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.

Friday, September 21, 2007

A rhapsody on gadgets and dissertation-dating

I actually got up at 7:30am, got to campus by 9:00am, and spent two whole hours writing today. And it didn't suck.

This is very, very good.

Given, I was working on an article and not on The Beast. But still, I'm positively buoyant. Having replaced the Computer Formerly Known as Functional and gotten acquainted with my lovely new machine* helped. Having an iPod all loaded up with lovely writing music helped. The big tables, quiet, and buckets of natural light in the law library helped, too. Knowing that I would disappoint someone if I didn't get my ass out of the apartment, show up, and follow through positively worked miracles.

Hurray for having a dissertation-date steady! Even if you're not actually working on your dissertation (she said sheepishly). We're doing another, day-long session tomorrow. I might just polish off both the articles I need to finish. Wouldn't that be glorious? (Feel free to imagine me bursting into song, Rodgers-and-Hammerstein style.)

I'm also kinda infatuated with technology right now. I'm not sure whether I love my new computer, my new iPod, or my first PDA more. Yep, the debt is mounting and no, I'm not looking forward to buying software. But glory and hallelujah, I'm getting something done!


*She needs a proper name, by the way. In fact, maybe all three devices need names. Any suggestions?

Labels: , ,

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Poetry in Honor of Talk Like a Pirate Day


Oh, the blithery, blathery pirate
(His name, I believe, is Claude),
His manner is sullen and irate,
And his humor is vulgar and broad.

He has often been known to imprison
His friends in the hold dark and dank,
Or lash them up high on the mizzen,
Or force them to stroll down a plank.

He will selfishly ask you to dig up
Some barrels of ill-gotten gold,
And if you so much as just higgup,
He'll leave you to fill up the hole.

He may cast you adrift in a rowboat
(He has no reaction to tears)
Or put you ashore without NO boat
On an island and leave you for years.

He's a rotter, a wretch and a sinner,
He's foul as a fellow can be,
But if you invite him to dinner,
Oh, please sit him next to me!

--Shel Silverstein, A Light in the Attic

Labels: ,

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Linky McLinksalot

Just back in town after a bit of family time (and yes, the Glorious Nephew is still glorious). I am tremendously, immensely behind on things blog, but racing to catch up. Here are a few of the things I'm catching up on:

  • This statement (full article here) warms the cockles of my heart:
John Eastman, a conservative constitutional scholar and dean of Chapman University Law School in Orange, who frequently debates Chemerinsky, called UCI's move "a serious misstep."
  • The New York Times finally came to its senses and retracted that "Times Select," access-by-subscription crap. Read at will!
  • This isn't quite what H.P. Lovecraft had in mind when he wrote about the Ancient Ones returning to annihilate humanity, but woolly mammoth dung might be helping us destroy the environment.
  • There's a rather weird fashion slideshow available on "The Literary Type" here. I may be missing something of the context here, but I think it's interesting that only men are featured in this spread. Why no Virginia Woolfs or Lady Montagus or what-have-you? Also, check out slide #2: there's no way Oscar Wilde would ever wear such ill-fitting pants. I think he'd be appalled. (Hat tip to Lisa Carnell.)
"There were girls lying everywhere—draped over furniture, sprawled spread-eagled in the corner, and huddled close like animals," FBI Special Agent Curtis Froman, who oversaw the raid, said at a press conference. "Many of them had been given nothing more than a pair of tube socks or men's briefs to wear . . . ."
  • Just heard about this kids' show today, and it sounds marvelous! (Man, I love good kids' shows! I lucked into an episode of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood the other day and sang along: it was one of the best half-hours I'd spent all month.)

Enjoy! I'm off to catch up on some other things (like cleaning out my inbox, updating my planner, cleaning my apartment, writing articles. . . . you know, fun stuff like that).

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, September 13, 2007


From time to time, one of my former students gets in touch with me. More often than not, the emails or phone calls come from alumni of the Nameless Summer Program I worked for during the five summers before this one. The program's intensity and focus on community-building help to form teacher-student bonds that are a bit stronger than average for Big City U.

Today, a woman I taught three summers ago--a first-generation, community-college transfer student who's also a single mother--called the scholarship center where I work to iron out some financial logistics. She asked me for some advice about her post-graduation plans.

During her time at Big City U, this woman has helped other community-college students make the transition here, has been able to study abroad, and had the world opened up for her. She has a job as an educational counselor lined up, plans to work toward a Master's degree in Education, and wants to teach at a community college to help people who need better access to the educational system--in her words, "just like the summer program; just like you."

Folks, that just feels so damn good.

That's what I'm here for. That's what this whole durn shootin' match is about. The research and the writing make it possible, and they're as necessary, for me, as breathing. But that--helping someone change her world for the better from the inside out, then watching her go on to do the same thing for somebody else--well, that's just the Real Stuff.

And you know what? All the doubt and debt and exploitation are worth it. Grad school should've been easier; it should've been better; it did not need to grind me down the way it has. But today, I feel like I'm made out of Teflon: today, none of it sticks.

Labels: ,

State of the Blog Address

Yep, it's that time again. Time for the obligatory post about how I'm re-thinking and revamping my blog. It must've been a few months since the last update, since that appears to be my pattern.

Anywhoo . . .

1) You'll notice the nifty new widget there in the left-hand margin that displays all recent comments. Kudos to Haloscan for making it available, because I've been noticing that folks are showing up to comment on older posts and I'm not catching it until some time later. So this'll help me do a better job of responding to those of you who respond to me and keeping the conversations going. It should also help y'all to see whether and when I've gotten on the ball enough to reply without so much clicking and scrolling.

2) I fell off the wagon a long time ago about my Friday Cat / Poetry / Shoe Blogging: it got to be an obligation rather than a source of excitement, and I think that started to show in the posts. But I'm noticing from StatCounter that there are a fair number of people stopping by to read the poetry, in particular. Since folks seem to like seeing the poetry, I don't read nearly enough poetry myself, and I admire the ideals of enterprises like The National Poetry Foundation and the British Arts Council's Poems on the Underground project, I think it'd be good to bring the poetry back. To be more concise, I'd like to mix more poems into my own reading diet, learn more about what Brian Phillips calls "the culture of poetry," and help poetry infiltrate the Internet.

And yet, I don't want posting about poetry to become a chore again--that would pretty much miss the point altogether. So I'm thinking that I might just intermittently post some poems or some links to poems every now and then. If any of you have suggestions for poets or poems I should know and post about, please feel free to send them my way.

3) I owe many people who've sent an email to my blog-linked address during the past year or so an apology, because I've been very, very bad about checking in with that account and responding regularly. I'm going to work on fixing that.

4) My blogroll's not as horrifically outdated as it was there for a while, but if you'd like to see your blog appear there and it doesn't, or if I need to make a change to your listing, please let me know.

5) I need to go through the archives to do some pruning and add in keywords, and I suspect that project will take a good while. But eventually, folks visiting my site should be able to find more of what they're interested in more quickly.

If you've got any thoughts or suggestions, please let me know about them! Although I don't really have the time (**cough** dissertation **cough**) or the chops to turn this into a more formal, regularized, thoroughly moderated Big Issues blog, one of the primary goals of this little outpost is to make connections and develop a sense of community, so feel free to speak up!

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

In which I alter my cyborg configuration

I now have one of these.

And one of these, too (there's a mail-in rebate of the full purchase price for students who buy a Mac machine by September 16).

Don't hate me because I'm so technologically well endowed.

Yes, I did just increase my debt load by more percentage points than I'd like. And yes, I'm sending my money to the credit card companies, although the card I used sends portions of each purchase to the UAW, so that helps me feel slightly less like a sucker. *

But, y'know, when your computer dies and the computer your lovely friend loans you also dies and you find yourself in otherwise deserted campus computer labs at 9pm or repeatedly invading your long-suffering roommate's space to Google something or check email? And when you have all sorts of deadlines for all sorts of work falling within the next three weeks? Well, it's time to do something about the situation.

This is my first Mac machine: I show every sign of being a very enthusiastic convert. I can't promise not to wax lyrical about Things Mac now and then, but I'll try not to become too much of a bore or True Believer.


*Speaking of which, I just read a sidebar in Mother Jones (yes, I do have a subscription and I am that kind of pinko, thankyouverymuch) which featured Gene Simmons' tagline on the topic of the KISS credit card's rather high interest rates.

Quoth Gene: "Because credit cards are for suckers."

Given the band's over-the-top stagecraft both on and off stage. I wonder whether the credit card isn't as much (or more) a piece of performance art as a money-making gambit. If so, I'd like to nominate the fellas for a MOMA exhibition.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Oral histories from the September 11 attacks at The Memory Hole.

Surviving Katrina and Rita in Houston. (Jennifer Howard's Chronicle of Higher Education article "Stories from the Storm" will be available here for 4 days.)

Mary Gauthier, "Mercy Now."