Monday, November 30, 2009

Dithering all about

Ok, ok, I probably should have gotten my plane ticket to MLA a long time ago? I haven't even looked at ticket prices to the East Coast, and I bet they are now hideously expensive.

Thing is, I'm still waffling back and forth about whether I am going. Do I get the plane ticket now or do I not? Yes or no? Up or Down? Strawberry or Mint? (come on, chocolate vs. vanilla is a no-brainer. Even if you give me vanilla ice cream I'm putting chocolate on top of it.)

I haven't heard any good news for the convention, and I know it is very early to be contacted for interviews, but I don't think it's worth it for me to go if I don't have any. And so I dither, hither and thither. (heh!)

I have received a couple polite responses to my email queries to presses, though, inviting me to let them know my preferred time slots and they will try to fit me in. This is good news, I will grant that. However, in my extremely precarious financial situation I don't think that even appointments with editors would make it worthwhile to go to MLA without any interviews. So what do I tell them? Whaddo I do, whaddo I do?? Arrgh! Somebody tell me what I should do, so that I can rebel against the advice!

Of course I will go to whatever blogger meet-up happens, should I in fact decide to travel there. Unless, of course, I am so swamped with interviews and meetings with editors that I cannot fit you all into my busy schedule. That was humor right there, son. Laugh, will you?

In other news, I didn't do all the postdoc applications over thanksgiving break, leaving me in a bit of a bind yesterday and today when they all came due. (stupid, stupid!) So some of them I applied to, some of them I applied to half-assedly, and some I skipped. Ah well. Triage, and all that. But last year I came in as a finalist for a postdoc and felt that I totally blew the phone interview. Today I happened upon the name and photo of the winner when investigating if it will be offered again this year, and was oddly relieved by what I found. Someone in an underrepresented identity group is always going to stand out over my background, and there's just nothing I can do about that. It's freeing, actually. The job was not mine to lose. That's much better than thinking you choked the interview or can't interview for shit.

The other postdoc that requested a lot of extra materials from me but didn't get as far as this one was cancelled due to the endowment taking a hit mid-year, and isn't being offered this year. This also makes me happy.

Which makes me pretty damn perverse, I'll admit that.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

I Ate Crow AND Humble Pie This Weekend

Greetings all. I am back, ensconced once again in my cog-ly apartment. The cats have forgiven me by now and are snoozing next to me on the couch. It was quite loud with all the angry meowing there for a bit. I am rebelling against my to-do list by not cleaning anything, even though the cats certainly dirtied things up over the weekend.

My nieces and nephews are certainly growing up, although some of them had relapses into tantrums as if they were in grade school, which really undercuts the argument that they are maturing. Ah well. I restrained myself and did not get involved, which was good as both my brother and sister-in-law jumped all over them and there was much shouting in the kitchen. (A niece slammed a drawer shut --- accidentally, I'll note --- on her brother's finger and there was a meltdown on both sides. The chocolate fondue my nephew was supposed to be stirring started to burn during the fight so I tried to shut everything out except stirring it. Luckily, the chocolate was saved. And isn't that the message of the holidays?)

Later, I sat there and took it while my dad yelled at me and pried into my financial arrangements. This time, when he insisted I get emergency health care coverage and that he would loan me the money for payments (to be paid back in punishment rather than just cash --- the rates being completely arbitrary, variable, and subject to change without notice), I did not protest and did not refuse him. I kept my expression as respectful and bland as I possibly could without meeting his eyes. I made strenuous efforts not to stare at the check out in front of him, tried not to eye it like a hungry dog with a bone.

And I'm sure that by this time next year, if they repeat their commands to get rid of my cats and move back into my childhood bedroom, I will do it because I am strapped and desperate, and evidently no different from my pothead friends from high school who wasted their lives and never moved further than their parents' basements. My parents just had a longer leash for their reprobate daughter.

That check isn't going for any health care either; I need it to cover rent.

Monday, November 23, 2009

CA's Master Plan: What is "Affordable," anyway?

I notice that Inside Higher Ed has linked to my shabby little post about the UC budget protests, along with this post by the Itinerant Professor, who makes the argument that raising the tuition by 32 percent isn't such a bad thing. Humph. Excuse me while I take a few moments to attack his argument, point by point.

The first point he makes is one that I've seen around the web elsewhere, which is that the UC system is actually cheap, even underpriced, compared to other public universities:
If my calculations are right, this means that fees next year will be in the ballpark of $12,560 for resident undergraduate students, certainly a large dollar and percentage increase over what students are paying this year. But where does this place UC compared to other public universities? Each year, the Washington Higher Education Coordinating Board produces an excellent report summarizing tuition and fee rates at public universities in every state. The most recent report is for last year, and shows that Berkeley's rate of $8,932 was 12th highest in the nation for public flagship universities - but still $4,774 or 34 percent below the most expensive public university in the nation, a distinction held by my own institution, Penn State - University Park.
Looking at his report, which is indeed very handy, I notice that The Itinerant Professor and others who talk about "peer universities" pick and choose their "Universities Of" ---- Michigan, but not Arizona; Virginia not Washington; Connecticut but not Colorado (to look at some other "UCs.") These Western schools are all much, much cheaper than California. As a Westerner before I was a Californian I'm kinda miffed at this weird East Coast bias. Are these "peer schools" really and truly so much better quality than these other, Western "peer schools"?

Also, I don't get how responding to "higher education has gotten too expensive and out of reach for the average family!" with "yes, but it is comparatively less out of reach over here at this one school system, which therefore should jack up its fees" is helpful in any way.

He continues:
tuition prices at Penn State and the University of Vermont this year, for example, are already over Berkeley's announced rate for next year. But there is no doubt that Berkeley's announced increase will move it up in these dubious rankings. Tuition at the other UC campuses is generally lower than at Berkeley, but still high compared to peer institutions.
Umm, no. This is totally wrong and I'll stop you here.

Unlike many other university systems, there is only one University of California. Although Some People (lookin' at you, "I go to Cal" people) seem to think that only Berkeley is the "real" University of California, in fact, it is one university with 10 campuses, as per the Master Plan. There is no "flagship" and "branch" system; we are one systemwide university. In fact, you could consider all the CSUs our "branch campuses," as they fulfill the mission typically ascribed to those types of schools.

So when we look at the UC System website, we see the statement that "Undergraduates pay the same UC systemwide fees at all campuses. Other expenses will depend on the campus and living situation."

Now I will ask the tough and evil question: as this guy says, people are willing to pay any amount for a Berkeley degree, and to some extent for UCLA too. He justifies the fee hikes because they will pay off in earnings and prestige. Ok, but what about the other campuses with the same sticker price? Is, say, Riverside or Davis "worth" the same? Do a Santa Cruz or Santa Barbara degree have the same earnings "payoff" as a Berkeley one? Especially when you consider that nobody but me appears to remember this whole California Master Plan business with the systemwide university thing.

Do I want to go to a "tiered" fee plan and an officially tiered campus system? No. Do I think parents and prospective students should think about this long and hard before applying and keep this in mind when they plan what to do about proposed CA fee hikes? Yes.

And then The Itinerant Professor goes on to point out all the Pell Grants, Cal Grants, scholarships and the new "Blue and Gold Plan" which will make the college insanely affordable yada yada yada. I would find and link to the recent articles I read about Pell Grants (which currently max out at around $5,000, btw,) under threat of being cut back or made more difficult to get, Schwarzenegger talking about eliminating the Cal Grants program, and other financial aid woes, but it's late tonight and I'm tired. Suffice it to say that I am dubious about these forms of financial aid because everyone compares them to the fee rates and says, oh, well that will be all right.

But when I was an undergrad I worried about all this:

(I tell ya, it's the asterisks that kill me. Gotta love them.) Yes, the fees are a huge chunk of costs, but the UC campuses are not conveniently placed in low-rent areas by any means, and those students in the math and science disciplines are now often paying 300 a pop for a textbook and buying multiple books per class. I went to UC for undergrad back in the 90s when things were much cheaper and students organized to fight back fee hikes the whole time I was there, and yet I still remember having plenty of friends who got in huge messes because the bursar didn't disburse their financial aid in time for them to enroll, or deferred payments and made it impossible for them to pay rent, and other terrible snafus.

And how does the UC expect everyone to pay for all this estimated 26K, anyway? Well, let's look here:
Hmm, I see that this plan expects everyone to take out 5 grand in loans this year, in addition to working both during school and the summer. You had better get a good job to save 1700 over a summer, kids! Better move back home because UC expects you not to have to spend most of what you make in the summer supporting yourself on the exorbitant rates in the student ghettos. Ooh, and what about if you couldn't get all your required classes because they filled up because UC fired all its lecturers and closed sections and you have to not only not just work and live in expensive housing near campus but also pay through the nose for the jacked-up summer school fees! Ooh ooh what then?

And to go back a moment, I'm still struck by the idea that what the UC thinks is "affordable" to a family that makes 20 grand a year involves them taking out 5 grand in loans. For one year. Presumably more in future years as the fees continue to go up. So we're talking 20 grand in loans if you graduate on time --- ok 25 since no one can get classes right now (who does it in four years these days anyway?). And they are claiming that poor families should not be put off by the thought of borrowing the equivalent of a nice car or their entire year's salary?

I won't even begin to address the point about what it means for our students' concentration levels and ability to read and think and do well in our classes if they are working part time and during summer. But if you were wondering why our students plagiarize, and don't do the homework, and don't read for class...

Plus, this chart doesn't do much to prepare a family for the reality of fee increases in the future. Like I said, the UC didn't raise fees for most of the 90s, which I agree was probably not the right decision (they should have raised it 1 or 2 percent each year to kinda keep pace with inflation, I think.) And then, around 2001, I think, they jacked it by 20% several years in a row. I'm not sure, as I was following graduate fee increases, which went up something like 23, 40, 20 over that time, and was too busy being pissed off at that.

But a quick check of the UC news page shows that we had a 9 percent increase last spring, right before this 32 percent one, and a 7.4 percent increase before that one, and before that an 8 percent, and before that a 7 percent, and --- hello, what's this little news item I had forgotten?
The fee increases are consistent with those recognized in Governor Schwarzenegger’s 2007-08 state budget, and in line with the compact between UC and the governor, which includes a provision for regular annual fee increases.
Ooh ooh! We had an agreement with the governor to accept massive cuts to the UC in return for the promise that fee increases would be small, regular and predictable? And the governor has just pissed all over that compact?

Maybe this will explain to The Itinerant Prof why we're all holding rallies and occupying buildings over here.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Pfew! And I hated it back in junior high, too

Ummmm ---- Hi! (*tucks hair behind ears, draws nervous circles with the tip of a Converse in the dirt*) So --- you like books? I see that's a really nice university press you got there. Uhhh--- (*sheepish blushing grin, twists hands into knots*)

So, um, are you going to be at the big dance? Like, uh, (*deep breath*) so, youwannameetupforcoffeeorsomethingthere? Maybe just for a little while? This isn't a proposal or marriage or anything; and you probably didn't want to anyway --- nevermind --- forget I said anything --- ok; bye.

No, no, really, don't say anything; I'll just back away now and try to melt into this wall over here. And trip over this garbage can in an embarrassingly loud and awkward and ridiculous way on the way out. No, really, don't help me up. Don't even look at me. Just pretend I never asked and was never here and it'll just be easier for both of us.


Ugh! And sending all the emails wasn't so bad, but it took me two days to write the damn thing. I can't imagine what I'll do if someone actually responds.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Random Randoms

- I'm reading some "sample books" in my field for models of introductions etc; well, reading the first one on the pile, to be more precise. I had dinner and cleaned some of the ginormous pile of dishes and managed to make it to the end of the chapter I was on before my brain sorta gave out. So I'm taking a break right now.

- There are different people who teach spin class at my gym/studio/whatever it's called, and one of them is too good at motivating me. She brings out my competitive streak for some reason and when she pushes the class to do more and harder, I go for it. Then I come home and have to collapse back into bed. That was yesterday. I was really achy and sore today. And hungry yesterday, so I ate lots of random unhealthy things, so it's not like spinning myself into exhaustion is helping me lose weight or whatever. And yet, my schedule only fits this one way, so I guess I need to just learn to hold back a bit.

- A simple logistical question for the book-writing people: when you worked on your manuscript, did you keep it all in one computer file or have each chapter in its own file? I wrote the diss and saved everything in separate chapters, but when I went to print it out I printed it from the "big file" that I used to file the diss. Either way, I need to reformat it from "crazy dissertation margins" to standard ones.

- Is it too soon to be freaking out and looking at the wiki? Please tell me it is too soon to be getting requests for more materials, cause it's been as quiet as the grave here on that front. Sigh. I have plenty to do between now and the end of December but *sigh* it looks like an interminable stretch of waiting from here. Too bad it takes so much less mental effort to pore over the wiki than it does to outline someone's introduction; these evenings are tough.

- It's been really lovely and sunny weather here, at least. Sunny and cold. Well, that's "chilly" for all you non-Californians out there. I guess if I have to be unemployed and poor and writing a book somewhere, there are worse places to do it. Although there are certainly less expensive places, that's for sure.

- I'm really craving a chocolate brownie right now, but where would I even get a good one at this hour? Hmm.

- Other than that, my life is really boring. Maybe I'll start making up interesting things to put on the blog. Clearly I need some sort of secret, alternate, superhero-like identity. Let me go get my Lone Ranger-esque mask.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

the Shit Just Gets Worse Out Here at the UC

I'm tired. I was going to post just random little tidbits of what happened to me today, but zunguzungu reminds me (with amazing pictures!) that today was the start of another round of rallies and strikes at the UC campuses.

In an experience similar to watching the world's largest anti-war protests before the invasion of a country even occurred (I'm speaking of the 2003 global protests of the Iraq war) I am disheartened by the demonstration that even massive displays of resistance by the people can have no effect on an entrenched power. Raising voices in dissent only matters if the state powers are actually willing to listen.

If they have already decided to ramrod through preapproved changes, from cutting classes to rejecting CC transfers in defiance of the California Master Plan to increasing fees by 32 percent (after the 9 percent hike earlier this year), then there is nothing we could say or protest we could make that would make them listen. And since the Regents are not elected positions, it's not possible to vote them out. And the whole problem is compounded by a global recession, state legislature stupidity, Prop 13, and bureaucratization. I'm left wondering, like Steinbeck's farmer, who can we shoot?

I haven't been going on campus since the last set of protests, so I'm not really in the loop. It seems though that most of the campuses organized trips to either Berkeley or UCLA to protest the Regents' meeting at UCLA today, and that further rallies and protests are being organized at all the campuses tomorrow.

Anyway, here are some links:

Check out this cool website UC Solidarity to see recent and future actions. While at Keep California's Promise, Richard Evans compares the growth of senior management to that of faculty, stating that we're almost to the point where each faculty member could have his or her own senior manager.

Davis and Irvine didn't appear to have news articles in their papers about any campus protests.

At UCR, a spokesperson explains some of the cuts that this 32% increase is supposedly going to help: "' We've had major, major budget pain on this campus,' Lovekin said. 'People are hurting. People are being laid off. The fee increase is the part of that pain that students will see. They'll also see the larger class sizes.' Other impacts have included a loss of 16 positions at the campus library, where the collections budget was cut 21 percent."

San Diego --- "Councilmembers are organizing bus rides to UCLA for students interested in joining the protest. About 200 students from across the UC system are expected to protest at UCLA and participate in the public-comment period."

A Santa Barbara editorial --- "The current fiscal crisis is certainly to blame for slashed services and furloughed faculty and staff, but these furloughs will be up for review next year. On the other hand, if historical precedents hold, this fee increase will never be rescinded and students will be left holding the bill. With the promise of an economic recovery on the horizon, we recommend the Regents consider a provisional tuition increase. Just as faculty and staff furloughs will be up for review, students would like to know that this 32 percent hike is actually a measure to deal with a transitory crisis and not part of a general trend toward privatization of the University of California system."

Zunguzungu also alerts us to this website about the UC crisis and the news that the UCSB faculty held a vote of no confidence on Yudof.

At Santa Cruz, it appears that they have occupied a building again. But that they only held it temporarily.

At the main rally at UCLA, the Daily Bruin quotes someone as having been tasered during the protest:
“The UC Regents don’t care. … They only care about their progress, basically themselves,” said Miles Goodloe, a third-year political science student who said he was Tasered twice by police. “And I had to get Tasered to understand that.”
A spokesperson denies this, but man, UCLA should not be pushing things. They have already had some major shit with this before, if you remember that youtube video that went around of the guy getting tasered for six minutes in the library computer lab. (I'm not even going to link to that again.)

And at Berkeley's student paper they have not only some great pictures but also are liveblogging the three-day strike, so you can go check in on it while it's ongoing.

Sigh. I was going to tell you that I finished reading and marking up my entire dissertation, and that today I did a lot of brainstorming about the introduction, but I think I'm going to be sad and depressed and go to bed early instead.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Close Reading Homework 1

Franz Kafka (1883-1924)


They were given the choice between becoming kings or the couriers of kings. In the manner of children, they all wanted to be couriers. As a result, there are only couriers. They gallop through the world shouting to each other messages that, since there are no kings, have become meaningless. Gladly would they put an end to their miserable existence, but they dare not, because of their oaths of service.

[Translated from the German by Lyman Baker]


What is the most important word in this passage and why? Write a paragraph of at least 100 words explaining why this word is the most important to the meaning of this passage. (That means explaining what the passage means as well.)

Part Two: What word would you choose as the most important word in this passage if you were not allowed to use "kings" or "couriers"? Why?

Sunday, November 15, 2009


I don't want you to get the impression that I spent two days of sloth and dissipation here; in fact I had quite a lot of energy today. It went away though and I'm taking a little break before I figure out what I have left that I can force myself to do.

Today's to do list:

cleaned the catbox
took out the garbage
cleaned up the kitchen esp floor
did dishes
put away chewed cat piles in living room
made job app to-do list (I made a lot of progress on this too, but obviously you don't get to see it)
clean up fridge and make meal plan
need groceries?

Hmm, that seemed more impressive at the time. Maybe I should list the three loads of laundry each on their own line. Except that they didn't really take long per se. And yes, I cleaned up everything except the dishes --- cleaned around them in fact! So? It's my apartment! And if I had tried to force myself to wash them I probably would have done nothing today. I tell you, the only good thing about doing dishes is after scrubbing about three things I have the sudden desire to actually finish another job app. I've been trying to play my competing work loathings off each other, with some success; I have a lot of job stuff finished and even more that is all ready to take to school and pilfer some letterhead and envelopes.

I probably don't have a chance in hell for these jobs as they are actually comp jobs that ask for an English rather than a comp/rhet degree, but, whaddaya gonna do? I'm sending off everything I can in the hopes that my cumulative effort somehow appeases the job gods and they bestow some sort of work upon me.

And my life became immeasurably better when I let a couple postdoc deadlines just pass by. Being miserable for four or five hours at a time without actually producing anything usable for the app is just pointless. Whereas when I put in that much time on my book project I was both happy and getting a lot done. Sure, I wouldn't mind living in Chicago for a while, but you know what? University of Chicago writing postdoc, you can just suck it! You and Stanford's glorified TA program can both kiss my ass! I don't need to write a fucking essay right now about how I would teach your list of texts from the Metamorphosis to A Room of One's Own in a way calculated to stand out from the other 900 applicants you're gonna get. PS you misspelled "Woolf" on your website, you douches.

Ahhhhhhh. You wouldn't believe how much better I feel now that I've written that out! I think I could actually face writing a paragraph about how I use technology in my student-centered classroom now. At least it's for a fucking permanent job.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Dear Internet, Please bring me a banana and inform my next of kin that the end is nigh

And please inform my cats' next of kin because I am going to kill them as soon as I recover my strength. Cats, nature's alarm-clock --- bah! I am sure I would have recovered fine if certain little furry troublemakers hadn't awakened me at 6:30 and then continued to torment me.

If I hadn't had to get up and feed them and then stop them from chewing on various things (Loquito found a stack of papers that had paperclips in them! And discovered that chewing and trying to extract the paperclips from the stack while standing on top of it is a new and exciting hobby! Which can only be done while meowing loudly and growling at the other kitty!) I am sure my body would have been able to Sleep it Off. Instead, since I was unable to fall back asleep it decided to Take Drastic Measures. I feel so horrible.

I hate my cats, and I hate the noise of people walking up and down the path outside of my apartment. And I hate shiny happy mister sun who is so goddamned cheerful and insistent on peeking into my bedroom window. And how my beautiful apartment setup is actually a stupid and horrible apartment setup because there is horrible glare on the tv set all afternoon, when really all I want to do is lie on the couch and watch something mindless.

I do like though how I left in so many intentional errors and jokes in my post last night but then wrote the exact same sentence twice and didn't catch it. That's some good drunkblogging right there. I'm also sure that I must have had a look of extreme serious concentration on my face while writing it and that it was priceless.

I do not, however, love wine. I think we are going to have to remain aloof acquaintances for a while after this. Obviously when I thought to myself, "yay! I'm not the DD and I'm already home! I can drink as much as I want!" I did not think through all the ramifications of this.

Please send me mindless and entertaining pictures and sites on the internet. Nothing of food though. And make sure the pictures don't move.

I'm aiiight.

No, seriously. I'm fine. I mean, sure, once I go to sleep and process I'm a be real sick in the morning. But right now, I'm fine. I'm good. I think the trick is to work all the crap out of the system before collapsing and hopefully not be sick in the morning. But there are no guarantees. I had a lot of wine there. And griping. Do you realize I may be the only one who rememebrs what the program was like here before 2001? I have a buncha pictures of what it was like then. Pictures from 2001, 2002 ... freaky shit. Do you even realize how many people dropped outa this program during this time, the people who never finished, never got jobs, I think I'm gonna puke. That's the wine and not the program, but I feel --- stalled. That's the wine and not the program, but I feel --- stalled. Like everyone moved on, got jobs, got something, moved on, I'm still here. I'm talking to people who I remember when they were born and when President Reagan signed in on the oath of office and shit and all these youngsters are here and me. Damn.

I got dirt. It's no use to me and I'm not gonna spread it but I got it. And will have a massive hangover tomorrow. And it's all good. I'm feeling good. Gonna be sick later but dammit, I have a phd. And cats. The cats say hello. Say hello to the cats, it's all I've got, the cats and the PhD, not even any useful blackmail. Hello. Cats! yes.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Anybody have about five hundred bucks and wants to spot me these Frye boots over at Zappos? Damn.

It's sad when you have your heart set on some tenure boots and you haven't even gotten a *job* yet. Alas. I shall just go and pine over their unattainable awesomeness. Droool...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Wine and Shoes Post

Where the hell did the weekend go? And what did I do for the whole of it???

Anyway, I'm having friends over later ---- as in later this week later ---- and I picked up some wine for us while grocery shopping today, and have already cracked one open today. Yum! But this is bad, and not just for the potential of drinking all the wine before the guests get here.

For example, I gave up wine and dessert, except for special occasions, back in early summer, and my weight has been very stable, slooooowly trending downward, although I'm not keeping a food journal or starving myself. I think I lost about 4 pounds. I know, less than a pound a month is not very impressive, unless you factor in the fact that I'm not really working at it, and that it is not turning me into a crazed and food-obsessed bitch, in which case it's kinda awesome.

But if I go back to going out and eating burgers and fries and drinking a lot with friends like I did and then drinking wine alone on other nights (to say nothing of how this brings up bad memories of my dad drinking himself into oblivion alone every night during my teen years), then I'm going to be fighting to maintain, or even fighting to slow weight gain, and that sucks. Of course, permanently giving up all the food I like also sucks. Ah, the drawbacks of being a foodie!

But then again, I want to be more social and people at school have finally gotten their fall quarter together (just as it is drawing to an end) enough to respond to my invitations to come out and play. And I don't want to be a complete hermit --- I like hermet-ing but for me it's really more of a hobby --- so I'm glad that people want to come out with me or come over. Except that I need to exercise more in compensation, or give up my lattes, or something. Meh.

Not to mention that if I have more wine it's gonna be hell getting up in time for my spin class tomorrow morning. Ah well. It's tasty wine. I am glowing. As Virginia Woolf put it, I think, I have a lamp lit at the base of my spine and am sure that when I get to Heaven Rembrandt will meet me there. Ahhhh. Isn't that nice? Except for the fact that I hate Rembrandt --- I hope he'll be so busy entertaining Ginny over there that he'll send Goya and Velazquez to meet me instead. Ahhh, Spanish painters. Why am I not traveling through Spain right now?

Anyway, that is not why I decided to post, or at least, not the only reason.

I have been fighting myself not buying a dress for the past few weeks now ---- it's expensive, like a hundred and sixty dollars, and I haven't even tried it on since it's in a catalog. I have no job right now, no money and no need of work clothes. So I have been holding off even though I have made the argument that I could treat myself with it for Christmas or my birthday or something.

But then Dr. Isis posted a link to a crapload of Nine West shoes all on sale for 19.95 and I got a couple of them instead. And now they are here:

My camera has been taking kinda blurry pictures lately, sorry. Put it at the bottom of the long list of things I'd like to replace if I had a paycheck.

As you can see, they have embroidery sewn into the leather, not printing or embossing. They are totally not my style; I pushed myself out of my usual comfort zone for them. Because, honestly, I prefer to have very very simple shoes in solid colors and then I tend towards very plain and simple clothing as well and you put it all together and it is dull. So this way, I figure, I can throw on a solid-colored top and jeans, or maybe they will go with my brown pinstripe pants, and they will be this little pop of something interesting down there by my toes.

So, yay! The other minor problem is that, when my feet fit width-wise, the shoes are always a bit long for my feet, so I've gotta put some padding in at the heel or something to keep it snug.

The other shoes are totally different ---- flats, metallic silver, they look very 80s. I'm more likely to wear them out and about on the town instead of my sneaks so I'm sure they will be seen by plenty. No need to drink wine and then document them here.

Well, I hope that I will work so hard at my actual stuff that I don't have time to post about anything this week. Will tell you how the dinner goes though. Eeek! Cooking for other people! Whoah.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Numbers, First Round

Initial round of job apps sent:

  • 54 job applications (a couple were lecturer things, most were tenure-track)
  • 7 postdocs

(last year I was more restrictive and sent out over 67 apps my first round, while this year I sent out to a lot of comp jobs and other places I clearly don't fit the ad, so there are definitely fewer jobs this year.)

Cost of dossier requests so far:

  • 50$ reactivation fee
  • 100$ initial mailings
  • still have a max of 16 more mailings to be requested

Rejections so far: 1

Requests for more materials so far: zero (but it's still early, right?)

Number of department grad students who I want to kill, for various reasons, so far: 3

Number of days before I can start obsessing and checking the wiki: ______ (it's really more about how long I can hold out rather than any practical number, eh?

Amount of compensatory chocolate consumed, in pounds: _____ (I'm headed straight for the martinis tonight --- luckily with friends. Will move on to chocolate later, probably in tandem with the wiki-checking.)

And thus concludes your Cog's first Job Application Update.

Burnt *Out.*

Bleah. (Ok, I almost just hit post right there, as that pretty much says it all.)

It's approaching mid-November, or at least it's approaching the mid-November postdoc deadlines, which means I have set aside my diss book manuscript and other odds and ends to complete a bunch of stupid applications again. I hate them. I am sitting around right now desperately trying to find a way to not work on them.

I don't want to apply to any more jobs. I don't want to write any stupid statements of how I will teach your stupid fucking Great Books in a manner that is both mindblowingly original and yet deeply traditional and recognizably familiar to you the search committee. I don't even want to tell you about my own research any more. I do want to go back to doing it, though, which is why all these last little niggling deadlines are so damn annoying!

I got six hours of careful reading and annotation of my book project done on Tuesday, broken up with some rests and a nap. That is amazing dedication, for me. On Wednesday, with my various windows open to postdoc requirements and a blank sheet of paper before me, I got almost nothing done. Part of me is tempted to just send some half-assed crap, but the other part of me says that the people who will win these types of awards will have some carefully-crafted work of art of an application, and that I should do something amazing or nothing at all. You know which option I prefer.

In fact, while bitching and moaning and avoiding work on the postdocs I saw a late-posted ad for my field, and without even a break in my complaining I opened up my cv and diss abstract, opened up the copy of my letter that I had sent to a job very much like this one, went zip, zip on switching around some names and dates and zoom! emailed that fucker out in under a minute. See why I hate postdoc apps? Once the job materials are good I can apply for squillions of them just like that! But these damn "tell us how you would prepare a syllabus and teach a class for X theme and we get to pick the books" crap requirements ..... argh!

Can I just ignore these postdocs and not bother applying for these late-posting positions? Wahhhh! I hate this crap! I want to go back to doing what I love best, which is bitching and moaning about my own research and my writing struggles. These external annoyances just aren't fun.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


The reading-and-commenting continues apace. Well, not a very fast pace, but a steady one. I have now read several of my chapter introductions in quick succession, with interesting findings.

The first chapter intro I wrote came to me accidentally in the middle of my prospectus defense, and I actually had to stop in the middle of the post-exam celebrations and try to write down an offhand comment I had made. That intro just sort of appeared and I didn't ever do much to rewrite it and I have never ever had that experience since.

The second chapter intro I wrote took for. ever! and was highly frustrating and I must have rewritten it a bajillion different times before my advisor saw it, and she made me rewrite it from the ground up when I turned it in to her as a final draft.

The third chapter intro I wrote had just as long and painful a process.

Having read them all this week, after not looking at them for far longer than a year (well no, I might have edited them when I filed the diss, I don't remember), I can say with assurance that the earlier "difficult" one completely sucks worse than the later one. Progress! The writing process didn't necessarily get any easier, but the quality of the output got better. That is something at least.

As for actual chapter revision plans, besides needing to bring out a consistent "throughline" across the chapters (it's not surprising it isn't really there yet since when I was writing I didn't really know what discoveries I might make), my biggest problem with the first chapter is signposting.

I often go off on stretches where it's not clear where I am headed or how this is advancing my argument. Some places really are pointless, in that I felt obligated to give some background or discussion that I had researched (I read those history books! I must use everything I read!) or I became obsessively attached to a particular discovery or idea or phrase. But a lot of the places, after I had stared really really hard at them and maybe eaten a cookie, were relevant to my argument and were the perfect passage to advance my claims or link to previous themes of the chapter. My argument is there; it's just submerged.

And that's dangerous. How can I guide my readers across the slippery rocks of my mind if they can't distinguish between the water and the path? And the alligators?

(Yeah, I know, this isn't a very good visual, but I couldn't find an image of submerged creek paths that worked for me.)

Here's where we are going to go, I need to say. To get there, you'll need to cross from this rock to that one here to this other one that's a bit more slimy and you should not step on that rock over there, because that rock will snap off your leg faster than you can say Jack Robinson.

In short, I need to find the argument and all the connections that are already there (for these are not bad chapters) and bring those signposts out.

Now if anyone could suggest how best to account for this work on my InaDrwiMo challenge. I just got exhausted and need to go take a late nap.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Now, alduce me to introlow myslef.

Book introductions! What the hell are they? What goes in them? What should they do? What sort of structure should they have? What do you, personally, like to see in introductions, provided it's not too naughty? Or silly ---- I never do silly.

Since nobody made me write an introduction to the dissertation, I didn't. And now I have the feeling that I need one, probably somewhere near the beginning of the diss book manuscript. I'm thinking that it needs to be something other than a compendium of Monty Python quotes or the words "why yes, this is an introduction" copy-and-pasted into the document 1,000 times. Thoughts?

The initial reread of my manuscript is moving right along, by which I mean it is a slow and horrible process which is not made any easier by the fact that I have a short (good! heavily revised and completely reorganized!) article version and a long (sucky! random! endlessly burbling!) dissertation version of chapter 2. I will inform you of my progress, and process, at greater length in a later post. This post is all about my nonexistent introduction which I would like you to write for me to give me some advice about.

I want to 1) finish my initial manuscript reread, 2) make some plans for revisions and a rough timeline and 3)write a draft of my introduction (and maybe also put something together to contact presses for MLA, potentially) this month as part of InaDWriMo, the International Dissertation Writing (or Academic Writing) Month, as seen here and previously participated in by yours truly here, but I have no idea how long an introduction should be or how to do a daily count to keep track of all this crap. Any suggestions?

Right now, however, I am tired out and will go back to watching Monty Python episodes, like this one quoted in my title. Hmm, why yes, this sketch sounds exactly like the chapter I am reading!

Anyways, offer some advice and then come watch Monty Python with me. Oh, and bring chocolate. As long as it's not Crunchy Frog.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Troubles with Toasters

I'm not much of a bread person, but I love toast. Especially some nice toasted sourdough (oddly wonderful with butter and honey) or a good sour rye bread toasted up nicely to accompany tomato or butternut squash soup, which doesn't really have much to chew.

Unfortunately, I would easily eat an entire loaf of bread if it was toasted up with the proper toppings, so I hardly ever buy bread.

So the other day I had some lovely soup and toast, lots of toast, and yesterday was cleaning up the kitchen and putting away the toaster, and decided to shake out the crumbs. I looked in and thought, "huh. That's a big, funny-looking crumb." I turned it upside down and shook it, but nothing came out. Then I got some tongs and fished out ...

what the...? It doesn't run anymore and the leather band is dried up like beef jerky.

I thought this was in the box I dump my keys. How did it get there? How long has it been in there?

I swear I clean up around here regularly. Pretty regularly. I swear.