Friday, October 31, 2008

Muse of the moment

As seen at Belle's. This makes some sense right now. Though I don't know if I "understand life to its fullest extent." I wish.

Your result for The A-Muse-ing Test...

Your muse is Melpomene!

50% Melpomene, 10% Calliope, 10% Thalia, 0% Urania, 10% Clio, 10% Erato, 0% Euterpe, 0% Polyhymnia and 10% Terpsichore!

Melpomene is the muse of tragedy. She is also known for her singing and as the "chanting one." She is a guide for the lost or those seeking a way to something, but they just can't quite figure out what or where. She can beautifully wear a tear or a smile, for she understands life to its fullest extent.

Call upon Melpomene when you are searching and need to heal yourself.

Sit somewhere quiet where you can be alone with your thoughts. Light a candle and gather some paper or your journal. Sit comfortably and allow yourself to fully feel the pain you have inside and ask Melpomene to help you bravely face it with honesty. Write what you are feeling and what you have experienced. Express your loss in yoru own way, with your own words. Now determine to be creative and use that energy in a new way. You are ready to create something beautiful out of your sadness and loss. Paint, sculpt, write, sing, or just explore a new place. Artistic creation will help you refind joy and reexperience life in a new way.

Take The A-Muse-ing Test at HelloQuizzy

Thursday, October 30, 2008

You know what, student whose MA thesis I am currently reading? If you are going to plagiarize gigantic swathes of your MA thesis, choosing something other than Sparknotes' fully googlable online guide to the novel might be a good idea.

I am so done.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Something just humanized my 100 first-year students so much for me...

I was grading a test I had given them the other day. The test was quite quick to write, and so many of them sat there for a good ten minutes or more waiting for everyone else to finish.

I needed to turn over their tests to write something on the back, and I saw the sweetest traces of them there on the back page, where obviously they'd killed some time doodling while they waited for everyone else to finish. There were lots of instances of writing their own names with hearts, of course - but I even found that sweet - and there were many melancholy song lyrics, a fragment of an Edgar Allen Poe poem, pictures of flowers with the word "fleur" next to them in graceful cursive. An "I heart Sharon."

For some reason, this just warmed my heart. And that's hard to do these days.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I've had a close friend from Home City visiting since Wednesday. She just left. It was grand fun, but it's incredible how behind her visit has put me, in terms of work. I'm feeling slightly panicky. (And so, I shall fritter away my time blogging.)

This was a funny visit. My friend S is the person I've always said is closest to a sibling for me, an only child. I've known her since I was fifteen. She and I did the Activity together, and still do things like go to dance camps and weekends together. I love her to death. But she is intensely negative about everything from job to love to hobbies to life - always has been. (I know, I am too on this blog - but I don't exude negativity in my everyday life.) She is always this way, but she seems particularly unhappy with her life right now - relatively newly single at 35, she is full of rage and disappointment about the possibility of finding a man to settle down with. She's lonely for friends, too, she says.

I was talking at one point over the weekend about a decade-long mutual infatuation I've had with someone S and I both know, a really quite extraordinary and somehow intimate relation (which has been sexual on a few precious occasions, when he and I have both been single). Out of what I could tell was jealousy and loneliness, S asked me quite aggressively how I "always make all these deep connections with people..." I don't know what to say to that. It feels odd to be attacked for it. As if I'm doing something wrong. And I don't know how to tell her that what comes across as negativity is probably part of the problem she experiences in making connections with people. This was an odd theme that seemed to add a tiny bit of tension to our visit.

Anyway. We had fun. It's lovely to have someone I'm so close to visit me here. It helps me feel better in this place, for some reason. Even if S did observe, a number of times, that "it is really weird that you live here."

But oh my goodness, the work (and life-work) that awaits me. I am going to be paying for this visit for a couple of weeks. This is so much the case that I need to make, for the first time ever, a boring blog to-do list for today, in the interest of keeping myself accountable (and even though I don't know how to do a strikethrough):

- DONE: Call C in Berlin
- DONE: Reading and prep for first-year class
- DONE: Reading and prep for upper-year class
- GOT 8 DONE: Grade 15 of ~40 first-year assignments
- NOPE: Grade the set of critical questions for the upper-year class
- NOPE: Email K
- NOPE: Email Su.
- REFIGURED: Email St.
- DONE: Return video
- DONE: Do the many dishes
- DONE: Go to gym for some of physiotherapy regime
- DONE: Finish physio regime at home
- DONE: Meet my friend D to strategize my nomination of him for an award
- NOPE: Outline my nomination letter for D
- DONE: Shitloads of laundry - probably 5 loads

What's freaking me out is that I have a scary conference paper to write, and I just haven't had time to get there. I have only a couple of weeks left, and I'm worried. But oh well, this list is all I can contend with today.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

JUST TO CLARIFY THE BELOW: In my second paragraph, I'm not saying that my 2-2 teaching load is too much to run the minor in terms of too much work for me; I'm not that much of a princess. What I mean is that I can't run the minor because if all I teach is 2-2, and two of those four courses are the companion Intro courses, we (I) can't deliver enough programming to make taking the minor possible. (And I'm not about to volunteer to teach more in an institution with very stringent standards for tenure; that would be suicide.) And yes, I should learn to be clearer in my writing and not deliver off-the-cuff rants.

I have learned that I won't get to make another hire in my program for next year. I once really thought there was a strong chance - there was supposed to be a strong chance that I would. And even though I knew the chance was getting slimmer with each passing day, I still held out some hope. But the faculty is getting exactly zero brand new positions. This isn't about my program, then - I do have some faith that if there were new positions, my Dean would have allocated one to my program. But it sure is demoralizing.

The thing is, there is no POINT to me or my position. I can't effectively run even the existing minor, with my 2-2 teaching load. I am redundant, pointless. It's a really, really fucking bad feeling.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Even though I just got an email from an upper-year student asking what, exactly, a research paper is, I am trying desprately to screw my head back on. In a positive enough fashion to get me through the rest of the term.

I'm sitting here contemplating this in Nearest Metropolis airport, waiting for a connecting flight home. I'm on my way from Second Nearest Metropolis, the American city where I spent the weekend. Dancing. Yes, i got to dance all weekend (well, actually, I took it easier than I usually do because my knee was a bit shocked by this activity).

Yes, the dancing that I love. That I haven't been able to do since February since I missed dance camp in the summer. That I now have to travel to do, since I live in Scary City.

So that infusion of joy - as well as a gorgeous weekend in a Metropolis, meeting new people who feel so much like the community I left behind - make me feel alive again. I need to bottle that feeling.

Thankfully, I do have a good friend - also from my world o' dancing - coming to visit me from Home City this week.

Even though it's late and I'm tired, I'm looking forward to bringing this energy home with me, to Scary City.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

WARNING: Horribly misanthropic post below.

I don't know how I can imagine surviving decades more of dealing with first-year students, without succumbing to a murderous rage.

I can't get over how they can't follow simple instructions. How they become so wrapped up in their grade-grubbing anxieties that they can't even listen. And so I deal with the same questions over and over and over and over again.

Yesterday I stood in front of my 100-person lecture and FOR THE FOURTH TIME was confronted with a barrage about the annotated bibliography they have coming up. I have fielded questions about this since October 1. I have posted a detailed handout about exactly what they need to do, on the course website. I have posted style sheets for the citation style. But no, they cannot look at this. Or they can, but their brains are sieves. I get exactly the same questions - and answer them - every. single. freaking. time. When all of this information has been provided to them in written form. The tediousness of this exercise made my eyes nearly pop out of my head, yesterday - I stood there and furiously clicked the pen I was holding, tapped my feet restlessly as I answered their questions in an incredulous, condescending voice. (I didn't realize how awful my body language and overall vibe were until some slightly more mature students in the front row started laughing - they got what was going on.) I just cannot imagine dealing with this inanity for the next twenty-five years.

I suppose I need to cultivate my bitch self - the one that pointedly says that I have already answered that question, and refuses to answer it again. But that's not me, and I would feel uncomfortable doing that. But is projecting the bitchiness I projected yesterday any better? I think not.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Election looming

Ugh. Tomorrow's Election Day.

I voted at the advance poll, since I will be traveling from Home City to Scary City tomorrow, and unable to vote. For the first time ever, I stood behind the little screen and thought of throwing my vote away by voting for a fringe candidate. I am usually a good little voting soldier, and even - very, very briefly - once joined a political party despite my cynicism about electoral politics, because I wanted to support a great candidate in winning the nomination...I am sure you can guess which one.

But the cynicism that I managed to overcome long enough to join said party and even attend a couple of folksy fundraisers for candidates at the municipal and provincial levels has returned to define my political consciousness. Or lack thereof. Like so many people in this country, I really couldn't care less about this election. That is a terrible sentiment. But all it looks like to me is a pointless exercise that won't redraw the face of things here at all. Our resident sociopath, Harper, will end up with another minority government. End of story. Blech. Eternal return.

I am also irritated at further fragmentation on the left, which has smothered any last hope that had managed to stay alive in me.

Here we go, then. Onto the world's most boring and pointless election day. Mirrored in the world's most boring blog post of the political variety.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Home City

I arrived on Thursday morning. I'm here in Home City until Tuesday afternoon. I'm staying at R's. She's not here. She's in Chicago because she's running the marathon tomorrow. That was a trip we were supposed to take together; I had it booked. But, of course, we're not doing that. Because we're not together. I saw her for a few hours on Thursday when I arrived here - so strange. It made me sad, and I've been haunted by that sadness ever since. I feel as if I missed out on my one chance at happiness. That she's all set to move on, in this city that she loves. That I'm far away from it and, in letting her go, have lost my chance.

So on one hand it's great to be staying here - it cushions me from the blow that inevitably will occur because I no longer have a Home in Home City. I get to be in this place I lived in for years, and not be confronted with the feeling that I don't know where to go in my very own city. But it has been underscoring, more than I expected, the fact that R and I are over and I'm in a place - literally and metaphorically - that gives me no hope.

It's been beautiful weather here in Home City, and I've walked a lot, feeling the sense of deeply embodied comfort that is the most striking thing about this place. Yesterday, because I need weight and other equipment to do my physiotherapy regime, I went and used the gym at the university - a gym I used for six years, but stopped three years ago. The guys at the front desk recognized me, and were excited to see me. They see thousands and thousands of people a year and they recognized me? It touched me. It made me long to be back in that part of the community, to be able to walk there, to work out there. And then I thought of something: If my job in Scary City continues to feel unbearable, I do need to think about leaving. If nothing changes next year, and yet I'm unsuccessful on the job market (or, as with this year, there are no jobs to apply for), then I might very well need to just walk away from the profession, lest I end up up sacrificing my happiness and health to it. And maybe I could see about working at the university here in a non-professorial capacity. Finding a job that draws on some of my skills - working as a Research Officer, for example.

Everyone tells me that I am the person they know who is best suited to being a professor. I sort of know what they're talking does fit me. It hadn't occurred to me (duh) to think about other ways to continue working in the university. I couldn't think of anything else I'd like to do. This seems a bit hopeful as a back-up. I know that what I'd rather do is find a professorial job at a place that doesn't break me. But it's helpful to begin to recognize another option. And one that could take me back to Home City.

Monday, October 06, 2008

I'm pretty much disappearing from here, it seems. I don't seem to be able to balance things very well right now.


Diamond was diagnosed last week with a liver condition. I'm treating her with powerful "liver medication." I just don't know. I feel terrible leaving her for five days, this coming weekend, but I have two different people coming in to watch her every day at different times. She seems as if she might be beginning, just beginning, to feel a bit better.


I mentioned a little while back that I was planning a post about how this job turns me into someone I don't like very much. Yes, indeed. That comes from the feeling of pressure and impatience. It comes from rage. It comes from being ungenerous with myself and with other people.

I really noticed it when I started dealing with a PhD student who is doing a Directed Studies course with me. As it turned out, she has NO training in critically analyzing texts. None. None, none, none. How can it be????!!! My response - two weeks in a row, after receiving her "critical reflections" on the readings - was to do things like slam my computer shut and swear. How awful. It is not her fault. I recognize that. I see that she comes from a very different background, one where she is not expected to approach things in this way. I see that this is a fatal flaw in an interdisciplinary graduate studies program, which potentially sets up people to pursue projects for which they're inadequately prepared. I see all of that. But instead, I react with anger and am not particularly generous with her. I just want her to go away. I feel misled about her and her project and her capacity to do that project. These are all awful things to feel. I sense we're heading somewhere bad. I know she's been panicking to her supervisor about me. And she seems to have gone uncharacteristically quiet. Probably as a result of my not being terribly supportive - though I have tried to explain in detail - twice - what I mean by critical engagement and analysis, and given her five examples of the kind of response I want her to write.

But I feel impotent, in a sense - I don't know what to do about it - and all the solutions I can think of involve more, so much more, than I can give. So I react ungenerously - and even though it's really only in my own mind, it feels wrong. It's terrible. I don't want to be this nasty person.

Saturday, October 04, 2008


According to this sophisticated quiz, there are only two possible answers to every gender or sexuality issue...And I become a member of the Black Bloc. Hee.

As seen at Luckybuzz's.

Your result for The Feminism Test...


You scored 100% Gender-Abolitionist, 80% Sexually Liberal, and 60 % Socialist

You are the Revisionist Feminist! You are, by far, the most philosophical, the most sexually-liberated, and the most politically extreme variety of feminist. You are very, very freedom-oriented. You abhor oppression in all forms. For instance, your views on sexual liberation and reproductive control adequately reflect your devotion to personal freedom. Not only that, but you also feel gender needs to be destroyed to maximize equality and freedom, because accepting socially-constructed gender roles binds women into false categories and places upon them an unneeded identity. Gender should not be a part of one's identity, but rather an irrelevant aspect of their physical bodies, such as their hair length or nose shape. Not only that, but Revisionist Feminists are political extremists and feel very strongly that the oppression of class society is a big part of the cause of women's oppression. Basically, a Revisionist feels that cultural ideas of gender, political class, and repressive sexual morality all work together to oppress women, and the only way to truly escape this oppression is to challenge all of these problems directly and extremely. You are a Marxist, a Gender Abolitionist, and a Liberal Feminist all rolled into one.

The other feminist types:

The Housewife

The Marxist

The Liberal

The Liberal Extremist

The Gender Abolitionist

The Radical

The Gender-Liberal

The Revisionist

Take The Feminism Test at HelloQuizzy

Friday, October 03, 2008

Friday Poetry Blogging: Jaan Kaplinski

(Untitled. Tanslated from Estonian by the author with Sam Hamill and Riina Tamm.)

I do not know whether each believer
is as joyful that God exists
as I was upon hearing
the wood owl call from the ash tree
where his nest box
has already rested a dozen years. Now
he has nested there
four or five years himself.
He is.