Monthly Archives: October 2013

a little setback

As you know from this post, I have been considering adopting a greyhound for awhile now. Awhile ago, I contacted a local retired racing greyhound adoption program, and they were willing to consider me for adoption. I had a phone conversation. Got an application in the mail. Painstakingly filled it out. Researched greyhounds online. Had an official phone interview that went well. Then, another week or so later, I had a face-to-face interview with the head of the adoption program.

Here’s the problem, I had an allergic reaction while I was at  the interview. The house was clean, but it was home to two greyhounds, four other dogs, and birds. I am not allergic to dogs, at least not in the way I am allergic to cats, but I haven’t lived with a dog in years. I have noticed mild sensitivity to some dogs, but hoped I could avoid that by keeping the dog and my house clean.

I was there for almost two hours. One of the greyhounds licked and leaned and rubbed against me, which I allowed because I wanted to see if I would react. And I did. In the car ride home, I had dog hair all over my jeans, and I continued to sneeze and react. I was pretty disappointed.

The next day, I lost some valuable time to Petfinder, but I realized that I don’t want any dog. I want a greyhound. If I can’t have a greyhound, then I have to rethink my next step. There are some dog breeds that are very low allergy, and I think I would be fine living with them (I lived with a shih tzu once with no problems). Greyhounds are considered low allergy because they have short hair, no undercoat, and (most) of them don’t shed very much. So, I was hopeful.

The next step is to spend a few hours with just one greyhound. Since the woman had other breeds of dogs and birds in the home, I couldn’t get an accurate assessment of my reaction to the greyhound. So, though I am discouraged, I want to spend some time in a small space with a clean greyhound and see how I do. One major drawback is that every dog is different, and I’ll react differently depending on the dog. I wish I could test it out before adopting, but the process doesn’t work that way. Once you agree to adopt, they ship in a dog sight unseen. I do not want to live on allergy medication, so if I have a reaction to this dog, I might have to rethink the whole dog ownership thing for now.


feminism and rhetoric

Last week a student told me that she didn’t want to come across as feminist in her paper. Like a good teacher, I asked her why and a short conversation ensued. Over the years, most of my students have shared a similar sentiment. I’ve had almost no students identify as feminist. I’ve been teaching for ten years.

I mention this because this weekend I attended a rhetoric conference in my city, which meant that I got to sleep in my own bed and was alert and well-rested for the conference. (Conferences are usually a blur of jet-lag and light sleep, all while desperately clutching at ideas that are flying out of people’s mouths too quickly.)

I got a lot out of this conference. When I attend a conference, I usually lean toward the composition and pedagogy side of things out of necessity. But, my first love, my deeper, intellectual understandings came mid-undergraduate degree in anthropology, sociology, and especially gender studies classes.

Feminism has always been my way in to these discussions. In other approaches, there is often an overwhelming roar “THIS DOES NOT CONCERN YOU!” But, in feminist conversations, I belong. I have wanted to do more with feminism and rhetoric. My scholarly path has veered more toward the practical pedagogical side of things—though I’ve long suspected that I would eventually, more explicitly, make my way back to feminism.

In addition to (excessive) live Tweeting of the conference, I found myself frantically taking notes about project ideas and creative inspiration. I know I want to do more with feminism and my doula work, but I’m not exactly sure how it will all come together. I need to read more. Attend more presentations on feminism and rhetoric. Jacqueline Rhodes and Kristin Arola’s work was particularly inspiring. Hopefully, there’s more to come.

5 Reasons Not to Get a Dog


I’ve thought off and on about getting a dog for several years now. Years ago, at the SLC Farmer’s Market, I came across a booth for retired greyhound adoption. There was a pen set up, with long, strange looking animals lounging on the sun-dappled grass. I stood and stared at them, drawn to their peaceful energy.

image from Jason Short 2008

At the time, I lived downtown, had big life changes ahead, and adopting a dog was not an option. Over the years, I have thought that I would like to get a dog. That’s usually followed by a period of gratitude that I don’t have a dog.

Here are 5 Reasons I Don’t Want to Get a Dog (spoiler: I might still get a dog anyway):

  1. Mornings. I am slow to wake up. The thought of waking up early to stand or walk in the cold morning air so that a dog can pee is not my idea of as good time. In fact, it sounds like a terrible way to start the day.
  2. Allergies. I am allergic to cats, but not dogs. But, I also haven’t lived in close quarters with a dog, so I haven’t really been able to test a possible allergy to dogs in years. The other weekend a chihuahua climbed all over me, desperate for attention. Sure enough, I left with the sniffles. I’m probably more allergic to some dogs than others, and I wish there was a way to test it out before committing.
  3. Travel. I like to travel. Beyond small trips that could accommodate a dog, I like to do a major trip a few times per decade. I don’t even know how that would work, but I think it would mean securing very costly pet sitting situation.
  4. Children. If I get a dog, I might never have children. I can’t quite explain this thinking–just that I suspect it could be true for me. And, whether or not to reproduce is not a decision I’m ready to make right now.
  5. Landlord. I am a renter, and I don’t have a fenced yard. That will mean daily walks and attention to regular potty breaks. Originally, my landlord told me that getting a dog would be okay, with a $300-$600 refundable pet deposit. Later, after I resigned the lease (grrrr), they said it would be a $600 refundable pet deposit plus an additional monthly fee tacked on to my rent. That might still be negotiable. Also, other pet friendly rentals are usually totally gross, so I don’t feel like I have a lot of options.

(Coming soon: 5 Reasons to Get a Dog.)

hard times, yoga, and exercise

Last year I practiced Bikram yoga almost every day, and I was really, really happy. I was also in the first months of “round two” with my boyfriend. The year was fairly low-key, and I focused most of my energy on developing a routine, spending time with my guy, and figuring out my new, first full-time teaching position. It was a good year. I remember it fondly.

In the last few months, I’ve written several times (here and here) about some general malaise I’ve been dealing with, followed by a delightfully productive “manic” phase. I’m not sure where I’m at now–a little moody, happy, productive, impatient–and I am starting to wonder just how directly some of my upheaval relates to the fact that I’m no longer practicing Bikram yoga on a daily basis.

For exercise, I now teach yoga twice a week, run a mile or two in the park, and practice Bikram yoga every other week or so. I’m starting to wonder if Bikram is what made me so happy/healthy last year. While I’m still exercising, I’m definitely not getting that nice, hot sweat from Bikram and the high that comes afterwards.

The thing is, Bikram yoga is really time intensive. It takes at least two hours. *At least.* If you count all of the necessary extra showering and laundry, it’s even more. It is also expensive. For those reasons, I don’t want to practice Bikram with the same intensity of last year. I want to have time for other things this year (in addition to moderate exercise), but I’m also starting to wonder if the super-happy-high from Bikram is worth the time and money that it costs.

whitewater rafting adventure

Last spring I volunteered as a doula for a friend. They unexpectedly paid me back with a free whitewater rafting adventure on the Colorado River. Let me start by saying that I am a little afraid of water–ranging from full on fear to a healthy respect, depending on circumstances. Because of some of these fears, I’ve only been whitewater rafting twice.

This water looks pretty tame, right?

This water looks pretty tame, right?

I am also not a strong swimmer. However, my thinking is that, when it comes to a river, only really, really strong swimmers could pull themselves out of a strong rapid anyway. So, I decided to put on my lifejacket and hope for the best.

a landscape to love

a landscape to love

The weather was colder than expected and a heavy rain the night before caused the water levels to go up significantly. It was cold. The rapids were intense. But, the guide was very experienced. He does this for a living and has done outdoor adventure his whole life. I was advised to stay on the gear boat if I was nervous. In all his life, the guide had never flipped the gear boat.

Day two, I was actually very calm. I knew Skull Rapid, a class IV rapid, was going to be the hardest part of the trip, but I sensed that everything would be fine. We stopped and scouted the rapid before going over. That meant scrambling over big, slick boulders. The rapid looked terrifying. In addition to the crazy big waves, there was a huge hole in the middle. We were warned that there were a few waves, reversals and such, that held you in place so you couldn’t swim out. Or, pushed you to the bottom of the river before spitting you out. There was also a huge, eerie eddy full of driftwood to the right that was to be avoided at all cost.

I’m sure you can tell where this story is headed. The raft that I was on tipped over. Half of the gear boat fell into the hole and then it flipped all the way over. I remember falling (though I couldn’t tell you where or in what direction) and relaxing (as previously instructed). I do not remember holding my breath or struggling to get to the surface for breath.   I know that it all happened really quickly. I suddenly realized I was underwater and started to swim toward the surface. When I popped up, the boat was in front of me and after a quick scramble, I grabbed on.

I felt strangely peaceful and even warm (despite the fact that the water was actually quite cold). The experience was…spiritual. Because being pulled underwater in massive river rapids is one of the more frightening things I can imagine, I think it is quite possible that a few seconds have been blocked from my memory. I simply can’t account for the first few seconds of the mishap.

Would I do it again? Maybe. The important thing is that I’m really glad I did it. I’ve been a little wary about rafting even though I love it. This experience gave me confidence to do more rafting. I’m going to say yes more. Maybe I’ll stick to class III rapids and lower for awhile. But, my worst fear came true, and you know what? It was okay, and even awesome and life changing. So yeah, I’ll do it again. And, hopefully, again.

Don Jon by Joseph Gordon-Levitt

I don’t get to watch many movies in the theater these days, but last weekend I saw Don Jon with my bff when she was here to visit. When I went to see the movie, I didn’t realize Joseph Gordon-Levitt had also written and directed the film. I’ve always liked Gordon-Levitt, but in the last few years, he’s been blowing me away with his work. So, I was already cheering him on when I read the opening credits.

Don Jon is an impressive writer/director debut. It was as delicious blend of eye candy, low brow humor and content, but also had some really smart themes. It’s no secret that this movie is, partly, about porn. Porn accounts for many billions of dollars in the US economy, and so clearly we need to be talking about porn.

*Spoiler alert-ish* This movie is not just about porn or porn addiction. In fact, the overall message about porn is a little ambiguous. Viewers can draw their own conclusions–to an extent. I’m pretty sure some fans will come away from the film thinking that it is too “sex negative” in regards to porn. If you’re skeezed out about porn, you should definitely watch this film. It tackles interesting themes, but is not gratuitous (if that’s what you’re worried about).

The most important concept, or at least my take home message, was about how social obligations and expectations (especially surrounding religion, marriage, and family) can be detrimental to human sexuality. Of course, people also say porn isn’t real, and it ruins people’s sexual expectations. (I doubt that is always true. I think it is possible to separate the two.) However, beyond that, the film also addresses this really important point, which is how hegemony–not just pornography–works to create social obligations and expectations that probably have very little to do with humans enjoying themselves as sexual beings. This is really fascinating stuff to think about, and I’ve been mulling it over for the past week.

Go see the film. If you’re a “Barbara” or a “Jon,” try to get something out of the movie. If you’re an “Esther” go to the theater and clap at the end.

last year and this year

I’m going to spend the winter skiing. Last winter, I went to Bikram yoga almost every day, which is obviously a very, very hot experience. This winter, I want to spend at least two days a week skiing (avoiding the weekends as much as possible), and that will be a very, very cold experience. There were many Bikram yogis who skied all day and came back to a hot yoga class. They and I are kindred spirits. I’m not sure why everything has to be so extreme with me–why the intensity of hot and cold resonate. Truly, I think I need that kind of intensity to feel alive, so that life doesn’t feel like it’s escaping me.

I spent last weekend with one of my favorite people in the world. I came away with some insights about relationships, language, and I laughed really hard a few times–some big, ugly laughs that were captured on camera. She explained that she is frequently, uncomfortably aware of how short life is. That’s why she needs to know a lot of people and do different things and generally have freedom to move around the world. That way, she can get a sense of other ways of living and thinking, which she may never get to fully indulge in her own life. I really like that idea. It has given me permission to explore and indulge in different ways of living and being. Last year I practiced yoga. This year I ski. And whatever I do, I don’t buy a house.