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.




such a big piece of the pie

My spending this month

My spending this month: note, even the “travel” is going towards the kids–for their flights home for the holidays.  And the “shopping” is mostly for them as well–going towards getting them outfitted for the Fall semester  🙂

This is what your monthly spending looks like when you’re paying for two kids’ college expenses.  While I’m thrilled to be supporting the kiddos in pursuing their educational goals (and likewise thrilled to have the means to do so), sometimes I’m a bit overwhelmed by just how expensive it is.  I look at this graph and find myself counting the months until they graduate…

Sunday Reading

In lieu of reading the Sunday newspaper, I’m reading a variety of interesting web articles this morning. They’re all so good, it seemed well-worth sharing a few of the links:

A comparative review essay from LARB about Istanbul and Shanghai, which prompted me to add Midnight at the Pera Palace to my reading list.

A Boom article about camping (note: the vintage photos are almost as good as the writing).

This NYTimes article about why doctors still use stories (or case studies) in addition to data. (H/t to Holly for the link on FB)

5 reasons why I’m not blogging as much as I used to…

My 98 year-old bungalow, with its broad front porch...

My 98 year-old bungalow, with its broad front porch…

1) I’m out of the habit:

The reality is that blogging was a regular daily (sometimes twice-daily) habit for me for many years. Once that began to taper off, so many other things began to fill its space.  That said, I still post links and photos regularly on FB and on IG, so I still have a fairly broad social media presence despite not blogging.

2) I’m an empty-nester:

Oddly, although I would have thought that having the kiddos out of the house would mean oodles of writing time for me, it simply hasn’t been the case. Being solo means that I have to do everything (from taking out the trash to grocery shopping to cleaning the litterbox) on my own.  Not having the kids around to help with many of those tasks means less time for me to pursue writing (and other hobbies).  I suspect that that will change a bit as soon as I get truly settled into my new house and have fewer organizing/furniture-moving/lightbulb-changing activities to perform.

3) I’ve got a huge front porch:

I probably spend at least on a hour a day sitting on my porch doing not much of anything (maybe eating or reading or chatting with a neighbor). I always wanted a broad front porch where I could sit and watch the world pass by. It’s a constant magnet that tugs at me and tempts me to close the lid of my laptop and get outside again already.

4) My in-real-life relationships have become more important to me than my cyber-ones:

I suspect that this has been a gradual but purposeful change for me. I want friends to eat with, to giggle with, to take walks at the beach with. It’s really hard to do that with friends that you only know over the internet or that you only see every 3 or 4 years. While I still value those of you who I feel close to who live far away, hanging out with local friends is incredibly satisfying and means that I don’t feel such a strong need to broadcast my daily thoughts out the audience of the internet. Because I can tell that story to a friend tonite over dinner, instead.

5) I have a pen and a beautiful German diary, and I know how to use them:

For a long time, my blog was a space where I could work out the difficult things that were swirling around in my head–I would post a quotation or a photo as an attempt to strengthen my spine a bit to endure the challenges that I had in my daily life.  And while I still have challenges, I generally grapple with those on the pages of my journal, instead of posting online.  It feels good to be discovering penmanship again, and to let my thoughts fly in a space where I don’t need to censor them.  It seems a better space than this one, for getting perspective on whatever problem-of-the-day is disrupting my peace.


As a result of my lack-of-blogging, I’ve felt writing to be a bit harder than it used to be.  The words just aren’t flowing as freely as before.  I might start writing here more often again as an exercise in creativity, but I’m not yet sure…

The glamour (of travel)

This article (h/t Steve) about the so-called glamour of travel hit home with me tonite…

Although the past few weeks of traveling have had more than their fair share of glamour, if you’d seen me schlepping around the city today, you probably would’ve wondered if I was homeless–carrying too many travel bags and crutches and an umbrella, wearing clothes that hadn’t been washed in 2 weeks that included mismatched socks, scratching at my many mosquito bites, looking for somewhere cozy to sit while I people-watched. It was fun, but it was not glamorous…I was a bit cranky and achy and trying to find a fun way to pass the hours until we could get the key to our temporary apartment. We ended up finding a fun little street fair to wander, but after so many of ‘those’ looks from bystanders, we realized that luggage-carrying odiferous and slightly grubby (although happy and well-intentioned) tourists were not really welcome there…

The good news is that my clothes are now I the laundry (yay and please keep your fingers crossed that this odd Finnish washing machine does the job) and tomorrow I will once again be fresh and maybe even just a wee bit glamorous. But tonite, I’m settling for a cozy and domestic and not-so-fancy evening in my gym clothes, writing and making lists of things that need to get done before we launch again….

20140614-222810-80890056.jpg(photo taken last night from the deck of our ship, in the rain, as the sun was dipping low on the horizon)

A new favorite

One thing about shopping in a country where you don’t know the language is that shopping for groceries can be a bit of an “adventure.” Which is why we accidentally bought lemon-lime soda (euw) instead of bottled water, why we ate pork tenderloin (instead of veal) two days ago, and why we spent more than 10minutes trying to figure out what yogurt to buy for breakfast (and ended up buying two of them, just in case one was yucky).

One happy find has been rabarbar vanilj tea, which is a great drink for the long white nights, and a good substitute for the vanilla sleepy time tea that I like to drink before bed at home.


Our daily bread

One of the aspects of eating out while traveling that never ceases to delight me is the variety of bread that’s served with our meal. Probably I enjoy it so much because I’m already dreaming about the day that my kitchen aid mixer out of storage and start making my own bread once again…

Here are a few pictures of bread from our recent meals:



Obviously there’s nothing ‘paleo’ about my diet–bread remains an ongoing pleasure that I’m not interested in forgoing…

I was lost and then I was found…

Today got started a bit late and it seemed that so many things were going wrong. That was confirmed when I accidentally ended up on a bus heading to the wrong city with only 40 cents in my pocket–not enough for any kind of bus fare to get to where I needed to be. And of course I was in a country where I don’t speak the language, not even a few basic words…

I wasn’t feeling very adventurous at that moment. In fact, I was near tears. I was looking around, wondering who I might beg to help me. (It didn’t help that I had another freak out dream last night, once where I was in the middle of a shooting incident at a college campus, waking up as the shots were ringing all around me at the same time that some passersby we’re screaming outside my bedroom window). I was tired and rather desperate for something familiar…

So, the bus driver helped me figure out what to do to get where I wanted to go, and due to his kindness the next bus driver let me ride for free. And then I got to where I wanted to be, which turned out to be magical. I took a long stroll into the woods, letting myself get lost and not caring, knowing that the road was not far and that I needed some time to clear my head and recover from the fears of earlier.

That that walk ended up in a picturesque ramble through a patch of knee-high stinging nettle should hardly surprise me given the many things that already went wrong.

But then again, so much more went right than went wrong, and I know that someday I’ll such a great story to tell as a result….

P.S. The internet gremlins aren’t allowing me to upload any photos today, so that will have to wait for another time….