Thursday, May 22, 2008


We got some unexpected rain today. I loved it. It was cool and drippy all afternoon with no puddles. Then we got some thunder and lightning (even more of a rarity). And - in the next county just over the hills - tornadoes.

I think I figured out how to open my chapter. I believe I hit upon the way to bring all the movements together to get to the really cool and interesting stuff. (I was stuck on the interweaving of labor migration, an imperial political economy, and citizenship - and Glenn and Lowe weren't quite doing enough for me.) I did this on scant sleep (S had a bad dream last night). Small surprises are good.

Yesterday my former "home state" allocated their party votes to Obama. I fondly recalled when I used to vote-by-mail. What an easy, convenient system. Interestingly, the next big primary is in Puerto Rico - roughly the size of the two states that voted yesterday (63 delegates to Oregon's 65 and Kentucky's 60). Funny though, these will be the only votes Puerto Ricans get to cast for president (unless they all hop on over to the mainland and register in time - could they swing Florida?) I can't help but note the eerie similarities between Puerto Rican's current federal "citizenship" and their colonial subjecthood from one hundred years prior (ditto to Guamanians - 9 delegates - and Virgin Islanders - also 9). My point? Some things just aren't surprising.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

on sources and such

Still mucking my way through sources. In my assessment, I'm in them way beyond the elbows; up the the armpits definitely. In fact, I have had to turn my head to the side – to avoid drowning in my sources. As a result, I have developed a crimp in my neck. And my fingers are getting pruney.

Most recently, I've been reading stories covering anti-Filipino race riots (circa 1930). The U.S. Filipino papers describe the perpetrators as "flaming youths." My referent for this adjective is very contemporary and linked to discussions of sexuality. But the OED tells me that 1920's usage referred to the "unrestrained behavior" of the young. I wish the newspaper editors had intended another twenties' meaning - the profane epithet. Then again, language is slippery and surely I can slip this meaning in too.

I plan to scurry back to my mucking thanks to Perspectives (and RT) which informs me that the average time to a history PhD is ten years!! More surprising, over half of doctoral students never complete their degrees. I plan to join the ranks of the completed (where my degree and a dollar will get me a cuppa).

Before closing, I wanted to share this pic. Several weeks ago S and I went to USC to do some paid research. (Well, I did the research, S sat in high-back leather chair at a huge, polished research table and watched a movie). Anyway, I found some wonderful images that basked in the light of day and refused to go back into their folders.
This is M. Monks, defiant in the face of police inspectors who wanted to extradite her to San Diego (for allegedly writing bad checks; she moved on to greater notoriety).

Happy digging to my fellow dissertators - and congrats to one in particular!

Monday, May 5, 2008

occupational hazards

I am tapped. I had to wind down (my admittedly short) workday early today. I was all out of pluck. I tried shifting from reading, reading, reading to writing and I stared at the screen for half an hour. I've been reading newspapers - ten years worth of newspapers - and the last two years are killing me. I'm overwhelmed with information. My head is literally spinning - that is, as I sit here typing my head feels like a top wobbling on my neck right before it topples to the side.

I won't go into the psychosis I'm developing as a result of my isolated and focused occupation, but I should mention that I think I'm developing a vulture neck. I bow my head to read books, photocopies, and my laptop; I rarely look straight ahead. I can feel this in the base of my neck. Beware. I'll look different when next you see me.*

I'm also developing a condition I call "dissertator's elbow." Most of the day, my left elbow sits on the desk or is pinned under my forearm which supports my chin (as I amble on to something or other). It is becoming nicely red and inflamed.

While I think I was prepared for this phase of professionalization, I didn't anticipate the injuries that go along with it.

*yeah, that's the neck.

TOTALLY UNRELATED ADDENDUM: Have you been following the Democratic primary? Check out this great story by Betsy Reed (at The Nation).