Sunday, July 31, 2011

Less Impact.

This weekend I had to run a veg-out on my brain and my body after a jam-packed week-long visit from one of my very best girlfriends.  Meredith flew out on Thursday, and since then I have mostly: eaten Mexican food, watched Netflix instant, fretted over money and deadlines, cried my heart out over the departure of another dear friend to Europe, and procrastinated about cleaning the house.

Netflix offered this random gem:

Simply put, Colin Beaven asks us, "Is it possible to have a good life without wasting so much?"


The experiment was extreme, and that's the point.  The narrative arc of this documentary is discovering that going "off the grid" is nearly impossible for the modern American.  And quite honestly, why would I ever willingly give up electricity, or toilet paper, or brunch at my favorite restaurant?  Why would we ever willingly give up the things I work hard for, am truly thankful to have?  Why would anyone?  BUT, Beaven's family discovers, ripping it all away for a short amount of time reveals, bright as the noon sun, the things we can live without.

Trash, for example.  Why make so much trash?  Beaven makes some good points: buy food fresh and in bulk, buy fewer things that come all packaged up, take your own coffee cup to the coffee shop.  On and on.

Anyway, watch it.

Also, here's Beaven's ongoing blog:

Monday, July 25, 2011

A weekend in pictures.

My amazing friend Meredith is visiting me for a stint here in Athens right now.  We had the most magical of summer weekending in Georgia.  Hot as hell, but who cares.

Highlights?  A girls' pizza and cocktail night, homemade fish tacos (I make good ones), twilight bocce in Newtown, some ambling of train tracks, outdoor swinging, an impromptu dance party, and Mer taking a shot of the most treacherous liquor the Swedes could make.  All capped off by a dear friend's birthday dinner.  Oh, and a broken toilet.  We couldn't figure out how it got broken.  Mer ran to Lowe's this afternoon while I taught and...bought something and fixed the damn thing.  She's a gem!

Monday, July 18, 2011


That's how old my mom would be today.  It's been almost ten years since we lost her, believe it or not.  I still miss her every day.  Here are a few things about her that make me smile:

--When she saw someone in need, she helped them without missing a beat.  No hesitation.  She just did what needed to be done (and usually the thing no one else would take the time to do).

--When she saw an attractive man from a distance, she used to wink and whisper, "Oooooh, doggieeee."  I have no idea where this came from.

--She used to write verses of original poetry on napkins, old newspapers, and in the front pages of books.  I, fortunately, still have all of this saved in a box.

--She smelled like gardenias all the time.  I think it was the powder she used.

--She told me I would do great things.  And I am aiming to.

Here's the soundtrack of her memory in my head right now:

Sunday, July 17, 2011

twenty-something: Bourbon

So I think a pretty big revelation during the mid-to-(ahem)later twenties is that we often can't hold our liquor or our late nights like we used to.  Yeah, yeah, it's tempting to throw caution to the wind and attempt the kind of Saturday night that was harmless when you were, say, 22.

Maybe it's because I'm so focused on self-care these days that I am extra sensitive to any disruptions in my system.  Or maybe it's because I worry about my dissertation and don't get enough REM sleep.  Maybe.  But I'm rather convinced that it's my aging that's limiting me.  And that's actually a remarkable thing.  It's like my body has a voice and it's saying (via a headache, fatigue, the general malaise that makes you want to scowl at everyone you see): "Hey, don't you think these days you're better suited by a nice dinner, and sticking with one kind of alcohol, and getting to sleep at a reasonable hour so you'll feel like getting up to go on a run or clean your house?"

Lord, is that where I've come to?  I fear, I fear so.

Here's the post-Bourbon resurrection diet:

-ginger ale, ice cold, lots of it
-a big plate of pasta at about 1pm (eat slowly, though)
-easily-accessible aspirin (many doses may be required)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Manipulating the internet...

I have NO idea why GoogleAds has chosen to put click-boxes for things like "Christian Singles," auto insurance, and "ITT Tech" on my blog.  What on earth have I posted that makes them think any of that's a good fit?  Who knows, who cares.  Just ignore them.  Or click on them for the hell of it, because you'll be donating a few cents to me in the process.  I don't make much via the ads, but simply having them on here brings in a decent little egg every couple of months.  I highly recommend monetizing if you have a extra work required.

in defense of cheap wine

So there are all these little tales of academics being connoisseurs of wine.  Since becoming a member of this circle (with yet none of the financial benefits, although admittedly there aren't really many to be had), I have only encountered a few.  And trust me, they're people you wouldn't want to eat dinner with.  Most of the academics I know are hipster-leaning intellectuals who would rather spend their money on beer, books, and iPads.  Admittedly, I have no sampling of academic folk from the Ivy-places, but let's just say that I wouldn't even consider having dinner with most of those people anyway.

Am I kidding?  You decide.

Back to the point at hand.  Wine, it's expensive.  According to people I know who know even a little bit about wine, the truth is that to get to that next level you've got to throw down some bills.  If I had bills, I'd be throwing them down on clothes and organic meats, things of that nature, and certainly not wine.  Why?  Because I have this theory that an unsophisticated wine palate just doesn't know what it's missing.  It's blissful ignorance, and I think it can be maintained for my entire life.  To me (and don't gasp, wine lovers out there, keep breathing), a Merlot is a Merlot--aromatic, calm-inducing, sweet evening in a rounded glass.

Here's a red that's been circulating among us poor grad-student-folk here in Athens:

Less than three dollars a bottle at Trader Joe's.  Everyone agrees that it's decent.  

Before you go thinking I'm below par in any way, here me out on my beer theory.  Boutique beer is something I can really get behind.  To me, beer tastes like something with a thousand variations.  I feel about flavors with it how some people feel about flavors with wine.  I get excited to try new ideas, and I love the fact that several of my close friends here homebrew.  To me, the beauty of beer in this situation is its accessibility.  Even the priciest of beers won't set you back what a fancy wine will.  And there's A TON of amazing, flavorful, interesting beer in the eight to fifteen dollar range for a six-bottle-pack.

Here's my current favorite (actually, it's been a favorite for awhile):

It's a sour red beer, with a sweet, full aroma and a balsamic bite.  They have it here in Athens at Trappeze (just named one of the best 30 beer bars in the country).  

So no, I'm not knocking wine people.  But I am knocking the idea that cheaper wine is sad.  And I am suggesting that beer connoisseurs be taken more seriously.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Recently, pop culture

Some embarrassing admissions:

1)  I've been watching "The Glee Project" on the Oxygen network.  This is where the producers of "Glee" turn the search for a new cast member into a reality show.  It's a way for them to make money off the format--have young, good-looking people sing Top 40--while the actual show is on hiatus.  But I've fallen in line.  I even have a crush on the skinny hipster candidate named Cameron who sings down the length of his nose.  I think anything associated with "Glee" is joyful.  It celebrates how hopeful really being young and excited is...and we all need a dose of that.

2)  My love for cheesy trivia ebbs and flows, and right now it's got me all pumped.  I'm sure I'll burn out again soon.  In the meantime, though, I quite-epically reunited with my pals Brian and Claire to kill at 90s-themed trivia last weekend.  This coming Sunday we're going to venture to Allen's to try some old-school questions.  Any of you fellow Athens nerds, feel free to hit me up and join.

3) We're viewing the Coen Brothers classic "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" in my class.  More on their reaction (and my re-viewing experience) later.

4) Am I the only person in the world who saw the new Tom Hanks/Julia Roberts movie "Larry Crowne" and realized that somehow it's got maybe the best and most endearing recent depiction of the pitfalls of higher education and the career-academic?  Julia Roberts plays a burned-out lit professor at a community college who drinks too much and hates life until she realizes that there's some magic she can tap into and help some younger folk get on track.  Of course, the rest of the

Peace out, more soon.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Modern South, piece by piece

I write a lot about the modernization of the South (which is, in itself, such a subjective turn of phrase).

But I never thought much about how it plays out, how we're all living, breathing manifestations of it.  I told my students the other day that Reconstruction was and is America's unfinished revolution, and that in the South particularly it's the travesty of our collective generations that racial equality is a work still in progress.  They heartily agreed.  We did a day on the cultural history of central Appalachia.  I asked them to deconstruct where the "hillbilly" stereotype comes from, and what's wrong with it.  They came into class armed with Cormac McCarthy references and tales of their grandparents' rural lives.

I thought a summer course at the University of Georgia would deliver me twenty fresh-faced suburban Atlantans, full of their parents' politics and hesitant to find emotion in history.  I was so wrong.

A more modern South has brought me a more modern (and by that term here, I mean complex, and compelling) group of students.  They are from all over.  They range in age from 19 to...well, one of my students tells me she is a grandmother, but I won't speculate on her age except to say that she seems as youthful in demeanor as any of us in there.  They've opened my eyes to the patchwork of people in my midst, and suddenly Athens is renewed.

My faith in perspective, in people's ability to understand the past and how it shapes their present...that's back and stronger than ever.

Monday, July 4, 2011

quote of the day.

I was sitting for two four-year-olds and a ten-year-old this afternoon.  The two little ones were building a spiraling train track from wooden blocks, and they realized almost upon completion that they'd misplaced a few of the key pieces.  One of them started kicking at it all, frustrated, almost yelled.

I said, without blinking or thinking, "You know...sometimes we just make a mistake.  And all that makes sense is to start back from scratch and try to make it better next time."

I should listen to my babysitter voice more often in my everyday life.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

afternoon nap

I write to you during a quick coffee shop escape.  My dad arrived for his visit late last night, and today has been all about acclimating him to Athens, my little house, and, strangely, grassfed organic burgers.  The thing is, he always, always takes an afternoon nap.  So even if he gets on my nerves as these days pass (and how can a parent ever not, just a little?), I know I'll have at least a couple of hours every afternoon to sort the day out.

This morning we watched "The Towering Inferno."  No joke.  All three hours of it.  It was the 1970s' "Titanic," nail-biting and full of men trying to look sexy.  I knew 24 hours couldn't go by without a Paul Newman or Steve McQueen reference...I just didn't realize that we'd actually stage a viewing of their joint-film effort during the first real hours of our visit.  Spending time with my dad is all about pacing--gaging his mood and planning activities that fit well into the two-or-three-hour bubbles during which is not too tired or cranky.  Oh, wait, what does that sound like?  Having a child?

Once we reach a certain age, I guess these roles reverse for us all.  It is nice to have him around.  For a late-lunch today, we headed over to newly-opened Heirloom Cafe on Chase Street.  The grassfed burger is wonderful--topped with cheese, arugula, grilled Vidalias, and heirloom tomatoes.  Later this afternoon we'll make a trip to Earthfare and stock up on things like....chicken that father will expect me to fry.

I got nothing else today.  I'm trying to piece together an hour or two of writing.  But it's Saturday after all.