Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

I was listening to NPR on my drive home from Microburg to Charmingly Historical Edge City yesterday, lost in thought, and the woman on the mid-Pennsylvania NPR station read this poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. The poem is, I think, the perfect New Year's wish for this year.
Ring Out, Wild Bells

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;

Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more,
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease,
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.
- Alfred Lord Tennyson

Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Saturnalia, Everyone!

As is tradition, I'm visiting friends and family, being excessively mirthful, exchanging gifts, and congregating about waxen candles and earthenware religious icons. ( I haven't been able to arrange nude carolling. Rats!) However you chose to celebrate the Winter Solstice and time following, I wish you the greatest possible joy.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

ofer waþema gebind & a meme

Well, not exactly, but I do love that line; and if you squint and look sideways at my recent experiences, it might just almost fit. What with all the waves of paperwork (FSM give me strength), and the wintry weather. (Although I must say the level of panic when winter weather comes to Charmingly Historical Edge City and its environs is not exactly proportional to the level of danger. It's a very "The sky is falling! We're all going to DIE!" reaction, starting at about the second flake.)

Anyway. Prepare yourself for literary solipsism, again.

Braced well?

OK, let's begin.

I have been thinking quite a lot about The Wanderer and the issue of what happens to identity when it is bereft of its usual context. Again, this is prompted by my recent experiences. I am out of context for the first time in my life, really. I have wanted this opportunity to do the developing that most people do when they are 17-18 and in their first year of college, but I never really thought about the mild anxiety that runs just below the surface of that experience. The anxiety of not knowing that comes as you question every assumption you have about yourself and your interactions with the world. Well, scratch that. I did think about it, and understood it intellectually, but understanding an emotional state requires experiencing a hint of that state. Or, maybe I'm even flattering myself that I get it now. Bah.

If I were younger, and possibly cuter (though I was delightfully decorative at 22, seriously), all these tangential ideas would be endearing, I suppose. Note to self: While constructing your new, Beltway-adjacent identity, keep in mind that you're no longer able to successfully pull off ditzy. That is all.

Back to the topic at hand, it also helps that my new job is Middle School English teacher in a school that is being 'restructured.' That's governmental rhetoric for 'This school is in an iffy area, and has not been doing as good a job providing middle class mindsets to poor children as we'd hoped. Therefore, we must inject extra levels of bureaucracy rather than, say, building a community center and staffing it with tutors and mentors and coaches.' So, I see a school community that is in flux, and a staff that is in flux. And all this is before we get to the children, who are engaged in the very serious business of trying to navigate the liminal space between childhood and adulthood. Which can be a very frustrating thing to see as a teacher, because the silliness is strong within them, and that silliness really detracts from learning how to read a newspaper. However, it can also be a very profound thing to witness as a fellow human being.

How many run-on sentences is that, now? Ah, well. It doesn't matter. Back to me.

A few weeks ago, I was wandering about the Charmingly Historical downtown in C.H.E.C. and quietly envying the molto fabuloso other women who were wandering about in the same vicinity, because they were able to rock lovely capes, and I had a notion of myself as a more work-a-day sort of person. Non-fabulous, and incapable of wearing a garment that intimates quite that much 'tude. And I reminded myself of "my place," and walked past the capes I saw while officially shopping for teaching togs, and unofficially thinking about the identity I would construct for myself with three whole months family-free to work with.

Ironic that I would be conscious of identity as constructed, and of myself as engaged in the task of constructing an identity (albeit in a hurry), but would deny myself something I liked because it didn't fit in with my comfort zone. Silly.

A few days later, happy with my very buttoned-down purchases, but still ruminating over the many possibilities in becoming a new Heo, and intermittently giving some thought to The Wanderer and his 'anhaga' situation (It's not so much that I enjoy plaintive poetry, as it is that I have a planctus problem), that I remembered the anxiety of the greater culture over the 'anhaga.' Who might he be? How can we know? And the power of being away from everyone and everything that acts as a conservative force on your identity hit me. The Anglo-Saxons had fear of outsiders because they could and possibly should fear them. Those separated from their tribes have nobody to put them in their place. They can decide for themselves who they are. That's quite an amazing power, really. I mean, how do we know who people are if we don't know the people they belong to?

In real life terms, this means I was able to quiet the internal voices that told me I didn't deserve/couldn't be/ shouldn't try X, and I bought the damned cape. Heo Fabuloso, at your service. (And I wear it well, too. ) Now, I am very aware that discussions of clothing are by definition superficial, but the shift in imagination that the change in wardrobe represents is not superficial. Of course, there's another irony, in that I am attempting to construct an identity that is non-specific to my old time and place, but am doing so by mimicking others in another place. And I'm still battling with myself over the dragon and phoenix cheong sam I want to buy, because it's culturally different and fun, and I also have a brocade problem, but is it commodity fetishism? Am I making some sort of imperialistic gesture by assuming someone else's conventions of dress? Should I just go put on a Dirndl and my Aran knit sweater and be done with it?

Damn it! Where the hell did I put that point? I just had it a minute ago! &*(^%$#@

Oh, well. How about this ...? Whatever choice I make regarding my future career path, (to be a bocere or not to be a bocere, that is the question), the knowledge of literature from a culture that was self-reflectively and simultaneously emergent and in decline changes the way one thinks about almost everything. You begin to think that non-liminal spaces simply don't exist, because they can't. Which, in some ways is very freeing, The Wanderer rethinking who has the right to speak openly, for instance, but also rather scary, because that Wanderer dude ( if we're in his audience) could be an axe-murderer for all we know. (Very likely is an axe-murderer, considering the whole Anglo-Saxon warrior status.)

And the whole thing both fascinates me and frazzles my brain. Which is what philosophy did when I tried to read it the last year of high school. So, maybe I'm having the truest mid-life crisis ever, and reverting to childlike thought processes. **Sigh**

While I'm being self-indulgent:

The 7 MEME

I've been tagged by squadratomagico for the 7 meme, the one in which you tell the blogosphere 7 random and/or odd things about yourself. I'm trying not to copy all the weird stuff I have already told you about me, but I can't be sure I haven't shared the stories before. If I start to repeat my stories like that old guy in the lobby, just let me know.

Here are the rules:

The rules:

1. Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.

2. Share 7 random and/or weird things about yourself.

3. Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.

4. Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog. On it.

And here is the Meme:

The Meme:

1) I actually was one of those children who read the dictionary for fun. Now, in some cases, that was because there were ever so many words in there that sounded rude but weren't rude at all and couldn't get a person grounded. Like farkleberry, for instance. But also because words fascinated me. What they sounded like, what they looked like, how they felt, all the exotic places they had come to us from, all this fascinated me.

2) I don't remember being conscious of it, but I think I started reading medieval literature partly to feel closer to by-then-deceased eldest brother, who was -- while living-- an astonishingly successful auto-didact who loved medieval literature himself, and read voraciously enough to engage local famous-ish English professors in rigorous debate. This despite having quit high school to work and help the family, only earning a GED in his mid-twenties when it became hard to get a job without a high school education. When I was a child, my family thought of me as 'the smart one,' but as I age it becomes clearer to me that I was merely the one most likely to seek outward recognition (in the form of degrees, honor societies, etc.) for knowledge gained.

3) I don't know that I have ever accepted a new idea without putting up major resistance to it first. Not necessarily in a studious and scholarly way, but more in the lines of an uninformed tantrum. My process is simple; hear/read new idea, hate n.i., resent people positing n.i., create multiple rants about n.i. and people positing n.i., realize n.i. has merit, realize n.i. has more merit than my old idea, feel stupid for all the uninformed and blatantly idiotic things I said about n.i. and people surrounding it, shut up for half a second, grudgingly accept n.i. but hope to be proven wrong -- and therefore right-- soon, proselytize for n.i.'s acceptance, repeat. I shall illustrate, because it's rather funny in context, and because I know the persons in my example wouldn't know me in real life if they tripped over me. I was researching my senior thesis when I encountered Becoming Male in the Middle Ages, edited by Jeffrey Jerome Cohen and Bonnie Wheeler, for the very first time. And I was irritated from the moment I read the title, because why the hell do we need to think MORE about masculine existence in the medieval period, don't we think enough about men now?!, and then when I saw that feminist perspectives were included and a man's name was on the editor's list, I became even more annoyed because my experience with men writing/speaking about feminist ideas was not good. I read the titles, noted all the times "castration" was mentioned and decided that any feminism discussed or engaged with would be given poor treatment, and I returned the book to the shelf with a sort of snort. And as my research continued, I kept coming across these names and thinking "Those jerks! They're everywhere! I just want to write a paper about the representation of women!" without ever thinking that "They're everywhere!" might be an indication that they had something to say worth reading. Well, fast forward, and look over there at my links on the right, and see whose ideas I seem to want to know about now.

4) I smile, and smile, but secretly hate the dude who comes into my gym and starts his treadmill at 7.2 mph, when I was having fun and feeling special because I had my 'wog' ( half walk-half jog, think kid trying to keep up with mom) up to almost 4.0 mph. Bastard! How dare he enjoy his workout at the level of his comfort, when my comfort level is so much lower! What the hell is he trying to prove anyway?!

5) I have great difficulty finding common ground with people who were raised in deeply patriarchal households. I just don't get them. This is not an affectation on my part, some sort of diligent application of feminist theory in questioning societal assumptions from the perspective of personal experiences. The whole idea of a father-centered family and society really is just so incredibly weird to me that I'm always astonished when people bring it up as if it's somehow normal. This confusion often gets me labeled a smart-ass. Which is also true, but not in these cases.

6) Probably the proudest I ever remember feeling was when I hit an A over high C for the first time when I was about 19, and made the chandelier in my voice teacher's house shake with the force of it. I never did manage a pianissimo at that pitch, but whatever, man...the chandelier shook!

7) When I was a child, I wanted to grow up to be President of the United States or Roberta Flack. Either one would do, really, though if I really thought about it the Presidency was the best. I used to get very upset about that whole 35 thing, too, because I did the math and discovered that the year I turned 35 was not an election year, and I'd have to be 37 before I could take office. So, this is actually the exact time I envisioned myself literally preparing to take over the free world after an infuriatingly-long extra two-year wait. Instead, I have to remind myself weekly not to take the Metro into the district to throw stuff at Senators.

I tag: Anniina, Bardiac, Magistra, and rule-breaker that I am, all others who wish to play, too.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

How I Spent $500 in a Weekend, and Other Tales of Depravity

When I came down south for my new job, I did so on borrowed dimes and with the expectation that I would not see my first paycheck until mid-November. I hate borrowing money. Hate it. So, I borrowed as little as possible (which was still substantial), loaded up the car with work clothes, an inflatable mattress, my computer and chair, and a few books to tide me over. I also had a loaf of bread, a plastic knife, and jars of peanut butter and jelly. That's pretty much it. Because I hate to borrow money, I had no credit cards with me. (In my early 20s I tried to secure the love of my friends with relatively elaborate wedding gifts. Took me two years to get over that summer of weddings, and I chose never to go back into that debt again.)

Now, I can't say that I handled my penury particularly well. I would burst into tears if I took a wrong turn and wasted gas, or needed to pay for something for work, or had to talk to a family member about making sure mom got her pills on time. Whatever. Twice I tried to get my mother to stop "helping me figure things out" on the phone, and twice she persisted until I was practically transformed into a liquid. (The fear of matricide by failure is a strong fear, and my mother has always been fiscally delusional. Hence part of the pressure on me to provide now.)
I was getting particularly desperate recently, as peanut butter and jelly loses most of its charm by week 3, and my back and legs were beginning to really resent the whole sleeping on a slowly-deflating mattress/the floor. Also, I hadn't any laundry money. And my mother was trying to help me figure things out again, by coming up with a debt-repayment plan for me. While talking about her own need to borrow to get her cardiac meds. Because, although I had asked her repeatedly if she had all her pills, she forgot that she was about to run out of the one that keeps her alive when I left.

It sucked in a very serious way, and I thought I had two more weeks to go.

And my pro-rated rent was due Thursday, and the brake warning light has been on for several days.

Well, surprise! I was handed a paycheck as I left work this Friday. A whole, real paycheck.

And I paid my pro-rated rent (half a rent payment), and I sent Mom money, and I paid back the person to whom I owed the least because she needed the money back the most.

And then I went all crazy!

I got a twin bed ( on sale!), because I didn't want to sleep on the floor anymore. However, I made sure it was cheap because my real bed will be coming down with Mom and the rest of my stuff in February, and this thing will be freecycled. I just need it to get me off the floor. But that was a bunch of money.

Then I went to the dollar store and got cleaning supplies.

And then I went to Home Depot and got a lamp.

Then I went to Target and got a tray table and a vacuum.
And half-priced chocolates. And toiletries.

Then I went to the post office and got stamps.

Then I went to the local grocery and got chicken and veggies (veggies!) and orange juice and bananas and cereal and deli turkey and cheese and mustard and a good, heavy wheat bread. And a single-serving slice of cheesecake.

And then I vowed I was done shopping.

And then I went out to get gas, and the floodgates opened again as I passed a shoe store, then turned around and went back in because they were having a sale! On cute shoes! And then I bought two pair of cheapish shoes and a seriously reduced handbag (and took notes on more expensive shoes and bags for a future date).

And now I have to behave myself because I haven't even had the brakes checked yet. (Though sometimes my brakelight comes on because the tires need air.)

I'll tell ya what, though. A lamp and a piece of furniture do wonders for an apartment. And, as much respect as I have for my vegetarian and vegan friends, I have to say that dairy products and flesh do wonders for me.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Now Blogging at You from Charmingly Historical Edge City

Which is totally more expensive than Microburg, but also way cooler. In that Charmingly Historical Edge City sort of way, that is. It's not Cool, per se, but it is peopled by those who bought their townhouses from the artists who lured all the cute shops to the neighborhood. Yuppietown, actually, with cute shops. I can dig that.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


While I cart myself and my absolutely essential stuff down to my new city area. Wish me luck in starting the job and finding good transitional digs.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Too Many Tissues in the House?

Well, then. I have a remedy. As usual, however, my remedy comes with a back story. ( I think I may already be that crazy old aunt who will explain the history of leeching in medicine when someone asks for a band-aid. Damn.)


My music history prof once declared to a room full of skeptical post-adolescents that any person who can watch/listen to La Boheme without crying has a serious emotional disorder for which there is no acceptable alternate diagnosis. You can't even blame that kind of emotional stunting on presbyterianism. As skeptical as my compatriots, I thought he was just doing the "it's OK for men to love Opera" thing. And then I saw La Boheme, and gave every liquid-producing gland on my face a serious workout.

But suppose you aren't in the mood for Italian-singing Parisians, what can you do?
You can watch/ listen to one of the more recent recensions of the tale of star-crossed love.

Spend a rainy afternoon watching RENT.

But don't just do that. Watch RENT while explaining to a relative with cardiac and vascular issues that Jonathan Larson , the creator of RENT, was another Gower Champion story. And try not to think about the fact that you are moving away from said ill relative, at least for a time. And while you're doing that, think also about the subject matter of RENT; creative young people living with and dying of AIDS in New York in 1989-1990. And then think about the creative young person you both loved and lost in New York in 1990. And by the time the cast finishes singing "La Vie Boheme" you won't have a tissue, paper napkin, or paper towel left in the house.

I promise you it'll work.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Considering Carpetbaggery

[Update: Southward-bound Heo departs Microburg in a few days to search for temporary housing in the Major Metropolitan area. Hilarity is almost certain to ensue, as I have already had my heart blessed via telephone, and I understand heart blessings are generally not a good sign. Also, while I am no longer Catholic, I do have a compulsive need to finish the prayer when someone says "Lord, have mercy." Sometimes, I even break into song right after that. But by then I'm off auto-pilot and just being a smart-ass.]

Hey, all! I realize I have once again, very rudely gone AWOL on you. I would have been poor company, I assure you.

Anyway, just this evening I was offered a job ( not CC teaching) on the other side of the Mason-Dixon line. I'm eskeered of the other side of the Mason-Dixon line much in the same way I was eskeered of the other side of the Hudson before I came to Microburg. ( People talk funny over there, and pray funny over there, there be the dragons, those outside the NY metropolitan area seem to think all native New Yorkers are carrying automatic weaponry and Hashish at all times, that sort of thing.) But, the job seems challenging and useful, and if the money is enough for me to be a responsible citizen while being a responsible worker ( and I think it will be), I may be living elsewhere super soon.

The funny thing is that I've been going through my things this past week and throwing away everything that doesn't past the Budapest test. That is to say, if my perfect dream job were to present itself, and I was preparing to move to Budapest to do dream work and spend off-hours drinking among the Magyars and exploring Saint Stephen's, would I be so attached to thing X that I would fly it over with me?

When I answer yes, I keep it. When I answer no, and it isn't furniture, it goes away.

Now, I wouldn't call prospective new suburb of major metropolis (Major metropolis! Yay!) Budapest, but if this job comes through, it'll be a serious move.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

This Just In: PhD Comics Gets a Medievalist

And a Germanist, too! Go see for yourselves! It's the August 31 comic! I have run out of excuses for exclamation points in this post!

Friday, August 31, 2007

Deep, Dramatic Sigh

There, pity party begun.

I have driven about 1000 - 1200 miles a week for the past two weeks, going on last minute interviews in the hopes that I would find eleventh hour employment for this year. Two hiring committees that were supposed to get in touch with me by the end of business Thursday have not done so. And both were love-fest situations, but one particularly was all "We WILL be in touch. We haven't met anyone like you. You're perfect. There are nice apartments you'll love just down the parkway. We can go shoe shopping together."


Anyway, it has been my experience that hiring people fail to get in touch with you when they said they would because they have no good news for you. So, it seems that with my fancy pants suit (some dude thought I was the opposing attorney t'other day) and my fancy pants educational debt ( though not attorney debt, which is good), I will most likely be spending the next few months doing something menial and sucky for menial and sucky pay.

So, this evening I ate a giant hot fudge sundae. Because I don't need my suit to fit anyway, damn it.

And that should conclude the pity party.

Except to note this: all this waiting helplessly by the phone for someone else to determine the course my life is going to take? That's why I don't do traditional dating.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Eight Random Things About Me

I'm fairly sure that 80% of this blog is "random things about me," but I've been meme-tagged by young Chris of Mixing Memory, and I'm a sport. So, here goes:

1. I have not been able to sleep with a door ajar in the room where I am sleeping since the seventh grade, when I read Edgar Allan Poe's "The Telltale Heart." In fact, I will wake from a sound sleep if my bedroom or closet door opens. However, I can sleep very well in the living room, which has no doors at all -- just archways to other rooms.

2. I had my first HIV test before my first lover, and still have had more HIV tests than lovers, despite never having used intravenous drugs.

3. The first card in the Rorschach test...the one everyone thinks looks like a butterfly? I always see happy little poodles dancing together first, then a butterfly. But I only work to see the butterfly because I don't want to admit to dancing poodles. There's probably a pill for dancing poodles.

4. Speaking of neuroses, I have adopted a nuerosis from every job I have ever held -- even if I hated the job. Here, I'll prove it.
Babysitting -- I don't have pets and I don't have kids, but nothing with an edge smaller than a dollar coin or made of glass or containing poisons of any kind can be under four feet from the floor in my house or I start getting twitchy.
Clothing store -- all clothes in my closet face the same direction, and all hangers must be at uniform level, and at relatively uniform distances. Those pants hangers make me mad, because they ruin the uniform hanger-shaped line the rest of the closet has.
Nursing -- hospital corners all the way, baby, and I make those while facing away from the head of the bed because I was in nursing for a long time and also brought "proper body mechanics" needs away with me, too.
Undergrad student and Tutoring -- I schedule my time on a color-coded spread sheet, and put my paperwork for tasks to be accomplished in three-hole color-coded folders, that are all in a big white binder with both photos and text on the inserts at the spine and front to tell me which binder I'm dealing with.
Graduate student and TA -- I keep detailed records of all communications with teachers and students for at least a full calendar year. Why? Dunno, I might need them.
Teaching -- ditto all the teaching stuff above, and add a new reluctance to be seen in public while wearing denim.

5. My favorite lines from any song, ever, are "Er war ein Superstar. Er war so populaer. Er war so exaltiert, because er hatte flair." (Rock Me Amadeus) Dude fixed a rhyming problem by going pidgin!

6. I can reproduce the sounds of a new language well enough in a short period of time that natives will believe I can converse with them long before I even know what I'm saying. Another glitch to this ability to "sing back" words is that I have learned what I know of Spanish from various sources, so that new (to me) native Spanish speakers , upon hearing me speak a sentence start laughing and saying that was the fastest tour of South America they've ever been on.

7. This language ability was not always the case. On the Saturday before the Easter when I was three years old, I informed my eldest brother that I would not accept any syllogism in which the conclusion was "Therefore, the rabbit brings you brightly colored eggs." In my phoneme-challenged 3 year-old language, arms akimbo as they so often were back then ( I have pictures), it went something like this: " No, Gank! No Llabbits gonna bwing me no yeggs! Why the llabbit bwings yeggs cause somebunny dieds an I falld asweep?" I also thought the last four letters of the alphabet were: double-me, x, y, and z. I was adorable.

8. I look like somebody famous in England, but only there, and I don't know who she is. I do know that I get people of both sexes and many ages rushing up to gaze at me in London, and I've seen a couple of the London tall guys almost kill themselves straining to see me. Now, whenever I go to England, I feel responsible for her reputation -- whoever she is -- and make an extra effort to dress and behave well.

Monday, August 27, 2007

My Teaching Philosophy: Trial by Ordeal Edition

The infamous professor whom I use on this blog and in my life as a sort of anecdote farm to illustrate Very Bad Things also had some admirable ideas that I have adopted in my teaching: he always admitted when he didn't know the answers to our questions, and he at least stated that a student's thoughts/beliefs/opinions were always welcome in his classroom, no matter how offensive. That second part was absolute nonsense of course, he wanted to be free to be as abusive as possible to his students, particularly those in simultaneous possession of vaginas and thoughts, and felt that a "truly free academic environment" would best serve his needs. But, theoretically, an open forum -- nobody gets punished for thinking in my class -- approach is a good thing. (And here I thought that the only things I brought with me out of that department were a two-year refusal to take any course in which the instructor of record was a male of any professed political stripe, and a much clearer understanding of my mother's anger.)

Because it's harder for me to see that which is admirable in a person I find loathsome, I have concluded that being honest about the limits of one's knowledge and encouraging free expression in one's classroom (albeit with a decidedly less venomous tilt) are probably as close to really good teaching ideas as I'm going to get, and so I have implemented those ideas in my teaching.

However, I have some problems Infamous Professor did not have, and so I have found over time that I have had to define the boundaries of the open forum a bit better. Yes, I am aware that adding boundaries to an open forum creates a closed, if broad, forum. I justify this choice by citing my duties as an educator to help all students expand their abilities.

Many students, when faced with an open discussion, fall into befuddled silence. This does not help them. A little structure allows them to feel safe enough to speak, and so I try to provide just enough structure to make a safe space.

Boundary #1: "You must say something that has some relevance to what we're doing/reading."

Others start spouting nonsense just for the joy of spouting nonsense, and refuse to defend their nonsense because "she said I could think whatever I want." This is also thoroughly unproductive, and very intellectually lazy. Why so many people think "free speech" means "unchallenged speech" is really beyond me.

Boundary #2 is "You have the right to say what you think. This does not include the right to silence all disagreement."

My students very often have opinions and ideologies that they have adopted, unexamined, from others whom they admire. That's normal for their stage of development, but is also something they need to start moving away from in order to take on adult roles in the world. I am a fact-based kind of person, and so I require that my students give me opinions based on something other than their general reading of the Zeitgeist in their neighborhoods, things they wish were true because that would totally support their specious arguments, and "my dad/friend/clergyman says." The arguments can stay, and even the Zeitgeist and appeals to local authority can stay in the arguments as long as they aren't alone, but false facts are not allowed.

Boundary #3 is "You are entitled to your own opinions. You are entitled to your own interpretations. You are not entitled to your own facts."

And finally, a problem that is the antithesis of Infamous Professor's design in adopting " a truly free academic environment;" my interpretation of a free exchange of ideas means that there is no bullying of any kind, so that all group members with ideas may feel free and safe to present those ideas to the group. Unfortunately, like Infamous Professor, there are a lot, like A LOT, of young people who harbor great quantities of causeless hatred in their withered little souls, and immediately upon hearing the phrase" free exchange of ideas" think "open season on the people I hate." While I acknowledge such ugliness does exist in the world, and even encourage students to discuss the uglier urges we may have as humans through my choices of literature, I cannot allow unfettered hate speech in my classroom. Even if it didn't offend me personally, and it does offend me, I have ethical and legal obligations as a teacher to make my academic space a safe space for all students, including and perhaps especially the students that others may target for hate.

Boundary #4 is "No bullying."

Students who are prone to hatefullness really resent boundary #4, because in their minds the only free space is a space where they are free to drive out those whose biological sex/ gender identification/ skin color/ religion/ political bent/ ethnicity/ tax bracket/ shoe choice they do not like.

That was a pretty long setup, I know. Bear with me.

This summer, my intensive literature course was "Introduction to American Literature" (Because I never ever ever get to teach something I would be really great at teaching. Never. It's against the law.). This class had the slightly narrower theme of "the creation of the Other in American Literature," because it was a summer class and I needed one theme that I could hop all over American Literature with, but mostly because once you've read The Wanderer and The Wife's Lament, and royal Vitae (Alfred, Charlemagne) and anything by Gerald of Wales, you start seeing the creation of "the Other" everywhere. And then you read Puritan sermons, and millenarian sermons, and Melville's Metaphysics of Indian-Hating, featuring an indian-hater par excellence, which is almost exactly in Saint's Life format, and some later stuff too, and lo! there are socially-constructed Others there as well. And then you sift through all the witches and demons and brown people and communists and weirdos and poor people and they start to look a lot like those filthy Saxons and Vikings and Welsh and peasants and witches and demons that you've seen before.

Long Story which I typed in but Blogger lost on me -- I had a Holocaust Denier in my class. Unlike 99% of my students, all of whom came into the class with some horrifying assumptions about life and people, he did not rethink his opinion when presented with corrected facts ( like pictures of Auschwitz), but rather became more virulently hateful. Boundaries 3 and 4 clashed with each other, and true facts plus his logic made him more of a bully than ever, and I had to choose the least destructive route, which was to make school safe for most of my students, and stop calling on the one.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

What Things May Come

The teaching of intensive courses this summer has left me with many and varied experiences to discuss with you, and also with the conviction that I should be kind enough to those who take the time to read my humble blog to occasionally do some organization -n- stuff. (I can almost guarantee you I will continue to run off on tangents, since tangents are my favorite vacation spot.)

In the meantime, news that totally excites me:

My very favorite contemporary poet has a blog, and I found it, and she posts poetry on it, and yay!

Lorna Dee Cervantes

Go check it out!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

2 Weeks, No Sleep. However ...

Also, my supervisor bounced some students I was having trouble controlling (because 18-20 is WAY too young to know how to behave appropriately in a classroom setting). Which has made one of my classes go from abject hell to pretty decent. This is nice for me, and very nice for the students who really want to learn something. Though there are circling parents and their lawyers, because the five other adults who came in to observe/give me pointers in dealing with total boneheads were colluding with me against these poor, innocent students.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Just Curious

How hard do I get to kick a kid whose first creative writing assignment is handed in today

A) in the wrong language
a) in a class for English credit, and

B) fully plagiarized
b) in one of those totally obvious, pop-rock lyric kinda ways.

I mean, will I have to wait to get a purple belt or something?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Catastrophe Avoided, Stay Tuned for Possible Impending Disaster

All the traveling about searching for employment has taken quite a toll on my finances. In the past 8 weeks I have gone from regular poor to scary poor, and finding summer jobs in Microburg is like trying to win the lottery. At first you imagine all the fun you'll have with your clerk job, and paycheck enough to buy the fancy noodles. But, alas, the clerk job always seems to go to someone else, someone less deserving, less in need. Frankly, you begin to think that dude with the summer job doesn't even really exist. He's a hologram the job people have put up to trick you. There never was a job! They just wanted you to fill out their paperwork! Soylent Green is People!

Anyway, just before I began looking about for places to sell blood, I received a panicked phone call. Someone who agreed to teach this summer backed out, leaving full classes about to start and nobody to teach them. Heo, are you interested, can you help? I thought about it for a bit, examined the peanut butter and jelly in the pantry, and considered the 1/4 tank of gas in the SS Bankruptcy, and agreed.

When the checks roll in, there will be plenty of fuel for me and the SS Bankruptcy both. With the remains I shall buy an island and crown myself queen! Huzzah, Huzzah, Huzzah!

One problem. Summer teaching backer-outer signed up for Three (3) intensive courses. Which begin Monday.

Stay tuned for short, incoherent ramblings disguised as blog posts.*

* Yes, more incoherent than usual. Smartass.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Thinking Blogger Award

Bardiac nominated me for a Thinking Blogger Award. Thanks, Bardiac!

And, as usual, this post comes right on schedule, two weeks after it was promised. Argh!

I'm especially honored to have this nod from Bardiac, because in her blog I find the work of one of those people who manages to be both inspirational and a somehow steadying force simultaneously. And then she adds intelligent, informed, insightful and generous to the mix and you can't even hate her for having her stuff together. I hate that. But I totally wanna be Bardiac when I grow up.

So, onto my choices. I have not been able to properly track who has these awards already, so if I have doubled a name, I apologize.

Oh, hell, I only get five?

Mixing Memory - Chris writes a very good cognitive science blog, in which he often explains the complicated processes we go through in our everyday thinking. And he even has footnotes quite often. So, I've started with blogger who writes about his thinking in response to the thinking of others about the act of thinking itself, which, when presented in blogular form, I now say will cause the reader to think on their own in response. How many "metas" is that?

Ancrene Wiseass - AW is a medievalist graduate student who writes beautifully about many topics, medieval and modern alike. I especially enjoy her posts on negotiating the demands of actual life and of graduate study simultaneously. It was in reading AW's blog that I realized that a grad student really could be a graceful contributor to the world of electronic words.

Karl "the Grouchy Medievalist" Steel - Even before he joined Jeffrey Jerome Cohen at In the Middle, Karl was tearing up the intertubes with insightful, provocative, and informative comments on other folks' blogs. So much so that when he joined JJC, I did a little computer-chair jig at the thought of more access to Karl-ian thoughts. He has not disappointed.

Squadratomagico - Somehow manages to live not just an ordinary real personal life outside of the academy, but her blog suggests that she's living an AMAZING personal life outside the academy. I love the stories, and her academic insights, but mostly I'm lurking around over there trying to figure out how she does it.

Lady Bracknell - The Perorations of Lady Bracknell, as you might imagine, are as august and aristocratic as is the lady herself. In her electronic editorials -- for who would dare call them anything as vulgar as 'blog posts'? -- Lady Bracknell does her best to rid the world of the unfortunate beliefs and practices of disablism, misogyny,* and all-around block-headedness.

*Aristocrats get the oxford comma. I read that in the rule books, I'm sure. Tiaras, white gloves, and oxford commas.

The rules for this meme are at the original post, or just below.

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,
3. Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote (here is an alternative silver version if gold doesn't fit your blog).

Sunday, July 01, 2007

I Can Has Dignity?

If it seems like every other post includes an apology for my absence plus an explanation thereof, well, that's because that's been the pattern around here.

I'm sorry for being such a lackadaisical blogger.

But, man, do I have stories for you.

I have been on many road trips the past few weeks, in search of gainful employment, and oh! the places I've gone!

With brains in my head,
and feet in my shoes,
and gas in my tank,
I went off to peruse.

I began close to home,
not far did I roam,
to another burg that is micro,
as was the salary, alas!
proposed by the ass,
drat! I haven't a rhyme pair for micro.

Then overnight was the trip,
past bridges and tunnels and ships,
that brought me to a safe haven.
But after the second session,
we all learned our lessons,
and I knew it was time to be leavin'.

(Three cheers for sloppy rhyme! Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!)

I stopped home for refreshments,
sleep, food, and a change of vestments,
and drove to a town by another great water.
The water was swell,
I gave Canada a yell,
But was not hired for lack of a daughter.

(I'm not kidding. They prefer their women married with children up there. I was told this expressly. They are clearly not Heo-ready. )

Another stop home for a drink and a nap,
then off I went again, white-knuckling the map.
I took the road out of microburg, and then a quick left,
and saw men in straw hats drive horses of considerable heft.
Amish, where they ought not to have been!
And the house of a minor president!
And a nudist colony!
All in the same small town.
Right on the way to my meeting.
I must now confess,
Although Johannes and Georg were dressed,
imaginings of them as nudists weren't fleeting.

Off to a beauteous town I continued,
where I lost my breath often,
but kept control of my sinew.
Welawey! Say I now,
for I was so desperately cowed,
that I could not give a coherent interview.

And finally, this past week,
Off south again I hent,
past the place where the sight of Amish one expects.
But they weren't there,
and the meeting was bare,
just a secretary and a recording device,
and one Heo, vexed.

Northeast a bit, too.
To a ridiculous zoo,
run by my natural enemy.
A short, squat man,
holding his chest unnaturally convex,
and a major dux bellorum complex,
that I watched kick in,
while supressing a grin,
as I rose when he came in the office.

And the cost of this traveling,
on mind, body and purse,
has been quite enormous,
though less so in verse.

Unemployed I remain,
whether I like it or not.
More travel and meetings
in which I try hard not to be trying.
More questions,
both silly and not,
and, I fear,
a few more Saturdays crying.

But on Sundays, I'm rested,
not so easily perplexed-ed,
and I remember medievalist training.
Patience, indeed,
Perseverance, too,
and eventually stuff won't be so draining!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Heo Posts Everyday Etiquette Tips: Lesson 1~ Grace Under Pressure

When a neighbor comes over and brings you a lovely bouquet of clippings from her garden:

  1. Thank her and make a big fuss over how beautiful the flowers are and how lovely they smell, and how you just adore fresh flowers.

  2. Mean it.

  3. Go get a vase, quickly, so that the flowers are in water as soon as possible because you don't want the stems to dry out.

  4. When choosing the vase, be sure to pick the fat, unwieldy one.

  5. When placing the vase on the counter, try to set it down at just the right angle, and with just the right level of force.

  6. Watch it shatter in your hand.

  7. Feel the largest piece slice your thumb. Assume the wound is not that severe since it didn't hurt that much, really.
  8. Curse like a longshoreman.

  9. Following first aid protocol, hold pressure on wound for 15 minutes so it can stop bleeding.

  10. Repeat, because you must have done it wrong.

  11. Reassure your neighbor, who is blanching visibly.

  12. Make a joke about how accident prone you are.

  13. With your good hand, pour your neighbor a cup of fresh coffee, which you carry from the kitchen to the living room with milk and sugar bowls on the toaster-oven tray because you have no tea tray.

  14. Make a joke about your hostessing skills.

  15. Chat as if you aren't concerned about your still-bleeding hand.

  16. Excuse yourself 'for just a moment' because you're not sure you turned off the coffee pot.

  17. Neglect to mention that the coffee pot turns itself on and off, and might someday knit you a cardigan if you can figure out the code.

  18. Make small talk nonchalantly from the kitchen while you surreptitiously apply butterfly sutures (one-handed! ^4!) to the gash in the digit that -- along with philosophy and art -- separates you from the majority of other wildlife.

  19. Realize that your grasp of philosophy is unimpressive, you couldn't draw a straight line with a ruler, and there are a few apes who have twice as many opposable thumbs as you used to have.

  20. Consider adding whiskey to your own coffee. Refrain. You may be a dolt who is outranked on the evolutionary scale by some poop-throwers, but you're the only person you know in this city whom you can trust to drive you to the ER if you feel faint from the loss of blood.

  21. Ask yourself how the hell you ever got into graduate school with your sad-ass logical skills.

  22. Decide to pour whiskey into cup after all.

  23. Realize that the stench of whiskey is unmaskable with even the strongest roast of coffee.

  24. Pour whiskey out of cup. Rinse.

  25. Deposit still-stinky cup in sink, start over with clean coffee cup.

  26. Hear neighbor heading for the kitchen to check on you. You can't let her find you in here bleeding all over the butcher block in a kitchen that smells like whiskey when you didn't even get to drink the stinking whiskey. Emergency!!

  27. Pop your smiling face out of kitchen.

  28. Distract her with gossip about the neighbor whose house is visible from the window furthest from your kitchen.

  29. Sigh in relief as she moves to that window to contemplate the news and their house.

  30. Wrap 2x2 gauze around your thumb.

  31. Wrap clear packing tape around your 2x2 gauze very tightly so you can drink your damned virgin coffee without having to continue holding pressure on your thumb.
  32. Wrap 4x4 neatly around this, and with appropriate tape.

  33. Discuss local arts offerings for the summer.

  34. Pretend you're excited to see a community theater version of a play you hated when you saw professionals do it.
  35. Feel throbbing pain, and strong desire to reprise your earlier role as longshoreman #1.

  36. Encourage neighbor to go home by subtle shift to the annoyingly didactic.

  37. Act disappointed that she needed to leave so quickly, but do that while walking to the door.

  38. Walk her out, and thank her again for the lovely flowers.

  39. Vodka, neat.

  40. Proceed to local walk-in medical office.

Friday, May 25, 2007


[Post edited to eliminate idiot spelling errors and extra-awkward sentences. Medium-awkward sentences and less idiotic spelling errors have been left intact. Not really, or not purposefully. I'm just covering my butt.]

For just a moment, I may actually be my normal-ish self. Though I haven't quite figured out what normal looks like without some sort of looming emergency, academic or familial. Heomodor had all her problem areas addressed surgically this week, with some hours of high drama in surgery during which the surgical staff ran around quite a bit and shouted. Just like on the TV. Well, they didn't have sex in the broom closet in between laps around the O.R., but still. I was actually convinced, for the past month or two, that Heomodor was not long for this world. Good job, team of three surgeons! And a nice touch it was, your meeting with the whole fambly as a unit to explain stuff. Even the spindly one who adopted the 'benevolent but dismissive father-figure" status for himself while taking command (and, who did the least of all three) deserves a good pat on the back for his contribution. He also deserves a kick in the pants, but I'm tired this week. Which brings me to this question...why would someone who actually performs an iconic role [dramatic surgeon] in our culture double down by adopting another one [father knows best] in a conversation related to his work in his first iconic status? I mean, seriously! Next time wear a cowboy hat, too, why don't you?

Monday, May 21, 2007

More Reasons to Wear the Regalia

When you march around to Pomp and Circumstance and Procession of the Nobles for the amusement of your friends and family, they are obliged to give you stuff. It's the rule. Now, in return for my performance, my family and friends have provided me with the following:

some cash (wlonk!)

two cakes (cake!)

a crustacean-based meal (Good for body and soul, both. I'm convinced that the matter with Kansas is the total lack of crustacean-based meals. )

a camera of the digital variety (the first camera I've ever owned that was not bought at a pharmacy)

Friday, May 18, 2007

Introducing Heo!

Master of Ceremeonies

the Universe

the English Language (well, on paper I am)

Hmm, let's try another tact.

I went to post-structuralism sleep-away camp and all I got was this lousy regalia.

Sweet. I love regalia. And what's better than medieval robes?

Tomorrow, I shall march about in medieval robes, being careful to flaunt my extra-long, flappy arms. I will do my best to appear sage for the cameras.

Just know that my interior monologue as I sedately flap my masterful way up to the podium to get my fake diploma will include both "look at me, Ma" and "Woo-hoooo! Best Joey Ramone Day celebration ever!" I may also include a heart-felt "wlonk!" but that'll have to depend on the moment.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Why Do I Blog?

Quite some time ago -- on my mother's Birthday, actually -- Bardiac tagged me to share five reasons why I blog. Because I am such a phenomenal blogging slacker, for reasons which I will share in the second half of this post, I did not complete the task. And I continued to not complete the task for so long that my fellow tagee, Ancrene Wiseass, completed her assignment, and tagged Anniina, who in turn completed her assignment and tagged me. And then I started to feel really guilty about being so slow to get on this meme. So, I let that procrastinator's guilt percolate for a while, and now I am ready to be a responsible blogger and write my post.


Five Reasons I Blog:

1) Long Story with two parts, in fine TMI tradition: I would classify my experience in my family, although loving, as akin to being in a high-demand cult. Seriously. Part of the pull of graduate school was, for me, the chance to be away. As I planned my move to Microburg from civilization, I became absolutely giddy with the prospect of living far enough away from my family that I stopped being defined, and defining myself, as Daughter of X, Sister of Y. And I know that sounds immature, because it is immature. But there you have it. About two months before I was set to depart, a family member fell ill -- not dangerously ill, but too sick to work, and too poor to go it alone. I am the only unmarried, non-replicating sibling. Therefore, my charge into freedom changed radically. Like, the freedom part of it got taken away. I was determined to continue on to graduate school, but I would have to take my family member with me, and take responsibility for said family member. Moving made me the sole emotional and social support for said person, who is not the type to create a new social network, and be the largest financial support as well. Not a lot of time for that, plus grad school, plus finding a place where who I am is entirely based upon me. One improvises. So, ta-da. A place where I can be bitchy and evil and pompous and self-centered and school-centered and politics-centered and me, and nobody gets hurt.

2) As I wandered about the internet, hunting for information about becoming a medievalist, I found blogs that centered on just that. And they were written by women, most of them. And those women were feminists, too. Huzzah! So, I started to think that I could also be a feminist medievalist, and that perhaps I could bring something to the conversation while we all made our way to the medieval. I'm cartain I don't do that as well as I should, but you can't build a skill unless you work on that skill, right?

3) I had to create a blogger account to comment at Bitch PhD and Ancrene Wiseass anyway.

4) I seriously like my pseudonym, and whenever I'm moderately clever in a very geeky way I like to share that.

5) My friends have heard my anecdotes before, and they aren't as impressed by my rapier wit as I like to imagine all the non-commenting visitors to this blog are. You see, in my mind, the non-commenting don't fail to comment because I haven't said anything generative, or they're creepy pervs who are using the internet to search for sick ways to get sexual pleasure out of medieval torture devices. Oh, no. They fail to comment because they are stunned by my perspicacity. So, to maintain my delusions.

Five Reasons I haven't Blogged Lately:
1) Overflow classes, just in case I never make it back to graduate school.:$0
Volunteering commitments that help me get over myself: $0
Writing decent final papers for all those classes while keeping volunteering commitments so that choice to make it back to graduate school is ultimately mine: Priceless.

2) Relative is ill and requires much shuttling to doctors.

3) I need a job! So far two interviews, no offers. Le sigh.

4) You know how Pandarus always shows up where nobody invited him in Troilus and Criseyde? He does that in papers about Troilus and Criseyde as well.

5) Actually attending when speakers come on campus in case I never make it back to graduate school and I just go around being all ignorant of the stuff they were talking about forever because I didn't learn it now.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Wherein the Blogger Notices a Theme

As it happens, I have gotten into several -- intermittently heated -- discussions with a peer this week over what he calls the "slow food," and "home spun," movements, and I call the "cult of domesticity."* Now, when I say "intermittently heated" I mean that I got pissed a few times. We were doing that thing where we say the same things 53 times, in slightly different ways each time, and we each only say one thing. And then we gave up and pretended it was because we had reached consensus, when no such thing had occurred.

Conversations that go that way are maddening in the extreme, but ever so easy to pare down for blogular purposes.

He said: These are interesting ways to reintroduce art to life and break with the cycle of consumption/corporate ickiness.
She said: Why is it only traditionally Mama activities that have to suddenly be a giant, labor-intensive pain in the ass? Maybe we have to consider fixing families first, or, failing that, that there are other ways to fight the corporations.
He said: This isn't a right-wing movement, so it can't be anti-woman. I feel like you're leaving us with more consumption, and not wanting to fight the corporations.
She said: Maybe we have to fight the corporations in a different way, one that takes into account that men don't statistically pull their weight at home now, when everything is microwaveable. Maybe we should start the fight at the 60-80 hour workweek. And left-wing can still be anti-woman, or just "What women?"

And that's where we got stuck. Because he kept telling me that it wasn't a right-wing thing, and I kept telling him that it could still be anti-woman by accident or even design and be a left-wing thing. That there was nothing inherently pro-woman about left-leaning politics. In fact, evidence has tended to support the theory that left-wing men are fairly frequently completely bloody worthless where fighting for women's rights is concerned.

In a weird performance of the exact issue I was telling him about, he kept centering on "the important business" of fighting corporations. And in order to do that, he was neglecting to see how this fight, fought in this way, might -- almost certainly WOULD -- negatively affect women individually and as a group and actually end up giving the social right-wing what it wants even as it takes something from the business right-wing. But the something that would be given to the social right-wing would come exclusively out of the hides of the womenfolk, so that's not 'important.' The answer was always: it isn't right-wing.

And then I released the Kraken at a committee meeting because the men there were shouting women members down so they could have their three-way pissing contest -- ostensibly about an issue that affected women almost exclusively.

And then I turn to the blogosphere for respite. Because I'm silly.

And I got to see the whole "Markos is still a jackass w/r/t women, film at 11" thing at Pandagon. And, sure enough, there was Markos, being a jackass right out in public. And, of course, his fellow left-wing men and women joined in a lovely misogyny cluster in comments, and they got very upset when the feminist blogosphere noticed. 'Cause, how dare mere, one-issue bloggers disagree with an A-list blogger?! They should obey in silence, especially since they're all cootified girls and stuff. (Hey, Critical Thinkers! C'mere a sec. If women could trust left wing men not to do what Markos JUST DID IN PRINT RIGHT THERE AT HIS SITE, YOU DOLTS, perhaps more women would be willing to be team players. Because when the only person who ever has to take one for the team is you, and it happens all the time, you start to think, "maybe this isn't the team for me.") Because, God knows the democratic party doesn't need women's votes to win elections.

Then, I went to Feministe, where Jill was very nicely asking fellow members of the left not to join on the "bash the Duke accuser" bandwagon. And, she said this:

Even if you believe that the attacks on this individual woman are warranted, consider the effects that they will have on rape survivors. Consider what rape survivors feel every time they hear her called a liar. Consider what women will internalize about rape from this incident. Consider how that will effect them in the future — how it will effect their own reporting, or their belief that their friend, their daughter, their mother is telling the truth.

And, after I re-read just in case Jill had put some snark somewhere that I missed, the theme was clear. These guys, left and right alike, ARE considering what their words and actions in these cases do to women. Especially the silencing effect they have on women who've been assaulted or even just threatened in a plausible way. That's why they do those things. Now, not all of them think very baldly, "This'll shut those bitches up." They may rationalize it differently. But, that's the effect they're looking for and getting; Silence the women.

When I saw the face of the Fox anchor who put the name and photo of the accuser up onscreen with the phrase "the Duke Liar" under it, I swear I could hear the underlying "Now I'm gonna hafta show you what we do with trouble-making bitches around here." It was absolutely vengeance and hatred filled, and it was absolutely meant to be a public show for women who need to learn their places and lessons well. Just like the DJ who released the name of the Kobe Bryant accuser, and the bastards who released the name of the OC accuser -- this was motivated by hatred of women. And its design is to shut women up.

And then, back at Pandagon, Chris Clarke got all Chris Clarkey and suddenly some of the left wing men got it. But there were still those on the loooooong thread there and at dKos who came in to say "We don't think it's fair that not everything is about what we want to talk about. And American women are stupid. Especially when they don't speak Japanese. And where do you get off using bad words and telling us to shut up when we're men, and we have important thoughts. We can't possibly learn anything from women, that'd be dumb. Maybe they should shut up." And the circle is complete.

And now I shall return to reading the Play of Noah, because there are fewer troublesome depictions of women in medieval literature than there are in life and on the internet today.

*As I often do, I will be subjecting the reader to a personal short story/anecdote before meandering over to my somewhat-related point. I'd advise you to send all complaints regarding this format to my Freshman Comp. professor, but that wouldn't really be fair; she made a valiant effort to get me to stop that years ago. Me, I encourage the attachment of short stories to almost any written work, as long as the story doesn't 1) make it weird for me to look at my student, or 2) require me to call some sort of mental health and/or law enforcement professionals to my class.

Hey, I just totally subjected you to a Bonus Anecdote via footnote!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Jill Filipovic

I saw this post some time ago at Ancrene Wiseass, and I meant to support Jill here, but didn't. Time passes quickly in the blogosphere, you see, and by the time I got around to posting the topic seemed untopical. The top search engine returns for Jill Filipovich were writings by Jill Filipovich already.

Sadly, Jill's recent post asking people from the left and right both to consider what effect the decision made by Fox and Smoking Gun to reveal the accusers face and home information would have on rape survivors, or women in general, has revived the AutoAdmit thugs. Said thugs have climbed out from the ooze to post their support for Jill's hypothetical rape and murder, because she thinks women ought not to be threatened with rape and murder, and such a position is untenable. They're solid citizens over at AutoAdmit.

I intend to write a fuller response to Jill's thoughts soon, but for now I give you tigtog's work, copied in full.

Mirroring the post made by tigtog:

This is a crosspost to effect a Googlebomb, correcting an injustice against a fellow feminist blogger.

Jill Filipovic, who blogs at Feministe and Ms. JD, is a NYU law student who has been the subject of cyber-obsession on a discussion board allegedly populated by law students. The discussions regarding Jill Filipovic (and many other female law students) are sexist and sexual in nature, rating the women’s physical attractiveness and fantasising about sexual contact, both consensual and non-consensual. Neither Jill Filipovic or any other of these women contributed, or gave their permission to be discussed, to the discussion board in question.

Jill Filopovic‘s name and class routines etc have been regularly posted to this board, and at least one of the pseudonymous board-members claims to be Jill Filipovic‘s classmate. Photos that Jill Filipovic posted (with full rights reserved) to an internet photo-storing and sharing site have also been posted to the sleazy discussion board without her permission. This is a horrendous invasion of Jill Filipovic‘s privacy, a violation of copyright law, and calls the ethics and character of the alleged law-students participating in these discussions on the discussion board into question.

A major side-effect of an already nasty situation is that the sexist, objectifying cyber-obsession threads come up on the first page of internet search results on Jill Filipovic‘s name. To an inexperienced user of the internet, it may even look as if Jill Filipovic and other female law students chose to compete in these Hot or Not rating competitions, instead of having their pictures posted without permission.

This post is an attempt to balance those internet results to point to the significant writings of Jill Filipovic instead, using the Googlebomb tactic and also linking this post to social networking sites (eg. del.ici.ous, Stumbleupon). Please feel free to copy any or all of what I’ve written here to your own blog in order to help change the top-ranked search engine results for Jill Filipovic. If you don’t have your own blog then please at least link to one of Jill’s posts listed below at your preferred social networking site and give it the tag ”Filipovic” (as well as any others you think appropriate).

I have linked to these sites in this post:
Jill Filipovic‘s bio page at Feministe
Jill Filipovic‘s blog posts at the Ms. JD blog
Jill Filipovic‘s article about these scummy lawschool sleazebags at Feministe
Jill Filipovic‘s article at Ms. JD: When Law Students Attack

If any of the other female law students stalked by the same sleazy site wish to copy this text with names altered, you hereby have my full permission to do so. All other rights reserved. (C) 2007 tigtog

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Administrative Stuff, and Other Stuff.

Blogroll Changes:

[Updated in order to correct the impression that Marie Borroff is a blogger. Though I could totally see that happening.]

Some People decided to move their blog homes, and Other People decided to come back from a faked death and an island vacation to Bora-Bora, so I had some blogrolling adjustments to make. Also, I didn't particularly like the "They Wonked" category on the sidebar separating some blogs from other blogs, as if I were making value judgments about the blogs. I was in fact making value judgments about the blogs on my blogroll, but the impression the bullets gave was that I thought a Law-professing dude and trumps Medieval and Renaissance History and Literature professing women. That simply isn't so. I'm sure John Balkin is a swell guy and a terrific dinner companion, but he's no Marie Borroff Eileen Joy.

Speaking of Academic Celebrities:

A colleague of mine was at a mini-conference recently wherein he briefly met super-famous Academic B. Super Famous Academic B is distinguished from the Academic Stah of "Speaking at Microburg, what do I do?" fame in that Super Famous Academic B actually has original, paradigm-shattering ideas of her very own that make sense. I still hate them both, but I don't consider SFAB's salary and speaking fees to be theft, as I do AS's income.

Anyway, SFAB was really rude and dismissive of my colleague who, bless his heart, is a giant kiss-ass. Look, don't get me wrong. I like him. I think he's a genuinely smart, affable, well-informed, and nice guy. But I have also seen him kiss up to 6 asses in one grammatically correct sentence without even using a group noun. And this person, out of arrogance, or exhaustion at being pestered by grad students, or whatever, just blew colleague right off. She didn't even bother pretending she wasn't blowing him off, either. Which shocked colleague, 'cause he's good at what he does.

And I pretended it shocked and appalled me too, because I wanted to be supportive of a person who looked so wounded. But, I'll tell ya what. Even as I feigned a credible gasp, up from the dark and twisted caverns of my soul came creeping a wicked laugh. This was a win-win for me, really. Someone FINALLY said to colleague, in her own special way, that being an attractive, well-dressed and affable young man who sighs all three syllables of "professor" with the perfect mix of aroused intellect and endearing, childlike awe doesn't necessarily mean people will bend over backwards to help you from the moment they meet you. And, BONUS! Super Famous Academic B, from whom I sensed major falsehood in her down with hierarchy writings, was openly nasty to an underling just because she could be.

Let's be clear, I hate hierarchies too, and some day after the end of May we'll talk about what I think about Professors who insist that graduate students call them Professor or Doctor up until the day they're hooded, all the while addressing the students by first name. (Here's a hint: Know what I call my medical doctor? Stan, that's what!) And, honestly, I agree with Super Famous Academic B's thoughts. But I know, in the way that you know these things, that she's full of shit. She expresses herself very well, and people find her ideas radical and sexy, and they cite her articles effing endlessly, but there's the distinct aroma of horseshit there. Kinda like how you just know that certain male 'feminist' academics would always ask the female grad students to handle cooking/set-up/and cleaning for department events, because the men were 'so busy with their academic work.'

But this isn't to say that I am happy that a famous academic is faking her radical beliefs. I wish she really did believe what she wrote. But one likes to know the radar still works, ya know?

P.S. There are male academic stars I hate, too. But you know who they are without my havin to tell you, most likely. If you're reading this blog and agreeing with me often, you probably hate them too. And if you read this blog for someone to disagree with, just imagine all the male academics you think are wonderful.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Speaking of Pandarus

Does my butt look like it belongs to Chaucer's depiction of a Trojan ethics-optional warrior culture in this post?

You look confused.

I'll explain, shall I?

I have nieces. Oodles of 'em. They are smart, silly, athletic, lazy, funny, serious, charming, brusque, whiny, weird, goofy, cranky, short, tall, ill-mannered, gracious, and any number of other adjectives you might care to mention. Just like people.

Yet, a 'feminist' male 'friend' of mine, upon hearing that I got a surprise visit from Niece #3 today immediately asked, "Is she pretty?" At which point, a number of memory neurons started firing on protector neurons, and I told him to get lost. Now, the first time I said it in a joking way. But Mr. Genius just HAD to keep insisting I answer his question. So I answered his question like an aunt whose niece, on the basis of being adult and female, was immediately being considered for classification of the "would I or wouldn't I?" kind by a man who calls himself a feminist and my friend.

This hurt his widdle fee-fees.

I am now in a boiling rage. I hurt his feelings?! Hm. I answer the phone and explain that a niece I haven't seen in a bit made a very lengthy car trip up to the back of bloody beyond to see me, and brought her new boyfriend for me to meet, and I was so delighted to see them I seriously considered making an attempt at cooking. And where are those sheets that fit the futon in the guest room anyway? Can I call you back in a day or two?

And I get two questions:
1) "How old is she?" and, upon learning she was indeed in that coveted barely adult range...
2) "Is she pretty?"

And then the weirdest thing happened. Every time a guy 'friend' tried to use our 'friendship' as cover for being a sexist, vulgar ass to me sprang to my memory. Every time a guy 'friend of mine' ignored our friendship and common decency to make a comment about the developing physique of Niece #3's older cousins sprang to memory. Every time any man treated me or any woman I cared about in my presence or in my knowledge as if we existed only insofar as we might serve his purposes sprang to my memory.

And I had a revelation.

If people hate me because I say, plainly, that I will not tolerate my kids being treated like sexual jokes, they can go right ahead and hate me. I have a more important social role to fill than 'friend of random jackass.'

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Random Questions

That have popped into my head in the past few weeks. Some of them are grad school related, some not so much. As a collection, I think they're funny.

- How many times would I have to run a Zizek article through Babelfish before it started to make sense to me?

- When Pandarus sticks his head under the sheet on the bed where his naked niece lies after having sex with Troilus, and they 'gan to pleye,' WHAT THE HELL DOES THAT MEAN?! Ew, man.

- Will there ever be another Edmund as Edmund-y as Raul Julia's Edmund in Central Park in 1974?

- Why is microfiction so often about sex? Is it wrong that sexual microfiction makes me a) laugh, and b) feel sorry for the poor bastard who wrote it?

- Why do grown-up dressy shoes pinch so?

- Why didn't my relatives leave truly scandalous diaries for me to read? Relatedly, would it be OK to start telling fantastic lies in my own journal for the benefit of future generations on the swestersunu line?

- If my modern Americanist friends get all snooty with me again, would it be wrong to ask them how they manage to sort through the literally TEN YEARS worth of criticism on their author to come up with something new and interesting to say? Especially considering that they have to learn zero languages to do that? Because, seriously, the attitude is starting to grate.

- Why did I, a grown woman, get a pimple on the center of my nose the day I had to present a gift to somebody in a ceremony?

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Happy St. Patrick's Day!


By William Butler Yeats

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a-glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear the water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.


Yes, I know this poem is a St. Patrick's Day Cliché. But I also know that this poem actually manages to make my soul still when I read it. If I were a better linguist I would know why it does that, but I'm only mediocre at the linguistical business. So, I offer you an inexplicably peaceful soul today.

And, perhaps a little laugh:

May those who love us, love us.
As for those who don't love us, may God turn their hearts.
But if He can't turn their hearts, may He turn their ankles,
so that we may know them by their limping.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Culture Clash

Context Information:

Most of you who read this blog know that I come from a working class family. Well, we're working class when things are going well, and I clearly remember a few years when things went spectacularly poorly and we were underclass. (Again, that information is purely for context. I have few complaints at this late date.) I generally pass for middle class, though, because I grew up in an affluent town. This is not to say that I currently pretend to be something that I'm not, although there were many years in which I tried to do just that, but rather that I have learned most of the dialect markers of the middle to upper middle classes and know how to use them a lot of the time. For social survival.

When I was an undergraduate, I thought the startling differences in beliefs and attitude between me and my peers were mostly attributable to our age difference. I mean, I knew that some of their "woe-is-me" stories were laughable, but it didn't really sink in that these stories were partly a product of privilege rather than pure immaturity. My family required my financial assistance as soon as I was able to give it; I needed to work full time right after high school. I got 'technical training' and worked for nine and a half years to be able to save enough to a) pay for college, and b) be able to work 4 days a week rather than 5 so I could actually make it to my classes. I was old, and I had a lot on my plate. So, I only encountered my fellow students on campus, preferring to socialize with my friends from work whenever I had the time. And I just assumed that all the things that struck me as weird about these kids had to do with the fact that they were, you know, kids. In ten years, maybe after they had kids of their own, and knew the experience of having people count on them, we would be able to interact more. What can I tell you? I'm dense.

The Point Lives in Here Somewhere, I Hope:

Then came the mind-bendingly selfish choice to go to graduate school. I won't bother you with a description of the emotional maelstrom that surrounds that choice every day. If you're a working-class person in the academy, you're experiencing it yourself. If you aren't, you don't have the structure in place through which you can understand it. Just as I can't understand the moment I'm about to describe to you.

While we were all sitting around enjoying a grad student neurosis-airing moment recently, a friend of mine put her head in her hands and groaned, "I don't want to be a loser." And several others expressed the same sentiment. (It was a glum meeting.)

Now, my cultural background and current weirdness led me to read this part of the conversation entirely incorrectly. I mean, I nodded knowingly because I thought I understood what they were saying. I, too, have the fear of being the loser. I am the child who has excuses made for her in conversations with extended family and close family friends, because:

  • I don't do work that builds anything tangible.
  • And I don't make good money at this ephemeral non-worky work I do.
  • And I don't want to marry and have kids, which is just weird.
  • And it's unfortunate that I'm so booksmart, but can't really DO anything anymore.
  • And I never go to Sunday dinner.
  • And I'm always late with the money for my mom's medications, so my sister always has to front the money for me.
  • So, what good is it that I think I'm so smart when I'm practically committing matricide-by-failure?
  • And everybody else has to do the emotional heavy lifting for me because I'm at Microburg, and I always have homework to do. At 35.
  • And I'm not really a snob once you talk to me, even though I'm always reading. You just have to think of me kind of like a recent convert to religion who annoyingly tells everyone all the new stuff I've learned, but not because I think you're going to hell for not knowing it, too, but because I'm excited by it for reasons no one understands.
  • And there's proof that I'm not just lazy and avoiding work in graduate school, even though it's clear I don't do work here, because I did do work for so long. There were paychecks.

So, I started to respond with comfort that I would need if I made a similar statement. Which earned me confused looks.

Because, when these people said they didn't want to be losers, most of them were talking about their parents both finishing PhDs in 5 years or less, and their siblings all being accepted to the #1 graduate programs in the world in their respective fields, and progressing even faster, or having gotten a T-T position at a "great school" on their first year out after finishing a PhD in 3 years. The others were talking about the low salary they could expect as academics, and how that would make them look stupid in front of their families when their cousin Bob is making the GDP of three nations already.

What they were emphatically NOT talking about was the fear that they would get their PhDs, and then not get jobs, which would cause several generations of their family after them to refuse to go to college at all because Aunt Heo spent half her life at college and was such a spectacular failure anyway. Or that the debt they'd acquired was so beyond the scope of their ability to imagine it that they were having difficulty sleeping. Or that they really were afraid that they were literally killing their relatives by not having enough money to give them, in a timely fashion. Or that they fear that all the "you're not quite good enough" messages one often gets from one's professors doesn't so much speak to the quality of a sentence, or a paragraph, or even a whole draft of their work, but rather to their quality as people. So that one person, having a bitchy day, or needing to prove his/her power over others can send them into a month-long tailspin of crushing angst.

In Short:

You know how, when you speak a language really well, and you go to the country where that language is spoken, and you begin to lose your accent, and you start believing you are indistinguishable from the natives in a lot of ways, and then a folk song comes on the radio and you realize in that instant that you are, and will always be, a foreigner living in their land?

Yeah, that.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Sometimes You Just Wonder the ease with which the powerful can set the powerless against each other. And the joy with which a previously oppressed person will place his/her boot squarely on the neck of another if it seems like that action will gain him/her some small advantage, thus making it easier for others 'above' the oppressive oppressors to oppress them in turn , leading ultimately into a full-on fascist jamboree wherein all but a few are oppressed in their turn.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you "The Five Civilized Tribes" a.k.a. Cherokee & friends, who earned their "civilized" moniker by being slave-holders in the old south, and apparently, remain assholes to this very day.

From an article in WaPo this morning(behind free subscription wall):
"The 250,000-member Cherokee Nation will vote in a special election today whether to override a 141-year-old treaty and change the tribal constitution to bar "freedmen," the descendants of former tribal slaves, from being members of the sovereign nation."

What?! What year is this? This is just a bad joke, right?

Er ... Nope.

"Advocates of expelling the freedmen call it a matter of safeguarding tribal resources, which include a $350 million annual budget from federal and tribal revenue, and Cherokees' share of a gambling industry that, for U.S. tribes overall, takes in $22 billion a year. The grass-roots campaign for expulsion has given heavy play to warnings that keeping freedmen in the Cherokee Nation could encourage thousands more to sign up for a slice of the tribal pie.

Jesus, that didn't even require a sweat on the part of the powerful. Way to stay strong, Cherokee people!

"Don't get taken advantage of by these people. They will suck you dry," Darren Buzzard, an advocate of expelling the freedmen, wrote last summer in a widely circulated e-mail denounced by freedmen. "Don't let black freedmen back you into a corner. PROTECT CHEROKEE CULTURE FOR OUR CHILDREN. FOR OUR DAUGHTER[S] . . . FIGHT AGAINST THE INFILTRATION."

Hey! I recognize that rhetoric. Where can it be from? Oh, my, it sounds so familiar. Who else, historically, used the honor of their daughters as a rallying cry against another group of people, a people they had oppressed, and were now frightened would retaliate? Eh, must never have happened if I can't remember it.

"It's oppressed people that's oppressing people," said Verdie Triplett, 53, an outspoken freedman of the Choctaw tribe, which, like the Cherokee, once owned black slaves."


So, people of conscience can't go through with such a vile thing, can they? They can't expel their own for a few more gambling dollars can they? The people will rise up, and play that goofy 70's song, and the Cherokee people will be as one once more, I just know it.

The WaPo article about the Cherokee vote today:. (Behind a free subscription wall)

"With a majority of districts reporting, 76 percent had voted in favor of an amendment to the tribal constitution that would limit citizenship to descendants of "by blood" tribe members as listed on the federal Dawes Commission's rolls from more than 100 years ago."

Ass. Holes.

And the Government "tutorial site" on the Dawes Rolls:

"The Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes was appointed by President Grover Cleveland in 1893 to negotiate land with the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw and Seminole tribes. It is commonly called the Dawes Commission, after its chairman, Henry L. Dawes.

Tribe members were entitled to an allotment of land, in return for abolishing their tribal governments and recognizing Federal laws. In order to receive the land, individual tribal members first had to apply and be deemed eligible by the Commission.

The first application process for enrollment began in 1896, but was declared invalid. So the Dawes Commission started all over again in 1898. People had to re-apply in order to be considered, even if they had already applied in 1896. The resulting lists of those who were accepted as eligible became known as the Dawes Rolls. Their formal name is the "Final Rolls of the Citizens and Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes in Indian Territory". The Commission accepted applications from 1898 until 1907, with a few additional people accepted by an Act of Congress in 1914."

So, lemme get this straight. An oppressed and expelled people bring with them out of the south their own subset of oppressed people. Then, 100 years later, when tribal rights are starting to be respected again, even if just a little, they expel their subset of oppressed people. For money. Based on the documentation of a racist government commission that had something to gain by refusing to count any person with even the slightest appearance of 'black blood,' whether that person also had Cherokee blood or not. In fact, one hint that a person was black at all kept them off the Dawes Roll, even if they also had Cherokee & friends blood. So, these 'freedmen' were kept from the rolls for racist and capitalist reasons at the turn of the last century, and are being expelled from the tribe again now for the same reasons.

Updated below, because I'm not done ranting yet.

Is there no place, no group of people, that can be touched by the violence of oppression without craving the power of oppressor themselves? Was HOBBES right?! Are people who say they want justice only interested in becoming part of the club? Is the whole world just comprised of people who will happily adopt racism, sexism, creedism, and any other fucking -ism that's convenient to get them what they want or think they need?

Look, I belong to more than one group of assholes, stemming from varied traditions of assholery. So do you, most likely. But at some point, don't we all have to say that the lesson we have brought from 500 years of absolute racist, sexist, hateful, soul-destroying bullshit is that we will have no more of said bullshit?

When do you suppose we will value self-respect over money? 'Cause you can't tell me that a person who respects him/herself does a thing like this.

On the Acquisition of Fancy Pants

Houston, we have interview suit! A perfectly delightful double-breasted, pin-striped, nicely constructed, fully lined, month's worth of groceries AND extra little treats interview suit. Hell, I think it came close to rent. And I like wearing it; my salary demands just went up.

Before I went interview suit shopping this time, I scorned the fancy pants. Because my life's trajectory has been such that every day clothing of the expensive variety was not an option, and didn't need to be. More than a decade in nursing? Nursing uniforms five days a week, a few pairs of jeans, and half a closet full of gowns appropriate for weddings and tea dresses appropriate for baby showers. Couple years as a teacher? I wore corporate casual teacherly stuff, but not of the very best quality, or even middling quality --- think stores than end in "mart" or "get" here---because ... psshhh... they weren't paying me to maintain a *nice* wardrobe, just a professional one. And nice costs money that I could be using in better ways. And who wants to spend a million dollars on a pair of beautiful pants that will just have a chalk-line across the butt by lunchtime? Then I became a grad student, and mostly wore the left-over teacher clothes. Same job, different age group, same chalk-line, same wardrobe.

But now! Now I go into a world of people who will probably not bleed on me, a world where the chalk line is not a given.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Introducing the Electronic Absence

Pre-rant apologia: I hate that I'm becoming this person, too. Chances are that you will read this and cluck over my power mongering. That's cool. Last week I would have done the same to you if you wrote this post, or one like it. I would have told you that you're about a minute away from having been an undergrad yourself. I would have asked you if you make fun of twelve-year-olds for not understanding calculus. I would have secretly mumbled about some people needing to remember that we are all students of our disciplines and of life, and some are just further in the process.

That said, they totally started it.


There was a bit of an explosion today. The gist of which is that beginning tomorrow, ANY student of mine who EVER sits in my class with an ipod or similar device hanging out of their ears will be automatically marked "EA" for "Electronic Absence." There will be no discussion. I will not remind adults or late adolescents that listening to ipods during class time is a waste of my time and theirs. That is, or should be, understood. I will not tell Mr. or Ms. Chillin' that they have been marked absent. It's not my job to notify people that they aren't in my class. They should know that themselves.

Ditto cellphones, blackberries, et. al.

And yes, those absences do count towards the absence limit in the attendance policy, and no, they aren't negotiable.

And I swear to the FSM, if just one more of these people tells me that they work harder than every student in the class, and it's not faaaaaaiiiiiiir that they should get a B when some guy who is lazy and stupid and probably a drug addict, but also their very best friend got a B+, I may start twitching.

Post-rant: I really do love teaching. I really do love most of my students. But, man, some students get to college thinking that education is Burger King have-it-your-way-right-away land. And they have got to be convinced otherwise quickly. Or else their future will be completely, er, yswived. And that's not what they came to college for.