Monday, May 19, 2008

What do YOU excel in?

I'm doing home improvements this week, which includes some semi-major painting and home repair projects. Like re-porcelain-ing (is that a word? I just made it a word) a bathroom tub, and in this same bathroom, getting rid of all the horribly gross faucet knobs (circa 1960) with something more modern/clean, as well as a bunch of painting projects.

I am CLUELESS and HELPLESS when it comes to these kinds of things. I didn't even KNOW that the little "H" and "C" symbols on the knobs popped right off so that you could get to the screw that allowed you to unscrew said knob from the faucet fixture. This is where my boyfriend, whom I'll call "Southern Man" was useful. I wouldn't call Southern Man uber-handy, but he definitely knows MUCH MORE than I do about things in your home, and more importantly, he has a confidence about these things--he just believes that we can go to a hardware store, buy things we need, and figure it all out. In fact, when we went to one of the mega-home stores yesterday to buy our home improvement materials (our 3rd trip in 3 days of doing these projects), I was in despair of finding the right knob fixture (because the day before we bought ones that had circle openings when we needed square openings--I mean WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT TO LOOK!) Southern Man said:

"You're a smart woman--you've got a PhD, this is a piece of cake."

To which I replied: "Having a PhD does NOT mean you can screw in a lightbulb--in fact, most PhDs I know are NOT handy folks and are CLUELESS when it comes to home improvement."

[My apologies to those academics out there who know how to re-wire your house or install toilets, like my friend Dr. A who actually DID remodel his entire house, including a fair amount of the wiring]

What is my point?

I do not excel in home repair. I probably feel like some of my students when they encounter Teresa Cha's Dictee or some dense literary theory. My head hurts, my eyes swim, and my brain starts to feel like it's going to explode.

However, my friend in the blogosphere, "The Constructivist," whose blog "Citizen of Somewhere Else" is one I greatly admire, especially when he comes up with such smart lesson plans that have his students do blog entries about difficult texts like Cha's Dictee, has very graciously given me (and three other bloggers) an award:

[I blush, I stammer, I thank "The Constructivist" profusely!]

And so, as charged to me in this "E is for Excellent blogging" meme, I am going to name four blogs that I believe excel in the blogosphere. It was a tough choice, and one of the things I decided to do was to concentrate on blogs that I don't think get wide national attention (in other words, I'm not listing The Huffington Post). So, without further ado in alphabetical order:

*Land of the Not So Calm. Because Sang-shil shares her perspective with the world about transracial/transnational adoption in such a poignant, thoughtful, introspective manner. I not only learn from her posts, I *feel* from them too. Also, make sure you check out her post on the California same-sex marriage ban being overturned--she's got a great video by Vienna Teng with lyrics included.

*Poplicks. Junichi Semitsu and Oliver Wang provide smart, thoughtful, and ironic/humorous commentary on American culture and current events. You laugh AND you think when you read these guys. In particular, I was moved by Wang's thoughtful musings about reporting on disaster situations, like the recent earthquake in Sichuan, China.

*Tenured Radical. I aspire to both being tenured (3 years and counting on the clock--I begin my 4th year this fall) and radical, although I suppose radical is in the eye of the beholder since I'm sure many would find my stances on same-sex marriage, race, and gender to be radical, whereas I see them as simply logical/progressive. Tenured Radical is a sly and wily blogger--her posts are razor sharp and on point. They are rich not only in analysis but in provocation, which is what a tenured radical should do. For example, see this recent entry about Obama.

And last but certainly not least,

*What Tami Said. What can I say about Tami? Her blog is like my morning cup of coffee--I feel I haven't properly started my day if I don't read her latest post. Her writing is keen, sharp, and intelligent. I often find myself reading her posts and nodding along and saying to myself (or sometimes aloud to my dog) "YES! That's exactly what I think too!" Make sure you read her post on gentrification. One of the things I appreciate most about What Tami Said is that she never settles for easy solutions--she always pushes herself, and her readers, to think about matters in the complexity that complicated situations deserve/need/warrant. She struggles with issues, just as I do, just as we all do.

So there you have it. Four excellent blogs to kickstart your Monday (five including The Constructivist's "Citizen of Somewhere Else").

And if you have any tips about painting crown molding (or any other home improvement advice), I'm all ears!


Anonymous said...

Jennifer - thank you so much for the "E" Award; I'm flattered beyond belief! (And if it makes you feel any better, I do not excel in home repair either.)

I always learn so much from your blog, and appreciate how your posts forge connections between academia and real life.

Thanks again; I'll definitely pass this on!

Sang-Shil Kim
Land of the Not-So-Calm

Jennifer said...

You are more than welcome Sang-Shil! And I look forward to seeing your 4 picks for the "E" award!

Tami said...

Awwww...thanks, Jennifer! That makes me feel so good. It's great to hear that people admire your blog, but when bloggers that you admire say they admire you, too? Priceless.

I will share the love and pass on the award.

P.S. I am useless with home repairs. I have big dreams and little drive when it somes to that stuff.

arLeNe said...

There are three main approaches to managing a home improvement project: hiring a general contractor, directly hiring specialized contractors, or doing the work oneself. I recommend that New York Bathroom Remodeling you may find ideas for your home.

Jennifer said...

Thanks everyone for empathizing with my home improvement struggles (and thanks arlene for the helpful link!)

I think it's patience--I don't have the patience for this kind of work. And I'm a bit sloppy when it comes to painting (sigh). Oh well, good to know where one's skills and non-skills lie.