Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Results

I rocked the house. At the conference, I mean.

I think my delivery was pretty good. I got a couple of good questions--which I understood and could respond to in an informed way. And I got some seemingly genuine compliments afterward. I felt great! It's possible I was a little too chatty and eager since it was so exciting to receive questions. "You want me to say more about my research? You actually want to know? Do you have a fresh cup of coffee? Is your chair comfortable?" Bring it on!

When I have more time, I might share some thoughts about the conference culture, which, as many of you know, is sort of weird. It's especially weird for someone like me, who is a bit of an outsider since a) I won't be going into the job market when I finish, b) my program is in the UK, and c) I didn't know anyone there. I didn't present until the very last session, during which I was able to make some connections, but before that, it was kind of hard to talk to people. Fortunately, I had the hubster around for some of the meal times, so I didn't really have to talk to people all that much.

Oh, and the eighteenth-century dancing on the last night was super cool and fun. I might have to find an eighteenth-century dancing club. There must be some of those around somewhere, right?

And in other good news, the kids seemed, in general, rather unfazed by our absence, which is bruising to the parental ego but liberating for the parental life.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Watch Your Language

The California State Assembly passed a resolution declaring the first week of March a "Cuss Free Week" in California. We'll see if the state senate passes it, too. (Who says government doesn't get anything done?)

So, since this blog originates in California, next week you gotta keep it clean people. Capice?

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Valence of Pantyhose

So, I will read my paper tomorrow, and now I'm not only worried that I won't be able to answer people's questions, but also that I won't even understand people's questions. It's been too long since I studied theory, so if someone asks a question with any of these words--metonymy, Barthes, or valence--I will just blink at them.

But even more puzzling than all of the theory and related jargon is the surprising number of women wearing pantyhose. This is really difficult for me to understand since I chose my profession for two main reasons:

1. I like to read.
2. I don't like to wear pantyhose.

Yet there they are: pantyhose. And ladies' suits.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Tidbit

Just a tidbit, mostly to get James Cameron's name off of your blog rolls.

The conference paper is finished. I like it and think a few parts are even clever and well written, but I could be totally wrong about that since I am kind of in love with my own topic in a way that not everyone (or anyone) else is.

We leave tomorrow, and I'm already thinking about how much I'm going to miss the kiddie-poos, my sweetie-pies. This will be the first time they go four days without either Mommy or Daddy. Thank goodness they have Gaga and Papa. But I will miss them while I'm off attending sessions, presenting my paper, having a drink at the open bar, and doing a little eighteenth century dancing. (And while hubby is snowboarding.)

Oh, and then there is the air travel, which hubby loves because of his aero engineering degree. Me? Not so much.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Perhaps James Cameron is Not a Total Tool

I liked Avatar. I didn't think I would, and I didn't really want to see it because I thought it was going to be stupid, but I went anyway, and I liked it. A lot. I had never been to a 3-D movie, and it was a delight. And also, even though the plot was simple and derivative, so what? I am grateful when someone entertains me. Sometimes I'd rather be straight up entertained as opposed to being presented with an opaque pomo art film.

But I have not been a fan of Cameron in the past. I think it all started because of a) the horrible dialogue in Titanic and b) his acceptance speech at the Academy Awards. "I am the King of the World!" No, you are the king of the tools.

But during the last decade, I have begun to realize how hard it is to complete a piece of writing--whether it be a novel, a dissertation, or a script--and, as a result, I have more respect for writers who write less-than-stellar stuff, particularly when they finish said stuff. Still, it seems that the guy could have forked over the cash to pay a great writer to do his screenplay, but I'm starting to get over that issue (sort of).

But I still was thinking that he was an arrogant tool. And then I saw an interview with him on Charlie Rose last week. And you know what? He was articulate. He was very good at talking about stories and narrative. And he did a good job of addressing his critics (of whom Rose quoted many). And at the end of the interview, I thought, "Wow. He's smart. He looks at things in interesting ways. Maybe he's not a total tool."

What do you think?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Conference Questions

Some of you have already given me tips on the upcoming conference paper, which I much appreciate. I also received some feedback from my PhD supervisor that, I think, has prevented major embarrassment for me. Now I'm revising the paper so that I'll be ready for the conference next weekend.

But a recent post by our favorite Wayward Classicist raised some questions for me. In that post he suggests that classicists are the only ones still actually reading boring papers at conferences (as opposed to presenting ideas in a move lively, natural way). But it was my understanding that those of us in literature are also still reading our boring papers at conferences. Therefore, I've been dutifully preparing a paper that can be read in approximately 17 minutes.

Am I mistaken in this? Should I be preparing a more lively kind of "talk"? What do y'all think?

edit (five hours later):// Although I am still very interested in your thoughts, after spending the better part of my Sunday revising this thing, I doubt I'll be making any seismic changes.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Olympic UNcoverage

If you've been thinking, as I have, that Plushenko is just a grumpy, Russian, buzzkill, perhaps you should see this:

Thanks to jc for the directing me to this gem.

Oh, and please be sure you have the sound on so that you can hear the announcers.

Friday, February 19, 2010

What the . . . (Curling Edition)

So this morning, I was doing my weekly volunteer service at my son's school. As I headed down to the workroom, I was surprised to see a curling stone in the middle of the hallway.

The first time I passed it, I stopped, looked around, looked back at the stone, and kept going on my way to staple homework.

Later, as I was heading down the hallway again to sharpen pencils, I stopped, looked around, and didn't see anyone. So I approached the stone.

Let me say that I haven't seen much curling on TV because I don't have cable, so I don't get daytime coverage* . And I haven't seen curling in primetime. So I don't really know how to do it.
Nevertheless, I set down my box of pencils and prepared to give it a try. Now, it must be said that I knew I couldn't get much distance because the hallway is carpeted. Nevertheless, I thought it might slide a little bit.

But you know what? I could hardly even pick it up. Those suckers are heavy. So I am now imagining elementary school kids smashing their toes as they mess with said curling stone on their way to the office or bathroom.

Nevertheless, how cool is that? That there is a curling stone in the middle of a (sometimes unsupervised) hallway in a California elementary school?

*We do, however, have a big antenna on the top of our house that allows us to get three channels. Fortunately, NBC is one of them, and it's in HD. Bonus.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Shaun White

I am not a snowboarder. I don't ski*. As a result, I don't always have full appreciation for the intricacies and challenges of winter sports the way my husband does (he is a very good snowboarder).

But last night, watching Shaun White, I was blown away. I could just tell how much better he was than everyone else. It was like watching Nadia Comenici or something. And holy halfpipe, did you see that victory lap? Talk about "trailing clouds of glory" . . . **

Interestingly, it wasn't the double corks or the mctwists that demonstrated his skill and talent. Rather, it was his straight airs. First of all, he went about 15 feet higher than the other guys. Second, he so still in the air. Most of the other boarders, when they did straight airs, would do the "kickin' chicken" to some degree--you know, when they go up and then jerk around a bit in an effort to maintain control. Not White. He looked like a sailing freeze frame. And did you see that hang time?

Plus, you know what? I think Shaun White is physically stunning. Am I alone in this? A great face (bone structure). Crazy red hair. His smile. And, of course, the platonically perfect atheletic form.

Beautiful. Straight up.

*Although I still plan to learn.

**I was prepping Wordworth's Immortality Ode while I watched.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Census: Chez GEW

One male human adult
One female human adult
One male human child
One female human child
One male dog
One female bearded dragon
Approx. ten tadpoles of unknown sex and various levels of development
One "Grow-a-Frog" whose sex is yet to be determined
One male Betta fish
One juvenile western fence lizard (probably male)
Two ant farms (one homemade sand version, one store-bought gel colony)
One worm farm (store-bought worms)
Several superworms (dragon food)*
One triops (or is that triop?)
A couple of ladybugs

Looks like we need a kitten!

* Remember that demon guy on Buffy who would turn into worms? Those were superworms, folks. And they are creepy. And they bite.

**You may also be interested in this, especially if you are concerned about some of these creatures being in our home (esp. those that are temporary residents).

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Today's Questions from the Girl

How big is God?

Does God believe in us?

Friday, February 12, 2010


So today the kids are at school, and I have, from this point, about 3.5 hours to work on the conference paper. Ready, set, GO! After I blog . . .

I've been wanting to put up some February resolutions (a la Amstr), but things have been crazy busy, so I'll have to wait.

But today, I thought I'd share something else. This Saturday marks the day that would have been my maternal grandmother's 99th birthday. To celebrate, I'm giving you a link to an essay that my mother wrote about her. You may ask, "Why do I want to read an essay about your grandmother?"

Well, you might not. But let me tell you that she is one of the most amazing people I've ever known. She was a stoic, Southern woman who was a working single mother (of three girls) in the 1940s and 1950s. She makes Scarlett O'Hara look not only whiny and spoiled, but also utterly wimpy--even at the end of the movie/novel. Tara Schmara.

And also? This is a woman who, despite being a Southern Baptist, tried cigarettes for the first time after she retired--just in case smoking was something she shouldn't miss.

So to celebrate my grandmother, whom I called Mimi, I offer you this, which was written by my mother. Mimi, who would have been 99 this Saturday, died just a few years ago when she was 95. I am so grateful that she moved to California (with my mom) when she was 92, thus giving me a chance to spend more time with her than I ever had in my whole life, and thus allowing my children to know her. Happy Birthday, Mimi! I hope you've got an infinite supply of jelly beans in Heaven!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Good News and Bad News: Eyeball Edition

The Good News: The retina is neither torn nor detached in my left eyeball! Herkies everyone!

The Bad News: The doctor thinks I have Central Serous Retinopathy in said Left Eyeball.

The Good News: It's not very serious. In most cases it goes away. But sometimes it doesn't. Here is the doctor's assessment: "If you were a farmer riding around on the back of a tractor, looking out over your fields, you'd probably never notice. But because of what you do, it's going to bug the hell out of you." I'm hoping for the "it goes away" outcome since, indeed, it does bug the hell out of me.

The Bad News: On another note, I probably need to get some "multi-focal" glasses or reading glasses. I think I'll go for the reading glasses since I think I really only need them in the evening when I sit down for intensive reading sessions. I do okay during the daytime. But it will be a pain switching back and forth. I'll have to take off my reading glasses and put on my regular glasses just to go in the kitchen to get get my port and chocolate.

The Good News: The doctor dilated my left eye, thus rendering my vision (even more) blurry for the evening, thus giving me a great excuse for not grading essays.

The Bad News: I'll have to tote said essays around for a couple of more days, thus delaying my ability to work on my conference paper.

The Good News: Four days weekend! WOOT!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Regarding the Tweezers

Dear Family,

Perhaps you don't remember my previous declaration about the tweezers. In case you've forgotten, I made a strong declaration that the good tweezers needed to remain in my bathroom drawer. Since that declaration, I've purchased at least two new tweezers. But do I have tweezers in my drawer?

No. It kind of reminds me of my experiences with my Back in Black cassette tape in high school. How many times did I purchase it? How many times did it disappear out of my car?

Anyhoo, about the tweezers: Once again, they've wandered off, most likely used to remove a splinter or to grab the lizard's superworms at feeding time.

Granted, some of this might be my fault. Perhaps I employed the tweezers and didn't think to put them back in my drawer after the crying ended from the splinter. Also, to tell the truth, I don't think I want the superworm tweezers back.

But I need your help. The chin hairs have gotten long again.

Therefore, I am going to buy another pair of good tweezers. And I'm going to put them in my drawer. If you see them out of my drawer, please put them back or at least remind me to retrieve them. If we do not pull together on this issue, I will start to look like Daddy.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Dear Left Eyeball

I realize that you are getting older. So is the rest of the package in which you are contained. But, really, I am especially fond of my vision. If my ass sags or my arms jiggle, well, I can deal with that. My husband doesn't really like it, but, me, I can live with it.

But you, I really care about you, and I appreciate all you've done for me in the past. But now you've presented me with this huge floater--which sometimes appears like a black spot (with an attached cobweb) and which sometimes is a big blurry spot in the center of my eye (like now, when I'm looking at the backlit computer screen). Yes, I do plan to take you to the doctor since I want to make sure that your retina hasn't detached or torn. But, in the meantime, if you're just an average aging eyeball, can you please settle down? Let that vitriolic fluid (or whatever it's called) settle down? Let the little bits of debris settle along your floor like confetti after a party?

And while you're at it, could you have a meeting with the right eyeball and agree to stop all of this redness and watering and general mischief that makes it very difficult for me to read tiny anthology print each evening? Please remember that reading is key to my livelihood, happiness, and overall sanity.

Thank you for your consideration.

GEW (your human host)

Thursday, February 4, 2010


So, in one section of my classes I have a campus police officer who is also a member of the military. Soon he will receive training to be a marksmanship instructor. He seems like a decent guy.

In another section, I have two soliders who, between them, have done seven tours of duty in the Middle East and Afghanistan (one of them just got back from Iraq last Friday). They both seem like fantastic people, and I can already tell that at least one of them will be a great student.

So why is it that none of these particularly skilled people happened to be in another section of mine in which I have a odd guy who seems slightly sociopathic and potentially dangerous?

Just sayin' a little sense of expert backup would be nice.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Put to the Test

This week is putting my Good Enough Principle to the test. I am having a difficult time being a good enough teacher (I'm back to full schedule), mother, friend, wife (it's hubby's b-day this week), sabbatical leave taker (gotta write up the report), conference presenter (gotta do more research and then revise), and PhD student (no where near good enough on that front--haven't been doing much at all). All this said, it's clear that in the next few days/weeks, I will definitely not be a good enough blogger or blog reader*. I'll be doing some drive-bys at your blog sites, but if you--my regular blog peeps--don't see many comments from me, it's not because I no longer find you pithy. Or funny. Because I definitely do find you pithy and funny. And sometimes even deep.

Hope the rest of you are maintaining some sense of balance and grace in your lives.

*And it's not because I formed a Grrl band, although I am keeping all of your applications on file for when that days comes!