Monday, August 27, 2007

Food blogging

I have had a lovely couple of days away in Little Town. Long drives on Saturday to get there, and today to get back, - much longer than the way the crow flies, because of some geographic features in between CwP and Little Town - but since it was so spectacularly gorgeous, there is no complaining.

R hasn't been in CwP for long - about 24 hours, because of our little excursion to Little Town - but she feels an ambivalence about it that matches mine, I'd guess. So far, she says she thinks it needs to have a sign that says "Sponsored by Viagra." Too, too true.

Anyway, there'll (maybe) be more about that later. For now, I feel the need to food-blog, since I have eaten so, so well over the last four or so days. Beginning with the dinner I made on the first night R was here, which involved everything fresh and local: a salad of spicy greens and roasted beets and local lavender-and-other-herbed goat cheese we'd picked up at the goat-cheesery (where we visited goats), and really spicy puttanesca sauce using some of the best tomatoes I've ever eaten.

But really, what needs to be blogged is the meal we ate on Saturday night in Little Town. It was at one of the best restaurants in the province. I tell you, my friends, it was surely one of the meal highlights of my life. First of all, we sat on this hidden little patio under an enormous, gently covering tree...For an appetizer, I had goat cheese and pear baklava (I'm all about the goats and their cheeses, apparently...) Oh. my. freaking. god. I ate it so slowly, ever so slowly, trying to make it last forever. There was a hole in my life when it was gone. For a main course, I had some kind of "risotto" involving fresh peas and orzo and wild rice and loads of the most aged parmagiano. And then for dessert this insane pecan pie that was, basically, a maple orgasm. I don't even know what to say about it. It was lewd, it was so delicious.

So, yes. Oh so good food. Happiness.

Everything we ate, in fact, was good. Even cheap dinner in Little Town last night, which we ate at a diner, and which involved this crazy-good mint-infused spanakopita and really spicy caesar salad.

And right now I'm having a gin and tonic with cucumber instead of lime, which is my new favourite thing, I must say...

So this is food-blogging. Everything is good...Tomorrow I have a day-long research orientation (so they can really drill into us how important that is at this place...) and then R and I have dinner with a colleague and her partner. It is nice to be back here, to be able to just have a few days of regular life in CwP, so that she can see it...

Hope you are all having good weeks of first days and last days and all the rest!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

A Time-killing meme

You know what I feel like? I feel the way I felt when I was about six, and it was Christmas Eve. Wanting so much to be tired so that I could go to sleep, which would eat up the hours until, ta-da, it would be Christmas morning!

I feel this way because R is coming tomorrow morning. And yet it's 9:13pm, and I'm slightly tipsy, from being at a department party, and the house is all cleaned and ready, and I just need something to pass the time.

So, a meme! Perfect, right? Even though I know it's a very oldie, I saw it today at it's probably me. And so I shall do it, in the name of Christmas Eve time-killing...

4 jobs I've had in my life
- hardware store clerk
- executive assistant
- nanny
- advertising department gofer

4 places I've lived
- Calgary
- Ottawa
- Chambery, France
- Lyon

4 favorite foods
- cheese
- mushrooms
- peaches (this week's Fruit of the Week)
- tarte au citron

4 places I'd rather be
- Berlin
- remote Ontario cottage on deep water with many, many trees
- Lyon
- Yorkshire countryside

4 movies I can watch over and over
- The Hours
- Truly Madly Deeply
- Lost in Translation
- Mary Poppins

4 TV shows I like to watch
- The L Word
- The National
- ?? I don't really watch TV - honestly. My TV doesn't even work at the moment, and I haven't thought about it in the month since I realized that. I download the L Word, and watch the National when the TV works...

4 websites I view daily
- Bloglines
- Environment Canada's forecast for my city
- Fastmail
- my family website at

4 computers I've owned
- some ancient Mac
- an expensive something-or-other PC
- A used Dell desktop
- Averatec laptop

4 reasons I love what I do
- I feel challenged, daily
- getting to know amazing students
- learning can be transformative (for people, for the world)
- flexible and self-directed

4 reasons I don't
- University/department politics!!!
- productivity pressures
- incestuousness
- unprepared students

4 books I want to read again
- Persuasion
- The Virgin in the Garden
- The Passion (Winterson)
- Beloved

4 books I never need read again
- A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (stolen from It's Probably Me - I wholeheartedly agree!)
- The Sufferings of Young Werther
- The Last Spike: The Great Railway 1881-1885
- Maria Chapdelaine
(These are all books I had to read in order to teach them as a TA...)

4 things that make me laugh
- dogs
- R
- my (long-lost?) best friend, S.
- Stephen Colbert

4 things that make me cry
- sad stories about animals
- The Hours (Every time I view this film, I cry. A couple of weeks ago, when I was feeling particularly distant and papery and estranged from myself, I watched it for the sole purpose of making me feel emotionally connected again.)
- leaving students
- The song "Changing Colours," by the Great Lake Swimmers, which happens to be playing on my CD player right now

4 things I'm going to do this year
- write lots of paper letters
- dance
- read fiction
- sort thousands of photos into albums, structures...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A visitor

R is arriving on Friday, for eight days. I am full of excitement, cut with a little bit of apprehension.

When we started sleeping together again in May, four months after I'd moved out, there was no sense of what this would mean for us in the long term. Then we watched ourselves slip into a familiar togetherness. What I mareveled at, though, was that - for the most part - even though the togetherness felt familiar, there was something changed about it. A certain tension was gone.

Even more amazing was that R was willing to talk about what was going on between us - almost more willing than I, who didn't know how to make sense of it, and felt worried about that. ( we sense a theme in Hilaire's life?) Our old, tired pattern had involved R, playing a Brick Wall, and me in the role of Let's-Share. That has shifted in some fundamental way.

R is extraordinary in her willingness to change. Where she felt intransigent before - we both did. We spent a year and a half in counseling, and if I had to pinpoint THE issue between us, it was a kind of unwillingness to compromise. That is no longer the case - at least for her. She has undergone a certain quiet transformation. And I don't know if I can say the same. I don't know if many of us can say the same. It's quite something - she is willing to examine and quietly, selflessly work on almost every bit of herself. I hadn't seen that before - maybe she wasn't willing before. I see it now. I also see how much less willing I am to change, a fact of which I am not proud.

A couple of months ago, she delivered a line to me that floored me. We were out at some dark, noisy, alcohol-saturated event. Having a talk about us - shouting at each other over the music. She said that she had realized that she was willing to give up place - Home City - if it meant she wouldn't have to lose me. I didn't know at that point if I could say the same.

Now I am surer of my feelings. I thought that we needed to see what it was like to be apart, before we tried to make any kind of decision about the future. I wondered if I would push her away once we were so geographically distant. I've found it's not the case. I've found I feel closer to her, and I imagine a future for us. As much, I mean, as I can imagine under the circumstances - we're living thousands of miles apart, in a situation where we will go for months without seeing each other. But I am, I think, willing to explore what it would mean to be together again. Planning life together.

Anyway. Yes. She arrives on Friday morning. We're driving to another town on Saturday, for a couple of days - a place I'm really excited to visit. Will do some hiking and some wandering and some eating there. Then we'll be back here for the rest of her stay, and with a rental car for most of it - so we can explore the area. I'm curious to see what she thinks of this place. As much as it's been an adjustment for me, it will be much more of one for her. Gendered in the way that she is, and with her prickly personality, it could be a disaster in this conservative place. If it's a disaster - if she hates it - that will affect the way I think about my future here.

So it's potentially loaded, this visit. But mostly, I just can't wait to see her.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Random bullets of weekend

I feel much better than I did at midweek...much better. In fact, I feel somewhat embarrassed for so publicly - if anonymously - having a meltdown. After all, when I can get a grip, I see that in fact, things are going very well. I don't have much to complain about! So, sorry about that. My capacities for a) hysterical worry, and b) expecting far too much of myself, are my big downfalls.

So, the weekend?

- As I do religiously every Saturday, I attended the farmer's market yesterday. And now am completely overwhelmed by fruit and vegetables. I get a bit delirious over fresh things (hence the line up there at the top of my blog) but good god, I really do seem to have lost my mind! I don't know how I'm going to get through the stores I've accumulated...what was I thinking? That I have an eight-person family to feed, obviously.

- Also at the market, I am a huge fan of this Chinese vegetarian food vendor...They make these little sweet and sour crispy/chewy soy things that are like little morsels of chicken skin that have been fried for a week and doused in delicious sauce. Though I've been a vegetarian for 17 years, I still loves me the meaty textures. These things are my new favourite treat. Every time I open the fridge, I Must Eat Some.

- In yesterday's Globe and Mail, there was this article by Jian Ghomeshi on Prince that was positively hagiographic. It was ridiculous - and not because I have anything against Prince. On the contrary, I like him very much. Aaaanyway, Ghomeshi talked about Prince's stellar performance at the Super Bowl halftime show in February. Which was apparently some famously amazing phenomenon. (How did I miss hearing about it? I didn't think I was that disconnected from the world!) So I went and looked up videos of it online, and that was one fine performance, it's true. I was surprisingly heartened by it, actually. As an example of somebody's sheer energy and creativity and brilliance cutting through a dead corporate spectacle. (I know, I know, this is very old news...what can I say? This is my weekend, here in CwP.)

- Last night I went to a party. I really dragged my feet getting there - I am not particularly comfortable at big parties, especially where I know almost nobody. But I'd been invited and said I'd go, so I thought I ought not be rude. The first while was excruciating, but it ended up okay. A woman came and talked to me - she's a bit of a well known academic, actually, and had been one of the few non-committee members at my job talk, and had asked me a question that totally threw me, in part because of who she was. So I've always been worried that I looked like a complete airhead around her. But she was wonderfully welcoming, introduced me to her partner, said that R and I should come over for dinner when R's in town so she can see that there are other queers here!, and overall felt like a good new person (and neighbour - lives about three minutes' walk from me) to have around me. Also, she asked me what I was working on and when I gave her a one-sentence description, she told me that she's the editor of a relevant series at a university press and that if I wanted to submit a book proposal to her, she'd love to see it. OMG!

- Today, work. But that's feeling less daunting now - audacious article is coming together (I think) and I finally have some successful SSHRC apps to look at, so that helps a lot.

Friday, August 17, 2007


Just got acceptance for journal article about teaching in the area of my research, which I submitted back in the spring - yay! And the readers' reports are thorough and good. One seems to be smitten with the article, is very effusive, and doesn't suggest much in the way of revisions. The other is more moderated, but also positive. And very smart. Best of all, the revisions aren't that extensive. Worst of all, I have about 2 1/2 weeks to do them - ha ha - along with all the other work I'm doing right now. But still!! Hurrah!!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


OK. I need a break. I felt dangerously close to having a breakdown last night, so I think it's high time that I take a day to myself. And try to banish as much anxiety as I can before I make myself ill.

For the record, I am already wanting off this merry-go-round, and it's three weeks before classes start. It's my own fault, of course - I didn't budget my time this fall wisely, not at all. I thought I could be superwoman. But I must say, when things get as bad as they did last night - I can't remember feeling that borderline crazy with stress in many years - then it is time to change something.

What sent me over the edge last night was looking at some documents related to preparing a SSHRC grant application. The monumental nature of this task feels crushing - and I don't feel like I'm getting much support. The research office people aren't responding to emails with a question and a request to see the past successful applications they have on file. I haven't had a reply yet from my friend M, who volunteered to send me his successful application ten days ago, but then went AWOL.

It doesn't help that I'm so locked up inside my own head all the time, spending 12 hours a day at the computer, and speaking to almost no one. The recipe for craziness.

It is a payday today, and this finally brings me out of the unprecedented money crunch I've had for the last month or so. So I feel as if I have some options, finally - I can take myself out for lunch, I can stock up on nice foods for the house, I can buy the plants this place so desperately needs because I had to leave all my plants in Home City. I can spend the day wandering.

I also decided to ditch the half-marathon plan for October. I just can't add another thing to my plate right now. I'll still run, of course - I've been loving running, lately, and it has been one of the only things getting me out of my house. I'll still do weekly long runs. But I don't need more deadline pressure, which is what training for a run turns into. And unfortunately, I can't just run a race for the hell of it...I'll be chasing a time, too. So, no, I don't think that's wise. Though I feel like I've failed for deciding not to do it (and yes, I realize how incredibly stupid that feeling is). I"ll aim for a race in the spring.

So I'll pay a couple of bills now, and then go out into the world. Shopping plans include some interesting cheeses. Eating plans include nori rolls and gelato. Drinking plans include something on a patio this afternoon. Maybe I'll even go to a movie tonight. Although I don't feel very relaxed right now - in fact, it makes me feel slightly nauseated to think of leaving my work for a day - I trust these things will work their magic.

Monday, August 13, 2007


Ah, I get it.

I'm not lonely. But I am cold and distant and mostly shrunk in on myself.

That's the thing. Loneliness is not something I feel very often - I generally only feel it in the context of failing or recently failed coupledom. Like those times when one is supposed to feel so very connected and so the absence of that connection stands out in relief.

I am not part of a failing couple (though R and I still haven't figured out our future). So what results from being mostly quite alone alone here in City with Potential is not loneliness, not by any means, but a quite profound feeling of disconnection from people. I go for days without seeing people, sometimes - like right now. I went 30 hours without even talking to someone, until this afternoon. And when the phone did ring, ripping me away from many hours of intense work at my computer, it was hard to find myself to have a conversation (with my mother).

So that's what happens to me when I am alone. Because I have introverted tendencies, it is not much of a stretch for me to just burrow away inside myself like this. I don't like what accompanies it, though - a nearly complete lack of emotion. Except for the ever-present anxiety - ha. But that's not at all a people-oriented emotion, anyway, in this instance. I feel like some sort of cardboard cutout of myself, as if the affective dimensions of my personality have been erased. It's not a nice feeling, especially because I am usually quite a sensitive person. To be honest, I feel inhuman - and it's not a nice feeling, not at all.

I recognize that though I have introverted tendencies and am quite happy on my own, I also have been, at least since adulthood, kind of quietly social. Very much so. I have lots of people in my life, and have always felt full of connection and feeling.

So I look forward to making more of a social network here not as an antidote to loneliness, but as an antidote to feeling like a kind of drone or robot, which is precisely how I am feeling today.

(Tomorrow morning I have a visitor coming for tea, though - someone I haven't met yet. So I'm getting up early to make banana bread, and the whole event feels as if it will put me back in touch with myself - as have the intermittent social occasions I've had.)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Intellectual audacity

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been working on an article. It is a cobbling together of material from several chapters of my dissertation - the elaboration of a theory, really - and some new writing that helps pull it into coherent article form. I'd thought I'd put my dissertation to bed, having published one article from it. The thing was so incredubly diffuse and oddly organized that I felt I didn't have the patience to make sense of it, to discipline it, so to speak.

Of course, in making that assumption I was deliberately overlooking the theoretical apparatus, which could, I knew, plausibly be turned into a nice, meaty article. I ignored it because the theory involves a juxtaposition that could be seen as scandalous by some. Absolutely wacky. You know, like using, I don't know, some chemical engineer's outre theory to theorize haiku. Or whatever. A hugely interdisciplinary - even "intergalactic" - move. The kind of thing that could be instantly, laughingly dismissed.

But it always nagged at me. After all, I earned my PhD - and even an award for my dissertation - on this scandalous juxtaposition, so it must make some sense. And I need publications while I work on a new book project, and this would work so nicely. I could envision it. Plus - and honestly this is what has become so important, lately - so much of the work has already been done. So in the last couple weeks, I've been working with the scandalous theory, and have gotten most of a draft of an article together, combining dissertation fragments with original writing. (It is going to require more rigorous revision than I've ever done, I'm afraid.)

But sending this article out to the biggest - well, the only - journal in my sub-subfield is an absolutely frightening experience. All I can imagine is laughter and incredulity. After all, my PhD committee didn't have anybody on it who was really expert in "haiku" - they were experts in "chemical engineering." The journal is for the haiku experts. This is, then, the first time I've put this material out to them. (The one time I presented on this scandalous connection, at a big international conference, where it was received well enough, there were no haiku experts present. When I've presented and published material on haiku, it's been not in haiku fora, but in chemical engineering spaces or spaces related to the third thing I triangulate with all of this, "agricultural history.")

I could either make a little name for myself in haiku studies, or I could be run out of the joint. I am really not at all an audacious person, and so I feel as if I'm inhabiting a very different plane here, with what is indubitably going to seem like an audacious theoretical move in this context.

Oh. my. god.

Just a little bit of a terror-post of the World's MOst Tedious Posts variety. I am feeling a little crushed by work.

I thought my fall was looking crazy enough. I have at least twice the number of students that I had last year. Fine and manageable, in and of itself. But in the first two months after classes start, I have two conferences to go to - both of which are intimidating - and hence two papers to from scratch. I have a huge SSHRC grant proposal to submit by October 15 -separate post coming about the particular terror associated with that! I have two separate visitors, who are coming for 4-5 days each. One of whom is my mother.

And - this in the wake of a meeting with Unit Head and other Close Colleague yesterday - since I am growing and developing this little program: fully fleshed-out proposals (i.e. basically full syllabi) for four new courses to go on the books, as well as paperwork and proposals to change the program's name, and paperwork for changing prereq's and structures for three more courses. All by October 18.

I am also aiming to run a half-marathon in early October, and my training was derailed for a month because of my back injury. I should be okay, having run one quite recently, but still.

Oy, is all I can say. I had damn well better get to work.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Drunk blogging/ranting

So I was invited to a dinner party tonight. With colleagues. New friend D had informed dinner-party host that I was in town, so she (very very sweetly, I might add) invited me along. D was there, along with 4 colleagues I met for the first time.

You know what, New Colleague? Let me tell you a basic rule of civility: If, after jumping on me in a most unfriendly and competitive manner so you can learn my credentials and where I taught previously, you find that you and I have different opinions of Dream Uni City, shut the fuck up. Don't persist, after I've been quite effusively expressing my love for the university and the city, in dissing it. Including with the 'epithet' "It's a working-class city."

And then, a couple of hours later? Don't start a conversation - with the whole 7-person dinner party listening in - whose sole purpose is to venerate the person who was once meant to have my position, but whose negotiation failed last year for various reasons. So that they let the search die and started a new one the next year, which resulted in me. Yes, that person's great, yes, she's smart. But here I am, in the position. Shut the fuck up.

And then? Don't begin a conversation with the other colleagues about how cool and exotic "gypsies" are, how you miss them and the way they "know how to live"...Shut the fuck up. What year is this?

Good god. What is the matter with people???

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Couple crush


Today I fell in love (in a manner of speaking).

Remember this guy? I was put in touch with him back in May, and he was so up my alley and so freaking welcoming that he suddenly made me feel a whole lot better about the move here? I finally met him and his little family today. He and I had been emailing intermittently, and he - just about the sweetest person on the planet, it seemed to me - kept telling me how excited they were that I was coming. But they have been away in Home Area, so I haven't had a chance to meet them until now. They got back yesterday.

Today he emailed me telling me once again how excited they are that I'm here, saying they'd heard all manner of nice things about me from their friend D. (What a nice thing that was to hear!) Shortly afterward they phoned me for a spontaneous little date...we went to the art organization whose Board he sits on, and he introduced me to the person who runs it. Wanting me, already, to join the Board. Then we went for yummy food, he and his lovely, lovely partner and their daughter, and their good friend D, who is my new friend, too - D's the one I had a drink with last week, who showed me the cycling route to campus on the weekend.

I lurve them. Oh my freaking goodness, do I love them. Not only are they the loveliest, most generous people - full of offers to help me, to lend me their car, to hang out, to introduce me to people - but they each do work that overlaps with mine in different ways. And have the same kinds of interests around pedagogy and politics and and and...

It's not often one feels this kind of immediate click with people, especially as one gets older. (One, eh?) How excited am I for this friendship to develop? And how wonderful to know that I will have this here, in City with Potential, no matter what else happens here...

Monday, August 06, 2007

An accountablity worry

You know what worries me?

That I haven't written a test, or an exam, or many of the things I ask my undergraduate students to do, in many years. Many. years. Like, a dozen years for the tests and exams. More than that, actually. I don't even remember what it feels like, except that I remember once getting hives and a yeast infection at the end of my Theory Year, when I had the final exams in two difficult courses on the same day. Aced them and had my best year ever. And almost dropped out of university after that, because of my reaction to the stress.

That is an interesting thing, actually - that that is what I remember. Because many of my students feel the same way because of tests and exams that I give them. And yet I don't have a clue - not a clue - what the content of that feeling is.

It makes me feel bad. It makes me feel unaccountable, somehow.

But what am I going to do about it. I don't know. Make myself write an exam?

Sunday, August 05, 2007

What life feels like here

I've been here for about ten days now, and I'm surprised how comfortable the transition has been. This is why I moved so quickly, I suppose, from commenting on the setting-up process to writing about work. I feel surprisingly even-keeled...

I've established quite quickly what it feels like to move through this lovely big apartment, with its surplus of space - to cook here, work here, sleep here. It does feel like home, and I can't imagine wanting to move for quite a while (thank goodness!). It has a coolness to it that I haven't lived with before - the colours are very light...of the walls and the upholstery on the furniture I chose, and the birch and pine I ended up preferring in the living room. I suppose it's a serene almost-minimalism, and I'm seeing the effects of that on my psyche. And I like them.

So my main living space looks like this:

I've even grudgingly gotten used to the carpet and tile!
I've used that big bookcase behind the sofa as a room divider, and behind it lies my minimal that the only thing in it is my desk! Plenty of room for the mind to roam.

And my bedroom is similarly serene - vast expanses of light terracotta-coloured walls, punctuated by a few framed pieces of art. That's all. The same is true of the guest/TV room. There is a marked lack of clutter.

And here is my funny bathroom, with its big triangle of a bathtub:

I've not lived with quite such an aesthetic before - things have always felt heavier. This is having a palpable - and positive - effect.

And what of living here, in Scary City? Well, it's not as scary as I had imagined it to be. In fact, I hereby re-christen it City with Potential. I've been taking advantage of what is good about it - opportunities to be outside, and in water. I've been using a shockingly extensive network of bike lanes to get around - have only had to use public transit once, when I was buying large items. I've been munching on crepes at the farmer's market, and stocking up on produce there. I've found a cafe I feel at home in, and a bar I think I'll like. The other day I had a drink with a colleague, and yesterday he invited me to come along with him as he cycled the long route to the university - I'd wanted to be introduced to this back way in, since I plan to ride to work fairly often. We rode, in part, on country roads, past pastures with grazing horses (and llama!). This will be a treat, this ride. A marvelous way to begin and end a day.

And so, life feels pretty good. When it doesn't, it is mostly because of anxiety...I have stacked my plate with far too much for the next few months, and I can feel the pressure building. But that's nothing to do with this place, and in fact this place - and my home in it - will provide opportunities for respite from it.

I am not lonely, not at all - the people I talk to in Home Area keep expecting me to be. But as an only child, I'm very accustomed to time with myself. Sometimes I get bored with myself, with my own thoughts - especially when they are like a broken anxiety-record. But lonely? No. In fact, though I miss some people very much - R, of course, and Mr. K, and A - I am finding it quite calming to have little to do beyond my work, and few people to see. There was almost too much going on in my life before...

So, yes. City with Potential.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Course planning feedback from the best possible source

So I have a newish friend, who was one of my students this past year. She was an extraordinary student, and also one that I ended up in a sort of mentor- or even counselor-type relationship with, as she had quite an emotionally difficult year. (Which I don't recommend, but you live and you learn.) And now she and I have become friends. We stayed in touch, seeing each other for coffee or dinner when I was in Uni City or she was in Home City. She stayed with me for a few days in June, when she was looking for a place to live in Home City. She came to my little going-away party - twenty years old and confidently holding her own among the thirty- and fortysomethings. Very impressive. I'd never have imagined I could have what feels like a real friendship with someone that age.

Anyway, we're in close email contact right this minute because I am trying to hook her up with a job in Home City. (She is taking a year off school, which is the best possible thing she could have done...) And so today I finished a draft of my first-year course syllabus, the one for the 90 students for whom I'm having to do some complicated assignment-designing. And I wanted a pair of eyes to look at it, to see whether my explanations of Complicated Assignment and my new 5-days'-grace late policy made sense. So I sent it to Student Friend.

Within just a couple of hours, she sent me back the longest, smartest, most helpful feedback. Lots and lots of it - pages and pages. Detailed and well thought out. I'd asked her only for advice on these two elements, but she had thoughts on all sorts of things. It was amazing - so helpful to be seeing the syllabus through a student's eyes. She even suggested language to use for it.

This is a good thing about leaving Dream Uni. Some of those amazing students can now become friends and resources, and I don't have to worry about feeling compromised.

It also makes me think again about the value of student consultation. I really do think it can be a great thing. And in my experience, it doesn't have to mean students narrowly and selfishly looking out for themselves. In this case, Student Friend offered a suggestion of reworded language that was about protecting me from the perception that I am a softie.

I'm all about the student consultation - I think it makes me a better teacher.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Such petty frustrations

I’ve been all set to write a nice post about how well I’m settling in here. But then this day happened, and I need to vent! Argh!!

Today I rented a car so that I could move my dozen boxes of office books and files up to my university. What did I find there?

- A filing cabinet, in my office, that is locked – with no key. My department’s admin assistant is on vacation, and she had given all my other keys (office, mailroom, etc.) to another admin person for me to pick up. Which I did. No filing cabinet key, to be sure. My file boxes sit in that tiny office, unpacked. (I did get to unpack books, though.)
- The guy who was supposed to give me my new laptop, on vacation. No one told me this – they just said, “go pick up the computer from that guy.” No new computer for me. This wouldn’t matter so much, except that my personal laptop is on its last legs. This week the wireless card died, for instance – so much for enjoying my brand new wireless Internet at home. And there have been other signs of imminent disaster.
- A phone in my office that I absolutely could not figure out how to work – and nobody who could tell me how.

Ugh. You get the picture. It was just hot, and frustrating, and heavy, and all the rest of it. And it aggravated my back quite a lot – I’d thought the back debacle was all done with, but oh, no, apparently not. Much hurting, now.

And my watch died in the middle of all this, too. So since I had the car, I stopped in at the Bay to get a new battery. Turns out the watch itself is actually fried – and I only bought it just over a year ago. Damn you, Fossil watch store in the Houston airport! (Shakes fist.) So I had to buy a new watch (cannot live without watch). Have I mentioned how I don’t have any money at the mo? Like, none, still – things will absolutely even out in two weeks, but it’s Frugality Central until then. Buying a new watch was not on the agenda, that’s for damn sure.

Also today:

- Breaking three glasses (one wineglass and two everyday ones) when I was wrestling with trying to close a stubborn plastic food container on the counter below them; they slid off their racks and shattered all over the kitchen and into the living room.
- Breaking a pricey compact fluorescent light bulb I had just bought an hour before, as I went to screw it in to the lamp; it slipped out of my hand and shattered all over the spare room floor.
- At the end of the day, sorely in need of a break from this grimness, identifying a beach on the map and thinking, “Since I have a car, I’ll go out there to that faraway spot; that looks like it must be a lovely place.” Going all the way out there and discovering it was the shittiest spot around. I didn’t even park.
- Then turning around and heading toward a beach I do like, but not being able to park anywhere near it. No beach for me. (Also, a realization of the drawbacks of having a car; when I ride to this beach on my bike, I can always park!!)

How do days like this happen??? Good god.

What almost made up for it, though? The university, I found – this was the first time I’d been there since I moved – was like the Institute of Lesbians. Seriously. It was pretty quiet, being August and all, but tons of the women I saw, I swear to you, were Sisters. The students, especially. Given the complete dearth of queer culture in this city – it really is quite astonishing – I certainly wasn’t expecting this. But I guess it is ever so. The uni always provides the space, doesn’t it? Anyway, I was pleased. Though they won’t recognize me, Invisible Dyke that I am, I feel heartened.