Showing posts from September, 2010

School Shooting Holiday

This morning I laid out my sweater and jeans for school (I don't teach Tuesdays) and went for a run in the wonderful early spring weather. "This," I thought is going to be a good day. I went home, showered and dressed, and found out a shooter with an AK-47 has fired 10 rounds and then killed himself on the 6th floor of our library. There's plenty lucky about this: lucky no one else got killed, or even injured; lucky the police responded so quickly and thoroughly, checking all the buildings for a possible second suspect; lucky the administration used text, email, and loudspeakers to keep people inside and safe. Still, it's a strange, haunting experience to have this happen at my school. I had joked with the IT guy about the doors that automatically lock and how it wasn't much security for a school shooting. At BYU one of our PA's taught us how to organize a room in lockdown, but more as a novetly than a skill we'd actually use. And I had wondered, pragm

Third Freshman Year

Okay, complete honest time: I have had a hard time adjusting to life here. I complain about the commute, the lack of creativity of bar culture, the bizarre gated-community city planning, the bait-and-switch of my coursework, the lackluster curriculum of the class I'm teaching, the dirth of good-looking and smart guys in my ward/institute class, everything. But you know what? I never have an easy freshman year. Part of it is that I'm bad at adjusting to new places. Scratch that. I'm bad at adjusting to different life expectations. Growing up, for example. I wish I was cool and independent and vivacious, but I'm just really not. Each step is like pulling out a loosening tooth. My most recent freshman year, when I first went to BYU, was far harder than it should have been. After all, my family was just down the road (and in their offices on campus) and I had plenty of friends both at college and PHS and I was raised around academia, around that very university. Still, I wa

Bertrum (Bertie/Birdie) Wooster

So far I haven't seen him eat, but I've changed the paper 3 times--each time I see a poop. He hasn't uttered a peep, but he also hasn't been aggressive when I stick my hand in.


As a natural response to having watched the excellent French Cyrano de Burgerac movie, I've decided to get a bird. Back up. When I imagined myself in Austin, a new town, alone, friendless, newly indepenent, I always consoled myself with the fantasy of owning a gaudy parakeet named Bertie Wooster. I even emailed my future roommates to tell them of my intention. But then I arrived here and I had to buy a car, and my mom said, "focus on making human friends instead," and my sister said, "don't birds always stink?" and my roommate didn't say anything, but frowned a little (she had a French horn teacher who had a parrot that would always squawk if a student played the wrong note--she is unduly prejudiced.). In short, I got scared out of it. But then I was watching this brave, gallant sort and I thought, "really? really, I'm scared about maybe I'll have to change some newspaper and find a pet sitter and maybe, just maybe, I'll have to give awa

The Todo Monologues: Part 2

There is one word in Villanueva's Bootstraps that mentions Mormons. Literally just the word "Mormon." The context is that Mormons and American Jews operate in a middle ground called "autonomous minority groups"--distinct but mainstream. Not on the road to assimilation like immigrants, not in a caste they can't escape like minorities. I read it, wrote, "hey, that's me!" in the margins and figured that was it. Then in class, the one reference to autonmous groups comes up. "But they aren't discriminated against," said K. "Yes they are," I said. "Maybe Jews," she said, "but not Mormons." "Yes we are," I said. Luckily things moved on before it got too awkward (I'm not even sure that counted as "outing" as a Mormon), but I couldn't help thinking about it. Aside from Joseph Smith's martyrdom and the expulsion of Mormons from Illinois, there are people who are getting their h