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Today is CRAZY weather-wise. It's been raining like the flood is coming off and on all day. Then it'll heat up and be warm for 20 minutes. Then cold. Now, it's back to lashing rains - with thunder and flash lightning! Woo-hoo!

In the last 24 hours I have written just over 2000 words (actually took me 2 hours, plus an hour of revision) and mailed it off to my advisor. Neat. The essay is on Margaret Barker's ideas, which, if true in any way would totally throw conventional Christianity for a loop. Maybe I'll post my essay under a filter.

I also read, in the last 24 hours, a book about Taoist sexual practices that I found used. While I do not doubt there can be spiritual and physical benefits from various forms of Eastern sexual practices, a dude wrote the book and his tone plus the content (heavily centered on how fellatio has physically restorative and spiritual benefits) makes me think: yer a douchebag.

Adam leaves for the US tomorrow. He does the dishes. It dawned on me today that I now have to do the dishes too while he's gone. Ack! Come mid to late afternoons I am *wiped out* and just want to watch tv. I feel like the worst parent ever because I know B and I are going to watch copious amounts of cartoons, movies and whatnot. Ah well. I'm pregnant. So there.

In more 'awesome parenting and domesticity' we are having left over tuna casserole. Don't all rush over for dinner, now.
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I've been having a long and interesting discussion about religion with a distant cousin. I make no claims to have any of the answers, though I do spend damn near all my waking hours engaged in religious thinking in some capacity or another. What's KILLING me is his inability to reason, while all the time trying to convince me that he's too logical and I'm too emotional. Now, I am very emotional: I get passionate, yes, sir. But in my engagement with him I've been very even handed, perhaps too even. But his refusal to understand that in the world of religion X *and* Y need to be considered not incompatible Truths but simultaneous truths, has me coming off as emotional to him. It's not out of some namby-pamby love-fest that I say this. It's because after practicing and studying religions and spending time with people who believe differently than I do, to assume that only Jesus is THE God is to basically tell 4.5 billion other people to fuck off and die. It's not saying Jesus is MY God, but Jesus is THE God. I know the vast majority of Christians don't see it that way, but that's how it is.

I have spend considerable time in Jewish communities and developing friendships with both cultural and religious Jews (which doesn't make me an expert, merely informed to some degree), I have never ever had a Jew tell me that their God was THE God and boy I'd be a lot better off if I argreed. If I want to join their party, many would welcome me (many would not, since I'm not ethnically Jewish), but the Jewish people are content to worship their god and go on their merry way. They don't need to convince the rest of the world of their religious superiority. I would love to know if the Jewish world sees their God as THE God, or merely as THEIR God - that's a huge difference.

I'm really fed up with the mainstream idea that logic means there can only be one big-T Truth. I fear that modern Western schooling has ruined the brains of generations who were taught to find Right Answers - there can be only One! - rather than to develop arguments and think critically. Unless you are in the hard sciences, there is rarely One Answer. I think this is why academics are stereotyped as elitists: because it's very difficult to talk with people for whom there is only One Right Answer. If I had to talk with people like my cousin (who's a Nice Guy) regularly I think my head would explode. This is why people like Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin give America/politics/conservatives/Christianity such a bad name, because they don't reason. At all. Cuz reasoning and arguing is some Lefty Agenda out to confuse the Average Joe. Of course it confuses the Average Joe - because they went to school where there was only one right answer!! (Excuse me while I go stab out my eyes in the corner.)

I'm starting to wonder if there isn't some religious causation here. In the Protestant Christian world (which makes up the vast majority of America) there is one sacred text - the Bible. It is entirely correct. It is The Right Answer. Everything must be squared with it. There is One God. The Bible says X, so X it is. There is no tradition of critical engagement. No tradition of wrestling or questioning. No understanding that the Bible is a sacred text that grew up in certain times and places and is relevant to certain people. One billion Hindus grew up in a different time, place and culture with different sacred texts? Well, fuck them. They're Wrong. How mind-bogglingly ignorant and arrogant is it that?? Oh, says my cousin, truth is truth. Gahhhhh! Religion is not a hard science! The same rules do not apply as when we determine, say, that the earth rotates around sun.

I wonder too if perhaps (stereotypically) more Jews go into academia because of their tradition with engaging with texts. The Jewish tradition has a long and rich tradition of arguing and engaging with their sacred texts and teachers - Midrash and Talmud come immediately to mind. Perhaps there is less of a need for One Right Answer, and therefore the world of academia, where it's not about Right Answers but more about better and worse arguments, comes more naturally?*

I don't know. All I know right now is that mainstream reasoning seems to be dying a slow, disgraced death. Many people considered themselves religiously well educated if they made it through 5 years of Sunday school. It makes me want to hide under the bed and weep. Or just hole up with other people who can think, like the elitist I am.

*[ profile] hraffntinna and [ profile] msmidge please smack me upside the head if I'm full of shit.
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Feminism: totally relevant. Theology: can be totally relevant. Christianity: certain parts and strains of it can be very relevant. But a lot of times, when I look through the journal articles out there and the books that get published, I just shake my head and think "What the hell does this have to do with anything? Who cares anymore?" Do we really need yet another Protestant take on the Gospel of Matthew? I'm going to say no. I think for my own motivation I need to figure out a way to make my own arcane studies relevant to the greater world or risk boring myself with inanity.
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Some quotes from my reading:

Prayer as a concentration of will and desire is a subversive act. (paraphraase)

"You have to look our for a person with out fear; he is capable of anything."

"A person cannot tell you anything about God as long as he rules over you." (quote from Thomas Muntzer)
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Yesterday, on a different thread elsewhere, some one said this about me:

"I have seen you comment in other friends' journal, and you know it's funny you ask- I have ALWAYS wanted to say how I have this hunch that you're going to really do something. Like, you stink of potential and good works. Stink's a bad way to put it, you smell nice? I don't know, it just seems creepy to me to randomly tell you that I think you're going to be someone amazing- but that's the truth of it. Someone who does serious things. Someone who actually embodies the whole, "You never know what impact one life can make". I mean, I am not saying you're going to be jesus or anything but something feels very strongly positive about you, like what you will do. I know that isn't cards, but it's actually something that's been on my mind when I see you comment for a long time."

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Life seems to be a bit of a see-saw daily. I think it's because I'm PMSing. Adam thinks I'm pregnant - as he has for the last four months. I told him if he was wrong this month I'd never listen to him again! I'm sooper sensitive, quite tired, and a little fuzzy brained. Could be because for school I'm reading about suffering. Shoot me now. Standard Christian writing on suffering is some of the most awful theology out there. Thankfully, I started reading Dorothee Soelle's little book (called 'Suffering') and while it too is depressing, she and I are at least on the same page. No sado-masochism for us, thank you very much!

Study sessions have been laborious and tedious lately. I'm also supposed to be going to greater London at the beginning of May - going to Roehampton to meet Tina Beattie and see the school, find out about transferring, etc. I am oddly daunted at the task of finding transportation there. There are multiple ways to get there, but all involve at least three legs. UGH. I think I have to go into the heart of London and then get the tube back out of the appropriate suburb. This feels overwhelming right now.

In happier, little daily gems... Yesterday was full of great food: breakfast was perhaps the best omellette I've ever made (the eggs were perfection, plus goat cheese, green onion and zucchini) and dinner was poached haddock (enh) with an excellent easy lentil/cherry tomato/feta salad, with a glass of white wine. Tonight we're having shrimp (Welsh caught!) and corn chowder with crusty bread and green salad, and white wine.

Also yesterday I found two gems at a charity shop. A little book for B, How Do You Feel?. It looked brand new and B LOVES. IT. In less than 24 hours it's been read 10 times. At least. It's about feelings and it's super cute. I love that there's a peacock that feels proud! Pride too often gets confused for arrogance (as compassion does for pity). And there's a goat that feels naughty. Adorable.

For me, I found Nigella Lawson's Feast. Hardcover, decent (if well used) condition, for one pound fifty. !! It makes me want to throw a party. I'm very excited to have a source of culinary inspiration.
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I finished Mircea Eliade's Patterns in Comparative Religion today. I wish I had known of Eliade when I was in junior high and high school. It is possible that my academic trajectory would have been slightly different. I am also nearly done with Karen Jo Torjesen's When Women Were Priests. I think there are several readers here who would like this book. It's not overly academic but it is both a great overview and full of detail about women in the early church and how attitudes in the wider world undermined women's place in the church. Whilst reading about Hellenistic symposiums I got a little sick to my stomach - metaphorically, that is, which is unusual for me. The view of women in the Greco-Roman world was thoroughly disgusting. ....Oh who am I kidding? The general view of women has generally always been disgusting.

Adam invited a couple over for dinner tonight. Grumble grumble. I'm really not in the mood to entertain. I want to curl up with a book and some tea or play with B. I don't want to vacuum, sweep, and cook. Usually I'm happy to entertain. I enjoy conversation and playing host. But for the last few days I'm just disgruntled at the thought of it. Tonight's dinner could be fascinating or awkward. The couple are Nigerian Muslims and they have a one year old boy. The little boy doesn't do much. The woman is gorgeous and a real bright spirit, but I've only met her husband once in passing. The menu is curried lentil with spinach and brown rice, wine-free, and a cheese cake (store bought I hate to say) for dessert.

I've been SO uninspired with cooking lately. At least once a week I feel like asking for recipe spam, but even then I think "I'd eat that if some one made it for me, but I don't want to cook it." Blah.
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(Btw, what does keypike reference?)

This morning the fog was so thick I could barely see across the field in front of my house. It didn’t clear until close to noon. The spring day is delicious. I appreciate the lift in my mood and bounce in my step that spring brings. Eventually summer will set in and I really won’t want to spend anymore time than I have to in my office. For now, though, it is working to my benefit.

I’ve started meeting some of the other postgrad students here for a coffee a few mornings a week. They are mostly anthropology and archeology students. The men seem far more socially awkward and stereotypically nerdy than the women. It is nice to chat with other students and learn a little something about fields outside of my own. In theology and religious studies here there are mainly Koreans studying Biblical studies and Malaysians doing Islam studies. 90% seem to have families and keep to themselves. Honestly, I don’t mind not talking with the Biblical studies students. I really don’t understand how there can possibly be anything new to say about the Book of Mark or 2 Corinthians, etc. Unless one approaches the books with a modern, cutting edge ideology, I just don’t care. I try to avoid the bible as much as I possibly can.

In general I feel clueless about my own work. I cannot speak intelligently about my topic, ideas or methodology. I was asked at one of these coffee mornings what my methodology was and I replied, “read a lot, do some thinking, write some stuff down, read some more.” That elicited a blank look. Not quite what the guy had in mind.

Adam is meeting some of the Islamic mothers and kids at the Family Centre, which I think is neat. Next week we are going to a birthday party at Nigerian Muslim family’s house. The mum is really bright and cheery, and beautiful. We discovered first hand the racial difference in visa applications: Her husband is a student and they have to apply every year. She was shocked that I was given a three-year visa. I felt bad for a second or two – ashamed a little for myself and how my whiteness benefits me, frustrated for her and her family, who are upstanding and hard working and have to deal with the Home Office every single year, and angry that we live in a racist world. And then I got over it. It is beyond my control.

So reading. I am currently reading Sergius Bulgakov’s ‘The Burning Bush: on the Orthodox Veneration of the Mother of God.’ I was just loaned ‘Introducing Thealogy: Discourse on the Goddess’ so I’ll dive into that next. At home I’m reading a poetry volume, Victor Anderson’s ‘Thorns of the Blood Rose.’

Dinner tonight is lasagne and wine. I’m also making refried beans for Sunday brunch: we’re having friends up for heuvos rancheros. YUM.
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Inspired by [ profile] keypike
Today Adam is generally irritable and I seem to be triggering it. I seem to do this regularly. Bennett is napping. I read for 4 hours straight today. I finished this, read this for fun, read about 100 more pages from this, and some other stuff.

Then I tried to look for good quality blankets in this town and couldn't find any. But a friend is going to loan us a nice wool blanket. I'm tired of freezing all night long and spending a fortune on heating the bedroom all night long when it doesn't do much good. Grumble grumble. The weather can't decide if it wants to snow properly or not.

For dinner tonight I am making mac n cheese, but we're going to add some jalepenos and see what happens.

I'm not doing too well on this no tea or coffee Lenten thingy.


Dec. 30th, 2009 01:10 pm
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Once again I have B parked in front of a Spanish language Pixar movie. This is good because he's eaten and I can now cram in some school work. My adviser is coming up to my house today in three hours. This is great because the weather is so wet and blustery that I don't want to have to leave the house with B. Day 2 of not leaving the house. This seems to be working - Bennett slept for 12.5 hours last night and didn't have a coughing fit. FANTASTIC.

I'm mildly panicking because yet again I've done no school work. I don't know what's up. I just don't want to. I know I will. I'm just not there yet. I plan to plow through a book review and watch some Youtube lectures by one of the people I'm critiquing. Hopefully that will give me something to discuss. I seem to be full of fabulous ideas, but empty of any follow through. Even this morning I had another cutting edge idea. Go me. Now to FOLLOW THROUGH and do the actual work.

Deeeeep breaths.

You know you're a liberal hippie parent when you tell your kid, in response to cartoon fighting, that they're working together to overcome the oppressors.

And no word on the cats yet. Any minute now.....
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Every day is a vacation. That's how it felt this morning. Bennett ran up to me with his shoes five times this morning - a clear sign if ever there was one that he wanted to play outside. Seeing as how it was dry and somewhat sunny, we went to the park. He stomped in puddles and tried to talk to the pony on the other side of the fence. Then we walked around town and he stared at the huge lorry full of trees. It was really free and fun and cheery. We wake up whenever we wake up, we have a loose schedule, we don't really have to be any where, and small town life encourages meandering and 'stopping by' for a chat and a cuppa. I feel like every day is a vacation.

Mold. We have a serious mold problem. Black mold. Creeping across our bedroom ceiling, up a corner of the living room wall, and behind Adam's desk in his office. In general, the mildew is growing apace around the windows. I am sure this is why I am sick again. It's so damp in our house that my sinuses aren't drying out and we all have coughs. In fact, it's so damp that our gas fireplace and our lighters won't light. It doesn't feel that damp, but it must be. We're trying to convince the landlady to cover the costs of a large dehumidifier. If she declines we will look into moving.

Singing. Of course the constant sinus baloney is ruining my singing voice. I have The Solo on Sunday and my voice is a mess. There are other solos, but apparently the opening verse to Once in Royal David's City opens to the whole shebang - I stand in the doorway, holding a candle and then the choir follows in behind me singing the second verse. It's a Thing. I don't care, but it's important to other people and I'd like to not suck.

Bennett attended church for the first time on Sunday. The church I sing at had a Christingle service. I don't understand the name, but it's a children's service. It was brief, only mildly obnoxious, with horrid "children's" hymns. The good part was that all the kids were given oranges with ribbons and candies stuck on them and a white candle in the middle. Then, the lights were turned out and the candles lit one by one. This orange is the Christingle, and Bennett LOVES his. He knows how to blow candles out so he was tickled to have his own. We light it every night before dinner. All the other kids ate their candies before the candles were even lit! But B had no idea what they were, so they're still on his orange! I figure he'll learn about sweets soon enough.

This town is small. The whole thing could fit inside of the neighborhood I used to live in. And Temescal had ten times as many people. And it's a small town in that we went to a party last night and met [ profile] readthisandweep's neighbor. She was talking in vague terms about her neighbor and I knew who it was straight away. Her first response was, 'Oh you must be the American she was talking about!'

Work. I turned in draft one of my paper. I plan to turn in some more tomorrow. I think I am a tedious, redundant writer. I remind myself that this is the first set of drafts. More work is still to be done. But go me.

I think that about covers everything. Life isn't exciting here. Just really pleasant. And damp.
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I'm feeling better. No longer sick. THANK GOD. But now I face the struggle to get motivated for my work again. On one hand I'm ready to go - bring on social outings, long walks in the chill and the damp, play time with Bennett, etc. On the other hand, I want just a little more time to read novels, to soak in the quiet of the season. The short days, damp weather, dark evenings really make me want to slow down and sit with friends, not hole up and plunk out a paper.

I recognize this. I know that I need to get to work earlier in the mornings when it's light so I can get work out of the way and get home to snuggly boys and warm beverages. But, of course, I can always find one more reason for dragging my feet in the morning. Bennett's sleeping has taken a MASSIVE turn for the worse. 18 month sleep regression? I don't know, but he's nursing and fussing like he's 6 months old. And papa won't do, OH NO. He must have boob and mama's arms. So even after 12 hours in bed, I've probably only had 3 hours of uninterrupted sleep.

But I think right now I just want to be a mommy. I don't want to be a student. Not this week. Today I really don't care about degrees and mariology. I feel like my school work was really just the excuse to get here. I hope this feeling passes.
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Of my sickness and the five questions meme?

From Erinya )
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1. what is your greatest regret?

I don't think I have a single biggest one. I don't feel like regret is particularly useful. It's hard to say "I wish I hadn't been married before" because that experience really shaped who I am today and has made me far more resilient and compassionate than I was before. One thing I do regret is that I have a tendency to disappear when I feel shame - which means I lose relationships. This has happened at least twice, and it makes me sad.

2. name three people, dead or alive, that you would love to invite over for dinner. why?
Off the top of my head, I think Alistair Crowley, Jesus, T Thorn Coyle, Madonna and Bjork would be a hoot. Although they are all strong personalities so maybe it wouldn't be so good? Oh and that's five. For just three.... it would be a girls night and I would have Reese Witherspoon, Kate Winslet and Amber Tamblyn. Julia Stiles would be the back up, in case of cancellation.

3. you said that your phd is more of an exercise in vanity than a career path. ideally, what would you like to be doing 5 years from now?
I've never been career minded. Five years from now I'd like to be living in a place much like Lampeter, mothering at least another child, singing.... basically living the life I have right now. Career wise - in five years maybe I'll have this damn PhD and will be teaching some where. Maybe in five years I'll be teaching yoga and teaching religion at a community college. I'm pretty sure I make my parents uncomfortable with my lack of "practicality."

4. how badly does it annoy you when people spell PhD "phd"? ;) is there a rationale behind your dislike of improper grammar use?
I don't really care about phd vs PhD vs Ph.D. Bad grammar bothers me, poor spelling bothers me, but not too much. Honestly, if some one really has issues with the English language (and has English as a first language) then I just won't friend them here. What REALLY bugs me are businesses like Kwik Mart - GAH! That's not how you spell quick! Ack! For an extra letter you can spell the word correctly!

5. tell me about two influential women in your life and the way(s) in which they affected you.
Only two? I nominate Twig, who was my randomly placed roommate at college freshman year. I remember speaking with her on the phone before arriving and thinking "she's nice, but we'll never be close." HA! We were inseparable! We don't even look that much a like, but people couldn't tell us apart. She showed me that being Christian didn't have to be stereotypical or afraid of the world. She is so unselfconscious and does her own thing. She taught me to pick my battles. She is the epitome of loyalty. She helped me to be silly and not to take myself so seriously.

The second is MM. We've been friends since the 9th grade, though I've know of her since at least 6th grade. We've had some serious ups and downs (she didn't talk to me for 2 years - though that experience has made us closer). She reminds me to take care of myself. She's so much like me that I know her advice is exactly what I would tell her - so when it rubs me the wrong way I know she's on to something! She inspires me - how does she manage to do everything that she does as well as she does?

Knowing these two ladies exist in the world makes the world feel safer and more sane.
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Today is a good day. A really good day. One in which I feel settled into my own bones and brain. In spite of being tired and feeling the twinge of a sore throat, in spite of everything, it's a good day.

The wi-fi cafe was nice and I chatted a bit with the woman who owns it. She has a beautiful 9 week old son. I cannot imagine birthing a child and a business at the same time! She seems like some one that Adam and I would enjoy getting to know. We're going to meet up at the Monday breastfeeding group. Neat!

I wrote. My adviser likes my ideas and is encouraging. So far, I have found the faculty here welcoming, friendly, laid-back and encouraging. More so than at any school I've ever attended (save the music department at Shoreline Community College).

Last night's choir practice was SO MUCH BETTER than last week. The people who sucked didn't come back. I don't mean that to be awful, but there was one girl in the soprano section who literally could not carry a tune. However, this also means there is one man. Sigh. This afternoon, on my way to meet my adviser, I ran into the choir director. He's also a professor in the theology department. He told me I had a lovely voice and that he wants me to sing the solo at the carols service in December. Neat!

I can home from all of this to find Adam putting together our chests of drawers. YAY! Oh, I so can't wait to pack away the suitcases! These are cheaply constructed pieces of crap, but hell. The store delivered them to our door. Next week we get the couch (it comes with a free matching chair!) - I hope it's comfortable. Also, in other happy Adam news, he has a job! In Canada! Thanks to [ profile] keypike, to whom I will make sweet, sweet love if I ever meet her in person! This is a HUGE RELIEF.

And to top it all off. The weather this evening is amazing: massive dark grey clouds, intermittent pounding rain, and shots of bright sun. I could not be more pleased with this day.

Tonight I am making hot brown rice salad and tomorrow I am sleeping in.
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So hungry. I am at the swankiest cafe in Lampeter today. So swanky that it has the only wi-fi connection here. Well, as far as cafes go. It opened today. Such an American I am.... I'm the first person to ask about the wi-fi and use it.

Today I'm turning in about 8 pages of writing. Sheesh. I used to be able to put that out in one sitting. But my endurance is low these days. I can only write for about two hours before my brain begins to cave in on itself.
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I went to the Freshers' Fayre today to check out what clubs the uni has. I joined the music club - it's geared toward classical musicians and people who play instruments. I met the founder at choir practice last night.* I noticed the uni has several re-enactment type of groups, battle groups, a war games group, etc. Again, this is a nerd's paradise. But there is also a pole dancing fitness club (insert massive eye roll here).

The women's society stopped me. Oh cool, I thought. I asked if this was the local feminist group. Oh, we're not feminists, they said. To which I replied, well, why would I want to join a women's group that wasn't feminist? One girl said that if by feminist I meant they worked for equality, then yes, they were. And the other said but they weren't radical or extremist or anything. I wish I had replied what came to mind: too bad, I am.

It chaps my hide something awful when women -especially the president of the women's society- won't call themselves feminist and can't see that they've swallowed the poison of mainstream patriarchy, which equates feminism with stupid stereotypes of "radical," hairy men-hating lesbians. Or that "equality" is the only thing women should aim for. ARGH. I'm thinking I should join their group and go to meetings and stir shit up.

*St. David's Chapel, the uni's Church of Wales post. It's a nice small chapel. I was not in best form having not sung since B was born and recovering from a cold. I would say right now it's about where my abilities are at, but that won't last for long. Eesh. The choir learns their parts by the director hitting a tuning fork and singing our parts to us, which we then sing back. This is problematic when the sopranos can't make a leap. Ay yi yi. I'm not so keen on attending boring ol' Church of Wales services every week. But, we shall see.
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Who wants in?

I'm going to set up a filter for thoughts that come up for me in this work, thoughts that don't necessarily have a place in my academic writing. I will do this for myself, even if no one else is interested. Expect it ramble all over the place. I may post some of my actual work, but we'll see. I'm not too comfortable posting anything that has potential to be used for Serious Academic Purposes to the internet.

Any takers?
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I think I stupidly gave up the opportunity for essentially my own office out of an urge to be nice and flexible. Have I been transient for so long that I'm ready to acquiesce at the drop of a hat? I mean, I still have a large space and will only be sharing it with one other guy. But still.... I coulda had my own office (with some very absent students books stacked in the corner). I have to wait another year for the possibility of an office to myself.

I don't know if I don't care or if I'm really annoyed. I'm the only woman and only white person up here. The other grad students are males from Korea and China. I feel immensely more privileged in many regards than them (dood, they are doing PhDs in what is at best a second language. Color me impressed) so why hoarde space?

I dunno.


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October 2010



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