Purposive Rambling

the journey is the reward.

Archive for the ‘Grad School’ Category

“Books are brain food.”

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That’s what the magnet next to my desk says. It’s very cute. It has a little book worm with glasses on it.

I think the saying on the magnet is true. Too true.

Reading definitely keeps your mind moving. Just like food keeps your body moving. For my brain, Thanksgiving came a bit early. I’ve read too many books in the past few days. My brain is experiencing a food coma. It’s tired. It needs a break. It doesn’t want to work anymore. It needs to sleep.


Written by Lisa

November 23, 2009 at 4:06 pm

Posted in Grad School

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Really wishing I could change the world this week…

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On Monday I showed my class Killing Us Softly 3: Advertising’s Image of Women. By the end of it I was feeling pretty unglued. We talked about whether or not advertisements that objectify and dehumanize women contribute to a culture that is accepting of violence against women. I am a big believer in the power of media. My students weren’t as convinced. They didn’t seem nearly as disturbed by the images as I was. I wonder if it’s because I tend to shelter myself from that as much as possible.

On my way home from campus on Monday I saw a girl who couldn’t have been a day over 13 standing on the side of the road holding a sign asking for help for her family. I wanted to call the police. It was dark and cold out. It seemed dangerous. And it seemed wrong for parents to put their child out there like that. But I don’t think it’s criminal. So I did nothing. I still feel torn about it.

On the same drive home I heard a song by Florence + the Machine called “Kiss with a Fist.” Here are some lyrics:

i broke your jaw once before spilt your blood upon the floor
you broke my leg with your touch
sit back and watch the bed burn
well love sticks sweat drips
break the lock if it don’t fit
a kick in the teeth is good for some
a kiss with a fist is better than none
a-woah a kiss with a fist is better than none

Apparently, it’s not supposed to be about domestic violence. Coulda fooled me. I find it appalling. It sounds to me like it’s okay to lash out at a partner as long as it’s mutual.

Last night I sat in on a domestic violence support group. Hearing the women’s stories made my heart hurt. I just could never imagine treating another human being that way.

On top of all this I’m taking the Food Stamp Challenge this week in honor of Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week. Which means that I am eating on only $21 for the entire week. It is rough. I am really seeing how incredibly privileged I am when it comes to food. I really appreciate that we can afford to spend a little extra for hearty, whole-grain bread and pasta, brown rice, fresh fruits and vegetables, organic lean meats, and yogurt! Oh, yogurt, how I miss thee. The grits are getting old fast. Of course, we splurged and spent part of our allotment on Starbucks coffee. Probably should have gone with the cheap stuff. Then maybe I could have gotten something other than “Valu-Time” peanut butter and jelly. I feel like I’m eating sugar sandwiches. And the $.99 Marsh bread tastes like fluffy cardboard. It’s only Wednesday and I am soooo over this. But enough complaining. That’s not the point of the challenge. It’s for a week. And then I get to go back to my spoiled life. I really can’t complain. But really, nobody should have to eat this way. $21 is nothing.

Written by Lisa

November 18, 2009 at 4:38 pm

This is the flu that never ends. Yes it goes on and on my friends…

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I thought I was better. And then I had to lecture yesterday afternoon. I coughed the entire time. One of my students was kind enough to share her cough drops with me. They helped a little. I hope I didn’t spread my germs around too much. This feels like the never-ending flu. It’s just been up and down and back again. I took NyQuil last night to suppress the coughing so I could sleep. It did the trick. But it also kept me in bed until 9:00! So now I feel even more behind than I did yesterday. And poor Jon is just getting sicker every day. I started off terrible and have been slowly getting better. He started off feeling just a little crappy and is slowly working his way up to terrible. Nutso flu.

Written by Lisa

November 10, 2009 at 4:05 pm

Posted in Grad School, Teaching

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Date Night

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Just two days ago I swore off blogging until I am done with my qualifying exam. But, here I am. I couldn’t resist telling you about the wonderful time I had last night. We went to the Eagle’s Nest. It’s a restaurant on top of the Hyatt in downtown Indianapolis. And it spins! We’ve wanted to check it out for awhile, but a) we heard the food wasn’t that great, and b) it’s expensive. Early in the week we decided we were overdue for a real date, though, and since we’ve tried just about everything else – not in the whole city, of course, but in our little walkable area of the city – we opted for this place. And it was definitely expensive. But worth it. The food was fantastic! We went all out with a bottle of wine, a shrimp cocktail, steak for Jon and halibut for me, and then dessert drinks. Even better than the food was the view, though. Indy is gorgeous when it’s all lit up at night.¬†The state house was especially beautiful. It was neat to have a changing view as the night progressed too. I think we made two full rotations before we headed home. The best part of the evening was spending time with Jon. Sometimes I forget how easy and interesting conversation is with him. We could have stayed there all night talking. I love that after all this time, I still can’t get enough of him.

So, I may or may not be back for awhile. I have to keep my head in the game, and to help me do that, I’m disconnecting a little bit. Blogging, Facebook, and TV are all getting shoved to the back of the cabinet for the rest of this semester.

Written by Lisa

October 17, 2009 at 5:14 pm

Classroom Activity: Spaceship Exercise

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This semester I am teaching a service-learning course called Community Problems and Outreach. We are focusing on three main topics – families in poverty, debates over marriage, and domestic abuse. My students are volunteering at communities that serve low-income families in the community. We spend part of our time in the classroom discussing academic material on these topics, and we spend part of our time discussing their volunteer experiences. Yesterday I devoted a good portion of class time to the service side of the course. To help the students become more aware of the assumptions, biases, and prejudices that they hold, which can affect their interactions with the people they are serving, we did a short group activity. Perhaps you’ve seen a version of it before. I adapted it from a version that I participated in at a recent domestic violence training for Family Service of Central Indiana.

Spaceship Exercise

The fate of the human race lies in your hands. NASA scientists have identified a meteor that is barreling toward the Earth. It will make impact in 60 minutes. There will be total devastation. We have time to prepare only one spaceship that can carry only 7 people off of the planet. They will be sent to colonize Zuno, a recently discovered Earth-like planet. You must choose these 7 people from the following list of 12 candidates. You have 15 minutes.

Age Gender Sexual Orientation Race/Ethnicity Language Occupation Other Information
1 24 Male Heterosexual African American English Medical student
2 32 Female Heterosexual Caucasian English and Spanish Prostitute
3 28 Intersex Bisexual Caucasian/Jewish English and Hebrew Rabbi
4 28 Male Heterosexual Caucasian English Farmer Has had a vasectomy
5 55 Female Heterosexual African American English Infectious disease medical researcher
6 6 Male Asian American English and Korean
7 19 Male Homosexual Native American English Professional athlete
8 26 Female Heterosexual Mexican American Spanish Homemaker 6 months pregnant
9 14 Female African American English Born with leg deformities and needs a wheelchair
10 60 Male Heterosexual Caucasian English Retired CEO of major pharmaceutical company
11 40 Male Heterosexual Caucasian English Mechanic Homeless
12 36 Female Homosexual Multiracial English and German Fourth grade teacher

So, who would you choose? Based on what criteria? What do your choices reflect about what you value in people? What do they reflect about your assumptions regarding the characteristics about these individuals?

Teaching is full of surprises.

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3772470003_7690c3676fMost courses in our department are capped at 70 students. And in the past I’ve had somewhere between 65 and 70 each semester. But this time around I am teaching a service-learning course, and because it takes a bit more coordinating, the department capped it at 50 students. But, I actually only have 28 enrolled. And wow. It is so different! When I was putting together the syllabus and preparing lectures I wasn’t thinking about what it would be like to stand in front of the class. I figured I might get a few butterflies before the first class meeting, but it wasn’t that big of a deal. I’d done it before. But I hadn’t done it quite like this. Looking out at only 28 faces is much different¬†from looking out at 68 faces. I love that I can actually see all of their faces – even the ones in the back of the classroom. And I love that I can see if they’re reading the newspaper or talking to their friends or texting. And the smaller class size will make learning their names much easier. However, I can also see that they’re all looking at me! I think because they know I can see them clearly, they know they have to pay attention. So when I look out at them I don’t see any tops of heads that are staring at their desk or off into space or at the cell phone in their lap. Now don’t get me wrong, I think this is great. I want them to pay attention. But it’s a bit intimidating. And unexpectedly intimidating. If anything, I thought a smaller class would be less so than a larger class.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/38117207@N03/ / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Written by Lisa

September 2, 2009 at 10:29 pm

But I don’t wanna!!!

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offended girlTomorrow begins a new semester. And I am so not ready. I wish that throwing tantrums actually worked because I’m on the verge of kicking and screaming. I know I know I KNOW that I need to be sitting here at my computer working, but all I want to do is play Jon in another round of Battleship and eat some cantalope.

Written by Lisa

August 30, 2009 at 10:38 pm