Saturday, March 31, 2007

Saturday afternoon confession

I'm spending the afternoon reading. A novel. For fun.

I have work to do.

I always have work to do.

I'm loving loving loving the novel I'm reading, so I'm neglecting my work. Or to put it another way, I'm taking a day off.

The novel's called Love and Other Impossible Pursuits by Ayelet Waldman.

Yesterday I completed the paperwork for my third-year review.

I have a chapter to write. I have work to do for teaching. But I'm going back to my novel now.

This really does feel like a confession.


Thursday, March 29, 2007

Belly and the birdbath

It's just not easy being the biggest of four doggies, Annabelle wants you all to know.

On his back deck, S. has two birdbaths. He cleaned them out and filled them on Tuesday afternoon. He also has three doggies who are short, much shorter than the youngest child, Belly. Belly's the young big one.

I filled a dog bowl with water and put it out for all of them on the deck. Even though they have access to the kitchen through the doggie door, I still thought they'd like having a special outdoor bowl.

Rather than drink out of the dog bowl, Belly was caught in the act of lapping out of one of the birdbaths. It's just at her level. I told this to one of my colleagues a few minutes ago.

She: It must be nice to have that kind of entitlement.

Me: Yup. I love that she has it. All creatures should feel that way.

She: She has her very own goblet in the back yard.

So now, the next time I go to S.'s house, I've got to remind him that that's not a birdbath, silly, it's Belly's personal water goblet.


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

I just now caught up on my sleep

Wednesday afternoon. Rainy and warm and humid. Took the girl to the park. She loves running in the rain, that one. I carried my monstrously huge, wind-proof umbrella that S. gave me for Christmas and I was completely covered. Came home sleepy. Turned off the lights, locked the door, and Belly and I settled in for an early spring nap.

And it was one of the best naps I can remember taking for a long, long time.

Still a little groggy, but I think I might officially be caught up on my sleep.

Monday, March 26, 2007

I am not a city girl

This truth cannot be overstated. I was never meant to negotiate the big city. I can do it--I'm very good at not getting lost--but damn, it makes me sad. Saddest thing to me is the throngs and throngs of people. Just not for me.

I'll never go to C's in NYC again. The pain and misery of Thursday's travel was simply not worth it. I won't go into the details, but I will say that it's the layers upon layers of travel that kill me. The drive to Chicago, the shuttle from the hotel, the schlepping around the airport only to do the same thing in reverse once I got to NY. The icing on the cake was getting dropped off by my million-dollar taxi at the wrong goddamn hotel. The "W" instead of the "Doubletree." Yeah, I can see how that would be confusing. Jesus.

I don't feel like I was even at the conference. I usually come away from C's with lots of ideas, too many ideas even, but this time I made it to only a handful of panels. And jesus h. christ on rubber crutches, if I'm scheduled for Saturday at 3:30 next year, I'm gonna cry. I've never not been on Saturday. So, Mike, Becky, Donna, I'm sorry if I'm cursing our panel by being part of it: we'll likely be on Saturday, last time slot.

Bitter much?


The good: Got to spend lots of time with the life director, got to see good friends, had some good food (went off the diet totally). But the time, the money, the energy, the sanity that has been lost as a result of the travel: it won't all get reimbursed.

I said to the Wonka on our way home, "I feel like I need to make public how much this trip has taken out of me."

Wonka: That's what the blog is for.

It was so so so good to come home to my girl and to S. I've got scratches all over both arms from the welcoming committee, and I wear them proudly.

This trip, it hurt.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

the crap that cracks me up

Annabelle Blue Butler has well over ten nicknames. Among them:

Petunia Butterbutt

How'd she get that last one, you're wondering. Well, it morphed from cute patoot to cutie patootie to Petunia and somehow the butterbutt got added because we needed some b's in there.

Last night, playing cards with S., I cracked myself up.

me: What would you do if your name was Petunia Butterbutt?

he: Change my name.

For the rest of the night, all I had to do was think of my ridiculous question, S.'s beautiful answer, and I'd crack myself up.

I'm easy.

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

on knowing and learning again the same old lessons

In her essay "Mirrorings," Lucy Grealy, author of Autobiography of a Face, writes
I once thought that truth was eternal, that when you understood something it was with you forever. I know now that this isn't so, that most truths are inherently unretainable, that we have to work hard all our lives to remember the most basic things.
I thought about this passage a few times this week as I slowly disintegrated from not teaching. S. worries about what I'll be like in the summer. Somehow I get by, probably because there are trips and deadlines and such that move the time along faster. Why don't I teach in the summer, he wants to know. Because if I did, I'd be completely burnt out and miserable. I need the time to reenergize, to focus on writing, to sleep as late as I want. Yet when I sleep as late as I want, I get depressed. In other words, damned if I do, damned if I don't.

None of this is news. I have to relearn it each time I take any kind of break from teaching. My students keep my energy up. The scientists have yet to find a way to bottle such energy.


Saturday, March 17, 2007

baking with only the freshest ingredients

True to my list, I decided today to bake something because if I didn't, I'd end up doing more work and, well, we gotta stop working all the time.

As I've committed myself (the sentence could so end there) to a healthier diet, I opted for blueberry/raspberry oat bran muffins. And instead of regular ol' brown sugar, I used the Splenda brown sugar blend (thank you, Splenda people). When I mixed the brown sugar into the oat bran, the result could be described as nothing less than filthy cat litter. The brown sugar blend didn't really blend, and the oat bran looks just like kitty litter. So you get the picture. Pretty and deeeelicious.

In other wacky news, someone found their way to my blog by typing into Google: "Jesus Harold Christ on rubber crutches." Lo.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

lest you believe I'm always productive...

If your name is Schmoozin, you're likely to believe that I'll accomplish everything I put on my list of things to do over spring break. But it shall not be.

Yesterday I had a glimmer of a new idea around which to organize my Sites of Plagiarism chapter, so I was excited. Today I worked on it and was just bored. I don't do so well when I'm bored. Gonna try again tomorrow, but until then, and probably until it's finished, I shall instead suffer from a low-grade anxiety that makes me want to eat only ice cream and tums.

I still do not know how to relax.

S. suggested I watch a movie or some taped shows that I've been wanting to watch, but I can't watch TV during the day. It depresses me.

So I'll probably go grade a few papers until it's time to take the girl to the vet for a follow-up visit at 4:00. Gotta keep a close eye on those stinkin' toenails.


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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

D-U-N dun

Day two of spring break, and oh how I love to cross things off my list. I'm at school right now drafting the Sites chapter, so that one can't be crossed off, but here's what D-U-N dun:

1. Cobbled-together C's paper. Ain't nearly as good as the full-length version, but you'll just have to wait a few months for that.
2. Manuscript review for journal.
3. One of two sets of papers graded.

Today's high: 72, which means I'm only staying here until about lunchtime. Go home, have lunch, walk the girl, sit outside and breathe in the fresh air all afternoon. Deee-licious.

And the good thing about this chapter I'm drafting is that I finally get to put to use the material from a fantastic first-year course I taught two years ago on the politics of writing.

Good stuff.


Monday, March 12, 2007

bookstores in an attention economy

S. and I had a late lunch at Olive Garden yesterday--we were on our way to Panera but since Olive Garden was closer and we were lazy, we went there. Afterwards, we went to Barnes and Noble, which is in the same plaza. My stated purpose in going there was to pick up a birthday card. An hour later, I'd spent about $30, S. about $40, and I was completely exhausted. Anyone who knows me knows I don't do well with an overload of sensory information, and the older I get, the worse it seems to be. Shopping exhausts me. There's too much to look at. And I've sort of come to terms with that. But it depresses me that a bookstore exhausts me. Every time I turned around there was yet another table of "paperback favorites" (whose favorites?) that I felt compelled to look at. And on every prime spot of real estate in the store was Chris Bohjalian's new book, The Double Bind. Imagine the money the publisher was spending to have that book continually in the faces of B&N customers.

Anyway, the point of this entry is to say that I can remember a time when I thought it was possible to read all of the good books I wanted to read. I used to think that browsing a bookstore would always be a pleasure because I'd always have all the time in the world to read read read. Yesterday it suddently hit me that that's just not true. I know, big deep and meaningful insight. I've got real problems, I know. Criminy.

There's a stack of at least 10 "fun" books on the end table next to my couch. And I added one to it yesterday. And I still want to browse the bookstores. But I want that browsing to not result in paralysis.

What I'm reading currently: Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go.

In the stack: The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
Gerald Clarke, Capote
Marilyn Johnson, The Dead Beat (on obituaries)
Tom Perrotta, Joe College
Vivian Gornick, Approaching Eye Level
Curtis White, The Middle Mind and The Spirit of Disobedience
Sy Montgomery, The Good Good Pig
Temple Grandin, Animals in Translation
Editors of Bark Magazine, Dog is My Co-Pilot
Jackson Tippett McCrae, The Bark of the Dogwood


Saturday, March 10, 2007

little did she know....

How much did I love Stranger than Fiction?

Very much.

Oodles and oodles of much.

"Little did he know...that's 3rd-person omniscient," says Harold Crick.

I've been obsessed of late with Arlie Russell Hochschild's concept of "feeling rules." "We feel. We try to feel. We want to try to feel" (Commercialization 97). We manage our feelings, and when those feelings are managed in an effort to profit in some way, our feelings become commodified. What I so loved about this movie is the way it plays around with this concept of managing feelings. Who manages them when we've got a narrator in our head doing a play-by-play of what we're doing and what we're feeling? How does that change the way we articulate what we're feeling or what we're doing when we're managing feeling? And that voice in our heads? It's there for all of us and it's called dominant ideology. When Crick at the end of the movie decides to face his fate with a kind of calm acceptance, we want him to challenge it. We want him to say no, this is not how I want to die. But instead his narrator, understanding that the type of person who knows he's going to die, has the power to change things, but doesn't, is the type of person we want to keep alive. Problematic on many levels, of course, but I'm interested in the way that Crick's character understands what he's supposed to feel, reconciles that with what he does feel, and as a result of his proper emotion management, gets to live and feel gratitude.

And how much do I love Dustin Hoffman's character? Oodles of muchness. This semester he's teaching 5 classes, working with 2 dissertators, and is lifeguard for the faculty pool. Lordy. And reading mysteries wrapped in plastic as he performs this last duty. Too much.

One more thing: Are any of your parts not your own? Funny you should ask. Schmoozin and I were just talking about what might happen if our arms weren't our own.


Friday, March 09, 2007

oh good lord I needed this weather

52 degrees. Life already looks so much better (not that it was looking bad, mind you, but you get my drift), and on Sunday we get an extra hour of daylight.

First day of spring break. Today's plans: Nuttin, nuttin, and a little more, um, nuttin. I went to bed around 11:30, had massively weird dreams, woke up at one point with an appendage attached to my upper body that had utterly no feeling, shook it a bit, and went back to sleep. Woke up at about 8, let the girl outside, and went back to bed. For two more hours. Holy sheee-it. I was a tired girl. Poor Belly was abandoned outside for two hours, but she made good use of her time. She picked up all the poop and then picked up all the sticks and put them in a neat pile for me to carry to the curb. When I finally let her in, she was a bit clingy, more so than usual. Poor girl thinks her mommy abandoned her. I have been known to fall back asleep, leaving her out there in the rain. In a yard with no shelter whatsoever. But today is the start of a string of days in the 50s, so the guilt shall evaporate relatively quickly.

Since getting those last two articles accepted, I've been a bit easier on myself about relaxing, taking entire days off because I need them, trusting that the work I'm doing is good, that I'm being productive even when it feels like I'm not. Giving myself a break.

For more laughs, I present you with this, wholly unrelated to the rest of this post. Context: in the car on the way home from dinner.

Me: My butt really is getting smaller. I just bought these pants a size smaller and they're already sagging.

S.: I keep telling you that.

Me: You love my butt.

S.: I do.

Me (classic): You mean you didn't love my big butt?

S.: Of course I did.

Me: Wrong answer. You're supposed to say I never really had a big butt.

S.: Please don't blog this.

Me: I can't help it. It's a compulsion.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

what men don't get about women's hair

The following is a telephone conversation that took place yesterday, after I spent all of $12.95 on my Supercut:

Moi: I got my hairs cut after school today.

S.: Don't you usually just do it yourself?

Moi: Yeah, but I couldn't stand it anymore. It was driving me nuts.

S.: So why didn't you just cut it when you got home?

Moi: Because I couldn't take it anymore.

S.: How much did they cut off?

Moi: It was just a trim: probably about a half inch.

S.: A half inch was enough to drive you crazy?

The poor boy.

The following is a conversation I had yesterday with Julie Wonka before I got my haircut.

Moi: My hair is driving me crazy. I have to get it cut NOW.

JW: I know. I totally know the feeling.

We then engage in other, ultra significant conversation.

Three minutes later:

Moi: God my hair is horrible. You do know the feeling when you just have to get it cut immediately, right?

JW: What about the time I called my hairdresser and told her it was an emergency because a colleague just told me I had a mullet? Uh, yeah, I understand.

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

what I'm working on these days

I just made my list of things to do for spring break.


1. Cobble together C's paper from 25-page article. How DOES one turn 25 pages into 8? Not well, not well atall.
2. Write a review of a manuscript for an unnamed journal.
3. Grade two sets of papers.
4. Draft my chapter for Sites of Plagiarism, Sites of Pedagogy.
5. Work on collaborative essay with student in my personal essay class.
6. Take reading notes on The Gift and The Managed Heart.
7. Bake something yummy.

I don't work too much. Naaaah. Not at all.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

where the hell have you been?

Oh, it's ME that's been MIA. Or so it seems. Lordie, lordie, I haven't been a very good blogger lately.

On Friday night S. and I cashed in most of the $25 in gift certificates a dear friend gave me for my birthday in OCTOBER. I NEVER keep anything with any kind of cash value for four months. This kind of stuff burns a hole in my pocket. But trust me when I tell you that there was nothing worth seeing for those four months. I really wanted to see Little Children, but it never came here to the middle of nowhere. But we both wanted to see Zodiac, as we're both fans of the serial killer genre. New favorite show is Criminal Minds. All the critics seem to be giving all the acting kudos to Jake Gyllenhaal, but my fave was Mark Ruffalo (doesn't hurt that he was once on the list of men I was going to marry). And holy shit, Robert Downey Jr. looks not at all like himself. The movie itself, though, was creepy and crawly and intense and suspenseful and frustrating. My favorite line from the film: "Jesus Harold Christ on rubber crutches!" ha!

Last night we stayed in and fought. Just kidding. We had an adult conversation that included alternate viewpoints.

And how, may I ask, did it get to be one week before spring break? Holy Jesus Harold Christ. The time it is a-flyin'.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

the tootin' of my own horn

Originally uploaded by aerobil.
That, I believe, is the only way to describe this entry. This is neither a lying, a tirade, nor a fear. It's a tootin' horn.

Lyings and tirades and fears and horns, oh my! Not quite the same ring to it.