Thursday, May 20, 2010

Well, That Was Disgusting

In the gym today, I was treated to a little show called "Young, Beautiful, and Vanished: 15 Unthinkable Crimes." As the title suggests, it was a parade of stories about pre-adolescent blond girls who were kidnapped, raped, and eventually found. But not recovered--oh no. As the show's TV psychologist (whatever that is) smugly remarked of one of the girls, "Elizabeth will never get over this."

Get over being raped by your father and confined to a cell for however many years? No, I should say not!

And of course we only want to watch re-enactments of young, beautiful girls being kidnapped and raped! Nothing titillating about an older woman, or one of only middling attractiveness. Or, God forbid, a boy. That would be, like, gay or something.*

The worst, though, was that this bit of hideous misogynistic trash was on the Entertainment network.

And that's why I like to pretend that 21st-century pop culture simply does not exist.

*I don't mean to imply by this that the viewership was necessarily straight men. In fact, I expect that it was largely female. But the sexual objectification of women means that women, faced with sexual imagery, frequently inhabit a masculine perspective: Sexualized women typically signify (hetero)sex, to men and women alike; sexualized men typically don't, or at least not as readily. In other words, I think that straight women could be as titillated as straight men by the stories in the show, and that both sexes would find a re-enactment of the abduction and rape of a young boy more jarring than the same story about a young girl.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Path of Destruction

is what I'm on.

So we're about a week into summer. A week? Two. I don't know. Kalamazoo makes things complicated.

And I have Agendas.

For lo, I cannot possibly actually spend a few minutes relaxing. No, I need to work! For I have ambitions incommensurate with a 4/4 SLAC!

Thus, I am: reviewing three chapters of Wheelock's Latin per day (actually dropped that down to two/day today, because as the chapters get higher they take longer); reading two work books per week (until that ceases to make sense--which might be immediately); writing for half an hour every morning; engaging in some form of exercise every day (mowing counts); meditating daily; making headway through the list of fun reading I've backlogged; and--eventually, not yet--reading ahead for the fall and spring (because I have two new preps each semester, huzzah). Oh, and there's the bibliographic essay I'm writing; that'll be a lot more reading, but it'll help me to prep a course for the spring, too.

All of this is actually not a good idea. I know myself. I'll embark on this for a few days, then get angry and tired and reject ALL work, and wind up equally dissatisfied with myself.

The Middle Way that I am attempting to walk is one in which I make a sort of schedule just for the week (M-F), then come up with a new, different one for the next week, etc. So far, I'm three days into this system, and it's going pretty well--but I know that I a) need weekends to be completely flexible and b) will want to redo my schedule for next week. Boy howdy. Because I'm getting a little bit sick of being So Damn Productive All The Time.

Seriously, people. Somebody teach me how to relax.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

In Place of a Substantial Narrative about Kalamazoo, A Brief Anecdote Highlighting My Awkwardness

(I've been reading about the brevity topos in hagiographic narrative. Thus, while I could certainly regale you with endless tales of fascinating meetings and panels both good and worse, of absentee speakers and an actual hour and a half at the Dance, I shall instead bring you the following.)

One of the features of Kalamazoo dorm-life is the Shared Bathroom. Not a communal bathroom shared by an entire hall, a la Leeds (where, however, you get your own sink and real toiletries and nicer bedding), but a bathroom shared with one other person in the room next to yours. Congress-goers bemoan the weirdness of these bathrooms: the doors to the rooms cannot be locked from the bathroom, and there is no stall door in front of the toilet, meaning that your suite-mate could conceivably open the door and find you Fully Exposed. (I've never heard of that happening, but it's all too imaginable.) Also, the sound of the flushing toilet is deafening, so one hopes that one's suite-mate does not need to use it in the middle of the night.

My suite-mate, however, didn't show up until Saturday afternoon. I returned from dinner that evening to find a note addressed "To the person with whom I share a bathroom"; it explained, quite apologetically, that her airline had lost her luggage and asked if I would mind if she used my hair dryer the next morning.

As any rational person would do, I wrote back, "Please feel free! I'm happy to share." And then I appended, "Help yourself to shampoo, hair gel, toothpaste, etc. as needed."

Returning the note to the bathroom, I saw that she had a tube of toothpaste next to her sink.

So I, unthinking, crossed out "toothpaste" on my note.

I looked at it.

Will she wonder why I suddenly don't want her using my toothpaste? But she can still use my shampoo? Even though--as I now notice--she has a bottle of shampoo beside her sink, too?

So I wrote underneath the crossing-out, with a little arrow, "I see that you already have some!"

OK. So now she's going to think that I'm looking through her stuff, right? Even though the toothpaste is plainly visible.... Why would I comment on it? Why edit my note, for Pete's sake? And why am I still letting her use my shampoo, which she patently doesn't need? But I'm not crossing that one out, too, and making this whole situation even worse.

So I crossed out the note about seeing her toothpaste, and crossed out "toothpaste" more heavily, and set the note back on the sink, and fled in great shame and horror to the wilderness.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Ha ha ha ha ha!

Despite WMU's much-reiterated claims to the contrary, I do have wifi in my Kalamazoo dorm room.

I say again: Ha ha ha ha ha!

(It's a little slow--hulu is halting--but I get to wear my pajamas. So lovely.)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Give me strength

The hearing (see a couple of posts back) is tomorrow.

I get deeply anxious--and angry--shaky, even--every time I think about it.

Ultimately, I can let go of the results. If we're wrong, so be it (but honestly I don't think that that will be the outcome. But if it is, okay; I can be okay with being wrong). Only--we would then have to schedule an event related to this document, and I will be deeply unhappy about doing so. (Sorry to be so cryptic.)

Just--wish me luck. I hope that the rest of the relevant decision-makers will be able to be there, so I don't feel that so much pressure is on me.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Hey People With Books, I Have a Question

Is it possible that my book will not need any permissions? I have no illustrations or photographs, no epigraphs or any other gratuitous quoting, and all of my quotes and references are for the purpose of commentary and analysis. That's fair use, right? Is there anything I'm possibly overlooking?

(My editor referred me to several sites to figure this out, and the conclusion I came to is that it's all fair use--but I want some good old-fashioned anecdotal internet evidence to back up my reasoning. Help me, people!)