Sunday, March 29, 2009

Not dead yet

I don't know why I haven't blogged in so long, and this isn't going to be a long post, either. I think that my last post sort of paralyzed me, blog-wise, because on the one hand I figured I should answer Maude's question re. proposal and ring (it's my grandmother's, by the way, so we had to wait a little while for it to arrive in the mail--it came with documentation from 1932! Perhaps I will show you later); on the other, I had work-related stuff going on that could have been interestingly bloggable; on the third, I felt that, while it would be weird for me to completely ignore the engagement business, I also felt an obscure pressure to blog something more academic. And so, in a triumphantly decisive gesture, I blogged nothing.

I was also absurdly busy last week: on-campus writing contest, guest writer visit (dinner and lecture), insanely important person's visit to campus (there were snipers leaning out of the window of the office next to mine, I kid you not; and also, the maintenance people painted all the peeling windowpanes), and then an overnight conference trip with a dozen or so undergrads (we got back last night amid rain and wind). Today there was a huge pile of snow on top of all the daffodils, so I stayed in quite happily, reading Virginia Woolf in my bathrobe and taking a lovely nap. Now the snow is mostly melted and I'm bracing myself for the next absurdly busy week. In fact, all of the remaining five weeks of the semester promise to be absurdly busy. If only the absurdity were of the amusing kind.

And summer will be busy, too, but in a more fun way: Kalamazoo, followed by a long lingering six weeks of watching the garden grow, then a trip out east, a month in France, and then about 2.5 weeks before we go back east for the wedding. Meanwhile, we'll also be looking for a place to live, and God knows when we'll actually move in together.

It's ironic: I know married couples who have to live apart because of their careers, but we'll be living apart because of (ahem) our gardens. I mean, the tomatoes will continue fruitful through most of September. We wouldn't want to miss that, would we?

(Actually, what we might do is move in together in mid-August or September or whenever, and then either keep our leases through September or try to work out a deal with the new tenants. What problems we have, indeed.)

Enough for now. I need to go to bed, where I will try to convince myself that another Spring Break begins upon the morrow....

Oh! And thank you, everyone, for all the lovely kind wishes! I agree with Crazy--being able to share good news makes blogging great. You made me smile, a lot. Thanks!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Annoyingly Fortunate

Okay, so I'm going to spill the other good news now. The Minister and I are engaged.

I was talking to my dear friend H last night (hi H!), telling her about the engagement, the possible book contract, the recent trip to the Caribbean, the free plane ticket to and resultant month to be spent in France this summer...and it dawned on me: This month, I am downright irritating.

No worries, though. I continue to be stressed, aggravated, and overworked in the usual proportions. Bitching to resume shortly, I promise.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

You know, this has been a GOOD year.

I just got an email from Editor at Quite Respectable Press. And ze's going to recommend that the board approve my MS for publication at their next meeting, in May. And, although publication is up to the board, ze thinks that it'll be an "easy sell."

I haven't read the attached reviewer's comments (I need to wait until I've settled down and braced myself for them), but ze says that they're "very positive."

My heart is beating. When I finished reading the email I let out a yell that was quite loud and entirely out of character. I was immediately embarrassed (the window is open) and had to run into the bedroom, a reaction which now seems a little strange.

But who cares?? Assuming that all goes well in May, I'm publishing a book!!!!!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

So much...

...to do this week.
...goodness last week.
...to tell, enigmatically.

Just now, on the cusp of the last 1/4th of the academic year, I shall avoid discussing the first and postpone the last. Instead, I'll put up a few pretty pictures and tell you that, this week, I saw:
  • flying fish, in abundance
  • a baby heron
  • a flower called a heliconia (pictured here in a photograph not by me)
  • Dominica, an island nation of 70,000 people
  • Iles des Saintes, a French village in the Caribbean
  • distant volcanoes
  • shipwrecks
  • water that was so clear that, at 30+ feet, you could see the bottom.
And also in the past week, I
  • jumped off a (sort of) high rock into a waterfall-fed pool
  • hiked through a rainforest
  • ate bananas, and guavas, and coconuts, and the goo around coffee and cocoa beans, and a tiny shred of cinnamon, right off their respective trees and bushes
  • snorkled (in relatively uninteresting waters, alas)
  • accrued several really good blisters (alas)
  • spent a lot of lovely time with my dad, stepmother, and the Minister
  • drank a hearty bit of rum
  • spoke French for the first time in ages.
Dominica and Iles des Saintes are beautiful. Here are a few pictures for your enjoyment. I'll be thinking about them when I recommence the grading...oh, the grading...luckily I have everyone else's blogs--unread for so long--to keep me company whilst I toil!

A view of Dominica, from the top of a mountain ridge.

Bloodroot trees in the Indian River (Dominica).

Red lavender in front of a blue house (Portsmouth, Dominica).

Shipwreck in the harbor at Portsmouth.

Terre-de-Haut, Iles des Saintes.

Secluded beach on Terre-de-Haut (we were just about the only ones there).

And, because I like birds, a hummingbird in silhouette. I actually kind of like the fact that the leaves are in focus but the bird itself is not.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Good Timing

The last day before spring break = the day that many faculty give their midterm exams.

It is NOT a good day for the college to have a massive bluebook shortage.

Argh!

(Luckily I have a batch of notebook paper left over from last semester's Mystic Binder of Composition experiment.)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

And another (good) thing

I just had my annual progress meeting. It went well. It went very well.

I admit that I was a little nervous. What if my chair, with whom I get along superbly, decided to call me out on my flaws? I am, after all, opinionated, vehement in meetings, and complain an awful lot. Sometimes I also wear really pilly sweaters.* But instead of pointing out such things he said that I am "terrific" and "fabulous." [Other comments have been redacted in the interests of making a pretense of humility.] It was so good that it actually made me a little bit uncomfortable, and I was glad when the meeting ended. It's weird to be evaluated to your face, even when the evaluation is good.

But, yay, I still have a job.

*ETA: I've also become a terrible gossip. Terrible! I haven't been this bad since middle school. But everyone else here is too--it's really the only way that information of any kind gets disseminated--so I shouldn't be surprised that that doesn't count against me. Yikes, though--I don't like justifying my flaws this way. I think I'm going to work on that.

Just FYI


I leave for spring break tomorrow. I don't think that I've told y'all where I'm going yet, so here it is:

The Minister and I will be flying out to a remote Caribbean island known for its rainforests, volcanoes, and coral reefs, where we'll stay with my father (with whom I get along famously) and stepmother (who is fantastically cool) on their 44-foot sailboat.

Sometimes I do think that being a professor more or less rocks.

And so does having a dad who lives on a sailboat.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Nominal Hierarchy

When I first started out as a professor (all of 18.5 months ago), I was tormented by indecision over how to sign my emails. At Field, we're pretty hierarchical, so it is standard for students to call me Dr. Mihi; however, I wasn't really comfortable actually signing that. It seemed pretentious. So I started doing what my undergrad advisor did--and which I found so maddening--and using my initials.

But then I wasn't really pleased with that, because after a while I felt a lot more comfortable being called "Dr." than I did at first (and a lot less comfortable with "Ms.," "Heu," or--worst--"Mrs." Gah!). So I started occasionally using "Dr. Mihi"; however, that seemed excessive. Finally what I settled on was "H. Mihi."

However, some students became very comfortable with the "HM" in the first semester, including my thesis advisee, with whom I have a good relationship. She actually addresses me as "HM" in her emails. I have no problem with this--but it has caused me to continue signing some emails "HM." In fact, I tend to sign emails to my upper-level classes, and to students who have been in those classes, with just the initials.

Just now I was replying to an email from an absolutely top-notch awesome brilliant student who hasn't taken the upper-levels yet but is still finishing her surveys. I almost signed it "HM"--recognizing as I nearly did so that it was owing to her awesomeness and English-majorness.

But I stopped myself. "H. Mihi" I remain--for now.

However, it made me realize that I have unconsciously established a hierarchy whereby the "in" students get my initials, and the others don't--because, you see, when an upper-level student is out of line or demands some kind of formal response, s/he gets the "H. Mihi": a demotion.

So now I wonder, given how much students chatter (or how much I, as a student, chattered), is it clear from my signature who's "in" and who isn't? Do they notice when I switch signatures on them? What messages am I sending, after all?

And then I think, Wouldn't this mental energy be better spent on something productive, like grading? Or, really, anything other than this line of thinking?

God, I need this vacation. Three more days.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sorry I couldn't be of help

Apparently everyone's getting a little stir-crazy, what with this end-of-winter business.

My evidence? Today people from Finland, England, Wisconsin, and Houston reached this blog by googling "what to do on a boring Sunday." None of them stuck around for more than a second.

Sorry, guys--but really, I got nothing. It's pretty quiet around here. Unless you'd like to jump in and do some grading???