25 June 2007

Yet Another Reason....

Why Big Corporate University will never get a single cent of my alumni dollars:

I teach for a conditional admittance summer program through LAS. Rumors are flying (ok, not really flying--they're fairly confirmed) that said program might be on the chopping block because it displeases the football gods. And everyone knows that the Trustees and the Chancellor are most of all interested in the football gods.

Though the program has its faults and usually makes me regret accepting the job by the end of the 6 weeks, it's a program I think has merit and should be kept around. It's a program that allows students who might not have had the opportunity otherwise to get into the University and it's a program that boasts a graduation rate that equals that of the normal population.
Apparently, this summer the football gods got their proverbial panties in a bunch about something and issues a list of demands about changes to be made.

One of the biggest changes is that students of the program will now be allowed to bring cell phones.
Really? Are the trustees and chancellor really that ri-god-damn-diculously stupid? They must have sat around and tried really hard to think of the least pedagogically effective change that they could make to the program.

I can just imagine...

Football Gods: We must be in charge of big corporate university...After all, we may possibly win more than we loose this season.
Trustees: You're right! But I'm not sure how we can undermine the feeble power of LAS any
more than it is already undermined.

Football Gods: Think Damn It!! No one shall make rules about what our amazingly moderately talented players may and may not do. Certainly not those silly educators over in the
academic buildings!

Trustee : I have it! Let's allow them to bring their cell phones this summer. How dare these silly
educators say that cell phones are not conducive to an academic environment. After
all, texting is the new typing!!

Football Gods: And so it shall be done...

Or something like that....
Of all the stupid moves. Nothing like letting the worst football team in the Big Ten determine how academic programs should be run. Maybe they should fix their own side of campus before they come marching over to mine.

21 June 2007

Stupid, Stupid, Stupid

For the last week or so I've been plugging along on chapter 2. Fifteen rather shoddy pages were written fairly easily. And then I made the mistake of reading my director's comments on the chapter 1 revision. ahhhhh

It's not that the comments were that bad; it's that I didn't understand some of them. This makes me doubt my entire ability to finish this stupid project--which is ridiculous, because I 've seen a lot worse dissertations than the one I'm about to (not) write.

This happened last time. I should know better than to read the comments. They intrigued me at first. "oh, good point!," I thought. But the more I think about them, the more I think that the project I think I'm doing is not the project that she thinks I should be doing.

So yesterday I totally procrastinated and read a novel- Housekeeping. (It's not bad, but sometimes the language seems overwrought and out of place). Today is our anniversary and all I want to do is go shopping and have a fabulous lunch with the Hubby while Little Man is in day care.

Yuck- why can't I get over this??

15 June 2007

My new favorite thing

Seriously- the slide at the new aquatic center is awesome.

It makes you feel like you're 10 again.

Man, I can't wait until Little Man is 42 inches high...

11 June 2007

That Dear Octopus from Whose Tentacles We Never Quite Escape

The past weekend has been busy for us because we've been surrounded by visitors--all from my family. Little man had a blast--so many people to play with and perform for. And we had a pretty good time, too.

But visits from and visits to my family back in Ohio seem to get more and more bittersweet for me, because they often illustrate the growing differences between the family I came from and the family we're trying to create. See, I have a very very close family. I'm talking Christmas Eves with 23 people sitting around 1 table in a moderately small house--every single year...without fail. And, like most people, it comes with it's share of dysfunction. I grew up in a big, Italian family where my grandfather ruled (and continues to rule) as head patriarch. And I grew up less than40 yards away from my grandparents. I still can't quite understand why it is my mom doesn't see the similarities between us and "Everybody Loves Raymond." My
husband is even more dumbfounded.

Growing up that close to my grandparents came with certain perks. My grandma makes killer pies and cookies, and I was always my grandpa's girl growing up. They were like a second set of parents to me. In some ways, I feel closer to them than to my own parents.

The real problem is that since growing up, moving away, getting an education, and starting my own family, there are certain things that I believe that just don't line up with the family line. For instance, Hubby and I have always decided that our little family comes first. This isn't the case for my huge Italian family. We also have decidedly different views about politics. My grandfather, for instance, is never without Fox news on the TV or some right-wing pundit on the radio. After Hurricane Katrina, for instance, a friend of his gave him a "funny" little CD that made fun of the plight of those displaced by the storm. It made my stomach turn. We also have very different ideas about raising kids and discipline. They shake their heads and laugh when we say we're not going to spank Little Man. "You'll see," they say, as they laugh. What they don't understand is that we have seen--and we are even more determined not to spank...or yell. These subtle differences wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't for the fact that I know too much about the family politics. I was always the little kid listening quietly to things I shouldn't be hearing. I know how the guilt trips and subtle digs work...I know what happens behind the scenes when someone doesn't perform up to the expected standard.

So for me, family visits have become bittersweet because I'm usually screaming inside about things that I just can't change. The racist, sexist, or homophobic jokes. The swatting of little bums (not my child's, but still). And part of the reason I can't say anything is because it's none of my business. But a bigger part is that I've always been opinionated--I've always had a bit of a big mouth--and I know that any opinion I have that's different than theirs will be taken as me being a 'bitch' or 'stuck up' or the fact that I think too much. Maybe that was true when I was a teenager...but I still think the label isn't deserved. Speaking up would just prove them "right." I try desperately to prove them wrong.

The hubby and I are faced with balancing our own beliefs against theirs in the most non- confrontational way possible. It may be a long way off, but I know that there will come a day when one of the lines that the Hubby and I have decided upon will be crossed--some one will yell at Little Man or make a racist remark around him or (god forbid) smack him--however gently--on his little behind. When that day comes, I will be forced into action--an action that no matter how reasonable or benign will forever alter my place in the family. But I haven't quite gotten to that point of not caring what they think. To get to that point means achieving an emotional distance I don't really want. In some sense, not caring what they think entails not caring about them.

The mafia isn't that bad. Step out of line they just shoot you. There's definitely worse.

06 June 2007

The panic of success

Yesterday I emailed a revised draft of my first chapter to my diss. director. It had taken almost 2 weeks to rewrite, but the writing was (oddly enough) the easiest and most rewarding I've done in a while. But here's the problem--the Kay Boyle chapter is for all intents and purposes done (at least for now). Which leaves me standing before the gaping chasm that is the Fitzgerald chapter.

Why is it so hard to get started?

PS- for anyone interested the Hemingway book turned out to be a reprint. Still a limited edition, so still somewhat valuable, but just a different sort of incompetence on the library's part...

PPS- I finally figured out how to work the whole comment button thing-- so have at it.

04 June 2007

You've got to be kidding me

Yesterday I was working on "the paper" and needed to know when Hemingway's first book was published, so I looked it up in our giant university's ridiculously large library. Imagine my surprise when I realized that the online catalog was telling me that the copy they had in the stacks was a first edition- #130 of 170 limited copies.

This book in decent shape will bring over $50,000. And my university has it sitting on a random shelf in the deteriorating stacks? Really? I didn't quite believe it. Surely, if nothing else it would be "Not found on shelf" by now.

Never mind that it's worth even more than my student loan debt. There are--at most-- 170 copies available anywhere in the world. And it's an important book: edited by Ezra Pound, printed by the Three Mountains press on fancy-shmancy paper and probably with hand-set type. This is the sort of thing that is usually only found in the rare books room--that stuffy little reading room where you have to be careful not to bend the pages too much.

But it turns out that they have it. It's sitting at the main circulation desk waiting for me to come pick it up. And bring it home? Really? There's no way. Is there??

01 June 2007

Now Begins the Real Work

Twelve days with my two favorite guys all to myself.

Twelve days of no dissertation, no grading, no planning, not even any reading other than restaurant reviews in the local guides.

Twelve days of absolute happiness--a toddler that travels unbelieveably well, a husband without a Crohn's flare up, no sun burns, no sickness, no stress.

Twelve days of just the three of us together.

But now it's over and the real work begins.

I think it was harder dropping off little man to daycare on Tuesday than it was that very first time last August. I like him better now. It's amazing how much he has grown and learned in the last 12 days, and for once I got to be there 24/7 to watch it. It made me realize how much I miss putzing around on the internet instead of doing the work I should be doing.

So now I'm uber-focused. The conference--my first--charged me. I gave my presentation with the daughter of the author in the room. She looked eerily like her mother; the ghost of Kay Boyle watching and judging.The last session I went to left me shaking--quite literally. Here were a whole group of tenured or tenure-track professors wishing someone would do the work that I just happen to be doing right at this moment. Maybe I'll get a job afterall.

And now I'm focused and re-energized. In the last two days I've written 16 revised pages from my first chapter. It should be done by next week. Then onto Fitzgerald.

But all the while I count the minutes until I pick up little man.