Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I Should Change My Name

to Earnest Austen or Not-so-Earnest-or-Well-Read-but-Somehow-Got-through-Three-English-Degrees.

Found at Maude, in Progress.
The top 100 or so books most often marked as “unread” by LibraryThing’s users.
Bold the books you have read, underline the ones you read for school, italicize the ones you started but didn’t finish.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Anna Karenina
Crime and Punishment
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Wuthering Heights
The Silmarillion
Life of Pi
The Name of the Rose
Don Quixote
Moby Dick
Madame Bovary
The Odyssey
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre (the first time was when I was 10!)
The Tale of Two Cities
The Brothers Karamazov
Guns, Germs, and Steel
War and Peace (We had to choose a classic when I was in 9th grade, so I chose this one, much to the amazement of my teacher. Yes I did get extra time to finish the doorstop.)
Vanity Fair
The Time Traveler’s Wife
The Iliad
The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner (I decided to teach this one in a class. That counts as school, no?)
Mrs. Dalloway
Great Expectations
American Gods
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Atlas Shrugged
Reading Lolita in Tehran : a memoir in books
Memoirs of a Geisha
Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West
The Canterbury Tales
The Historian : a novel
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (One of many books I started but did not finish for school.)
Love in the Time of Cholera
Brave New World
The Fountainhead
Foucault’s Pendulum
The Count of Monte Cristo
A Clockwork Orange
Anansi Boys
The Once and Future King
The Grapes of Wrath
The Poisonwood Bible
Angels & Demons
The Satanic Verses
Sense and Sensibility
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Mansfield Park
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
To the Lighthouse
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Oliver Twist
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
The Prince
The Sound and the Fury
Angela’s Ashes : a memoir
The God of Small Things
A People’s History of the United States : 1492-present
A Confederacy of Dunces
A Short History of Nearly Everything
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
The Mists of Avalon
Oryx and Crake
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion is this (?)
There is Confusion (?)
Northanger Abbey
The Catcher in the Rye
On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Freakonomics : a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : an inquiry into values
The Aeneid
Watership Down
Gravity’s Rainbow
The Hobbit
In Cold Blood : a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences
White Teeth
Treasure Island
David Copperfield

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Academia: Noted by Its Absence Plus Digressions

I started to take over Maude's comments to explore how disconnected I feel from academia. This is the way in which this is still an academic blog: I can feel academia's absence -- along with it, most of the sense that I'm well-educated and/or worthy of respect or being listened to. At work, I have to deal with a young doofus who treats me like a bimbo -- he is surprised when I say I can't recognize quotes from Speed and Rocky V. I'm half-tempted to quote 9 to 5 at him the next time he insists on playing movie trivia: "I'm no girl, I'm a woman. I'm not your wife or your mother. . .or even your mistress. I am an employee and as such I expect to treated equally -- with a little dignity and a little respect." Would he get it? No way. Would he see the connection to himself -- note that the other night he said "goodbye, girls," to me as well as a woman who looks at him as a son (she is probably ten years than I am)? Pests like him get on my nerves. But it's not really him, maybe, as much as that here in Urban Home City I am a kid again -- with the boyfriend I had a million years ago and jobs well outside of my particular expertise. It's almost as if I didn't just write a dissertation, contributing to the knowledge of my field. As if I've never written at all. Never done anything at all, but am just older, still waiting for my life to start.

In all fairness, I remember feeling very far from my scholarly expertise at Adventure U, where most of the other members of my department were instructors and had no theoretical or scholarly backing or, even, in some cases, interest in the best thinking in the field.

My biggest excitement at the moment is not how I am ever going to de-fuzz the article I wrote for an edited collection (though that still needs to be done) or think through some problem in my teaching or theory, but what I'm going to cook tonight from the farmer's market. I'm not complaining about cooking, or the farmer's market, or, even, for once, being pregnant, but I'd like to know how it is that people maintain a sense of connection to their fields even when they are taking unofficial sabbaticals from teaching. I know many of you have done this. Please tell me how.

I've spent the weekend in lovely sloth. It is truly and miserably hot in Urban Home City right now. I've been puttering, putting my hand on my belly to see if I can feel kicking (Absurdist Lover got kicked or maybe butt-bumped -- who can know??? -- last night) or just the same fluttering I've been feeling, and reading The Handmaid's Tale again. On Monday, we saw the baby on the ultrasound. I distinctly saw a head, though all sorts of other things the doctor pointed out were murky. I was kind of shocked for a couple days, unable to really communicate what was going on. I'm having a baby -- and my life will never be the same (not a terrible thing in itself as I was driving myself nuts and going on Zoloft and all that, but totally scary nonetheless). But also I went to a male doctor -- a nice one, but still -- instead of a female midwife. It was more clinical an experience than I would have liked. Also, my belly has totally pooched, and I can barely fit into anything. Absurdist Lover continues to be his slim sculpted self. His belly button will continue to be an inny. I feel like he too should go through some physical transformation. Instead he lets me be my beached whale self and tends to many things. He's waiting for me to get my act together now so we can purchase some meat to go with all those farmer's market vegetables. I should go.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

We've Moved!

No, not blogs, but living situations. Instead of teetering on an up-turned milk crate, I'm on two cushions on the hardwood floor of Absurdist Lover's and my apartment. After an uncomfortable hour-and-a half journey during which Mr. Tabby and I figured out that this was his ninth move, Mr. Tabby seems happy. Absurdist Lover got up early and met with the cable guy (amazing, since we got him to come the day after we moved in) and so now we have internet access and everything. My laptop is still fried, but if I can maneuver myself down to and up off of the floor, then I can use Absurdist Lover's computer.

So now instead of living with a lakeview, we have a full shower, cable, and walking distance-access to way too much consumerism. As we were planning and hoping and crossing our fingers for this move (because my credit sucks and I had to get my father to guarantee the thing), I had the distinct feeling that we were moving in the wrong direction. Instead of being further away from Urban Home City, we're now deep in it. As in, can't park on our street because it's too busy at 10pm on a Friday night in it. Over ten years ago, fresh out of college, I left Urban Home City with a sense of triumph. Though I lived in a gorgeous condo in a good neighborhood, at the local coffee house people still talked about working hard for another five, ten, thirty years and then getting the hell out of Urban Home City. But everyone knew that very few people ever get out. And you can't wait until there's a good time or money or ideal conditions. You have to run with your two feet under you and that's it. When my then-husband 's job was relocated to another city 360 miles away when I was twenty-three, I was ecstatic. We were actually going to leave, the same city that since my father emigrated to this country when he was three, he hasn't lived outside of a forty-mile radius, despite his coming home from business trips when I was a kid declaring that we were moving to Louisville, Kentucky or Charlotte, North Carolina. (My mother said no way, sight unseen. I haven't been to Charlotte, but I have been in Louisville and felt a sense of loss when I saw the gorgeous houses that could've been ours for a song instead of the dingy tract houses that cost a bloody fortune -- buying a house in Urban Home City is making a bargain with the devil that you'll work at high-paying jobs that you hate, watch the hours of your life tick away while you're in traffic, and get rid of any pesky remaining longings for authenticity, supporting small local businesses and farms, and a generally non-prepackaged, value-driven life.) And in the twelve years since, I haven't lived in Urban Home City, haven't even thought about moving back here, not even after the divorce. Despite the inevitable questions from family of when I'm going to move back to Urban Home City. Never, I would silently reply.

Similarly, Absurdist Lover got fed up with Urban Home City a few years ago and felt he had to leave, moving his family way up north to a place that I've heard is basically in the middle of nowhere. And though we both talk about getting a farm in Idaho, here we are, back in the thick of Urban Home City and its seductive consumerism: you can have anything right now, if you have the greenbacks to get it.

We are here for the baby. Here is where we have the familial and financial resources to manage our lives right now. Basically, I feel like I'm back in college, getting supported by my father. I'm grateful, because I wasn't doing very well on my own resources in the camper. On the other hand (and obviously I can't say this to him), I feel like I've gone backwards in my life. I've regressed. I'm a PhD and have had a job as an assistant professor in the kind of city that makes people say wow, but now I'm just a pregnant woman trying to make ends meet being supported by her family. Again, I'm grateful. I'm very lucky. On the other hand, I really want to go back to being. . .I don't know. . .a person. A person who doesn't have to beg. A person who is respected as someone who knows what she's doing in a job that she's good at. Of course, I'd also like to be a person who knows what she's doing. Lately, my brain is so clouded that I can barely think through where to put the TV when Absurdist Lover asks. It's bad. People say that pregnant brain is very normal. Great. It doesn't help me make decisions at either of my jobs, get myself reading and writing and generally working my way back to my field, or keep me from getting overwhelmed at basically nothing. But somehow I've got to manage to keep my authentic self and my values in this consumerist bordello. Keep my eye on the ball that reads: get the hell out!

Have I mentioned lately that though Urban Home State is often looked at as a leftist bangladeshgranolahead mecca, both the birth center and the private midwife care at a local hospital have disbanded, a farm I went to didn't know whether pesticides had poisoned their produce, and basically I am having much trouble finding people at all like me around here. It's all too yuppified for words. Of course, no one from anywhere else ever believes me when I say I'm an Urban Home City native. From now on, I'm telling people I'm from the moon. Maybe I'm not really from here -- but from here in the seventies with dark bead macrame, cordoroy jeans, and everyone chanting gongyo trying to find themselves. Now people have just found their bluetooth, their Starbucks (I've been going to Peets in protest), and their inner brats screaming I want, I want, I want. I never thought I'd say this, but I want to go back to Grad City. I've lost my urbanity and want to live in the quiet boonies where I can get some direct sun on my brand new rosemary and sage plants!

All that said, it's very wonderful to be in an apartment instead of a 24-foot camper. Absurdist Lover approves of the shower, as do I. Absurdist Fetus will have a nice place to live when s/he decides to leave the relative safety of my body. (We're exhausted today from yesterday's moving adventures -- and by we, I mean Absurdist Fetus and myself, who is merely the cocoon around AF's transforming body, the fruit around AF's seed.) I'm sure I'm not making sense anymore. Hi everyone!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Happier Update

I may just be the worst blogger ever, especially since so many of you left such sweet comments on my last mournful post. And this is going to be a shortie post (yeah right) because I'm already late getting myself going today. But I wanted to let you all know that things are looking up. I was starting to feel better and stronger (okay, partly with fantasies that Absurdist Lover would regret not being with me big time) and enlisted even more help from my family and started looking at apartments. This was not the week that just passed, but the week before. Of course right as I began to be able to imagine going on and getting an apartment and going on the market again in the fall, Absurdist Lover called and said he wanted me back. The following weekend we got back together, somewhat provisionally, because he's got to work on some things that will make it possible for us to move forward. We'll see how it goes.

The SAT class that started so poorly is now over; most of my students are likely even done with the official SAT, today being their test date. I hope they do okay, though many of them, in typical student fashion, did not do their homework.

Here's a teaser for my next post, which I promise will come in the next few days: so I get insurance where they have one birth center in my area. Did I think to call first to make sure they were still a birth center? No. I called on Wednesday: they are not a birth center anymore -- they only do prenatal care and then birth at the hospital. Dear lord in heaven! Why do I not want to have my baby in a hospital if I can possibly help it? Why am I starting to go crazy when people look at me as if I'm nuts when most people are born and give birth in hospitals? What's wrong with a place for treating sick people when giving birth, the most natural thing in the world? Well, for me (and only for me -- I'm not trying to foist these ideas on anyone else -- hell, I've done drugs for fun --I totally get why someone would want to have an epidural for childbirth!), the whole midwife versus doctor and at home or birth center versus hospital thing is really important -- and it's totally getting under my skin since I have to justify myself every five seconds when people ask incredulously: don't you want a doctor? So expect a "medical model rant" soon.

In other news, I'm listening to Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (my first payday I got paid by both the office and the SAT place, I finally retired Steve Martin's CD of Born Standing Up, which I still recommend, by the way) and if you've ever cared one whit about food and what's in it and where it comes from, consider going and reading/listening to it. It's frigging amazing.

Also, I'm seventeen weeks. I've been pregnant for just about ever and will go on being pregnant forever. It's hot. I need air conditioning. My carbon footprint is Big Foot sized, especially since i still live in the forest and am shlepping into the city. Also, in the morning, I can wear my pre-pregnancy jeans (though not pre-pregnancy tops since my boobs have inflated like hot-air balloons), but after I eat and by the end of the day, they are chronically unbuttoned, becoming the most uncomfortable clothes ever that basically have to be peeled off, seventies style when tight was all right. (Am I the only person who remembers that it was totally normal to lie on your bed to zip your Calvins or Jordache's up?) It's very odd. Because my nice clothes are bigger, since I've ballooned up and down between fat and almost slender (which is my version of hottie) in grad school, I can pretty much still wear those pants. When am I going to look pregnant?