Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Holy gorgeous pie, Batman

I made this most beautiful pie after having more than three drinks at the dog park last Wednesday. Yum.


I have just this to say, to protect the innocent: Being an adult sometimes really really sucks. All I want to do is throw a little tantrum and make someone fix it all for me. I don't want it, he doesn't want it, yet it's the best thing to do but it feels so bad. The child in me wants to reason that if we both agree, then how can it be wrong? I go for five minutes being an adult and then I revert back to being a child and wanting someone to find a solution. Except you can't really find a solution when there's not a fixable problem.

Life was simpler once, yes?

Monday, November 28, 2005

now the dreams are conference anxiety

Usually they're teaching anxiety. But this is the second time in less than a week that I've dreamt that I'm at a conference, scheduled to give a presentation on the last day, and I have NOTHING with me. No paper, no computer, no draft, no nothing. All my friends were there and I had to decide whether I was going to hang out with them and enjoy myself or go up to my room and write the damn paper I had to present. Ah yes, the tension at the center of the nightmare: social life vs. work. I guess this isn't all that surprising since I've been spending more time on the social life lately and have a tremendous amount of built-up guilt about not writing.

Here's the crazy thing: in my dream, I was planning the paper in my head. This is the one on using Bourdieu as a frame for analyzing the textual features in social class narratives that contribute to the production of "authenticity." The title is "Humility, Immediacy, Necessity: Bourdieu and the Production of Authenticity in Working-Class Narratives," and lo, dear readers, I was so desperate that I was planning to write a paragraph about each: one on humility, one on immediacy, one on necessity. A five-paragraph essay for my 4C's paper! Nightmare, indeed.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

today I blog to procrastinate

Cool, rainy Sunday morning in Bloomington, Illinois. I've showered, I've eaten, I'm drinking my coffee. The girl has gone out, done her little dance in the back yard, and come right back in to snuggle up to the flannel sheets on the bed. I've got end-of-the-semester-itis. And practically no skin left on any of my fingers, down to the first phlange (Hillary loves that word).

Yesterday I borrowed from the local library a copy of David Sedaris' new edited collection, Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules on CD and listened to it on my drive to and from Champaign. I never read short stories, but I'm really enjoying these and am thinking about going for a drive just to finish listening to them (why I can't just listen to them in the house is beyond me).

Last night I dreamt of good Scrabble words. Right now my fingers are bleeding. Christ.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

2 whole days without blogging--ACK

Last night I slept for approximately eleven hours. Yesterday I was awake for approximately eleven hours. But I'm happy to report that, though I had what seemed like a million things on my list of stuff to do over Thanksgiving break, I did not do it all. I have not yet drafted my own class narrative for the collection my grad students and I are putting together. I haven't yet finished grading my 101 papers. I haven't yet finished reading my grad students' class narrative drafts. All of this is to say that I'm finally--sloooooowly--learning to let myself relax a little bit. Don't get me wrong--there's still a whole lot of free-floating anxiety when, at 8:00 on a Friday night I'm reading Joan Didion and I have to stop and stare off into space for a minute while I identify where that free-floating anxiety is coming from. It happens. A LOT. I have to constantly remind myself that next semester I'm only teaching two courses and will have more time to write. Plus I have an ambitious book-writing schedule--a gift from Becky that will do wonders for me because it's not MY schedule that I can just ignore. It comes from above.

Please note the amount of rationalization going on in this post. Will it ever be the case that I just say I'm learning to relax and have fun. Period. Check back in a year.

In other news, Thanksgiving dinner was a success. The bird was dee-licious, the stuffing and mashed tatoes and asparagus and cranberry sauce (with lines) and the sweet potato casserole that Julia brought over--it was all superb. On Wednesday night, after drinking at the dog park and then over at Nan's house for the after-party (ha!), I outdid myself with the world's most beautiful apple pie EVER. Perhaps it's a good idea to be a little tipsy when baking because, goddamn, it was gorgeous. I took pictures, and I'll post them on Monday when I get back to school. Ron brought over a pumpkin pie from Schnuck's (a local grocery store--gotta love that name) and I swear they baked it with crack. It was SO GOOD. After dinner we three played Scrabble and then watched a stupid movie (Hitch), but what mattered was that we enjoyed each other's company so much. And here's where I say how much I've never really liked the holidays, mainly because I was always stuck with my family and, well, my family's a bit, shall we say, dysfunctional and depressing. But now, dare I say, as I grow up, I'm realizing how much fun holidays can be when you spend them with people you want to be with. People who enjoy playing Scrabble and snuggling on the couch watching a very bad movie and snorting pumpkin pie. And laughing at the three crazy dogs and their strategies for getting just one more bite of turkey.

Life, my friends, it is good.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

top 10 things I'm thankful for

Okay, so maybe it's a bit cliched, but what the hell. It's good for the soul.

In no particular order:

1. My wonderful friends who keep me laughing and who laugh at all the funny things I say
2. My beautiful, healthy, obstinate, sweet, loving, snuggly, pain-in-the-ass girl
3. My health: I can see, hear, walk, run, write, read, and laugh
4. A job that has me teaching fantastic students who keep me thinking and laughing and who move me so much sometimes with their ideas and their innocence that I want to cry. My job that has introduced me to so many wonderful friends and colleagues. My job that allows me to sleep in most days and allows me enough space--usually--to do the work I want to do.
5. A Life Director who a) makes me laugh and b) believes in my work and in my potential
6. Enough awareness of self to figure out what I need and what I can live without
7. Cheese
8. Scrabble, both online and in person
9. Christy's basement pottery studio
10. Flannel sheets and fourteen thousand blankets on my bed

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

giving you the bird

Um, hello. I bought a bird today. WTF? Okay, not a whole bird, just the breast. And potatoes and stuffing and cranberry sauce (with lines) and broccoli and apples for pie. AMY IS COOKING A TURKEY, PEOPLE. Need I say more? Lift your jaws up off the floor.

Monday, November 21, 2005

welcome to the world, little girl

Nola Virginia Wingard Sicinski was welcomed into the world this afternoon by her fantastic parents, Jennifer Wingard and Michael Sicinski. She joins her big feline brothers, Ube (aka Ubilicious), Hollis (aka Monkey Humper) and LeMieux (aka Memes).

I hope I'm the first one to blog this. Somehow I feel the need to be part of it since I can't be there to jump up and down and hold the baby (not at the same time, of course) and give big hugs.

Welcome, sweet baby Nola. I can't wait to meet you and kiss you and tickle your little belly.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Capote and Grizzly Man

I saw Capote in Champaign last night. Excellent flick. A few very jumpy moments. Philip Seymour Hoffman: very good. The movie made me want to immediately go out and get a copy of In Cold Blood, which I haven't read since college. At Barnes & Noble, the book was $14. I think not. I'll get a copy at a used book store, thank you very much.

But the real exciting moment last night was the preview for Grizzly Man, the story of Timothy Treadwell, the man who was killed by the grizzly bears he lived among and loved. The bears! I know that it's unethical to portray them as soft, cuddly creatures, but I know from reading reviews that Treadwell believed in their innocence, which means that the footage will portray them this way too. It's a remarkable story, and I'm so excited to see it. Opening night, people. Opening night I'll be there.

From IMBD:
It is fair to say that Treadwell was eccentric and delusional. Treadwell imagined himself as a champion and protector of the grizzlies, when in reality they were in little danger. He saw in his beloved grizzlies an idealised world of love and harmony. All the love and beauty that Treadwell thought was missing from civilisation he projected onto the bears. He was naive and delusional in that he failed to acknowledge the brutality and misery that are constants in our world.
But you just watch: it won't be here in Bloomington. I'm sure I'll have to go to Champaign again to see it. Grrrrrrrr.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

an ode to Julie Wonka

Here's the full text of my introduction of Julie last night at the book party. People laughed. It was good.

What I love about Julie Jung: a list
1. She was a college Republican
2. She was a math major
3. She’s an incredibly smart, thoughtful, innovative, and caring colleague
4. She cracks me up like nobody else in this department

As many of you know, I am deeply invested both personally and professionally in blurring the lines between the artificial categories of “the personal” and “the professional.” People often laugh when I tell the story of my interview here last year when, after I asked the ten or so people interviewing me what they were looking for in a candidate, Julie responded, “I just want a friend.” In her book, Revisionary Rhetoric, Feminist Pedagogy, and Multigenre Texts, Julie refers to moments like this as “putting the wrong things together,” but I’d like to take this opportunity to revise that phrasing: there’s nothing wrong with the things Julie puts together. Indeed, the beauty of Julie’s work is that it is a demonstration of the knowledge that can come from challenging categories that tend to reify themselves, even in a department committed to an English Studies model. I can’t put it any better than she does: in her preface, Julie writes that putting wrong things together has provided her with “an experiential knowledge base that has motivated much of my scholarly work—the knowledge that disrupting expectations can result in expanded and revised points of view, that from such disruptions one can develop the epistemological pliancy one needs to negotiate responsibly in an ever-changing world.” Julie’s book demonstrates the epistemological potential of the multigenre essay. She writes, “By refusing to ‘fit in’ to the conventions of any one genre or subfield, and yet by building alliances with several different genres at once, multigenre texts demand new and better kinds of listening.” It occurs to me as I read this that this description applies to the entire book and to Julie the person we all know and love. By refusing to fit in to the conventions of any one subfield, and yet by building alliances with several different subfields at once, Revisionary Rhetorics, Feminist Pedagogy, and Multigenre Texts demands new and better kinds of listening. We cannot approach this book the way we would any other scholarly work. Julie’s work challenges us to confront the ways that we—in person and in writing—often avoid disruptions in favor of apparent seamlessness. Julie’s work challenges us to put the wrong things together and, in doing so, to revise our experiences of disruption. I’ll end with my favorite line from her book, one that I’ve posted above my computer at home: “If it is true that we can revise only what is written, maybe it is also true that we can write only what has been revised.”

Congratulations, Julie.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

this is worse than eating my homework

Belly's started eating the mail. Perhaps she's not getting enough exercise? Or enough kibble?

I don't have a mailbox at this house. It's a mail slot in the door, so the mail just falls to the living room floor every day and, because she can't bite the mailman's hand, she'll bite what falls from it. Yesterday I got a check in the mail and by the time I got home it had teeth marks in it. Luckily the teller at the bank didn't seem to notice or didn't care.

In other news, this year marks a ten-year milestone for me. It's your job to guess what that milestone is. If you persist, you'll get a response by email.*

*Becky, I know this is killing you.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

on being at school since 9 am

Mother of god it's windy and cold out today. Snowing, even. But I got up at 7:30 in order to be here at 9:00 for a meeting with Ron Fortune about our collaborative article on plagiary and forgerism. Since our meeting ended, I have accomplished a number of things: I've planned two of tomorrow's three classes, I've talked to the Julie Wonka and to Julia--separately--I've eaten lunch, I've braved the elements to run over to Subway to get an oatmeal raisin cookie, and I've still got two hours to go. I'm doing a quick read-through of first-year students' revised literacy autobiographies, and then I'm going to take the beast to the dog park at 3:30. At this rate, I shall collapse at 7:30.

Oh, and Nip/Tuck was an hour and twenty minutes last night. What I love about the show is the way they have a psychological "theme" for each episode. Last night's theme was an evaluation of the superficiality of transferring the surface features of one person onto another. Next week Christian and Kimber get married. My boyfriend! No longer single! Help?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

n minus 4

Don't I sound all mathematical and shit.

Oh boy do I need the complete week off next week. The list of things to accomplish goes like this:

1. Write interview questions for my 101 students--for the book
2. Draft my class narrative for the collection my grad students and I are putting together
3. Write the outline for Student Authorship--outline due according to Beloved Director's schedule on December 18
4. Take at least two complete days to do nothing other than read Joan Didion and watch silly movies

This Friday night, there's a book party for three colleagues in the department, one of whom is the illustrious Julie Wonka. I'm introducing her. Pressure.

Monday, November 14, 2005

how Scrabble contributes to my ADD

I resisted for a long time, I really did. Hillary and Al have been addicted to online Scrabble at the Internet Scrabble Club for months now and I've been giving her shit--a lot of shit--about how much time she's been spending playing Scrabble with other people when she could hop on a flight and come here to play with me. To which she replies that I could just as easily sign up for online Scrabble and all would be well. Except we wouldn't be sharing a big bag of potato chips as we played.

So I signed up. Here's how I spent my Saturday afternoon: reading for my grad class while playing Scrabble online. I turned the computer speakers on, so I'd be in the middle of a sentence and I'd hear the whump that tells me it's my turn, and I'd turn my attention to the game.

You could look at this in one of two ways: I'm nurturing my ADD or I'm multitasking. Cuz last time I checked, Scrabble was an important task to accomplish...

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Fish n chips

I like my post title. I was trying to come up with another Fish pun, one that would actually work with the little update I'm about to provide, but I couldn't come up with one, so there you go.

Anyway, my point is that the December issue of Harper's includes the essay from which Fish drew most of his talk the other night at ISU. Now I can have my rhetoric students read it.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

gone Fishin'

Stanley Fish gave a lecture here on Thursday night. I ended my grad course early so we could all go and, I gotta say, I wasn't really expecting to be as impressed as I was. The man can argue. I think this might say a little bit about the man: ISU's provost said a few things about him and then turned it over to Gary Olson, Dean of CAS, who told a story about a debate he'd witnessed between Fish and Dinesh D'Souza. When Fish took the podium, he corrected parts of Olson's story. It was x, not y, that happened.

His talk was called "Three on a Match: Intelligent Design, Holocaust Denial, Postmodernism." I'll try my best to reconstruct from my notes his primary claims which aren't actually all that surprising, but when so incredibly well argued, strike one dumb. Okay. Postmodernism's insistence on tolerance, often at the expense of judgment, has allowed far-right conservatives to argue for things like Intelligent Design by hitching their wagon to pomo's values of fairness, free inquiry, and open debate. Intelligent Design, they argue, has been marginalized, and aren't we in the academy committed to hearing all voices, regardless of how unpopular, perhaps because they're unpopular? Because pomo has insisted on the historicity of all claims and the fallibilism of all human judgment, proponents of Intelligent Design can argue for taking the long view of history: because we don't know what will happen in the future--Intelligent Design might be demonstrated to be completely valid--we should ignore the lack of evidence and the judgment of the scientific community in favor of pluralism. But Fish argued that the long view of history doesn't tell us how to respond to questions now. He's disturbed--disgusted--that there are no criteria for ruling out those who exploit the values of postmodernism--so that proponents of Intelligent Design and Holocaust deniers are heard despite the fact that they have no new evidence to present. No claim, in these cases, can ever be disallowed. There's never anything at stake if we aren't looking at the nitty gritty of the argument. It's not a real argument if it's continually sold as the case for "open debate." How can anyone be against open debate, especially in the academy?

The mistake, Fish argues, is to think that the historicity of claims to truth invalidates them. Postmodern thought renders all accounts equally the products of human judgment--they're equally historical--but they're not equal in any other respect. All the important differences remain.

Here's the thing about Fish's talk: it was so well argued that, unless you were paying very close attention to the subtle nuances of his argument, it would be easy to hear Fish as arguing against pluralism and open debate. At one point he said something along the lines of "diversity as an agenda makes no sense at all." I can totally see someone hearing that, taking it out of the context of his discussion of postmodernism, and labeling Fish as anti-diversity.

People did actually line up to ask questions after his talk. Fish said something like, "line up and I'll shoot you all." One audience member began with this: "I followed your talk. I disagree with it, but I followed it." To which Fish responded, "Clearly you didn't follow it." At first I understood that as primarily an arrogant response: how can anyone disagree with Stanley Fish? But as I was driving home I realized that he meant it quite literally: if you followed his talk, you'd understand that intellectual response isn't about agreeing or disagreeing, it's about marshalling arguments. Opinion, he said at one point, is just bullshit.

Final note: I can't believe it, but I actually DIDN'T require my rhetoric students to attend this lecture. What kind of teacher am I? I've been so overwhelmed and so exhausted this semester that it somehow slipped my mind. Ugh.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

I'm not worried about you

How many times in my life have I heard this? It's a backhanded compliment--I'm not worried about you because I know enough about your work, your interests, your writing, and your work ethic to know that you'll eventually pull through and wow us. Or if not wow us, you'll at least be okay.

I just emailed a grad student and told him I'm not worried about his being able to figure something out. Yesterday I was talking tenure with a colleague who told me she's not worried about me.

I guess it's good to know that people have faith in me. Perhaps if we changed the language a bit and told those we had faith in that, well, we have faith in them rather than saying we're not worried about them. I believe in you. Too active? Too complimentary? To say we're not worried is pointing out a lack. To say we believe in someone is saying there's something there: belief.

Who do we worry about? Is telling someone we're not worried about them also a way of saying that there are those who we do worry about? An implied comparison?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

how you know your bladder's the size of a pea

You dream about having to find the closest McDonald's because you have to pee so badly. And in this dream you also know that you could stop off at the local diner, but you'd much rather go to McDonald's because at least there you can get yourself a refill on your Diet Coke.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

the girl, she's a killer

I took Annabelle to the cemetery by our house this morning and, since she'd had a traumatic weekend with the sedation and the toenails, I decided I'd let her run off leash. Which she did. She ran for about 10 minutes and came back to me relatively quickly and obediently, but when she got close, I noticed that her mouth was covered in blood. AND I DIDN'T FREAK OUT. Pat me on the back, peeps. We were a 15-minute walk from home and there wasn't much I could do, so I just put her on the leash and we walked back home. I wasn't really sure whether the blood was coming from her mouth or it had come from another hapless animal, but by the time we got home there was no more blood.

Conclusion: she's a killer and there's one less scurrying critter on the prairie.

the blasted writing process

I wrote a book prospectus this summer. I asked a couple of beloved colleagues to read it and help me and they did. And I haven't really looked at it since early August. When I sat down yesterday morning at Panera to dig in again, I was struck by how many claims I was making (I have been accused of claim proliferation more than once in my short academic career) and by how much I was assuming my readers knew and understood. This prospectus wouldn't fare so well in my own rhetoric course. I'd probably give myself a C+.

I decided I'd go through the whole thing and try to hierarchize my claims, my evidence, and the implications of these claims. This is indeed a lot of work, but just doing that made me feel so much better. It's gonna take a few days to get through this hierarchizing, but in the end, I think it'll be time well spent.

Claim 1: writing processes mature as the writer matures
Evidence: look at me go
Implications: be nice to yourself

Claim 2: blogging has made me a better writer
Evidence: you don't know what I was like before I blogged, so you have to take this blog as evidence that I've gotten better. Just look at the entries on Euphony, for example. tee hee
Implications: be good to your blog

Sunday, November 06, 2005

HOW, again, did I survive in Anchorage?

Did lots of reading today for my grad class and I decided that I'd set aside a couple hours tonight to go to Panera and work on revising an essay I began in last semester's grad course on authorship, this time with an eye for social class, violence, and abuse. At 6:00, I got all my stuff together and it was REALLY PAINFUL to contemplate the very idea of leaving the warm house with my warm doggie to go out into the cold, dark, cruel world. Last week I said it'd take me about a week to get used to it getting dark out at 5:00, but, I'm not there yet.

But I'm here. My hair is ridiculous--on top of my head in a scrunchie--but I'm here. It's warm and cozy here, the coffee is hot, and I'm not distracted by that warm doggie or season 2 of The L Word. The blog, though. Clearly, that's distracting me.

Back to violence, she said with a grin.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

drunk doggie

Minor crisis with Annabelle yesterday and today. Her toenails have been ridiculously long because, ever since her summer 2004 encounter with a porcupine in Chester, MA, she won't let anybody come near her with any kind of tool. And I've been hesitant to sedate her just to do her toenails because, well, she's my baby, and sedation scares me. So last night she was limping, favoring her front left foot--this is the third time in as many months that I've noticed this, but I'd always figured she was limping because she'd run too hard the day before. Turns out it was probably her toenails that were bothering her. Last night I noticed that one of her toenails had separated itself from the quick--the best way I can describe it is to say that it looked like the toenail was shedding itself, kinda like a snakeskin. But it was still attached.

8:15 vet appointment this morning. Poor girl thought we were going to the dog park like we do every Saturday morning (yes, Belly knows the days of the week). We decided to sedate her because we knew she'd never let the vet get a good look at that nail. I've never seen my girl sedated before. It brought tears to my eyes because, well, where was my girl's fire and spunk? Before we sedated her, the big fat nail shell came off and it reminded me of a big ol' bug shell. Boy, did I feel like a bad mother.

She was such a good girl. After they did her nails (Oh, I feel so much better about that. Big sigh of relief) they gave her a reversal drug so that she'd be able to walk out (I'm strong, but not strong enough to carry my 77-pound girl out to the car). Half her wrinkled tongue was hanging out of her mouth and she was stumbling to the car. Poor poor baby. But it was also kind of hilarious to see her tongue like that. I would've taken a picture, but by the time we got home, most of the tongue had retreated. She's in bed now with Blueberry, her special toy. Our friends at the dog park will be wondering where we are this morning, especially since it's so gorgeous out--65ish and sunny in early November.

I wonder if she'll feel hungover when she wakes up later today. My precious precious girl.

Thursday, November 03, 2005


Need I say more? How cute are these feet that are all over the place?

another episode with Euphony

Please recall, Euphony= you funneeeee.

So we're walking along the other night, all three dogs are with us, and I'm telling Euphony a story about a guy named Tim.

Me: It's kinda weird because that's my brother's name.

Euphony: I thought your brother had another name, something weird.

Me: You mean Guy? That would be my other brother. There are two.

Euphony: Please don't blog this.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

flannel. rubber. what a difference

How's that for a blog post title?

First, flannel. If I happen to mention again that I get lots of sleep, it's because I made the switch this week to the flannel sheets and holy shit I CAN'T GET OUT OF BED IN THE MORNING--THEY'RE TOO DAMN COMFY. When I die (if it's winter), please be sure I'm lying in flannel sheets.

And the rubber. What a difference new tires make on a ten-year-old car! I bit the bullet and shelled out close to $300 for four new tires the other day. I was gonna be a cheapo and just get two to replace the utterly BALD ones on the back, but I was feeling flush, what with it being payday and all. It's almost like I'm driving a new car. The car doesn't shake, the brakes don't squeak, and I'm not afraid I'm going to end up in some ditch if it rains.

And the new coffee pot is working nicely. I may never wash the actual pot since each time I've broken one, it's from hitting it on the sink or on another dish in the drainer.

I have no clever way to end this post, so I shall simply end with a recap: flannel. rubber. coffee. good.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

coffee pot, oh coffee pot

How many coffee pots can one woman break in the space of, say, eight months?

Three. The answer is three. The third one, tonight.

Off to the big red Target I go to get me another one. Grrrr.

sugar. crash. dark.

First, the sugar. I lied about not buying any Halloween candy. At the last minute, I stopped at Walgreen's and bought KitKats just in case. Then I felt bad for the poor little kiddies because it was raining and that doesn't make for a fun night of begging. And I ate a lot of chocolate. Haven't eaten that much chocolate in a long time and my body didn't quite know what to do. So it crashed.

Crash. I watched it on Sunday night. I felt manipulated. It was moving in parts, yes, but some of it just wasn't believable. Like the part with Sandra Bullock hugging her maid and telling her she's the only friend she has. A bit over the top. I mean, I can understand her feeling that she has no true friends, but then the maid? Come on. She didn't change that quickly. Maybe I was just expecting too much from it because I'd heard so many shocking things. I wasn't shocked. The part I did like was Don Cheadle's opening lines about people being so desperate for human contact that they crash into one another to get a reaction. That I can understand.

Ah, the darkness and the demons who live inside Amy. They get a bit more persistent when daylight savings time ends and I leave school at 5:00 and it's just about dark. I'll be used to it in a week or so, but for now I'm kinda sad.

Plus this morning I dropped my mascara brush on my cream-colored sweater. That's because it's getting dark out earlier. Post hoc ergo propter hoc.

And in the Annabelle department: she has officially regressed. She had, a few months ago, graduated from having to wear her pinch collar every time we took a walk. Well, how do you un-graduate? In Belly's case, you put the pinch collar back on the end of the leash and you save your mommy's shoulder.