Friday, April 29, 2005

macho no es macho

I've been teaching a class this semester about gender and ethnicity. I have 31 students enrolled, 2 of whom are men, both Mexican.

I've grown fond of one of the young men in my class, J. He's always in class. He is generally inquisitive, seemingly good-hearted, but he doesn't take pains to be politically correct. Especially at the beginning of the semester, he would make comments that would indicate he'd forgotten he was in a room full of women.

For example, one class period we were talking about the Chicano movement and how Chicanas wanted not only to push for racial equality, but also for gender equality. J raises his hand and asks, "Why couldn't they just wait until they took care of the bigger issues and THEN deal with feminism?"

J usually sits in the back of the room. Several women turned around slowly to glare at him, mouths agape. Several of them raise their hands and launch into a discussion about the importance of women's rights, feminism, etc. One woman says, "If we waited until we had achieved racial equality before dealing with women's issues, we'd still be waiting!"

Nevertheles, I like J. He's a nice guy. He calls me "ma'am," for which I'll forgive him.

Yesterday after class J is one of the last students to leave the classroom. He thanks me for responding to a question he had emailed me. Then he says, "I have to give you props, ma'am, for talking about all of this feminism stuff."

I laugh. "What do you mean?" I ask.

"Well, I have to admit, at the beginning of the semester, I was like, feminism! Que feminism ni que nada!"

"Why did you take the class then?"

"Because I needed to take it for my major."

I nod.

"But I've really learned a lot! I feel like I've changed!"

I laugh. "Well, I hope that all of your future girlfriends thank me."

"Yeah," he says, "I'll tell them that they have Professor N to thank."

I wonder if I want that much credit! ;)


Wednesday, April 27, 2005

fit v. slovenly

i rolled out of bed and in to my running shoes this morning. it is a perfect spring in austin - mild, sunny, and breezy. everything is bright and blooming. i ran a few miles around my neighborhood. trying to get back into it after having abandoned running for the past few months.

i've noticed that these intense periods of intellectual labor and stress seem to drive people to become either fit or slovenly.

fit: one of my girlfriends has been studying for her three area exams this semester and has been running. she now runs between 4-6 miles three to four times a week. a fellow dissertater in colorado is running and training for a triathalon!

slovenly: unfortunately, i fall into this category. imagine working at a coffeeshop in the morning. sitting and writing (or trying to) for a few hours, drinking well-sugared coffee and maybe a piece of coffeecake. haven't gone grocery shopping for weeks and so i choose to eat out for lunch. i go to another coffeehouse in the afternoon. more coffee. maybe a cookie. more hours in front of the computer. dinner out. repeat every day with the occasional exception of teaching a class.

after far too many cups of coffee and far too many cookies, i decided to take control of my life again. i went grocery shopping. i bought fresh fruit and vegetables! organic yogurt! free range eggs! i made myself a salad. it was great.

and then i started to run again. it was not great. but it's been getting better. i ran a 5K a couple of weeks ago. it took me 31 minutes, which i think is respectable. :)

anyway, i wish that i could say i were taking control of my dissertation. i feel that it has taken more control over me than vice versa.

i wrote a paragraph today at my favorite coffeeshop. and i did not have a cookie with my coffee.


Tuesday, April 26, 2005


The past month has been, admittedly, an academic and professional misery. There have been precious few bright spots in my writing. No good news re: jobs or fellowships.

Nevertheless, I feel incredibly blessed by the people around me. There have been innumerable words of encouragement and affirmation from my family, close friends, and acquaintances. My girlfriends have comforted me through my tears more than once this month. Others have recommended interim job possibilities. Offered words of faith. Told me that my ethnography was like poetry. Gifted chocolate! Made me a personalized CD. :) Today my sister sent me a recipe for fried plantains, assuring me that it would make me feel better.

I count all of these things as blessings. And know that this is the sweetness of community.


Monday, April 25, 2005

breaking news

It seems that all of the breaking news that happens in April is bad news for me.

I finally received my rejection letter from the University of Minnesota today. I gave my job talk a little over two months ago. Because it had been so long, I really had assumed that they had given the position to someone else. But there was something jarring about receiving the letter. The our-call-for-applications-produced-a-rich-and-diversely-qualified-group-of-candidates letter. The we-regret-to-inform-you letter.

I thought it odd that I get the generic rejection letter, but then noticed that there was a special section at the end - a couple of sentences that let me know that they were happy to have met me and privileged to learn about my work. They wish me success as I begin what they are sure will be a successful career.

I wonder if all successful careers have such rocky beginnings. I wonder if they are all characterized by such profound self-doubt. I wonder if my successful career will actually be as a barista at Starbucks.