Doesn't anybody ever update this blog?

School started last week, and because it's my second year on the job, I really hit the ground running. We had two major events--an art show called Girls! Girls! Girls! and a Women's Equality Day event--both of which were ridiculously successful, and we also initiated 20 first-year students into the Women's and Gender Studies living learning community. For more info, check out the brilliant new WGS webpage.

Because of all this activity, Biffle and I really haven't had time to reflect on our one year anniversary of living in Charleston--really more of an anniversary for me than for Biffle, since he's only really been living here since June. I have been here one year and 31 days. I have nothing profound to say about that, but I do have a couple of observations: last year, for most of the year, I accepted every invitation I received from everybody. If someone wanted to do something, I said yes. Now I find that I'm being more selective--I'm prioritizing. I've been here long enough to have a sense of which relationships I want to cultivate and which may stay at the acquaintance level.

I also have this observation: living with Biffle is really wonderful. We had a rough couple of weeks before the semester started, when I was irrationally irritable and moody (I got mad at Biffle for eating granola, for instance, and then burst into tears when he called me on it). Then one night at dinner, this microscopic internal shift happened, and I said, "OH! You're not leaving!" Every fall for the last seven years, he's gone away to school, so even though my brain knew that it wasn't happening this time around, my body was preparing for his departure.

Here's the kind of thing that happens now that we live together: Monday was a 14-hour day for me. At the end of that kind of day last year, I would have biked home alone, eaten cold cereal, and gone to bed. This Monday, though, I looked out into the audience of the Women's Equality Day event and saw Biffle there. And after the event was over, he drove me home and made me dinner. I was so grateful I almost cried.


just another rainy day in Charleston

although they may look a little like post Katrina shots, the pictures below are simply representations of what Charleston looks like after a fairly heavy rainfall that comes during high tide. I didn't take these pictures--they came from this morning's newspaper. I guess that means that the event was at least newsworthy, but not much more than that. a few hours later the tide went out, the water was able to drain into the harbour, and everything went back to normal.

No real story here. Just wanted folks to see it, and i guess add that i enjoy weather and her fickle ways.

(oh...and alison wants me to explain her absence from the blog here as a result of being busy with the start of school. she was not washed away in the flood.)


the orange report


You are looking at orange reports one, two and three--and in that order from top to bottom (i'm sad about the last one being in landscape orientation, but i wasn't thinking. ) You've seen number one. It was from 7/22. The second picture is from 7/31 when i was angwy about blogger not letting me post my picture. The third is from this morning.




Update from the writer's block

I finished "Abortion: A Love Story," and I feel really good about it. Oddly, the encouragement I got from folks on this blog helped quite a bit. Now I'm going to let it sit for a few days and then mess with it some more, and if I still like it after that, I'll send it out into the world to get published. Even though I've made no progress on the academic essay, I'm feeling better about my life as a writer. Perhaps I have not yet written the last good thing I will ever write.

In other news, I spent the weekend in Charlottesville with the Little-Hunts, who are now a five-person family thanks to the birth of Emma. It was great to meet Emma and see how Molly and Madeline have grown. Here's one thing I learned: if you have an infant and a one and a half year old in the same house, the infant will learn very quickly not to be freaked out if someone comes and pokes her in the eye while she's sleeping. Useful life skill.

Unfortunately (and sort of unbelievably) I forgot my camera, so I have no pictures of the increasingly adorable Little-Hunt family, but trust me--these are some attractive children. OH, and smart, too. And strong! You have to be careful when you have adorable female children that you don't start putting all the emphasis on how good looking they are--they'll get enough of that later in life.


Maybe it's the insufferable heat of August...

...or maybe it's the fact that school's about to start, or that Mercury is in retrograde, but whatever it is, I am in a funk. A writing-induced funk.

I've spent the last two years researching zines by girls and women, and I've spent the last three weeks trying to write an article about this subject. At first I always feel like I've forgotten how to write and that, unbeknownst to myself, I've actually already written the last good thing I'll ever write. BUT I recognize that that's neurotic, and I thought that if I sat at the computer long enough, I would come up with some good ideas. The first stuff to come out is crap, of course, but if I kept at it, I'd hit the seam and hardly be able to keep up with my fingers on the keyboard. Well, that hasn't happened, and today I came to the conclusion that I've taken three weeks to produce 19 pages of crap. Which, of course, makes me fear that I was right to begin with and I have, in fact, written the last good thing I'll ever write.

What am I doing about this, other than whining on the blog? I've taken some positive steps: I'm going to make Deandra read what I've got so far. I've asked some colleagues to start a writing group with me. And I think I might take a break and try writing something completely different, like the essay that's been churning around in me for some time, called, "Abortion: A Love Story" (now THAT'S provocative, isn't it? You can't wait to read it! Well, it doesn't exist yet, so hold your horses.)

Editor's note: I realize that I promised some Katie-bar-the-door blog action re: greenhouse gases, but obviously Katie hasn't had to bar any door. This is because Biffle is working on his thesis. I'm sure he'll snap out of it soon, though, and get back to ranting here.


Just a warning

Biffle and I saw the Al Gore movie, An Inconvenient Truth, tonight, and we both liked it, so it's Katie bar the door here on Baxter Sez.

Before Biffle gets a good head of steam going about the state of the environment, though, I want to slip in here that I read an op-ed piece today about how biased colleges are because, in many cases, the liberal faculty far outnumber the conservative ones. Here's what I have to say about that: this is because if you're ethical and intelligent, you are more likely to be liberal. Not to mention that these terms have been so skewed these days that just being educated means being liberal. Recognize continuing gender inequity and believe it ought to stop? Liberal. Acknowledge the existence of evolution? Liberal. Think that some of the valid literary works of human history were written by folks who weren't Western European? Liberal.

On a related but not identical note, Christian schools know that education is likely to sway people's minds away from fundamentalism; Biffle has often related to me the lecture all the seniors at Goodpasture Christian School got about how, when they went to college, they were going to hear things that might sway them away from fundamentalist Christianity, but that they must resist these heathen teachings with all their might. Ah, yes--shut your mind to everything you might learn in college in order to protect your religious beliefs--that's the way to get a full, meaningful education.


How the Piepmeiers have fun, or, the Dad in the Pool

If you want to come and see me,
I'm the guy without any clothes.
I'm billed as Naked Walter,
I play the Greyhound Lounge until they close.
--"Country Music Star," Walter Biffle

My brother Trey doesn't like it when I make universalizing statements about the Piepmeiers (even when they're patently accurate, like my observation back in December that "we Piepmeiers are a packratty bunch"), but we Piepmeiers are fun to hang out with. Here's what happened when Biffle--who has an unexplainable penchant for nudity--decided to take off his swim trunks in the ocean: we all followed his lead, and my mom took a picture.

This particular day at the beach reminds me of a phenomenon that Catherine and I have talked about a lot: the Dad in the Pool. In our childhoods, our dads didn't often go swimming with us, and if they did, it was hard as hell to get them in the water. But if you managed to whine and manipulate and beg enough, you might succeed in getting your dad in, and that's when the fun began. The Dad in the Pool was the life of the party--he would chase you around while you were shrieking your head off, let you ride on his back, and throw you in little, appropriately terrifying, parabolas into the water. This extreme fun only lasted for a little while, though, because the dad would always retire to the beach towel much sooner than you wanted him to. I think this is an interestingly gendered phenomenon that completely leaves the mom hanging: mom was the old reliable who always took us to the pool, so she got no credit. It was the Dad in the Pool that was the ultimate prize. And I think this might function as some sort of larger metaphor for father/daughter relationships.

Have other people experienced this Dad in the Pool thing?

Anyway, you'll notice from this picture that my dad chose not to come with us to the beach, so Walter ended up taking on the role of the Dad in the Pool (which, come to think of it, he often does).