Saturday, June 30, 2007

class schedule

I haven't signed up for any classes Fall semester, because in theory I'm going to be defending my thesis sometime between September and January*. The past two semesters I've felt like I've had just a little too much on my plate. Between taking classes, and teaching classes, and writing papers, and grading papers, and trying to keep Link and Peach from killing themselves or each other, I've had that butter-scraped-over-too-much-bread feeling that comes from either trying to do too much, or possessing a Ring of Power. (I'll let you guess which of those things I've been doing.) I ended up getting sick a lot, and not doing as well as I wanted to in my classes, and blah blah blah. Anyway, I figured that adding "defending a thesis" to that list was really going to put me over the edge, and I'd better drop one of the other things - so no coursework in Fall.

I did, however, sign up to teach a section of Freshman Comp. (I'm hoping to work off some bad karma by suffering voluntarily.) Today I got my schedule: instead of teaching the usual three-day-a-week schedule, I'll be teaching two days a week, for an hour and fifteen minutes each. Hm ... I'd better start rearranging my syllabus. I also note that instead of teaching in the spiffy new Humanities building, I'll be in an older building in which the classrooms will presumably have limited technical facilities. Yay. I suppose it's about my turn; the past two semesters I've been in classrooms with very good tech facilities. The good news is that I am not teaching early in the morning, which is pretty much my worst fear as an instructor.

*It's an excellent theory. Unfortunately that would require me to write it before then.

Friday, June 29, 2007

stiiiiiiiill waiting

This is my mailbox.

Notice its tragically empty condition.

I'm going to try calling the State Department when Peach goes down for her nap today.

Monday, June 25, 2007


I applied for a passport in April, so that I could go to England in July. The State Department was/is estimating a ten- to twelve-week wait for applications to be processed. As of today, it's been twelve weeks since I turned in my application, and guess what? No passport. I still have about a month left before I'm supposed to leave, but I'm getting anxious.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

my new favorite person in the whole wide world

Everyone, I'd like you to meet my new favoritest person in the whole world: my sister-in-law, Sherise.

That's her on the right, obviously.

Sherise lives about 45 minutes away from us, and has four very active children between the ages of 10 and 2. Yesterday, she called to ask if I'd like to send my kids to her house to play sometime so I could work on my research. (Is that a trick question?) Yes, I would love to send them off for the day. So she picked up Link and Peach this morning and took them back to her house to play with their cousins, and I went to campus and read a book about the cultural history of medicine in seventeenth-century England. Apparently things went well at Aunt Sherise's house, because when I went to fetch the kids, Peach announced that she didn't want to go home. So everyone had a good day, and Sherise is my new Bestest Friend of All.

The book I read was Roy Porter and Dorothy Porter's In Sickness and in Health: The British Experience 1650-1850. It was fascinating. No, I mean it! Really interesting stuff. It talks about British attitudes toward health and health practices, including hypochondria, and it described a fascination with preserving health by regulating every action, every day, that sounded an awful lot like Mr. Woodhouse in Austen's Emma.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

... and Sara leaves

I don't recall ever crying at the airport before, but I cried when I dropped Sara off there this morning. She's on her way back to Switzerland, where she will start a new job in July (research assistant) and a PhD program next fall.

It's very weird to think that she's not here. Our class schedules have been almost identical for two years, and for the past two semesters we've gone out to dinner together once a week after the night classes we've had. If we didn't see each other every day, then we usually talked on the phone, especially in the past couple of months as she was revising her thesis. I'll see her in August when we're at Grasmere, but in the meantime, who will tell me stories about their crazy roommates?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Sara passes!

Sara has passed her thesis defense. She said the defense turned out to be a lot easier than she had thought it would - she even called it "fun." Frankly, I suspect that she was delirious when she said that. She is a very intelligent and well-educated woman, but when I called her this morning to see if she was ready for her defense, she was in a panic because she needed steak seasoning. I convinced her that that particular task could wait until tomorrow, unless she was planning to eat her committee, which would be a novel way of avoiding her defense, but probably couldn't be counted as "passing." She was pretty much a wreck all day. But, hey - all better now. They didn't ask her any questions she couldn't answer, and they didn't even demand any revisions, so she is well and truly finished.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

real geniuses

Actual fragment of conversation that occurred between me and two of my cousins at the Nolls' party:

Terry: Do you ever have that dream where you see yourself dressed up in kind of sun god robes standing on top of a pyramid with all these women throwing little pickles at you?

Me: Why am I the only one who has that dream?

Shel: [walking by] I love that movie!

Seriously, how could I not love these people??

Monday, June 04, 2007

a round for these friends of mine

When I got the invitation to the Nolls' anniversary party, it specifically said "no gifts." Hey, great, I thought. One less thing for me to pack. A lot of the other guests, however, figured that as a token of their affection they would bring a bottle of wine to the party. Really, a lot of the other guests figured that. It ended up being quite the party.

Around 9:00 the Nolls had a ceremony to renew their vows, complete with an officiator who I seriously think may have gotten his minister's license online – in real life he's the director of the Salem Repertory Theater. Many of the party guests didn't know the "minister" personally and couldn't remember his name (Ted), but just calling him "the guy" seemed too ambiguous. We sort of settled on calling him "the officiator," but after a certain amount of partying*, the word "officiator" becomes difficult to remember, let alone pronounce correctly. Eventually we started referring to him as "the fish guy," because "offish" is about as far as most people could get with a couple of margaritas under their belt.

The ceremony itself was quite nice. Not too long, and with just the right blend of humor and sentiment. They promised to love and care for each other for the next 50 years, and then kissed and took a bow, and the party went on.

More obscure lyrics which I've had running through my head as I was writing this:

Come on down to the Mermaid Cafe and I will buy you a bottle of wine
And we'll laugh and toast to nothing and smash our empty glasses down
Let's have a round for these freaks and these soldiers
A round for these friends of mine ...

Come on Carey get out your cane
I'll put on some silver
Oh you're a mean old Daddy
But I like you

- Joni Mitchell, "Carey"

*Yes, when I say "partying," I mean "drinking." And no, I personally was not drinking. Duh.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Nolls' Ark

My aunt and uncle live in a medium-large house in a rural area. They have dubbed their residence "Nolls' Ark," their surname being Noll. As it turns out, rural areas are very dirt-intensive. We arrived yesterday afternoon, and turned Link and Peach loose to explore the house; within an hour, I was beginning to look askance at Peach's previously white socks, which had begun to turn a delicate reddish-brown. By the end of the day, both Link and Peach had become very dirt-intensive, and I sighed deeply and told myself that this was like going camping, and I needed to accept the fact that I just wouldn't be able to keep the kids clean. They seem none the worse for it.