Still blogging infrequently and mostly absent from social media, but this is a huge piece of work. I hope to write up some reflections on what I learned through this process before too long.

Dear Colleagues-

Today, we are excited to announce that the Project READY (Reimagining Equity and Access for Diverse Youth) online racial equity curriculum is live and accessible at ready.web.unc.edu. Learn more at Booth 2650 at ALA Annual in Washington, DC.

A historic milestone was quietly reached in the American public school system during the 2014-2015 school year: for the first time in history,youth of color made up the majority of students attending U.S. public schools. Creating inclusive and equitable school and public library programs for Black youth, Indigenous youth, and Youth of Color (BIYOC) requires knowledge about topics such as race and racism, implicit bias and microaggressions, cultural competence and culturally sustaining pedagogy, and equity and social justice. Research shows, however, that few library and information science (LIS) master’s programs include these topics in their curriculum.A recent survey focused specifically on early career youth services librarians found that only 26.8% of respondents said that social justice was included in a substantive way in their master’s curriculum; 37.2% said that cultural competency was substantively included, and 41.8% said that equity and inclusion was substantively included. Related to these findings, a majority (54.08%) of respondents said that their master’s programs did not prepare them well for working with youth of color and other marginalized youth.

In 2016, The School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the School of Library and Information Sciences at North Carolina Central University, and the Wake County (NC) Public School System (WCPSS) were awarded a three-year Continuing Education Project grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to develop Project READY to address this existing gap in professional development opportunities for youth services library staff.  The curriculum aims to:

  • introduce youth services library staff to research in areas such as race and racism, critical theory, and culturally responsive or sustaining pedagogy.
  • establish a shared understanding of foundational concepts and issues related to race, racism, and racial equity.
  • encourage self-reflection related to race and racial identity for both BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) and white library staff in public and school libraries.
  • amplify the work of practitioners and scholars who are providing inclusive and culturally responsive services for youth of color and Indigenous youth.
  • provide concrete strategies for creating and/or improving library programs and services for Black youth, Indigenous youth, and children and teens of color.

The curriculum consists of 27 modules, designed to be worked through by individuals or small groups. Modules are organized into three sequential sections. The first section (Foundations) focuses on basic concepts and issues that are fundamental to understanding race and racism and their impact on library services. The second section (Transforming Practice) explores how these foundational concepts relate to and can be applied in library environments. Finally, the third section (Continuing the Journey) explores how library professionals can sustain racial equity work and grow personally and professionally in this area after completing the curriculum.

The curriculum represents the work of 40 researchers, practitioners, administrators, and policymakers, and youth from a variety of racial and cultural backgrounds. It is grounded in the work of scholars of color and Indigenous scholars who have thought and written about issues related to institutional and individual racism, equity, inclusion, and social justice.

We hope this curriculum will benefit and inform the work of the many organizations and individuals that are working to improve the quality of life and educational opportunities for BIYOC.

We will be promoting the curriculum on the exhibit hall at ALA’s annual conference in Washington, DC – Booth 2650. We invite you to stop by and preview Project READY!

Sincerely,

Sandra Hughes-Hassell, PhD
Professor
She/Her/Hers

Casey H. Rawson, PhD
Teaching Assistant Professor
She/Her/Hers

Kimberly Hirsh, MAT, MSLS
PhD Student
She/Her/Hers

I’m still on hiatus from social media activity and comments on my blog posts are still closing after only 1 day. But there are some things that I want to capture in this space immediately, rather than waiting until I “come back,” and there are some things that I think could benefit other people by being public, so I’m going ahead and posting. This is one of those things.

I went to the doctor yesterday. I needed refills on my prescriptions. And I’d also noticed recently that a number of chronic illness symptoms had crept up on me slowly over the past… year and a half? Six months, at least. So I went in expecting to discuss those symptoms with her.

When she asked how I was, I gave her the list of symptoms:

  • Puffy face
  • Missing outer third of eyebrow
  • Low body temperature
  • Intense fatigue (can’t put away laundry or cook)
  • Brain fog (Only about 2 good hours a day)
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Coarse hair
  • Hair loss
  • Carpal tunnel
  • Worsening vision
  • Headaches
  • Dry skin
  • Brittle nails
  • Acne
  • Hirsutism
  • Tinnitus
  • Insomnia
  • Dizziness
  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Sore throat
  • Waking with a racing heart

I said, “These symptoms are consistent with when my thyroid hormones have been off in the past.”

“Your thyroid numbers are good,” she told me. I looked at them. She was right. They weren’t just normal; they were in what I know to be the optimal range for me. They were excellent.

I’d noticed that a lot of these symptoms were also consistent with diabetes. “Your blood sugar is at the high end of normal, but it’s lower than it was six months ago. It’s moving in the right direction.” So I’m still prediabetic. But not yet diabetic.

This is where most doctors would tell me I was fine, or I need to eat more protein, or it’s because I’m the mom of a young kid.

“But you’re having these symptoms, so you’re not okay,” she said. I love my doctor. “Have you noticed any pattern?”

I told her no. They have snuck up on me, sort of one at a time over months and months, and so I haven’t been tracking them.

“Well, they could be a food sensitivity. Or another autoimmune disease.” There’s a high level of comorbidity with autoimmune diseases, such that having one makes you a lot more likely to later acquire another. “But I don’t even know what to test without more information. So come back in two to four weeks with some data and we’ll decide what to test.”

I really wanted to be able to just increase the dose of one of my current medications to fix this, but apparently, that’s not an option. Straightforward dietary changes that have helped in the past, like cutting out gluten and corn, which I’d been doing for the past two months, didn’t seem to be helping. So here we are. I’m spending the next month collecting data on everything I can think of, looking for relationships. I’m tracking which symptoms I have on what days, what I eat, how I sleep, and anything else that comes to mind; the app I’m using, Flaredown, lets you add tags freely so I can track things like travel and even whether my kid naps.

Esmé Weijun Wang, who writes a blog for ambitious people dealing with limitations, writes:

My work, although it may not look like work to most, is to take care of myself. I must care for my health with as much attention as I once paid to the documents I was hired to edit, or to the long hours spent at the office on Saturdays. Aggressive pursuit of one’s ambition is a skillset that, I hope, has not left me. In the meantime, I am aggressively pursuing a dream of recovery.

Similarly, I’m going to collect data on my own health with the attention I would use to collect data for a study, to analyze my own journal with the same tools I would use to conduct content analysis.

I don’t have a pat conclusion to this. I’m disappointed it’s not a straightforward fix. I’m optimistic that we’ll be able to work something out to help me. I’m relieved that I don’t need to make any drastic changes to my diet before I’m done traveling at the end of the month.

And I’m tired. I’m very tired.

I thought to myself yesterday, “I can’t believe that I’ve got another fifty or sixty years in this meat cage, dealing with these flare ups.” But I do. I will. And I’ll get through it, with the support of my family and friends and science.

❤️️❤️️❤️️❤️️

A quick note about my own writing and the way I’m working these days. I plan to do a more extensive post on this soon.

Way back in 2001 or 2002, I interviewed Joss Whedon. The questions were submitted to me by Bronzers. My lovely Bronzer friend andyourlittledogtoo asked, “How long did it take to go from the conception of ‘Restless‘ until the finished product? And can you explain your writing process?” “Restless” is the finale of the fourth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and it’s one of my favorite episodes. You can read more about it just about anywhere on the internet, and you should… But ANYWAY, Joss’s answer has stuck with me for 17, 18 years now:

My writing process is about two things: Structure and emotion. I’m incredibly strict about working out a tight structure, every piece fitting, so there are not too many surprises in a first draft. But it all stems from emotion. What emotion are we in love with here? What do we need to feel? What do they (the characters) need to feel (a dif ques). We build from that. with RESTLESS, i had to throw structure out the window. It was a poem. Though I knew what it meant and what the dramatic flow was, I literally just had to sit there (or lie there – I got my appendix out during that script) and wait for the next thing. It was very liberating for me. When i was BEGGED for an oultline for act 4, i made one — and then ccouldn’t write a word, because it was wrong. Had to wait for the flow.

I think a lot of people write first and structure second. I don’t know how common this is in academic writing. I’ve always been a structure-first kind of gal, though that structure can take various forms. I used to be all-in on outlines, but my professor Barbara Wildemuth really hit mind-maps hard, and now I tend to bounce between synthetic notes, mind-maps, outlines, and memos. And the point when I transition from one to the other, and when I know I’m ready to begin drafting, has everything to do with structure.

Until I know the structure of a piece, I just write in little chunks. As I write, I re-arrange. I toy with new structures. Color-coding with pens is involved. I want to document this piece of my process better in the future, so as I begin my next lit review chapter, I’ll try to.

It feels good to remember that one of the writers who has influenced me the most works mostly from structure first. (How much of “Restless” was induced by the painkillers Joss was on for his appendectomy recovery? We may never know.) It feels good to know that there are as many ways of writing as there are writers.

I suffer from migraines. I’ve gotten them since I was around 7 years old. There are any number of triggers: changes in barometric pressure, eating MSG, but the most frequent one is hormones. I’ve got one right now, and though I’m not certain, I think it’s probably hormone related.

When I was in my teens and early twenties, I couldn’t do anything with a migraine. I had to go right to bed, preferably in a dark and silent room, banishing everyone else. This was before triptans got big, so I just guzzled Coca Cola, took some Percogesic (which researching it I now see is just Tylenol + Benadryl), and hid for twelve hours or so. After twelve hours of solid sleep, I usually felt like new.

As a college student and young professional, I tried Imitrex and some other triptans. They always came with nasty side effects: actually increasing the migraine-related nausea if I didn’t take them fast enough, giving me a weird lockjaw-type feeling but in my whole body. So I still mostly drank some Coke, took some Excedrin Migraine or Tylenol Arthritis Strength, and went to bed.

As a young teacher with a limited amount of sick leave, I couldn’t just go to bed. I worked through these migraines many times, doing what I essentially called “subbing for myself” – tossing my original lesson plan for something I would have been comfortable giving to a sub, and asking my students to please work in silence, in a somewhat darkened classroom.

As a parent, I can’t just go to bed. But also, my migraines aren’t usually as bad now as they used to be. I usually can get through them okay with just being chill. I don’t usually need to just go to bed and be left alone.

Usually.

I have one today. We’re in Day 2. My sweet child keeps asking me “Mommy, is your headache gone?” and it breaks my heart every time I tell him it’s still here. The first time I told him that, he said, “But I kissed your head!” I had to explain that kisses can ameliorate pain, but only sometimes take it away entirely, and this was not one of those times.

(BUT HOW CUTE IS HE?)

Anyway. All this to say: when I feel this way, words won’t go in.

I’ve been trying to read, because that’s one of the two key activities in my day. (The other being writing.) I’ve been trying to review my own notes. I’ve been trying to refresh my memory of the Dublin Core. I tried to watch a video that explained Dublin Core, and the professor’s words wouldn’t go in my brain through auditory means any easier than the DCMI specification’s words would go in visually.

There’s a very light halo on my vision in the eye where the headache sits.

Words can come out, apparently, though analytic ones won’t.

It’s possible fiction could make it in. I don’t know.

Anyway, it’s frustrating.

I guess that’s all I wanted to say, really. It’s frustrating that migraines make me unable to work with words, when words are most of my work.

I mentioned in my post about writing comedy from the heart that the TV show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is an important piece of art for me. And there are lots of lists of the top songs, I guess, though the only one I’ve paid attention to is my imaginary podcast bff Glen Weldon’s. (Weldon himself is not imaginary; the conceit that he and I are bffs is.)

But I wanted to do something more personal.

I came to Crazy Ex-Girlfriend a little late, not very – I think I started watching as soon as the first season was available via Netflix, maybe? I loved it immediately. The sheer perfection that is the song “West Covina” made my musical theater nerd heart sing, and I honestly saw a sort of alternate universe version of myself in overachieving lawyer Rebecca. (Because getting a PhD in Information and Library Science is the underachieving path in my mind, apparently?)

Anyway, this show has made me feel seen in a way few things have, so I thought I’d share the top 3 songs that resonated with me the most.

3. I’m the Villain in My Own Story

For all those times when you realize the “good” things you were doing didn’t outweight how you were being a jerk.

2. Sexy French Depression

The line “My bed smells like a tampon” is, like, scarily spot on. And this subtitle crawl:

My anxiety is so out of
control that all I can think
about is
thinking about thinking
about thinking about fixing
everything I’ve ever done
wrong and all of the ways
I’ve already messed up my
life beyond repair.

Perfection. If you ever look at my face and wonder what’s on my mind, it’s probably that.

And finally…

1. You Stupid Bitch

This is a classic internal monologue of a person with anxiety and/or depression. This song makes me cry because it makes me not feel alone.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is amazing because, as Glen Weldon points out, the show “[respects] how fraught and complicated a prospect it is to turn the travails of mental illness into blistering one-liners and catchy ditties … and then [does] it anyway.” I’m actually finding myself without more words to talk about why it’s so important to me.

It feels like there have been a thousand times Rachel Bloom has said something in an interview and I felt like shouting, “YES THIS!” but this is a new flavor of that:

I came from a very… rigid is the wrong word, but a very set technique of sketch comedy writing. When you study at UCB, if you do improv or sketch, you find the game of the scene, you heighten the game. It’s almost mathematical. And I think that for so long, some of the sketches I wrote, I wasn’t necessarily bringing my full self to them, because I was trying to fit into this like mathematical technique. I was surrounded by guys. So everything I wrote was probably subconsciously trying to, like, be acceptable to the male gaze. So when I started writing songs, because it was combining what I learned from sketch comedy with musical theater, my first love since I was 2 years old, it felt like I was bringing myself fully into my writing. I wasn’t trying to be anyone else, because I could bring in emotions, I could bring in those tropes that I’d been absorbing for my entire life, and then use my techniques to shape that.

Like Rachel, I have loved musicals from a young age. Like Rachel, I trained in improv and sketch writing at a school/theater that emphasized game: you begin a scene, find the first unusual thing, repeat it, heighten it, and break the pattern with your punchline. Not only did we learn that structure, but we also learned how to write particular flavors of sketch: fish out of water, comedic duo, commercial parody, satire, superpowers, torture game, literalization, and mapping.

I had a lot of fun and I got really good at recognizing game, if not initiating it, but there was a fundamental disconnect between how most other people in my comedy community did comedy and how I did comedy.

When I showed up at sketch class eager to show everyone Mike O’Brien and Tina Fey’s crazy car salesman, in my mind a brilliant example of a commercial parody combined with literalization, the class tore it to shreds.

My strongest sketch was one in which several adolescent girls show up at a county fare to participate in a literal melon growing contest and express their insecurities about their produce. (It’s a mapping scene, mapping their growing bodies onto the growing produce, see?) It was a deeply personal sketch, drawing on my own experiences with never feeling like I had the right body shape as an adolescent, whether that shape was too small or too big.

Eventually, I ended up on a hip-hop improv team – thanks almost entirely to developing a Hamilton obsession. (Seriously, if you want me to like something, just write a musical using/about it.) Again, I was a little sideways from the group sensibility; my favorite raps drew on my impostor syndrome and my frustrations with family holiday gatherings. My favorite scenes were often quiet little things, with comedy arising from the awkwardness of two people trying to connect, or things that used my heavily pregnant body as a punchline itself (I was pregnant for my entire tenure on that team), or preferably, things that combined both, like one scene where I had ended up on a blind date and ended the scene responding to my scene partner’s “This’ll be a funny story to tell the kids” with the line “Ohhhh… You want kids?” while I was eight months pregnant.

(We do comedy in our bodies. They are one of the tools we have, and we don’t leave them behind, even when we take on characters with different physicalities than our own.)

While everyone was very nice, I often felt out of place. And reading this quote from Rachel Bloom pinpoints a lot of the problem, I think. I imagine that, while she wasn’t writing with her whole self, Bloom was very good at writing that kind of sketch. I can even imagine some parallels between her Crazy Ex-Girlfriend character Rebecca Bunch’s success as an attorney and Bloom’s as a writer, both getting good at/pursuing the thing everybody says you’re supposed to want (in Bloom’s case, right down to auditioning for Saturday Night Live).

And I love that in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Bloom has gotten to finally write more personal things and bring her full self to the table. It’s such an important piece of art for me, personally, and reading about this part of her experience has led me to rethink how I engage with comedy and what types of writing and performance I want to pursue in the future.

So Rachel, thank you.

Photograph by Greg Gayne/CW.

It’s always helpful to check in with ourselves every once in a while, and I like to do it quarterly if I remember to. Let’s dig in and check out how I’m doing so far this year!

I selected PHASE as my word of the year, and I have to tell you, I completely forgot that I had done that. Life has been a whirlwind.

Here are the things I said I wanted to do/try this year:

  • Embracing the PHASE energy.
  • Really owning my Mer-Goth/#seawitchvibes aesthetic.
  • Reading for pleasure more.
  • Having a good time.

And here’s some notes on how those are going:

Embracing the PHASE energy: Woof. I have not done this! Oops! I mean, I’ve kind of done this. Let’s see… I’ve gotten pretty good about really taking advantage of my high energy moments and giving myself permission to rest during my low energy moments (I think this is what Lindsay Mack is talking about when she talks about expansion and contraction). But that remembering that these things will pass? That part I haven’t done a great job of. My kid is two, and that comes with some tough parenting moments. I haven’t been handling them as gracefully as I’d like; I mean that both in terms of being graceful with him, but also giving myself grace when I get frustrated. I’m working on this one. Making progress, though.

Owning my mer-goth/seawitchvibes aesthetic: This is hard when it’s cold out. My aesthetic right now is mostly “grad student/mom who hopes her clothes aren’t too stained.” My go-to outfit has been this dress over some black leggings, topped with a hoodie. Throw on whatever socks are clean and a pair of black New Balance sneakers, and I’m ready for sitting at the co-working space OR going to the mall or museum with my kid! Honestly, I’m bored with this look and really want to change it up. I don’t have a lot of money to do so, but I’m starting to need more looks for conference presentations and client meetings as I’m taking on some consulting work (yay!). Trying to find things in my budget that capture the whimsy that I want in my daily life and still looked polish is a JOB OF WORK, let me tell you.

Reading for pleasure more. I’m doing pretty well on this one. I’m a little behind my goal for the year but I know I can make that up quickly.

Having a good time. You know, at first thought I’m like, “I’m having a hard time!” But then I realize that I’ve been going to Silent Book Club and Retro Cinema, that I went to a Comicon, that I get to see my kid exploring new places, that I’m crocheting things and playing video games every once in a while, and I think yeah, on the whole, I’m doing a really good job with this one.

Other things worth noting: I have drafted two of my five comps chapters. I had an article accepted with revisions. I am taking on a consulting job. My kid is growing and growing. I’ll probably write another post in the next few days with more details about general life stuff, so keep an eye out.

How’s your year going?

 

I’m making a few notes to myself here to document my process for keeping a public research notebook. They might be of interest to you, too.

First, I’m talking here mostly about keeping up with the literature. There are (in my opinion obvious) ethical implications of actually sharing your data on your website. I’ll explore them as I write my proposal, but right now, all I’ve got is other people’s research that I’m reading and writing about, and then I’ll probably have some memos on my own process of preparing for comps and selecting my dissertation topic. Nothing wild.

So, what am I doing? Well, inspired by some writing by Kris Shaffer and Chris Aldrich, and by the fact that I gave a keynote last weekend on Connected Learning and the IndieWeb, I want to share my reading notes on some of the readings I’m doing for comps. It will help me keep track of my most important notes, and maybe it’ll be useful for other people researching similar topics. I tend to pick fairly under-researched areas, and I know it can be frustrating to have to dig up the literature on those, so this is one way I can maybe make it easier for colleagues.

Raul Pacheco-Vega is another inspiration, as he both shares reading notes and has heavily influenced my literature review workflow.

What’s the workflow?

  1. I find the source, as described through one of the various techniques in my literature review workflow, and pull it into Paperpile. If Paperpile can’t find a PDF on its own, then I track a PDF down or, if it’s only available physically, track down a physical copy.
  2. If it’s a PDF, I read it on my Android tablet with Xodo, making highlights and annotations using my Musemee Notier stylus. If it’s a physical text, I take notes on a dedicated COMPS spread in my Bullet Journal (I use a Moleskine large dotted black notebook and a Pilot G2 07).
  3. I create a new Google Doc.
  4. From Paperpile, I copy the citation and paste it into the Google Doc. I name the Google Doc Author Year Article Title. (These are all in a folder called “Synthetic Notes,” nested in a folder named after the literature area.)
  5. I type up a quick synthetic note based on my highlights and annotations.
  6. I use Paperpile to find a link to the source of the original.
  7. Then, I use a bookmarklet with the WordPress Post Kinds plugin to create a new bookmark on my website. (I use the bookmark post kind instead of a read, because I’m only doing an Abstract-Introduction-Conclusion extraction, not a full read of the piece.)
  8. I paste the abstract into the Summary box in the Response Properties box.
  9. I paste the contents of my Google Doc into the WordPress editor and use the “Clear formatting” button to clean up messy GDocs code.
  10. I give the post a tag related to the literature area (e.g., connected-learning) and select the category “Research Notebook,” then publish!

You may have noticed that this workflow leaves out Hypothes.is entirely. This is for a few reasons, but mostly just that right now, Hypothes.is would add several extra steps as I read on my tablet rather than on my laptop. I’d have to open up the PDF on my laptop, re-highlight and annotate using Hypothes.is tools, then use the Hypothes.is aggregator plugin to bring over those to my website. So for now, I’m doing it all manually on my site and not sharing anything there.