Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Totally, Totally Busted

Between doing a job search, planning a departmental event, prepping classes, and dealing with not one but TWO student crises this week (more on these later), I left campus at 6:30 this evening. It's a beautiful early spring night out, and if I weren't so hungry that I could chew my own arm off, I would have gone for a walk to give myself a small break before settling in for an evening of grading.

Since I was, in terms of hunger, the human equivalent of a swarm of locusts, I decided to order food delivered. In Urbania, there is a very small number of restaurants that will bring food to your domicile; basically, the choices are the old standards: pizza or Chinese. Because we live close a big University (not Ascesis U., you understand, just our big brother up the road), we also can add the college dive restaurants to our list of delivery options. I took out my sheaf of menus, and decided to order myself up a brown meal--things covered in batter and then submerged in boiling oil, along with a salad to prevent my arteries from clogging on contact.

So I called up Local Dive Joint. The conversation went like this:
"Hello, Local Dive Joint, how can I help you?"
"I'd like to place an order for delivery."
"Is this Kulturfluff? This is Student X (leader of campus do-gooders)."

Holy CRAP!! I hate this caller ID business!! So there I am, with my list of deep fried goodness and token green item, talking to the student who, in all probability, is a vegan. Who only eats organic food. Farmed by unionized workers. On feminist collectives. In developing nations.

In other words: Busted.

I had no choice; I placed my order, made a few jokes about it. She was very understanding. The final notable point here is that when it came time to give her a delivery address, she asked me what my office address was. Does that mean she thinks I live there, or that I would only order from Local Dive Joint if I had to stay at school for dinner?


Thursday, March 22, 2007

Who Moved My Cheese?

Because I need some to go with this whine! (Take my wife, Please!) All of this is indicative of my humor level right now. Ways in which things are sucking right now:
  • In a nod to MaggieMay's universe, our own local Forces of Darkness (here, we'll call them the dementors, so as to draw as many Harry Potter readers as possible to this site) are gathering for what, I think, they hope will be a committee-level smackdown next week. This follows on the heels of the faculty level smackdown that they delivered pre-Spring Break. Honestly, I'm about at the point of challenging them to a game of dodgeball or something. If we're going to work this out like children, then let's do it with a contact sport!
  • Re: the above: what I really want is to be able to ask the blogosphere whether they find these kinds of seemingly-giant-but-actually-minute differences cropping up at their own campuses, particularly between and among divisions that should, inherently, be on the same damn side. But such is the fate of the academic blogger, that she cannot copy the latest string of emails from her colleagues for public dissection.
  • I'm in the middle of a job candidate search, preparing for an all day departmental hootenanny, about to receive a batch of papers, getting ready to attend a local conference this weekend...I don't have time to scratch my ass.

Ways in which things are NOT sucking:
  • I am closing in on my contribution to a group publication that has been two years in the making. I think, with my co-author, I have found something to say about this truly bewildering novel. I read it with my class this semester, and they rocked it out. Not only did they dig deep and find threads that are crucial to understanding the novel, but they worked together, and they pointed me toward new ideas about the ending. I love you, class!
  • The schedule has just been posted for a conference I'm attending at the end of the semester, and whoa, there are some great people on the docket. I'm excited about the paper I am delivering; I'd be even more excited if I could find the time to write it. (see above)
  • The wonderful, fabulous, Frenchie F is coming to visit this weekend, ostensibly for a conference, but really to drink wine and hang out. Love that!
  • My other class, which has been one of the most sisyphean teaching events of my life, finally picked up steam yesterday. I have no idea what caused it, but this phrase floated through my head about halfway through: "Oh. THIS is how I used to teach!" Yay!
  • In interviewing people for this job, my ACUN and the department that are working together have created quite a collegial working process. I hope I'm not speaking too soon, but we've turned what could have been a contentious and bitter process into a careful and empathetic system of finding someone who will work and prosper within our respective curricula.

Hmmm. It seems that there's significant overlap between list #1 and list #2. What is the only thing that doesn't appear on the second list? (If I could find a Mp3 of the old Sesame Street classic "One of These Things Is Not Like the Other" I would so embed it here!)

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Karma, Karma (Maybe even Karma Chameleon)

Back when I was at the hippie school (which I'm mentioning often enough on this blog to give it it's own name. Nothing occurs to me at present, but I'll take nominations. Jerry Garcia College? Bong Hits U.? Underwater Basket Weaving Vocational School?). As I was saying, back when I was at hippie school, I had a penchant for theory, as did the professors with whom I chose to work. So, somewhere in my dark, dank basement molders an overflowing file of undergraduate papers on topics like "Kristevan Carnival and Tristram Shandy" and "Time and Narrative: Winterson as read through Paul Ricoeur." Thankfully, this is before I caught the horrible disease that I have now, which involves making terrible puns in my paper titles. If I had had it back then, these papers might announce themselves thus: "Kristeva and Sterne take a Carnival Cruise" or "Time is Like a Clock of the (Ri)Coeur: Winterson and Temporal Narrative." (I think I'm on a Culture Club roll today). Thankfully, theory fever did not overlap with bad a-pun-dicitis. Ba-dum-dum!

Right. Back to the point. Those monster papers are like 20-25 pages a piece, and there are a LOT of them. Which means that some poor fool, some of whom actually still talk to me when begged, READ those suckers and gave me comments on them. Serious comments. Not drunken ramblings in which they contemplated shoving a sharpened pencil in their ears because I was butchering the texts.

I bet you know where this is going, right? Because I'm reading theory papers now, and they're only 5 pages. Why do I grade them on the computer, when it means that I don't have a sharpened pencil to shove in my ear?! How on earth did these scions of patience and pedagogical love manage to deal with me? Bring me the Koo-Aid, and I'll drink it right down!

Somewhere, beneath this screed is the solemn belief that theory is freakin' hard, and that there's no way anyone gets much out of it the first time around, and that it really helps to have had ten more years of reading and training in philosophy, and let's be honest, to what extent do I really understand what we're reading? And all of this is true and relevant.

And thus, I return to Derridean readings of Google videos.

**I wonder how long I could go by titling each post with a reference to an 80's song? Probably pretty long. Some, like "We Don't Have To Take Our Clothes Off (to have a good time)" might be easy to link to my traditional content. "Caribbean Queen" on the other hand, might present more of a problem...

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Weasels: Love 'Em or Hate 'Em?

Let me preface this by saying that I am tired. Bone-achey, gritty-eyed, pre-carpal-tunnel-syndrome tired. It might have to do with the fact that I stayed up late last night emailing back and forth with Ms. Ashley (yay!!), and then got up in time for an 8 a.m. meeting (yeah, you heard me--8 a.m., beeyotches), and then met with an adjunct, and then co-moderated a panel discussion, and then answered 30,000 pre-advisement emails, and then "cleaned up" PR issues for a departmental event, and then posted a student meeting schedule, and then discussed the hasty triage draft of a co-written paper that needs to be posted by Thursday and now it's 6:30 p.m. Right, that might be the reason for the tired.

In the midst of this afternoon of sympathizing with hamsters on treadmills, however, I had the distinct pleasure of engaging in one of my favorite activities: negotiating with a student who has totally flaked on her group project and is now trying to salvage her grade at almost literally the last minute. Wheeeeee. I swear I get one of these every semester, and every semester I have to explain why it doesn't work. Strangely, however, this post isn't about that student; we all know this student, and I have nothing new to say about her. I want to talk about the OTHER student: the one who rats her out.

I find myself totally ambivalent toward the rat--or weasel--student, and it's not just because of exhaustion. On the one hand, she's giving me necessary information about the flaky student's non-participation in the project. After all, I'm not invested in letting flaky student get credit for other people's work. At the same time, however, I can't help but notice that the weasel herself spends far more time talking about her home life, her other courses, etc., during group work than she does about the project itself. In fact, 80% of the time that I check in with the group, she's reading the texts that they're working on, while two other students are inputting information and composing drafts. I should also note that this student began the group work complaining about a different member of her group who was too overbearing, but that she refused to confront because "she's not that type of person" and couldn't I just work it out for her and the other two people? Now that there is a new enemy, however, she's apparently willing to look past her original target's personality quirks and focus on the flaky student. Good thing she didn't confront the first group member!

Obviously, part of my ambivalence here comes from un-positive interactions with this student herself, and they're getting in the way of thinking about how I should react to necessary tattling. I've been circumspect about revealing my negotiations with the flaky student--FERPA, you know--but philosophically, how should I react? Do we want to encourage students to be honest about the work that other group members do? Should they instead just "Sack up" as the Fug girls say, and deal, since that's a more real-world scenario? And even as I try to position this particular weasel as the exception, I have to wonder if her pyschology isn't, in some ways, indicative of those who feel compelled to tell on their classmates. Are they refusing to take responsibility for their own participation, even as they harshly judge others?

Oh, how I hate the politics of group work. If only I weren't so committed to the possible results...


Sunday, March 11, 2007

I Love Bullets

  • Nothing makes me want to shop online more than giving feedback on student drafts.
  • JCrew is currently hosting their post-winter super sale. Cheap, but you can't return anything.
  • I want everything at Anthropologie. And then I want the super-skinny arms I'd need to be able to wear all of it.
  • I already have two iPods, but obviously, I need a shuffle too. In green, I think. Or maybe blue.
  • Don't even get me started on furniture.
  • I'm back, y'all. Only eight more weeks til summer break.

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Weirdness Abounds

You may keep your cries of "Girl, where you BEEN?!" to yourself. I've been around, resting, reflecting, despairing...you know, the usual. I've got a bunch of stuff that I need to blog about, including but not limited to: the best place to eat on the National Mall; the great furniture hunt of '07; support hos 2: the revenge; traveling with my mother; etc. Feel free to put in your votes for the post you'd most like to see.

Right now, however, I'll focus on rising to the challenge set by the music-diva Beth, and I'll tell you that this isn't the first time that I've been brought back to the world by a cup of coffey... [I've obviously been away from this for too long; that's the best pun I can manage.] Despite my rustiness, here we go with


  1. Is it cheating to start with one that I've talked about before? It's the one that comes to my mind first: I'm germaphobic. I'm not quite to the Howard Hughes stage, but that's the go-to joke for Mr. Fluff. I would rather do the pee-pee dance for an hour than use a public restroom (and the thought of a port-a-potty fills me with existential dread). When I wash my hands in a bathroom not my own, I use the paper towel I dried my hands with to open the door. My college boyfriend made the mistake of taking me to a petting zoo, where he touched a donkey. I refused to let him hold my hand for the rest of the day. I resent people who cough in public. I worry about the cleanliness of food made in restaurants. A LOT.
  2. I hate Seinfeld. I am apparently the only person in the free world and the developing nations who feels this way, but I loathe that show. I hate the way in which all of the marginal characters (which is everyone outside of the main four) are simply targets for ridicule for their human characteristics and at the worst moments, even their deaths are made trivial (e.g., George's girlfriend). I don't care the Elaine's dance is brilliant, or that the chemistry among the characters set the stage for all cast-focused sitcoms, or that it was arguably the first postmodern television show. I hates it.
  3. In a moment of perfect contradiction, I love really mean humor, particularly when it involves profanity. Billy Bob Thornton in Bad Santa makes me laugh till I pee myself (unless my option is a public bathroom, then see #1). Dan Savage, particularly his take on Rick Santorum? Deep love. David Rakoff, as quoted in Sarah Vowell's essay on the Disneyland Main Street Parade: "Look at all of the Communications Majors!" Awesome.
  4. I have a freakishly long torso. My height is average (5'6"), but my inseam is about 28 inches (if I weren't wearing heels, which I always am, but even then the best I can do is a 30 inch inseam). I'm consistently searching for tops that don't look like some weird late 90's belly shirts. Honestly, who wants to go there?! And before you get all racial on me--as in "isn't that an Asian thing?" (which, for the record, one of my colleagues did once!), I actually get it from my very Caucasian father, thank you very much.
  5. In my head, I have a really low voice. I know, skull acoustics make everyone hear her own voice differently than it sounds to others. But I'm firmly convinced that I have a semi-Marlene Dietrich voice, so when I hear it recorded (like when I call home and hear it on the answering machine) I'm often shocked by how chirpy it sounds. About a year ago, I was convinced that a message was actually from a friend of mine in high school, rather than my own. That's the length to which I will go to avoid the truth.
  6. I'm anti-touch. I consider myself generally a pretty warm person, but I really don't like to be touched by people. I'm not a big hugger, hand-shaker, back-patter, excited/scared hand-grabber, nudger, etc. I've had the occasional facial and pedicure, but I tend to avoid them. I can't bring myself to get a massage. (Naked touching is just too much for me to contemplate.) On airplanes, I like the window seat so that I can scrunch myself as far away from the middle-seater as possible. I cede the armrest immediately. While all of these avoidance strategies are adamantly in effect for strangers, they often hold true for friends and family as well. I dread the required pre-bedtime hug as much as my poor nephews do.

So there are some of my weirdnesses on display for y'all, just as a welcome back gift. I'd tag others, but I'm so far behind in my blog reading that I don't know who's done it already. If you haven't and you're feeling brave, jump in. Let me know and I'll retrospectively tag you!

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