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Biographical Awareness

As you can probably tell, I'm really enjoying Heilbrun's book. I'll likely post more about it in the coming weeks. I find myself wondering if Nels and Prof. B. have read it, and if so, what they think of it. I also wonder what Heilbrun would have thought about all these women who are writing about their lives every day on their weblogs.

As an aside, I created this comic of sorts before I saw that Collin just put up a much better one. Do read it.

Parents' Anniversary

Today is my parents' wedding anniversary. I believe it's been 33 years now! Congratulations, Mom and Dad.

Four Things Meme

Pi tagged me.

Four Jobs You’ve Had In Your Life:

1. Concession stand/ticket booth cashier at a movie theater
2. Hostess at Logan's Roadhouse
3. Model for figure drawing/painting classes
4. Comic book store employee (I filed Magic cards and bagged, boarded, and filed comic books)

Four Movies You Could Watch Over And Over:

1. Clueless
2. Rushmore
3. Star Trek: First Contact
4. The Bourne Identity

Four Places You’ve Lived:

1. My parents' house in Florence, AL
2. My apartment in Knoxville
3. That horrible apartment
4. The efficiency I live in now

Four TV Shows You Love To Watch:

1. Lost
2. The Sopranos
3. Alias
4. The Simpsons

Four Places You’ve Been On Vacation:

1. Myrtle Beach, SC
2. Destin, FL
3. Las Vegas
4. New York City

Four Blogs You Visit Daily:

1. The Valve
2. Prof. B.
3. New Kid
4. Girl Genius

Four Of Your Favorite Foods:

1. Chocolate mousse
2. Pizza with chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, and jalapeno peppers
3. Collard greens with cornbread
4. Potatoes, skin on, cut in the style of home fries, roasted in the oven with bacon, salt, pepper, leeks, and cloves of garlic

Four Places You’d Rather Be:

1. Atlanta, GA
2. The Tenure Track
3. On the porch at F.A. eating oysters on the half shell
4. Asheville, NC (everyone says it's nice; I'd love to find out)

Four Albums You Can’t Live Without:

1. Appetite for Destruction, Guns'n'Roses
2. Made in USA, Pizzicato Five
3. Miles of Aisles, Joni Mitchell
4. Easy Rider, Music from the Motion Picture Soundtrack

(so many runners-up: Diana Krall's Love Scenes and The Girl in the Other Room, Sade's Lovers Rock, Diamond Life, Promise, Love Deluxe, various albums from Lucinda Williams and Kasey Chambers, etc.)

Four Vehicles I’ve Owned:

1. A white 1990 Nissan 240SX
2. A black 1990 Buick Reatta
3. The car I drive now, a red 1998 Honda Civic
4. I had a go-cart; does that count...?

Four People To Be Tagged: If you haven't done it yet, you're one of the four!

Edited to add links to those who have heeded the call: GXX, bdegenaro, and John.

Birth Stories

Introduction, by Clancy Ratliff

For a long time, I've been reading birth stories, both online and in print. I was enchanted with Anita Diamant's The Red Tent, especially the birth of Leah's first child, Reuben; Leah gives birth roaring, standing up, with women all around her supporting her legs, not letting her fall. Anthropologist Robbie Davis-Floyd (1998) interweaves her birth story with reflections on reproductive technologies and the "cyborgification of birth." The birth story has become more significant in recent years, with feminism's advocacy on behalf of the birthing woman. A common argument is that as reproductive technologies have gotten more sophisticated -- and, as some would argue, more invasive -- the woman's control over her own birthing experience has eroded. The laboring body is pathologized, "out of control," something that must be "managed" (See Schuster). In response to the "medical model" of birth, many women who have the financial resources to do so have sought the services of midwives.

In putting together these essays, I had considered breaking them up into sections, with stories of c-sections, drug-free births, etc., but I decided against it. To represent these stories in categories according to the presence or absence of medical technology simply repeats the erasure of the woman from the birth. It insultingly reduces the richness of these stories to what is really ancillary. I thought about the reasons I read and appreciate birth stories: the eloquence, the humor, the visceral honesty, the bravery in the face of immense pain, the powerful emotion. The choral similarities (the "ring of fire," for example). The fact that they are passionately feminist stories. The fact that these women wrote it down. So I decided to include the titles, authors' names, and a snippet of each story that will make you see why I enjoyed reading it and want to read it yourself.

Birthing Arden, by Jodi Egerton

For a long time in the middle of active labor, I was in a wild, amazing, euphoric, ecstatic high. In between contractions I'd remark on the beautiful music playing (Lanell had these lovely soothing cds with her), how much I loved turkey sandwiches, how delicious that massage lotion smelled...I looked up at Owen and Lanell between one contraction and just gushed 'you both look soooo pretty!'

Anya's Birth Story, by Sarah

This entire pregnancy, I’ve been nursing a fantasy of giving birth in the middle of a snowstorm with the fire roaring in the wood burning stove.

NikkiZ's Birth Story: Attack of the Giant Uterus, by Miss Zoot

Dr. SoNice was telling me that he was drawing a line for my incision. The weird doctor tried to joke and say 'He'll initial it too!' but Dr. SoNice immediately said, 'No I Won't.' Evidently Dr. SoNice is of the opinion that during an emergency surgery, joking is NOT the best way to console the patient. And in reality? I agreed.

A Labor Story, by Heather Armstrong (Dooce)

I order the Pregnant Pizza which really isn’t a pizza but a 144 square inch orgasm of garlic.

It's Jackson's first birthday today. Woo! by Fussy

5:40 p.m. Jack whips up a delightful little creamy pasta vegetable dish. I take one look at it and tell him there's no way in hell I'm going to eat that. He goes back to the kitchen and blends a bunch of fruit and dairy products and calls it a smoothie. I have a sip and push it away. Jack sits next to me and puts his arm around me. I tell him to quit looking at me.

Birth Story 4.0, by Mara

The baby's head was not coming down straight to apply any pressure to my cervix, so she manipulated a bit so it would, and recommended walking, and if contractions started up again, doing all we could to intensify the contractions, not backing down or seeking comfort. Which seemed like a fine idea, except that there were no contractions. So when she left, Raven resumed some work phone calls, I loaded Søren in the stroller and went for a walk. And within half a block found my knuckles were white on the stroller.

Duncan's birth story, by Silandara

I ended up on my back, with the nurse holding one leg, Kevin holding the other, I think. I had to grab onto my thighs and curl up my chin and bear down with each contraction.

Birth Story, Part One and Part Deux, by Tracitalynne.

At one point she was, uh, poised at the opening, and it felt like the world’s biggest poop moved forward a bit.

Ainsley's Birth Story, by Mommy with some help from Daddy

At one point, I apparently asked them to just 'suck the baby out' of me, and I also sassed Alison when she asked for 'one more push' - 'I already DID one more!'

Birth Story, by jmoon

Tom later equated my feelings to having jumped off a cliff, and knowing you were going to hit the ground, but being unable to stop it. This analogy seems very apt.

My First Baby, by Strange Quark

I pushed for 2.5 hours and finally Jasper was born. His hand was on top of his head, and so his head and body came out with one last exhilarating push. Just like superman.

Baby Born, by Fabmujer

For some reason part of a Cesarean birth is being strapped like Jesus...arms and legs taped down to a bed with arm rests which resemble a cross.

My birth story...may be sad to read, by Sabra Girl

Eventually after 2 other dopplers, 2 ultrasounds, a fetal scalp heart monitor, and my dr and midwife checking everything, they told us they couldn't find a heartbeat.

The birth story, by llyncilla

I’ve learned what not to do, what to do differently next time, and I just need expiation. I have a few demons that need two dimensional-izing, to be pulled apart and rewoven into a quiet little story, a story like a grave.

And So I Choose, by Allison Crews

There was no way I could handle the pain and horror of childbirth alone, in my bedroom and sanctuary, as I wished to do. I needed a man, trained to care for women, (who are inherently capable of caring for themselves), to see me through my labor. I needed to be monitored, strapped to a bed, cleaned from the inside, shaven smooth and knocked out cold. I was a little girl and delivering babies is a man's job.

Birth Story--Jiro Coltrane, by Stacey Greenberg

'Fill the birthing tub!' I commanded.

Baby Moon Essays: 1 : The Birth, by Lone Star Ma

Then I was pushing that wet, fat baby out…which didn’t burn at all, it was literally the best sensation of my entire life!

*NOTE: I know it's a little weird to have "Introduction, by Clancy Ratliff" at the beginning, but I'm thinking of this as not just a link-roundup type of post, but more formal, like an anthology. I hope to see others start creating these, perhaps as online course packs for classes, but it might be a neat assignment for students to do too. I see this as different from a carnival in that it's a one-time thing and not a serial; plus, there's my introduction at the beginning that explains my reasons for doing this project.

The Fifteen-Minute Mile

Inspired in part by Bradley's running posts, but also by my tendency to get bored with one type of exercise and switch around periodically, I've been getting on the treadmill lately. Before I was a stairmaster gal.

Today I tried doing a jog/walk combination, pushing myself, but not too hard. Really I was jogging absently while watching talk shows and sometimes, just for silliness, pretending I was running from the invisible monster in Lost. I wanted to get a baseline reading of how much distance I could cover in 30 minutes, and it ended up being two miles. I'm not in great shape, but that's not too bad, and I know I can improve.

"Big Brother, give us back our MERCUROCHROME!"

Apropos of Shannon's recent owie, I googled the stuff my dad always reached for when I had a boo-boo: Mercurochrome. Right up there with tobacco'n'spit in the first aid kit. The simple word "mercurochrome" evokes images of toxic waste, yet it was often applied with that little wand right on my open cuts and scrapes. That there's this mini-movement to bring it back amuses me.

But isn't it harmful?

Oh, and the "most toxic element" comment is a scare-tactic also.... The key to that comment is the word element. There's millions of more toxic compounds than Hg (shoot a hornet's nest with mercury and then with Hotshot (tm) Wasp and Hornet spray and then tell me which you think is more toxic). And one other thing about the "toxic element" BS, you will die from a smaller dose of arsenic (you know, the toxic element in apple seeds) quicker than if you sucked 20 thermometers dry!

I know I say this about a lot of things, but you could talk about this in a first-year composition class.

Wiki bits

They now have Blogger/Blogspot for wikis: Jotspot is a free, easy to set up wiki service. You can make your wiki password-protected if you're working on a super-secret document or if you want to use it in a class and have privacy concerns for your students. So far I've found it to be the easiest wiki setup I've had -- a while back James was good enough to set up a wiki for me to experiment with, but I never really got the hang of TikiWiki (but I didn't spend enough time engaging with it either). Then I tried to install phpWiki on my domain using Fantastico, but I never could login to the Admin panel.

Also in wiki-related news -- you know how you can personalize Google now? Well I chose to add the "'How to' of the day" feed, which is part of a wiki. One of today's featured articles is How to sweep a girl off her feet. Here's a bit that jumped out at me:

Here's an example of what you can say: "Hey, look, I've gotta go, but you seem like a really amazing person, and I'd like to get to know you better. Here's my number; call me and I'd love to take you out for a cup of coffee and talk. But if you're not interested, that's cool, too. I just didn't want to let this opportunity pass."

I had an experience like that once. In my sophomore year of college, I dated a guy I met at a Mighty Mighty Bosstones concert at 328. We had been looking at each other, and then when the concert was over, I had to leave with my friends. He caught up with me, tapped me on the shoulder, and without saying one word, put a little piece of paper in my hand. My friends were running off and leaving me, so I had to go, but when we got to the car I unfolded the paper to find his name and phone number. Much smoother than wikiHow's suggestion, if you ask me.

Hurricane coverage

I've been preoccupied almost all day reading about what residents of Louisiana and Mississippi are experiencing. I'm thinking especially of Daisy and a friend of mine in Jackson, Mississippi. I'm thinking about people whose families have lived in New Orleans for generations, centuries -- and about people who are being moved from New Orleans' Superdome to Houston's Astrodome, people waiting on roofs in that awful heat for helicopters and boats to come, all the time risking getting cholera and other diseases due to the standing water.

I've been reading Josh Britton's posts (via Professional-Lurker), Michelle Malkin's comprehensive post about relief efforts, the Katrina Help Wiki, and, like Daisy, I've been refreshing this page frequently.

I wish I'd taken pictures on my trips there.

UPDATE: Dr. B. suggests other ways to help.

UPDATE: A Boing Boing reader emailed with a vivid description of his or her experience as a rescue worker (via Brendan).

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