I'd rather die enormous than live dormant.

Summer Snaps. I meant to post these a week ago, before the semester began, but I somehow forgot. Here are a few of my favorite snaps from the summer that I shared on Instagram.

Someday I’ll write my own “in defense of Instagram.” Even though I’m totally susceptible to that social media trap of envying others lives, wanting to acquire as many likes as possible, attempting to curate the most perfect picture of my life as possible, etc. — EVEN THOUGH those things are true, I like the virtual photo album that Instagram creates for me. I like remembering fondly. 

Sure, our one-bedroom apartment is too small. Sure, I literally have just stacked all of my books for the semester in a corner because my two bookshelves are teeming (and I already sold about 30 books to half-price early this summer, so, as a book-lover, I think I’ve sacrificed enough). Sure, staring at a parking lot isn’t the most glamorous view to wake up to (after peeling back the curtains we inherited from Andrew’s sister, hand-me-downs in reverse). 

But I can still sit cross-legged on a bed, drink coffee, answer emails, create a strategy for doing the 600 pages of reading that need to get done before Tuesday, listen to Steffany Gretzinger and watch a storm roll in on a Friday morning. So I think we can stay here until May. 


I’m nobody’s baby, I’m everybody’s girl

I’m the queen of nothing, I’m the king of the world

King of the World | First Aid Kit

Sitting in my kitchen reading Judith Butler (just an essay — “Desire” — thank goodness, since I think diving into Butler in week one might be a bit exhausting) and listening to Pandora. It’s odd how familiar this Wednesday feels. 

I’ve got some bulletpoint thoughts about our VMAs this year, which I recorded and perused and read lots about. But first, I know (personally and in the sense that I follow their work) scholars who do really good, important work with pop culture. I can point you in their direction if you’re skeptical as to why things like MTV’s VMAs matter to us. 

  • That scene right there, Beyonce in front of the words “FEMINIST,” is incredibly important. If that’s all these VMAs brought us, that would be huge. Embrace the label. Make it mainstream. Don’t be a Shailene Woodley about it. Everything about Beyonce’s performance was about embracing being a multi-faceted woman who can do anything (I love her openness about motherhood). And the importance of that can’t be overstated, especially in the realm of pop culture that is so often about limiting the “roles” women can play.  
  • I really like that we had actual hip-hop performances this year, and that they were from women (all of them were, I believe). I do not like that we didn’t have a single woman nominated in the “hip-hop” category. 
  • I also like that women on the VMAs did not shy away from their sexuality. “Blow” is an incredibly sexually empowering song (there, I said it). And Nicki Minaj is something a little different, sure. But she wasn’t wearing or doing anything different from what female back-up dancers wear and do behind male performers all of the time (that also goes for her “Anaconda” video that got SO much attention last week). 
  • What I do not like is the fact that I don’t think a female performer who does not want to show a lot of skin would get any airtime on the VMAs — there certainly wasn’t one last night (unlike Lorde in 2013). We need to be open to that. 

I finished Girls, so, I have the courage to be the confused 24-year-old that I am. 

Meg Wolitzer’s The Position

J. Courtney Sullivan’s Maine

Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Marriage Plot

Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior

Elizabeth Noble’s The Reading Group

Tom Rachman’s The Imperfectionists

Sarah Gruen’s Water for Elephants

Alison Espach’s The Adults

These were the novels of my summer. I’m mostly limited to those that I can check out from the library or can buy cheap from Half-Price (I got Water for Elephants for $2!), and this is what I came up with. Overall, it’s been a very, very good summer. 

I’m channeling Minnie Mouse as my fashion inspiration for today. Also I gave myself a temporary tattoo today and I love it. It says “be strong, believe.” I probably wouldn’t ever put an infinity symbol on my body — it just doesn’t mean that much to me — but this does have me dying to get a real wrist tattoo. I’ve thought about it for roughly 5 years. Andrew and my mother are against the idea, but we’ll see. 

I’m drinking an unsweetend green tea lemonade (really mixing it up from my typical green tea) in a Barnes & Noble while it randomly pours outside and they play “It’s gonna be a bright, bright, bright sunshiney day” (I can see clearly now the rain is gone). I keep trying to catch someone’s eye but so far I appear to be the only one digging that juxtaposition. I don’t know if I’m going to do any work. This seems like my last “do whatever you want today, Liz” day of the summer — Andrew’s even got a work dinner, so I’m totally on my own until 9pm. I might kill a few hours reading blogs and cookbooks and magazines in this B&N. Then I might go get some froyo. And I might pick up pad thai for dinner. Look at all those “might”s. Look how free I am. I could totally be someone who has a tattoo. 

Supervisory meeting tomorrow. Then Galveston. Then classes start. I’ve gotta soak up the non-rigidity while I can. 

Year 4

I’m back in the English building (not particularly surprising, since I’ve been making an effort to be here throughout the summer), finally back in my office (where I found these post-its to be the only thing they DIDN’T remove when clearing out our offices for the Language & Culture Center staff to use this summer — I hope they enjoyed them), finally visiting the classrooms where I’ll be teaching in a week (which lack HDMI cords — curses!), and orientation for first-year writing instructors is going on just down the hall. 

Year four is upon us. Well, upon me. 

Year four feels particularly odd since I only spent three years at undergrad. This place is beginning to feel particularly permanent. I thought about switching cubicles in my office, but I couldn’t — I’ve grown too attached. Since I opted for back-to-back MA and PhD (funded! I couldn’t turn it down!), I’m about to enter my fourth year of coursework. So in some ways, this is a senior year. Next year (and the next — funding!) I’ll be back, but it will be different — it will only be to teach and take comprehensive exams, not to be in classes. 

I’m hoping to soak it up. This is quite possibly the last nine months I’ll spend doing focused study in several different areas (this semester: critical pedagogy, rhetoric & desire, and Mexican-American lit — probably one of my best semesters yet). I love learning. Sometimes I forget that in all the mania and panic that is graduate school, but I do — I love learning in classrooms, whether I’m at the front of them or parked in a desk. I hope to enjoy that this year. 


Frightened Rabbit | Swim Until You Can’t See Land

This song gets me right now.

"You shoot off a guy’s head with his pants down, believe me, Texas ain’t the place you want to get caught." 

I’m watching Thelma and Louise for the first time this afternoon (whilst doing the mindless work of setting up course blackboard sites), perhaps due to my hyperfeminist-state, or the fact that there’s nothing on my DVR in the summer, or my recent Netflix obsession, or some combination of the three. At any rate, I love it. 

I’ve been occupying this kind of intense space lately. I’m reading Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist (a collection of essays on feminist issues), designing a course themed on gender, I just watched Miss Representation (an excellent documentary on the effects of the way women are portrayed in the media), and I just have a lot of time to think.

I feel like I’ve got a new contact prescription.

The reality TV shows I’d occasionally hover over when channel surfing now seem insufferable — disgusting examples of producers pushing women into scripted stereotypes. I almost stood up and verbally attacked an old man for blatantly staring down a less-clothed (it’s like a hundred degrees here, okay?) young woman in line at Starbucks today. I found the idea of putting on make-up this morning to be a little off, and then loathed myself when I quickly swiped mascara on to cover my insecurities. The fact that 1 in 4 young women is sexually assaulted while attending college is suddenly a fact that I can hardly stand to live with — I feel like I need to go do something immediately (other than teach a course themed on gender).

It’s a lot to process, but I suppose that’s a good thing. It’s as if I’m suddenly rhetorically analyzing the images and ideas and phenomenons that I encounter daily instead of blindly consuming them, which is a good thing (especially for someone who has a degree in “Rhetoric”). And these are all things that I’ve known — that the media does awful things to women and that it’s not okay for a man to ocularly assault a woman in public — but it’s all suddenly so intolerable. I’m a big fan of the “no growth in the comfort zone, no comfort in the growth zone” mentality, and I think that’s what’s happening right now — I’m in a growing pains space, where everything is insufferable.