Clarissa's Blog

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

Archive for the category “Uncategorized”


My understanding of wild nature is pathetic. I mistakenly taught Klara to refer to the town’s famous geese as ducks, and now everybody on the playground and at the park gives me dirty looks.


Illinois Politics

Rauner doesn’t excite his base. From a Republican point of view, he failed on every count. He made Illinois a sanctuary state. He did nothing about the budget. He’s been completely knee-capped by Madigan, the state tax is back up. He’s been flailing for over a year.

The only way he wins is if Dem voters simply don’t show up for Pritzker. Which is possible because it’s hard to get excited about Pritzker. In short, it’s the Dems’ election to lose. But they tend to be very good at losing unlosable elections and winning the unwinnable ones.


N has a list of all the repairs his car has had and all the repairs my car has had since we bought them in a computer file. I married an alien creature.

People always remark on how different we are and wonder if we have anything in common. “You are so sociable and gregarious,” they say, “and he’s. . . the polar opposite.” This goes to show that a public persona is not reality because at heart I’m a deeply unsociable misanthrope. But I love N because when he opens his mouth, I never know what he’s going to say. He’s very profound, and I can’t stand superficial people.


I know I’m middle-aged because I now have appointments. Many appointments. Endless appointments. I even have an appointment book for all my appointments. I now know that youth is the time when you have so few appointments that you can remember them without writing them down.

Periodontist, pediatrician, banker, car dealership, bodywork shop, another car dealership, laprascopic surgeon, HR, tax person at work, hairdresser, pedicurist, MRI, union organizer, analyst – and that’s all just since the beginning of the month and non-work related. What’s next, a gerontologist and retirement specialist?

TV Pride

What bugs me is people who interrupt my “I saw on TV the other day. . .” with a haughty “I don’t watch TV.” It’s usually delivered with the kind of pride that should be reserved for announcing that you cured cancer.

“I don’t even own a TV,” they continue pompously. “I don’t have it in my house. Eww.” And then they proceed to list all the junk they watch on Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime.

If you are going to feel all superior for not watching TV, then at least tell folks that you are using this time to read Kant in the original and not to watch the exact same junk on Netflix that I watch on TV. And on Netflix and everywhere else.

The Depths

I’m surfing Jonathan’s wave a lot today, and here’s a very good post on how to turn off the negative radio.

What I like the most about myself is that I’ve had several really harsh situations in my life and every single time I was strong and didn’t let them break me. You really never know what will come out when hardship hits. And what came out of the depths of me in these situations was good. That makes me proud.

Although, of course, I’d prefer never to have experienced any of them.


We are waiting for Klara’s dance lesson to begin, and there’s this little girl in the waiting area with us. Klara and the girl start trying to outdo each other in all kinds of gymnastics. And it’s clear that they are competing because they are looking at each other and giving each other these triumphant looks after each effort. Nobody was praising them for it or offering any encouragement. They were responding only to each other. And enjoying the whole thing enormously. Klara was exultant. It was really weird to see these tiny creatures being so obviously competitive.

And then people say that human beings are not competitive by nature. I clearly didn’t teach her to be competitive. Because I’m not competitive. OK, that’s a total lie. I’m very competitive but not in any way that she can understand at this point. We haven’t discussed the merits of my CV yet. And her father is the most uncompetitive person known to humanity. We’ve never compared any of her skills to anybody else’s. There’s nothing competitive going on at school because they are two years old. So I don’t see how this can be something learned.

Happy Radio

Imagine if you had a radio commentator analyzing every move you made, everything you did or didn’t do, in critical terms. “Jonathan is not having a very good day, no.  Look, he’s procrastinating again. Why can’t he do better, I just don’t understand it….” When you went out of the house, you would get more criticism from this radio narrator about yourself, your inadequacies and failings of various kinds, and it wouldn’t stop all day long. You would probably want to turn the radio off, right?

A lot of people have that, though, in their own heads, and don’t know how to turn it off.

I have this radio in my head, too. But what it tells me is, “You are beautiful, you look fantastic. Wow, that was such a brilliant thing you just said. You rock! This was such a smart thing to do! Amazing!”

As I shared before, I had a group of adoring grandparents and great-grandparents who would gather around me throughout my childhood and stare at me with an almost religious adoration, discussing me in hushed voices in these superlative terms. Their voices are now my inner voice. It’s the best thing I have going for me in my life. I haven’t made it happen in any way, and it’s not my achievement. But it’s a cool thing to have.

I’m pretty much the only woman I know who is so completely happy with the way I look and with my intellectual capacities. Come to think of it, I don’t know any men who’d have such a happy sense of self either. I have many other challenges but at least this is not one. And so this inner voice is what I want to give to Klara. Because it’s the best thing I can offer to her. This is why she thinks Beautiful is a descriptor that is linked specifically to her as a measure of all beauty in the world.

Because once you do have the unhappy radio in your head, switching it off is extraordinarily hard.

An Old New Trend in Dating

So many words to say simply that if the sex stinks, people tend to not come back for more.

A “new” trend in dating. People are hilarious. And as clueless as anybody since dating was first invented.


Klara is transfixed by her new Beauty and the Beast book with sliding panels that reveal pictures under pictures.

“This is Beauty,” I explain. “And this is Beast.”

Suddenly, her face lights up.

“Beauty! Like Klara!” she says. “Beast not beauty. Not like Klara.”

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