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in what i hope will become beloved feature of my blog, i present why my emergent blogging abilities suck. this is done solely for the purposes of improvement and not for purposes of pure masochism. because grad students LOVE masochism. it’s how we do. reason number one that i am a bad blogger is as follows:

i don’t not provide my readers with paragraphs. apparently this eases the reading process and makes reading inane blog posts more palatable. who knew? i thought my endless ramble of text was visually appealing. even seductive. apparently reading masses of meaningless text sucks ass. i get that.

henceforth, i am committed to paragraphs. i say, “the more, the BETTER!”.

another, somewhat related reason, that i am a bad blogger is that the rules of grammar, at times, elude me. i mean, what actually are grammar rules? did we learn them? when? and can i get my time spent in like grade one through twelve spent on learning the english language back? please?

i realized this grammatical elusiveness when i was meeting with my lovely fellow soci phders who talk about such matters as grammar. we are potentially the coolest group of hipsters one can find. 😉

also, i can’t properly pronounce the word “egg.” i hope this doesn’t interfere with my blogging.

finally, i think when people use the word “douche” to describe a person, it is freakin’ hilarious. i have committed to trying to use this word subversively as a feminist and not perpetuate the misogyny that gave birth to this trend.

this final point is a testament to how i am a bad person however. not a bad blogger.



the impossible dreariness of today compels me to write on my beloved blog. i have been thinking lately about the function of procrastination and i believe graduate students excel at the art of procrastination like no other (what else is graduate school if not the procrastination of many of the socially proscribed compulsions of life – partnering, procreation, post post-secondary life in general – or at least this is how i imagine my grandmother sees it). today i want to comment on my other love, that is, television. an aside: i have a friend, S., who i have known a long time. whenever i call S. and ask what she is doing, she says, “watching television.” never t.v., never ‘the tube,’ never anything but that lovely word: television. i love calling television television because it harks back to a fictional time when television was an art, an alternate way of seeing, a transporter to other lives, loves, maybe even lurid, sordid, and unspoken yearnings. anyhoo. my televisual eyes were not fully opened until i discovered, and fell desperately, consumingly, all-encompassingly in love with reality television. when i was thirteen or so i discovered the real world but that was just the beginning. i think my reality television love really began with the onset of the survivor era. when EVERYTHING became fodder for the lens of the reality phenomenon. what i love most about reality television is that it actually provokes discussion about what is “real” and what is not. in effect it exposes the lie that we are not always already mediated by that which surrounds us. frames us. alters us. for me, reality television cannot be about reality but must be. that is its central paradox. why it cannot be ‘real’ is of course a matter of modern truth-making in a postmodern world. but why it must be is the more compelling concern. when i see discussions about the ethics or problematics of how to correctly capture the ‘real’ and properly package it for television, i listen intently. for example, the recent kafuffle about the new american series kid nation provides an interesting example. cries of child labour, exploitation, enslavement and the like. as though relatively well-off children having the opportunity to demonstrate that children are in fact capable, able, and not desperately in need of suffocating ‘protection’ for cameras (and the entertainment of the masses) is damaging. as though putting children in a former ghost-town with bunches of rules and no adults is somehow real. or is it not? isn’t the problem that actual child exploitation is a little too much to bear? a little discomfiting on a wednesday night at 8pm when we’d rather watch t.v.? isn’t a show like kid nation a distraction, a simulation of what passes as ‘normal’ childhood these days in the face of child poverty and such? this post is far too cerebral. it was intended as a meditation on my favourite reality television shows. so before i list them with accompanying witty commentary, i will just say that reality television is my favourite because it upends the notion of the real by rubbing in your face the constructions (simulations? fantasies? de/i/llusions?) of everyday life.

* big brother – the quintessential reality show for the consummate addict. one day i will 1) stop claiming that this is the summer that i will resist it and, 2) stop being too cheap to pay for the live feed.

* the real world – this show NEVER gets old. how could it? egomaniacal americans in their late teens and early twenties in close quarters. please. this shit is genius.

* america’s next top model – pick what is not to like about this show: beautiful women, drama, clothes, make-up, and did i mention drama?

* everything on mtv – mtv is the mother of all reality shows. those of us obsessed with anything from the hills to a shot a love with tila tequila should petition to give this channel a medal. or a nobel peace prize. or SOMETHING!

* beauty and the geek – two of my favourite things.

* daytime talk shows – from oprah to rachael ray – it’s gold people. gold. (don’t judge me dammit!).

* the food network – reality food shows – what can i say? i’m in heaven, i’m in heaven…

jacks out.

i have been effectively blogging for over a month now (such a huge commitment i’ve made to the internets, i must say) and recently realized that i haven’t actually said what it is that i am studying that makes this blog necessary in its: a) capacity to familiarize me with the exciting world of web 2.0 and, b) to offer me a place of solace, of peace, of genuine procrastinate-y goodness. drum-roll: i study online dating. now at parties, this makes me unbelievably popular. similar to my master’s work when i did an “intensive” two month stint on a nude beach and got: 1) the best tan of my life, and 2) a master’s degree out of the ethnographic account of it i gave in my thesis, this project is of widespread interest because of the amount that is not known about such an everyday activity. like nude beaches, online dating sites are places people might have stumbled upon or clandestinely ventured into for a “sneak a peak.” but the folks i am interested in are the ones who stay and bask a while in what can become a lifestyle. online dating, as i am compelled to understand and research it, can become a lifestyle as well – or more pointedly, can alter the course of one’s lifestyle if indulged in seriously. and i gotta say folks – people are serious about online dating. and why shouldn’t they be. it is a wonder that popular culture references online dating as though it is for the desperate, defective, or depraved. my research, perhaps unsurprisingly, demonstrates that online daters are really just people that are committed, diligent individuals trying to meet people in a city that is infamous for its inhospitality to singles. online dating of course has a sexy side, a fetish side, a dissenting side, and a niche market side but what interests me most are those people simply and unabashedly looking for love. i mean theoretically i am interested in all of the online daters many-faceted motivations, expectations, and struggles to (be)come and show who they “really are.” i have always been fascinated, since i was a child, with difference and what difference means in a world of the similar. online dating in some ways demands to be seen as a “different” way to meet people. but what is more fascinating is what that difference means to the lives of online daters and the ways that they understand themselves in the world. not only can you life, location, and love-life change, but your understandings of yourself and the effect you have on the other can also change. not that i am suggesting that engaging in online dating necessarily evokes change and wonderment at oneself. but it does offer a opportunity to reflect, on oneself and one’s desires and thus a fertile valley of publicly accessible and vastly engaging accounts of the self. we must make ourselves intelligible in this world if we are to attract (an)other(s). being compelled to seriously look for those others in a forum such as online dating is interesting in its difference but also in its sameness. to oneself intelligible, one sometimes has to put themselves into boxes that don’t quite fit, shade in areas of alien importance, and deign to answer those requests, behests, of those just not quite “right.” i will have more to say about areas of the intelligible but for now i enjoy having intriguing dinner party talk and a memory of a summer on a hot canadian beach.

there is a trend that bloggers i admire sometimes subscribe to and i have decided to take the plunge and braindump about the random (and no so) thoughts (that the everest survivor i read about in maclean’s eloquently equates with bats zipping in and out at dusk), by considering what i consider to be some not-so-random-thoughts albeit written and presented as unconsidered randomness of the most randomly random. yeah. sometimes it feels good to talk shit. here goes:

* shockingly, a four-year phd seems impossible. or that is what everyone who has their phd tells me. who knew?

* the old adage that says that life happens when you are making other plans was impressively de-corny-fied by my lovely friend M who has deep insight into not only human behaviour but jacks anxiety as well. i believe she said something, characteristically simple-but-always-shockingly-profound about how life is surprising and ultimately the surprises are always good because they result from (and in) choices that you make/have made. she is an old sage dressed in cute pixie skin i tells you.

* i am not always as funny as i think i am. again: who knew?

* housewifedom, not matter how diametrically opposed to what i am doing (and really, how different is it? i once met a guy at a party who asked me what i did and, during my long graduate student pause, offered that there is no shame to being a housewife to which i promptly replied, “i’m basically a housewife who reads a lot.” see how i think that i’m funny?), will not save me or deliver me from my dissertation. no matter how many bonbons i eat. seriously.

* i think britney spear’s new songs are danceable. and this makes me a fundamentally bad person.

* everyone deserves a warm-weather destination vacation fully paid by their work or the government

* i have no idea what actually goes on at american thanksgiving (nor how it is different from american christmas) (nor how american and canadian christmas differs) (nor why the fact that austrians apparently have a baby jesus that flies to and fro on christmas eve (?) kinda scares the crap outta me).

* i am puzzled as to why my brain refuses any kind of systematic inquiry. like math, coding, making lists (and actually checking them), writing in an agenda, playing risk, strategizing of any kind, really, making plans over a week away, and editing. the word editing seriously makes me shiver. i won’t mention it again. just for my own safety.

That, my friends, was an attempt at brain-dumping randomness. which is actually impossible for me because even randomness requires some kind of systematicity which i have only badly approximated here. i know you want to read a blog that is better at random thoughts. well here it is: here . so there.

on friday i am going to preview ideas for my dissertation. tell the story. convince inquiring minds. i hope. currently i am grappling with some of the most exciting and interconnected ideas EVER. my supervisor tells me it’s gut-work. the story you know because it exists in the data. was not preexistent, of course. but emergent. it is like i already know the story. it’s there. staring at me. but it is the connections. always the connections. i know they will come. i have faith. the faith. swears. the most exciting moment so far is in understanding how individuals construct themselves in the pursuit of their desires. desire is an interesting thing. it seems like it must also exist in togetherness but it seems to often exist alone. alone in your mind. in front of the screen. a screen. any screen. it is something that we wear. inside out and outside in. we construct ourselves around the pursuit of what we want to make manifest. we construct the things that are in our power to change, alter, augment, in the hopes of sometime, someday being fulfilled from the outside in. a few days ago i began a post marking the day of remembrance with a meditation on ambivalence. it was an ambivalence about death. the ultimate loss of that which we have made manifest through our desires. our lived desires. our hopes to be one that has been, will always be, accepted in our excesses, our estrangement, our identity. identity is such a narrow and slippery slope. it walks the plank between oblivion and boundary-ied box. it fixes one in place while promising possibilities of plurality. the ironic relationship between identity and desire is what puzzles me now. what paralyzes me. what makes us all always. already. posthuman.

with all the hoopla about positive thinking in the realm of new-agey BS, i thought i’d give it a shot. can’t hurt. can it? as a disclaimer i should say that while i don’t believe in the innateness of human characteristics, i might just have been born a cynic. asking the universe for what you want, creating your own reality, being positive all seem like things people do if a) they are unhappy; and/or b) they are dirty hippies (just wanted to say dirty hippies. hehe.). but my softer, more “open” side compels me to think, to know, to believe in the old adage that you catch more bees or flies or whatever with honey than with vingear. i have no idea why one might want to catch bees, so flies is probably the ticket (although aren’t you just trying to kill them in this watery/honey-filled grave you are constructing? this is like the moment you find out that fairy tales are actually the scariest horror stories ever told. bees. flies. imminent death. a tragedy i tells ya). anyhoo. i recently wondered what the worst thing that can happen out of being positive is. and, of course, it’s nothing. so i tried it on for size and it isn’t too bad. for one, the annoying bus lady that talks too loud to her friend about the intimate details of her life was actually a gift to me yesterday as we stood still on the granville street bridge for a really. long. time. her story was interesting and made her multi-dimensional. like an actual person you know. a friend. keeping you company on the bus. then there are the actual friends in your life that support you. are kind to you. respect you. and yet you never see it. it is like you are blind to kindness until it smacks you in the face. by bringing you tea, coming to your talk (that they have heard over and over and over), giving you fabulous ideas. kindness and good stuff abounds but perhaps we are closed off to it. afraid of the unknown that is good. positive. disarming. we struggle against what we are, what we do, who we know, what to be. but for nothing. we all have our struggles. our unease. our unfinished projects of the self. but even knowing that is positive. good. refreshing. like honey water. maybe mixed with vingear for some bite.

when i was three i started figure skating. i skated my ass off after school, before school, DURING school until i was about 13. ten years of trying to be elizabeth manley (an obscure canadian skating reference – congrats to all those who got it) , to be good, to be noticed. one thing i always prided myself on, and my parents encouraged, was that i never cried if i failed a test, lost a competition, fell down. what i remember, and perhaps this is selective memory, is always being encouraged by others with kind words and other forms of wood and plastic trophy-like praise. i was my harshest critic. i was the one that berated me for not doing my figure-eights perfectly, for not landing a jump, for falling in the annual skating show. i wanted skating to be fun and i knew when i was young i was good at it. i wasn’t allowed to “just” do the fun parts, like making up routines and dancing with the partner i received to compete with as a result of being picked from the ice-rink stands as his perfect skating companion. no. i had to do it all. i had to go through the levels as quickly and as precisely as one can at such a young age with no real thoughts of where these circles were leading. when i was 12 or 13ish (my memory already fails me), i quit. just like that. such a big part of my life, gone. i had had to make the decision whether to pursue it as a future and begin lessons with another former olympian or hang out with my friends. be a kid. have fun. maybe i exaggerate. i don’t know what would have become of my skating. surely not the olympics or anything close. but perhaps something. but i’ll never know. and i’m okay with that. most of the time. but my skating past reminds me of my present. my striving toward a goal. only this time, i know what it means. i know it means a future. a job. (part of) my life. and i’ve come to wonder why we, to borrow a beautiful phrase from a loved one, wear our goals, our lives, our work like a burden. why we, when we have everything feel like we have nothing. not enough. like we need more. why we feel less encouraged. under-appreciated. criticized. especially without out wood and plastic reminders of our successes. our achievements. our lives. these days i try not to see things as either/ors. i try to remember that i do everything because it suits me. because it is me. and i am doing everything i’ve always wanted. and wearing it like a burden can only amount to crying over skating.

i used to think that if you were going to do anything, you had to do it right. so i used to not do anything. cause you can’t do everything right all the time. or even most of the time(?). i used to think you had to do the whole thing if you were going to do anything. i used to do everything in that sense because it was possible in my mind. obsessive thoughts about how to do everything right all the time and the whole thing all at once. but does anyone do everything all the time? i profane of fakery. faking “it.” faking that you have it all together when you have nothing but fear. the people that do this all the time make me nervous. they make me think that somehow, some way, grasping for every/any-thing is a reasonable pursuit. i think it might rub off. onto me. into me. of course, the best advice is to always “be yourself.” i think being oneself is possibly the most liberating thing there is. but it takes work. work like that of those “faking it.” except in the reverse, the work it takes is to open oneself up. to criticism, praise, ambivalence. it’s exhausting. to be oneself. more than not being? hard to say. they both take performance. but Turkle makes me wonder. about our relationships with ourselves as mediated by objects-to-think-with (in her case, this object is the computer). it is interesting (and of course not new) to think about the world around us as mediating our understandings ourselves. and others. and the objects themselves. while i don’t completely buy Turkle’s vision of our intimate relationship with computers (because it gets into AI and social-psychological explanations that focus too much on the individual and not on the tripartite or networked relationship human-computer-human, that is, relationships between people that are mediated by technology), i do like her notion that she borrows from Levi-Strauss about the bricoleur. the bricoleur takes extant information and re-situates/constitutes it to make the world intelligible. thus we have bricolage – the process by which problem are solved or knowledge is constructed/acquired not from top-down design but by arranging and rearranging a set of well-known materials. we are all bricoleurs. we all negotiate our surroundings that separate, alone and bare, would be less intelligible. we would be less intelligible but for the bricks we cobble together about ourselves. whether they are weak and crumbling or strong and Inca-like. maybe that is the point. as bricoleurs of our selves we cobble together what we have. what we are given. and what we are refused.