Archive for the ‘Elation’ Category

Like a Discopone

So, back in olden times, lo, what now seems to be just about 15 years ago, my grad school friends and I took this song as our anthem:

Medusa (longtime readers will remember her now defunct blog) misheard the lyric “I feel like I just got home” as “I feel like a discopone”, and “the discopone” was born.

So my life now is very different than my life was then, as are all of the lives of those women friends of mine who were in that circle at the time.  Except for Medusa, we’ve all left Grad School City, Medusa and I have tenure, two of the others are married with kids, and the remaining lady is now living in the upper midwest with a partner and owns a business.  I have been a  college professor for nearly 10 years, I own a home, I typically socialize by drinking some wine with friends over dinner as opposed to going out five nights a week to listen to live music (though it occurs to me that if I did that, rather than staying home to write and to read, or socializing by eating great food and drinking alcohol, I’d weigh a lot less because of the endless dancing involved in that former live music schedule), and, indeed, last night I was so wiped out by the week that I came home, had some dinner, did some knitting, took a hot bath, and fell asleep on the couch around 8:30.  I then woke up just before 10, and thought, wow, I’m exhausted: time for bed!

But tonight!  Tonight I went out with The Dude (who early in the evening made it his job to annoy the fuck out of me, to which I responded not entirely positively, but it all worked out in the end), and I saw a band I love and I danced my ass off, and honestly, I’ve not had so much fun in years.  Now, it’s true that I was ready to leave long before last call, even before the encore was complete.  I’m no spring chicken.  But, nevertheless, while I might not be a spring chicken, I am, indeed, a discopone.  Maybe not regularly, but that part of me still exists.  Seriously: tonight was fucking boss.

And, on that note, I shall now retire to bed.  And the bars aren’t even closed yet.  Because while I may still be a discopone at heart, I’m also a lady in her late 30s who needs her beauty sleep 🙂


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Best Date Ever


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(For those of you who’ve not been reading blogs since 1912, “RBOC” stands for “Random Bullets of Crap.”)

  • I am so excited about the research paper topics that my tiny honors freshmen are developing.  They are picking stuff that is interesting to them, and they are also totally on top of the fact that they need to have some sort of “primary source” to ground the paper, as well as secondary sources to support their claims.  This is the difference between teaching “regular” comp vs. honors: I really get to focus on the ideas and not on the mechanics of the research process.  It’s really, truly, a gift to have finally gotten myself into the rotation for honors comp (after 9 years).  And I really, really like my students in this class.  They are truly interesting, smart, and thoughtful – all of them.  This is not to say that I don’t get interesting, smart, and thoughtful students in regular comp – I surely do, but it’s usually just a handful (if that) out of 22.  In this class, I only have 14 students, and ALL of them fit this description.  They are a joy to teach.  Also: who knew that it was a “thing” amongst the late-teens to collect vinyl records?  It’s doubly retro, because I feel like that crap was retro 20 years ago when I was in high school/college.
  • Speaking of teenagers, I think I’m going to get to hang out with my little bro C. (half-brother from my dad’s second marriage, for those of you who are just tuning in) when I’m in Hometown over Christmas!  Also: he had an awesome football game last weekend and got interviewed for the local news!  And he was so eloquent and poised – not nervous at all in the video!  He is seriously the most awesome.  It’s crazy to me that every single girl in his high school isn’t clamoring to go out with him.  (He’s cute and tall, he plays football, he’s super-smart, and he’s NICE.  Sure, he seems to share my propensity for breaking up with people with whom he’s not in a relationship, which might explain some things, but DUDE!  High school girls are clearly super-dumb.)
  • In my Joyce and Woolf seminar, my students a) all showed up for library instruction, b) all did the online pre-test and paid attention and actually took notes during said library instruction, and c) so far (I still have to meet with 5 of them) have handled their (compared with what they are used to) low grades on their first papers with aplomb.  Now, partly their ability to handle the grades is probably because I’ve forced them to come to my office to talk to me to get the papers back, which I do think makes the comments sting less.
  • That said, it’s funny: I posted about the papers on Facebook yesterday while I was grading, and who came out of the woodwork to address what I posted but three of my prized students who took the same class with me 4 years ago.  The first, who’s begun his PhD at our state flagship university, just “liked” the post (he’s the only person of all my friends on FB who did); the second, in his third year of law school in a top program. wrote, “This all sounds so familiar”; and the third, who got accepted into Teach for America, completed the program, and is STILL TEACHING in an inner-city middle-school – which just goes to show that not all TFA alums abandon the schools when their time is done, wrote, “Flashback.”  First, I love that they weighed in.  Second, it’s times like these when I want to organize some sort of “Survivors of Dr. Crazy” group for my former students. As I imagine this club, its members would all be super-successful and happy, and they would consume a lot of cocktails at their meetings 🙂  (I’m not saying that all of my former students end up super-successful and happy: I just assume that the ones who don’t end up that way probably wouldn’t enjoy getting hammered and reminiscing with the ones who feel like they learned a lot in my classes.)
  • My students in my Gen Ed lit class ADORE Jean Rhys’s Voyage in the Dark.  1) Who knew?  2) How fucking awesome!  (By the way, if you don’t know this book, you should totally read it.  For it is awesome, if perhaps a bit depressing.)
  • I had a (first-semester freshman) student from my Gen Ed lit class, who happens also to be an English major, stop me as I was leaving the building in which our class meets to ask me about whether I thought it would be reasonable for him to try to “write something up” about Jim Morrison’s poetry through the lens of Nietzsche, you know, “just for fun,” and if I’d give him feedback about it.  This is also the student who wrote his first paper in my Gen Ed class (a really basic 2-page analysis paper assignment) about George Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language” parodying the style of that essay, which he did quite well, actually, and which obviously was going above and beyond what the assignment required.  It’s wrong, but I want him to take every single class ever with me.  Why?  Because if this is his starting point, I can’t even imagine where I can take him over the course of the next four years.
  • For the first time ever, my College within the university is going to award professional development money on a competitive basis to assist people who are working toward full promotion.  It’s not a lot of money as such things go, and there are only 10 awards available in this first year, and let’s note that there are like 200 associate professors, which makes this in theory exceptionally more competitive than a freaking NEH grant if everyone were to apply (which everyone won’t, but still).  Whatever the case, I wrote up my application for it today, because you can’t get the “not a lot of money as such things go” if you don’t apply, and, since even “not a lot of money as such things go” is more than nothing, it’s worth doing.  And you know what?  It’s about time the College did something to support my work and to assist me in getting fully promoted.  So anyway, I wrote it and submitted it, ahead of the deadline, and we’ll see what happens.

AND NOW THE GOOD NEWS!!!!!  (As if all of the above isn’t awesome enough.)

Unless something goes stupidly wrong, I will have an updated kitchen one week from today!!!!!  A kitchen with new cabinets and counters and an over-the-stove microwave and a dishwasher and a garbage disposal and a brand new sink that can accommodate my stock pot when I need to wash it and a new faucet!!!!   Now.  I’m doing it on the cheap, the Lebanese way, and so it’s my cousin Nino’s “guys” who rehab houses for him (for he’s been doing the whole “flipping foreclosed houses” thing of late), and so G. is accompanying them down from Hometown, and the dishwasher/faucet/sink/over-the stove microwave/disposal are driving down with them and I need to make sure that the cabinets and countertops are available upon their arrival (I’m doing totally standard stuff for that, all available at Home De$pot/Lowe$, so this is not an issue of ordering of fancy business), and I’m still going to be responsible for painting the kitchen and for doing backsplash business as a whole DIY project sort of deal, but after 2 1/2 years living in this house I will have a DISHWASHER!!!!!  And a GARBAGE DISPOSAL!!!!! In time for Thanksgiving!!!!  I’m so excited!!!!!  (You can tell how excited I am by the exclamation points.)

Life is good.

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California Knows How to Party

I arrived back home today to 48 degrees and windy rain, and I thought to myself: I did not make the good life choices that my friend RG made.  And I heard the song that inspired the title of this post on the radio n my drive home, and that only added insult to injury.  I’ve been visiting with RG and his husband over my long fall  break weekend, and it was, in a word, delightful.  80 degrees and sunny?  Check.  Lovely meals that included pate and fancy wine?  Check.  Delightful kittens and puppies that adopted me for their very own?  Check.  Gorgeous spa day that included a mud bath and a mini-facial and massage and being wrapped up in blankets like a tiny infant baby?  Check.  Oh, and a fancy French bistro dinner to finish off the trip.  Sadly, tomorrow I need to return to my workaday non-fancy life, which does not involve foie gras or sparkling wine at brunch or delightful cocktails before grand dinners.  No, tomorrow involves meetings and grading and teaching and typical brutal fall-like weather.  No vineyards for me, no tiny puppies with giant backyards that include chickens, no pacific ocean and no giant redwoods.  But seriously, friends, I am so grateful to have the friends that I have – and the new friends that I made – and I’m so happy that I gave myself the present of this trip.  And RG and FM can expect a lovely thank you and present in the mail in the near future – as soon as I find something that is delightful enough to express my appreciation.  This was, without reservation, my best fall break in 8 years.  And yes, I’m behind, but I’d have been behind anyway…. and with much less to show for it.

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Paying it Forward

I defended my dissertation in August of 2oo3.  I’d moved back to my hometown in May 2002, so the whole defense business meant that I needed to fly back and take care of the whole defense thing in a few days, knowing that I already had a tenure-track job that was to start in just a week or so after that, so there was a lot riding on the defense going as planned.  Thank god I had Medusa, my bestest friend from grad school, to let me stay with her and to take care of me in order that I might get myself defended.

So, today, Naomi, one of my besties from high school, defended her dissertation, at a university just a few minutes from where I live, serendipitously.  She got into town on Wed. night.  I fed her, I left her alone, I told her to stop reading her dissertation because she knew what she was doing, and I drove her to her defense this morning.  Naomi is now Dr. Naomi.  I’m so excited for her!  And after she had officially passed I took her to lunch and filled her with wine, just as Medusa had done for me, lo, those many years ago.

She was more grateful than she should have been, and less believing of her accomplishment than she should have been – as I guess I was when I was in her place, too.  But as I said to her, “look: Medusa did the same for me.  All you have to do is to do this for somebody else if you ever have the opportunity.  Seriously.”

And I also told her this, and I really do believe it: finishing the Ph.D. – successfully defending the dissertation – is, I think, the biggest accomplishment a person can have.  For me, this was so much bigger than getting a job, so much bigger than getting tenure, so much bigger than publishing my book.  For a lot of reasons.  I don’t have kids, but even if I did, this would be something that I did for myself – under my own steam.  It’s a big motherfucking deal.  And I think that she’s done it is a big motherfucking deal, and I’m so happy that I could give her yummy food and comfort and friendship to help her through it.  I’ve known Naomi since 1988.  She is, seriously, my family.  And she has her motherfucking doctorate.  And that is as awesome as anything I can think of.


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I have a full nine pages of my conference paper for next week.  Is it the best thing I’ve ever written?  No.  Do I make many provocative theoretical claims that I have no hope of substantiating in 20 minutes?  Yes.  Is it, ultimately, “new work”?  Most definitely.  But, if I were held at gunpoint and forced to give the paper right now with no revision, could I do that and not embarrass myself?  Totally.

So what this means is that now I can just chill out for the rest of the day/evening, and then I can spend the next three days doing massive spring cleaning (which has yet to occur because of the end of the semester/need to finish developing an online class/visiting of parents/need to write conference paper).

I cannot even talk about what a weight this has lifted off my shoulders.  And even better: this conference paper is the germ of the idea that will grow into a chapter of the current book project.  It is so awesome to feel like I’m making progress on that in spite of the way my attention has been dragged toward other things in the past six months.

I do believe I’m going to go for a walk, and then, who knows?  Perhaps I shall sit on the porch and knit or something equally unproductive!

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Ok, y’all.  After the sad sack post I did this morning, I really hadn’t thought I’d have anything that would brighten my day enough to post again today.  I mean, I had to give a big lecture about Expectations related to what I described in that post, a lecture that involved a caveat about how professors are people who have other things to do than to wait for student emails to arrive and who also, ultimately, don’t really care if students screw up at the last minute when they’ve been given the tools to succeed (though I did soften it at the end and do a whole “looking forward” thing after that), and then I taught two more classes (one of which actually rocked in the way that a class only rocks if you’re super into the text you’re teaching and yet you’re not totally invested in it), and then I met with a student, and blah blah blah.  There’s no new post in any of that, you’ve got to admit.  Or not one that warrants the above title.

But remember THIS?

Well, so, I applied for it.  AND THEY PICKED ME!!!!!!!.  MEEEEEEE!!!!! THE CHOSEN ONE!!!!!!  (Well, the chosen 1 of 14, but I feel like that’s splitting hairs).  I “prevailed in a keen competition,” as it were, to BE SELECTED!!!!!!

I am SO STOKED!  (Though also, now that it’s happened, kind of a little freaked out.  Because, dude, I’m a big fish in a teensy weensy pond in 99 percent of my academic life, not because I’m an actual big fish but rather because the other fishes are so small.  Like I’m the giant carp in a man-made pond populated mostly by minnows.  And now I’m going to be swimming in an actual LAKE with comparable and bigger-than-me fishes.  But I’m going to choose not to focus on that part of things, at least for the time being.)  I’M SO STOKED!!!!!!

Ok, I have to go bask in my awesomeness now.  I have to revel, at least for the immediate future, until I start freaking out in earnest.


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