Thursday, August 30, 2007

Le Sigh.

I'm gonna have to give some students the beat-down about academic writing tomorrow.

Here's a tip: When you're asked to write, say, two pages, and the professor specifies that that means two pages of text, don't turn in one page (with a 5-inch header) and then three lines on a second page. Two pages [does not equal] two sheets. You might not like it, but there is a difference.

Evidently the five-minute lecture I gave on this subject last week didn't take. Oh well.

On the other hand, my upper-level class went great today. I was really nervous going into it, for some reason--more nervous than I've been since the first day of the semester, all of eight days ago. I'd prepared pretty well, but I figured out in my survey yesterday that things actually do go better when I don't stick to a detailed plan. A couple of students asked some good questions yesterday, and we ended up having an actual discussion that lasted 20 or so minutes (about half the class); this was vastly more interesting, I'm sure, than having me work through the text with them in the more Socratic method I'd been using. So for the upper-level class today I decided that I needed to get them into a more topic-based discussion, rather than focusing on explaining what's going on in the text (which could be confusing, but they seem to be getting it) or working through it sequentially. Of course, this meant relinquishing a lot of control over the discussion.... And lo! It worked really well. I also hardly needed to refer to my notes--because I'd taken a lot of time to prep, unfortunately--and ended the class before I'd exhausted my list of things to talk about. Virtually everyone in the class spoke, too, which was a rare and delightful treat.

And, in all fairness, some of the paper-writers in the lower-level course did put in a sincere effort, for which they shall be rewarded. But to the others I can say only this: Your slack does not go unnoticed. Nor shall it go unpunished.

Or unremarked. Tomorrow I'll be lecturing on what constitutes a "page."

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

That's Right, I'm Looking Forward to It

So it's still two+ weeks until the JIL comes out. Why am I so excited about it? Is it just the ability to fantasize more concretely about the various possibilities?

This is a dangerous thing, and evidently last year taught me nothing. Getting too excited about jobs that you haven't even applied for yet--well, it only ends in tears. Nonetheless, I'm already eagerly perusing the Chronicle job list every day (nothing much yet, fellow medievalistas). No, I don't enjoy actually applying for the jobs, but I do enjoy reading about them. Go figure.

I would say that I'm excited because I feel like I have a better shot on the market this year, but a) how good a "shot" one has is entirely unpredictable, and b) I was just as excited last year, with virtually no teaching experience and the Ph.D. not yet in-hand. So whatever.

I guess I just like novelty?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Evidence


I went for a walk this evening. I thought that, since I profess to be professing in the middle of the fields, I ought to at least go have a look at them. Right?

I set out, heading East. The following picture was taken two blocks from my front door:


It is quite beautiful here. The broad views are relaxing and easy on the eye; the fields undulate, in fact. See:


That picture doesn't show the undulating off to its fullest effect, but you get the idea.

This is a country that's built for long afternoon shadows and the hazy August sun. The days here feel long, perhaps because there's nothing much to do. Aside from prepping one's classes. But you know, I've kind of decided that I've done enough of that for one weekend? Maybe tonight I'll try to take a bite out of my accumulated Netflix.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Feeling the Love

So we're three days into the semester. Time to take stock.

In general: This is a good place. The students--by and large--seem pretty fabulous. Probably a mixed bag academically (I'm just guessing here, based on the school's reputation and facilities), but there already seem to be some very smart, articulate, engaged kids in my classes. While comp is a bit of a drag--it's required; they're freshmen; I'm not really sure what I'm doing yet--both the survey and the upper-level course look to be a lot of fun. We had our first "real" survey class yesterday, and I don't think I've ever had a group of students more willing and eager to share their responses and ideas. They really liked The Lament of the Female-Spouse (title reworded to evade googling), which had me a little nervous, since it's not an easy poem and they might've found it impenetrable. But no: even though they weren't sure what was going on in the poem (hell, I'm not sure either), they found it very emotionally evocative and powerful. One woman mentioned that her boyfriend is currently serving in Iraq, and the poem reminded her that other people in other times have been in situations similar to hers. Since I figure one of the goals of this course* is to get students to care about earlier literature and to see it as in some way relevant to their own lives, this felt like a good little moment.

(*In addition to teaching them the content and generating a little pack of extraordinary literary critics, of course.)

The upper-level course hasn't had a real session yet (just a 45-minute intro/exercise on Thursday), but I think that it'll be good. There are only 12 students, and they definitely give the impression of being among the smarter ones at Field College (the course description probably contributed to a certain amount of self-selecting). I opened class with a question that I was afraid would backfire--"Why study [the content of this course]?"--and immediately 5 hands went up. And they had good things to say! So I'm looking forward to that one.

I've also had several students approach me, either in person or via email, just to talk about their interests (the ones that are related to course material, that is). One of the great things about this little tiny college is that the students are obviously very comfortable with the faculty. Since I was pretty much terrified of professors as an undergrad--hell, for most of my time as a grad student, too--this attitude impresses me.

Then this morning I went to the library book sale (I could write a whole post about the Field Town Festival this morning; I swear I'm living in 1957), and ran into one of the women in my survey course. We chatted for a bit and I asked her her major--she made several good contributions in class yesterday, and I thought she was probably an English major. "Creative writing," she said, "but after going to your class, I'm thinking I might want to switch to literature." !!! I almost wept. Well, not really. But I was pretty happy.

So yes. The students, they are awesome. Mostly. If only I could figure out how to get myself loving the comp....

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Anonymity: An Announcement!

I've thought about this for a while, but put it off and vacillated and waffled around. However, there's something about the semester actually starting and feeling like I'm really in my job that makes this seem like the right time to take action:

I'm changing my blog ID.

The old one is just too thin (not to mention uninteresting). I signed up with blogger ages ago, way before I ever dreamed I'd have a blog at all. But the time is right for a change. Henceforth, drawing from my email name, my blogging ID will be "heu mihi." (For a short time, I will keep the old name in parentheses in order to avoid confusion.)

That is that. I feel safer now. Secure.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

So Wait, I Have to Do This Again?

Oh, I'm tired. So tired.

Didn't sleep all that well last night, in part because it was hot, in part because there's a scary spider living outside my front door (no really), and in part because I was probably a little on edge about my very first day as a real-live professor. And then I got up early to get ready, so that was that.

Assessment of my first day: It was fine. Neither earth-shatteringly great nor earth-shatteringly terrible. My first class was comp, and I was a little nervous, which I think showed in my super-fast talking and a bit of fumbling with words in the first few minutes of class. Second section of comp was much smoother, although it's populated almost entirely by the football team and cheerleading squad, which could go either way (an enhanced sense of community? a more coherent rebellion against the prof? only time will tell). The afternoon's survey course, though, was a lot of fun--or at any rate I had fun. This was maybe the first time I've taught a class in my actual area, and I loved being able to follow students' questions and digress now and again. Also I introduced them all to Old English for the very first time, which was a lot of fun; like all medievalists, I suspect, I love disabusing people of the idea that Shakespeare wrote in Old English.

I need to work on a way to make comp livelier, though. Required courses can be death, death and doom. Hm. The fact that it's the course I'm least excited about probably doesn't help.

Tomorrow I have my upper-level course and that is it. And then--oh god, and then they all meet again, don't they?

One day down, one million to go....

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Impressions

The convocation ceremony was nice--not too long, and it had a pleasant, happy atmosphere. I also really enjoyed wearing my robes, which were generally felt to be the coolest-looking: most of the faculty were in the standard black, and openly admitted to their robe envy. I knew that $800 was well-spent.

I met one of my students today: he's a senior who'll be taking my upper-level course, and he's frighteningly smart and well-read. He's already read most of the books we'll be studying, in fact. And he's been reading Middle English for fun (not the topic of the course), but wants some help with learning to pronounce it correctly; I volunteered to help him out. I think it'll be interesting having him in class.

But I have three classes tomorrow, and the preps aren't quite done....

Metamorphosis

After a night of disturbing dreams, jb awoke to find herself transformed into Henry VIII.

This morning is convocation, and I have to wear my regalia for the first time. How does that hood thing work, anyway?

My dreams were, in fact, disturbing, by the way. One convoluted weirdo dream after another. I can't remember much in the way of details (lucky readers!), but some of the highlights included a deranged old woman who killed her caretakers with a paring knife and the discovery of a dungeon in my parents' basement.

The best part, however, I do remember. Voldemort called me up and commanded me to cook a pound of spaghetti. I did so, despite my mother's protests, although I was so nervous that I couldn't decide whether to drain the pasta or just give it to him with the cooking water. Finally I did drain it and put it into a glass jar for transport. When the Dark Lord showed up to collect it, he was hungry, and commanded me to cook him some spiral pasta for supper (the spaghetti had another destiny, more sinister I'm sure). But, when it was still in the colander, I accidentally poured lobster sauce on it instead of olive oil. Voldemort was in a towering rage! I was afraid. But luckily I was able to remove the offending pieces of pasta, and recalled that I had some homemade pesto in the freezer. The Dark Lord was satisfied. So satisfied, in fact, that he condescended to make out with me a little bit. (Just a little bit. The dream was mercifully hazy on this point.)

I am amused. Which is a good way to start off the semester.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Gearing Up

Well, the easy Sunday is over. I have
  • read Beowulf
  • caught up on my Netflix
  • consumed milk and cookies.
The semester starts on Wednesday. Eep!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Odd Hours

I never know what to do with this time of day--when it's late enough that I feel done with working, thanks, but too early to actually switch into evening mode. You know, the 5-to-6 slot. After 6 I can reasonably start cooking dinner; if I had a TV I'd turn on the Simpsons or something at 6:30; then there's dinner, and post-dinner work or movies or whatever. That's fine. It's just this little window in between the productive part of the day and the unwinding bit.

I'm sure that once my courses start I'll be too pressed for time to dawdle around over the luxury of an empty hour, but at the moment I'm antsy. It doesn't help that I'm not reading a fun book at the moment--there are other demands on my reading time, and the Potter is behind me--so I can't just switch over to that. I'm also lacking a knitting project or anything else of that sort. Yoga is an option, but I practiced yesterday and frankly I don't feel like it. Every other day is enough for now.

It's good blog-reading weather, methinks. Anyone have a better suggestion on getting through the work-to-lazing transition? And yes, the transition itself can be lazy: work is done for now!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Faculty Retreat

In response to Undine's request in the comments, I will blog a little bit about the faculty retreat I attended yesterday. But first, here's my request to the whole world:

Please. Can we stop saying, "Think outside the box"? Please?

After 2.5 days of meeting-type activities, I think that I will throw something if those words are uttered in my presence again. My god. This has been the cliche-of-choice for years now; may it die? Please?

All right. PSA over.

The retreat, which took all day yesterday, was useful in two ways. First, it let me get to know a few more faculty members, which was nice. Second, it gave me more of a sense of how Field College* works and how it thinks about itself. Now, I know that a day of activities and exhortations probably doesn't constitute the "real" behind-the-scenes Field, but you can still learn a lot from the kind of rhetoric that an institution employs. (*This is not, of course, its real name. I call it that because we are in the middle of the fields out here. Just to be absolutely clear.)

So I won't say that it was a complete waste of time, by any means. But if I'd been teaching here for ten or five or even two years, I might have found it kind of pointless. It's just that, as a new person, I'm still gathering information, and even the boring and otherwise pointless activities serve a purpose.

That said, it was a pretty weird day. We met at a sort of nature park/preserve, and after some introductory presentations, we had an Activity. The Activity involved, fortunately, about 90 minutes of solitary walking around the park, which was quite enjoyable. We were also supposed to engage in some independent creative stuff while we were wandering, so I did some drawings; I'm not a great artist by any means, but I enjoy drawing, and I usually forget that it's something I enjoy, so it was a nice meditative kind of thing to do a few sketches.

After Activity Part One, we reconvened for a half-hour of talk about how to best actualize (a word I loathe) the religious mission of the college. This was fairly brutal, because the person running the conversation seemed a little uncertain of how to lead the discussion. In fact, it reminded me of the less good discussion sections I've run as a TA: lots of difficult and poorly explained questions, which the leader started answering almost immediately after asking them, and no one else saying anything (because we didn't really understand what was going on).

We then broke up for an overly-air-conditioned lunch. The theme for the week could be "freezing your ass off in the middle of summer." Digression: What's up with that? I worked in an office once, in a VERY hot part of the country, where I had to bring sweaters and a space-heater to work in July. I weep for the planet.

Anyway. Lunch over, we were split up into pairs to talk about what we did on our walks. Then we were divided up into different, larger groups, again to share what we did on our walks. Then we all came together as a group, and each small group reported on what we'd "learned." Um. I didn't find this so useful. I mean, it was nice to talk to a couple of other people in a structured yet informal way, but the activity as a whole was supposed to teach us something about collaborative learning, and I'm not sure that it was successful. But it was a good effort, and relatively painless, so okay. Better than just listening to talks about budgeting or whatever.

Then there was a little talk about, I dunno, something to do with student learning, but I was tired and bored at that point and didn't pay much attention.

So that was the day in outline. Here are some of my thoughts.

One of the things that was talked about in the first session was the utility of a liberal arts education. Nationally, as we all know, there is a certain amount of skepticism about how useful or important a liberal arts education might be. So this one person gave a couple of examples of how Field College students used what they'd learned in school out in the world: a student who had studied psychology volunteered in a counseling center, and a sports team captain used what she had learned in a management course.

Fine and good. But. Doesn't this exactly not answer the question of how/why a liberal arts education is important? By hearkening to professional applicability, you're essentially arguing for a more vocational-style approach to education: Take this course because it will serve you in a directly applicable practical context outside of college. But when people argue that humanities courses are irrelevant, it's precisely because they don't have that kind of obvious, direct applicability. You can't easily measure the positive outcomes of these courses--that they help to develop a more complete human being, or influence the culture in which we live.

A liberal arts education is important because human beings are more than economic or professional animals. Our world is not simply our jobs. We live in a culture and a society, and developing our knowledge of and connection to that culture, as well as the skills to critique and try to shape it, is essential. It's interesting to me that complaints about the pointlessness of most college courses circulate at the same time as so many people seem to deplore the supposed degradation of our culture, when a solid liberal arts (and especially humanities, to let my allegiances show) education seems to be one of the most reliable ways of learning to observe our culture critically and actively decide what kind of participation one wants to have in it.

So that rankled, a bit. I feel that I should note that the person making these arguments was not a faculty member, but someone from career services, so she was probably approaching the question from a different angle. But still, as a literature person, I felt a little put off by what she was saying, because I can't think of such transparent applications of my own courses to the world at large (other than comp, of course).

Well, regardless, it's over, and now there are just a few more meetings and that kind of thing before the real fun begins!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Plinka plinka clank clank

Am currently on hold with my internet provider listening to the worst hold music EVER: artless, clanky piano playing. Yuck yuck yuck. Yuck!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Hunger is the Best Sauce

I have to leave for the new faculty orientation in 15 minutes. And I have 50 pages left of the last Potter book.

In a way, this is working with my plan of not rushing through the novel (which I'm enjoying a lot, and which is a nice break from reading for my classes). But something REALLY BIG just happened and I want very badly to know what happens next! Oh well. Perhaps the suspense will keep me going through the approximately 8 hours of meetings I have to attend today--I kid you not.

And then there's an 8-hour "faculty retreat" tomorrow.

And another faculty meeting on Friday morning.

Where did this aspect of the professorial life come from?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

DSL!

So I got my DSL up and running this morning! It only took me two hours, because apparently I am a complete idiot who is incapable of following simple instructions (of the "Don't do B until you've done A" variety. After twenty minutes of panicking over my mystification with B, I finally went back and realized that I was supposed to do A first). I also had to swear roundly at the voice-recognition helpline menu, which I'm sure sent it into a tailspin, but REALLY, if it's going to hear "installation" as "billing" TWICE, what can I be expected to do?

I've noticed that computerized stuff makes me rather foul-mouthed. I don't swear much in the ordinary course of things (although I'm not an especially clean talker, either), but yesterday, when I was having some trouble doing something on my new office computer, I caught myself hissing "motherfucker" and "fuck off" more than once. Which wouldn't be that bad, but a sweet old emeritus was right across the hall, only two open doors away, and, while I'm pretty sure he didn't hear me, I might want to tone it down a little.

Anyway. I'm very happy to be back. I'm almost caught up reading most of my blogs (could you people write any more???? But never fear; once I get back into full-on procrastination--I mean, work--mode, my appetite for your doings will be insatiable). And I started working on my conference paper again today. Not that I needed the internet for that--if anything, it's slowing me down (see the preceding parenthetical)--but somehow the events coincided. Perhaps I need the possibility of distraction in order to start in on more difficult work? A disturbing thought, but oh well. Can't fight city hall.

I'm pleased to report that the paper's not that bad, although neither is it especially exciting at this stage. I have a hard time adding the thrilling finish to papers that make people, well, want to hear/read them. I'm good at finding an interesting little phenomenon and talking about it, and I usually start out with some grand "Here's how the field will be changed by my paper" type of statement, but then I just peter out at the end with a "and, yeah, look, that was interesting" conclusion. Implications, that's what I need. Go back to that grand introduction. What have I shown? What can the reader/auditor who doesn't work on this particular text take away from my argument?

But that's haaaard. It means I have to think about things. And take risks.

And here's where the internet comes in handy. Nothing to say? Write a blog post! Ta da!

On the upside, I think I've just shamed myself in getting back to my paper. Or...hey, there are still a few blogs I'm not quite up-to-date on yet....

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Okay, so maybe it's not so bad

I still don't have internet (come on Tuesday evening!), but I've found a good thing in this town. Actually I knew about it before, but this is the first time I've been here: a really delightful little coffee shop (with free wireless and adequate outlets, huzzah!). There is no Starbucks in town--praise heaven for small favors--and this place is full of its own Independent Cafe Charm. They even seem to sell fair-traded or homemade gifts or some such; I haven't looked too closely, but that's what I think that rack against the wall is full of. And homemade ice cream, which I haven't tried yet but WILL TRY. Unfortunately it, like the library, is closed on Sunday, so I'm not sure that I'll even be able to get online again until Monday. Oh well.

So yeah, this is something.

And there's a supposedly large natural-foods store about 25 minutes away; I may have the loan of a car later this weekend, and go there to stock up. I'm trying my hand at yogurt-making. Things might just straighten out.

Another pleasure, although this one is decidedly seasonal: the noises here, at night and in the early morning. Crickets and cicadas and that's about it. Years of urban living and I'd forgotten how loud those guys can be. It's really nice to have that be the only noise--at night but also during parts of the day, because my street is really quiet. As my mom reminded me last night, I'm used to cities. This is a different kind of place, demanding a different kind of life. I'm not sure that I'm going to get totally into it, but it might have its merits, all the same.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Adjusting

Okay. So I'm going to be open-minded. There will be things to like here, right? There are good things about every place. Right?

Here's the deal: My apartment is pleasant, light, quiet, and consoling. Everyone I've met is nothing but friendly. But the town...oh, the town. Field Town, I am disappointed in you.

What I'm realizing (in the 3 days that I've been here) is that there are certain things that I like to have nearby. Near enough to walk to, ideally. Or to bike to--but there's no bike shop in town, so even if there were these things in bikeable range, I wouldn't be able to get to them. These are the things that I like to the point of needing:
  1. a yoga studio (or, at worst, a gym with yoga classes)
  2. a decent grocery store or farmers' market
  3. a bookstore (other than the campus bookstore, which only sells course books)
  4. multiple restaurants
  5. a pleasant place to have a drink
  6. a nice cafe
There's a good-looking coffee shop not too far from me, so we've got #6 covered. But 1-5? Not so much. Not at all, actually. The only drugstore/general-store nearby is a CVS. The only grocery store is a major chain with no organic yogurt or vegetables and a sorry selection of cheeses. Main Street is littered with empty buildings. All of this--well, it depresses me. I'm seriously considering starting to make my own yogurt and cheese--but I need to take care not to get too ambitious, given the workload that's about to fall upon me.

It's a shame.

Last night, making dinner, I suddenly felt sad. More than that: I felt afraid. What if this was all a mistake? I wondered. What the hell, in fact, was I thinking? Moving all the way out here, away from everyone I care about and the lifestyle I'm used to (and love), for a short-term, middlingly-paid job that I'm not actually sure yet that I'll like? Am I insane? Is everyone secretly thinking, "Wow, that j, she sure made a nutty decision there"?

Then, of course, I thought about how many of my friends have done this exact same thing, for the same stakes and with all the same discomforts (some in far, far worse places), and I felt a little better.

--Sort of. Because just how bizarre is this profession, that we expect to have to live far away from our families, friends, and partners, going through exhausting moves year after year, often postponing having children, just in the hopes of one day being able to settle in approximately the part of the continent that we'd prefer? Or in the hopes of being able to settle somewhere, period?

I know that this is an old subject, and I don't have anything new to add; nor can I imagine a plausible solution. I've thought about this a lot before, too. But living it--well, it adds a certain reality to the madness. I know that I'll get used to this place, and will probably like it fine before the year is out. (Maybe I'll break down and get a car--surely all the things I want are within half an hour of here. And I used to walk half an hour to yoga, so what's the difference? Other than the fossil fuel consumption, of course.) Right now, though, it just seems crazy.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

According to Plan

Well my goodness, y'all's've been busy. My bloglines are overloaded. And, since I'm writing this from a carrel in the paltry little Field College library (closed after 4:30 pm and on weekends during the summer), I'm unlikely to be caught up anytime soon: my internet won't be connected until Tuesday. Unless, that is, I get my office key before then...in which case I can use my office computer. No promises, though.

So everything went perfectly well, and by general consent this was the most organized move in the history of the world. It's true that I did accidentally put into storage one box that was supposed to come here, to Field Town, and that the cord for plugging in my printer has mysteriously gone missing, but all things considered--this was a 5-day move, involving 9 different people--I'm pretty pleased.

Driving is not scary, by the way. I'm so over my phobia. Hallelujah! I = a functional adult!!

It was really nice having my dad here for the last few days (he drove out with me--a two-day trip--and stayed until this morning). I actually felt a little weepy when he left; it was very comforting to have him around to help me get settled in. He's great with this kind of thing. He'll do things like decide that I need a hanging lamp over my kitchen table (with my consent, of course), then just go out and find me one--and, if we hadn't found one, he was prepared to make one for me. He also made me a big batch of his special, delicious granola to tide me over for a couple of weeks.

But now I'm here on my own, trying to figure out how my life is going to look for the next nine months or so.

My apartment, I like. It's the second floor of an old house, with its own entrance (which is nice) and a very grandmotherly little kitchen. I found a square wooden clock with three geese wearing blue ribbons around their necks on it in a thrift store ($1), contributing substantially to the grandmotherly look. I have somehow wound up with a twin bed (eh) and a huge la-z-boy recliner (complete with built-in cooler!), thanks to the scrounging efforts of my department chair. So the place is furnished, and comfortable, and could use some stuff on the walls. Today I need to get my email account working--in fact, I should do that right now--and then open a bank account.

That's enough for the moment. Apologies for the rather dull and disjointed post, but that's how I'm feeling today. More as I settle. And I'll try to get caught up on all your doings in the next week or so!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Finality

So it's my last night in this apartment before the madness of actual moving begins tomorrow morning. I feel that I should say something reflective. Because this was a sort of big-deal place for me to live: I moved here almost exactly three years ago, following the destruction of a cohabitational relationship. I basically fled the place I'd been sharing with my then-boyfriend--which shouldn't give you the wrong idea: he wasn't a scary person or anything, it just took me a REALLY long time to end the relationship and I knew that if I didn't leave immediately I'd've waffled and probably stayed with him for even longer. So when I rented this apartment, I had a suitcase with me, and that was about it. The rest of my stuff was still in the shared apartment, and didn't arrive for about a week.

I remember that first night really well. I was sitting on the floor of the kitchen, feeling a little bit repulsed by the floor (which wasn't filthy but needed a mopping), eating a sandwich I'd made off of a paper plate. It was the first night that I'd been alone since my boyfriend and I had broken up a week and a half earlier. The apartment was empty, and this one room that was painted bright red was sort of staring at me. (Repainting it was my first order of business that week.) I felt...strange. Excited about the new apartment, and the whole starting-over point of my life that I was in: I'd been dating my ex since the start of grad school, pretty much, and we'd spent the previous year living in a city about an hour away from campus. So I was looking forward to starting up my new, independent life. But I also had a weirdly edgy feeling, like the bottom could drop out of my excitement at any moment. I was anxious and wound up and vaguely upset.

And now it's been three years, my ficus is much taller, and the kitchen floor needs to be mopped again. It's been a really good three years. I got to do some things that I'd wanted to try, like hip-hop dance classes and intramural soccer. I made a bunch of new friends right after the break up and sort of drifted away from them within the next year, but my older friendships got stronger and better once I was back in GradCity and on my own. I've spent a lot of time in these rooms, working or messing around or making stuff or just watching TV and eating cookies, very happily alone. And I've also spent a good bit of time missing the (current) boyfriend, who only lived in this town for about 4 months of our relationship.

None of this is very profound. My feelings right now aren't very profound. Mostly I just want to be done with the driving and loading and whatnot, and to actually see my new apartment. This whole radically different new life upon which I'm about to embark is...unsettling, to say the least, but I kind of just want to tackle it, to know that it's not bad and scary and to make it work.

I'll tell you one thing I'll miss, though. I'll miss my yoga studio. I had my last class with my amazing teacher tonight, and it's sad to think that I might never see him again, or hear any more of his habitual, corny little jokes ("The good news is, we're going into the bow posture!" "And if you can't get into a full hanumanasana, don't worry, that just means that you'll never achieve enlightenment. No, I'm kidding. It doesn't matter").

Okay, off for a drink with J. In an air-conditioned bar. Whoo!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Update

Since too few of you are blogging today to give me a break of sufficient length:
  • The back seems to be more or less okay. It's still tender, but a little stretching and a break for lunch + TV helped, and I think I'll make it. Whew!
  • I forced Marilla Amaryllis into dormancy today, since she could hardly make the trip in her sprawling, droopy-leafed state. I hope that I didn't kill her. Well, we'll find out in 6-8 weeks.
  • There is nothing to eat in this joint but rice cakes. I've eaten like 9 of them today. Thank god I have dinner plans.
  • Boy oh boy do I hope that my rental SUV-type-car is big enough for all the crap I'm taking to Field Town. See, I claim that I'm taking "Only the essentials, the bare minimum," but that's a lie. Unless my wooden Buddha statue, Laotian silk bedspread (which tops my orange silk duvet cover--yes, I sleep in glamor), three stuffed animals, and handmade vase count as "essentials." Oh, and let's not forget the old gooseneck lamp that once belonged to my grandfather (he spray-painted it gold, for some reason), a box of incense and candles, extra coffee cups, and all those books that I've been meaning to read for ages. And a stack of framed photographs along with a few pieces of my mom's artwork, my DVDs (in a zippered pouch, at least, and sans boxes), sleeping bag and camping mattress (in case I have guests with whom I'd rather not share my bed, for whatever reason), various yoga supplies, and ALL my clothes. (And dishes and all that stuff, of course!) It's just...I'm ambivalent about this move, and this job--although I'm very happy to HAVE the job, of course--and I feel that I'll need a lot of familiar, happy objects around me. So perhaps these do count as essentials? All the same, I won't be reciting that list for my minimalist ascetic of a boyfriend. Heh.
  • I have not showered, and "getting dressed" today meant throwing on a pair of cotton shorts. As in, I'm still wearing my pajama shirt, haven't combed my hair, applied deodorant, or put in my contacts. I the permissiveness of exceptional states such as moving and finals! Hm--that didn't come out as pithily as I'd hoped. Anyway, said permissiveness also accounts for the lunchtime TV, which is definitely not something I'd normally allow myself.

OW hell

I seem to have pulled something (?) in my back, sort of below the left shoulder blade. Yeah, I just lifted a box of dishes, but seriously I've lifted much heavier things in my day. In the last two days, in fact. Ugh. It feels like the kind of thing that a good stretch and a couple of days should fix, but right now it twinges whenever I move my arm. Convenient.

Didn't Hilaire throw her back out--much worse than this, I believe--right in the middle of moving? The Curse of the Cardboard!

News from the Moving Front

So I'm mostly packed, but there's still plenty of stuff kicking around my apartment not knowing what to do with itself. I also need to repot two plants and...oh, what was that other thing? Something else. Then there are the miscellaneous errands: closing down my local video store membership (I want my deposit back!), recycling plastic bags at the grocery store, giving the department secretary my new address, and so forth.

One thing that's been a feature of my last couple of moves is the Destruction of a Large Metal Object. Last time I moved, it was a two-drawer filing cabinet that had become jammed in the process of being moved. I needed to extract all the files from the top drawer, and the only way to do this was to rip the drawer apart with a pair of pliers. Obviously. It was an immensely enjoyable and cathartic experience. This time, I had to tackle a set of window bars (you know, of the thief-deterrent variety). The situation is this: The stairs to my apartment are narrow and winding. My dresser had to come in through the window; it will have to go out through the window. In the time that I lived here, I had some bars installed over my windows (because there's an easily accessible fire escape out there). Boyfriend and I were able to put the bars in in the living room, but the bedroom proved somehow impossible: the wood of the window pane was too hard, or something. So my landlords did it for me, putting the bars in wrong and only getting a couple of screws in, but whatever. Anyway I needed to remove the bars so that the movers will be able to get the dresser out again. (Enjoying this story?) Yesterday I tackled the project with a drill, three screwdrivers, and my trusty pliers--which ended up being the key ingredient, as several of the screws were stripped and I had to pop their heads off by violently wiggling the bars back and forth.

I love doing this kind of thing. It says: I am strong! and self-sufficient! Or perhaps there's just an inherent pleasure in destruction?

Less triumphantly, I had a couple of sad goodbyes yesterday. First I went to see H off on her move; she's actually moving to sort of the same part of the country as I am, but will be 7 hours, instead of 2 blocks, away. It was a tearful affair on both sides. Then I had lunch with my advisor, which was very pleasant, but as we were parting she gave me a hug for the very first time ever, and I realized how much I'm going to miss meeting with her. She taught my first-ever medieval literature course, and I've worked closely with her for five years now (even though there were times, of course, when I went three months or more without seeing her). So that was sad.

And then last night I saw my problematic friend, and it was fine. In fact, I had a nice time. He still complains a lot, but somehow these things are more easily handled in person than via email.

Okay, it's 10:15, and despite my fervent supplications the boxes are not, in fact, packing themselves. And I have three more farewells coming tonight, so I'd better get going.