Thursday, March 22, 2007

left behind

At WIM this week our group was chatting about thesis writing and graduating and whatnot. I'll be writing my thesis over the summer, and defending next fall. Brian is impressed. "Is that the usual time frame? Isn't that pretty fast?" He thinks this is my first year in the MA program. I explain that although this is my first year teaching, I'm a year ahead of him in the program. "Oh, so you're actually a slacker." Ouch. Anna L. sticks up for me: "She has two kids." I tell Brian, a little defensively, that my thesis advisor told me not to bother working on my thesis right now because my coursework is pretty labor-intensive this semester. The conversation moves on. Two and a half years is not an unreasonable amount of time to complete an MA program that requires a thesis. Brian's just kidding anyway. No hard feelings.

The meeting breaks up, and the group files out into the hall. I'm left behind to pick up Peach's snacks, and toys, and blanket, and cup, and put her shoes back on. She's great at taking clothes off, but not so good at putting them on again. We turn the corner in the hall just in time to see the elevator doors closing. The rest of my group is in there, on their way up to the Composition Office on the fourth floor. Peach and I wait for the elevator to come back to the basement to pick us up.

Two and a half years is not an unreasonable amount of time to complete an MA program that requires a thesis. But …

I feel like I should have been able to do it in two years. Yes, I have a family. But I also have an extremely supportive spouse, and good childcare. I should have been able to do it. My friends are moving on, applying to PhD programs, getting jobs, and I'm not. Blackwood keeps asking me why I'm in such a hurry. I'm not ready to apply for a PhD anyway. But …

Saturday, March 10, 2007

in Soviet Russia, security tag detects you

I went to the mall today. Everything seemed pretty normal (roving herds of teenagers yakking into cell phones and clogging up the shoe stores? Present!) except that for some reason, I set off every single security gate I even came close to, literally. I stepped inside one store, setting off the alarm in the process, and then stopped to look at something just inside the door. While I was standing there, the alram went off again. I was at least a foot away from the actual gates, but there was no one else in sight – it had to be me setting it off. It got quite annoying. After a while, I just stopped going into stores with security gates. An employee at one of the stores suggested that my cell phone might be setting off the alarms, but I carry my cell phone all the time, and it’s usually not a problem. Hm.

Later in the evening, I went to Target with Glen and the kids. Sure enough, the alarm went off when I walked in. On the way out, we decided that we were going to figure out what the problem was, so I gave Glen my bag (with my cell phone in it) and had him walk out first. No alarm. I went through after him, and … yup, set off the alarm. I know they’re not metal detectors, but I wasn’t carrying anything else, so I took off my ring and tried again. More beeping. I emptied my pockets and tried again. If there were any actual security personnel at Target, they must have been on a coffee break, because I was giving their alarm system an apoplexy. We finally gave up and went home.

On the way home I talked to Sara, who suggested that I might have a security tag on the inside of my clothes somewhere. Sure enough, sewn into one of the inside seams of my jeans was a tag (pictured), at least two inches square, with big letters admonishing me to REMOVE BEFORE WASHING OR WEARING. It even has a helpful line marked “cut here.”

Well! I didn't have a problem when I bought the jeans and left the store with them.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Edward and Rosina: the conspiracy theory

Robert Sadleir's bio of the Lyttons, Bulwer and His Wife: A Panorama, 1803-1836, is just as biased* and speculative as the rest. Sadleir has even less excuse than other biographers, though, as he had less of a personal connection and more scholarly experience than the family members and friends who had written about the Lyttons previously. His work is worth mentioning because he manages to introduce a somewhat novel element into the story: he claims that Lady Caroline Lamb orchestrated the whole relationship. She pushed them together, and and she set them up to fail. Gosh, now it all becomes clear! It's not Edward and Rosina's fault that their marriage failed; it's Lady Caroline Lamb's fault! Caroline Lamb has appeared in other versions of the story, including the Louisa Devey and Victor Lytton efforts, but by no other biographer has she been accused of such a dastardly deed.

Sadleir's work is available in the stacks as well as in Special Collections, and I am dismayed to find it catalogued as "nonfiction."

*Pop quiz: based on the title, can you guess which of the Lyttons Sadleir favors?