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BouckFamilyFB-45(1)Hi there friend, and welcome to my blog. I started writing on the internet more than ten years ago, first anonymously as “pilgrimgirl” and later under my own name.  I began as pilgrimgirl because at the time I was studying journey narratives and had a feeling as though I was starting on a new path with an unknown destination. Since I began writing online I’ve started and finished a PhD program, left the Mormon church and became a Quaker, got divorced, started a history podcast, found full-time work in academia, took up rock climbing and outrigger canoeing, and traveled across the globe (China! Belgium! Italy! Chicago! Montana! Portland! Gettysburg! and oh-so-many points in-between).  For my 38th birthday and 25th anniversary of my bone cancer diagnosis,  we (meaning me and you) bought legs for a young double-amputee from China.

You might have happened upon this blog because you’ve heard of my work in the digital humanities or because you are curious about living with a disability or because you are also in the midst of a faith transition.  Click on any of the links above to find my posts about those particular topics (or use the dropdown links in the nav bar on the blog header).  Or, feel free to read a little bit of anything and everything by using the archive links on the right sidebar.

This blog is eclectic and random–it has poetry and cooking and books.  And cats.  And flowers.  And the ocean (my ocean).  But in that sense it’s a good reflection of me and my wide-ranging, far-reaching, magpie curiosity.

resolved #2, 2015

This photo has nothing whatsoever to do with poetry.  It's a snap of the kids sitting on the back porch in the sunshine over the holidays.

This photo has nothing whatsoever to do with poetry. It’s a snap of the kids sitting on the back porch in the sunshine over the holidays.   :)

For those of you who are longtime readers of my blog, you know that I have a certain fascination with poetry.  At times I’ve penned a bit of poetry for this space and have often linked to, or included poetry in my posts.

Why poetry?  I’m not sure, but I think it has something to do with the chewiness and brevity of a poem.  It does so much work in so little space.  This appeals to the minimalist in me.

So as a way to include my poetry in my year, I resolved to listen to The Writer’s Almanac podcast each morning as I sit down to breakfast.  I must say that it’s great to start the day with beautiful words.

resolved, 2015

another living room

This second living room, this morning.

Our house has two small living rooms that are divided by built-in bookcases.  Ostensibly the front room is the formal living room and the back room is the more casual living area.  Simply because we don’t have much furniture, the back living room has been mostly-empty since we moved in.  Several times we’ve talked about buying something for the space, but it just hasn’t been a priority (and as you can see, we still have the artwork for our walls piled up in the corner…)

So recently we decided that maybe we wouldn’t furnish the room in any typical way, but would leave it open and empty-ish as a meditation and exercise space.  And this fits in well with my most important resolution of 2015, which is a carry-over from last year.  And that is to practice yoga each morning.  The second living room is the perfect yoga space: wood floors, morning light, and french doors facing the back garden.

I begin my practice with a headstand, aligning my spine and stoking the energy that I carry through to the rest of my stretching, which these days is mostly aimed at easing the tension in my hips and shoulders.  And then I move to stretching with my nemesis, the foam roller, and then I do some strengthening exercises with some small dumbbells.

It makes a huge difference on my outlook for the day if I take the time for stretching before turning my attention to my work.

Rhythms & Restlessness (or, my response to Kate Kelly’s excommunication)

I wrote this post on June 24th, but never published it. Now that others seem to be facing extreme church discipline and restrictions like Kate Kelly, it seems worth resuscitating this piece from the drafts folder…

All history attests that man has subjected woman to his will, used her as a means to promote his selfish gratification, to minister to his sensual pleasures, to be instrumental in promoting his comfort; but never has he desired to elevate her to that rank she was created to fill. He has done all he could to debase and enslave her mind; and now he looks triumphantly on the ruin he has wrought, and say, the being he has thus deeply injured is his inferior. – Sarah Grimke

When I was in college and could set my own rhythms, I fell naturally into a pattern of staying up until 2 or 3 am to read/study, arising at about 8am, and taking a long after-lunch nap to compensate for the missing nighttime hours of sleep. I followed a somewhat similar pattern during summers when I was a kid, staying up late into the night reading books instead of sleeping. I realized yesterday that I’ve quite naturally fallen into that pattern again, now that for the first time in two decades that caregiving and work responsibilities do not dictate my waking/sleeping hours.

Last night, for example, I stayed up late reading a novel (this one, about The Quaker-abolitionist Grimke sisters) and following the Facebook commentaries about Mormon feminist Kate Kelly’s excommunication. It was well after 2am when I turned out the light. When I did finally snuggle into the covers for sleep, I thought a lot about who I was when I was I college and even way back to my younger years when book-reading about people and places that were far away was such a voracious pleasure, one that compelled me to stay awake to finish a story rather than put the book down for another day. Many of my feelings from those years echoed the sentiments of Sarah Grimke, who I was reading about last night. When I was young I had such strong feelings about the injustices of the world and how I might make a difference by writing and speaking about them. I felt called to that, deep in my soul, so much so that many times I promised my Heavenly Father that I would work hard and pursue every option at my disposal to do good and to promote equality and charity.

Thus, as I was falling asleep it was my younger, idealistic, self that I was soothing as I re-visited the moments after John Remy’s church court five years ago, when I had realized that his excommunication for apostasy also cut me off from the eternities (lone women have no place in the highest levels of heaven, according to LDS doctrine). With one blow to him, I was also removed from God, as were our children, and this action was done without even the slightest apology (or even any acknowledgement of my sorrow, for that matter) from the priesthood leaders.

And it was then that I knew for sure that I was not wanted, or valued, in the LDS church, a feeling that had been brewing for many years. That was the hardest blow of all–all of my devotion and sacrifices for that institution and for my marriage and for my family were moot because I was female and because the loss of the tie to the priesthood (i.e. the patriarchal order) left me estranged from heaven. I scheduled a meeting with my stake president to clarify this issue and he made it quite clear that I had become single (a lone woman in the garden, so to speak) in the eyes of the church when John was ex’d. Knowing that cemented my resolve to find other places besides the Mormon church to devote my energies.

Now, despite my being light years away from caring about Mormon doctrine, the ache of being unwanted and left alone by my church still rears its head occasionally as it did last night. Of course I knew that what happened to Kate was not about me, nor have I been at all involved in the actions or Ordain Women other than submitting a profile for the site when it first launched. But I’d been following the events of OW fairly closely, knowing that if the women organizing the effort had influence and were embraced for their efforts, that the church could right so many wrongs and create a welcoming space for my feminist sisters who still care so much about maintaining their activity in the organization.

Instead, that door of opportunity closed (again), and Kate’s leaders acted without understanding or compassion (and I agree with Kate’s statement that their saying that their discipline was out of love for her, is abusive and cruel). While I will continue to watch the happenings of OW, it will continue to be from a distance, as I move onwards with the rhythm that feels more natural to me now.

Thus far woman has struggled through life with bandaged eyes, accepting the dogma of her weakness and inability to take care of herself not only physically but intellectually. She has held out a trembling hand and received gratefully the proffered aid. She has foregone her right to study, to know the laws and purposes of government to which she is subject. But there is now awakened in her a consciousness that she is defrauded of her legitimate Rights and that she never can fulfill her mission until she is placed in that position to which she feels herself called by the divinity within. Hitherto she has surrendered her person and her individuality to man, but she can no longer do this and not feel that she is outraging her nature and her God.

resolved

Photo taken at sunset on a long ramble in Central Park, January 2015.

Photo taken at sunset on a long ramble in Central Park, January 2015.

Last year, my resolutions were:
-sleep more
-cook most of my meals at home
-plant a bigger veggie garden
-fret less about money
-read more books
-take long walks
-write for pleasure
-own less stuff
-do yoga, daily
-go camping, monthly
-be a better friend/neighbor/colleague/family member
-live closer to where I work

Though I did not do as much camping as I’d hoped to when I penned this list, I believe that three months of homeless research sabbatical, probably counts a bit towards the camping goal.  I also didn’t grow too many veggies (see: homelessness), so I am rolling that goal over to 2015.

Perhaps the accomplished goals that give me the most satisfaction are the daily yoga, being a better friend, and walking more.  The ones that I hope to continue on into this next year include writing for pleasure and increasing the number of home-cooked meals.

In addition to these very personal resolutions I also set a number of aims for my scholarly productivity.  Checking many of these goals off of my to-do list has brought a great sense of accomplishment.  I feel so very fortunate to have a work environment where I am constantly striving and mastering new things.

What I Should Have Said in my Panel About DH Careers this morning…

This morning I spoke on a Panel at the American Historical Association Conference about working in “alt-ac” (or more specifically, non tenure-track DH-related) career paths. In that panel I shared some of my own experiences with following a nontraditional career path that led to my working as an Administrator in Academic Technology for Chapman University. Additionally, I spoke about the training that I give to the graduate students in my “Intro to DH” course to prepare them for jobs outside of a traditional faculty position.

But there was one thing that I didn’t mention while I sat in that room, but that’s been on my mind ever since. And that is this: I am where I am because I liked to have fun and play on the internet. It is not because I ever followed anyone’s advice about what I “ought” to do.

The allure of the internet became apparent to me in 1996 when I was taking an undergrad class on feminist literature and I created a website called “The Bluestocking Bookshelf” that was a hyperlinked portal to the writings of my favorite female writers. Back then there were only a few dozen webpages devoted to the likes of Jane Austen and Emily Dickinson, and I aimed to create an well-curated list of them as a resource for myself and for my classmates. Of course there were very few of my colleagues who had an internet connection (and I had to print out a copy of the website for my teacher), but by then I was already hooked in by the rich possibilities of the online medium.

In the intervening years rarely have I ever ventured into an online foray with the specific intention of increasing my employability, so it’s hard for me to advocate that graduate students and/or early-career scholars should follow my example. Instead, I think they should find that fun thing outside of their coursework that they love doing (whatever it is) and they should just do it. Even if it’s not yet clear how it will impact their career possibilities in the future.

and 10 years later…

Tonight I attended the 10 year anniversary of the groundbreaking of the Fish Interfaith Center at Chapman U.  The dedication of the Interfaith Center was the first time that I set foot on the Chapman campus–I’m not even sure I knew that the university existed before that.

I covered the dedication for the Mormon news media and interviewed Jeffrey Holland, a visiting apostle of the LDS church who spoke at the event.  Some photos:

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It was impossible not to sit in that space tonite and reflect on all that’s happened in the last decade…

That Chapman is now “home” to me and the Mormon church is not, is such a dramatic turn of events that it seems hard to believe that it was a mere 10 years since that I sat in the Chapel chatting with Elder Holland. I look at the me in those photos and wonder if she could have ever imagined the me now.  I suspect not.

But I also see clues of who she was becoming: the long dark skirt (which later became my simple Quaker attire), the business-like button-down (almost like the one I wore to work today), the short simple hair, and the obvious curiosity that registers in my posture and which has continued as a constant in my journey ever since.

Because I am not an “IT Guy”

dhsocalheaderWhile I was at THATCamp DHSoCal last weekend, I heard numerous attendees refer disparagingly to their “IT Guy” or “those guys at IT.”  The references made me uncomfortable because I am an affiliate of IS&T at Chapman (and I’m not a “guy”) and because the term was generally used to indicate staff who are unhelpful and uninclined academically.  The term “IT Guy” often appeared in the same sentence as “Blackboard” to compound the insult.

Apart from my concern that Chapman faculty might feel negatively about me or others from my Office because of our IT role, this trend of dissing IT staff is especially disconcerting for those of us who inhabit the Digital Humanities.  Because, for our projects to be both attainable and sustainable we very much need IT support and resources.  Disparaging (or dehumanizing) those who have technical roles at the university can only widen gaps that might already exist in the organizational structure of our campuses, and thereby reinforce barriers to team-building and project progress.

Perhaps I am particularly sensitive to this issue given that I’ve worked so hard over that past four years at Chapman to gain the trust of faculty and staff.  That work has included my attempt to speak and write in ways that don’t alienate others by using technical jargon or assuming a certain level of academ-ese.  Also, I purposefully refer to IT staff by their names, roles, and/or titles rather than as the generic “IT guy” (just as I do when I discuss faculty or administrators).*

Because, while the divides between “operations” and “academics” are undoubtedly deep at many campuses, that does not mean that there should not be efforts to effect change, and using inclusive language to describe our colleagues is one big step towards doing so.

*at Chapman we have a CIO who is a woman, about half of IT directors are women, and many of the affiliated technical staff are also women–I suspect that it is a rare IT division that does not include many women.