Friday, January 29, 2010

Running Away to Form a Grrl Band

Shhh. Don't wake the family.

It's nearly midnight, and I just got back from a night out with a friend. I met up with her at a local music venue (a.k.a dive bar) at which an all-girl punk/rock band was playing.

Now that I'm home, everyone is sleeping. It's peaceful and I can hear the rain on the sky light and the roof. (Well, I can sort of hear it over the ringing in my ears). But now I have an itch to plug my cheap electric guitar into my cheap amp and tear it up. But that would, indeed, wake the family, so maybe I shouldn't.

Watching the grrls was awesome. The drummer was awesome. About the singer and guitarists, I kept thinking: I could do that. And oh how fun it would be. So if you don't hear from me again, you'll know that I waved goodbye to my teaching job, grabbed my axe, and hit the road (with family in tow, of course).

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Ever Thought of Tatooing Latin on Your Butt?

J. Harker, the Wayward Classicist has posted one of the funniest funnies ever. Many of you have already read his Latin Tatoos post, but if you haven't, do it now.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Gone Soft

I've always heard people say that when they've been out of the city for a while, returning is strange. People say they get "soft" and lose their city sense.

Whelp. I think the same thing happens when you take leave of your teaching load for a while.

I have gotten soft. I can't keep track of things. I have four classes and three preps. I teach every day, and I have about 130 students altogether. Not an atypical load for a community college instructor. I don't even have that many committee things happening right now since I was on leave last term.

But I have been confused. What day is it? What am I teaching today? What do I need to prepare? Crap. I only made 30 copies, but I have two sections. Whoops. I forgot to grade those quizzes. Oh, poop. I forgot to prep that chapter.

Last night, I did all kinds of prep work including some peer review instructions that I typed up for today. Then, at my office, I realized that I hadn't mailed myself the document, so I madly re-did it. And then, after re-typing it, I realized that I didn't need it until the next day. In the meantime, I was forgetting to grade some quizzes I had planned to hand back.


But I'll tell you what was on my mind thoughout today: the image of Edmund Burke and Mary Wollstonecraft mano a mano in a UFC cage match. That would be something to see. I know where I'd put my money.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Lady Marmalade

So my brother-in-law and his wife recently moved into a new house. At this new house, they have a huge, old Satsuma tree. Now. If you have had Satsuma oranges (a.k.a. tangerines), then you know how awesome this is. We have Satsumas coming out of our eyeballs.

After my foray into canning last spring, when a friend showed me how to can grapefruit marmalade, I purchased a canning kit. It has been sitting on top of the refrigerator for six months, unused.

But with all of the lovely Satsumas, I was inspired to take action. So I got two giant bags of the oranges from my brother-in-law's wife (whom I call my sister-in-law even though she's probably not technically an "in-law" anything, but that's okay because she is my friend), and set to canning. I got busy on Saturday morning, and found a recipe online. After about 2-2 1/2 easy-peasy hours, I had four, beautiful half pints of marmalade. (I want to show you pictures, but I don't have time right now to get the camera and find the USB cord. Pictures will follow).

To make that batch used up only nine oranges. So, still with beaucoup d'oranges, I decided to make two more batches on Sunday*. Well, I had some snafus, and it took longer, and I got a bit frazzled, and I made some mistakes, and there is now a major puddle of candied marmalade on the stove that I need to clean up. But. I did end up with eight more half pints, and, let me tell you, it is delish. It's is especially good on sourdough toast.

If you've never canned, find a friend who has, get some of the last Satsumas of the season, and try the marmalade. It's easy. I'm hoping to make even more next weekend. With all of these oranges I've got, it's too good a chance to pass up. Maybe I should have a give away! Marmalade for a lucky blog reader! We'll see. Only if I end up with lots of jars. Otherwise, I'm hoarding my share.

Oh, and TKW? I bet you could do very cool things with this marmalade--more than just putting it on toast.

*It was recommended not to double the recipe, so prepared the fruit in two separate pots.

Friday, January 22, 2010


OMG. Clearly, my mother is an overachiever. She has posted photos with her homework. Amazingly, in those photos, her hair is even larger than mine. But that was only my junior year of high school. You should have seen my hair freshman year of college--1987 baby. The year of Poison's Look What the Cat Dragged In. Uh-huh. Yep. What was I thinking?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Seven Things: Homework from Ink

I hope you accept late work, Ink! But really, I've been SO busy, and my car died . . . er, I mean my computer died, oh, and I had a lot of other homework, and, um, what was the assignment again?

Oh, yeah. Seven things I haven't mentioned before on my blog. Here we go:

1. Although I have mentioned this over at Acadamnit’s place, I’m not sure I have fessed up here. I was a cheerleader in high school. I cheered freshman and sophomore years and made varsity my junior year, but I didn’t try out for my senior year. I decided to skip it so that I could party with my friends. They were tired of waiting for me to finish games before we headed out to whatever unwise activity we had planned. They did wait, since I was often the DD, but they were tired of it. And I was tired of the cheerleading drama. But I could do a mean herky, and I really loved choreographing and performing competitive routines.

2. I was often the DD in high school because I am allergic to marijuana. Like, totally allergic. I get sick as a dog from even the tiniest bit. Barfing sick. Can hardly move sick. If I ever get cancer and need something to increase my appetite and decrease my nausea, I’m not sure what I’ll do. In grad school, I tried it again to see if I had “grown out of” the allergy. Nope. It’s like a bee sting allergy. It actually gets worse at each exposure. I think I’ve only met one other person (that I know of) with this allergy.

3. In addition to my English degrees, I have a M.Ed. in Counselor Education with a specialization in College Student Development. After earning that degree, I ran a residence hall (of 600 students) for three years. I wisely changed careers so that I could work with students in the classroom, rather than working with students who are drinking, vandalizing, fighting, and even (once) dying. Not that those things can’t happen in the classroom, but they don’t’ happen on a weekly (or daily) basis.

4. Have I mentioned this before? In high school, I was a rocker. My first concert was Van Halen 1984. I saw Motley Crue twice (or was it three times?). I saw Bon Jovi (with Cinderella) twice. I saw White Snake (when they opened for Quiet Riot). I saw KISS twice. I had giant hair and wore a lot of zebra print. But I also got good grades (which was a secret).

5. My senior year of college, I had Susan Gubar as a professor. It was a Feminist Literary Theory course, and she was fantastic. The same semester, I was also volunteering for the Rape Crisis Center and minoring in Women’s Studies. You can see (if you look back at #4) the ways in which I changed during college.

6. Maybe I have talked about this before, not sure, but, for a while, several years ago, I surfed every day. I have never been much of an athlete (my version of cheerleading was not very athletic since I wasn’t a gymnast), but I loved surfing and was decent for someone who didn’t learn until her late 20s. I was in the best shape of my life. And I felt cool. Actually, I was cool. Once, I got barreled, and it was awesome. I haven’t surfed since my second child was born (it’s hard to have two surfers in the family, and it’s very hard for women to be “weekend warriors” when it comes to surfing—what with the need to maintain upper body strength. Therefore, hubby is our designated surfer.). Still one of these summers (the waves are small is summer), I’m hoping to get back out there.

7. I have written some songs on my guitar. One is called “Boobs Not Included.”

And now I'm passing this homework onto a few other bloggers in my own private (or, um, public) blog world. But no pressure! But I will do herkies for each of you who do it.

The Thirty-Something Bride (who might not respond because she's in Chickety China)
Contemporary Troubadour
Gaga's Journey

(I would also pick Dr. No of Acadamnit, but I know zie is hibernating in hir sabBATical cave. That's okay. I'll take late work.)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Buffy: A Question and a Comment

Question: Should we start watching Angel concurrently with Buffy, since the two shows ran concurrently? Or should I get all the way through Buffy and then watch Angel?

Comment: Dude. I LOVE Spike. I know he's evil and all, but last night we watched the episode when Spike is at Thanksgiving dinner and everyone is attacked by Chumash Indian spirits. One of the funniest Buffy episodes so far. HI-larious. Brilliant.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I'm baaaccckkkk . . .

Back in the classroom that is.

Although I will miss the sabbatical terribly--Goodbye, sabbatical. I will miss you, and I'm sorry I didn't always give you my full attention--I was actually slightly excited to go to class today. I met with my Brit Lit survey class and saw a lot of familiar faces who have taken my classes before. Then, I went to my comp class where I'm trying some things that are new. I started by having them draft their first paper in response to the Lenny Kravitz line, "Love is gentle as a rose." They seem to have jumped in with both feet. I think I set good vibes for the classes. We'll see.

Lots of prep work to do. Soon, there will be lots of grading, too.

And now I'm trying to figure out when I'm going to get that conference paper finished. And the dissertation. And I still want to keep getting my 7-8 hours of sleep per night.

I want it all! Roarrrrr!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

About the Peacemaker

So this is a conversation overheard on Friday morning by GEW and Hubby as Boy and Girl struck out on their own in the house after they woke up at six a.m. (I have no idea why they chose not to roust us, but they settled on an independent survivor-ish approach to the morning, so we just eavesdropped from our bed). This particular bit took place when they were in the bathroom, contemplating brushing their teeth:

Boy: Hey, did you know that today is the birthday of a peacemaker?

Girl: No.

Boy: It is. Yeah. So, see, there are people with brown skin. Do you have any friends with brown skin?

Girl: Ummmm . . . . no.

Boy: Oh! Well, when you grow up, you can have friends with brown skin! I have friends with brown skin. They're called Black people.*

Girl: Oh.

Boy: Yeah. And a long time ago, they weren't allow to do things. And back then, T. and E. wouldn't have been able to come to our house for dinner.**

Girl: Oh.

Boy: Yeah. White people--like us, we're white people--put up signs against people with brown skin. Black people couldn't go to the park. Doesn't that sound so mean?

Girl: Yeah! So mean!


Girl: Let's not brush our teeth right now.

Boy: Okay. Let's go get some cereal.

*Actually, most of the Boy's brown-skinned friends are Latino or Latina. But, I suppose that's a mere technicality when you're focused on peacemaking.
**T. and E. are friends of our who are Italian.

The Boy has been talking a lot about the Peacemaker whose birthday we are celebrating. He even brought home a little book from school called, "Our Friend, Martin." And I have felt pretty comfortable talking about all of this with him after reading a chapter in the book Nurtureshock called "Why White Parents Don't Talk About Race." Seems the research says it's much more effective to discuss the details than to allow abstractions to rule the day.

Whether or not I facilitate these conversations effectively (when I'm there to facilitate them at all), I sure love seeing the Boy impassioned by the celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. I can't wait until he can read "Letter from Birmingham Jail."

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Program Interruption

We interrupt the regularly schedule self-absorbedness of this blog to think about Haiti.

That's all. I'm just thinking about Haiti, and so my usual ramblings seem a little trite and trivial. Even more so than usual.

Back soon.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Update: Buffy Edition

Spoiler Alert: Do not read this post if you've never watched to the end of Season Three of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (unless you never intend to, and then, well, you won't care about this anyway).

Buffy has graduated from high school.
The mayor has ascended and been defeated.
The school has been blown up.
The principal has been eaten.
Angel has retreated in the fog.

Tonight I start Season Four. Please tell me that it continues to be an awesomely entertaining show.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Little Miss Steinem

Last night, as we were snuggling after story time, waiting for Hubby to finish reading to the Boy from The Book of Flight, the Girl and I had this exchange:

The Girl: "You know, if anyone ever puts up a 'No Girls Allowed' sign, I'm just not going to cooperate."

Me: "I think that's great idea, Sweetie. Unless, maybe, it's the boys bathroom."

The Girl (laughing): "Oh. Yeah. Well that."

I think this objection to discrimination has been stimulated somewhat by a couple books in the Magic Treehouse book series. The Girl has listened to the audio versions of some of these, and the first two she heard were the Plato one and the Shakespeare one. In the Plato one, women aren't allow to publish books or go to the Olympics. In the Shakespeare one, girls can't go on stage. Of course, the books are highlighting the problematic nature of such customs, but the Girl is so disturbed by these elements that she always wants me to skip those parts.

At the same the time, she is quite focused on beautifulness. But I guess it can't all come at once.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Updates: Scattershot Edition

The Boy: He is much better. So much better, in fact, that on Wednesday he asked if he could climb a tree. With a broken clavicle and one arm in a sling? I don't think so. But he's not feeling much pain, and the swelling has gone down enough that I think I can actually see the clavicle, and it seems to be a fairly conventional location. I will palpate it in a few days to see if it feels as if it's in one piece.

Conference Paper: It's either coming along nicely, or it's a mish-mash, still tough to tell. But I should be able to get a draft into shape by the end of the week. My supervisor has promised to look over it and offer some advice in order to help prevent the great embarrassment of GEW.

Garden: Ate the last of our tomatoes last night. Yes. We were still getting tomatoes in January. But they were getting a bit smoodgy. So I cleared out the old plants, leaving some rotting tomatoes in hopes that I might get some volunteers this summer (I had great ones this year). Then, I planted quite a bit of kale and chard, along with some winter thyme. We'll see how they do . . . only thyme will tell. (Cracking myself up.) We also planted some sunflower seeds that we got as a favor at a birthday party. I've never done them before . . .

Work: Realized last Thursday, as I was doing syllabi, that some of my texts (including two anthologies) have gone to new editions, which I do not yet have in my possession. This poses problems for syllabus writing, as I like to include page numbers. I have contacted book reps, and this morning, I remembered that our bookstore will loan us books for 30 days. I'm going to run over and pick some up so that I can get the syllabi done with page numbers, thereby taking the first step to convince my students that I am an "organized" instructor. (Yes, I'm getting evaluated this term.) I can see my sabbatical retreating in the review mirror of my mind . . .

Dissertation: HaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sabbatical Report: Ibid.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Brit Lit

So I'm revising the syllabus for my Brit Lit survey (Romanticism to Modernism). Currently, it's quite heavy on the Romantics, partly because I'm doing Frankenstein. As for the rest of it, I think I have too much contextual reading (you know, on the French Revolution and industrialism and labor and aesthetics and childhood and the imagination and all that--but not in that order), and I need to spice it up. I like teaching Frankenstein. I also teach a Sherlock Holmes story, and I love the way reading Doyle gives such a great picture of the Victorian era while at the same time being entertaining.

I want to add more things like M. R. James, H. G. Wells, and Stoker, but my anthology doesn't include them, so I might make handouts. And I wish my text had more of E. B. Browning's intense political poems.

And I'm asking myself questions like, Shall I throw in Jekyl and Hyde? Dorian Gray? Shall I cut some of my Romantic poets? Shall I keep the travel writers? They don't really need to read Carlyle, do they? (I mean, I like Carlyle myself, or at least I find him useful, but perhaps it's overkill for a sophomore-level tour through 200 years of literature). I mean, I want to teach them stuff they'll remember rather that stuff they'll soon forget.

All that said, what are your favorite texts during these periods?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Questions about the Conference Paper

So, I'm at a coffee shop, working on my conference paper. And I'm not sure about tone. My supervisor has, several times, advised me against colloquial language in my dissertation work. And despite being an English teacher, I'm not sure I can even recognize my own colloquialisms, which is a problem in and of itself. I mean it's not like I'm bustin' out with lines like, "I'm stoked, y'all!" But all that aside, right now, I'm wondering about how far such advice goes for a conference paper that will be presented to live humans.

It's been a long time since I've given a conference paper, and back then, I was just an M.A. student, so, really, I don't think anyone expected much.

But this time, I'm going to a real conference, and my work needs to good enough. I'm already paranoid that my argument and my scholarship will be third rate, but now I'm also thinking about tone. It seems that a conference paper might allow for a bit more of a personal voice than a dissertation. I mean I am actually talking to real people who are right there in the room. So. I'm not sure what "tone" to strike. I mean, how formal should I be? If I can be somewhat informal, how far does that go? I probably can't really mention The Princess Bride even though I currently have it in my draft since, when thinking about hermits in literature and the lovesick, how can one not think of Billy Crystal's character in PB?.

So let's say I leave out the pop culture references, still, what tone is best?

And on another note, at one point in the paper, I challenge the claim of another scholar (because, really, I can't believe he makes said claim). This is easy enough in a written text. But at a conference, what if he's actually there or something? I doubt he will be, since I think he might live in Spain, but still. What's the protocol here?

Also, any other conference tips would be great. Like, if there is something you really hate for presenters to do, maybe I should know . . .

Oh, and what if someone asks me a question about something I haven't read?

Oh, this could be rough.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Dear Big Kid on the Sledding Hill

Dear Big Kid on the Sledding Hill on New Year's Eve: No, wait. Scratch the "dear." Let's start with, "Hey, kid." I understand the whole skiiers-have-the-right-of-way thing, and the always-look-uphill thing. But you weren't skiing; you were sledding. And from my brief but recent sledding hill experiences, sledding involves making sure the path is clear before you take off. To translate, this means that if a little, 35-pound, six-year-old boy is downhill from you, carefully setting up his sled for take off, you can wait 30-friggin seconds until he's out of the way. It's not like you can't see him. And later? When I was carrying my wounded son off the hill, and when my even tinier daughter was standing next to me, and you went flying by us, almost knocking the Girl down? You are so lucky I had my Boy in my arms right then, or I would certainly have derailed you with a swift kick to the ribs.

Dear EMT Samaritan: I appreciate the fact that you motored over on your snow machine to ask if my son was okay, especially since I really had no idea if he was okay or not. But for future reference, after you identify yourself as an EMT and offer your help, it seems that you might want to do more than just have the injured person squeeze your fingers, and then say, "He's fine." I mean, really. In a society as litigious as ours, you might spend a bit more time checking out the wounded party, and follow it up with something like, "I don't see signs of a concussion or major back injury, but it might be good to get him checked at a medical facility." Perhaps that's what you meant when you said, "He's fine," but it was hard to tell. Also, when the Big Kid on the Sledding Hill comes up several minutes after the incident--an incident which you did not, as you mentioned, actually see--I recommend that when he offers his half-assed apology, you don't say, "Oh, don't worry. It's not your fault. It was just an accident." I might recommend that you at least suggest he be more careful in the future. Again, I understand that accidents happen, but the dude could have waited.

Dear Eagle Healthcare Center in the Vail Valley: By all reports from the Boy, the Hubby, and Hubby's best friend, you rock. Quick service. New equipment. Nice, knowledgable doctors who know all about sledding hill injuries like this one:

Dear Son: I am so sorry that you this happened to you. What a bummer ending to a great trip. I'll never forget how sweet you looked as you were carefully setting up your sled for a big run. You were so brave on the big hill, and so excited. And then I saw him coming. I didn't even have time to shout, and you wouldn't have had time to move anyway, and I know you didn't see him coming. But I watched him completely T-bone you at a very high rate of speed as you were kneeling next to your sled, and I watched you get launched, flipped, and flattened, and I just started running. I wish I could get it all out of my head. But I am so grateful that the injury wasn't worse. Because it could have been. Much worse. And I have been amazed by your poise and strength during this whole thing. Right afterwards, I knew you were badly hurt, but you were so strong and told me you were already feeling better. Word has it, you chatted with the doctors and didn't cry at the medical facility. You haven't needed any more pain meds than a few children's Tylenol, you've slept well every night, and you cheerfully followed the accident with two days riding in the car back to California. What kind of superkid are you? In the past, I have worried that I have babied you and that you aren't independent enough. Granted, you might be easily frustrated when your drawings don't turn out right or when it's hard to get the bumps out of your socks, but when the chips are really down, you are the strongest, most cheerful, most resilient kid--make that person--I've ever seen. It's amazing how much I love you*.

*And I apologize in advance for the hovering I will be doing for the next few weeks as we wait for those bones to fuse. I am terrified that you will fall down or that someone will bump into you.