Monday, May 30, 2011

I came, I saw, I wrote something-or-other

I had a pretty productive day of writing today. I took one of my five pages, and split it up and made it three pages. And kinda-sorta-almost got it all the way grafted back in to the original five pages. And I looked at another part of my notes, which is almost ten pages. Unfortunately, they are not really useable pages, since every single sentence in the notes is a question. Sigh. I'm going to have to find answers to those questions and make some decisions in order to progress. I worked steadily for most of the day, too, which means I made amazing progress.

But why, when you work all day on an article and make amazing progress, don't you get to be done with it at the end of the day? Why do they have to be longer than just a few pages? Sure, I made progress, today, but that just means when I get up to work on it tomorrow, I will be covering some new ground. Grumble!

I shouldn't complain. And I certainly shouldn't beat myself up when I actually worked very hard. Especially when you consider I didn't sleep well last night at all. I was so smug and congratulated myself for not having the air conditioning on at all yesterday and it was still pretty pleasant in here, quite fine. And then I went upstairs and went to bed, and couldn't sleep, even though I had put the air on. So it seems that upstairs gets all hot and stuffy and uncomfortable even when the downstairs is nice, and today I've left the air on and it has been downright chilly down here, but it is still a bit hot upstairs when I just checked. Hmm. Sleeping on the floor down here is an option, I guess, although my cats have chewed through enough of the blinds I don't think it would get really dark or private from the neighbors. Plus there's the sheer annoyance of having and paying for an entire upstairs that you don't actually ever use. We'll see what happens tonight, and I will continue to ponder, since the thought of running the AC as little as possible sounded good to my wallet.

I'm still avoiding the hard questions about my finance goals at the moment, btw. Although I did get on the computer and tote up all my bills and set a few in the online billpayer. I'm going to have to go on a serious money diet in the near future to scrabble out of the hole, and I'm not up for dealing with it yet.

The same, alas, can be said for the food diet. I have done yoga or some sort of alternate exercise every day this week, though! And about three of those days included reasonable portions and healthy food as well. There is a big drawback to working at home because the library is closed for memorial day, however. And this week I may actually get to the gym for some cardio. Maybe I should do like some people and set up a standing desk or desk at the treadmill ---- make progress on two of my goal areas at once! (if I could get paid for doing this it would be perfect! Yeah, not gonna happen.)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Summer Goals 1: Research

As my last post might have indicated to you, I am thinking of various summer plans and how to keep motivated to achieve my goals. I have several areas that desperately need improvement and lots of willpower: my weight, my finances, and my research agenda. I am making some plans for the first two but they are so damn depressing that I will return to them later. Today, I will contemplate the first of my research/writing goals:

Look! It's a new article! Isn't it ... cute? Or something? It's currently about five pages long. I think I will name it Floyd, because it was getting to be hard distinguishing all my various "new article" attempts without using distinguishing topics. Now, you might be asking, whatever happened to the last article you had been working on and on for such a long time?

Uhhhh... (pokes at it a bit). It's not moving. Maybe you shouldn't ask about that one.

Anyway, Floyd. I have been hatching this idea since ... maybe January? And haven't been able to devote much time to the egg what with all sorts of grading and traveling and whatnot, but I at least was thinking about it off and on, which will have to do for "keeping research momentum." But lately I have been able to devote time to it and have had some progress!

I made some research goals with the intent of working one day a week at the end of the semester (which clearly didn't happen, really) and had a first draft deadline of ... June 1st. That's, like, now. Hmm. I'm not going to say that turning my five pages into a finished draft by next Wednesday is physically impossible ... but I am also not expecting anything then. I've been progressing pretty smoothly (turns out I might have subconsciously simmered some of the ideas over the semester and writing is coming without too many blocks right now) but am not sure what new date to set for my finished draft --- June 15th? Arrgh why won't the damn thing just write itself and be finished already! Jump out of the nest already, Floyd! Hurry up and fly!

See? This is my problem. Even when I make progress, I beat myself up because I want instantaneous results. Ah well. Let's make that a goal and really push to get it, because if I can get it out to my friend Dr Does Everything for a read-through, I can turn my attention to setting up the summer class and get all that ready, and maybe get back to some of my other projects soon after, like my book introduction. However, right now, all I am focusing on is the new article, Floyd. That way I won't be overwhelmed.

Anyway, I may not be posting much in the near future, as I wait on Floyd around the clock and busy myself with little vitamin droppers and mashing up worms and carrion and all that good stuff. On the other hand, I might be on here constantly, bragging about my progress and showing off pictures of little Floyd's growth. I can't wait to shove him out of the nest!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Introducing the Awe-Inspiring D-90X!

Academic Cog offers the exclusive, Exclusive, EXCLUSIVE new program, D-90X! Turn your dissertation from scrawny to ripped in 90 days or no money back!

(metal guitars begin crunching in the background, then squeal into full-on 80s-hair-band glory.)

D-90X ---- a Revolutionary Home Dissertation Program

In just 90 days, you can take a dissertation draft and build it into the manuscript you’ve always wanted. Only got a few pages? No problem! Have endless unorganized pages of notes? No. Big. Deal! Because the secret proprietary formulas in D-90X, will teach you How. To. Bring It!!!

(screeee! go the guitar tremolos.)

You don’t need gyms or fancy NEH fellowships to get truly amazing dissertation results. All you need is paper, pen, a computer, an aluminum bat, a chair, and about an hour a day. With the amazing D-90X system, your dissertation will become ripped, ripped, ripped!

The special two-part system of D-90X puts you through intense reps of Hard. Core. Theory. building your strength and toning your dissertation until it ripples along every paragraph. Using celebrity trainer Sisyphus’s patented “mental confusion” scientific breakthroughs, D-90X will have you constantly changing up your theoretical approaches to keep burning that mental energy. Switching between Agambenian crunches, Deleuzean pull-ups, Jamesonian curls and Butlerian chest flys, the D-90X program will never allow your dissertation progress to plateau!

With the second part of the D-90X program, masked assailants will come to your home, tie you to your chair, and beat you with the baseball bat until you complete the requisite number of dissertation pages. This highly effective method of training ensures that you will write an increasing number of pages every day!

D-90X ---- guaranteed to produce results!

Already have a dissertation? This program also works for shaping flabby dissertations into completed book manuscripts! Don’t forget the no money back guarantee! Only D-90X can give you the power to turn this:

Into this!

Send money to Academic Cog today! And harness the awesome power of D. 90. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX!

(Reverb goes crazy as a giant psychedelic X flashes big-small-big in the center of the tv screen.)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

...and I feel fine!

So, any news from anybody? Anyone missing? How's the post-rapture looting going? Please bring some sanity and world peace if you find any stockpiles. Oooh, and chocolate-covered raisins! I love those.

PS doesn't Michael Stipe look so cute here? And young???

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Fashion Fiasco

Ok, not really fiasco, per se, but sadness.

Remember how I bought that green dress and decided it needed big chunky "statement" jewelry? Well, a long time ago one of my roommates handed off some bracelets she didn't want, and one of those was what I had in mind. Yet I kept going through my jewelry box over and over and just couldn't find it. Ah well, I thought. Maybe this means I could go out and buy some new thing, like a big heavy brass cuff or bangle. Something big and geometric just seems right.

So the other day I opened another box and ta da! There was this bracelet I couldn't find. Yay! Except when I went to touch it, it fell apart. Look:

Does anyone know if it is possible to re-string these sort of stretchy elastic bracelets? I am sad ---- I really like the strong geometric type jewelry, not really being much of a flowers-and-hearts person.

Also, and this is really more of a note to myself than a public statement, I need to get some sort of better storage container for my necklaces --- one that lets them stretch out straight rather than coil up all in balls and get tangled with each other. At one point, I was hanging them from thumbtacks on the wall, which actually works really well both for anti-tangling and to remind you of what all you have, but clearly this is not feasible with cats. Must fix the situation soon. I've been saying that for, what, four years now?

I will get around to updating on my research progress and my getting up early progress soon, along with providing some pictures, but I have other stuff occupying my time right now. Will get back to you later. Maybe you-all can sweeten the pot by posting something fun and interesting of your own? *hopeful grin*

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Storm Time

I stood on my back deck, eating a piece of toast with honey and watching the rain come.

First, the air thickened, became so wet it was almost palpable. I had brought my little table and chair inside at that point and gotten my snack. But then I went back outside again. Gray clouds hung off to the left, over town. I heard something that sounded like it might be thunder and it might be a Mac truck rumbling by. There was a long wait.

Time passed, the air suddenly got colder, and the little wind-break of trees and bushes to my right started to move with the breeze. The gray clouds were now a wall on my left, and darker. But still there was only a haze of white overcast above my head. It might have been raining, or it might have been just thick and misty.

Finally a fat drop spattered on the deck. I wished it had hit my foot. Was it cold, or hot? When the wind-break started to whip back and forth like it was being attacked, I went in, and continued watching from the window. I was sad because I had no more toast.

One, two, three cars pulled out of my apartment complex in the next fifteen minutes. Is there something you know that I don’t know? I couldn’t fathom heading outside right as the rain was starting. Is this place not safe? It’s home! Surely you don’t want to be driving out in the thunder and driving rain. Guy With a Boat had been gone all day and I wondered about that, too. Getting rained on while out fishing, I can understand, but wouldn’t being out on the water draw the lightening to you?

(I figured out why he backs the boat from the blacktop on to the green strip that I call my lawn: he gets someone to help him tip the boat back enough that all the water runs out, and sometimes he takes a hose to the bottom inside, presumably getting the fish cleanings out. My “yard” is mostly parking lot, however, and usually he parks the boat outside his garage and the car inside the garage.)

Then the sky off to my left was gray, with distinct fluffy clouds instead of a wall. That must mean that the wall of black angry clouds was directly overhead. Fat drops of rain were pouring down, and the wind-break was madly thrashing about.

From the front window I could see rain driving across the blacktop as strongly as water from a power washer, slicing across the drive at a sharp angle. Another car left. They would warn me if this place were subject to flooding, no? Why on earth do they all leave? I remembered that I have two stories here and attempted to quell all worries of flooding. I could just go upstairs. And then, out the window on to the roof? That's some pretty disaster-prone thinking.

Timido the scaredy-cat hid in the cupboard as soon as the rain started pounding hard. After a while the wind slackened and the rain was continuing to pour, but mostly vertically. Mostly. It still doesn’t look like California rain. It looks like hell to be out in with an umbrella if you’re not completely encased in plastic.

Then the thunder. I’m getting peal after peal of it, sometimes so close it makes the walls shake. The lightning is never a clear fork here, but more of a generalized brightness. Slowly, the thundering rolls from my left to my right; gradually the intensity of each burst rises as it approaches, then subsides beyond me. And then it becomes much brighter outside as the clouds look almost white and thin, but the rain comes down harder than ever.

My grandmother once told me that the larger the raindrops, the shorter the rain storm, and there seems to be some truth in that. The raindrops here are huge.

The rain slackens, and becomes barely audible from inside. I curl up on the sofa and drift off into sleep.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Operation Get Up Early

I have commenced. With varying levels of "success."

Yesterday I got up around 9:30. (Yes, that is an improvement!) And I did yoga. Today I got up at 8ish and took a nice walk. And then went home to discover that my clothes do not fit. FML. Grr!

(I really really wish they had such things as spin classes around here --- no, they don't; I have already searched the internets, trust me --- because walking isn't really going to get my weight back down in the amount of time I can commit to it. Gah.)

Tomorrow, I hope, I will get up when the alarm actually goes off, and if it is threatening rain like the forecast says, I will do yoga inside. Otherwise --- maybe a hike? Maybe I should contact the postdocs for a hike somewhere interesting!!!

I have no desire to write about the things I currently have to write about. I have been procrastinating on the internet and all sorts of other places. Bleah. That may be partly why I am having trouble getting out of bed --- I am avoiding. But another trouble seems to be the cats leaping and playing and wrestling on my head at about 4:30 --- I have such a hard time going to sleep that when that happens I often don't make it back to regular sleep sleep before 9 or 10 in the morning. Sucks. So tonight's experiment is to chase the cats around a bunch and get them to sleep during my all-important early morning time.

But I am still in need of advice for getting up early!!! What are you-all's special tricks or routines? Especially for those days you don't have anything "scheduled" but you still have plenty to do. I am thinking that having the proper wind-down evening routine is as important as a morning routine --- what do you think? What are your tips? Do you have advice, like on a special alarm clock or anything? Cat-wrangling tips? Playing music as soon as I am up?

Or maybe you could just tell me your funniest early-morning getting-ready snafu.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

I. Hate. Grading!

I am taking a break after some fairly productive plowing through the grading today. I have finished the Stripey Class except for my exams I have to pick up from Office of Disabilities, which I can't do until Monday morning, obviously, and I am finished with my comp class except for 3-4 final exams which I am not sure if they should pass or not, so I am holding on them. I hate making decisions like this. The final is an up-or-out situation, so you can't fail the final and pass the course. These are borderline and I am waffling about whether it would be totally humiliating for whoever has part two of the comp course to get these students and see their writing and know they were mine. (I know you're supposed to consider if taking this course over again would be beneficial for the student, but, let's be honest, if I were to ask if they still needed to learn all the skills from this class I would fail the whole section; if I were to ask if they would get anything out of taking the class again I would pass along all of them because I don't think they would put in any more effort this time than the last time.)

I still have to do the entire set of Fruit Studies finals and calculate grades. And the grades are due tomorrow. Bleah. A short break, I promise.

I must say I'm liking having a back porch to relax out on, even if it is small and has bars and is under-decorated. It's a gorgeous day ---- after being warm and cloudy all morning it is now sunny and warm (and on my porch, a little too hot.) One of the postdocs mentioned I should get an umbrella like for a patio table and set it up back here if I am too hot and lacking shade, but that somehow seems kinda silly. It might be nice, though. Although the big umbrellas with a big heavy stand are expensive, no? Hmm. Dunno. I'm getting a nice breeze and enjoying hearing birds twittering, though. Terrible laptop glare, on the other hand.

Sigh. I don't want to deal with the last of the grading! or my conference paper! Or figure out my research and job-search-y plans.

I had cookies for dinner last night. I am well on my way towards spoiling tonight's supper as well. And the floors need vacuuming because of the cookie carnage. Luckily, I will soon no longer have any cookies in the house to ruin my meals. I have impeccable logic. And a very strong drive for eating everything that's there, regardless of how hungry I am. Diet and exercise are also on my list of things to plan out for the summer. Meh.

At least the weather has shaped up nicely today. They seem to alternate a nice day with three or four nasty days, which is unfortunate when one has a flexible schedule but also a huge to-do list, because every day I really need to go work in a coffee shop and then do a zillion errands on campus, it is beautiful out, and every day I set aside to go do something else, it is super cold and windy or raining.

Uncas just went by! I said hello and he froze, tried to blend into the weeds. I'm sure he was thinking "I'll just stop by and see if there is any food in the bowl OMFG there is a PERSON out on that cage thingy and I did not even see it! Quick, hold still and maybe it won't eat you!" Just a sec.

* * *

I went indoors, via the back door, got out the cat food, and then went out the front door. Sure enough, Uncas was sniffing at the bowl and zip! went to hide under my front porch steps as soon as I opened the door. He is getting more and more skittish compared to when I first got here. And smaller. Poor thing! I fed him and he came out. I bet he is still confused about me and the back porch though. Can't be helped.

I suppose I have to grade things again now. Phooey.

Friday, May 6, 2011


Bleah. Two words: lemoncello.






Me: Yay, happy end of finals! *clink* So what is this "lemoncello"?

Partner of a Postdoc: It's ... sorta a after-dinner liqueur. Italian. It's meant to be sipped, or could be used as an ingredient in a cocktail.

Me: It's so tart! I could see this being really good in a granita or gelato. I like it! And you say you "infused" it yourself?

PP: Thanks! Yes. You take about a dozen lemons and zest them and soak them in the alcohol until the lemon bits are white and the vodka --- well in this case I used Everclear --- is yellow...

Me: *blink blink* wait, this is Everclear? You gave me three shots of this stuff before dropping the second word?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

When Your Get Up and Go Gets Up and Leaves

Blarhgh. I think I will need to schedule some sort of morning class or meeting or workout. I have been having such trouble making myself get up in the morning, now that classes are over. It doesn't help when the one thing on the to do list is to grade massive amounts of assignments. And more are coming in tomorrow! Sigh.

So far I have had breakfast and coffee. I was supposed to do yoga this morning and felt absolutely not like moving. Even getting out of bed was hard. I don't particularly remember sleeping badly, and I went to bed at a reasonable time, and yet, just like the other non-teaching mornings lately, I got up super late. Clearly I do not have the motivation or willpower to get myself up and going in an unscheduled environment. I had this same problem with my dissertation fellowship year, I think I mentioned before. I guess this means I will need to put money toward a morning exercise class, even though I don't really have room for it in the budget. (I did this back in GradSchoolLand once I signed on for that swanky spin/pilates studio. A class with a set meeting time and money that will go to waste if I don't make it there on time does wonders for getting me out of bed in a way that a free class or dvd doesn't. Great ---- one more thing to plan.)

Mm. Still don't feel like moving. Or thinking. Or dealing with papers. Sigh. More coffee? Maybe I should start those shots of "vitamins" they were always injecting into the Hollywood stars who needed to be bright and bouncy on the set. I don't think I could pull off a good Judy Garland-style crazy, though. And I don't have the wardrobe for some Bette Davis histrionics.

And I have a horrible, terrible admission to make. You know my office? The one I share with two other postdocs and have left completely undecorated because I'll just be moving out soon anyway? The one that has no window or ventilation and is far too overstuffed with three sets of office furniture? (I do love that it has a locking door and the walls go all the way up to the ceiling, though.) Well, I do not like being in there, what with it being all cramped and dark and stuffy. And yet, yesterday afternoon I managed to put in an entire afternoon of grading. Ok, a lot of it was paper shuffling and organizing so that I could total up people's grades, but it still is unusual for me to work that long without taking a nap, after grading at a coffeeshop all morning. Sigh. I may have to go in to the cellblock and work regularly there this summer. I'll need to get a more comfy chair and have the IT people fix the non-working speakers on the computer so I can have some tunes going, but if I have trained myself to associate that space with working and this space at home with napping with the cats, I will just have to go with it.

In other news, my school parking pass works all summer too! This means that I can come on campus as often as I need (see above paragraph about working in the cellblock. Sigh.) I still have to plan my summer, both in terms of what I need to get done and a daily schedule. Why does that seem so overwhelming today? And why have I gone from mid/late morning being my most high-energy and clear-headed time of the day, to this? Bleah.

Maybe I should take a day and take out the recycling, do my laundry, and clean the place instead of grade. Usually I am at my most high-energy and full of caffeinated bounciness by now, and working it off with some errands and housecleaning is great. Not today though. Maybe I should go back to bed? Mm. Dunno. Wish I could figure out what is going on.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

May Day, A Love Story

Happy International Worker's Day! I am celebrating May Day --- so named because of the attempts at strikes in pursuit of the 8-hour workday in America that ended up as the Haymarket riots in 1886 --- by watching Michael Moore's Capitalism, a Love Story. In his usual-over-the- top, schlocky and silly style, uncovers the recent financial crisis, from the privatization of prisons to the busting of the airline pilots unions ---- starting salaries for pilots are now as low as 17k a year, did you know that? ---- to the credit-default swaps and foreclosure crisis, and shows how my difficulties landing a steady, well-paying professor job are really just one symptom in an all-around attack on the middle class. It was schlocky and mawkish and a bit simplistic and had too much footage of him doing his usual stunts that don't actually do anything, but still I think it's worth a viewing. Particularly if you haven't been following the news all that closely the last few years. And you know who hasn't done that, pretty much across the board? Our students, particularly the freshmen. But I would get in huge trouble if I screened this in all my classes, and besides, it's too long to fit a class period. But if you don't talk to your students about the destructive effects of capitalism, who will?

I leave you with the music from the closing credits, because everybody needs to hear a swing version of the Internationale: