Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Man knows my history

The problem with starting a blog when I’m off on exotic foreign adventures is that now I feel like many, if not most, of my readers—yes, that’s you, hello! Welcome!—expect non-stop action from my blog, of the kind that only travel can provide: being stalked by a water buffalo, getting so sick I still can’t tell you how sick I got, being serenaded in Arabic by a tour guide. Even my trip this summer, which was tame in blog-fodder compared to Indonesia, provides plenty I could write about: trying to blend in as we stalked a group of Iranian pilgrims through Damascus,
getting dripped on by a giant medieval water wheel,
sleeping on a hostel’s rooftop with this view of Jerusalem,
conquering some medieval castles,
being conquered by other medieval castles,
jumping around medieval ruins,
failing to jump around ancient ruins,
posing with world-famous scenery,
being asked to pose, as if we were world-famous scenery,
surreptitiously trying to pose with Israeli soldiers, because, frankly, they are world-famous scenery,and, through it all, acquiring a pretty good Chacos tan, for someone as pale as me.

But now, most of the months of year, you all are forced to put up with whatever mundanities of American life I can come up with, and I’m afraid my blog must inevitably get dear-diary boring: dear diary, today I woke up. (10 am. It’s still winter break here.) Then I took a shower. Then I ate breakfast. (Apple-cinnamon oatmeal.) Then I spent a long time reading (From Ancient Cham to Modern Dialects: Two Thousand Years of Language Contact and Change, by Graham Thurgood). Then I emailed some people about the conference my classmates and I are organizing. (Dear so-and-so: Hi. I need something.) Then I transcribed some Yurok. Then I transcribed some Ao. Then I worked on a conference presentation. Then I talked with a friend, cleaned my apartment, cooked dinner, read some more (Women and Authority, edited by Maxine Hanks), and some more (In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith, by Todd Compton), and went to bed. Thrilling, I know: who really wants to hear all those details of personal history?

Even my weekends don’t make that much better blog material: I spent this weekend at the LSA's annual meeting, where, in addition to listening to a number of talks, some of which entertained me, some of which bored me, and some of which caused me to fall massively in academic love with a certain German typologist, I volunteered, in exchange for free registration, to be a perky registration desk volunteer and, later, to ignore my duties as a room monitor by falling asleep in the hallway. (Yes, at the largest and most important professional conference in my field. I have got to work on that.) And let’s see, what else? I finished Rough Stone Rolling, which felt like a major victory in our time; I saw a 5000-person protest downtown about the violence in Gaza; I watched a movie with one friend and spent an evening hanging out with another; I visited the singles ward in the city, where the girl I sat next to in Relief Society gasped, after only two or three minutes of conversation, “Oh, I've got someone you just have to meet!”; and I ate dinner with my Eritrean next-door neighbors, who barely speak English but who are, as far as I can tell, very nice. (Actually, these last two incidents made me feel like I was abroad again: possibly nothing encapsulates my experiences in foreign countries more than not understanding dinnertime conversation and being set up by strangers. If only I had also had a violent stomach illness, I would have felt right away from home.)

I’m not complaining about any of this: I like my life right now, especially the part where it's still winter break, but it doesn’t make for very interesting reading or writing. I have a post-it note on my computer with a whole list of other things to blog about—things that automatically make me cry (when they sing the Marseillaise in Casablanca; the scene where the baby is born in Children of Men; film strips of World War I), why I’m addicted to the New York Times’ wedding announcements section (anthropologically speaking, it’s a fascinating glimpse into the personal and professional lives of the nation’s elite. Plus I’m a romantic.), why I want to marry an immigrant so he can get a green card (why let my citizenship go to waste?), and what happened that one time my brothers and I rearranged all the furniture when our parents went out for the evening (they didn’t think it was as funny as we did)—but most of those things really merit no more than the passing mention I just gave them.

So where does that leave me, besides not blogging very regularly? I’m not sure. I could rehash more travel stories in entries like this one, thinly disguised as being relevant, but that fools no one. I could engage in more scholarly discussion about linguistics, but I do that so much already, or about religion, politics, or literature, but no one cares, and, plus, I don't have the time or energy. I could tell more jokes (what’s brown and sticky?), include more cute pictures of my mom's dog, beg my readers for post ideas (anyone?), post some of the innuendo-laden limericks I write (There once was a city called Sodom...), but those options are unoriginal, cliche, pitiful, and inappropriate--I mean, come on! My grandma reads this!

So I guess I am left with this: dear diary, today I woke up. Then I took a shower. Then I ate breakfast. Then I blogged. And now, internet, you know it all.


Logan said...

For how 'meta' this post is, there's sure a lot of content.

You could also describe more of the student culture in your locale. Or describe the German typologist. But, you know, irregular blogging is totally cool. It's not as if Google Reader will forget you.

Petra said...

Yeah, you caught me: the 'meta' stuff was just an excuse to sneak in pictures from my trip and a description of my weekend.

ReaRiahRoa said...

If only I could make my regular life sound so interesting! I need to write up an equivalent "dear diary" entry.

It's good to hear what you are up to.

Funny enough, I am currently reading both 'Rough Stone Rolling' and 'In Sacred Lonliness'. Been reading a chapter of each for a couple weeks. I find both a little biased in different ways but intensely interesting. Although a chapter is about all I can take at a time - because they only unsettle me more ...

I'd be curious to know your experience with them and the other religious-themed books you mention.

Little Red said...

Oooo, yes describe the German typologist... i love typology.

Pinto said...

and yet you STILL are able to write a terfrigginawesome post...

KrumperKids said...

You had me at "dear diary."

Little Red said...

Typology is not typography. I'm retarded... I do not love typology.

Katya said...

See, your problem is that you blog about things that happen in your life. Take a page out of my book and blog about random vignettes that aren't tied to any moment in time. (Green, much?)

Also - "(why let my citizenship go to waste?)" - you are such an economist's daughter!

Confuzzled said...

You, Petra desarest, are never uninteresting. Your particular spectrum doesn't even range as far as uninteresting. There's interesting. Slightly less interesting. Slightly more interesting. And really interesting.

But if anybody ever describe you as boring, I'm afraid I'd have to smack them a good'un for not paying attention well enough . . .

skylark said...

1) yes, i do expect non-stop action from your blog. and i believe you can pull good stories from not-so-exotic sources.

2) you visited the singles ward in the city? as in the one that i would have gone to if i hadn't stayed home sick? (and, incidentally, on a day i was supposed to teach?)

3) i don't even know what typology is. but i like german. and academic crushes.

KathE said...

I freaking love this blog! A poop!!! I mean....a stick!!!

Annie said...

so you're into rearranging furniture, eh? didn't you do that in DT too? i want a post about that, if you please. and the german typologist. and your mom's dog. and dear diaries are also awesome. in fact, we should declare it dear diary week. sometimes it's strangely interesting to hear what people do each day, no matter how mundane. i won't write one, though, because then i'd have to think about how many diapers i change each day and i might cry.

my name is amy said...

i like how you slipped in some mbatE2008 stuff. and i love when i get referenced in blogs!!

Betsy said...

I love the picture of you in the yellow shirt being conquered by a castle. Thanks for the pictures. That's what I really want.

Petra said...

I love getting blog comments! I feel so popular.


We'll have to talk about them at institute next week, okay?

Little Red--

I thought we were talking about something different...




I'll try to include more stories of apple-cinnamon oatmeal, then.


I think you just answered your own question.


I'm flattered, but trust me--most of my life is not that interesting. For instance, I spent this morning FREAKING OUT about conference arrangements. Are you fascinated yet?


are you serious? did I miss you? maybe that should be my solution to when we'll hang out again--I could just show up to that ward again. (Or, even better, you could show up to mine!)


Hooray, someone got it! That's my favorite joke EVER.


Oh yeah! I had forgotten about that, but yes, it was hilarious. Maybe I will blog about it sometime.

my name is amy--

Sorry, I should have featured you more boldly: Everyone, this is Amy. She is the best traveling partner that could ever ever ever exist.


Less talk, more rock. Check.

mysh said...

Yeah, I barely got through this one. You may have just lost a reader.

Diane said...

Can you PLEASE leave English translations and instructions for the technologically linguistically impaired readers? I couldn't figure out which was the comment button. I am impressed that so many of your readers are smart enough to navigate their way through the foreign languages to leave comments. Meanwhile, your mother votes for more blogs about cute dogs and marriage plans.

Ginsberg said...

Well, I care about religion, literature and politics. Unless you're just going to toot the Obama horn--I don't really care about that at this point, even if I did vote for the guy.

padre said...

The beauty of even dear diary is that lurking there is the phrase "... I would have felt right away from home." Which is just so full of meaning for people like me (us?) who feel out of place in Sunday School but in perfectly in place completely out of place. You should feel waves of love coming your way.

Reija said...

I blogged once about the wedding section of the NYTimes. Turns out it's my favorite part of the newspaper (yours too?)

Anonymous said...

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