Monday, November 28, 2011

dr. who?

The other day I popped into Whole Foods to get some guacamole (their guac is really good), and in the checkout line I noticed the cashier had written "Dr." in front of her name on her name tag. "Dr. ___?" I asked. "Yeah," she sighed, "I have a PhD." I pressed further: "What subject?" and she sourly named an area of biology that is probably hard to find a job in. By then I had paid and someone was waiting in line behind me, so the conversation was over.

I wonder why she seemed so unhappy. Maybe she simply was having a bad day. Maybe she doesn't like chatty customers. My guess, though, is that she resents having earned her doctorate and the best job she can find is working as a cashier at Whole Foods. I wanted to tell her that in my own small way, I can relate. I know what it's like to finish a doctorate, only to find yourself out of the field with an occupation with low (or no) pay and stifling tedium. (Not that we're alone, mind you. Half the cab drivers in this town have PhDs.)

I hate to say it, but lately I feel close to giving up entirely. I had to force myself to sit down and practice this afternoon. Once I got started, I enjoyed it, but it took giving myself a little talking-to. I'm just not in that groove these days. It's frustrating that family life constantly interrupts what little work I can find. I don't miss being a student, but I've been yearning for that feeling of being surrounded by other musicians and being stimulated by their energy and ideas. Every year that goes by since Anya was born, I feel like I lose a little bit more of that. I also feel like it doesn't even matter.

Monday, November 21, 2011

recall rally

Saturday was the big rally in downtown Madison to kick-off the recall effort. I spent most of the day volunteering as a petition circulator, and since I had to be on my feet outside the whole time, I packed light and dressed warm. (This means I did not have my camera with me, so no pictures. Sorry.)

The day started at 9:00, where hundreds of volunteers packed into a downtown theater for a training session and pep rally. The highlight was a short, but energizing speech by (former) Senator Russ Feingold, who signed his petition to cheers and chants of "Run, Russ, Run!" (He has said he won't run against Walker in a recall election, but a whole lot of us wish he would.)

I spent the next five hours standing in front of the Capitol building with a clipboard, wearing a bright neon vest, and watching thousands of protestors stream by. Would you believe I only got one signature the whole day? Everyone who walked by had already signed. It was only when I took a walk around the Capitol square to warm up that I found one guy who hadn't signed yet. You might think I felt like my day volunteering as a circulator was a waste of time, but I don't think that at all. I would have gone to the rally anyway, every signature counts, and I'm glad I got that one. Besides, it's better that they had too many volunteers than too few.

So far more than 100,000 signatures have been collected since last Tuesday. 30,000 people were at the rally alone. I think we're off to a good start.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

energized by the recall

Lately I've been experiencing a bit of ennui. I think it's the shorter days, the chill in the air, the fact that I am between playing gigs (I should be getting music for a new opera any day now, though) and the feeling of being a little stuck in a rut before everything ramps up for the holidays.

Happily, this week I have a new distraction: the effort to recall Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (and Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch) for all the terrible stuff he has done since taking office in January of this year. Yesterday was the first day petitions began to circulate, and today I went to recall HQ to pick up my own hastily-made clipboard (it is seriously kludgy - thin particle board with a jumbo paper clip on the top, and they wanted a $1 donation for it, which I willingly contributed) and stack of petitions to circulate. I've picked up several signatures from people in the neighborhood and parents at the preschool already. This Saturday I've agreed to spend the entire day with several hundred other volunteers circulating petitions at a big rally (yo, if you live around here there is a BIG RALLY ON SATURDAY AT THE CAPITOL SQUARE). It will be cold, and it will probably rain, but as I always say, what's a protest in Madison without shitty weather?

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Saturday, November 05, 2011

a few pictures from my yard

We are getting ready for winter. Yesterday, after my tomato plants finally succumbed to the killing frost we had overnight (it was 25 degrees for the morning walk to school, though it warmed up quite a bit by the afternoon), I pulled them up and mulched the garden plot with leaves from the giant maple tree in the back yard.

The lettuce is still going strong. I think we'll have a salad from it with dinner tonight.

Speaking of that giant tree, this will probably be the last fall we have to deal with it. Assuming we can do a kitchen extension and remodel, that tree will have to come down. Sometimes, the thought of losing the maple makes me sad. It's as old as the house (probably) and provides us with lots of lovely shade in the summer. But it dumps so many helicopters in the spring and SO many leaves in the fall, all of which clog the gutters and carpet the yard, I won't be sorry not to clean those up. Also, it's perilously close to our house and our neighbors' houses/power lines/driveways, and I've been told silver maples have rather shallow root systems and rather weak branches, so it's just a matter of time before a big storm brings down a branch that damages someone's roof or smashes the car or pulls down a power line.

Maybe by this time next year the view above will just be clear blue sky.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011


We had a great Halloween. Really, we did. School was out last Thursday and Friday for a teachers' convention, my parents drove up to visit during the break, the kids had adorable costumes (Daniel was a skunk! Anya was a ghost!), we went trick-or-treating and went to a neighborhood bonfire, and we celebrated my mom's birthday, all of which was so exciting we could hardly stand it.

But I didn't take a single picture of any of that stuff.* Not even the adorable costumes. Because sometimes I'm a sucky mommy-blogger. (Also, I kind of hate the term "mommy blogger." It implies that you shouldn't take me seriously. You should take me seriously. I'm very serious.)

As if this makes up for it, here is a short series of pictures of Anya playing in the leaves in our back yard this afternoon. Enjoy.

*All is not lost. My mom did take some pictures before trick-or-treating. When she sends them I'll post the good ones!