Friday, March 26, 2010

A Change of Plans

Since hubster returned from the desert, I thought he and his BFF would be taking the kids camping tonight. I thought I'd join them for the afternoon, then come back home for pasta, wine, and a movie or a good book in a quiet house.

It didn't turn out that way. Camping was postponed until tomorrow because tomorrow will be warmer and less windy near the beaches (which in where the campground is).

But that still doesn't fully explain how I ended up spending the evening in a tent, in the front yard, watching Monsters vs. Aliens with my daughter, then having her fall asleep, her head in my hands, while I waited for the boys to get back from a moonlight kayak in the bay.

Now, the boys have all gone out to the tent to join the sleeping, snoring girl, and I'm back inside. But it's already 10:34. Dare I stay up for port, chocolate, and something from Netflix instant play?

84 Charing Cross Road

I watched 84 Charing Cross Road last night for the first time, and it made me want to move to an apartment in New York and start correspondence with a bookseller in London. And it made me want to read more Newman and Wyatt. And maybe some Philip Roth and John Cheever--or any New Yorkish writers from the 50s, 60s, or 70s.

And I fell a little bit in love with Helene Hanff, and I just ordered two of her books: 84 Charing Cross Road (of course) and Underfoot in Show Business. How could I not? I mean she ordered William Hazlitt and Leigh Hunt! Which is actually sort of interesting because she disparages the Romantic poets. Plus, she's hilarious, what with her ranting about her poorly edited version of Pepys' diary, and so on. But I find it almost too hard to take that she did not make it to London in time . . .

Anyway, have all of you book lovers seen this movie? Probably so, but if not, it's a good one for a quiet night with port and chocolate. I watched it while hubster was in the desert. I was able to download it instantly to my TV from Netflix, which is awesome.

Yes, yes. I know I should have been grading, but after a busy work week and five days without hubby, who was off recreating in the desert, the movie was just what I needed.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Girl Trouble

The Boy is having girl trouble.

The crux of the problem is that all of his friends are girls. He says, "Mom, the girls in my class are all so sweet. Why aren't the boys sweet?"

He's small. He's not an athlete. When the boys (or even the girls) start running around and playing, he just can't keep up. So he has other interests: art, science, and the occasional talk about dynamite and other explosives.

Last year, his best friend was a girl. She's great, and her sister is my daughter's best friend. All very neat and tidy at playdates for the four of them. But that girl wasn't always so interested in looking for bugs. Oh, she'd last a while, but then, eventually, she would ditch the Boy and go look for her sister and my Girl--to do some girl stuff.

This year, his best friend is a girl, but it's a different girl. A girl who can look for bugs for as long as he can (which is forever). She is sweet and has a huge smile and missing teeth. And she loves my Boy and draws him pictures when he is sick.

He still likes the first girl. She is still his friend. But she's jealous of the new girl, and the new girl is jealous of the first girl.

So they question him about who he will marry, and the first girl tells him he should marry who he loved first. But he says that he wants to marry the new girl because they love each other and have so much in common.

Despite all this love, he has expressed anxiety and dismay over this predicament. He doesn't want to hurt anyone's feelings. But it's a problem. The girls, of course, have other friends, who are girls, from whom they do not expect such declarations loyalty and favoritism. But since his friends are girls, and he's a boy, he's supposed to pick just one.

I, of course, tell him that he does not need to decide who to marry yet--that he's got some time. I tell him to try to be inclusive--that they can all play together. But I realize that he is in a pickle. And I'm not even sure how to suggest that he navigate the triangle (which will, I'm sure, eventually become a quadrangle or pentagon or . . . well, you get the picture).

Fortunately, we have chances for him to spend time with both girls outside of school, which he enjoys, but, at school, it's tough for all of them. They are all great kids, and they are all struggling with how to deal with these very real feelings of friendship, insecurity, and anxiety.

And with all that going on, he's supposed to learn how to read?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Conversation Over Waffles

Boy: I have a joke.
Girl: Okay.
Boy: Don't order caterpillars at a restaurant!
Girl: What's the funny part?

(and while watching Tom and Jerry)

Girl: We've seen this one! Jerry wins!
Boy: Jerry always wins.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Name that Painting


So I'm trying to find an image of a particular painting, and I can't remember the title of it. I think it's probably by a Victorian painter because it's such a great representation of the Cult of Domesticity.

In the painting, a woman and her children are posed (most or all of them in chairs, I think) in some kind of drawing room in front of a fire. I think there is an empty chair for the father, but he's not home. However, there is a picture of him on the wall, behind the family, and, in the picture, he's hunting, I think.

Anyone know this painting?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Everybody Off the Bus

I don't have much to offer you today since my sickness (laryngitis, cough, etc.), combined with several intense graded jags, seems to have fogged up my brain. The most profound thoughts I've had today are, "I'm still sick. I think I'll cancel class." and "Oh, look! It's sunny! The students will be stoked."

So, since I don't have anything clever for you, I'll just share something that the Girl said last night after she came out of the bathroom:

She said, "I just went poo, and the whole family came out of the bus!"

Interpret this metaphor how you will.

And enjoy the sunshine of your day. Or enjoy the "regularity" of your day. Whichever one is most lightening to your spirits.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


It is so hard to lecture when I feel as if I have knives in my throat.

I'm done teaching for the day, so I'm going to cancel office hours, go home, brew some tea, and grade essays until my eyes also feel as if they have knives in them.

Wish I could just lay around and read or watch TV. Wouldn't that be great?

Therein lies the difference between olympic athletes (who train and complete through all sorts of pain and illness) and me*.

*Or, perhaps, I should say one of the many, many differences.

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Snit

I just taught my first class of the day, and as we began to discuss our second story, no one was talking. Silence. Blank stares. So I said, "How many of you read this story?"

Three or four hands went up.

So I said,"Okay, that's it. We're done. I've already read the story. I don't need to do this."

It wasn't too much of a snit. I didn't swear at them or raise my voice. I didn't throw anything or slam any books. But I think I pursed my lips, and I think I turned a little pink.

And it's too bad, too, because the story was a great one. I think the problem was that they just didn't look at the syllabus.

But I had a snit, and I sent them packing.

And they get to evaluate me next week.

Oh joy.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Another Zen Koan from the Girl

This one, while we were watching some episodes of Pink Panther for Friday night movie night. It was a cartoon short in which Pink Panther is being plagued by a magic white bunny in some sort of magic house:

Girl: Is that bunny real? Or is it fake?

Me: (Thinking: She knows the Pink Panther is fake. He's a cartoon. What is she asking me? She must me asking me if the magic bunny is real in the fiction of the cartoon.)



Me: It's as real as Pink Panther is.

(Granted, it doesn't have the spiritual weight and difficulty of her recent God questions, but you can see how the question would spin me into all kind of thoughts about the virtual, the fictional, and the real--thoughts that are difficult to pin down in response to a simple question from a 4.75 year old.)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Joyful Bits

Several things that have brought me joy in the past few days:

--Watching my daughter, in her pigtails, bounce down the long trampoline at a gymnastics class (her first in a couple of years, something she had been asking to do for months).

--Walking my son to school, holding his hand, listening to his daily dissertation on ants or caterpillars.

--Walking to my office after class when I know that a sandwich is waiting for me, and it's not office hours.

--Relaxing with my husband, watching Buffy, while having some good chocolate with good port.

--eating take-out Thai food while watching Crystal Bowersox sing on American Idol (say what you will about the show, but Bowersox rocks!)

--Getting my toes done for the first time in three months.

Vampires, Anyone?

Studentmum alerted me to this conference in the UK. Anyone know if something similar is happening in the US anytime soon? I see that there have been some in the past . . .

If not, shall we plan one? Inky?

I'm sort of kidding.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Who knew Spike was a nerdy poet?!

And now he's a fool for love.

Aw, Spikey.

I just love chip-in-the-head Spikey.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sabbatical Report

Dear Board of Trustees,

My sabbatical totally rocked. I got to bed early in the evenings. I spent more time with my family. I cooked more. I kept the house from falling apart. I read a lot of eighteenth-century stuff related to my dissertation. I went to the UK a couple of times. I made a baby quilt. These are all things I cannot manage to do when I'm teaching full-time.

Oh, and I got a lot of work done on my sabbatical project, too. I read some articles and books. Wrote some stuff. Researched a few things about pedagogy that I said I was going to research.

Are we good?

Respectfully Submitted,

(What do you guys think? Will this be sufficient for the BOT and my colleagues? Any advice for writing a sabbatical report that will make it sound as if I worked my butt off, thereby totally earning my, albeit reduced, salary while my colleagues continued to slave away at their heavy teaching loads?)

Friday, March 5, 2010

Out of the Bloggice


You've reached the blog of GEW. Unfortunately, I am away from my blog right now because I am in grading and evaluation jail. When I finish my sentence or post bail, I'll get back to you.

Have a nice day!