Okay, we'll move from all the holiday introspection into a little old fashioned feminist rant.
According to some of my friends who are the mothers of girls, there are pants available for girls that have the word "pink" written across the butt. I find these butt logo pants kind of odious in and of themselves (you couldn't walk across Vanderbilt's campus on hot days without seeing a dozen skinny young women wearing impossibly tiny "Vandy" shorts that made their butts into billboards), but these "pink" pants are worse.
They're masquerading as cute, innocent clothing, but the subtext--which I think is instantly recognizable to many adult men, less so to women--is a pathological eroticizing of girls' bodies. These pants are all about little girl vaginas. The husbands of my friends were very uncomfortable with their daughters wearing them, and when I told Walter about the existence of the pants, his immediate response was, "The people who make those should be arrested as sex offenders."
Walter suggested an alternative line of pants for girls that say things like, "Do you need Viagra now, Daddy?" I'd like to see some that say, "Why are you looking at my butt, sicko?"
Okay, we'll move from all the holiday introspection into a little old fashioned feminist rant.
I'll continue with this trend of introspection.
For the past two days, I've been in Nashville visiting with friends. Yesterday morning Walter got into town and seemed to feel a little prickly about the fact that I was going to go be with my girlfriends rather than with him. Although I was able to act like a grown-up at the time, I went into an almost immediate anxiety reaction, and, as so often happens when I feel anxious, I started assessing everything through the lens of anxiety: "There are so many people here I want to see and spend time with, and everyone wants to see me, and there's not enough time!" Let me be even more honest here: I began to feel really frustrated that I couldn't make everyone happy.
I have a friend who says that when she begins feeling like there isn't enough (time, money, energy, etc), it's because she's acting out of the (inaccurate) belief that she's supposed to manage everything all by herself. That's where I was for a little while yesterday, spinning in my own head, fearing that I wasn't up to the task of satisfying everyone around me. It's some classic holiday bullshit. I knew that my thinking was distorted, but I couldn't shake myself out of it.
Then some small things happened. I had chicken salad sandwiches with one of my very best friends. I heard a mockingbird singing like a cardinal in a parking lot. And I ate dinner in a candle-lit living room full of women I love. I was fed, fed, fed.
When I crawled into bed with Walter late last night, he curled up to me without waking up. I lay there and felt so full. And today, too, I feel like I'm brimming, like Mary Hatch in It's a Wonderful Life with moonbeams coming out of her pores.
yeah, you can read this one right now if you wanna, but i don't suggest it. it may be only a few moments later than the one below, but this one's much more cheery. ...
cheery. cheery. say that word out loud to yourself. now say it about ten times.
loses it's meaning doesn't it? i wonder if the quality of a word can be judged on how many times one can say it without it becoming nonsense?
anyway, i just didn't want to leave off with that last post. nothing wrong with being introspective--or even sad--but i don't think that's how i really really feel. that post just seemed to have a mind of its own from the very beginning and i just let it go where it wanted to.
catharsis. now there's a word. those greeks sure knew how to talk.
in other news...(you can't imagine how many times while writing on this blog i've had to go back and find alternatives to the word "anyway." if kelly piepmeier were a smarty, she'd suggest the walter-biffle-anyway-drinking-game. although i'm not sure if it'd work--believe me, i'm pretty good at catching them. you can't imagine how many times i use it. matter of fact, i should just invent a sound to connect my tangents. yes, i know, "anyway" is a sound, but it means too much. what could that sound be? blurp? swimpt? ffffttttt?)
so anyway, you guys be sure to check out bannedfromwalmart.com, the spectacular new web site made for me by my very own brother-in-law, stinky. sorry for the commercial plug, but go do a little interventionist artwork of your own and send it in to the site. we need stories, man! (i'd provide you the link here, but it doesn't seem to be working--i wonder if it's a conspiracy?)
more plugs: for the holiday--or perhaps specifically CHRISTmas holiday--go to itunes and download jason and the scorcher's "oh, holy night." a sweet and wildly non-precocious rock and roll version of the song that you know's sincere because they sing all four verses.
yes, it appears that it's going to be that kind of a post. alison was rather introspective in her last writing, and it appears that i'm gonna carry on in that vein for this one.
i've woken up this morning too early. about 5:40 a.m. I realized i was up because, just like a kid waiting on opening gifts christmas morning, i was anticipitory for my review. "review" is the word for the twice-a-semester check-in that art students have with their faculty. (i explain that because i'm not sure it's widely used nomenclature--i don't remember what alison called it when she met with her faculty.)
this review is a particularly big one, the next to last one i'll have with my committee before the mfa thesis exhibit. in other words, this morning, come a few hours from now, these guys could say "man, i just don't think this stuff is cutting it." of course, i could claim that'd be bad style on thier part, but they could still do it--i haven't really let them know exactly what i'm up to. i made the decision a few months ago that--damn the torpedoes--i'm gonna do what i want--if they don't like it, then they don't have to give me a degree. come to find out, that's kinda what i'm supposed to be doing. when it comes to something as subjective as art, sometimes the personal commitment to one's own vision is the thing that carries the idea through.
anyway, I was up at 5:40. I noticed the sun had just started to creep in the windows and i had the same thought i've had about seven times now--i gotta go up to the widow's walk and talk a picture of the harbor. you guys think that every now and again, don't you? Gotta go up to the window's walk and take a picture of the harbor? (the house i live in here has a widow's walk--a cupola of sorts--that overlooks the harbor. back in the day the merchant's wife could look for her husband's ship sailing in from up there). so, seven or so times now, i've woken up early enough to catch the sun coming up over that harbor, and seven or so times i've stayed in bed thinking the world doesn't really need one more picture of a sunrise, or, like this morning, it sure is warm in this bed, and it sure will be cold up there on top of that roof.
instead of the picture, i just lay awake thinking about stuff. my impending review, the end of a big semester, widow's walks, my beginning of christmas holidays, ships coming in to harbor, the winding-down of another year.
i don't think that's it's any big surprise to most readers of this blog to hear i don't drink alcohol. i don't do this--or rather i do something a lot more positive--by going to meetings with a group of people that shall remain nameless here (i'll give you one guess). anyway, every year about this time, those meetings start to get a kind of "christmas pall" cast over them. nervousness over having to encounter skewed family realtionships, projecting about requirements for role-playing a certain amount of joy, worrying over feeling too much joy, feeling guilty because some people are hurting so badly right now, while some of us are so blessed.
what with this, the sunrise, the end of the semester, the fact that my work i'll be discussing today is about the death of neighborhood people, realizing that by the time i come back to school it will be another year...hummm...and finding, that like a bad cliche, i, too, seem to get a little down around this time of year....
sometimes i get the feeling that i'm just existing between the spaces in life.
when alison wrote about being in her parent's house i recognized i could smell being there. i could count on too many lights being on, a little too much activity and clutter for me. i wished i was there, but instead i'm here, waiting to finish something else up. i could feel my own parent's house--a space as big as the whole world--and recognized a sort of pit in my stomach, a feeling of dis-satisfied butterflys. a feeling of unknown things, an awareness of how things should be, of expectations, of a happiness and a sadness i'm never sure what to do about.
So here I am, sitting on a bed in my parents' house in Cookeville, in a room that never was my bedroom (it alternated between Trey and Aaron--my bedroom is now a storage room) but might as well have been, listening to familiar traffic sounds and my parents puttering downstairs. I'm back in Tennessee for a couple of weeks for the holidays. It occurs to me that this will be the longest stretch of time I've actually stayed in the ancestral Piepmeier home since I left for graduate school almost eleven years ago.
In some ways, eleven years doesn't change a lot in the Piepmeier household--the stuff just accrues. I'm sitting here looking at the box that one of my brothers' Windows 95 came in, for instance, as well as a small framed portrait of Goofy that I believe was mine when I was five or six. T-shirts from every community theater performance Aaron was ever in fill the closet. We Piepmeiers are a packratty bunch.
But loads of things have changed, of course, in the last eleven years and in the last six months. And I'm sitting here feeling like a composite of all the people I've been. At the moment it feels nice--I feel like I'm at such a good place in my life that I'm not struggling against the gravitational pull of this house. I'm settling in for the next little while.
Okay, people, here's a question:
Now that I'm director of a WGS Program, how important is it that I wear grown-up clothes to work?
On the one hand, I want to be myself, and I am usually most comfortable in jeans, some sort of slouchy top, and Birkenstocks or Chacos, depending on the weather. On the other hand, I want to be taken seriously as an administrator and colleague, a goal that may already be complicated by the fact that I'm young and female.
What do you all think?
well, i haven't written didley on the blog here lately. i think i've been too busy thinkin' about school and jobs and stuff. and i've also been thinking about gregory shollete, a pretty impressive artist. look at his web site at gregorysholette.com, if ya wanna.
so, instead of writing anything, still, i think i'll just post some pictures of my stuff that isn't on the web, yet. y'all be sure to click on them so that they will hopefully show up in the images on google. here goes:
this first one is a detail image of a piece from my thesis work. i haven't mentioned what that stuff is, yet. the super short version is this: i'm installing "markers" at the sites of murders here in new bedford. one for each person killed, at the site of the homicide, that's happened since i've been a member of this community. the pieces are constructed from cast-off pieces of buildings that are being restored--or more accurately, regentrified--in the downtown area. there's more to tell than that, but maybe that's enough for here.
here's another piece from the same series--what's called a "mock-up." actually, the piece on top is the real piece, but the base is just a pine mock-up of bases that i'm now casting in concrete. The word is "conscientizacao." it is a portuguese word that means (more or less) "to become aware of how you are an agent in shaping your own culture." a lot of new bedford speaks portuguese, by the way.
here's the homeless bench. it's sitting in the shop right now waiting on some repairs. i need to get on it--it's pretty cold outside.
this last one is Ear Trumpet for Listening to God, as it was shown in a museum show recently.
and then as it was used as a performance piece here in new bedford. i wheeled it around town for a little while and offered people to use it.
It turns out that a number of my C of C Women's and Gender Studies students have been blog lurkers all semester. They outed themselves today. I asked if it makes it less fun now that I know they're reading, and here's some of what they had to say:
yes, it makes it less fun, but now we can all play the kelly piepmeier comment drinking game together.
I second the motion on the Kelly Piepmeier drinking game. Oh how I have waited for this day to come when we could be free to talk about how wonderful it is to live vicariously through Alison. Huzzah!
Charlie Shipley told us you had a blog and Margie and I read it constantly and laugh and pretend like we're in on your inside jokes. No, really, we don't have lives of our own, so we laugh at things like "sheeple" and the other silly things you and Walter Biffle say :)
Where can you see lions?
Only in Kenya.
My work life makes for much less interesting blogging than the random other things I do, like doga and late-night Harry Potter viewing, but work is what I do most of the time, so I thought I'd at least give it a nod on the blog.
Today we had an all-day retreat for faculty who want to teach--or wanted to discuss the teaching of--our Introduction to Women's and Gender Studies course. Fifteen faculty members signed up for the retreat, and twelve actually made it, which was pretty good considering that we're talking about a Saturday just before the end of the semester, and everybody is buried in grading. We met at a beautiful property about 30 miles from campus--the property was beautiful, but the actual house we were in was kind of yucky and cold. It didn't matter, though, because the faculty were great. We had good conversations, ate great potlucky food (two pans of macaroni and cheese), and accomplished some good things. For instance, we reworked the description of the course. It now reads:
The introduction to Women's and Gender Studies is an interdisciplinary course designed to explore the rich body of knowledge developed by and about women and gender. We study gendered structures and their consequences in contemporary cultures and societies. In addition, we examine feminist theories and relevant social movements.And here's something I've learned this semester: always send a thank-you note on official letterhead to someone, cc-ing their department chair, when they do something to help your program. I just finished writing thank-you notes to all the retreat participants so that they can put them in their tenure and promotion files.