Ancrene Wiseass

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

My Photo
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.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Wedding Day

The first piece of information to reach me from the outside world today was an NPR interview with the operator of a fight club, which came on with my alarm at 8:30am.

The second was an email from some damn wedding site I'd registered with ages ago, back when Stan Was the Plan, congratulating me on the joyous occasion. Because today was supposed to be our wedding day, according to initial plans.

We later changed the date to September in order to better fit my teaching schedule, and still later, of course, Stan bailed out on me. But apparently, I never bothered to either update or delete my account with the site I'd used to start building a wedding homepage. Probably, before I'd forgotten about it altogether, I didn't think I could deal well with deleting the page and figured I had enough to deal with as it was. Hence the email. I guess this little congratulatory message would have been rather gauche, had it not been sent by a computer. As it was, it was just absurd.

My inital reaction was simply the mild annoyance of getting an unwanted email and having to delete it. My second was guilt and a little fear: Wasn't I supposed to feel awful and burst into tears? Had I become not just a tough broad, but also a heartless one?

And then I was just really glad that I had let my too-expensive and rather autocratic stylist have his way with my hair yesterday (it's now so dark it's nearly black, has layers, and is considerably shorter), bought a too-expensive outfit at a too-hipster store on Thursday and, without even thinking about what today was supposed to mean, had made Saturday morning coffee-date plans with one of my e-suitors on Tuesday.

Because, no. I don't want to feel bad. And I don't need to feel bad, either. I'm tired of feeling bad about things that aren't my fault. I did the best I could for Stan (and my best was, by the way, pretty damn good). I sacrificed an awful lot for him, and he screwed it up. So I deserve to feel good and to take care of myself and, dammit, yes--I even deserve to flirt a little with an interesting guy in a cafe.

Which I did. And it was nice. It was also a little confusing and a little weird and a little awkward, but hell, it was essentially a blind date, so it had to be all those things. And it was mostly nice.

Sometimes, the right lip gloss, shamelessly applied, can feel a lot like power.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Notice: Wendy McClure rocks.

Perhaps you have seen the now-famous vintage Weight Watchers cards she so brilliantly annotated.

Perhaps you have occasionally read her blog.

Perhaps you have even read her book.

But until you have read this post, you will not know how much Wendy McClure truly rocks, because in this post, she totally kicks the ass of a jerk by the name of Richard Roeper (yes, that Richard Roeper) who said some dead-stupid things about the Dove Campaign for True Beauty ads. Here's a brief sample:

"We never asked you what your fantasies were to begin with, and in fact we wouldn't give a shit about your fantasies if you hadn’t published a petulant half-assed half-column about how icky the Dove women are for not fulfilling them."

Oh, come on now. You know you want to read some more of that!

Thursday, July 28, 2005

"Come saw some wood with me."

The other day, when I was in the grocery store, I noticed that the Brawny man had undergone a makeover. He is now more . . .well . . . brawny. He no longer has facial hair. He's suddenly a dashing brunette in red, shirt sleeves rolled up over his shapely forearms, ready to do your bidding. He seems to be laughing gently at something you said.

This Brawny Man is no tired 80s washout. You will not find him at the local bar, telling sad stories about his stunt-double glory days, when he used to kick it with Lee Majors and Farrah Fawcett. He is the Brawny Man of the New Millenium.

And he is not only strong: he is also soft.

To prove it, the folks at Georgia-Pacific have given Mr. Man a chance to strut his stuff in a series of "Innocent Escapes," which include foot massages, pony snuggling, active listening, spider-release programs, and, of course, wood sawing. Trust me: you don't want to miss this.

Thanks to T Gruagach Beag for pointing this out to me. Right now, I really don't even mind that stack of papers I have left to grade all that much. Because Brawny is always gonna be there for me.


UPDATE: I'm well on the way to deciding that this is not simply amusing, but also a really fine parody of the ridiculous expectations foisted upon men. As T Gruagach Beag himself has said, "It's really kind of mean, because it draws you in by fulfilling your expectations, but it also mocks you for having them in the first place."

And, honestly, I think most people will find Brawny's fulfillment of expectations not only unattractive, but ultimately a little scary.

I may end up using this in the classroom somehow . . . .

Good tidings of great joy

The new furniture I ordered from Target came today, and I'm happily using the new desk, which I spent a loooong time building today; far too long away from what I should have been doing, in fact. But I refuse to feel bad about it, seeing as how this now means I will be able to work in my bedroom and actually get stuff done, rather than worrying about whether I can manage to put more than a single sheet of paper on the desk next to my computer. In fact, I can even fit my editor's desk from Levenger on top of it!

Note the wonderful little shelf/storage unit on the wall there, too. That's thanks to IKEA, and it took even longer to put together than the desk did. Still, worth every minute: I can store everything that was in my old desk, along with some extra items, and there's room on top of the unit for things like a clock that were cluttering up my even smaller desktop before.

Hooray for relatively inexpensive, assembly-required furniture!

Every time I look in my room, I feel so ridiculously happy.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Chamber of Secrets has been opened!

(Just in case you didn't already know: Yep, that headline proves that I really am a complete dork.)

The majority of respondents to my last Harry Potter post were in favor of a discussion of conspiracy theories about Book 6. If you want to read these, look in the comments on that post. If you don't want to see any spoilers, you shouldn't read them.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Fortuitous book find!

I just found this reprint of all five volumes of Francis J. Child's English and Scottish Popular Ballads (which is out of stock with the publisher) for $63 at amazon.

I have been wanting my own set for years, but old editions of the full set (which used to be all that was available) sell for upwards of $500. So I am ecstatic about this discovery; particularly since I'll be using this as a reference both for my dissertation and for my archiving job.

Hooray for Dover and its cheap reprints! Hooray for Amazon and its (sometimes) low prices!
P.S. If you want your own set, you'd better hurry: there are only three left!

Yet another Harry Potter post: or, When do I get to spill the Bertie Botts Every-Flavor Beans?

With apologies to Zelda, whom I promise not to force-feed with Harry Potter fundamentalism, I am really itching to discuss theories as to What Is Really Going On at the end of Book 6. I suspect (as do associates of Michael Berube) that things are not what they would seem.

This is largely thanks to the intervention of As-Yet-Unpseudonymed (or AYU, which is what I'll call her until we consult on a suitable blog name), who nudged me into critical thinking late on the morning after I'd read the book. In my defense, I finished it at about 3am, so I was probably not at my most perceptive when I read through the events in question.

So anyway, dear and respected readers, my question is: How long do I have to wait before I can discuss my hunches, which will surely involve disclosing spoilers? Is a week from now a respectable waiting period, so long as I label the post as containing spoilers? Two weeks? A month from the publication date?

UPDATE/WARNING Since the weight of popular opinion seems to be in favor of it, I'm going to start a discussion of theories as to What's Really Going On in the comments field. So if you haven't read the book yet and don't want to see any spoilers, don't read the comments!

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Spam names redux

Just when I'd despaired of ever getting another wacky, fabricated spam name again, somebody generated two new ones and sent them to my email account.

O frabjous day!

Here they are:
Juliana K. Alchemy
Inhumanity J. Knopf

Anybody else had any good ones lately?

The obligatory Harry Potter post

Want to Get Sorted?
I'm a Hufflepuff!

Hmm. I'm a little surprised by this one, gotta say.

I do like badgers, though.

I found the test over at New Kid's and decided to take it by way of celebrating the utter lack of willpower that led me to stay up half the night finishing HP 6. I'd promised myself I wouldn't even start it until August, since the deadline for Stage 1 of my prospectus is July 30. I guess I started losing the battle as soon as I realized last week that the library's early summer closing hours and my insane work schedule were unlikely to allow me to complete Stage 1 as thoroughly as I'd hoped.

I was good at first: I only read two chapters last week, then read about an additonal 100 pages on Friday night and during breaks yesterday. But then I ended up taking a one-hour nap that turned into a three-hour nap, which led me to think that, since I'd already pretty much lost the day, I might as well enjoy it and finish off the rest of the book so it wouldn't distract me when I got down to serious work (on student papers) today.

Now that, folks, is what we like to call "rationalization." And a very fine example, too, if I do say so myself.

Overall verdict (without spoilers--don't worry!): I was not all that surprised by the major plot development; I'd seen it coming since pretty early on in the series. But I was surprised by how it happened. I thought this book was better edited and tighter than the last, and I liked it, despite some misgivings about some of the minor plotlines. I'm a little disturbed that the whole house-elf/slavery thing has been dropped, and I'm hoping she's going to do something to resolve things, somehow, there.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

The Week in Review

It's been a long, hard, strange week. Without even bothering to go into the intricacies of working easily 70-80 hours, I'll present a few pieces of evidence to support my claim.

Item 1: The News
There have been far too many bombings. Not that I've been directly affected by that, of course. It just sucks that this is the world we all now live in.

And, you know, I just had this feeling about that story involving the guy who got shot in the Underground in London. I don't know why exactly: just something about knowing how tense everyone there must be, a vague feeling of discomfort with the explanation "he refused to follow police orders. . . ." Not a good time to disobey the police, no matter who you are, when they're jumpy and legitimately concerned about public safety and people who act strangely. It's just really, really disturbing. Disturbing both that they apparently killed someone who had nothing to do with the bombings and also that I immediately thought that must have been what happened, despite the careful, press-release-style phrasings in which the news was originally couched. It bothers me that I could be that good at predicting something like that.

Item 2: The Weather
It has also been ridiculously hot. Boy Roomie and I had to break down and use the air conditioning with out even setting it to the "energy save" setting.

Item 3: I'm Hawking Myself Online
Personally, probably the strangest event of the week was that I put ads up on a couple of dating sites. This has been the unexpected result of an unexpected train of events, as follows:

1) I started thinking about how, since Stan bailed out, I no longer even have the possibility of someone's going with me to the summer movie festival that will involve lots of corny, sci-fi B-movies, because pretty much none of my friends will ever consent to go.

2) I started thinking that, if I were going to do anything social other than sit on my butt in my friends' living rooms and watch their TiVo and/or DVR recordings (which is--don't get me wrong--lovely; just a little sad in the "You-know,-her-fiance-dumped-her" kind of way if it's your only social outlet), I was going to have to contrive to meet new people I could stand to be around in Big City.

3) I realized that I'd better steel myself for what was out there and started looking at Big City locals' profiles on several dating sites. This was primarily a recipie for despair, but a few people piqued my interest. These were mostly either beautiful, self-absorbed indie boy-types I knew wouldn't be at all good for me or unabashedly dorky guys with weird senses of humor. I decided the latter were clearly the way to go, if I was "going" at all.

4) I was so amused by most people's attempts to be relentlessly similar and inoffensive, as well as by the snarky responses that kept popping into my head (for examples of which, see below), that I decided to try my hand at writing my own profile, just to see what it would be like.


Them: I'm really a positive person: the glass is always half full!
Me: Then who the hell has to keep filling it up for you? Because somebody has to notice when it's empty if it's gonna keep getting refilled. I'm not interested in being that person.

Them: I like puppies and walks on the beach!
Me: Who the hell doesn't? Why don't you just write "I'm a carbon-based life form" instead?

Them: Well, this is going to sound really cliched . . .
Me: Then don't write it.

Them: I'm really easy-going; everybody says so!
Me: Ick.

Them: I don't have any baggage; you shouldn't either.
Me: If you're over the age of 16 and don't have any baggage, you are a scary-ass person, because that means you haven't really let anything touch you.

Them: I am a really sane person; no hang-ups!
Me: Everybody is a little bit nuts. People who claim to be entirely sane do not realize this and are therefore some of the least sane people there are. The trick is finding out whether your neuroses either share the sand-box or run with scissors when they're around each other.

Them: You know, I really hate how shallow people are here. It's not about appearances. I just want somebody who will do what they say and be good to me. Anyway, I'm looking for a tall, fit, slender woman who's comfortable (and beautiful) in a pair of old jeans and a t-shirt or in a little black Gucci dress.
Me: Uhm, do I really even need to explain my thoughts on this one? They were mostly four-letter words, anyway.

Them: "NO GAMES!"
Me: Not even Twister? I like Twister.

5) I wrote a profile which stated very explicitly that I was interested in meeting complete dorks because I am a complete dork. It made me laugh so hard and so much that I decided I really ought to post it, just to see who would reply and what they'd say.

6) I posted it and paid my subscription.

7) I got an email in reply about 15 minutes later and promptly freaked out, spending the rest of the day vacillating between "What the hell am I doing? I'm not ready for this! It's too soon!" and "Dammit, I don't owe it to Stan to go through some ridiculous, drawn-out mourning period. This wasn't my fault, and I'd already deprived myself of anything remotely resembling a social life for the better part of a year so I could be home when he called."

8) Finally, I decided I was being a total dumbass. Because I do not have to take this so seriously. I really can just go online, exchange a few emails with people who seem interesting, maybe meet them in person and do some fun things that don't involve "night life" or intimidating restaurants. I do not have to marry these people; I do not have to sleep with these people; I do not even have to love these people. I do not owe them anything other than decency and honesty. And I owe myself the opportunity not to feel as though I'm going to spend the rest of my life alone.

9) I have gotten a rather surprising number of responses: apparently, there are lots of dorks (closeted and otherwise) out there. I'm actually pretty excited about the possibility of meeting a few of them. One of them is a Beatles impersonator. One of them rides a motorcycle, but takes a small, fluffy dog along for the ride in a specially-designed backpack. Who wouldn't want to meet these people?

Item 4: Mouse's Great Escape
Mouse decided he wanted to explore the Great Outdoors, which he may be missing from his days as a feral. So he ran outside while Boy Roomie was bringing in his laundry, and I had to get poor Bellwether to drive me back from a Battlestar Galactica viewing at The General's house before we even got to watch the show. And I had to drag another friend* along with us, because she didn't have another ride home.

At any rate, Boy Roomie managed to keep Mouse on the patio, and when I went out and called to him, Mouse came to me right away. This is a very good thing; I'm pleased that we've bonded enough that he'd come to me when he was scared and disoriented.

What is not such a good thing is that poor Mouse has been sitting at the patio door and crying off and on all day. He clearly wants to go back out there. This means that I have to figure out a way to make the patio kitty-escape proof, because he simply can't be out wandering around in my neighborhood; it isn't safe. And I promised the rescue folks that he'd be an indoor cat, anyway. But I can't stand him pining to go out all the time, either; it makes me feel like a bad Mommy.


*This friend knows who she is and reads regularly. The two of us really need to work on a good pseudonym for her, because she's too good a friend to keep getting such undifferentiated mention on this blog.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

London bombings again

Oh, hell.

Rolling updates available at the BBC reporter's log (found via London Underground Tube Diary).

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


Item 1:
It was waaay too damn hot today here in Big City: the heat felt like a big hand pushing me into the ground, commanding me not to breathe or move or think. Not good weather for the only day of the week on which I had a free afternoon to get work done.

Item 2:
I have so much to do right now that I really don't know what to tackle next. Working 9 to 5 nearly every day at two different jobs while also trying to help Boy Roomie settle in, tie up the loose ends of all the projects I started last month, polish off an annotated bibliography by the end of this month, get Lillith back on the road, grade papers, and revise a syllabus/develop a course reader for the class I'll be teaching in two weeks all at the same time is kinda overwhelming. Despite a solemn promise to myself based on the need to pretend that I have my shit together, I have not been making my bed in the morning for the past three days.

I have definitely bitten off more than I can chew, but I'm not sure I had much of a choice. Reconstruction is messy and labor-intensive.

Item 3:
I am completely exhausted.

Item 4:
I have a backlog of 140 emails in my inbox. If yours happens to be one of them, I apologize, and I'll try my best to get back to you as soon as I possibly can.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

You know, I really do love doing research.

After all, sometimes I find things like this.

Saturday Cat Blogging Photo Essay

Okay, so I'm a day late. But my Fridays are taken up with teaching (and now with Battlestar Galactica-watching, too).

I'm also, as you'll have noticed, not at the library yet. This is because I am tired and cranky and the slightest bit lazy. But also because I'd been feeling guilty about not paying much attention to Mouse in the midst of this week's comings and goings. So I decided to brush him and play with him a bit, and that turned into a photo shoot, which I'm sharing with you, my blogolicious friends.

Prepare yourselves for cuteness.


Okay, so the cuteness is being deferred a bit. This is the result of this morning's cursory hair brushing.

Did I mention that I've learned even short-haired orange tabbies shed like mad?

Perhaps this is the kind of thing that inspired these people. Don't worry about what might turn up under the tree at Christmas, though: I don't know how to knit.

Mouse and the Feather Weeble

The Feather Weeble, as I call it, is one of Mouse's favorite toys. It's essentially a little plume of feathers and felt pieces attached to Velcro and then stuck into half of a rubber ball, so he can bat it around and it won't fall over. This makes him very happy. The first two days after I brought the Feather Weeble home, Mouse would carry it from room to room with him in his mouth.

Here, obviously, Mouse is not very happy. He has realized that I intend to point the noisy little box that flashes lights at him. He doesn't like the noisy little box, and he wants me to put it away.

The cool, mouse-shaped scratching post I bought last weekend lurks in the background. Mouse has been steadily ignoring it--in favor of clawing at the carpet--for a week.

Okay, I really do like the Feather Weeble.

Mouse decides to ignore me and play with the Feather Weeble anyway.

Please stop taking pictures of me already

Mouse reluctantly poses with the Feather Weeble. He isn't angry anymore, just annoyed and resigned. He just wishes the crazy lady would put the camera away already.

Fringy wand, pt. 1

Ah, but the fringy wand has made its appearance! Mouse cannot resist the fringy wand.

The fringy wand is a replacement for the feather wand he had before, which he ripped to shreds, batting the individual feathers around the apartment and gnawing on all its constituent parts in predatory bliss. Fortunately for the fringy wand, it is a bit more sturdily constructed than the feather wand was.

Fringy wand, pt. 2

The battle begins in earnest.

Honestly, this isn't all that energetic, as fringy wand workouts go. Mouse will sometimes execute a really gymnastic series of mid-air leaps and flips in pursuit of a fast-moving fringy wand.

Fringy wand, pt. 3

After a nice fringy-wand workout, Mouse likes to cool down by gnawing on the fringe a bit.

I'd have taken pictures of Mouse with his leopard-print fabric mouse, but after the looks I'd gotten in photos 1 and 4, I figured I'd better not push my luck.


I interrupt my own dismal and annoying ramblings to tell you that, if you're not reading the brilliant, high-larious, and biting prose of Twisty over at I Blame The Patriarchy, you really should be. And here's just one post that explains why.

I swear, just when you think the Forces of Evil can't possibly come up with a new way to make women feel insecure about their bodies, they invent Laser Vaginoplasty. Thank God there's a Twisty to defend us against such depredations with her deadly Snark Attacks.


(Note: To lift a phrase from our favorite anti-blogger academic, Ivan Tribble, this post should be filed under "Dank, Dark Depths of the Blogger's Tormented Soul." Should you not feel like spelunking today, I'd advise avoidance.)

This is the only day of the week I've been able to sleep in late. I've been exhausted since Monday, and you'd think this would be a blissful occasion. But not so.

I woke up from vivid dreams about trying to convince someone who both was and was not Stan that I loved him, all the while not being completely convinced myself. Because if I'd loved him enough, wouldn't I have prioritized him over my degree? Better yet, wouldn't I have found a way to be with him and still take my exams? Wouldn't I have worked harder to make it work?

This is miserable. I've been thinking that at least I'm not blaming myself for this, as I usually do--that I'd gotten over thinking that I'm somehow responsible for the demise of my relationships in some subtle way, even when it's my partner's actions that make things unworkable. Apparently, at least for some portion of my personality, that's not true. I'm angry that some part of me believes that my ambition is to blame. How completely repulsive.

Because, of course, my ambition--which has been very much worn down by my grad school experience anyway--was never the problem here. I was doing what I had to do to get through this degree, because I know it would break something in me not to finish and therefore would make me a very bad partner, among other things. God knows I didn't want to leave Stan behind: the last think in the world I wanted to do was to leave him in Ireland to come back to Big City, where I've never felt comfortable anyway. But I didn't have a choice if I was going to be a person worth being with, and we were just going to have to hold the line until we could be together. Stan knew and believed all these things, too. And it was Stan who let go of the line, not me.

Clearly, however, part of me doesn't buy it. Part of me thinks that I'm one big walking bundle of relational self-sabotage. And that means I'm not really moving on as quickly as I'd wanted. I know I should be gentle and understanding with myself, but I'm not. I'm angry and impatient: how much more of my life am I going to spend blaming myself for other people's behavior? Because not only does that make me unnecessarily unhappy, but I'm worried that this flaw may somehow be part of the reason why I'm alone again. Or maybe it's some other one of the constellation of my flaws. Or some or all of them taken together.

And see how that works? Because I'm right back at square one, blaming myself again.

I don't just find this ridiculous. I find it disgusting.

So, far from being rested after 10 hours of sleep, I'm just as badly off as ever: apparently, I was tossing and turning on my worn-out mattress for some time, because every muscle in my back aches. And I have a headache like you wouldn't believe.

Bleh. I need to hydrate, caffeinate, feed Mouse, and go do some research. To hell with this shit.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

You are what you write/You write what you are

"If, as you live your life, you find yourself mentally composing blog entries about it, post this exact same sentence in your weblog."

Found via CheekyProf, though this sentence seems to be proliferating at an exponential rate throughout the blogosphere.

(CheekyProf, by the way, links to Mr. Cheeky's commentary on media reaction to the London bombings, and I'm in full agreement with them both about the disgusting "I know lots of people died and were injured and that many more are in mourning in the UK, but what does this mean for me" stories that have dominated the domestic newsrealm.

And I also accidentally discovered her wonderful post--and the very useful comments upon it by others--about end-of-term pleas from failing and/or underperforming students.)

UPDATE: Tina reminds me that New Kid posted similar sentiments on the coverage of the London bombing a few days ago. In fact, I even replied to NK's post, but I'm so scatterbrained that I couldn't remember whose the post had been.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Back in the Saddle and Already Sore

In addition to working a full day and spending tremendous amounts of money ordering furniture online, I have spent several hours tonight doing some preliminary bibliographic research for my prospectus by running online library catalog searches and printing out interesting entries. I plan to go home and curl up with my gigantic stack of paper for a few more hours while I winnow wheat from chaff, segregate those items I need to locate within my own library's system, and divide the remainder up into orderly stacks according to library and location.

Tomorrow, I'm going on a preliminary library blitz while I still have the car. I expect at least one rolling suitcase to be involved. And I'll be heading over to another specialized library on Saturday to do more of the same.

This hasn't been a painless experience, not only because of the inevitable near-hyperventilation it's inducing as I realize
1) how much I have to do in the next two weeks if I'm going to meet my deadline for producing an annotated bibliography draft;
2) how much I have to do in order to complete the dissertation, which is going to involve at least two gigantic cultural areas about which I currently know nearly nothing; and
3) how intensely lonely all this work is going to be
but also because I'm forced to recognize how much it sucks that OP has washed his hands of me. It's true that I don't miss maintaining his ego, and it's true that I'd have had to fight him tooth and nail to produce a potentially publishable diss, but it's also true that large portions of the bibliography--and of the project itself--will be about issues my new committee has little to no experience with. I've already found myself wondering how in the world I'll field the potential job-committee question as to why--with a dissertation that so clearly fits into OP's area of interest--he wasn't on my diss committee.

I also wonder how I'm going to muster up either the enthusiasm--or, failing that, the dogged stoicism--to get through this final stage of my degree. That's particularly true since I really can't allow myself much down-time. I know I have to push myself hard to finish inside of two years if I'm going to have half a chance of getting through at all. Because, if I don't, I really think I'll just be too demoralized to keep going.

But maybe the lack of down-time will be my salvation, after all. If I can just manage to keep slogging through this damn thing and not let inertia set in between stages, maybe the simple fact of making progress will keep my head up.

Ugh. I so want this all to be over with already.

How to Spend $300 in 30 Minutes Without Really Trying

1) Take your lunch break.

2) Buy a horrific parody of Chicken Cordon Bleu with flourescent yellow gravy because it is the best food you can find on campus.

3) Take said parody to the grad lounge.

4) Sit down at a computer and log on while trying not to pay attention to what you're eating.

5) Buy the entertainment center you need at

4) Go to

6) Discover that the desk and bookcase you need are now available with free shipping.

7) Purchase said items.

Grad students and advising

Zelda's posted some thoughts on grad-student advising that rang a lot of bells for me: if you're a grad student or a grad student's teacher/adviser, I highly recommend reading it!

After discussing some pretty common advisorial nightmares, she asks why profs who consistently lose and/or abuse their advisees aren't held accountable. And maybe even more importantly, she asks "As grad students who may someday be supervisors, shouldn't we already be thinking about how we plan on holding ourselves accountable when we're in that position of power?"

Platonism as applied to accessories: A photo essay, Part 1 of 3

Not long ago, I posted two pictures of some shoes I had bought and was thinking of returning. In the accompanying text, I explained the frustrations that stem from my constant efforts to find the Platonic Shoe--particularly since I must conduct my quest on (ahem) a shoestring budget. (Sorry: I am rather loopy tonight and couldn't resist.)

The trouble is that the Platonic Ideals of Beauty, Wearability, and Value so rarely come together in one shoebox.

For example, the pair depicted here are my prettiest shoes. Of the shoes I own, they most nearly approximate the Platonic Ideal of Shoe Beauty. Other people never fail to recognize this quality; they will stop me on the street to exclaim over them. I know for a fact that one hiring committee was so impressed by these shoes that they discussed them after I finished my interview and left the room. In fact, although this is a truly crappy picture, I know you cannot deny the beauty of these shoes, which shines through despite the blurry, badly lit photo quality and the appalling state of my apartment's carpet.

They are also some of my most expensive shoes, however, which may call into question their ranking on the Value scale. They're Coach, and I got them at a bargain for $70, which was still an immense splurge on my budget. Perhaps this is the price one must pay for approaching so close to the Platonic Ideal of Beauty.

Unfortunately, yet another tarriff on Beauty, in this case, is taken from the category of Wearability. For these shoes, what with the uncovered grommets through which that dainty little ribbon passes on its way to becoming a dainty little bow, tend to make very un-dainty holes in the skin of my pinky toes and leave marks on the other toes that last for a couple of days after a moderate amount of walking.

Platonism as applied to accessories, Part 2 of 3

This pair, which is my most recent shoe acquisition, is certainly far less highly ranked on the Scale of Platonic Shoe Beauty.

However, particularly given that they are still reasonably attractive, they do nicely on the Value scale (I got them for $16!), and outstandingly well on the Scale of Shoe Wearability. For it was in these shoes that, on the second day of wear, I was able to help my friends pack a moving van, sometimes while pulling heavy pieces of furniture backwards up a steep ramp on a dolly.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Platonism as applied to accessories, Part 3 of 3

Not long ago, there was an email circulating which contained a list of accessories any self-sufficient woman ought to have. Two of them were (1) a fancy black bra and (2) a drill. Since I certainly strive to embody the Platonic Ideal of the Self-Sufficient Woman in all things, including my accessory choices, I am proud to submit positive photographic proof that I now have both these items.

And the very lovely Ireland Roomie deserves much gratitude, since she and her also-lovely husband provided the Home Depot, "un-wedding" gift card that allowed me to buy the drill.

I know the orange and the mauve clash a bit; I could have achieved better color coordination if I'd gotten a Ryobi drill, which also would've come with a built-in level and a battery-powered stud finder, both of which were tempting. Especially the latter, since I could use a stud or two. (Yes! Thank you! I'll be here all week!) But, ultimately, I just tust Black and Decker more, and a girl's gotta have a drill she can trust.

This (i.e., displaying my underwear online, even if untenanted) may also serve as an example of the sort of thing I'd never post on my blog if I weren't anonymous. I apologize to the handful of you who actually know who I am.

DISCLAIMER: No Boy Roomie was implicated or psychologically scarred in the making of this photo. I waited until he had gone to bed and shut the door behind him before taking it.

Undoubtedly the coolest thing I bought this weekend

Sunday, July 10, 2005

More thoughts on Tribblegate

I was going to post this as a comment at Badger's site, but HaloScan wasn't cooperative, and the comment was turning into something more like a regular post, anyway. So I've just cleaned it up, expanded it a bit, and posted it here:

You know, if there's one thing that seems to unite many of us with academic blogs, it seems to be that we have a reasonable dose of skepticism about the academy and our place in it.

In fact, I rather suspect that is the real threat perceived by Dr. Tribble and those search-committee colleagues who agreed with his assessments. Upon the basis of the majority of the academic blogs I read, I'd say he's right in his assumption that most bloggers are not going to mindlessly fall into lock-step with whatever their institution decides is right, just for the sake of some mafia-esque code of loyalty.

In fact, I'd say that it's often (though not always and not only) in academic blogs that I've found the healthy questioning, the honest intellectual engagement, and the commitment to a continuing and reciprocal education I expected to find in the bricks-and-mortar academy in my less disgruntled days. I'd even go so far as to assert that some academic blogs, and perhaps even the wider community of academic bloggers as a whole, is where much of the real conscience of academia now resides.

It certainly doesn't reside in the kind of petty, self-satisfied, pay-no-attention-to-the-man-behind-the-curtain attitude that gets published all too often in The Chronicle and which seems to be the reigning ideology in far, far too much of the academic world.

In other words, I think there are good reasons for the sorts of folks who tend to get published in the Chronicle to view blogs with fear and loathing. To be perfectly honest, I don't think we're likely to be counted among their allies.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Technorati Profile

Technorati Profile

Friday, July 08, 2005

New developments in academia

Okay, so according to the pseudonymous Ivan Tribble's article in my favorite publication on the planet, The Chronicle of Higher Education, having a weblog is very nearly enough to disqualify you from an academic job pool. My favorite passage, with emphasis added to the best bits:

"The content of the blog may be less worrisome than the fact of the blog itself. Several committee members expressed concern that a blogger who joined our staff might air departmental dirty laundry (real or imagined) on the cyber clothesline for the world to see. Past good behavior is no guarantee against future lapses of professional decorum."


So, lemme get this straight: Even if you have a blog which remains profoundly diplomatic about professional controversy--nay, even if your blog scrupulously avoids any mention of potential professional controversy at all, you are a "security risk" to departments that might otherwise be interested in hiring you, because you might one day be tempted to write something said department might not want others to know about?

In other words, anyone who blogs is untrustworthy, a suspected biter of those who feed her, a potential Bolshevik lurking in the departmental washroom.

This kind of thing is why I'm staying anonymous and asking all my friends and readers to help me stay that way by avoiding specificity about my name, specific geographical locations of long-term residence (past and present), publications, etc.

I'm also staying anonymous because it's easier for me to say the sorts of things I started writing a blog to say: to work through my ideas on matters professional and personal in a format that's accessible to friends and other like- and unlike-minded folks who can help me achieve greater clarity through their responses. And I can't be accused of "airing departmental dirty laundry" if I give everybody pseudonyms, stay nonspecific, and don't actually name my institution.

But, honestly, the necessity of this kind of paranoia and secrecy is upsetting. I'm trying to give myself a chance at an academic career by dotting enough Is and crossing enough Ts to remain an acceptable candidate, and apparently, that has to include concealing the existence of my blog. But I'm not sure I like the price I'm paying to stay "marketable," not only in this way, but in many others.

I know not all of academia is as petty as the search committee described in Mr. Tribble's article. But really: do I want to work with/for people like this? Do I want to work in an environment in which people are asked to pretend that they're colorless cardboard cut-outs who never watch TV, get pissed off about traffic, or have an opinion that's not couched in peer-reviewed prose and published in a journal? No, I don't. And I chafe at playing by a set of rules that seems to be set by people who fit that description.

In other, related news, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives has decided that professors should be investigated to discover whether their political views are being "forced" on their students. Hmm. Guess who's behind this measure? Guess who voted for it? Guess which kinds of "political views" are most likely to be considered unacceptable when "forced" on students? (For a hint, check the quote which ends the article.)

And guess who gets to decide what's "a political view" and what's "a fact"? If you were going to say "Well, people who're qualified in the field and therefore able to make a reasonable judgment about things," you'd be wrong. Because it's going to be a legislative committee.

I need some reminding, right now, of why I want to be a professor.

Scratch that. I need reminding on an almost daily basis.


UPDATE: Other blog posts about Tribblegate include that of our favorite e-saloniste, BitchPhD, as well as those at ABD: AlmostBloodyDone; Acephalous (who quoted me and gave me a trackback--sexy!); Badgering; Blogenspiel; The Chutry Experiment; Colin vs. Blog; Daniel W. Drezner; Financial Rounds; Frog in a Well; Information Overlord; Jess's Journal; Lawyers, Guns, and Money; The Little Professor; OneMan'; Planned Obsolescence; Profgrrrrl; Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast; So, Anyway . . . ; and Yellow Dog.


Ack. I have been so busy for the last three or four days that I'm not sure, half the time, where my head is. Maybe I'll get lucky like St. Edmund and a wolf will miraculously protect it until it can be rejoined to the rest of me.

If that comment made no sense to you and you don't want to read the document you find through the link above, you can just take it as an indication of the sorts of associative non sequiturs through which I'm stringing my days together until I can sit still in one place long enough to sort things out.

Trying to figure out scheduling is always a nightmare during your first week on a part-time job with shared workspace. It's even worse if you're trying to juggle two jobs, moving in a new roommate, and spending every moment you can spare using the car your friend lent you for the week to run errands. It's worse yet if the professor you're teaching for decides for rather whimsical reasons to collapse four discussion sections into two, thereby changing schedules and class rosters and causing you to have to re-do half of what you did the last week for six new students. And when you're trying to figure out how in the world you're going to manage to do your own work, for which deadlines are looming, too.

Moreover, once I do work out a schedule and get used to it, it will change all over again, because I'll be teaching a new course with a new schedule in four weeks.

While I could wish things would slow down just a bit (until I re-locate my head, at least), I'm actually more grateful than not for the frenetic pace. I had lots of enforced down-time last weekend, and that was not a good thing.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

The London bombings

Well, if anyone had any doubts that we've entered into a new Age of Terrorism, this morning's news should have dispelled them.

Dammit, dammit, dammit.

I'd wondered yesterday, after the announcement that London would be the venue for the Olympics, whether that might just be too much of a temptation for Al-Quaeda. The G8 summit hadn't even occurred to me as being a potential provocation, somehow.

London Underground Tube Diary has updates and links from throughout the day. It loads slowly unless you're using Firefox, but it's worth the wait: lots of information. Other blogs with news, reactions, and rumors include Anders Jacobsen's blog, The Londonist, and Guardian News Blog. And Wikipedia has an extremely comprehensive and useful entry on the bombings with rolling updates, links to official statements, and more.

What's been haunting me since morning, even more than the fatalities, is the report that 40 or so people were "severely injured," a category that includes amputations. Horrifying.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The Yellow Journalism of Yesteryear

I spent my first four, non-orientation hours on the library job today, which consisted mostly of re-sleeving and alphabetizing the collection of broadside ballads I'll be working with. This sounds dull, and it mostly was. But . . .

My supervisor has it in mind that I might be able to not only make a searchable database for this collection, but also turn it into an in-house publication with an introductory essay. Eeeexcellent.

And another excellent thing about today were many of the titles I came across, including

1. "Jeff Davis in Petticoats"
2. "Hoops: What a Silly Fashion!"
3. "Beware the Pope!"

. . . and, today's favorite:
"The Return of Mrs. Brigham Young," a ballad about a man whose wife eloped with Brigham Young and then returned, years later, with a gaggle of children. (One of the staff librarians notes that this sounds like a great title for a really weird horror flick. Maybe Joe Bob Briggs could do the DVD commentary.)

For a fan of the Weekly World News like Yours Truly, this stuff is just fantastic.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Renting trucks: Advice wanted

So, thanks to the continued hibernation of my beloved Lillith, I'm considering the possibility of renting a truck for a day or two over an upcoming weekend. I need to buy some furniture, and the shipping prices I'm finding at most places where I can buy things online are really outrageous.

In order for this to work out in a way that makes sense, of course, I have to find a rental option that will cost me less than shipping would (and that would apparently be about $150, all told). U-Haul seems to be the most reasonable option, with trucks at about $20/day and $0.73/mile. But I'm wondering whether I'd end up being completely screwed over by insurance costs and the outrageous costs of gas.

Anybody got any info and/or suggestions?

Task #1

Okay, so all I did was go online and buy something. But it's on sale for a good price (about $70), and it could really make a huge difference in my life: I may actually be induced to sit down to work in my room for longer than the aproximately 45 minutes I can stand before my straight-backed chair makes my back wanna holler.

Thanks are due to The General for pointing me in the right direction.

Tuesday morning

Apparently, some mechanism in my emotional make-up has determined that the first morning of the work week must be a time for abject reflection, weepiness, and general misery. Hooray! I had to buy a packet of Kleenex as soon as I arrived on campus, for fear the waterworks would burst.

I have, therefore, determined that getting workspaces together is going to be my highest priority for the next week. Maybe if I don't give myself so much down-time, I won't have so much time for thinking about myself, and the work-week re-entry won't be so bad. Not to mention that getting my own work done (as opposed to the work I have to do for money) is the only way I'm going to get myself out of this stage in my life. And I have deadlines to meet, which I can't miss for fear of disappointing New Advisor and, more importantly, slipping further into a depression.

I need to believe that I'm at least capable and competent, if nothing else.

Today is the first day of my library archiving job. I really should be looking forward to it more: it may actually provide me with a way to write something publishable that will redeem my year in Ireland professionally. Maybe I'll be more enthusiastic once I get started. For now, I'm just wishing I had more caffeine.

UPDATE: The orientation session for the archiving work went well--my supervisor seems like a truly lovely person, and I found myself telling the head of the department that I was excited about the project and meaning it. So parts of me haven't sunk entirely into ennui and despair yet.

And everything was so neat and clean and organized back there! The very anal-retentive aspect of my personality is almost ludicrously happy at the prospect of being paid to organize and sort things in an environment dedicated to organizing and sorting. Perhaps there are reasons why I find ant colonies so appealing, pace T.H. White. (I'm reading The Once and Future King for the first time, and I have to say I think his characterization of our myrmidonian friends is a bit unfair, even if they did provide him with a handy analogy for fascism.)

I've designated the rest of the afternoon to going through the huge pile of papers that has been designated my "to-do" pile for well over a month. It had better get done today: this is the last open day on my calendar until the end of the summer. Wish me luck! If I'm very good, I may let myself respond to the two meme invitations I've gotten recently.

Sunday, July 03, 2005


Long weekends are a cruel joke.

I make sounds I can’t recognize when I cry. I’m cowed by them, by the pain that must go into making them. I pile pillows on the other side of the bed in a shape that roughly resembles another human being, and I weep in loathing for my weakness.

I hate that I keep trapping myself in a life that hurts me so much: that I keep trusting topple-down people because something in me is better at seeing what they can be than at seeing what they are. That I am too cussed to give up on a course of training that has taught me to feel aggrieved and alienated more than anything else, that makes my life a practice in impermanence and insecurity, largely because my anger will not allow me to walk away empty-handed

I hate myself for my strength, because it keeps me walking forward into all this. It will not let me quit. It will not let me rest. It will not let me alone. I want it to go away, and it won’t. I want to break, and I can’t.

I hate myself for thinking all the time, relentlessly, always thinking. I am so cruel to myself. Why can’t I be more kind?

I hate myself already for writing this self-indulgent horseshit.

This was the month when he was supposed to come. This is the month we worked so hard for.

Friday, July 01, 2005

New Mouse photo

He has discovered the sunny spot near the patio, obviously enough. Yesterday, a squirrel ran across the porch, which was extremely exciting.

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

O'Connor resignation; let's do something

Okay. She's resigned.

Now that I've finished teaching my first discussion sections of the summer session, I have time to actually start digesting the news I read first thing this morning. And I think I need some psychic antacids. Particularly since some very Handmaid's Tale-type scenarios keep flashing before my eyes. This really could mean, in the near or at least not-so-remote future, the rollback of American women's right to terminate dangerous and unwanted pregnancies. It really could mean that more women will die unnecessarily. It really could mean a world with more unwanted children in it.

The far right has already done a damn good job of preventing too many women from getting the health care they need--the unsavory fringe with its scare tactics and the more presentable portion by chipping around the edges of Roe v. Wade. Now they are set to appoint a new Justice who might help them do a more thorough job. And it may happen as early as next Tuesday.

Folks, we just cannot let a single, narrowly defined, rigid set of values control how our country works; especially when that set of values is deeply compromised by its lack of compassion for anyone who doesn't fit within its exacting mold. I know I, for one, often feel helpless; I don't even pay much attention to the news anymore because, irresponsible as I know that is, I just don't feel as though I can handle it. But there are things we can do to stop our country from becoming a theocracy, an unreflecting imperial power, a playground for the rich, and a hell for the poor.* And we should do them.

We can write to the Senators who are pledged to represent us. We can even do it with form letters; we just need to inundate those Washington offices until the overwhelming response can't be ignored.

And we can send money (even just a little) to or spend time helping the organizations (Save the Court, Planned Parenthood, NARAL, MoveOn and others) that will continue to fight these efforts.

And we can start reading up so we'll be able to write more informed letters and talk to people who need convincing in a more informed manner.

*In case, dear reader, you think this sentence is just empty rhetoric, please remind yourself that it's poor women who are most likely to be affected by this; wealthier women will manage to buy themselves a solution to dangerous and unwanted pregnancies, as they've done before.

Revenge of the rodent?

I think it may have had fleas that it passed on to Mouse.

Because I woke up a couple of days ago with some small, itchy bites which I thought were maybe from a little spider, but now I have more of them. And spiders don't usually stick around to bite another day. I haven't seen any fleas on Mouse and he doesn't seem to be scratching, but I can't figure out what else could be going on.

Dammit. I really don't have time for this. And I'm scratching like mad, which is very undignified.