Sep
2006

insomnia + victory

I’ve been wide awake since 4am and thought about blogging the whole time but wanted to will myself back to sleep. For the past week I have barely gotten more than 5 hours of sleep each night and when I took something for my headache, it just made me a”medicine head” all yesterday. Now that I’ve had to call in to school to cancel my Expository Writing class, I thought I’d put a post up before I take a Benadryl and really try to get rid of this sinus pressure, slight fever, AND SOME SLEEP!

So here’s just to say GEAUX NEW ORLEANS SAINTS AND MINNESOTA TWINS! You’ve made mine a very happy household, despite the lack of sleep. Too out of it to link properly, just go to ESPN.com to see what I’m talking about!

p.s. Here is a great story on the Superdome.

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Sep
2006

beat me to it

I just spent some of this afternoon working on my essay for Lisa’s Placeblogging Project and felt good about it, considering I felt sinusy all morning and didn’t want to leave the house. Well I come home and find this excellent piece already written about the same topic I’m writing on: “Blogs are building community while rebuilding Big Easy.” While I know the heart of my dissertation is the same topic, that at least will throw in some trauma theory to academic-tize it :).

The Placeblogging piece will have to be revised now to make sure I am not framing things in the same way, which shouldn’t be too difficult considering it’s an expository essay and not a newspaper story that surely had its limits in terms of word count and personal voice.

Actually, I look forward to the challenge!

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Sep
2006

The Blogger SAT Challenge

Also from the tech-rhet listserv, I learned about this “Challenge.” Kind of an interesting idea that bloggers might be better writers, but…

I’m very much anti-standardized testing and “inane writing prompts,” but I am also against the generalization that blogs are “pointless rants.” How can they expect anything useful to come from this challenge when it is framed this way?

On the blogger’s side, they’re used to cranking out pointless rants on a moment’s notice. But highschoolers are well-practiced at responding to their teachers’ inane writing prompts. Bloggers get to choose their topics, so blogging may not transfer well to the SAT’s writing prompt. Who can perform better on the SAT test? There’s only one way to find out.

I could volunteer to read some of the results, but I’d rather focus on my own metablogging research for the time being. And I can’t even get on that right away with all the updates I have to make on my Powerbook. My cable modem was out yesterday so I have some work to catch up on!

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Sep
2006

primavera primadonna

That’s me. I’m waiting until the Spring to take my exams. The decision was pretty much made up for me when the professor with whom I have to finish an Incomplete told me she had “an extraordinarily busy semester this term,” which I took to mean she didn’t want to deal with reading my 15 page paper or filing change of grade forms. And you can’t have an Incomplete and take your exams. Hence, waiting til March.

But that’s very much OK with me. The amount of stuff I am learning in the Carolyn Ellis class is great and can all be related to trauma theory; and remember, I had never even heard of trauma theory til February of this year. So if I am to be tested on it, I think I need a few months of review, even if the review consists of a lot of new material!

I’m a lot calmer these days and that’s leading to some productivity. I’m writing a Placeblogging intro for New Orleans, enjoying my teaching more than ever, and reading books at a record pace. Here’s hoping I keep it up!

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Sep
2006

Floodwall

What an amazing idea! I checked the zip code list for mine, but it looks like they didn’t collect any from my street. I’m going to pass the info along to others though because a lot of street names looked familiar.

floodwall


Last fall 610 dresser drawers were recovered from the piles of ravaged belongings in front of New Orleans homes. Together they make up Floodwall to memorialize the loss of everything that is irreplaceable but not forgettable. However, Floodwall is not complete without your help. We are now looking to collect the oral histories of these drawers, these homes, these neighborhoods, these lives.

Please share your story with us.

Here’s how…
On the left you will find links to each of New Orleans’ zip codes plus three from Metairie. Each zip code will link you to a page of all of the addresses in that zip code from which drawers were recovered. Please feel free to search the addresses to see if your drawer is a part of Floodwall. Now it is your turn. If you would like to share your stories with Floodwall please complete the information sheet and submit it so that we can contact you to set up an oral history interview this fall.”

“If these drawers could talk…”

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Sep
2006

i'm begging you for help

I just spent an hour composing a blog post that detailed everything about what I am going through with preparing [or not preparing] for my doctoral exams and realized that none of it matters since the decision is mine to make whether or not I want to take them this semester or next. There are no guidelines, and therein lies the problem.

So instead of making my case and listing all my pros and cons, I pose the following questions to those readers who have gone through a comprehensive exam experience of any kind:

How much time did you study beforehand?
How much communication did you have with your question writers about what they expected?
Were you given reading lists with which to prepare and/or did you compose annotated bibliographies beforehand?

I know every school does these differently, and if I wanted to take them this semester it’s been up to me to start studying and get information, but I cannot even begin to describe the mess that the department is when it comes to having checklists, having professors, having professors actually be in their offices or return a damn email, hiring a new chair after not having one for 2 years, failing to hire anyone in Rhet/Comp, or establishing any sense of community among its grad students.

I know that it’s probably my fault for coming to such a large place, or even staying at one when after my first year 3 big name professors moved on to other universities, but come on!??!?!? Even if I have answers to some of my questions now, the exam dates are only 6 weeks away!

Or they could be in March. I’ll let you know what I decide, but I’d really like your feedback.

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Sep
2006

Writing to be Whole Again: Narrating Disability, Illness and Trauma

I really was kidding in the previous post about forgetting what my fellow presenters and I proposed, but here’s the whole kit-n-kaboodle for those interested:

An increasing number of people living with a disability, an illness, or having survived a natural disaster are narrating their life stories to experience healing.

“Deformed” vs. “normal”, “diseased” vs. “healthy”, “fragmented” vs. “whole”. While the construction of self is never so blatantly binary, we are always hailed as embodying some normative or non-normative identity, and we must resolve our relationship to it. Cheryl Glenn asked, “What specific discursive features of reading, writing, speaking, listening, and/or silence contribute to representations of identities? With what consequences, in/exclusions, or possibilities? With what permanence?” We propose to answer these questions through an examination of narratives that are the ongoing results of traumatic events. The extent to which the narrator forms (or aligns him/herself) with an identity, whether online, in the local community, or in the classroom, presents both challenges and opportunities for analysis.

In “Enabled Identity, Written Identity: Disability and Ethnographic Narrative in the Composition Classroom,” Speaker 1 addresses “disabled” as another culturally constructed marker, defined by expectations about what constitutes “healthy” bodies. As Rosemarie Garland Thomson observes in her 1997 work Extraordinary Bodies: Figuring Physical Disability in American Culture and Literature: “Disability, then, is the attribution of corporeal deviance – not so much a property of bodies as a product of cultural rules about what bodies should be or do.” Disabled and non-disabled bodies and identities are locked in an ever-shifting social web, constantly defining and being redefined. Moreover, those touched by the unique circumstances of disability and traumatic illness extend from the individual to family, friends, and those in care-related positions. Thus, few adults today have not been touched by disability; however, many avert their eyes in order to quell the pain and anxiety raised by the perception of suffering, silence and vulnerability. Speaker 1 will examine a study of ethnographic narratives written by or about people who are defined as “disabled” in the Composition classroom. These “disabled” people engage their own limitations and potentials. Their narratives, as well as the narratives of family, friends and members of a broader community, offer students a point from which to begin questioning and delineating how identity formation takes place. Furthermore, coexistent in an investigation of ethnographic method and disability studies are questions of who is “native” and who is the “fieldworker”. Or, are we all “participant-observers”? Speaker 1 concludes that this exchange challenges the students to locate an appropriate position and identity from which to situate their own intellectual (and emotional) understandings in the form of written responses.

In “Re-remembering HIV: Using Lore to Build a New and Less Traumatic Cultural Collective Memory in Gay Chat Space,” Speaker 2 discusses how the increased visibility of HIV on the web has allowed both HIV positive and negative gay men in a state located in the deep South to construct new identities. These new identities can be placed along a continuum that, until a few years ago, used a “clean” vs. “dirty” binary heuristic, which was regarded as “dramatic” (i.e., traumatic) by some members of the community. As of 2000, lore concerning HIV in gay chat space available to the local community was often wildly out of date. Created out of a sense of panic, this incorrect lore added to the trauma surrounding HIV, especially as this misinformation was sometimes deliberately disseminated in an attempt to project an image, and therefore an identity, of HIV positive gay men as both disease-ridden and villainous. However, as community members saw HIV represented both accurately, on websites such as Test Positive Aware and The Body, and inaccurately, on pages touting HIV as an easily treatable disease with few to none permanent consequences, the technology of the chat room was remediated from a means of social control of HIV positive men to a collective effort that constructed HIV status as merely one characteristic used to describe a given individual, similar to other less traumatic (though still charged) markers as age, gender, class and race. Speaker 2 concludes that this re-remembering created a new cultural memory that reconstructed HIV as neither always fatal nor as a minor illness, but as a serious though treatable sickness.

In “Online Communication Before, During and After Hurricane Katrina: Creating Relevant Truth and Offering a Sense of Comfort, Trust, and Familiarity,” Speaker 3 explores the breakdown of communication at times of crisis and how online spaces offer new ways to create knowledge and trust that are different from traditional media. The immediacy of the Internet allows websites and weblogs to have their own validity, levels of interaction, and concept(s) of truth, and thereby offered Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi natives and Hurricane Katrina and Rita evacuees much-needed information and comfort. Using the theory of Cathy Caruth and Bessel Van der Kolk, an analysis of the online postings by those traumatized individuals separated from the place where their trauma occurred will illustrate how the web became their only means with which to take action, whether that be correcting overblown predictions by television broadcasters or pleading for help to save people and pets left behind. Through an exploration of the processes involved in the acts of witnessing, documenting, reacting to, and dealing with loss, Speaker 3 will demonstrate how the typically de-centered and diverse web created knowledge in a cooperative way more effectively than traditional media and ultimately created a collective voice for those trauma victims rendered physically helpless.

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Sep
2006

4Cs in NYC

Woohoo! Like so many other of my peeps, my 4Cs panel was accepted. Now I need to go back and see what it was we proposed…just joking! 😉

I also cannot wait to see some of my NYC pals again. When I lived in Boston I would be down there every month or so, then when I moved back to NOLA, every year or so. Now it’s been almost 4 years!

I need to make sure I balance conference time with Big Apple time, which is gonna be very difficult. At least I present Friday morning and can have the whole weekend to hit the streets! Of course, this conference isn’t until March 2007, but hey, a girl blogging this from a freezing cold library needs some distractions.

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Sep
2006

numb

Tonight in my graduate course with Carolyn Ellis, Communicating Illness, Grief, and Loss, we went over the topics of Illness Narratives, Life Writing, and Wounded Storytellers. Dr. Ellis told us how she made her move from sociology to communication and we all discussed where we feel we fall on the critical, interpretive, naturalist continuum. We also discussed how storytelling is vital to healing, the types of personal writing out there and how this type of writing is a response to the representational crisis of the mid-1980s [a time when people began questioning social scientists, e.g., “What right do you have to tell someone’s story? How do you capture reality and evaluate and interpret research in an ethical way?]

The reason I am blogging about tonight’s class though is because it is 9/11 and so much has changed in how we think about crisis and fear since then. Another exercise we had due in class was related to Expressing Emotions of Loss: Writing, Music, and Healing. We were to bring in a song on CD and its lyrics–as long as it dealt with a wounded body. I brought in “Numb” by the Pet Shop Boys. Their website is weird so I can’t link to the lyrics directly, but I will paste them in at the end of this post.

Anyway, once we listened to the song, I was asked if this is how I felt during/since Katrina and my answer was a definite “no.” Since the song is about hiding from emotion and not wanting to deal with pain or to even think about what’s going on in the world, I think it is more suited to an individual crisis rather than a national one like Katrina or 9/11. Sure, I know we as a nation were taken aback by both of those events as well as angered by the fact that so many innocent died, but in both cases of national tragedy I think we immediately wanted answers and we weren’t going to shy away until we got/get answers. It’s late and that’s my take on it as of now. I hope I’m not sounding defensive–I just found it to be an interesting question because as much as I may have tried to remain in denial about the loss of my house and that place I call home, I’ve never wanted to feel numb or shut out sources of information. All I have wanted to do is think about it and what I can do to help, nothing else. With that said, I’ve got to go to bed and read before teaching tomorrow morning.

Don’t wanna hear the news
What’s going on
What’s coming through
I don’t wanna know
don’t wanna know
Just wanna hide away
make my my escape
I want the world
to leave me alone
Feels like I feel too much
I’ve seen too much
For a little while
I want to forget

I wanna be numb
I don’t wanna feel this pain no more
Wanna lose touch
I just wanna go and lock the door
I don’t wanna think
I don’t wanna feel nothing
I wanna be numb
I just wanna be
wanna be numb

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Sep
2006

Kalypso's New Orleans

Kalypso’s New Orleans: Katrina + 1 Year is a wonderful 30+ minute film made by an 11-year old girl. She also did a film at the 6-month mark. She interviews her friends and neighbors [some of whom now live in Houston] and gives you an honest take on what it means to miss New Orleans as well as its optimism. I think it gets stronger around the 20 minute mark, but you should really watch the whole thing; she even mentions Rising Tide and interviews Maitri.

BTW–sorry I haven’t posted those conference notes yet. I have audio too. It will go up tomorrow when I am working from school.

Here is a pic of me, Maitri, and Kalypso.

rising

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Sep
2006

still nothing

Just haven’t been in a bloggy mood. Trying to sort through my Fall teaching and course schedule. Met with the Graduate Director about my exam and dissertation committees and all is good on that front, so far. Starting to stress about studying, but at least I’m kind of in control of the reading lists. I think…

Watched CBS Fashion Rocks last night and videos of performances from the MTV VMAs this morning. Kind of have a crush on Timbaland. He looks sweet and cuddly. I know that sounds crazy about someone who sings on Promiscuous Girl and Sexy Back, but that’s my impression. 😉

See for yourself.

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Sep
2006

Vanity Fair Extra

No, I’m not talking the Tom, Katie and Suri pictures [does anyone else think Suri looks Asian?], I’m just referring to the essay described below:.

In Katrina’s Wake
One year after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, residents are still weathering the storm. The author, a Louisiana native who managed Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign, takes a personal look back at the events and aftermath of the deluge that forever changed the landscape of the Big Easy
By DONNA BRAZILE

It’s very good and I’m not sure why I was surprised by that. I guess I am just so glad when the truth, especially from a local, gets put to print. Indeed, it has been “one of the worst years in memory” and even with celebrating my birthday this year, all I could think about was last year and how I had just been put back in touch with my parents 5 days after the storm and how difficult it was for them to fathom what our city became.

Go read…I’ve got to ice my back again. 🙁

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Sep
2006

It's my birthday and I'll not blog if I want to!

Sorry about the continued absence from the blogosphere. We just keep having fun over here and it’s still better for my back to not sit at the computer if I don’t have to. The Twins game was awesome last night and the footlong hotdog was deliciouso! Now that the day is finally here, I don’t know what we’re going to do tonight to celebrate. The ice cream cake is gone though… 🙁

cake

I miss you, cookie dough delerium!

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Sep
2006

twins tonight!

The back is better, thank goodness! I remained offline for as much as possible anyway to be safe. Also, we’ve been doing a lot of pre-celebrating of my birthday. It’s tomorrow, but I insist on a week-long or more of fun times. See Megfest for someone more organized about her celebrations than me! 😉

So far we’ve seen 3 movies, eaten a fabulous dinner, pigged out on an ice cream cake, and tonight we’re going to a Twins game. Woohoo! We even bought posterboard to try and get circled by the Minnesota Twins announcer, Bert Blyleven, but he’s been suspended for 2 games!??!?!?! Grrrrrrrrrrr

Have to do more prep for teaching this week, so I’ll write again later.

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