Thursday, December 31, 2009

Hi! *looks around suspiciously*

So I'm in the Peets by my mom and dad's house, blogging. This is just not working. There are people all around me. There's this table of very fierce looking middle aged Asian Amercian ladies near me, and they keep stopping talking to look over at me, and then go back to talking while glancing significantly over at me. I don't know if they're speaking Cantonese or Mandarin, but I'm pretty sure I'm being discussed. It makes it very hard to post things around here --- as if this were a secret spy identity or something illegal or horrible instead of a slightly silly internet hobby.

I came here to upload some pictures for you since they are on the laptop and I can't connect the laptop to the internet at my parents' house --- they do not believe in wireless, so I have to go into my dad's bedroom, when he is not there or sleeping or wanting to futz around on the computer himself --- and when he is not interested in pestering me or teasing me or reading over my shoulder, which really intereres with blogging --- if I want to use the internet at home. But uploading pics at the Peets is just not working, either. And this place is crowded and I can't get a seat in a corner somewhere where people can't see my screen. So I will post my pictures and various updates and things in a little bit when I go back home and collect my cats.

Instead I am going to go shopping today!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Happy holidays!

Greetings from the parental units' house. I'm having troubles accessing the internet regularly, and I have a picture of my cats in jail but can't upload it on their computer, and all in all that means I probably won't be posting or commenting much til after the break. (note to self: you still have to do the syllabus for after the break, you idiot!) So, happy holidays and see you later! May all of your vacations be filled with Chex Mix. Toodles!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Cats

So in the midst of one of the many "oh crap! I haven't gotten the Christmas gifts for everybody yet!" realizations I keep having and yet keep doing nothing about (more on that anon), I decided that I wanted to get gifts for the cats. Why they get priority gift-getting over my brother and other remaining family members, I don't know, but I digress.

You might remember that my cats had collars on the blog at one point, or in blogpics, and now do not. That was because Timido scratched his into a mess (he's an itchy little cat) and Loquito kept getting the metal tag and ring caught on the carpet when he rolled around and then the whole collar would pop off. So I think I want to splurge and buy them new collars.

Obviously this won't help when I drop them off at the cat kennel later this week --- they get mad at the idea of unlabeled cats and tape some masking tape around their necks with their names markered on them (which I find kinda ghetto but hey, we are poor ghetto types these days) --- but I figure they need nice little collars and labels for the next time the state catches on fire, or floods, or mudslides, or whatever comes next, and someone finds them and tries to return them to me. So. Collars it is. And maybe some new catnip mice because the collars are not actually much fun for cats.

Anyway, collars. They say ("they" being the mysterious pet ownership gurus who are masters of guilt and anxiety production) that cats need "safety" collars or "breakaway" collars, not the leather rolled collars that dogs have, cause they could get caught on something and choke to death. Those little breakaway collars with the plastic buckle, however, won't hold my cats for more than a minute; one scratch with a hind foot and it flies off. So does anyone have some leads for a 1) non-choking 2) cat-sized 3) non-escapable cat collar that either has a tag built in or can have tags hung from it?

The cats would be much obliged.

(here, have a blurry cat photo in recompense.)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Sign from the Beyond

Why, oh why, does Dissertation Buddy get the fortune cookie that reads "you will be successful in your career"? Waaah! I don't care if I have the silent support of friends and loved ones! Why can't I get the career and the academic success, oh Fortune Cookie of Doom?

Yes, I'd like a large order of meaningless superstition with a steaming side of self pity, please. Your lucky numbers are 8, 14, 6, and 67.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Whoooah you're bringin me down / Pick it up, pick it up, pick it up, pick it up!

This is my new theme song. Very ass-kicking.

"Over time you can kill me, but I'll resurrect, so NANANANANA"

Not quite as awesome as the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but she's got a nice growl on her there. (studio version here for better sound.)

What's interesting is how happy and smiling she is on the live performances on youtube, not at all performing a persona of a bad-ass or rock-n-roller or art school band or anything, just smiling and pointing at the audience and digging on their energy. She's the anti-Karen O in that respect.

Dedicated to everyone else who's suffering on the job market and has begun to think it has something to do with their work or themselves sucking. Oh no. You rock, my friends. You really do.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Academia and the Rule of Four

I've always liked 4 as a nice number to explain academia. It takes 4 years to go through undergrad (we are thinking through all this at the neat and tidy theoretical level here) and it took me 8 years to go through grad school, which made for a nice explanation that it was twice as hard as undergrad and therefore should take twice as long.

And I've also been thinking lately that 4 makes a nice limit for the academic job search. This is my fourth year on the market and I have had so little interest from search committees all those years that I might as well have not applied. Except for all that lost time, expense, and heartache, plus all the time spent in grad student/unemployed limbo while people I knew had steady jobs where they moved up their career ladder and put money away for retirement.

Besides, when you put it into the rule of 4 and realize you have been searching for a professor job as long as it takes undergrads (theoretically) to get a degree, you start to realize that's a significant chunk of time you have put your life completely on hold.

Now, I'm not totally out of the running yet --- there are a lot of places (especially the women's studies jobs; nobody knows what is going on with them on the wiki) that have not made any decisions, according to the wiki, but then again there are a lot of places that called for writing samples and I didn't get any emails from them, so I've put a little star next to them in my spreadsheet preliminary to writing them off. I have a lot of stars already. And about 5 rejections. Although I haven't been rejected from any of those postdocs yet, even though the wiki says that quite a few have sent out a first round. So I still have hope, but considering my (now sizeable) previous track record I am doubtful that anything will happen between now and christmas besides me waiting and worrying.

And it feels weird to be reading introductions and taking notes and looking at peoples' book proposals when I might be dropping the entire project very soon, but I might as well keep working on something right now. Sitting around doing absolutely nothing feels wasteful.

Unlike the rest of my family, my sister has been wonderfully supportive all summer and fall, listening to my complaints and making sure I call the fam and have some human contact semi-regularly, and when at thanksgiving I happened to say how I felt I had gotten nothing done over fall quarter she jumped in right away with "but you've been working so hard!" and then listed off a big pile of things, which not only cheered me up but I'm sure it averted another fight with my parents.

Last spring I told her my multi-step plan, which involved revising and publishing and doing things and then doing one last year on the market, and she thought that was a great idea. And when I've been calling and talking to her lately, she has been pushing that reminder on me very hard, cutting off my slightest musings that I could do x or y to try another year's run at the market with the statement that I just need to cut the ties and get out.

Sigh. She's probably right. And I'm going to need all her willpower to bolster mine in order to do this.

So I've been poking about a bit looking at jobs --- she suggested something called a "corporate trainer," since I have teaching experience and that might be the easiest way to transition into the business world (to make my cv recognizable to them, I mean) --- and trying to figure out who and where is hiring near my family, since if I'm going to take some crappy hr or business job doing stuff I don't like and just focusing on supporting myself, I'm not moving to fucking podunkville middle America. No big full-bore push as yet, and I haven't made up my mind about another community college job run first (if there are any job openings in the CA ccs this year, which is doubtful), but I'm starting the process. I'm in this weird place where I have a million different forking paths and each one has a heavy to-do list on it, but I don't know which tasks I'm going to have to start working on because I don't know which of the paths will be mine.

So if you're on a search committee and want to give a cog a job, give me a call already! My heart does not thrill to the thought of checking product specifications for comma splices for the rest of my life.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Still sitting around waiting

Why do my ankles/shins hurt? Is it the stress of too much sitting, like I am that out of shape? Is it the abrupt change in weather? I do not know. But they hurt and are annoying. And I'm cold.

I am in the middle of an unproductive slump, but I went back and looked at my posts and diary stuff from the last few years and noticed that I have a slump, with ups and downs, every December. This year is just a little bit earlier, and I think that's because I am less busy by virtue of being unemployed. I have academic stuff to do, but most of it doesn't have to get done by any particular date (except those damn recalled library books rrrr!), so it is extra extra hard to make myself do it.

My cat insisted on sleeping on me all afternoon. It was very cute. It was way less cute when they both played soccer on my head all night; I certainly didn't get much sleep that's for sure. I could blame my lack of work or even reading productivity on that, except I slept extra long the night before and didn't really do much yesterday either. Sigh.

Really, I stick around here every year so that I'll have an extra week or so to "really get my work done" before visiting family, and then don't do any, and basically spend every December sitting around being depressed waiting for it to be over so that I can know one way or another about my job search, just sitting waiting for the time to pass while I get another year older and closer to death and my eventual reliance on the productive citizenry of society to support my aging carcass. Gah!

I would toss the to-do list to the winds and just do something pleasurable to pass the time, really make it a break, except that a) there's nothing around here I really want to do and b) no money to spend. I feel like going into genuine hibernation, bear-style, but that seems kindof a waste as well. I dunno. I'll find some way to pass the time or climb out of this funk. Sigh.

And you people are not helping either, with your dearth of posts and funny stories on your blogs! Why do you not entertain me and find me funny games to play on the internet! Or bring me snacks (I've had more than enough hot chocolate today, for warmth, to undo all my progress losing weight the past month.)

And worst of all, I reread stuff like this and think, ohno, am I turning into the Vortex of Negativity I wrote about earlier? Will I need to start censoring this from the blog too? Sigh. My life is so dull as it is that if this doesn't function as my id and space for ranting I won't have anything to post on it at all.

Distract me, people! Take me out of my head. It's not a very nice place to be right now.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Case of the Missing Mice Grows More Mysterious

Today I finally got around to cleaning stuff and vacuuming everywhere. (and did some yesterday, too.)

I am surprised: I looked under the bed. I moved the sofa. I peeked under the fridge and stove.

Where are the catnip mice?

Hmm ---- If I got more, would they stick around or would they escape to where the others are and start breeding?

Would I be kept up at night by the sounds of catnip mice rustling in the walls and skittering up and down the piping?

Maybe I need to buy some giant catnip mice, too big to be shoved under whatever hiding place the others have gotten to.

Of course, I don't know if the cats would be able to play with toys as big as them. And considering they'd be full of catnip, they might have some really bad trips. ("Duuuude, that mouse is huuuuuge! OMG, I think it moved!" - "No way! Whoah!")

Just say no, kitties.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Well, today sucked. Ok, no it didn't, but I didn't actually get any work done today. Bleah. I'm not to the point where I'm freaking out about waiting for MLA news, but I'm definitely at the waiting stage. If I actually had nervous energy maybe I could channel it into a cleaning frenzy. But no.

Totally random non sequitur: I bought some cute little catnip-filled mice right before I left over thanksgiving, and the cats loved them. I felt kinda bad that they are either so sick of their destroyed old toys, or that the catnip in them has totally lost its potency, that they got sooo happy over the idea of something new and interesting in the place. Poor cats. Especially when you consider that they only pester me to come play when I am actually working and I swat them away, so yes, they are bored.

But anyway, when I got back here --- no sign of the mice anywhere. Huh. Did they eat them? They don't appear to be under any of my furniture. They ... escaped? Dunno. I hope to soon really scrub down the apartment (see above) and maybe I will find them then. But it is quite the mystery.

In other news, it's quite dull and boring here --- I was chipping away at my book proposal and need to get back to my revisions too, unless of course I get no job interviews and move into backup plan mode and so then what should I do about the book? Hmm. I've been avoiding thinking about that. Do I want this published no matter what? I wanted to finish the dissertation no matter what, that was crystal clear. This, less so. I think it's good. But it is a scholarly work, not something with massive crossover appeal or the potential to save the world or anything.

And I have work next quarter (note to self: need to actually prep the class over break!) but it comes at the absolute worst time, since it overlaps with both the fall and winter local community college semesters and I didn't feel like I could squeeze in both, or something. Ok, technically I sent resumes around to every community college within about 60 miles asking for fall adjunct work and no one even replied. But I haven't tried them for spring yet and I think it's too late at this point. Perhaps summer? I've been working towards getting the grad students who are adjuncting there already to introduce me to to permanent people, and I'm hoping that I can work my connections.

Unfortunately, both my school and the local ccs have a rule that adjuncts teach the mwf classes and only full-timers get to teach the t/th. Stupid winter class messing up my schedule!!!! If only I was offered it for fall or spring. Or, you know, I was offered a full slate of classes. Or even none at all, so that I would have moved up into my parents' house long long ago and not still be here. That's almost too horrifying to contemplate, but, on the other hand, it sure would be a powerful motivator. I assure you I would have a full-time job doing something within a month to get out of there, if only in retail or secretarial. Or welding. Or something. Heh. Yeah, I can see me welding, Flashdance -style. Right.

And, to go back to what I should be doing, I could be prepping interview/job talk stuff, except part of me believes that I won't get anything this time around either so why bother, and anyway, if I do get a call next week there is still plenty of time to run amok frantically preparing that stuff. See? I am suspended in this glue of waiting, unable to really do anything. That's why I baked brownies and tried knitting things today. It's not like I needed a break right after thanksgiving, or needed a break from my usual work of sitting around eating a lot and doing a little writing, but there you have it. I'm at a crossroads; I have a million different things to do, but what those million things are depends entirely on something happening that I have no control over and can make no predictions about. I'm surprised I didn't spend the day hiding under the bed. No, the new cat toys aren't there. I checked.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Swirling Vortex of Negativity

Ok, look, Mr. and/or Ms Swirling Vortex of Negativity, I like you, or at least I try to like you, but you take "jaded and disaffected grad student" waaaaay beyond the level of standard angst and over into the range of pathologically toxic. Paradoxically, your constant and overblown complaining makes me less sympathetic to you, and less likely to believe your side of the story, where you are always the traumatized and injured innocent victim. And I am the one who is still very sour on the whole going-to-grad-school thing, and I'm very up to date on the ways the UC is being cut to bleeding ribbons of unfundedness. You might want to consider that your constant negativity might be backfiring in terms of getting sympathy or action from people, or even provoking their terrible behavior.

(I am unsure if this picture represents me or you. Or us both. There weren't any appropriately depressing images of vortexes on the web.)

Second, have you thought about the possibility that you're just not interesting? I mean, every time you have buttonholed me and talked we have discussed the lack of progress you have on these two paragraphs of your dissertation, or the many ways your department is totally screwed up and will probably be shut down by the graduate division, or at least should be (I am not in your department and don't know any of the names you are dropping, so I don't really have any investment in this), or how student health has totally dicked you over by not paying for some health problem that has totally incapacitated you and which you proceed to describe in lurid, disgusting detail. (eww.)

I notice that whenever you ask me how I'm doing or what I'm up to, you take the start of my topic as a jumping-off point to bring up one of your own well-rehearsed problems. Perhaps if you turned some of that vituperation onto new topics you would foster a sense of variety? I hear that the President was giving a speech right while we were talking where he totally fucked over left principles by digging down deeper into that Vietnam quagmire Afghanistan, maybe that would be a nice change of pace? There are so many things in the world to be bitter and negative about, why focus so myopically on just two or three topics?

I only know that you took a bit of advantage there because you knew I had to be at a certain place at a certain time, and trapped me outside the library listening to you for forty-five minutes. I'm sure you appreciated the social contact, but with forty-five free minutes I could have gotten a good start on that book I was holding. Or played online scrabble. Whatever. Do you think people are avoiding you and that is why you are so excited to pour out all your troubles to me? Do you think that, perhaps, they are avoiding you because they fear being sucked down into a whirlpool of negativity like the doomed crew of the Pequod, and they are frantically swimming away from you for dear life? I'm only asking because the mere sight of you on my horizon makes my heart sink a bit, and I feel bad about looking for ways to pass by without your notice. Notice I did not say that I don't do it.

I realize this may be a bit much coming from someone who has a blog that at times could be called the Amazing Crankypants Technicolor Bitchfest, especially when considering that griping with grad students is my preferred way of partying with them, but really I think that there is a line that can be crossed. In your case it's about four miles back behind you. And there is a major difference between going out for drinks or having people over for dinner and bonding with them about gossip and problems and doing funny impressions of people in your program, and then there is passing people in the hallways or corralling random vague acquaintances and subjecting them to interminable, endlessly repetitive rants.

Whatever you do, consider that I might have to make a cheerfulness intervention if things continue in this vein. And those motherfucking smileyface stickers make me break out in fucking hives.