Friday, January 25, 2013


For the past few years, I have regularly taught five days a week with meetings filling up the afternoons and in-between times. All of my prep work and grading have been done late into the evenings and on weekends. The ongoing college crisis has added significant stress to the daily routine. Every day is jam packed with working and parenting. Life is wonderful, but certain things just don't fit well into the schedule, and the days, at times, seem rather frenetic.

But this semester, I don't teach on Fridays. Granted, most Fridays I will be on campus at meetings, but not always. And not today.

Today, after the kids went to school, I went for a run. Then I spent a couple of hours working on the dissertation. Then I worked on boxing up some Zappos returns that I've neglected for months, and I finally took them to the post office. Then I finally got a flu shot. Then I returned some boots to Sears that were too small for my daughter. Then I read for a while at a coffee shop. Now, I'm heading home for movie night with the family.

Exercise, quietude, productivity, relaxation, family time--it all seems so civilized and *balanced*.

I am so grateful for this day.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Thrift Store Haul

I just returned from a trip to a local thrift store, and I just have to share the details of my haul. I got 23 items, including the following:

  1. Four shirts for Hubby, including one Eddie Bauer
  2. A few tops and sweaters for me, including one Banana Republic cardigan
  3. A couple of skirts for me including an Izaak Mizrahi for Target (sp?) and an Old Navy
  4. A bunch of jeans and slacks, including but not limited to the following:

  • two pairs of Gloria Vanderbilt pants (I know, so 80s, but still nice)
  • one pair of Old Navy jeans
  • two pairs of Carribean Joe slacks
  • one pair of slacks from Anne Taylor Loft
The total price? 

$20.00 even, including tax.

Once when I bought from this shop, I found $25 in one of the pockets. *fingers crossed*

Monday, January 14, 2013


Today I worked on the syllabus for my Brit Lit survey course. Each spring, I alternate teaching between the first half of Brit Lit (Old English to mid-c18) and the second half (French Revolution-Modernism). To clarify--one spring I teach the first half, and the next spring I teach the second half. I have been doing this for about 10 years.

As I was updating the syllabus today for this spring (which is the first half), I found myself making some significant changes to the readings, which is something I really haven't done much of since I've been teaching the class. Some of the changes are the result of me adapting to a new text. Others were the result of some kind of internal impulse, the source of which is mysterious.

Here are the changes:
  • No more take-home exams. Sick of plagiarism. From now on, we'll do in-class exams which will be totally fair but full of surprises!
  • No more Faerie Queene. I know. I know! But I like to teach Book III, and none of the texts have Book III, and many of the students fight the text anyway, so I'm going to take a break.
  • I'm teaching Chaucer's "General Prologue" in translation. Gaspe!
  • I have gotten rid of the Cavalier Poets in favor of adding more background on the English "Civil War."
  • I have kicked out Pope and added more Johnson.
These changes felt very weird and even a bit wrong and scary, but, at the same time, it was liberating to delete "To His Coy Mistress" and "Essay on Criticism." I know these texts are important and show us things about the time periods, but Marvell really is a bit of a tool in that poem, and novels totally beat out the heroic couplet (Sorry, Pope! You lose!), so I'm thinking we might try focusing on other things.

So there. I am ruling my own curricular kingdom! 

Do you have any favorite texts that are great for survey courses but still somewhat off the beaten path?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Things Students Say (or Write)

I am finishing up my grading for fall (yes, really--our grades are due tomorrow), and I stumbled upon this surprising sentence:

"Castration is as much a part of history as art."

Huh. I'm certainly curious about what will follow . . .