Archive for the ‘my environment’ Category

a lost life

April 7, 2008

This undergraduate student, Brittany Sue Zimmermann, was murdered in her apartment last Wednesday.

Brittany Sue Zimmermann

These flowers are left over from a memorial service held last night.

memorial service

I don’t have anything useful to say about a murdered 21-year-old.  There are signs up around campus that advise,  among other things “Make eye contact, at least briefly with everyone you  encounter.”



April 4, 2008

HR Block

I had an 8:00 appointment with H & R Block.  I set the appointment using the company’s web site more than a week ago.  Because no one called, I assumed everything was fine.  But when I showed up, no one was in the office.  The only people around were setting up in the Family Dollar in the same mini mall.  People came into the Enterprise car rental.  Then a guy arrived at the H & R Block.  He informed me that they don’t really use the web site, that the person I chose doesn’t work before 3:00 p.m., and that the office doesn’t even open before 9.  He was pleasant and set up something for next Tuesday.

Taxes fill me with anxiety.  I could barely sleep (no surprise) and was up early re-gathering paperwork.  Given the fact that yesterday was an unusually late night and that I have film festival tickets that will make tonight another late night, I would have preferred another use of my time.

The picture is the view from around the side of the building where the office is.  The neighborhood, not far from where I live now, is odd.  Houses sit atop one another and there are big spaces that seem forgotten.


April 4, 2008

mckay_450.jpgFrances Smith Foster

First, let me say that this post needs to be short because of my promise to myself and you that the pictures will do more work than the words.

Nellie McKay, the woman on the right, worked here for a long time and labored to get people to believe that literature written by black women deserved consideration.  She passed away in January 2006.  I never got to meet her; but I have walked into her legacy and a palpable sense of her loss.

Frances Smith Foster came to speak yesterday (postponed after a snow-out in February) in a series honoring Nellie McKay.  I was unable  to attend the daytime roundtable, but did hear her evening talk.  The ostensible subject of the talk was an 1820s black newspaper, particularly advice columns, editorials, travel advertisements and international news.  I’ll skip the reasons why I felt connected to that work and can’t wait to read the book.  The main feeling though, seemed to be about the legacy, the work that was created, the lives touched.  Today Frances Smith Foster is meeting with Nellie McKay’s graduate students who are still on campus.  Most people give less during their invited talks.

Despite the fact that I felt (feel) exhausted, I was really glad to attend the talk and the dinner afterwards.  Both  snapped me back into a place where I can see some possible importance to my presence here.  Much of the time here, I feel overwhelmed, stressed and isolated.  As a result, I focus too much on the next step to pay attention to the big picture.

Now I’m caught up from yesterday.

blue sky, remembrance

April 2, 2008

Cesar Chavez

Students use this hill for acknowledgment.  MEChA put up this tribute to Cesar Chavez’s life and work.  I know the picture doesn’t show everything, so I’ll fill in a few details.  At the base of the sign, there are cut-outs of crops.  Most of the flags have the eagle, but a few have pictures of Chavez and some facts about his life.  I was hoping for other people in the flags, but didn’t see any.

I’ve seen a few other displays here.  Like this one, they’ve been of things.  Maybe people conduct demonstrations here; I haven’t seen any.  The building in the background is Bascom, the campus administration building.  I go there at least once a month because I am a faculty senator.

Why did I stop today as opposed to the other days?

  • I took the bus.  My walk from the bus brings me past this spot.
  • I’m on this 30 day project.
  • It’s bright and sunny.  Among other things, that leads to me walking with my head up instead of hunched over looking at my feet.
  • It was early, before 8 a.m.  No students were on the hill.  When people are working on displays, I often feel as though my gaze and picture taking might be an invasion of privacy.
  • Even with my nearsightedness, I could see the eagle and name and was curious.

I wonder about the history of the UFW in Wisconsin.  I can imagine so many different responses, but have little useful knowledge.  There’s nothing like a feeling of total ignorance and a cold breeze to wake me up in the morning.

a challenge

March 31, 2008

bus stop butts

I took this today on my way home. In case you can’t tell, it’s snow. I think it’s the snow that’s been piled since November. This particlar pile is at a bus stop where I waited for a bit today. I wait there quite often.

Today was one of those days I thought would be super productive–but by 2, I was exhausted. I didn’t leave then though. I had office hours and some other things to do. I took the photograph at 5:19. Picture me with a backpack, shiny rainboots, rag wool gloves, a big umbrella I inherited with my office and a large bicycle pump I bought between my office and the bus stop. Can you see it? Can you see the look on my face when I saw the butt-filled snow pile? This picture really does reflect how I felt by the end of the day.

But the picture also indicates something else. I’ve been wanting to take a few more shots. I realized today that I messed up on the dates of some photography classes I was going to take. So I’m on my own a bit here. I need a motivation that involves debt. Here’s the commitment. I’ll take or find a picture each day in April that reflects what I’m feeling, doing, or seeing. Maybe I won’t post each day. But I will get the images and post them all. I’m curious to know what people think. And I’m into fictions of communication.

By the way, I owe this idea to my friend Cecily, who tried it on her site, Such Sweet Hands. There’s a link to the blog portion under “I know people who write stuff.”

Yeah, no kidding

March 31, 2008


no lifeguard

I took these on Saturday. Before I went out, I saw kids in shorts. Pretty much no one was wearing more than a light jacket. People here are aggressive about claiming their spring. Their zeal has a kind of truthiness to it. It was a sunny 40º. It’s going to snow tomorrow, maybe wtih thunder included. What a treat.

I must admit that I really needed the walk. I’ve felt a bit like a hamster on a wheel lately. I’m not hearty enough to go without a jacket, but I could open it a bit and leave my scarf behind.

By the way, the pictures are of a still-icy Lake Mendota. There were a few other people walking around and the deeper water near the shore is not iced over anymore. One guy had dropped a fishing line. Another guy approached me from a different end of the landing. He was a little excited because he had seen an otter. I couldn’t find it. That would have made my day.

March 1, 2008

my very own icicles before they became gigantic and deformed

If I can’t get out of the cold soon. . .

March 1, 2008

It’s been so cold.  Sometimes I thought I could not bear going outside.  There were warnings against going outside. But I had to go to work.  I don’t know what to do if I’m cold in 5+ layers.