Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Chloe vs. The Chipmunk

Despite growing up on a farm, and despite my love of cute, furry animals in the wild, I have an intense fear of any foreign animal intruder in my house. Lizards. Spiders. Ants. Bugs. Frogs. Heath used to pick these and other varmints up and chase me with them when we were little, and to this day, I'm terrified of them, if they're indoors. Even if I see them outside, I tend to run. While I have maintained my cool in many a traumatic, high-stress situation, and I assure you that I'm good to keep around in a real crisis, I really flip out when critters crawl in my house.

So you can imagine the hysteria that resulted today when I was standing there, minding my own business in the kitchen refilling my pepper mill, when I look up to see Chloe Cat walking through the back door, head held high (which is unusual) and carrying what appeared to be something in her mouth. It looked like either she had something in tow, or she just had walked through some leaves that got stuck in her whiskers, which is what I was hoping was the case. But what went running through my mind was something like, "oh no, no, no, NOOOO" as she pranced herself right beside me and dropped a cute - alive! - chipmunk on the kitchen floor. Stunned, the little guy looked up at Chloe. She stared back. I started screaming at the top of my lungs. I thought (and here is an example of why a PhD is NO measure of intelligence) that if I screamed, "bad Chloe! Go away chipmunk!!" she'd realize the err of her ways and pick up the chipmunk and take him back. I was wrong. My screaming resulted in the chipmunk scampering over towards the sliding glass door, and Chloe chasing. He was trapped. I stood there for a minute, screaming, jumping up and down like a maniac, wondering if I should call Casey or Dave first for assistance. I knew Casey had to work tonight, so Dave was the lucky recipient of me, still screaming, "Ohmygod there's a chipmunk in our house! What do I do? Ohmygodohmygodohmygod!!!!"

Meanwhile, Chloe was having a field day, playing with her new toy. It was apparent that she didn't want to kill the poor chipmunk - who was rather cute, by the way - but she just wanted to chase it and play. She cornered it in the kitchen. Luckily, Dave instructed me to open the front door, incase the rodent ran through the house, and to give it another option for escaping. Sure enough, I watched as Chipmunk scampered from the kitchen, through the dining room, behind the couch, and around the television, and laughed as Chloe followed right behind. I nearly lost it, however, when Chipmunk hit the parquet floor, full speed, and looked like he was about to take flight right out the door. Straight out of a cartoon, I tell you. Chloe caught him, and cornered him between the open door and my road bike, which has been parked in the hallway until we figure out where to keep it long term.

At this point, my conversation with Dave consisted of Dave laughing hysterically, and me yelling into the phone, "oohh!! Yay! Little chipmunk, go! You're almost there! Come on! Door's open! Go free! Go!" Stealthily, Chipmunk scurried under the door and bolted into the front yard. Before Chloe could chase him, I quickly shut her in and refused to let her out the rest of the night. She sniffed around the house for at least an hour, though, hoping to find her little buddy hiding around the corner.

It took me at least an hour to quit shaking.

And that's what happened on Day 1 of my transition to housewifery. I think I'll go back to dissertating tomorrow.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

On Writing, and Qualitative Research: A Pep Talk

Dear Self,

You are writing a dissertation that has relied on qualitative methods/analysis. That means you have the freedom to let the data tell the story, in as creative a manner as your little pea brain will allow. So quit trying to force it. Pretend it's a blog, and you're writing for an audience of everyone. Isn't that why you fell in love with qualitative research in the first place? Of course it is. You're doing research that everyone can understand. You don't need a PhD to "get" what's going on in your dissertation - which is why someday, it'll be helpful to someone who really needs it.

The qualitative/feminist/critical approach to seeing the world - that everyone's experiences have value, that the mundane is what's important, that there is meaning in our seemingly routine, taken for granted interactions, that who really cares about p-values and standard deviations when what we should be focusing on are the outliers, the marginalized, the ones who are overlooked and without a voice? - when you embraced that approach, remember how much better you felt about the world? And yourself? And how everything just sorta made sense? It's why you are doing what you're doing now. That, and because you knew you could do some amazingly cool studies that might just change the world, or at least one or two people's way of thinking. So don't screw it up. Just write. Let the respondents tell their story (which is a really cool story, by the way), and bring it to life with some tidbits here and there about what you think they meant or why their experiences were what they said they were.

That's all. Oh, and quit procrastinating with your incessant blogging, facebooking, and twittering, and maybe you'll finish in a timely fashion.

Your Self.

Friday, May 1, 2009

And it matters that he's gay because... ?

Check out this article in today's Lexington Herald-Leader.

In my opinion, this article is not so much about the "special place" for celebrities to chill in at the Derby, as it is about pointing out that the person who designed it is a gay man from Kentucky, without really saying that he's gay. There is so much going on here, I don't even know where to start with an analysis, except for, why does it matter that he's gay, and why did they have to emphasize it so much throughout the article?