Still Not Real

Maybe by the time you read this, it will feel real. That I am traveling to Africa for the first time (Senegal, to be precise). But right now, writing this on the plane (instead of sleeping. Ugh), I still don’t really believe it. Don’t believe that the plan hatched on our porch over red wine more than a year an a half ago, the plan that required multiple modifications as funding sources were pursued, denied, and new ones pursued, the plan that seemed impossible actually worked and we are now just a few hours away from Dakar.

Partly I think it’s due to the way airports and plane travel see to exist outside of time and normal space. Waking up before 5 a.m. In the dark to drive to a place where one’s sole function is to sit and wait, time seems to both exqpnd and contract. Where is the plane? Is it here yet? Can we board? Yes, finally (due to a mixup with the airlines, we were at the airport hours before we needed to be), it’s here! Hurry up and wait again, this time in line. And then, on the plane, sitting again, flying east, towards tomorrow. Leaving this (or yesterday, I guess) morning, we saw a gorgeous prairie sunrise in Missouri, a sunset in DC from the airport bus, and night sky, moon, stars, and a sunrise from the plane as we flew across the Atlantic. All the phases of the day, all while sitting and waiting impatiently to arrive in a new place and day. Waiting to experience new sights, sounds, and culture. It’s the promise of travel and the reason we are willing to force our bodies to stay awake for 20+ hours and endure the brutality of shifting our internal clocks by so many hours.

So, no, it still doesn’t feel real, but I can’t wait to see what the next 10 days bring.

Mid-Year Resolutions

I generally don’t do New Year’s resolutions. Having lived most of my life on an academic calendar, January feels like the middle, not the beginning, of the year to me so I don’t much care about New Year’s.

Once July and August roll around, however, it starts to feel like a beginning. After all, the new semester starts 5 weeks from today and what’s more of a beginning than a shiny new semester? Thus, mid-year resolutions!

  1. Spend more time away from my desk and moving. I spent two weeks in Germany in June and we just returned from our annual week in Wisconsin. Both of these trips involved a lot of walking and I loved it. Here in Kansas City, I spend way too much time sitting — either at my desk or in the car. While the weather is still nice, I plan to spend more time outside walking.
  2. Get back into a regular exercise routine (something I haven’t had since leaving Texas). Related to the above, I noticed in both Germany and Wisconsin that walking up any kind of incline winded me — even more than when I was a smoker. Next year I want to climb Eagle Trail without huffing and puffing all over the place.IMG_1045
  3. Stop losing my temper in airports. Nothing (other than AT&T “customer service.” But I got rid of them) makes me lose my temper faster than being in an airport. After melting down a bit in Stuttgart last month, I am determined to cultive a Zen sensibility for flying.
  4. Jazz up my classes. I’m teaching two old standbys this fall and am looking for ways to tweak them to make them more interesting for me and my students. I’ve got five weeks to finish my syllabi and hopefully come up with great ideas.

That’s my list for my “new” year. I’m hoping they stick, and invite y’all to keep me accountable via comments, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

What about you? Do you make mid-year resolutions? If so, what are they? Are you able to keep them?


And I’m Off!

Currently, I am sitting at the airport with my overstuffed carry-on waiting to board my flight to Newark.

From Newark, it’s on to Stuttgart, Germany, and then Tübingen, where I will spend the next two weeks taking part in a Fulbright seminar for American faculty who teach things German. Oh, and admiring views like this:

To say I’m excited would be an understatement. It’s a packed schedule, but I am hoping to have some time to blog, so watch this space for travel updates (and photos, of course!).

Things I Learned in Vancouver

Last week, my friend Shaun and I took our Alt Academix show on the road to the University of British Columbia in Vancouver where we gave two workshops. Here, for no reason other than I feel like sharing, is a list of some of the things I learned.

Vancouver is super pretty. I mean ridiculously pretty. I mean unfair-to-those-of-us-who-don’t-live-there pretty. Water AND mountains? This KC girl is envious.

View of the bay and mountains from the UBC campus

View of the bay and mountains from the UBC campus

The Chinese restaurants are authentic. Yes, that is a heart in my duck soup. No, I was not expecting it.


Waiter, there’s a heart in my soup!

The UBC Museum of Anthropology is awesome.

IMG_0473This stall in the Granville Island Public Market is reason enough for me to pack my bags and move to Vancouver

That is an amazing display of pâté

That is an amazing display of pâté

Doing two 3-hour workshops in one day is hell on one’s legs and feet. But we had great students, faculty, and staff to work with, so the time flew.

Vancouverites (??) are a polite lot, who thank the bus driver when exiting the bus, regardless of the door they are using. It is a bit disconcerting the first time someone yells “thank you!” from the back of the bus as I had no idea to whom they were speaking.

Finally, did I mention that Vancouver is pretty? Because it is.


I also learned some serious things about higher education and graduate students — but this post is not about that, so will share those later.

Testing 1, 2

In the next few months, I have quite a bit of travel coming up (5 trips in a little over 3 months, including FINALLY some international travel. I haven’t left the country since I went to India in 2007/2008). One of the things I would like to do is not have to constantly drag my laptop around with me, so I’ve been trying out using my iPad with a keyboard and apps.

So far, so good. The keyboard (a Logitech Ultrathin) is great and I’ve found Quickoffice and Google Drive helpful for dealing with documents. BUT. I have yet to find a blogging app I like, despite trying several. Thus, the title of this post, as it is a test post from Poster, the most recent app I’m trying. We shall see.

Bloggers with iPads, what app(s) do you use? Any advice most appreciated!

(ETA: As noted, this was first written with Poster, which did okay, except for handling hyperlinks, but perhaps I need to learn how to do that better).