Sunday, December 30, 2007

Okay, back to the real world in which I am a Lit Professor...

We've inhaled all the Christmas, fatilicious consumables (not that more can't be acquired) and we have lovely New Year's plans with colleagues tomorrow that will involve playing board games, eating the baby cheesecakes I'm going to make (told ya I could get more sugar-laden treats), drinking champagne, and watching that damn ball drop. Medieval Pop left today after spending 3 days with us - it was lots of fun, but not much work got done. The article is going very well, so I won't jinx it by talking about it at the moment.

But, I'm now turning my hand to next semester's syllabi. And I'm also thinking about how dismally horrible the majority of the student writing is in my classes (I know, I'm not special or anything, it's just frustrating to be handed 78 papers of varying badness and a few fabulous ones). This is part of a larger problem that my (mostly untenured) colleagues and I have been talking about lately. I teach upper level literature courses in my field. Most of my students are senior English majors. And most of them don't know the difference between a statement and an argument. They usually can't construct even the most pedestrian of thesis statements.

Like I said, so far I'm not saying anything that many of us don't already know and experience. But the questions I'm asking myself in this syllabus-writing time is: what (if anything) should/could/would I do about it?

We have a very good composition program at the Dream Academy - we have Ph.D. students majoring in Comp/Rhet. It's a respected program. My job description does not include any comp or basic writing classes. I am a medievalist and I teach the literatures of that period. But the students are taking writing classes and in most cases aren't learning how to write a basic academic essay (i.e., 1) constructing a basic, persuasive argument, 2) supporting the reading through evidence drawn directly from the text, and 3) gesturing even in the broadest strokes to the importance of that argument - not in the sense of universal importance, but explaining what we might understand about the text by looking at this character, scene, language, authorial voice, etc. in that way).

Is this a tall order? Maybe given the training most undergrads get it is. But should it be?

The enrollment cap in our classes is 40. And they're always full. So, the possibility of doing any kind of real, nuts and bolts writing workshopping or instruction is very limited. Having 80 students a semester doesn't really allow for it. And many of my colleagues would tell me to protect my time vehemently until I get tenure; and I intent to. When we're not teaching writing-intensive classes (which have a lower cap, but still plenty of students), most of us don't have many papers or writing to grade because we can't assign it and get it all graded without going insane. What I did for my classes last semester was put a kind of writing guide on our course webpage. This consisted of different handouts on writing I've made up over the years. Things like a thesis statement checklist, paragraph handouts, incorporating textual evidence correctly, etc. I pointed them toward those things multiple times before their papers were due. I took part of class time to reiterate the most important things about paper structure. And I still got a third of the students who would either not use any direct quotes or who would throw in quotes willy-nilly and not cite page or line numbers. I'm talking over 25 papers. And this is just using textual evidence!

Going on will not make my frustration any better - you all know what I mean. But I feel like I want to do something to pre-empt some of the most serious problems ahead of time. But what can be done? What have any of you done when you have a single class of 40 and no delusions about being able to look at drafts of everyone's papers, etc. I'm teaching a grad class as well, and my plate already runneth over...

So, by way of being proactive, I'm thinking of having a thesis statement assignment. I will probably have their paper be a short close reading. Baby steps, baby steps...but, if I give them a thesis statement handout/worksheet kind of thing, I can have them look at that material and make them due in plenty of time before their paper. That way I can give them a bit more detailed feedback ahead of time. It's extra work, but I'm feeling that in my "new prof", corn-fed, apple-cheeked way it might be worth it to read slightly less-challenged papers.

Whaddya think? Any ideas? Suggestions? Things that have worked/failed for you? I continue to think that we all basically have the same job, so I'd be so happy to hear your thoughts...

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Random Bits of Fluff - Christmas Edition Part Deux


Today we opened presents, stuck bows on the cats' tails and laughed a bit, and went to see a movie: Alien v. Predator: Requiem. Not as good as the others, but still good, gory Christmas fun.

Talked to parentage on the phone; tomorrow we hit after Xmas sales (along with 4000 other people) and then we have second day of Xmas dinner with some friends.

Tonight TD makes an Indonesian feast and we consume champagne and watch bad movies.

For now, I'm working a little bit more on my article - yesonChristmasdayisthereanythingwrongwiththatyouwannafightaboutit?

Happy Christmas to all!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Random Bits of Fluff - Christmas Edition

I have a post coming on teaching writing, but I haven't the stamina for it at the moment. Here's what's what....

1) Mountain Escape was wonderful - we ate awesome food (risotto with gorgonzola and radicchio!) and shopped 'til we dropped (literally: I stumbled several times under the weight of my bags).

2) Sappy bullet point: TD and I love being together. It's so lovely to be walking along and turn and see him walking there, too. And now for the really sappy moment: I was reminded often this past few days of that Journey song that goes:
"Being apart ain't easy on this love affair.
Two strangers learn to fall in love again.
I get the joy of rediscovering you...
Oh [TD], you stand by me.
I'm forever yours...faithfully!"

You should fill in the soulful guitar at the appropriate moments.

3) We must go out for another shopping excursion today, then it will all be done. Ho, Ho, Ho.

4) I need to finish writing this damned article! I've got one last section to add in (I found some helpful articles that will provide a good counterpoint to my argument. But I have to write that tidbit up and pop it in there. And then write a conclusion.

5) When TD is here, he cleans out the catbox for me.

6) I did not get the summer grant I applied for, but I need to write up 2-3 more little grant apps within the next few weeks.

7) And I need to write up my first graduate syllabus. Whee!

8) But now I need to eat breakfast. At noon.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Ho, Ho, Ho, Dammit.

The elves have been working overtime at Medieval Woman HQ. Before I could turn around twice this afternoon we had a clean house and a Wee Christmas Shrubbery (see picture below) all decked out in jingle bells and Star Wars ornaments (we got the very last Sandperson ornament from Hallmark - a very big deal for TD and me; a.k.a. The Geek Brigade).

Dutchman arrives at 9:30 pm and tomorrow we flee to the mountains for 3 days - no work, no blogging; just the sins of Sloth and Gluttony (and maybe a few others, but I ain't tellin'!)

TD and I will have 3 1/2 weeks of unfettered togetherness - we've rolled with this latest punch (well, it was more of a sucker-slap) and we're still thinking positively.

So, light blogging ahead but Happy Holidays to everyone and I wish you all a "Bon MLA" - kick ass, take names, no prisoners.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Saved by the Meme!

Earnest English tagged me for a meme, so I'm going to post on this rather than on the headachy, blah way I'm feeling at the moment.

Five Loved Books of 2007:

This meme is going to say something about me and my reading tastes. When I read for fun (i.e., not obscure Middle English romances), I read trash. Yep, that's right. Trash. The kind you get in airports and bus stations. I also read my favorite books over and over again. 4 or 5 times means nothing to me (especially with something like Michael Crichton). My all time favorite is classic Dean Koontz (before he got all namby-pamby as his work has been lately). So, with that caveat having been uttered, here are the favorite books I read this year:

1) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - how could this have NOT been on my favorite list??

2) Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman - this one is a re-read, but I taught it last semester and realized why I loved it so much the first time around - totally great, classic Gaiman urban fantasy, which I liked even better than American Gods.

3) The Wheel of Darkness, by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child - the latest in the series of Agent Pendergast novels. Pretty good, but my personal favorite still continues to be Cabinet of Curiosities.

4) Peter Benchley's Amazon: The Ghost Tribe - this one was a random pick-up in some airport somewhere in North America. It's just good clean fun about a band of 17c Puritan settlers who get blown off course and end up in South America and must scrape out an existence in the bush. Way cool.

5) In addition to loving trash novels, I also prefer historical British naval fiction. I am re-reading (for the third time) Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin novels. These are the books that the movie Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World are based on (and it's a pretty good movie, too!). While I did like the Horatio Hornblower series, the Aubrey-Maturin novels will always be my favorite. I've read all 20 books (plus the Wine-Dark Sea) twice and I'm now on my third reading of the series at book #2, Post Captain.

I tag Squadratomagico, Dame Eleanor Hull, and heu mihi (and anyone and everyone else who wants it!)


Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Wrinkle....

I am so down.

We heard today from Awesome Neighboring U that they are holding off on making any junior hires until after their national meeting in January (their version of the MLA or AHA). They have made 2 more senior offers (the mass exodus this department had a couple of years ago was all senior faculty at the Associate level or above), so it's understandable that they really need to hire at that level first and foremost. When TD visited, he was the first junior candidate they had out and they already had made 4 senior offers, two of which did not look likely. It's very possible that they got one or more rejections from those senior offers and are in a bit of a panic - in their co-authoring, collaborative world they can't recruit juniors and re-build the program without having senior people already there!

So, the ANU Chair said that they expect to make junior offers in mid- to late January and said that, "You [TD] will obviously be among the finalists for offers along with other people we may invite to campus after the January meetings," and that he "will reiterate that we continue to be strongly interested in you [TD]."

What say you, blogfriends? Does this still sound like it might work?? This particular department will not be doing as well on the junior market this year as in previous years for a number of reasons that everyone on the market is aware of. This, obscurely, has to do with the reason for the mass exodus in the first place. Last year, they had no one accept their offers: junior or senior. Things won't be better for them this year unless they can get some senior hires on board.

So, I have been inexplicably crying off and on all day, not realizing how much I'd truly thought that this was going to work out soon.

And I miss TD more than ever and he can't get out here any earlier than Monday.

Can someone tell me a funny story? Or a dirty limrick? The only thing I can't handle hearing right now is "I told you so" and anything about chickens, hatching, and premature counting...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Okay, I lied....

...the DVD player is just fine.

So, I've finished grading one set of exams - just one more to go and if I stay up late tonight, I can finish them (I am an exam speed grader).

I need new slippers.

It was 78 degrees today and my body doesn't know what to do with that.

I'm eating Thai tonight for the second time this week.

TD comes in 6 days and stays for a long time.


Sunday, December 9, 2007

Technical Tidbit....

I just witnessed the death of my beloved DVD player. It happened right in front of me - there was nothing I could do.

This was the first electronic thing TD ever bought me - in Christmas 2003, I wanted the newly-released Back to the Future trilogy for Christmas. TD wrapped the DVD version and claimed when I opened it that they'd accidentally sent him the DVDs rather than the VHS version. My last present that year was a new DVD player!

So, we must find a new one and we were looking at those new Blue Ray and/or HD DVD players, but those f*ckers are $1000! Forget it. Does anyone have any experience with the regular old DVD/VHS combo players? We still have plenty of VHS tapes, but I'd love to retire our old VHS players.

Thank god the pay-per-view is still working...

Random Bits of Fluff: "Remember Me?" Edition

I'm swearing an early New Year's resolution: I will not feel guilty about not blogging or reading blogs sometimes for days at a time. Why do I feel as though I get so out of touch so quickly? It's not that I'm not interested in all my bloggy friends - or that I don't look forward to hearing all your news and keeping up with all the little things in your life. Sometimes - and perhaps more this semester - I tend to retreat into my burrow and keep my head down. Partly it's work, partly it's living alone - I've realized how easy it is to truly retreat from socialization. Sometimes I forget that it takes effort to do social things - when TD is here, we don't go out partying all the time, but having someone (and not a Fur Person) around to talk to gets me back into the mood - helps me to practice my skills. Does that sound weird? Ah well - I hope you guys haven't forgotten me, even though I don't stop by to say hi once in a while! :)

A quick update on our quest for co-habitation: we should hear something definite next week - we know that the search cmte. met last Thursday and we're almost certain that was a positive decision. And they now need to take it to a full departmental meeting/vote. But, all signs point to yes! You'll hear me cyper-screech when we know...

And now, to the randomness of my existence for the past week:

1) Went to our department Christmas party last night - reconfirmed the greatness of my colleagues.

2) Did not get an internal grant I applied for and got snarky comments from the faceless (non-Humanities) committee member who reviewed it. I had suspected that they weren't able to fund everyone and I was told by someone on the cmte. that they "really strongly encouraged" me to apply for this other grant that I'm eligible for this year. So, fine - not a problem. But when I read the comments, they were so snarky, obviously way off base, contradictory, and bee-yotchy! It's like they needed to justify not funding me by acting like my proposal wasn't strong. I'm not much of an egotist about my work, but this was a good, well-written proposal. If they'd had some constructive criticism, I would have been happy to take it. But this was just "snark sans substance." Blech...

3) As I was reading said comments, I was in the middle of giving a final exam. During this exam, one of my students threw a very melodramatic temper tantrum. Apparently, he couldn't figure out "what I wanted him to write" on the ridiculously broad short essay question. When I told him that, a) that was his decision and, b) that we weren't having this conversation during the test, he said, loudly and snottily: "Whatever!" and then stomped back to his seat, threw his little blue book on the desk and sat down in a huff. I nearly burst out laughing! Before this sad display, I was tempted to help him out on his participation grade (he needs a certain minimum for it to count for his major); but now - FORGET IT, PAL!

4) I graded 40 papers and wrote an exam last Wednesday night. I slept about 20 minutes.

5) The next two days, I sat on the couch pay-per-viewing movies ("Blades of Glory" wasn't that bad, by the way)!

I must write another exam for tomorrow - fingers crossed that we hear something soon - then the holding pattern will cease and we'll be cleared for landing!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The 7 Meme - Last Call...

Okay, I'm the last blogger to do this and I've been tagged twice by two people I dig (Hilaire and Squadratomagico), so here it is, Ladies!

1. Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 random and/or weird things about yourself.
3. Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
4. Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.


1. When I was 7 my favorite thing to do on a Saturday afternoon was put on my Wonder Woman outfit (possibly Underoos?) and my fire helmet and stand on the front porch with my pink megaphone and shout fire instructions to the neighborhood: "Stop, Drop, and Roll!!!"

2. I used to be a prize-winning Break Dancer (and when I say "prize-winning" I mean I got the award in the 1985 5th grade co-ed dance-off at my school) - my specialty was "moon-walking," the "foot-work," the "knee-spin," and (you guessed it) I did a mean "centipede"...

3. On my 21st birthday, the day before I took my first GRE exam, I got drunk and kissed my friend's married brother. Really not my finest hour. Don't hate me.

4. I absolutely hate, hate, hate, hate and loathe celery in all its many disgusting manifestations. Keep it far, far away from me.

5. Both The Dutchman and I are left-handed, attached earlobed, tongue curlers - our friend J says that our children will be little gremlins.

6. I am deathly afraid of swimming in the ocean because of shark attacks. Sometimes it's even hard for me to fly over the ocean when I think about all the sharks in the water; I get baby panic attacks.

7. I heard my aunt's voice in a dream the night she died (half way across the country) telling me goodbye.

I don't think there's anyone who hasn't done this already!

So, I'm heading back to grading.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Update!

Okay - first off, thank you all so much for your good thoughts - both TD and I credit the blogosphere with a nice chunk of how well it went during his campus visit! (wink, wink...)

And that brings me to the true update: when I arrived at the hotel last night to meet up with him after his day-long campus visit, he looked all grinny and slightly high - like he'd just gotten asked to the prom! The visit went (and I quote TD here): "Better than I ever thought it could."


Everyone loved him and he loved everyone - they have a new Dean who's pouring money into this department (literally, inundating these people with money). The department had taken a hit in the last couple of years - in TD's field, professors move around a lot and 4-5 profs in the last couple of years have left to go elsewhere because of issues with "resources" - however, they have a new Dean just this year who's all about hiring great new folks - they actually have 7-8 tenure lines that they can fill with anyone they want (i.e., any subfield). SO, TD would be in on the ground floor with a department that's on its way toward getting back on top (the Uni itself is one of the best state schools in the country, but this department has gone through a bit of a transitional period lately). They are hiring great people this year - TD would be their first junior offer and they already have 4 senior offers out. So, his jobtalk went awesome and he had a fabulous 3-hour dinner with the senior "Big Cheese Grand Poobah" in his subfield (who would be a fantastic mentor for TD) and when this lovely, bombastic, rotund Frenchman finally took him back to the hotel, and before TD could get out of the car, the "BCGP" said, "TD, I'm going to talk my colleagues on the hiring committee into offering you the job" - that's code for "expect a call from us next week." BCGP is also on the hiring committee...

So, TD has told me that he would be surprised if he didn't hear from them by Wednesday - basically, whenever the committee can get together and meet!


And so TD would broker a very awesome deal ($$$$$, low teaching load, perks) and we'll almost certainly have this whole thing settled by Christmas!

Oh. My. God.

We're both looking at each other like, "what do we talk about now??"

Hee, hee...

I will keep everyone updated on the status of the actual offer when it's forthcoming (notice my total confidence)!


Thursday, November 29, 2007

APB: Seeking Good Mojo From the Blogosphere!

Okay, folks - TD comes for his campus visit and job talk this evening! Tomorrow is THE DAY. He didn't sleep at all last night because he was up working on his presentation. I just Skyped with him and his little face on the video screen looked so tired, nervous, stressed, you name it. He feels like he has the weight of the world on his shoulders and he doesn't want to shrug.

So, what I'm asking you is if you'd take a moment over the next couple of days and send us some really good thoughts, mental incense sticks, prayers, cosmic bribes, whatever! This could be the end to all the uncertainty that has been a part of our lives and relationship (either implicitly or, lately, damned explicitly!) for the past 5 years.

I'm picking him up from the airport tonight, feeding him and giving him a drink, and then taking him to his hotel so he can get to bed by 9. Then tomorrow it all starts for him at 8:30 am and doesn't stop even for a second until 8-9 pm. I'm happy they're wanting him to meet as many people as possible, but it's stressful.

Okay - that's all! I'm going to teach today and then go back to grading jail without passing go.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

"I'm Graaaaaaaading! Graaaaading! Graaaadiiinnnggg......."

And it does feel like someone dropped a house on me!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Reasons to be Happy

1) I am now back at Chez Bloggez Moi - no harrowing experiences on the ride home - just safe and sound. Travel joy.

2) I don't think these furballs can get any healthier. Seriously, I came home and they both ran to me and jumped into my arms. Perfectly fuzzy, chubby, etc. They have their winter coats now, so their fur is even more fluffy. Furball joy.

3) My senior colleague/awesome mentor has read my article draft and said that it was good and my writing is elegant! She's got a lot of suggestions for clarification, places to flesh out or pursue an argument, etc. But I'm so happy she thought the draft had good bones. It makes me feel like I *can* really write an article from scratch and have it be cogent and interesting. Research joy.

4) I taped all 12 of the episodes of my favorite decorating show during a marathon on Saturday. I can't get this show where I live, so I have my fix when I'm at TD's place. But the marathon was on, so I taped all of them. Decorating joy.

5) I only have 3 days of actual teaching left for one class and 4 of another. After that, I give exams. Teaching joy.

6) This Thursday, TD comes out for his jobtalk at Awesome Neighboring U - I will post something separately on this later in the week! But suffice it to say that the excitement and tension has reached "DEFMEDWOMCON 5: Holy Shit, We Might Actually Pull This Off!" Husband Joy.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Gobble, gobble: Part Deux

Tom Turkey is safe from us. I do not cook turkey because a) I don't like having to deal with a carcass and b) I don't like having to eat the same thing for 10 dinners in a row. I am, however, making a hum-dinger of a roast tonight and oven roasted potatoes, green bean casserole (my nod to the traditional) and blueberry crumble pie!

So, I'll soon be curled up under the table, sucking my sticky little blueberry thumb and dreaming away in my food coma.

However, I blog also to tell you about my trip to Chez Dutchman yesterday. Flying on Black Wednesday = A BAD idea, I know. So, I was annoyed and pissy for a lot of it (Delays? Cancellations? Off with their heads!!). However, the last leg of the journey was the worst. It is a very short flight in a small-ish prop plane (thank you Mesaba Airlines working with Northwest - kiss my tush). So, I was properly loaded up with Clonazepam and ready to rock - even with a rain storm making things bumpy. But I sat in front of the family from hell with 3 of the most obnoxious urchins ever to pop out of a woman. I wanted to kill the boys - the girl was just whiny and could have been sedated with something alcoholic (okay - I'm just kidding - I'd never really give a kid alcohol, but this is my fantasy...). We're just up in the air - the scariest part when it's the bumpiest and the kid behind me starts talking about "CRASHING" at the top of his lungs. If the little guy had been scared, I could have dealt with that. But he was just asking questions like any stupid child: "Dad, what if we crash? Will we burn up first? What will happen to the wings? Will some people get sucked out into the air like on (some movie I've never seen thank god)? Would it hurt? What if one of the propellers becomes detached and cuts into the side of the plane? What if both props catch on fire?" get the drift.

I was able to handle this for about 10 minutes (with the dad just saying, "uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh") until I finally turned around and shot lasers beams out of my eyes at the father and said quietly, but menacingly: "Some of us don't like to fly, get it?" His eyes bugged out (because of the searing heat no doubt) and he muzzled his child somehow (gag? apple in the mouth?). By the time I got off the little contraption they call a plane, which had been bouncing around the bolts of lightening in the clouds, I was ready to see the Dutchman and have a stiff drink or four. Of course, TD complied and we spent the rest of the night cooing and re-declaring our love for one another before I passed out on the couch from too much excitement and beta blockers.

Have a Great Thanksgiving! See you on the flip side...

Monday, November 19, 2007

Gobble Gobble...

Anyone want to lay bets as to how many students show up for class tomorrow?

I'm betting around 15 out of 40...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

"Psst".....(glances pointedly to the sidebar)...

Look to the right.

No, your right, not my right.

Over there on the sidebar.

See the word counter? Did you notice that it had been creeping ever farther up?

Just like Pinocchio's nose.

It has reached a plateau at the moment - I have another 6 pages to write or so, but I've given the draft as is to senior medievalist colleague hereabouts and I'll get her comments after turkey day.

Oh the joys of hitting the ball into someone else's court. I really hope she doesn't think it's crap. I don't want her to think her new colleague is a dolt...

And now, to the bath!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Beowulf the Dud...

For a really fantastic review of Beowulf the Movie and the sometimes inspired, often discouraging adaptations of the poem, go to Chez Bloggez Dr. Virago.

As a life-long member of Team Aniston, I will never be able to stomach a movie where Angelina Jolie is computerized, naked and dripping, speaking in a Transylvanian accent and messing up the character of Grendel's mother.

But, see Matthew Gabriele's review comments here. He liked the movie a bit more than Dr. V, but felt the depiction of women was spot-on. Thanks for sending me the link!

Sniff! I go back to writing deep thoughts.

Friday, November 16, 2007

I'm better....but my ficus isn't

I'm definitely on the mend with just that nagging bitchy little cough hanging in there (but I've opened up a can of Halls whoop-ass to beat it into submission).

However, I can't say the same for my ficus tree. It's in a pot in my dining room. It's not lookin' too good - but no ficuses (fici?) look good this time of year, right? Hmm. There's little fluffy, white, cottony stuff on a lot of the branches - right at the point where many of the leaves depart from the branches - i.e., in the little nook. It's worse on the dead branches which are inside. There doesn't *seem* to be any visible bugaboos on it, but what the hell do I know? I don't over-water, in fact I kind of underwater some time. Does anyone know what this is? Medieval Mom says I should trim a branch and take it to my local gardening center. She said it might have to "be destroyed." !?! Like it's a level-three biohazard or something? This makes me just want to put it on the sidewalk and leave it there, but that would be ficus abandonment.

A plea to the internets.

P.S. If anyone's really interested, I'll take and post a picture of the offending matter in situ.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

in quarantine until further notice...


feel gross.

grubby students.


head stuffed with cotton.




vitamin c.


Sunday, November 4, 2007

Le Freak: C'est Chic??


Party last night was delightful - started around 7:30 went until about midnight, which is just fine by me (although I still sometimes have that party standard in my head that says things should start at 10 and end at 3...).

I leave for a conference (at which I am thankfully NOT presenting) on Thursday night and I need to get some stuff together for that.

I have, oh, about 85 job applications to skim before next Monday for our First Vetting.

I completely forgot to pay my rent this month and my landlord finally called today to see if I was okay and not sick or dead. I felt like such a schmuck. It looks like I'm actually going to have to write down on my calendar that I need to pay rent on the first of the month - if it isn't written down, it doesn't exist for me.

Article, article, article...

Friday, November 2, 2007

Life's Little Chicken Nuggets of Joy...

The Dutchman arrives tonight! Yay!!!

My hair has been highlighted and looks good (I'm growing out the funky cut).

I have a big-honkin' blogger meet-up planned for next weekend (including Tiruncula, What Now, heu mihi, and Flavia-Flave) - any predictions on how much trouble we get into over Indian food, drinks, and ???? (What happens at Blogger Meet-Up stays at Blogger Meet-Up...)

I love my department. Yep. I said it. I love my job (crazy students notwithstanding). I've *never* been at a place with so much support at every level - from immediate colleagues to the most vaulted administrative positions. Recently Renaissance colleague and I worked on a junior-faculty oriented proposal. It was proposing something that's kind of a big deal and we weren't sure what kind of response we'd get. We did our homework and worked up a good one - we were pleased. Well, we've been hearing about its reception at all levels of faculty admin. and it's totally taking off! In fact, it's been taken out of our hands so that the powers that be can do the necessary research and number-crunching to make it happen.

And I've made some lovely friends here - really - I feel very at home. We're having a party tomorrow night and lots of great people are coming.

I had lunch today with senior medieval colleague and she's excited about reading The Article That Never Dies (if it's ever done - Morgan, I know I owe it to you!!).

Sorry to ooze happniess, but it's one of those days when everything is great. TD becomes more and more excited about the prospect of the position at Awesome Neighboring U (more than he's letting on - I think he feels like too much enthusiasm will jinx it). I love the thought of staying here and making my career here. After such a long journey to get here, I know this is the place for me.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Okay, so fuck Margery Kempe (no offense, girl. I love ya. I'm just not gonna read ya tonight...)

Here's what's been going on at Chez Medieval Woman and Chez Medieval Woman's Office. I have had a very problematic student to deal with - it's now happily over and he's gone. But, god - was that sucker hard to eject from my class!

He's missed 8 classes (the equivalent of 4 weeks) and I told him that I'd forgive the first absence because I thought he hadn't enrolled for the course on the first day (turns out he had, so that was a freebie). After absence 5, I informed him that he could have only one more without getting dropped from the class (his participation grade was already in the can, but there's a point at which I stop deducting from the participation grade and just drop them from the course. At this point in the semester, it would show up on his record as an F). So, on Monday (when I handed back exams) I notced he wasn't there (because he has carrot read hair, he's HUGE, and he didn't pick up his exam). Get back to the office and notice that this is his 7th absence, so sayonara little dude! Then I look at the sign up sheet for that day and I realize that someone has signed his name to it, but it's in a totally different handwriting - and I have all my past sign up sheets (for just such an occasion) to compare it to. So, I begin to cuss up a blue hellcloud and send him a tart email saying that:

1) He's out on his keister for absences
2) He (and his accomplice) are in violation of the academic integrity policy.

What followed was several days of progressively more and more frantic and desperate (even subtlely threatening depending on how you read them) emails from said schmuck. There was the usual rhetoric of:

PLEADING: "But I honestly thought that this was only my 6th absence (as if even that's okay)! I misread your email!"
Answer*: "Not my problem. It was very clear and thorough - I left no room for doubt or interpretation on your part. I have a Ph.D. in English. I'm pretty good at this. Here, let me forward to it you again..."

INCREDULITY: "I know I've missed a few classes, but 7?? Could I have missed a sign up sheet or something??"
Answer: "I really don't know if you missed one or not. And it's not my problem. It's called responsibility. Look it up."

GUILT: "I really need this class. I was picking up a check from my mom so I could pay my tuition. If I don't take this course, I won't be able to stay in school and I won't have any health insurance!"
Answer: "Still not my problem. Our discussion is over. You can contact the Dean and meet with her if you like."

THREATENING(?): "I will be talking to the Dean and I have a few things to say to her. I'm not the kind of person who will just sit by and let something like this happen to me without doing something active about it."
Answer (composed but not sent): "Bite me, Jackass."

*All answers represent a combination of what was sent and what was felt when composing. My actual responses contained slightly less snark than demonstrated here. But not much...

You'll notice that in all of this correspondence he never answered the whole question of who signed his name to the attendance sheet. He admitted being absent, but glossed over that. In one of my answers to him (I think it was to INCREDULITY) I expressed my skepticism that he didn't know this was his 7th absence because it seemed to me that he did know this was critical and asked someone to sign his name thinking I wouldn't catch it. He wrote back protesting that he had no idea who had done it, it wasn't at his request, but he did have "friends" in the class who knew how important this semester was for him. I wrote back:
"It seems to me that your friends have a better sense of your absences than you do then, because they happened to sign you up on the exact day when your absence would have meant a failing grade. Why did they not intervene on your behalf earlier?"

Anyway, and so it goes.

I call the Dean of Students, tell her the story and that I'm dropping him. I tell her I don't buy his song and dance. She agrees and then pulls up his record and tells me that he was put on academic suspension last year at another school for the same thing and that there were some "alcohol-related aggressive incidents" that caused his expulsion.

Um. Yeah.

I'm not sure that she was supposed to tell me that, but I'm glad she did. He was writing to her and complaining about me (I have it in for him; he thinks I have it in for all men because I'm teaching a feminist class, yada yada...). But then he says that he's decided that he's still going to be attending class until we get this "sorted out" because he's not going to *allow* me to fail him. The Dean, of course, tells him that he can't attend class, he's no longer enrolled. She didn't seem to think he would be a problem for me (oh, yeah. And his mom called the Dean, too).

But I was feeling kind of uneasy. Well, really uneasy. Thoughts of Virginia Tech started dancing like big, scary, sugar plums in my head. He was just so pushy and always assuming that I would back down. And he kept referring to me as "Mrs. Medieval Woman," which drives me crazy. I was worried that he'd come to class and try to engage me in something face to face (he'd been asking when I'm in my office other than office hours because he had a class at that time but he still wanted to discuss this in person).

So, today I got one of my colleagues to walk me to class. She was my "muscle" and was there in case he was sitting in the classroom, I could tell him to leave and then call security if he acted badly.

But he wasn't and I haven't heard from him since! So, it's all resolved and I feel much better. I told my class that signing someone else's name to the sheet was a crime punishable by death and they were duly chastened. Eyes big as saucers. It was beautiful.

Sorry that was SUCH a long narrative! It's really been on my mind the past few days and I'm so glad it's all over.

Where's Medieval Woman?? her office reading Margery Kempe and hiding from trick-or-treaters.

So pathetic.

I have things to blog, but I need to make it through one more class prep before I can.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

R.B.O.F. - Random Bits of Fluff

1) Okay - Julian kind of rocked today. I take all the credit, of course. I did seriously revamp my years' old notes and it seems to have put the spark of life into that stale, old lecture. Can we keep the momentum going?? Hmmmmm....

2) I'm endeavoring to eat healthier because.....because....because I need to lose weight! OKAY. There. I've said it...trauma..... Anyway, my doc and I are working together on it. I'm so ashamed of my eating habits - and I have to keep track of them so that she can advise me better nutritionally. So, I'll write something down and then qualify it to the hilt. It looks something like this:

Day One:
12 Coke Zeros (but they're sugar-free, and that's good, right?)
Salad with blue cheese dressing (but it's *homemade* blue cheese dressing! No preservatives! And I only use a dollop....a big dollop, but only one dollop...)
Bag of popcorn (late night munchies - does it count after midnight? Am I like a Mogwai* in this respect??)

*and we all know that "with Mogwai, comes great responsibility."


3) I'm on a search committee this year and I need to start reading the applications before we get 90 of them and I can't ever read them all before the First Vetting. I am excited about seeing what other applications look like, which will leave me feeling either pretty darn good about where I fit in last year or in the fetal position under the conference room table thanking the gods that I actually, barely managed to get a job...

4) I just freaked out on a phone solicitor. I'm not proud of this because I know they're all highschool and college kids trying to earn beer money. But I hate it when you pick up (my caller ID works only sporadically and TD's number shows up with the same tag as the sales calls) and you say "Hello??" five times while the automatic dialing thing relays the call to the human. And then you hear people talking in the background and finally you hear the person saying, "Um, is this...uh...Midweevil Oman?" GRRRRR! So, this time the human was apparently talking to his pals in the background and wasn't expecting his quarry to pick up and not immediately hang up the phone in disgust. I actually heard someone say, "Dude, so, what're we doin' tonight???"

Then I snapped and screamed into the phone - "If you're going to call and annoy someone, at least answer the goddam phone right away, JEEZUS!" (*slam!*) Of course, this impotent bit of raging will have no effect whatsoever on how many of these things I get. I need to get on that "Do Not Call List" thingy...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Coming up for air...

....(*gasp!*)......(*splash, splish, splash*).....(*cough, cough....gag...*).....

Medieval Woman slowly struggles to the surface of the dark, oily water called: GRADING!

These exams are chained to my feet like cement blocks - I can't shake them, I don't even seem to make a dent in them! And I'm teaching Julian of Norwich tomorrow which continues to be a struggle for me - the students just *hate* her brand of mysticism and I can't help feeling like it's because I'm not teaching it well enough. Has anyone else had this experience with Julian?

On top of everything else, I'm totally exhausted - I can't seem to get enough sleep! So much crap to do and the lovely momentum I'd built up on my article has now petered out because I have to teach and grade (whine, whine...).

Cat Update:

Furball #2 is fine, though her pride is a tad bruised. She got 2 teeth removed and her kidney function is perfect, thank the gods. However, she got so worked up that she gave herself a stress-induced bout of cystitus (spelling?) which basically read as a bad UTI and now seems to have cleared up after another trip to the vet today. I'll keep her on antibiotics for another week and by then she'll really try to kill me in my the moment, her furry, beknighted, slightly rotund form is draped sullenly on the fainting couch.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

2 Years and Still Going Strong...

Today is The Dutchman's and my second wedding anniversary. He's been here this weekend (although sadly, never for long enough) and it's been so wonderful to have him here.

I've talked a lot on my blog in the past few months about my endeavors to keep the long distance thing from becoming too much of a problem. Many of you have offered bits of advice on how you kept your own stuff going - even if the relationships didn't work out in the end...I really truly appreciate that, by the way! We've settled into a nice routine of talking several times a day - usually on Skype, which is free and easy. TD has an account with them so he can call my land-line from his Skype phone. That seems to work for us - even just talking for a couple of minutes is good.

When he arrived on Friday, we hadn't seen each other in a month. That pretty much sucks canal water. I've never gone that long without seeing him since we met in 2001. I wanted to curl up in a ball and just put myself in his pocket - does that sound weird? Imagine how a cat sometimes flops their entire bulk into you (usually spilling your wine in the process) and almost wants to meld with you atomically so it can get attention. That was me. Throughout this process of long-distance marriaging we've never experienced any awkwardness or the "who are you, stranger?" problem that I've heard some couples have. That's good because I was worried. Fortunately, for the rest of the semester at least we won't be going that long without seeing each other again.

So, this weekend has been awesome - I've done next to no work (and I have to plan my fucking class for tomorrow!!!) - we went out for dinner with friends last night and today has just been spent puttering around, eating junk food, preparing for tonight's special anniversary dinner (which will consist of grilled fillet mignon, oven roasted potatoes, salad with homemade blue cheese dressing, tons of dessert and champagne). We've had a lot of good talks, too. TD is now fully excited and committed to getting the position at Awesome Neighboring U. I think he really believes that the opportunity for his own career here (to say nothing of our life together) is actually pretty damn stellar. We've discussed staying in my rental bungalow for another year after he moves here so we can pay off more debt and save up a nice fat down payment on a house. We'll also be able to decide where we want to live (here in Dream Academy City or 40 minutes away in Cute Town next to Awesome Neighoring U?). We've talked about having babies next year.

Things are really good - and we're trying to forget that all of this is contingent upon his getting a job offer there. But I just feel like it'll happen - this cosmic little assurance of some sort.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Yes, it's finally autumn...

...and it's not because the leaves are turning and there's a crispness in the air. It's autumn in MedievalWomanland because I gave my first test today. Almost all of them took the entire time - I even had to rip the blue books out of a couple of students' hands! There little eyes were so rimmed with fear and worry...

Why? I have no idea. I give such fluffy tests - seriously, if you do the reading and pay attention in class, you'll ace the test. I mean, isn't that sort of what we're supposed to be testing them on? Um, the material? For some reason they still think there's a hidden formula or alchemical equation that they need to find in order to pass - is it just my exams? Do you all meet with this reaction? I tell them that I want analysis and synthesize rather than regurgitation and they begin to tremble with foreboding. What gives?

I've already had FOUR students email to tell me they feel (to quote one) "icky" about how they did on the test. Icky? That sounds like a particularly annoying yearly visit to the doctor. But I digress. They are all protesting that they studied really hard and they want me to know that they studied hard...hmmm.

I feel like I wasn't this manic as an undergraduate - and since I'm just far enough away from my undergraduate years to have them placed somewhere on that fuzzy horizon of my memory, I'm not sure if this recollection is correct. But it doesn't feel (in an atavistic racial memory sort of way) like I was this manic about fluffy tests in undergrad.

In totally unrelated news: apparently Furball #2's bloodwork was a-okay because I didn't hear from the vet today - yee-ha! Dodged another bullet. It reminds me of that "No Gnews is Good Gnews with Gary Gnu" from the Great Space Coaster, tha awesome show of the 80s.

Please tell me I'm not the only one who remembers that...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Poor Furball #2!

Okay - I took F#2 to the vet's today for her semi-annual bloodwork and urine-fest. Her teeth have a lot of tartar and need to be cleaned (she's 9) - and one of her little teeth needs to be removed! She has a lesion (which the vet called a "cat cavity") on her gum and apparently the tooth is bad and needs to come out. El Vet said this was a totally normal and standard procedure. I will take her in at the butt crack of dawn on Monday morning and she'll be sedated, they'll clean her teeth and take the bad one out. She'll be done by 3. She's lost a little weight lately (and could still stand to lose more) and I'm wondering if it isn't because her little tooth was bothering her?

I'm freaking out about this a bit (b/c I'm genetically a freak) - I'm worried that she has an infection and that it will get into her blood and cause her remaining kidney to fail. I'm worried that she might not handle the sedation well. I'm worried that a piece of a Russian satellite will fall from the sky and land on her.

So, for all you blogging cat lovers out there (and I'm sure there must be one or two!) - tell me that all of this is normal and totally okay!? Tomorrow her blood work will be back and we'll know more then - and I'll be starting her on antibiotics on Friday in prep for the Monday procedure. And the vet (you know, the one with the advanced degree in veterinary medicine) wasn't concerned about anything untoward. She was just like, "yeah she needs to come in to get her teeth cleaned and yank that one..."

So, it'll be all right, yes?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Random Bits of Fluff

Arrived home today after a weekend with friend and Medieval Pop et al. It was a very nice weekend, but I'm happy to be home! I took a 4 hour nap today and I'm still tired and going to bed momentarily. Medieval Pop got me a totally beautiful onyx pendant with little diamonds around it. I'm stunned and how good he is at picking out jewelry! And the Dutchman ordered flowers for my birthday to be sent to MP's place - almost as nice as having him there. I will see him this Friday when he flies into town for our 2-year wedding anniversary!!

Tomorrow, I need to:

1) Take Furball #2 in for her periodic urinalysis and bloodwork - we must make sure her one kidney is doing well. I'm always terrified for the time when the tests won't come back okay, but I'll take it as it comes.

2) Write a mid-term for Wednesday's class.

3) Work on my article more, which is now due in early January.

4) Go to the weekly meeting of The Activity.

5) Scoop the cat box. Actually, I'll do that now...

Aren't you glad you read 'til then end?? :)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Goin' on Vacay!

Classes are over for the week - Fall Break is ON, baby!

Tomorrow I leave for the weekend - I'm staying the night with one of my oldest friends and her husband, then it's off to Medieval Pop's house for my birthday (which is Saturday). I'll be back on Monday and will still have another day and a half of break left. The next week of classes is all tests for me (deliberately planned), so I have almost 10 days sans teaching!


I will try to get my article cranked out - I heard from the editor that it should be shorter than I was anticipating, so I'm farther along than I thought (7000 words rather than 8500).


I purchased that cashmere sweater today with a birthday gift certificate and it's back ordered but will be here in November just in time for the truly chilly weather.


Monday, October 8, 2007


Devil-Kitty says...The following people are put on notice!

1) Students (Why do you continue to suck? I can excuse one or even two times, but multiple instances of seemingly deliberate suckage? This constitutes a trend that will need to be put down by force).

2) University Poobahs (Why do you schedule so many meetings for every little thing and then insist that I come? I trust you to make your own decisions - no need to involve me in everything!)

3) Furballs (Stop with the hairballs! Every damn afternoon I walk in the door...)

4) Mother Nature (Why is it still so damn hot here? Set your alarm, it's mid-October already...)

5) The Man Driving the Escalade Who Flipped Me Off (Yeah, fuck you too, pal. Bite me)

6) My Hair (I'm not even going to go there....)

On a day like this, there's no other remedy but to flee campus, go home, drink a beer, and listen to Sade...

P.S. I killed a baby mosquito today and then I felt bad. How messed up is that?

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Article length question

Every time I write something (be it article or dissertation chapter), I have a few moments of wondering if I have *enough*: i.e., enough material, etc. I've always been someone who wrote shorter chapters than longer - I've rarely had to cut large swathes of material out of a piece (aside from the slash and burn technique that would transform a chapter into a conference paper, of course).

I'm at that point in this article I'm working on - that point where I look around and go, "Shit, do I have enough?"

So, I ask the blogosphere: What is your usual article length (in either double-spaced pages or words)? I've read some great really long articles and some great fairly short ones - the one that's coming out next month is 31 pages double spaced. What is the correspondence between typed and printed pages - I'm sure it varies greatly, but is there an average conversion?

I know that the length is *correct* once you've said all about the topic that you have to say (i.e., it's done when it's done). But, folks, I'm seeking arbitrary opinions here! What's the bare minimum of pages you'd submit an article as?

Okay. Enough procrastination...

Friday, October 5, 2007

A Dialogue Between Medieval Woman and her Article Notes

MW: Hi! How have you been? I know I'm late getting back together with you....but, um, the traffic was hell. Really. Hell. Brutal hell.

AN: (*sniff*)

MW: What? Are you giving me the cold shoulder? I told you it would take a while before I'd get back to you. I mean, I have other responsibilities.

AN: Oh? And what am I? Chopped liver?

MW: Well, at the moment...I mean, let's be honest, you've looked better.

AN: And how the hell would you know how I look?! Silence. Nothing but cold dark silence between us for months! You never call, you never....write!

MW: I know, I know...

AN: You know I'm not going to be around forever, don't you? I have a shelf life. I have big plans....I could be a series of essays! Even a book!

MW: Now, now - let's not go overboard here...

AN: I am cutting edge, baby. I'm so sharp you can't even see me! I'm going to change the face of medieval studies! Kneel before me, supplicant. Kiss my boots...

MW: (*under breath*) Note to self: when you leave your article notes alone for too long they get delusions of grandeur.

AN: You're not bowing low enough. And where's my offering? I'll accept a pan of brownies - nothing less.

MW: Look, I realize I'm to blame for all of this - I really did leave you in a vacuum and...

AN: No shit. And one of your damn cats threw up a hair ball on me.

MW: Yeah, I saw that - I'll need to re-copy that page.

AN: (*makes rude gesture*)

MW: Okay, enough of the hostility! I tell you what, I'll take you to Sonic and get you dinner.

AN: Really? With tater tots?

MW: Whatever you want.

AN: And a strawberry vanilla diet coke?

MW: Sky's the limit. And we can cruise there with the windows down and play our El DeBarge tape.

AN: Well...okay. But I need to start getting some better treatment around here or I'm gonna spontaneously combust. I mean it...

MW: Yeah, yeah...research immolation is a bitch...

Friday Update...

Yup. I'm in my office at 6:30 on a Friday night. And I'm getting ready to go get a lot of books from the library. So pathetic. I'm going to try to get kick-started on this article again.

However, when it rains it pours apparently! Today I found out that yet another awesome neighboring university (in fact, the third in the holy triumverate) is hiring in TD's field! So, we'll try to get the Admin. here to work a little more magic. Also, *my* uni is hiring in a tangential field that TD could easily go into (applied basket weaving rather than theoretical basket weaving). Even though this department here wouldn't be his first choice (the other 3 are much better in his field), it's still yet another option to put on the pile.

I'm going to begin my walk of shame to the library and hope that I don't see any students. Wait a minute, why am I even worried!


I have returned - with my perpetual academic curvature of the spine a tad worse than before (it's the carrying 20 books in a bag on my right shoulder). No students in sight. But I have a truly delightful office - really comfy. I should do more work here, I think. All I need is one more cheap lamp to go in that corner on top of the file cabinet...

Thursday, October 4, 2007

If you blog it....

...they will NOT come! Nope. Uh-uh. Not even close. They will drop the ball.

Murphy's Law of Blogging:
The second that you talk about how good (of a little odd at times) your students are, they suck the next class!

And they have no excuse. Absolutely none. And there's no rhyme or reason to it.

I remembered today that I am applying for a job - the one that's at Dutchman U. I was reminded of this because TD's chair went to talk to the chair of that department to discuss my candidacy and to inform them that TD's departure might be imminent, i.e. they could lose him (which they don't want to do, of course). There's a *very* different hiring structure in place in TD's field (which is a social science). While they have a national conference (similar to our MLA) where they interview job candidates, if they find someone they like who's slightly more advanced - even a year or two - they will fly them out whenever they want and offer them a job if they like them. TD is actually reaping the benefits of this hiring system when he comes out for his (oh-please-dear-gods-and-demigods--let-it-be-successful) job talk at Neighoring U at the end of November.

Last year when I was on the market and it was looking pretty likely that I would be leaving Dutchman U, I had to field a lot of incredulous looks and questions from TD's colleagues. Some of them were slightly infuriating and chauvinist, like: "but TD is here guys are here now!" And of course, I replied: "I am not fully here unless I have job security and am not wasting my fucking Ph.D. teaching shit I'm not trained to teach!" (but I put it in a nicer way...) These comments were always from men with stay-at-home wives or wives who weren't able to get teaching jobs yet still stayed with their husbands. (I should also mention here that I actually like 96% of TD's colleagues, but his field is still pretty conventionally male-populated with portable spouses). But I also felt like I needed to defend how my humanities department does its hiring. TD's colleagues kept saying, "but we don't're a good teacher and a good scholar. Why don't they just hire you?" I'm like, "because there's not a t-t line open in my field and they can't/won't create one out of thin air just to keep little junior faculty me on the books!" Sigh.

So goes the background. This year, however, the case is slightly different: there is a t-t line open in my field (and there are now 2 separate spouses of t-t faculty at DU who are bucking for the position - Holy Conundrums, Batman!). So, TD's chair went to discuss my candidacy with my former chair. I told them what he would say (which is: MW is more than welcome to submit an application for this position - indeed we look forward to reading it - but we will be conducting a full international search and cannot make any promises at this time), but TD's people scoffed a bit and said, "Nah! We're going to see what we can work out! If money's an issue, we can try to get around that". I just sighed again and let them do whatever.

I have this vision of TD's chair going into this meeting with his finger guns out and blazing and winking and saying, "let's make a deal!" - and of course, my former chair said exactly what I knew he'd say. He wasn't rude - he was just matter of fact. I'm not a superstar and I'm by no means an inside candidate because there are 25 of me just as well trained and probably even better published and committeed and they're all shooting for this particular star!

So, TD's chair was unhappy about how unyielding things seemed and TD said, "I guess this really might not work out, huh? I guess I really do need to throw all my energies into trying to get the position at Neighboring U" (which they actually seem excited about wanting to give him!)

I'm not sure whether to cry or laugh - I realized that when I told him that he would be a helluva lot more portable than I am that he really didn't believe that until now. It's so frustrating and tedious to have to explain things over and over again - did they think I was lying? Or being deliberately obtuse? Or are they really just that sheltered? It has struck home a lot recently and I've been reminded about how truly archaic a lot of academia is. It's not just that the two-body problem is only now being addressed by most schools (and even then, lots of places don't give a rat's ass). It's that for so many departments and universities/colleges, they haven't a fucking clue!

Wives follow husbands. That simple.

It's not that the Dutchman would ever really think that way if I put the question to him like that. It's just that he's become a bit complacent because he's now happily ensconced in a department that insulates their men and makes them think it's easy to balance their work and personal life. That annoys me more than anything. I have to periodically drag him into the light and force him to look at the reality and each time he blinks like he's never seen anything before. It's all new to him and it fucking-well shouldn't be.

Whoa. This turned into a rant and I didn't even mean to go there. I just had some things on my chest that I needed to get off. It's also one of the reasons why I don't like to be reminded that I need to apply for this job...

Oh Shit. I'm late with this...

So, apparently yesterday is was Mofo Delurk Day and I missed it! I was out having tikka masala with friends! If I was any good with photoshop, I would scratch out the tiny "3" and put a "4" in there.

So, if you're still around and are lurking today, I would still love to hear from you! And I'm sorry I've been such a reticent blogger for the past few weeks!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


I chipped my crown on a weiner schnitzel last weekend.

No, I'm not kidding.

(Not) Blogging the Pupils...

Don't look into my eyes! You'll see the bloodshot-ness of them! I meant my "student" pupils...

Gee, so far classes have been pretty tame - I mean they come to class; we have good discussions about 85-90% of the time. Even Santa Claus has toned down his "ho-ho-ho-ing" a couple of notches. Everyone calls me "ma'am" and I totally love it. They defer...they

Where's the drama? Where's the crazy combination of entitlement and a sheltered priviledged, existence that has spawned so many previous posts in the past? Am I always to have....(*shudder*)....good students?

Ha-rumph. That's all I have to say.

Although there was a funny thing that happened today. There was still about a half hour left in class - we were talking about the Text by a Major Author and this student at the back of the class was pretty chatty - making comments pretty steadily. No problem - he's a good kid and I like him.

But as he's in the middle of making a comment, I notice that he's packing up his stuff. With 30 minutes still left in class. And then, during the next round of comments (class is like a tennis game - I shoot one over to them, they shoot one back at me, etc.) - so, in the middle of their volley, The Guy raises his hand to make another comment. I call on him and he's talking and talking. And slowly getting up out of his chair and leaving....walking to the door....opening it....egressing.


All I could get out was, "Wait!..." and then he was gone. 25 minutes early. I just stood and looked at the closed door. The class looked from me to the door and back. I couldn't help myself - I just burst out laughing! I tried to look stern and say something to the effect that I wasn't going to stand for this blatant flouting of my authority, yada, yada, yada....but I couldn't stop laughing. Happily the rest of the class laughed, too.

I got an email later on saying that he was sorry, that he wasn't feeling well and needed to leave. When ya gotta go, ya gotta go, right?

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Random Tidbits of Fluff...

I have had a thoroughly productive weekend! First, I went to the grocery store and have bought the ingredients for a big batch of mushroom risotto and spaghetti, both of which will warm up nicely for lunches. Also, Advisor brought a bottle of wine and a lovely boule of country bread with her from a bakery in Grad School City, so I bought some roast beef and jarlsburg cheese for sandwiches. I already feel like I'm detoxing!

Advisor's visit was truly fun - she's very low maintenance and completely understand if my need to work and plan classes this weekend. After all, she's the one who was goading me to maintain a work ethic all these years - I think she was secretly pleased when I said I needed to do work. I met some of her old friends and then last night we watched "Hannibal" on TNT and laughed at all the gross parts. We also talked a bit more about my project - I told her I needed to work up my book proposal and she looked at me quizzically and said, "You already have one!" - "That two page thing I used for the job market??" I asked. "What else???" she laughed. I guess I just need to send the thing out...

Also, I got accepted to the small but totally germane to my project conference I'd applied to and finally finsihed and submitted my proposal to the NCS 2008 conference (and not a moment too soon I might add). I'm trying to stick to 2 conferences this year and only proposing things that directly relate to my book. Finally all the grant apps and paper abstracts are in - woo-hoo!

I also spent practically the whole day doing The Activity - at first I was resentful about the rehearsal time, but I actually enjoyed it - it was like my panicky, tenure-track-addled brain could shut off for 8 hours.

I'm trying so hard not to get over-excited about TD's job opportunity close-by. I'm still applying for the position at Dutchman U and we're still keeping our eyes open for other positions together - we're pursuing all options until one of us signs on the dotted line! But I feel at peace about our situation for the first time in several years (not about things between us - that's always been fine - but about when we could move forward with our lives together). I realize how lucky we would end up being if this works out...and then I deliberately think of something else...

And last but not least: should I buy a gorgeous cashmere sweater that I saw? It's black and exquisite...

Friday, September 28, 2007

Total Detox

Okay, I don't think I've ever been such an apostate blogger. I just haven't been in the mood to be honest! I've been keeping up with everyone else's, though, which is good.

I've been cleaning house for the past couple of hours - my old advisor is coming to stay with me for the weekend (she's not only coming to see me, but needed to be in town and asked if she could stay). So, it's a good excuse for me to clean up around here - and, sadly no, a clean house doesn't seem to be enough of it's own reward for me to do it without a reason. But it'll be nice to see her and catch up!

I've been so busy with other work that I'm a little crazed! I have the first official performance of The Activity on Sunday, so I need to prep for classes this weekend. And at some point I really do have to start writing The Article That Will Not Die again...

Blah, Blah, Blah...

But, as to the title of this post, I've been eating such crap for the last two weeks that my body is about to turn in its notice. So much fast food I can't even think about it! I just am constantly grabbing something as I dash somewhere else and I need to take the time to make myself lunch rather than just grabbing something on the road! I've had heartburn almost constantly for the past fortnight (happens when I eat too much sugar and too much fried crap).

So, I'm going to the grocery store tonight to stock up on decent food - i.e., something green that isn't a lime sour gummy worm! One thing I would love to do is make a batch of something and eat it a couple of days into the next week. Does anyone have any recipes like that? Something that keeps or freezes beautifully?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Ohmigod! Don't Jinx It!!!!

Holy cats! Excellent news from Medieval Woman HQ! Today (this very day) TD got an email from Awesome Local University Hiring In His Field #1 and they want him to come give a job talk...this fall. Like whenever he can get here. Like now. He hasn't even sent in his application for the position yet! No interview at the yearly conference before getting a flyback - nuttin'! This is based solely on the hiring committee taking a look at the CV sent over by the administrative folks at my Dream Academy (who will now all be receiving fresh baked goods from my Brownie Gnomes). They looked at TD's website (which has his working papers on it - it's how they do things there...) and were like, "bring him out!"

I'm trying not to get too over-eager here, but allow me a moment of self-indulgence: if all goes well (i.e., they dig him, they continue to dig his work, etc.) TD could theoretically get a job offer before Xmas. Yup. That quick. They do it all the time in his department.

Please please keep your fingers and toes crossed on our behalf!

P.S. Everything is going fine in my semester so far. The end.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Leaving on a prop plane!

Hola Bloglets! I'm sitting in an airport on layover in between legs of my flight to see TD. They have wi-fi (that you have to pay for) and cold Miller Light. I'm happy and medicated to the gills. I need to find a place to get ear plugs because those damn prop planes are so loud! Forunately it's only a 30 minutes flight...

Hope all's well!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

State of the Medieval Woman Union...

We have downgraded to MedWomCon Level 2 - "Guardedly Optimistic with a Side of Slightly Cynical"

First off, I have finally killed the junky asshole mosquito who has been biting me for 2 days. It bit me on the sole of my left foot, dammit! Who the hell ever heard of that?? But, he has gone the way of the dodo. And I did the savage dance of joy when he went down.

I also have found a new, local, totally extra-curricular, non-university related Activity (taking the nomenclature from dearest Hilaire) - it's not the same Activity as Hilaire's former Activity, but it's fun and it's 2 hours every Tuesday night and during said Activity I can think about nothing but the task at hand (i.e., no fretting about work, teaching, etc.) And it's done with other people and there's no TV involved. I feel like such a joiner - I love it!

TD and I have planned a trip to the mountains nearby in December - it's only for 3 days, but I am inexplicably giddy about it! It will be a totally decadent trip - we're staying in hands down the most gorgeous Bed and Breakfast I've ever laid eyes on and in one of their poshest, most glorious rooms. They have scone french toast, peeps! I'm all aglow. And the locale we're visiting is lovely and will be so beautiful around Christmas time. I envision much staring at the fire, walking in the woods, sitting out on the porch with Christmas lights twinkling and hot cocoa. Siiiiiigh. I feel relaxed just thinking about it. I think this will keep me going through this long semester!

Now, I must plan class for tomorrow and eat sour gummy worms.

Monday, September 17, 2007


God, I'm busy. But I'm also strangely not busy. Does this make sense? It reminds me of a line from my Favorite Movie of All Time: Cleopatra. When Liz Taylor a.k.a. the Queen of the Nile says to Marc Antony,
"There are never enough hours in the days of a queen, but her nights have too many."

This is exactly how I feel (that and the fact that I happen to be wearing my gold lame pantsuit at the moment). I need to schedule a billion meetings and lunches, etc. but there aren't enough hours to do it. However, at home in the evenings, it seems like I have tons of time and nothing to fill it up. Now, there's always stuff to fill it up, like writing that book I've been meaning to get to before tenure time! But...well, you know what I mean. I will not allow this post to become another moan about long-distance marriages. So, to break that pattern, I'll give you the rest of my busy unbusiness in the tried and true bullet format! Here goes...

- I have finally found the perfect setting for Toaster Strudels. Level 4 on our toaster with the defrost option. Alert the media.

- I finished what I consider to be a damn good draft of my grant proposal yesterday. I'll give it to a colleague on Wednesday.

- I bought new sheets and a gigantic bag of sour gummy worms the other day.

- In keeping with this new theme of eating poorly while the Dutchman is away, the other night I made stuffing for dinner. No chicken, no veggies, just stuffing. My thighs still haven't forgiven me for this...

- I leave to go visit TD on Thursday afternoon - joy!

- After that, it will be a month before we see each other again.

- I have been surreptitiously looking for houses for us to buy in the area. Then I remember that whole saying about the cart before the horse...d'oh!

- I need to find a way to blog about work and the department without blogging too much or innappropriately!

That's about all the news that's fit to print! Hope all is well with ya'll!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Meet the Players

Okay, so I'm avoiding work at the moment. I'm also avoiding blowing up the air mattress that Medieval Pop will sleep on when he visits this weekend (starting tonight). I'm avoiding thinking about research or the lack thereof. Avoiding thinking about the job market.

But it also occurs to me that it's getting a little crowded over here at Medieval Woman HQ (what with all the magical creatures I've employed for various nefarious purposes). So, I thought I would post something frivolous for a change (yeah, right!) and introduce everyone to...everyone:


Medieval Woman: Your Host; medievalist, action movie enthusiast, 80s music obsessed, Coke Zero and Twinkie addict.

The Dutchman: husband, lord of the alien spacecraft cum mini-grill flame, eater of raw herring, inhabiter of places far away, bringer of general joy and silliness, drinker of much beer.

Furball #1: The boy-half of the Wonder Twins; likes tuna and yogurt; sings The Mournful Water Song to his water dish. Likes to drool on my shoulder.

Furball #2: The girl-half of the Wonder Twins; generally of spherical shape, likes to sleep on my face, has one kidney.

The Gnomes: a.k.a. "Job Market Gnomes" now tentatively christened "Article/Research Gnomes". They will do a little light housekeeping (i.e., pushing clutter out of sight under large pieces of furniture) if they're bored and Judge Judy isn't on. Eat chicken McNuggets and Yoo-Hoo. Handy at making voo-doo dolls of one's enemies so that revenge will be swift and satisfying. Since they've been falling down on the job lately, I've sent gnome detachments to both Sisyphus and Heu Mihi for job market purposes.

MW's Band of Ninja Warriors: Built low to the ground for quick, discreet, interventions. Specialize in assassinations, over-throwing small governments, and children's birthday parties. These warriors are sent all over the world procurring my "Heart's Desire" (i.e., Coke Zero, Twinkies, and Tostitos). They are fond of Haribo Fuzzy Peach rings and Sprite. They don't do windows.

MW Death Ray: Recently taken out of mothballs for the new school year - I've made some new modifications (i.e., the "student mind control" setting that will simultaneously microwave me a Hot Pocket).

Newly Acquired Unicorn: Brought in specifically for the purpose of getting TD and I jobs together. Not sure I'm keeping this - we'll see after this job market season. It keeps nibbling on my ficus tree. Looked after by my Lucky Leprechauns (who did NOT bring me the pot of gold they promised!)

That's all for now - perhaps a run-down of occasional cast members and cameo appearances later: including various members of the Medieval Clan and the occasional big nasty bug that invades MW HQ before being summarily dispatched.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Thoughts on New Professordom

I'm entering my 4th week of classes here and I thought I'd take a little moment to reflect on the nuevo job. I guess I'll split it up into the Holy Triumverate of Academe: Teaching, Service, Research.

1) Teaching:
The students here are truly lovely - and I mean that from the heart. Some of them don't talk as much as I'd like and I have a feeling that if they've already read some of the canonical texts we're reading this semester, they're not re-reading them for my class, but for the most part they're engaged and interested. This has to do largely with the demographic of student here - a different one than I've ever taught, actually. Many of the students here are paying their own way through college - working, taking out loans, etc. They're not getting full rides from the folks (not that that's better or worse, it's just different). As a result of that, I've seen a level of personal responsiblity from these students that trumps pretty much anything I've been used to. There are always slackers of every ilk anywhere you go, but they don't stand out as much here.

Another interesting thing about the students is that many of them already have children. They're maybe only a year or two older than the typical undergrad, but I have a lot of married and pregnant students (all of whom have told me their due dates and are on top of things should something unexpected happen). Also, a lot of women have husbands or boyfriends in Iraq or Afganistan. This area supports a lot of military and it's interesting to hear that the reason why they missed a class wasn't because they were upset or having a hard time because of a hangnail, but because their husband got an unexpected leave from Iraq and they took their kids to the base to see him for 48 hours before he was deployed again. They're not asking for special consideration, they're just letting me know that they respect my time and want to tell me why they weren't in class. Wow.

So, I guess the sense of entitlement that has been present in various ways in all the schools I've taught at previously is really not an issue here. Especially after last year, where I had so many ridiculous whinings and petty complaints that it became one of the most tedious parts of my job, this is a breath of fresh air. (See, for example, this and this...)

A particular joy about this job is that I get to teach classes entirely in my field (and some in Medieval/Renaissance). That's a blessing - no comp! The one difference for me with teaching is that I'm very aware of the fact that these classes "count" now - i.e., my ride on the tenure track has begun and now the evals and word of mouth and enrollments, etc. count in a way that I'm very aware of. I don't know if I'm more worried about making my classes awesome or not, but it's just my face now. If I teach a good class and I don't wave a firearm around in class, I know that will be enough on the teaching front. I don't have to be the most popular teacher, but I've been pretty popular in the past and I need to shed the need to maintain that level of intensity I think. I have other fish to fry now!

2) Service:
This is fine so far. I'm new enough so that the meetings are more exciting than tedious; I'm on a job search committee, which is also exciting for me (ask me again in two months when I'm slogging through applications), and I'm on another fluffy committee that doesn't need to do much.

3) Research (the Big Kahuna):
I need to figure out how to balance teaching and research, that's for sure. I've heard about a lot of different strategies and I need to find one that works for me - I'm positive that it will involve me scheduling time each week. Once I get a grant application done and one more paper abstract out, I can finally turn back to the Article That Never Dies.


I guess when all is said and done, being a professor is pretty damn great for me. I've had friends who got jobs last year who have said, "Oh MW, it's not all it's cracked up to be, pressure, meetings, teaching, etc...." But I never expected that it wouldn't be all those things. Maybe it's because I had a few years without a job that having one puts things into perspective. I have a job; it's mine until I hear otherwise.

I'm reminded of a friend who told me that when you see the Mona Lisa in the Louvre, it's a big disappointment because it's actually pretty small and there are crowds, etc. But when I was standing in front of it this summer, all I could think is: "I'm looking at the actual Mona Lisa."

Wow. That's pretty damn great.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Here's the Skinny

I clearly need to get into my blogging groove again! I feel like I've been falling down on the job! Buuuuut, I'm teaching four days a week this semester (due to a last minute change that had me sacrificing one of my T/Th classes for a M/W one). I'm still teaching only 2 courses, so I'm in the classrom a grand total of 75 minutes a day, but I forgot how tiring this schedule can be (because I'm a cream puff. I don't work in a mine 8 hours a day! Why am I complaining?). At any rate, it's psychically taxing to have it drawn out in little bits over the week. Friday there are always meetings, etc. going on. I haven't been sleeping well with TD gone - it always takes me about 4 days to get back into my solo sleep rhythm.

But, here's what's on my mind at the moment: rectifying this perverse "living apart" thing. It's looking like this year will be make or break. All the planets and attendant satellites are aligning; my oracles are emailing me constantly. Even the Lucky Leprechauns I flew in especially for this purpose are working overtime to make things happen.

I've spoken to my dept. chair about the job openings in nearby universities for TD - there is a "regional component" to the spousal hiring policy (and I use the term loosely!) in this state university system. We've made spousal hires for folks who've gotten t-t jobs at neighboring unis. Happiness will ensue if this could be reciprocal. But, every spousal case is different and brings its own unique challenges. In TD's case, they're already doing hires (which is good) so we wouldn't be asking them to create a position out of thin air. But, how to approach this? How do you nudge lovingly and not have it be taken as an obnoxious, unwelcome poke in the ribs by the other school? dept. chair didn't know, so it was tossed up to the Dean to see what he thought. He didn't know exactly how to broach the subject either, but decided to call the Provost right away (!). The Provost said he would be delighted to talk to the Provosts at Neighboring Uni. 1 & 2 - can we forward him TD's CV and the job ads? Holy crap - sure thing! As it turns out, the Provost and Dean are completely pleased to help with the whole thing - and the Dean is even speaking to the other Dean of TD's field about maybe a position here.

Now, my uni would be a bit of a challenge for TD to fit into. He does theoretical models of cattle-herding, whereas this dept. would be more the practical, applied side of cattle-herding; the care and feeding of the cattle you intend to herd; strategies for making money with the cattle you herd, etc. It might be hard for him to find good cattle, I mean, colleagues to talk to here and this is important for his work. But, ya know - as many cow patties as we can get on the fire, the better, huh? Bad continuation of that analogy, I know...

So, all this Bodes Well. My leprechaun-team and job market gnomes are happy to have Deans and Provosts on board. Many hands make light work, they tell me.

In other related, highly ironic news, TD's Univ. (where I taught last year), is hiring in my exact field. Um, let's work on our timing, folks! Buuut, I feel that I should apply for this job. Because once it's filled, it ain't coming around again for a long time and then that window will be closed for us. I've known about this for a while and I've been debating about whether to blog about it. But I can't keep much from you bloglets - except, MY INDENTITY! - and it's pretty easy to wheedle that out of me by emailing me. I must say, however, that all things being equal, my personal and geographical predilections mean that I'd like to stay here and have TD get a job nearby. But, we want to be together and get our future in forward motion (which includes a house and a Medieval Baby at some point soon). TD declares that this is priority #1, so it's pretty much "together anywhere that will hire us both".

So, is it now clear why this is looking to be a *magical* year? When in Zeus's name will our mutual job markets ever again align themselves "just so"? And then I think - oh shit - what if even with all this cosmic, administrative, and magical creature help we still fail to procure employment together? Back to the drawing board? What drawing board??? Argh.

Nope, nope. I'm pulling a Scarlett O'Hara. Not gonna think about that. Something tells me that all this isn't chance, we haven't ended up in this position (career-wise, a good one) that has opened up a number of opportunities all for naught.

But just in case, I'm getting a unicorn.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007


This is from Hilaire!

Four first names of crushes:
1. Jim, second grade. Held my hand at our school's Halloween carnival. Sigh.
2. Darin, first love, first time, first everything. He ended up marrying a bank teller from Jersey...
3. Blake. Obnoxious name, no? Long hair, sensitive, early 90s, college.
4. David, grad school soccer player...what ever happened to that guy?

Four pieces of clothing I wish I still owned (or that still fit):
1. My cutest Old Navy jeans that are now way too small (sigh!) - they were the most comfy things on the planet. I still own them and I'm still hopeful...
2. My black shiny, PVC pants - very Catwoman!
3. Along the same lines, my thigh high black "fuck me" boots. I went through a dominatrix phase in college.
4. (riffing off Squadratomagico) My old prom dress, which was a white brocade sheath with off the shoulder tiny sleeves and a ginormous white satin bow in the front. Ca. 1990...

Four names I’ve been called at one point or another (in chronological order):
1. Throughout my childhood: the "love bug" or "pickle" depending on which of my parents was talking to me.
2. Lil' Rebel (sorority nickname. Yes, I was in a sorority!)
3. Bandito (to heighten the obscurity, this rhymes with a certain version of my last name)
4. Bunny

Four professions I secretly want to try:
1. Pastry chef
2. Kept woman
3. Cruise director
4. Astronaut

Four musicians I’d go on a date with:
1. Sting, hands down.
2. Michael McDonald (of the Doobie Brothers!)
3. Mozart
4. Madonna

Four foods I’d rather throw than eat:
1. Lime-green jello with nuts suspended in it
2. Pickled beets (yuck!)
3. Celery (anti-christ)
4. Any food, no matter how delicious, if the target was Dick Cheney (I'll have to stick with Sq. on this one!)

Four things I like to sniff:
1. Unleaded gasoline (am I the only one who thinks this smells good?)
2. The Furballs
3. Really good wine
4. TD's cologne

I tag anyone and everyone!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Life is so good

Went to Denny's this morning for a late breakfast. Yum.

TD went to the library to get some work done and I just woke up from a nap (pathetic, I know). Now I'm watching one of my all-time favorite movies: The Natural. I still get gooosebumps when the main character knocks the cover off the ball. And at the end when he hits the lights and they throw sparks down onto the field. True bliss (that and the fact that I'd watch Robert Redford do anything, including fold laundry) At the party last night, we got to talking about American sports. I've always liked going to baseball games (rather than watching them on TV). There's just something about keeping score, drinking a flat beer and eating a hotdog on a sunny day. But my favorite truly American sport has always been (American) football. I grew up in a big football state and I can remember the sound of my father sitting in the den and watching one football game on TV and listening to another one on the radio. It always seemed like the epitome of fall to me: the weather was getting a little crisp, the college bands would play, the leaves were changing. Very fun.

So, I'm a happy Medieval Woman - tonight TD and I are indulging in a dinner of appetizers: cajun crab dip, taquitos, and baby egg rolls. TD says (jokingly) that I eat like a four-year-old: Coke Zero and Fruit Loops in the morning.

Okay - back to the movie!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Random Update

So, I haven't been trapped under a large piece of furniture - I just haven't been at all in a blogging mood for over a week. Maybe it's because the semester has begun and I've been launched into an odyssey of trying to balance work and teaching (more on how to do this later...if I figure it out at all...). Also, TD has been in town and I've been spending my time swinging between total happiness in having back my domestic bliss and arguing about all kinds of things (welcome to the world of "long-distance luv"). This most recently consisted of us talking about adding TD to my bank account (i.e., making it a joint acct.) when (not if) we move back together. He said he also thought it would be nice if we had a joint acct. and then separate individual ones. Of course I flipped out and read all this as him not trusting me with his money, wanting to keep things secret, etc. I know, I know...paging Dr. Overreaction. Other than that, we've been spending some time with my new colleague friends (who are lovely and delightful) and watching a lot of TV (which is no different from what I usually do).

So, here's he deal. We looked at TD's joblist (the beginnings of which are being posted) this afternoon and two of the local universities are hiring in his field! These are extremely good schools and I'm hoping that another one is also going to be hiring (one that is very comparable to where he is now). But, this bodes well and I would like to request that my bloggy friends please keep all appendages crossed for us! I know that these are only job ads and that there's still a long row to hoe, but at least there are local openings.

Other bits of random fluff:

1) I have Santa Claus in one of my classes. He's a spherically-shaped older student (much older than me) and he has the tendency to "ho-ho-ho" at my lame jokes. We'll see how the semester shapes up, but I have the feeling that he has my two front teeth and I want 'em back by Christmas, dammit!

2) They clapped when I chanted Old English.

3) I have purchased a water fountain for the Furballs - TD thinks this is crazy, but I've noticed that they've been drinking more. Since we moved in, they've been drinking out of the bathtub because it drips. So, the fountain (a.k.a. our "water feature") is meant to interest them in a healthier way. But they're so cute they go up and bat at the water a little with their paws and then drink a little. TD says it sounds like an old man taking a leak.

4) I have two conference abstracts to write this weekend, but I bet only one of them gets done (the other isn't due for a month).

5) I met with my first grad student yesterday and it was fun - I'll be advising part of their thesis.

That's pretty much all the news that's fit to blog! My life continues on at break-neck exciting speed!