Thursday, April 27, 2006

What a Waste

I just spent an hour collecting online sources from which a woman in my class plagiarized her research essay (which accounts for 30% of her final grade) before happening on the free essay that she copied and pretended to revise through two workshops. And I like her. She's nice.

Why do I allow this to take up so much of my time and mental energy? I'm going to have to get over that if I ever want to teach more than one class at a time.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

A Boat Ride!

Today we took Eric's new-to-him boat out on the lake for the first time, and packed a picnic lunch: chicken, dinner rolls, and an orange to share. When we got hungry, we dropped anchor by a wooded stretch of shore near campus, where we were serenaded by someone playing a brass instrument on the roof of the aquatics lab. I thought it sounded like a tuba, but Eric-the-former-tuba-player said it was some other instrument whose name he couldn't remember. Whatever it was, the person playing needed practice. I think the pair of mallards that joined us for lunch were confused by the music, which frequently sounded like the quack of an enormous duck.

When we split the orange, Eric let me have the half with the extra cluster of orange segments up at the top. I sucked as much juice out of them as I could before tossing the remaining pulp into the lake, where it floated navel up. A few seagulls came by and tried to ascertain whether the piece of orange was anything they wanted to eat. Only one seemed to actually want it, and it was fun to watch him swoop to get a closer look, and then to snatch at it and miss. (Unlike Jes, we kind of enjoy the gulls.)

Unfortunately, we couldn't stay out long, because Eric had to be at work by 4:00, and I have work to do at home. So after lunch, we turned around and went back through the channel to Lake Irvine, where we'd used the landing. Eric steered, and I went incognito.

I had my doubts about the boat when Eric's uncle offered it to him, but now I'm glad we have it. This was an excellent (and beautiful) way to spend the afternoon. And I agree with Jessie: this is something I'll miss when we move to the city later in the summer.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Bob Ross Sky

Today's weather has been completely satisfying. I woke up to light, cleansing, soothing rain. In the afternoon, I walked out of Hagg-Sauer Hall to bright sun and balmy temperatures. And now, as the sun sets, it throws pink highlights and purple shadows on fluffy, towering clouds in the north, east, and west. But to the south, pockets of tawny sun reflect off the green of the grass and the yellow of the budding trees, pulling them into sharp relief against the deep grey of tumbling storm clouds. (This is my favorite shade of day.)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Waxing or Waning?

Monday, April 17, 2006

What is Recto?

Pretend we're on Jeopardy. The title of this post would be the correct response to the following answer: "The word capable of making a room full of graduate students burst into hysterical laughter at 8:45 on a Monday night."

Saturday, April 15, 2006


On Thursday, I received a threatening letter from the library because I had a couple of seriously overdue interlibrary loan books. I'd had no idea they were overdue, so I made a special trip to campus that afternoon to avoid being billed and to get my record unblocked. Earlier today, I checked out some books from the library with no problems, so I thought it was all taken care of. But when I got home and tried to make the first of nine new ILL requests, I got a message saying my account was still blocked. And the library closed at 4:45 today (they make no effort to pretend that people come here to learn, since half the students are clearly here for either the hockey or the fishing), so I can't call and get it unblocked until Monday. Crap.

Who? Procrastinate? Me? Nooo...

So today I have to choose a short work of literature (probably a short story) and literary theorist or two whose perspective(s) I will reference while analyzing the story. Then I have to write a title, thesis statement, outline, and bibliography for the paper I'm going to write. This is all due Monday night, but because tomorrow's Easter, and grandmas like it better when you don't blow them off on holidays, I can't count on getting anything at all done tomorrow. To my knowledge, everyone else in class started working on this assignment at least a week or two ago. But I think some of them had a literary work in mind from the beginning (we're supposed to choose a short work that we know and enjoy), but I don't read that much short literature. What I have read, I either don't remember well enough to know whether I truly enjoy it (or whether any of the literary theorists we've read about in class will suit it), or I've already written about it for another class. While there's no rule against writing about the same work of literature more than once, especially for vastly different assignments, I prefer not to. So I feel like I'm starting this assignment from underground, and I have to dig my way out before I can even start thinking about it. That's daunting.

Okay. I'm done whining now. Time to work.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Thanks, Erin

We just listened to Mason Jennings while folding laundry. Very cool.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

When Fluffy White Things Attack

When anyone knocks on our front door, our two cats run in opposite directions: Nina dashes upstairs to hide under the bed, and Piper runs to the door to see who it is. But don't let Piper's eagerness to greet our guests fool you: she doesn't actually like people. Oh, she used to. Complete strangers could come over to our house, and she'd harass them until they petted her. I'd always been told that Siamese cats were "weird," "unpredictable," "mean." After we got Piper, I answered such comments with, "Pshaw."

She's always been weird, but in a fun way: she tolerates all the shit we do to her out of boredom (she's an excellent dancer), and she licks the coffee residue out of Eric's dirty mugs (at first, he thought she liked the half and half, but now we know she'll drink it black, too).

But about a year and a half ago, the weirdness suddenly got less fun. Our neighbor's (now ex-)girlfriend came over to feed the cats while we were gone one weekend, and told us afterward that Piper had hissed and snarled at her while she was here. It was the first time Piper had ever done anything like that, so we decided the cat was simply an excellent judge of character. Then Piper spent an entire party at our house sprawled in the middle of the living room floor, twitching her tail and holding her ears back. When anyone came near her, she hissed. For a while after that, she was fine if only one or two people came over at once, and if they didn't spend the night at our house. People who slept here had to do so with Piper staring at them. In September, she bit Eric's brother's girlfriend in two places when the poor girl reached too quickly for her cell phone at seven A.M. So we try to keep the cats locked upstairs when people are here, but the door doesn't actually latch, and Piper can push it open. Once she frees herself, she's capable of making grown men cower in corners, fearful for their limbs.

Last night, our neighbor stopped by for a few minutes, and we let him bring his dog, Monty, in the house.

Piper and Monty have met a couple of times before, and the results were surprisingly peaceful.

But apparently, as she's gotten to know him better, Piper has decided that Monty deserves to die. Last night, after taking a few seconds to smell him and confirm that, yes, this is that douchebag who acts like her butt is his to sniff, Piper fluffed up her tail to about three times its normal circumference and let the hair on her spine stand straight up, thereby transforming herself into the creature we like to call "Stegopippy."

Initially, Monty was undaunted. After all, he shares his house with two cats who pretty much hate his guts, and it doesn't keep him from sniffing their butts. But Piper soon had him backed into the office, where she stood in the doorway and snarled at him. After she batted at his face a couple of times, Monty lay down on the floor and watched Piper out of the corner of his eye. No amount of coaxing and calling his name could persuade Monty to move a muscle, let alone walk past the cat into the next room. Once or twice while the dog lay there, being very still, Piper rubbed the side of her face against his nose in what is usually a gesture of friendship and might have been reassuring and cute if it hadn't reminded me of the way male serial killers sometimes subdue female victims in movies.

When Monty finally worked up the nerve to run past Piper, she leaped at his hindquarters, hissing and growling. I think I actually heard her jaws snap. Unfortunately, Monty ran too far, and had to go past Piper, who had followed him, one more time before he could get to the safety of the front door. She did the same kung-fu jump and made the same demonic noise as before, and I think Monty was grateful to leave the house with any fur on his tail.

But here's the point of this story: I can't wait until we get a dog.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Starting the Day Over

I have to revise my thesis (actually, rewrite a whole section of my thesis) and comment on a batch of my students' first drafts, but I can't make myself care about any of it and these are dangerous things to do apathetically. So here's the plan: I'll read myself to sleep with a little Jacques Lacan and nap for an hour at most. When I wake up, I'll do at least a rough revision of my thesis (I can polish it tomorrow). After I finish that, I'll treat myself to a walk with the neighbor's dog. Then I'll read papers.

I hope this works.

Friday, April 07, 2006

What I Get for Sleeping In

This morning, after turning my alarm clock off when I meant to hit snooze, I had this odd--and oddly pleasant--dream:

Eric and I were sitting at one end of a long table in a room somewhere, watching Better Than Ezra play a very informal concert. When a pink and yellow fish that looked like a cow and had hinged plastic legs swam through the air and landed on my head, the lead singer of the band picked it out of my hair, put it in a plastic bag full of water, and gave it to a woman sitting across the table. And I thought, disdainfully, that he should have given it to me because she would just put it in a bowl, where it would die because such an exotic fish clearly needs a more carefully regulated habitat than that.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Spare Time

One of the warnings on a tube of chap stick is "Keep out of eyes." I have three questions about this: 1) What happens if I don't keep my chap stick out of my eyes? 2) Does this warning mean that someone has actually gotten chap stick in their eyes? 3) If so, how did they do it? I just can't imagine many situations in which a person might utter the words, "Oops. I got some chap stick in my eye."


Apparently, though my "credentials are satisfactory," I can't have the perfect summer job. I applied for a six-week teaching position with a "summer enrichment program" for high school students, but was struck down in the Battle of Qualified Applicants. I'm disappointed, mostly because it was perfect, at least in terms of my plans this year. I would've had two weeks to relax after school ended, then six weeks of work, and finally two weeks just before we want to move, when we could apartment-hunt, job-hunt and pack. And I would've made enough money in those six weeks to assuage my guilt about the four weeks off.

Instead, I'll spend the summer sitting behind a desk at one of three hotels whose managers compete to employ me. Reliability, while often boring, has its perks.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


At about midnight last night, I realized that I now have the time and the freedom to read any one of the hundreds of books on our shelves. For the moment, I'm not writing anything. I'm not reading anything in preparation to write something. Since I've already read almost all of my books, I considered delving into one of Eric's Anne Rice books. But in the end, I decided to reread this book from the box set my grandpa gave me when I was about 7.

Also, I got eight and a half hours of sleep last night, and I had time to shave my legs this morning. I'm very happy.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Bad Writing Day

I think getting my Master's in English might be making my writing worse at this point. Because there's SO MUCH of it, and I'm so overwhelmed by it, that simply getting through it sane becomes at least as important as doing it well. I've been trudging through this comp exam since before 9:00 this morning, but I can only write in spurts because my mind keeps going so blank it's hard to imagine being able to form another sentence. And I promised two members of my thesis committee I would have a second draft (which I haven't started working on) ready for them tomorrow.

I need a break.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Extra Daylight

Tonight: good food, good wine, good friends. And a musical, which was good but would have been better if no one had spontaneously burst into song. Soon, I'll push the little button on my alarm clock that's marked with a sun (a bi-annual thrill) and read myself to sleep with a little Zora Neale Hurston.

Tomorrow: get up early, an hour too early. Make coherent the seven pages I wrote today for my last (last!) comprehensive exam. Hope the membership drive on PBS was only a month-long thing, and that I'll be able to watch Bob Ross paint happy little trees alongside a happy little stream. Plan a class. Revise a thesis. Nothing to worry about. Just a little work, one thing at a time.