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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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.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Random Bullets of Crap: Catch-Up Edition

More than one person has complained of my being incommunicado recently, both virtually and otherwise. In my defense, I can only plead that I have been trying to get over a really quite frightening level of exhaustion, make sure I can pay my way through the summer and into the Magical Land of Academic-Year Fellowships, and catch up on a variety of important tasks that went undone during the past school year. My plea is a particularly weak one, I'm afraid, since I'm not succeeding as well as I'd like on any of these fronts.

Nonetheless, here is some of the stuff that has happened recently:
  • I got my email backlog down from more than 300 messages to around 100. Yes, I do still have many important messages to return and am unforgiveably late in getting back to a lot of folks (most humble apologies to Scott and Little Womedievalist, in particular). But it's a start.
  • I spoke to The Kindly Professor this past week. He was very kindly, as usual, and re-iterated his determination never to nag me about my dissertation. But he also said he was worried about me and followed up with an anecdote about a long-enrolled grad student he fought to keep instated against the efforts of her disapproving department and who then went away to have a baby, stopped communicating with him altogether, and was dismissed from her degree program. I have mostly succeeded in convincing myself that he wasn't telling me he thought I wasn't going to finish or that I was going to go off and have a kid anytime soon, but rather that he just gets anxious when his advisees don't talk to him regularly. If I'm right, then I can only say that's a very refreshing change for the better, since I am all too used to advisers who ignore me for months at a time and then aggressively demand completed work or who couldn't be more obvious about trying to get me out of their offices in 15 minutes or less.
  • My poor Betta fish Achilles, having been a rather sickly fella whom I cured of several bouts with ick, passed away some time ago. I finally got around to repopulating my little tank with an African Dwarf Frog and a couple of snails. The frog is very small and so young that he still has a little tail stub. I'm quite fond of him, though I haven't named him yet. My last frog (who lived for an extraordinary two years) wasn't named for several months; when he ate the fish who'd been his tank mate, he became Hannibal. Let us hope that Hannibal's successor will be a little more peaceable.
  • Boy Roomie seems to be doing terrifically well, having had almost no pain in the aftermath of his surgery. But he's getting very restless after five days cooped up in the apartment. I tried to entertain him a bit today by buying a passel of half-priced VHS tapes at a local Goodwill. Probably today's best entertainment, though, came from my re-discovery of a tape of Sid Laverents shorts. Sid Laverents is like some particularly precocious and weird eight-year-old's dream of the perfect grandpa: nestled in the apparent placidity of 1960s suburbia, this former vaudeville musician who'd re-trained as an engineer started making astonishingly professional but deeply odd home movies about things like snails, his dog, and the multi-track capacities of the audio recorder he got for Christmas.
  • I bought Mouse a new collar. It is extremely purple. And reflective. And has a loud bell attached to it. I also bought him a leash.
  • I enrolled Mouse in Pet Club of America, too.
  • I bought some stuff at IKEA. In addition to getting inexpensive chairs and tables for our tiny little porch, I also bought a lightweight quilt, a feather pillow, and a white quilt cover. I felt horrifically guilty about buying the bedding for about 6 hours--even though it wasn't all that expensive. And then I went to bed, an experience which felt an awful lot like drifting away on fluffy white clouds of bliss, despite my crappy, decades-old mattress. So I have not felt guilty since then.
  • I am researching an encyclopedia article that I have to turn in at the end of the month.
  • I am teaching a short test-prep course later this week.
  • I finally got news that I will probably be teaching for the Nameless Summer Program again this August.
  • I accepted a part-time job which will begin during the regular school year.
  • I am working on my third book index and discovering that I have a weird affinity for indexing academic books.
  • I am scheduled to grade two sets of papers for Kindly Prof's summer classes and am going to have to do a fair amount of refresher reading before the students turn in their work at the end of the month.
  • I have not touched anything having to do with my dissertation in about a month, and it's really starting to get to me.
  • I'm trying to get an article under submission by October.
  • I still have work to finish from the past school year which I haven't touched.
  • I am fretting about getting my taxes finished (I filed for an extension, since my qualifying exam was scheduled only a few days after tax day). And fretting even more about paying them once I finally figure out what I owe.
  • I have become infatuated with the combination of organic vanilla yogurt, honey, a store-brand granola that is so good that it must be infused with crack or something equally unhealthy, nectarines, and blueberries.
  • I am making a lot of iced tea.
  • Following up on a resolution to read some things that did not have to do with my career this summer, I read this. It was quite stupid, horrifically written, and weirdly prudish, but entertaining. I also read this, which was weirdly prudish, desperately in need of an editor who'd jettison about a quarter of its page length, and entertaining. Elizabeth Kostova also has a much better sense of how scholars go about their work than Dan Brown does. This meant I never had to resist the urge to throw her book at the wall, as I did with Brown's, although I'll admit to rolling my eyes at her repeated ecstacies about the past having really happened to real people for, like, real and stuff.
  • I realized tonight that I had forgotten to make about four phone calls I'd promised various people.
  • I have learned (again) that it is insufferably difficult to buy pay-as-you-go mobile phone service in this country.
  • While shopping for some reasonably attractive, mid-sized plant pots, I've discovered that I apparently need to be in a higher tax bracket in order to afford them.
  • I spent $8 on a very nice Zara shirt and a pair of Benetton drawstring khakis at a thrift shop and felt ridiculously smug about it.
  • I had lunch with Crafty Jew, which was very nice.
That's about all I can manage, and my fluffy bed awaits . . . .