June 2017:

"It just takes some time
Little girl, you're in the middle of the ride
Everything, everything will be just fine
Everything, everything will be all right" --Jimmy Eat World, "The Middle"

Just clicked submit on those final grades! Always feels good and the fact that this silly but fun little song came on made me smile as I commenced some chair-dancing.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

"Why do we do this?"

20 June 2017:

“These books are so stupid.”

“Is that just dawning on you? This whole process is stupid! Why are we sat in the dark? What’s happening?”

“Why do we do this? It’s so weird, isn’t it?”

“It’s such a waste of everyone’s potential! Think what we could be doing!”

“It’s like normalized behavior now. It’s just what we do. Why can’t you just come around for dinner like a normal friend?”

–Jamie, Alice, and James, in perhaps my favorite exchange from this week’s episode of My Dad Wrote a Porno. These three just kill me every week, but I especially loved this exchange because they are having so much fun laughing about the whole endeavor and you get such a sense of their friendship.

I spend a large part of my day laughing with folks I consider friends. Any day you can say that is a good day.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Parent sessions...

19 June 2017: "It's hard...I tell her, 'You have to go. You are ready.'" --the mom of one of our incoming students, during the parent session of today's Advising and Registration activities.

I always tell parents in these sessions that I can't imagine what it's like to send your kids to college. You spend 17 or 18 years making sure that kid has what he or she needs and then you have to let go in a kind of major way. I mean, even the most hands-off parent must feel strange about it, whether their kid is super-excited to go or not. (Same goes for the parents' levels of excitement...or if they've had other kids go to college already. It must always feel significant.)

But if your child is shy or scared or has some special needs, it must be...a lot for you. So I always try to give voice to those emotions, admitting that I can't understand it completely, not having kids myself. But I do know what to do to help their kids succeed and I do my best to help them help me do it.

This group--Session C (the third of four)--is a small one for me: only three students, one in Communications, one in Spanish, and one in English. But they seem great: focused, smart, and friendly. Tomorrow (the day we build schedules) should go well.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Father's Day...

18 June 2017: "I'm just sitting here with Sug, reading the paper." --my dad's update on his afternoon.

Happy Father's Day to my dad, a pretty great guy who absolutely deserves to spend some time in the AC, reading and hanging out with the dog. In some of the best ways, he's a simple guy and I'd like to think that I inherited a few of those traits. (You know, organized and a bit fastidious, more introspective than not, careful with my money, having my stuff arranged just so, fond of reading and black raspberry ice-cream and running errands for the satisfaction of getting them off the list of things to do...and some other stuff, too.)

As I check in on Facebook today, I see lots of people posting tributes to their dads and their children's fathers. But I also see a couple of friends posting on this first Father's Day without their dads. I know how lucky I am to still have mine and to get to hear his quiet little updates about his day.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

It's still got it...

17 June 2017: "Welcome to the Litchfield Community Library..." --Brooke to some of the other prisoners, showing them her tribute to to Poussey, in season 5, episode 7 of Orange is the New Black.

Okay: so this line was designed to make people like me get emotional and it worked, but overall, 7 episodes into this season, I am really loving it. ("Enjoying" isn't always the right word, since some of it is pretty dark...)

Friday, June 16, 2017

Wynonna Earp

16 June 2017: "That's wonderful...Can you teach me how to use voicemail?" --Doc, to Jeremy, on this week's episode of Wynonna Earp. This fun and silly show has been nice surprise, with Buffy-like plots and laughs--and some really attractive people. It's fluffy and kind of stupid (in a good way) and a nice way to spend an hour on an otherwise quiet Friday night.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

"Real Fine Place"

15 June 2017:

"Somethin' is goin' on
I can't explain but sure can touch.
It's callin' both of us,
Stronger than any fear or doubt,
It's changin' everything I see,
It's changin' you, it's changin' me." --Sara Evans, "Real Fine Place"

I hadn't heard this song in years, I think, until I heard it again today while driving. (It's such a great driving song!) It hit me right in the middle of a pretty good day, so I thought it was worth being the subject of today's "listening" post. It's that good kind of nostalgic for me, especially since it's embedded in a hopeful and fun song about looking towards the future.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

"Interpreter of Maladies"

14 June 2017: "Mine is probably 'Interpreter of Maladies,' because that guy was so ridiculous..." --a student in my class today, in response to my asking which of the stories in Lahiri's collection was her favorite.

I loved this response because, though it doesn't make much sense out of context, it speaks to what makes this story--and the entire collection--so strong. The characters are frustrating, fallible, and so completely real and recognizable. Think about it: to say that a story with a "ridiculous" main character is your favorite means that you understand that ridiculousness--that it is familiar and memorable.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Birthday boy...

13 June 2017: "It feels like 1996." --my brother Christian today, as we talked on the phone today about the amazing season the Yankees are having, particularly the young talent who are just amazing the heck out of us.

Today's "listening" post incorporates two of my favorite things: baseball and my brother, who celebrated his birthday today.

Monday, June 12, 2017

"Everything Changed..."

12 June 2017: "It was like a different form of family. It was like a chosen family." --a patron of the Pulse Nightclub, being interviewed for this episode of Nancy, describing what made that place so special to him and so many others. It's been a year since the shooting...seems like less time, in some ways. But this comment just got to me: this was a place where people felt at home, comfortable, maybe even safe. And then it was shattered. We should keep listening to these stories...the stories of these lives forever changed that day.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Now she tells me...

11 June 2017: "Yeah. And I am afraid of heights." --my friend Amy, about 8 feet in the air on a precarious ladder, helping me clean a bird's nest out of my dryer vent. This encapsulates pretty darn well what kind of person she is: waiting until she's up there to admit that she wishes she weren't. She's just so's astounding.

But it also reminds me that I need to ask more questions and listen a bit better for clues before my friends go out of their way to help me. After all, I am so very blessed to have amazing friends and I ought to be mindful not to take them or their generosity for granted.

We did get the nest out (not much a nest--made mostly out of dryer lint, we think and no eggs or baby birds) and get the vent cover back on, though the bird keeps coming back and trying to get through the duct tape we used to seal it the edges. (I voted for efficiency over aesthetics, at least for now.) But for most of the rest of our work, I tried to be the one on the ladder.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Orphan Black Season 5

10 June 2017: "Is that the emergency loon call?" --Donnie, on Orphan Black.

Orphan Black's final season premiered tonight and it's so nice to have it back. I still have a hard time keeping track of the mythology sometimes, but Tatiana Maslany is just a goddess. And Donnie, married to the best clone, always makes me laugh.

Friday, June 9, 2017

"When To Break Up With Culture And Advice With Mallory Ortberg"

9 June 2017: "When you watch soap operas, it will make you forgive decline and shark-jumping... Soap operas basically come in on a shark." --Audie Cornish, on Pop Culture Happy Hour, discussing sticking with a piece of entertainment versus quitting.

Though it doesn't follow the usual episode format, this episode of Pop Culture Happy Hour is pretty darn terrific, featuring both the wonderful Audie Cornish and the amazing Mallory Ortberg. Give it a listen.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Off it goes!

8 June 2017: "All done." --my friend Amy today, as she hit the button submitting the final version of our article, accepted for publication in Feminist Teacher.

Always a sweet moment to hit "send" on that final version of a publication, but this one--in a great journal, on a topic I really love, written with a fantastic colleague and friend--is a different flavor of sweet. And working with someone else like this--when writing is so often a solitary activity for me--involved so much listening, so today's post really hits this year's theme.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Bing in quarantine!

7 June 2017: "Anytime there's a cat bite, I prescribe antibiotics, even without this redness." --the doctor I saw today at urgent care.

So remember yesterday's "happy" post, which had a throw-away comment about Bing biting me? Well, that bite got kind of nasty looking over the past 24 hours and some friends convinced me to go to urgent care. This launched a whole series of consequences, including a visit from animal control and Bing under (home) quarantine for the next ten days. But the good thing is that I got some medicine and I learned (again) to be a bit aggressive with these things. And my hand is all wrapped up, which sometimes looks bad-ass to me--until I remember that it's from a silly cat bite.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017


6 June 2017:

"I think the universe is on my side
Heaven and Earth have finally aligned
Days are good and that's they way it should be" --Echosmith, "Bright"

A couple of good days around here, I think: an accepted publication, a successful advising and registration session, and just some other stuff that makes me happy. And this song, which just came on, had actually been running through my head, so it will work just fine for today's entry.

My good mood is even pushing me through a literally painful experience I just finished...Bing misbehaved quite a bit at the vet, including biting the heck out of my hand, something he's never done before. I don't think the vet tech realized how bad it was because I played it tough. Ha. But he got his shots and all still seems pretty healthy. (There was an attempt to do blood work, but they gave up, so let's just hope it's all okay...)

Monday, June 5, 2017

Let the Dead Bury Their Dead

5 June 2017: "I just don't understand what we're supposed to do with they all fit together..." --a student in my ENGL 355 class today, opening up our last day of discussing Randall Kenan's Let the Dead Bury Their Dead.

Let the Dead Bury Their Dead might be the most difficult text we read in ENGL 355. It's dark and disturbing at times, full of different voices and styles. And these interconnected stories of the fictional town Kenan creates operate one way individually, but other ways in conversation with one another. But how they connect and what we are supposed to do with those connections...I always have a hard time articulating it. So I was glad that this student made explicit what is so difficult about this work. It led us to keep working on coming up with answers during class...I think we got somewhere, but even if we didn't, the attempts were fun and rewarding.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Bangka Island Massacre

4 June 2017: "Chin up girls. I'm proud of you and I love you all." --Matron Irene Drummond, to the 21 nurses she supervised, right before all were killed in the Bangka Island Massacre.

I had never heard of this event, or of Vivian Bullwinkle, the surviving nurse, subject of one of the recent "Six Impossible Episodes" of Stuff You Missed in History Class, but I sure am glad to have heard of her and Drummond. You really should listen to the episode and the way that the host's voice pauses with emotion as she shares Drummond's words (about 18 1/2 minutes in). And what amazing words they were--words of love and encouragement and support to these women as they walked to their deaths. It's one of those stories that gives you hope even as it devastates you.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Wonder Woman

3 June 2017: "You should be honored!" --Wonder Woman, the first time she has ice cream, to the vendor who sells it.

What a fun movie this was--and I don't usually go for these sorts of films. But this silly line quoted above actually captures some of what I liked about it: the gorgeous and captivating Gal Godot kicked some serious butt, but also played "newcomer to this world" scenes in such sweet ways. Even the romance had me swooning a bit. Fun stuff.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Happy hour with crayons...

2 June 2017: "Ummm...we prefer 'gay-liens,' thank you!" --my friend Jonathan, joking about what to call the gay aliens we added to a picture we were drawing at a local bar tonight. Other highlights included an orange cat roasting a marshmallow, a squirrel drinking wine, an escaping handmaid, and a Ghost of Shepherdstown. Trust me: they all make sense.

Our friends Mark and Erin are moving (sad!), so we were saying good-bye to them. Erin suggested using the crayons to make them a drawing for their new refrigerator and we were happy to comply. Yes, I realize this all sounds ridiculous and silly, but it sure was fun.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

More on The Handmaid's Tale

1 June 2017: “If this is a story I’m telling, I must be telling it to someone. There’s always someone, even when there’s no one.” --June, in episode 8 of The Handmaid's Tale.

Though some episodes are better than others, this show continues to give me so much to think about. Right now I keep thinking over this interesting comment on storytelling and audience--who June imagines herself talking to and why...