Sunday, March 30, 2008

Girl in the Bubble

So, I did it. Finally finally. Two hours ago, I sent off the draft of my article, complete with a short abstract and a bio. We won't mention the morning of trolling the web, looking at the other way of citing secondary sources. What's up with those people, by the way? Why on earth is it so important to put the year?

Anyway. The point of this is that I feel like the dirty, stinking, rotting carcass of an albatross has finally fallen off. After worrying about this article since the New Year, spending two days a week working on it for the last three months, having sweaty, panicked dreams about not finishing it, the mofo has been submitted. Praise Jeebus, hallelujah.

It's not that I don't have another deadline looming (hello, unwritten conference paper to be delivered in 3 days). It's not that I don't owe my students papers that have gone weeks ungraded, or tips about how to take an upcoming exam, or comments on their journals. No, all of that is still there. But the overwhelming relief of having this thing off and gone has overwhelmed my finely-tuned, over-active freak out complex. That's how strong it is! If I knew it felt this good, I would have written articles years ago!!

In my conscious mind, I know that the bubble is paper thin, but I'm going to enjoy it while it lasts. Completion, she is an cruel taskmistress. Cruel, but fair.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

One Cheek

That's right, folks, I am officially and self-consciously half-assing everything from now until April 3.

That includes, but is not limited to: class preparation; grading; committee work; the department-wide student extravaganza; negotiations about new curricula; personal hygiene; correspondence; cooking; cleaning the house; laundry; wifely duties; advisee requests, and anything else that should crop up in the next week.

Why? I'll tell you why. Because I'm not designed to teach three classes, revise two articles, and write a conference paper all in the same month. I have no doubt that there are people out there who can do it. I'm sure that it speaks to my fundamental insufficiencies. It probably makes me a bad person who's going to the ring of hell wherein the damned swim in a pool of dog snot for all eternity (at least according to my 8th grade geography teacher's take on The Inferno).

Do my students, my advisees, my colleagues, my friends and family deserve better? Damn skippy. Are they going to get it? Probably, but not in the way that they deserve.

I just thought you all should know.

If you want me, I'll be here listening to "No Sleep Til Brooklyn" on infinite repeat.

Labels: ,

Sunday, March 23, 2008

My Morning, Animated Edition

Have you ever wondered what daybreak looks like at the Fluff household? Behold, the brilliance of animation, and its ability to hit the nail (and the owner) on the head:


Friday, March 21, 2008

NASCAR? Nobel.

Oh, I wish there were a way to let you all be flies on the wall in my classroom. Although that would be kind of gross, and a bit too much like The Exorcist. But oh, to have someone witness this exchange (presented to you in MadLibs form, to protect the ignorant):

Fluff: Next week, we'll be starting [major Amerian novel]. The reason we're reading [major American novel] is because it's the [ethnic group] equivalent of [other major American novel.] In many ways, [author] is the [ethnic group] equivalent of [monumental author].

Student: [monumental author]?

Fluff: Yeah, [monumental author].


Student: [monumental author]? Is he a NASCAR driver?

Fluff: Is he a NASCAR driver?! SHE'S arguably one of the most important twentieth century American writers! Her [famous novel] was voted by the New York Times the best book of the twentieth century?!


Fluff: [monumental author's first book]? [monumental author's second book]? Pulitzer Prize winner? Nobel Prize winner? OPRAH?!!

Student: We don't read.

Look, folks. I'm usually not one to bust on the kids for their lack of cultural capital. In their defense, they're taking this class to fulfill gen ed requirements, so all of them are math, or science, or art, or education majors. But holy crap on a cracker!! Is [monumental American author] a NASCAR driver?!! Take me now, Jeebus! I'm comin' home!

The saving grace of this incident is that my department chair is thankfully coming next week to observe my class. She would have shit a pile of bricks if she'd been in the room for this one. Doubtless, my students will bring it up, along with my recent mini-lectures on Spam [the ways that food reveals historical and economic materialities] and Rock of Love [who can forget the words to the national anthem and not be punished for it].


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Why Not Just Say "Don't Get Out of Bed?"

Here's a choice quote from my horrorscope for the day:
That's it. The end of an era. The last act in a long drama. There's no going back.
Jeebus. Thanks. Bed is looking better and better all the time. As if I don't have melodramatic tendencies to begin with? Like I need some sort of astrological omen to make me more paranoid?

If you want me, I'll be laying in bed reading the latest issue of Elle, with Amy Adams on the cover.

Or else having lunch with Senor Fluff's graduate school girlfriend. Just the thing to do on a day with a horoscope like the one above.

Labels: ,

Monday, March 10, 2008

That Clinches It

Oh, goddamn it, Eliot Spitzer. Why do you have to go and do something so godawful stupid?!!

I should probably have more of a problem with Spitzer calling a high priced call girl from an interstate prostitution ring---on a political level, and as a feminist. But that's not the part that's really bugging me. It's the way that this incident figures in the dream of Eliot Spitzer---defender of the people, the icon of ushering in a new period of ethics in state politics, this totally smart, conscientious guy who's got a good enough sense of humor to show up on Colbert. If Spitzer had been just some run of the mill politician, then this would be a blip on the radar. Chalk one more up to the dudes who can't keep it in their pants; what else is new? Instead, Spitzer was an avatar, and this NY Times story tarnishes him in a way that it wouldn't have some other random elected official. I feel sad, and disappointed, and a bit heartbroken because it's an example of the ways in which these people in whom I've invested a good deal of hope and belief and trust aren't the people I wanted and expected them to be.

Truth be told, the Spitzer incident is just a national allegory for my own small circle right now, in a number of ways. A distant family member, who's been of such help to me in the past, has just sneakily bilked my step-father out of an inheritance; a colleague that I knew and admired from afar seems evermore affected by the swirling politics around her; etc., etc.

In many ways, I don't think that I'm particularly realistic or pragmatic when it comes to my relationships with other people. If I'm honest, I tend to create a narrative about people I know and view their behaviors and motivations through that narrative forever. And on top of that, I think I' m a bit of an inflater; if I like you and respect you, than I generally think you can do no wrong. In essence, I'm confessing to owning a psyche that is the equivalent of shooting myself in the foot. Or setting myself up to be hurt? Which crapped-out cliche is it that I'm reaching for, here? I'm looking for the one that succinctly describes the way in which it's a mistake to think that anyone is perfect, or lives in harmony and accordance with his/her stated principles. [It could be that I've been watching too much In Treatment, but I'm sure that this has something to do with my childhood... Perhaps Gabriel Byrne would like to talk to me about it?]

In situations like these, I find that it's becoming easier and easier, over time, to withhold judgment. Because, after all, I couldn't be more fallible if I worked for it. I'm a ball of contradictions and insufficiencies and as much as I like to think that I'm working hard to be a person of integrity, I'm also small minded and vengeful and easily swayed. Big glass house, that's me.

But even without judgment, bearing witness to others' shortcomings is painful and sad and disappointing on a global level. Not to sound like a 5 year old, but if no one is capable of consistency with their principles, then what's the point? Who is there to model my sad little attempts after?

So, thanks for nothing, Eliot Spitzer, except the reminder that good people are fallible, and that they can still do good work. Maybe that's the model I need to start taking more seriously.

Labels: ,

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Combustion upon Re-entry

Thank you, Daylight Saving Time, for making my last, crowded, too-much-to-do, too-little-time day an hour shorter. I can't tell you how much I appreciate that.

That tone, above? Dripping with sarcasm? That's me all over. I can't imagine why three days in a major metropolitan city, in a swanky hotel, eating cupcakes in the village, far far away from all of my pressing tasks and the psychological clusterfuck that is on the horizon would conspire to make the return home and back to the realities of work such a difficult event. Nope! Just can't figure out why!!

It was lovely to be away, it really and truly was. Even walking 80 city blocks a day was fun, although before I do it again, I really have to figure out a shoe solution. Here I thought clogs were totally going to do it, but not really. What do cool kids wear to walk?

What I realized yesterday, however, was that I was saving up all of these grunt tasks---massive amounts of grading, writing up a major end-of-semester assignment, a few recommendation letters, a few lingering program admin things, my contribution to a grant proposal, doctor's appointments----for break. In addition, while I was working on the dreaded article, I put off all of these tasks as well. So here we are! At the end of break! And my list is long and arduous! Suck!

I can't remember the last time I felt this despondent at the end of a break. Forget rest and renewal. I just want to crawl in bed and sleep. With a few cupcakes.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Stinky McDirtPants

I have to hope that this is neither a local nor an individual happenstance: the inverse proportion between writing and cleanliness. Anyone?

Since the dawn of our spring break (which, for me, started on Thursday), I've been frantically working on an article due at the end of the month. To complicate matters, I've got a co-author, so the work entails a combination of individual writing and research, swapping of drafts, meeting to reorganize and restructure, more writing and researching, etc., etc. There's much to be said about weighing the advantages and disadvantages of co-writing; I'll save that for another post. For right now, let's just say that it's convenient that the two of us live close to each other, and that we're both apparently more and more forgiving about what she calls the "slippery slope of personal hygiene."

Honestly, I just don't get it. I LOVE to shower. I love to be clean!! Despite the previous post about the difficulties of scheduling hair washing, or perhaps BECAUSE of the difficulties, I tend to obsess about bathing. And yet, this "break" finds me in serious disarray. What is it about the process of writing that makes me avoid the shower? Is it punishment? Is it held out as a reward? Is it that I subconsciously believe that my funkiness will incubate any good ideas that I have?

In truth, my guess is that it's the schedule. The past few days have looked like this:
  • drink coffee
  • revise section or read relevant source material
  • get up
  • call co-author and decide on tasks
  • write til lunch
  • make lunch and eat
  • call co-author and check in
  • meet with CA and/or write more
  • if the sun isn't down, get some exercise, or at least get off the couch, wherein I have been making quite an ass groove for myself
You see the problem here, right? Where do you fit a shower in there? At least going to the gym necessitates cleanliness, but by the time I workout and and eat dinner, it's 9, and all I want to do is lay supine and have television signals beamed directly into my brain.

You'll be happy to know that this assault on world hygiene ends today; Senor F and I are on our way out of town for a brief break. Solely for the good people of Gotham will I make sure that I cleanse myself daily. My skin won't know what to do with itself. If you hear "I'm melting, I'm melting!" you'll know who it's coming from.


Sunday, March 02, 2008

I've Got Your Oil Crisis Right Here

I know that there are far more important things happening in the world, but this is the one that gets to me on a daily basis: oily hair.

Here's the situation: I need a haircut, and I keep putting itoff because it requires a conversation with the fetus, and making an appointment and going down there, etc., etc. All things I dread. In the meantime, however, my hair is ridiculously long. As in, I just saw the department secretary the other day and she said: "Wow! Your hair got really long!!" Right, thanks. Give me some letterhead.

So the hair is too long, and I'm putting off doing something about that. Meanwhile, the hair is, and has always been, ridiculously thick. Like, perhaps thinning is not such a bad idea. Like, when I was in high school I shaved the back of my head and still had plenty of hair to cover it up (and in many ways, that was one of the best haircuts I ever had, except that it was a bitch to grow out).
But thick hair and overly-long hair means only one thing: way way too much time to dry it in the morning. As in, dryer arm goes numb and shoulder aches, too much time. As in, dryer begins to overheat, too much time. As in, gee, I could either prep my class OR I could dry my hair this

No problem, right? Just don't wash it every day! Right, except that, well, you remember Exxon-Valdez? Ducks and waterfowl and sea creatures slicked in oil and struggling for life? That's pretty much the state of my scalp after 36 hours. So I've been experimenting with that window, but it's a tricky one. If I shower late in the day before one evening class, I can just about make it through the next evening before the inevitable moment when I run my hands through my hair and leave tracks. The better option here is either to pull it back or enter the wide world of hair accessories, but both seem troubling. A bit like the moment when you cover an enormous zit with concealer, and thus make it even more visible. From space. Look over here!! I'm accessorizing my incredibly greasy head!!

So what I really want to know is this: has anybody tried this stuff?

Hair powder? Really? Am I intrigued just because Bumble and Bumble make it? Is it really some sort of bizarre throwback to Versailles? Next thing you know I'll be wearing a wig and telling people to eat cake?

Thoughts, advice, mockery are all accepted here.