I should mention...

As part of building a new online identity-space for myself, and also as part of the realization that I've needed to get off blogger and over to wordpress, my new content can now be found here:

Soon enough I'll be pointing the pilgrimsteps domain name over there, too.


better than coffee

Today I woke up at an all-too-early hour to join a before-work outrigger practice on my one-person canoe (she was more than a little dusty when I pulled her out of her berth, having sat unused for the past few weeks).  It was still dark when I was assembling the connecting pieces between the main part of the boat and the outrigger.  I fumbled because I couldn't see what I was doing, and some of the other paddlers gave me a hand.  They commented a bit on my boat (she's older, but a classic).

When I launched into the water of the Back Bay everything was glassy and quiet.  The moon was full and high in the sky, and Orion was overhead.  I paddled out about a mile to the PCH bridge before I joined the other early-morning stalwarts.  I was the only female and the only morning-practice n00b--so I knew I'd be a lot slower than the others.  We did 3 sets of pyramid sprints around Lido Island (my very favorite loop in the harbor), pointed straight at the moon as she was setting on the horizon.  By the time we came around the far end of the island, the horizon was all aglow with the sun rising on the other side of the sky.  The view of the palm trees and hills framed by waves of deepening color was breathtaking.  I counted the white heron that flew directly in front of me as I passed Spider Island a good omen.

The guys gave me a bit of a lead on all the sprints and we finished nearly every piece together (I suspect that they were being easy on me, and I am grateful for that).  As I washed my boat and headed back for a shower, I realized that my love for outrigger paddling just grew to whole new level. 

I now have the best reason ever to get out of bed early every morning (and a paddling wake-up call is so much better than coffee). 


Bullsh*t Feminism

Just for the record, I'm a big fan of bullshit.  In fact, I buy huge bags of it every spring to use in my garden.  Sure it's stinky, but it gets the job done.

Recently, the Feminist Hulk (a tongue-in-cheek twitterer) sent out a tweet about bullshit and it was widely "re-tweeted" (or copied, with attribution) by many users in The Exponent community.* It read:

When I first saw this tweet I bristled a bit at the profanity.  These words carry more weight and are somewhat more offensive when in print than when heard in casual conversation.  However, that's precisely why I liked the tweet.  I felt uncomfortable and it caught my attention.  And that discomfort made me think about how feminism is portrayed on The Exponent blog.   The look of our blog is organic and feminine: pastel colors, the leaf motif, subdued fonts.  The photos in the sidebar are artful--all of winsome smiling young women.  Not a scary old hairy feminist in the bunch.  I'd say that we sit squarely on the "softer side" of the feminist line when compared to mainstream feminist blogs like Feministing, Bust, or Pandagon.

So when the bullshit post from above was re-tweeted on the official Exponent channel, several of the bloggers protested on the private permablogger listserv.  And when the week's aggregate feed post went up, the bullshit tweet was removed because it was considered too vulgar for an Exponent post.

I'm shaking my head here, as I ponder whether feminism is best served with a wink and a smile.  Our sisters who fought for the 19th amendment weren't afraid of a little discomfort.  I'm not necessarily suggesting that profanity be used in every Exponent post--just the opposite.  When used judiciously, the discomfort that results from a smartly-used swear word can serve to illustrate an important point.  Because if the Hulk tweet had said simply "RESIST THE PRESSURE TO DOWNPLAY FEMINISM TO MAKE PEOPLE MORE COMFORTABLE.  DISCOMFORT CAN BE PRODUCTIVE," I seriously doubt it would have had even half the intended impact. Discomfort can be productive.  But when we carefully sanitize our writing so we don't push boundaries or let things get a bit ugly, are we missing out?

In fact, not one reader even mentioned the Hulk tweet or the profanity in the twitter blogpost.  If someone had been offended, I'm sure they would have let us know--the fact that the profanity passed unnoticed by our readers makes me wonder if there was even any cause for concern in the first place. 

When I use steer manure in my garden I have to be cautious to ensure that it's been properly aged or it can burn young seedling plants.  Similarly I can see why profanity needs to be used with caution, because of the possibility of "burning" those blogreaders who are only just barely acquainted with feminism or who might be turned-off by a bit of bullshit.  But at the same time I can't help but wonder if the discomfort is really our own, and not that of our imagined audience--and if it is, then what are we really afraid of?

*Note: For new readers of my blog: I'm a founding member of The Exponent blog, which focuses on Mormon feminism and other topics that are relevant to progressive LDS women.


on Walden Pond...

While I was in Boston, I has just enough time (and some willing friends) so I could squeeze in my annual jaunt to Concord and Walden.  It was a bit chillier this year than last, but I still had a fabulous swim across the pond.

As I swam I reflected on my many joys of this past year.  It's been a good one.  I feel so fortunate.


Boston, Boston, Boston!

my henry, originally uploaded by pilgrimgirl.
In just a few days I'll head to Boston for an adventure & some time with the Exponent women. I'm not yet sure what lies in store for me there, but Boston has never disappointed! Will it be cemeteries and Harvard tea? Or will it be another grand leap into Walden Pond? Or will I connect with Friends? Or will there be time for communing with the sea?

Perhaps it will be all of the above!


Catalina Crossing!

It's that time of year again, when all of my thoughts are focused on the U.S. Outrigger Champs race.  The picture above is from last year, where I am sitting in seat 5 (just in front of the steersperson) on the last leg of the race to Descanso Beach.

I'll ride the Catalina Flyer over to the island early tomorrow morning and then paddle my way home with a Masters Coed team.  Three of us paddled together in this race last year, and it was a great experience.  I'm looking forward to making more memories!

If you're local, you might want to head over to Newport Beach to watch the outriggers cross the finish line!  We'll come in at the Newport Harbor mouth, come straight down the channel, and finish in front of the turnoff for the Newport Dunes, probably the first boats will arrive around 2pm and the rest of us will trickle in over the next few hours.  I'll be texting my location to John occasionally (if I have a signal) and hopefully he'll forward any interesting updates to twitter (@johnremy).  If I can, I'll send over some tweets and pics myself while I'm taking a rest on the support boat!  :)



Among the many remembrances of my cancer experience that I carry with me daily is the constant fear of my cancer returning. Though there is little chance that my bone cancer will recur, statistics show that childhood survivors of cancer have high incidence of other forms of cancer as adults. We seem especially prone to breast cancer. Which is why I get screened regularly despite having no family history of the disease.

So last week when I had two scans show up with something questionable, I started to get awfully nervous. I couldn't decide if it was a good thing that I had an anniversary getaway planned already to get my "mind off of things" or if it was a bad thing, because it was so hard for me to relax.

On Friday afternoon I had more thorough diagnostic scans taken at UCI's cancer center and I just received word that I'm clean.

Such a huge sigh of relief. Such a weight off my shoulders. Such a thing to celebrate.


her side of the bed

Last night John walked into our bedroom and found me with the bedcovers covering part of my face. It wasn't until he said something that I realized my hands were pressing the layers of quilt and sheets over my mouth, in an act of self-comfort.

I think I'd told John before that when I was younger I slept with the covers over my head. Especially on nights that I was scared. Because the warm cocoon of blanket seemed so much safer than whatever loomed in the dark night.



splash, originally uploaded by pilgrimgirl.

It feels so luxurious to have a long holiday weekend! I'm loving the time with family and friends--I even played a board game last night for the first time since April! Such indulgence! :)

However, this morning I actually got up extra early snuck back to work for a few hours to do some much-needed furniture rearranging. It felt so good to make the changes that I'd been planning for months. Now I just need a few good plants, some artful color on the bookshelf, and some pictures on the walls. It's amazing how much it's starting to feel as if my office is actually mine now.

I also am knee-deep in one new web-based project that I'll be debuting soon--it's the culmination of many months of thought and planning. I can't wait to share it with you...

So tell me, what are you doing this holiday weekend?



pale pink camellia, originally uploaded by pilgrimgirl.

This morning in Quaker Meeting we considered the value of simplicity. I thought my readers might enjoy seeing the queries that go along with that value:


Life is meant to be lived from a Center, a divine Center… a life of unhurried peace and power. It is simple. It is serene. It takes no time, but it occupies all our time.
~ thomas r. kelly, testament of devotion, 1941

A life centered in God will be directed toward keeping communication with God open and unencumbered. Simplicity is best achieved through a right ordering of priorities, maintaining humility of spirit, avoiding self-indulgence, resisting the accumulation of unnecessary possessions, and avoiding over-busy lives.
Elise Boulding writes in My Part in the Quaker Adventure,
“ Simplicity, beauty, and happiness go together if they are a byproduct of a concern for something more important than ourselves.”
  • Do I center my life in an awareness of God’s presence so that all things take their rightful place?
  • Do I live simply, and promote the right sharing of the world’s bounty?
  • Do I keep my life uncluttered with things and activities, avoiding commitments beyond my strength and light?
  • How do I maintain simplicity, moderation, and honesty in my speech, my manner of living, and my daily work?
  • Do I recognize when I have enough?
  • Is the life of our Meeting so ordered that it helps us to simplify our lives?

made in China

IMG_2437, originally uploaded by mind on fire.
My favorite travel bag is the one that I'm carrying in my right hand in this photo. I bought it in China the morning before I returned to the States. It was $6. I didn't haggle. It says "ESPBIT" on the logo, which looks just like ESPRIT unless you take a moment to really think about it. It was hard to choose between a red one and the green one--I'm glad I settled on the red.

I needed an extra bag to bring home some trinkets: a wooden dragon for GameBoy, turquoise silk pajamas for Catgirl, a black cheongsam for me, as well as several pouches of jasmine tea. For John I brought a delicately carved "chop" engraved with his name in Chinese.

Now I carry my ESPBIT bag to my outrigger races, to conferences, and just about anywhere else I travel. It's outlasted nearly every other suitcase that I've purchased.



IMG_2300, originally uploaded by mind on fire.
To celebrate 18 years of being married, we escaped for a night to a hotel near the Huntington Library (where I had some scholarly meetings the next day). It was bliss to have an evening with John: to relax in a shwanky hotel lobby and chat, and then to retire together to piles of pillows and a ginormous cozy bed...The next morning was even better as we indulged in a fancy breakfast.

If someone had told me on September 2, 1992 that 18 years later I'd still be married to John, that I'd be nearly finished with my Ph.D., that our children would be such outstanding people, that I'd be paddling on the ocean several times a week, and that I'd be ambulating on a bionic leg...I would probably have believed them. Because ever since I met John the magic of our lives has just continued on and on...