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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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“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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Spring 2018 is here… but it doesn’t FEEL like it!

It IS the Spring Semester but with the slushy roads and chilly winds, it hardly feels that way YET. It will though, I think.

welcome back students


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An open letter to my students about politics

I support the rights of ALL students to engage in thoughtful discourse and legal political actions.

As an educator (and specifically one at a state university) I continually acknowledge my own personal bias along with my political, social, and religious ideologies. I do not apologize for them as it is within my rights to hold each and every one of them. I tell students in our first day of class together – who I am.

I have chosen to attempt political neutrality in my classroom. To that end, I am avoiding discussions of specific political views, actions, and candidates. While many of our classroom topics are very much impacted by what is happening in the world around us, I believe – at this time – it is important for me to err on the side of caution. So, while I may use the example of Donald Trump’s hand gestures during a discussion of body language and the workplace, I won’t talk about Trump’s executive orders, for instance. One is a useful example that I can provide so my students understand a topic. The other is unnecessary at this time and would simply provoke dissent among students when they should be focused on their studies.

Am I thrilled with this decision? No, it’s quite uncomfortable to feel as if I’m boxing myself in, but I believe I can serve my students better in my capacity as educator. It is our job to help you develop skills in thinking rather than to tell you what to think.

Please do not mistake my silence for apathy.

Do not assume that I acquiesce to any policy simply because I remain mute.

Here is what I will say – because I think it is essential to do so:

You have value, place, and purpose.

I will respect your person-hood. Regardless of your past, your family, your faith, or the design of the meat-suit you inhabit, you are valuable. Our past provides clues in terms of context and motivation. It does not need to dictate our future.  

I will respect your right to hold the beliefs you cherish, regardless of how far they are from my own. I will expect you to extend that same courtesy to me and your student colleagues.

As it is within my power, I will protect you and your rights. I will not permit you to trample on the rights of others on my watch.

I will encourage you to consider the perspective of others – as I always have – and I will continue to believe that there is good in all of us, ALL OF US.

You are amazing. I celebrate that.

And, last but not least…

One of the great outcomes of this election cycle and our new POTUS -in my humble opinion- is that many more Americans are now discussing important political topics while taking the time and energy to learn how our government works. People are becoming involved again with the mechanics of governance. I think this is a positive.

And, in taking a page from many Librarians who navigated political waters following the PATRIOT ACT all those years ago. There may come a time when I am told that I cannot alert people to requests for information. I take my cue from the men and women in the stacks… 

Nobody from the federal government has requested

any information from me about any of my students

or coworkers. Watch for the removal of this message 😉

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Au16 Book Challenge Update

good-jobFor anyone checking in on our book challenge… more info is coming. The response was so fantastic, they had to bring in a bookshelf to accommodate donations!


I’ll post photos and final tallies soon.

Now… what are we going to do THIS semester? Hmmm…


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