Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Excitement Dissipates, Bringing Back Confusion

The impossible has occurred. It will now snow in Los Angeles and be fifty below in North Dakota. Oh yeah, both of those already happened. Which makes my news of finishing and turning in my article early fairly tepid news. Oh well.

So now I don't have an external deadline for writing except for those recommendation letters. These rec letters are a great irony to me -- who cares about my opinion about anything, much less the potential and perseverence of these particular students? Do you see where I am? I am living in a camper in a campground with no job. What do I do for letterhead? I guess just make up my own. Poor students.

The fact that I've actually been working on the article pretty regularly shouldn't impress anyone -- actually the article is one of the things that I feel pretty sure about. When worried about other things, it is wonderful to have a counterirritant. Other things are absurd and bumpy-lumpy in my world just now. After five years in graduate school fairly certain that I wanted to ride the tenure track, here I am, PhD'd and at a loss. I don't know where my life is going to go now. I can't tell you where I'll be living in six months, three months. . .Everything is up in the air.

Having life be eventful and uncertain means that there certainly is more to write about, but less self with which to write. Nora Ephron's parents used to remind her that everything was copy. I suppose that eventually I'll be seated at a desk somewhere writing about this. But where will that desk be and how will my life be constituted? Stephen King says that one of the secrets of his success is a happy and settled home life. Can I order that from Amazon? Special delivery?

Stephen King says three or four hours of writing and reading per day. Certainly I've only spent a couple hours fine-tuning the article. Reading would be good. Surely I should get to work on Project 2. Or find a job, an apartment, a life. Whichever comes first. I should send out some work. That might make me feel like I exist again in the literary world, at least.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Monday Morning Pre-Writing Existential Attack

(Okay, it is not, strictly speaking, morning, but I haven't yet taken a shower or had a conversation, therefore, it is morning to me.)

It is Monday morning and all of my favorite bloggers are doing something crazy -- like working. Many of you are in your offices, all aflurry because you have to teach soon, while others of you are likely doing the impossible and grading in your offices. I always shared an office. It was impossible to get anything done except when no one was around. And the outward and social aspects of teaching made it hard to shut the door and launch into reading student writing. Often on days I taught two classes before 11am, I didn't even want to go back to my office. I was spent after two and a half hours of straight teaching, saying the same things again to my second class, realizing all I had forgotten to say to my 8am. I would go to a coffeehouse or restaurant and sit and be silent. I loved that. Being in public, but being quiet. I've gotten a lot of work done like that over the years. During the dissertation phase, it was great to get myself out of the house. I couldn't just wander over to the fridge or the TV if I were in public. Nor could I scream or cry. These were good things. I had to maintain somewhat in public.

Now I wake up and try to write in my house/camper. Before I even sit down, I do something (sweep, clean the cat box, feed the cat, arrange the bed as neatly as possible since making it is impossible); just in case I get into writing I want to have something to show Absurdist Lover (he says he likes that one now, go figure) that I haven't just been lying on the bed twitching. Also if I end up on the bed twitching then at least the bed is nice and neat, ready to be twitched on. Of course, it's much harder to become totally inspired by recent blog posts if they are not there. Manufacturing inspiration is exhausting.

Last night I was thinking about how today is the day I should get serious. I've been looking at these community college jobs. I need to actually apply for them. Sure, it might be run-of-the-mill procrastination, but I fear my reluctance to apply for them is that I don't really want that kind of job. This is terrible, because applying for those jobs is the easiest thing I can do. Familiar. Even if most of the processes are completely mystified, it is a mystery hell that I know. Then there are all these other possibilities, some of which I've explored and don't like. What I'd really like is something flexible (which maybe community college jobs are, but I doubt it. Where's the flexibility if you're teaching five classes? Am I insane?). I used to not mind that my life was all about work (okay, I did, but mainly I was complaining about needing more time and headspace to write). Now I mind. Of course I have no real idea what's going to happen with Absurdist Lover and me, but I'm hoping that we'll have a family, so I want to line up something that is more flexible. Also, I just don't want to have to be nice anymore. I'm not good at being nice on a longterm basis, as people in offices need to do. I'm just way too moody. (Did this come up a lot at Adventure U, I wonder?) Really, if I'm totally honest, the thing is I want to write. I've written encyclopedia articles and edited dissertations -- I like that work. I especially like that I don't have to show up. I don't feel very presentable lately. (I know I'm totally neurotic about this presentable thing, but if you knew my family and how I grew up, you'd understand that being presentable in the professional world is not something that comes easily to many of us. Except for universities, I've only ever worked in small businesses. I'm not a corporate type, even though I can definitely get into a business-y mode for a while, usually with the help of Working Girl.) Right now, I'd like my work to speak for itself. I'd like to be able to hunker down, preferably in my own space, and do my work, which probably has to be writing because it's the only thing I know how to do -- and only come out when it's done. Anyone have any ideas for a job like this? Teaching ain't it. I think about how much I love the administrative work I've gotten to do, but I think that most of those jobs are 9-5 jobs. If anyone has a great idea about how to, I don't know, become a freelance writer, let me know.

All of this big self-reflective stuff is swirling in my head when really I just need to settle down into the article I'm writing. I only need to go through the last nine pages and rework them. That's not bad. And I want to focus, if possible, on another of my (alas unpaid) projects. I'd really like to send some work out actually. I'd really like to get that done. But of course in order to get to sending work out, first I'd have to actually stop ruminating about where money's going to come from in the future and just be happy that I have what I need now, work through several pages of the article, move on to some work on Project 2, then print out work to send out. You know what? Even if Absurdist Lover won't be back in a couple hours and want to go to the store and pick up a dozen and five things (we would've done this yesterday, but it rained all day) and then hang out and watch movies/play games/eat, I still wouldn't get all that stuff done in one day. It just doesn't happen. Also I have to call the doctor and make sure she's not going to order an MRI. Can't I do that tomorrow? Earnest, focus. What's this article about again? Isn't this collection one you're very excited to be a part of? Didn't you wait on pins and needles for the editor to get back to you? What are you waiting for?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Counting Up the Lies

The next time you have a knock-down drag-out fight with a lying cur, don't you wish you had these people on your opponent's ass?

The Center for Public Integrity just put out a report on the Bush Administration's 935 lies about the threat of Iraq. 935 lies! Think about that! 20 lies would be a lot. But 935? At least the American people can feel slightly less stupid for believing that crap -- we were inundated! But really, come on. Am I the only one who remembers how Bush tried to tie 9/11 to Iraq when there was absolutely NO evidence to show any relationship whatsoever?

Anyway, this is fascinating not only from a civic viewpoint, but from a rhetorical viewpoint. People are counting up lies! Lies made in the name of persuasion and justification of foreign and domestic (let's not forget the Patriot Act, a related issue, though one not included in the report) policy. Fascinating. I hope some rhetorical scholars who work on presidential public speaking are working on this. I wonder what the effect will be. Let's make sure people hear of it. Pass it on.

I May Not Have Brushed My Teeth but I Sure Managed to Get Something Done Today

On Wednesday, on the way back from the radiologist, it snowed. The only word to describe the mountain roads when the snow is coming down at you and your windshield so that it seems like you're about to go into hyperspace and you can't see the little reflectors because they are covered with snow is treacherous. When I got back, I was freaked out.

It snowed all day Thursday, a day I said that I was officially "snowed in." But I was wrong. We ended up driving all over creation Thursday night, probably the biggest fools that ever lived. When we got back, the power had gone out not just in Duck Pond Campground, but the whole one-intersection town.

Today, Long Lost Lover (he prefers this over Absurdist Lover, so I may start referring to him as Triple L) said he needed to play games, watch movies, and relax. It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to do, but finally when I decided I really should write (earth to Earnest: you always need to write. daily. get used to it.), he put up a sheet partition so I could have a door. Though I was just behind the curtain, I managed to get a bunch done. One problem I have is that it's hard to get started because I have so many projects I always feel like there is something better or more important I could be doing. But I also realized in the last few days that many of the projects I've developed in the last few years have been left half-completed. Other projects are mostly finished, but need to be revised before they can be sent out. So this article that I wrote became mostly a Frankenstein's monster job, pulling a head and neck from this piece, a spine and skeletal system from over yonder, and then a whole body of skin, more or less, from somewhere else. I mocked it up and pulled pieces from here and there -- and before I knew it, I had mocked up the entire piece. Somehow, from a few hours of work, I have an almost complete draft. I have to revise it and revise it and revise it until I'm sure that no sentences remain from the Dreaded Dissertation. But I can do that in a week.

So that's good news.

Here's the other thing I'm going to get done today besides the article: I'm going to tell you the breast news. So I left for my appointment already upset. Triple L and I had somehow gotten in a whole thing the day before that hadn't really finished. Of course, it takes a million zillion years to drive through the mountain roads, then through the area of Ticky-Tacky Houses so I could drive to Highly Ranked Clinic in order for them to give my breasts and their lumps a close-up. First of all, the parking structure costs $8. For patients! What about people going there for chemo and stuff? It's highway robbery to charge patients $8 to park in a lousy structure.

Then I went down to the basement, waited in line (a couple of people wanted to go ahead of me, but I didn't let them), and filled out even more paperwork and paid. Then they sent me into a room with a handful of other people waiting. They called all of us at once. I felt like a herd of sheep. I had to wait because the other women had filed dutifully into the changing room where there were two lockers for us to put our stuff and shirts in. Then it was my turn to change into a robe whose main job seems to be to flash my breasts at everyone as I walk. Then I sat. And waited. I didn't wait too terribly long there, but I did wait a very long time in the room. Then the radiologist and the nurse came back in. The radiologist was a man (!), who looked younger than I am. So I had my breasts all greased up and looked at on the ultrasound by this young whippersnapper. Now this is my second ultrasound. The first ultrasound was when I was traveling in a place not particularly reputed for their medical equipment or advancement. There they had four giant screens on the wall, so that the patient could see what's being ultrasounded without craning her neck around to the doctor's screen. At Highly Ranked Clinic, there was just the monitor that is smaller than most people's computer screens to crane my neck to if I want to see the small black shapes in my breasts. Obviously medical ranking has nothing to do with equipment. Very odd.

Young Whippersnapper asked me to wait, still in my robe (he's in a lab coat and I'm in a robe -- guess who haqs the power? no one calls me doctor when I'm wearing one of those robes) because he needed to run the results by the attending radiologist (what? so I don't have a good radiologist???). I waited a long time because that doctor was in the middle of a biopsy. Finally, he came back out and said that the doctor agreed that it was nothing to worry about -- that they (he found a third little piece of ultrasound blackness that makes me think of these lumps as black holes -- as the absence rather than presence of something) were either cysts or inflamed ducts.

Now, I know I'm supposed to be ecstatic that it's not cancer. But though I entertained the possibility that maybe Long Lost Lover and I were going to be reunited only to be tragically parted by cancer, I never really thought it was cancer. Really I've been worried about whatever it is. But to these radiologists, it's binary. Cancer/no cancer. What if these cysts are the symptom of some other problem -- like infertility -- and nobody cares? I want to get to the bottoms of these things, find out what they are, find out what causes them and how I can avoid them, learn what I need to do differently. Preventative care sucks in Western medicine. I do not feel closure. I do not feel like celebrating. I wish they had decided what it was (cysts, inflamed ducts) so then I could go on with the next step: freakishly searching the internet for every odd natural healing website I can find that mentions anything even tangentially related, drastically altering my eating habits in order to accommodate new life change, and generally driving people crazy with my weird unfathomable eating habits and newfound "knowledge." Instead I'm in limbo.

I have my own prescription from Stephen King. He says I need to spend three to four hours a day writing and reading. I'm working on that.

In other non-starter news, I sent in my application for one community college that starts in about a week. For some odd reason, they are not beating my door down, overloading my phone, or begging for interviews. Typical. I need to send materials to two more colleges, then I'm going to get serious about other kinds of work. But I have to write. This is imperative. I have too many unfinished projects. Triple L says I should be a "completionist." He obviously doesn't know me that well.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Turning Over a New Winter Leaf

So while people are getting jobs and moving forward into teaching the spring semester, I am also going forward. I'd decided after making a huge egg, turkey bacon, and pancake feast for Absurdist Lover that today was going to be the day that I started considering writing a priority activity -- not something that I maybe get to, but something that is more important than staring off into space and checking email several times a day. I know that in my life I've considered writing a priority activity -- there was that crazed countdown of the dissertation. (I used to be a prolific writer. Of course people used to publish what I write -- and that hasn't happened in a while either. Could it be that specializing in My Field actually paradoxically makes it harder to write? Or is this just an excuse I've been using for a number of years because I'm scared of failure? Or, as Similarly Neurotic/Cool Friend says, I'm afraid of success?) During the dissertation it was painfully and woefully clear to me every day when I woke up that the most important thing I could do all day long was write. I woke up in such a panic that many days I was able to get to it before 5pm.

So after making breakfast I immediately tucked myself in to a spot under the loft at the foot of the bed, Mr. Tabby at my side. What could make me want to write more than being curled up in a tight spot with my laptop? Well, then I checked my email and checked my other email and now there are two students who want letters of recommendation. I'm barely even in academe anymore. One is a bright student from a hard course a number of years ago who says she wants a rec letter for grad school. But I haven't seen or heard from her since that class. So I said she should let me know more about what she's planning on doing. (I admit that part of this is that I just want to make sure that she's really thought this through. If she's already an academic freak, well, there's no thwarting her, but if she's a normal person who just thinks that this is some natural extension of undergrad, well -- I want her to know that grad school is not like undergrad. We don't all find ourselves in grad school because we were such perfect and hardworking undergrads. Some of us were very slapdash about our studies and did extraordinarily well, but only when the subject was something that gripped us. (Of course, here I mean myself.) Grad school is not undergrad with longer books.)

Anyway, you can see how the good idea-or-not-ness (you see what not being in the academy is doing for my language use) of grad school could make me head off course, lured by one of my soapbox sirens. I'm supposed to be working on an article. In fact, writing should be The Thing I Do every day or at least weekdays. The first thing. The most important thing. I can only, likely, work on one writing project at a time (which actually suggests a great deal about how I need to use my time if I'm going to re-enter the academy: if I'm going to write and not go insane feeling I've wasted my life writing narrow academic articles in my field to claw my way to tenure and promotion (not that there is anything wrong with this in theory, but if I do it, I think I'll be mad at myself forever, since the idea was never that academic writing would supplant other public and/or literary writing), I have to make time for writing non-academic pieces -- and it will mean that I will not publish as fast as my academic peers. (It's hard being an ambitious person with too many interests. As an advisor once said to me, I like to have many different projects going at once and then I want to push them all forward at the same time. So they all go slowly. This made sense when I was in Advisor's office. Entering her office was often like entering a very different world from that made me feel like a visitor from a different planet. She offered me coffee from her thermos. I would carefully wash out the coffee mug I would use in the department sink and pad back in her office to set it on her bookshelves noiselessly. Very different from going and visiting other people's offices, with their big desks and the visitor's chairs set meaningfully apart from everything.)) Not publishing as fast as my peers, whether in my field or my backburner field, is a continuing pain in the butt. And I also know I have to sweep all that envy crap away (maybe I need to read Bonnie Friedman's Writing Past Dark again) and write -- whether it's this article I need to write or anything else. I work at my own pace. Perhaps I'm at the crest of a whole new writing jag. That would be nice.

Despite today's delays, I have been reading Book I Should Have Read Months Ago. Academic discourse is a bit overblown and self referential, isn't it? This book is pioneering, so of course there is a heavy lit review from other fields and a tedious repetition of not only the main argument (which is simple enough) but certain collections of sentences. Another book I read that I see cited everywhere but is really not that brilliant or interesting (one of those "taking stock of who is saying what" kind of books) repeats entire paragraphs in multiple chapters. In fields closely allied with notions of good writing and close reading, this must be outlawed. If I'm reading closely, then I notice repeated sentences! I ARRGH!

So I'm going to try to work on reading some more of this book and writing 500 words about/for this article. It's only 2pm. That's not too terrible. (I just had to tell Absurdist Lover that his coming in to the camper every five seconds and talking to me is a wee bit distracting from writing. He was supposed to work for his dad, but apparently his dad is busy trying to collect boxes to ship things in. So instead AL has leveled the camper, fixed two leaks, fixed his car, and is now trying to find something else to do. All that, while I have done nothing but expanded my waistline and procrastinated doing anything of value. If I don't watch it, he's going to try to clean up my clutter. ARRRGH!)

This is Earnest Writer, reporting to you live where Sloth Beast is rising from her inertia to open a document and consider working.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Things Have Progressed, While I Have Regressed

So my life has spiraled back to an earlier time when it would have been normal to go over to my folks to do laundry, live on money borrowed from family members, and drive an abused car (not abused by me, this time). But this doesn't remind me of being younger. In fact, it's completely strange because I haven't done this in so long. Okay, I've borrowed copious amounts of money from my parents over the years, but not while totally unemployed (oh, except the summer -- but I had things then -- you know, like an apartment). Going over to my folks' place to do laundry -- that is completely new. I've lived in apartment buildings that had communal laundry facilities, most of the time. I've certainly gone to laundromats, but I don't go if I have a choice. So now I drive over a bunch of mountain roads, then through Strip-Mall City to get to a freeway which gets me to another freeway and another so I can go and do my laundry -- oh and see the folks, too. My grandmother has graciously let me borrow money so that I don't have to freak out about money while I'm dealing with the breast thing. But dealing with the ongoing family drama? Oy!

I finally got my stuff from Adventure U shipped to me, so now I have academic books and thus much less reason to procrastinate working on that article that is due at the end of the month -- of course, what does this mean if I don't go back into the academy full-time? I applied to teach adjunct at a community college -- we'll see whether they'll be able to give me a class or two. But in the academy and in certain parts of the literary world, the attitude is that writing is a gentlemen's pursuit -- as if we're all informed amateurs, who can afford with our landed wealth, to write for the love of knowledge and literature -- for nothing at all. Monetary remuneration does not satisfy us -- we contribute to the world our words for the sheer love of doing so. Of course, I do write for the love of it, and, if you're in the academy, writing for publication is absolutely connected to your livelihood, but I wish I could write more and do other things less and that means getting paid for my writing. I have to figure that one out. Right now, as I told my grandmother, the responsible presentable version of me who gets stuff done is on vacation. So we're just holding on until then. Really, I'm laboring to figure out how to write about my recent experiences at Adventure U. How do I write about that? Who do I write it for? Who wants to hear about it? What do different people need to understand about all that stuff that I've been studying for a number of years but have only written about for the academy -- and all the Adventure U stuff which I've only written about for close friends? I can't quite figure out how to begin. I know that I have to find some little corner to write about and see what happens. But I also wish I could see myself writing something for New Yorker, or Harper's, or whatever and also contribute to my care and feeding while I'm doing that. On the other hand, my grandmother gave me some money so I wouldn't have to worry about money for the rest of the month. So maybe I should do something insane: like not worry about money until the end of the month? She told me that I really should be writing. Yeah, she and everyone else, including Absurdist Lover. I need to get working on that stuff. Oh and of course this article for Adventure U. Agghh.

I'm going to read a chapter of this book that I think will help me get into my research (and was also written by one of the editors and should've been read by me months ago -- like before I send them a proposal).

And by the way: Mr. Tabby is okay. The vet here who saw him (in this zoo of a clinic -- I'm not sure what I think about it -- it's crazy there) said that his blood work looked fine -- no suggestion of renal problems, which is wonderful. They had to send away for his hyperthyroid meds (in a paste), but he has seemed much more lethargic and unhappy when I give it to him, so I've been undermedicating him, which I know may not be the best thing, but there it is. They also checked his blood pressure, but they did such a half-assed job at it that I don't believe a thing they said. I don't feel confident in this vet like I did in Grad City. But anything's better than vets around Adventure U.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


So I feel like I owe y'all an explanation for my bloggy silence. I know really maybe I don't, but maybe I owe myself the explanation or, alternatively, the time to write and order my universe. Because I haven't been doing much writing lately either. Which is not just bad for productivity, but probably means that I'm freaking out.

Which I guess I am.

For a short while, I had the drama of some editing to do, then I finished that. Then Project Lumpy went into full swing -- and frankly everything -- down to whether Absurdist Lover thinks I should cook on a given night or not -- became about my breast health. My mother went to a Breast Cancer Support Group (for her mom, since she has breast cancer, but that wouldn't stop her from worrying about me) and got me info, my stepmother gave me the number of her OB-GYN and told me to keep her updated, and Absurdist Lover was writing down the names of hospitals he passed during errands and giving them to me. Though I still was doing research and wanted some specific referrals to go on, I was basically cornered. I had to make a decision about which doctor to go to and make an appointment. Then I had to call everyone else back.

I was sitting in one of these funks where I found it impossible to get on with the next step. I finally got up the strength to make this seemingly impossible decision and make the appointment (which with the breast center I've chosen involves a number of phone calls and steps before you're finally allowed to schedule an appointment) last week. Then I lived in Project Lumpyville until yesterday when it all came to a head. I had my first appointment. Absurdist Lover came with me. When he asked me if I wanted him to come with me, I said I didn't know, but then when he said he was staying here to play games, I found myself getting angry and slamming something. In short, I was totally irrational and he probably figured when I started behaving like a five year old that I needed supervision. (One of the soap opera plots in my head is that he came back into my life now because I need him to take care of me on my death bed. Oy.)

At the breast center, I had to fill out many pieces of paper. Most of the people in the waiting room were couples. Partners go there, I guess, as a matter of course. I'm sure people are getting bad news as well as having checkups after medication. Perhaps people were also getting chemo there, though I don't know.

For myself, I got a doctor who, I think, used my first name while introducing herself as Dr. Breast Surgeon. Typical. We talked a little, she looked at my mammogram and explained that my breasts are full of glandular tissue, then she felt me up and proclaimed my breasts "lumpy-bumpy," though she did feel the exact lumps (mirror images of each other) that have already had their close-ups on ultrasound. But these are star lumps, you see, and must be ultrasounded again. So that's next week. And then, Dr. Breast Surgeon says, if she can't see what she wants to see on the ultrasound, an MRI. She thinks surgery is unlikely. Which means that cancer or something else really bad is likely not even really considered a possibility. Though I confess that it was this whirlwind discussion between long bouts of waiting (to get in to the doctor, to be able to pay), and I struggled to keep up. When she asked for questions, I was totally tongue-tied. I asked a few clarifying questions, but I think that I didn't take in what was going on because of the possibility of an MRI, which is so frigging expensive. Then there was the small problem that the bill was more than my grandmother had given me for the appointment. (Our other major problem around here is that we don't have any money. It's a huge stressor -- at least for me. It's getting to AL a bit too, though he is a bit less of an anxiety-ridden alarmist whose worst nightmares are about not having money -- also about becoming a burnt-out addict, but that is a discussion for another time.) Thank goodness I had a little money (it was for insurance, but now it's just about playin' the angles, baby) in my account.

So then it took me half of day to get myself to schedule the ultrasound. Instead I was, I guess, procrastinating, by trying to find some adjunct work at a local college. I know this is ridiculous and that time is ticking by and that soon I'll only be able to apply at places on the quarter system, but I'm so drained by everything, including the inevitable phone calls I had to make today in order to update everyone on everything, that I can't imagine handling a class. I can barely handle the telephone. I'm always surprised when my professional phone voice takes over.

Today, while updating my mother and again expressing surprise at how crazy my life is (Absurdist Lover! A camper! Find a job! I have no money! I have a PhD? Project Lumpy!), she said my life was bumpy-lumpy. I kid you not. So that is why lumpy-bumpy or bumpy-lumpy is the word of the day.

So here I am, not quite sane, not quite functional. I have an article due by the end of the month on my coolest research. Then I have two conference papers to write. I barely remember when I was that person. I know I saw some of you at MLA (and how much I wish I had spent more time with y'all) but I barely believe I am a person that anyone would ever hire for a tenure-track job. I mean, wouldn't they just know how crazy I am?

Anyway, so with all of this craziness and the knowledge that I should write about my recent adventures and then the the pressure to get a job, I really have just wanted to curl up fetus-style in my bed (which now has a super-cool and homey, but not too Mrs. Brady, quilt on it) and stay there. The fact that Absurdist Lover does not deserve me to just bottom out and leave him to be the one doing everything is the main reason I get up and out of bed and do things. I feel like I'm doing something when I cook him dinner.

But really I know I have three projects: Lumpy, Job, and Article. None of these is playing Susie Homemaker. Okay, let's just say I have four projects then. I have project Susie too. Lumpy's gotten a lot of play recently and is, I think, full up until next week. Job is moving right along today and just needs some more work tomorrow. Article has been sadly neglected. I need to focus. I feel as though I'm behind a thick fog.

So that's all that's going on in my world. I think Absurdist Lover is home.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Total Reversion to Sloth Complete

So here I am online at No-Longer-Snowy Duck Pond having a massive fit of procrastination. I have to say the camper looks very clean. I washed all the dishes including our new bowls and plates. I ate, but did not gorge unless you include a mere handful of triple ginger cookies I just finished with my get-down-to-business tea. I started writing a blogpost earlier about how much the new-PhD'd-me sucked and how maybe the campground was getting me down (which means me getting me down because I barely leave the camper, even for duck-visiting, because I really don't want to talk to anyone), when of course it is just that I do suck because I'm not working on the editing job that I said I would do. Why? Uh. No fancy reason like I feel like a fraud or anything, though I certainly could whip that into something if it would allow me to put off working on this job, but because basically I just don't feel like it. I've wasted a whole day when Absurdist Lover was working for his dad -- and now he will be here in any minute and I have done, well, nothing. Oy. I know better. I know the answer is to just sit down and do it, that being an adult means doing things you don't want to do, that I might even like it if I would just get on with it, but. why. is. it. so. freaking. hard. to. get. myself. started???

I have all these projects and time to actually do them. But am actually a sloth. Which means lots of accountablogging! Watch Earnest kick her own butt! Or kick herself when she's down!!

(Hark the herald! A new reason for procrastination: someone is playing the guitar! Like someone in the next camper! Is it time for a singalong? Can I come too?)

Monday, January 7, 2008

Online On Snowy Pond: Update

Hi everyone! It was only this weekend that we got internet in the Duck Pond Campground. And Absurdist Lover didn't have to work for his father this weekend so we decided to stay in and enjoy -- yes, you guessed it -- the snow. I lived in Urban Home City for twenty-three years and saw snow fall from the sky like twice. But we're out far enough that I guess it does snow. Crazy.

I've been back on the way outskirts of Urban Home City and away from Adventure U and living in an RV on Duck Pond for three weeks now (including that sojourn to Dreadful Conference for which I was still sufficiently jetlagged and whiplash-culture-clash-wearied to be boring at both the blogger meetup and my interview). I'm starting to get my shit together or at least I've come up for air long enough to realize that there is so much to do. I really don't want to do any of it, but it must be done. Because we're pretty much already at the point where we're running out of money. We needed a lot of start-up things, like pans and flatware and stuff. We may have twenty-four feet long of living space, but we use every bit of it. I've been cooking -- mostly breakfast. We now have a waffle iron (that my parents had promised me for about two years now, but finally CostCo had the exact kind again right before Christmas so I got it for Christmas) and have investigated Trader Joe's amazing Swedish pancakes and pretty much all things Trader Joe's as I had promised myself for the last five and a half years. (Absurdist Lover is also all about Trader Joe's, since its ready-made stuff totally subsidized his recent bachelorhood and is a big hit with both him and his dad.)

There are all these things going on right now. Probably the most significant is that at Adventure U I discovered a lump and had my first mammogram (a mammogram is basically about your breast being smooshed like a hamburger patty between cold plates) -- now I have to find "a breast surgeon" to read the film and ultrasound reports and recommend a course of action. Of course, normal people get referred to a doctor before their date with radiology. So I'm trying to find a breast center or whatever -- and the whole thing is very scary, of course. I also found out that my grandmother has breast cancer. (Okay, maybe I'm a totally terrible person to feel that my teeny-weeny lump is even worry-able compared to my grandmother being diagnosed with cancer, but I'm also trying to live in a camper, negotiate a brand-new relationship and living situation, and figure out my life. Basically I figure I must be in complete denial about my grandmother because I have really no big reaction to it at all. Just questions about treatment and decisions. I think I'm full up -- already totally overwhelmed. At the end of A.S. Byatt's Still Life, there is this discussion about people who seem strong as people who process things slowly. So in the moment, they seem like they are really holding themselves together -- being the strong ones. But they really just process things slowly and so take a really long time to really take in and experience something fully. Which means that it takes practically forever to get over something. This is actually much worse than those people who experience things fully and go to pieces and then reconstruct. I think I used to fall apart -- had the energy to put myself back together. But since my dad's mother died at the beginning of 2006, launching these two years of death and strangeness, I think I've become a slow processor. At some point, I'll blog about the two years of death, but not right now.) Also, there is the project of Figuring Out How Mr. Tabby Is Health-Wise. He has been to a veterinarian, and his re-evaluation of his medication is in progress. In order to keep up our high-eating camping lifestyle, I must very soon find work, either adjuncting or doing something else (but what?). I know I should be working more on writing and really want to write about some recent adventures, but am having a really hard time figuring out how to frame this stuff -- figuring out what I want to say exactly and who I want to say it to. (I plan to blog more on this rhetorical/craft problem.) And there is, of course, the novel, which is not progressing at an ideal rate, but still has a quite respectable 8,400 words. I'm editing a dissertation (in slow motion). I have an article due at the end of the month that I haven't officially begun yet (a revision for a slightly different audience of my dissertation and writing sample). I'm getting a car for which I have to get money for insurance. I'm borrowing money. I'm exhausted.

So with all this other stuff, I'm not getting very far in the plan to figure out my life. I read Maude's recent post about getting organized and know that I should also be spending this time wisely and getting publications out and stuff, but I can't even figure out where I'm going to be this time in the fall, much less figure out whether I'm going on the market again or what. Who knows. There are a number of community college positions opening up in not-too-far-away-from-here locations. Do I apply? Will Absurdist Lover and I figure out how to build a life together? Here? In a different part of the state? In a different state? Thinking about academic jobs immediately brings up all those questions. We don't have answers. The questions all aswirl make me want to have a glass of wine and go to bed.

So that's the update. Today we're getting the car -- which has been a whole tangle with my brother since it's originally his car though he is getting rid of it because he got my dad's old much-better car. But somehow that means that my brother who is eleven years younger than I am wants me to keep a fork in the glovebox as a memento of some stoned rice-sharing night. (I could almost do this as a gift of eccentricity from one to another, but he is way too much of a pain in the ass. He admits that he is a "button-pusher." But it doesn't compute to him that this is not "cute" or "funny." Nor does it compute to him that when you're basically a pain to be around, people don't want to do things for you. Generosity just runs dry.) The fact that my brother and his antics are irking me so much means I'm way too involved with my family already. I've seen them maybe three times, but it's already way too much. I need a life. A whole life. I need to work. Or something.

These update posts are so rarely coherent. In short: there's a lot of stuff to blog about (writing issues, mountain towns, sprawly nostalgia near Urban Home City, life questions, health scares, family challenges, and on and on), and I don't know where to begin! Help!