the adventures of ernie bufflo

things magical and mundane


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another season in tornado alley

Earlier this week, meteorologists started predicting a Particularly Dangerous Situation for central Arkansas on Sunday. Maps were generated with a little pink blob right over the piece of the world I call home. We watched erie skies and radar maps, and we did what we do this time every year: thought about where we’d “hunker” if the sirens went off, remembered storms we’ve seen in the past, and waited to see if it was all hype or the real deal. I had a feeling it would be when those crazy people who call themselves storm chasers started rolling into town in homemade tanks.  Continue reading


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Boden vs. Discount: girls spring looks for less

Each season my Boden Mini catalog arrives and I wish I had adorable British children, or at least the ability to dress my adorable children in adorable British clothes. Alas, they are expensive, and I just can’t justify spending $40 or more on pants for my kids when I spend all my time in $20 jeggings. I hear the argument that Boden clothes hold up better and are thus worth the price, but honestly, my Carters, Old Navy, and Target stuff has been used and abused by my two kids, and still been in great enough shape to pass on to two of our besties’ baby girls, both born a year after Etta and Claire. I like my kids to look cute, but I have a hard enough time justifying my shopping habit at discount prices, let alone spending serious bucks on clothes that are outgrown in a matter of months. Thus, my Boden vs. Discount posts were born. Welcome to the spring edition! I think I’ve done a decent job replicating the looks in the Boden Spring 2014 catalog at much lower prices, and you can expect to see a lot of these discount items on the Bufflo Gals as the weather warms up!

Boden vs. Carters applique tee and skirt
Boden looks for less: mixed print dress
Boden vs. Discount: embroidered tunic and roll cuff pants
Boden vs. Carters: tutu/tee/tights
Boden vs. Discount: print shirt, striped pants
Boden vs. Carters tank and printed skirt


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Is Michael Pollan a sexist pig? Uh, no.

IMG_1935Wow. What a question. But it’s been a Salon headline, thanks to an excerpt from a new book about Femivores, and as a result, has been re-blogged in several places. And now I’m asking too. Only I’m also going to answer the question.

NO.

I’m a feminist, I bake my own bread, and oh hey look, I dealt with all of this stuff in a post back in 2010.

To recap, what I said then is true now: yes, it’s sexist and inaccurate when food writers express nostalgia for a Good Old Days that never existed. As Emily Matchar makes clear in the excerpt of her book that Salon posted, and as is clear to anyone who watches Mad Men, it’s simply not true that our grandmothers ate better, more wholesome food than we did. My grandmother’s most famous recipe involves a jar of Cheese Wiz, for example. You’d have to go back to my great grandmother on the farm to get to something close to “slow food,” and then you’d also have to consider that she was living a life of drudgery during the Great Depression with many many mouths to feed. So yes, it’s absolutely a valid criticism of folks like Michael Pollan to ask that they please lay off the pre-feminist nostalgia.

It’s also one thing to note that feminism led many women out of the kitchen and into the workplace, and another to blame all our current food woes on that fact. Sometimes, it has seemed that Pollan has done this, but in a rather large body of writing I must charitably point out that overall, I do not get the feeling that he’s truly a sexist who thinks cooking is women’s work, as he himself is a man who cooks. Still, we need to consider that the lack of home cooking in this country might be precisely because FEMINISM ISN’T FINISHED YET, and true equality would have as many men getting into cooking as women getting out of it.

This brings me to my frustration with the “Is Michael Pollan a sexist pig” chapter/article heading. It’s like Jay Smooth’s awesome video about racism: you need to keep the conversation about what the person said/did, rather than on who/what they are as a person. Absolutely Michael Pollan has written some sexist things. But calling him, as a person, a sexist pig, even in a semi-joking headline, really goes too far, especially when there are so many actual sexist pigs out there not doing good work and fighting the good fight, save for a few statements.

I guess, as a bread-baking, yogurt-making, pastured-egg eating, feminist, stay at home mom, I wonder what people think is exactly the problem in this movement, one in which people who have other options are choosing something based upon important values and beliefs. I don’t want to fall too far into the choice feminist camp, because I believe even feminists can make problematic choices, and that the personal is political, and the choices we make perpetuate a system larger than ourselves, etc. etc. etc. BUT. There are a lot of us, women and men, for whom food and other seemingly small choices are deeply important, even spiritual. We may find joy in a system of farming, cooking, and eating that is healthier for ourselves, for the workers who make/grow/produce our food, and for the planet.

Matchar writes, “As should be obvious to anyone who’s peeked at a cookbook from the late 1940s or early 1950s that promotes ingredients like sliced hot dogs and canned tomato soup, we’ve been eating processed crap since long before feminism. Yet the idea of the feminist abandoning her children to TV dinners while she rushes off to a consciousness-raising group is unshakable.”

But in a way, Matchar seems to echo this early criticism of feminists, and seems to think we’re choosing these domestic pursuits to the exclusion of other, worthier causes:

“Many smart, educated, progressive-minded people, people who in other eras would have been marching for abortion rights or against apartheid, are now immersed in grassroots food organizing, planting community gardens and turning their own homes into minifarms complete with chicken coops.”

But you know, we’re the people who have time to show up to the pro-choice rally with homemade muffins in tow. It’s like when you show interest in supporting a charity for say, animal welfare, and someone reminds you that there are starving people in the world who matter more. Well, it’s amazing how boundless my interests and passions can be. I can care deeply about the food I feed myself and my family and also about social justice and politics. And I can be part of a slow food movement while still recognizing that it has major problems with privilege, a lot of the time.

And you know, I have a feeling Matchar feels the same way, too. She mentions in her piece that she’s “been learning to can jam, bake bread from scratch in my Dutch oven (though my husband is better at it), and make my own tomato sauce from a bushel of ugly tomatoes I bought at the farmer’s market.” It’s entirely possible her book reflects my tone of largely admiration for the work of slow-foodies while also seeing a few shortcomings. It’s just unfortunate that she (or an editor?) are (even jokingly) calling one of the “good guys” a “sexist pig” in order to sell a few more copies.


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I don’t know how you do it

You should stop whatever you’re doing right now and go read this amazing piece called “What My Son’s Disabilities Taught Me About Having It All.” I really love what she has to say about how realizing that we have “enough” is the greater key to happiness than “having it all.”

This is kind of a tangent, but one thing that really struck me about the post besides the much-needed reminder that I do in fact have more than “enough,” is the author’s annoyance at everyone constantly telling her they “don’t know how [she] does it” with the “it” being get through her life with a severely disabled son. I don’t share her challenges, but I also get this a lot. People tell me they don’t know how I do it, with the “it” being twins, or a daughter with spina bifida, or my own near death experience and health issues. She writes, “Other friends declare, ‘I couldn’t do what you do.’ If I am to conform to their expectations, I’m not sure what I am supposed to do.” I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be doing, or what people think I really am doing, either.

How do I “do it?” Well, for starters, I don’t always “do it” well or with any amount of grace. I get frustrated, and angry, and overwhelmed. We “do it” because we have no choice, because we love our kids, because we want to survive, because we have a lot of help, because I have a great partner, because there is no other option, because there’s a lot of beauty in it, because it could be much worse, because, because, because…

I guess the bottom line is, for every person who says something like “I don’t know how you do it” to someone, there is that someone thinking, “Well, what other option is there?” A lot of the time, it feels like a nice way to say, “I’m so glad your life isn’t mine.”

We all have challenges. We get through them. We all have our blessings, and we need to be grateful for them. I’m thankful to Marie Myung-Ok Lee for reminding me to do just that. Particularly as I write this after a challenging day that led to me having to set down my screaming baby to go take a breather in my bedroom. And I am thankful that in that moment, I had a husband to take over, to transfer her to her bed when she almost immediately fell asleep, and to clean up the kitchen and give me a hug when I returned from yoga breathing and listening to the sound of our ceiling fan.

How do we do it? BOUNCY SEATS ARE THE KEY.


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master list

Remember when everyone you know was posting on Facebook about how many books they’d read from some BBC list? The gist was that they thought that the BBC had said that the average person had only read 6 out of the 100 books, so if you had read more than 6, you could feel smug and superior– I know I did.  The truth is, that list was really just a list culled from people’s votes for the best-loved novel, not some sort of required reading list.

A newly minted English Lit grad student, I am now in possession of a list of things I have to read and master (in addition to everything I read for my actual coursework) in order to get a Master’s Degree.  Much like my pediatrician hubby taking his boards this October, English Lit students have to take a big exam at the end of their schooling called “Comps.”  Basically, you read and study and obsess over a list of literary works, and then they give you a bunch of ID questions (sample: name the work and author this line comes from: “The world is too much with us, late and soon, Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers.”) and you write 3 1.5 hour essays, and then, if you pass, you get a Master’s Degree.  It’s terrifying.

Anyway, I figure a list of works considered necessary for any Master to master is more of a definitive reading list than any ole BBC top 100 popularly-voted list, and thought I’d share my comps list here.  For one, you can check your literacy and see how many you’ve read. For two, you can join me in my shock and awe at the breadth of the list, and possibly even my disappointment that they only managed to come up with ONE twentieth century British woman writer.  For three: Do you happen to own any of these works? Can you help me save some bucks and let me borrow them? Pretty please? I promise not to write in them or abuse them in any way. I just need to read and study them over the next two years or so.  And fourth: I’m going to use this to cross off ones I’ve read, using it as a little checklist as a I go.

So, here you have it, the stuff a bunch of Ph.D’s have decided I must know in order to be a Master of English Lit (some items are not novels but are poems or short stories by the same author):

Medieval:

  1. Beowulf
  2. Wanderer
  3. Battle of Maldon
  4. Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People: “Account of the Poet Caedmon” and “The Conversion of King Edwin.”
  5. The Dream of the Rood
  6. Lyrics: “Western Wind,” “Summer Is Icumen In,” and “Adam Lay Ybounden”
  7. Ballads: “Edward, Edward,” “Sir Patrick Spens,” “Lord Randall”
  8. Langland Piers Plowman (Passus 18)
  9. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
  10. Chaucer: (to be read in Middle English) General Prologue, The Miller’s Prologue and Tale, The Wife of Bath’s Prologue, Words of the Host to the Physician and Pardoner, Pardoner’s Prologue and Tale (all from The Canterbury Tales); Troilus and Criseyde
  11. Chaucer: Lyrics: “Truth” (“Balade of Bon Conseyl”) and “Complaint to His Purse”
  12. Julian of Norwich: A Book of Showings, from Chapters 3, 4, 5, 6, 27, 58-61, 86 (Norton Anthology selections)
  13. Margery Kempe: The Book of Margery Kempe, from Chapters 1, 2, 11, 18, 28, 52, 76 (Norton Anthology Selections)
  14. The Second Shepherds’ Play
  15. Everyman
  16. Malory: Morte Darthur, Caxton Books XX, XXI

Renaissance and Seventeenth Century

  1. John Skelton: “The Tunning of Elinour Rumming,” “Phillip Sparrow”
  2. Thomas Wyatt: “Whoso list to hunt,” “They flee from me,” “My lute, awake!,” “Mine own John Poins”
  3. Thomas More: Utopia
  4. Sir Philip Sidney: Astrophil and Stella (Sonnets 1, 2, 5, 6, 15, 21, 31, 39, 41, 45, 49, 52, 53, 71, 74, 81)
  5. Edmund Spenser: The Faerie Queene (“Letter to Raleigh” and Book I), Amoretti (Sonnets 1, 34, 37, 67, 68, 75, 79), Epithalamion
  6. Christopher Marlowe: Doctor Faustus
  7. William Shakespeare: Sonnets 3, 18, 20, 29, 30, 55, 60, 71, 73, 94, 116, 129, 130, 138, 144, 146
  8. William Shakespeare: Hamlet, King Lear, A Midsummernight’s Dream, Henry IV, Twelfth Night, The Tempest
  9. Mary Wroth: Pamphilia to Amphilanthus (Sonnets 1, 16, 39, 40, 68, 77, 103)
  10. John Webster: The Duchess of Malfi
  11. Ben Johnson: Volpone, “Song: To Celia,” “To the Memory of Shakespeare,” “Inviting a Friend to Supper,” “To Penshurst,” “To Heaven,” “Ode to Cary and Morison”
  12. John Donne: “The Good Morrow,” “The Sun Rising,” “The Indifferent,” “The Canonization,” “The Flea,” “A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning,” “The Ecstasy,” “Elegy 19,” “Good Friday, 1613, Riding Westward,” Holy Sonnets 5, 7, 10, 14, Meditation 17
  13. Robert Herrick: “Delight in Disorder,” “Corinna’s Going A-Maying,” “To the Virgins,” “Upon Julia’s Clothes”
  14. George Herbert: “Easter Wings,” “Prayer (1),” “Jordan (1),” “The Collar,” “The Pulley,” “Love (3)”
  15. Andrew Marvell: “To His Coy Mistress,” “The Garden,” Upon Appleton House
  16. Francis Bacon: Essays (“Of Truth,” “Of Great Place,” “Of Superstition,” “Of Studies”)
  17. Sir Thomas Browne: Religio Medici
  18. John Milton: Paradise Lost, Samson Agonistes, Areopagiticia, “Lycidas,” “L’Allegro,” “Il Penseroso”

Restoration and 18th Century

  1. John Dryden: Mac Flecknoe, Absalom and Achitophel, An Essay of Dramatic Poetry
  2. William Congreve: The Way of the World
  3. Alexander Pope: Essay on Criticism, The Rape of the Lock, Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot
  4. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu: “The Lover: A Ballad”
  5. Jonathan Swift: Gulliver’s Travels, “Verses on the Death of Dr. Swift,” “A Modest Proposal”
  6. John Gay: The Beggar’s Opera
  7. Daniel Defoe: Robinson Crusoe
  8. Henry Fielding: Tom Jones
  9. Thomas Gray: “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard,” “Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College”
  10. William Collins: “Ode on the Poetical Character,” “Ode to Evening”
  11. Oliver Goldsmith: The Deserted Village
  12. Samuel Johnson: Rasselas, The Vanity of Human Wishes, “Pope” and “Milton” from Lives of the Poets
  13. James Boswell: Life of Johnson (Hibbert’s Abridged Edition)
  14. Laurence Sterne: Tristram Shandy
  15. Robert Burns: “Address to the Deil,” “Holy Willie’s Prayer,” “Tam O’Shanter”

19th Century

  1. William Blake: Songs of Innocence and Experience, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
  2. William Wordsworth: “Tintern Abbey,” “Ode: Intimations of Immortality,” “Resolution and Independence,” “Elegiac Stanzas,” Michael, The Prelude I-II, Preface to the Second Edition of Lyrical Ballads
  3. S. T. Coleridge: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Christabel, “Kubla Khan,” “Frost at Midnight,” “This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison,” “Dejection: An Ode”
  4. Lord Byron: Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, III-IV, Manfred, Don Juan I-IV
  5. Sir Walter Scott: Waverley
  6. P. B. Shelley: “Ode to the West Wind,” “The Cloud,” “Hymn to Intellectual Beauty,” “To a Sky-Lark,” Adonais, “Mont Blanc”
  7. John Keates: Odes: “Nightingale,” “Grecian Urn,” “Melancholy,” Sonnets: “Chapman’s Homer,” “Bright Star,” “When I Have Fears,” The Eve of St. Agnes, “To Autumn”
  8. William Hazlitt: “On Gusto,” “My First Acquaintance with Poets”
  9. Charles Lamb: “Old China,” “Dream Children”
  10. Thomas De Quincey: “On the Knocking at the Gate in Macbeth
  11. Mary Shelley: Frankenstein
  12. Jane Austen: Pride and Prejudice
  13. Thomas Carlyle: Sartor Resartus
  14. Lord Tennyson: “The Lady of Shalott,” “The Lotos-Eaters,” “Ulysses,” “Tithonus,” “Locksley Hall,” In Memoriam
  15. Robert Browning: “My Last Duchess,” “Andrea del Sarto,” “Fra Lippo Lippi,” “The Bishop Orders His Tomb,” “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came,” “Abt Vogler”
  16. E. B. Browning: Sonnets from the Portuguese (21, 22, 32, 43), Aurora Leigh Books 1, 2, 5
  17. John Ruskin: “The Roots of Honor” from Unto This Last, “The Nature of Gothic” from The Stones of Venice
  18. Matthew Arnold: “Memorial Verses,” “The Scholar Gypsy,” “Dover Beach,” “Stanzas from the Grande Chartreuse,” “The Function of Criticism at the Present Time,” “The Study of Poetry”
  19. A.C. Swinburne: “Hymn to Proserpine,” “The Garden of Proserpine,” “The Triumph of Time”
  20. Christina Rossetti: “Goblin Market”
  21. G.M. Hopkins: “God’s Grandeur,” “The Windhover,” “Pied Beauty,” “Spring and Fall,” “Carrion Comfort,” “No Worst, There Is None,” “I Wake and Feel the Fell of Dark, Not Day,” “Thou Art Indeed Just, Lord”
  22. Lewis Carroll: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
  23. Emily Bronte: Wuthering Heights
  24. Charlotte Bronte: Jane Eyre
  25. Charles Dickens: Great Expectations
  26. George Eliot: Middlemarch
  27. Anthony Trollope: Barchester Towers
  28. W.M. Thackeray: Vanity Fair
  29. Oscar Wilde: The Importance of Being Earnest

20th Century

  1. Thomas Hardy: “Hap,” “The Darkling Thrush,” “The Convergence of the Twain,” “Neutral Tones,” “Channel Firing”
  2. W. B. Yeats: “The Stolen Child,” “The Lake Isle of Innisfree,” “Adam’s Curse,” “September Byzantium,” “Leda and the Swan,” “Among School Children,” “Byzantium,” “A Prayer for My Daughter,” “Long-Legged Fly,” “Lapis Lazuli,” “The Circus Animals’ Desertion,” “Under Ben Bulben”
  3. Wilfred Owen: “Dulce et DEcorum Est,” “Strange Meeting,” “Disabled”
  4. D.H. Lawrence: “Piano,” “Snake,” “Bavarian Gentians,” “The Ship of Death,” Women in Love
  5. W. H. Auden: “Musee des Beaux Arts,” “Lullaby,” “In Memory of W.B. Yeats,” “In Praise of Limestone,” “The Shield of Achilles”
  6. Dylan Thomas: “The Force that Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower,” “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night,” “A Refusal to Mourn…,” “Fern Hill”
  7. Philip Larkin: “Church Going,” “High Windows”
  8. Seamus Heaney: “Digging,” “Punishment,” “The Strand at Lough Beg”
  9. G. B. Shaw: Arms and the Man
  10. Samuel Beckett: Waiting for Godot
  11. J.M. Synge: The Playboy of the Western World
  12. James Joyce: “Araby,” “The Dead,” A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
  13. Joseph Conrad: Heart of Darkness
  14. Virginia Woolf: To the Lighthouse
  15. E.M. Forster: A Passage to India
  16. Harold Pinter: The Homecoming
  17. Tom Stoppard: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
  18. Derek Walcott: “As John to Patmos,” “A Far Cry from Africa,” “Ruins of a Great House,” “North and South”
  19. Chinua Achebe: Things Fall Apart
  20. Salman Rushdie: Satanic Verses

American Literature Prior to 1860

  1. American Indian Myths and Tales: Pima story of the creation and flood; Winnebago trickster cycle (Norton Anthology selections)
  2. William Bradford: Of Plymouth Plantation
  3. John Winthrop: “A Model of Christian Charity”
  4. Mary Rowlandson: Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration
  5. Anne Bradstreet: “To My Dear and Loving Husband,” “Before the Birth of One of Her Children,” “In Memory of my Dear Grandchild Elizabeth Bradstreet,” “On My Dear Grandchild Simon Bradstreet”
  6. Edward Taylor: selections from the Preparatory Meditations, including “Prologue,” First Series–22, Second Series–26
  7. Jonathan Edwards: “Personal Narrative,” “A Divine and Supernatural Light,” “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”
  8. Benjamin Franklin: Autobiography Books I and II
  9. Phillis Wheatley: “On Being Brought from Africa to America,” “To His Excellency General Washington”
  10. St. Jean de Crevecoeur: “What is an American?”
  11. Washington Irving: “Rip Van Winkle”
  12. James Fenimore Cooper: The Pioneers
  13. Ralph Waldo Emerson: Nature, “The American Scholar,” “The Divinity School Address”
  14. Henry David Thoreau: Walden, “Civil Disobedience”
  15. Nathaniel Hawthorne: The Scarlet Letter, “Young Goodman Brown,” “My Kinsman, Major Molineux,” “The Minister’s Black Veil”
  16. Edgar Allan Poe: “The Black Cat,” “The Cask of Amontillado,” “The Fall of the House of Usher,” “The Philosophy of Composition,” “To Helen,” “The Raven,” “Israfel”
  17. Frederick Douglass: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave
  18. Harriet Jacobs: Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Chapters 1, 7, 10, 14, 21, 41
  19. Herman Melville: Moby Dick, “Bartleby the Scrivener,” “The House-Top,” “The Maldive Shark,” Billy Budd
  20. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: “My Lost Youth,” “The Arsenal at Springfield,” “The Fire of Driftwood,” “The Jewish Cemetery at Newport”
  21. Walt Whitman: Song of Myself, “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d,” “Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking,” “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” “The Wound Dresser”

American 1860-Present

  1. Mark Twain: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  2. Emily Dickinson: poems numbered 67, 125, 130, 214, 258, 280, 303, 328, 341, 435, 448, 449, 465, 632, 657, 712, 754, 986, 1071, 1129, 1732
  3. Henry James: Portrait of a Lady, “Daisy Miller,” “The Beast in the Jungle”
  4. Sarah Orne Jewett: “A White Heron,” “The Foreigner”
  5. Mary E. Wilkins Freeman: “A New England Nun,” “The Revolt of Mother”
  6. Charlotte Perkins Gilman: “The Yellow Walpaper”
  7. Booker T. Washington: Up from Slavery, Chapters I, XIV
  8. W. E. B. Dubois: The Souls of Black Folk, Chapters I, III
  9. Stephen Crane: The Red Badge of Courage, “The Open Boat,” “The Blue Hotel,” “The Bride comes to Yellow Sky”
  10. Kate Chopin: The Awakening
  11. Edith Wharton: The Age of Innocence
  12. Theodore Dreiser: Sister Carrie
  13. Willa Cather: “Neighbour Rosicky”
  14. Robert Frost: “After Apple-Picking,” “Home Burial,” “Birches,” “Design,” “Desert Places,” “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening”
  15. T. S. Eliot: “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” The Waste Land, “Tradition and the Individual Talent”
  16. Ezra Pound: “In a Station of the Metro,” “To Whistler, American,” “A Pact,” “Portrait d’une Femme,” “The River-Merchant’s Wife,” Hugh Selwyn Mauberley
  17. William Carlos Williams: “Spring and All,” “The Red Wheelbarrow,” “This is Just to Say,” “The Widow’s Lament in Springtime,” “The Dance,” “Tract,” “The Yachts,” “To Elsie”
  18. Wallace Stevens: “Peter Quince at the Clavier,” “Sunday Morning,” “Anecdote of the Jar,” “The Snow Man,” “A High-Toned Old Christian Woman,” “The Emperor of Ice Cream,” “The Idea of Order at Key West,” “Of Modern Poetry”
  19. Langston Hughes: “Theme for English B,” “Epilogue (I, too, sing America),” “Harlem”
  20. Hart Crane: The Bridge
  21. F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby
  22. Ernest Hemingway: The Sun Also Rises, “Hills Like White Elephants,” “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber”
  23. William Faulkner: The Sound and the Fury, “A Rose for Emily,” “Barn Burning,” “The Old People”
  24. Zora Neale Hurston: Their Eyes were Watching God
  25. Eugene O’Neill: Long Day’s Journey Into Night
  26. Eudora Welty: “A Worn Path,” “Petrified Man”
  27. Tennessee Williams: A Streetcar Named Desire
  28. Flannery O’Connor: “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” “Good Country People,” “Revelation,” “Everything that Rises Must Converge,” “Parker’s Back”
  29. Ralph Ellison: Invisible Man
  30. Robert Lowell: “The Quaker Graveyard at Nantucket,” “Skunk Hour,” “For the Union Dead”
  31. Allen Ginsberg: “Howl”
  32. Arthur Miller: Death of a Salesman
  33. Elizabeth Bishop: “The Fish,” “Questions of Travel,” “The Armadillo,” “In the Waiting Room,” “Crusoe in England”
  34. Richard Wright: Native Son
  35. James Baldwin: “Sonny’s Blues”
  36. Toni Morrison: Beloved
  37. Joyce Carol Oates: “Where are You Going, Where Have You Been”
  38. John Updike: “A & P”
  39. Philip ROth: “The Conversion of the Jews,” “Defender of the Faith”
  40. Sylvia Plath: “Daddy,” “Lady Lazarus”
  41. N. Scott Momaday: The Way to Rainy Mountain
  42. Leslie Marmon Silko: Ceremony
  43. Louise Erdich: “Fleur”
  44. Don DeLillo: White Noise

So. There you have it. Over 160 things I have to read and know well in order to get an MA. This is why I have to quit my book club.


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we interrupt your regularly scheduled programming…

…for a quick announcement: there’s not gonna be a new blog post today. Yesterday, I wrote my brains out. You see, I’ve been taking a grad class on the Harlem Renaissance and the Black Arts Movement, and I was just SURE that my final paper was due next Monday. I’d done most of the reading, but hadn’t written a lick since I turned in my 3-page precis a few weeks ago. Usually, most of my writing process takes place in my head, as I’m doing the research, and I just sit down to write and pour it all out, so I knew a week would be plenty of time to turn out a good paper.  If there’s anything my undergrad degrees in English and political science taught me, it’s that I can write 3-4 pages per hour, no problem.

But then I showed up to our last class yesterday and realized papers were due. WHAT?! I knew I had to get home and get writing and try to get the darn thing done that day. And I did it. I wrote the fastest paper I’ve ever written: 15 pages in 5 hours. It’s not a masterpiece of fine editing, but it’s a paper incorporating Lacanian psychology, geo-physical theory, and theology to analyze Nella Larsen’s Harlem Renaissance novel Quicksand.  I got it emailed to my prof by 7:00 pm, and sincerely apologized for not having it ready to turn in during class. I have no idea if this will mean points off my grade, but I guess the beauty of being a non-degree student is my world won’t be crushed if I don’t make an A.

So, I used up my words yesterday, and I just used up more telling you why these words in this space aren’t more interesting. See ya tomorrow.


window into my workplace

First, some back story: After 1.5 years at my job, I’m leaving next month because I’m moving. My boss, who is awesome, tells me every single day (even before we found out I was moving) what a great job I do and how sad he is that I’m leaving (proof that I’m not a total slacker, you guys!).  Also: this week, I got a brand spankin’ new 27-inch iMac in my office (replacing a 5 year old 17 inch iMac).  When it was installed, my boss and I had the following exchange:

Boss: “Isn’t that thing a little too big?”

Me: “Um, no! I’m going to have tons of windows, open all at once, and I won’t have to constantly minimize things! It’s gonna be great!”

Boss: “So really, what you’re telling me is, you’re going to be watching movies on that thing for your last month here.”

Me: “Yeah, basically.”

Back to the real story: So today, I’m sitting in my office watching this little YouTube video, which I found thanks to I Fry Mine in Butter:

Yep. Streisand and Celine Dion, circa 1997. Which, I find hilarious because it’s so cheesy and so 90s. Anyway, my boss walks in. Cue me trying to pause the video. It. will. not. pause. I finally hit mute, but the damage has been done.

Boss: “Whatcha doin’?”

Me: “Um, watching an awesomely cheesy video of Celine Dion and Barbara Streisand.”

Boss: *laughs loudly*

Me: *blushes furiously*

Boss: Well, come in here when you’re done, I need your help with something.

Usually, he enjoys teasing me mercilessly about almost everything, from whether or not I’m wholesome to the extent to which my shoes match my outfit (today he is rather amused that I’m wearing a blue dress, a green cardigan, and green suede sneakers with blue laces). Thankfully he exercised some restraint in the teasing over my embarrassing YouTube habits.


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scenes from a rock show

I don’t go to a lot of concerts.  I dislike other bodies touching mine, I hate it when people mosh into me, I hate having to wait through an inevitably crappy opening act, I usually get hot and feel faint, and I find the standing rather exhausting. (Yes, I realize I sound like a real pale and wan pain in the ass right about now.)  But, and I realize this will spoil some of my indie cred, one of my favorite bands in the whole wide world is Third Eye Blind and they played in my town last night and I just had to go.  Even though it was in a venue (the Music Farm) I swore I’d never go back to because it was way oversold the time I saw Band of Horses (oh hey, there’s my cred back) and actually had to leave before the end because I thought I’d pass out from the heat and the stench of the sweat coming off the horde of shirtless goth dudes dryhumping all around me (no lie).  I’ve liked 3eb since their first album came out way back in like 1996, discovering them just as I realized there was newer music beyond my dad’s classic rock (though I still have a soft spot for that stuff).  I have all of their albums and even an EP, and it’s all still in rotation on my iPod.  So yeah, I had to go.

So my husband and I took our old fogey asses to a rock show last night.  And I loved it.  Here are some brief scenes.

  • We arrived before the opening act to score some prime real estate on the floor in front of the stage.  This meant 30 minutes of exposure to annoying undergrads (I can ID them because they didn’t have over-21 bracelets on) going on about how they’ve loved 3eb since their first album came out.  Oh really? Back when you were like, eight?
  • We inevitably stand next to the one person at the show that you don’t want to be standing next to.  With Band of Horses it was a group of shirtless goths who seemed to have gotten lost on the way to the gay club next door and took the opportunity of an indie rock show to dry hump each other for an hour.  This show, it was the Hippie Girl.  The type who says things like, “I just want to express myself with my body” and writhes around to some other beat in her mind, swaying and slithering.  Jon said, “I think she thought this was Widespread Panic or something.”  We spent the show trying not to let her dance ON us.  I should have asked her if she wanted to model for art classes.  I’m sure she’d have been down.
  • The opening act. Oh God.  Someone did not love Joshua James enough as a child.  His music is apparently the soundtrack to wrist slitting.  He literally said, “This song is about a little boy from Lincoln, Nebraska, who was kidnapped from his home and later found raped and murdered.”  As you can imagine, it was a really happy track.  We couldn’t understand a word he said, but I imagined they were about puppies being kicked and women being eaten by bears.  I will say that later, he came out to sing a 3eb song, and it sounded pretty good, if angsty.  So the guy has a decent voice, but might need to find some different inspiration for his songwriting.
  • But then, after a seemingly interminable setup and sound check, the main event arrived on the stage, and the sold out house went nuts.  The band rocked out, the crowd went crazy dancing and singing (parts of the show were basically a big sing-along), and by the end of the 4-song encore, my ears were ringing and my throat was sore.
  • Based on my observations of crowd behavior, I’ve now trademarked The Dick Move ™.  It’s that “oh, I see my buddy over there, can I squeeze through here?” thing people do to get closer to the stage.  Two guys and a girl pulled that on me and then stopped, right in front of me.  “We good?” the guy said to his girl.  I decided this situation called for me to be a bitch.  “UM NO, WE’RE NOT. I could see, and now I can’t.” The girl moved sheepishly to the side, and I thought to myself, damn straight, you better move, that was NOT cool.
  • I’ve also gotta hand it to 3eb, they’re not one of those bands that now hates and refuses to play the song that made them famous. We got to hear both “Semi Charmed Kind of Life” and “Jumper,” and they played both with the same enthusiasm that they gave to songs off their newest album.  They also seem to know they’re not as famous as they used to be, and seemed genuinely thankful that we were such an awesome crowd, which is probably why they gave us a 4-song encore.

So, I’m a happy fan today.  Not sure when I’ll feel up to another show, but I’m glad I went to this one.


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buy our house!

Just putting this out there on the interwebs in case anyone knows anyone looking for an adorable house in Charleston, SC. Our 1948 2 bed/1 bath bungalow is just around the corner from one of the best restaurants in Charleston (the Glass Onion), is very close to a brand new Harris Teeter grocery store, is 4 miles from MUSC (where my husband bikes to work each day) and down town (where I work, a quick CARTA bus trip away), and is 15 minutes from Folly Beach.  We have loved this house and put a lot of work into it, and hope the next owners love it as much as we have.

exterior

living room

fireplace in living room

front window in living room.

"Formal" dining room. (Yes, we have a foosball table instead of a dining room table)

Eat-in kitchen with tons of storage.

New stainless ceramic-top stove, new pressed-tin backsplash.

New stainless fridge.

New stainless dishwasher.

Eating area in kitchen.

Bedroom #1.

Bedroom #1.

Bedroom #2.

Laundry/mud room.

Laundry/mud room.

Laundry/mud room.

Bathroom.

Bathroom.

Bathroom.

Back of house.


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better left to the pros

My hair BEFORE the incident.

My hair BEFORE the incident.

Some things, I like to say, are better left to the professionals.  Like teaching.  And doctoring.

And now, hair cutting.

I have a difficult time with getting my hair cut.  I’m pretty sure my mom trimmed my hair as a small kid, and the same lady cut my hair from the third grade until my wedding day.  I even drove home from college to have her cut m hair, because she was the only one who understood my cowlicks, my hair’s weird ways of refusing to hold both a curl and a straightening, my baby-fine texture, my scalp’s sensitivity.  She saw me through the great DIY highlighting disaster that left me with ORANGE HAIR.  We went through a lot together.

And then I moved 1000 miles away, where all our friends were also transplants, where I worked with a bunch of dudes.  How was I supposed to find a good stylist?  How would any stylist be as good as Joan?  So I went to MasterCuts and kept to simple styles.  And other women always seem shocked, but seriously, MasterCuts can give you long layers or a classic bob as well as anywhere, don’t hate.  But after a while with MasterCuts, I began to feel that trimming my hair would be easy enough for me to do myself.  Or better yet, since I can’t reach or see the back of my head very well, for Jon to do!  He can even cut a straight line better than I can!  So today we decided to try it… Continue reading

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