Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Hi, all. I know I've been gone for a month. I know I'm terrible for not responding to any of the lovely awards some of you gave me right around the time I disappeared from here. I'm sorry. And thank you.

I've been doing just fine. I'm now almost five weeks past my surgery and feeling essentially back to normal. I've been working away at my research the last couple of weeks - getting an article ready to send out for publication.

The truth is, I just haven't felt like blogging. I've been avoiding it. I'm not sure what's happened, but it seems the Will to Blog has left me entirely. So has the will to be a citizen of the blogosphere. I began to feel completely overwhelmed by blogging; it began to stress me out. Perhaps some of this feeling was spurred by Facebook...I finally joined, about 6 weeks ago. Although I'm not enormously active on Facebook, still, I think I hit my saturation point. I began longing for a bit of an escape from the Internet. And I've been cultivating that.

So this brings me to this final post. I'm so sad to be leaving many of you behind; this is why I've been hesitating to write this final post. I'll keep this space up for a little while, in case I feel the urge to start up again. And perhaps you'll see me in your comments from time to time. But mostly I'll be off doing other things. I've struck up some wonderful friendships with some of you - you know where to find me...I'll be keeping this email address, for starters. We'll keep in touch, no question.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Brief update

Surgery on Thursday went well...turned out to be endometriosis. Whole ovary and fallopian tube removed, which they were trying to avoid. I'm really not bothered by this - no need for concern/condolences.

Private room in hospital was a lovely treat. Morphine was not my favourite.

Have just been, obviously, in recovery mode. (This was a laparotomy, not a laparascopy). My friend A is arriving on Thursday.

And right now, I'm really tired, so I'm going to have a nap.

Monday, January 05, 2009


I arrived back in Scary City on Saturday. Had dinner that night with my new dear friends here: La and her partner. This was important. Coming back here from my time with friends in Home Region - with A, with S, with M, with my dance community - and being able to walk right into a fabulously fun night in a similarly easy friendship, was symbolic of my perhaps beginning to put down roots here. Just beginning.

I am not teaching this term, because of my surgery. This makes me feel at once guilty and gleeful. I went to campus today to do a couple of things, and everyone around me was in high gear, what with the first day of classes. I can't believe the gift I've been given. I can't believe what a difference it makes, not having that pressure. I am a whole new me.

This is one of many things that are making me feel amazingly optimistic about this new year. Last year was such a disaster that I think I have really sub-consciously felt the turn to a new year. Having my birthday and New Year's at the same time really allows me to reflect, and to consciously turn a page. Last week, I was staying with my friend A in Home City and she made me a birthday dinner, including this cake, which perfectly captures my feelings about this transition: Perhaps because I'm not teaching, I really do feel as if I will be able to rock this year. Funny that I feel this way even though I am starting out the year with invasive surgery. But the recovery will be lovely. And I am rubbing my hands with glee at the prospect of diving back into my research and writing. I have big plans for writing, between now and August - and feel quite confident that they're achievable, which is certainly a novel feeling.

In preparation for my surgery, I have also begun cooking in ridiculous quantities and stocking my freezer. Today, it was a kind of baked ziti with wild mushroom sauce, and a yam/peanut soup. Before I go into hospital on Thursday, I'll make a double batch of macaroni and cheese and a pot of chili with veggie ground round. I am so set, foodwise, and this too makes me happy. To be taking care of myself.

Monday, December 29, 2008

End-of-year meme

Skipped this last year, but seeing it at Dr. Crazy's reminded me of its value...

1. What did you do in 2008 that you’d never done before?
- Broke my knee
- Traveled to Hawaii
- Put a dog to sleep
- Viewed active volcanoes
- Joined Facebook (like, yesterday)
- Was stung by a wasp (and had complications)

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I don't think I really had any resolutions. I appeared to want to have more fun. Instead, I had less. Hmmm...So I don't know about goals for the coming year...Perhaps, write lots and lots and lots. Yes, that's it. That will make me happy.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

4. Did anyone close to you die?
My beloved dog, Mr. Kasper.

5. What countries did you visit?
France and the United States.

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?

7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
- January 25, the day of Mr. K's death.
- March 19, the day R arrived in Scary City for a trip that was entirely overshadowed by my cancer scare.
- June 30, the day I broke my knee in Hawaii.
- August 16, the day of a family party to which I drove, contemplating the fact that R and I were about to break up.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I dunno. Can't really think of anything. It was not that kind of year.

9. What was your biggest failure?
I really did not write enough.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Oh boy, did I?! The knee, the ovary, the infected arm, the headaches.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
A gorgeous blue silk top. A fantastic red and white and black dress.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My departmental Chair, in all the ways he supported me.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
A colleague who shall remain nameless, who has been putting me in touch with the depths of academic sliminess.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Plane tickets. Credit card companies.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
- Volcanoes.
- Boogie-boarding.
- Being able to try running again, about a month ago.
- Crepes.
- Archives.

16. What song will always remind you of 2008?
Goodnight California, by Kathleen Edwards

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?
Sadder, fatter, richer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
- Writing.
- Dancing.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
- Frittering time away on the Internet
- Drama

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
I spent it at my mother's, with her and some family members. It was really fun. We laughed a lot.

21. Did you fall in love in 2008?
No, but damn near.

22. How many one-night stands?
That's a tricky question...

23. What was your favorite TV program?
I am behind the times, of course...years behind. Six Feet Under. The Tudors.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

25. What was the best book you read?
Hmmmm...Miranda July's collection of stories, No One Belongs Here More Than You. Haruki Murakami's Kafka on the Shore.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Again, remember that I'm behind the times...Iron and Wine.

27. What did you want and get?
The ability to run again.

28. What did you want and not get?
A certain unnamed individual.

29. What was your favorite film of this year?
Hmmm...Perhaps The Band's Visit?

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Tomorrow (the 30th) is my birthday. I will have lunch with my PhD supervisor, hang out with A, and have dinner at the same fave Home City restaurant as last year, with R.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
No corrupting drama in the epic story with the individual alluded to in #28. But really, how can I name just one thing?

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?
In flux. Needing an infusion. Confused by my age.

33. What kept you sane?

34. What celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Dude who plays Duke of Suffolk on The Tudors...Henry Cavill.

35. What political issue stirred you the most?
Our recent constitutional crisis? The coming of the 2010 Olympics, which is a nightmare in the making?

36. Who did you miss?
My dance community in Home City and elsewhere.

37. Who was the best new person you met?
New friend La. Was a grad student taking a course with me in the fall, so happy she's not anymore, because we have become fast friends, and I want to be able to fully drop the student-teacher pretenses.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.
Deep, decade-long connections won't get you everywhere.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

You know what I wish
It was just you and me
Sitting in this corner bar
You could tell me how you are
But I'm not gonna lie or anything
You don't even have to speak
If you keep looking at me.
And I'm not gonna lie
I'm not looking for love
I won't let you in my heart
But you are always my mind

- Kathleen Edwards, Goodnight California

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Here I am

Yeah, so I don't know what's going on with me and the blogging of late...I just don't seem to have much to say. There's plenty of drama, but I seem to have made a move away from using this as a tell-all space...My feelings of self-consciousness have finally won out.

So I've been in Home Region. I've been Here, I've been There, I've been in three different cities in the last week-and-a-half. Stayed in five different places. Gotten to know my new piece of luggage really, really well.

Christmas cheer? I have none. (And I don't say this in an embittered kind of way...I just don't feel it...I'm okay...) Though Christmas Day at my mother's was surprisingly nice. A fun Christmas dinner.

Now I've spent the weekend at R's, taking care of the cat. She's away. On Tuesday, my birthday, I move over to A's for the last four days of my time out here.

I've been doing a bit of work. Some of it involved grading for the PhD student described here. Hir final paper. Oy. A disaster. A disaster, I tell you. Over the course of this Directed Studies with hir, I have become more and more appalled by the level of the work. This is someone who needs some undergraduate-level training, I kid you not. And now this paper. It angers me, actually. I don't understand why this person was admitted to this program. And I feel as though hir work and potential were misrepresented to me - someone heavily edited hir proposal, that much is clear. It had a level of sophistication that hir work doesn't have, not at all.

In reading all of this person's work, and now the paper, I've been fighting a certain level of...revulsion. For this person makes some egregiously essentializing moves in hir writing...really egregious. In fact, hir project seems to be based on this. The fact that zie doesn't know better, after the Directed Studies, than to continue to peddle these assumptions, this worldview, is very upsetting to me. I feel as if I may as well have not conducted the course, since clearly zie got nothing from it. What good was the feedback I gave hir? What good was a whol ehost of readings that problematized these assumptions (along with some that reinforced them)? And it's that old thing...fine, you and I can disagree on this issue, as long as you back up your position with thoughtful marshaling of evidence from the literature in the field. But no. Noooooo. This person has naturalized this position so deeply that it wouldn't even occur to hir to treat it as anything other than a given. This does not an intellectual make.

And so I become extremely emotional. Enraged. And this is not good. I haven't let my emotion dictate hir grade on the paper or anything. The paper was terrible enough, aside from the awful essentializing, that I didn't bring it down on that count alone. But it makes me wonder about being on this person's committee. I need to get off. I feel that the work is so profoundly flawed that I don't want to have anything to do with it. This worldview, and the uncritical way it is being espoused - reproduced over and over and over again as if it is 'fact' - is too disturbing to me. I find it problematic that anyone would support this work, actually. But that's not my problem. My problem is that I need to get off, lest I fly into a murderous rage every time I read even a sentence of hirs. I can't be a suitably objective judge of the work. This is an intellectual issue - sure it is, because zie is not providing sufficient (or any) justification for this position. But it's also an emotional issue for me, as I am implicated in what zie is writing about. In fact, I implicitly become a "bad person" because of where my life fits vis-a-vis what zie is working on. Shudder.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Ready to head out

- I'm getting ready to go back to Home City, tomorrow. For 2 1/2 weeks.
- This is stressing me out because all it will be is lurching around from one place to the next, for a few days at a time. No down time at all. I was making up a list of phone numbers for the cat sitter today, and I am going to be in at least 6 different homes (and three different cities) in my 2 1/2 weeks. It is not the recipe for a relaxing holiday.
- This is making me rethink the way I am always turned to face Home City/Region. It gets so tiring. Perhaps I need to spend less time there. I'm torn about this...this is where the closest people in my life are.
- But it's too exhausting...and it takes away from my other vacation time. This becomes how I spend all of my vacations. As a consequence, I feel out of touch, for one thing, with other ways of spending vacation time...I was just thinking last week about how incredibly much I miss camping and canoe trips, for instance.
- For these reasons, it actually makes me quite happy to be planning to stay in Scary City for most of the summer. So that I can go on those camping and canoe trips, and get to really know and feel this region I'm living in.

- Today, though, today. Lots planned for today, in terms of getting ready to go. This morning I started my laundry, and the washer broke - full-on broke - partway through. It didn't drain, and will not. So I was left with a washing machine full of water and clothes. I frantically called my friend L, who I was planning to see later on, to drop Diamond off at her place. She said not to fret, but to bring my loads of laundry over to her place. Thank goodness I happened to have a rental car for the weekend - as a carless person, I don't know what I would have done without one. I brought my loads over to her place, only for us to discover that her power was out. I went back about three hours later, and it was still out. Poor L was sitting there freezing under a blanket in front of the gas fireplace, not knowing what would happen. My laundry was undone. So I had to frantically call a second friend and take my laundry over there. In the meantime I had to take the car back to the rental place, and so friend 2 has to drive my laundry over here when it's finished. Ridiculous!!! What a gong show.
- I had to take Diamond over to L's today. I miss her desperately. I'm become so damn attached to that little one. Damn. I feel all quivery-lipped, thinking about her little face, and not seeing her for almost three weeks. :( Another reason not to go away for so long in future.

- But there are fun things to look forward to in my trip to Home Region. A couple of days with M in Fun City. A blogger meetup over food! Fun New Year's plans. A friend's 50th birthday dance party. These will sustain me.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Ah, the edited volume...

I knew, going in, that co-editing an anthology was a thankless task. Oh, I knew. William Germano had certainly told me in no uncertain terms, and I'd heard intimations of what I consider to be anthology horror stories. I knew, too, that the level of recognition it generates from the institutional machine, vis-a-vis things like merit and tenure, is far outstripped by the work one puts in. But, I said, sign me up!! (Not without some angst, to be sure...) I really wanted to work on this particular project - really was quite excited about it - and loved the idea of meaningful collaboration.

My co-editor and I - come together, basically, for this - get on famously. The collaborative aspect is extremely rewarding. We seem to have a very similar take on most of the issues that come up - and on the work that we're reading for the volume. And I really value hir extraordinary ability to be both blunt and diplomatic. Also, I'm in awe of hir intellect, and hir nuanced and extraordinarily learned readings.

But, do I ever wonder, sometimes, what we've gotten ourselves into. The majority of the essays we've read have been mediocre. Some quite astonishingly poor: so senseless that I am shocked they would be sent to us as finished drafts. Some we will have to reject altogether. It is clear, too, that the process will drag on far longer than we imagined it would...

I am afraid that I have come to see the wisdom of forgoing the anthology. At least until tenure, when presumably one will have more of a chance to futz around with poor work for draft after draft. Not that I'd want to stop this project at this point - there remains a lot to be gained from it, and from our collaboration. But I might rethink the decision to embark on such a project to begin with. The end result, I feel certain, will be fabulous, but the going is proving to be tough.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Overdue reflections

I spent a couple of days - Thursday-Saturday - in Nearest Metropolis with my friend S. In my mind, this was supposed to be a bit of a (much-needed) blowout - ye know, doing Metropolitan things, which tend sometimes to be a little costly. I got thing off on the wrong foot when I forgot my wallet at home. S had to pay for me the whole weekend. It skewed the plans a little, unsurprisingly. Though I did come away with the most beautiful (and costly) top I've ever bought.

The holidays are shaping up to be a bit - well, a lot - wonky. I had all these plans, and now they're falling apart. I feel as if this is a sign that I need to start thinking of Scary City as my home. I can't pin hopes on Home Region. This is depressing.

Part of this is that R and I are having a falling-out. We've continued to act as if we are together as a couple, in many ways. We talk all the time. I've known it's problematic, but it's been very, very comforting. But now that is definitely over. It feels like a mini-breakup all over again. It shifts my relationship to Home City. To everything. Ugh. All of a sudden I feel profoundly unmoored. There were a few tiny certainties about the holidays, and now that they've come undone, I feel quite without an identity, frankly. It is not a nice feeling.

Hell, I wish I could have some sort of extended bloggy holiday party with all of you pals...it would be a lot better than what the actual holidays are shaping up to look like.

However. Today I will be able to finish my grading and submit my grades, and I shall be done with teaching until September. I am amazed and happy about that.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Monday notes

- Have a surgery date; January 8.
- Will not be teaching next term! With at minimum 4 weeks off in a 12-week term, seems the powers that be have decided it's too much to try to work around. Wow. I guess this is the benefit of an institution that takes care of you, really takes care...(Lil'rumpus and others...I don't know why 4-6 weeks, but the doctor is really insistent on that - though probably 4 for me due to youth, strength, vigor or whatever. It's a full (not mini) laparotomy, not laparoscopic. I suppose the other thing is that in case there were dire findings once opened up, I'd need to have other procedures afterward and convalescence would be extended.)
- This means that lots of writing must get done in the new year so I'm not wracked by guilt. I shall be very productive! Oh my goodness.
- What else can I volunteer to do so that people at work don't perceive me as a slacker?
- Will proceed to book Paris research trip for late April/May (4 weeks) without worries about insurance. (Thank you for the tip, though, JoVE, about provincial insurance. I'm not in the province you were mentioning, but imagine it's the same where I am - good to know for future.)
- Oh my god, I have nine months off of teaching???!
- Diamond is newly in love with me, it seems. Like, full-on love.
- She's also in love with her new gopher, in an I-shall-maul-you kind of way.
- I have new friends - and they live right across the street. And are a couple with whom it feels just fine to hang out as a single - doesn't feel like being a third wheel. Last night, spent eight hours chatting. Very stimulating. They're a change from most of my friends here, who are overwhelmingly not up for doing much, so beaten down are they by their jobs. I always feel like a freak for being up for doing things...so nice to find others who share in my desire to lift the head from the work.
- Am going for a mini-break in Nearest Metropolis later this week. With my friend S. We are opting for the long bus ride instead of short flight because it will give us an opportunity to get some of the mounds of grading done - and then we can fully relax and enjoy the Metropolitan time. We are going to use the certificate for a deluxe hotel room that I was given when I had this awful hotel experience in NM back in the spring. But I am also considering this a little vacation, and am going to treat myself to non-frugal experiences.
- Am writing - trying to turn latest conference paper into article. I feel an intuitive sense that this is going to work out nicely.
- Am not, though, looking forward to grading 115 take-home exams beginning tomorrow. (I have let my TA off the hook for these, as she is writing three graduate seminar papers right now, and is the mother of a one-year old.)
- But, strangely (though I'm unhappy about the thought of having my abdomen cut open), I'm happy to have the surgery lined up...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Plagiarism and grants

The number of hours I am spending catching plagiarism is bringing me down so, so much. It is happening sooooo often. Even on assignments that are supposed to be relatively plagiarism-proof. They're spending so much freaking time plagiarizing creatively that they might as well write the damned thing. Really, it's unimaginable how much of this I'm finding...I have a growing pile of photocopies of plagiarized documents - starting with this infamous one, of course - on my desk. The size of the pile - and the number of hours I spend on this - is really too, too dispiriting.


In other news, though, I've been awarded an internal grant that will fund a month in Paris in the spring/summer, even if I don't get my SSHRC. Hooray!