Thursday, March 21, 2013


I'm sure I have plenty of things to report and things I've been thinking about, but I am also sorta kinda caught up on grading assignments, and whenever I have had the energy to actually think about what I might write here, I have graded things instead, and whenever I have been too tired to grade things, I have been also too tired to think or do anything much except stare at random stuff on the internet and not even comment.

But tonight I ran into a student assignment that peeved me, and I cooked a big fancy dinner to blow off steam. And now I don't feel like grading! Or cleaning the kitchen!

So after I got back here in January, grumpy and annoyed by a pretty crappy Christmas,  I treated myself with this fancy All-Clad big saute pan. The kind with the carry handle and long handle and straight sides. It is perfect for frying up meat or searing and then pan-roasting it. Now, I am mostly vegetarian, but have definitely fallen off the wagon since Christmas. I blame the pan ---- you know the phrase where when you have a hammer, you think everything is a nail? Well, when you have a pan that all the snooty food blogs tell you is the absolute best way to sear and oven-roast meat to get the crispy outside and tender inside, you tend to see everything as something you can fry. I should note that my cats do not come in to this equation at all.

Anyway, I think I got a coupon for some free meats from my hippie grocery store, and another time I picked up a package of chicken breasts, so I have been working on my pan roasting and learning how to make a simple pan sauce. Unfortunately, most of my cookbooks are vegetarian, and the one my sis-in-law got me that has lots of chicken recipes is a "Fast dinners for weeknights" type and they want you to grill everything. Do I have a grill? Nooo! (Maybe that will be my next splurge? Stop it!) This means that I tried making a roast with pan sauce (all of this requires lots of wine too, by the way) once with an internet recipe and it turned out pretty good, and then I got cocky and tried making it from memory but couldn't and also couldn't find the same website with the oven time recommendations, and that went pretty badly, and this time it turned out ok, although I should go back and check on what goes in the reduction again, as it was not as lovely as other times.

It is my goal, then, to get pan-roasting and making a reduction sauce down to the point where I can work it and know all the times without looking anything up, the way I have gotten with broccoli, and asparagus, and green beans. Everything else I sorta know how to make, but have to look up measurements and times to be sure. By the way, the above picture looks muddy and horrible but it is actually delicious pan sauce with some white wine reducing. Mmm.

I also roasted up potatoes with garlic and it was very good --- especially when swished around in the excess sauce --- but getting the timing right for cooking multiple things at once was very difficult. And my food got cold pretty quick, which lessened the tastiness of the whole project, but that did not stop me from eating far too much. Yum.

My other problem was that I am an idiot! And do not remember the obvious fact that, once you take a pan like this out of the oven, the handle is still hot! Last time I burnt the side of my arm on it real good, and this time I kept taking the potholder off the handle before reaching for it, like the potholder was in the way or something, and stopping myself just in time. Sigh.

I actually like cooking fancy stuff for myself, despite the timing issues, but I don't feel like cleaning up the enormous mess in the kitchen right now. It is less of a mess than the last time, though --- man, if you get the olive oil a bit too hot it really spatters! Ideally I would get to the point where I could plan the flavors of a whole meal to go together, but I think that involves planning at the grocery-shopping stage, as well as being willing to look up different spices/recipes for the vegetables instead of just using the one recipe I have memorized.

And another problem? This is fun. You might wonder how that could possibly be a problem, but remember, I mostly have shoddy cooking stuff from my undergrad days and hand-me-downs --- I am soooo tempted to lay in an entire supply of swanky cooking equipment and gourmet spices and imported foodstuffs of all sorts --- and I don't really have the money for anything right now. Luckily, I still have one more chicken breast left. But no more wine. Hmm.

I just may have to use that lemon in the fridge and break out the butter for my next pan sauce. Aw, yeah.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Sisyphus VS The World

The other night I finally got around to watching the Scott Pilgrim movie — way cute! Now I’m wishing I still rocked the purple and green hair, despite the hassle of keeping the color up — though I never actually combined my wild hair with actual snazzy haircuts or my wild clothing phases; I’m not that brave or coordinated in my weirdness.

Anyway, I am way behind on everything — mainly because these damn cc applications take way longer and more energy than I anticipate, always — you think I would actually start anticipating longer times then, and I do! but it's never enough.

By the end of spring break I may have written more supplemental essays than what I received as comp assignments from my students last Friday. They include, in no particular order, what to do with an ELL student failing a developmental comp class, the best book I have used for a transfer-level comp class (and how I made it accessible to diverse populations), what I "carry with me, metaphorically" given the experience of teaching at a cc, a description of the mission and populations served by the cc system, a justification of one freshman-comp syllabus and one freshman introduction to lit syllabus (no more than 500 words each), what branch of composition/rhetoric theory best explains my teaching philosophy.

This does not include, because I already have written and saved these on the hard drive from previous rounds of application: my community-college teaching philosophy, cover letter, and statement of experience working with diverse populations, my description of an assignment that worked particularly well and why, the major differences between basic (or developmental) and transfer-level writing classes, and a reverse chronological list of all the grad classes taken with full titles and competency areas. Those are ready to go.

What I am saying here is: I really wish I could just fight my way to the top of the applicant list, Mortal Kombat-style, and with the cute visual effects and 8-bit soundtrack from Scott Pilgrim. It would be way more fun, and coins would shower to the ground every time I bashed someone in the head and they disappeared! It would also mean at some point I would get to level-up in experience, or that if I got sick of doing the same damn thing I could push up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A and get to skip to the final boss level. Hmm. Or, alternately, it could mean that if I actually finish this whole tenure-track/permanent job search I just have to go back and do the entire process over again, but this time all the HR people are replaced by hard-shelled black beetles.

Well, I'm not sure I'd like that alternative. But it would at least be something different.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Spring Break Extravablah

I don't know about you, but when I think spring break, I think, yeaaaaaaah let's do a bunch of job applications!!!!!*  I've already done one and have two more that are due today, then a bunch of the community college jobs which aren't due this week, but I might as well use this free time to get them off the plate before classes and assignments to grade come in.

Luckily CCs in the West seem much more robust than they have since I first tried to break in to the field and the stock market tanked. I have already applied to way more jobs post-MLA (so non-tt and community college jobs, with a smattering of admin type things) than I could reasonably have applied for pre-MLA (tt in my field).

Of course, that sequester thing is now going to kibosh all those positions, isn't it? Right after I apply and before I can actually get hired anywhere. Fucking sequester.

*For those of you who think this might be a euphemism, "doing a job application" looks like this,

Not like this:

Le sigh.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Overcorrecting Course

Last spring break was, to put it mildly, awful. I was feeling behind so when I scheduled all my course assignments, I had big projects all due the last day before spring break. Then I sat around alone in my apartment while it rained all week and I tackled piles and piles of grading and cried. It was not fun.

Spring break for this year is coming up soon and I have just looked at all my syllabi. This time around I have all of my big assignments, in all classes, due ---- yes, the Monday immediately after break.

What was I thinking? Couldn't I have gone for the happy medium and given myself half the assignments to grade over break and half afterwards?

No, because I am an idiot. And never let it be said that I do stupid things halfway.