Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Twin Urbania Peaks

I'm currently in the middle of overpacking for my trip and trying to finish up work before I go. What a great way to spend my last 12 hours at home!! Let's take a poll. Say that the next two weeks of your life include the following activities: going to classes, working in a computer lab, attending a few "parties" for the workshop, walking around the steamy Midwest, going to a gym. How many articles of clothing do you need to cover the bottom half of your body? (Right now I'm at 7: 3 pair of capri pants for daily wear; a pair of jeans (possible for casual party); a pair of shorts (see steamy Midwest); a pair of dress pants or skirt (for more uptight party); pair of gym pants. Too much? Too little? Just right? Call me Goldilocks!

The other thing I have to tell y'all is that I had the most David Lynch experience today. I had to send a pair of shoes back to Zappos, bless them, with their "print out the UPS label and drop it in a pick-up box" policy. Googlemaps says that the nearest box is a mile from my house, so I swing by on my way home. The street address lands me in front of the "Urbania Department of Mental Hygiene." {My house is a mile from here? That should be good for resale!] I park and try the door. A voice mumbles incomprehensibly to me from the intercom. The door swings open. There is a huge glassed-in reception desk in front of me. I walk to the side with the window, and a little person (literally) in a state uniform is there to greet me. "Do you have a UPS drop box?" "Yeees, eets over thhherre." [That's my best approximation of an Eastern European accent.] I opened the drop box expecting to find a human ear or Naomi Watts or something equally surreal and disturbing. Needless to say, it was empty.

If Lynch is going to take 5 years to film Inland Empire, then I suggest his next feature should be "Urbania." Let's see if Laura Dern will drag her skinny ass to the Northeast.


Monday, May 28, 2007

Cursed Consumerism

Day two of the "I've got to go be smart and professional because like a moron I signed up for a workshop" shopping continues apace. Just when I thought I was closing in (comfy/cute sandals? check. Cute tank top? check.), the workshop leader sent around a friendly email informing us that we might want to bring our own equipment, or else share the communal ones. Share. As if. Additional trip to Target? Check.

I've been busily trying to convince myself that I do indeed have enough t-shirts that are passable (i.e., not stained, misshapen, or tent-like). If I'd do an actual inventory, I think I'd be fine. But even as I talked myself out of an "emergency" trip to Old Navy, I had to swing by the salon to pick up shampoo, and I notice that I'm running low on eyeliner and skin care products, both of which I get online (at Sephora and Skinstore, respectively), and there's just no time left for stuff to show up. Note to self: if you have to order online, you have to start sooner. And not on a holiday weekend. Damn. Has anyone ever ordered stuff delivered to her at a hotel?

Okay, so here's the totally cursed part. And it was so cursed, please pronounce it with two syllables: as in curse-ed. So, first I go to JCrew, the blood-sucking flagship of prep casual--i.e., what I plan to be rocking at this damn summer event. All I want is a pair of capri pants. Simple right? Nooooo! Clearly, if you're a mass-market store that's all full of itself, you think it's your god-given duty to put spandex in your capris. WTF?!! Is it suddenly 1986 and no one informed me? But dammit, I'm desperate. If my choice is between capris with 3% spandex and wearing shorts in front of my peers, then spandex it is. And so I'm going to spend the next two weeks of my life trying to hide the panty lines that the synthetic devil clings to so determinedly. Crap.

The joke, of course, is that I thought that the above was going to be my story of shopping cursedness. But NO. Because, like a total jackass, I was at the mall, rotten capri pants in hand, and I thought: wow, I really need to stock up on underwear before I leave. What's the phrase you LEAST want to hear while pawing through panties at the major skanky chain store with the famous "fashion" show? Think carefully. Mine, based on recent experience is: "Hi Professor Fluff! How's your summer?" Bugger.

Do I manage my fear of new situations and crushing inability to converse with people via shopping? You bet. But if this is the way it's going to go, I might as well go for the good meds.

Labels: ,

Friday, May 25, 2007

At Last...

"At last," to quote Etta James, "my love has come along." Summer. Sweet, glorious summer, in which there are things to do but no time table on which to do them. No waking up at 6:30 in the morning in a haze, mainlining coffee, and preparing to go and face students. Which has been every morning of my godforsaken life for the past two weeks. No, my friends, the summer class is now history. Woot!

I basked in lethargy yesterday: went to get a bento box for lunch, took a long and much needed nap, took a long walk, got some ice cream at the local "this stuff will kill you" shop. Ah. I woke up this morning (7:50--that's more like it), read the latest issue of Real Simple, a snippet from the Buffyverse (oh yes, that random obsession has gone nowhere fast). Drank two luxurious cups of coffee, which had a chance to cool slightly before I got to them.

On the docket for today? I've set aside a few hours to progress on my ACUN project (urgh), which is slowly coming together. The yard needs weeding, and laundry needs doing. All of these necessaries are dwarfed, however, by the most pressing concern of all. I leave for a workshop next week, and I NEED NEW CLOTHES, DAMMIT. You know that Twain line about "beware any venture that requires new clothing" (that's a paraphrase. sue me.)? Well, screw you, Samuel. Mama's got to go meet new people and sound smart: wardrobe attention is in order.

I've got zappos.com orders in the hopper, and I might have to take a trip down to the behemoth mall. Because really, what's the worst thing that could happen if the weeds get taller, and the laundry remains unwashed?

Hello, summer.

Labels: ,

Friday, May 18, 2007


If my mother taught me anything (and she did, but I'll spare you the lectures here), it was that it's rude to speak with your mouth full. But who am I to be polite? The semester has officially ended, grades have been submitted, and I'm now enmeshed in my summer class, the pesky leavings of my administrative work, and preparing to go to a two-week workshop in the Midwest in 10 days or so. Holy hell, have I bitten off more than I can chew.

One of the many things that I need to learn to do is to remember that tasks accrete; saying yes to one early on does not mean that something else equally good, or exciting, or financially viable, won't be offered later. I'm pretty sure that that's how I got myself into this mess. In December, the extra money from a short summer class sounded pretty good. And then applying to this workshop just seemed like the natural extension of the kinds of work I've been doing. And the administrative stuff---well, that was just idiotic. It's one of those "this is a really good thing for the community" kinds of projects, but it includes the work that I most abhor and totally, totally suck at: talking to various people at a variety of off-campus institutions, securing money, collecting artifacts. It's a crap job for sure, and I just want it to be done. But it sounded so good and lofty at the time!! Yes! I don't want to be one of those ivory tower folk! I want to be engaged in the community!! That's the root of this program, after all, and I should be following out that mission! Screw that. To mine own self I should have been true; I just want to read books and maybe write an article or two.

Oh yes! That! Writing! Isn't this my summer to get a few publications together before I go up for tenure? Why yes! Yes it is! Thanks for asking! Now why is it that writing isn't on my immediate radar? [Hint: see above.]

For now, you'll have to excuse the sarcasm dripping from this post. It's the best I can manage right now. I'll feel better after a cheap, meaningless evening of bad t.v., I'm sure. Suggestions, anyone, before I fall back into the warm embrace of slash fiction? :)

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Not Dead Yet...

Thanks to those of you who are calling me to make sure that I haven't been crushed by a falling log, or suffered death by a thousand student-paper cuts. I'm still here, and still (shallowly) breathing.

On Friday, I got up at 6:30 in the morning to finish grading papers for my class, which met for its final at 10:30. They gave group presentations, I handed stuff back. I went to meet with advisees (?! Clearly, finals week is EXACTLY the time to discuss whether you should pick up a minor! Obviously! Why not?). At 2:30, I wandered, bleary-eyed, over my colleague's office to work on an abstract for a panel that we're putting together for a conference. We worked til 5, at which point I went home and ate dinner, and then continued to work on the abstract til 10:15. At which point I gave it a terrible title and sent it to my colleague. Which means that we beat the deadline by approximately one hour. Hooray for online submission technology.

Pulling fourteen-hour days during finals week---particularly those that don't involve making a dent in the grading pile---is just a feat of superhuman strength. So on Saturday, when I should have been reading the papers for my other class, I spent 8 hours reading Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan fiction.

You heard me.

I KNOW, right? Who knew that people were still obsessed with Buffy? Not that I don't understand why, of course. I freakin' LOVED that show, up to and including the wonky back-from-the-dead Season 6. But I don't love it enough to write thousands of words about what could have happened if Spike had made a different decision in Season Two. Nor do I compose 12,358 words graphically describing the kinds of kinky sex that Spike and Buffy (who fall under the "Spuffy" category) probably had. You know what other ways I didn't love it? I didn't love it enough to write "off-canon" multi-chapter serials about Spike the publishing executive and Buffy the graduate student at UCLA. I have to tell you, this shit is fascinating. I'm both dumb-founded and totally impressed that people create this and post it in their spare time. (Um, hello, pot [read: blogger]? This is kettle [read: Spuffy writer].) To each her own, is all I got to say. It beats the pants off reading Baudrillard papers. (For the record, there are a number of stories in which Buffy quite literally has the pants beaten off her. I wonder if Joss Whedon knew that he would inspire such BDSM fantasies?)

So that's where I'm at, folks. And I'm not done yet. But I'm closing in. And Buffy DVD's are now in my Netflix queue.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Geek Out!

Because you've all been paralyzed with wonder, obsessed with how things went with my conference paper, I offer you the weekend redux, in bullet form:

  • I finished my paper after an all-day, incredibly painful writing extravaganza, in which I pumped out 6 pages of text. Not bad. If I remember correctly, THAT is how I wrote the diss; days of seeming procrastination, and then a big spurt of writing.
  • That day of writing immediately preceded the one on which the conference started; thus, I arrived a day late.
  • This conference? Clearly I'm used to going to lit gatherings, because at some point, during the opening session, I looked around and thought to myself, "whoa. This conference is a total sausage factory." I've never seen so many geeky men in my life! Single female professors: this is the conference for you! (Email me for next year's date and locale.)
  • The chair of my panel "talked" his paper, because we had about 6 people in the room. Of course, he had planned to talk it, as he had pages of bullet points and quotations. But once one of you does that, then everybody has to; I could hardly read my paper after he had just done this whole conversational thing. So I talked my paper, from its beautifully (huh) written manuscript. And it wasn't bad. And thus, I rule.
  • I got good feedback from the attendees. At one point, it seemed as if the other two presenters were getting ignored, so I purposely addressed a question to the two of them and thus reminded the audience to be generous. Who's a nice panelist? Me, that's who!
  • After the conference, one of the scholars I quoted in my paper looked me up online and asked for a copy of it. Again, I rule!
  • And I suck too; I hate the conference networking, despite realizing its relevance and necessity. I was all dolled up and ready to go to the keynote. It was being held in a room downstairs, and occurred right after a reception. When I got there, the reception was still in full-swing. I got half-way down the stairs, realized I'd have to run the gauntlet of cheese-snarfing participants, and turned right back around. I was back in the hotel in my comfy pants in minutes.
  • All told, a very positive experience, and I've got plans to go next year (and to try to be a bit braver). This might require a flask.
Thus endeth the saga of the end-of-semester conference. Now beginneth the saga of the never-ending grading stack which I need to start, but am too intimidated by the size of the task. Those of you that are finished: I am hating you right now. Live it up.

Labels: ,