Thursday, September 30, 2010

Moot Point

I guess I don't need to plan something for the day-I-pick-up-essays-and-start-a-new-unit day, because the school has canceled classes that day for ... Homecoming?

Deh----? droo---? blarfleeb----? Er---?*

*My phonetic rendering of me spluttering into speechlessness.

They've only canceled classes that could interfere with the celebration and game, but as long as I have the same classes and might as well be consistent, I canceled everything. After the astonishment, I'm mostly pissed that this wasn't listed in the master schedule of school holidays. I guess I'm technically not allowed to cancel the classes since I am supposed to bring them over to the festivities (holding hands? two by two? like children?) and make sure they stay for the whole thing. Go ... team?

Baffled. I. Am. Sooooo. Confused.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Composition filler help

Hey people, help me out ---- my first sequence was about education (or college). I'm about to get papers from them and on that day that I don't really have any readings due or whatnot, and while I could find something relevant and copy it and we could read it and analyze it in class, one of the other postdocs just suggested that I show them a video in class instead. Excellent. *tents fingers together evilly.* So, give me suggestions!

The next sequence I'm actually sticking to the crappy anthology, and using their whole "personal narrative" crap sequence. I am not going to let them write a personal narrative, since a) I don't like them b) I don't need to hear any more about the Bible than I absolutely have to and c) they are already pretty good at the genre of personal narrative and need work on actual analysis and argument. Instead I am having them compare and contrast personal narratives under the theme of "changes in identity" (or the evolution of one's identity). We'll see how that goes. I have very little hope that it will go well, but there it is.

What I would love are suggestions of video or film texts that can fit into a 1-hour period and somehow be a good conversation-starter for this sequence on "changes in identity." (Ideally I'd like something on why we read and write about personal narratives; yes that's really more of an article that I need to find but anything to help students conceptualize or complicate the idea of identity would be great.)

Any suggestions? One postdoc brought in an episode from Battlestar Galactica (a tv episode would be the perfect length), another has been showing Old Spice commercials for rhetorical analysis. What can you think of that I could bring in on the day their essay is due?

If you throw out enough suggestions I can just show movies the whole next month and actually get my job apps out --- whoo-hoo!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Clothing Grumpiness

I am grumpy. Grumpy! I went over to Target today to do some "replacement shopping." I need some more hot-weather teaching clothes and I finally tossed a goldish-khaki-ish skirt that had seen better days. So I need some lighter-colored skirts. There were a bunch of khaki skirts on Target online (this post is probably incredibly boring for you, eh?) but I wanted to actually try them on.

No skirts there. Gah. They had all these cute jackets in colors I like! Greens, rusts, browns ---- both blazer-style and some cool military-style ones. But it is pointless to buy more jackets for my extensive jacket collection when it is still getting into the mid-90s every day! Grumble grumble. Especially when my summer skirt collection is lacking.

They also had some pretty dresses in nice colors, but they looked nicer on the rack than on me.

Obviously this is too unstructured for a short and roly-poly body. It might look ok on someone very tall with a boyish figure, but I am, as someone put it, built along the x-axis rather than the y-axis. Sucks that only the latter is considered hot these days. If I lived back in medieval times people would think my little pot-belly was hot!

Now this one had a lovely ruffled yoke on the top but as soon as I put it on I knew it was wrong. I have trouble wearing button-down shirts and I gave up on full button-down dresses a long time ago. So pretty, but so wrong --- too long, too heavy, too monochromatic. Ah well.

And no work-appropriate tan or khaki skirts! Grr!

I may go back on the Target website but I am irked by them at the moment. And I am being unduly tempted by the lovely (and more expensive) stuff at anthropologie and modcloth. (Must! Stop! Looking!) Unlike shoes, though, buying clothes online is always tough for fit.

Grumble grumble grumble. All I want is lots of extremely beautiful clothing that fits perfectly for cheap ---- is that so much to ask?

Friday, September 24, 2010

OMG Jealous!

Someone made a LOLcat of Dr Isis as a cat with a tiara! Why do I not have cats with tiaras around my house, dancing and doing my bidding? Why do not people make LOLcats of me wearing a tiara?

Ahhhhh much better. And an apt rendition of my week.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Interstices

I have troubles with the interstices. First of all, there's simply the effort of pronouncing them: does anyone else stumble repeatedly over the word "interstices," to the point where you try to reword the sentence so you can use the word "interstitial"? There's something odd about the emphasis.

Secondly, I don't know if my whole life is disappearing down the cracks, but entire days sure are. I have a weird schedule --- not back to back, but with gaps that are too big to just review some notes and walk to the next class, but too small to really get anything done in. I spend a lot of my alert part of the day sitting and staring at nothing, only to be too tired to do much in the evenings when I get home.

I've been trying to shuffle paper, and since I have so much more paper to shuffle with all these classes, that's something. I can keep up on my attendance and checking off all their little in-class writing assignments, but I can't really grade. It's hard to do anything that will really take concentration or getting into a groove, since I always have to have part of my mind on what time it is and when my next class will be (and why the hell do classes not start on the hour or a normal time here? I have one that starts at :23. WTF?!?!?).

With my biggest gap I can make it through grading half an essay --- but then finding where I put said essay, where I left off, and what grade I thought the first half deserved ends up taking more time than if I had just left it until later and jumped in to do the whole pile.

I also have the problem of either wolfing down lunch way too early and without really enough time to chew, or suffer in another class while waiting for my later break. (If I was smart I'd have a teeny snack for the first break since the other break is longer, but I went looking for those mini-cheeses and couldn't find any at the grocery store. I'll get a system set up properly, eventually.)

I guess I could be shuffling the roll cards to learn students' names, since I haven't gotten that down yet ---- but the gaps are a bit long to do that without it seeming weird and boring. Oh yeah ---- I forgot, that only works to an extent, bc there are a bunch of names that I can't place faces to very well, so staring at the roll list doesn't do much when I actually call it. I should make a few notes so that I can remember at least which hair color all my Brittanys and Jennifers have, which might help.

Sometimes prepping works, but not any time I need to read an assignment first, as again that requires more concentration than I can give. I was running about on campus finding places and doing all sorts of errands, but those have decreased a bit since it's not the beginning of the year. Copying, too, is one of those things I can get done, but don't need to do every day. Eh.

And just reading the paper or facebook or playing scrabble ... I don't know ... I feel so guilty when I do it. Especially if I'm in my office hours ---- and my chosen corner in the lab room actually has me with the my back to the door, so students would be walking up to see me slacking off on facebook, as does anyone else who goes by the room. Hence my emphasis on seeming busy even if it's just paper-pushing.

Oh, and what I would do for the ability to put my head down for a quick nap! Even if I could relax enough to nod off, that would just be terrible when I had to wake up suddenly and look presentable and mentally alert. Or not wake up, which would be just the depths of embarrassment ---- "I overslept for class today." "---Oh, was that your early morning class?" "---no, it was the one around noon. I made it to the first one just fine." Heh.

Hmph. I can't solve it. It's like my to-do list sits there and looks at me, taunting me with endless piles of things that just don't really fit in the free time I have, and nothing to do in the little gaps I have. Maybe I should just bring something to knit.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

I have essays to grade already. Wheeeee.

And I have pushed through 5 of them already. I will go back and do another 5 later today, but right now I am supposed to be revamping my job materials. Hello job market my old friend; I've come to talk with you again. Bleah. But the only way to deal with either of those tasks, of course, is to break it down into little chunks with lots of rewards. The hershey kisses are across the room from me; I have to cross something off before getting up to eat one. Of course, even with these constraints I'm going to end up gaining way too much weight, so I'm trying to have some of my minirewards be non-food-related. Hence the blogging.

That reminds me, I need to force myself back into an exercise routine. The gym here is unacceptable for many reasons, but they do have a couple yoga classes that seem decent and fit into my schedule ... finding this stuff out was on my to-do list last week; this week I really need to get my ass in there to work out!

And also, since I tossed my threadbare old swim suit before I moved, I need to decide if I'm going to replace my swim stuff and go back to doing laps. Humh. That's really more a note to myself than anything for you all.

For my lit class's first essay I am making them do a close reading of a single poem, very traditional New-Critical stuff except I am not even really teaching them about the keystone and the structures of irony and the architecture of a poem stuff. So you could say I do a crappy job of teaching how to do a close reading, considering I don't even get much past "quote actual lines from the poem" and "tell me what the words mean exactly" and then my standards for what they produce are even below that, but, whatever.

I have had almost phenomenal success in the past showing my students a model: a segment of my undergraduate essays that is very focused in on word choice and image patterns. At my old school, the few times I got to teach lit classes and made them do this assignment modeled on my own, I got great stuff that was looking closely at the writing and saying interesting things. And even here, where the students are not quite as prepared and everyone is a non-major fulfilling a GE requirement anyway, I have pretty good results of the form of a close reading. I glanced through the pile and I am getting short essays sprinkled about with lots of quotes and they range from a fairly simple reading of the form/content interplay of the poem to a very in-depth paraphrase.

And I am totally on the fence about that. On the one hand, students are not necessarily doing a reading of the poems, in that they are not making much of an argument or analysis of what is going on in the poem. But on the other hand I TA'd for years for lit classes and got back "close readings" that didn't have a single quote and that floated so high above the poem at the level of platitude, vague generality, and description of some of the themes, that I feel like it is a major accomplishment to get students to the level where I know they understand the poem at the level of paraphrase. (Oooh, those New Critics would hate me for the heresy of paraphrase!)

So showing them a very concrete model of what I mean by "use lots of quotes and analyze each one" really helps to get them to the form I expect, if not actually produce the level of analysis and texture present in the sample. However, this is why I have a paper due already; this very short "getting to know each other" essay gives them the warning that I am actually an Evil and Heinous Bitch Who Grades Extremely Hard, and gives them a list of what I really hit and don't hit for their later papers. So yeah, grading a lot sucks, but it pays off in that I get to read less-terrible essays further down the semester line. At least I hope it will --- it did back at my old place.

Yeah I don't know if I'm fooling myself or not: why yes, I get much more specific simplistic generalities with my patented method! So much better! They can't analyze, but they can blindly imitate! You go!

Also I have no clue how to teach anyone to think about rhythm and meter, or even any idea about what to say about it myself in lecture. If students address it at all, they say something like "this meter makes the poem flow along very smoothly" or "by making every two lines rhyme, the author produces a very pleasing, harmonious sound." Gah. My assignment has a long list of poetic terms and characteristics and maybe I should just lop those off the end of the list; I don't really cover it, and too many of my students trudge along and do a random paragraph on each one as if they had to discuss them all. Going over the instructions more carefully doesn't help, either, since so many majors do explicitly want a bullet point or separate paragraph covering each term (I'm looking at you, biology and psychology midterms!).

Sigh. Ok, need to revamp my job letter and teaching philosophy. Last night was the horrible experience of emailing people to ask for stuff again (I hate that!): letters, copies of stuff they promised me, statuses on articles and things, updates on conference plans. But, you know what, reading a tired old job letter and polishing it once again is no more fun than nagging people for letters. Even with chocolate at hand.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Window Shopping Again

Oh, I totally shouldn't look at web shopping sites for cute little dresses at while watching tv and getting ready for the next Project Runway! I am soooo tempted to get everything! And I have no money. Pooh.

You know what? I was looking at my teaching clothes and noticed that I have lots of patterned skirts, and only solid dresses. Weird. I keep saying that I need to get cute new stuff and push my taste boundaries, and then I don't have money. Ah well.

Like this ---- this I like but would never think, hey, that's me.

Or this ---- also cute to look at and out of my style range:

This blue one I really like. But it is more plain and simple.

And this is also cute, but maybe too low cut and summery:

And this black and white one is soooo cute! I love the detailing! But I don't like to wear white. I will just admire it from afar.

This is another one that I love the look but would never actually wear --- I don't need those cool cutouts anywhere near my hips.

This silver dress is pretty (but with weird cutouts in the back) but too fancy for my life (when do I go out somewhere that would need this?) and I don't like silver ---- not enough of a color for me to wear it all over.

And this gold one has interesting shape and detailing ---- actually I love it ---- but it is too "evening" for me. I don't think I could teach or go get groceries in this.

This little dress, however, I totally could. Might need a belt or other form of cinching undergarment, but it's very cute.

And this one I may break down and buy even though it is the most expensive one on Modcloth --- I love it, love the detailing, and it looks nice and professional (and yet interesting) for teaching.

Finally, this is the first one that caught my eye and I love love love it --- but wonder if I would not wear it very often because the pattern is very bold and loud. Hmm.

Now I am going to watch the show and try to restrain myself from buying everything on the entire internet. Ahhh, yes, the internet has its good sides, but its temptations as well.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Proposing Courses Question

Please do not take this as a rude or horrible example of stealing someone else's work in that I am reposting wholesale Dr. Koshary's interesting job market question:
How do you differentiate between courses you'd offer to undergrads, and those you'd offer to grad students?
Or, more generally, what are you looking for in sample course syllabi, course blurbs, or course proposals when or if you request them of job applicants?

I had thought that they should always try to sound as mysterious and intriguing as possible, but I have no clue if that's what search committees want or if they want a tried and true standard. I do know that I have stumbled on discussing teaching before, unless it's comp. I always have things to say about comp, most of which is unprintable. But you never accuse me of coming off as vague or not having opinions. On the other hand, I often draw a blank in interviews when trying to propose an upper-division course or plan how to structure the survey.

And also reposted, just because it's so damn true:

I don't know if other disciplines will recognize this trend, but in my world, I also note that grad courses often sound way sexier and cooler than undergrad offerings. Look at the catalog, and you'll see undergrad courses like:

Complexification Subfield A
Topics in Complexification Subfield B
Survey of Complexification Subfield C

Flip over to the grad courses, though, and you'll see:

Two Apparently Unconnected Things Juxtaposed to Suggest an Insidious and Fascinating Structural Relationship
Going Beyond All This Subfield Shit
Broadside Critiques of Complexification Studies by Its Own Practitioners

And so on.

So true. And in lit grad courses you might even see a single-word title (Power.), or maybe even a list of them, fragmented with periods (Sex. Deviance. Poetry.), which these same professors would cheerfully commit murder over should they see this as the title of some undergraduate's essay.

Dr. Koshary has further questions to round out the topic of proposing grad and undergrad courses. So, could you go on over there and give the guy some encouragement and advice? And, you could also leave some suggestions for me over here, too, hint hint!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Random randoms

I might be building up some stamina; I didn't go home right away and go to bed after teaching. I'm still tired, but I did some paperwork crap and graded a half a section of response papers. The good news is that I have some time to get work done; the bad news is that I have craploads of teaching work to do. And that on top of craploads of job prep and other random stuff too.

Maybe I will be able to go back to the piles of grading and teaching work tonight. I was saying to another postdoc, "you know, I hate that one minute you're all caught up on prep, and then the next minute, class is over and you're back to zero with a huge pile to prep all over again!" Clearly, we need more long weekends.

It's funny; I decided it was nice outside ---- as in, extremely hot and sunny instead of excruciatingly hot and sunny ---- and that I wanted to sit outside and read for a while. So I covered myself liberally with bug spray and went out on the back deck. Remember how I got the natural stuff and I smell like a giant citronella candle? Well, you may also know that cats hate the smell of citrus (good to know if you want to keep cats out of your garden, eh?), and as soon as I sprayed the bug spray on myself, the cats went running away and up the stairs!

I lasted about a half hour out in the sun. Only got three bites, too! Now I am back inside where it is dark and cool. Too shady inside. Uh, because of trees around the place.

You know, NCIS might be as stupid and badly-written a show as Criminal Minds. I wonder how long before I desubscribe the cable. It is much worse having it every day, getting used to it, than binging on tv when I go visit home and then go away to get over the badness of it all.

Ooh! A commercial! For a New Sopranos! Well, a Prohibition-era gangster and cops show! Hmm, it doesn't look like it has enough of the schmoozy partytime stuff I love from that time period. Where was the jazz and the shiny flappy dresses? Hmph. I'll probably try it out anyway. Oh wait --- was that HBO? Dammit, why do I have to pay so much money for all those damn channels I don't like and then have to pay extra for the channels I do want? Sigh.

And now I should go away and contemplate the truly important questions: what shall I have for dinner? Maybe I can even force myself to do some extra work too.


If you read Maude, you can go here:

(posted by request)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Saturday Blahs

Hmm, what do I have to talk about? Well, in rebellion against my students, I'm going to just blorp out all the random comments I have floating in my head without any organization, central point, or even bullets, despite having just lambasted them for their lack of organization or development in their writing.

Speaking of, I have half of one more section to go on the diagnostic essays. Sigh. I will do them later today. I was just about to go take a nap but had to go to the bathroom first, and now I have enough energy to do a blog post. So blog, then nap, then finish grading.

Unfortunately I have another assignment from them already. So behind already! Ah well. I think it went better that the other day that I was late getting back the diagnostics. We focused on a sample essay and grading criteria and now the next time we meet I will show them the diagnostics and we go over them. (I have to hold them to have a writing sample on hand, so I'll collect them back afterwards).

Usually I at least get a lot of cleaning done when I am procrastinating grading, but the tub has backed up and I had to go out and get draino. Now it has finally drained, but --- of course! --- it looks extremely nasty in there from the scummy water that was sitting. The whole bathroom looks bad. I will clean it soon, but I just draino'd and that kinda took away my entire cleaning/procrastinating urge. Meh.

It doesn't help that I have cramps.

The good news is that the other day I got home from teaching and was much more awake. I watched about an hour of bad television and then cooked! (Compare to me sitting there exhausted for the whole evening the time before.) I made soup for the first time --- lentil soup. It is good. I cooked up a whole buncha stuff and now I am set for the weekend. Which is good because it is raining like it's gonna go outta style. I already went out in it though --- first drove to the next town over for some *$ and graded about 10 diagnostics (yay me!) and then to the Target for draino and other random little crap.

Laundry was on my to-do list for the weekend but the rain is making that look pointless. The drying part of it, anyway. Luckily I have plenty of clothes and can just let the piles pile up more --- though I am running low on kitchen towels etc. after all that cooking.

I keep mentally blogging (talking to myself, basically) while driving around town but then being too tired/distracted/busy to actually write anything when I am back. I did the same thing in CA, but, as I may have said before, if I could have blogged while driving back then this blog would be nothing but bitching and complaining about the crappy drivers! And my near accidents. This time around it's more about thinking about how Postdoc City is different from GradSchoolLand; I'm sure it would be much more interesting for you to read. But, just like when I wake up in the middle of the night with a great idea for my research, it's gone before I actually get where I can write anything.

Back to my apartment --- I love a lot of things about it, particularly the layout, and how it's so big! so roomy for me! But having lived here for a month or so now I can say that I would never buy it if the condo was actually put on the market. They cheaped out with shoddy workmanship everywhere. Every baseboard is mismatched to the others or has a gap where it should line up with a doorway. There are gaps under all the doors and you can see how the front door has been hung crooked if you stare at where the light shines through the edges. I pulled on the toilet paper roll and the holder popped off the wall (which they have yet to come fix.) As I pointed out, the tub won't drain ---- and even before that I noticed that the tub slopes the wrong way for some reason. By that I mean when you turn on the shower, the water runs to the far end instead of the drain end, and it doesn't really want to drain up and out of the tub. There are just a hundred little things about the place that slightly annoy me, but not enough to fix anything as I'm a renter. I would never want to own this place, though. You'd basically have to re-do everything to make it look nice.

Having said that, it is big and spacious and new and I love the place. No leaks yet, though, and no big problems. I just have very picky high standards for my environment. The cats like it too, now. Except for the hiding all day thing. Loquito is laying here on my leg and cleaning his butt right now, so I guess he is glad I am spending the day at home. He was meowing at me in an annoying way earlier though. I never did figure out what he wanted. Maybe he was just chatting. No, he had the insistent, constant meow rather than the "I'm making random noises" meow.

Ok now I am tired again and going to nap. Perhaps I will post something that's actually interesting later.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Aiiigh! Difficult Choices

I am so tired. I can't sleep well on the nights before I teach, and then I just kinda drag through the week. It seems there is not enough crappy tv on the tube tonight to rejuvenate me.

Fuck, is it almost time for the JIL to be out? I am so not ready. I don't even want to think about it. I have tons of grading, I haven't worked on any of my research/writing, I haven't even looked at my job materials ---- Aiiigh! I can't face it.

So instead of grading I am sitting here on the couch, with my cats, watching bad tv and making some difficult choices:

You know I've been looking for a while at replacing the black boots that wore out, but between money being tight and not finding what I was really looking for, I haven't done anything.

These luscious little boots also come in a lovely cherry red and in magenta, but I should really spend oodles of money on replacing the black boots (or not on anything at all!) before blowing my cash on fancy color boots.

I can't get the other colors to download, so go look over here on the Boden site.

But then again, there's also these:
And when you see them on a model on the j jill site when she's wearing tights they have this wonderful little slouchy look to them. Yum! Plus I've been looking for a long time for something with some silver hardware to it, but not too much crazy hardware. Voila.

And I also saw these:

Which look delicious in either the brown or the black, and they have a nice low heel which makes them look comfortable.

Sigh. If only I could just buy boots for every day of the week! And wear them while sitting around on the couch with my cats and not have to think about the job market. Mmm --- maybe I could apply for work as a shoeblogger somewhere?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Procrastination Station, What's Your ---- Elation? Vacation?

Ok, so maybe not everything fits into a Schoolhouse Rocks song. Eh.

I have grading already, and how hard am I procrastinating? Well, I've looked up the hotel information for the next MLA convention and am planning out whether or not I can finagle a family visit. I have family 390 miles from the hotel, 415 miles from the hotel (and 412), 116 miles, 137 miles, and 15 miles. How many hours playing with google maps were wasted discovering this information? Oh do not ask. This is after hunting down some t-giving plane tickets, although I haven't gotten winter break tickets yet (I still have to send some emails or calls out to figure the various Christmas/New Year's plans and where I will be staying considering that MLA is later this year.)

I have also made a rubric and checked it twice. Well, ok, I haven't checked it twice. And I spent all morning fiddling with the formatting instead of actually reading these assignments. I feel like I should be whaling away on this pile to chop it down to size while I have a long weekend (btw, when you bash somebody, are you waling on them? whaling on them? wailing on them? I have no clue where that phrase comes from.) but the spirit is weak and the flesh is weak too. If I'm going to blow it off I should at least go do something interesting instead of sit around inside and reorganize my laptop files (oh yes, there have been multiple entire campaigns of procrastination), but, again, I am lazy and not fully committed to either plan.

I need to get groceries at some point too. Meh.

If I were really smart I would be procrastinating grading by doing Useful and Important Work on my publishing and job-hunting fronts, instead of just futzing around with the scheduling for MLA. I haven't looked at my article attempt in so long. And my schedule during the week makes it hard to get to, as I'm gonna be going straight from class to prep to grading to class again. Don't get me wrong, I could handle that pace; it's throwing in a research agenda and job search and trying to have a (actually create a new) social life on top of it that just seems overwhelming. I'm sure I will figure out something eventually but complaining, besides procrastination, is the only other varsity sport I play in. (I'm cross-training, heh!)

Speaking of cross-training, I haven't worked out since before I moved and I need to get something new set up. And I need to get some new closed shoes that are not too nice and are up to the local ground cover of leaves and sticky berry thingies and dog poop everywhere. And I still need to get my car looked at (and cleaned!) since the cross-country trip as it doesn't quite sound right. And that reminds me that I guess I need to get a local driver's license and new registration, too. See what I mean? All this moving and getting settled gives me a zillion and two not-very-important little things I need to deal with, which makes me feel overwhelmed and not up to doing anything, or, makes me fill my days with petty little errands that distract me from both my grading and my writing.

Ah well. You know what my solution to that problem is? Lunch. I'm off to cook up something.