Ancrene Wiseass

A would-be medievalist holds forth on academia, teaching, gender politics, blogging, pop culture, critters, and whatever else comes her way.

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Location: United States

Yes, this really is yet another blog by a disillusioned grad student. I sympathize, but that's just the way it has to be. For hints as to what my bizarre alias means, click here and here and, if needed, here and here. To get a sense of what I'm up to, feel free to check out the sections called "Toward a Wiseass Creed" and "Showings: Some Introductory Wiseassery" in my main blog's left-hand sidebar. Please be aware that spamming, harassing, or otherwise obnoxious comments will be deleted and traced.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Yesterday and this morning

I spent most of yesterday on the beach with a good friend, doing a lot of walking, a bit of eating (my appetite seems to have mostly recovered), and a bit of hat-buying (since I stupidly forgot to bring one and even 30 sunblock isn't going to keep my glow-in-the-dark skin from burning after a while). Then I bought a couple of books on cat maintenance and had dinner out with more friends, followed by drinks at a friend's house. More food, wine, and exercise than I'm used to are making me feel a bit groggy and stomach-achey this morning. But I think I had fewer nightmares, and I definitely slept longer.

Not ready for needy students today, though. My eagerness to help them through every possible existential crisis brought on by this assignment is starting to wane: some of these kids have come to see me five times in the past week.

UPDATE: I should add that one of the things which helped me cheer up a bit yesterday was, weirdly enough, the sight of a troupe of mimes doing a flag-waving routine to Lee Greenwood's "Proud to Be an American" at the beach. This was true not only because tacky, kitschy bizarreness has a tendency to make me deeply happy in ways I can't explain, but also because I walked away feeling as though my life at least wasn't nearly that absurd.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.


Feeling very sick this morning. I'm shaky, headachey, feel feverish, and keep getting chills. I had really weird dreams last night in which I was trying to make connections between cutting steak and parsing sonnets; kept half-consciously remembering what was going on in my life and feeling waves of nausea and fear.

Maybe that dinner was just too much for me. I really hope it will pass: I can't imagine having to lie in bed ill right now. I'm planning to get out of bed and do some things, but I'll try not to drive myself too hard, in case I really do have some bug.

More news from Ireland

It just keeps coming. I got a letter in the mail from the bank I used in Ireland telling me that my account there has been overdrawn "in recent months." They give no details. The letter just says that I owe unspecified amounts in overdraft charges and I am shaking all over with both terror and anger because:
1) I have no idea whether this is a matter of 15 Euro or 1,500 Euro
2) I have no way of getting hold of anyone until at least Monday
3) I tried really, really hard to secure this damn account after the whole Diesel Boy burglary fiasco and was reassured everything was okay, but now I think it probably wasn't all along and
4) I'm absolutely sure that there's no reason for this account to be overdrawn at all, since I haven't used it since December.

Some really lovely friends had me over to their place for dinner tonight and made steaks and all manner of gorgeous things to go with it, and I was actually able to eat a real meal for the first time in days. Now I'm afraid I'm going to retch it up, I'm so upset.

The only reason I kept the account open was that I was marrying Stan and thought it might be useful to have it available there when we were visiting or in case we ended up living there, since it can take a very long time for a foreigner to establish an account in Ireland. I just wish I knew the enormity of this particular punch line.

I don't know how to cope right now. God, I wish I'd waited until morning to open that damn letter. At least then I'd be able to talk to somebody. Now I just get to stare up at the ceiling, wondering how much money the bank will say I owe them.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Memorial Days

Ah. The weekend.

A holiday weekend.

I believe what I am supposed to do is something along the line of "welcome it with open arms," particularly given how hard I've been driving myself this past week. But no. Not when being alone feels like a precis of the next 40 (or whatever) years, instead of just being alone.

My students have been very needy this week (there's a paper due on the 1st), and I have been very giving, because I am needy, too. I need to feel, nearly every moment, as though I'm connected to other people, that I make a difference in their lives. So that I don't have to think about how Stan and I have disconnected and about how I feel so certain that I'll never be held by a man who loves me again. So I had office hours every single day this week.

There are no office hours to be had this weekend: the kids have all gone off home to their families. Many of my friends have plans to get out of town. And I have lots of things to do, but it's all very lonely work.

This is where my brilliant plan of just getting up right away, going to campus, scheduling loads of meetings with everyone I can think of, and immersing myself in whatever else is on offer falls down. Now I'm on my own. Thank God for Movie Night, which at least forestalled this a little bit, and which I look forward to distracting me once a week for the rest of the summer. Though, to be honest, watching movies isn't very nice: too much alone time in the old noggin, and movies always seem to feature at least one couple in love. Still, the conversation before--and especially after--helped.

Those of you who live within a 25-mile radius should probably expect to hear my voice on your phone line and/or answering machine soon.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Ticking . . . .

You never know, when you're dealing with loss, what will set you off. Stupid little things, like bad cell phone reception, a missed bus. All minor disappointments remind you of the major one, somehow.

And the enormity of the thing keeps coming at you piecemeal. Each time you realize some new dimension of what you've lost, it knocks the breath or the tears (or both) out of you.

Today, for me, it was a gorgeous little girl with curly hair, big brown eyes that reminded me a little too much of Stan's, and a sweet smile. I suppose this means I have a biological clock, after all.

Lord knows I'm not ready for a child; Lord knows I wouldn't bring a child into this chaotic life of mine. I guess I just feel as though possibilities are slipping through my fingers.

Thursday, May 26, 2005


I don't even know if "deflation" is the word, really. I wasn't exactly not-deflated yesterday; just more energetic--maybe even manic. To feel as though some things were better than absolutely hopeless brought me up a bit, but today I think I'm crashing again.

I'm trying to keep myself busy and distracted, and I think I'm being pretty successful. I'm trying to wear myself out, at which I'm also being successful. Almost certainly, this has only limited value as a coping mechanism.

So wearying. Having to tell everybody all the time that this horrible stuff has happened. And knowing that they don't know how to react. And knowing that they're guaging my reaction. And wanting to explain that, if I can talk about it dry-eyed, it doesn't mean I don't feel it; just that, if I let myself go there, I'm afraid I'll never come back out.

I'm still not able to eat very much. Eventually, that may become a problem.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

This made me smile

And smiling is hard for me to do right now, so that's an accomplishment. Maybe it'll make you smile, too.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Waking up to this again

I finally fell asleep at around 2:30. First light woke me up at quarter to six, just enough to jostle me into consciousness. And within a few seconds, there it was: I've lost my boy. It's just me and a dark room again.

I'll get up and go into campus. What else can I do? My work really is so nearly all I have now, even if it's work that never pays the bills and never seems to get me anywhere. Maybe it will at least serve as a distraction. Even if it's this damn degree that lost him for me. Even if I hate it now more than ever.

They don't tell you this at orientation, kids, but getting a Ph.D. sure as hell can lose you a lot of relationships. And one or two of them might even be worth keeping.

It's off

There will be no wedding this summer. And it doesn't look very likely that there's going to be a wedding for me and Stan at all.

This is all very sudden and very devastating. It wasn't my idea, and I'll be perfectly honest: I have no idea how to get through it. I know, with a certain fatalism, that I will get through it. This is because I've proven, more than once, that I'm just too damn stubborn to quit.

It's just that I thought I had a shot at being happy and making somebody else happy. I thought I had something sure. And now, I don't. So all I have is my cussedness to fall back on, because I'm alone all over again.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Making higher education more affordable

The National Association of Graduate-Professional Students and the American Medical Students' Association are asking for support on the Higher Education Affordability & EquityAct (H.R. 1380). This bill would make higher education more affordable by restoring the tax-exempt treatment of graduate stipends that was lost in 1986, making student loans easier to pay back by expanding the student loan interest deduction, and make college easier to save for by increasing allowed contributions to tuition savings accounts.

Currently, the bill is languishing in the House Ways & Means Committee, desperately in need of more co-sponsors. Please go to to send a letter to your representatives asking them to support this important piece of legislation. They've written a boilerplate version for you, so all you have to do is e-sign. On the other hand, if you'd like to write your own letter, you can customize the text--and there's even an option that will let you print out and send your petition via snail mail.

Sunday, May 22, 2005


Welcome to my new blog location. I'd like to open this new web address with some kind of whiz-bang inaugural post that would cause my site statistics to go through the roof and set the comments section a-reeling. But it's not gonna happen today. Today, because I'm verrrry grumpy, I'm just gonna do some therapeutic web-site housekeeping.

For now, welcome. I hope this will manage to be a new and improved version of Ancrene Wiseass in more than just technical aspects. Tactful suggestions about formatting and mood-altering substances are welcome, as always.