Friday, January 29, 2010

On the other hand...

I am, indeed, delighted about the R&R. But--oddly enough, sort of--I also heard today about that article that was accepted to Very Good Journal more than two years ago, the publication of which (due to a backlog) was likely to conflict with the book's publication. If you recall, there was some talk by the editor of pushing up the publication date, but with a "why bother?" kind of subtext. Not even a subtext. A supratext, if you will. By which I mean that this message was pretty openly declared.

So I wrote to the editor today, not having heard back following my response (this was before I heard from Trifecta Journal--hence the coincidence), and the situation has been decided, and not in my favor. In short, Article Accepted More Than Two Years Ago will not be published, but I am invited to submit new work.

(Of course, I'd like to see that backlog dealt with first.)

Okay, there's nothing I can do here, and my disappointment is not tragic. I shall finesse my CV to accurately reflect the situation in such a way that does credit to Truth and Ambition, both. And the world keeps spinning. Yep.

Disappointed, though. But the situation is beyond my control; what can you do, eh.

Besides, everything pales beside this:

[The scene: Bazarov has unexpectedly left his parents, Vasily Ivanovich and Arina Vlasevna, at the end of a three-day visit, following a three-year absence. Bazarov is a bit of a jerk, but his parents adore him, as parents do. Vasily Ivanovich has ceased his cheerful waving from the back porch and sat down, allowing his head to droop down to his chest.]
Then Arina Vlasevna went up close to him and, leaning her grey head against his grey head, said:

"There's nothing for it, Vasya! Our son's cut off from us. He's a falcon, like a falcon he wanted to come and he flew here, then he wanted away and he flew away. But you and I, we're just a couple of old mushrooms, we are, stuck in the hollow of a tree, sitting side by side and never moving. Except that I'll always remain the same for you for ever and ever, just as you will for me."

Vasily Ivanovich took his hands away from his face and suddenly embraced his wife, his true friend, more tightly even than he'd been used to embrace her in his youth, for she had comforted him in his misery.*
Tears, people. Tears. (Especially if you know what happens to Bazarov.)

*Ivan Turgenev, Fathers and Sons, trans. Richard Freeborn (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 136.

R et R

A few months ago I sent out that Hellacious Article, and hey--revise and resubmit, baby! And it's from one of the Journals of the Medieval Trifecta (and no, not the gynecological instrument journal; I am not yet so bold as to have pretensions there). Hurrah!

I haven't read the reports yet, and of course I won't for at least a day or two, because that's always a sickening experience. I'm frankly surprised that I opened the email right away--so quickly, without thought, like a band-aid. If only all potentially painful experiences could be confronted in such unthinking haste.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I am still such a timid wimp

This week I'm calling references for a couple of our short-listed candidates for the search for which I'm the non-departmental committee member.

(That was a cumbersome sentence. I will let it stand.)

I am not a big User of Phones. Really not. In fact, my cell phone only rings about four times a month--and two of those will be from the fellow whom I call "My Captain," because when he calls, I first hear a foghorn and then a recorded message saying, "Hello, this is your captain speaking," and am offered a free trip to somewhere (I hang up before they get to the destination. Or maybe I've just forgotten). Apart from My Captain, I sometimes get a call from CVS telling me that my prescription is ready to be picked up, and occasionally my alma mater (undergrad) calls me to ask for money.

And this is my fault, really, because I never call anyone. Before TM and I lived together, I did get some more calls, but now I basically pay $50 a month for an alarm clock and time-keeper for my seminar (where there is no clock. Oh, and most of my calls come through during that seminar, too).

Annnnyway, all this is to say that I don't like calling people whom I don't know. I get very nervous. And these calls in particular made me very nervous--like, I was having flashbacks to waiting for telephone interviews a couple of years ago. Jittery and sweaty and whatnot. I had to go into TM's office and ask him to talk me down--he was so baffled by me that he couldn't say much to help, but his very bafflement did in fact help.

Of course the calls are going perfectly fine. Lovely, in fact. Everyone is happy to talk about his or her grad student/visiting colleague. They say delightful things and now I really want to meet, and then hire, both of these people. I've completed five out of my six calls.

But I was really especially nervous about calling some of the references, I think, because they're tenured faculty at Big Fancy Universities, and here I am pretending to be, like, a colleague of theirs. So the whole time we're talking, they don't know how old I am! They don't know that I'm not dressed particularly well (because my office is freezing, seriously, so yes I am wearing a bright red zippered cardigan over a dark red button-down, and yes I do have on long underwear)! They don't know that I'm not a senior person, and when I say things like, "We want our faculty to feel that they can continue to pursue their research," they don't know that I'm a junior professor who has no business saying things like that! In fact, they don't know that I have no business calling myself a professor at all, ha ha ha ha ha!

See what I did there? Yep, that's the crux of the anxiety, I think. Most days--at least in the context of Field--I have no real impostor syndrome anymore. I inhabit my role quite comfortably. But when I come into contact with certain contexts...well, let's just say that I do not radiate unflappable confidence.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Teaching Update

This week, I am teaching Wordsworth and Coleridge and Keats and Lermontov.
Next week I teach Austen and Turgenev.
Then we're up to Byron and Stendhal.
Still on deck for the FIRST HALF of the semester are (C.) Bronte and Dostoevsky. For, across my two courses, I am teaching 7 novels in the first 8 weeks of the semester, along with a pile of poetry.

And yes, I am a medievalist, thanks for asking!

Dude, none of this is a complaint. It was lovely to lie around reading Pride and Prejudice all weekend. I've managed to work up a couple of syllabi that, while entirely outside "my" field, mean that I get to engage in sustained pleasure reading all semester. (And much as I love medieval literature, it isn't...pleasure reading. Sorry.)

It helps that the seminar is terrific fun. I've got ten students, and fully seven of them can be counted on to talk at length about interesting things--to ask questions, answer questions, get frustrated, argue. There's Off the Wall Question Guy, Snarky Aside Girl, at least two Very Hardworking And Industrious Women, a couple of Rank Geniuses, more than one Poet, and plenty of Interesting Brains. They talk to each other, saying things like, "I appreciate the way that you phrased that, and that helps me to understand what you're saying, but I think that Emily was right when she said [X] because of [Y]." They're the kind of class that comes with pre-established inside jokes, who already know and like each other (and me, which helps), who are (for the most part) not at all shy. And now, a couple of students have volunteered to bring us food and/or coffee once in a while. So there's a little silliness, plenty of laughing, and a good bit of very smart discussion. Every meeting leaves me joyful. It's a pretty sweet business, indeed.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Seventy-Seven Thousand Dollars what my "procedure" cost.

Imagine if I'd had to spend two nights in the hospital.

Nah, we don't need health care reform.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Please Be Nice to Graduate Students

I just got caught up on the kerfuffle at Tenured Radical's. (Is "kerfuffle" now the official term for academic blogosphere dust-ups?) I read through the comments, of which there are many, and was struck--as most readers were, I think--by the animosity shown by various factions. In particular, there were some grad student commenters who were furious by what they saw as the tenured writers' disdain and disrespect for people of their status.

I do not think that tenured (or tenure-track) faculty are the appropriate target for such vitriol; they a) have almost no say at all in the structure of academia as a whole, b) mostly probably do in fact feel a lot of compassion for the disappointed job-seekers, and c) in TR's case, actually expressed little that I construed as disdain or disrespect in her post or in the subsequent comments.


Remember what it's like, people--especially people who had a long period of not-having-a-job prior to having one. Remember that it is January, the time of year when you're not getting campus interviews, and have to give up on the thin hope that those schools that didn't interview in Round 1 will suddenly see your glory and give you a call. It's the time of year when you're realizing, really and truly, that those cautionary tales do after all apply to you, and that, even though you thought you knew that, you never really believed that you wouldn't be one of the Chosen. The time of year when the only person you hear about getting an offer is that asshole who irritated you with her pomposity at the grad conference two years ago. When the wikis are populated by a handful of delighted, crowing new faculty and your phone is silent.

It's the time of year when the friendly, encouraging queries by junior faculty at your institution about how the market is going strike you as hideously condescending, when your gut response is easy for you to say, getting an ivy job when you were still ABD. When the thought that you wouldn't care whether you got a job or not because what was really important was having 5-10 years to explore interesting ideas suddenly doesn't seem compelling, and you realize that you actually are basing your self-worth on something that is entirely beyond your control. When the encouragement that you've received for years--of course you'll get a good job! you're so well situated for the market!--sounds like lies (although they aren't) and you recall them with a bitterness bordering on rage. When the depths of your envy and self-loathing appall you.

So I can imagine how I would feel, when I was going through all this (for yes, the above is autobiographical! Why do you ask?), if someone said to me, Hey, you knew going in that the odds were slim; what are you complaining about? Maybe you just shouldn't have gone to grad school at all. And I can imagine how TR's post and the one at Dean Dad's could sound like that to a job seeker in this position, even though I--as someone a little more detached--can see that that is not what they actually meant.

So maybe some people are a little, well, tetchy. But hey, let's remember what a huge number of our fellow scholars are going through right now, and remember the emotional hideousness that is the unsuccessful job search (and even many successful job searches), and let us be, well, nice.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What cheer!

Whilst singing goofy songs to Pertelote the Cat, I noticed this morning that I was in quite high spirits. For one thing, I woke up at 6 after 8 hours of sleep (instead of the recently-typical 9) actually feeling capable of clambering out of bed, so perhaps my rhythms are returning to normal. And I have this kick-ass schedule with NO comp. And also? I think that I like being back in the middle of things.

Now of course I adore vacations, and want more of them. And I am not every morning keen to teach, since I still find it somewhat stressful. And there are plenty of highly vexing things that occur more or less constantly. But I like the activity, the people, the politics. Today we have a faculty meeting at which several very aggravating things will be discussed, and it will last forever, and highly annoying things will be said and elaborated upon at length, and I'm looking forward to it. I like this stuff.

(Of course, when the annoying things are being said about something about which I care deeply, I am less pleased. But on the whole I find that these meetings do have entertainment value, and I'm very interested in seeing how they develop.)

However, I need to get myself focused so that it can be a productive day and I won't be overwhelmed with prep for tomorrow--for I said that I would give a demo presentation in my seminar, which means that I actually need to go read a couple of articles and prepare to present them. Here, then, is what I hope to accomplish:
  • Review materials for 1 pm class; refine lesson plan.
  • Schedule meeting with Honors juniors.
  • Finish novel for seminar.
  • Read article for seminar.
  • Read a bit about the novel's author and influence and make some notes.
  • Print out CVs for job candidates that I neglected to print yesterday. (I'm the outside member of a search committee right now. And might I say, job candidates, that it is in poor form to list a book as "published" if it is self-published? And then to slightly alter the name of the "press" so that it looks legit? So that I need to Google it to figure out that it was, in fact, self-published? You're really doing yourself more harm than good there.)
  • Concoct some sort of syllabus for Honors juniors who are starting their theses.
  • Respond to some emails.
  • Maybe, if I'm very good, read through (part of) a thesis draft.
That is very likely more than I can do today. So be it! Off I go.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Roaring Start (or something)

We're not really off to a roaring start over here, in Field College Spring Semester 2010. I've had nine solid hours of sleep on each of the last two nights, and I still feel like I need about three more hours when I wake up in the morning. Lingering effects of anesthesia + 4.5 hours of heart work? Ongoing effects of terribly cold weather and dark winter mornings? Renewed effects of having to get up and go to school? Who knows??? It is A Mystery.

Anyway, I do have a sweet sweet sweetness of a schedule this semester, thanks to my TWO course releases. One release is for directing the Honors program, which takes up a good chunk of time but is still more enjoyable and usually less hectic than teaching. I actually love organizing things, so reviewing the students' files to make sure that they're still in good standing is an absolute pleasure to me. Serving on the thesis committees is more of a mixed bag, but it is interesting to learn about such a wide variety of topics. Of course, we only have three students writing theses this year; in two years, there are sixteen coming through the pipe. I'm sure a good handful of those will drop, but even if I have to serve on eight thesis committees, that'll be about five too many. The other release is to finish the book edits and index and to get started on a new project. This is where all my powers of self-discipline will have to be focused, for I've really fallen out of the regular research/writing habit over the course of the last year. And I want this to be a productive semester.

So my schedule, though, is just one class a day. I teach at 1 on MWF and at 11 TTh. Awesome, right? Right! But it will be imperative that I don't dither away my mornings and then my afternoons, as well. The MWF class is the survey, so the prep there is pretty minimal; the TTh is eight new novels (I do this to myself every semester!!), not a one of which is actually in my field. In fact, they're about five hundred years to the left and a country or two southeast of my field, for the most part. How I love a teeny tiny faculty! However: They are fabulous novels, and I love them, and I am excited to read them again--I haven't looked at most of them in the last decade, so it'll either be a fun reunion or a terrible awakening to the fact of having made a terrible mistake. My love for a tiny faculty, up there, wasn't entirely facetious. It's kind of cool to be able to teach stuff that I didn't specialize in but that I nonetheless love.

But really, I always hear people complaining that they've assigned one or two texts that they've never taught before over the course of a semester, and how much more time-consuming that's going to be. I guess it is--I wouldn't know, since I always have at least like a DOZEN totally new things, and have not had one semester without an entirely new prep. In fact, in my six semesters here (we'll count the current one), I've had...13 totally new preps. (It doesn't help that I have completely revamped my comp class every single semester. We're all hoping that we in English have come up with a reusable formula this year.) And, since I had almost no teaching experience before getting here, each new prep has involved a basketful of new texts. The fact that adding one or two new novels doesn't seem like an appalling amount of work to me makes me worry that I'm a dreadfully sloppy instructor, since it's not as though I go out and read up a storm on those texts. I just assume that my Infinitely Superior Close Reading Skills and Very Rough Sense of What Was Happening At the Time will carry me through. Foolish, perhaps?

Anyway. There's no point to this post; I'm just trying to be a Better Blogger. Time to get my shit together and go figure out whose Fall GPAs lost them their Honors status.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Tinkering Aloud

First, thanks for the nice wishes expressed in the comments to my last post. I am feeling better, although I still get achy and tired pretty quickly when doing normal things (like hanging laundry). I'm officially banned from strenuous activity for two weeks, and honestly I have no inclination to do any--but I am looking forward to feeling better and being able to get some exercise, for god's sake. It's been ages.

On to more, well, current matters. Pressing, even. Classes start tomorrow, and I'm in the endless-tinkering phase of syallbizing. (By the way, I agree with Crazy that we should just lop off this first week. It's goofy. And I'm not ready.) Once again, I'm changing the structure of my assignments for the survey. Let me review my iterations: First, I tried four response papers, two major papers, and a midterm exam. Then four response papers, two major papers, and no exams. Then three "position" (aka response) papers, two major papers, a midterm, and a final. Reinstating the midterm and adding the final were an effort to get students to quit summarizing things like the characteristics of Romantic poetry in their papers--to give them, in other words, a space to regurgitate course material that was separate from the space where they were supposed to engage in analysis. Then, in response to complaints about "two finals" (since the final paper was due at the end of the semester), I used the same set of assignments but staggered the papers so that the final paper was due a couple of weeks before the exam.

This year, I decided to try a new approach. Response papers (or "position" papers, the new name being an attempt to move away from "I love this poem because it reminds my of my boyfriend" or "I think that Byron is boring") were a source of endless frustration to me. While the students who had a lot of experience with college-level English courses usually did fine--thereby accruing a bunch of easy points, which was a problem in itself--those who didn't get it were disasters, and, for those students, nothing I said seemed to clarify that these were academic exercises and not personal reflections. So I jettisoned them. Basically I realized that most of the students in the class either were taking it for gen ed credit, and therefore didn't have the basics of college-level literature writing, or were early English majors, who may still not have that much experience with close reading, thesis-driven literature papers, etc. I also decided that their awareness of such historical information as the definition of "metaphysical poetry" or the differences between Old and Middle English, while important, was not as important as their acquisition of the ability to discuss literature in an intelligent way, and that I couldn't necessarily cover both of these things well. Or, at any rate, I needed to try focusing on the skills and ability development for a while, since trying to do both created far too much work for all of us (not to mention shoddy results on both counts).

So this fall, I gave them six assignments: a close reading paper (which I demo'ed in class), a Chaucer presentation, a dramatic interpretation (the latter two were done in groups), a paraphrase and analysis of a poem, a paper in which they attacked or defended a thesis that I gave them, and an original thesis-driven analysis. It sort of worked. Grades in this course were actually a little higher than usual last semester.

This semester, then, I'm trying something similar, only with seven assignments: A one-page (essentially diagnostic) response to a Wordsworth poem (in light of the Preface), three two-page close readings (one on a Romantic poem, one on a Victorian poem, and one on a passage of Modernist prose), and, interspersed throughout, long(er) papers for each major movement: one on the late eighteenth/early nineteenth century narratives that we're reading, one on our Victorian narratives, and one on a topic of their choosing (with some suggestions provided by me).

And I'm stuck on a couple of stupid things. Should the Victorian paper be four or five pages long? It's worth 20% of the grade; the Romantic paper is only four pages and 15%. Should I specify the topic for the Victorian paper?

I also worry that I (habitually) assign far too much in this course. Fretful Porpentine writes about selecting the big novel for Brit Lit II; I teach, well, at least two big ones (Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre, and also To the Lighthouse, which is shorter but harder), but those also seem to be the texts that everyone gets most into. (Well, maybe not Lighthouse, but I heart it and I think that it's a far more compelling introduction to Modernist prose than Joyce ever is.) At this point, they've bought their books, and I'm not changing this stuff, but goodness. Is this course way too much work? Maybe the four-page Victorian paper will be okay. And should I throw away Jekyll and Hyde, of which I'm heartily sick, despite its cool pairing with The Lifted Veil?

Boring post, yes. Clearly I need to just shut up and go print the suckers out.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Home from the Hospital

I did not let my pathological fear of spending money impede my health. No: I had my Procedure yesterday, and it was successful. The heart issue should be resolved.

In fact, I turned out to be at a slightly higher risk for Bad Things as I had not one but two extra nerves in my heart; thus the possibility of the condition's becoming "Incompatible with Life" was greater than it might have been. But everything is fine. I went in at 8 and started getting prepped at around 8:45--IV's and electrodes were slapped on me, lots of people explained lots of things, I was wheeled around, and then there was a mask over my mouth and I was told to breathe deeply. I breathed once--twice--three times--and the next thing I knew was the nurse's voice in my ear telling me that the procedure had been entirely successful. Then the anesthesiologist said something to me, and then I think that I told the nurse that my throat hurt--it's all very hazy--and she said that she'd give me something for that. All of a sudden I felt even woozier and sort of floaty; she'd given me a "narcotic," and I did not object. So after about an hour in the hectic recovery room I was taken up to a private room, where TM and my mother met me. They gave me a pain pill and I almost immediately threw up. But some anti-nausea medication and a little bit of food enabled me to keep down some Tylenol, and I felt better.

(Heart with Wolf Parkinson White creating a circuit of electricity that causes palpitations)

In time I got up and walked around, leaning on TM's arm. It felt vaguely like Taking a Turn about the Baths. It surprised me how weak and light-headed I was--I couldn't go very far that first time, just down to the lounge where there was a beautiful bird cage with little bright birds in it.

We spent the night in the hospital, TM on the chair in my room and my mom in the lounge. I didn't sleep much, since I couldn't get into very many positions (I had several bandages on me and an IV) and people kept coming in to change things and check things and DO things. An EKG at 5 am, for example. But we were out by 11 am and drove home through the snow.

What's surprising to me is the toll that it's taken on my body. The procedure itself was minimally invasive--a tube up through a vein, another through an artery, and a thing at my shoulder (I've forgotten why that one was there). (The two primary tubes went up from the groin, and I awoke to find that I'd been, er, shaved. A little startling.) So they go up through the vein, and poke around, and stimulate the heart with adrenaline, and burn the extra nerves. Four hours of operating, less than 5 hours unconscious. Apparently what makes the body so achy is the lying still: my joints and muscles are all sore and stiff. But the incision sites--as small as those incisions are--are sore, and especially the muscles in my upper legs, presumably just from their poking around in there. I can only imagine how difficult it would be to recovery from more serious surgery.

(I'd also just like to mention, even though I can't name the hospital, how fabulous everyone there was. So friendly and cheerful and helpful. They all seemed to be in a good mood, even--especially--right before the procedure itself, which did a lot to assuage both my and my family's anxiety. And the doctor checked in with TM and my mom about every 45 minutes throughout the process, which they really appreciated. All in all, terrific care. So thanks, Major Ordinary City Hospital!)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The horror! A service-request bleg.

I just got an email asking me to be a representative on something for which I am, I'm convinced, the WORST possible choice--but the reasons that I'm such a bad choice aren't such that I could voice them. I.e., I find most of the people in this group incredibly annoying and I make fun of them in my head (and to TM) all the time, and I have various campus-political views that aren't in line with what many of the vocal members of this group espouse. It wouldn't be too terribly hideous, time-commitment-wise--one meeting a month--but oh, a part of me will die in every meeting, seriously. The banality! The jargon! And my nemesis will surely be a dominant speaker at every gathering.

Is there any conceivable excuse that I could give to get out of it? I mean, okay, maybe I'd a) come to tolerate the Other Side a little more or b) get the Other Side to see the Good Side's perspective and become more sensible, but agh, no, I would so so rather not be involved.

Ideas, anyone? Or am I doomed?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Least pithy ad campaign

Received in today's mail, and written out in prominent blue type, over a collection of smiling multiracial people with their arms around each other:
Q: How long can your kids remain covered under your health or dental plan?

A: Much longer than before in many cases.
Maybe it's the wordiness, or the vagueness of "longer than before" and "in many cases," but I find this curiously hilarious.

In other cheering news, Priss, our most melodramatic cat, has fallen in love with her new toy (a piece of string) and has taken to carrying it up to us and then meowing piteously (her meows are always piteous) until we play with her. It's really cute, and fascinating that she seems to understand play: she knows that we're the agents of the string's action, and she knows that she can get us to drag it around in the amusing fashion that pleases her so. I know that a lot of pets do this, but it's some pretty higher-order thinking, isn't it?

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year's Day and we're off to a poky start

Two posts in December, eh? That's a new low for me, I think. Hm. Maybe Resolution # 4 will be to do something about the pitiable rate-of-blogging around here.

Anyway, the holidays were fine etc. etc. Relaxed at Mom's house until we just sort of had to...escape. I can't relax for too long, I find. (I used to claim that I didn't understand the need to "relax," but somehow having an actual job has changed my tune there. I've noticed that I have a propensity for making sweeping and unfounded pronouncements of that sort. It could be endearing. I suspect that it's annoying and bizarre.) Anyway, after a few days of Mom's House of Decadence--with the wine, and the cookies, and the hugely fat cat, and the squishy dusty sofa, and the movies on demand--I kind of start despising myself. I need activity. So it was a lovely visit and it was lovely to come home.

I'm feeling a bit put out about how 2010 is starting off, though. First, I am, frankly, anxious about next week's very very safe "procedure"--the heart thing--and am even more anxious (I hate to admit) about the $1700 price tag. I mean, thank goodness I have insurance, etc. (If I didn't, though, I just wouldn't have had this checked out, and the likelihood of its actually killing me is minuscule, soo...? Okay, are my priorities completely off here?) But that's a solid slab of cash. And TM and I, with our loans and on our salaries (hooray we have full-time jobs, but still--Field just ranked in as the lowest-paying college in the state, at least among colleges and universities that shared their salary information), are not rolling in dough. The money issue alarms me. I'm also hoping to go on a couple of trips next year--one to Ireland with my mom, and one to an overseas conference, and there's talk of going somewhere fun for spring break--so...yeah, my priorities are ridiculous. Never mind. Writing this paragraph has made it clear that no one should pity me at all.

Nonetheless, this stuff is stressing me out, and, since we start classes on the 11th, I'm feeling that I won't really have the chance to restore myself and get all organized and refreshed for the semester ahead. And I am also consequently beating myself up for not being more upbeat and energetic during these last weeks.

Another reason for the sluggishness, at least today, is that I celebrated New Year's Eve with a scorching urinary tract infection that hit me just before midnight. (Prior to that, TM and I had a lovely quiet evening together, full of fun and delight. It wasn't all bad, by any means.) So I stayed up in the bathroom until 4 am reading and shivering (it's damn cold here) and drinking appropriately calibrated fluids. It's pretty much gone now, though I'm still guzzling cranberry juice to make sure, and I've had some naps and things and feel okay. But heck, today has not been the restorative and energizing January 1st that I typically enjoy. And the irony of getting this infection really no earlier than 11 pm, so that it fully hit me right around midnight, after more than a decade with no such troubles--hell, what's that about? In a completely irrational way I'm a little worried about this year.

But okay, it's time to move on from all that. 2009 was, in many ways, pretty awesome. TM and I got engaged, moved in together, and got married. We traveled to Dominca and France. I gave papers at Kalamazoo and Leeds. I got a book contract and scored an extra course release for next semester. My brother and his wife conceived a child. In fact, other than the irritating medical issues and, oh, the health care debates, wars, etc., it was a pretty good year.

Here's what I'd like to think about for next year.

1) I want to work on learning to promote my research and to network better (an idea I got from a recent post of Dr. Crazy's). I suck at these things, actually changing the subject when people ask me about my work, and this is a problem.

2) I want to more consistently make time to exercise, but I need to give some very concrete thought to what this will look like before I make some kind of resolution, since amorphous "exercise more!"-type resolutions don't work very well. In fact, I need to be more concrete about no. 1, too.

3) Work on my relationship with money. I don't like the fact that what scares me about my procedure is the cost (which is not even all THAT unreasonable, and which I can cover quite easily from my savings), and that the price actually makes me want to cancel it, despite the preceding parenthesis. Anxiety about money hampered my enjoyment of our France trip last summer. These things bother me; I am not at all wealthy but neither am I about to starve. I am not profligate, so the occasional bigger expense is not a catastrophe. I'm trying to see next week's credit card hit as an opportunity to work on how I think about money: to be grateful, for example, for its ability to cover such costs without actually affecting my day-to-day living at all, rather than begrudging its removal from my account. I think that it's very important that I try to do this.

There are other things I'm kicking around, too--I sure do love me some self-improvement--but I think that that's enough for now. Time for a glass of cranberry juice. And happy new year, everyone!