...except for me and my monkey! "Everything we see hides another thing. We always want to see what is hidden by what we see." -Rene Magritte

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Notes on going through my books

1:16pm: I've never read anything by Karen Armstrong or Rick Warren--so how did I end up with two copies of The Battle for God and two copies of The Purpose-Driven Life? I'm keeping one of the Armstrongs, but ol' Rick Warren is going straight into the sell-back pile.

1:17: Mama Lola: Vodou Priestess in Brooklyn by Karen McCarthy Brown: YES. What a phenomenal book.

1:20: I quickly realize that I don't actually want all my religion books to come with me to Portland: I have no desire to ever again read The Vimalakirti Sutra. That might be influenced by memories of the professor, though.

1:23: Am I ever again going to need to reference Between Athens and Jerusalem: Jewish Identity in the Hellenistic Diaspora by John J. Collins? When I randomly open the book I come to the subject heading "Pseudo-Eupolemus." I think that answers my question. (On the other hand, I found myself thinking about the Letter of Aristeas the other day...maybe I should keep it around.)

1:28: Why do I have a copy of The Notebook? Gross.

1:30: Someday, I bet I'll finish The House of Mirth.

1:35: The 1992 World Almanac and Book of Facts. Yep.

1:43: Was Willa Cather a Christian Scientist? I find in my books a biography written by Cather of Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science. I haven't read it, so I don't know if it's a hagiographical or critical. Hmmm.

1:48: Elementary Differential Equations: Seventh Edition. I took that math class at the University of Oregon my senior year in high school, which means that I've had this book for over five years. I'm sure I just held on to it for so long because I resented shelling out almost a hundred dollars for it back in 2002--used, even!

2:00pm: Done with the first four boxes. Six more to go...

Merry Christmas!

My fever is down to around 99.6, which is really just high-normal. I'm still coughing a lot and producing copious amounts of phlegm and snot (at school with the kids, we're not supposed to use the word "snot," since the directors think it has a negative connotation; rather, we are supposed to say calmly and empathetically, "S., I notice you have some mucus dripping down your face; let's get a tissue together"), but I feel like I'm on my way back to health. Hurray!

My parents gave me a huge bookshelf for Christmas for my new apartment, so I'm looking forward to going through the boxes and boxes of books I have down here in Eugene and deciding what I want with me in Portland. I'm operating with only a skeleton of my collection right now, since I've been moving a lot this summer; now that I'm going to be in the same place for at least a year, I think I want all my feminist books, all my religion books, all my sociology/anthropology books, and all my Baby-Sitter's Club books.

Finally, I just got an email from McSweeney's--they're going to publish on their website a New Food Review I wrote! The email said that it might take several months for it to make it to the front of the queue; I'll let you all know when it shows up.

I hope everyone is having a great day!

Sunday, December 23, 2007


Update: So now I'm "pretty sure I'm running a fever"--to the tune of 103.6 degrees. I'm taking fever reducers and drinking lots of water, and so far it's gone down a degree, but my roommate tells me that if it goes over 104 I have to go to the emergency room. Eep. Keep me in your thoughts, please.

I'm generally a healthy person, but for the past two weeks I've been battling a nasty cold. It started with an innocent cough the week of Chanukah; on the way back from P'nai Or's Chanukah party, my co-worker/friend Jade asked about it and offered me a cough drop. I think most cold remedies and treatments are exactly as effective as placebos, so I declined (without going into my reasons why). (Incidentally, there was a great article in the last Skeptic magazine about cold remedies and Emergen-C, etc.) (Also incidentally, Skeptic is a fantastic publication, and one I reference a lot.) My cough got worse over the week, culminating in taking Friday off to try to kick it over the weekend. By Monday morning I felt worse than Friday, but I can't really afford to take more time off of work unless I'm actively vomiting or bleeding from the eyes (ah, to be a wage slave!). So I just tried to avoid close contact with the kids and wash my hands a lot. A lot of parents gave us holiday presents so that was a big upper, but baking sugar cookies with the preschoolers had the same result as delivering a syringe full of saccharine straight to their veins, so that was a downer. I was feeling better by Saturday afternoon, but today out at breakfast with Daniel I felt really weird and clouded-over and now I'm pretty sure I'm running a fever. I'm taking a late morning bus down to Eugene tomorrow; it will not be fun. The upside is that I have a paid vacation all of next week, as well as Monday and Tuesday of the week afterwards. It will be the longest I haven't worked since I began the job in May.

Other than being sick, things have been going pretty well. I'm reading a very interesting book called A Gay Synagogue in New York by Moshe Shokeid, an Israeli anthropologist. It's an ethnography written in the early/mid-1990s of Congregation Beth Simchat Torah, the largest gay synagogue in the country, and is interesting from a theoretical sociology/anthropology of religion viewpoint, a Judaic Studies viewpoint, and a Feminist/Queer theory viewpoint...hey, that's all my interests, wrapped up in one book! Next on the docket is Devil in the White City, a true crime book about the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago...a topic with which I imagine Eric is all too familiar.

This evening I went to a Chanukat Habayit, a kind of Jewish housewarming and mezuzah scroll hanging at the home of a friend of mine from P'nai Or. When she sent out the invitation, I assumed it was a party having something to do with the holiday of Chanukah; in reality, "Chanukah" just means "dedication"--as in, the holiday celebrates the dedication of the Temple by the Hasmoneans/Maccabees after it was sacked by the Romans. I knew that Habayit meant "the home," as in the phrase "shalom bayit," peace/harmony in the home, which is traditionally the woman's responsibility to foster. So, "Chanukat Habayit" means "Dedication of the Home." You learn something new every day. I was stressed out about arriving late and missing the mezuzah-hanging ceremony because the bus was off-schedule, but as it turned out, even arriving ten minutes late for the ceremony, I was twenty minutes ahead of the rabbi. The ceremony itself was beautiful and meaningful, and full of kavvanah (spiritual intention).

Finally, I am moving again in mid-January, this time to my very own A Room of One's Own apartment in North Portland. I'm looking forward to living alone. I paid the security deposit last Thursday, and will sign the papers in the first week in January. Apartment-warming news forthcoming!

I look forward to seeing you all again in January, especially those of you who have been away this semester. Merry Christmas to all, and Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 16, 2007


I've been sick enough recently to justify taking last Friday off from work. I spent most of my day off laying in bed, drinking tea and reading Fantasy: The Incredible Story of the Cabbage Patch Phenomenon, which I bought a week and a half or so ago at the vintage store down the street from my house. I now know more than any reasonable person should about Xavier Roberts, founder of Original Appalachian Artwork, Inc, and inventor of the Little People babies, which were renamed the Cabbage Patch Kids after a licensing deal was struck with Coleco toy company. Expect all future conversations to be peppered with Cabbage Patch trivia.

Edited to add: After checking my referral logs, I'm a little tickled to find that I'm the number three response on Google for "use tampons on Shabbos;" I doubt the searcher found the answer she was looking for on my blog, though. I'm not an expert on the subject, but I don't see any reason an observant Jew couldn't use a tampon on the Sabbath, provided it was already removed from its wrapping (since one is not permitted to tear anything, including toilet paper, on Shabbos).

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Excerpted from a comment on a discussion at Internet Monk (excellent blog, by the way):

"...I likewise know lots of crypto-Christians who insist on the Christian label despite their rejection of about half the Apostles Creed. What makes them call themselves Christian? Because they like Christian traditions, they’re fond of Jesus’s pacifism, and they like being spiritual without being religious. But when I call them Deists, they object… because they don’t reject Jesus. (Just His deity, lordship, sinlessness, forgiveness, resurrection, present-day mediation, gift of the Holy Spirit, and eventual return.)"

Well, if the shoe fits...

I'm curious how my Christian friends would respond to this comment?

Saturday, December 08, 2007


Last night I went to a house party in North Portland for about eight minutes. I first heard about it from my co-teacher Eduardo; during afternoon snack, right before he left for the day, he asked me in Spanish if I was going to go (shhhh: we gossip in Spanish a fair amount throughout the day, which helps keep me from going crazy) and we made loose plans to meet up around nine-ish at the house of one of our other co-workers. Out on the playground at the end of the day, another preschool teacher who I'm friendly with asked if I was going to go and we, again, made the sketchiest of plans to meet up there. All the party information was posted on the refrigerator in the staff room. I copied down the address and dutifully looked up the bus information on the staff computer.

By the time I got home from work, I had a pounding headache and wanted nothing more than to curl up on the couch with a glass of wine and Kristy and the Haunted Mansion. I wished that Eduardo had never told me about the party--then I wouldn't feel any obligation to go or regret if I skipped it. But I would like to be better friends with my co-workers and I've always enjoyed socializing with them in the past, so I decided to suck it up and head over there.

I arrived around 9:45. There were a dozen or so people standing around talking in the living room and kitchen of the house; there wasn't anyone I recognized. I looked around for the co-worker whose house it was; she was nowhere to be found. Eduardo was not there. I used the bathroom and thought of what I was going to do. When I came out of the bathroom, I pretended I had to take an urgent call, got the hell out of there, and went back to the bus stop to wait for the next bus back to the Rose Quarter.

It was a comic and slightly ridiculous situation that mirrored almost exactly an experience that Daniel and I had a few weeks ago. Another co-worker had sent out an email inviting everyone to a "mustache party" she was having with her housemates on Mississippi. I would say that she downplayed the mustache element of the party in her email: when Daniel and I got there, every single person (and there were a lot of people there) was mustachioed and bunched together in the kitchen. No one noticed us enter except for one guy wearing a paste-on black mustache, who smiled at us in a creepy way that managed to be both vacant and all-knowing. "I kind of want to get out of here," I said to Daniel, and we high-tailed it back to the bus stop.

Next time I go to a party, I hope I won't have to bail out--but I do end up leaving right away and busing it back home, at least $1.75 isn't too much for a scenic bus tour of North Portland.