My weekend (almost a week late)

Before I begin, let me just say, THE NEW ISSUE OF C.O.D IS OUT! If you live on Cape Cod, pick it up! Don’t know where? Then GET SOME.
I have a lot to say about Sarah Palin (and the election in general) in my column. Check it out!


Last weekend I went up to Cape Cod to visit friends and whatnot. Saturday was spent in Cotuit at a huge, incredible benefit show for the Cotuit Center for the Arts that my good friend James put on through C.O.D. I love going to C.O.D events. Hence, the six hour round-trip drive was totally worth it.

Of course, I put my time in and painted faces for a few hours:

I’ve done it a few times at various local fairs and events, and I was mourning not having that Klutz face-painting book. They show you step by step how to make virtually anything a kid could want. I kept thinking, “okay monkey, monkey… what was the monkey face like again? White cheeks? Ears? No ears? Tongue…?” so I sort of made it up as I went along, and inevitably as soon as I finished, the children in line would look at my work in disgust and say something like, “that’s not a monkey, she TOTALLY looks like a bear…” or “is that a puppy or a panda? I can’t tell.”

At least you can count on kids to be honest I guess.

I have butterflies down though. Most of the little girls asked for butterflies, and for once, I was more than happy to indulge their pre-pubescent girly tendencies. By the end, there were a bunch of little butterfly-faces running around. There was also a bouncy dragon castle, arts and crafts, Cape Cod Beer, wine and cigars from Murphy’s, the burrito bus, and THREE epic shows from The Incredible Casuals, The Old Silver Band, and Spiritual Rez. The culmination was an all out jam session at the very end.
Rarely have I danced so hard. And then jumped around inside a bouncy castle with other adults. And then danced some more…

Did I mention we were serving Cape Cod beer all afternoon? The summer ale is delicious.

I think the best part of the show was watching all of the little girls watching John onstage with OSB. Usually the gaggle of small children were running around the dance floor, but every so often a cluster of little girls would kneel right below John and gaze up at him adoringly. John is a classically attractive, tall individual, and apparently women of all ages are just inherently programmed to swoon. Including five year olds. Whatever makes a young female’s brain want pink shiny things and butterflies, also makes them want guys like John.

On Sunday, I made my obligatory visit to Sage Yarn and Gifts on Main Street in Falmouth. I’ve been there… maybe a total of six times? But the owner distinctly remembered me the first time back, and now I feel like I should check in with her whenever I go up there. She’s so sweet! I think her husband works there too, and they both ask me what I’m knitting, and how it’s coming along. Very pleasant people, and beautiful yarns. I managed to find a couple of my punch cards, so I bought a bunch of yarn and some cable needles and got $10 off, plus a new card. It’s the one punch card-get something free thing I’ve ever cashed in, and once again… totally worth it.

I’ve already made a cabled hat with what I bought there. First time and I didn’t screw it up!

Sunday evening I went down to the Landfall Restaurant in Woods Hole. They were having the banquet for the Calcutta fishing tournament, which Nat (my friend/captain of the Annie P) SWEPT. He won in both the bluefish and striped bass categories, and the slob he pulled in was almost FIFTY pounds. Rosco and the kitchen cooked up a few of the fish that had been donated, and Nat’s striper was enormous and delicious. It was a fun little event, and I had a blast sitting around with people I haven’t seen much these past few weeks. Of course, the downside was when Dan bought me a shot of tequila. The rest of the night was less fun… I hadn’t done a shot of anything in quite awhile, so my stomach got a rude awakening. Lesson learned: stick to beer.

Overall though, it was a spectacular weekend.

Woods Hole, I just can’t quit you…

In other news, I have a piece coming out in the new issue of Ben Allsup’s sweet zine, “BenShotMe.” And in the meantime, be sure to check out C.O.D’s website for all of the haps on Cape Cod:

Good pictures, good prose, good times.


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Division III Filed!

E-mail I just got from Hampshire’s Central Records:

“Suzanne Carlson
On 10/01/2008 at 10:08PM your Division III contract was signed by all committee members and filed with Central Records.
Your Division III expected completion date is 05/01/2009 and your Division III passing deadline is 05/01/2009.

Congratulations! Stop by Central Records to pick up your Division III button.”

This is it! The culmination of my time here at Hampshire has come: my Division III thesis contract is officially filed. I am a Div III.

I’ve met with both of my committee members, and things are off to a good start. I have a clear idea of where I’m headed, and lots of good leads for research, including an in at Australis Aquaculture in Turner’s Falls.

Here we go!


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I passed Division II!

So for those of you unfamiliar with the intricacies of the Hampshire College academic system, it’s pretty untraditional. You go through three stages, called “Divisions.” Div I is all about fulfilling some basic requirements and testing the academic waters. Taking a bunch of different classes in various disciplines. Seeing what you like. It usually takes most people a year.

Division II takes around two years, and is more self-directed. You start focusing on your main interests, and studying what you think you may want to go into. I spent two years taking writing, science, and photography classes, essentially.

Division III is your thesis, similar to grad school. It’s IT, the end all be all of your Hampshire existence. Your time to shine and do The Project you’ve always wanted to do, be it taking pictures of stuff, pottery, growing things, writing things, interviewing people, sailing stuff, building stuff, sewing outfits, creating a whole new language, making books from scratch… you name it, you could do it for a Division III as long as you can justify it to your committee and show them that what you’ve done is worthy of graduation.

At every step along the way your work is reviewed by an academic advisory committee. Some people get assigned faculty, but I’ve been lucky enough to have good working relationships with professors, so I’ve always chosen who I worked with. For Division II, my committee consisted of Will Ryan and Christina Cianfrani. And tonight, they both decided that my work was worthy of passing Division II:

(from our online course registration system, TheHub)
William Ryan recorded a Div II Pass on 09/25/2008 at 09:51PM
William Ryan recorded a Div II Committee Signature on 09/25/2008 at 09:51PM
Christina Cianfrani recorded a Div II Pass on 09/25/2008 at 06:49PM
Christina Cianfrani recorded a Div II Committee Signature on 09/25/2008 at 05:25PM

It’s over. Two years of work, finished. Now I’m officially in “Div Limbo,” which means I’m technically past Division II, but I’ve yet to file my Division III contract.

In the next week or so, I’ll draw up a contract of what I will do for the next few months. My committee, chaired by Michael Lesy with Will Ryan as a member (and possibly others, I’m not sure yet), will then help me through the work I’ve set for myself, evaluating me along the way.

In May, I will have a final meeting, where my completed project will be reviewed one last time. At that meeting, Michael and Will will decide whether or not I have completed the requirements to pass Division III and graduate from Hampshire College.

I am now 3/4 of the way through, but the truly hard work is yet to come.

I’m ready though. Let’s do this…

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I am incredibly proud to announce that my article, titled “Sporting Bads” has just been published in the Fall issue of Bitch Magazine. The piece dissects how big sporting goods companies, such as Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s, market their products to women.

Bitch Magazine has had a huge impact on me personally. I think I first started reading Bitch about seven years ago, early in high school. I’ve always felt strongly feminist, and would get outraged by the stupid, condescending, sexist BS so often used to hawk cheap crap in the mainstream media. The jocks in my school drove me crazy. My mind raced with self-doubt. Why doesn’t everyone start yelling at the TV because of a detergent ad? Am I just too sensitive? Isn’t this offensive to everyone?

Well, when I started reading Bitch, I realized that I wasn’t alone. Other people were just as upset by Dove’s ridiculous “campaign for real beauty” as I was. There were plenty of people out there that thought the way I did, they just didn’t happen to live in my hometown. But that was okay. Just reading the soothing words of other intelligent, reasonable (but ruthless!) feminist writers was enough to give me a light at the end of the black tunnel of high school. It gave me hope.

My mother always hated that I read Bitch, purely because of the title. But I knew better. Other imitation feminist glossies like Bust just infuriated me more. I remember reading a how-to article about travel in Bust that I was initially excited about. However, the author advised having sex with foreign men overseas and then crashing at their place in order to save money on hotels. Seriously. I was dumbstruck. I knew that kind of total lunacy disguised as third-wave, sexually liberated feminism would never fly in Bitch. I’ve been a devoted reader ever since.

So to actually be published in a magazine that I’ve admired for so long is pretty surreal. And fitting, I think. What better place to start?

I have been a lifelong fisherman, and it was exciting to use that knowledge, combined with feminist critique, to write this article. Many thanks to Will Ryan are in store. Will has been my professor and mentor at Hampshire College for three years now. I took his courses, “The Sporting Life” and “Writing About the Outdoors,” and subsequently was Will’s TA for The Sporting Life last year. Those classes gave me 99% of my background in the history of the outdoors, and were invaluable in helping me put this piece together.

I’m also greatly indebted to all of the local writers, notably Pamela Petro (<3 you Pam!) who taught JanTerm nonfiction workshops at Smith College. I was able to ask all of them, “So how do you actually query an editor? Seriously.” Their answers are the only reason I’ve been published at all.

It’s crazy that people all over these United States can go into a bookstore and read what I have to say about stuff. And pay to do it, no less! I got kicked out of class in high school for telling everyone what I thought, so this is a refreshing change.

And to all the jerks who called me a Femi-Nazi for four years… bite me ūüôā I get paid for my feminist opinions now, bitches!

In closing, Bitch Magazine has really been feeling the financial crunch in the publishing industry as of late, and is teetering on the brink of having to fold for lack of funds. Please help support independent print media and feminist critique by donating to Bitch!

Your daughters will thank you for it.

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Dad’s Visit

My Dad drove up from Connecticut yesterday and got here about 5:30 am.  We stopped at Pie for coffee and croissants, then headed over to Eel Pond.  We waved to Dan and Capt. Bill as the R/V Gemma pulled away from the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) dock, loaded up the cooler and rods, and headed out into Great Harbor and beyond.

We headed out to the Weepecket Islands first and caught a few scup.  

[My Dad calls them porgy. ¬†I, having been Cape Codified, call them scup. ¬†Common names are, in fact, ridiculous. ¬†Two abutting states have completely different names for the same fish. ¬†I like it though. ¬†It’s like a fishing dialect.]

We were looking for bonito (aka bonita, little tunny, or false albacore, depending on who you talk to and what zip code you’re in), which my mother has a line class record for, but I have never caught. ¬†Unfortunately, we didn’t see any all day. ¬†They’re notoriously skittish, but supposedly delicious and highly sought after. ¬†Elusive things usually are.

We grabbed another bag of squid from my buddies, the MBL divers, who were out fixing things and finding creatures for the lab. ¬†I hope to always have friends who give me free bait upon request. ¬†It has definitely been one of the best things about this summer. ¬†After we made the pickup, my Dad and I poked around in the Naushon harbor, ostensibly looking for breaking fish, but mostly just ogling the yachts. ¬†I forget sometimes, just how many masters of the corporate and political universe summer here. ¬†Naushon in particular, is a highly exclusive island (the first in the Elizabeth Islands chain), with estates for the Forbes and Heinz families. ¬†There are also no cars or bikes allowed, and you have to be personally invited to go there. ¬†It’s something like Amish Country for rich people, as far as I can tell. ¬†The closest I’ve come to it is specially hand-delivering a box of cookies from Pie to the captain of Naushon’s private ferry, The Cormorant. ¬†

Regardless, after we decided there were no striped bass to be found in the harbor, we motored out to Nobska Lighthouse, which was pretty, but not terribly productive. ¬†We then moved off to the Vineyard Sound side of Naushon and threw squid and a “Smilin’ Bill” lure in close to the rocks. ¬†We caught snapper blues and scup aplenty, but more importantly, we drifted in close to a group of about 8 gray seals splashing and staring at us. ¬†One was posed on a rock that didn’t even reach above the surface, so he looked like a giant seagull, lounging on the waves. ¬†It was the first time I’ve ever seen seals on Cape Cod, and the second time I’ve seen wild seals in general (the first was in California, and they may have actually been sea lions now that I think about it). ¬†Needless to say, it was spectacular.

After the seals finally slid away and disappeared, we moved in to the cut just off Woods Hole. ¬†My Dad loves this spot, as it’s some of the “fishiest” water he’s ever seen, and I have to agree. ¬†Huge boulders are stacked up like alphabet blocks, attracting fish and ripping the hulls out of careless boats. ¬†The currents converge in bizarre rips and swirls where the water bottlenecks between Naushon and Penzance Point. ¬†It is a beautiful, dangerous, thrilling place to fish. ¬†We picked up some more scup and snappers (no stripers, alas, the water inshore is too warm, it seems), and then stumbled on an underwater feature that must have been the size of a postage stamp, but just happened to produce the only legal black seabass we’d caught all day. ¬†We’d been out on the water about 7 hours at this point, and both of us kept reassuring the other, “okay, last cast. ¬†last squid. ¬†last drift…” but we kept drifting over the feature, and kept picking up decent sized fish, including a plump 16 incher that gave my Dad a nice fight. ¬†

Black seabass are sleek, beautiful, delicious fish. ¬†I do think, however, that they are held perhaps in higher regard than they deserve (and scup in lower regard). ¬†My Dad doesn’t understand this at all. ¬†Anything tasty is worthwhile, and scup and seabass both qualify. ¬†But, as an experiment, (I made sure to look at my Dad purposefully before I did this), every time we reported our day’s catch back on land, I phrased it as, “Well, we caught a bunch of nice scup… and a few decent sized seabass.” ¬†Everyone responded first with a look of pity, and then, when I got to the part about the seabass, their eyes went wide and a few nearly shouted their exclamation and praise. ¬†My father was mystified. ¬†I’m not really sure where this disparity comes from. ¬†

Poor scup. ¬†Though they do feature on the stickers and logos all over town that have a scup outline which reads, “I [fish] WH.” ¬†Or, if you’re a local, “I [scup] WH.” ¬†So good for them.

When we finally decided we had enough fish in the boat (nowhere near our limit, but about 10 scup, 4 seabass, and a half dozen snappers… plenty of food), we turned up the cut and made our way back under the bridge into my lovely slip in Eel Pond. ¬†I will miss it very, very much when I have to leave in a few days.

Being Woods Hole, we were able to step off the boat and walk a block to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s small community aquarium. ¬†It’s a lovely little place, and I hadn’t been all summer and my Dad hadn’t been at all. ¬†We marveled at the black and white photos of enormous lobsters and halibut, and pointed out different species in the tanks to each other. ¬†For the finale, we watched the two little harbor seals in a pool outside swim circles with each other and spin like muscular, furry little hot dogs. ¬†They’re adorable, and charismatic, and I see why they make such great anti-animal cruelty icons. ¬†Clubbing baby seals is a pretty dramatic (and traumatic) image.

We cleaned some of the fish back at the house so I could have a few fillets. ¬†I saved the stomachs for Simon to dissect, and my Dad took the racks home to our deep freezer so I can take them apart and make mounts for my Div III. ¬†Assuming I can learn/teach myself to make serviceable fish mounts. ¬†I guess we’ll see.

Being caked in scales and squid slime, we opted to get take out Chinese and eat it sitting in the van at Falmouth Harbor.  Did I mention we reek of class?  We really did reek though, and I was starving, so it was, without hyperbole, the perfect end to an ideal day.

Fishing in Woods Hole with my Dad… it doesn’t get any better than that.

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I have some sort of deathly summer flu.  I have not been this sick or miserable in a good long while.

Unfortunately, this meant my Dad didn’t come up for his birthday, but he’s driving up from Connecticut soon, and will be here around 6am. ¬†We’re going fishing all morning, and then he’s helping me pack up some stuff. ¬†In some ways I like being able to pick up and leave every few months, but the constant moving has gotten old. ¬†Especially if you’re like me and cart around a small library’s worth of books every time.

Used book stores are my downfall.

Regardless, all I have to worry about right now is getting myself on the boat in a few hours and getting it, and us, out of Eel Pond.  This is the view from the Water Street bridge looking out into Vineyard Sound:

I like Western Mass, but I’m in love with Woods Hole.

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A new start

This is my first WordPress post. I’ve kept a personal blog on LiveJournal for a few years, which has gotten so personal, that I’ve decided to start this page as a separate entity. I’m not a fan of having a blog for every day of the week/hobby/thought/bodily function, but I think I’ll be able to live with myself if I keep it to two: one professional, one private.

Here we go…

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