Halloween 2009

This year Maybelle was Yoda for Halloween. I figure that, until she's old enough to have an opinion, I get to dress her as things that I find amusing and/or endearing, and her Yoda costume is both of those. We were at a pre-trick or treating gathering at a colleague's house, and one of the other guests saw her and immediately said, "Precious you are!" Indeed.
She was completely exhausted, so our Halloween fun was very brief. I was pleased that she kept her Yoda ears on long enough for us to take a picture--just that long, and no longer.

The nicest Halloween moment was when we got home, the sun was setting, and candlelight was shining out through the jackolanterns. She looked back and forth from one to the other and then applauded.


Blog book tour

As you all know, I've been working for ages and ages on a book about zines by girls and women. That book now exists: Girl Zines: Making Media, Doing Feminism. It'll be for sale soon--early in November. I've gotten my author's copies, and they look fantastic--I'm really happy with it.

I'm writing about it here not simply to share the good news, but to see if any of you would be interested in helping me publicize. NYU Press has suggested that I put together a blog book tour. What this means is that, if you have a blog, and if you're up for either reviewing the book or interviewing me, then you can get a free copy of Girl Zines, and we'll advertise your blog on the website that the press is creating for the book.

You don't have to have a blog that's nationally prominent or has a huge readership to be eligible for this exciting opportunity. This is a very grassroots kind of way of advertising, so even your smallish blog that's read by just your best friend and your cat would qualify. Email me if you're interested--PiepmeierA [at] cofc.edu.

PS--If your cat is into nonprofessional, scrappy, creative forms of self expression, she'll enjoy Girl Zines.


Big day

Pumpkin, 10-25-09
It was a big day at our house today. First of all, Halloween is coming up, so we made jackolanterns. Maybelle enjoyed hanging out with the pumpkins, but she hasn't seen them lit up yet because she goes to bed while it's still light out.

The second thing we did was even more exciting--something I've been looking forward to since Maybelle was born. Biffle attached her bike seat to one of our bikes, and we took her out riding! She is not such a fan of having to wear a helmet--that was a bit of a battle, but we made it a little easier by putting a knit cap on her head before we put the helmet on. Since she has no hair, we thought maybe she needed a buffer. We got the smallest bike helmet we could find, but it still dwarfs her little head.

She's not sure yet how she feels about riding a bike. You'll notice that one person in the picture below looks very happy, and the other one looks pretty wary.
We got the seat that puts her in front, so she can feel the wind and see everything. I hope this excellent vantage point will help her decide that biking is great fun.


Me at Girl with Pen

Check out my first post at Girl with Pen. The topic will be familiar to readers of Baxter Sez, but I've got a little more to say about it over there than I did over here.

Now I have to go teach class.


One small grouchy request

I will preface this gripe with two disclaimers:

  1. I have been irritable lately, I think in part because we've hit the crazy-busy time of year.
  2. I can't remember what the second one was.
It's tenure and promotion time, and now that I have tenure I'm assessing other people's work. I'm currently reading a published article by a colleague (and I won't specify which department this colleague is in, because I'm on two T&P committees this fall). In the article this colleague refers to a character as "a Down Syndrome boy" and later as "a Down's child."

My small, grouchy request is this: if you are writing about people with Down syndrome, please call them people with Down syndrome, not "Down syndrome people." What is "a Down Syndrome boy" anyway? Not only does it not make sense grammatically, but it implies that a particular diagnosis is the primary characteristic of a person, rather than implying that this is a person first and foremost, with a diagnosis that's secondary. If you were writing about a character with heartburn, would you call him "a heartburn boy"?

I won't be bringing this up in the tenure interview because I suspect it would just make my colleague get all shamefaced and apologetic, but I'm putting it out here on the blog for you lovely readers to carry out into the world.


Slouchy professional

One of my colleagues recently decided that, for her, thirty-six is the year of pretty. She's coming to campus dressed up, with hairstyles and jewelry, and she really does look good. If you click on the link to her post, you'll see that in the comments, I shared the following story:

A student told me last week, "Alison, you always look so...comfortable!" I was gracious and said "Thanks, that's what I'm going for," but inside I was thinking, Comfortable? Doesn't that just mean I look like a complete slob?
Perhaps not a complete slob, but probably not too far from that. The other day my brother sent me a link to this article, with the subject header in the email "Dressing like an adult." If you click on that link, you'll see pictures and descriptions of 23 "staples for every woman's wardrobe," none of which I own. Well, I take that back--I have a pair of black pants, a pair of jeans, and a daily purse. But on the whole, according to this article, I don't dress like an adult. I wear Chacos or Birkenstocks most of the time. I have a number of button-down shirts that languish in my closet because the thought of ironing them in the morning is just too much. Perhaps I can play my backpack off as my "signature accessory," but honestly I think you're not supposed to be carrying a 15-year-old backpack when you're an adult. And let's not even talk about my hair, which hasn't had a good cut since I was in DC in March.

Fortunately, I'm in a profession where being sartorially challenged isn't that much of a detriment. Being a faculty member means that there's no expectation that I'll ever get dressier than khaki pants and a t-shirt. Some professors on this campus wear Hawaiian shirts and shorts every day, and it hasn't hurt their careers (although let's be clear that these particular people are men, and I do think that makes a difference).

Earlier this week a student was in my office, and she mentioned her own style, which is very polished and feminine. I commented that my look is more slouchy professional. This made her laugh, and honestly, I think it's pretty accurate. So for me, thirty-six is the year of slouchy professional.


Buddy Walk 2009

Walking in the Buddy Walk, 2009
Today was the day for the annual Buddy Walk nationwide. I was pretty nervous before last year's Buddy Walk. It was going to be my first encounter with people with Down syndrome, other than Maybelle, and I was afraid that the event would confirm all my worst fears. Of course, it did the opposite--it showed me how slim the differences are between typical kids and kids with Down syndrome. It was a great day.

Maybelle and Rosemary
Today Biffle and I got a sense of how far we've come in a year. Last year, Maybelle was in her baby sling, asleep--Biffle kept having to peel back the cloth to show her to people when they'd ask. We knew almost nobody, and we spent most of the walk watching everyone around us--it was a research trip.

This year, we attended the walk with a bunch of friends and their kids, some of whom have Down syndrome and some of whom don't. The only anxiety we had was wondering if Maybelle would wake up from her nap in time for us to leave for the walk, or if we'd have to wake her up (she woke up at exactly the right time, after we'd packed up all our gear). Maybelle was an active participant, playing with the other babies, expressing strong preferences about the foods we offered her, and laughing her head off at the dance that ended the day. She had a great time, and so did we.