Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Okay, so that's the Paul McCartney song that's playing on my 'Simon & Garfunkel' station at pandora.com. (The website's pretty cool. You can put in your favorite song or artist and the website radio station will play other songs that are similar in style to your favorites. They call it the 'Music Genome Project.' And best of all, it's free!)

But anyway, I took a newspaper article to class today that deals with personal freedom and academic freedom. (My students were writing in-class essays today, so I took the article as a writing prompt.) The article has been circulating around the department during the last few days and evoking quite a few responses. While I expected the professors and instructors to have strong reactions to the article, I hadn't really expected my students to react in much the same ways. (I haven't read all of their essays yet, but we did talk about the article just a bit before they started writing.) Isn't academic freedom what prompts people to teach at the college level instead of teach high school? If you take away academic freedom, then what's left? Merely another bureaucracy-dominated institution....

Monday, February 27, 2006

Ariadne auf Naxos

Another Monday...after a busy weekend....

The hiccups never returned, so I guess the chocolate-covered strawberries really did the trick. (I made more chocolate-covered strawberries at home on Sunday. A little tip for you: don't try to melt down chocolate chips and then dip the strawberries in the chocolate. It doesn't work; just give in and buy the more expensive dipping chocolate. It will make your life much easier.) Anyway, I spent Friday afternoon putting things together for a department party that evening. The party was fun for the first few hours; then a lot of random people (people not connected with the department) started showing up and it wasn't so fun any more. I probably should have stayed until the end of the party to help clean up since I'm the elected graduate student social secretary (my official title is 'event coordinator,' but I prefer 'social secretary'), but I just didn't feel comfortable there any more. I guess the people who stayed late helped with the clean-up.

While the day was uneventful, Saturday evening was much more fun. Jimmy and I went out for a fancier-than-usual supper and then we went to the opera. (We saw Ariadne auf Naxos by Strauss.) The first act of the opera was wonderful, but the second act was a bit slow. The performers weren't able to keep up the momentum after the intermission. Ah well, I still enjoyed this one more than Faust. (I was disappointed in Faust, which was the first production of the season. The casting wasn't quite right, and it just seemed to light and happy for Faust.)

And after two days of parties and opera, I got to spend Sunday with my books. I read Joseph Conrad's novella "The Duel" and started on Kate Chopin's The Awakening. I've read both before, but I think I'm enjoying both of them more the second time around....

Friday, February 24, 2006

Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

I ate some chocolate-covered strawberries in the grad student lounge. My hiccups are gone now. I guess this is further evidence that chocolate makes everything better.

Hiccups and Salsa

Not quite chips and salsa....

I've ended up with the hiccups this morning. I don't get hiccups very often, but I find them overly irritating when I do end up with a case of them. I'm just hoping that they don't last all day....

And salsa. Jimmy and I went to salsa lessons last night at our church. They were supposed to be dance lessons, but the instructor didn't show up. There were quite a few unfamiliar faces around, so it wouldn't have been the best environment for trying to learn to dance anyway. (Do you ever notice how people who you never see at church magically seem to appear for the social activities?) We did, however, get some directions on making salsa; Jimmy and I had tried that once or twice before, but our salsa never really looked like salsa. Since the dancing thing didn't work out, we decided to do the coffee and Killer Bunnies thing again. We went to our favorite little coffee shop, but they didn't have any tables available. Since the coffee and bunnies thing didn't work out, we decided to go browse in a few little shops. The shops were closed. Since the browsing through stores didn't work out, we decided to go to an Irish pub. That worked, so we each had a beer at the bar. (I hadn't had a Guinness since Ireland.) We decided to call it quits for the evening after that.

(Jimmy sent me a comic when I first mentioned the salsa lessons to him this past week. I thought it was funny.)

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Usual....

No, that's not what I ordered for lunch today. (I don't eat out often enough to have any 'usual' at any restaurant.) There really hasn't been anything too exciting going on during the past several days. I've been reading (as usual) and I've also been working on a few random things--recruiting members for my exam committee and searching for another summer job. My students had portfolios due today, so I get to spend tomorrow reading portfolios. (There goes the three-day weekend.) Jimmy and I do have a few things planned for the weekend; I hope we get to have a good time without putting me too far behind in my reading and schoolwork....

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


While I don't plan on writing any non-fiction or publishing any memoirs in the near future, I'm still baffled by the processes of publication. I don't like the 'publish or perish' mentality that's prevalent in academia, and I believe that the autobiography is about the most unreliable genre of literature that exists (besides, of course, fiction itself). Any chance that I can succeed in academia without enduring the trials and pains of publication?

Monday, February 20, 2006

Conferences and a Conference

I've been having conferences with my students recently (Thursday, Friday, and today). Instead of having class as usual, I meet individually with each of my students to discuss their writing. I like conferencing with my students, but it takes up a lot of time. Our class typically meets for a 75 minute block; a complete set of conferences (15 minutes per student) takes over 4 hours. I think I only have one conference left today, so I'm almost finished with that for today....

The department here hosted a graduate student conference this past weekend. The theme for the conference was "Passing and Questions of Legitimacy." I worked at the registration desk on both Friday and Saturday. I didn't present any papers at the conference, but I still had a good time. There were quite a few people here who presented some very good papers. While we were concerned about the weather, there was only one presenter who was unable to be here due to weather delays and canceled flights....

It's still cold out this morning (and there's still snow and ice on the ground), but not quite as bitter as it was on Saturday....

Friday, February 17, 2006


Brrrrr!! That was yesterday's word of the evening. (The word of the morning was 'Ahhhhh!' because the weather was so beautiful in the morning.) I looked back at records of yesterday's weather and found the high and low temperatures for this area: daytime high of 72, nighttime low of 20. That's a 52 degree temperature drop in less than 24 hours -- brrrrr!!

While a part of me wanted to curl up in front of my mantle (pretending I actually have a fireplace), drink hot chocolate with little marshmellows, and read a good book, I went out for the evening instead. Dale Ahlquist, the president of the American Chesterton Soceity, gave a talk on G. K. Chesterson, so I decided to go to that instead of reading (or sleeping) the cold, cold evening away.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Selecting a Topic....

I think the worst part about writing is selecting a topic. I'd never seen this method before, but I think it might work. I'm known for walking into the office or into class and asking 'Hey, what should I write about?' and then working with whatever topic people give me. (It typically works, and it saves me from making decisions.) So, does anybody have any brilliant ideas for a dissertation??

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Hmmm, A Girlie Girl?

Well, I got my paper finished and I got to have a Valentine's Day yesterday. I cooked a big supper and then Jimmy and I watched a movie. We didn't really do anything too special or unusual, but we had a nice evening. However, I've think he's trying to turn me into a "girlie girl." He got me a jewelry box, a few shiny things to put in it, and some perfume for Valentine's Day. They're all very nice, but I'm just not sure I want to be a "girlie girl" yet; it doesn't sound like much fun....

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentine's Day!!

Yep, that's it. Happy Valentine's Day!!!

Monday, February 13, 2006


It's another writing night. I'm working on a short paper on The Silent Partner, a novel by Elizabeth Stuart Phelps. I'm writing about issues of labor reform, feminism, and social responsibility. Also, I've decided that my 'word of the semester' is philanthropy. I'm working on my second paper of the semester, and I've managed to use that word in both paper so far; thus, I think I'm going to see if I can use it in all of my paper this semester.... Anyway, I'm trying not to procrastinate too much on this paper. It's due on Wednesday, but I don't think Jimmy would be too happy if I said that I needed to spend all evening tomorrow writing....

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Coffee and Bunnies (Again)

Well, coffee and bunnies didn't happen on Thursday night. Instead, we had coffee and bunnies on Friday night. Jimmy and I met up with a few friends from the department for a couple of games of Killer Bunnies at a little coffee and art shop that we visit frequently. Jimmy picked up a few of the expansion decks for Killer Bunnies, so we had quite a few new things to learn as we played. The game's certainly more fun (and more complex) when it has more cards....

While I did get to play several games of Killer Bunnies, the bunnies did not dominate my weekend. I finished one of the books that I should have finished weeks ago and then I read a few things for classes this week: Black Beauty, Captains Courageous, and some poems by Emily Dickinson. I still have one novella to read for the week, but I'll try to get that finished on Tuesday or Wednesday. I have a short paper due on Wednesday, and I should be working on that now. I'm hoping to have the paper finished a little early so Jimmy and I can do something for Valentine's Day. (I'm notorious for procrastinating and working on papers at the last minute. I'll often pull a few late nights and early mornings to finish my work by deadlines. Hoping for something different this time.) Need to write....

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Coffee and Bunnies

Ahhh, Thursday!! The week's nearly over. I spent the last few days (and night) reading books and commenting on student papers. (I think I had a stroke of brilliance this semester. I've decided to use deferred grading in my class--in other words, I comment on student writing all semester, but I don't grade anything until the end of the semester when my students turn in a portfolio with samples of their writing from throughout the semester. Since I don't like to put grades on papers, I think this system should work pretty well. My students seem to like it too--at least so far anyway. I just hope that I'm not overwhelmed with work at the end of the semester.)

I'm meeting up with Jimmy for coffee and Killer Bunnies tonight. We haven't played in a while, so it should be a lot of fun and a good way to relax after a busy couple of days. I'll be lazy this evening, go to bed early, and then hopefully spend most of tomorrow reading and working on a paper that's due next week.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

new word: logorrhea

We were discussing academics and academia in class last night (a tangential topic), and the professor coined what he thought was a new word: logorrhea, meaning verbal dirrhea (which he beleives many academics to have, particularly when presenting on conference panels, espeically those associated with the MLA).

Anyway, we looked up 'logorrhea' in the OED this morning. And it was actually there.... "Logorrhea: Excessive volubility accompanying some forms of mental illness; also gen., an excessive flow of words, prolixity."

More Busy Days....

I pulled up my blog today and realized that it's been the better part of a week since I've updated anything....

As usual, things have been pretty busy here. The book party on Thursday night was a lot of fun. Bill gave me a copy of the book, but I haven't started reading it yet. (The book may have to wait until either Spring Break or summer because my regular semester reading is keeping me busy.) I don't really know what happened to the weekend; it just sort of disappeared. I got my house cleaned and did nearly all of my laundry, but I don't feel like I managed to accomplish mush else. Monday was Monday; I had class all day, but I did manage to sneak away to recess with a few friends. Today's shaping up to be a typical Tuesday....

Things have been all a mess here since the yucky meeting last Wednesday. Choice words, protest letters, and general manifestos have been circulating over the e-mail list-servs throughout the past week. I've ended up with at least three extra meetings this week as we're trying to find answers and resolve the whole mess without doing anything too drastic.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Busy Days and Books

The past few days have been quite busy, but today's Thursday and Thursday's the new Friday. (I don't have any school stuff scheduled for Fridays, so Thursdays are my Fridays.) Anyway, I had a short paper due on Monday, I spent Tuesday recuperating from Monday, and then spent Wednesday was just crazy. I observed two classes on Wednesday (peer observations for fellow GTAs), had class as usual, and then had a meeting after class. We learned some less-than-desirable information at the meeting, so that meeting will undoubtedly be followed by more meetings which will be followed by who-knows-what. Anyway, Jimmy helped me move the extra tables out of my apartment after I got home from the aforesaid awful meeting; my apartment looks normal again!!

Today's been busy, but not necessarily crazy. I've had work this morning and afternoon,
and I taught my class in between (actually my class meets from 12:30 to 1:45, but that's pretty much the noon hour). I have a few hours free this evening, and then there's a party at one of the regional library branches to celebrate a new book published by one of the guys in the department. Should be fun....