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She's only been with us three weeks but it is already almost impossible to remember life without her. 

She came home just in time for Thanksgiving

She likes to nap...sometimes

She likes her bed a lot.

But prefers her Mama's lap or legs.

Sometimes she gets her own chair.

But mostly she just likes being with Mama.








Women, Health, and Breasts

While my research agenda falls firmly in the topic of women's health I'm not very interested in conducting research on breast cancer. And while my research focuses on women as mothers I'm not very particularly interested in breastfeeding as a public health issue or as a women's rights issue. This is not to say that either of these topics are unimportant. I believe they are and I encourage others to take up the mantle. It is just that there are only so many topics a person can research in their lifetime and women's breasts don't do it for me.

But this is October and every October we are all subjected to the pinkification of breast cancer awareness. Football players start wearing pink jerseys, every purchasable item comes with a pink ribbon (including pink ribbons tattooed on eggs - a most unfortunate visual), and we are beseeched to "save the tatas." 

This year someone started a FaceBook meme to make October 13th National No Bra Day (which for the last 3 years has actually been on July 9th). The meme states that women should not wear bras on this day as a way to bring heightened awareness to breast cancer. Now I'm not exactly sure who is left in the Western Hemisphere that is not aware of breast cancer but I think it is pretty obvious how insulting No Bra Day as a breast cancer awareness campaign is for women who actually have breast cancer (or have lost a loved one to breast cancer). If you're not sure, read this

It is also equally obvious from these campaigns that we are only interested in breasts when they represent women's sexualized bodies. Breasts when they represent women's ability to feed and nurture their children are still seen as revolting and offensive. So we are encouraged to take off our bras to promote breast cancer awareness but we are vilified when exposing a breast to feed a hungry child. That breastfeeding actually reduces a woman's risk of breast cancer seems to be besides the point. 

But those who know me well know that it is not the exploitation of women's breast as sexual objects or the explicit association between breast cancer awareness and the hyper feminine pinkness of the campaigns that really gets my goat. No it is how the pink ribbon overshadows and obliterates the purple one. October is also domestic violence awareness month. Domestic violence is actually a far bigger threat to women's (and children's) health and well-being than breast cancer AND there is an actual need to raise the public's awareness of the issue.

So today I suggested a different meme on FaceBook. Let's leave No Bra Day (if we have to have one) on July 9th and make October 13th "No Beatings Day." I would also accept "No Rape Day." I think either one would do far more for the women in this country than going au naturale for a day.  Now if I could just get someone to come up with a logo.

**********cross-posted on**************


Intellectual Homes

My academic home at my university is in the Department of Public Health Education. It feels very much like an academic home: physically, mentally, and emotionally. After many years of changing offices, I currently have an office that I love and is decorated to feel like a home. I have colleagues I really enjoy who I get to interact with both in and out of our offices. I am committed to our students, our curricula, and to the work it takes for us to function as a successful and engaged department. We're not there yet but I feel like I am part of a (somewhat dysfunctional) family struggling to be successful.

But neither the field of public health nor health education have ever felt like an intellectual home for me. I can be intellectually engaged in both fields but my intellectual work is always on the fringe of either (or both) fields and the body of work in the fields don't excite me the way it excites many of my colleagues. I've blamed this in the past on the fact that my educational training was in general and developmental psychology. However I have never felt any subfield of psychology to be my intellectual home. Over the years I have presented at numerous conferences in all of these fields and subfields and rarely, if ever, do I make an intellectual connection (personally or socially).

For the past seven years I've been involved, in one form or another, with my institutition's Women and Gender Studies program. I assumed that since my work is embedded in issues of gender, race, and class, that this would be an intellectual home for me. This has not been the case. While there are many lovely faculty members affiliated with the program and I value that our institution continues to offer the program, I have not connected intellectually with it. In fact I realized that while over the years I have contributed in several ways to the program I don't feel that I've gotten anything out of my affiliation (other than a title).

I believe I have created an intellectual home for a small cadre of students and this has been wonderful and highly rewarding but it is not the same as having an intellectual  home. Lately I've been feeling most at home in my online writing group, First The Draft. This group is comprised of an unusual assortment of fabulous feminist writers all from very different intellectual backgrounds. A few of us are in academia proper but others have left it or are trying to make it work in more flexible arrangements. Some of us write nonfiction, some fiction, and some both. I think what makes it an intellectual home is not the sharing of a discipline or topic but the act of sharing and commenting on each other's work. I find it sad that in academic institutions we only do this with administrative work (occaisionally with teaching) and all intellectual work is done in a silo and/or with students. 


A Sunday with Angel

Angel has started a new fitness regime. He's been describing it to me and sending me useful articles to read. I like the idea of a structured fitness program so I want to give it a try. 

Today we met for breakfast (again) at my favorite diner. Under the new fitness regime these breakfasts either need to end or I need to stop eating the home fries AND the bagel. (Angel just eats the omelette.)

During breakfast I told him that I had figured out a way to fit the workout schedule into my work week. My plan was to start this week but part of the workout includes weightlifting exercises I've either never done before or haven't done in many many years. He was going to the gym this afternoon (we're on the family plan at my gym) and invited me to go with him so he could show me the ropes and help me with my form.

About an hour later (with my belly still full) I met him at the gym. I did really low weights to start and spotted him as he did weights I'll probably never be able to acheive (or at least not for a few years). Near us was a women about my age, maybe a little older, doing her own routine with similar exercises. She was lifting very heavy weights and had beautiful form. She was far from skinny but looked healthy, fit, and strong. I think she's just become my role model.

We worked out for two hours and then parted ways. We both went home to clean our respective houses. He's coming over tonight for dinner and access to our washer/dryer. I'll be cooking beef with broccoli in garlic sauce and brown rice (part of this regime is whole foods and I find it hysterical that I could never get him to eat whole wheat or brown rice when he lived with me but now he's all about it). He's coming early to learn the recipe as he has started cooking for himself.

I've gotta say I'm enjoying this version of the empty nest the best.



It has been a very long time since I've written a substantial post here at the House of Dirt and Rocks. A lot has changed in this time, some for the better and some for the worse. For those of you still reading who haven't heard, our beloved Pupzilla died on June 24th. She was battling pancreatic cancer and had lost all quality of life. The last few days were especially tough for her and for us and the inevitable trip to the vet was scheduled. I must say the doctor and everyone who worked at the office were amazing. It is nothing I ever want to go through again but they did everything in their power to make it comfortable for her and for us. We have plans to scatter her ashes in our old stompling grounds on the AT trail next month.

Just a few weeks later my faithful old car, Zippy, kicked the bucket. She was 19 years old and served us well. I think I would have been a lot more upset (as she was practically the only car I've ever owned) if losing Pupzilla hadn't put a lot of things into perspective. Luckily I had just gotten my summer pay so I was able to buy a new-for-me car, Misty. She is only 4 years old, incredibly efficient and reliable.

Two weeks ago Angel moved out for the third (and I think final) time. He found a lovely little apartment about 3 miles from our house. It is in a great neighborhood and suits him very well. He took Smudge with him, leaving The Brute as the sole pet in our household. The Brute is having a hard time with being alone for long hours during the day but Smudge absolutely adores living with Angel (who wouldn't?). 

We are finding our house feels very large with all of the departures and are thinking of downsizing sometime next year. In preparation we have started purging many of our belongings and preparing for a more minimal lifestyle.

The semester officially kicked off this week and this year I am taking on an administrative role: Associate Chair. This position has already brought many changes and I'm sure there are more to come. Ultimately I think it will be good for the department and, hopefully, for me but it may be a little bumpy at first.

I'm not sure what all these changes will mean for this blog. I haven't felt much like writing here since Pupzilla died but I'm hoping that it is just temporary. I'm also concerned that the responsibilites of being Associate Chair will take away from both my regular writing and my blogging but that remains to be seen.