my first experience with guadalupe faithful was in salamanca, guanajuato eleven years ago. sure, i'd been exposed to the cultural guadalupanas--the chicana feminist writers who also called her tonantzín and the chicana artists who rendered her as the statue of liberty or as a black belt in karate. but that year in salamanca i found myself with mexican men, women, and children who exhibited their faith in a more traditional sense.
my relatives in salamanca picked me up from the bus depot (i had just arrived from guadalajara), shuttled me to their house to leave my things, and then ushered me back into the car so that we could drive to the church in el centro. i gently tried to explain to them that i was tired, that i really wanted to rest; they brushed aside my weak protests as if i had not made them at all. it was december 11th, after all, the eve of el día de la virgen de guadalupe.
in el centro in front of the church, we joined a growing crowd. one of my cousins bought me a carton of fresas con crema while we waited. they explained to their culturally illiterate pocha cousin that the peregrinación would begin at midnight. we would walk together, carrying an image of la virgen and singing to another church, where there would be more singing, food, and festivities.
i admit. i didn't really get it. it was midnight, and i was tired. and what was this holiday? (yes, i really am that much of a pocha). but i resigned myself to participate with my family. i participated in the procession along with hundreds of other people, holding high the image of la virgen and faking the songs that i could.
years later, i would learn about the cultural/religious significance of la virgen de guadalupe, that she appeared to an indigenous man, the now-sainted juan diego, and because she herself is brown-skinned, like the thousands of her faithful. in many ways, she helped to bridge the gap between the spanish colonizers and the indigenous people of mexico.
but that night, at some point during the peregrinación i started to feel soothed. in the company of the crowd of faithful people, marching along under a blue black sky and orange street lights, i started to feel her significance. that night i experienced a bit of a revelation as to why miguel hidalgo called for the independence carrying her banner and why, 150 years later, césar chávez marched for farm worker rights carrying her banner, as well.
that night, i understood a tiny piece of the history that i couldn't have learned without having experienced it.
i'm glad that my c0usins dragged me, tired and a little bitter, to that peregrinación. it was a good night to be out in the streets of mexico with family, compatriotas, and little miracles.
sometime in the middle of graduate school someone told me that i should attend my discipline's professional conference every year to present my research. i don't know why i listened to that person except that maybe i just wanted to go to new orleans, which is where it was held that particular year.
that year i remember that i arrived in new orleans just a few hours before i was supposed to present my paper. i checked into a nice hotel (i could afford it because i was sharing a room with three other people) and ran, in the rain, to the conference hotel. i had been anxiety-ridden about my paper, thinking that it wasn't "theoretical" enough for the high brow anthro crowd. when i arrived at the room where my panel would be presenting, however, i realized that i had nothing to worry about. only about seven people had shown up to see the panel; most of them were friends.
i spent the next day watching panels i found pretty predictable and a little bit boring. the following day, a friend and i decided to play hooky and go sightseeing in new orleans. we walked around the french quarter, poked around the shops, ate beignets at cafe du mond, and we went salsa dancing at the end of the night. i was thrilled to bump into ruth behar on the dance floor (she is quite a dancer, by the way). i wondered if someday a grad student would be thrilled to run into me on a dance floor at the anthropology conference.
since that first experience, the anthropology conference has come to mean different things to me. it has meant presenting my research and hearing others present theirs. for a couple of stressful years, it also meant enduring the university job interviews.
this year was different. i felt compelled to go so that i could "network" and maybe get some good advice about how to spend my next few years as a junior professor. i'm not that great at networking, but i did talk to some people who did give me some helpful advice. actually the advice was all the same--"write!" and then one of my friends peer pressured me into talking to some university press editors about my non-existent book manuscript (thanks, ronda!). i admit that i felt a little overwhelmed by the weekend, which is probably why i said yes to a night of mojitos and dancing the last evening of the conference.
now, back in california, i am winding down the quarter and preparing for the holidays. i am processing all of the advice, but tucking away my big academic ambitions for the new year.
during the middle of last week i found myself staring into the eyes of a deadline. this fall i'm applying for postdoctoral fellowships so that i can take some time off of teaching to write my book.
of coruse, every application requires a statement of research. these essays usually require you to say, very succinctly, what is your project, what is the status of your research, what you will be doing during your time on the fellowship, and why your project is important (its significance).
i confess that i've been struggling with the fellowship applications. i think that because i've let go of my writing (no blogging, no journaling, certainly no academic writing) i'm having a difficult time articulating my project. i frequently find myself at an utter loss for words.
deadline looming, i found myself that day agonizing over each phrase of my statement of my research and plagued by self-doubt. suddenly my phone rang. i saw from the caller ID that it was a woman i know from south texas.
she is an artist and gallery manager in the rio grande valley that i met recently because of a paper i wrote about border art. though we most often talk about art, she has also expressed an interest in my research in south texas, because my field site is her home town. in fact, a couple of months ago, she asked if she could have a copy of my dissertation to reference for a paper she was writing.
that day on the phone she told me that she had read my dissertation and had been "riveted." my jaw dropped. first of all, the only people that have read my entire dissertation (apart from my committee members) have been my dad and joseph. second of all, riveted?
she told me that she recognized the people and the stories that i had written and said that it was great to see it all laid out in an academic paper. she shared some anecdotes about her experiences with some of the issues that i speak to in my research. her main reason for calling, however, was to brainstorm about how some of the concepts that i cover in my dissertation could be extended and/or translated to some of the art projects that she is currently undertaking.
what serendipity that as i was writing about my project in south texas, a woman from there should call me and tell me that my work was good and meaningful.
i wish that i could say that after the phone call, all the right words came to mind and that i wrote a brilliant research proposal, but no. it was still a long couple days of writing and revision. nonetheless, i was encouraged and felt a little more faith in myself that afternoon.
i've never been an athlete. i was not an AYSO kid, though as a child i did try a couple of seasons of softball, unsuccessfully. nevertheless, for the past five years or so, i've been making an effort to be more active.
i started to run, really run, at the beginning of 2003. i ran five days a week through a balmy south texas winter and an oppressively humid south texas summer. when i moved to santa barbara, running along the ocean, breathing in the cool, salty air felt like a gift. the next year, back in texas, my new running paths were the winding, tree-lined streets in my east austin neighborhood.
in austin, one of my girlfriends--a more hardcore runner than i ever was--encouraged me to register for races with her. we started with a 5K, which was very manageable for me; my 30-40 minute morning runs always covered three miles or more. by the end of 2005, she had me convinced to run a 10K with her. i trained for several weeks, and finished respectably. i didn't win any medals, but i felt good/strong afterward.
the following spring i trained for a triathlon. ultimately, i wasn't able to compete because of an injury, but i felt confident that i could have completed the swim/bike/run course.
a year and a half later, i find that i am utterly. out. of. shape.
a few weeks ago, i decided that i needed to start running--really running--again. i found a 5K scheduled for mid-november, and began to train, albeit half-heartedly and haphazardly. i don't think i ran more than two and a half miles at any one time. nevertheless, i showed up this morning bright and early (early, at least) to the race site, ready to run.
those 3.1 miles were a little bit excruciating, especially with the hills along the race course. i was trying to keep pace with a 60-year old woman, but she sprinted ahead of me. i decided to just keep running, even if it was at a snail's pace. thirty six minutes after i began, i mercifully crossed the finish line. i can't believe that just a year and a half ago, i was running three miles AFTER swimming half a mile and biking twelve!
something tells me it's going to be a long road back.
several years ago, joseph read the book, rain of gold, by victor villaseñor. it's a beautifully written book that tells the story of both sides of villaseñor's family, their travails in mexico, their migrations north, and, finally, how his father and mother come together. when joseph read this book, he was inspired to further explore chicano literature. this "exploration" led him to build a veritable library of chicano/a studies books.
we found out just the night before the victor villaseñor would be speaking at the chicano cultural center in riverside. it was a long day for me. i had to teach, meet with a student, write a postdoc application (yes, i procrastinated; it was due by 5PM). but we couldn't miss the opportunity to see victor villaseñor speak.
he was a great speaker, every bit the storyteller that i expected, but he was also very spiritual and motivational. by the end of the evening, he had also all yelling that we were "burro geniuses." burros, because we were tough; geniuses because we were intuitive and would listen to our hearts.
after a very long day of teaching and writing, too much trying to be smart, it was comforting to know that i might be able to rely on my burra genius.
throughout the past eight years, i've taught several classes, hundreds of students. i probably wouldn't recognize some of those students if i passed them on the street, but some have made definite impressions on me. i've enjoyed talking to students about, not just course materials, but their life plans and hopes for their futures. i particularly appreciate my interactions with mexican american young women. i know how few chicana professors there are in academia, and am glad to be able to "role model" and mentor when those opportunities present themselves.
this past week, one of my students came to my office hours and reprimanded me for not taking a strong political stance on a particular issue that came up in class. she said something like, "as a chicana professor, students look up to you," and that i should be educating them about these particular political issues.
over the past few days, i've gone through feeling guilt for not measuring up to this student's expectations. did i make a major political misstep? have i alienated my students? i then began to feel indignant that this young woman would would tell me what my responsibilities are "as a chicana professor." i've thought about things that i could have said to her, ways that i could have perhaps better defended myself. but honestly, i'll probably never be able to make her understand where i've been and what it's actually like to be a chicana professor (one of four on campus). i am still annoyed at her self-righteousness.
today another mexican american young woman came into my office hours. she and i had a nice conversation about the novel that we are reading in class, her hopes for graduate school, some worries that she has about her family, and her dreams of traveling around the world with her husband. it was a nice moment.
i know that i'm not a perfect professor, but that moment reminded me what i love about teaching--those very simple connections with students in our conversations about books and culture and life. those connections make everything else--the research and writing, the university politics--worthwhile.
though we are already well into fall, this afternoon felt like early summer, the sun bright and beaming on the students and community members participating in the día de los muertos festivities. joseph and i stopped by to see the dancers and the altars that the students made for the event. the heat pushed us back to my office after only a short while.
this is the beginning of my second year as a professor here; the first was a blur of new classes and professional activity. the second promises to be less blur, more work and responsibility. our faculty has been busy developing a new Ph.D. program, which is exciting, but requires a lot of faculty meetings and also time apart to develop new graduate seminars. we're also conducting a search for a new faculty member, and, i volunteered to be on the committee (clearly, in some moment of delirium). also, this year i'm having my first review. fun times all around.
it feels like forever ago that i was a graduate student. in fact, it was two years ago today that i defended my dissertation. i thought that defending on día de los muertos might be some kind of omen. but really, i was just desperate to defend before my 30th birthday, which was just two days afterward. ultimately, it was good timing. those few days in 2005 between el día de los muertos and my birthday marked the end of one stage of my life and the beginning of another.
two years later, another day of the dead, another birthday, and i'm well into that other stage of life. it's not quite as i imagined it. after all those years i spent cultivating a life and an identity in graduate school, i'd forgotten what it meant to be in something new. i'd forgotten that new beginnings could be so difficult and so uncertain.
it's been ominous living in southern california over the past week. last weekend it was the wind, shaking the windows and howling afternoons and evenings. it spooked me. things started to get progressively worse, however, when the winds, coupled with the dry weather, started to spread fires.
at first, i didn't think much of the wildfires. it is "fire season," after all. but then they were spreading, and soon it seemed that all of southern california was burning.
the skies were dull shades of brown and grey, and the sun filtered through the clouds, casting an eerie red light. joseph and i found ourselves having difficulty breathing after being outside for short periods of time, with coughing, and sore throats (it's worse for him because he has asthma). we joked that it was like nuclear winter. ha.
but we've been lucky. i've watched the media coverage of the fires in san diego county, shocked at the evacuations and the destruction. today i read about a couple who survived a fire that consumed their house by jumping into their swimming pool. and then immigrants who died in the fires while trying to cross through canyons along the border. i've been thinking about the fact that though the fires strike indiscriminately, it'll be easier for the wealthy families in southern california to rebuild and resume life as normal. but what is normal for an immigrant trying to cross the border?
i'm relieved that the fires are being contained and that the smoke is beginning to clear. i'll be grateful when i can finally take a breath of fresh air, which, in southern california, is not normal at all.
we used to watch the wonder years religiously in my household. perhaps the reason i enjoyed it so much was because i was in junior high around that same time, experiencing all the same pre-adolescent angst as kevin.
during one episode of the wonder years, kevin participated in a walk out to protest the vietnam war. it made your heart swell to see the students stand up in the middle of their classes, march to the fictitious football field, and begin to sing, "give peace a chance." i wanted to be that kind of american. to stand up for something righteous like peace.
peace was the last thing that we experienced on our junior high playground. there were fights. mexican boys who were bused in from the neighborhoods where my cousins lived. white boys who lived in my neighborhood. there would be a sudden rush of bodies running, trampling toward the scuffle. their fists--brown and white--would fly until some adult caught up, intervened. broke it up.
one morning shorlty after i arrived at school, my cheerleader friend, amee, rushed over to meet me.
"jennifer," she said. "are you going to participate in the walk out?"
amee excitedly explained to me that monica was organizing a walkout. everyone was talking about it.
"what are we protesting?" i asked. (after seeing the wonder years, i knew that a walk out had to hold some higher purpose than just ditching).
"i don't know," she confessed. "let's ask monica."
monica was surrounded by curious junior highers. we made our way into her innercircle, and amee asked what we would be protesting.
monica informed us that thursday at 10AM we were all going to get up out of our seats, walk out of our classrooms, and proceed to the empty field across the street from the school. we were going to stay there until "they made the mexicans go back to where they belong."
i turned away, stunned, while monica remained to instruct her eager disciples. amee followed me, put her hand on my shoulder and said, "she didn't mean you, jennifer."
"i know she didn't mean me."
"so are you doing to go?"
that week it was somehow permissible for all of my white friends to say incredibly racist things in our casual conversations. walking home from school one day, josh says the group, "why can't those mexicans just go back to where they came from?"
"josh!" i said, "i'm mexican!"
"but you're not THAT kind of mexican."
that kind of mexican. i knew what he meant. he meant that i wasn't a working class mexican. i didn't take the bus from the other side of town. i didn't dress like them. i didn't talk like them. but if i wasn't that kind of mexican, certainly my cousins were. certainly my parents used to be. my family. and they are part of me.
the walk out never happened. the rumors made their way to the administration, and they called a meeting of student "leaders" (e.g., student council members, football players, cheerleaders) to ask us not to participate. they made public warnings that any students who participated would be punished.
a newscrew showed up on the day that it was supposed to occur. but there was nothing. the evening news showed footage of an empty and silent schoolyard. an interview with a red-faced prinicpal wringing his hands, saying, "we do not have a race problem here."
i've told this story countless times over the past twenty years. most recently, i recounted it to a woman who is writing her dissertation about the educational experiences of chicana ph.d.s. i'm not sure if she'll find that i'm similar to or different from the other women in her sample. i think this story shows that i grew up mexican and middle class, which placed me in the sometimes uncomfortable space between "white middle class" and "mexican working class."
honestly, it's an identity that i've struggled with for years. and it's motivated most of my educational and professional endeavors. to research and write about mexican/mexican american experiences in the united states. it doesn't always make my heart swell, but it's an endeavor that i am proud of.
pete tagged me with this one. i was counting how many sentences i have to begin with "i am," and notice that each person i've read who has done this meme has done a different number. that makes me a little crazy. i need a template, people!
i am sitting on my very comfortable red couch, feet propped up on the coffee table that my brother donated to me, listening to the evening traffic rumble along outside my window.
i am, according to pete, la cantante maravillosa. when i saw that he was tagging "la cantante maravillosa," i wondered, "who's she?" thanks, pete. it was a great party.
i am waiting for joseph to iron his clothes, so that we can have our evening chat. these are our rituals. :)
i am promising myself that i will get up early and go to the gym tomorrow morning. i have washed all of my athletic apparel, so i have no excuses.
i am going to read the articles that i assigned to my class tonight, so that i don't have to have as stressful a wednesday as i usually do. students are not the only ones who procrastinate.
i am sad that it is tuesday, and there will be no new episode of the gilmore girls. ever again.
i am glad that i've been able to spend each weekend of the past month with family and friends in bakersfield, austin, and LA!
i am looking forward to the end of the quarter. very much.
i am looking forward to going to cancun in a few weeks.
i am a bad blogger. i think i'm averaging two posts a month these days (including memes!).
i am also turning out to be a bad writer (in terms of academic writing). but hopefully i can turn that around this summer.
last time i wrote i was poised to begin the quarter; now i'm muddling through the middle. when i say "muddling," i can point to the fact that i have twelve student papers in bag, begging to be graded. *sigh* and then there are the student emergencies and excuses--so many in such a short period of time! i'm still trying to figure out how to be compassionate and also fair.
fortunately, there are some better aspects of being a professor. tonight, for example, i was invited to be a judge for a chicano/a talent show. it was great to see a different aspect of the students' lives. some performed spoken word poetry, others performed music that they had composed; there were dancers and singers. i was happy to have a part in it, though it was difficult to judge!
in any event, i am five weeks away from the end of my first year as a professor. so far i've managed to keep my head above water. next year i hope to progress from treading water to swimming. even if it's just dog paddling. ;)
tomorrow is the first day of the new quarter for me.
i feel like winter quarter just ended. and it did! job talks and meetings up until the last day of finals week. final grades due the tuesday of spring break.
and here i am, a week later, contemplating whether or not i should do a bit more work on my syllabus before i go to sleep. no, i have not finished the syllabus. yes, i did say that the first day of class is tomorrow. surely there are other professor procrastinators out there.
part of it is procrastination, but part of it is just that i feel like i'm being trampled underneath the quarter system: ten weeks of fall quarter, two weeks of vacation. ten weeks of winter, one of week of vacation. ten weeks of spring. then, mercifully, summer. for research and writing and all the other things i should be doing all year along to maintain my professional standing.
there is so much more time within a semester system. fifteen full weeks of a semester. four weeks of vacation. fifteen more weeks of spring semester interrupted by a week for spring break and then a full summer. i miss that (seemingly luxurious) rhythm.
oh i know that all the 8AM to 5PM workers hold no sympathy. it's a flexible job and i do have a lot of time "off." but, as an academic, do you ever feel like you're "off." i feel like i'm always thinking about what i should be doing, even if i'm not actually doing it. case in point, i obediently brought several books with me to bakersfield over spring break. i only cracked a few open, but they were just sitting in my room, making me feel guilty about what i could/should be doing.
like tonight. blogging but knowing that i could/should be working on the syllabus. and when i dream tonight, it will surely be about immigration and the history of chicano/as. *sigh*
during the fall quarter, i kept thinking, this is it? this is what it means to be a professor? i was teaching, putting off my writing, and thinking that the life of a professor was not much different from being a graduate student.
i was mistaken.
we've had departmental meetings almost every other week this quarter, focusing on merits and promotions. that is, we have to evaluate the files of our fellow faculty and decide whether or not they are worthy of promotion. needless to say, i feel less than qualified to be making these decisions. and i'm terrified of my own review, which will take place this coming october/november.
in addition to the meetings, there have been the job searches. my department isn't recruiting, but there are searches in other departments that could mean joint appointments with us. that means that i've been attending job talks, meeting with candidates, and debriefing with other faculty members on whether or not we think that they would be a good "fit" for our department.
(can i just say how different it is to be on the other side of the job/interview process?)
all of these "extracurricular" activities make up the "service" component of my job. the third thing upon which i'll be judged when it comes time for tenure--research, teaching, and service.
so now i know. and i'm tired! but i have six more years to go. and yes, i have already been told that the clock is ticking (the tenure clock, not the other one!).
when you earn your ph.d., one of your biggest feats is producing a dissertation. most dissertations range between two and three hundred pages. it seems that, on average, people take between one and three years to write them.
i started writing my dissertation on fellowship in santa barbara. my only obligation during my first five months as a fellow there was to write. and so, i would get up every morning with writing in mind. on good days, i would go for a brisk run along the coast. i would drive to a coffeeshop, obediently toting along my laptop, which, in those days, did not have wireless capacity. i would order a cup of coffee, and i would write.
my goal was to write three pages a day, five days a week. some days, i would reach my writing goal in one hour. other days it would take me four. some days i spent revising. most days i drank several cups of coffee.
it was an extremely productive time for me. i didn't have any friends in santa barbara. some days the only people i would speak to in person were my baristas. sometimes i think i ordered a second and third cup of coffee for the brief human contact it would allow me.
though isolating, writing on fellowship was a luxury.
after i finished the diss, i decided that i deserved a break. a year passed. in that time, i was productive in other ways--mostly teaching. but still no writing. and now this lack of writing is beginning to matter.
last year i gave up red meat for lent. it was a minor sacrifice. other years i have given up cookies, sweets, etc. they've mostly been food items, now that i think about it. they always feel like small inconveniences during the lenten period.
it's my understanding that these sacrifices (or small inconveniences) are supposed to make a person reflect on what it means to do without. i think that the act of giving something up is also meant to serve as a kind of atonement for sins that we feel we have committed (ways that we have behaved badly over the past year).
i have to confess that many years, lent has served as a kind of "diet" rather than a time for true spiritual reflection.
this year, i'm not giving anything up (except, of course, for requisite meat-free fridays). instead i'm going to try to attend extra masses and other kinds of spiritually reflective exercises. i hope that it serves less as a diet and more as a way to slow down and reflect on my life direction and ways that i can attempt to be a better human being.
la rebelde tagged me with this one. it was hard to think of things that people don't already know about me. i'm kind of an open book. this public blog probably indicates the openness of my life's book.
but! here goes (by the way, i'm writing this instead of an article that i should be working on):
1. i've had one black eye in my life. it was sometime during my early years of elementary school. my cousin vicky was a tomboy; she loved to be outside, climbing trees, running around. i was more of the stay-inside, nerdy, bookish type. she wanted to go out and play, and i wanted to stay inside and read my book. she tried to take my book away, i held on, a struggle ensued, and i came out with a black eye.
2. from second through sixth grade i was a serious competitor in the local catholic schools annual spelling bee. i won first place in second and third grade. in fourth and fifth, i came in second to bernadette r., who attended a rival school. in sixth grade, we were--again--the last two standing at the spelling bee. and i beat her. she missed the word "craftsmen."
3. my favorite kind of sandwich growing up was banana and mayonnaise. it was my mom's invention. i think that she had it once when she was growing up, and thought that i might like it. and i did! i haven't tried it in years, but it still sounds appealing to me.
4. my secret dream is to become a mariachi singer. but i don't know the words to many of the rancheras that i love. so this dream would take some work. and shouldn't dreams, by nature, not entail work?
5. my latest favorite TV show is everwood. it has been following the gilmore girls in syndication on abc family. almost every episode makes me cry. but i'm kind of a crybaby, so maybe that's not too surprising.
kind of random, but there you have it.
i tag joseph! let's see if he can come up with five things i don't know about him. ;)
yesterday i decided to break away from the IE and meet up with a couple of girlfriends in LA. they took me to check out the shops and such around silver lake. it seemed kind of like a hipster part of town with lots of funky shops and restaurants. it reminded me a lot of austin actually.
we were perusing the silver lake cheese shop, and i was looking for subjects for my project 365 endeavor. i took a pic of cheese and a random sign before i decided to snap a picture of these cute little girls keeping company with their dogs.
a few minutes later, k. and v. came out of the cheese shop, and we started to make our way to the next store when, all of sudden, dr. alex korev of grey's anatomy fame crossed in front of us! he was taller and skinnier than he is on television, but it was definitely korev.
i blinked a few times as he called these two little girls--his daughters!--to go with him to the next shop. i was still clutching my camera in one hand, and he turned and looked at me (i was trying, probably unsuccessfully, not to stare). i could have sworn that he saw my camera and hurried his daughters into the next store.
i chose the following poem by Teresa Acosta because i relate to the poem's protagonist. those of you who know me know that i love to dance, and, though my tacones are not always the most comfortable, a good baile is always worth it.
Epiphemia mentions that her tacones are worn sheer through the core. She rubs her palms against them, feeling their rough edges, their protruding nails.
Pero no hay porque temer. Epiphemia will still make it to the baile. She has a lot more pairs del Payless in her closet.
She thinks instead about the new Little Joe CD and the weekend debut of his nuevo hits. Her tacones will mark their beat on the dance floor, doing neither the flamenco nor the folklorico.
Instead she'll pound the tacuachito across its length and width this Saturday night. For her tacones are primed to grip the floor. They will slide and ride the fine thread that strings los meros meros together.
this afternoon i picked up a large yellow envelope marked CONFIDENTIAL from my faculty mailbox. the return address indicated that it had been sent to me by the vice provost.
my faculty chair caught me as i was walking out of the office and remarked, motioning to the yet unopened envelope, that i was the first person to receive her teaching evaluations from last quarter.
"you did very well!" he said.
i was a little surprised since the letter said "confidential" and all, but it's logical that he--my boss--should also receive a copy of the evals.
usually, i wait until i'm in a room all by myself to open the envelope holding my teaching evaluations, but, since i'd already be pre-judged, i opened them as i was walking up the stairwell to my office.
he's right. i did well.
i'm always paranoid about evaluations, because inevitably there will be some student who will say that you are disorganized or that you talk too much or are an unfair grader or that you are a narcissist. (everyone gets those comments, right?).
these comments weren't bad. one students did remark that i say "ummmmmm" too much. hmph.
in any event, these evaluations come at a good time for me. i'm having a hard time teaching this quarter. it's a new class for me, and i have been feeling a bit like i'm floundering to make my most basic points. and i have yet to be able to fill an entire hour and a half time period (except for today, because, mercifully, i was able to show a film).
hopefully the ego boost will help. or, ummmmmmmm, maybe not.
this evening i have been obediently reading for class tomorrow, but must confess that i have taken frequent breaks. one of those breaks was to turn on the golden globe awards just within moments of américa ferrera accepting the award for best actress in a television comedy/musical.
honestly, i hadn't paid much attention to the golden globes this year. i hadn't even realized that américa had been nominated. but when i heard her name along with felicity huffman, julia louise dreyfuss, and a couple of other seasoned actresses, i just crossed my fingers and said a quick, "please, please please." and she won!
i'm thrilled for her. i think that she is a beautiful young woman and a talented actress. i love the roles that she has chosen, and i love that she is role model of intelligence and beauty for latinas and all young women within the realm of popular culture.
as a single woman, when choosing a place to live, i try to be careful. i ask around for neighborhoods that are "quiet" and "safe." i want to feel at ease in my neighborhood, in the place where i make my home, even if the rent is a little more expensive. i don't want to be a woman who feels she has to sleep with one eye open, so to speak.
i felt satisfied with my choice here in southern california. i felt like i had done sufficient research about this neighborhood, which is, conveniently, within two miles of where i work. i have felt at ease here by myself.
until this afternoon. i was stopped at the intersection before the turnoff into my apartment complex and noticed a police car tearing into my parking lot. since i was on my way home, i didn't have much of a choice but to follow him.
the police car and two other unmarked police vehicles were parked within 500 yards of my parking space. i saw one cop pull on his bullet proof vest and the other two hovering around the corner of one of the buildings in my complex. as i got out of my car and headed to my apartment--which was, thankfully, in the opposite direction--i turned around and noticed the officer with his hand on his holster, peering around the corner of the apartment.
i rushed into my apartment and deadbolted the door, curled up on my couch, and talked to joseph (we'd been talking on the phone throughout this whole ordeal). after a while, i ventured out onto my balcony and saw one of the police officers take his vest off, get in his SUV, and leave.
i let out a sigh of relief and returned to the comfort of my solitary and safe couch.
i didn't really make any new year's resolutions this year. of course, along with the rest of america, i vowed to eat better and exercise more. i identified some other things that i have to do to move further along in my professional career, but i'm not sure if those are "resolutions," or just things that i have to do to keep my job!
a few weeks ago, i came across this blogsite. i'm not a photographer (my dad holds that honor in our family), but i do like to document events in my life. i've kept a journal religiously since i was sixteen years old. i've kept this blog--not as religiously--partially to document my thoughts over a period of time. project 365 seems like a natural extension of this instinct to document parts of my life. this time through pictures.
i am now obediently carrying my camera around wherever i go just in case a kodak moment presents itself. aside from my obvious limitations as a photographer, i have encountered two major problems. the first is that i find that i am shy to take pictures of people, in front of people, etc. the second problem is subject matter! what is photographically relevant? since i still don't have much of a social network here (read: very few friends), i find myself searching for inaminate objects to photograph. i wonder if that will become boring after a while. i wonder if it already is! but they are supposedly representative of some aspect of my life...
in any event, i've been posting pictures on flickr every day so far (only five days, i know!). it'll be interesting to see what pictures emerge over the next several weeks.
after a very restful and rejuvenating christmas break in bakersfield, today i found myself scrambling to prepare for the new quarter.
i suppose it's a good thing i didn't resolve not to procrastinate this year!
i'm nervous because i'll be teaching a new course this quarter. when i was at texas, i taught the same two courses over and over again. they were lower division courses that weren't necessarily the first choices for faculty members to teach. as a grad student and then as a lecturer, i was happy to teach them, and, after some time, i think that i got pretty good at teaching them. i had all my materials assembled, my lectures ready, all of which i updated as needed.
last quarter, my chair allowed me to teach one of the courses that i had taught so many times at texas. it was his way of helping me transition to my new university.
but now i find myself in the middle of something new. i'm excited to teach a different course, but i find that i'm not nearly as confident as i had been over the past few years. surely part of this nervousness stems from the fact that i'll have to write completely new lectures this quarter even as i gather new materials for instruction.
another, more familiar, part of my anxiety is becoming accustomed to a new group of students. i always worry that they'll be unfriendly, which seems like a silly worry, especially since i am, after all, their teacher. they should be worried that i'll be unfriendly, right?
in any event, tomorrow is the first day of school. wish me luck.