Elegy on Toy Piano

By Dean Young

You don’t need a pony
to connect you to the unseeable
or an airplane to connect you to the sky.

Necessary it is to love to live
and there are many manuals
but in all important ways
one is on one’s own. Continue reading


For nothing now can ever come to any good

The semester is wrapping up at warp speed. I passed my comps exams with flying colors (answering a question about the trajectory of American commemorative culture, and one about the history of art history, from Kantian aesthetics to the idea of visual culture studies.) I graded all my students’ papers and returned them, and I presented in my Monstrous and Grotesque class on Wednesday. I still have an infinite amount of work to do, but there is just a little bit more breathing room now. That breathing room must have been palpable, for my very best friend in the entire world waited till I had the time, and then told me she was ready to go.  Continue reading

Deadlines Approaching

It’s hard to blog when I have so many deadlines approaching. I can’t blog about biking, since I am not riding much (weather, workload). No one wants to hear about the things my students write (well, maybe you do, but I won’t share them in a public forum.) And I’ve been working on comps prep, which is interesting to me, but doesn’t leave me much interest in writing here, mostly because by the end of the night, I’ve run out of words. (I wrote 2700 words yesterday. I have to do that 8 times. I’ve got 6 of them done.) I could show you or tell you about the books I have from the library (77 books, plus 3 from interlibrary loan) and all the things I am reading, but again, too tired and running out of words. So, instead, I made this silly picture of our big dog:

Boyfriend has been playing a lot of Call of Duty Black Ops 2 lately, so I decided we should try to make a picture of the dogs in his headphones. Maddie is the only one who would sit still long enough to take a photo.  Continue reading

Doing With Intention

I have to share a story with you. One of my very best friends, since FOREVER, started running a little over a year ago. She is someone you never would have thought of as an athlete. Most of her previous fitness had come from dancing in clubs in NYC while working for the music industry. Punk rock and parties were more her thing. But, at a certain point, something inside her called for more. She ended up going back to school to get a masters degree in social work, and the big heart that we all knew she had was dedicated to a life making life better for other people. She is a very selfless person, very generous and giving, and to know her is to love her. She lived in the East Village in 2001, and was on site providing crisis management support after the World Trade Center came down. Her birthday is September 12, but rather than celebrating, (who could?) she was passing out water, meeting with first responders, and providing emotional support.

Fast forward to now. She’s a director of volunteer services for a hospice organization, and a loving mother and wife, who is a strong advocate for maintaining the role of the self in all women do – be a mom, but be yourself first, so you can be a strong, powerful role model for your children. Teach your girls to be strong, and your boys to be respectful. She is amazing. This whole “be present in yourself” approach she has to life is one of the reasons she started running. She wanted to be fit and healthy for her children, and be a good role model for healthy lifestyle choices for the two rambunctious boys that could easily get overwhelmed with negative messages in today’s screen based world. She tells a story of her oldest son finding a picture of her, before she started running.

He said “Mommy, you look so different here!” and my heart dropped. What would he say? What would he observe about the image of me, heavier, less active? “Well, it’s different because this was before you got so fit!” My heart breathed a sigh of relief. I had conveyed the proper message – running for fitness, and eating for health. Not weight loss or body image.

Within a year, my friend went from being a non-athlete to running 5k races, to doing a 1/2 marathon at Disneyworld, to doing more and more 1/2 marathons. The idea struck her – why not, having been a New Yorker for so long, throw her name in the hat for the NYC Marathon? And on her first try, she was picked from the lottery to run – her first marathon ever would be the NYC marathon.

She spent the last 6 months in training, including the taper over the last two weeks. She’s been *itching* to run. But then, tragedy struck, as we well know. Hurricane Sandy devastated the east coast from Cuba and Haiti all the way north to Connecticut, Massachusetts  and New Jersey, and yes, New York. The NYC Marathon was scheduled to leave from Staten Island and wind its way through the five boroughs of the city tomorrow morning, yet today they are still pulling dead bodies from flooded houses. It’s a heartbreaking scene of devastation and misery. The city debated continuing the marathon, saying it would be an act of “healing” for the city – but not this soon. Smarter people took charge and made the decision to cancel.

My friend Carolyn was glad for this. She saw the devastation, and knew that it would not be the ideal first marathon she had dreamed of running. The cancellation came yesterday afternoon – less than 48 hours before the run was scheduled. Carolyn decided to run anyway, in her current hometown of Danbury, CT. A few friends started saying they’d donate to relief efforts in her name if she did it, and suddenly, an idea was born.

Carolyn, 5k into her 26.2 miles to direct donations to hurricane relief.

In less than 12 hours, we built a facebook page for her run, at https://www.facebook.com/CarolynRunsForNyc, with links to organizations helping with the relief effort. We are encouraging people to “cheer” Carolyn on by donating directly to a relief organization in her name. You can follow the page for updates, or follow me as I post her updates on Twitter, using the hashtags #run4nyc and #carolynruns.

Carolyn is on the road right now, doing her solo marathon through the Danbury region. I think she put it best when she said, before her run:

Ok – I’m heading out shortly….Please know…this is not about a cheering section for me…this is a cheering section for the relief efforts, and those who are working tirelessly to rebuild their homes and their lives.

At a time when there is so much sniping and political game playing, this intentional use of a personal milestone to direct attention to the needs of others is amazing, selfless and reflective of the Carolyn that I have known and loved forever. If you are in the Danbury area, give her a shout out if you see her run by. Everyone should swing by the facebook page and pledge a donation, and go to any organization that is helping with the relief efforts, and donate now.

This is not a post about bikes

It’s only peripherally about books, and not about *anything* blue.

Holy crap, I’m in love.

Last Friday, it was SO COLD in Boulder that my coach decided we’d cancel our training ride. Normally, that’s not done, but because we were doing skill drills rather than steady exertion, we wouldn’t be able to keep ourselves warm. With the right gear, you can ride into the winter without incident. Continue reading

Captain of my own…wha??

Anyone who reads this blog has probably figured out by now that I have a lot of opinions, I’m pretty firmly in the feminist camp, and I get a bit miffed when guys get some sort of sense of superiority because they happen to have a pee-stick. If you didn’t know that by now, well…now you do.

And there’s a point to knowing that. But first – GAH. It’s been a while in the posting department, because my brain is in full on meltdown mode right now. In fact, I’m writing this blog post because I need a break, since I’ve been reading the same paragraph over and over for the last half hour, and I can’t keep looking at Pinterest and Facebook, because that’s ultimately the opposite of productivity. Writing a blog post at least gets some of the gunk out, or at least I hope it will. Continue reading

Blast from the Past

While cleaning and reorganizing the office this weekend, I had the brilliant idea to pull out this photo:

Here I am, on my 5th birthday, getting my first bike. Surprisingly, it’s not blue. All the rest of my bikes have been blue. But, I was *supremely* obsessed with Strawberry Shortcake as a kid, to the point that I would ONLY eat strawberry shortcake, as opposed to regular cake. I had strawberry shortcake dolls, figurines, sheets, folders for school, and so on. The only thing that surpassed my love my for Strawberry Shortcake was my love for cats.  And obviously, bikes. I loved this bike. Continue reading