Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Mutha of UFOs

So I survived my hell week: one mock job talk, two course assignments, a pile of grading, a conference paper, a paper revision, TA applications, and a guest lecture. I made it through the lecture with minimal humiliation---although I did manage to completely blank on what G8 stands for---and I didn't have to resort to singing the periodic table of elements. Thank goodness, because as my sister reminded me, I don't actually know the periodic table of elements.

The last of the deadlines was on Tuesday afternoon. By 5 p.m., I was in my pajamas, on the couch, and sobbing uncontrollably through "Life Unexpected" and "The Biggest Loser." (Or, at least, until the last ten minutes of BL, when the Black Team finally lost a weigh in and Lance and his nasty beard got sent home. Now, if we can just get rid of Michael. Yeah, yeah, it's a matter of life and death for him. He's the only one still over 400 pounds. But he's so annoying! I just want to shove a pie in his face to get him to Shut Up Already.)

Anyway . . .

Spring Break is nigh, and I just might have time to work on my next UFO:

This afghan was supposed to be my sister's wedding gift. She was married in July.


So I have been working, on and off, on this blanket for FOUR YEARS!

I've knit about three-quarters of it. It needs to get done.

I did finally finish the sweater for my nephew, and much to my surprise, it still fits. Yay! I didn't get any photos of the actual sweater, but here's one from the Coldwater Collaborative (where I got the pattern and yarn) of what it looked like:

Except mine didn't have the button at the top.

Still, so cute!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday Five: Panic! at the Computer

Five things that I need to get done in the next 72-ish hours:

1. Write a conference paper. A 15-minute paper, titled "Like a Volunteer: Shaping Subjectivities in the Voluntourism Encounter."

The abstract, in case you are interested:

International volunteers are often on the front lines of implementing development programs as humanitarian action increasingly becomes the purview of individuals in the private sector. Voluntourism—the practice of traveling outside of one’s community for less than three months to perform unpaid work, as an alternative to or in conjunction with traditional leisure tourism— is a boom industry that brings millions of these volunteers to developing nations. By taking the individualism of volunteering to an extreme—anyone can purchase the experience of “solving” poverty—voluntourism raises questions about the role of volunteers in developing communities: Who is a “volunteer” and who makes that determination? What social, economic, and political effects do volunteers have on communities? Who is accountable for those effects? How local community members and volunteers resolve these questions has implications for development practice at all levels. In this paper, I will draw on fieldwork conducted in Malawi to explore the multiple, conflicting ideas about place, morality, globalization, and development that local community members and Western volunteers bring to resolving these questions. I will challenge the dominant Western discourse of volunteering, which views volunteering is a “pure” humanitarian endeavor, removed from the political, economic, and social movements that have shaped contemporary development. By contrast, I will situate Malawian and Western views of international volunteering within those movements to examine the various subjectivities that participants bring to encounters between local community members and Western volunteers.

A 15-minute paper really isn't very long---only about 7 or 8 pages of text. But I'm writing it from scratch, based on field notes that I haven't looked at in 2 years, with a theoretical basis in which I'm not well-grounded.

Oh, and my advisor is the discussant for the panel. And I was supposed to have the draft to her yesterday.

2. Write a lecture for an introductory survey course on Africa. A 75-minute lecture, titled "Madonna, Monsanto, and the New Millennium: Development in the 21st Century."

One of the "perks" of being a TA for the course is the chance to do a guest lecture during the term. And I kind of like lecturing, although I can never quite shake the fear that someone is going to stand up in the middle of the lecture to yell, "Fraud! You have no idea what you are talking about!" I have one student this term whom I can absolutely picture doing just that.

And filling 75 minutes without putting 240 students to sleep is a bit daunting.

Mind you, we scheduled my guest lecture for this coming week to avoid having it overlap with the conference paper, completing forgetting that I needed to get the conference paper done early for the discussant. Bah!

3. Apply for TA positions.

I still have no idea where I'll be in six months. I've been rejected by two grants, but I'm still waiting for decisions from three others, and I just put in another application for a summer grant. In the meantime, applications are coming due for Project Assistant and Teaching Assistant positions for next year. And because I can't rely on my own department to have a TA position for me, I'm hustling to secure outside positions.

4. Revise an article that I'm trying to get ready to submit for publication. Yet another situation in which I'm semi-paralyzed by the fear of being exposed as a fraud and a moron. And as much as I'd like to put this revision off for another week, I promised my advisor that I'd have the revision ready for her by this coming week. Plus, putting it off just backs into the next set of crazy deadlines.

5. Read The Elegance of the Hedgehog, bake a cheesecake, and keep up with Fug Madness.

So technically I don't need to do these things. But I started The Elegance of the Hedgehog as my bedtime reading this past week, and I'm completely hooked. And the latest issue of Fine Cooking has an article on how to make a cheesecake, along with about a dozen yummy variations. And Fug Madness is just that---madness!

Oh, and then there's the journal mailing that I was supposed to do this week. And the survey I need to revise so I can get the pilot phase done. And the books that I need to read before the library storms my home and takes them back by force (the books have been recalled and are now overdue on the recalls and the library is sending me threatening e-mails). And the disaster that is my home.

Gah! Off to work!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Stuff Going On

The weather is less-than-frightful --- one can almost feel Spring trying to push its way in --- so no more excuses:


I went to the running store today and got a new pair of running shoes. Getting fitted for shoes is always an adventure: my right foot is almost a full size longer than my left foot, but my left foot has a super-high bridge that often requires various adjustments and wide sizes and such.

When I was trying on different sizes, the salesgirl pulled out a different color shoe in the larger size, so she asked if I minded what color it was.

Me: "I'm not exactly going for high fashion when I'm out on a run."
Salesgirl: "Oh, thank God."

I guess a lot of people pick their shoes based on the color. Me? When I'm running, I'm red-faced and frizzy-haired, sucking wind and pouring sweat. The last thing I'm worried about---and the last thing I'm sure anyone is looking at---is the color of my shoes.

In other stuff going on, I've been a fairly productive knitter of late, even if I'm not working my way through my UFO pile.

I finished a hat:

The pattern was straight-forward---wide-wale rib-knit---but with a little bit of a twist with the reverse rib to make it interesting.

But I don't have any scarves that go with a red hat, so . . .

This scarf will also solve the problem of not having anything to go with another hat that I made a couple years ago but almost never wear because I don't have anything to go with it.

I, however, really do need to finish the sweater for my nephew. I'm going to visit him (and other family members) this weekend to celebrate his first birthday. So for the next two days, about all I'll be doing is knitting and grading 73 midterm exams.