Category Archives: Journal

ramblings on day-to-day life, school, cat, feelings, weather, all that jazz.

i’m still alive, among other things

i thought that writing about a new book that no one’s written about would be FUN and EXCITING and LIBERATING, but really it’s just hard.  and i find myself making these large crazy gestures of interpretation (metaphysical life after death through narration!  associative families!  streams of omniscience!  …goodness, it hurts.) as if to compensate for the fact that i am writing about this one tiny aspect of this massively complicated book.

i will return to the blog-o-sphere, i am sure, when i am done with papers/ grades/ stupid research job of stupidness.

never fear.  supper.

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brainz

Now comes the long blue cold

Now comes the long blue cold
and what shall I say but that some
bird in the tree of my heart is singing.
That same heart that only yesterday
was a room shut tight, without dreams.

Isn’t it wonderful—the cold wind and
spring in the heart inexplicable.
Darling girl. Picklock.

—Mary Oliver

i have crashed, as far as studying goes.  i can’t read any more.  i need to take this week to regain my ability to write more than a sentence without totally wearing myself out.  the good news is, i mostly know stuff.  and i just have to keep focusing on that.  because i’m not stressed out.  i’m just exhausted.  all the time.  i wake up exhausted, i fight off the exhaustion and still try to plow my way through a couple of books, i go to bed so exhausted i can’t sleep.  please, exams, go die.
our exam has been compared to the zombie apocalypse: barricading oneself in the gll conference room, armed with machetes to beat back the professors who have come to eat your self-esteem.  and brainz.
the better news is that there’s light at the end of the tunnel, in the form of my sister coming to visit in just over 2 weeks, and my parents after school gets out.  which means excuses to host fancy brunches and go out to try ethnic restaurants and take walks.  and see my family, though in some ways their planned visits make me even more homesick.  blah.  but i am looking forward to them.  and to summer, post-high school boot camp: rhode island beach vacation, possible vt trip (fingers crossed!), denver road trip, drinking wine on the porch before dinner.
my new addictions: the show numb3rs (don’t judge!) and, far worse, diy home improvement sites.  the pantries!  the laundry rooms!  the neatly compartmentalized entryways!  roses on the bathroom vanity!  the built-in shelving… ye gods, the built-in shelving!  please someone get me my vermont b&b post-haste so i can make it beautifully retro-perfect!

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the femme-ivore’s dilemma

one thing that is really missing from my program here at osu is the presence of useful role models. of course, that’s because it’s a research university and to become tenured faculty at a research university, you have to be so into your research that you have neither the time nor the people skills to become a useful role model to graduate students. but… like… it’s so hard to motivate myself to go through 3+ more years of painful academic hazing, just so i can get hazed by the job market, just so i can maybe have the privilege of getting hazed by the tenure process, when the result of that is being like my osu professors. i really like and enjoy working with my younger professors here, but even they have attitudes that bother me, like going to conferences with the sole purpose of presenting and furthering their research, not with the purpose of getting to know and interact with colleagues. (conferences have the potential to be these great intellectual parties, but UGH when people have that attitude, no wonder they can be so boring!) anyway, there’s a reason i still write to f, b, and n when i need advice on grad school, papers, research, presentations… i just have to keep reminding myself, it’s *them* i want to be like when i grow up. now if only a job would miraculously appear at middlebury when i go on the job market…

and then there was yesterday. my presentation was fine, not great, not as disastrous as i’d been worrying about. it wasn’t what stood out to me by any means about the day. the coincidence, though… it’s a damned small world. one of the professors here recognized me and knew me by name – nickname, not name printed on nametag – and i was *so* awkward and embarrassed that i didn’t even recognize her. not even, like, knew her face but couldn’t place where i knew her from, but flat out had never seen her in my life.  turns out, she (a former student of m’s, thus, a contact of h’s) recognized me from “wedding pictures your wife posted on facebook”.  which is kind of awkward in and of itself – oh, internet, you slay me – but which, more importantly, gave me this jolt of oh shit she just outed me now everyone here knows.  which.is.stupid.  because i am legally married and wear a damn wedding ring and should not be shy about coming out/ being outed/ doing anything but acting like my Life Decisions are perfectly normal.

it’s a dilemma, i guess.  i love my wife, and i’m comfortable with her around friends, but i’m not even out to most of my professors, nevermind my wider professional circle, because… i want to say it’s because i fear judgment or don’t want them to change their opinions of me based on my private life, but i think it’s mostly that i’m too awkward to make any revelations about myself.  definition of midwestern gay shame: keeping your hands in your pockets at conference coffee breaks so that people don’t ask you what your husband does for a living.  cue self-loathing.

Genesis by Evan Jones

He was a young god
So he worked with furious abandon
Strewing his precious suns around
In largely useless galaxies

Grandiose in his use of mountains, water, sky,
But not merely bombastic
For the detail of the microscopic was ingenious
Beyond the imagination of his predecessors
And the uses, particularly of form and colour…

But he wasn’t sure
Not quite sure, even when he had finished,
Especially then,

That he had solved such questions as
The relation of stability to change…

Cycles of birth and death were a masterpiece
But they weren’t, not quite…

Yet, oh, the thing was beautiful
Turning and glittering and many-coloured
Infinite in all directions in space and time
And yet completely self-complete…

But he wasn’t sure

So, as a sort of flourish to his signature
An underline for curtain
He made an animal in his own image
Except of course, for the dimensions lost
Transferring from eternity to time
Gave it the last perception of his mind
The sense of incompleteness
The gap between the intended and the done
The utter sadness of magnificence not quite

He gave it that
And asked of it perfection

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fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high

i forgot to say in my last post that i was chatting in german with a few native speakers at my conference at georgetown over the weekend, and one of them asked me where i was from, and she was shocked that i wasn’t a native speaker.  after, like, a lengthy conversation in german.  HUGE ego boost.  still occasionally floating from it, even though MA exam prep + homework + teaching + coping with life is right now making it so i can hardly string together sentences.  i am sometimes competent in my language, yay.

and last week it snowed, big fat fluffy flakes sticking on the grass, which would’ve been thrilling and white christmas-y in november or december, but in mid-march, it’s annoying.  luckily, a certain special someone braved the columbus drivers (who turn of their brains at the first sign of moisture, possibly for fear of short-circuiting) to come pick me up from school.  tonight and all day tomorrow, we’re supposed to get blustersome bad thunderstorms.  april showers bring may mugginess; welcome to ohio!

april, though!  9 more weeks of winter school.  a box from h’s parents, a box from my parents (my mom goes into hallmark to buy me a birthday card and inevitably emerges with beanie babies that were just too cute for her to pass up), and a card from the lovely miss a all arrived the morning of my birthday!  and i was sung to over the phone more than once, though never well.  and we made pizza for supper, and in some distant eventuality, i will make myself a cake.  meanwhile, extensive (3 times in 2 weeks) eating of frozen yogurt.

i met with some of my fellow MA-examinees on friday to go over practice questions, and i was by far the most prepared of those present, and found myself able to answer the questions pretty easily, despite the fact that german literature pre-1700 (actually, pre-1950 or so) isn’t really my bag, baby.  so that was also a boost in the direction of i know i can pass these exams, it’s just a question of to what quality, at this point.  and it will be okay.

i just reread “i am a little church”, and it was lovely and brought tears to my eyes, as always.

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just this…

1) i am so addicted to hadestown.  if you like folk music and haven’t heard it, you should.

2) potato and caramelized onion tart currently in the oven.  sprinkled with fresh sage.  house smells heavenly.  plus i made mine in my pretty fluted tart pan instead of as a free-form galette like it is in the recipe, which was very gourmet cook of me.

3) this makes me happy on so many geek-and-gayness levels:

Love is Love: Threadless tee

Love is Love. Note the wizard and the alien.

4) i spent all morning pounding away at my reading list for MA exams (t-minus 902 hours), and now have done all my medieval and early modern works except for poetry.  and then i read walter benjamin, and now my brain is broken.  plan of attack for the rest of the week (because if i post it here, i’ve committed to it, right?):
~wednesday: finish der schimmelreiter and walter benjamin outline
~thursday: make medieval and early modern poetry flashcards, make literary history flashcards
~friday: study all pre-1700 flashcards, start adorno texts and outlines

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gearing up for spring(ish)

after a very early morning and several near-panic attacks on the way from home to the airport through check-in and security to my gate, i was richly rewarded by an AMAZING view: it was still overcast and barely getting light when we taxied away from the gate, but when we broke through the clouds, it was this incredible sea of pinky-orange and grey-blue with the sun just coming up.  trying to take advantage of my couple of hours strapped to a seat without access to facebook, i’m now (or i was, until i started writing this post) working on the paper i need to present at my next conference in a couple of weeks.  unfortunately, the combination of up at 5am + no coffee + attempt to articulately express my thoughts = me writing very silly sentences.  to wit: “this sexual relationship is both sexual and forbidden.”  holy extended felines, batman!  long cat is long!  blah!

also, my tray table sags on one side, which is both annoying when i’m trying to type, and a little terrifying as my cup of orange juice teeters on the edge between my laptop and the lap of the sleeping gentleman next to me.

spring break was lovely lovely in many ways.  having z out to visit made it so that i could relax (which i would’ve done anyway) without feeling guilty about it (which i wouldn’t have been able to do).  we didn’t do much that was terribly exciting: lots of cooking (french toast!  sweet potato gnocchi with gouda cheese sauce! tofu spring rolls!), *lots* of eating, lots of TV watching (she’s now thoroughly hooked on castle and understands my girl-crush on beckett, hooray!), sleeping in, taking walks, shopping, cuddling (and memorably, washing) the cat… everything i needed to recharge my mental and emotional batteries before plunging into spring quarter.

i’m approaching spring quarter with a lot of anxiety.  for one thing, i remember being totally burnt out about 2 weeks into spring quarter last year.  and i really can’t afford to be anything but Totally On Top Of My Shit for the next 10 weeks.  in addition to the obvious pressure of MA exams (fridays of week 6 and 7), there’s conference 1 (today and tomorrow), conference 2 (in 2 weeks, for which i am currently (not) writing my paper), visiting prospective grad students, another visiting professor candidate*, a part-part-time research assistantship, and upgrading my one class from a novel a week to a novel and a short philosophical treatise a week.  it makes me feel a little ill to think about it all.  it makes me want to dive under the covers and watch a whole season of dexter and eat a whole pint of jeni’s ice cream.**  …taking of deep breaths.

finishing this post up sitting in tarsi’s office – we’re off in a few minutes to grab lunch in chinatown and see some cherry blossoms around dc before i head out to my conference.

*oh my goodness, if my professors don’t start acting like PROFESSIONAL ADULTS instead of pre-schoolers, i will smack them right in their faces.  slash i (and all the other grad students) really want them to hire one of the candidates who has already visited, and i will be severely peeved if they do not.

**i would seriously regret the last two of those three things, one for the nightmares and the other for the digestive consequences.

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i am conflicted about THE WORLD

THE WORLD gives me writer’s block.  THE WORLD makes me paralyzed.  the world is BIG and full of BAD THINGS and i live in it kind of.  and i have nothing to say about it.

there’s so much going on in THE WORLD.  six weeks ago it was the protests in egypt, then coming out of that, the continued unrest in libya, where a government is attacking its own people.  i started and deleted about six posts about these things.  for the last week, it’s been earthquakes, tsunamis, and now nuclear who-knows-what in japan.  i keep trying to have Something To Say about these events, these major WORLD HAPPENINGS AND CATASTROPHES, but i know next to nothing about middle eastern politics or nuclear power or rescue efforts or military strategy.

to write a blog post here in my dusty little corner of the internet giving my two cents about these things seems silly; what do i have to contribute?  even the headlines that do penetrate into my small bubble of existing seem to bounce right off.  gay marriage (or not)?  health care?  collective bargaining rights?  ohio cutting its higher education budget?  these things affect me directly, and i still can’t muster up meaningful words (um, thoughts) about them.

all this stuff is flying around my head, and i’m writing about:
– the ophelia myth in 20th century literature
– the unreasonable speed with which grey fluff builds up on white tile in my bathroom
– the fact that being in the basement when mal is playing upstairs  sounds like being underneath a convention of a major international bowling society
– the warmish weather and halleluja we’ve been able to open the windows a crack
– the cat goes bananas over said open windows

it all makes me a little jealous of my parents’ generation, or even my grandparents’ or great-grandparents’ generation.  where you inhabited your little bubble of being, and THE WORLD was kept at bay by sheer dint of distance, and newspaper headlines and rss feeds and twitter and facebook updates didn’t inundate you with IT IS SO MUCH WORSE EVERYWHERE ELSE and YOUR PROBLEMS AND SMALL TRIUMPHS ARE TRULY INSIGNIFICANT and make you doubt every bowl of cereal that you ate and every nap that you took and every page of literary analysis that you wrote.

THE WORLD MAKES ME CONFLICTED.  there is so much going on out there, and i’m struggling and struggling to make my little bubble of existence meaningful, and the failure of those two things to mesh is just making me miserable.  and if i spend the day glued to the NYT headlines, i feel like an insignificant bug, and if i go hide from my insignificantness in front of the TV or in a yoga class or in my kitchenaid mixer, i feel like an insignificant bug.  i feel like a nauseous, sad, insignificant bug.  this is not a post of self-pity, and i am not asking for comments saying OH BUT YOU ARE SIGNIFICANT WE LOVE YOU AND THERE ARE RAINBOWS YAY.  in fact, please do not say those things in comments.

i read books and talk about them, and i am good at that.  i teach language, and i am good at that.  i am trying to take those things, which i am good at and also which i like, and make them mesh into the world outside of my bubble.  so far, i have not been successful at this: the job i applied for in boston didn’t pan out, because they had so many qualified candidates (not me).  i guess i don’t know how to become qualified at something that makes a difference, because everybody else gets in the door first because they are already more qualified.

…i’m going to go make bread now, and pay my taxes.

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