September 30, 2007

Paul Newman is uber creative

I've been a fan of Newman's Own Salad Dressing for a couple years now, after they served it at the summer camp I worked at a few summers ago. It's not particularly because of the taste; they taste fine.

It's the picture of Paul Newman dressed up in different outfits depending on what type of dressing he's selling. Seeing that mock statue of his head as Cesaer makes me happy every time I pull the dressing out of my fridge. I couldn't find a picture of the French dressing, but let's just say it involves a beret. He's Cesaer, he's on a tropical island, he's on a ranch... What can't Newman do?

I've always wanted to be one of those angsty old women. You know, one of those ones that yells at misbehaving kids and is feisty about something random, like the signs on park benches. I was thisclose to being one this summer. I worked at a day camp this summer, and my campers were 6 or 7, so pretty young - first and second graders. We were at a roller rink and it was almost time to go so we were rounding the kids up. I checked the bathroom and when I waiting for a camper inside, I could hear these older kids talking shit outside by the water fountain. They were swearing, being catty and they were only 13 or 14, middle school or early high school at the latest. I knew one of my kids was standing in line at the water fountain and she didn't need to hear that. I just wanted to give those girls disapproving looks and tell them they needed to watch their language around young kids and I'd smack them back into the stone age if I heard another peep out of them. Unfortunately, some OTHER mother did the same thing before I had the chance. Damn, I was so excited to be able to tell those middle school kids off. Maybe it was all the little kids around, but there's no excuse for middle school kids being bratty in public. Jeeze, they can be little shits to their parents. Anyway, I'm really looking forward to more opportunities to yell at kids for misbehaving when their parents aren't around.

I decided I was going to try two new things: 1. drink more water and less soda and 2. use the voice that I have.

1. Drink more water and less soda.
Soda is flavored sugar water while water is just non flavored no sugar water. Plus it was cheaper. I don't like paying for bottled water because it seems silly that I should pay for something I can get from my kitchen for (virtually) free. and it's pretty much the same water. However, I keep forgetting my water bottle in my fridge, so then I buy one from the refectory. Since I'm also trying to be more ecologically conscious, I feel bad throwing away a water bottle I just bought. So I bring it home, fill it up with water and put it in my fridge. By now I have probably 6 or 7 bottles of water in my fridge in addition to my hard plastic water bottles. I just feel bad throwing away water bottles when I know they're not very recyclable. Plus Yale has it's own bottled water center so it seems like Yale will plaster their name over anything and sell it for 20% more. If they figure they can do it with degrees, why not bottled water?

2. Use my voice.
I hear about a lot of political issues every day - I do read the news - and I always get pissed off when something doesn't go the way I want it to. But then I think about it, and I didn't really do much beyond keep myself informed. I didn't write anyone to tell them I liked or disliked their actions or tell anyone about what I thought, or anything. So I have little right to be angsty over outcomes when I didn't do my part. So along with drinking more water, I've decided to take a part in speaking up. I went to a documentary this summer on sex education in the Minnesota Senate, and one thing the filmmaker said was that very few people let their representatives know how they feel on issues. If politicians don't know how their constituents feel on specific issues, how are they going to accurately represent them? One politician said not one of his constituents told him they were for the sex ed bill. I'm sure he didn't ask everyone, and it seems we always just assume that someone else is doing the speaking for us. I'm sure at least one person in his district was for comprehensive sex education. So I've decided that I need to let people know how I feel about the decisions they're making that affects my life and the lives of the people I care about. The first e-mail I sent was to the mayor of San Diego.

I'm not a very public person in issues of my personal life. I'm very transparent on how I feel with Andrew because well, he's the one concerned; everyone else gets a fairly opaque view of my relationship because honestly, it's not their business. I'll share if I want to. It's mostly my mom I share with and even then I'm tight lipped. However, Andrew and I were talking online the other day about some of the people I've dated in the past and saying everything about them all at once made me realize I dated some real assholes. It wasn't like I found out anything new about any of them, but listing one after another added up to a lot of douchebags who didn't put me first, or second, or third, or fourth, or fifth. I can only think of one person I dated before Andrew who I still even remotely like and I suppose it's because he was generally nice through the whole time we saw each other. It's sad when being nice is a plus as opposed to a given. Anyway, the trip down memory lane sucked and hurt but made me appreciate Andrew even more. I'm very excited to see him in 4 days. He's one of the good guys.

The first thirty seconds of this song are awesome: The State of Massachusetts
. P.S. I spelled Massachusetts right on the first try.

September 26, 2007

A feminist's hajj

This afternoon I made the feminist's pilgrimage to Mecca. I saw Gloria Steinem speak.

She is one of this year's Yale Chubb Fellows, which brings in well known individuals to lecture to Yale College (the undergrad school), but also to the university and community in general. It was an awesome experience, and a great lecture. She touched on a lot of issues, but her main point was that everything is related to everything else - life and issues are circular in nature. If you are a feminist, then you have to be anti-racist and anti-classism and anti-violence, ect. The way we think about equal pay affects the way we think about foreign policy affects the way we think about history affects the way we think about the death penalty, and so on. Family forms influence the type of government we have, and if we have families filled with violence, it will reflect in our government. She made a really astute statement on the current government/Republican party. Their politics on the death penalty and abortion are seemingly contradictory - but to them what matters is who makes decisions, specifically the state. Individual choice subverts. In terms of birth control and homosexual sex - they're against any sex that doesn't end in procreation.

Some other great quotes from the lecture:
"The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off."
"If racism or patriarchy has a beginning, then it has an end."
"The only real form of arms control is how we raise our children."
"Some say the end justifies the means, but the means are the end."

A fact she gave: in 1979, the average Fortune 500 CEO made 40 times the amount the average employee earned. Now, the average Fortune 500 CEO makes 424 times more than the average employee.

I went with one of my friends Sarah and it was a great time. I don't have any pictures because my camera batteries died, but my memories are enough. Until I grow senile and it's the only memory I have.

For awhile my peace lily has been wilting a bit, so I did a little internet research and guessed I've been overwatering my plant. So, I checked out the pot and yes, my plant was sitting in a pot of water. So, I have to go buy a new pot that will drain water properly. And maybe I'll find another plant that doesn't need to be drained. My apartment doesn't get a lot of natural light, and it's killing me. I love natural light, especially in the morning, and the apartment jas none of it. I think the lily is dealing with that better than I am. So when I go plant shopping in the near future, I need a low light plant that can be overwatered.

Friday I don't have any class, so I think I'm going to head over to the Peabody Museum of Natural History. I'm pretty excited to have a low key day at the museum. I've been thinking about heading over to New York in the near future and hitting up a bunch of museums there, so this in my own backyard is just as good.

Tomorrow is only one week until I come home! And only 8 days till I see Andrew!

481 days until inauguration 2009.

September 24, 2007

Living Awkwardly, issue 1

As a self-identified awkward person, I've accumulated a fair amount of knowledge and skills in passing off, or simply living with, my awkwardness. It would be cruel of me not to share this valuable information with other awkward people. It's my good deed of the day. So, here for all to share, Lindsay's Guide to Living Awkwardly.

First, what to do if you respond to someone who is speaking to another person around you. For example, I was sugaring my coffee in the refectory one morning last week and someone walked in and said hello. Not looking up, I said hello back, at which point I did look up to realize that I had no idea who the person saying hello was, and that the woman was saying hello to someone else in the room. Now, this has the potential to be a crisis. Another example: As I was walking to class this morning, someone I vaguely know, an acquaintance so to say, walked out of his building and said "Good morning." I looked towards him, the sun flashed in my eyes and I couldn't tell if he was speaking to me (the nearest person) or the person further away. As I continued on, he went to the other person and had a conversation with him - so he might have been intending the good morning for me, or for the person he had an actual conversation with. So, what does an awkward person do in situations like these? First, don't let others (those maybe not apparent of your awkwardness) know you feel/are awkward. Keep on going like the fabulous person you are. Maybe they'll mistake your awkwardness for being friendly. In the two examples above, the one this morning is easy to do like this. The first case, where I looked someone in the face and realized they weren't talking to me, wasn't as easy to play off. The rule of thumb is to not say anything more, because your rambling isn't going to help. It's just going to make you look gawky and a little senile. In worst case scenarios like this one, you evacuate. Finish your business (throw a lid on the coffee) and bolt. You can't be awkward if there's no one to be awkward around.

Another situation: You are walking right behind someone who is walking slower than you'd like them to - but there's not enough space to pass or if you do, you might have to start a conversation with them and you're in a hurry. Additionally variations include walking right behind someone who you know has the same destination but you don't want to talk to them. They meander about, shuffling down the path and you're in a hurry to run home and grab your ID card so you can buy lunch today. Here's what you do - before you can take any alternative course of action, you need to first adjust your walking pace so you won't overtake the individual, but you also won't be right on their heels. Allow some buffer space and readjust as needed, in case the person slows down more. Then, look ahead in the path to see if there's a spot where you can take a different route than this person. Try to break away as soon as possible. If you can't break away, keep a fair distance and perhaps find some distraction, in case the person does want to talk to you. If you have an mp3 player, now is the time to pull it out and use it as a reason to not talk to them while you pass. If you must make conversation, keep it brief. See the reference to rambling earlier.

As I keep being awkward, I'll let you know more of my tips.

September 20, 2007

I had my first piece of writing due today, for my Ruth and Esther class. I think it went well, but I'm excited to get it back from the professor to see her thoughts. It was a book review of a book titled Assertive Biblical Women, and from what I read, I wasn't very impressed at all. It was supposedly a book highlighting different women and their assertiveness (for good or for bad) through the Bible, but what it turned out to be was a narrative retelling of their stories with slight witty quips and commentary added in. First off, the author read WAY too much into these stories, making remarks like, "Man, Ruth was probably relieved to find out she wasn't barren! It had probably crossed her mind!" or "Vashti [the first queen in Esther] probably had a party for the women because she wanted to band together with the harem. Or maybe as a sign of solidarity against the king." I'm sorry, but personal musings on biblical texts should NOT be included in scholarly work. Maybe it was in addition to the narrative structure, but the book wasn't for a scholarly audience as the author had intended, but more for a bible study. Also, the man doesn't know how to integrate commentary. It was ridiculous! He'd write, "So-and-so gives this interesting reading of Esther..." and then quote 6-8 sentences of their work, and then move right on to the next commentator and large block of quotation. Not to mention the word choices he used were unhelpful in helping to rethink the stories in a feminist context. I found several examples of "feminine wiles" or "feminine coyness" or how the Ruth/Boaz story demonstrates a reversal of "traditional gender roles" when Ruth initiates a relationship, sexual or not, and Boaz wants to keep the interlude on the down low until he can integrate Naomi and Ruth into his posse. I'm sorry, you can claim to be a feminist all you want, but when you write in those terms it's not helping at all. It's a retelling of stories of women with sassier language. At least acknowledge it for what it is. And the most surprising part is after I finished, I read a review in a journal and it was all sunshine and flowers out of the guy's ass! I mean, did the reviewer and I even read the same book?

Anyway, I'm excited to get the review back because then I can see where my writing stands compared to grad school expectations. For Hamline, after I finished my FYSEM summer reading paper, I thought it was pretty good. Reynolds, however, disagreed and to this day, it's the only C I've earned on a paper. But it was helpful in making me realize where my writing needed improvement and how to make those changes. Reynolds is really good at setting up guidelines for revising writing and all of the structural and content-based aspects you need to look at. He's probably helped my writing/revision process most of any teacher I've had, with Polk and Thompson from high school (the bastard) coming in second and third for grammatical issues. To this day, Thompson is still one of the biggest jackass teachers I've ever had a class with, but also to this day I cringe and rewrite whenever I use the word "got," "get," or the passive voice.

From what I heard in class, I'm excited to read the book I Am, by Athalya Brenner. The book is set up around the concept of women in the Bible sitting around a table telling their stories, but also acknowledging commentary/literary pieces written about them. For example, Dinah puts her situation in terms we're used to hearing, like date rape. Mom, I think you'd like this book too.

Next week Gloria Steinem is giving a lecture downtown. The only unfortunate part is I've got NT section right until it starts. I'd never make it downtown and find a seat in time if I stayed the whole time. I'm torn between missing section, which I don't want to do, and seeing Gloria Steinem. Uuuuughhhh. There aren't many sections and it's important to go to all of them, but... Gloria Steeeiiiineeeeemmm (that was me whining). There's really only one option here, though. When am I ever going to get a chance to hear Gloria Steinem again if I miss this? Maybe again, but, maybe not. I'm sure sections won't miss me.

Tomorrow I'm going shopping for a dress for the wedding with Olivia (I had to change that from "wedding dress" to "dress for the wedding" ... could have been misleading). I'm excited and annoyed all at the same time. I'll let you know how it goes. I fly home in two weeks from today! I'm excited to see the family and Andrew especially. I've also heard rumor of a lot of people that'll be at the wedding or in town for the weekend. Some high school people (Yang, Christine, Matt Lawton), people from church (the Eberts, Grace), the Lithuanians, ect. And I think Neal is coming into town! Woo! I'm excited. Since Erich and Katie aren't having a reception, I think everyone should go to St. Brendan's Inn on Saturday and celebrate without them. At least, that's what I plan on doing. I'm also psyched to spend some time in St. Paul. I haven't seen my St. Paul family since my going away party (obviously) so I miss them. Plus I get to spend extra time with Andrew! And Kari.

Everyone should check out my brainchild: Overheard at Yale Divinity School.

September 16, 2007

A brush with Keck

I was working at the library yesterday morning - my first time working there - and in comes this old man who tried to renew his books online, but his ID wasn't working so he needed to come in and have us do, and he was looking up some articles. He was kind of bumbling and old and like Anna, I do have a special place in my heart for bumbling, cute old men. He swipes his card, and up pops his account. Leander Keck's account. Leander Keck of Paul and His Letters, Leander Keck of my Romans class and his participation in Christ's death through baptism Leander Keck. The one who Polk said wouldn't appreciate Logan calling him "Leander" as opposed to "Keck" in his reflection paper. Anyway, it was like meeting a celebrity, but a celebrity for religion majors. I didn't say anything about having read his work, and now I'm kind of regretting that, but maybe he'll come in again. I think he probably would have appreciated someone recognizing him, but I couldn't remember the name of his book that I read and by the time I did, he was already wandering around the library.

I'm conflicted. I'm not sure how I feel about that new Beatles musical movie. I want to see it because the trailer looked good, but once I found out it was a musical I got iffy. I've listened to some of the song portions on the website, and I'm not a big fan of some of them. But then, some of them I really like. I think if it just contained all Beatles songs I'd like it much better, but I guess I just have to see it. It's directed by Julie Taymor and I do think there needs to be more women directors, so I want to support that. Plus I really, really liked Frieda and she directed that. Andrew and I are going to see it when I'm home for the wedding, so huzzah. Here is the website if you want to check it out:

Um, I kinda started a fire on my stove today. But other than that, I have to get back to my reading. I really didn't do much this weekend and now I'm looking at the pile of books and kicking myself. My apartment is really cold too. I'm wearing the wool socks Anele knitted for me, and usually I don't pull those out until November. Damn northern exposure! I'll have to tell you about the stove another time, unfortunately. Oops.

September 13, 2007

My iconography professor, Jaime Lara, showed us this tower:

This tower has stood for centuries. It's not there anymore. It was destroyed by bombing in Iraq in the past few years. Thanks, George W.

I'm getting settled in with my classes and work. I had my Political Economy of Misery class on Tuesday, which looks very promising. A lot of reading, but I'm excited. The title of the course is kind of specific but yet vague. It's really about the sociology of sexism, racism, ageism, homophobia, all of those -isms that oppress, but within the realms of ethics and religion. Prof. Townes is a womanist ethicist - or ethics through the lens of women of color. I think my favorite part about the syllabus is that in our group presentations we're required to include specific actions. We're going to talk about these things in theory and academia, but we also have to give specific ways to remedy, make changes and put our work out into the general public. It seems like a nice change from theoretically talking about all the ills of society but leaving it at that.

I had my first day of work today at Holy Grounds, the coffee shop in the commuter lounge at YDS. It's super laid back. The big excitement of the day was a new piece for the new espresso machine came in - which means that we don't have to keep using the old machine for espresso shots and the new machine for steaming the milk AND we can make more than one shot at a time. So excitement abound. The job's nice because I get to drink coffee and read and occasionally make people drinks. I'm a big fan so far. Saturday morning I have my first shift at my other job, the YDS library. I've always wanted to work at a library, ever since middle school. Now I get to. I'm excited. Andrew's excited. Apparently geeks everywhere have mad crushes on librarians, so good for me. I've got about 8 hours a week at the library and 5 hours at the coffee shop.

I come home three weeks from today!

September 9, 2007

One week down, 103 left to go.

I live at the top of a hill. A pretty steep hill, at that too. When I sit at my desk, I face out the window which can be great. I can see the foot traffic; I can look down the adjacent street and watch individual trees begin to change colors already (there's one with yellow leaves maybe three trees in from the intersection). However, this also has the potential to be distracting. Particularly when it comes to bicyclists. One of my new favorite past times is watching people ride their bikes up this ridiculously steep hill. My room is near the top when it's beginning to even out, so most riders are pretty tired by this point. Some walk, but a few ride on, slowly pushing their pedals to the ground. I enjoy watching them ride because it's so steep and I'm a bit of an asshole, but it's also nice to watch people stick it out and make it all the way. Not that those who get off to walk are lame (I'm looking at you, Rubin), but by the time they get to my window, they're so close to the point where gravity takes over and their job involves just hitting the brakes.

Classes started this week, and I'm enjoying mine a lot. I've been to three of them so far; one only meets on Tuesdays so we haven't met yet. I have New Testament Interpretation, Iconography of Christian Art, Gender, Sex and Power in Ruth and Esther, and the Political Economy of Misery (the one I haven't been to). My advisor, Serene Jones, thought it was a great schedule and I'm liking it as well. I've already started to look at classes for next semester (nerd alert), but I suppose I should at least get to midterms before I start thinking too seriously about it.

I'm very excited about the Ruth and Esther class just because it's smaller and it's a topic I enjoy greatly. While my main focus of interest is religion and gender in terms of pop culture, I also really like looking at women in the Bible and the way gender plays out in their stories. Our first class was great - everyone was there for similar reasons. One person cited the "special day" feminism, where issues of gender and sexuality were given a class period to be discussed, as opposed to keeping it centered and relevant during the entire course. It's like "A Very Special Episode" of tv shows where the main characters had a friend with AIDs or someone cheated on a test, and then the issues aren't brought up again apart from that episode. Another said after taking a feminist thought class, she had realized she'd been concerned with gender issues her whole life but never thought to put that label or title on it. Needless to say, it should be good.

I had a good meeting with my adviser. Serene was Deanna's adviser and now she's my adviser. It's like a family tree of advising. Maybe the Georgia Rule of YDS. Sorry, but I can't think of any other grandmother/granddaughter movies.

I'm off to get trained in at my new job, which is serving coffee at Holy Grounds, the coffee place on campus. Should be fun and not too taxing. I really do enjoy coffee, so huzzah for that.