Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

Soviet Parenting 

N finds it hard to figure out the Llama Llama story books. 

When Mama Llama tells her little son, “I think shopping is boring, too, but at least I’m here with you,” N thought she was guilt-tripping little llama, as in “I made such an effort to be here with you, you little brat, but you don’t even appreciate it.” When I explained that what Mama Llama is saying is that the company of her son makes even boring chores fun, N was stunned. 

In the same story book, Llama Llama throws a tantrum at the grocery store and Mama Llama says, “Llama Llama, that’s enough!” When we first read the book, N was sure that Mama Llama was going to beat or humiliate the boy and was touched to the point of tears when she didn’t. 

In all honesty, I also haven’t been able to find the right intonation to read, “Llama Llama, that’s enough! Please stop fussing, little llama and be patient for your mama.” I can either make it sound to aggressive or like I’m mocking the story. 

By the way, N asked me to write about this. I wouldn’t do it otherwise. 


On the Porch

We had really bad hail earlier in the month, and many roofs are damaged. Now most houses have teams of workers on the roofs. The house in front of us managed to find a rare group of Hispanic workers who are making me very happy by filling the neighborhood with welcome sounds of Spanish speech. 

Klara and I are sitting on the porch and enjoying the summer day. Earlier, we’d gone to the Dollar Tree to get more art supplies. 

Summer is good, especially until May.

Trump vs Trudeau

Ah, interesting developments. A reality TV star vs a wannabe reality TV star. Politics is dead; long live social media. 

S&M Teaching 

I have no idea why people choose to teach the kind of material that’s related to their deepest traumas. She is sadistically setting students up for a failure while masochistically torturing herself. 

I’d never teach works of literature that mention late-term fetal loss, stillbirth, or gestational diabetes because I know I can’t be unemotional about it. Students should not be subjected to projections if they unwittingly touch a sore place in a teacher’s psyche.

Culture Shock

A student was stunned to discover that I read all of the essays students submit to me. 

“Every word on every page???” he asked. “Really?”

Favorite Song

Turns out Klara has a favorite song that she learned in daycare, “If you are happy and you know it.” It makes me very happy to know that she has a life outside of me, favorite songs, little friends, favorite games that I didn’t introduce her to. 

I need to go clap my hands and stomp my feet.


I’m so proud of my sister. They called an ambulance for her little boy last week and were told that it would take 3 hours for it to arrive. They don’t live in a secluded area but in the midst of a large city (Montreal; hello “free” medical care.)

She didn’t take this common indignity lying down but got in touch with the papers, and now there’s an article about that in the city’s most popular newspaper. If people speak up more, this will put pressure on the dumb bureaucrats who gobble up the money and provide no services. 

The boy is fine but no thanks to the ambulance service. 


First, the Russians fought in Afghanistan, and the US armed the Taliban. Now, the US fights in Afghanistan, and Russians are arming the Taliban.

The three sides of the crazy triangle is equally dumb but the Afghanis are the worst because it’s their land that’s being destroyed while the Russians and the Americans play out their passionate love affair.

Kadyrov Vows to Slaughter All Gays 

Putin’s bestie, the President of Chechnya, has vowed to eliminate the gay population before the beginning of Ramadan on May 26.

I don’t understand why this is possible and why there is such a little outcry. For now, Putin’s own squiggly, squirmy press secretary is denying that anything is going on. Nothing but a huge international stink will make him notice and put a leash on his Chechen lap dog. 


I never knew who the White House Press Secretary used to be in any of the previous presidencies. But now I’m very familiar with Sean Spicer’s pinched little face and whiny voice. The reason is that this is such a garbled and mumbly presidency that it needs constant reinterpretation. 

Remember, though, that a country’s leader is a glimpse into the collective unconscious of its inhabitants. Judging by this presidency, the general mood in the country is, “I have no idea what’s going on, and that makes me angry.”

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