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All posts for the month August, 2012

Conflict between Academic and Public Historians

Published August 31, 2012 by Tabby

This is more of a blog for my colleagues or new professionals who are wondering why some historians do not like or sometimes even speak to others. This probably applies to anyone’s work place. Quickly: historians are classified as either academic historians (work as professors in universities or research and write several books) or public historians (work with the public, mostly in museums, preservation, etc.)

This post originates from public history books I have had to read for my public history minor. My boyfriend is currently taking the same class and asked me if academic historians are really assholes and as full of themselves as the authors stated. As I started to get a small twitch in my eye, I started to explain why there are those perceptions. Then it hit me: I have never read a published work in which an academic historian spends an entire book, chapter, or even a mention of a dislike of public historians. (If I am wrong, PLEASE send me the title of the book).

With the highly biased dislike, almost hatred, of academic historians, in the public history book, I think that a more complete description of the friction between the two is needed. As I tried to explain the differences to my righteous boyfriend, I created this post.

I will try to be as unbiased as humanly possible. I professionally “play both sides of the field.” I started my career and have two degrees in public history and still currently work in public history as well as an academic professor as well. I don’t think one is better than the other; both are needed and contribute to the field. Since public historians are the only ones I know of that actively post against academics, this blog is to kind of explain the tensions academic historians have since public historians have published their side. I don’t wish to offend anyone or try to sway that one side is better than the other. I’m just pointing out some of the thoughts.

-Public historians have published and spent chapters or at least a couple of paragraphs stating that academic historians are arrogant, pompous, assholes. As far as I know (I fully admit I could not know) academics have not published how they dislike public historians. Being attacked in publication probably doesn’t make academics happy. I’m sure public historians have received scorn or ridicule while in college, and that isn’t right, but I don’t know of anything actively published against them.

-Public historians often insinuate that academics are unimportant and spend all their time locked in ivy towers and do not contribute to the field. They mostly ignore that academics spend their time preparing lectures, researching and writing history. If it is mentioned, public historians state academics write only long, boring, useless monographs that no one reads but the author.

-Public historians often are clueless about citations and copyright restrictions, sometimes intentionally. Not all, I’m aware. Often when one is putting together a public guide or project, they will use the original research/writing of an academic historian without giving them any credit or citation in the article or in the bibliography. Yes, if used to educate others there is a “Fair Use” clause to copyright laws but that only goes so far and it is still professional to add a citation. This is called stealing and understandably makes people a little cranky after putting blood, sweat, tears, and Taco Bell into this work.

-Without academic historians, public workers would not have new interpretations or information about different aspects of history. Public historians are busy working with the public and do not have the time (or sometimes training) to research and write as much as academic historians.

-Public historians are trained by academics. Before they earn their professional experience from internships and public history courses, they are taught the field of history by academics. A little appreciation would be nice.

-Some public historians are not professionally trained. That is phasing out as more universities are building museum studies/public history departments. The ones who are not trained, however, are constantly butchering what academic (and professional public) historians are working hard to create and correct.

-Both public and academic historians are important and the work of each contributes to the other. Academic historians research, write, and teach history while public historians take that knowledge and training and disseminate it to the general public.

Historians of both types are horrendously underpaid and underappreciated. This factionalism does not help. How can people like us and think we are important if we don’t even like each other? I understand both have offended the other, but it doesn’t help anything. Until historians are appreciated by everyone, pay is raised to at least a comparative level of people who did not work near as hard to get to their job, politicians stop butchering history to use for their purpose to their campaigns, and all high school students know who the president is, we need to stick together. Those things will never happen, but all the more important to unify, to be stronger and better at what we do.

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Thirty Things to Do Before You’re Thirty…

Published August 23, 2012 by Tabby

Thirty Things to Do Before You’re Thirty-As of Today I Have Five Years

 This has been on a few articles and blogs. I first saw it on my friend Mary’s blog and thought it a good idea to kind of think of these things before you reach thirty. Being that yesterday my twenty-fifth birthday I thought I’d go through and see which ones I’ve accomplished and which ones to work on.

By age thirty, you should have…

 1. One old boyfriend you can imagine going back to and one who reminds you of how far you’ve come.

  Um, no definitely not one I could ever imagine going back to. I haven’t had a lot of boyfriends but I can definitely see growth in myself from an earlier relationship. I discovered I will not be pushed around, manipulated, or told what to do. I am my own person.

2. A decent piece of furniture no previously owned by anyone else in your family.

  I still need to work on this one. Most of my furniture is from my family still (but it’s nice!). I did buy a TV stand, a coffee table, and an L-shaped desk. But they are from Walmart so “decent” may not be the correct term.

 3. Something perfect to wear if the employer or man of your dreams wants to see you in an hour.

   Done, thanks to my stylish friends. A pencil skirt and form-fitting button up with matching cardigan. I would have a different outfit for the man but I’ve found that men love the sexy librarian look.

 4. A purse, a suitcase, and an umbrella you’re not ashamed to be seen carrying.

  Purse yes. Suitcase and umbrella…no, they are a little worse for wear.

 5. A youth you’re contented to move beyond.

   I’ve learned lessons from it I need so there is nothing more left to mine.

 6. A past juicy enough that you’re looking forward to retelling it in your old age.

   Hmm…not so much. I was pretty tame and boring. I have a few fun stories…like when I was a little tipsy and somehow turned a piece of cake into an apple.

 7. The realization that you are actually going to have an old age-and some money set aside to help fund it.

   I was already doing this at age eighteen but had to use some of that for survival. Also being in graduate school doesn’t leave anything leftover. But I will save, probably starting when I’m thirty.

 8. An email address, a voicemail, and a bank account-all of which nobody has access to but you.

 A professor I had once said every woman should control her finances and her fertility. I have all of the above and have no intention of sharing.

 9. A resume that is not even the slightest bit padded.

   Well, technically a c.v. since I’m in academia. I’m very happy with it to this point and I’ve worked very hard but I still get excited every time I get to add something new.

 10. One friend who always makes you laugh and one who lets you cry.

   Yep, always.

 11. A set of screwdrivers, cordless drill, and a black lace bra.

   I have screwdrivers, borrow the drill when needed, and own the bra. My grandpa bought me a toolkit first thing when I moved out. Most useful gift ever.

 12. Something ridiculously expensive that you bought for yourself, just because you deserve it.

   My car. After the divorce and watching my previous dreams fly out the window I bought myself the car I wanted, for me. It could also count as a need too. My 2000 Pontiac Grand Am hadn’t technically died yet but was held together with electrical and duct tape and chicken wire. I even carried a small sledgehammer-the electronics wouldn’t work unless I hit a specific spot on my dash. I almost miss the scared looks from other people in parking lots.

13. The belief that you deserve it

   Definitely. I had my first professional career job and had been through a lot.

14. A skin care regimen, an exercise routine, and a plan for dealing with those few other facets of life that don’t get better after thirty.

   I constantly battle to make my skin the best but I could work a little more on the exercise. I do yoga but need more cardio and weights. As for a plan? Nope, I’ll probably wake up one morning after age thirty and see everything that’s gone south all at once.

15. A solid start on a satisfying career, a satisfying relationship, and all those other facets of life that do get better.

   Two satisfying careers have begun, one healthy relationship, and the realization that things get better.

By thirty you should know…

1. How to fall in love without losing yourself.

   That’s not so much a problem anymore but it used to be. Now I have the opposite problem of holding myself back too much.

2. How you feel about having kids.

   I want kids no earlier than age twenty eight and no later than thirty two or thirty three. I really need to stop reading articles on genetics that can be passed on though.

3. How to quit a job, break up with a man, and confront a friend without ruining the friendship.

I can quit a job easily if mistreated or angry. But then I feel guilty if I’ve just gotten a better job and need to move on. I’ve never had to break up with a man, usually I wait until they do it (I know, that’s really bad). And I’m severely non-confrontational so that last one probably wouldn’t be an accomplishment either.

4. When to try harder and when to walk away.

I’m the absolute worst at this. I will work and try for way too long, even when I know it’s something that can’t be fixed.

5. How to kiss in a way that communicates perfectly what you would and wouldn’t like to happen next.

   I hope so…I wouldn’t be able to answer that one myself though.

6. The names of the secretary of state, your great grandmothers, and the best tailor in town.

   Yes, yes, and I can fix my own clothes.

7. How to live alone, even if you don’t like to.

   Are you kidding me? I loved living alone!! But maybe it’s because I was so busy I was never really home. I love living with my boyfriend now but still relish when I get the apartment to myself for a few hours.

8. Where to go when your soul needs soothing.

Yoga, yoga, and…yoga. It’s amazing how much this practice I’ve been doing for three years has made. Physically I’m correcting some issues, and emotionally as well. When I’m standing on my head I can’t think of anything else or I’ll drop myself.

9. That you can’t change the length of your legs, the width of your hips, or the nature of your parents.

   Yep, so true. I’ve learned to love my legs and hips and acknowledged that the latter are getting bigger with age, even without weight gain. I accepted my parents a long time ago and have had no problem since.

10. That your childhood may not have been perfect but it’s over.

For me, thank god my childhood is over. I think those that truly have had a horrid one, or part of one, can look back and wish they would have had a normal upbringing, but I’m always thankful I had the experiences I did. It made me a stronger and more responsible person, not because I learned to be but because I had to be.

11. What you would and wouldn’t do for money or love.

   This is an easy one for me…except for maybe when I get my tuition bill for the semester…just kidding! There’s a lot I wouldn’t do for money. Love, however, I think we all do things we shouldn’t because love is what we want most in life. It’s learning how to give yourself to someone without losing yourself in the process.

12. That nobody gets away with smoking, drinking, doing drugs, or not flossing for very long.

So true. I don’t like any of these and fear the dentist, so I floss regularly.

13. Who you can trust, who you can’t, and why you shouldn’t take it personally.

   This is a tough one. I’m not a trusting person anyway, and aspects of life have made that even more difficult. It makes me sad when I can see that I should trust someone and I just can’t. It takes me years, even when the person doesn’t deserve my withholding. I used to take it personally if I wasn’t trusted, but then I always think of how hard it is for me to trust and that I have no right to question anyone else.

14. Not to apologize for something that isn’t your fault.

   I’m really, really bad at this one. Since I was a child, I’d sometimes apologize for things that wasn’t my fault so other people would stop fighting. I saw apologies as a quick way to diffuse tense situations. But that’s not what an apology is supposed to be. At other times, I don’t want to apologize because I’m stubborn and am sorry that I have upset someone but still stand by what I said/did. It’s all about finding the middle ground.  

15. Why they say life begins at thirty.

   Because it takes that long to find yourself and learn to love yourself. That’s part of the journey of life. I can’t wait.

No One Goes A’Courting Anymore: Courtship Aggression, Violence, and the Death of Romance in Our Generation’s Search for a Mate

Published August 5, 2012 by Tabby

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Don’t worry, this won’t be a blog about where has Prince Charming gone, whining about the shock that life isn’t exactly like romance movies. This is a blog written by a woman who would rather watch alien movies than “chick flicks” because aliens are more believable for me. I’m also not a complete cynic. I do believe in love, just that it’s never as clean and perfect as the movies make it seem. This is about living as a twenty-something at a time when the eras of courting have been forgotten. Instead, we’ve regressed a few evolutionary steps to the cavemen times. In addition to my observations of the disturbing, but admittedly amusing, quest for a mate, I’ve also noticed the aggression and violence that has accompanied it, which can’t all be blamed on this caveman era.

In times before (but after the idea of love in marriage), to find a potential relationship, men would ask for a lady’s company and spend initial time just talking (under the supervision of parents, historically). After both had become comfortable with the other, they would then progress the relationship, which if positive would often result in marriage.

Next, instead of visiting within the confines and supervision of a parent’s home, people went on dates. These dates would involve going to the movies, having dinner, or perhaps doing a fun activity together like hiking or miniature golf. After however many dates, the relationship would progress in seriousness, resulting in breakups to find better-suited people or marriage.

Today that has gone. Maybe not for everyone, I’m sure there are still twenty-somethings that go on dates as explained previously. However, I’ve noticed two patterns in relationships.

First is a variation of the before-mentioned dating. Instead of going to movies, dinner, etc. to get to know each other better before progressing the relationship, couples will spend their first or second date “hanging out.” This entails meeting at a local bar/pub, often with friends. It serves as a casual gathering, with the couple interacting with all of the attendees instead of really getting to know each other personally. Interaction is even further limited by the loud music preventing any conversation. Talking mostly involves a lot of smiling and nodding, hoping you’re reading the other person’s lips correctly. After one or two “hangouts” and/or shots of tequila, the couple’s interactions are then often limited to hanging out and having sex. The relationship can either progress, become “friends with benefits,” or become serious with eventual cohabitation and maybe moving even further later.

Second is the greatest tragedy, which I’m going to call “club hookups.” Where do twenty-somethings have the opportunity to meet like-aged people to date? Work relationships are almost always a bad idea and school is always the best “pond” to fish out of either. So you go out, to have a good time and maybe to meet someone. But it isn’t about really finding someone to speak with or get to know. It’s about which person to pick out of a crowd, like a lion picks out a zebra from the herd, that you can grind and rub yourself on and hopefully ply with enough liquor to make her come home with you (see my blog on “Peacocking” for further fun on male clubbing activities). This involves either a one-night “hook-up” or rarely an actual relationship that may eventually settle into dating. Not my cup of tea.

Now, I mentioned violence in this new hunt for relationships, remember? It occurs in the second form of dating. Lately, when at the clubs/bars (and various types, not just the rough ones), I’ve noticed how aggressive and sometimes abusive men can get with women they are trying to “court.” Gone are the days of no-contact until a full exclusive relationship, or the exciting first kiss outside your door at the end of the date. Now when women are dancing, men will not settle with dancing next to them. Instead they creepily stare at them for a minimum of five minutes, then grab their hips or waists (sometimes so hard they bruise), and force-hump on the woman, often with wondering hands. It takes strategic dance moves, good friends, a strategically aimed elbow, or an act of Congress to get away sometimes.

I know some of you may be thinking I’m over exaggerating, that this doesn’t really happen. So I will give you a personal honest account of one of my nights out. A few weeks ago, my friends and I decided to have a girl’s night out. We got dressed up and went to a new, upscale nightclub. Since we were all in committed relationships, we honestly just wanted to dance and have fun with each other. (Yes, some girls really go to clubs just to dance). As we are dancing in a circle, I notice that a guy is starting at me, never breaking eye contact. I try to ignore him, hoping that would signal that I was not interested. If only I was that lucky. He comes over to dance. I think if he just wanted to dance next to me, that was no big deal. However, he grabs my hips, so hard I can feel each individual fingertip bruising my skin, and humping me with such force I am almost falling forward. My first reaction was panicked and I considered elbowing him in the face. But my friend saw and rescued me and we went to dance on a raised portion of the dance floor. The guy takes my leaving as the greatest slight. His friend comes up to the raised floor where I was and sits a finished drink (in a glass) on the side. Then he starts slowly pushing the glass towards me. I realize that he is trying to get the glass under my foot so that I would step on it. As I watch him I’m stunned, thinking that if I step on it, that’s glass and that could seriously injure me. I made sure not to put that foot down. In a spark of temper I kicked the glass into the back of the man’s head.

Convinced now? When I later told me boyfriend about that event, which is one of the reasons I’m on a hiatus from the nightlife, he said it happened because I was a pretty person. While I’m flattered, I think that is similar to the excuse that if a woman is raped it is because she was dressed provocatively and therefore “wanted it.” Pretty extreme example, I know. Regardless of appearance or dress, a woman should never be subjected to that. Every time I have gone out in the past year I have had to physically defend myself, and that’s seen as normal. This is not right. What if my dad, mom, and other relatives and friends had never taught me to fight? What if I had not been a kickboxer in college? It’s not like I’m walking down a dark alley looking for trouble. I’m in very public places with lots of people and nothing is done because this is seen as normal behavior.

Men aren’t the only ones to blame, women are guilty as well. Some encourage this behavior by going home with them and supporting these people. In addition, instead of supporting a fellow assaulted female, they berate her for whatever physical flaw and strive to take her place with the abuser. This is a time to stand together and raise our standards.

I sometimes wonder if there is a relationship between the decline of courtship and dating, aggression in clubs, and the impersonal aspect of beginning a relationship with the rise of domestic violence and high divorce rates.

Another example of the regression of relationships is the language we use. We no longer say dates, instead it’s just hanging out. We don’t have relationships or boy/girlfriends, we are just “talking.” We don’t discreetly say making love, instead it’s a blaring…well, you know.

I’m not asking for relationships to be just like romance movies. (Although I would love a head injury where I woke up to Channing Tatum as my husband, but what girl wouldn’t?) But I would like dating a little more personable. I understand that there are plenty of women out there, but get to know me like I’m an individual person and maybe you’ll understand more of who a person is and whether they are compatible or not, as well as form more meaningful relationships. And for god’s sake, stop humping people on the dance floor.

Top Ten Tips to End Rape

Published August 5, 2012 by Tabby

I’m not one usually for overtly “feminist” things, but rape and the associated stigma is bit of a sore spot for me.

I love this graphic seen on atolemdro’s blog. It’s kind of a cheeky reply to recent ads that it’s women’s fault that they’re raped and it’s their responsibility to prevent rape but not drinking too much or dressing too provocatively.

It amazes me that there are still people, in 2012, that honestly believe it’s women’s fault they are raped instead of the rapist. They use similar excuses as rapists to do place blame elsewhere, “She wanted it because she dressed like that,” “She was alone so she was looking for someone,” “She was so hot and that’s her fault,” etc. There are worse ones but I don’t wish to be graphic or give them any credit. And there’s still a stigma on victims of rape. If someone is shot in a home invasion/burglary, there is no stigma and they are seen as a random unfortunate victim. Understandable. But if someone is raped, the questions begin…did she lead them on? Is she a “loose” person and had it coming?” Inexcusable.

I’m not sure as to what kind of solution to offer, only that this outlook and stigma has to stop. Now.

atolemdro

puts the onus more where it belongs (via sil lai).

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From Homeless to Harvard: What It Can Mean to You and I

Published August 3, 2012 by Tabby

The movie From Homeless to Harvard is Liz Murray’s story, her journey, from drug addicted parents, group homes, to school, and eventually, Harvard. Everyone has a journey to college or wherever they go in life. Murray’s is an extreme example of what hard work and iron will can accomplish regardless of environment. (This gives away some details of the movie, but due to the title, I can’t really completely call spoiler alert).

One message I see through her story is that your environment does not have to make you. YOU make you, you make your own decisions, and you get yourself wherever in life through fight, work, stubbornness, and sometimes sheer luck. Murray’s parents were drug addicted, spending their welfare checks on heroin while her and her sister starved. Yet even after becoming homeless at age fifteen and stealing food (and self help books) to survive, she never did drugs. She never fell into that never ending cycle of abuse and dependency. Sure, I can see how if that’s what you see when you grow up, you may be more likely to repeat those actions. But it doesn’t automatically mean you have to. It is YOUR choice. As a child of a parent with an addiction, I almost become livid when young adult addicts, murderers, domestic abusers, etc. say none of their actions are really their fault because their parents weren’t the best role models. You still made the choices. It’s not about oh poor me, give me everything. It’s about being able to be proud of how far you’ve come. Break the cycle, be the change.

Murray’s story also tells of the power of encouragement and how the fact that someone cares enough to push you can mean the world to you and help you keep going. When she was a little girl there was an older lady, who was as poor as her family, who would dig in the dumpster to give Murray tossed out encyclopedias and books to read. The lady would tell her that she better go to school if she didn’t want to be an idiot. Whether it be that one special relative, an attentive teacher, or encouraging friend, that person who gave you the initial push to pursue your goals serves as probably one of the best gifts in life. I was so lucky to have several of these supportive people. In elementary and high school, I had those teachers who used to give me harder and different work than my classmates, offered to send me to science camp to get me away from my home life, filled out college scholarships for me, and gave me the approval and encouragement I so desperately craved. In college, it continued with supportive professors who took the time to praise my work, had me read my essay test answers aloud to the rest of the class, informed me of scholarships, and spoke brutally honest regarding my work. While much of this sounds like I’m a little narcissistic and an academic snob, it wasn’t about that at all. I started college on my eighteenth birthday and as an insecure, shy, timid, worried girl, I had no sense of self, nor what I was capable of. That encouragement gave me the first inkling that maybe I could do something great. Like in Murray’s story, after encouragement from her teacher she began to think of bigger, grander  goals, asking herself, “what if I worked harder?”

Murray wasn’t always the model student. She rarely showed up to school, often because she took care of her ailing mother and because she didn’t know how to learn in a classroom setting. She never really thought of school, telling her terminally ill mother that she’d go back to school when she got better. But then her mother dies, and Murray calls it the slap in the face. She talks about how she always waited for her mother to get better so she could take care of her, like a real mother-daughter relationship. But instead she was always taking care of her mother, who was like her baby. After her mother dies, her teacher tells her “now it’s time to take care of yourself.”

Everyone has a reason, that one driving force, for them to go to and graduate from college. Whether it be that you truly love learning, don’t want to work in retail/food service jobs, or you know the harsh reality of a non-educated life (for some), always hold on to that reason. That reason will be the key to your dedication. When you’re tired from working multiple jobs to pay your tuition, you’ve pulled three all-nighters, or you’re just emotionally drained, remember your main reason for your goals, for your dreams. If that thought isn’t enough to keep you going then it isn’t strong enough and you need to do some intense soul-searching to find the real reason to keep going.

I had a professor in my first or second year of college, after realizing that I hadn’t taken the traditional route to college, said it was probably an interesting story of how I had gotten there. I had never thought about it before. I knew my previous life experiences were probably different from my classmates, after hearing them speak all semester but I never thought of my journey to college as “work.” I was so excited to be there, happy and eager. Now that I’m a professor, it astounds me to hear how much people not only hate being in school, but they hate physically being in a learning environment. It makes me so thankful that I had a little bit of a rougher journey so that I can better appreciate the opportunities and experiences I have had. I’m sometimes told that I make things in my life harder than they need to be. After thinking a bit, I replied that if anything is easy, it’s not worth it. After Murray’s teacher learns of her overload of courses he says, “You’re going to kill yourself.” She replies, “No, I’m gonna live.”

There are several messages that can be learned from Liz Murray’s story in Homeless to Harvard (which is based on a real person with those real experiences). Overall, it serves as an example of taking control of your life, working as hard as inhumanly possible to achieve your goals, and appreciating the journey along the way.

“I knew at that moment I could make excuses for the rest of my life. Or I could push myself and make myself good.”

Hello new blog!

Published August 2, 2012 by Tabby

A new road ahead.

I’ve decided to start a new blog and work really hard to keep it updated with my latest odd observations. I’m in a different place in my life and as a student, editor, and professor (with a social life still!) I have new perspectives to ponder.

For the first post I will just add what I wrote a while ago to explain why anything introspective I write is important. And not just what I write, but others as well. Everyone has a message.

“So I am not famous. I’ve never done drugs, been an alcoholic, or even killed anyone. To the general public, that makes me unworthy of telling my story. My story is now somehow less important than if I had wasted the majority of my life. Regardless of my less-than-rockstar status, my life still has meaning and a message that other people could learn from. It could even help someone.
In history people study only those famous extraordinary people, like presidents, kings, or robber baron villains. Outside of these famous or infamous characters, it seems that common people did not exist. And if it is mentioned that they existed, they didn’t really live. But the live. And so do I.”

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