Friday, May 28, 2010


She's a winner in my book, and I can't wait to buy her first album.

I was in tears after "Up to the Mountain." I'm getting weepy now, just watching it again.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Homework from Ink: Crush Edition

After my Casey James "hotness post," Ink tagged me for a crush/lust post. Her post was in response to The Kitchen Witch's post, and they listed crushes that went back in time. However, since I recently did a chronological crush post, I'm going make a very brief list that focuses on the "eternal" and the "now."

#1 and #2 Eternal Character Crushes: A Tie--Butch and Sundance

Okay, truth be told, when it comes to Paul Newman, I might choose Cool Hand Luke or even Hud (the really bad boy) over Butch, but I tend to think of the two (Butch and Sundance) as a package deal (oh, the puns, the puns!).

#3: Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre

#4: Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark

#5: Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

I'm not sure whether or not Spike will stand the test of time, but for now, he's definitely on the lust list. I should probably put him higher on the list since I'm crushing on him so much right now, but he's in the #5 slot since he's the most recent guest to the party.

If you're reading this, I'd love to see your crush/lust list--chronological or eternal--in comments or on your own blog.

Ode to My Dissertation: Peter Criss Edition


(To be sung to tune of "Beth," by the rock band KISS)

Diss, I hear you callin',
But I can't sit down right now.
Me and the kids are playin'
And I just can't find the time . . .

Just a few more hours
And I'll get right back to you
Diss, I hear you callin'
But, Diss, what can I do?
(Bow, Bow)
Diss, what can I do?

You say you feel so empty
That I get nothing done
I'm always grading papers
And you're always alone

Just a few more hours
And I'll get right back to you
Diss, I hear you callin'
But, Diss, what can I do?
(Bow, Bow)
Diss, what can I do?

Diss, I know you're lonely
And I hope you're be alright
Cause I'll be grading finals
All night . . .

*I love the weird, 1970s, Sammy Terry vibe of this video.
**I apologize for all of the half rhyme (or slant rhyme, I can never remember the different). Please feel free to recommend lyrical improvements.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


A couple of days ago, I made the mistake (again) of looking myself up on a professor rating site (you know the one). And I found this new comment:

"So, I am not a chauvinist in any way, but having spent an entire semester listening to the arguments of a militant feminist (who, by her own admission, wants to "control and repress" her husband) has put a small damper on my ability to see eye to eye with the general feminist movement. *sigh* I wish I was joking about this, too."

I was surprised when I first read this, and then I became alarmed--not by the claim that I am a militant feminist, but rather by the fact that I had clearly had not done a very good job of teaching this student to understand irony. I mean, Dude (or Dudette)! Seriously? You took me seriously? Of course, I don't want to control my husband. Yes, from time to time I do attempt to micromanage him, but I'm not asserting general control. And repressing him? Bah! Hardly.

Anyhoo, the day after I read this, a student from the same class came up to me, shook my hand, and said something like, "I just want to tell you that I really enjoyed this class. A lot of my female teachers have been feminazis, so this class was really refreshing."

Hmmm. How am I to interpret these drastically different readings of the same course (which was a Brit Lit survey)? I'd like to think that these two opposite reactions suggest that I've found a good balance, but I don't think that would be an accurate assessment. Somehow, both comments leave me feeling unsettled.

Friday, May 21, 2010


Some of you may remember a Call for Advice that I gave you about an internal position at my college that would offer reassigned time for leading/mentoring faculty with some campus-wide efforts to get ourselves up to speed on certain accreditation-type things. Well, after much flip-flopping, I decided to apply, and my interview is today.

This is a position that several people, including my Dean and my VP, have asked me to apply for. The college is hiring two co-coordinators to do the work, and, as far as I know, only two people (including myself) have applied. In other words, it seems likely that I'll get the position.

And it's kind of cool to be going into an interview, during which I get to talk about my knowledge and skills, without the stress of worrying about the outcome. Because, really, if I don't get it? I will feel slightly jerked around by the college, but I'll also feel plenty happy to let someone else do the work. The position doesn't have any prestige or extra money--just some time off from teaching (30%). And since I like teaching, this is only a bonus because it inherently means time off from grading (which I like less than teaching).

So, really, I'm just applying for a thankless job that might make a lot of people dislike me. But, still, the interview might be fun.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Later, Casey James (a.k.a., "Your Hotness")

I know that many of you probably enjoy mocking American Idol. But me? I am not afraid to fly my Idol flag. And, last night, Casey James got the boot--as I knew he would. But I'm going to miss him. I like his musical style, and, plus, he's hot.

One word on the judge's song choice for him on Tuesday night: Kara and Randy chose "Daughters" by John Mayer. I think they made a mistake. Kara said that it's his "vulnerability" that people are drawn to, so she wanted a song that would showcase that vulnerability. She's sort of right, but I think what his fans really enjoy is that any of his vulnerabilty still has an edge to it. "Daughters" is not at all edgy. Therefore, Mayer's "Gravity" would have been a much, much better choice. Casey would have blown the doors off of "Gravity." As evidence of the importance of the edge that I'm talking about, I'm giving you Casey's performance of "Jealous Guy," from week nine--one of my favorite performances of the season. He's great, and I just love the acoustic arrangment with the cello. Plus, he's hot.

(I couldn't get the embedding to work, so I'm just giving you the link.)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Upside of Fuzzy Budgeting

The hubster and I don't really budget. We should. We need to. But we don't. Our salaries keep changing, we have separate checking accounts, we both have direct deposit, and we don't always know what's going on in the money department. We're a bit vague about it all.

In the fall, we were both on reduced salaries (me because of sabbatical, him because of furlough), and that made things tough--especially since we didn't properly budget for the combined 30% salary reduction. We just felt kind of broke.

Well. A couple of weeks ago, I came home to this:

Hubs: Want to hear something exciting?
Me: Yes! Yes, I do!
Hubs: Well, I kept being amazed at how much less I was making each month, and then I just realized that the bank has been taking nearly double payments for my car since last fall.
Me: What? Really?
Hubs: Yes, and if they keep doing it, my car will be paid off in about six months.
Me: No. WAY.
Hubs: Totally!
Me: So you're saying that you actually make about $400 more a month than you thought you were making, and the car will be paid off a year sooner than we thought?
Hubs: Yes! Exactly!
Me: We're RICH!

It was kind of like finding $20 in his pockets while doing laundry, but way better.

So we allowed ourselves some room service and another nice family dinner while we were in LA, which is exactly why we aren't really rich and is further evidence that we should, in fact, make a detailed budget and stick to it.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Oh, and about tarantulas

A few observations that I picked up this weekend:

  • There are a lot of other people out there who seem to like bugs as much as my Boy does.
  • Those bug-lovers, I'm sure, added to the traffic problems in the downtown LA area.
  • Parking prices and valet tips can really drive up the cost of an otherwise reasonable hotel rate.
  • The LA Natural History Museum is very cool, and I would love to visit it when it's not their busiest weekend of the year.
  • I'm really not sure how people live in LA.
  • When holding one of your new Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches, remember that it will hiss less if you scoop it up from underneath and hold it in you palm--as opposed to pinching it between your fingers.
  • When your daughter asks to hold her new baby tarantula, keep in mind that baby tarantulas (unlike their adult counterparts) are very fast and are likely to run up your daughter's shirtless arm, right to the back of her neck--which will result in some screaming and crying.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Shopping Spree

Last week, my husband purchased a patio set and a firepit thing for our backyard. He got them on sale, and, for his purchases, he earned $80 credit at the store, and for my Mother's Day present, I got the $80. The catch was that the $80 needed to be spent before this Sunday, and since we're heading to the Bug Fair tomorrow morning, and since the beginning of the week was focused on grading papers and planning for the Boy's b-day party*, I had to do the shopping after work today.

As I have said here and elsewhere, I don't shop very often (for anything other than food or books), so this $80 led to an interesting experience (because the store had no food or books).

Usually, when I spend money, it's involves feeling as if I shouldn't buy something that I want. However, tonight, when I went to the store, I didn't know what I wanted, but I had to spend $80, and I had to spend it today (which is very different from a typical gift certificate situation). I went to the store without a clear plan, and it was at the end of what has been a very busy seven days, so I had to quickly shift gears and get into the shopping spirit. It was like I had stepped into a game show challenge.

The challenge was harder than it might seem. In fact, I wandered a bit aimlessly around the store, visiting the Home section, the Shoe section, the Accessories section, the Bra section, the Kids section, and on and on. And then I would revisit a section. And then I would go back to another section. I spent a lot of time looking at shower curtains and towels and table cloths, but nothing was quite right. I found a bowl that I loved, but it was big, and I didn't know where I'd put it. I started to go into the kitchen and small appliances section, but I got a little overwhelmed (because it was getting late), so I backed out and went back to the clothing section, which was also overwhelming. I didn't see any clothes that seemed as if they'd suit me, except for some basic crew neck T-shirts. The people working there began to look at me as if I were crazy because I kept retracing my steps, and I'm sure I looked downright lost.

I should probably mention that I had never been in the store before, so I really had no idea what I was doing. And it was at the end of a long day and I felt like I should hurry. But even hurrying, the whole process still took about 90 minutes.

So I ended up buying the T-shirts, some candles, some scent oil for the bathroom, sandals for my daughter, a bra, and two decorative pillows.

It seems like a very paltry list of trivial little things that don't amount to much. But, in the end, they are the kinds of things--especially the candles and pillows--that I usually don't feel comfortable spending money on even though they make me cheerful. So instead of looking at my purchases as a feeble shopping run, I'm trying to think of the items as a little bit of complimentary cheer. But it does seem like a sad little pile of random stuff.

I realize now that what I should have done--before going to the store--was put out a request for expert suggestions, from those who know the store, about how to approach this task. I should have had a plan.

For now, I'm going to fluff the decorative pillows, put a new candle in the bathroom, and go to bed so that I can read my book and get some rest for the Bug Fair.

Hmm. I think I should have gotten the pretty bowl.

*I think the party went well! More on that later . . .

Sunday, May 9, 2010


We went camping this weekend.

The timing wasn't all that great for me since I have a bazillion things to do what with having only two weeks until the semester is OVER. (*dances around room*)

But hubster's best friend and his wife and baby were going. And hubster's brother and his family were going. So, I didn't want to be the party pooper and say, "Sorry, Honey. Can't go. Too much work." And I couldn't send him off with the kids while I stayed home because today was the Boy's b-day! So we went. And I only graded three essays.

Nevertheless. It was beautiful. We stayed at an undeveloped camping area (i.e., you must have a bucket and a shovel to camp there, and there is a sign that tells you so) in the Los Padres National Forest, near Fort Hunter Liggett. We even got stuck behind a military convoy on the way in (which made for a funny sight, I'm sure, since we were bringing up the rear of the convoy with our two 23-year-old VW Vanagons).

We camped right next to a beautiful river/stream, and the whole area was just stunning, with beautiful live oak trees and a lot of meadows full of lupin. The kids could ride bikes around our area on dirt roads (we surprised the Boy with a new bike), and the Boy spent hours, hours finding all kinds of creatures. Within the first 10 minutes he found a scorpion (and proceeded to find many more). Then he found beautiful caterpillars. A frog. One crazy, huge water beetle thing with some kind of eggs stuck on its back. A lizard. Cocoons. Ladybuy larvae. And I can't remember what else.

Shortly after our arrival, the kids starting playing in the stream, and I set up a chair on the water's edge. Hubs brought me a gin and tonic, and what do you know, there was wild mint growing all around the river bank. It tasted fantastic in my drink.

It was a great weekend, and we topped it off with dinner to celebrate the boy's b-day and Mother's Day for my mother and me.

Now, we just just have to wait to see if anyone comes down with poison oak. Please, God. No.

edit:// You know that wild mint that I mentioned? Well, I just found this on the Fort Hunter Liggett Wikipedia page: "The entire world population of the rare Santa Lucia mint (Pogogyne clareana) occurs on Fort Hunter Liggett grounds." Apparently, the mint that I picked for my G & T is rare and threatened (mostly by erosion and miltary activity, and now, apparently by my desire to put mint in my drink). Sorry, natural world.

Friday, May 7, 2010

May 9th

Seven years ago, several wonderful things happened. Two of them are particularly relevant this weekend.

First, in March of 2003, my mom moved 3,000 miles in order to be near me. Okay, granted, she actually moved 3,000 to be near her soon-to-be-born first grandchild. But still, I was a big winner in that deal. During most of my adult life, I have lived a significant distance from my mom, and now I am so lucky to have her within walking distance. (True, I don't usually walk to her house, but the fact that I could, is huge). Getting to see her every week is such a gift, as is getting to see her build such a wonderful relationship with my kids. We are all so lucky.

Second, my son was born on Friday, May 9, 2003, two days before mother's day. But we were still in the hospital on Mother's Day because he was jaundiced and had to stay an extra day, and no way was I leaving without him. So I spent my first Mother's Day in the hospital with my new son. And this Sunday, his birthday is on Mother's Day (as was his first birthday), and I can't imagine a better Mother's Day gift.

I love you, Mom.
I love you, my sweet Boy.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Teaching Larkin

It's not that I intended to use this blog as a way of stealing all of your best teaching ideas, but it's just that you are all so smart and creative that it's hard not to send questions your way when I have them. Here is the latest:

How do you like to teach Philip Larkin? I've taught a couple of his poems here and there, but I've never really taught him and focused on his work in depth. I'm teaching him next week.

What do you like to do with Larkin?