Choose to be Curious

Curiosity & the Digital Transgender Archive

“You can definitely see traces of different kinds of curiosity throughout the historical record, and the ways that throughout history people are trying to grapple with gender transgression and understand what is happening. Certainly there are approaches that are much more objectifying, much more negative, are interested in a kind of salacious story — but then there are many others that are trying to get a different perspective, that are just trying to understand.” ~ K.J. Rawson

Philosophy graduate student Matt Ferguson takes the helm this week for an exploration of epistemic injustice in marginalized communities, where a lack of knowledge about one’s own history has real consequences. Matt talks with K.J. Rawson, project director for the Digital Transgender Archive (DTA), in this conversation about DTA and exploration of how curiosity and archives might help address such injustice.

Listen to Choose to be Curious #120: Curiosity & the Digital Transgender Archive, with K.J. Rawson.

This is the first in what I hope will be a series of shows guest-hosted by graduate and undergraduate students who were enrolled in the fall 2019 class Topics in Philosophy at American University.

As part of their final papers, students conceived and pitched potential episodes and interviews for Choose to be Curious. It was a privilege and a thrill to listen to their presentations and hear their ideas.

Originally, I committed to produce just one show, but I was so impressed with the students’ work, that I extended the offer to multiple students. Matt is the first across the finish line, a testament to his determination, even in the face of the pandemic.

Check out the Digital Transgender Archive.

When he’s not running the DTA, K.J. Rawson is a professor at College of the Holy Cross, with interests in Composition and Rhetoric, Rhetorical History, Archives, LGBT Studies and Digital Media.

Our theme music is by Sean Balick.

EDITOR PICK LOCAL PODCASTYou can subscribe to Choose to be Curious on Apple Podcasts/ iTunes and Stitcher.

Check out the Choose to be Curious shop! All purchases support Arlington Independent Media. Please also consider making a donation at Thanks!

Ferguson - In order to recognize that history is missing, and then to go find it, one has to be curious.-5

Life Lessons, moving

Beginning of the Beginning, Beginning of the End

It worked! All the contractors did all the things — and now we have permits to prove it!

And so it begins … and begins to end.

Friday wallboard came in and the first walls went up. Suddenly it looks and feels more solid, maybe even a tiny bit real.

Saturday we took out the storm windows and put in the screens for the last time. I tried to focus on the details: which windows I knew would give me trouble; how the muntins hit the rails; the glint of wobbly glass; the smell of wet screens coming clean; the sounds of outside coming back in.


Choose to be Curious

Curious Entanglements

I often tell my students, “I’m not sure you’ll leave this class with more answers, but if you have more refined, more sophisticated questions, then I think we’ll have had a huge success.” ~ Christina León

Christina León, Princeton professor of English, wants us to be accountable in our curiosity and attentive to the ethics of how we approach the unfamiliar. Her writing — like any good literature — feels universally relevant and applicable.

A rich and timely conversation, inspired by Christina’s chapter “Curious Entanglements: Opacity and Ethical Relation in Latina/o Aesthetics” in Curiosity Studies: A New Ecology of Knowledge.

Listen to Choose to be Curious #117: Curious Entanglements, with Christina León

What I Learned: New vocabulary! Christina appreciates the stumbles — the thing that slows us down to read again — and, for me, that proved to be some new-to-me terminology in her chapter. Not sure that I have fully plumbed all the concepts, or the schools of thought behind them, but just learning I have more to learn was thrilling.

What I Loved: Christina’s writing is elegant and erudite. I loved that both the chapter and conversation took on new dimensions when I returned to them after several months away and that they do feel relevant well beyond their own important and particular focus. I suspect, like Shakespeare and Baudelaire whom she mentions, her work will be read over and over again.

Christina León is the twelfth and final of my series of interviews with the contributing authors to the anthology Curiosity Studies: A New Ecology of Knowledge (University of Minnesota Press, 2020). Be sure to check out the depth of resources available on the Manifold site that accompanies the book.

More on Christina León here

EDITOR PICK LOCAL PODCASTOur theme and other music is by Sean Balick. “Come As You Are” by Cauldron via Blue Dot Sessions.

You can subscribe to Choose to be Curious on Apple Podcasts/ iTunes and Stitcher.

Check out the Choose to be Curious shopAll purchases support Arlington Independent Media. Please also consider making a donation at Thanks!

Reading is an opportunity for understanding how we encounter difference.

Life Lessons, moving

Suspended Animation


I think there is poetry in the sprinklers being what’s holding things up.

Sprinklers: a droplet spraying system we hope never to see in action. Droplets are holding us all up, why should renovations on the condo be any different?

The ceiling in a 9′ x 10′ space, once closet/storage/powder room/foyer and now to be a study, is inexplicably three different heights. So the sprinklers are at varying heights as well. And that can’t be. For weeks the whole project has been captive to their remedy. Which, it seems, involves our general contractor, the sprinkler subcontractor, the sprinkler system maintenance contractor, the property manager, the building engineer, the fire department — and us walking the halls on fire watch.

Fingers crossed for a droplet- and fire-free day on Tuesday!


Curiosity Journal, Making a List


So, over on my “other site” I’ve been having some fun with #StayHome. The results:

“April is the cruelest month” wrote T.S. Eliot in The Waste Land. Indeed. We’re just on Day One, but I’m thinking: this is going to be tough. Most of us are in some form of lockdown, the news is more and more grim, the sheer scale of things is really starting to sink in.

Today also happens to be National Walking Day. My daily perambulations feel all the more precious as others are forbidden the pleasure. I cut wide, appreciative arcs around neighbors, waving across the distance.

And so (because this is how my mind works), I’m connecting all these disparate dots and thinking: I need a Curiosity Walk #StayHome edition. I need to treat my surroundings not as a cage, but as an exotic photo safari.

I need the creative outlet.

I need the diversion.

Where better to begin than with toilet paper, totem of our times?

April 1: The Bathroom

Day One : Bathroom

April 2: Doorknobs (We’re almost as obsessed about them these days…)

02 Doorknobs

April 3: Spring (One of the many things I love about living in the DC area is that spring comes when it’s supposed to. This is what it looks like in my yard today.)

Day3 Spring

April 4: Windows (Our view on the world has changed — windows now as much a view inward as out.)

Day4 Windows

April 5: Hardware (A day spent in cleaning reacquaints one with home’s hardware.)

Day5 Hardware

April 6: Steps (Today I had to remind myself: a step at a time. So that’s where I focused.)

Day6 Steps

April 7: Polly (Today is my grandmother’s birthday. All sorts of things remind me of her.)

Day7 Polly

April 8: Breathe (As in: barely time, yet don’t forget.)

Day8 Breathe

April 9: Radiators (It’s hot, it’s cold. It’s April. The radiators aren’t sure what to do.)

Day9 Radiator

April 10: Signatures (Much of my time is spent signing stuff these days. I hope paychecks remain among them. So I went looking for others’ marks around home as well.)

Day10 Signatures

April 11: Reflection (I start my mornings with reflection. Then it was everywhere.)

Day11 Reflection

April 12: Scavenge (In lieu of an Easter egg hunt, my niece sent us all on a scavenger hunt. This is my quarry: something alive, a gift from an old friend, something handmade, a souvenir & something “disposable” being used past it expiration date.)

Day 12 Scavenge

April 13: Rain (The ding of a FEMA alert woke me early and inspired today’s theme.)

Day 13 Rain

April 14: Animals (Forget Tiger King. I found my own zoo.)

Day 14 Wildlife

April 15: Infrastructure (Tax Day seemed an appropriate occasion to capture the critical systems that support the household.)

Day 15 Infrastructure

April 16: Green (Everything is very very green, and in every imaginable shade.)

Day 16 Green

April 17: Time (It’s not just me, right? Time has gotten warpy.)

April 17 Time

April 18: Faces (Between masks and Zoom, it’s all about faces.)

Day 18 Faces

April 19: Little Free Libraries (I’ve been impressed with the steady traffic at the two libraries I steward, so I set out to see how many others I could spot on my mid-day walk.)

Day 19 LFL

April 20: Faucet, Spigot, Tap (Brought to you by today’s search for flow.)

Day 20 Faucet

April 21: The View (I spent a lot of time at my desk today. Lucky for me, the view is pretty nice. Today I really appreciated the textures.)

Day 21 View _ Texture

April 22: Shadow (On this sunny Earth Day, I enjoyed these hints to our alignment, puny planet to brilliant star.)

Day 22 Shadow

April 23: Trashcans (Inspired by potter, activist and apparent philosopher Stacy Snyder’s reminder yesterday that all things want to be considered, I considered my trashcans.)

Day 23 Trashcans

April 24: Smell (I find myself particularly appreciative of my sense of smell.)

Day 24 Smell

April 25: Collections (Getting meta: a collection of collections. Which raises questions of intent and definition — just when does something go from accumulation to collection?)


April 26: Pattern (As I wrestle with the paradox of routine [comfort/constraint], I notice the other foundational patterns that define my days and the space I inhabit.)

Day 26 Pattern

April 27: Reading (Even if only for a few minutes before bed, I’ve found reading something other than my Twitter feed and the news has been critical to a good night’s sleep and every day’s equanimity. This is what I’ve read or am reading this month. Tickled to include one new release [Curiosity Studies] and one galley/forth-coming [Out of My Skull].)

Day 27 Reading

April 28: Still Life (Suspended animation & a grey day call for still life, in black & white.)

Day 28 Still Life

April 29: Morning Walk (My walks are both escape from and reminder of the pandemic.)

Day 29 Morning Walk

April 30: Refrigerator Rainbow (Nothing seems adequate to the elegant, eloquent finish I’d like for this month of looking for thematic delights in my everyday confinement, but my refrigerator rainbow has a certain alliterative appeal that will have to do. May all our containers be colorful, friends.) #StayHome #StayWell

Refrigerator Rainbow




Choose to be Curious, Life Lessons

Voicing Curiosity

“The way that we know that curiosity is genuine in somebody’s voice is that they have tapped into this real desire, this real drive, this real motivation.” ~ Carol Cadby

How we say anything, how we punctuate our statements grammatically and verbally, all have tremendous impact on how we are heard and understood.

So how do we say something in such a way that others hear curiosity? Actor, director, educator and executive coach Carol Cadby joins me to explore voicing curiosity.

Listen to Choose to be Curious #116: Voicing Curiosity, with Carol Cadby

Our motto at Arlington Independent Media is “Raise Your Voice.” If you have a story you want to tell or share, want to learn how to use media to do that, we’re here for you. This is our spring fund drive. We’d love your support. Help us help you and others to raise your voices, to hear and be heard. Donations much appreciated at .

Learn more and connect with Carol via OLA Consulting

Listen to what Erin Foreman-Murray has to say about dance and embodied curiosity. 

Our theme and other music is by Sean Balick . “Great Great Lengths” by The Ballonist, via Blue Dot Sessions.

EDITOR PICK LOCAL PODCASTYou can subscribe to Choose to be Curious on Apple Podcasts/ iTunes and Stitcher.

Check out the Choose to be Curious shopAll purchases support Arlington Independent Media. Please also consider making a donation at Thanks!

Hear & Be Heard


Choose to be Curious, Life Lessons

Curiosity Studies

“I can’t wait to see what else I don’t know about curiosity.” ~ Perry Zurn 

When I first interviewed Perry Zurn, American University professor of philosophy and connoisseur of curiosity, I had been following his work with interest and looking for ways to connect. In preparing for that conversation on the very political nature of curiosity I learned that, along with anthropology professor Arjun Shankar, he was co-editing an anthology called Curiosity Studies: A New Ecology of Knowledge.

That sounded like the academic version of my own show — and I was thrilled to be invited in on the project.

Listen to Choose to be Curious #115: Curiosity Studies, with Perry Zurn, PhD.

What I Learned: I am a very long way from exhausting this topic. It’s hard to imagine when or how it ever ends. Every conversation begets another, every idea, too.

I knew this. But, thanks to Perry, I feel it in my bones.

What I Loved:  I am a very, very long way from exhausting this topic! 🙂

That, and I got to use contributor Amy Marvin’s marvelous bread analogy. My heart broke with each rich morsel I left on the cutting room floor in producing this series. I am tickled to have picked this one up and included it here!

Curiosity Studies coverPerry Zurn is the eleventh in my series of interviews with the contributing authors to the anthology Curiosity Studies: A New Ecology of Knowledge (University of Minnesota Press, 2020).  This show is timed with the release of the book. Be sure to get your copy and stay tuned for more episodes. Check out the depth of resources available on the Manifold site that accompanies the book.

Listen co-editors Perry Zurn on the political nature of curiosity, and Arjun Shankar on the capitalist curiosity and the related challenges on college campuses today. 

Our theme and other music is by Sean Balick . “Town Market” by Onesuch Village via Blue Dot Sessions.

EDITOR PICK LOCAL PODCASTYou can subscribe to Choose to be Curious on Apple Podcasts/ iTunes and Stitcher.

Check out the Choose to be Curious shopAll purchases support Arlington Independent Media. Please also consider making a donation at Thanks!

Take up the quest of curiosity bravely.-2

Life Lessons, moving

Insult to Injury

Meet Big Mou’  the iconic, ironic guardian of my parents’ cabin pantry.  

Monday: Executive Order #55 (2020): Temporary Stay at Home Order shuttered many bricks and mortar stores, restricted gathering size, but still allowed some businesses to continue, including construction. The County would conduct building inspection by FaceTime.

Thursday: S. emails: the County maybe isn’t allowing for virtual inspection after all. He’s gone as far as he can go without it. His cleaning woman has tidied the worksite, washed the floors and wiped all the doorknobs. Not sure when anyone will be back.

Friday: As I walked into the kitchen this morning, D. greeted me with a kiss and, “Just to add insult to injury….” He’d found mouse droppings and a chewed tomato on the kitchen cutting board.

Choose to be Curious, Life Lessons, UnComfort Zone

Resilient & Brave

“[I] can be curious about how I position myself and use the best of what I am, while the whole world seems to be spinning around me.” ~ Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post for my website about how — despite the pandemic and the social distancing and the shutting in and down we’re all doing — I hope to bring my own curiosity to whatever this is that is happening around us. I intend to keep having conversations about how curiosity shows up in our work and lives, whatever that now looks like.

Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, neuroanatomist, author, inspirational public speaker and friend wrote back to me, “Thank you for sharing your curiosity and life with us. You are a stable and wonderful force. I am happy to do another interview with you about how we are programmed to be resilient and brave, how to interact with ourselves when we freak out and tips on how to be during this time.”

That was too good an offer to pass up.

Listen to Choose to be Curious #114: Resilient and Brave, with Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor

“Dr. Jill” was my third guest ever in this delightful conversation about our brains on curiosity  And in case you somehow missed it, here’s her TED Talk My Stroke of Insight.

I recommend Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ beautiful essay, We Were Made for These Times. 

Jill and I both recommend my conversation with Jud Brewer on curiosity and our craving minds.

EDITOR PICK LOCAL PODCASTOur theme music is by Sean Balick . Check out Sean’s new album “From the Pines”“Are We Loose Yet” by BodyTonic via Blue Dot Sessions.

You can subscribe to Choose to be Curious on Apple Podcasts/ iTunes and Stitcher. And check out the Choose to be Curious Shop!

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Livio - Curiosity is the best remedy for fear


Life Lessons, moving, UnComfort Zone

Still Life

Painted in WaterlogueStill Life: Totem of our times, the toilet paper sits atop the tank, unsure when next it will be called to task.

Studs are bared, lights dangle, pipes feel fresh air for the first in a long time.

I’ve been waiting for the edict: Stop work. Go home. Shelter in place.

For now, another day, maybe, the construction workers come and go in their booties, wiping door knobs behind them, keeping distance, paying rent.


Still Life: Clearly sensing I needed it, a friend sent me Pico Iyer’s TED Talk, The Art of Stillness. Such a lovely reminder to find ways to embrace the stillness descending around us. To feel its healing potential. To resist the addictive, roaring maw. A sort of soul jujutsu for the times.


Still Life: I’m still getting work done. The laundry still accumulates. The dishwasher still needs unloading, the piles sorting.

The phone still rings. We’re still talking to friends, fussing about colleagues, fuming about Others.

The sun still shines. Honestly, the birds seem more cheerful than usual.

Everything — and nothing — is the same. It’s all still life. 

Painted in Waterlogue