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2017 By The Numbers
Dec 31st, 2017 by Dr Karma

Daddy’s funerals: 1

Deaths I will never get over: 1

Seeing Hasan Minhaj film his stand-up special here at Davis: 1

Other Mondavi shows: 3

Major Pet Injuries: 0

Dinner parties hosted: about 51

Book contracts obtained: 2

Benefits for Charity with my Stand-Up Club: 3

Countries visited (Colombia, Wales, England, Scotland, Australia): 5

Books read: a lot

First-Aid trainings: 1

Courses taught (including independent studies): 17

Plays seen: 23

New Atwood series binged: 2

Countries with Nando’s visited and enjoyed: 3

Koala butts touched: 1

Kangaroos seen: a bunch

Live platypi seen: 0

Body parts sprained while falling down stairs: 2

Canes my son made me buy: 1

Unsuccessful dates: I don’t wanna go back and count them

Formal whiskey tastings: 1

Castles/Palaces/Prisons toured: 7

Stand-Up Performances about Chronic Pain: 2

Nieces and nephews I got to spend time with: 6

Times I finally got a smartphone: 1

Churches visited: a surprising amount, but never during a service

Visits with the Out of Fucks Writing Group: 1

Times that Margaret’s gluten intolerance got us an amazing free meal: 1

New used cars obtained: 1

Mysterious synchronous flat tires on old car: 2

Salt mines with salt cathedrals entered (of the Virgin of Salty Water): 1

New recipes tried: a lot (and almost all were great!)

Sleepless nights: too many

Conferences Presented at: 8

Weird hotel rooms in Australia: 1

Overheard tourists who had no idea what Alice in Wonderland was: 2

Alice Days in Oxford: 1

Weeks in Oxford: 5

Times I made jokes about studying at Jesus college: too many

Times I’ve met Raj Patel now: 1

Fairy penguins seen: lots!

Aardman exhibits: 1

Harry Potter Studio Tours: 1

Tests of Spinal Cord Stimulators: 1

Museums and Galleries: a lot!

Wonderful students: almost all of them

Times I’ve asked a man holding a machine gun if I can go into the space he’s blocking (in Spanish): 1

Times that’s worked: 1

Reasons Melissa and I will never live in Colombia: 2 (they aren’t a wine drinking culture, and you can’t flush toilet paper)

Margaret Atwood seminars taught: 1

Wisdom teeth removed: 1

Asses I’ve made of myself: a bunch

Medical appts: about 4 a week

Piles of unorganized files, cds, flash drives, etc. that I inherited from Daddy and have to go through and organize: enough to last a lifetime

Sense that I inherited Daddy’s organization skills: diminished

Trips with my work wife: 4

Nights of seeing stand-up: 10

New exotic meats tried (kangaroo): 1

Heat waves in other countries: 1

New favorite Australian fish (barramundi): 1

Amazing bars found in Cincinnati: 1

Nights at the amazing bar in Cincinnati: 2

Mix CDs made: 3

Doctor Who courses taught: 1

Doctor Who Experiences in Wales: 1

Boyfriends obtained: 1

Monkey went with me.

The most dapper on-site coordinator

Things I want in 2018: 8

More movies, more plays, more comedy, more time with friends, more countries, more adventures, more new recipes, more sleep.

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The Continuing Adventures of Karma’s Dating: Entry 77
Dec 25th, 2017 by Dr Karma

I hate having to go into my boyfriend’s office. Everywhere one looks, there are naked and nearly naked women–there are three pin-up calendars, signed posters from porn stars, etc.

One day, I had to give up when looking for scissors because I was way too distracted by how many pubic regions I could see from every angle of the room.

Now, I have some pictures of male stars on my computer (David Tennant saying “You Should be Writing,” for example), but they are clothed.

My boyfriend thinks I shouldn’t be upset about the walls of boobs because he knows all of these women and has slept with most of them.

Yes–you read that right.

He thinks it should bother me less that he has naked pictures of his exes in his office than just random naked women. (These are the only pictures of humans in the house–no friends or family.)

(And yes, he’s slept with a lot of models and porn stars.)

I don’t mind people having pictures of their exes. I have pictures of mine. They’re mixed in with the many, many pictures I have of friends and family around the house.

However, one can walk through my house without seeing any of their erect, throbbing penises.

Today, I’m trying a compromise. One of my boyfriend’s presents is two posters of me–one of his favorite picture of me, the other is KarmaZuul. Alas, I don’t have any naked ones, as I’m not a porn star or exotic dancer, though I’ve played them before. Am pretty sure Costco doesn’t want to make a giant poster of a naked me, either.

Readers, I’m gonna take over the wall.

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What I Learned in my Atwood Seminar
Dec 22nd, 2017 by Dr Karma

This quarter, I taught a seminar on Margaret Atwood–we read poetry and short fiction, but focused on The Handmaid’s Tale, Oryx and Crake, Alias Grace, and Hag-Seed. It was a great course, and my students were engaged.

A few observations:

  • the current socio-political climate came up during discussions of each book–they’re frighteningly apropos
  • I had to explain second wave feminism, female genital mutilation, the difference between r and x rated films, and many other fascinating things as they came up in discussion
  • my students think Alias is pronounced uh-lie-us
  • a couple of my students, prior to taking the course, thought “feminist” meant its opposite; when one kept saying the commander was being “so feminist,” we cleared it up

My favorite part of the course was on the last day, when we talked about what, if anything, we’d learned together. One of my students said that what all the texts had in common was a warning to pay attention–to wake up to the world around us and to do something about it.

Thank the universe for Atwood.

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On Days and Diaries
Dec 17th, 2017 by Dr Karma

I used to be good at keeping a diary.
Now, unless I’m traveling, I almost never do–except here, for you, which is different. This is not just a space for me–there is an audience with needs, to whom I give background, for whom I try to be coherent.
Diaries unfortunately lost their appeal for me when I was married in my late teens.
My brief disastrous marriage had a lot of wrong in it–readers might remember that my ex liked my looks a lot, but not me–not my smarts, not my drive. He misrepresented himself, hoping that marriage (and his god) would change me.
What I haven’t written about as much is his jealousy. We had a bad dynamic. I wanted to be trusted, but he wasn’t capable of giving it. I had watched my mother date possessive man after possessive man (most of whom were cheating on her), so I hated that sense of being watched, being accused. My ex’s mom had been cheated on too–and thus he said he couldn’t trust people.
And so there we were.
Our marriage deteriorated very quickly, and I pulled away emotionally. And I wanted out. And that caused his jealousy to rise. And that caused me to pull away and to want out more. And so on.
And then he started reading my diary. He justified it by saying that married people didn’t need secrets from each other–they were one flesh and all. As soon as I realized that I couldn’t have privacy in my home, I stopped writing.
But he kept reading, going back in time.
I remember once coming home to find him upset and jealous over some guy I’d had a crush on when I was fourteen.
Him: Why didn’t you write about me like that?
Me: I was 14!
I lost everything I wrote when I was younger, so that it couldn’t be used to pressure me, to judge me, to guilt me.
I burned my diaries.

 

 

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A few things that made my stomach hurt this week
Dec 9th, 2017 by Dr Karma

  • The Republican tax plan, especially the effect it will have on insurance, teachers, the poor, the middle class, blue states, etc. My taxes would go way up, and Alexander would soon find himself without insurance and without a path to grad school.
  • Al Franken’s resignation.
  • Republican support of a man who says that women shouldn’t have the vote, that Muslims can’t serve as lawmakers, that homosexuals should be jailed. . . and wasn’t there something about him being a sexual assaulter and harasser too?
  • The violence in the middle east, created by Trump’s nonsensical, unilateral decision to provoke it.
  • The Republican plan to go after social security, medicare, and medicaid next.
  • The California wildfires.
  • The fact that Republicans are going after wildfire disaster relief.
  • Trump pretending he gives a shit about civil rights, when he characterizes those who fight for civil rights now as traitors and praises Nazis as good people.
  • That Trump is still President.
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Finland’s Independence . . . and ours
Dec 6th, 2017 by Dr Karma

It’s Finnish Independence Day! In fact, it’s the 100th anniversary.

Happy Anniversary, Finland!

On this day in 1917, Finland broke free from Russia. Historically, Finland had to break free a lot–its neighbors didn’t respect it, but the Finn’s sisu (a uniquely Finnish characteristic involving perseverance and stubbornness and quiet resolve) has freed it time and again and kept its culture and language unique.

(Independence did not, by the way, stop Russia from re-invading during WWII. And for some reason, the Finns had to pay a war debt for defending their own country. Apparently, since the allies won, and since Russia was an ally, the Finns were supposed to just say, “sure, c’mon in, the sauna is all warmed up for you.”)

When I was in Finland several years ago, I spotted this painting in the national museum:

I was drawn to it immediately.

“Yeah, girl! Protect that book!”

Of course, I discovered it wasn’t just celebrating bibliophilia.

The woman is the maiden of Finland, defending the rule of law against the Russian eagle.

As we celebrate Finnish independence today, let’s all take a moment to consider the sad fact that we need a picture just like this, with the Statue of Liberty instead. Or Mueller. Or a donkey.

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