Friday, September 25, 2009

Turns Out Moms Everywhere Were Right

"You don't know if you'll like it unless you try it."

How many of us have heard that? Of course, it was usually in regards to spinach or broccoli, both of which I actually quite like, and have since I was small.

I have always had a reaction to the idea of "hot" yoga. You know, the yoga in the room that very closely resembles an equatorial jungle in terms of temperature. I've always thought that it seemed like cheating, heating things up to eke out a bit of extra flexibility, and have always figured that the idea of "sweating out toxins" was a load of hooey. I had a yoga purist thought about it in which I thought any form of yoga that expected one to (gasp!) drink water during the practice couldn't be good; traditional teachings say that this is bad. Well, at the recommendation of several friends, I finally went.

Aside from being profoundly uncomfortable with the idea of appearing in public in only wearing a sport bra and shorts, it was a great experience. I felt great last night, and I feel better this morning. It was hot and sweaty and a bit strange, but what matters is that I feel more relaxed and open than I have in weeks. I feel cleaner and (I'm sure this is all in my head, I was only there for an hour) skinnier!

I tried it. I liked it. It seems to have relieved a lot of the stress my body has been under from all the running and the pesky life thing.

What should I try next that I always thought was stupid/ I didn't need in my life? Who knows, I might like it.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

An Odd Position: On Being an Ex-Pat Americanist

So, I've been in Canada for most of the past year. I like it here. Culture shock has largely worn off. I still think poutine sounds gross, but I'm okay with the fact that it exists. I appreciate the fact that having an advanced degree is a good thing and not a prohibitive factor for people planning on running for public office.

There are still things I find odd or inexplicable, but much in the same way that I found things in Nashville inexplicable by virtue of being a native of the North. I'm used to the occasional befuddlement, and it just a part of living somewhere other than where I was born.

What still absolutely discombobulates me, however, are certain issues around my professional life. As a musicologist, I generally work on North American music (my pop music interests include the Barenaked Ladies, and not just to sound more Canadian on my OGS and SSHRC applications, so I can claim the continent), and I tend to do it from the perspective of how music is a reflection of the culture that uses it or creates it. Here's where I get at a loss for words: any time I have to have an extended discussion of "Americanness" in one of my classes. After all, the vast majority of my professors, fellow students, and students I teach are not from the United States. So when they are talking about "Americanness" (by which I specifically mean "in regards to the United States of America"), they are doing it from the outsider's perspective.

This isn't a bad brain place to be in from a scholarly perspective: while I am too much of a post-modernist to really believe in absolute objectivity, I do think a certain degree of intellectual detachment leads to better work. At the same time, I always get caught up in the strangeness of my personal position in these discussions: on the one hand, I am more or less obligated to participate at the same level of abstraction as my colleagues. On the other, however, I have a huge string of attachments to the U.S. that they don't have, and I want to defend my home just by virtue of it being, well, home.

In a certain sense, this is like having or being a sibling: they can torment, mock, taunt, and tease, but will defend you against outside attack. I feel like I can criticize my country, its politics, its wars, its culture, but I get a trifle defensive when someone else does. This comes into play in these discussions of "Americanness," and I feel like I have to be almost continually vigilant about it.

In the end, I think this will make me a stronger musicologist, better able to articulate my positions, but at the moment, it stresses me out a bit.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Jess Moves Back to Canada

In slow, easy steps:

1. Before the actual moving: I spent most of the last month of my summer vacation at Bliss Yarns, hoping that the lovely Dana would get confused and start giving me paychecks or at least would give me the employee discount on yarn. I also spent a fair amount of time at the Knaughty Knitter, down in the 'Boro.

Because Christmas knitting is well underway (at least in my head), I won't post any pictures of the heartbreakingly beautiful work I have been creating. (Sure, that's a good excuse, ya'll buy that, right?)

2. Packing up my crap. I don't have a photo of how ridiculous my car looked when packed, because frankly, I'm embarrassed. How much stuff do I really need? Yikes!

3. Driving to, oddly, South Haven, Michigan. My folks are on a crazy boat trip, chronicled at Osprey's Adventures, and they happened to be in South Haven, and a nice marina, when I was planning on driving North. I spent about 3 days with them, and they are having a great time, Riley is having a great time, and Calvin had a fantastic time on the boat. He also had a fantastic time escaping the boat, once he got used to it, although unlike his escape attempts in the past, these seemed mischief driven, and not actual attempts to escape into the wild to forage for junk food. One such escape attempt included him wandering down the dock, spotting my dad, and going to sit next to him.

4. Driving from South Haven to Sterling Heights. I stayed at the 'rents place for a couple of days, did some last minute "goin' back to Canada" shopping (I still can't find the tea I love the most in London, so I hit Whole Paycheck when I'm in the States), and had a lovely dinner with my grandparents.

5. The return to Canada, land of universal healthcare, gravy on french fries, and lunatics in the grocery store. (Although it turns out that the odd rudeness in the grocery store and Costco around here is not a generalized Canadianism, it is actually an odd localism. Nonetheless, a Saturday trip to Costco most closely resembles feeding time in the hyena exhibit at the zoo.)

6. Unpacking taking only a day or two, and then the settling in of odd boredom while waiting for classes to start. Work starts Tuesday. Which is good, because I've been looking around thinking "gosh, I've got the weekend, maybe I'll paint the apartment."