“What you don’t know would make a great book.”

“What you don’t know would make a great book.”

Over the past few weeks, several stories have hit the news that the average, mainstream/majority person has often struggled to fully understand and to discuss with sensitivity. Topics range from the mishandled coverage of Caitlyn Jenner’s eloquent coming out in Vogue, to bungled discussions of Rachel Dolezal’s behavior that horrifically convolve (among other things) acts of racism, white privilege, and injection of a not officially defined trans-racial mental illness.  Over and over in the social media discussions on these topics I’ve seen a consistent plea, “Go find someone in these communities and talk to them.” Yes, do this. But also, remember (especially relevant for introverts) the words of 18th century humorist Sydney Smith,...

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The problem with “Unbelievable”

The problem with “Unbelievable”

Lately, I’ve heard a lot of people say, “Did you see? Isn’t that so unbelievable?” These words have usually been uttered in reference to media coverage of authority figures acting in sexist, bigoted, racist, or otherwise intolerant or amoral ways. Basically, when members of the establishment fuck up, people want to label it as unbelievable. But, unfortunately, these things are really the norm. The last time someone said this to me (in reference to the horrible Dear Alice column discussed here), it was a senior white male I like and respect and learn from and trust, and I finally said what I’ve been thinking every time I hear those words. I said, “No, actually, it’s not unbelievable. It’s kind of normal. I’ve...

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Redefining “real”

Redefining “real”

This blog has gone largely silent for far too long while I’ve put my efforts into trying to raise funds for CosmoQuest, and move other projects forward. At this point, all the proposals that matter are submitted and all the work that was deemed most dire is done. It has been an ugly year, and looking back on things, I can see over and over places where my efficiency and my health were impacted by a constant struggle to live up to impossible external expectations. Over and over, people laid out definitions of “real” and in an attempt to, well, stay funded… and in an attempt to not be judged negatively (because I apparently still try to conform to expectations) I got lost in these other peoples’ definitions of “real”....

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P.G. Holyfield: Bearing Witness to Life

P.G. Holyfield: Bearing Witness to Life

At roughly 11:20pm Wednesday August 20, 2014, author, podcaster, and father P.G. Holyfield died surrounded by love. I was one of the many there able to say good bye. I was there; I was sitting at the top of his bed stroking his hair. Both his hands were being held. His legs were clung to too, and his shoulder touched. We each let him feel that he was not alone. We wept as Viv’s words rang out, chanting the names of all those who had reached out to send their words of love. Her words rang out telling him we had accepted, we loved him, and it was ok to rest. Because of cancer I know the pain of laughter lines cracking from tears. When someone dies it seems like all you are left with is a world asking questions while you try ever so hard not to cry (while you try...

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My mistake of silence

My mistake of silence

In 2008, I made a mistake. Actually, I made a lot of mistakes, but only one of them has haunted me. On Wednesday, I learned that there are at least two audio recordings of a meeting at a non-profit. In this meeting my mistake was discussed and now there is the chance that audio could go public. And at this point, if it did, I’d support it because it would mean I could speak the truth frankly without fear of being sued for libel or slander by people with more resources than I have. It might mean that every few months, I wouldn’t have to deal with someone going, “there is this rumor” or getting out of the blue emails saying, “you know…”. My mistake was not reporting that a drunken man in a prominent role tried to grab my breasts. I’m writing this blog post to try...

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Confessions of a Reluctant (Academic) Manager

Confessions of a Reluctant (Academic) Manager

This semi-rant goes out to academics PIs. I’m soft money faculty. This means my salary comes mostly from grants, sometimes from random writing/performing gigs, and then my university pays a small percent that gets used to cover the time I spend fundraising/writing grants and being on university committees. When I write grants, I’m competing with teaching faculty who nominally have 9 months/year of their salary paid for by their universities. This creates a culture where I’ve sat on grant review committees and heard, “This person is asking for 20% time just to manage the grant – it’s just a couple students and a postdoc – that seems very excessive”. I’ve heard that kind of comment enough that I budget only 10%...

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