Sunday, November 09, 2008

A Monastic Existence?

When I am in one of my egregiously sentimental moods, I can ignore even my own pet peeves about the rewriting of history for the purposes of selling a neat, cutesy, Kinkade-level narrative about the past in order to imagine myself a part of that idealized and terminally gag-worthy imagined past. It's truly obnoxious, and one of my least favorite things about myself.

And yet I do it. I sit in the draftiest corner of my urban dwelling, and take out my translating work. I then carefully transcribe the next ten lines, and begin checking in my books and sources to create an interlinear gloss. And that stuff is actually necessary for me to translate, a part of my process, so that's all OK.
But THEN, I imagine myself somehow a member of a double house, with no responsibilities other than work in the scriptorium. And my imagination creates a world very like a 1960s-era film of a monastery would be, and completely unlike any reality that probably existed. And somehow my imagination puts my uncle, the dominican priest, in benedictine tonsure while in my celtic monastery with me. Because he's the only clergyperson I know who would want to be in a scriptorium, and makes a damned fine Bloody Mary besides. And if you're going to be in a monastery, there should be family and alcohol around.

And everything is all very peaceful. And all the nuns and monks are rosy-cheeked and get along well. And they smile at each other while singing. And at some point Julie Andrews or Sally Field or that singing nun from France show up.

Sickening, right? But anyway, there's a subjunctive on the seventh line and a technicolor confection in my head, and I'm happy.

But THEN something like this happens, and I read about it, and I remember that nuns and monks are often completely badass, and the real history of the monasteries was so much better than my maudlin technicolor imaginings can be now.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Finally Gruntled

I have spent the majority of the past few months in and out of various funks and moments of introspection that acted as bridges between funks. This is, to be honest, my natural state. And yet, there are times in which I become so bone-weary at the thought of my voice being linked with complaint that I simply refuse to speak much about any topic. My best friends find this very vexing, but I assure them as I do you that they/you would find my incessant existential crises vexatiously tedious. At best.

Anyway, I am back to gruntled now. Or, I'm at least gruntled enough to be willing to examine any random disgruntlements. Full gruntlement is outside the reaches of my DNA, I'm afraid. Frankly, I find people who are thoroughly contented with their own lives, work, and minds a little scary. And sad. I mean, really? Middle management, Khaki pants and a golden retriever and you're good? That is seriously FUBAR. I'm pretty sure they have pills for disorders like that these days.

So, one of my existential crises was this: May I really call myself a medievalist if I spend the majority of my time attempting to increase the lexile scores of midgets? I do sometimes find some time to fiddle with older texts and stuff for my own enjoyment, but doesn't that make me a dilettante? And then that train of thought runs me straight into pissedoffville.

You see what I mean about the transient nature of the gruntles.

I have come to this conclusion, anyway. Even if I am not currently engaged in going from dilettante to profi medievalist, I will damned well be the best little dilettante in the Intertubes.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

It's Working! It's Working!

Happy Dancing!

I just had the most superfantabulous conversation with my niece, in which I realized that things are coming along quite nicely in the Heo family, thank you.

* Eldest niece is returning to college to be a teacher like me.

* Second eldest niece completed her Associate's, and liked it so much she may try another degree.

*Eldest nephew is registering for classes next year despite a difficult and troubling freshman year, because if Aunt Heo can do it, he can.

*Sisters 1 & 2 are both openly discussing quitting smoking. Because if baby sister can do it, they can too. (You can't even imagine how astonishing this is. Both have had minor cancers, and continued to smoke, because they wouldn't be told what the hell to do by anyone, especially know-it-all doctors.)

You see, I've been following my own heart. To the extent I have the courage (snerk) to do so, anyway. But I've also been engaged in social engineering in the micro sense. A college graduate in the family begets more college graduates, because she shows it is possible, or perhaps just activates the competitive streak in others. And it's working! Wait until they see me after I finish all this !#$@^& working out. (In this case they'll be the product of social engineering in the third generation. Courtesy of Bardiac, Dr. Virago, and Ancrene Wiseass in the generation before mine. Because if Bardiac can ride a bicycle around the North Woods in the winter, and Dr. Virago can run a marathon, and Ancrene Wiseass can learn martial arts while writing a diss, I can get off my butt and go to the gym in my building once in a while.)
Can somebody please explain to me why I, who spent nearly all of my time in grad school having emotional breakdowns because I had to write, and it wasn't good enough, and I wasn't good enough, and everybody else thought of it first, and all the other writing block-inducing stuff one can imagine now want nothing more than to research and write about something. I've had some odd cravings in my life, including craving information, but I have never craved the whole research project.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Happy Memorial Day

I've spent my weekend trying to get ahead on grading and planning (Yikes, the paper! When will I no longer feel assaulted by paper?) and intermittently dashing off on the Metro and bus lines to local memorial sites. It is very nice to be DC-adjacent when the national holidays come around. I mean, you can choose to go to a barbeque and just have a day off to relax, but it's also really easy to choose to commemorate the dead by going to the places we have designated for commemorating the dead.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Introducing Triple-Yogh Days: Complete with a Random Bullets of Catch-up Preamble

Hello folks!

I know the long, infrequent blog-post with an opening apologia for the lack of blogging and commenting, and otherwise allowing the world at large to know that I yet live has become a bit of a cliché about the place. Yet I am loath to promise to do better, because I know how very lazy I am. And so here we are. If it helps, I promise I have been reading your blogs (those who have them), and wondering at your dedication.

Anyway, the R.B.O.C. which explains the post:

Two months or so ago, I went to the doctor with a mild illness. My BP was, as it had been every time it'd been taken since I was 18 years old, 120/70. Perfect!

Two weeks ago, I went to the doctor with another mild illness. This time my BP was, much to the consternation of everyone in the room, 230/128. Less than perfect.

There ensued many questions, the visible blanching of medical personnel, and the shouting of acronyms which would have been somewhat alarming had I not understood them. Since I did understand them, I was temporarily convinced that I was already dead, but for the paperwork. (Doctors never ask what jobs you used to have, just the job you have now. No reason for an English teacher to comprehend all that jargon.)

Since then I have been magnetized and polarized, and probably digitized as well. Seems as if everything is normal, except for the whole nearly-dead level BP.

So now I have to take pills which give me side effects which mimic what I should have been feeling with the Crazy BP, but bring me back to a normal pressure. Ironic, no? And there is more -izing to follow, which I hope will answer the question that is pinging around my brain; i.e., "WTF?!"

Temper tantrums about quitting smoking, and changing my diet and incorporating exercise only to THEN develop hypertension seem ill-advised at the moment. Which is not to say these tantrums haven't happened, they're just shorter than they would otherwise be.

Anyway, "show me a reason and I'll soon show you a rhyme" or whatever. That is to say that I need a plan rather than a reaction.

Thus, I have devised a new health plan I am calling "triple-yogh days." Because I need unity and completeness and nerditude right now.

Yogh the first: Actual yoghs. Other people have their habits that get them through the weird times. Most of those habits -- like alcohol, gambling, and random sex with strangers -- raise the blood pressure. Fortunately for me, I have the decoding of archaic and arcane language. Which is a blast and a half, and does not raise the blood pressure. Yay!!

Today I'm working on this from the Boke of Nurture:

Cast vinegre & powder þeron / furst fette þe bonus þem fro.
Crabbe is a slutt / to kerve / & a wrawd wight;
breke euery Clawe / a sondur / for þat is his ryght:
In þe brode shelle putt youre stuff / but furst haue a sight
þat it be clene from skyn / & senow / or ye begyn to dight.
And what ye haue piked / þe stuff owt of euery shelle
with þe poynt of youre knyff, loke ye temper hit welle,
put vinegre / þerto, verdjus, or ayselle, 596
Cast þer-on powdur, the bettur it wille smelle.
Send þe Crabbe to þe kychyn / þere for to hete,
agayn hit facche to þy souerayne sittynge at mete;
breke þe clawes of þe crabbe / þe smalle & þe grete,
In a disch þem ye lay / if hit like your souerayne to ete.
Crevise* / þus wise ye must them dight:
Departe the crevise a-sondire euyn to youre sight,
Slytt þe bely of the hyndur part / & so do ye right,
and alle hoole take owt þe fische, like as y yow behight.

I'm kind of stuck on "Crabbe is a slutt." How funny is that? It must mean something else, despite context clues, but it's fun for now.

Yogh the Second: Yoghurt. Don't fuss about the spelling now; it's about to get worse. Anyway, I may have a diet that is lacking in all the -iums: calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Yogurt provides 2/3 of that triad, and comes with yummy blueberries if you shop well. So, a heart-healthy diet doesn't have to be complete torture. Yay!

Yogh the Third: Yog(h)a. Because I am no longer allowed to exercise as I have been. And I do need to exercise, because I need energy. And you need to spend energy to make energy. I also apparently need to calm the hell down. So, exercise that is reputed to calm one the hell down = yoga. But I will say that yoga does hurt in a way that belies the soft voice of the instructor. Qualified yay.

And, in the service of calming the hell down, whenever one of my challenging wanna-be students makes me want to quit teaching and buy a soy farm, I hum this to myself:

Ben Vereen makes everything better.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Happy Easter!!!

I'm just back from visiting with the technologically challenged Heomodor, but wanted to pop up and wish you all a Happy Easter. I'll be back soon with news and other trivia, promise!

Friday, February 29, 2008

One Definition of "Teachable Moment"

(Noun) The distress created within an educator when a person, usually -- but not always -- a child under their supervision, confidently and perhaps innocently avers a soul-destroyingly false thing they have been taught by unscrupulous and/or ignorant-as-a-stump adults. This tension is often alleviated through an immediate, impolitic shout of "Who told you a thing like that?" and a subsequent lecture delivered in far more dulcet tones to eliminate the fear caused by the first shout.

Teachable moment(s) of the week:

Three separate 'tweener girls, at a book fair, upon seeing a book cover on which another young lady was depicted in a shortish, plaid skirt:
"Oh, she's gonna get raped."

Girl seeking advice about how to balance a boyfriend and schoolwork:
"Boys don't really care about us the way we do about them, so we have to worry about what they're doing all the time."

I need a drink.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

"Real America"

Among the many things chapping my ass these days are the political hacks on the TV talking about how the east coast isn't really America. New York isn't really America because there are all those icky New Yorkers there, Florida isn't really America because there are all those icky Hispanics there, and DC isn't really America because there are all those politicians and foreign diplomats there, etc. Because the "real America" happens elsewhere, away from people who have learned to cohabit with those who aren't exactly like them; people who might eat different foods, worship in a different place, or who might even have an accent. The "real America" happens only in places where everyone goes to the same church, and the same school, and the same diner after identical experiences at the same haircutter. The "real America" describes itself as "God's country," unironically, as if it actually believes that God is originally from Council Bluffs. The "real America" identifies as entirely Anglo, though it -- like me-- is an Irish-German mutt, made possible against the barriers in religious and cultural identity of our ancestors by the unifying hatred of the Anglos that those ancestors on both sides of the Reformation divide felt. The enemy of my enemy is my husband.

And, you know, I kind of get why the people of the middle watch those of us who reside at the borders with a wary eye. There are more of us than there are of them, for one thing. And, as a result of living at close quarters with people of many and varied backgrounds, our melting pot still has quite a few chunks of pure flavor in it. That's weird to a person who really, truly expects all people to be very like him, because all the people he's known so far are very like him.

[Edited to remove reference to innocent relatives who wanted nothing to do with intertubes in the first place.]

This takes care of friends and family I have in my 98% white hometown. But it emphatically does NOT take care of paid political commenters, with very expensive ivy or near-ivy educations, making truly offensive amounts of money to pull theories and data out of their butts and promptly fling their findings at their opponents or, in some cases, directly at the camera.

These people, if one should call them that, have taken the Francis Parkman train to employment. They are predominantly from the east coast, from much, much more well-connected families than any of you can claim. They have been granted access to expensive and exclusive education through the wealthy white affirmative action known as "legacy placements."
However, Francis Parkman actually dragged his bony Brahmin butt out to the midwest once in a while to put forth his racist and sexist theories of Anglo-Saxon superiority to the French and the Indians, because the French are all alarmingly feminine, unless they're being hypersexually masculine, and the Indians are all hyper-masculine and scary and bad, unless they're losing like a bunch of chicks which makes them less scary but still bad. And Francis Parkman was talking to people who were still identifying as Anglo because that's what they actually were, not what they were trying to be. He and his audience were "Anglo-Saxon," though from different sets of the Anglo-Saxon American experience. These bastards sit in New York or DC, and flap their fool jowls about "the real America," and they use Parkman's logic almost exactly (with some words changed as necessary), but they don't have the integrity to say what Parkman did say and think. The gist of which being something like, "We are alike, you and I, in that I am the master class to which you as the servant class owe allegiance. I will use you to fight for me, and you will use me to think for you." And this offends me as a person who comes from New York, and currently lives near DC, because if you think that 60% of the population of this country don't count as "real Americans" because of where they live, you should probably bite me. But it also offends me, because this logic, that once was being spewed forth from the lips of Francis Parkman was used against our common ancestors (my cousins and mine), for the purpose of preventing them from participating in America. Ironically, this logic played well at the borders and made life quite impossible for a number of the ancestors, which is why the German and Irish menaces went west to live in the wilderness, thus becoming today's politically expedient "real America."

I wonder how many generations it will take before a Spanish community in Kansas is up in arms in the Parkman way because of the sudden rush of Somebody elses coming into their community.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Navel-Gazing Washington Moments

My new residence within view of the Beltway makes me feel somehow obliged to write about politics. Yet, I've been reluctant to write about this political season for a number of reasons. One of these is the general pointlessness of my holding forth on such subjects. I mean, it's not exactly as if my biases are hidden here. Anyone who knows me even a little knows that I wouldn't vote for a republican if he held my entire family hostage. Those who know me slightly better can tell you I wouldn't vote for a libertarian if he held only the family I like hostage. I mean, it's not like whichever democratic candidate will have to convince me to vote D over Witty Dominionist, Johnny Hothead and Delusional Gnome. *

I could comment on the MSM coverage of this year, I suppose. I mean, Tweety is a horse's ass, but we knew that. Many other media guys have sexist and racist underbellies that are showing only now, but we suspected something like that would happen, too. CNN's John Roberts can be a seasoned newsman, but fail to ask a necessary and completely friggin obvious follow-up question when Witty Dominionist says in defense of his traitorous plan to replace the Constitution of the United States of America with Pharisee Rules for Peasantry and Chicks "For now, I think we need amendments to outlaw abortion and strengthen marriage." I mean, my middle schoolers know that 'for now' means that there's an undisclosed something coming down the pike immediately after 'now,' and they are sufficiently intellectually curious to ask about it. That this CNN twit manages to cash a paycheck while being such a dumbass in public is vexing, but sadly not a surprise anymore. Several of the people who live in my building are reporters, and I occasionally ask them -- in a much nicer way than I will express here -- why their more famous colleagues are such candy-asses, but they claim not to know. So, our fourth estate is in ruins. But we knew that, too.

There probably is something worth saying about living in a state where the primaries will matter for the first time in over thirty years. My neighbors, many of whom are very sober, quiet people, are losing their minds. I get pamphlets and emergency notices slipped under my door and in my mailbox every day. When standing in the lobby, when getting our mail, when walking to our cars we get into conversations about politics, and who's voting for whom and why. I generally try not to have these conversations with people, because I have alienated people I love while arguing in what I thought was a reasonable and dispassionate manner. So, clearly my gauge is off. But at this time, in this place, people will not accept "I don't know" or "Hey! Isn't that the most adorable squirrel you've ever seen?" as answers to "Who are you for?." They demand answers. Which is kind of exciting, that they are excited.

However, I am a contrarian at my very core, I guess, because I can't whip up excitement of my own this time. And I usually get excited over every possible political vote. I mean, city council stuff has been known to send me into high dudgeon. This presidential cycle is different, though. I want answers, and I'm getting slogans. From everybody. In the past, I think sloganeering would have worked for me. Hell, I know it did work. I am not the same voter I was a few years ago. The past few years have made me rhetoric-resistant. So, I am now in the "whatever, just as long as it's not a republican hate-monger" phase of voter apathy.

Or, maybe it's like last year when the amorphous "they" started playing Christmas music and having Holiday sales before Halloween. It ruined the whole season for me. I refused to get all excited that early.

I will say this, though. It is very interesting to be walking around the produce section of the supermarket and look up and see known king-makers perusing the citrus. It's not at all like running into Tommy Tune and Stephen Sondheim in NYC. Pundits tend to be much shorter than Tommy Tune, for example, and I never cross the street for fear of saying something stupid in front of a pundit like I did with Sondheim.

* How much do I love that I had to go without a pronoun in that sentence, because neither gendered pronoun would work?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Time Keeps On Slippin'....

I'm all old and stuff. Which isn't so terrible, really. My eldest brother and a sister-in-law never got to be three dozen years old. I do. So I should definitely not complain. This is time that should be treasured. Still...I've been very gentle with myself this week just in case there's a crazy old person looking to hop out at some minor provocation or another.

Last year, I gave myself a nine-days late gift in quitting smoking. First anniversary of non-smokingness tomorrow. This year, I have been considering my gift options. I've not been having much luck in the big gift department. It's kind of tough to follow up on breaking an 18 year addiction. But I have been having a lot of luck with little gifts.

The rules for my birthday gift to myself are simple:
- It can't cost me anything
- It can't cause guilt pangs
- It should, ideally, be both reasonably legal and moral

Luckily, Washington DC and its environs are almost ground zero for fun, free stuff to do. I have been having major fun this past week. ( I've also been going to a Big, Important meeting a day, so now my brain is all boiled from the pendulum swing between the mind-numbing tedium of meetings and "Hey! Cool arcane talk on geek stuff right near my house!")

Plus, the local grocery store had a special on in which it delivered groceries for free. Wooo! All the stuff I want from the grocery store, no schlepping!

Anybody in the area want to pop by and dust my house?