Archive for category OSU

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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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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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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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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Nick Wolack: Evolved Body Art

Nick Wolack, the owner of Evolved Body Art, poses in the old shop location above Too’s on North High Street. Credit: Mason Swires | Assistant Photo Editor

I am often fortunate enough to have the time available for a visit from Nick and staff members from his businesses. Unfortunately, this semester did not provide us a chance to schedule something. I wanted to toot his horn, though, as he was featured in The Lantern.

Evolved Body Art continues to be the only tattoo business that I “vouch for” because of their adherence to quality standards and their partnerships in a variety of ethical events and organizations. I am proud to call Nick a friend and consider him a colleague in the world of education.

Lantern Q&A with Nick Wolack

Care to learn more about some of the businesses and events at which Nick hangs his creative hat? See links below!


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Book Drive Challenge!


Competition is fun, eh?

We (Buckeyes) have a long-standing feud with the folks up north… y’know.. Mmmm(cough)ichigan! Ah, but it isn’t all football – we also use that competitive urge when we have blood drive challenges with the Red Cross to see which university can bleed the most – and save lives while they do it.

Competition CAN be fun and it CAN be productive.

So… drumroll please… This semester, my activity of choice is a book drive. In our text (The Second Shift by Hochschild and Machung) we learn that not all families are created equal. In class, we view a video (Nigel Marsh’s tedtalk about balancing family and work),  in which the speaker relates how he read to his son from Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach.  We discuss how some families have no books on hand.

This semester (AU16), students in my two 2367 classes will have an opportunity to help children in their community WHILE scratching that itch to compete.

I’ve worked with a staff member from a local middle school to gather a list of these students’ favorite books, authors, and topics. My students will collect books and other supplies that these students (in “inclusive” programs) can use in their classroom. Those students will be encouraged to fall in love with some of those books and be permitted to take them home – to keep – as their own.

I’ll pop in from time-to-time to post updates as we will not be taking one load of donations (as we did with our clothing drive in Sp16), but delivering books and items as we collect them… in order to get them into the hands of those who need them as quickly as possible!

Let the games begin…

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Community Involvement – Clothing Drive 2016

When possible, I encourage my students to step out of their LITERAL comfort zone – to venture into the community around OSU – to see life through someone else’s lens.

I do this through many of my extra credit opportunities. I also do this – from time to time – with agencies. A few years ago, my 2367 students collected food for the Mid Ohio Foodbank and my “Helping Skills” class was visited by a representative of that foodbank to explain what they do and how we can help. Often, my 5440 students meet activists in the human sexuality realm and learn – firsthand – the challenges they face.

In Spring of 2016, I had two classes of 2367 students and they combined efforts to gather clothing (especially coats and OSU gear) for some students attending Beechcroft High School.


That effort far surpassed expectations and we created a board in Campbell Hall to commemorate the experience.


The whole effort came about organically. I spoke about students – in our own community – who walk to school without coats in the dead of winter. I talked about young people who have no college plans because that seed has not been planted.

My students were ready to help. Wow. What an amazing response it was. Over the course of two weeks, students brought in coats and hoodies along with t-shirts and fun items as well. They were encouraged to donate OSU items to foster college aspirations. The clothing drive was not attached to points or homework. They didn’t get extra credit for donating, but we collected more than 100 items in quick order.


With the assistance of Skye Zuza (at Beechcroft High School), several high school students in the special education program made posters about the drive to share with my students. Ms. Zuza was also instrumental in receiving and distributing the new and gently-used OSU gear to Beechcroft students.

  • A special thanks to the students in both of my 2367 classes in the Sp16 Semester – for their generosity and interest in others.
  • A special shout-out goes to Deston Howard (of my Monday/Wednesday class) who created the informative maps seen in the bulletin board image above. He took on that mapping project as an individual extra credit project and knocked it out of the park by providing all of us with a visual comparison of the demographics of the communities being served by a few of the wealthiest and poorest schools in our area.
  • I am grateful to the staff at Beechcroft – They were essential in getting items to the students who had need and took the opportunity to talk to students about college aspirations.


Photo taken by – and used with permission of – Raquel Bahmer (student)

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We all can’t stay here forever

no one is perfect pencils have erasersI’m on campus for a meeting today.

Meetings aren’t generally my favorite thing but this one? Relatively painless 🙂

It’s a nice change from grading -to be simply talking with a colleague  – and so here I am. Most of the work from Spring 2016 is behind us, and a new Carmen is on its way. Summer (and summer classes) are on the horizon. Change is hard but it is good.

Did you catch that?

Change. Is. Good.

Speaking of change… OSU is very very quiet today. This is what happens when students are either GONE for good, or have headed off for summer plans… or are curled up in a ball nursing their wounds after grade-posting. Here’s hoping it’s one of the first two for all of my students. What a great semester – and what fantastic students. Yes… fantastic for the most part. I said it.

We hear a lot about  millennials and it’s often negative. I’ve got news for the world: My students aren’t better OR worse than the generation that came before them. Some of them have their head on straight and are focused on their work. Some of them could not care less about school work. Some are just trying to figure out who they are in the world. That’s okay. It’s what young adults are doing today. It’s the same thing their parents and grandparents did before them.

I want to thank my students for an awesome semester. Some of you gave me a headache but nearly all of you made me smile or laugh at least once. If you screwed up this semester? Time for a change. Don’t let that define you. If you screw up in the future? Same advice. We are all capable of monumental failures and epic achievements. I’ve made my fair share of both. I suspect I’ll do the same in the future 😉

I always ask students to keep in touch if they’ve graduated. Let me know where you land… where life takes you. If you start a business or a family (or both), I’d love to hear about it. If you are at OSU still (or for a visit), let’s meet up for coffee.



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I hope you get the chance…

imagesSo that happened. Yesterday. There was more violence and much closer than many of us would care to feel it. Scary? Yes. Receiving those “shelter in place” messages can send some of us to a dark place.


Fear isn’t terribly useful past its initial “flight or fight” impulse. It’s healthy to fear if it spurs us to action and saves us further damage. Wallowing in it? Avoiding it? Neither are useful. Ah, but the fear  can also put us into a fairly primitive place where our minds realize how much of our day-to-day life is just noise.  In those moments we receive a gift of sorts: We realize what is and is not truly important to us. That’s useful too.


Do your best to face it.

Feel it.

Appreciate the initial message your body and mind communicate to you… they are trying to keep you safe.

My best advice is to FEEL it but not FEED it.

Easier said than done, I know. Take care of yourself – ask for help if you need it – and refocus your energies on the things you CAN control: Studying, for instance (wink).

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Because many of us have been socialized to say “I’m sorry” far too much

thank you versus i am sorry


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