Monday, October 31, 2005

happy pumpkin day

The one Halloween joke I tell every year, and it never gets old:

Why can't ghosts have babies?
Because they have hollow weenies.

Good lord. I'm too much.

We're not turning on the porch light tonight because a) Annabelle would steal all the candy from the kids and scare the shit out of them; and b) I don't have any candy in the house and if I did, I'd eat it all before the kids came anyway.

So I'll sit in the dark like an old lady who lives alone with her ferocious dog.

Or, we'll go for a walk and steal candy that way. More likely.

Sunday, October 30, 2005


For next semester's rhetoric of fear course, this.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

why raking leaves is good for the academic soul

Raking big piles of leaves with the dog running around the yard as I rake, throwing leaves at her and watching her chase them, pulling bags of leaves out to the curb and emptying them. There's a whole lot satisfying about this. Tangible proof that I did some work today, even if only for a half hour. Plus, the smell is wonderful. It reminded me of some of the good times I had as a kid in our big yard with all those piles of leaves.

Then Julia told me today that Tucker peed in my leaf pile last night.

what I might do with my extra hour

1. respond to four of my first-year students' papers
2. read Harper's
3. watch Crash
4. take a super-long walk with the girl
5. eat bad things--when they're eaten during the extra hour that comes with the darkness, it somehow doesn't count
6. sleep? Naaah, I get enough of that as it is.
7. outline the book. the book. THE BOOK. Becky.
8. chill and listen to music, something I NEVER do, but Peter sent me the GREATEST cd ever--Death Cab for Cutie along with a bunch of other miscellaneous stuff, including the version of "Somewhere over the rainbow/what a wonderful world" by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole. His voice brings me to tears.
9. blog
10. mourn the passing of the daylight and put on a turtleneck

Friday, October 28, 2005

If only I didn't sleep so much...

There's a reason I have so many teaching nightmares. It's the same reason I have so many very crazy dreams. I've never grown out of the need* for at least 8, and more-often-than-not 9, hours of sleep. Imagine the work I could get done if I only slept 6-7 hours a night like most tired people. I'm not complaining. I'm just sayin' that I could have my first book written, my first edited collection done, and three more articles than I have now if only my bed weren't so damn comfy.

Last night I had a dream about a friend from high school and college who was five months pregnant. Not really sure why that's significant--assuming that it is--and the other night I had a dream that my mother came to visit me here in Bloomington, and she told me she was having her foot removed. Now that one's really quite scary because she does have Type II diabetes, but, alas, she's fine. I talked to her last night. Maybe it's MY foot that's going to fall off in some freak accident.

Following the foot theme a bit more: last night in class I talked about my obsession with essay conclusions ever since I was shown in my very first Masters seminar that I had written a conclusion to a literacy narrative that completely denied the rest of the essay in favor of a tidy, big-red-bow happy ending. Lop off the conclusion. Lop off the feet? And, on today's list of errands: new sneakers for walking the girl. The very comfortable and very expensive ones I bought back in February are so worn out that my feet are practically kissing the pavement as I walk. And Belly's gonna need new booties this winter. Can't you just see me taking her to the shoe store to try on new booties?

*Please note that I assume that this is something one grows out of . Only kids need this much sleep.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

a dog for all seasons

Don't you think this blog should feature a visual of this beautiful creature at least once a week?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

teaching nightmare in October?

Huh? I'm only supposed to have teaching nightmares in January and in July, the months before I begin teaching new classes. Well, last night's was a doozy. I don't feel rested.

I'm a half hour late for my 101 class. I'm at the media center trying to check out a TV/VCR combo, except I'm trying to explain that I need a DVD player, not a VCR. It's going to cost me $20, they tell me. I'm not paying $20 to show my class The Breakfast Club, I say to myself. The Breakfast Club? In 101? WTF? So I get on my bike to get back to class and I'm suddenly in some HUGE European city and I can't find my way back to campus. I stop a random guy and ask to use his cell phone so I can call my class and tell them to start writing something (anything) until I get there. Except he doesn't have his cell phone, so I follow him to get it and it's even more out of my way and as I'm following him on my bike I fall face first into a huge puddle.

If I had stayed asleep longer, it probably would've turned out that the guy whose cell phone I was trying to use was a serial killer luring me back to his dungeon.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

ah, to be 7 again

No, not really. I don't want to be 7 again. Just to make that clear.

I talked with Keita tonight. She recently moved from Stuttgart, Germany to a suburb of Alexandria, VA, where she bought her first home. Her daughter, Alexis, is still over in Germany with Damon, who's finishing up his military assignment. Alexis will join Keita in Virginia as soon as she's in the house at the end of November.

Talking to Alexis on the phone, Keita tells her to start thinking about how she wants to decorate her new room. Keita's thinking some kind of flower or animal theme, even Barbie, but she is not prepared for Alexis's response. Since she's coming back to America, Lexi says, she thinks she'd like to decorate her room with the American flag.

Keita: Okay, well, you've still got lots of time to decide before you get here.

the consequences of plagiarism, part 747

Check this out, friends. Doris Kearns Goodwin is apparently on the board of directors of Northwest Airlines and is being targeted by its mechanics union. When labor politics and plagiarism collide.

Let's get real. Despite all the post-Enron hoo-ha about improved corporate governance, does anyone really think that an outside director who's had her nose buried in a multiyear Lincoln biography was a central player in Northwest's policy-making? I don't. After the mechanics struck, Northwest filed for bankruptcy protection, and, yes, things are going to be very rough, not just for the mechanics' union but also for the pilots, flight attendants, and baggage handlers.
Is this Doris Goodwin's fault? No. But she is the most visible
target in a dirty union-management war of mutually (almost) assured destruction.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Annabelle's off to boot camp

The colder air must be getting to the beast. This morning at the dog park she had the fire up her ass big time, would run halfway across the park yelling on orange alert at nothing in particular. Then a huge monstrous equipment-laden truck had the audacity to drive by the dog park! Annabelle led the pack of dogs in a full-fledged attack. It was then that I threatened to ship Annabelle off to military school.

Well, tonight was my birthday party/game night here at the house. Julia and I were "reminiscing" about the joy of Annabelle two months ago on Julia's birthday party night when she escaped 1/2 hour before the party was to start (Annabelle, not Julia) and rolled in shit in the neighbor dog's yard. So we wondered what she might do tonight to throw things off. Nothing, it seemed. With an hour left to go, I decided to run to the grocery store and pick up a couple last minute things. Did I mention that I ate DONUTS for breakfast this morning? Well, there was 1/2 a donut in the trash can, which is COVERED and also very full of other TRASH. I come home with 1/2 hour left until people will be showing up only to find Annabelle STILL ROOTING through the goodies she's found in the trash can. SHE DIDN'T EVEN HEAR MY CAR PULL UP. She was that intent on her treasure hunt. Coffee grounds everywhere. Whole-wheat pasta (which really tastes horrible, hence its being in the trash can) strewn about the living room and dining room.

The real beauty of all this is that my friends are so damn sweet that a couple of them brought not just gifts for me but for Belly too because they didn't want her to feel left out. She got a bag of snausages and a stuffed toy shaped like a bottle of champagne called "Dog Perignonn." The snausages and the toy will both come in mighty handy at doggie military school. Contraband.

Friday, October 21, 2005

oh, the places you'll go

With ten minutes or so left of my grad class last night, the light bulb went off in my head: a fantastic idea for an anthology of which I cannot speak because I haven't figured it out yet, but it kept me up most of the night thinking. We may just be on to something here, but it may be that I don't have the capital to pull it off. At the very least, the prospectus has to wait until after January's College English. Do you like how I speak as though there's a possibility that the prospectus would be ready before January?

Paul-o and I were talking the other night about how we didn't really feel prepared for life after that big milesone of GETTING THE JOB. I imagine folks at Syracuse did try to prepare us, but maybe we just didn't want to hear it or just couldn't hear it because we were so focused on that one goal of THE JOB. I left class last night feeling as though maybe I gave students too much of an idea of what it's like from day to day in THE JOB--the way priorities shift, what has happened to my teaching, the unbelievable weight I carry around about publishing. Perhaps the difference really is that the weight just changes shape: in grad school, all that weight is about getting THE JOB and now all that weight is about GETTING TENURE and after that all the weight will be about PUBLISHING WHAT YOU REALLY WANT TO SAY. The weight never really goes away, so academia is a good place for people with internalized supervision, discipline, and guilt complexes. If you don't have these, how will you survive?

Thanks, Mom.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

the little horse

HOW does she get her whole big body into that chair? Oh how comfy is she?

mother of god I'm 33

Julia's so sweet. Apparently, Annabelle called Auntie Julia earlier this week and asked if she could do Belly a favor and pick up a card for her while she was out. Belly's birthday card to mommy was very, very sweet, but the best part is the image of Belly with the phone to her ear making plans because she's not allowed to shop by herself. Plus, she has no money.

I had a hankerin' for something bad last night so I ate at McDonald's for dinner, figuring I'm allowed, it's my birthday (how long does this attitude last? at least until my party on Saturday night...). So then I had terrible dreams about scarfing down 3 or 4 donuts all in the space of like 5 minutes. Guilt much?

Today: teach all day.
Tomorrow: dual birthday party for me and Nan at the dog park.
Saturday: party at my house.
Sunday: sleep in. Eat a donut. Have nightmares about said donut. Curse the donut. Look how funny that word looks when you see it again and again. Donut. donut. donut. Donot eat a donut.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

in which she discovers a dryer sheet in her bra

Do I need to say anything else after a title like that? Well, yes. I need to make it even better: from 9 am until approximately 2 pm, when I was out and about walking the dog and going to the writing committee meeting and talking with Julie Wonka, I sported a crumpled dryer sheet under my shirt. How did I not notice it until 2:00? Right before class started, I felt an itch, and reached under my shirt only to find more Bounce than I'd anticipated. ha! Get it? Bounce. Except, well, I use generic Target brand. But still.

just when you think writing sucks... lie in bed, trying to fall asleep, and the ideas that have been swimming around your head for weeks finally hit one another in just the right place and you get up and turn the lights on and go to your office and write it all down before you forget--because we can't count how many times you thought you'd surely be able to remember that brilliant idea and then were stumped, completely stumped the next day--and then in the morning, this morning, it still makes sense and you want to go work on it.

Except you have to plan your classes.

Monday, October 17, 2005

when writing sucks

Writing sucks when

1. You've been away from it for so long that the wrinkles on your forehead as you reread what you've written threaten to freeze that way. They threaten to join the wrinkles around your eyes because you're almost 33, the-age-of-the-death-of-our-lord-jesus.
2. You're so tired because you got out of bed in order to do this writing only to realize just how tired you really are. Should've stayed in bed, perhaps.
3. You know the argument so well that you can't explain it anymore.
4. It all seems so obvious. Do I really need to spell it out?
5. You can no longer spell the word plagiarism.
6. You read it over and over and over and can no longer see it.
7. All of this, plus you've got a collaborator depending on you to make some sense.

I will get it done. I will get it done. I think I can, I think I can, said the junior professor.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

oh yeah, and happy anniversary Hillary and Al

Six years ago my dearest friend Hillary married Albert in their back yard in Chester, Massachusetts. It was an absolutely gorgeous fall day, the foliage was at its peak, and I remember how beautiful the mums and the pumpkins and the corn stalks were on the front stoop. Funny to think how young her kids were: Regan was only 6 and Nolan was not quite 4. So little. And I was not quite 27. Lordy. But Regan and I, we matched. We both wore deep purple.

Anyway, happy anniversary you two.

the curse of the recurring dream

Night after night lately, I'm back at my old job at Better Communications, the business writing training company (where I worked from 95-97 full time and then part time during my M.A. from 98-99) and I haven't gotten paid for all of the work I'd done during the month of June. I keep calling and I keep trying to point it out, but they just keep telling me they're looking into it.

In last night's dream, I'm trying to find my way from Paint a Plate, the pottery studio where I also worked while getting my M.A., to Better Communications. And I learn along the way that one of the owners of Paint a Plate has this lakeside home where I can stay for a few days if I want. Things happen, time goes by, and then I realize that I'm going to be late for teaching my writing workshop. So I rush back onto Route 2, only to get there to find that I'm not teaching a writing workshop but a BIBLE WORKSHOP. I quit immediately.

How about a Bible writing workshop? Now that'd be good.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Let the birthday parties begin

Last night Julia treated me to a birthday dinner at Outback and it was dee-licious. When I was in grad school in Syracuse, friends and I ate out all the time, especially at the begining of the semester when the student loan checks came in. Now I rarely eat out, so when I do, it's a special treat. I ate way too much, including part of a huge piece of cheesecake with raspberry sauce. Yumma yumma.

There's quite the social community that has developed at the dog park over the last year. The regulars all go at the same time and we've all gotten to know each other fairly well. We've had a couple doggie birthday parties and are developing little mini dramas to gossip about. Come to find out that Nan, mother of Molly girl, and I have the same birthday. So Friday afternoon, the 21st, we're having a party that includes beverages. No cake because just imagine the mess that would be with all the beasts hovering.

Then next Saturday night, I'm using my birthday as an excuse for a game night at my place. Julia's baking a cheesecake and she wants to be sure it's better than the one I had last night. That's just fine with me, thank you.

Life is good. Cake is everywhere. Dogs are everywhere. And my pants still fit. For now.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

put differently...

These days I'm reading Hillel Schwartz's The Culture of The Copy: Striking Likenesses, Unreasonable Facsimiles and last night I cheated* and went right to the chapter that addresses plagiarism and forgery and this is what I find:
Yet citation, like namedropping, may simply be your way of rewarding a friend, honoring a mentor, injecting yourself into the mainstream, hitching your wagon to a star, deflecting doubt onto a stranger, disclaiming responsibility for a risky idea, proving fairhandedness, or demonstrating erudition in lieu of brilliance. (308)
Couldn't have said it better myself, though, as evidenced by my forthcoming article on citation, lord knows I tried. Schwartz's writing style blows my mind. Witness:
This is a book about what we are making of ourselves, in kind or in unkindness, as we so adeptly reproduce the world around us. The recurrent paradox of these pages is that the more pressing the ambiguities of our re-creations, the more we have looked toward binary pairs to determine how, one by one, each of us might take a stand. (27)
*Will I forever think of "skipping" chapters and not reading in a linear way as a form of "cheating"? I thought this was the year that Amy grew up.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

when you want to write but have nothing to say

Remember when the problem was that you had to write something about which you didn't necessarily have anything you wanted to say? With the blog, I want to write, I look forward to it, but today, people, I gotta say, I'm a bit empty of content (how many commas can fit into one sentence, she wonders).

Lynn Worsham is teaching a grad course on trauma and narrative next semester and I really want to sit in on it. Good stuff.

Next year's Watson conference is focused on narrative, if I remember correctly. yay.

I see no end, ever, to paper-grading. Ever.

I hate hate hate the very idea of holidays coming. Halloween I can handle. The rest, forget about it. But the whole week off at Thanksgiving, I'll take it.

Soon I shall begin writing about the one white hair I've already noticed since coloring my hair not two weeks ago. That's when you know there's really nothing new over here.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

cute cute cute

My 75-pound girl squeezed herself into this chair the other day for the first time. She makes me laugh.

Monday, October 10, 2005

in which she begins to get a little bit of work done

I took Friday almost completely off. Regular readers can guess that, since the only liquids I consumed on Saturday were beer and coffee, I took Saturday off altogether. Spent the day in Champaign with a friend: lunch, a tour of the U of I campus, couple beers on the back porch, walked Indy dog, and then dinner at a great little Mexican place. No thinking involved whatsoever. So on Sunday, I was up and ready to work. Did some grading, wrote the rhetoric mid-term, read parts of Silences, and took a nice long walk with Belly, Julia, and Callie Wags. And this morning I went to Panera to read a book that I've agreed to review for Composition Studies. Just getting that 2 1/2 hours of "my own work" done this morning makes me feel SOOOOO much better.

The moral of the story: must take time off in order to be productive. Must take time off.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

32: the year Amy grew up

In honor of the last couple weeks of being 32, I offer these remarks from the year in review, none of which will be the least bit surprising to my three regular readers (well, maybe number 8):

1. I think I can safely say that I've done a respectable job of keeping 2005's resolution to appreciate what I have and to quit worrying about what I don't. I said "respectable," not perfect.

2. One of those things I have is a healthy dog who makes me laugh every day and, now that it's getting colder at night, wants to snuggle her momma more.

3. Another of those things is an excellent job that keeps my brain working on things I want to be working on. I have wonderful colleagues--and it's hard to believe that just over a year ago I barely knew them. Now I wonder how I got along without them.

4. I love teaching graduate students.

5. I'm taking responsibility for a lot of things that, for a long time, I had been persuaded I didn't even deserve: happiness, love, a social life, etc.

6. This is beginning to sound like I'm going through the 12 steps.

7. When I look back on this year, I think I'll refer to it as the year I grew up a whole lot. I'm not completely a grown-up, mind you, but I took some pretty large leaps.

8. Yesterday the only liquids I consumed were coffee and beer. Oh, and a diet Pepsi (ick). This is why I slept until 9:30 today.

9. Chickens still make me laugh.

10. This year I met Christian Troy on Nip/Tuck and we're getting married. I'm also getting married to David Sedaris, Vince D'Onofrio, Mark Ruffalo, Jon Stewart, Larry Lessig, David Gray, and I know there are a couple others, but I can't remember. Schmoozin, some help?

Friday, October 07, 2005

In Her Shoes

Girls' night out tonight. First up: In Her Shoes, the new chick flick with Cameron Diaz and Toni Collette. Cute, sweet, tearing a bit at the heartstrings. All in all, a good way to begin a Friday night.

Then we went out to a bar, the three of us. And the people-watching alone made it a blast. In some ways, I felt like I was in high school again because, boy, we can turn petty after a few beers. But I laughed a lot, I made a new friend, and I laughed a lot. Did I mention that I laughed a few times?

It's been a very long time since I've been out to a bar with the girls, I gotta say. But the perspective it provided me: Excellent. Healthy. Good.

Conclusion, based on the movie and the bar: life is really all about a very simple human desire to connect. To know and to be known. That's what we're all after.

For that, your deep thought of the night: you owe me fifty cents.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

today I became the prof who spits

I spat in class. Not on purpose. I was talking about something, all excitedly and it just kinda happened. It didn't hit anybody, fear not. Just one of the copies of the midterm.

Another funny thing (assuming you thought the first was funny): yesterday a colleague said this: My PMS is so bad that if I could deep-fry and salt my own arm, I'd eat it.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

remember that Tuesday night dilemma?

I couldn't help it. As I was trying to watch SVU, I found myself switching back to Nip/Tuck and staying there. So I pretty much ditched Olivia and her telephone call with the 9-year-old girl to watch my new crush, Christian Troy with his fancy new haircut. Love him.

busiest blogging day ever

That was probably yesterday. And this post, it's about two things that were said to me yesterday by two separate colleagues. Each is scary in its own way (the things said, not the colleagues):

1. I've finally figured out who you remind me of: Molly Ringwald.

2. Will you be around on New Year's Eve?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


In last night's dream, I was reunited with my high-school boyfriend in a mall. He was taking me back to his parents' house so that I could talk with his mother, who really wanted to talk to me after all this time. His dad, though, he didn't want to talk to me for some reason, so his mom and I sat and caught up for a while while the boyfriend (looking exactly the same as he did in high school) rearranged shit in his old room. Ah, yes, the room where we made out and did other naughty things: it, too, was exactly the same as in high school.

I'm not really sure what all this means or why I'm dreaming about him now. But the memory of the dream stopped me in my tracks at one point today when it flashed before me what life would've been like if I'd married him. So young. So naive. So clueless. I'll say that last part again. So goddamn clueless.

Tuesday night dilemma resolved

What is the Tuesday night dilemma, you ask? Well, since I became addicted to Nip/Tuck late this summer, and I'd already been addicted to Law & Order SVU, I didn't know what I'd do because they're both on Tuesday nights at 9:00. And lord knows I'll never figure out how to actually tape a show. But behold: F/X replays Nip/Tuck on Sunday nights at 9:00.

Rest easy, my friends. I can feed both addictions.

Speaking of addictions, I've successfully weaned myself from diet Coke. Yay. I'm still allowed to have one on Thursday evenings, though, because that's the crazy long day.

Belly at Max's birthday party

Yesterday I had to rush off from school in order to get my girl to her friend Max's first birthday party. Here's a picture of the girl eating her "ice cream":

And here's a picture of the birthday boy, Max, who is fifty percent tongue. He's a Leonberger. Look that one up.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Julie Wonka and Sir Budsalot

the newest addition to the Jung-Isaacs family, Sir Budsalot:

Amy with the dark hair

The Bellers and I, we match:

it's finally happened

I've hit that age where I now look back at my younger self and wistfully recall the way I used to be able to go away for a weekend trip and instantly recover. In fact, recover wouldn't even be a word I would need to use because it didn't really phase me. Now, after last weekend's trip to Michigan, I understand the exhaustion of traveling. One week later and I'm not sure I'm fully recovered. Granted, I drove, which has its perks and its disadvantages: I could come and go as I pleased, but I also had to be alert for those last six hours as I drove home.

My new unbreakable rule: One conference per semester at most.

I hate that I haven't even been able to look at my notes from the conference. I hate this feeling of being backed up, and I especially hate this feeling of not working on a larger project. I mean, I guess I am working on the book because everything I do ultimately leads back to it and it's percolating in this noggin o' mine, but I'm not sitting for extended periods of time and just writing. Anxious.

In the grad class the other night, we were talking about internalized supervision and discipline. I think I've got that one down. Jesus H.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

turtlenecks and a digital camera

These two things have nothing in common except that they're living in the same blog post.

1. I like men who wear turtlenecks.

2. Keita sent me her very old but still very functional digital camera with my birthday box (a bit early, but I'm not complaining). There's a picture of the dark-haired Amy on there, but now I have to go out and get a doohickey cord that will allow me to download the pics onto the computer. Sit tight.

Perhaps with my digital camera I shall take pictures of anonymous men in turtlenecks. There. Now they belong together.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

I might be able to get away with murder

I colored my hair last night. Made a bold move and went one shade darker than usual (usual being all of twice now that I've actually colored it). Went from "medium brown" to "dark brown" and, I'm telling ya, I could commit murder today and get away with it because I'm not recognizable as me. Last night I was kinda scared about it, comparing myself to Elvira and all, what with this pasty white skin of mine. But this morning, I'm thinking the better adjective is dramatic. It's definitely a change.

Welcome, October. After all, I'm almost at the age-of-the-death-of-our-lord-Jesus-H.-Christ: time for a change.