Friday, December 21, 2007

The Long Weekend

After having a couple year's worth of adventures in a semester, I am back at Absurdist Paradise. A new situation to be sure -- but very much absurdist. To sum up: An academic jumps off track to live with her lover and cat in a cozy RV by a duck pond on the way outskirts of Urban Home City. (I hear the pond is stocked with fish, so we won't starve.) I'm calling this period of my life The Long Weekend (yes, this is what the movie or TV show will be called), because the RV is called a Weekender. I'm sure it was never meant for full-time use. Tough luck. This is where we are for now.

Internet is spotty at Duck Pond Campground. There's some internet guru there, of course, but the range on his wireless pretty much sucks. We're likely going to buy him an antenna to boost the signal. If that fails, Absurdist Lover (aka Love and OPL) is preparing to lay hundreds of feet of ethernet cable -- all so I can keep YOU updated on our (mis)adventures. Okay, so he really wants to "show me" World of Warcraft. Uh-huh. Been there, done that. Have I told you about my game-addict ex-husband? Well, Absurdist Lover is not like that. (And if he is, then I'll have more time to blog! So there!)

So my goal for spring semester is to keep myself underemployed with adjunct or other part-time work (test prep centers? language schools?) while I figure out whether I want to jump onto the Casey Jones tenure track or find something else that will allow me to have more of a personal life or what. But more important, I'm going to write. In an RV. While I figure out what to do with my life. With the man I love. And a cat. Oy.

Because we don't have internet at Duck Pond, I'm currently at the Corporation. I worked on my comps in one of these big chairs, listening to the steaming of milk for overpriced over-delineated just-as-you-like-it coffees. I'm in a town on the outskirts of Urban Home City where there are Corporations at every strip mall. It's pretty scary. This place reminds me so much of the suburb where I grew up. Out the window from where I'm sitting, I can see the scrawny trees propped up with dowels in the center island of a wide street -- the tract house development on a slight rise on the other side. The kids have nowhere to go but down to the local pizza place to hang out. The people who can afford to be sitting here in Starbucks on a weekday afternoon, even right before a holiday, are not the ones who live in those houses. People who live in those houses don't have the freedom of independent wealth or the kinds of jobs that would allow them to work at home. Those people are tied to jobs they serve everyday -- and probably not in the academy. I don't want to be them, those people who spend more time in their cars and offices than at home. Of course, I have no idea how make the kind of life I would like to have. I would like to have a small house with a big garden someday, but I'm getting to an age where I better work toward "someday" soon, if I'm serious.

Right now, I've just gotten off a plane, unpacked my bags, and settled in to the RV. I haven't even seen my folks yet. Absurdist Lover and I haven't had any time to figure out what we're doing. Maybe after we get home from Dreadful Conference we'll be able to figure things out.

***Update 3:12pm, mere seconds after I pressed publish***

A guy just came up to me and started talking Mac. When he asked me whether I used it for work, I said yes -- of course I realized that I'm actually unemployed and had to explain that I was "between things" right now, but said I was a writer and professor. And he recommended this Guru seminar (the second person to recommend it), then I asked if he were a writer. He said he'd written like "15 books -- nonfiction. That's not writing -- those are just long term-papers. Fiction -- that's writing."

Even in Suburban Ticky-Tacky Houses, there are crazy writers. I stand corrected.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Five Loved Books of 2007: A Meme

Jane D. over at Unnoted Unseen Unsung notes that the National Book Critic's Circle recommends five books per month. This list is derived from asking "What 2007 books have you read that you have truly loved?" to writers, critics, and book lovers. I am a writer and book lover. And most of you fit one of those descriptors. So it's our turn.

My 2007 is not everyone's 2007 -- the books I discovered in 2007 are not the same as books that came out in 2007. But these are books that I came to love this year. Here goes:
  1. Possession by A.S. Byatt: I laughed, I smirked, I cried, I bawled.
  2. Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver: Okay, so this is not The Poisonwood Bible. In fact, I started this book five different times since I bought it in hardcover when it came out and couldn't really get sucked in. Then finally, I got sucked in. I did find that there was a fair amount of environmental information in the book, which I found interesting but didn't need. I'm always interested in the balance of information/position-taking and story in a given novel, especially because I love novels that have political content. I don't know what I think of the balance here, but I definitely lived with this book for a good long time -- and even now remember the old man who got jealous of the scarecrow looking inappropriately at his neighbor's legs!
  3. Traveling Mercies and Grace (Eventually) by Anne Lamott: I needed these books. I just needed them. My life is so strange and odd, it's nice to hear about someone who is totally as neurotic as I am trying to live a good life. I'm not a Christian, but I found that Lamott's Jesus was the good and generous within ourselves -- and you don't have to be a devout or born again Christian to want to live your life centered in the generous, good, divine part of ourselves.
  4. On Writing by Stephen King: Lamott and King together gave me permission to write -- again. King has also given me this vision of being a poor near-starving writer typing like mad in a trailer, a vision I'm taking way too seriously about now. But there it is.
  5. I can't think of a fifth! What's that about??? I've been reading, but this is about books I've loved. I'm screwing up my own meme. Nuts. I guess the closest right now would be Helen Fox's Listening to the World: Cultural Issues in Academic Writing. I did not finish the book, but I've referenced it in conversations something like 87 times. That may not be love, but it's certainly some form of mild worship.

I'm tapping five people for the Five Loved Books of 2007 Meme: Maude Lebowski, Jane D., Hilaire, Medieval Woman (because she needs something else to think about other than the obvious), and Sisyphus.

Happy Blogoversary!

Happy anniversary, dear blog, dear Absurdist Paradise! It was a year ago today that I first decided that I needed a place to vent about and try to make sense of the absurdity, at that time of the job search process, then dissertating, then counting down to Adventure U. Then there's basically been this Absurdist Paradise radio silence, where I haven't felt like I could risk publicizing what was going on with me.

In that blogoversary spirit, I went back and read some of my earliest posts. It occurs to me how so much can happen in a year. I'm in a very different place (literally and figuratively) from where I was last year. If anything, I'm more, rather than less, conflicted about tenure-track academic life. I realize that this makes me a class-A ingrate, considering my incredible luck; on the other hand, I'm not sure that the luck I've had has led me to feeling useful and worthwhile in the world (which I figure is as close to happiness as I dare ask, work, or hope for). Moreover, the nature of my luck made me have to choose, as many academics do, between having a job and having a life. (I'm choosing life.) In looking back at the early posts, I see also that even back then I was intermittently thinking about some of my biggest concerns now -- no, not the job market, but who I was/am as an academic versus as a writer. I've gained a great deal in grad school, including a sense that I can write about certain topics that are important to me and that I may even have something important to say about the experiences that my education and interests have made it possible for me to have. But I'm also extremely grateful for this little academic train hiatus I've built for myself where I can choose to go forward or make a course correction. Most of all, I want to write. I've always wanted to write. And my birthday is coming up -- one of those big birthdays that seem portentous. The refrain in my head goes like this: I've known I wanted to write and wanted to be a writer for twenty-eight years now, since I found out from the bio on the back of a Judy Blume book that it was possible to be a writer and not be dead, with my manuscripts all neatly awaiting publication in my desk. I've wasted enough time. Enough already. Maspeek! Chalas!

So friends, I'm off to the do the impossible. I am yet again moving. This time, I'm moving to Urban Home City, off to a real adventure in being with the man I love, writing, and trying to figure out what to do (fit myself to the tenure track? academic administration? writing/editing? becoming a totally successful novelist/screenwriter almost overnight? being an underemployed overeducated "artiste" when I am entirely too old to do so?) that will support me in living a whole life I can blossom in and support the dreams and growth of my man. Academic or not, I'm sure the absurdity will continue.

By the way, what is up with the damn Wiki? Who would maliciously rip down a democratic and altruistic space that makes many of us feel like we have some control over our lives? Creeps. By the way, I have an interview at Dreadful Conference. My Man is coming with me. I don't know what he'll think of it all. I'm sure the madcap adventures will continue. I hope you'll come with me.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Seven, Seven, Seven into the Future

Though I've had this blog for a year and used to be an avid blogger, I have only for the first time been tagged for a meme! It is the ubiquitous Seven Random Things about Me meme -- and darling Maude Lebowski is the one who dun it.

Here are the rules:

The rules:

1. Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
(I'm sorry, but shouldn't that be person "who" tagged you? Forgive me; I've been grading.)
2. Share 7 random and/or weird things about yourself.
3. Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
(Come on! If I've been tagged, there is practically no one in the blogoverse who has not been tagged.)
4. Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog. On it. (Uh huh.)

So here are some weird facts about me:

  1. Apropos of the title of this post, when I was a child in the '70s, I loved The Steve Miller Band's song "Fly Like an Eagle." (Also, The Kinks's "Lola," though my mother worried about me loving that song.) Maybe it was too much Sesame Street and "today was brought to you by the letters X and Z and by the number seven," but I was convinced that part of the song went: "Seven, seven, seven. . .into the future."
  2. Connected to this is that my parents were very young when they had me. So I grew up with parents who were alternately Nichiren Shoshu Buddhists, avid bowling team bowlers with trophies all over the house (including the special joke one given to my mother when she bowled a season pregnant), and rally racers. After Urban Cowboy came out, I babysat my much-younger sister on the weekends when it was imperative that my parents had to go "ride the bull." This said, I still sometimes forget about all this and wonder why I don't fit in with the status quo. Then I remember.
  3. Further connected to this is that recently my wonderful bashert, OPL told me that I'm one of those crazy people who don't know they're crazy. (Okay, so I asked him and he said: "a little." "Really? I'm one of those people?" I asked again. He said: "a little.") The really crazy thing is that this makes me feel better. When I was young, I feared being normal and average. I needn't have bothered. For the last couple years, I feel like I've been pouring lifeblood into the project of being "presentable" ("a vegetable," goes the next line in the super-fab "Logical Song" by Supertramp). It's exhausting. The seams of this "presentable" costume are so frayed, I must look like the Scarecrow without a Brain.
  4. The strange thing isn't that I am divorced but that I was ever married. People who know me now (and didn't then) can never remember that I spent ten years with someone. That's how single I seem, I guess. And I no longer remember what it felt like to be married. Could it have been that my marriage was just like having a roommate around?
  5. In the last three stressful work environments that I've been in (which is to say the last three work environments I've been in), part of my coping strategy has been imagining my work as a TV series with long, complex and totally over-the-top storylines. Grad school was simply called "English" and featured a homeless grad student who slept on a cot in his office and showered at the gym, a hapless new grad student who had terrible teaching nightmares and whose teaching scenes would be shot like acid trips, and the scheming social climber grad student who was alternately screwing professors and students in her office. In my previous work environment, the series starred Martian engineers, a drug-dealing cat who slapped his owner around, a boss who seemed incredibly competent to all and sundry but secretly freaked out and shot up under her desk, and the graphic artist who was turning into a fly who was the only one who could see the boss as she was: totally and completely freaking out all the time. Of course, all the characters were based on someone real. Right now I'm working on a movie. I'm keeping this one to myself for now. I still need its good healing mojo.
  6. Contrary to my sarcastic and cheeky affect, I'm a total romantic, loving Jane Austen movies (and, of course, the novels, though really they are all about money and virtue, which I find satisfying for my heart and my head) and a sweet and much-beloved British comedy series called As Time Goes By, about two people who meet up again thirty-eight years after their romance abruptly ended. I also love old-fashioned things like needlepoint and cross-stitch. I'm sarcastic and self-effacing as a defense because I'm sort of embarrassed about my old-fashionedness. At the same time, I have totally liberal views about relationships and gender roles. In theory. In practice? I still think the man should be the one to smell the milk to see whether it's gone off.
  7. For many, going to grad school and pursuing the life of the mind and the uncertain life of a grad student-turned-professor is a dream that requires a giant leap of faith. But I worry that it's a way for me to cop out and give myself an excuse to not try to live out my dreams. I've sought out structure and security in my life. What's more structured (if not secure) than the tenure track? Leaving that sure-step future is, I think, a bigger leap of faith for me. It's scary.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Can't Help Myself

It must be the countdown to the Interviewing Conference that has left me only able to appreciate Memey Goodness. (Of course, there is also the all-important Return of Earnest English to Absurdist Paradise from absurdist inferno to look forward to.) So here are some Random Facts, as seen over at Jane Dark's Rome Colored Glasses:

People have often asked the United States, What is your secret weapon against terrorists? We simply reply...Earnest English.

When Earnest English goes to out to eat, she orders a whole chicken, but she only eats its soul.

Earnest English has 12 moons. One of those moons is the Earth.

Earnest English's calendar goes straight from March 31st to April 2nd; no one fools Earnest English.

When Earnest English sends in her taxes, she sends blank forms and includes only a picture of herself, crouched and ready to attack. Earnest English has not had to pay taxes, ever.

Most tough men eat nails for breakfast. Earnest English does all of her grocery shopping at Home Depot.

Earnest English is the only woman to ever defeat a brick wall in a game of tennis. (But only during my dissertation.)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Never Fear

Earnest English will be back and the absurdity will continue! One month from today (ish). Same bat time, same bat channel. Stay tuned. Until then. . .

William Shakespeare

Eternity was in our lips and Earnest English.

Which work of Shakespeare was the original quote from?

Get your own quotes:

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Purpose of First-Year Writing: Discuss

So I was over at Dr. Crazy's and in passing she mentioned composition and its purpose of preparing students for college-level writing. I have no beef with her that this is the ostensible purpose of the first-year writing requirement, but it got me thinking about an issue I've always wondered about and want now to put out into the blogoverse for your consideration.

Does the idea of first-year writing preparing students for college-level writing make sense? Many of us in English Studies find ourselves teaching first-year writing; teaching first-year writing is not confined to those who specialize in Rhetoric and Composition, however much maybe it should be or not. (This argument is not my point.) The idea of a first-year writing course that prepares students for college-level writing assumes that college-level writing across disciplines has certain things in common. And I think many of us agree that many of the academic discourses do have important things in common, like critical thinking. (Critical thinking may come out in analysis in the humanities and problem-solving in the sciences, but not taking the surface explanation for granted and learning to dig deeper in discipline-specific ways is, I think, common to most academic disciplines. I think.) But are we in English really preparing students for the range of academic discourses students will need to access across disciplines? Do I really prepare my students to write biology lab reports? Do I even know the entire range of discourses that students will need to access? Am I even qualified to prepare students to enter discourses in which I am not fluent, or even at this point literate, and haven't had to write in for blessed twelve years (the scary number of years since I graduated from college myself)? Am I prepared to teach a class in which I am expected to help students access discourses across the university? How do I do that? (Of course, the way I teach -- and anyone's teaching of first-year writing -- is implicitly an answer to these questions. But how often do we think about how our first-year writing class prepares fledgling engineering, physics, anthropology, and literature majors equally? Can it? Do we just prepare students to write in the liberal arts?)

I realize this is what writing in the disciplines (WID) is all about -- helping students to access specific disciplinary discourses. But that is not first-year writing and does not have that objective of "helping students write for college" objective tied to it. I just want all y'all's take on whether we who teach first-year writing can prepare students for all or most college-level writing and, if so, which features of the various academic discourses we take to be common across disciplines? Of course, this assumes that first-year writing has no other objectives besides making the transition and preparing students for college-level writing. What other objectives do teachers have for first-year writing? And assuming other goals, what about that important issue: do professors and administrators across the university know that we may have other goals besides "preparing students for college-level writing"? I know I have other goals in my first-year writing courses, but when I'm sitting in the faculty lounge, the colleague complaining about how "students can't write" isn't thinking about how I might want my students to think about writing as a way of thinking, seeing how writing is tied to identity issues, or writing for a range of personal, professional, and, oh yeah, academic situations. He's talking about their ability to access his notion of academic discourse. What d'y'all think? Everyone is welcome to weigh in here, not just teachers of first-year writing. I think this is an issue that affects most of us who teach at the college-level.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Wanted: The Department of Love

The fabulous Maude Lebowski had the inspired idea of reversing the job market process. Instead of departments putting up totally impossible ads of people who do half-a-dozen totally unrelated administrative things, conduct field-boggling research, and are happy with a 4/4 load (only Dr. Crazy can do all that and she's. . .well, crazy -- lovely, but totally exceptional), we should put up our want ads.

So here's mine:

Wanted a supportive department that has a strict policy of never sending emails to the faculty list on weekends. No more than a 3/3 load with the MLA-recommended class size -- and the balls to refuse enlarging class size to the dean and university. A department that encourages faculty involvement in service and outreach programs -- and looks at them as purposeful scholarship since, let's face it, it's often far more productive to make one's work useful in the community than to have some boring article (yes, mine!) published that will only affect the half-dozen people who will really read it -- and then maybe only two out of those who read it without a critical pen in hand and the doubting game in their heart. A department who pays for conferences and research travel. A collegial (pronounced callejial, by the way) department that understands that at the end of the day work is just work -- that drudge you do for dollars so that you can raise your children and love your husband without living on the streets. A department that consists of cool people that anyone would actually want to hang out with, chatting and drinking wine with on the weekend, talking about everything from the latest scholarship to film adaptations to video games to sports at least a few of whom actually keep current on research. A department that puts its money where its mouth is when it comes to accepting difference and engaging in useful self-questioning about issues like academic discourse, the canon, standard English -- and all the ideologies, viewpoints, and people that such choices marginalize and silence. A department that refuses to prolong a dull meeting by nit-picking at the lint on a document in process. A university that takes seriously its mission to serve and educate students, rather than see teaching as the thing we have to do in order to be able to close our office doors and get back to our research. A place where I can teach all the facets of English Studies, rather than being pigeon-holed as the person who does X. A place, preferably in the Western half of the United States, where my fiance and I can find a farm on the outskirts of town and live and just be happy.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Writing an STP?

Then hie thee hither over to Sisyphus's place, where not only will you pee yourself laughing, but the comments on the kinds of things to focus on in an STP are really helpful. In my grad program, we were asked to write an STP in our TA training course. Our TA training course! Like, our first semester of teaching as TAs! I tried, was told I was doing it totally wrong, and then refused to do the assignment on the grounds that it didn't make sense for me to write such a thing after four weeks in the classroom (especially as I had just come out of working for a few years after Grad School Parts One and Two).

Anyhow, I somehow made it to graduation despite my defiant attitude -- and now need to write an STP. Of course now I have more to reflect on, and I realize I write so much STP-like things in my letter that maybe having the STP there will give me more space in the letter. (At least I might actually have margins -- just kidding.) Here's what I'm doing: I'm taking all the good comments that people suggested at Sisyphus's, turning them into questions, and free-writing. Perhaps that's what I should say in my STP too -- that I believe in tricking one's self into writing at every point. Tee hee.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

It's that Time Again Folks: to Market!

Well, we're here again folks. Those of you who have rummaged around in the deep dark recesses of Absurdist Paradise know that this blog was founded on the principle that if I could whine about the market, then I might have a chance of living through it. Well, the job list came out yesterday and the whole world was on it, making it the slowest race imaginable. Yes, I was looking on it too. Oy. Letters and philosophies and writing samples, oh my. Do we have to? Sadly, yes.

Here we go again!

Saturday, August 25, 2007


I'm in Adventure City, folks. Orientation starts tomorrow. I see students. Remember, if you want to read about the detailed and undercover adventures, you gotta email me at for the secret invitation. There's so little I can say here, folks, except that I miss my blogoverse friends!!!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Big Surprise

As seen over at Maude Lebowski's:

?? Which Of The Greek Gods Are You ??

Take this quiz!

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| Make A Quiz | More Quizzes | Grab Code

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Feeling Angsty

Okay, here's the thing: I'm nervous and on edge about this move. And then there are all the other things going on (OPL). I just don't have any extra resources right now. I spend every day trying to get control of the chaos of packing and everything -- while trying not to go nuts, since my life has changed and is changing in a number of ways: my heart is big and huge and vulnerable, I've just completed a dissertation, I'm moving to my first post-graduate student job. I'm nervous and scared about everything. I don't know how much I can console other people about the scariness of the future right now. GAAHHHHHH!!!!

That said, I've spent the morning on the phone trying to arrange things. I think I've run out of people to call. Now I have to figure out what I'm going to do today since I ended up totally wasting last night with worry. I'm having a moving party on Saturday, so I know I need to clean up, since things have gotten very messy as every area is some kind of staging area for packing. I need to put out the books that I'm giving away so that people can see them -- and probably put away the things I don't want people seeing. I also need to clean up the kitchen and do some darn laundry!!! Maybe laundry will be the big task for the evening -- which means today should, I think, be devoted to clothes and the closets the world forgot. (Does everyone have to write in order to organize themselves, or is it just me?) And then I do need to do some prepping, which for now means reading and taking notes.

Tomorrow I will need to really prepare for having people in my house. Though I have lived here for five years and I love love love my apartment, I've never had a party here. And if you saw the place right now, that would make sense to you. Everything's everywhere. A total nightmare. I'm not going to be able to get it to the point that I won't be embarrassed about it, but I think I'm going to go for lack of complete humiliation. And floor space. OY! Not everyone is so forgiving as Maude Lebowski and OPL, the last two people who overnighted here. And Fabulous Friend is too sweet to ever say anything about my obvious and complete lack of organizational and cleaning abilities when she comes over. Dishes, reorganization, closets for laundry. Ooh, and I need to go to the store to get more bags.

I'm so nervous that even a Starbucks latte makes me sick. Or else I'd be over there getting one. Of course I might go anyway. OY!

***Update 1:30pm***

Hurrah! I'm going to get to share my madness with Angry Incredible Writer Friend! She's going to let me come over and do laundry, laundry, laundry, which means I have to go into the Closets that Time Forgot and get all that organized. Which means I have focus. I also did the dishes. And I really should go out and get bags and maybe even something to eat. This is totally ridiculous, my need to make public my doings. OY VEY!!!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Packing Is Like Dissertating Is Like _________?

As I was looking at my poor front room last night, I came to a major realization: packing is like dissertating. You work hard every day hoping that you're going to be able to feel the progress, that watching the pages accumulate will make you feel like you've done something. But actually for the first two-thirds of the project, you feel like you've got so far to go that if you focus on how close you are to the end, you'll go comatose on your bed staring at the ceiling and trying to figure out how long you can lie perfectly still just as you did when you were a child. So you figure out that you need to not look at the big picture, but recount and exult in the little bits that you did each day. And you find yourself blogging your page count and how you feel like shit because you wrote only three pages, instead of the impossible six you were planning. (And even six feels like it will be forever until you're done, so you feel like super-crap and find it hard to forgive yourself that you had to watch that movie marathon, had to spend two hours on the phone, had to browse the internet or whatever.)

In all fairness, it was Witty Sardonic Friend, who I totally miss, who told me it would be this way. He said: work every day and it will feel like you're doing nothing and then all of the sudden you'll be almost done. The thing that is so annoying and wonderful about WSF is that he is often right. With my diss, I did suddenly feel like I was almost done. Though I had been slogging through for months, it felt like a surprise. Oh, that's what all this work was for. I get it now. So as I was looking around at the simply impossible amount of stuff I have everywhere, I figured out that I've just got to work at it every day and then suddenly in like a week and a half, it'll be almost done. What's more, the movers will come and hurriedly pack whatever I've left.

I wonder what else is like dissertating and packing. Maybe all big projects are like this? You work and work and work and are sure you're going to die before the project is over or at least it's going to kill you and then suddenly it's almost done. (I will say that often that last third feels like pulling teeth compared to the nice clip you realize only in retrospect that you've been going at for months. Case in point: Works Cited -- gahhhh!) Maybe all those books that people like Dr. Crazy and Maggie May have been writing? Perhaps remodeling a house, like Dr. Four Eyes?

So in the spirit of blogging wee progress, I thought I'd fill in the rest of what I did last night: I went through all the desk drawers and organized them (though I didn't bother packing the stuff away because I can just slip the drawers back into the desk after it's moved), another big "everything" kind of drawer, boxed a set of my notebooks (I have notebooks and journals and writings going back to when I was a girl -- I always imagine that I'll go through them and come to terms with Little Earnest when I am pregnant -- until then, I'm carting them around from place to place), and reorganized some stuff I'm taking with me to Adventure City.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Slow, But Certain, Progress

So today I managed to get the storage unit and move about twelve boxes into it. It's not much, considering how many books I have, but it' s a start. I also finally returned about twenty books to various people around campus -- and I got some things lined up for an updated dossier.

You know it's bad when you can sum it up in a few short sentences. But things are progressing in that slow terrible way. My back is killing me -- and my legs don't want to work because I did this insane workout on Sunday and I'm still not recovered. So I'm going to sit around, burn CDs, and read this one book from my advisor that I think will help me prep. Oooh, and most likely catch up some more on my blogreading. I'm comin' over. Watch out!

Blogging Progress???

More like blogging the fact that I'm a total lazy slob. Today I woke up really groggy and sore. And immediately I had moving and storage people talking to me, which half jump-started me onto the idea that I really better figure out that stuff. So I did that. And I've done some other stuff -- burned CDs (number forthcoming), copied the stuff out of the three books from the library, went through an extraordinary amount of paper -- but all this pales in the presence of the solemn vow I have sworn to not get caught in the magazine cycle again. Let me explain: I know some people read magazines on a regular basis. They leave out Newsweek and The New Yorker and visitors actually read them as they, for example, go read their bedtime stories to their four year-olds. But these visitors are occasionally on crack in thinking that just because they soak up this fascinating The Economist article and find the articles in this week's The New Yorker very engrossing that they should subscribe. And this, folks, is my doom. I love magazines. I hate them. Weeklies come way too often. Utne Reader (at least old Utne -- I haven't read it since it changed hands) was perhaps the only one I could really devour. Even if I didn't read the articles, I was interested in knowing what they were. With Newsweek and Time's dismal headlines starting at me, forget it. If anyone wants a fairly complete collection of near-pristine (mostly) news weeklies, let me know. It's ridiculous in here. I'm not getting caught in this guilt-inducing magazine consumerism again. I'm going to buy magazines where they should be bought -- at the co-op and the airport!

Mostly I feel as if I've sat around mooning. OPL said he wouldn't call for a few days -- it's a lot of work having all those mental conversations with someone you can't call. I did manage to rebox some things that needed to be reboxed. But here was the moving coolness for the day, which happened early and was probably the reason I mooned about so much later in the day: when you put stuff in storage, it doesn't have to be packed up tight as when you're actually moving your things. (Yes, I'm putting most of my stuff into storage because it's really the most convenient thing to do in this situation. Sorry I can't be more explicit.) So I've been looking at the way I live my life -- and actually I have a lot of stuff in boxes -- not terribly secure we're-moving-halfway-across-the-country sturdy boxes -- but more precarious really-ought-to-be-reboxed-and-organized boxes. Which means that if push comes to shove, I just won't rebox them. And as I look around at my house, I wonder how much really needs to be put into boxes or reorganized. So much could go as is. I have this weird sense that if I needed to do the whole thing in three days, I totally could. On the other hand, I am going through a lot of stuff, because I have so much crap after five years of graduate-studenting, but part of me just needs to SEE more progress. I have boxes and stacks and stuff, but it doesn't look like a hole in the place yet. Tomorrow I will pack up the car with the few boxes that will fit, go over to the storage place and deal with paperwork, and move my first boxes into my new storage unit.

So in order to not go to bed completely depressed (what's surprising is that I'll get to bed before 4am), here's what I have accomplished:

  1. Scheduled movers at a reasonable price.
  2. Found a storage unit.
  3. Resorted and reboxed some book boxes.
  4. Discovered that deep in the closet that the world forgot there are still many boxes from when I moved in.
  5. Went through and burned the bulk of 27 CDs.
  6. Looked through countless piles of paper for an old receipt that I need for reimbursement. (Why, oh why oh why???)
  7. Began the process of requesting an official copy of said receipt.
  8. Sent emails to all my recommenders asking them to update my dossier. (You never know.)
  9. Made copies of all library materials for prepping.

Here's what I haven't done. I haven't made a big enough dent in this whole thing. I haven't done any intellectual work nor any actual mental prepping. I haven't left the house except to go to the car. And I haven't worked out at all because I am still so sore that moving around hurts. My goal is that by Friday, I'm going to have made a significant dent in this whole thing. I especially want to go through my clothes very soon. And I really need to deal with my office, which is overgrown with books and papers. Luckily I won't have to bother with taking that stuff home. I'll just take it directly to the storage unit, do not pass go, do not collect $200.

Mr. Tabby now needs his medicine and I'm contemplating an early night. Mr. Tabby was pronounced reasonably okay (we needed to increase the dose of one of his medications), but he's lost weight and he doesn't do anything. He spends way too much time in dark areas. I don't like this.

Monday, August 6, 2007

With Memes Like This, Who Needs Therapists?!

You Are Death

You symbolize the end, which can be frightening.
But you also symbolize the immortality of the soul.
You represent transformation, rebirth of a new life.
Sweeping away the past is part of this card, as painful as it may be.

Your fortune:

Don't worry, this card does not predict death itself.
Instead it foreshadows the ending of an era of your life, one that is hard to let go of.
But with the future great new things will come, and it's time to embrace them.
Mourn for a while, but then face the future with humility and courage.

No wonder I've felt so much like death lately. This morning I feel like death warmed up.

Blogging the Moving Progress

I know, I know these kinds of posts are the most boring in the world. Look at me try to stay accountable by blogging the progress. I'm sorry if you totally hate this, but I got totally addicted to blogging the progress with the dissertation, so now I'm hooked. Blogging progress is my need! So here goes. Here's what I managed to do today so far:
  1. Copied or decided against copying 44 CDs, at least half of which I did copy.
  2. Did 15 minutes of yoga without the tape, which is also good because for unbloggable reasons, I need to scale down my stuff and can't afford to buy the DVD to replace the tape.
  3. Emailed movers and storage for quotes.
  4. Wrote in journal about teaching, making me feel all confident and excited about teaching at my new gig.
  5. Picked up three books on teaching from the library that I intend to copy (on my no-charge at-home copier -- ha!) fruitful productive teaching things out of, which actually makes me feel much much better -- and is in line with that prepping I said I would do, except that I told myself I wouldn't do it on the weekends.
  6. Worked out for an hour. (Yes, I realize this means that I've worked out twice today. I did the same thing yesterday. I'm going on the mantra that an hour of exercise equals 50 mg of Zoloft. Though today was a much better happier day.)

Now, I'm going to watch French Kiss (yes, the irony, I can't stand it -- let's not talk about it) and try to pack up some clothes or go through papers (much easier to do in the living room).

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Breakthroughs in Packing!

It actually happened -- I actually started packing. It's amazing. Two bookshelves equal something like 15 boxes. Totally ridiculous. But I also managed to both stay on my butt and contact movers at the same time. Really, I'm finally getting things done, partly because Self-Reflective and Fabulous Friend came over and let me make her margaritas and use her wunderbar puzzle-box skills to box up books and partly because I finally don't feel like a complete zombie. I also went over to the library today and got some books that have already helped me get my head back into teaching. So, even though I promised myself that I wouldn't really work on writing/publishing or teaching on the weekends, I actually feel pretty good about prepping for teaching.

Packing and moving is a bit of a different story: though I borrowed beaucoup bucks from the fam, it's clear that I'm going to have to beg for more from someone. I'm trying to do this move on the cheap, but I've got so much stuff that I can't possibly lift. A lot of antiquey-type stuff. The kind of stuff that makes me so nervous about moving it that I MUST pay someone to deal with my anxiety and backseat moving. This is the first move I'm really trying to do on the cheap, so if anyone has any ideas about free boxes or whatever, I'm all ears.

Chasing Butterflies: More Beauty Blogging

This is what happens when you begin to leave a place: you finally start taking pictures! I thought y'all needed some pictures of the sweet little garden on the campus that I'm leaving. I was actually trying to chase some of those little white butterflies, but it's futile! They won't have their souls stolen!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Attention Regular Readers

If, after all the whining, there are any devoted readers left! I really appreciate y'all's support lately. I know I have not lately been the charming and sardonic hostess I promised.

Because specifics around Adventure U will be very difficult and burdensome to mask, I'm going to be moving to a new password-controlled blog. This new blog will likely be academic, but also somewhat personal (as if this one isn't personal), including reflections on Adventure City and pictures and the like. If you want to continue to read my adventures in absurdity while at Adventure U, please email me at -- and I'll give you the blogaddress and password information when I get it altogether.

The Don't Look Back Program

Okay, so the title is melodramatic, borrowed from the only movie that really makes sense to me at this moment, Something's Gotta Give. OPL came and left again. I don't know what's going on. Neither does he. I don't feel like I can answer any questions. All the answers are maybes. I just don't know. I'm pretty devastated, but I've also decided to remember one of my favorite quotes: Writing is like loving. You think that the real boon is the publishing, when actually it's the writing just like you think that real boon is being loved, when it is actually loving. I'm a big fool, I guess. I've decided to keep on loving. (It's better than being hate-filled, I guess, though perhaps hate is more entertaining.) But I also have mucho to do and that is where you blogoversians come in. I have three weeks to get things done. Big projects: moving, teaching prep, writing/publishing. I figure I'll do a little bit of teaching prep and writing/publishing in the morning to early afternoon, then pack, pack, pack in the afternoons. Maybe some exercise in the evening. A wee drinkie or three after that. Look at that! It's a whole life. And I'll be blogging the misery for you, folks! Don't you worry!

Mr. Tabby is not looking good. I'm taking him to the Fabulous Vet Doctor tomorrow. Oh and by the way, I turned my dissertation in. I actually ordered my academic regalia (yes, totally late so now I'll be hooded in a rental -- whatever). Life is moving forward, sort of.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Super-Do Saturday

Today, I'm up at a decent time after spending a late night with Similarly Self-Reflective and Fabulous Friend. (We had fabulous appetizers over at a swank restaurant and then stayed up talking. What fun!) I've even managed to get coffee (not that I took a shower or anything).

Now, I'm happily installed at my writing desk, Mr. Tabby on my lap, and I'm going to try to get stuff done. Yes! You guessed it! It's time for to-do lists!
  1. Go through Peppy Advisor's edits.
  2. Finish dastardly Works Cited citations.
  3. Collect all the separate files into one uber-dissertation file. (optional)
  4. Attempt managing the page numbering problem. (optional)
  5. Attempt TOC. (optional)
  6. Go to liquor store.
  7. Go to grocery.
  8. Buy flowers! (Only icky flowers at the store. Why didn't I go to the farmer's market? Why, why, why?)
  9. Clean up the house, especially the crazy table.
  10. Work out in some fashion. (Doh! Cleaning is working out!)
  11. Shower.

You know what a to-do list means: lots of boring updates! Happy Saturday!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Do you love taking tests to learn more about yourself?

Obviously! I love the intelligences test, which I've never taken before but which I've heard a lot about since my mother teaches K-12, where I guess they pay more attention to the varying abilities of students (perhaps though, now, with No Child Left Behind, pay it lip service) than in the academy.

Click to view my Personality Profile page

Though getting into Myers-Briggs helps me understand why some freshman comp students (especially) seem to demand step-by-step instructions. Writing isn't a paint-by-numbers kit! If only! Ahh, I can tell I'll be in the classroom in six weeks. I'm totally not packed or ready or have made a syllabus (though Adventure U's program is quite structured, so the unfolding of my classes will be structurally the same as other people's teaching the same class -- this actually makes me more nervous, makes me think I need more prep rather than less). I'm not even done with the Works Cited of my dissertation, nor some typos that Peppy Advisor is going to tell me about today. ACK! Less than a month! I can't think about it. I was once so excited about it; now I don't want to go at all because OPL can't come with me. So we'll be the kind of long distance that means that weekend getaways are totally impossible. I'll be lucky to see him every couple months. And even that's expensive! Gah!

You can see that all of these things are so close together in my head that I can barely think about one without thinking about the other. So today's plan to not go insane includes the following:
  • Therapeutic yoga. (Probably only fifteen minutes.)
  • Therapeutic sushi-eating with Angry Young Colleague and Ex-Writing Partner (yes, one person, though he might bring his not-so-wee bairn).
  • Working on Works Cited and typos.
  • Doing dishes, eventually, so that OPL is fooled into thinking that I can actually keep my own nest clean.
  • Begging Fabulous Friend to go and do something silly with me, which may include coloring in coloring books (go ahead and laugh: you're just jealous I have such fabulous coloring books), painting, roller skating, or some other thing FF's cooked up in her head that I haven't even thought of yet! I wonder if the Children's Museum would paint my face, since I've gone off makeup entirely.

I should look at some of the materials that Adventure U sent me about my classes. I should do a lot of things. I went and bought file boxes yesterday. Doesn't that count for something???

Anyway, to get back to the point of this blogpost before all this anxiety shoved and elbowed its way to the fore, is that it's very odd and interesting to me that Naturalist came up so high. I haven't gone camping in ages and didn't like it when I went last. (In all fairness, though, I went with the most depressed man who had just broken up with his long-time girlfriend. And I hadn't yet figured out my health concerns so that camping could be easy. I'm better now. That was over ten years ago. Camping is probably like yams: I hated them for years, then suddenly tried them, as I am wont to do just to make sure things haven't changed, and then I went crazy, unable to get enough of yams.) But here's a crazy thing: when I was in high school, I had to take those assessment things of your interests. I so wanted those things to say that I should go into writing. I was looking for any little encouragement, especially since I got kicked out of Honor's English (I know, I know -- do you know how hard it is to write a really effective essay on why Hamlet really did love Ophelia when you're in tenth grade?). Guess what my top was? Agriculture! What am I doing in English? (The next two, which were about equal, were clerical and the arts.) I do love plants and cottage gardens and have long dreamt about planting one of those wonderful front gardens that are really fruits and vegetables organized to look pretty? Can I just ask why it is that I'm going to Adventure U, where I'm not going to be able to plant the roots (French Kiss, I know, I know: I don't have an original thought in my head) I so long for? OY! Yogatime!


It's absolutely impossible for me to resist a personality test -- I mean, what if this is the one that will finally explain me to myself?! So, as seen over at Sisyphus's place, here is what the latest personality test said about me:

Click to view my Personality Profile page

Really though, the last full Myers-Briggs I did said I was an extravert, which means that I would be the advocate -- those fabulous nutjobs who feel that they've got some important mission to do in the world. Similar to the INFPs, they want to live according to their values. My peeps!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Woof I'm Tired Song

So I think I've been letting this blog become all about my trials and tribulations with OPL lately. I know y'all need an update, so here it is, but then I think we need to get back to our regularly-scheduled program: academic absurdity! So in the past couple days, I got into a much better headspace. We had had a phone conversation where I felt like I said some really strong things -- and I just got to this place where I felt good about knowing that I'm strong enough to make the leap when I see the unknown beckoning. I can take leaps of faith. Whether OPL can, I thought, has nothing to do with my worthiness, and I should enjoy my own conviction and feeling that I'm in line with the universe. Now it turns out that he's coming out to Grad City and will be here this weekend!! (Am I the only one here who feels kind of weird about talking about their romantic life on their blog? I just feel like OPL should have some say in how's he represented here. I think I'm going to make a line between what's me expressing what's going on with me and what is going on for him.)

Now while this makes me want to clean my entire apartment pronto (except that woof! I'm tired), it really doesn't mean any immediate (I mean today) change in my life. Because yesterday, I was a busy little bee: I worked for five hours on editing a fascinating dissertation, did my laundry and changed the sheets and towels, dealt with some long-overdue money stuff, finally got my mail because I lost my mailbox key again and had to hang my head and ask my management company for a new one, sorted a good deal of mail, and swept the house. Is that all I did? It felt like so much more. Also, I watched the most romantic movie of all time: Possession, which I think reminds all English majors why we got into this profession (not for the glory of the discovery, but for the sheer romance of it all: please discuss) and also combines a smart modern mystery/love story in the much under-movied academy with a torrid period piece romance. What's not to love!

So the big event of the day is that I need to finish editing this fascinating (not mine) dissertation. I am becoming a whiz (slowly) at APA. Then, gulp, I have to figure out all the formatting for the page numbering, which I think means sections and stuff that I have no idea how to do. The good news is that once I figure it out for her dissertation, my own dissertation, I hope, will be a breeze. But can I just say: MLA is ridiculous enough, but to try to get used to another style guide enough so that I can look at a citation and see if it's wrong is very challenging. What about the way they don't capitalize their book titles? I got through the dissertation last night, but then only got to the Es in the "References" (not "Works Cited").

Here's my hopeful and therefore probably totally unrealistic to-do list for the day:
  • Get past the Es all the way down to the last Zed on this dissertation.

  • Conquer Word and figure out how to format dissertations into sections so that all our weird absurdist formatting will all come out okay.
  • Get through my own Chapter 4 editing, which has been languishing because this other dissertation is so fascinating.
  • Read and take notes on Review Book for at least at minimum 1 hour!!!
  • Start brainstorming notes for follow-up interviews so that I can get them through IRB before I leave (ha ha).
  • Oh, and at some point, take shower and stop being such a sloth. Which means store-bought coffee!

You will notice that there is no cleaning in this list. Already the list is so long that I want to go back to sleep (because woof I'm tired), but really I should be going through these stacks of papers and books and notebooks and deciding what's going into storage and what's going with me and what's going to the recycle bin. Oy. I should get my butt into the shower, but let's face it: I have many blogs to catch up on before I shower. (Blogs to read before I wake, blogs to read before I wake.)

***Update 5:15pm***

Okay, I was derailed from really getting some good blogreading done by important phone calls. But now I'm totally tired, haven't really eaten anything, and really should run out to pay a bill and the only thing I've accomplished is that I finished editing that dissertation. I did manage to conquer Word, but I'm so bleary-eyed I probably won't even remember what I did when it comes to working on my own. Thank goodness I put showering and getting coffee on my to-do list so it does end up that I've done exactly half of my to-do list. I think I'm going to dash off that bill, get some food (too lazy to go to the store), and come back and put my feet up, which is not what I should be doing, but -- well, it's naptime, isn't it? Siesta anyone?

***Update 11:30pm***

Okay, I've now managed to get through Chapter 4. And I see why it is that I'm really getting quite grumpy. I've been trying to work on my Works Cited and it wasn't even on my list of things to do today. Surely, I should've read some of the Review Book or worked on the IRB stuff. OY! And now I'm too tired and too grumpy to do anything. But this is way before my usual recent bedtime of 2am. Should I see if I can finally focus on a book? Should I watch another movie? Should I just lay my head down to sleep? You know when I have to blog the indecision, I'm in real trouble. I hope tomorrow will be better. I have to remember to go to campus and the DMV. And get up early in the morning because they're turning off the water during the time I would usually finally drag myself to the shower. Oh I can't stand it. How is it that I'm supposed to hold this all in my head. I'm truly grumpy now. Good night all.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Work as Solace: Discuss

Okay, I realize that this is going to sound totally nuts, given how prone I am to complaining about academic work. (I'd probably complain about any kind of work. If I worked at an ice cream store, I'd probably complain that it makes my hands sticky.) But here's something I've been thinking about since all the OPL drama: work is also a solace. While it does happen that sometimes in writing nothing seems to go right, that one's argument crumbles in one's hands, at least it's in our hands. I've noticed while waiting to see what turn my life is going to take that when I get back to doing some edits on the dissertation (I have to take out all the commas that I usually put in, as in DorkusEnglish, 412 -- gahhh! how did I ever start that???), it's a pain (naturally) but also a kind of relief. Here's a world I understand. I can look up something in MLA and get an answer (usually) and format my citation correctly. I can think my way through an intellectual or pedagogical problem in a way that I can't think my way through in my life. Let's face it: one cannot think one's way through life, one must live it. Aye, there's the rub. But one can think one's way through some intellectual problems. And the engagement and excitement of tangling with an idea or concept that is totally involving belongs only to you (which makes us isolated sometimes, but also makes us independent from well, dependence on others for access to our mojo). Peppy Advisor and I sometimes talk about this -- how at least when we enter the English building we enter a world where we have some small amount of control (which we cling to in contrast to the total lack of control of the rest of our lives) and we know the rules and we have to leave some of the whirlwind heartache of our lives behind.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately, relieved that sometimes I can cut through the OPL panic and worry haze and get some work done (yay! something I know how to do! since I don't know how to wait, be patient, trust). All this to say, my work life is a solace while I wait, wait, wait to find out whether the man I'm in love with will take a leap toward crazy magical happiness and choose me. In short, my life sucks. And that's all there is folks. Hence, only intermittent blogging. If you find yourself coming over to Absurdist Paradise and there is nothing new laid out for your consumption, it's probably because the lady of the house has wasted herself on tears and prayer -- and has no lively quips or sarcasm canapes to offer. It's all earnest hope over here folks. Not very entertaining. Wish me luck, blogfriends.

Friday, July 20, 2007

But It's a CAT Quiz

Your Score: Sad Cookie Cat

58% Affectionate, 39% Excitable, 51% Hungry

You are the classic Shakespearian tragedy of the lolcat universe. The sad story of a baking a cookie, succumbing to gluttony, and in turn consuming the very cookie that was to be offered. Bad grammar ensues.

To see all possible results, checka dis.


So I defended yesterday. I'm a doctah! Dr. English!

So the defense went very smoothly and was actually a pretty good and enjoyable conversation about my work. I didn't have answers for all the different things they brought up -- and there was even some amount of cross-discussion between two members of my committee about decisions and ideas -- which was weird because I didn't have an answer for the different options they were discussing. So there'll be a lot to think about as I go forward to Adventure U and my countless other adventures.

How's this for an absurdist life? So I defend, I'm a doctah and all that, and I come home to find my internet shut off by a company that thinks -- jeez -- that I should like pay for their service. Ridiculous! And money is so tight I can't call them to turn it back on. In fact, I can't even pay for my own dinner and a movie and a nightcap when I went out with Similarly Self-Reflective and Fabulous Friend! OY! Only in my life would higher education's accolades bring such instant poverty. But oh well.

So I only need to finish up some details on my dissertation and then jump through all the paperwork hoops to file it. I worked on some of those details this morning. Now I'm in the library (hence my connectedness to the blogosphere) and need to find a book to quickly reference in my intro. Of course, really, I'm going to spend some time catching up on some blogs, which is at least as important.

I have some editing jobs to do this weekend, thank goodness, which might keep from totally stewing about the fact that OPL is going to arrive back at -- oh I can't even write about it. Suffice it to say, I'm having a hard time. I hope he'll be back with me late next week, but I'm not holding my breath. It's very hard for such a determined pessimist to not overdo -- instead of preparing for the worst, I'm liable to expect and even goad the worst into being. Beat him to the punch. Must.stay.positive. My new mantra. In any case, I should be able to get some things done in the near future. Here are some of the things I think need to be done pretty immediately: some in-preparation-for-packing weeding out of papers, books, clothes, junk; some marathon movie-watching sessions; relaxing baths; relaxing yoga; reading of Review Book; editing jobs; more movie-watching with cross-stitch. In fact, movie-watching with cross-stitch sounds the best right now. I figure I'll watch Sense and Sensibility a few hundred times. There, Elinor's waiting was rewarded by her man on one knee. Sigh. Of course, Emma Thompson, that real rascal, married Greg Wise, who played Willoughby, who must not be such a rascal if someone so smart snapped him up. Also, I think a viewing of Stranger than Fiction is in order. Maybe I can figure out whether my own story is a comedy (ending in a wedding) or a tragedy (we all know where that leads). As they say in Grand Canyon, my fave movie ever: all of life's riddles are answered in the movies.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Up for Air Out of My Bloggy Silence

My recent bloggy silence is due both to the trip from Urban Home City to Grad City with OPL and the fact that I am totally lazy and given half a chance to do nothing, I will happily do just that. I've been lazing around and taking naps and staying up till all hours and generally not behaving like a person who needs to prepare for a defense and pack her whole apartment in boxes. I've basically ignored the dissertation and the job and everything for -- oh, the whole of July. I totally suck. How is one to have a balanced life of work and the love stuff? I just don't know.

But now the oncoming train of the defense is bearing down on me. I'm supposed to present some opening remarks about my work. I have no idea what to say that I haven't said to these people a hundred times before. I think they want some kind of statement about what writing the dissertation meant to me or something. Waaaaa. Any of you readers who have done this want to pipe in? Please?! (Poor Peppy Advisor. The first time we went over it, I think I was in the first blush of loveydoveyness.)

There is an admittedly short list of things remaining on my diss: some citations to be unearthed from the deep, filling in the work cited, reformatting. Have I done these? No. I figure that my committee will give me some feedback at defense time, and I'll have to go ahead and revise anyway. But really, it's just that it's been hard to connect back into my work. I love it and reference it, but trying to get my head clear to do the work that would make me feel so much better and less desperate and clingy about OPL has been very difficult. All the same, he is very supportive. But mostly I just want to follow him around like a puppy dog. Why is that??? I'm a strong capable independent feminist! Darn it!

Anyway, he has to go back to Urban Home State to do some family and organizational stuff soon, so I'm sure I'll be trying to work through the fog of missing him. Sigh. Here's something that my great Similarly Self-Reflective and Fabulous Friend said to me early on: being happy is really hard because you're so afraid you're going to lose it. Wise woman. I think I should get back to work. Some small tune-ups to the diss and maybe some freewriting on the diss so I have some kind of something to work from for the defense opening remarks. OY!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Finis, Finished, Finito

I just pounded out a very short conclusion, sent it to my committee, and now I refuse to deal with (ha! notice I just wrote the dreaded and deadly "deal with" that is verboten in academic discourse -- I'm already deprogramming!) the dissertation for a week. So there! So what if my defense is a mere week after that. How much does one need to prepare? Some opening remarks? Preparing for certain questions? I'm guessing I only need a week. Dear blogfriends, please tell me if I'm underpreparing for that moment.

Of course, my need for a break and tendency to space out and think of OPL (and my need for naps) is not at all supported by the fact that Adventure U just sent me my teaching schedule (8am -- wtf???) and a bunch of orientation materials, stuff about the program, blah-ti-blah. I can't deal with it, I tell you! Just no. I'm taking time off for good behavior. And to prevent myself from getting sick.

OPL and I are taking a road trip from Urban City to Grad City. That should be fun -- and provoke many many pictures! Now I'm going to emerge triumphant from my littlest sister's bedroom that I've held hostage for a while now. No doubt everyone else will be doing their own thing and not understand at all that turning in these diss revisions is the kind of thing you toast. TOAST! After all, I've addressed all the big things my readers wanted me to address. There are still some things I have to cite properly that I didn't have access to Urban Home City and some formatting. But I think I can safely say (knock on wood quick!), the diss is nearly done.

Post-Sibling Sushi Slump

So today is the day that I have to get the dissertation revisions to my committee. I have everything but the concluding chapter. So I thought I would get something done this morning, but instead I spent the morning chatting about -- what else? -- OPL. Then I had to go to Sibling Sushi so I sent on all the revised chapters with the promise that I would get them the conclusion later today. But now I am in a post-Sibling Sushi slump. Despite my designer coffee's proximity to my hand, I really just want to lay my head down and nap. Which I might just do in spite of the fact that with the time zone differences, the day is definitely passing quickly.


The concluding chapter is all in notes and vomited-out blech at this point. And I have to get it organized and somewhat academic and formatted. Oh! It just makes me want to sleep. Maybe I'll sleep/digest and then wake up refreshed.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Yes, I Am a Geek

So I'm sitting here on my family's couch happily typing. I've been invited to countless events and decided not to go to any of them, in favor of finishing up my draft revisions for tomorrow. Keep your hotdogs, your parades, your fireworks. Earnest English is working!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Beauty Blogging

I've just had the most magical weekend of my life where everything was perfect. Absolutely perfect. Scary what-the-hell-is-going-on and what-did-we-ever-do-to-deserve-so-much-happiness perfect. One of the things that OPL has reminded me of is how much I used to love to take pictures. It turns out he saved all these pictures from the Dark Ages when we were together the first time -- not only pictures of places we went, but beautiful pictures of him showing him so young and very much in love. Now I have two of them in my purse. And I look so soft and vulnerable and young. So different from the cynical absurdist I put on like armor.

Anyway, we went traveling all around this weekend and went to some beautiful places and took many pictures. I've decided all y'all need more beauty, so here are a few shots of flowers and other beautiful stuff.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Insomnia, A Dissertator-in-Love's Best Friend

So I'm all crazy happy and everything, but apparently that doesn't mean anything for insomnia. (We did plan on ten hours of sleep, however, and my body clock is probably off anyway.) So I slept for a good four or five hours, then I was awake and much more clear-headed than I usually am when insomniacal (new word) and -- get this -- I worked! So I'm deep into Chapter 4, the one that really needs a lot of work. And I had gotten work done on the plane.

You know, I had thought that this love thing was going to be all disruptive to work management, but actually I feel so clear-headed and good and like I can do anything that work is actually pretty easy. My father always said that the right person made life easier not harder -- but I'd never experienced until now. I thought he was a crazy romantic. Now I see I was just a cynic. Very odd.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

How Do We Get Things Done?

We blog it!

So tomorrow before the sun comes up, I drive to Nearest Urban City and get on a plane for Urban Home City. I know. You're asking: didn't she just come back from Cool Institute? Wasn't she on a plane, like, the day before yesterday? The answer is yes. My family wanted to see me, and it seemed like these couple weeks before the defense would be the best time. Of course because of much tumult of late, I'm not as far on my diss revisions as I had hoped to be. (I had hoped to be done by now.) But it's been pretty good tumult, the kind that opens up possibilities and makes me see life in a new brighter way. I know I've been cagey about all this, putting posts up and taking them down. Not posting for days at a time. The fact is I'm in love. No one is more surprised than I am. How does one work and be happy at the same time? Also, this love is complicated, and so there have been wild ups and downs. But I'm going to Urban Home City, which means I get to see him. So life is good.

I have tons to do today, and I need focus rather than daydreaming. And that's where the blogoverse comes in. I offer you my to-do list.
  1. Pick up signed defense application and take it to Grad Studies.
  2. Pay rent.
  3. Get some diss work done on Chapter 4?
  4. Do a big pile of service for Professional Organization.
  5. Take big pile of completed service to office.
  6. Call new victim of PO to hand over responsibilities.
  7. Leave check for catsitter.
  8. Return books to Senior Scholar.
  9. Do laundry.
  10. Pack.
  11. Find missing book for Intro.
  12. Cat food?
  13. Shopping for pretty clothes?

See? I'm so disorganized I can't even group things together. Okay, 1, 5, and 8 require going to school. Before I can do 5, I must do 4, which I can do at home. 2, 12, and 13 are basically errands by another name. And then 6 needs to be done before it gets too late. 7, 9, and 10 I can do tonight. 3 is so unlikely it's laughable. So in order this time:

  1. Do big pile of service work.
  2. Go to school: a) deal with paperwork; b) deal with service work; c) return books to SS.
  3. Run errands: a) pay rent; b) buy catfood; c) go shopping for pretty clothes since now I want to be all pretty.
  4. Home stuff: a) do laundry; b) pack; c) leave check for Mr. Tabby's loveslave; d) try to get some work done; e) find missing book for intro (in car???).

Okay, now that's a list. See? I am the most boring blogger ever. But this is really useful to me.

By the way, Maude Lebowski is going great guns on her dissertation! The Boice book really helped her, and she's been pounding the work out! Wooohooo! Thanks again to Dr. Four Eyes, who recommended it.

***Update 5:45pm***

Woo. I'm tired. Which is good, because I have to go to sleep early so I can wake up early. Bah! But at least this time tomorrow I'll be in Urban Home City. . .from which I make no promises to blog.

So I managed everything but finding the book, working, laundry, and packing. That's what the evening is for. But first I'm going to dinner with Similarly Reflective Fabulous Friend. That will be great.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Best Place to Get Diss Revisions Done

The airport. Who knew?

Rather than go ahead and hang out at Cool Institute City, I decided to hang out in Near the Institute Airport for the day. I couldn't get on standby, but I managed to format some pages I have to turn in, line up forms to turn in, and work on the acknowledgments, the intro, and chapter 1. But then I got tired.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Shhhh! I'm Blogging in Secret!

So I'm in the library at Cool Institute University. I'm sure I'm not supposed to be blogging on the librarian's account. (No internet access for those of us who us out-of-towner's.) So most of the institute people have left, but because I got the cheapest ticket available, I'm not leaving until tomorrow afternoon. Sigh. And now that Cool Institute is over and I don't have an impossible amount of pages to feel bad about not reading, I really need to get working on those diss revisions. It occurred to me earlier (right before falling asleep) that I really don't have that much to do and if I could just pull out a can of whoop-ass, I could get shit done so that my trip to Urban Home City won't be totally ruined by making faces at my family and saying things like: dude, I'm trying to write a dissertation here. Get out of my face!

How do I write again? Something about free-writing? Something about sitting in a good chair and getting started? Is that right? Cross your fingers for me folks. I've only got two full days at Grad City and then I jet off to Urban Home City. I'm such a jet-setter. Too bad I'm supposed to be an academic too. Can I just say that I think I've spent more time on the phone here than I have on intellectual work or hob-nobbing combined? But I did notice one really amazing thing: I do actually feel like I know things. I can talk about my dissertation with ease -- and argue points out of it and feel like the expert I'm trying to prove I am. I know things! I really do! I meet grad students who are pre-dissertation, and I see me a couple years ago -- but not me now. It's interesting. I may actually be ready to be a professional instead of a professional apprentice. Wooohoooo!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Back to Blogging

My world is very odd -- an absurdist paradise, with the emphasis, for a change, on paradise. It seems a zillion years since I blogged. Things have changed. My perspective on my future has changed. I mean, I'm still going to Adventure U and everything, but the world seems to have opened up and bloomed. I'm happy. My friends don't recognize me. Will I ever be my old snarky self again? Who will want to read my blog if I'm not Snarky English!

Anyway, enough of that. Obsessed with the blooming of my life and future, I haven't been working much. But I hope all that has changed. Yesterday while sitting on my porch having my third cigarette of five, I had an epiphany about Gnarley Problem. So last night I started freewriting on it, in my usual way. Today, I really should go and pick up a book from the library. I know I'm doing more than I need to for this particular problem, but since I have a sense, I think, of what Reader 2 wants, I really want to take the opportunity to think and write and explore. For a couple hours. Tops. More later, I think.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

I know it's hard to believe

but I am actually in the library office! Yes, the same office where I got so much work done with Hate-Filled Dissertator before she skipped town and left me all by my lonesome. I actually managed to pull myself away from my life of daydreaming on my bed, watching the birds and squirrels with Mr. Tabby, and talking on the phone in order to work for about an hour and a half, before I go to the store and do laundry. It looks like a plan. It seems like a plan. I just hope it gets done.

So I am here. Now what? Just getting here was my goal. Okay, so I need to organize my work. All I can think about is Big Gnarley problem. No wonder I don't want to work. No wonder I've been procrastinating, thinking about anything but this. (Not that I don't have like a thousand pages of stuff to read for Cool Institute.) So, there are four main problems. Reader 1's Problem was in the works, but not really done. So that needs doing. Reader 2's Problem 1 is basically done, though it has yet to be woven in to existing prose, which I thought I would do when I'm editing the whole thing. So then there's R2's Problem 2, which totally sucks, and Problem 3, which is that I need a conclusion. Perhaps I'll freewrite on that because PA and I discussed what kinds of moves to make there that I couldn't imagine before. OY! Do I have to? Apparently yes, and soon. Waaaaaaa.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Oh My God, My Dermot!

Okay, last Wednesday, I included a tribute to the lovely and wonderful Dermot Mulroney that everyone had the good taste to ignore. But on Friday, he filed divorce papers. He and Catherine Keener are getting divorced. Now, it does turn out that they'd been separated for two years -- I didn't know. So I guess he didn't read my blog and think: I've got to get free for that brainy hotty, Earnest English who has loved me since The Thing Called Love.

I think it's actually been before that -- but god I did love him in that film and thought that Miranda was STOOOPID. I mean, River Phoenix, though cute and sort of dangerous in that way that all I-can't-keep-myself-from-the-bad-intense-ones women love, but for me -- it was Dermot all the way.

Dermot. Please find me. Take me away from all of this. I really don't want to do these diss revisions! But I would do them for Dermot. Sigh.

By the way, I found out about this suspiciously fortuitous event because I checked my analytics and someone was looking for the real reason they're getting divorced. Well, my friend, look no further. EE called it! And him!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

An Excursion to Chicago, then Back to Work

This morning, I was in Chicago with Post-Doc, where her alone-ness was more fun than most people's parties. Thing was: I woke up in Grad City. I was in my PJs, sitting at my computer the whole time. Then, of course, it was back to work.

So because I signed up for a professional development class (that I'm contemplating not going back to because I know too much already), I was on Grad City U campus yesterday, where I got much mail and an appointment with PA!

So today I will talk to PA about these comments. Here is a brief outline of Gnarley Problem. In an early draft, I included a discussion of Important Locating Keyterm in the Intro. PA tells me that it doesn't need to be there. So I move it to the opening of Chapter 1. (You know how hard it can be to open up chapters!) PA says: good job. Reader 1, whose comments were basically fix a different thing and be done with it, said: good job. Reader 2 said: I need a discussion of Important Locating Keyterm in the early pages of the Intro. So here's the thing: PA has already had me move it once. Here's what I'm not going to say to PA: I don't wanna move it again. I don't wanna! You tell Reader 2 that you've already made me move it once and you're not going to make me move it again, even if it does totally makes sense. Reader 1 thought it was fine. Waaaaaa. Waaaaaaa. Waaaaaaa! And PA will likely not say: How totally unreasonable! What is Reader 2 thinking? Let me email Reader 2!

So I have to figure out a way of approaching the whole thing so I can not have to move that thing around. Tricky. But I have a feeling I'll come home tonight hacking and chopping at my Intro to make Reader 2 happy. Oy! I know that doing what Reader 2 says would allow me to include a proactive argument as a rebuttal to many comments that Reader 2 and even Reader 1 said. But I don't care. I want it to be done. And I just don't care! I am not Dr. Adjunct Whore or Maude Lebowski, the former who has won a diss award, the latter who has been told by her advisor that her dissertation could become a great diss with a bit more work. I don't care about my diss anymore! It'll make a great book -- LATER! I just want to be done already! Let me pack people!! Please!!! Grrr.

What else? I finally got stuff from Cool Institute. There's a lot of reading. Ooof -- it makes my head hurt. I'll go to campus and print it out. Maybe they are each one page long (I hope).

***Update 4:16pm***

No such luck. This poor printer has been working overtime on all these pages! Sigh. Missed the professional development workshop anyway. Oh well.

Also, Peppy Advisor said it's a good professional habit to get into to try to address and incorporate all your readers' comments. So I'll be working on that Gnarley Problem after all. Luckily, PA and I also talked about it, so. . .(big sigh). . .I hope it won't be as bad as I think it might be. I thought of something to take out and put elsewhere, so. . .(another big sigh). . .well. . .whatever. A month and seven days baby to the defense!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Great New Drama

So my fabulous fellow dissertator came into town and went. There was much chatting, drinking, hanging out. Lovely. I cleaned and so was not totally embarrassed by my Life of Sloth -- though I did not clean everywhere but am now pleased at least with a couple rooms of my house and can be found picking stray things off the ground in those rooms in the hopeless attempt at keeping it clean until I have the new catsitter in my house while I'm gone to Cool Institute and Urban Home City. (Without Mr. Tabby. It just seems inconceivable that I do not take him everywhere.)

So imagine this if you will. It's the late morning of Day Fabulous Dissertator Comes into Town -- and you're running out to go get quarters to shove basically your entire bed into the washing machine before Fabulous Dissertator calls to meet for dinner. You check the mail, a totally reasonable thing to do. And in the mailbox is a letter in an only slightly familiar hand with a totally unfamiliar return address under the name of a former lover you were totally awful to in the dawn of time. Of course you react in the only way possible: What? What? What the fuck? You open the letter, and it's very short -- really just a note saying that Former Lover is looking for you. You know, after fifteen years. Happens all the time, right? Somehow you make it to your car, nearly get in an accident, try to calm your nerves with a venti latte, and make illegal left turns at every opportunity, basically forgetting how to get to places you go every day.

You call Former Lover as soon as you get half the bed into the washing machine. He's married with kids but wants to clear the air. The fact is you're pretty sure you made a dreadful mistake all those years ago not choosing him over the person who became your ex and the reason why you decided post-divorce that you must not be the marrying kind. Though you are dissertating and getting ready to move for a two-year gig, you find you can't help thinking about how weird it is to be contacted after so many years, because you, my dear, happen to be an obsessive moron. As soon as Fabulous Friend leaves, you dig in the Land of Lost Things and the Closet the World Forgot and find Former Lover's beautiful letters which make you wonder if this is the only person who ever really loved you (except SO) and the journals that reveal that actually you were a much bigger shit than you thought you were. What can you do but stay up until 7:30am reliving a past where you were 19 and hopelessly and terribly dumb?

Oh and by the way, Ex has a baby. You realize you are forever totally behind the curve on that one.

So tell me, dear reader, what do you do?


OY! So I indulged the whole obsession last night, blathering to Tolerant Mom and Witty Sardonic Friend all night. Okay, so there was some sobbing. So shoot me. But today, I'm determined to get Back to Business. I have shit to do besides google the Former Lover's name all night and read about the Hopeless and Hapless Adventures of a Much Younger Not-So-Earnest. Do I need this drama right now? No, I do not. I have dumb dissertation revisions and maddening reader comments to deal with. I have an abstract to write. I have Grad City U paperwork to do. I have a whole house to go through and pack and ship. I have a graduation party to plan. I have an institute to go to. I have a computer to pack. I have a new teaching situation to fret over and have terrible teaching dreams about. I have an ailing cat to worry over. For god's sake, I do not have time to moon about and think about how much a shit I was at the Dawn of Time and wonder what might have been (which probably would've been more heartbreak anyway)!!! I have a whole new adventurous life to get ready for.

Of course, I doubt that I will be able to use reason to actually push the damn thing out of my mind, but at least I have to get some shit done. There's some silly service I need to do, then I need to start tackling Problem 2. Amazingly though I woke up and my first thought was Great New Drama, an epiphany of how to start addressing Problem 2 did burn through the stupidity to my brain.

In other news, I found out that a friend reads my blog. Shout out to Dr. Doctor.


I feel so much better. I got the silly service out of the way. People are going to make an easy decision into a whole nest of trouble -- and I'm not having any part of it. (How's that for cryptic blogging?!) Now, I'm going to go ahead and start some work on Problem 2 -- and maybe a 10-minute freewrite on the conclusion. It's nice to have some romantic drama -- to wonder what I could possibly have done that would be so unforgettable that Former Lover wants to talk to me now. (Maybe he just wants to put a pie in my face. As long as it's not banana cream, I'm okay. Do you think it would be okay to request coconut? Or chocolate cream?) But enough already. I've got some dissertation revisions to get out of the way. And I may be able to corner PA tomorrow about the gnarley problem. YAY!!!!

Friday, June 8, 2007

Professional Life Experiment Update: Suckage, or Blogging the Transition Upset

Well, apparently right now four days is my upper limit on professorial and professional adulthood. So what blew it? The day started off so right. Eating and talking with colleague. Very much like a professor and professional in the field -- check. Picked up laptop -- check. Went to work at coffeehouse but it was altogether too loud -- it happens to everyone, check. Picked up trash like a teenager on Saturday-morning detention a responsible community member -- uh okay, check. Then four hour nap, wake up at 7:30 and realize with a panic I got nothing done and determined to finish up something on Problem 1, stay up until 3am. Ah yes, there it is. The trouble of the over-long nap and panic. Tell-tale signs of. . .something bad.

I once had a therapist who told me that I wasn't very adult in the hours I kept. Uh huh, I said, thinking I'm a night owl. Always have been. Don't fence me in with your ideas of normal, man. Therapists suck because even if I totally reject what they say, it sticks with me. They're like adulthood's version of parents. But here's the problem. My friend will be over tomorrow!!! I have not done the bathroom! Do I stay up and work on the bathroom and sleep in until two hours before I'm likely to see said friend, then throw everything into the washing machine? Or do I go to bed now and worry about the bathroom getting done, oversleep and go crazy in the afternoon hours, trying to get bedclothes into the washing machine. As Bridget would say: tricky.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

The Great Recycling Fiasco

This will be the thing that outs me. I just know it. I'm sure I'm already infamous in my town. They've probably taken pictures of my shame and are planning a photo spread in the local paper. If news of my shame is far and wide, I'll be taking down this post -- so get it while you can.

So remember last night I was so happy about cleaning my kitchen? Well, it still is pretty awesome. In fact, if it were a person, it would be a hotty with messed-up hair (I still have to do the sink). But how it got that way was by my finally taking out my recycling. There were tons of bags. It was very windy, so I did my best to tie off the bags and took them out front.

Yes, you guessed it. The empty wine bottles -- they didn't go anywhere. So my reputation as a total boozer is intact. But the bags of cat food cans. Oh.dear.lord. There were cans in the street smashed down flat from passing cars, in the gutter, across the street, in the neighbor's yard, in my neighbor's neighbor's yard -- I even found them almost a block away. I don't even know what happened to the bags of plastics. They probably hitched a ride on that damn wind and are all the way out west by now, looking for work in Hollywood.

I was running late so I picked up about a kitchen bag's worth from all over. Just now, freshly back from trying to work at a coffeehouse with my new and improved laptop (thank you fabulous Computer Store Guy: I love you), I went and picked up more. I think it's now okay out there. But today I'm sure I single-handedly brought down all the real estate prices. I know I should apologize to everyone within a couple blocks. I'm sure people were picking up cans out of their bushes all morning before I got there. Sigh.

The clincher: It wasn't even recycling day.

You knew I was an idiot, right? Well, now the whole town knows.