Ga Ga (No, not the Lady)

I’ve been binge-watching “Casual” while tidying up the house this morning. A cover of Queen’s Radio Ga Ga cut into a scene and brought a flash of memory. Such was the pull of it, I had to pause and go in search of an original version.

Ah, Freddie.  I didn’t experience his voice until the mid-80’s. My musical memories of the time? Hiding (yes, hiding) to listen to this kind of music, as it was verboten in our world. It was the music of the devil (which devil, I never quite understood). I wonder if my brother remembers how we’d listen quietly in his basement bedroom… where concrete walls met slabs of wood cut from our property and milled through our father’s small sawmill. I wonder if his memories come in flashes like mine… recalling the boom-box and our attempts to capture our favorite songs as they played on the radio… fingers poised on the PAUSE and RECORD buttons hoping to catch the entire song without the pesky voice of Casey Kasem introducing it or a commercial following it.

I talk in class about Freddie Mercury and his death – which came too soon and was far too horrible. We talk about the constraints that organized religion places on us, who we love, and how. I am struck this morning – cue a bit of existential crisis – about how much has changed in my lifetime and yet, how very little is truly different.

I watch technology develop and spread exponentially and am thrilled by it.  This morning, when I wish to hear Freddie Mercury’s voice? A few keystrokes are all that separate me from a video of his live performance more than thirty years ago. The days of mix tapes have given way to downloading.

cacaWe can edit music and videos on our handheld phones to produce studio-worthy  masterpieces of sight and sound.  It is a good time to be a consumer of art – even if we must wade through so much trash to find it.  The story goes that term “Radio GaGa” was inspired by Roger Taylor‘s child who referred to a song as “ca-ca” once. Oh, there’s a fair amount of ca-ca out there still 😉

Changes. Lots of changes… and yet… so much remains the same.

I watch as my students struggle with the same dilemmas I faced with my brother all those years ago. They – like us – want to live their own life. They have parents and professors, peers and pastors who box and bind them (that’s far too much alliteration for a Saturday morning, sorry ’bout that).  Youth always struggles with societal expectations as it sheds skin after skin in awkward growth to adulthood.

Some of us choose to hide in the basement listening to the devil’s music (or playing D&D… such rebels, we were).

Some of us hide who we are for fear of real and imagined consequences.

Some of us are far more resolute much earlier. We stake our claim to life -unapologetically- consequences be damned.

These things remain the same: We are bred and trained to be someONE by tribes and buffalo rdfamilies not of our choosing. We do not choose which society we are born into or when. We’re tossed dead-center like a bulls-eye into a real-life Bronfenbrenner diagram before we even know what an ecological system is.

We grow or stagnate. We agree or disagree. We capitulate or fight. We may compromise or we may realize that some compromises are too soul-crushing to even consider. Some of us spend far too much time looking at the road away from home before we dare to pack our bags to search for another. I did… this road, in fact.

I miss mix tapes. Freddie mourned the death of radio. My father clung to record albums. My great-grandparents likely groused about people listening to music on machines rather than gathering around actual music instruments to create it.  What will those born today mourn? Who knows.  It is the familiar that we miss… regardless of its form du jour .  My students will likely never understand why I wish to hold a book with paper pages… and their children will likely never quite get it when they grow nostalgic for the small, glowing screens of their cell phones.

The music remains… the passion remains. The hunger to create and desire to share that which we create? That remains. We use words and music and art to share all that is human… the good, bad, and ugly.  We love – as we live – sometimes quietly in dark rooms… other times fiercely… out loud… in the brightest light of day.

There is no real point in all of this,
I suppose,
except to say:
I see you.

I see your passion for life and your struggle to best live that life. I watch – with fascination and delight – some of the stuff you do – and the ways in which you do it.  I wince as you make some of the same mistakes I made. I wish there was an easier way to learn, but we’ve all been there, done that. You’ll make beautiful brush-strokes in life and you’ll scrap some canvases to start anew.  I see myself in students, sure, but often I see you behaving in ways so unlike mine at your age. I envy your bold dance moves across life’s stage.

We share – this place and this time – with wonderful soundtracks playing across the messy business of life and learning.  I give you Freddie and you share your favorite artists with me. I see you. I hear you.


Some of the wonderful music students have shared with me recently:



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All Students (5440, 3440, 2367)

As not all Carmen courses are visible, I wanted to post here to clarify deadlines for our first assignments.

NO ASSIGNMENTS are due this weekend. While I had planned to collect some (mentioned in class) I want to be certain everyone has a fair amount of time. To that end, NONE of you will have assignments due until next week.

Remember to get your books! Then, go out and enjoy the weather as you can. You will have plenty of work in the weeks ahead.

BOOKS NEEDED (as mentioned in class)

5440: NO textbook to buy. All readings provided to students electronically.

3440: One textbook is required (see post about the two editions from which you may choose)

2367: Second Shift by Arlie Hochschild (link to book on Amazon, available from numerous other outlets.

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3440 Students (Textbook Options)

We (HDFS) use the Discovering Human Sexuality textbook by Levay-Baldwin-Baldwin.

We have been using the 3rd Edition and are moving to the 4th Edition.

In an attempt to ease the pain associated with new editions (and their price tag), I am permitting my AUTUMN 2018 students to use the 3rd OR 4th Edition.

I struggled with this decision. It will complicate my life somewhat. Dr. Miller has moved to the 4th edition and I will next semester, but I’m going to do my best to allow those who’ve managed to get a used text the opportunity to use it.

To that end – I’ll be rearranging some quizzes because SOME material IS different. The majority of it is not, and I do not believe your experience in my course will suffer as a result.

To avoid any confusion, I’m placing a link to the amazon version of each edition. This is NOT to say you should purchase them from Amazon! It’s just a good way to provide info on both.

We’ll speak about this in class, but here’s the info (and links) for both.

51oxYIew-TL._SX412_BO1,204,203,200_3rd Edition: The Black Book

ISBN-13: 978-1605352756

ISBN-10: 1605352756

51Q75+syS5L._SX412_BO1,204,203,200_4th Edition: The White Book

ISBN-13: 978-1605356693

ISBN-10: 1605356697

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It’s Autumn!

I can’t believe the summer is gone – well, I still have veggies growing so it’s summer at my house until the last squash is picked 🙂

The corn is finished, though. Is that not sad? 39735847_2226432824097489_7027686198525034496_n

I’m looking forward to a wild busy productive… yes… PRODUCTIVE fall semester.

I’ll be teaching one section of HDFS 5440, one section of HDFS 3440, and two sections of HDFS 2367. Information about the courses I teach is available via page link above or by clicking here. I’ll be adding a page soon to share information about current/upcoming research for those who are interested.

I’ll be a faculty mentor in OSU STEP as well. It will be a very productive semester, indeed.

For those who are curious, I answer some of students’ most frequently asked personal questions on a page devoted to that silliness. Some are not so silly, I suppose.

I have silly dogs, though.

java the pibbleuppity puppity noodle

Let’s get going then, shall we?

See you in class.


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Clara’s Quilts

One of my fond childhood memories – all twisted up in the sad bits – is of sleeping in the same room my mother slept in when she was a child. At the time, of course, I had no concept that it was special or somewhat of a legacy experience. While the mattresses changed over time, here I was in the same iron bed frame that surrounded my own mom.

At the time, I also didn’t realize that the experiences I was having were so vastly different from those of my cohort. Certainly I realized we were poor and I felt the uneasy shame of secrets about just how poor we were… stories for another day… because this is about good bits.

The bedroom was one of two, flanking a dangerously steep staircase on the second floor of a classic Sears Roebuck home. People would order these homes from a catalog and put them together like enormous puzzles. This home was originally four rooms in all. Two rooms downstairs and two up, with a porch wrapping around two sides of the house.

Grandma’s room was across the “hall” which was, in fact, nothing more than a stepped-down landing that joined the doorways of the room. Under her double bed lived a white enameled chamber pot with a red stripe running around the edge of the lid. That was one of my jobs, as a very young child, to carry that pot down the steep stairs, out through the add-on kitchen and around the back of the house down a path to the outhouse to empty it. I lived in fear of spilling its contents on the journey.

In the bedroom I shared with my brother across from grandma’s room were two matching beds. Decades before we slept there, my mother and her sisters slept in one and her brothers all slept in the other. They must have been practically stacked like cordwood… four to six children per bed. My bed had a high small window above it, which was open a great deal of the year. Grandma believed that fresh air was important, so when it was far too chilly for comfort, that window would still be open and grandma would pile the quilts on our bodies… one atop another atop another. Now, they sell weighted blankets to give folks this sensation. It’s the soft weight… heavy enough that movement seems difficult… thick enough that you feel safe… and you stayed. You stayed until you were awakened by your bladder or the smell of breakfast. You prayed for the latter.

There are so many stories in that space and time…. the fear of the hoot owl outside, the loneliness and lack of intellectual stimulation, the raised voices and tensions of poverty, the tired adults, the neglected children, the survival mode we all found ourselves in…  but there were moments of utter indulgence as well. I remember sucking on slivers of honeycomb pulled fresh from my aunt’s hive. There was fishing as the sun rose and watching my grandfather cook our catch in a cast iron skillet over open flame by the lake. I chomped on carrots straight from the ground and washed them down with cold creek water from a mason jar. I recall hiding in the green bean tee-pee trellises, long after we’d finished the chore of picking beans, and whispering secrets to my brother in the sun dapples there. I miss slabs of homemade bread topped with goat milk butter. I can almost hear the sounds of that place… the cacophony of clucking chickens, the hooves of baby goats prancing on dry dirt, the splashing of the creek where it broadened and then narrowed to a bit of falls. I long for the suspension of time that I’ve felt in only one other place since.

Today, though, it is the quilts that bring my memory to focus on the homestead. I miss the quilts. There is a perfect imperfection to quilts, regardless of how tight and careful the stitch. After washings and use, the different squares wear in different ways, batting puckers here and there, and the whole lot softens in a wonderful way. There is no duplicating that. No high-priced facsimile found in any branded shop will ever compare to a quilt that was patched together by candle or kerosene light in the stillness of night while children slept nearby.

I miss their substance. I long for that soft drowning… being absolutely engulfed in mismatched quilts pulled from the cupboard nearby. I do not miss Grandma at all. I lived in fear of her most of the time, but I understand her more with each passing day. I do not miss the house and in the years after her death, it was purchased and renovated so as to make it practically unrecognizable anyhow. Those things are all gone. The outhouse gave way to indoor plumbing while we still lived there. There were no more baths in the copper tub in the front room after that, no more mad-dashes by moonlight to the outhouse, no more hauling water by hand for grandma. I wonder how many times she pumped that handle while raising thirteen children in that farmhouse.

These things are all gone. These ways are all gone, but today I wax nostalgic for the quilts. I’m going to buy some old quilts. I don’t want to make a new one… I want the well-worn quilts of my memory. I want the imperfections. I don’t want the stains, though. I smile.  So, I’ve researched overdying processes. I want to find the lost quilts, the unloved and misused quilts. I want to gather a stack together. I’ll play around with dying them to mask unwanted stains while allowing patterns to remain. I find myself wondering what grandma would make of such an idea.

I think of the time women spent laying out scraps to make the prettiest patterns possible. Is it sacrilege, perhaps, to consider stripping them of color or dying over their hues? Ah, but then I think… grandma and her ilk were making due with what they had. They were taking scraps from children’s clothes that were beyond mending, pretty church frocks that had worn through, colorful sheets torn in washing… they were stitching together memories and doing it in as pretty a way as possible in what must have seemed like bleak circumstances at best.  When we were tucked in under those quilts, we were nestled in cotton and history and suffering and exhaustion and resilience and creativity… all patched together in pinwheel patterns or crisp rows of colorful squares.

So, I suspect that if grandma had found a quilt that was stained, she would have taken to it with a bar of fells naptha soap and lots of elbow grease. If it was beyond help, she would have dyed the damn quilt top… or simply flipped the quilt over and gone on to deal with more pressing issues like homesteading to feed her brood.

None of Grandma Clara’s quilts remain, to my knowledge, at least not in the hands of my family. My other grandmother did pass down a quilt and the last time I saw it, it hung over a window in my father’s house. Of all the things in that house, I think that is the only thing I pine for. To be wrapped up in the work of a woman I never met… Grandma Marie… that would be wonderful indeed. I suspect I would not dare to dye her quilt… I’d take to it with needle and thread and mend it religiously until it found its way to my daughter’s hands.

The quilts, I suppose, are a metaphor for the sorting and culling I’m doing in my life and of my memories. I am pulling out the scraps, weighing their value and usefulness… I’m playing around with their placement to see if patterns emerge… I am considering form and substance… deciding there is room and reason for both. I’m stitching things together in a way that suits my life in the here and the now. I am keeping what is good, discarding scraps that are of no use, and trying my best to find the luxury and comfort in perfect imperfection. I’m quilting in my own way, Clara.

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Speakers: SEXUALITY and BODY POSITIVITY with The Big Girl Burlesque (March 29, 2018 @ 11:10 am)


Representatives from The Big Girl Burlesque will be visiting my HDFS 5440 classroom on The Ohio State University Main Campus (Townshend Hall, Room 247) on Thursday, March 29th from from 11:10 am  to 12:30 pm.

If you are in another instructor’s 5440 or you’ve taken it with me previously… YES, you may come. But it’s standing room only, so you may need to grab a square of carpet. If you wish to bring a friend? The same thing applies. Make certain they are adults and tell them that chairs aren’t part of the bargain. Note: guests should not ask questions of speakers unless “paying” students have exhausted all of their inquiries.


The Big Girl Burlesque is a troupe of like-minded women who believe that size has nothing to do with sexy! They own their curves and love their bodies. They invite you to come see what a body positive burlesque experience can be!  Empowered and exciting, the troupe invites you to come out to see them at their monthly shows.

For more info on where you can find them, follow the Big Girls on Facebook at
Twitter: Big_Girl_BurlyQ


Psst… They have an upcoming show (April 6th, 2018) at Club Voodoos here in Columbus




In addition to normal class readings that prepare students for topics on sexuality and how people express it, students were asked to read David Owen’s “Neo-Burlesque and the Resurgence of Roller Derby: Empowerment, Play, and Community.”

Abstract (from author): In both neo-burlesque and roller derby, there is a two-way communication between the audience (both male and female) and the performers/athletes that celebrates what the women (and sometimes men) on stage and on the track are doing. Using interviews with several burlesque performers and derby players, I demonstrate that there is a sense of community at both events between performers and audience, and that the art form of burlesque is not about monetary gain or exclusively for the pleasure of men. The burlesque performer is continually in communication with the audience through eye contact, performer-initiated physical contact, and invited audible response. I draw a parallel to roller derby as another outlet for women to express themselves outside of a traditional patriarchal frame for an audience of both women and men, paying particular attention to the acceptance of a wide range of body types, the creation of community, and a celebration of strength and skill not usually associated with women.


Students are encouraged to visit Leonard (Yes, Spock!) Nimoy’s FULL BODY PROJECT  featuring full bodied models in a variety of clothed and naked poses.


Leonard Nimoy (From the Full Body Project)

Many of the images I’ve used for the BGB in the past (and some currently as well) were captured by the talented lens of Lightning Images.

Supplemental Videos/Links:

A more common media portrayal of burlesque (Cher’s Welcome to Burlesque from the film: Burlesque)

Due to their age, the following videos are all in the public domain and are available at ARCHIVE.ORG

A vintage video clip from the 1930’s featuring Sally Rand:

Undated, The performer known as Kalantan:

A 1940’s era burlesque performer:



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Speakers: BondageNexus & Juniper (March 20, 2019)

BondageNexus and Juniper will visit my HDFS 5440 classroom on The Ohio State University Main Campus (Townshend Hall, Room 247) Today (March 20th) from from 11:10 am  to 12:30 pm. to discuss Bondage and stereotypes surrounding it.

After a brief introduction, Bondage Nexus and Juniper will demonstrate some basic ties and discuss suspension. No sex acts will take place during this class (of course) but students do have the option of sitting out the class (and completing a makeup assignment) if they believe it will be triggering. There will be an informative Question&Answer period for students throughout and following the demonstration.

If you wish to bring a friend, make certain to tell them that chairs are not part of the bargain. There are just enough chairs for students enrolled in the class. All others should be prepared to grab a comfortable (?) spot on the floor.

Bondage Nexus

BondageNexus has enjoyed incorporating rope bondage into his sex life since puberty. In the last ten years he has done bondage in the public kink scene mostly as an outreach to folks who are new to kink in hopes that they can be more comfortable in their love of bondage. If you’ve been to Trauma here in Columbus, you may have already caught one of his performances.

Information about CORG (The Central Ohio Rope Group) is available online.

Examples of a past performance at TRAUMA can be found online as well.


Juniper is quite comfortable on the submissive side of “the slash” who lived out fantasies via fiction for years. At a Trauma party in Columbus, Ohio, she had an opportunity to be tied-up properly by an expert and found the experience amazing.  She joins our class as a “demo bottom” or “rope bunny” for Bondage Nexus. This is her first visit.


This panel is offered to students along with academic readings on the topic (provided by their professor on Carmen) and classroom discussion.

Special attention will be given to:

  • An excerpt from Steve Lenius’ Life, Leather, and the Pursuit of Happiness (Chapter 39, Bondage: the difference between black and gray)
  • Sarah Stevens (2014) Rope Sluts, and Bottoms, and Subs, Oh My: 50 Shades of Grey and the Shifting Discourse on Female Submission in Feminist Kink Porn, The Communication Review, 17:3, 256-268,DOI: 10.1080/10714421.2014.930602   
    Abstract: To date, feminists have conflated (and continue to conflate) historical understandings of bondage, discipline, dominance and submission, and sadomasochism (BDSM) as pathological and representations of BDSM in literature and popular media with the lived experiences of feminist BDSM practitioners. Feminist BDSM practitioner Madison Young’s pornographic film 50 Shades of Dylan Ryan (2012) takes the recent resurgence of the ongoing debate on women, submission, and popular literature as a starting point for reconsideration and possibility. By adapting the discourse surrounding 50 Shades of Grey, Young’s pornographic film points to the ways in which feminism also contributes to that which makes pleasure possible. Young’s film reimagines the dualities that have traditionally dominated feminist cultural critique through concepts the author calls “mediated authenticity” and “formal simultaneity.” Beginning with a brief, rigorous examination of the 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon, this article analyzes Madison Young’s 50 Shades of Dylan Ryan and seeks to provide a critical intervention in feminist studies of pornography and popular culture

Pink’s “Try” has been chosen for this class meeting’s music:


Image: White Gauze 1984 – Robert Mapplethorpe

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“Breathe… then Push”

17098206_10103551035278631_5081244099750246530_n-1 (1)My dear friend, Bashka, shared this link with me today on facebook. It is a video drenched in pain and yet… full of hope. I share it here with students (and visitors) in hopes that it will remind all of us of the importance and urgency of life.  Breathe then Labor then Push, indeed.


<p><a href=”″>Breathe and push Sikh-American civil rights advocate Valarie Kaur s plea to …</a> from <a href=”″>St. Ignatius Church -Baltimore</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

If you visit the video through vimeo, you can actually download it as well.

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Speaker: Tara McKenzie Allison on February 20, 2018 @ 11:10 am


Photo by Ralph Orr @  Summit on 16th United Methodist Church during The Transgender Military Recognition Night, Columbus, OH, 8/12/2017

Tara McKenzie Allison will visit my HDFS 5440 classroom on The Ohio State University Main Campus (Townshend Hall, Room 247 ) today from 11:10 am  to 12:30 pm.

Tara is a local attorney who graciously offers her time to my students. Active in the local LGBT community, Tara is a tireless activist supporting equal rights for all people. Her presentation is followed by an informative Question&Answer period. Previous students have described her visit as life changing… and that echoes my sentiments.  She is amazing.

More about Tara:  In 1987, Tara received her undergraduate degree in Marine Engineering, from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis. Following graduation, she served as a Commissioned Officer in the US Navy. After being honorably discharged, Tara worked as a nuclear engineer for over a decade. She is a licensed Professional Engineer. In 1999, she partially completed a MBA degree, at the College of William and Mary, before relocating to Columbus. In 2005, Tara graduated from Capital University Law School, cum laude, passed the Ohio Bar Exam, and was admitted to the Ohio Bar. Following graduation from law school, she has served as General Counsel / Contracts Manager for a mid-sized, construction-industry company, in Lexington, KY. In 2008, she relocated back to Columbus, in order to start her own law practice. She is a member of the Columbus Bar Association and is admitted to practice before the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. She practices primarily in the areas of domestic/family law, Lesbian, Gay, Bi, and Transgender law, contract law, construction law, and civil litigation. Tara is an active public speaker on LGBT-related issues; she has spoken numerous times at The Ohio State University, The Ohio State University Law School, Capital University Law School, Dennison University, Ohio Northern University, Transylvania University, Columbus Alternative High School, the King Avenue United Methodist Church in Columbus, Ohio, and the LGBT Subcommittee of the Columbus Bar Association. She has been a presenter at the TransOhio Annual Transgender and Ally Symposium (2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011). She has also spoken on LGBT issues at the 2010 Ohio Diversity and Leadership Conference, the 2011 Equality Ohio CAUSE Conference at Columbus State Community College, before the Columbus Community Relations Commission, and the Columbus Police Academy.

NOTE: Please ignore any ads that may appear below. They are not endorsed by me and simply the “cost of doing business” on wordpress under my current license.

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NO HDFS 3440 or HDFS 2367 today (2/7/18)

I am posting to class announcement boards, sending a message via email, and posting to website:

We finally got the official “Yes, OSU Columbus Campus is Open” message and I’m left to make a choice for my classes. While OSU’s decision is based on overall conditions and I realize many students live on campus and aren’t worried about driving, many of us do drive to campus.

I am canceling two classes because the Sheriff’s Office has requested that driving be limited to “absolutely necessary” travel (level 2) in Franklin County and the surrounding areas are dangerous as well.  All area schools are closed as well as many daycare centers, etc.

My first class starts while the snow is still accumulating AND my second class is a Peer Review day which requires good attendance numbers to be successful. This factors into my decision as well.

I’ve been watching the news, and accident reports. The most recent closing of parts of 315 by Lane/Medical Center was the final straw for me.  I don’t like to cancel class because it means adjusting  schedules, but I’m more concerned with the safety of my students and also aware that some of you are parents with no childcare as a result of closings.

Be safe.  I’ll see some of you tomorrow and the rest on Monday.

Care to keep up with news?

OSU Emergency TWITTER:

At bottom of post, please see the OSU Notification that classes are not being canceled by OSU today.

NOTE: I am not (NOT!) advocating for your absence in any scheduled classes. I can only manage my own. OSU IS OPEN in Columbus, Ohio!

BE SAFE! I will update Carmen with adjusted information.



The Ohio State University Columbus campus will remain OPEN today (2/7/18). Please use caution while traveling.

Franklin County has declared a Level 2 Snow Emergency(link is external). The City of Columbus and State of Ohio are prioritizing highly traveled routes. While City of Columbus roads near the university remain snow covered, university crews continue to clear campus roads. Ohio State Facilities Operations and Development crews have been hard at work since 2:30 a.m. to prepare roadways and sidewalks while CampusParc clears parking lots.

The university weighs many factors, including the safety of those driving and walking to (or on) campus. We recommend that everyone dress appropriately for the weather and use caution while traveling.

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