Tuesday, December 30, 2008

MLA Closing Arguments...

It was so good to see everyone last night at the blogger meet-up - Morgan, where wert thou? I'm sorry we had to flee before 8pm - we had reservations at a tapas place with some friends. But I was so happy to meet some new folks and to see old ones I hadn't in a while! Sisyphus, you're just as cool in real life as I imagined - Flavia-Flave: I'm sorry we didn't get to chat more! Dr. V, What Now and heu mihi - great to see you all! And SEK, lovely to meet you and your wife and Horace, nice to see you as well! Rebel Lettriste - sorry I had to run just as you sat down, but we'll meet up again soon I hope!

MLA this year was completely fine - because I basically didn't attend. I had three interviews and then fled the hotel for the city (wharf, sea lions, seafood, trolleys, etc.) TD and I had fun exploring. This was also a year when tons of friends happened to be in the area, so we had a lot of meet-ups as well. 2 of the 3 interviews were lovely, but the last one seemed to be populated by aliens. They were weird! It's not that I felt like I flubbed anything, I just felt like these beings from another planet were still trying to learn our "human ways" so the reactions were....completely lacking. Very odd.

So, today is Golden Gate park and then we're off to Napa for New Year's - we've already bought so much wine! But there's more to be had...I hope everyone's New Year is wonderful and that everyone gets good news soon!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Going off the grid and a blogger meet-up reminder

We leave tomorrow to head west (hopefully we'll get there and not end up sleeping in an airport somewhere) - so, I'll catch you guys on the flip side - 2009!

If anyone needs a quick reminder on the date, time, place, etc. of the MLA Blogger Meet-Up, just send a quick email (medievalwoman1@gmail.com) - I'll be checking email regularly, 'cause that's how I roll. And Morgan, glad to hear that you'll be there and on someone else's dime! Looking forward to meeting you all for the first time, or again.

If I haven't yet sent you the info - and Rebel Lettriste and The Swain, I'm thinking this might be you guys! - send me a quick email and accept my apologies for flakiness!

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Everyone knows how terrifyingly addictive F*cebook can be, yes? It's great to catch up with old friends from the past and can be rather jarring when you realize just how long you've been out of highschool (not that I've felt that way, mind you...). But here's the thing, something very strange and very cool has happened. I might actually call it a holiday miracle if I have one more glass of wine...

(*sound of generous pouring*)

S'okay. When I was a little girl, Medieval Mom and Medieval Pop got divorced (amicably) and MM started dating the man who would become my stepfather for a time. I never liked him and he never liked me. He didn't treat my mom very well and, well, there you go. He had 3 kids - 2 girls and a little boy - all of whom I got along with pretty well. I am a "singleton", so I never grew up with siblings, and I thought it was pretty cool to have some. The oldest girl and I were the same age and were in the same grade in school. Our parents got married just before highschool and I had to move to their town, which had a much better school system - it was a smart move - but try telling a 13-year-old that! My step sister was popular, had lived there forever, was skinny, had perfect hair, etc. We went to the same highschool and I was always known as her stepsister - the kind of kooky girl in French Club and on the literary journal staff. I took college classes my last year. It wasn't the happiest time for me - I blossomed into full geeky splendor in college.

Sorry this is a long backstory. My first year of college, MM and my stepdad got divorced - it wasn't amicable. He was a dick. We were still on very good terms with the youngest of my stepsisters, who was upset because she felt like she was losing my mom. But the oldest sister didn't like this. She came to our new house, screaming and trying to kick in the door, telling us to stay away from her sister. I was a hothead and went out to confront her and threatened to call the cops. There was a struggle and finally Medieval Mom pulled us apart and told her to get lost. That was the last contact I ever had with her. I was in college out of state; she was in state and our parents were divorced. So, our already strained relationship throughout highschool just exploded.

Over the years of living in the same town, my mom has run into her a couple of times and it was always nice - she seemed to have mellowed and asked after me, etc. I knew she'd gotten married, had kids. But I hated her dad and I didn't want to go back to that time. I didn't go to our highschool reunion (not b/c of her), but I thought she'd be there and it would be highschool angst all over again.

Enter F*cebook. In a fit of nostalgia I joined the group for my school and graduation year and it's freaky to see names and faces that I recognize yet don't. It's very nice to see what people are up to - I remember my old Chemistry class partner who used to crystalize our stirring stick during lab, he's now in L.A. making commercials! I saw that my ex-step-sister was also listed and thought long and hard about whether I wanted to "friend" her - but then I thought - what the hell, friend liberally!

We've been exchanging emails for a few days now and I honestly didn't know how much that last interaction we'd had (nay, fight!) had remained in my mind all these years. It's still a traumatic thing for me to remember. And I emailed her and said that her kids are beautiful and asked how she was, and we've been talking ever since. I finally told her how sorry I was for being such a hothead and how much I regretted all the things that happened, not just on that day. She wrote back immediately saying that she'd been wanting to say the same thing for years - she said she should have been so happy to have a new sister, but we were young and insecure and protective of our parents, and she let that opportunity pass by. I started crying so hard; it was so meaningful to read that.

So, now I reconcile with someone who was a part of my life for a decade and then wasn't a part of it for another decade - but she always was. Does that make sense? We're sharing old memories of boys, 80s bangs, stupid songs, taking her dad's truck out for a joy ride (when we were 14...ahem...).

I feel young again.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Random Fluffage

1) TD and I went to Williams Sonoma today to buy a panini press (yum!) and I decided that we needed a couple of other things, like a new wooden spoon (we only have ginormous serving spoons - we just need a stirring spoon and they're all up in Dutchmanlandia because our lives are spread across 2 households in 2 countries...). But, any-hoodle, I pick up a $7 wooden spoon and GET A SPLINTER! Off a schmancy Williams Sonoma spoon! Bastardo-spoonmakers...

2) I have to prep for interviews now and I don't wanna. And I have to by a new sweater to wear under my suit jacket b/c junky, mutant moths attacked my other marino wool numbers.

3) We are making pork schnitzel with sauteed arugula tonight.

4) Went to my department holiday party last night and it was lovely - I like my colleagues. I want to stay.

5) I have to start working on my book again.

6) Right now.

7) I mean it this time.

8) Really....

9) Nap first......

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Okay, folks. Let's not ignore the 500 lb. kitten in the room...

Oh, and I'm done with grading...nya, nya, nyaaaaaah....

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Semester Status

One set of exams and grades done; one more to go. This is "Blitzkrieg" grading at its best...

As for the Blogger Meet-Up, we're still on for the evening of the 29th at 6-ish at the first place I emailed you about! If you need confirmation or more info, knock off a quick emailto me and I'll give you the skinny. I'll send a quick email before Xmas just to make sure we're all at the same bar.

(*dips toe into grading pool*)

Water is still tepid...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

MLA Blogger Meet-Up - Almost There!


So, from what I'm hearing, the 29th is looking good for all who've responded - I'm not meaning to be Medieval "Quick on the Draw" Woman, but I know how quickly conference schedules fill up! So, let's say a little more firmly than tentatively that December 29th will be the meet-up.

Here's what's next:

1) What time? Options are:
a) early evening (5-ish?) snack/appetizer/drinks
b) dinner
c) after dinner drinks/snacks/appetizers/dessert (or, in my Hobbity case, a second full dinner)
d) breakfast
**I would prefer the evening just because TD and I will be sightseeing a lot that day. But that's just me - majority rules!

2) Where? I don't have a desire one way or the other. We're staying at the Fairmont, but we can do one of the other hotels (but will they be jam-packed?). If someone knows a local, easy to get to restaurant, let me know! Any preferences? We could choose the bar at one of the alternate hotels (i.e., not the Hilton or the Marriott), which won't be as crowded...

This is so exciting! I can't wait to see everyone! Anyway, keep passing the word to anyone else and I'll wait to hear more from folks...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


So, I thought I'd take point on this (unless someone else already has! If so, let me know!) - many of us will just happen to be in San Francisco at the end of this month for a little thing we like to call The Deadly Gauntlet of He...(*ahem*). I mean, MLA. I know that Flavia, the Coglet, heu mihi, and Morgan will all be there...anyone I'm missing? The more the merrier!

So, the questions are: Do ya'll wanna meet-up? When? Where? I figure that we should make it an evening, either for dinner or later drinks, because we'll all have scads of interviews during the day. I know that there are likely going to be other friend meet-ups, but it would be lovely to see you all - many of you I've never met!

TD and I will be driving in from "points unknown" (read: wineries in the Lodi region) on Dec. 27th, and we leave to go to other "places to be highly intellectual" (read: Napa wineries) on the 30th.

I figure that these are our options for MLA: the night of the 27th, night of the 28th, night of the 29th, breakfast on the 30th? Or we could do breakfasts any of those days as well! It's all good to me - I only applied for a few jobs, so if I have any interviews, I *know* that they can be scheduled in a single afternoon. And then, Alcatraz here we come!

What are your thoughts, bloggies? I wanted to put this out there early in the hopes that your schedules might still be open.

Let me know - email at: medievalwoman1"at"gmail"dot"com or just comment hereabouts. Please let anyone else know who might not stop by here and who would still be interested in having the blogger meet-up at MLA.

Updated to Add:
It looks like people's schedules are still pretty open - since many of us are coming in on the 27th, we should probably steer clear of that evening. Flavia would prefer the 29th and the others I've heard from haven't yet expressed preference for either, so shall we begin to narrow this down to the evening of the 29th? We'll wait to hear others who chime in (Morgan and Sisyphus, this means thee!) - exciting!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Post-Turkey Shake-Down

Everything went wonderfully during T-giving. Medieval Pop and Medieval Aunt #2 came for dinner and we cooked all the traditionals - turkey was *really* good.

Except now we have to eat the thing for the next week. This is what I hate about having turkey for Thanksgiving.

Only ONE MORE WEEK of classes starting tomorrow (*angels sing JOY!*) - I'm grading the last dregs of papers - if I don't get them back on Wednesday and instead give them back after their exam next Monday, is this a bad thing? A demi-sin or a minor peccadillo?

One of my very good friends here at the Dream Academy - the one who got me into the Activity - did not get tenure. She found out the week before Thanksgiving. I feel horrible and I can only imagine how bad she feels. This wasn't entirely unexpected, but you always have hope, ya know?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

"Please Don't Drop Me...."

As I mentioned once before, my students are truly normal and good for the most part - there haven't been many "classic" stories over this semester.


There is one for whom the ability to weave together narrative threads of bullshit has become an art form. Around midterm time, I received a huge email address to me and the student's other professors. And this did it for me from the get-go - don't you hate it when a student sends a pleading, let me tell you my life story email to ALL their professors? Anyway, apparently this student had gotten it into his head that one or many of his profs had notified his parents that he wasn't doing adequately in his classes. Now, he was making a D in mine, but it's against school policy for us to discuss a student with anyone else - including their parents. So, he writes this tome to all of us and the basic gist of it is that he wants us to lie to his parents and tell them that he was passing his classes. An excerpt:

I am on the verge of being dropped from one of my classes and my parents fear that I shall make a mess of things as I have in High school, but between you and I, if I may be so bold to include you all, I have no intention of continuing the perpetual failure that was my high school transcript. But I digress...I have small aspirations. I dream of teaching English and/or History in a local university while residing happily in my near-campus apartment. Returning home for any amount of time is not an option.

So that I might appeal to you as a sentient and feeling human being I shall tell you a small bit about myself. I do not wish to boast, but I am in fact very intelligent. No lie, I have an IQ of 132...I don't want to get too haughty, and pardon the language, but writing is my shit. If I get pulled from school things start to get a little shaky. The balance of the universe will falter under the wrath of my father and mother. I may in fact die.

This e-mail is not a long appeal for sympathy begging for mercy, nay it is much more. This e-mail is a plea; a promise. This e-mail is a venture into a brave new world of education I have only recently woken up to...I would be much obliged if you were compelled to spare the defiled soul of a young lad gone astray.

After all of this, I still told him he was making a D and he emailed back that he thought that was "disappointing." I told him that he should be disappointed in himself, not in my reply.

Now, of course, this kid missed way too many classes and I eventually dropped him. But he wasn't taking no for an answer:

Please Professor MW, I really need this class. I have rededicated myself to the best of my ability. I fell down an elevator trying to get to classes this morning...I will keep showing up to your class until the end of the semester. If you deem that my work in your class has not rectified any inadequacies I showed before than fail me. Give me an F. If I do, if I prove to you that I understand this course is more than a privilege; that it is your baby, that you are the goddess and creator of all that is good and divine about this literature, then I challenge you to give me less than a C. I shall prove my worth. I am not one to give up. If I had not been dragged back to my dorm by my roommate and my RA this morning after blacking out and spitting out blood and bile, by god I would have been sitting in your classroom this morning.

Isn't it amazing how students can be full of shit, pleading, condescending, and vaguely threatening all at the same time?

I still dropped his ass...

Friday, November 21, 2008


I intend to post about a hilarious student tomorrow (hee, hee...the carrot...it dangles before you), but right now I have to get ready for a performance of The Hobby.

But first, I wanted to say thanks for your comments on my last post - thanks for being righteously indignant along with me!

My band of ninja warriors will infiltrate each member of that committee's house and put coal in all stockings this holiday.

And will replace all their sugar with salt.

And the nasty punk who wrote that comment?

Nair in place of shampoo...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Black November

I'm having a black, black f*cking month. It's a dark, narsty semester, but this month is particularly dark. So dark that I constantly feel like the Angel of Death. I'm looking around for a sack-cloth jacket. Bad things happening, despair, unhappiness, general pissiness...

Today I found out that a third version of an internal grant proposal - in which I had, in all of the various proposal incarnations responded conscientiously to each bit of "criticism" the readers had - was rejected again. For a friend in another department, she was funded for a third time, despite the fact that the application instructions state in bold lettering that if anyone has been funded in the last 5 years, they will go to the bottom of the pile.

The readers "report" said AND I QUOTE:
"This project is frivolous."
Point me to the booze....

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Random Bits of Fluff

God, it's been a while since I've posted! I've been keeping up with the blogs of others, though! Here's what's been up:

1) The Election - canvassed for Obama the weekend before, watched with baited breath and a bunch of friends on Tuesday. And today, I found out that I'll be joining my family at the Inauguration in January! Not with a special seat or anything, but Medieval Cousin and family live in Northern VA, so Medieval Pop, two Medieval Aunts, and assorted Medieval Cousins and accoutrements will be meeting up there and taking the metro into D.C. for the festivities. I was at the first Clinton Inauguration and it was amazing - Maya Angelou read...what a great time! So, on Jan 20, I'll be there and then I'll drive back early the next day to be here for my first afternoon class!

2) The Job Market - bites my ass. At least one - maybe two - jobs I've applied for have canceled their search. Two other schools have sent out dossier requests, but not to me (WTF, dudes? And damn you to hell, addictive job wiki...). AND a super-fine job at Slightly More Distant Neighboring Univ. that TD had expressly been asked to apply for and for which his advisor was pushing him hard....you guessed it: canceled. F*ckers. I know, I know, it's happening everywhere...TD is applying here at the Dream Academy - they don't have a position exactly in his field, but there's a good chance they won't be able to fill the 2 positions they do have with the exact people, and if they don't fill the line, chances are they won't get it back with budget cuts the way they are. SO, he might still be able to get a position here. I just feel like I need to get one outside offer to leverage here a bit more. No pressure.

If the job market bites my ass, why isn't it any smaller?

3) Thyroidally-Challenged Furball #1 - is going to get nuked soon with that radioactive gunk. He's having bad side effects to the meds and he's almost as tough to medicate as his sister, Furball "Fuzzy-Buns" #2. So, we're going to pony-up the loot and get it done soon, hopefully next week!

4) Grading - too much grading...waaaaay too much grading.

5) Work - what's that? I finished reading the 3 primary texts for my new chapter. But that's about it so far.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Time Suckage...

I've lately been caught up in two (well, three) things that have sucked my mind and my energy.

1) The presidential campaign - I'm a CNN/Poll Junkie and it must stop. I have already voted and I'm canvassing for Obama this weekend; I've done enough. I need to STOP obsessing (although his infomerical tonight was awesome. Damn, that man rocks).

2) Department crapola - I allow myself to be baited by spiteful annoying colleagues - we're doing curricular revision (the horror, the horror) and also dealing with potential budget cuts. I have to STOP obsessing.

3) I have tons of students this semester and I spend a lot of time prepping and grading. I have to STOP obsessing. I'm not fresh off the boat - I can wing a few classes - I know what I'm talking about.

So, in an effort to stave off the mental suckage, I'm giving myself 3 BLISSFUL DAYS of uninterrupted work on my book manuscript. It actually feels like I'm going on vacation. I'm all excited. I've set out my special sweatshirt and slippers; I've stocked up on Coke Zero and ginger peach teabags. I have enough halloween candy to overdose my entire band of job market gnomes (if only they knew where I hide the candy). TD is in Dutchmanlandia until the end of the week. I'm not teaching anymore this week either.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

We are this many...

TD and I, that is.

Today is our 3rd Wedding Anniversary!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I spent a LOT of money...

...on table linens today. I agonized over this, but then decided to jump in and do it. There are few things that give me more domestic guilty pleasure than table linens and serving pieces. These are from Wiliams-Sonoma and some of my birthday money (thanks Medieval Mom) paid for...most of it. I got the longer table cloth and two sets of napkins because I want to be able to have more than 2 people over for a more formal dinner.

What I humbly request from the Blogosphere is 1) absolution for indulging my (as it turns out, expensive) fetish, and 2) tell me if you think they're pretty.

Here's a pic...

While I'm in the confessional mood, I also recently bought 6 of these chargers:

These were not as expensive, but they're still lovely.

Tell me, what guilty, pretty fetishes do you all have? How often do you indulge? I don't count shoes and handbags per se, especially if you have lots of different ones for different occasions. But, does anyone have a fetish for, say, red stilettos (that's a shout out to you, Flavia!)? I, for example, also have 3 different green purses. And I'd own 3 more if I could.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Birthday Plus 1

Okay! So, yesterday was my birthday. I have made it successfully through my Christ year - woohoo! I was a lovely day only slightly marred by the fact that I had to teach 2 classes and have office hours. HOWEVER, office hours were made lovely by my friend, L, bringing me a dozen of the most amazingly awesome cupcakes she made. These things were stellar - and immediately several of them were downed in the office. TD made me a spice Bundt cake and got champagne. And then Medieval Mom-in-law sent me flowers from the old country. Last night, 9 of us went to dinner at a nice Asian fusion place and there was much food consumed. And then more cake and cupcakes when we got home. And more champagne.

TD got me these slippers in green. My feets are happy...in addition, my friend J got me a baby hamburger press! I can now make perfectly-formed sliders for our grill. Food is better in miniature...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Furball Update

We were without internet all yesterday, otherwise I would have posted then. We heard back from the vet and got some results. FB#1's kidneys are just fine and it looks like he has "a little bit of early cardiac disease" - they need to do another thyroid test tomorrow because he's "in the gray zone for hyperthyroidism" which could be affecting the heart. An over-active thyroid would also explain the weight loss. So, it looks like we caught it way early and that we can very likely take care of the thyroid problem with medication and slow down any progression of the heart problem.

Whew! I'm SO glad - he's been his same-old self the past couple of days - appetite is just fine (which makes me blame the thyroid for the weightloss rather than a lack of appetite).

Has anyone's kitty ever had any thyroid problems? Thanks also for the lovely comments!! And Furball #1 thanks you too and asks that you send turkey and ham from now on instead of intangibles like blog comments...he's such a diva.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Furball Panic

Okay. Furball #1 has lost weight in the past 6 months and has a "heart murmur." He's actually lost about 1 pound in the last 6 months. Ugh. The vet didn't seem over-the-top alarmed, unlike me. They did an ultrasound and did blood work and urinalysis (I took them both in for their 6 month "wellness" check, so the blood and urinalysis were standard, the ultrasound wasn't). We'll get the results tomorrow. The vet seemed to think that if this was anything that it was the early stages of a heart problem. They're also doing a heartworm screening test. But she said that if it showed any heart issue that they would put him on a twice a week aspirin pill thingy. She then told me that one of her cats lived for 8 1/2 years on heart meds and that wasn't even what he ended up dying from. Okay, MW, breathe.

So, I brought him home (with his pathetic little shaved patches) and fussed over him and gave him some wet food, which he inhaled. I hope that he'll put on a little weight once we can get him feeling better. I'm just so worried - I fear that it's his kidneys and his heart. The FBs are only 10 - they're too young!!!

Anyway, this is a plea for 1) reassurance that we caught this early and that he'll be okay, and 2) any encouraging/heart-warming anecdotes.

I'm going to go give him a pet while he sleeps off his traumatizing day...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Care and Feeding of Magical Creatures

Here at Medieval Woman HQ, we're gearing up for a new year on the job market. This is the "money" year, the year it will all work out. Why, you ask? Because it will be my 5th consecutive year on the market - the first 3 in search of a t-t job, which I got and love, and the last two in search of a job with my mate. And I want to get sprogged up, so the clock is ticking. 5 years isn't a job search, it's a prison term.

The Job Market Gnomes have unionized recently (which is more than we were able to do in graduate school). They've renegotiated their contract to include a sauna and an unlimited supply of Hot Pockets. They have also refused to do dishes or clean the bathroom, but what the hell. I have a husband to do that. (I have my own set of domestic tasks, of course. There is no gendered division of labor at MW-HQ!).

My band of ninja warriors got fat over the summer - there just wasn't much for them to do. No students to menace, no administrators to threaten, no civil servants to bump off, no dictatorships of small countries to overthrow. So, instead, they sat on the couch eating Fritos and watching Crocodile Dundee I & II over and over again. Because that shit just never gets old, people! To get them back into shape, I've put "Jazzercise" and "Buns of Steel" on our Netflix list. And they're cutting back on the carbs.

However, this year, I was able to save up enough American Express points to get each of them their very own mini-SCUD missle. This in addition to their usual arsenal (flamethrowers, pepper spray, Chinese throwing stars, spitball guns, etc.), will make them formidable indeed!
"What was that, Uncooperative University? You didn't want to request a writing sample and dossier from MW? I think you should reconsider. No? (*barrage of spitballs and silly string*) How about now? If you're still going to be difficult, I'll have my lieutenant reformat all your computer hard drives and tickle you until you pass out. Thaaaat's what I thought. Her email is...."
Yes, it's going to be a veeeeeery successful year....

Sunday, October 5, 2008

I have figured it out!

How I'm going to grade over 300 exams this semester!

I'm 2/3 of the way through my longest set of first exams (62) and I'm using a new tactic. Each exam has 3 sections and, in the past, I've graded one section first on everyone's, and then the second, and so on. But when you're only halfway done with the first section, it can seem neverending. And then to run the entire way through 2 more times! So, I decided to break the exams into stacks of 20 and grade one stack a day completely for three days. And it's worked very well - I don't get as burnt out b/c the stacks are smaller. So, I'll finish the last 20 tomorrow and hand them back on Wednesday. Sweet.

All else is going extremely well - I had a "ladies lunch" on Thursday with a friend, LB, and a bunch of new women I'd not met; a couple of them in particular were fabulous - new friends! And then we went over to LB's house for brunch on Saturday with some other folks and it was equally fabulous. Tomorrow night we're having another couple over for dinner. I don't mean to sound like an annoying prig, but things here socially are so wonderful. And everyone gets along with everyone else - it's lovely not to live a compartmentalized life as we have before.

I didn't post anything about the Veep Debate earlier, but the one thing that cracked me up the most was when people said that Palin exceeded expectations and Biden met expectations. That's because no one expected her to do anything but stand glaze-eyed and drooling at the camera! So, she spoke in complete sentences about 40% of the time. They were the same sentences, though, over and over!

I cannot watch CNN anymore...

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Whither the Crazy Student Tailz?

I just haven't had the craziness or the truly astonishing student hijinks this semester.

What gives? I like my students very much this semester (of course, there are always students I like) - and maybe I'm beginning to focus less on teaching and a bit more on my research and my intervention in the department. Maybe I'm getting all growed up?

But I really could use some colorful anecdotes (that hopefully don't involve me consuming sleeping pills by mistake) this semester.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Oddities and Fluff

1) Yesterday in one of my classes (my favorite - these kids rock) one of my students had accidentally left her phone on and got a text message from a friend. These guys are pretty great, so I don't sweat it if a random phone goes off once every couple of weeks (like I said, they're cool - they really do turn their phones off!). I ignored the "beep" as she looked contrite and mouthed the word "sorry!" - as I turned to write something on the board, I heard an audible yelp come from the back of the classroom. Everyone stopped and looked at the student who was looking at her phone. She announced, "The stock market just plunged 670 points. They say it's still dropping." It was silent for a couple of beats and I just said, "Well, I hope you guys like this class, because it looks like I'll never be retiring."

2) Every time I sit down in front of the tube with a really good piece of coconut cream pie (which we have here at Medieval Woman HQ), a stupid Weight Watchers commercial comes on.

3) With all of the crazy financial stuff going on right now, the credit limit on my one credit card has actually increased $2000. WTF?

4) I am in grading jail from now until Christmas. I have so many blue books in my office, I could build a fort.

5) I have mailed off my first job application.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Quick Question

So, if I'm married to a Dutchman and I used to live in Canada, aren't I really the better qualified vice presidential candidate?

Who am I kidding...the heel of my left shoe is better qualified...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Monday, September 22, 2008


Damn, I've been "nit-pickily" productive today.

Wrote two exams, graded quizzes, finished up curriculum proposal, made copies of writing sample, revised job letter, mailed off packages...

And now the only thing standing in between me and continuing research on my last book chapter is revising a grant application for re-submission, which I'll do tomorrow!

And then it's just me and my chapter. It's all about us being us together. I'll take it out for a nice dinner. Maybe some dancing.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Structure or No Structure??

During a symposium I attended this weekend, we were talking about how we worked best. It reminded me of discussions I've previously had in the blogosphere (I especially remember T.E., What Now, Heu Mihi, Hilaire, Squadratomagico, and Sisyphus El Cog being part of it; but there were certainly more!). We were talking about the mechanics of how we worked: which pens and paper we liked, how we organized our thoughts, how we took notes, to outline or not to outline, which new computer programs helped, etc.

But this weekend, the conversation moved toward whether you worked better when you were teaching or not - i.e., did the structure of teaching help you structure your research time as well? This is definitely true of my friend A, who deliberately teaches summer school because 1) it pays well, and 2) she gets tons of work done having the structure added to her day.

I used to think this was true for me as well - until this year. It seems like I got SO MUCH work done this summer - I had no trouble imposing deadlines on myself and I loved just writing and researching at will. Lately, I have to constantly stop whatever bit of research I'd started and do some work on some service-related thing (i.e., curricular reform, blah, blah, blah) or I have to go over my SGGK notes once more for class. These are not hugely time consuming, but there's a lot of them. It's like a dense cloud of buzzing gnats - one is no problem, but a million of them is gross.

We have recently been told that we will get jr fac leave here at the Dream Academy (thanks to my and my friend's proposal, actually) - and I can't wait for that semester the year after next when I can take off and do some great, unimpeded research with a summer tacked on (either to one end or the other).

My remedy for now will be to find a way to dedicate at least one day a week to research and only research. I'll prep my classes early (I've taught them all before anyway), I'll grade, comment on theses, write proposals 'til I'm blue in the face, etc. all in the service of giving me that one day off.

What say you bloggys? Do you find the school year gives you better structure for research or not?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Let me see if I have this straight...

As seen around the interwebs...

I'm a little confused. Let me see if I have this straight.....

*If you grow up in Hawaii, raised by your grandparents, you're "exotic, different."

*If you grow up in Alaska eating mooseburgers, yours is a quintessential American story.

*If your name is Barack, you're a radical, unpatriotic Muslim.

*Name your kids Willow,Trig and Track, you're a maverick.

*Graduate from Harvard law School and you are unstable.

*Attend 5 different small colleges before graduating, you're well grounded.

*If you spend 3 years as a brilliant community organizer, become the first black President of the Harvard Law Review, create a voter registration drive that registers 150,000 new voters, sp end 12 years as a Constitutional Law professor, spend 8 years as a State Senator representing a district with over 750,000 people, become chairman of the state Senate's Health and Human Services committee, spend 4 years in the United States Senate representing a state of 13 million people while sponsoring 131 bills and serving on the Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works and Veteran's Affairs committees, you don't have any real leadership experience.

*If your total resume is: local weather girl,4 years on the city council and 6 years as the mayor of a town with less than 7,000 people, 20 months as the governor of a state with only 650,000 people, then you're qualified to become the country's second-highest-ranking executive and next in line behind a man in his eighth decade.

*If you have been married to the same woman for 19 years while raising 2 beautiful daughters, all within Protestant churches, you're not a real Christian.

*If you cheated on your first wife with a rich heiress, and then left your disfigured wife and married the heiress the next month, you're a true Christian.

*If you teach responsible, age-appropriate sex education, including the proper use of birth control, you are eroding the fiber of society.

*If, while governor, you staunchly advocate abstinence only, with no other option in sex education in your state's school system while your unwed teen daughter ends up pregnant, you're very responsible.

*If your wife is a Harvard graduate laywer who gave up a position in a prestigious law firm to work for the betterment of her inner-city community, then gave that up to raise a family, your family's values don't represent America's.

* If your husband is nicknamed "First Dude," with at l east one DWI conviction and no college education, who didn't register to vote until age 25 and once was a member of a group that advocated the secession of Alaska from the USA, your family is extremely admirable.

OK, much clearer now.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Crawling out from under my happy rock...

I'm still here and kicking. I've not felt like blogging for a while because of a whirlwind early September, which is just now calming down a bit. So, this will be a kind of miscellany...

1) I arrived at the first class post-pill-popping and was asked by one of my students: "Do you have your buzz on again today, Professor?" But apparently I hadn't done anything stupid...

2) The JIL has come out, as many of you have noticed, and there are a fair number of good medieval jobs - Heu, what do you think?? There are a couple so far that coincide with options for TD, so I'll apply to them. I'm NOT looking forward to revising my job materials, but there it is. Nothing for it. Suck it up, MW.

3) TD has been moved into an official professor's office in the Dream Academy's Dutchman Department, so I'm hoping that they will see how perfectly he fits there and will hire him. He's still very involved with the department here for someone who has no official affiliation - they've been delightful. Please have all blog-fingers crossed that they will have a line open for his specialty this year!!!

4) One of my very good friend's tenure cases isn't going well. This is very, very sad. This is the person who got me involved in the Activity here and I can't imagine what it would be like if they're no longer here. Maybe the tenure gods will be kind.

5) I sent off my recent article (Spawn of the Egg) to a good, old school journal last week, so that was satisfying. I hope they feel the same way! In related Incredible Edible Egg news, I have just had an EPIPHANY about my last book chapter. It's a bona fide epiphany, folks, and those are few and far between here at Medieval Woman HQ. As I bask in this glow for a moment, I'll try to keep up the momentum on researching it.

6) Tonight, swordfish on the grill!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A Random Bit of Stupidity

This morning as I'm leaving my house at about 9, I stop and dig into my bedside pharmacopia to pull out some of my prescription allergy meds (somethin's blooming around here!). Apparently, I actually took TWO of those sleeping pills that start with a big "A". Yes. I took 2 of them.

I realized this as I was driving to school and I stopped to get my usual Rte. 44 diet coke - "why am I feeling so wonky suddenly", I thought. That's the answer. I believe that I was weaving a bit in the hallway of my office. And I still had to teach my 10am class! So, I simply came clean - I told them, "I wasn't wearing my glasses this morning and this is what happened, folks!" I think I was probably okay during class, but I was seeing double at first. I don't remember much about the class, actually, except we didn't get through everything I wanted to - I remember students raising hands and talking, etc. and then after class, I ran into one of them at the elevator in my office building. She asked how I was doing with having taken two and I asked if the class was okay or if I'd begun talking in tongues. She laughed and said I'd been fine, but that I just seemed very chill.

Oh god, I hope I didn't do/say anything stupid.

I still had to meet someone for lunch who I'd never met before. I'd left my wallet in my car b/c I was so out of it that morning, so he graciously spotted me and said, "Amb.ien can do that!" And then I taught a fairly normal afternoon class. I remember being okay for that. Then a late afternoon grant writing workshop and finally home and a 4 hour nap.

So, now that all that's out of my system, the shame sets in. How should I play this? Should I play this at all? People just noticed that I was "out of it" all day - when I told my friends and colleagues who asked they laughed and said they understood now. But I hope I didn't do something truly awful - do you know how sometimes with sleeping pills how you can have blank spots in your memory? Try taking two and then teaching.

My plan is to act like nothing ever happened. I'm going to have so many more meetings with that partocular class that I'm sure I can make them forget my total goofiness today. I hope.

Ugh. The embarrassment!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Professor Lazy McSlacker

That's my new name.

Here's the skinny. Here in Dream Academyville, we've been having well nigh torrential rainstorms the past day or so. They were really bad last night when I went to sleep. Apparently, during the night the power went out for me and almost 600 of my closest friends. Now, I have a battery back-up alarm clock, but a couple of weeks ago I took the batteries out to put them in my remote control and forgot to replace them. So, I woke up about half an hour before my first class this morning and started rooting around in the gloom trying to figure out what happened.

Now, did I rush up to campus with my hair in a rat's nest, no make-up, and two unmatching shoes just to teach my eager young minds in my morning class? Hell no. I called the power company on my cell (b/c my cordless phone didn't work) and found out that it wouldn't be on for another couple of hours. Then I called the dept. and told them to put a note on the door saying it was cancelled.

Do I feel guilty? Not a bit. It's only one 50 minute class. We'll have tons more of them.

Slightly off topic, but sort of related to natural phenomenon and sleeping in, I was having a dream about doing research at a famous research archive in an earthquake-prone zone. You know the one I mean.

It reminded me of the first time I did research there as a graduate student. I was getting my reader's card, etc. and the lady went over the earthquake procedure with me.

Lady: This is where you'll meet up if there's an earthquake. If you don't come there, we'll know that something's happened to you.

MW: Great. Sure. No problem; good to know.

Lady: And don't try to save the manuscript.

MW: (*guffaws loudly at the joke*)

Lady: (*gives MW a tart look to communicate that this was no joke*)

MW: ...um, I just mean that I could see the headlines:
"Dedicated medievalist's corpse found lying atop a slightly smooshed but still intact fifteenth-century manuscript."
Lady: (*replies deadpan*) We would name a small travel grant after you.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Countdown Begins...

T-minus...22 hours and counting. Until my first class tomorrow. I'm still in denial about this, but I need to get my arse up to campus and get arranged for the beginning of the semester.

I have....(*wait for it!*)....105 students this semester. As Medieval Pop would say, "that's more students than you can shake a stick at!" But I actually think I could still shake a stick at that many students.

Here at the Dream Academy, we have big classes - there are a lot of students and we need our grad students to teach comp, so there aren't any TA's really. It's lovely b/c I can teach only courses in my field, but they're BIG courses. We have a 3/2 load, but in your "3" semester, you teach a larger section of a 200-level survey course (for us, Med-Ren). It's not quite 2 solid courses - that would be 80 students - but a course-and-a-half with 65 students in it. This is my "3" semester - next semester I'll teach a grad course and an upper class majors course on the exact same thing.

Large classes like this means that I have to get more creative about papers - I cannot grade over 100 4-5 page "close reading" papers and 3 exams. T'ain't happenin'! So, for my large class, I have them doing an exercise involving the Ox. Eng. Dict. It won't be as easy to plagiarize and will be a whiz for me to grade, I hope.

I love the fact that I'm teaching at the same school again this year - after hopping around for the last 3 years, always starting at a new university in the fall, this brings a kind of stability that I didn't know would mean so much. Both of these classes I taught last year, so I can tweak them according to my experience with them last year. No more trying to figure out an entirely new university culture!

So, it's once more into the same breach. And that makes the sting of a new school year beginning a little less stingy.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Yard Braille

What is it with everyone and lawns around here??

I'm not sure I've ever blogged about this...actually, I think I might have, but I can't find the entry anywhere. Okay, I live in a lovely neighborhood - I'll call it Bungalowville. It's very close to school and has many little bungalows - I live in a 2-bed one and I love it.

My nextdoor neighbor has lived in the same house since, like, 1960. She's blind and her name is Miss P. Where we live, it's hot a lot of the year, so the grass growing/cutting season is a long one. And the grass grows fast. I have on more than one occasion come outside on my way to the car and seen Miss P on her hands and knees in my yard literally "reading" how long my lawn was. She can feel where there are weeds, etc. I'll say, "Hi, Miss P" and she'll say, "Honey, you need to mow your lawn." Okay, fine, I'll do it soon, I promise the nice old blind lady next door, who's reading the shame of my lawn like so much braille!

But now, the other neighbors are into the shame game, and we're getting a little sick of it. The lady who lives across the street from us and one over - and I'll name names - Jeri - has been getting a major attitude about our lawn. She'll say things like, "Well, I have a kid come and cut mine, but then I'm not as young as you two are!" And I've looked out the front window and seen her talking to my directly across the street neighbor about our lawn! Seriously, she's madly gesticulating and pointing and acting like it's waist high or something.

Since when did having a perfectly manicured lawn become such a stressful thing? Is this suburban life and I'm just not privy to it? I mean, we let our grass grow a bit and suddenly we're the trashy neighbors no body wants to say hi to. It's not like we have old cars up on cinder blocks on the front lawn - it's just grass!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Random Bits of "Wait, When the F*ck Does School Start"??

Okay - I'm only going to get back on the blogging horse with a bit o' fluff edition. So here goes:

1) We have a new stove - my landlords replaced the one that was older than me and now we can bake things! The old one would leave the bottom of anything you put in it raw and then cremate the top. I have made several casseroles and a lemon bundt cake.

2) The article is....going. Sometimes it's going well, sometimes it's just going. But I've broken through the barrier, I think.

3) Now that wee Shawn Johnson has won a gold, I can stop watching the Olympics (a.k.a. the great time and brain suck that I've been addicted to). I very much like little ShawnJohn - she is - bar none - the cutest little leprechaun gymnast I've ever seen. I want to wrap her up in a bow and keep her on hand to do tumbling runs every time I feel a bit down.

4) Dear Friend has officially moved to Dream Academy City and I'm sooooooo happy to have her and her partner close by. We realized that she now lives 5 minutes away and offices literally a stone's throw away - this is closer than she ever was even when we were in grad school! Back then, she lived about an hour away in next giant metropolis from grad school city. Joy to be so close!!

5) TD left yesterday for a 3-week trip to Temporary Dutchmanlandia and Real Dutchmanlandia (and another European country thrown in for kicks). I don't sleep well when he's not around - every little creak or sound makes me prick my ears up. It'll wear off soon, but it still sucks not to have him here.

6) Starting next week, my schedule becomes ridiculously full. In September, it becomes even worse.

7) I realized today that I teach next week - holy cats! These are both classes I've taught before and the syllabi were made up and copied a month ago. But, I have to...um...figure out what I'm going to say that first week. I foresee many many great student tales this semester!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I blame the Olympics

I'm having trouble with an article. It's actually a chapter of the diss that I'm peeling off - it won't be part of the Egg. It is Spawn of Egg. And it's not that I'm having trouble figuring out what I'm saying - it's actually largely written - it's been written for 2 years. I'm just having trouble beginning the tinkering process that will make it a stand alone piece.

I've set up deadlines with Senior Medievaliste here at the Dream Academy. I've also already workshopped SoE with my writing group in early May. I got some *great* feedback from that - I remember being excited about it...back in May. And then I tossed it aside for another Egg chapter, for travel and conferencing and trips to Medieval Mom. And now that my deadline is looming (my goal was to have it sent out by the end of the month) - I can't get into it again.

I have tried many ways to procrastinate working on SoE: I have planned all my classes, set up my course websites, and most recently, I have watched the Olympics every night into the wee hours (Oh, the drama of the women's gymnastic team finals last night!! How many more times must we see them interview Mike Phelps??). But I now need to stop fooling around and get to work.

What are some of your strategies for getting back into a languishing project? Um, besides just doing it? Any helpful incantations? Small offerings of food to any particular gods? If so, which ones? What do they like to eat?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Back In Black...

Sorry for the unannounced blogging hiatus - I just spent 5 days with Medieval Mom (and Belle, mea culpa for not getting in touch to meet up - it turned out that my mom took off a week from work so that we could spend EVERY MINUTE together! Ugh.)

Overall - it was good - MM and I didn't fight even once! For us, this is a big deal - I feel like we've turned a corner. What I did do on my visit turned out to be akin to indentured servitude. We cleaned out MM's attic, several buffets and a hutch, closets, and a couple of chests. The whole time dodging fiddleback spiders - good times. We're giving away SO MUCH stuff to Habitat, but we also got to go through all my baby/kid things and pick out which ones I want to keep for our future-sprogs.

The rest of the week was spent eating food I can't get here and watching movies (Lilies of the Field, Amadeus, A Room with a View, Jurassic Park, etc.)

More interesting blogging when it happens!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Are we *that* couple?

Last semester I had 2 students in my med-ren seminar who were "going steady" or whatever the kids are calling it these days. They were both a little older and were taking the same classes apparently (at least mine and the Math prof. who taught in my room right after me). And they were pretty good students, but they began to irritate me because they would eat identical lunches every day and always sat holding hands under the table. It just got under my skin...

Now, several months later, TD and I have been going to the gym in the mornings - we always go together (largely because I won't get out of bed to go unless he's glowering over me); we do 30 minutes of machines and then 30 minutes of reclining bike cardio (um...in case you wanted to know our workout regimen!). Today I realized that we have matching water bottles and matching towels. We always sit next to each other on our bikes, and we share the same locker because all our stuff fits into his backpack. And then we always walk out together and share a banana after our workout.

As we left today, I thought, "Have we become that creepy couple? Do we look like we do everything together??"

Others might read it this way, but part of me also just thinks that it's worth it to do whatever will get my ass to the gym to workout. Maybe it's the same with the other "Bobsy-couple"?

Thursday, July 31, 2008

And the nominees are...

Thank you guys! Lessee, it was Belle, heu mihi, and Adjunct Whore who nominated me...

I don't think many of you have NOT been nominated, but I'm also picking up Dame Eleanor Hull, New Kid, Pilgrim/Heretic, and Dr. Virago. And anyone else who I forgot!!

1. Put the logo on your blog.
2. Add a link to the person who awarded it to you.
3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
4. Add links to these blogs on your blog.
5. Leave a message for your nominee on their blog.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Random Bits of Traveling Fluff

Okay, so we all know the Pink Ladies Pledge, right?

1) To Act Cool
2) To Look Cool
3) And To Beeeeeee Cool

I failed horribly to live up to this code on our ridiculously long journey home on Monday.

Here's why:

1) We were on the airline equivalent of a milk run. Amsterdam to London Heathrow (3 hour layover); 8 hour trans-Atlantic flight to Minneapolis (2 hour layover); Minneapolis to here. So, you know how you just feel like a big ball of grease when you fly? It's because of the insanely dry air on the plane. It makes your body think you're in the Sahara, so it freaks out and says, "Moisturize, moisturize, aaaarggghhh!" And the plane is neither cold nor hot, just uncomfy. So, I was a shining, slightly gross, Medieval Bee-yotch for the entire 24 hours between when we got up and when we could finally go to bed again.

2) On the trans-Atlantic leg, we sat right in the middle of a very large, very energetic Indian family. There were 3 boys sitting across the aisle from us, all with little coke-bottle glasses. They were very excited about flying and kept asking their older brother, Raj, if he was going to sleep on the plane? If he was going to eat on the plane? What he was going to watch on the plane? Etc. The boys were cute, but there was a lot of them.

3) Also on the trans-Atlantic flight, there were movies. Dr. Virgao asked what I watched on the way out (Presumed Innocent), but what I watched on the way back was much more entertaining. At least for some. I decided to watch "A.I. Artificial Intelligence," which I love, but which always makes me sob at the very end when he gets to spend the last day with his mom and she tells him she loves him (I'm tearing up even now). So, I was crying my eyes out and then when it was over, I looked at what TD was watching: "Bridges of Madison County" (okay, here we go). That movie makes me cry even harder (when she doesn't get out of the truck!! Oh god!). I saw that TD was already tearing up and so we shared his earphones and watched the last little bit together. Both of us were sobbing by the end. On the airplane.

And after listening to the music on the credits and weeping a bit more, we looked up and saw 3 little pairs of coke-bottle glassed eyes staring at us in wonder. TD turned to me and asked, "You would have gotten out of the truck to come be with me, right??"

Other Tidbits:

- I think we had a slightly *tipsy* cab driver on the way home from the airport. Also, his cab had the brake light, check engine light, and the ABS brakes light on the whole trip. And he told us that he has 10 kids by 4 different women. I told him that he must be a busy guy...

- When we got home, the furballs just glared accusingly (where the f*ck have you been? what other cats have you been cheating with?); then they showed us to the Furballs of Protest they'd left for us. Thanks guys.

- TD's and my current situation continues to boggle the minds of the border guards. We get a lot of this: "Okay, so you two are married, she's an American citizen living in America, he's a Dutch citizen living in another country not Holland. And your married. Why??" So, we have to keep explaining these things and they just get more and more suspicious. We're legitimately starting to worry that they will start making it difficult for TD to get into the country. The border guard in Minneapolis said as much, in fact. So, we're going to need to start the Green Card process pronto and just hope that the market this year yields something better.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Paging Dr. Freud...


Okay, so last night I had a dream that 2 of my students in a class I was teaching were threatening to take all my internal organs. They were leaving notes for me saying that they would strike on "a Saturday." I took the notes to the campus police and they were able to find out which students they were by doing DNA testing on the paper.

However, they weren't able to do anything to the students, so I still had to teach them in class. The police wouldn't give me a gun (I asked), but they were able to give me a taser disguised in the handle of one of those squeegees that you wash windshields with.

Where the hell did that come from, I ask you?

I also had a second dream (I remember these frequently), where I had joined the space program and lied about having gotten a Ph.D. in astrophysics. I was getting ready to go on a shuttle mission and I was terrified because I had no idea how to work any of the equipment. But I was also scared to tell anyone I lied, because we all know what happens when NASA gets mad, right?

I was so relieved to wake up...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Thoughts from the Road - Still Kickin'!

Well, I said in a previous post that there would be light blogging ahead - and indeed there was! So, here's what's been up:

Earlier in July I had one of the most amazing, intellectually stimulating, wonderfully fabulous weeks of my academic life. I made many new friends, many of which I continued to see at the conference that followed. Med. Camp was first rate and I'm so happy I went.

Just finished up at the NCS conference in Wales - got to see Dr. Virago quite a bit (yay!) - sitting at lunches, out and about, and best of all - crawling around on a lovely castle (Kidwelly to be precise). The murder holes were very cool. And the sheep. The sheep were cool.

The conference itself was good, but incredibly draining - even when you're there with friends and aren't in a particularly precarious position (i.e., looking for a job, looking for a publisher, etc.) it's still a draining process. I, personally, wasn't blown away by a lot of the papers, but I did skip the last two plenaries (which I heard were wonderful). My paper went fine and that's good. The best thing about the conference was seeing very old and newly-minted friends and making a few more. It was the first time that a conference was so social and so socially variegated - i.e., I hung out with many different people. I was happy to come down to true TD-land last night to see him.

Which brings me to another big thing in my life right now. There are many bad things happening in TD's family at the moment and we've been dealing with this for the past month or so in absentia and now in person. His mother is now almost completely blind (she has macular degeneration) and we found out a couple of weeks ago that his stepmom (who we adore) has very advanced cancer - she either didn't know or didn't tell anyone about the symptoms, but it's not looking good. TD's brother is involved in a horrible situation with his girlfriend and his two children (unfortunately, I can't blog about this in much more detail), but he hasn't seen his kids since before Christmas and she's drained his bank account, taken one of their cars, etc. So, his father is almost devastated beyond belief - he feels like his whole world is falling apart.

TD and I are spending a week here (he's already been here for 4 days while I was in the UK) and we're trying to get his mom into a nursing home, trying to spend time with his brother, dad, and stepmom. But it's very hard on TD to see his whole family in various kinds of crises. Today we hung out in Haarlem (where we're staying at some friends' house while they're out of town). We sat in the old city centre, in front of the beautiful, 15th-century St. Bavo Kerk, had some beers at cafe and took in the sun. Across the square, 2 men playing the trumpet and the accordion were playing "Hello Dolly". It was a surreal and lovely moment.

At any rate, I hope you guys are all doing well!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Medieval Camp

Dear Medieval Mom and Medieval Pop,

I'm having fun at medieval camp - will be here the rest of the week. The other kids are cool and the counselor is terrifyingly brilliant. I am learning how to make chain-mail lanyards. Haven't yet hit the target in archery, but have come close.

Please send Twinkies and some more bug repellent.


Medieval Woman

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Fourth of July!

Today promises to be a RED LETTER day. Woke up to the smell of TD making waffles and sausage for breakfast. Later, we'll go downtown to the parade and then over to some friends' house for an early potluck. Then, fireworks at the highschool!

I love the 4th - I always wear some form of red, white and blue - TD is wearing blue shorts and a red shirt with white lettering that reads: "Trust me, I'm a Doctor". (The Dutch flag also happens to be red, white, and blue). We'll be putting our "Obama '08" sticker on the car today as well. Things are looking up.

Perhaps even better than the fireworks (at least it'll linger much longer), I just received a $2100 tax return from Dutchmanlandia (i.e., where I lived last year)!!

Independence from debt - Fucking righteous, dudes.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Still Here...

What's going on?

Nuttin'. Nada. Niente. Zilch.

Went to a family reunion this last weekend and had A FABULOUS TIME. Much more fun than I've ever had with my crazy extended family. There were around 40 of us and 6-7 of us ended up staying up WAY too late drinking and playing Shanghai Rummy. TD is now officially part of the family - he clicked very well with my multiple funny, redneck uncles.

There was kayaking, boiled crabs, margaritas, and 50s dancing. Medieval Family can party.

I will be traveling most of July, so blogging will be perhaps lighter than the average summertime blogging.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Shopping while hungry...

I went into Dillards to get a single make-up compact. I left with a bunch more face stuff, a pre-ordered gift with purchase (which TD will have to go pick up for me while I'm away - I'm sure he'll love that), a new pair of shoes (see below - who doesn't always need a black flat?), and a mauve sweater shell with kicky pleats at the bottom for $27 ON SALE FROM $109!!!!!



these are Jessica Simpson - I feel like I should be slightly embarrassed about this...

P.S. But on another note, TD and I got our tickets out to California for Xmas, MLA, New Year's, etc. for only $430 each!! And that's all the way across the country, folkses...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Frickin' Russians....

Our beloved boys in orange have just lost the quarter finals of the Eurocup...van Nistelrooij scored our only goal.

TD mourns in front of the television and I couldn't even watch the last minute or so. Where was our defense????? Offence?????

Final Score: 3-1 Russia

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Jobs I've Had

Okay - this is just for fun - as begun by Belle (although this list isn't near as long or varied as Belle's!):

I am 33 and I'm not counting the teaching jobs I've had throughout and post grad school (which equal 6 different institutions).

- Waitress at a retirement center restaurant (became an ace at avoiding "handsy" old guys)
- Worked at a local video store
- Adult literacy tutor
- Bartender at a sport's bar (I am still a licensed bartender - I hold a degree in "Mixology")
- Bartender at an upscale strip club (I was fully clothed - tuxedo shirt, bow tie, cummerbund, and bright red nails!)
- Waitress/Bartender at an off-track betting place (got a $300 tip once)
- Bartender at a Harley bar
- Receptionist at a real estate office (a.k.a. the 7th circle of Hell)


Tag everyone - you're it!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Random Bits of Out of Shape Fluff

At 8:45 this morning TD and I got up, ate a granola bar, and went to the gym. This is the first time I've gone to the gym in...(*cough!*) 2yrs (*cough!*). Yes, it's true. I am officially a couch/desk chair potato.

I did about 45 minutes of different kinds of cardio - a little Precor, a little treadmill, a little recumbent bike. I stayed on two of them for over 20 minutes so I did get the old heartrate going. And boy, was it going. I am SO TOTALLY out of shape that I thought at one point I was going to hurl.

And there was an over-baked, stick figure next to me that seriously looked like she was going to break the elliptical machine she was moving so hard. And she wasn't dropping even a bead of sweat. I silently hexed her and kept my eyes on the clock in front of me and listened to my Tears for Fears in an effort to achieve a zen-like state.

But, overall it was a good beginning. I'm going to take little steps. Smaller even than baby steps. Zygote steps. And I hope that in a week or two I'll see improvement!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Grad School Parties...

A (potentially sappy) Retrospective.

Actually, it's just one memory that hit me really powerfully as I was reading Sisyphus' thoughts on graduate school parties (as opposed to faculty parties) just now. I'm not sure why this in particular came to me, but it's kinda funny and totally says volumes about...well, me in grad school and the early days if TD's and my relationship.

Picture a snowy night in late March of 2001. TD and I had been hanging out a lot since Feb 9th, when we met. Initially, we had Fraught Issues (i.e., he had a girlfriend back in Holland who he'd just started dating before he left to come to the States for a year exchange), so we were just friends. And, apparently, were secretly falling into deep luuuuuuv. Alcohol was a big part of grad school parties, of course, so at this point, there was a bunch of us in the kitchen of JG's apartment doing lemon drop shots and listening to Thriller. TD and I were talking and laughing as just friends and he made a joke and then turned to get more lemons and I began to laugh so hard that I ended up falling on the floor and rolling (yes, rolling. Like a billiard ball) under the kitchen table. He pulled me out by my foot and asked if I'd hit my head. I wasn't feeling much of anything at that point, so I somehow (in between giggles and snorts) indicated that I hadn't. Then he said, "I think I'm in love with you."

Boing! Beginnings of sobriety...

What followed was an Intense and Emotional discussion about What To Do! It was epic in the way that only *schooltime* love can be - I remember saying that even though I was an "American harpy stealing him away from the bosom of his homeland" (I told you: epic), I was morally certain that he shouldn't go back at the end of the year, but should stay here for grad school where we could feather our love nest (to be honest, he had already begun to think about staying for the full Ph.D. even in the fall semester before we met).

So, the rest is history. But I will share one more tidbit from the very first night we met at a grad student social hour. We said "hi" and I asked him where he was from (he hadn't been in the country that long - I wouldn't have been surprised if he'd still been wearing wooden shoes). Then he asked me where I was from and when I told him, he got a look of rapture on his pure little un-American face and cried out,
"Oh! Are you a redneck??"
Apparently, he'd been watching King of the Hill and really, really wanted to meet one.

How can you not love that?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

A different kind of grading jail...

It's June and I'm not on the quarter system (that's a shout-out to you, Sisyphus!) - so, why am I still grading? Graduate papers. It's not grading per se - all the grades are in. However, I'm now commenting on their papers so that I can return them. I put this off until the end of May because of the article revisions I was working on, but now I need to get these done so I can begin my Summer Of Work and Toil and Productivity!

The great thing about undergraduate papers? They never want them back.

So, that's pretty much what's going on in this neck of the woods. My friend had her baby this last Sunday and I went to see her yesterday and brought Thai food take-out to the weary parents. The little sprog was all red, but very beautiful.

Ooo! Ooo! And I've found the pendant light fixture that will one day hang above TD's and my dining room table! Voila:

Our dining room set is basic dark wood table with matching chairs that have a chocolate colored upholstery.


Thursday, May 29, 2008

End of the First Year on the Tenure Track: Part Two - Teaching

This should be an easy one, yes? I have some experience setting up new classes and I taught almost exclusively things that I'd taught a few hundred times (it seemed) or things I'd read closely as a grad student TA. While I was trying to crank an article out by the end of the first semester, everyone was saying, "Don't worry about it - no one expects you to get any real research done your first year! Just get used to teaching your classes!"

Ha! I would smirk at them and think, "get used to teaching? Dude, puh-lease. I could do this in my sleep..."

(*picture of cocky jr faculty member getting ready to be smacked down*)

Now, teaching did go....fine. I wasn't a sensation. And I'm sorta used to being a sensation (and I don't mean this to be a shithead, although you're all thinking that right now). What I realized is that, yeah - if you have NO OTHER JOB OBLIGATIONS AT ALL, you can be a crackerjack teacher - everybody's fave. But I was always used to teaching in a vacuum - I was used to teaching like none of it mattered past this semester. Like I didn't have to think about getting tenure or (dare I say it?) a reputation.

And that last word brings me to another point. I've always been a fair grader, but that wasn't foremost on my mind (although a lot of people thought I was psychotically hard, apparently). I was, however, thinking about what kind of rep (English Department "street cred", if you will) I was carving out for myself. Was I going to be the one you hoped to take the Med-Ren survey with? Did you desperately want to take my Chaucer class if you could? The answer is, most students couldn't give a rat's butt. The more germane question for students is, "is the class being taught at 9:30 am? Is there room left in the 2:30 section?"

The thing I realized is that it doesn't really matter that much. I'm a good teacher and I'll always get good/decent evaluations. Some semesters I'll be able to dedicate more energy to teaching - the semester when I'm working up my tenure dossier? Probably not so much.

Two cool things happened this year regarding teaching:

1) After my grad class, several students said they were taking my next one, which gave me a warm fuzzy. BUT, a couple of days later I received an email from one of my students - he was one of the "cool" kids who I knew was only in there because of the requirement. He is very smart, but seemed disengaged throughout some of the class. The email was a more personalized addendum to the course evaluation they'd done at the end of the semester. "Oh, god," I thought. However, it was the most conscientious, thorough, most totally constructive evaluation I've ever received, bar none. He talked about how he'd inititally just wanted to get through my course, hadn't been interested at all. But, then he'd become very invested in the things we discussed and in his final project (for which he was able to incorporate some of his own interests - it was a great paper). His suggestions were spot on and I'll be incorporating almost all of them. So, all the angst I felt this semester was worth it, I think.

2) When I went to our departmental graduation ceremony, our chair also takes a minute to point out any special awards or grants that the faculty have won. Everyone claps for everyone and the parents get a glow knowing that their kids were taught by people who can, actually, read and write. I received a grant this year and when the chair read my name, about 8 of my former students who were graduating all whooped really loud. It made me happy.

Funny Addendum:
Some of you may remember my stupid existential crisis about getting a blue frowny face on RMP (I gave the little shit the stink eye at graduation, too. Because I'm petty and childish...). I looked again recently and saw something that I will actually wear as a badge of honor (and this is the gist of the rating, although I've corrected the spelling mistakes, which is why the student probably got a C):

Green "So-So" Face:

Prof. MW is a very nice person and very funny. However, her class is *insanely* hard! She takes attendance EVERY DAY and she expects us to have read this HUGE book BEFORE class! (I.e, the 5 poems we'll be discussing out of the Norton Anthology, kids). She gives three REALLY HARD tests and we have to take tons of notes in her lectures. I thought this would be an easy class, but I'm struggling to get a C! It's SO unfair!!


Friday, May 23, 2008

Can't we all just switch to the metric system or whatever?

I *hate* formatting stupid, f**cking articles to different formats....MHRA style my foot. Single quotations, blah, blah.....(*grumble, grumble*).....tedious.....

Thursday, May 22, 2008

End of the First Year on the Tenure Track: Part One - the Faculty Meeting

I thought I might post some reflections on what has been a BIG HONKIN' YEAR OF MILESTONES:

Part the First - The Faculty Meeting:

Learning how to speak up in meetings was a semi-fraught situation this year. What's interesting is that it's not because I felt uncomfortable about speaking up as a junior faculty member in a room full of senior colleagues. I know that some of the other jr-faculty in my department had that reaction; they have said in various contexts that they felt like they didn't want to antagonize the very people who would eventually be deciding their tenure cases. I haven't felt that way this year (not that feeling that way is in any way wrong or, in some cases, on the money). Rather, I was trying to establish what my voice in these meetings was going to be - passionate regarding issues about which I felt strongly, but also measured and as even-keel as possible. What I've loved about our regular department meetings this year (and I know I won't feel like this about dept. meetings in 10 years, but for now the novelty hasn't quite worn off) is the different voices that come out. For some reason, I imagine this must be like a huge heard of sheep; each one has its own distinct voice and the little lost lamb can hear its own mother among all the others that basically seem to bleat in the same way. Now, I'm not a lost lamb (although at times I've felt that way this year), but I quickly became accustomed to reading these meetings on a different level - abstracted from the actual situation at hand, I could tell why my colleagues were really saying what they were saying. If John Doe says this completely cazy, off the wall thing, it's to provoke a reaction, not because he actually thinks this. If Jane Doe starts going off into conspiracy theories about X, then Jane Doe 2 will intervene in a non-threatening way to neutralize the acid spewing forth. It's like reading a Spenserian allegory - there's so much more going on underneath the surface if you just look close enough.

Speaking up in meetings became important this year in particular because I was thrown into the semi-deep end of the pool early on. I was on a search committee and, thus, had to make my voice heard in many ways. The committee and I agreed to a spectacular degree on the status of all the candidates, so there wasn't strife per se, but there was the need to make our case persuasively to the rest of the dept. There was also another hiring issue that I was extremely personally invested in as well as some discussed curricular revisions that would impact me and my cohort tremendously. These issues became the basis on which I began to create my voice in the department. I should say that 99.9% of the senior faculty here really value the junior faculty and encourage us to speak up and become invested in the department goings-on. Fortunately, there's not the pat on the head and the "this is how we do things around here, kiddo" condescension I've heard about so often with some of my friends. They were pleased that I spoke up in meetings and staked my claim. But it felt that there were also times when certain well-meaning colleagues were attempting to appropriate my voice and my situation. It was well-intentioned and it was ultimately in the service of what we all wanted to happen, but it impressed upon me even more that I needed to be responsible for voicing my opinions; I needed to decide what aspects of my individual situation (both personal and professional) should be brought to bear on this issue. Ultimately, it worked wonders - we got what we wanted voted on and passed by the department and I received many emails from my senior colleagues saying how happy they'd been that I was so proactive and invested in our department's inner workings. It was a kind of validation I'd never experienced because my voice had never been valued in departments where I was an adjunct or visiting professor. This aspect, more than the knowledge that I will have steady teaching and a relatively stable identity as professor for the foreseeable future, has made me feel "all growed up" this year...

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Is it summer yet?

Well, I made a big pitcher of sangria today, so it feels like summer! If anyone's interested, I'll post my recipe - no apples, all citrus juices and wine and a little brandy (if one wants).

My lovely friend who got the job at the Dream Academy is coming into town with her partner on Monday to look for a place, etc. I'm so happy they're coming! I'm still not really believing that she'll actually be here next year. I've set up a big new and junior faculty get together (two of our new hires will be in town next week), so that will be fun.

I'm trying to finish up the "Article That I Never Thought Would Die But Then It Did." I got a few things to revise (look at this, format that, push the conclusion a bit further, etc.), but nothing terribly substantive. It needs to be done by the end of May, however, to get the collection to the publishers. So, that's been on my plate for the last few days.

Grades are in (although grad papers haven't been commented on - they'll have to wait!) and graduation is over!

Life is status quo, five-by-five, copacetic, but good...

Sunday, May 11, 2008

But can I still write about Women, though?

I was talking with Adjacent Field Friend the other day (who recently got a book contract - way to go!) and we were talking about studying women in the early periods. We both work in this subfield and we both do work that, at one point or another in our graduate work and/or our fledgling careers, has been considered to be "non-literary" - not so hot when you're an English Ph.D. Without giving anything away about either of us, let's say that she works on both canonical and noncanonical authors and genres. I work in more than one medium (but don't we all, really?). Anyway, we were discussing how our work has been dismissed by using evidence from the "historical record" (with all the attendant caveats that term requires).

For example, many people think I work on women's literacy - I don't, not really anyway. My work is predicated on early women's literacy in the same way that some conclusions about medieval population studies might be predicated on the fact that there was, actually, a series of plagues in the Middle Ages. But many, many wonderful scholars before me have already established that women were literate to varying degrees and in many different ways in the Middle Ages. I refer to their work and build on it to go in my own, slightly tangential, direction.

I remember giving a paper on one of my dissertation chapters once about a series of manuscripts that showed an interesting kind of women's readership. I was looking at a series of very cool and, theretofore, little studied marginal notations to make arguments about how these women were reading these texts, what purposes those texts seemed to serve in their lives (again, with all attendant caveats), etc. One of the questions I got asked was from a professor at the university hosting the conference. He said, "what you've outlined here is really interesting - I really want to believe that she was writing all these things...do you think she really was?" I blinked and said, "yes...as certain as I would be if a hand calling itself 'Henry Smith' was writing so thoroughly and aggressively in the margins of the text." Just because there were far more men than women involved in literate practices in the Middle Ages, doesn't mean that every hand signing the name "Jane Doe" automatically has to really be John Doe. Or even John Doe who's in love with a girl named Jane and decides to write her name 60 times in a book margin! (that possibility was also suggested to me)

But basically, the guy was missing the point. As I've said before, I'm aware of all the caveats needed to make a responsible argument about medieval women's literate practice - I know that the historical record is even more patchy than usual. And I'm a responsible scholar, so I take these things into account before I make my assertions. But we still come back to this whole question: could women really read in the Middle Ages?? It seems like that's the point at which a lot of people stop and then decide on the basis of that question whether or not to pursue certain arguments with me (and also my colleague). Funnily, I published a portion of that chapter in an essay collection - it was reviewed by someone and the only thing they really said about my piece was that "Medieval Woman discusses how women read these texts; but surely we've already concluded that women were reading these texts by now..." Again, they went along for the ride only so far. Was I clear about what my argument was really about? Yep. Women's reading was only step one - I lost the reviewer and the commenter after that.

What's interesting is that they both left the party at the same point, but for different reasons. Commenter couldn't get past the notion that the historical record doesn't provide (in his opinion) enough evidence to help overcome his skepticism, no matter how much he wanted to believe it. Reviewer left the party once they thought that I was merely stating that, yes, in fact, women were reading these texts. In their opinion, this was old hat; it had already been established.

My colleague has encountered the same thing in the work she does in the field chronologically adjacent to my own. She will combine texts written by and about women with the work of canonical male authors and look at the way certain vocations traditionally done by women are represented in both (for anonymity's sake, I can't give her project even a tiny measure of its true coolness). She once got a snide, dismissive report (written, as it turned out, by a man) that said: "Why are you looking at these women's texts when X phenomenon is clearly going on in Y Male Author's texts and a bunch of other Male Authors' texts?" Because that's not the point of her work. Yes, she could have written that book/article/conference paper. But that's not her work. You have her work in front of you and she's done a damn good job justifying why she's doing it this way and not that way.

We've all encountered in one form or another the reviewer who says, "Why didn't you write the article/book the way I would have?" But what my friend and I were discussing is how the presence of early women in the historical record - either their seemingly too overt or too clandestine presence - is used as a reason to a) dismiss certain kinds of scholarship once you've (mis)read it or, b) not engage with it at all.

Basically, I'm not sure if this is just something that plagues gender and early literature and/or history. Feminism and the Middle Ages had its beginning relatively late - late 80s, early 90s with folks like Dinshaw, Ferrante, etc. And that's not to say that people aren't still working on medieval women - jeez, I know one medieval woman who's working on medieval women! But it just seems like many people think it's been done to death. But I would love it if (after hearing that I work on medieval women's textual practices) if that medievalist or other scholar/colleague asked me, "Oh really? How does your work differ from the early work done on feminism and medieval literature? How do your methodologies differ from X and Y critics'? How do your questions build on rather than replicate this previous work?" Because I can speak to that - I can engage with that because I have to engage with that. But I can't bear another bored response from a fellow medievalist: "Oh. Could women even really read back then? I mean, do you have any evidence for that?"

Argh! Either we have to educate our audience beyond the point of ridiculousness or we have to deal with an already educated audience saying, "Oh please. Haven't we already established that women could read??"

Dudes. Please just finish the article or conference paper before you dismiss it? There's a step 2 and 3 and 4, etc. after step 1.

P.S. My colleague's and my conversation was brought on my some comments I recently got on a grant application that I didn't get (and, really, no sour grapes because I ended up getting the other one!). The reviewer said, simply: "the applicant hasn't even said why female literacy in the Middle Ages was important."

(*hits head repeatedly against desk*)

Because it's not about female literacy....

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Tidbits of Happy

Medieval Woman still lives. She has yet to figure out an appropriate balance between blogging, cohabitating with husband, and grading. But she will perservere.

Thus ends the part of the post where I speak in the third person.

On the cohabitating front - this is damn cool, I'll tell ya. We do not stare solefully into each other's eyes and feed each other peeled grapes or anything (why peeled, btw?) We have set up a little desk in the office for TD and he works happily away with his back to me as I work happily away.

He just brought me a piece of cherry strudel.

In other news, he is complaining about the location of the litter box. I have just had a girls' night out (wine and filet mignon) and apparently the litter box, which is located in the office (b/c there's no place else for it) was quite....busy....this evening. The Furballs have always been a bit shy about using it if I'm in here working - they're weird that way - they also don't like it if I watch them drinking water. But TD just laid out this entire scenario for me which included what can only be called a "line" at the kitty commode. Picture really annoyed passangers on a plane lining up outside the lavatory, tapping their feet, checking watches, eye-rolling, etc.

Furball #1 lost patience with Furball #2 and basically gave her the evil eye, sighed audibly and then started meow-growling under his breath until she vacated the premises. This happened several times and TD now wants to relocate the fur-facilities.

I realize that most of this post will be totally gross to anyone who isn't a freaky cat person. But for those of you who are, I hope you've had a giggle.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Problems at U of Toledo - Fear the Ripple Effect!

I am late in coming to this, but I want to point you all to an extremely important and well-written post over at NK's about some very scary changes taking place at the University of Toledo. This is the most aggressive form I've heard of a tendency that's been creeping about the edges of academia for a while now (and sometimes at more than the edges). Here at the Dream Academy, we're seeing a bit of this move towards "market driven" curriculum, there are "buzz words" flying around about making our education marketable and more conducive to making certain kinds of fundable bridges (i.e., not the Humanities). I can't say more and it's nothing like what's going on at U of Toledo. But please do take a look at this and, if you feel as worried as I do, lend a voice of protest in whatever way is most comfortable to you!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A Grading Haiku 4 U

deep in grading gulag
water, sunlight, and green grass
have forsaken me

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Moths, the Home Stretch, and Domestic Bliss

Okay - I've been off-blog for a week now and I'm feeling a tad disconnected from the blogosphere. But my life can be measured out in coffee spoons at the moment, so it will be a random bullet posting at the moment.

1) We have moths. Mutant moths who have attacked my beautiful new shawl (3 small-ish holes). I now have to take it and a few other pieces to Mr. Locke, my alterations whiz, and he will try to repair them. I basically just want the holes kept from unraveling. Because the pattern is so complex, it's virtually impossible to see the holes. I just want them not to get bigger. So, I have gone on a moth-hunting binge and I've taken every wool and cashmere garment I own and put them in air-tight plastic bags, each with their own block of cedar. With the shawl and my cashmere scarf (also a victim), I've put them in the freezer first to kill any of the little f*ckers that might still be on them. This is what Mr. Locke says I should do. The sad thing is that 3 of my wool sweaters that I wore on the job market (they're fine merino wool shells) are now ruined because moths have been nibbling for several years it appears. Blech!

2) I did something highly drastic to my hair, but I love it! I have gone from my old blonde highlights (which I've had since 1992) and I'm now the color "chocolate truffle" with "caramel" highlights. TD had never seen me before as a brunette (which is the hand Mother Nature actually dealt me), but he's very pleased, which is an added bonus.

3) Last class is this Tuesday, then I give an exam. I've got to grade 37 papers by Thursday. Joy.

4) TD is here for the duration and we're DEEP into nesting mode. He's currently making a pasta salad for a BBQ we're attending today. I forgot how awesome it is to see him without getting depressed on Sunday right before he leaves.

5) I got back some suggested revisions to The Article That Would Not Die But Finally Did Die the other day. They were very minor - MHRA format needs to be adhered to a bit more and I use too many passives. Also, I need to push the conclusion a bit further and maybe look at another couple of articles, but that's all she wrote!

6) In anticipation of another year out on the market (TD and I will both go out this year, but we're really hoping something works out here for him!), I've decided to peel off one more article from the Dissertation that Preceded the Egg. So, I'm calling this article, Spawn of Egg. It's not a part of the Egg anymore, but it's still interesting. I'm going to spend a couple of weeks buffing up Spawn of Egg and get that in the pipeline for this year's market. Then I'll spend the rest of the summer and the next year on the Egg proper.

7) Sadly I won't be at K'zoo this year, but I hope all my fellow medievalists have a good time! However, I'll make a pre-emptive call to anyone who's going to the NCS conference in July! I know Dr. V will be there - anyone else??